Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vegan Challenge Update

Today is the last day of my vegan challenge. Beginning tomorrow, I can eat eggs and dairy again. While I'm looking forward to having the option again, I'm not nearly as excited as I thought I would be.

Honestly, though it was a bit of a nuisance, being vegan was easier than I expected. On a practical level, it's much, much more difficult than being lacto-ovo vegetarian because I found that it was much less obvious what I could and could not eat. I could never be sure if bread was vegan, and restaurants would put cheese in things that I would not expect. When cooking for myself, however, I had little difficulty. I would have had even less difficulty if I had not gotten lazy in the last week or so and limited myself to the same few options over and over.

I also found that I'm feeling much healthier. I'm sure part of this is not consuming any vein-clogging cheese, but I suspect that the significantly increased amount of vegetables I have been consuming plays a role here too. While I'll start eating cheese again, I'm going to try to be a little more moderate in my consumption, and I'm hoping that the increased vegetable consumption will stick. I like feeling healthy. Also, I'm definitely done with drinking milk, or putting it in cereal. Soy milk is more than good enough for me.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow to celebrate. I've had my eye on a paneer tikka wrap in the freezer for the past couple of weeks, but as breakfast comes first, I'll probably start with some eggs. I'm also going to a Leafs game this weekend, which means I'll be getting a burrito before the game, and superbowl on Sunday means there will be plenty of cheese pizza.

I still don't see myself being permanently vegan, but I really enjoyed trying it, and I'd definitely consider trying the same challenge next year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why I Became a Baseball Fan


I've come back to edit this post three times, and I'm still not happy with it. I'm not a fan of the way it's written, which is silly really since I don't expect anyone to actually read it. I also don't think I really conveyed what I wanted to say, but I'm not really sure what I'm missing, beyond the fact that something is definitely missing. Still, this is supposed to be a place I dump thoughts without worrying about it, so it's time to hit publish and get it off my mind.

In a lot of ways, I am very much a stereotypical Canadian. I drink beer, apologize for everything, and was wearing plaid shirts way before they became hipster. However, in one way I really differ from the mold (well two, I also hate Tim Hortons): I am not a hockey fan. I don't dislike hockey; I watch it when it's on TV, and I follow the league and transactions, but I do that more because I'm a sports fan than because of any specific affinity for hockey.

I used to be the biggest hockey fan I knew. I followed the league obsessively. When the Leafs went to the conference finals against the Hurricanes, I put Go Leafs Go in Christmas lights in my front window. I was obsessed. However, that all died away. I suspect I was more profoundly affected by the 2004-05 lockout than most other hockey fans. While the game was gone I lost interest, and the sorry state of the Leafs when it came back killed any chances of reigniting that fire.

Thankfully, the lost season paved the way for me to discover my new favourite sport: baseball. I always liked baseball, but with no hockey I latched right on tight to the Blue Jays, and fell in love with the game of baseball. Having watched two consecutive years of baseball without any hockey in between, I was already leaning toward baseball as my new favourite sport. The winter of 2005-06 really clinched it though. In their first year back from the lockout, the Leafs were terrible, on their way to missing the playoffs for the first of many seasons. The Jays, on the other hand, threw some money around, acquiring A.J. Burnett, Troy Glaus, and Lyle Overbay. It wasn't quite the same as this past off-season, but the team was exciting, and expectations were high for the first time since I had been paying attention. I was hooked.

The Leafs also priced themselves right out of my interest. I was 22 years old by the time I went to my first Leafs game, by which point I'd already been to dozens of Jays games. The same year I went to that Leafs game, I bought season passes in the upper deck of the Skydome. The Leafs tickets, also in the upper deck of the ACC, cost me more than half what I spent on the season passes, which got me admittance to 81 games. The reasonable cost of admission to baseball games is a huge part of why I became a fan.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gutted Grits

I think I said I probably wasn't going to write about politics here, but I guess that was a lie. I just finished reading Peter C. Newman's When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada. Newman is probably my second favourite Canadian political history writer, behind only Lawrence Martin (if you haven't read Harperland you're seriously missing out). When the Gods Changed was just as excellent as I had hoped, and expected at this point from Newman. Newman weaves beautifully through decades of Liberal history while simultaneously documenting the most recent election campaign of Michael Ignatieff, mixing in a wide array of wonderfully insightful and amusing anecdotes which could only be accumulated through his decades of work in Canadian journalism. While Newman is brutally honest over the disaster that was the 2011 election for the Liberals, he also gives the distinct impression that he liked and perhaps even admired Michael Ignatieff, the man.

Before I go any further, I should probably say that while I'm not a card-carrying Liberal, I've thought about applying in the past. It is actually the NDP who most closely align with my natural political leanings, and my idealist tendencies occasionally push me into orange. However, I am also a pragmatist, perhaps first and foremost, and I both respect the Liberal track record in Canada, and have more faith in them to successfully govern the country in the future. The truth is that all major socialist developments in this nation, such as subsidized health care and welfare, developments which I both admire and treasure, were implemented by Liberal governments. In fact, I can't think of any significant Conservative measures to be proud of since Diefenbaker's National Bill of Rights (which was itself later superseded by Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

Additionally, the NDP has exactly zero governing experience. They have only formed the official opposition once, and it was opposing a majority government. While many people may look at the limited remaining Liberal MPs and wonder how much experience they have themselves, MPs are but a part of the machine that forms a governing political party. There are countless key people working in the background of any political party, pulling strings and drafting policy, many of whom in the Liberals still date back to the Trudeau era (perhaps soon to be known as the first Trudeau era). The NDP has none of that experience, and would likely find themselves lost if thrust into power, a political situation that typically ends in scandal.

There is also one more key element that keeps me from defecting to the NDP: divisiveness. While I might be a left-leaning individual, this country is comprised of millions who are not. I don't necessarily want to elect a strongly left-leaning government which polarizes the nation and undermines the unity that has been so hard-fought for so many years. With separatist notions finally seeming to recede in Quebec and Alberta, the last thing I want is to see the country torn apart again. So, while I might prefer a left-leaning party, I will accept a more moderate stance in the name of compromise. That is a point of view which I firmly believe was at one time at the essence of being a Canadian, though perhaps it is no longer.

So it is a little depressing to read Newman's painfully honest assessment of the party and their hopes. Simply put, Newman does not expect the Liberal Party of Canada to ever regain their past status as the "natural governing party" in Canada. Thankfully, despite Newman's rather dreary account of the past decade or so of Liberal politics, I disagree with his conclusion.

The biggest obstacle which I fear is facing the Liberals is a potential lack of patience. They will not win the next election. A return to second party status should be considered a great accomplishment for them. If they can manage to choose a dynamic leader who can actually energize Canadians, he or she must be given time to build support; at least a couple of elections. Abandoning ship and starting over after a single mediocre result would be a terrible decision, but I feel like Canadian leaders today are not given that kind of time.

The Conservatives have a long documented habit of devouring their own leaders. At only 53 years old, Harper is still young for a politician, but even he cannot continue forever. Every leader grows stale eventually, and Harper's widely acknowledged contempt for political institutions could bite him hard. Even worse, his evasiveness and contempt for the media could eventually turn even the most ardent right-wing outlets against him. Inevitably, Harper will fall, the question is only whether he leaves on his own terms or not. When he is gone, does the fiercely controlled Conservative party have a ready candidate to fill the void?

It may not happen the next election, but every government falls eventually. Even Mackenzie King, Trudeau, and Laurier lost multiple elections. When Harper's time comes, would you rather bet on the Liberals or the NDP, a party with a completely unproven leader and infrastructure, as well as a polarizing place on the political spectrum? At this point, despite the disaster that the post-Chretien era has become, I'd still bet it all on the Liberals.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Downton

I just finished watching the first season of Downton Abbey. I really enjoyed it, almost assuredly in part due to the historical setting, the same reason I love Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, and a few years ago, The Tudors. The sets and costumes are all fantastic, and the characters are very well done. They really draw you in to care about them, making up for the lack of intrigue or high stakes which is so key to the appeal of shows like Boardwalk Empire, Lost, or Dexter.

That said, there are a couple of glaring issues for me. First of all the nobles are way, way too nice. They all seem very concerned with the well-being of all of their service staff, which seems completely inappropriate for that time, especially when the concern seems so universal in nature. Even the more self-interested of them take care to be kind to even the most lowly of servants.

The show also seems to be taking liberties with time. The first season takes place over more than two years, from the sinking of the Titanic to the beginning of the First World War. However, nobody seems to have aged much (beyond the cook), and sometimes characters pick up conversations from one episode to the next, even though months must have passed in the timeline.

Still, it's definitely worth a watch, particularly if you like British accents and historical settings.

Strollers and Such


There's been a lot of talk in Toronto about strollers on the TTC, since a private citizen filed a complaint about parents with "SUV strollers" jamming up the buses, especially during rush hour. As a non-parent and regular TTC user, my first thought was "thank you!" The strollers are a huge pain in the ass. However, my next thought was what can anyone possibly do about it? I can't deny parents, or especially children, the right to space on the bus. Forcing babies and small children off the bus and into the cold seems unbelievably heartless. However, it's hard not to be a little sympathetic to the people, able-bodied or otherwise, who are forced to wait an extra fifteen minutes in 10 below weather because a stroller is taking up the same space three people could otherwise occupy, something which I've seen happen several times.

I think perception is a big part of the problem. While there are plenty of stroller-towing parents who are openly apologetic for the inconvenience to others they are causing, there are also some who are entirely unapologetic and glare daggers at passengers who accidentally bump their stroller trying to get past, or who don't part for their stroller like the red sea for Moses. Unfortunately, these parents ruin the reputation of the rest. I'm sure some of it is a natural response to the presumably exhausting process of taking small children on the TTC, or simply the protective nature of parents, but some of these parents need to be a little more self-aware (a statement which could likely equally be applied to almost any group, but there you have it).

It also definitely seems like strollers have gotten a LOT bigger in the past decade or so. I don't know why that is; whether they're cheaper to make or enhance child safety, but to people without kids it just looks like luxury at the expense of their fellow passengers. I'm sure many parents would prefer smaller, more manageable strollers if they could get them, because the massive beasts seem like they would be exhausting to shepherd all over town, so I have to assume that the larger models are the only viable option for most people. If true, that is unfortunate.

TTC bus designs also unfortunately exacerbate the problem. Parents with strollers understandably usually want to sit as close to the front as they can, since pushing through as few people as possible to exit the bus is ideal, but the buses usually narrow at the front entrance and the strollers are even more of a nuisance at that point. Some of the more heroic parents will, when the opportunity presents itself, sit near the middle of the bus by the rear door, relying on fellow passengers to help them get the stroller down from the higher entrance. However, even there some of the bus stops are poorly designed and the rear door does not open onto a concrete pad.

It's a problem without a solution, I'm afraid. I'd like to think that the recent hubbub will cause some parents to re-examine their behaviours and attitudes while on the TTC with strollers, but I'm afraid that it is more likely to cause even more of a them vs us combative atmosphere, which is just sad.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Snow


Snow is a bitch when you live in the suburbs. Driveways to shovel, slow driving, and even slower buses make life miserable. When you're downtown though, it just makes everything look pretty.

Monday, January 21, 2013

File This Under Things I'll Never Understand

People who take forever to get ready to go absolutely anywhere. I think everybody has at least one friend like this. It doesn't matter where you're going or what you're doing, they will take an eternity to get ready. They need to shower (for the third time that day) before walking to the store, and somehow require 45 minutes for that. They need to do their hair, or change three times, before going to grab food. It's stereotypical of women to do this, but there are a lot of guys out there that do it too.

I should have put this in my Murtaugh list post, but I recognize that I'm now too old to go out in the morning without showering, or to walk around outside dressed like I'm homeless. I take the time to look respectable whenever I go anywhere, but I still can't possibly take as long to get ready as some people I know, even if I tried. I don't even know what they do that takes that long, and if you add all that time they waste up (literally hours every week) they've probably unnecessarily burned weeks of their life, just getting ready to leave the damn house. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bookless Libraries Are Going to Be a Thing

Most people probably haven't heard, but Bexar County, Texas made waves in the Library and Information Science world (which happens to be my world) this week when they announced plans to go ahead with a bookless library. You can read about it all over the place, but the article I read is here.

I know an awful lot of my colleagues at TPL would throw a fit at the very notion. For starters, many of them are still attached to the dead trees and don't want to give them up. Many of them (though far from all) are also embarrassingly technologically limited and could barely operate an e-reader for themselves, let alone help the public with digital loans across a variety of continually evolving platforms.

Personally, I bought a Kindle a couple of years ago (3G Kindle with keyboard). I love it; the battery lasts forever, it can hold a million books, and it's lightweight and durable. When TPL eliminated staff exemptions from fines, it essentially ended my time reading dead tree books, since I'm apparently incapable of returning things on time. That's fine, as I said I like reading on my Kindle better anyway. In general, you will have a hard time finding someone more progressive than myself when it comes to embracing new technologies and abandoning those that are obsolete.

There are a lot of straw man or generally weak arguments against bookless libraries that are embraced by those who I think are mostly scared of the technology shift. The biggest is that not everyone has ereaders. Many libraries are already combating this issue by simply loaning ereaders. eReaders can easily be found for $50-70, and volume discounts would presumably push the cost to libraries down even further. Compared to many hardcover books, that cost is nominal.

However, there are several big, legitimate issues for libraries considering going bookless. Bexar County presumably doesn't have any traditional libraries, so they might not notice the losses, but for organizations like TPL the losses would be felt and I suspect the customer base would scream bloody murder. While I might prefer my ereader, I respect the fact that some people still prefer the experience offered by dead tree books, and not just because they're scared of the new technology. That is their prerogative, and so TPL should continue to serve their needs.

In some cases I even agree with them. There are some instances where ereaders simply can't come close to replicating the experience offered by dead tree books, particularly any materials including visual mediums, such as children's picture books. Full tablets can often do a much better job, though still not always as good as the real book, not to mention typically at a higher hardware cost and often are more complicated to operate and support.

Which raises a whole other issue: support. Bookless libraries require constantly up to date hardware and software to ensure compatibility. For a larger library system, this will require a massive investment in manpower and infrastructre to IT departments. Furthermore, front-line staff would not only need to be trained to support the infrastructure, they would also need to be continuously retrained as the hardware and software are rapidly updated. The cost of all that training will be high.

All that said, I still see bookless libraries becoming a thing in Toronto. I think they could be particularly valuable in downtown Toronto, where the smaller physical footprint might result in substantial cost savings or allow TPL to operate locations in places they couldn't have considered before. Branches also tend to be densely packed downtown, meaning users who need physical books don't necessarily have far to travel to find a traditional library.

Over the next few years I think we're going to see more of the barriers fall, and bookless libraries spring up all over North America. They're going to be a thing, and it's really only a matter of time before they become a Toronto thing too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Life Is a Funny Thing

I cut open my ankle so badly that I have to throw away my sock, and I don't even blink. But I rip off the bandage (and attached leg hair) the next day, and I nearly black out from the pain.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Book Is Always Better Than the Movie

I finally got around to watching The Hunger Games last night. I really liked the books, but I'm always wary of movies based on books I like, because the book is always better than the movie, and I'm always disappointed. I actually didn't even like The Fellowship of the Ring the first time I saw it. The Hunger Games, sadly, kept that trend alive.

Unsurprisingly, the whole movie felt incredibly shallow by comparison to the books. Emotional moments were passed over, and most of the character development was completely removed. While I thought Woody Harrelson portrayed him very well, we are given no explanation for Haymitch's transition from degenerate, uncaring drunk to almost fatherly figure, a change which is given substantial play in the book. And Peeta and Katniss' "connection" seems to happen in a matter of hours and is the most unbelievable "love story" I've seen since Thor (which I otherwise really liked).

I thought they really screwed up Peeta's recounting of the bread incident. While I could accept the bastardized version of the mockingjay pin backstory, this seemed like a plot device which could have gone a long way toward building a realistic connection between the two of them. Instead it was confusing and lame.

I really didn't like Liam Hemsworth as Gale. While he wasn't given much to work with, I found him sullen and wholly unlikeable. While I always kind of rooted for Peeta in the books, as I personally find him much easier to empathize with, in the movie it was no contest at all. Gale's role expands considerably in Catching Fire, and I'm not looking forward to it at all.
There were also some small details that really bothered me, like the feast backpacks all being the same size and colour, or the cornucopia not being gold. I can accept some changes being made as a necessary element of converting the book to a movie, like the mutts being nothing more than vicious dogs (the true mutations would be far to complicated to convincingly show on screen) or changing the order of Thresh and Foxface's deaths, but not bothering to appropriately colour and size the feast backpacks just seemed lazy.

I did like their use of Claudius and Caesar as expositionary tools. I was concerned about how they would handle all the time Katniss spends alone with nothing but her thoughts to explain her actions, and this worked well without completely abusing the original story. I also thought Elizabeth Banks played a pretty terrific Effie, though while Lenny Kravitz fit the look for Cinna, his acting was less than stellar.

Unfortunately, as I said, the whole thing felt very shallow. I don't really understand why they needed to make it feel so rushed. They were supposed to be in the arena for two weeks, long enough to starve or die of wounds, but as far as I can tell in the movie they were in there a mere three days. In fact, it was so brief that blowing up the supplies seemed utterly pointless. I know it was a long movie as it was, but surely they could have made it look like some time had passed.

I suppose it wasn't a terrible movie, and it really had no chance of living up to my expectations anyway, but I'm still disappointed. I'm not sure whether I'll bother to watch  Catching Fire.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Getting Old

There's a great episode of How I Met Your Mother in which the characters talk about things they're too old for, known as the Murtaugh list, named for the character from Lethal Weapon who would always claim that he's "too old for this shit." I've been finding lately that my own Murtaugh list has been growing faster than I'd like. Obviously everyone constantly encounters things they have become too old for from as far back as you can remember; things like sleeping in a crib, camping in your own backyard, or not bathing daily. While it may have been sad or a nuisance to give those things up, they felt like a part of growing up. The difference with a lot of what I'm finding now (though not all of it), is that it feels like a part of growing old.

For example, I can't stay up all night any more. I used to do this in high school all the time on weekends; I would play video games with my friends literally all Saturday night, then stay up all day Sunday, and 8 hours of sleep Sunday night would leave me rested and refreshed Monday morning. During my undergraduate, I'd do this sometimes to work on essays, but I'd do so with heavy amounts of Red Bull and coffee. These days, while I can still function on minimal sleep, if I don't get 7 hours of sleep I feel it by the evening, and a few days straight of 5-6 hours per night and I'm toast. I don't drink energy drinks anymore, and I drink a lot of coffee just to get me through days as it is, so I don't have a lot of wiggle room there either. I guess I'm just too old for that shit.

I'm also too old to sleep on the floor. When I was in high school I would regularly crash on a friend's floor with a couple of cushions and a pillow, and I would wake up feeling fine. Now, if I do that my body will hate me the entire next day. Similarly, I feel work outs the next day, which I never did when I was younger, and I have nagging pains that stick with me for hours after I go for a run that I never would have felt a few years back. I even find myself feeling it far more the next day if I go out drinking than I ever did in my undergrad days. My body just doesn't bounce back the way it used to.

When I was younger, I could also eat as much sugar, or rich food as I want. Now, after a few cookies or chocolates I have to stop, or it will turn my stomach. I can't eat sugary stuff for breakfast, which has actually been the case since I was in high school, and more and more I find it just doesn't appeal much to me anymore. This is probably a good thing, as I certainly don't need to up my calorie intake as it is, but sometimes I do miss being able to load up on brie soup or trifle, and not feel like throwing up halfway through.

There are a lot more, both big and little things, and I'm sure I'll probably write about this again. I'm only 24, but getting old sucks.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home, Unfortunately, Isn't (Yet) Where My Heart Is


When I was a kid, I didn't like downtown Toronto. There were things about going to downtown Toronto which I liked - it usually meant going out for dinner or some other sort of special occasion - but downtown Toronto as a place, I wasn't a fan. It all seemed cramped, and dirty, and smelled of sewage or cigarette smoke. I missed my clean, spacious suburbs.

Of course, I also hated spicy food as a kid, so apparently there's no accounting for taste. Now, however, I feel like every day I'm not in the city I pine for it. I'm currently working on my Master of Information, and so I have class at UofT's St. George campus two days a week. I'm fortunate enough that I have had some extensive breaks between classes, which have allowed me to spend some of my afternoons walking the streets. I should probably use that time to study, but I can study in Scarborough, where I sure as hell am not rushing out to walk the streets in my afternoons.

Toronto is a really beautiful city, in a lot of ways. I feel like a lot of people living here don't truly appreciate that. There's so much diversity packed into such a small area and to most people it just feels normal. I can probably find any kind of ethnic food I want within a twenty minute walk from UofT's Robarts Library, and in Toronto, that's normal. I can walk through countless beautiful old buildings, and some fascinating examples of modern architecture. And personally, I can do this for hours without getting bored.

Unfortunately, I still live in the suburbs, about as east as you can get and still be in the city limits. I have a nearly two hour commute to get downtown. And if I go out at night and leave downtown after 1:30 in the morning, I'm lucky if I'm home before 4 am.

I'm not putting grey over green. I still love the natural beauty of true rural and especially wilderness environments. I still love to camp and hike. But I don't want to live in Algonquin park (despite how I may feel during some of my visits there).

And while the suburbs do have their own charm, I'd trade it all in an instant to move downtown. As soon as I'm done school I will be moving. One year from today I hope that my occasional habit of looking at apartments online will be more than just dreaming.

The Grand Vegan Experiment

So I've been trying this thing with being vegan. I've been vegetarian since grade school, but I've always been a lacto-ovo vegetarian (meaning I eat eggs and dairy but not meat, including fish). I love animals, always have, and I can't stand the idea of them being killed for me to eat. I'm really strict with myself about it; since the day I chose to become vegetarian (probably around fourth or fifth grade) I have never knowingly slipped. However, I'm also careful not to force my beliefs down anyone else's throat. I tell people when it comes up in conversation, or when it's necessary (such as when I'm going to someone's home for dinner), or when they flat out ask, but I'm pretty sure there are some people who know me pretty well who have no idea. It's an important part of who I am, but it's also my thing. Very few of my friends are vegetarian, and that's fine with me.

However, just because I don't want to push others into my beliefs, doesn't mean I don't want to push myself. Over the Christmas break I watched a documentary on Netflix called Vegucated (watch it if you get the chance). While I'm not opposed to eggs and dairy on nearly the same level as meat, I've always been a little uncomfortable with what I know about how most chickens and cows are treated in the industry. I do buy free-run eggs, but I'm certainly not naive enough to believe that free-run egg farms are chicken paradises. The documentary does address dairy and egg farming and re-affirmed a lot of that discomfort.

So, as of New Years day, I am vegan for the month of January, 2013. I already know that it won't stick beyond that, and I don't intend for it to. But I want to see how difficult it is, and hopefully by the end of the month adapt my diet to include less dairy and eggs going forward. If I can cut back on my dairy and egg consumption, I'll be happier with myself, and probably healthier too.

Being a lacto-ovo vegetarian is actually really easy in Toronto. Almost everywhere has vegetarian options these days, and many places clearly label vegetarian dishes on their menus. However, being a vegan is much, much harder. My close friends know the limited selection of places they can't go with me, but it's actually a really short list. Unfortunately, when you take cheese out of the equation, that list becomes much, much longer. No more pizza. No more submarine sandwiches. No more pizza. No more grilled cheese. Did I mention no more pizza?

What is left includes a lot of "hold the cheese." Veggie burgers with no cheese or mayo (eggs) or tzatziki. Indian food with no paneer (I already really miss palak paneer). Pasta with no cheese. Lots of soup, but nothing made with milk or cream. Also an awful lot of falafel.

I always knew I relied on cheese as a huge component of my diet, but it's astounding how hard it can be to find something without cheese (or meat), especially late at night (though less late night eating might not be such a bad thing). I thought I relied on cheese by choice, but I'm starting to question that. Milk was really easy to give up; I drink a ton of coffee, but I've been drinking it black since high school, and soy milk is a perfectly adequate substitute for cereal and most cooking. No eggs makes eating breakfast out basically impossible, but otherwise it's almost a non-factor. But cheese. Cheese is everywhere, and in almost everything.

Also difficult is the number of things that contain dairy by-products like whey. Once again I have to carefully check the ingredients of everything I buy. Unfortunately, sometimes I just have to relax about this one. Just like I can't worry about getting free-run eggs from every diner I go to, I can't worry about whether restaurants used dairy in their veggie burger bun, or whether they fried the vegetables in my pasta in butter. When I know, I avoid it, but when I can't know I try not to worry about it. I don't know how real, dedicated vegans manage to eat anything they haven't cooked themselves though.

Also key to this experiment is a commitment on my part to abandon all my predetermined notions on anything vegan. Vegetables which I believe I don't like I will try again. Early returns have actually been very positive in that regard; it turns out I might have just been an idiot when I decided I didn't like them.

I've got another three weeks to go, but so far it's been a very positive experiment. I still have no illusions on continuing as a vegan long-term, but I'm accomplishing everything I set out to so far.

Another Project to Abandon

This will probably be the only post this blog ever sees. I may never even actually publish it. I have a long history of starting things like this, and then effectively abandoning them.

So why bother? Blogs have been around forever, and I've been using the internet forever, but I've never started a personal blog about myself. It always seemed self-indulgent and, frankly, a waste of time. Why would anyone want to read about me? I probably don't want to read about you. However, I think I may have missed the point before. I was always assuming that I would need to write for an audience. I'd need to find a way to consistently frame my life in a way that is funny or insightful or at least interesting. I'm probably better at that then I think I am, but I don't have a lot of faith in my life being interesting enough to need me to share it with the wider world; hence the relative ghost town that is my Facebook wall and Twitter feed.

But I'm not writing this for an audience. I really don't care if nobody reads this, everything here is meant for me. If I keep it up, it will give me an outlet for writing, which I sometimes feel compelled to do. It will also give me a place to spill some thoughts when I feel like I need to get them out of my head, or if I feel it will help me sort something out.

Of course I could do all that just as easily through Google Docs. There's no need to publish it on the internet for everyone to read. Except that maybe there is. While I'm not writing this for anyone else, knowing that there is a chance that someone might actually read it will at least compel me to write in full sentences at all times and fix typos. It might also keep me from posting some things I would write otherwise, but we'll have to see how that goes.

I also believe in being an open book. People who know me personally would probably be shocked to hear that. I'm definitely not the greatest communicator, particularly with people I don't know well. However, that's not because I don't want to be. And I certainly don't hide things; if you look around the internet you can probably quickly find my phone number, job title, or pretty much any other minor detail about my life. I don't restrict my social network profiles, except in cases where I do so to protect others or to protect against potential identity theft.

Anyone who wants to know about me can do so easily without reading whatever barely coherent random thoughts I might share here. However, if you want to know me, this may be the place to go, again assuming I bother to keep it up, which is a rather massive assumption. Also assuming you can stand my long-winded rambling, and likely eclectic topic choices. And lots of commas. And likely many sentences starting with and.

For the record, however, these are some things you probably won't find here:

  • Political commentary: I have another sparsely updated blog for that here, where I'll write occasionally about federal and maybe even provincial politics. Never municipal though; as a City of Toronto employee I'd prefer not to commit my thoughts on municipal politics to the internet.
  • Specifics on my job: I work with children and youth in a literacy program for the Toronto Public Library. While I love my job and I have many great stories from it, respecting the confidentiality of the kids is priority number one. I can't, and won't, risk that.
  • Pictures of me: There are no good pictures of me, anywhere. True story.