enjoying the foliage

Archive for July 2008

1. I got back from Japan last Monday. I had wonderful company and a fabulous time. Coming home was awfully dull and made worse by the fact that I had terrible jet lag that lasted me almost an entire week. I had nothing of real purpose to do last week outside of going to class for one day and catching up on studying, so I ended up succumbing to the midday sleepiness. I had drive my mom to work once and she actually made me pull over and slap myself awake. I think I finally got over it because I was at a conference over the weekend that forced me to be functional and interact with people over the entire course of the day that involved sunlight. But this bout of jet lag wasn’t as bad as in second year, when I came back from a trip to India in January and ended up with vampire-like sleep schedules for an entire month. I don’t have any recollection of how I managed to study for most of second semester. Conclusion: a) your SCN is a powerful thing, b) do blind people have significant jet lag?, and c) I miss Japan.

2. A friend I made whilst in Japan told me about this design website called NOTCOT. After finally remembering what it was called yesterday, I paid a visit. Fatefully, the first thing I saw was my name plastered across the website. Seriously! I’d heard of this skincare line before, but figured it was a little drugstore brand in India, perhaps to be found next to the bottles of coconut oil and Closeup toothpaste exports at the tiny Indian grocery shop about two minutes from my house. In other words, nothing to exclaim about. But now I can own a bottle of face wash with my name on it, that I may actually like. Natural, eco-friendly, prettily packaged! Perhaps it will become famous, like Aveda, and a spa will open at every Square One-equivalent in every suburb, and I won’t have to explain to people how to say my name anymore. How strange would that be?

And on a (slightly) related note, the Pratimas on the internet are designers, artists, decorators, and professors professing corporate social responsibility. We aren’t a bad bunch, I think.

3. Apart from a few odd hours a week, I’m not really working for the rest of the summer. I’ve been looking for things to do to occupy my time. Today, I stopped by Chapters to pick up a “Teach Yourself Hindi!” package with a CD. Recently I’ve been feeling pitiful about my inability to speak any second language with any measure of proficiency, and figured that learning Hindi has the highest potential for success (also I think it sounds awesome, and would be helpful for Bollywood viewing). The lessons in the language text I bought are entirely based around this soapy story about a “foreigner” named Pratap from Nepal (?) visiting a family in India and falling in love with the teenage daughter, or something. Awesome.

I’ve also investigated volunteering with a couple of environmental NGOs in Mississauga. I’m hoping it’ll workout.

4. And finally, you may have seen this floating around already today (it was on Kottke), but I’m so amused that I’m linking it here too. Fonts at a Font Conference! Wingdings<3.



Hello from Costa Rica!

The farm is a land of extreme mountains, extreme cliffs, extreme green, and extreme blackouts and water offages and bad roads.  Volunteers come and go.  We ride horses.  People get injured.  There are crises.  A bug peed on my leg and gave me this giant burning rash.  It´s pretty awesome.

¿See you soon?

With my long-winded first post out of the way, I can now get down to the srs bizznez of sharing awesome links.

LiveScience. This is a site of the latest and most interesting advances in science written in very accessible language. This is where I go to find out the latest on cloaking devices (coming soon to a military near you) and to look at really damn weird fish. The site has changed recently to include ads and reader comments, but both are easy enough to ignore. (The reader comments really should be ignored, for the most part.) All in all, a good starting point to find out about Cool Science Thanngs. 😀

FreeRice. A word-defining game where every correct answer means 20 grains of rice towards the UN World Food Program. I can’t think of a better concept.

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Guys, I’m in Japan and it’s amazing. I am entertaining thoughts of moving here at some point in the next couple of years, though I have no idea how much of a possibility that would be. I will write up a huge blog entry when I get back, the contents of which will include:

– how lovely everyone is

– traveling ALONE in a foreign country, all Kerouac-inspired

– buying clothing in Japan

– getting around with no knowledge of Japanese

– globalisation/MNCs

Proof that I, or at least my feet, are in Japan.

Proof that I, or at least my big feet, are in Japan.

I’ll be back on the 14th!

So I’ve been meaning to start writing in here for quite a while, and I’m finally sufficiently angry at the world to begin.

Some background:

I am a student. A poor one at that; one indebted to the governments of Ontario and Canada for most of my adult life, by the looks of it. So I live a fairly typical poor-student existence.

This summer I’m working a full-time job in the heart of Toronto. (By “heart,” I’m referring of course to whatever happens to be my geographical location at the time, having nothing to do with other more accurate labels.) Since I’m a poor student, I need to save everything I’m earning and then some in order to pay for my next semester of schooling. This doesn’t leave much in the way of the essentials of healthy living, let alone entertainment. (Guess which is a higher priority?)

So when I checked the mail two days ago and happened upon a shiny flyer advertising “$2 PER WEEK” I naturally had to look closer. It was for the local eXtreme Fitness, and it was an offer “I couldn’t refuse.” So a short call later, I’m taking a tour of a gym with TV screens on every machine and lounges filled with leather couches and free shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the change rooms. Definitely fancier than anything I’ve been to. So the offer is $2 a week for 2 months and then *cough* $129 a month after that. Except that I have no obligation to stay longer than the two months. And I will obviously be taking full advantage of that.

So you know, I’m sold; and I now have a gym membership for the remainder of my time here for the low low price of $16.

I’m psyched because not only do I get access to things that my grubby little hands really shouldn’t have access to, I get a free fitness consultation before I start that will give me a “comprehensive overview of the steps I need to undertake in order to achieve my fitness goals.” Sweet.

I go in, meet with my fitness consultant, and proceed to engage in a series of tests that are way too reminiscent of grade 9 gym class and all of the associated humiliation and sweatiness. He also takes my measurements and body composition, reviews a list I’d prepared of foods I ate yesterday, and then makes his recommendations. He tells me very politely that I’m basically completely out of shape, have no idea about technique and could be eating much better. I agree. So he recommends a few sessions with a nutritionist and with a coach who would educate me on the proper form and technique of some basic exercises.

I know this is sales pitch, and I’m ready to reject anything and everything that isn’t free. But I try to remind myself that another $30 or $40 really wouldn’t be a bad investment if it meant I learned how to work out and eat properly. At this point he takes me to his manager because she has more detailed information on what kinds of packages would be most suited to me.

What followed was a lengthy conversation with the not-very-in-shape-either manager who told me all about the student plans they offered. She went over my options, discussed the best combination of workout sessions and coaching with the time frame I was looking at. (I was very honest that I was here for 2 months and 2 months only)

“So,” she finished, would I prefer 8 sessions with a coach and 4 with a nutritionist for 12 monthly payments of $112 or 6 sessions with a coach and 4 with a nutritionist for 12 monthly payments of only $68?


It would have been fine! It would have been fine, if she hadn’t set it up like she was doing me a favour by starting with the installment plan instead of asking for a lump sum right away. And okay, it worked a little. I did actually consider the cheaper option, because okay, 12 x 68 hadn’t yet translated to OVER 800 DOLLARS for advice. ADVICE. She made it sound like it was the most reasonable thing in the world! So I went along with it, gave it thought, asked what kinds of resources I’d be getting, and how much would I be able to take with me. Or would I be dependent on this particular gym for everything? Maybe that kind of investment would be okay, you know, if I got lifelong knowledge and tools and skills that would lead to me being toned and buff forever. Yeah, I thought, maybe that’d be worth it.

“Well, do *you* know how to do a muscle ****jargon**** evaluation? I can tell from just looking at you that you have postural problems. But you didn’t know any of that, did you?” I chuckled nervously. She said, “This isn’t a complete package by any means. Maybe if you were here longer…”

At that point I said I needed time to think, thanked her for her time, and left.

I’m sorry, but I do believe it’s possible to get fit and be healthy without having to pay thousands of dollars for it. I understand they have to offset the ridiculously low membership price they gave me. And maybe it’d make some sense if they were doing intensive tests to gauge my metabolism and the way I personally react to certain foods and certain exercises. Because okay, that would be useful information and kind of cool to know. Or maybe if the fitness consultant hadn’t made me jump through all those hoops only to conclude that a reasonable goal for my 2 months in the gym was to lose 3 pounds of fat and gain 1.5 pounds of muscle. Maybe if I was a bit heavier, possibly on the side of morbidly obese.


I’m just baffled that I live in a society where someone can talk about this kind of proposition as if it makes any kind of sense.


I have my membership; I have access to exercise machines with newly patented circular hinges and HD TV lounges; I have the internet and all of its gloriously free information; and I am going to get in shape.

For 16 dollars.

And then I will caress the manager’s face with my toned abs, cry “HA! SO THERE” and power-walk all the way to Waterloo. (Gas prices are so damned high these days.)