But of course

Here's the deal: Starting Monday the 2nd, I am sitting nine days of exams to pass into candidacy for my PhD. It's been rainy and grey here in Vancouver for months (months!); we only had one week of hot sun in May and grey drizzle since then. Check out the forecast for my exam period when I'll be buckling down, stuck inside and glued to the computer:

Monday is reasonable and appropriate weather for my first day of angst (yeah right, actually it's been months of angst as you all know) but the rest of the week, up around 25C every day?!

Wish me luck on the exams. I'll either be conspicuously absent from the blogosphere or I'll be blogging constantly to take mental breaks. We'll see. People around me have been very generous in their supportive offers like offering to drop off meals and offering their Sylvia espresso machine for the duration! A student colleague even offered to do some proof reading on the down low if I think I need it. Pretty sure that's against the rules of the exams so I won't be taking her up on it, but the offer is definitely appreciated. I'm going to try and keep running to salvage some sanity but this exam period will be a true test of my endurance.

When I resurface, I'll let you know how it went. I defend my responses in an oral defence on July 23rd so there is a long window for self-doubt and anxiety. I intend to get outta Dodge and drown my sorrows in a beer around a campfire somewhere in the gap after visiting with my parents who will be passing through. If you're local and interested in joining me in some car camping, let me know!


Announcing our registry!

We have been invited to a very la-di-dah wedding later in the year, and perusing the registries of those fine folks (they registered at Tiffany's and Pottery Barn) got us thinking that, damn, we don't need to get hitched to announce that we need/want stuff. In fact, all we need to do is to sign up!

Rocco and I would like to announce our gift registry at Canadian Tire. You can view our registered items here. Visit early and buy often! We'll be looking to collect on the registry around the time of our first ever anniversary, February 29th (get it? It's a leap year thing), 2008.

To entice you to visit and support the registry, here's a little taste of what you can expect on the list. We were thorough!
Debbie Travis Polka Dot Salad Plate (quantity: 4)

6Lb Fiberglass Maul (that's 'axe' to the rest of us, although I do like 'maul')

Monster Tetherball. Yep, Monster.



Some wacky German with a flair for electronics decided to wire his cat, Mr. Lee, with a still photo camera so he can see where the cat wanders during the day. Very clever, resulting in some cool photos and an interesting cat's eye view. The camera is attached to the cat's collar under the neck so in some shots you see the cat's chin and whiskers.

One of my favourite shots from the cat's third recorded adventure is this encounter with a snake!
I do have one question, and I'm sure it has already occurred to you too, and that is how many photos of the cat licking itself have been filtered out from the final photo album? In the page about how famous Mr. Lee became, there is a comic that raises the same question (click on comic to enlarge):

You'd think I would have better things to do with my time than find these random sites, right?


The perfect summer treat

Beer on a stick!
A restauranteur in Virginia has started serving what it calls hopsicles: beer and fruit medleys frozen on a stick like popsicles. Yum! The Virginia Department of Alcohol Control is giving them stick for it (oh, punny) because they believe the practice breaks the laws concerning how alcohol is served and sold. Bah humbug! They're just jealous they didn't think of it first!

Here's a link to a short video of the news story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/video/vs?id=RTGAM.20070622.wvbeer0622

Sorry, for whatever reason I'm not given as many options for creating this post as usual so I can't embed the link.


The Wrong Trousers

There's not much to 'get' here except that these three formed a band called The Wrong Trousers and do 80s covers on a mandolin, stand up bass, and a harp. I find them bizarrely intriguing.


Bragging Rights

At a wicked, wicked race (in both the good and bad senses of the term), I broke the 2-hour barrier! Not a feat I ever intended or expected to accomplish at this race, but there you have it! I'm truly elated and damn proud of it. Can you tell from the finish photo? I considered photoshopping out my belly flapping out of my shirt, but you know, it was part of the moment!

Rocco and I, with friends D&N, travelled to Ucluelet again, this time so N and I could race in the Edge-2-Edge half-marathon. True to N's alleged good luck with race weather, we actually didn't get rained on during the race though the whole weekend was pretty wet. Optimal run conditions (overcast, cool but not cold) and good company along the majority of the race, both with N running and D and Rocco supporting, certainly contributed to my achievement of a Personal Best time. N wasn't even planning to finish the race as she had been maxing out around 13km in her long runs all year due to some ongoing knee and hip pain, but she kind of got caught up in the race fever! At kilometer 15 the route leaves the paved path along the road and enters the Wild Pacific Trail for 4km. N figured she would quit at 15km but decided to come with me on the trail portion just a little to see what it was like. Well, once you're in, you're pretty much in, and that's where the real scenery began as well. She finished the trail section having pulled back a little, then decided to tough out the remaining 2km through the town of Ucluelet. She finished with a totally respectable time only about 10 minutes after me! And this for a runner who intended to quit and get a ride to the finish line. She impressed us all! Take a look at the course route and elevation profile in the link above - hill training around Vancouver can only partly prepare a runner for this course. So fun, but so tough and very, very beautiful.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing in the private outdoor hot tub at our rental unit in Point West Cottages. Aaaahhhh, quelle luxe! We also wandered a little around Ucluelet and Tofino, dining at SoBo in Tofino, which has recently moved indoors from the original cook's trailer and picnic tables though the trailer is still in use for lunches. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, it is highly recommended.

That's the gist of it. We're back, we're hoping to have our kitty back tonight at some point if we can lure her away from Miranda's adoring care, and we're going to bed early! Back to the books for me tomorrow. I could start back at it tonight but, well... I ran a sub-2 (runner lingo I have earned the right to), so I'm treating myself by taking it a little easy until tomorrow morning. Maybe I'm still on the endorphin rush! But the race was Sunday morning?! I'm definitely still riding the high!


Hot Doc: Yoga Inc.

A new documentary screened at the Toronto Hots Docs festival recently and was reviewed in the Globe and Mail (where I first heard of the film). Yoga Inc. is a documentary about the commoditization of yoga from a meditative practice to a fashion statement. The film follows Vancouver company LuLu Lemon in its rise to fame and riches as the company peddles yoga mats, stretchy tees, mantras and specialised tea to the masses.
Here's a review from the Hot Docs folks:
Yoga has become the West's workout of choice and with studios popping up at a Starbucks rate, there's no surprise that this spiritual sport is now a multimillion dollar industry. But chakra panties, copyrighted yoga poses and a push to include yoga in the Olympics? Surely this all flies in the face of a sacred practice that's rooted in the teachings of renunciation and the search for self-knowledge and personal freedom. Filmmaker John Philps considers the misappropriations of a tradition-cum-trend by consulting with yoga competition winners, studio owners, purist practitioners and anti-yoga entrepreneurs. To further inform his musings, he attempts to track down guru Bikram Choudhary, "the bad boy of yoga" famous for his "hot" style of yoga and infamous for suing yogi instructors who teach his trademarked postures without permission. Yoga, Inc., which promises to fascinate yoga enthusiasts and cynics alike, is an entertaining, insightful and topical anthropological examination of what happens when karma and capitalism collide.

I'm not sure when it's coming to Vancouver but if anyone catches this flick somewhere else, please let me know what you think of it. I'm quite looking forward to the expected cynicism and seeing the inner workings of a money-hungry industry capitalising on the human quest for self-fulfillment. Jerks. Pfft.