Monthly Archives: January 2005

Halfway Point

Today is Day 15 of my 30-day detox — I’m exactly half way through.

I’m still not feeling radically different… I’m beginning to think that my normal lifestyle isn’t so toxic after all!

This Week’s Link Selection

One serious and two humorous (and quite possibly offensive — you have been warned!) links to share:

Gore Vidal Interview

Robert Knight of WBAI radio interviews Gore Vidal, one of the most intelligent and sensible American political commentators over many decades (thanks to George W. for this one): gore_vidal-wbai-robert_knight-jan-20-2005.mp3

London Underground

A very funny and angry song about striking London Underground tube drivers. You can also buy a whole CD by these two doctors, and all of the proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Relief; go to (as an aside, I have to say that, from the perspective of an former resident but intermittent visitor to London over the last 5 years or so, public transport in the capital seems to have improved somewhat). Warning: The song contains a LOT of strong language, and is not for the easily offended (thanks to Sebastian B. for this): LondonUnderground.mp3

Viral VW advertisement

This is either a parody or a viral advertisement from Volkswagen, but it’s as funny as it is tasteless — the filename gives you a clue as to the topical content. Again, this is not for the easily offended (thanks to Scyld B. for this). vw-suicide-bomber

Detox Day 12

Today is day 12 of my 30-day detox (for details about the detox programme itself, see previous entry, A Clean Start), and so far it’s been fairly unproblematic; I haven’t experienced any huge cravings or withdrawal-type symptoms (such as the anticipated caffeine withdrawal headaches) whatsoever.

My only real complaints are that the diet is both time-consuming — I seem to be spending most of my time either shopping, cooking, eating or cleaning-up at the moment — and quite boring.

Of all the things I’m avoiding on this programme, salt is probably the most inconvenient; it’s in pretty much any processed food product with more than one ingredient, even those from the nearby heath food store (where I suspect I’m single-handedly putting the proprietor’s children through college).

I’ve noticed a few changes in my overall health and well-being, although nothing very dramatic so far… Both my energy level and general mood are much more consistent and even throughout the day, without any significant highs or lows, and I probably have slightly more energy in total than usual. My blood pressure is somewhat variable, ranging from levels that are higher than usual (134/79) to the lowest reading I’ve had in 4 years (108/57). My weight has also been fluctuating between 165 lbs and 168 lbs — again, on the low side of normal.

I’ll reach the halfway point this Thursday; hopefully there are more improvements to come!

Yay Snow!

I was starting to think winter wasn’t going to happen in New York this year, but we’re getting the first storm of the season today — it is DUMPING snow, forecasts for up to 3 feet in the city alone!

Time to get the snowboarding gear out, I think…

And since I don’t have health insurance at the moment, I finally bought a snowboarding helmet (alas, too late to avoid last year’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and resulting facial injuries).

This helmet is pretty cool though — it’s a R.E.D. Audio HiFi, and has built-in headphones for listening to tunes “on the lifts”!

Fortress of Solitude

Today I finished reading (with some regret) Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

It’s a sprawling epic covering 30-some years of a guy’s life that somehow blends the grittily realistic description of a white kid growing up with a single and distant parent in ostensibly black 70’s Brooklyn, with the magical realism of his comic book superpowers! A bit like a cross between Richard Ford and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, if you can imagine such a thing.

I’m not going to review the book here, as that’s been done plenty of times already (just try Googling it), but part of the appeal of the book for me was that the main protagonist, Dylan Ebdus, grew up around the same time as I did, in the neighbourhood that I currently live in; like Motherless Brooklyn (the other book of Lethem’s that I enjoyed), the bulk of this story is set in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, just a few blocks north of where I’m sitting right now.

This whole neighbourhood has undergone significant gentrification over the last few decades, and this process is described in detail throughout the book:

“..there was no understanding until I saw it with my own eyes: impoverished Smith Street had been converted to an upscale playground.”

“The street would be barely recognizable for how chic it had become, except the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans had stuck around. They were refugees in their own land, seated on milk cartons sipping from paper bags, wheeling groceries home from Met Food, beckoning across the street from third floor sills, trying to pretend gentrification hadn’t landed like a bomb.”

The other thing I found interesting about the book is that it switches from a third-person to a first-person narrative about half-way through.

Anyway, I really enjoyed both books, so here are the “filthy lucre” commission links:

Cold Snap

Finally, after an East Coast winter that’s been disturbingly mild (disturbing against the backdrop of Asian tsunamis, Ohio floods and California mudslides at least), it got appropriately cold today — the temperature in New York is predicted to drop down to -10 degrees Celsius today (14 Fahrenheit).

A Clean Start

Today I embarked upon a comprehensive 30-day detoxification programme.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a “detox” for some time now, and the timimg seems particularly good right now; in addition to cleansing my body of both the excesses of the recent holiday period and a prior lifetime-to-date’s worth of accumulated toxins, January is typically a fairly quiet period socially, and it also seems like a good way to eke out my dwindling funds a little longer while I find another job! Plus, my friend Scyld is doing his second detox, and it seems like the kind of exercise that’s easier to do with a friend’s support.

Anyway, the programme I’m doing (at Scyld’s recommendation) is the “30-Day Ultimate Detox,” as prescribed in the books “Total Detox” and “Detox Yourself” by British author Jane Scrivner (filthy lucre links below):

The dietary part of the programme is very strict; alcohol, caffeine, sugar, salt, meat, dairy, eggs, bread, and chocolate are all strictly verboten, as are some more surprising foods such as avocados, bananas, lentils, mushrooms, oranges, peanuts, spinach and tomatoes.

The programme also includes “body” and “mind” components, with various prescriptions about exercise, breathing, exfoliation and positive thinking etc., although I will probably take a somewhat more liberal attitude towards these aspects of the programme.

Anyway, after acquiring most of the necessary supplies at great expense from the health food store earlier in the week and taking some reference measurements yesterday for weight and blood pressure (168.6 lbs & 128/81 mm Hg respectively), I finally started the programme this morning.

I started my day with a pint of hot water mixed with the juice of half a lemon, then had a breakfast of half a canteloupe melon with vanilla soy yoghurt, cranberries, almonds and honey, followed by garlic and kelp supplements in tablet form washed down with a glass of carrot juice. Apart from the carrot juice (which was gross) it was actually delicious, although technically the yoghurt wasn’t completely kosher because it contained cane juice. However, although tasty, breakfast wasn’t very filling, and I was hungry pretty much immediately afterwards.

Later in the day I went shopping with Scyld, who showed me how to make roasted veggies for lunch — potatoes, yams, parsnips, onions, beetroot and garlic, all drizzled in olive oil and herbs and roasted in the oven. They were pretty good, although they took a long time to cook.

For dinner, I had some tilapia baked in foil with an olive oil, lemon juice and herb marinade, along with my mandatory daily serving of short-grain brown rice and some spring mix salad with a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

For treats during the day, I’ve been eating carob-coated almonds with no added sugar… This is probably cheating, since they taste pretty sweet anyway, but I figure a few minor concessions at the start is OK.

On the whole, the first day on the detox hasn’t been too bad, and hopefully it will get progressively easier as I get more familiar with the preparation methods (although it’s definitely going to be much more time-consuming than my regular diet). I don’t really have any strong cravings or adverse reactions so far either, which is fortunate. Perhaps the very slightest hint of a caffeine withdrawal headache, and I perhaps feel a little more tired than usual for this time of night, but nothing problematic as yet.

Anyway, I’ll post further updates on how I get along in due course.

I Am No Longer An iPod User

Within days of Steve Jobs’ announcement of a whole raft of new Apple products including the new iPod Shuffle (more on this shortly), I can announce that I am no longer an iPod user.

This has less to do with my reservations about iPods in general (see blog passim), and more to do with the fact that my father knocked my bag off a chair and smashed my iPod while I was visiting over the holidays. Although it only fell a few feet in a padded bag, the iPod broke the fall of my burly laptop (which thankfully survived the fall).

The LCD now only displays an abstract liquid crystal pattern, and there is a neat round dent in the metal casing (not dissimilar to how a bullet hole might look), where the full force of my falling laptop was transmitted to the iPod via an earbud headphone. Activating the device now results only in a sickening grinding noise from the hard drive, and a melancholy feeling that yet another expensive item of consumer electronic equipment has come to a premature demise in my possession.

So, unless my credit card company agrees to pay out under the product protection insurance (unlikely, since I claimed after the 90 day period had elapsed), I’m going back to Minidisc for the forseeable future.

Now, back to the iPod Shuffle, and the ever-growing Cult of Mac… Firstly, I have a lingering unease with the whole “shuffle” concept, whereby music is played in a random order. I didn’t mention it in my original iPod rant, and I confess that I’ve used the shuffle feature more than once on both my iPod and on my laptop with iTunes, but I always feel it’s kind of a cop-out that lessens the value of the music somehow; the fact that I can’t even be bothered to decide what to listen to highlights the increasingly ephemeral and disposable nature of music itself, a process that probably started with the demise of vinyl and has been hastened by the separation of music from physical media altogether.

Secondly, I’m starting to get really pissed off with the whole “Cult of Mac” thing, it’s getting really silly now. Mind you, this parody ad for Apple iProduct made me laugh (thanks to Jim M. for tipping me off to this one).

Blogger’s Block

It’s been almost a month since I last posted anything here — I’ve been feeling strangely uncomfortable about resuming my normal inane day-to-day ramblings without first commenting on the tsunami that hit southeast Asia on Boxing Day, but the shocking magnitude of the calamity has rendered me inarticulate. Why does real life seem to be increasingly emulating bad disaster movies these days?

But, life goes on — at least, for those of us that weren’t washed away by a huge tidal wave anyway.