29 June 2009

Eat Them Eggs

This post is mostly for my father, who has been depriving himself of eggs for the past few years for cholesterol reasons. Turns out, dietary cholesterol has nothing to do with how your body stores cholesterol in your blood (HDL or LDL, etc), and this makes total sense. I've already heard whispers of this, but here it is in words for you.

THAT SAID... Factory farm chickens are sad, and so it would be best to find a local farmer to get eggs from. Or get your own!

27 June 2009

Sprint Training FTW

There was an article in the NYTimes that claims through studies with rats (mices?) that intense sprint training results in the same molecular/cellular changes as endurance training. We all know that interval training pretty much rocks, but this shows that INTENSE interval training (like 20 sec. of intense effort at a time) is really the way to go for fitness. NOW... My question is, does this just improve "fitness" or will this improve your performance, in say, a sprint tri? Because I signed up for one like 5 weeks from now and I am not enjoying the swimming training especially, and if I could flop around in the water for a few minutes and get the same results as if I had actually done a half or full mile of swimming - I mean, that sounds pretty great to me. I think that you would still have to do the long swims to get your pace down, maybe.

ANYWAY, this is all great for me, because I generally prefer to put in a lot of effort anyway. I bike hard, and I actually swim hard too, (which is no good for trying to maintain effort over time) so sprint training would come pretty natural for me. In addition, I used to be a sprinter back in JH and HS, sooooooo. I will admit that I actually did some sprint repeats like a month ago, and I was really sore afterwards, even though I had been running/jogging regularily, so it seems accurate to me that you get a similar sort of work out after a shorter amount of time.

ANYWAY, I'm sold. Let's hope I don't drown the first lap I try to do all-out in the pool, and the other people don't look at me funny.

16 June 2009

Less is More?

MANY of you may have seen the opinion piece in NYTimes recently, "The Joy of Less." I had wanted to comment on it when I first read it, and was reminded of it today when I was on this other site Three At Sea. (They actually call it Three@Sea, but I refuse to support that because the @ is WAY too tacky, and the people used to be in computers and stuff and well... Not hip, guys.) Anyway, its about a family who used to live in Boulder, but sold their house and most of their stuff and bought a boat and are planning on traveling around the world during their daughter's middle school years. THE POINT BEING: That these people have bucked the status quo and are living their own way somehow, with the lack of many material possessions (although they remain entirely wired to the rest of the world).

All of this sort of jives with the whole grad student lifestyle. I am poor, live in a small apt, no longer watch tv, and because of my whole environmentalist leanings, am also disdainful of the consumerist society we live in. That said... I have a lot of stuff. But I figure I may need some of it some day, so I have to keep it, because otherwise I would be feeding the consumerist beast, right? My life is less about the pursuit of things and more about the nurturing of the BRAIN. This is true with what I actually do for money, and for what I do in my spare time. Also, the pursuit of the body is in there somewhere, cuz I live in Boulder, and we are all fit and beautiful here. You could say this is also a mind-pursuit of sorts, as theres all sorts of thinking and refreshing you can do while youre working out, if youre not plugged in, which I rarely am.

Anyway, I am not so sure about the pursuit of happiness part being entrenched in these drastic lifestyle changes. It is true that hectic lives make people crazy. And that a more moment-to-moment life, like that achieved on a boat (OR being a forager/hunter/gatherer, my personal favorite escapist fantasy), where you have to be paying attention to your surroundings in order to live, seems more fulfilling than doing some drivel that you find meaningless. However, I am unsure about the necessity to buck the yolk of society in order to obtain happiness. I agree it is probably not found in things. Maybe too often people associate the obtainment of things with a typical American life, but maybe you can do the normal things like have a regular job and not be obsessed with the pursuit of things, and whatever happiness can be obtained that way. There are just a lot of people who seem to think something drastic needs to be done with their actual life situation in order to be happy, but maybe it is just the internal adjustment, which often accompanies that outward change, that is truly the key.


Is this how people talk themselves into settling down for a common life?

11 June 2009

The Lion-Cut

Yes, the lion-cut for meowers. Look, this gorgeous animal can pull it off. I had previously thought that people gave their cats the lion-cut themselves, and I had been thinking that that sounds very difficult, and I don't have shavers anyway. But then I learned that they get it done! You go to a doggie cut place or wherever, and they can do it... The issue here mostly is that my cats are very furry and their fur gets everywhere, and the summer is coming anyway, so why not? This would cut down on the extreme amounts of fur, and then the kitties would be happier. This is partially for my boyfriend's sake, because I feel sorry for him when he gets all covered in fur when he is used to his non-furry existence, and it gets stuck to his face, and it all really rather pathetically adorable. Apparently there is even a movement of fur from my house to his house, that travels by way of our clothes. Presumably mine more than his, but you know.

ANYWAY. I am seriously considering this. In the past, I have been opposed because I thought that their fur is very sensitive and so cutting it might hurt them or something, but I think maybe it would be just more of an annoyance, not some ongoing horror. I mean, we can feel when things land on our heads, so maybe their follicles aren't incredibly sensitive, like I thought. The only issue is they might be extremely upset by the whole thing. Maybe I can take them to the vet and get it done, since they are only like 3 blocks away and then Georgie wouldn't freak out. I read something recently about training cats to tolerate car rides, maybe I should go find that again...

09 June 2009

Life in Contemplation of Recently Viewed Movies

I would like to discuss the last three movies I've seen within the past week. Girlfriend Experience, Up and Revolutionary Road. I am reminded of a story I read about Natalie Portman, and how each time she read 'Diary of Anne Frank,' she was struck by something different in the story. So currently, I seem to be taking life purpose and relationship messages from everything I see/read, which means that I am continuing and maybe making some headway on this quarter-life crisis business. This post is probably going to be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen the movies, so proceed with caution.

The Girlfriend Experience is about a girl who is a highend callgirl who basically provides a sort of "girlfriend experience" to her callers. She goes on dates with them, listens to them talk, pretends to care, remembers their names, jobs, problems, etc. They don't even always have sex with her, she is sort of a paid companion. The point of the movie in my mind is that her life is empty; she is paid to be whatever these men want her to be, and as a result, has become sort of an empty shell of a person. Her opinions and tastes are those of her callers. She has become this empty companion that they want her to be. She lets her guard down to one of her callers and mistakes their exchange for something meaningful, but he was playing the game as much as she was, and it means nothing in the end. What I am taking away from this movie is that you cannot just be whomever another person wants or requires of you; you lose yourself if you do that. You have to be your own person, have your own interests, etc, otherwise you become meaningless, pointless, useless as a person, beyond any physical worth you may possess. She just became a body, a doll for these men to play with in the end. They wanted to play date with her. A robot could just as easily serve this purpose.

Up is about a man who lives a fulfilling, but outwardly unadventurous, life. He was happily married, but when his wife dies, he begins to regret that they never did the exciting things they had planned and dreamed about, so he sets about to do them in her memory. He is entrenched in the memory of her and things that remind him of her, and so is not really living any longer. On his travels, he learns that there is still living to be done, and that living relationships are more important than things. He also realizes that his wife would have wanted him to keep living and that she did not regret the course of their life, but thought of it as an adventure in itself. So this movie is about the importance of relationships with people (and animals) and not living in regret or in memories, but about living in the present. And that the accumulation of stuff will not replace these things or lead to any lasting happiness. That is not to say that memories are bad and should be forgotten, or that we should throw out all of our things, just that they shouldn't be everything. We should pursue our dreams/goals when we can, but not be bogged down with unhappiness if we cannot obtain what we think we want, and instead relish experiences we are having now.

Revolutionary Road is the most depressing of these movies, as you might guess. It is about a couple that meets and falls in love when they are young and full of ideals. The ideals are exciting and they are excited to have met each other because they share in these ideals when they think others don't understand. This is probably the basis for a lot of relationships, this mutual understanding. Life proceeds and things that initially did not bother them: moving to the suburbs, having kids :begins to wear on them and they are driven to adultery, fights, etc. They are living the dull lives that they had dreaded when they were younger. Kate Winslet's character becomes particularly unhappy and depending on which side of the issue you're on, 1) decides she wants to pursue her ideals, or 2) tries to relive the past. She takes up the mantra, "Why not?," nothing is stopping us, and wants to pick up and move to Paris, where they will live a wholly atypical lifestyle for the times, and be something special again. Stop selling out and pursue "life." Leo's character gets on board and they have a few happy months dreaming and planning and nearly carry out their plan, but Leo is becomes reengaged in the dull lifestyle they have started and is tempted back into the rat-race by recognition from the higher ups and promise of more money. Kate Winslet is deeply disillusioned by this turn of events and develops a hatred for the man that Leo has become. Her vision of him as a true, free-thinking man is lost forever. She ultimately decides that she must also play this game and acts as he wants her to, but she appears to die inside and attempts an abortion on herself, which ultimately leads to her actual death. So this movie is about youthful ideals and ambitions selling out (or growing up?), ultimately leading to acceptance and self-delusion (maturing?) about meaningless (realistic?) life circumstances. There is a dichotomy between a "crazy" mathematics PhD thinking their pursuit of ideals is noble and brave, and coworkers and neighbors who think they are immature and whimsical. There is a scene at the end that tells us that the creators of the movie are on the side of the ideals, as an older man who has sold out long ago expresses fond remembrance of the couple, even as his wife chastises them for being unrealistic. You can imagine that most people in the movie industry would support pursuing their dreams because they all did and made it!

There is a difference in Up and Revolutionary Road in how youthful dreams are dealt with. In Up, the characters live happy lives, even though they are not as exciting as they imagined when they are young. In Revolutionary Road, however, the characters fight against the current circumstances and are ultimately unhappy when they do not pursue their dreams. And to reconcile this difference, I will suggest that... the characters in Up were not lying to themselves about how to be happy, and the Leo character was. The Up couple was true to themselves in their circumstance, whereas Leo and Kate were trying to lie about being happy. So stop with the self-denial, I guess, and discover a way to be happy with your circumstance and make it work for you.

So, to recap, these movies all express, in different ways, the importance of being yourself and pursuing your interests in order to be content now. That solely trying to please others is ultimately self-destructive and requires a large amount of self-denial. That true human relationships can only be had through true communication of things that matter, as opposed to trite daily occurrences. That allowing yourself to dream, and to care, is important in life, although the actual pursuit of dreams is not necessarily the path to happiness. And that there are always adventures out there, if you look for them.

Or something. ;)

05 June 2009

There is a God. The Last Guardian.

And he has granted us with an unbelievable looking sequel to Shadow of the Colossus. Praise whomever (Dormin? Wow, I'm dorky.).

The point is, now I have to save money to buy a stupid PS3. But it will be worth it, I'm sure. SIGH.

03 June 2009

A sort of aggressive extension on the abortion issue

There are a couple more examples I would like to equate to the irresponsibility of getting pregnant and aborting it, that everyone agrees is irresponsible, albeit maybe not as serious.
- The previously mentioned spending of money you do not have. Irresponsible.
- Say your dog has a litter of puppies because you fail to have her fixed. You can't take care of them, and having them put down or otherwise disposing of them is equitable to abortion, as opposed to trying to adopt them out. Or keeping them and not raising them healthily.
- Binging and purging. Ok, so you eat a whole pizza and realize that maybe you shouldn't have. So you throw it up. There is something wrong with this situation. Obviously you shouldn't have eaten the whole damn thing in the first place. Impulse control.

Unprotected sex is similarly related to impulse control and laziness and responsibility, in my opinion. Most of the time, everything is fine, so people continue to do it and assume everything will be fine. This is how unwanted pregnancies happen. (This is also sort of related to procrastinating in general. Procrastinating oftentimes turns out fine, so procrastinators don't bother to change their study/work habits) Somehow in the liberal mindset, it has become pejorative to not support abortion completely, that you are somehow switching sides and a traitor and against social justice. So people think it is ok just to get rid of "it", it is too much work to think about, etc. Maybe you should have thought about that in the first place.

Sorry, I'm being a little aggressive here...

That said, it is more allowable if the girl is younger and other circumstances would make it nearly impossible for her to correctly raise a child. But it is still undesirable. At a certain age and maturity level, it should be inexcusable (besides, you know, the extreme circumstances: rape, incest, mother health, etc).

ANYWAY, be responsible and get some goddamn birth control. It really is such an easy thing to do. And if you do have unprotected sex, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and get the morning after pill. I learned recently that if you get an IUD implanted within 6 days of unprotected sex, that also acts to prevent pregnancy, presumably by preventing implantation or promoting the rejection of the cell clump. AND THEN, you will be clear for all the sex you want for 5 years. Amazing technology.

.... I was also recently presented with that argument that the fetus is not really a life because it can't live on its own. That is interesting. That would put it in the category with, like, viruses, which I like to say are undead... I mean, I'm sure I've heard this argument before, but I've never really thought about it, soooo... I will have to think on it.

02 June 2009

The most sensible view on abortion I've ever heard.

William Saletan wrote an opinion piece on Slate.com discussing the recent murder of late-term abortion doctor George Tiller. What his argument amounts to is that people on both sides of the abortion issue are not actually true believers. Only people like George Tiller, who carried out some pretty horrific abortions, and his murderer, who believed he had to kill George Tiller to save unborn babies' lives, are the real believers. He also says that the reaction of pro-life groups, decrying the murder and suggesting education and legal action be taken to stop abortion, is against their statements about equally protecting the unborn, disabled, elderly, etc. You can imagine that a man who murdered disabled people would be widely condemned and action be sought against him. Whereas the much more limited reaction against women who pursue abortions and their doctors suggest that something lesser is occurring, unequal to the murders of born babies. So that is all pretty pro-choice of him to say, but he ends suggesting that it is still a tragedy, albeit not equal to the murder of a born person.

AND THEN. He also wrote an opinion piece in the NY Times calling for people from both sides to be practical about the issue, and that the stale arguments we are making are not preventing abortions, which most people would prefer. He suggests that education of people before these unwanted pregnancies is the key here and that we should see our abortion statistics as negative, like infant mortality, and everyone needs to take responsibility. In addition, birth control needs to be seen as a responsible and respectful option for everyone, as to negate the stigma surrounding its use. He also throws in a little bit about same-sex marriage and how it should be treated respectfully because it embodies the same commitment that heterosexual couples seek to achieve through their marriages. AND he also throws in some good words for Obama and how he is a very sensible man, and hopefully can help to adjust our societal consciousness.

So, all in all, this man is very sensible and has thought long and hard about an issue that most people would rather not have to consider. I agree with him, because although I consider myself pro-choice, I would rather abortions didn't need to happen, and especially as some sort of last resort birth control. That suggests irresponsibility to me. It is the sort of mentality that seems to permeate our society, that you will always get a second chance and that someone will be around to save you if you mess up. Sort of related to the whole credit problem, with people accumulating massive debt because they cannot resist their impulses. I myself am guilty of this, but I still think it is a fault.

Personal responsibility, people, come on now.