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About a year ago I weighed 190 pounds at five foot seven. I craved and ate a lot of sugar. I guzzled down cans of soda pop and I even started eating processed meat. (I hate processed meat!) I could blame the medication that I was on that increased my appetite but I have to admit that it didn’t force those can of soda down my throat. I decided to go on a fitness kick and see if I could turn it around. I replaced the cans of pop with the diet versions and lost twenty pounds in a very short period of time. I lost the craving for sugar water and I soon got bored with the diet pop. I started going to Zumba class and I got myself a gym membership. I made myself eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed garbage. It took just under a year but now I am down to 150 pounds and I am pretty proud of myself. I don’t believe that I need to lose any more weight but I am still losing a little bit. Here are my weight loss tips that I hope you will find handy.

1. Learn the calorie content of everything you eat. Keep track of it. There are a whole bunch of apps and web sites that can help you do this. There is calorie counter and fit day and probably a bunch of other ones I know nothing about.

2. If you are craving something loaded with sugar and fat, eat a few fruits and vegetables before you indulge in the calorie saturated treat. That way you will eat less of it.

3. Set small fitness goals. When you first start out you will want to make them small and attainable. It could be walk the dog for half an hour. Or stay on the treadmill for twenty minutes. Make sure you don’t wear yourself out completely and get discouraged. Try to set personal bests that are slightly better than your last personal best. Once you meet your goal of walking the dog for half an hour try going to Zumba class twice a week. Or running 1 mile.

4. If you fall off the wagon and binge on unhealthy food or lose your resolve to get off the couch, just get back on the wagon and try again. Changing habits is hard and it’s ok to make mistakes. Get back on that pony and try again.

5. Join a fitness group. It can be a great help. I enjoy the solitude of running but it is also enjoyable to work out with others. Bring a friend along on your run.

6. Get a gym membership. If you spend the money you will be annoyed if you don’t use it.

7. Quit eating take out food. It’s horrid crap loaded with chemicals. And most take out food places are generally evil so don’t give them your money.

8. Listen to your body. If it hurts back off. You don’t want to get injured and make working out impossible.

9. I love android so much because of my favorite running app. It’s called cardio trainer and it keeps track of your running routes and all your stats. It maps out your running routes and helps you keep track of how many calories you burn each week as well as your running speed.

10. Have a treat once in a while. Go to Mr. Ribs and gorge on delicious food. Reward yourself with that plate of ribs with a side of baked potato covered in cheese, butter and sour cream. Living off of salad gets old really fast.

11. Don’t be all or nothing. Treat calories like money. Save up for the occasional indulgence. Unless you are a Keynesian economist, this will help a lot. Don’t act like you are a terrible sinner if you enjoy life once in a while. People seem to think that eating a hot dog once in a while is terrible. This all or nothing attitude can really be discouraging.

12. Cardio is great for weight loss and so is lifting weights. I hate lifting weights and never do it myself but it is extremely helpful. Maybe lifting weights twice a week can be my next fitness goal.

There you have it, my fitness tips. I hope you find this interesting and helpful. Stay healthy!

I laugh at the sentimental nineties kids. Do they not remember how much it sucked? I don’t miss them one bit. No facebook, twitter, cell phones, tumblr, just shitty reruns on the staticky satellite on the Disney channel. Or farm TV with three channels, CBC, CTV and the French channel. If you needed to call and you were out and about you had to use a payphone. If you didn’t have a quarter you were SOL. Computers were glorified typewriters that you could write papers with and play Oregon Trail if you were lucky. The mile-high, stiff, hair-sprayed hair. The atrocious fashions that were like a rainbow that threw up. Getting your news from the television. Using landlines to talk to your friends or actually having to get off the couch and walk to their house. I had to go outside and ride my bike for entertainment. You can only skip so many snakes at the local watering hole before you get bored to tears. People that miss the nineties are fools, fools I tell you! The only thing I miss is blaring MC Hammer and 2live crue to annoy the hell out of my parents and convince them that kids these days will grow up to be miscreants and ne’er do wells. Hammer pants were comfortable even if they were a fashion nightmare. Can you believe that my dad wore hammer pants? I guess I can’t fault him for that. I thought I looked pretty good in my jean skirt and Hawaiian scenery shirt.

Open source energy is one of those things that I can’t help getting excited about, even though it only exists in my head. Let’s say somebody comes up with a truly amazing way to make electricity out of sunbeams. It is made out of everyday household items. You could disassemble the broken junk you didn’t enough pay money more from Wal-Mart and use it build the sunbeam-to-electricity machine. Now imagine if the plans for this machine were drawn up, spread over the internet and saved on many hard drives. Let’s suppose also that we printed it up in a book named Open Source Energy and put copies of it in every hotel room, prison cell and hospital room. The authors of this work would give this technology away for free and we put a stop to many of the problems in this world. Perhaps we could reverse climate change and we could have winter again. We could stop paying for fuel at the pump and deprive a lot of people of money. It seems to me to be an excellent idea. Now if only somebody had invented this magic machine.

Before I begin I will state that many schools have already begun phasing out spelling tests. I do know of many teachers that use them but they are gradually phasing them out. This is a great thing and I will explain the reasons this change is necessary.

First I will define spelling tests. A word list is sent home on Monday for study during the week. On Friday the kids listen to a teacher dictate the words orally and they attempt to spell them correctly. The tests are marked and a percentage grade is awarded.

One of the reasons I oppose this is the fact that grading is perhaps the best way to get a child to hate school and learning. If you assign a grade to a students’ work you are motivating them to learn to earn marks. Marks become the reason for learning. It squelches the desire to learn for its own sake.

For students that excell in school, spelling tests are wonderful things. I always got ten out of ten and much praise for my spelling ability. Despite the fact that I never studied or put the slightest bit of effort into it.

Spelling tests are super boring. Learning things that aren’t interesting or fun is very difficult. Reading and writing about interesting things is much, much better.

For students who struggle to read and write, I can’t imagine anything more demoitvating then getting a two out of ten week after week. After a while it would seem pointless to try and we are already setting up the student for a lifetime of failure in school. Some kids have a really hard time and need a lot of support to learn. It is essential that they have the kindest learning environment possible.

It starts the sorting process of school. Kids get grouped into smart, average and stupid from a young age and they never lose this label. Marked assessments contribute greatly to this problem.

Spelling tests are also a poor way to learn spelling. There are much better strategies. There is phonics, sounding out, memorization and editing your written work. Not to mention that in this day and age, spell checkers are the way to go. You no longer have to spell perfectly, you can do it with the help of spell check. I realize that spell check is often used incorrectly but that is why instruction in how to use it properly is so important.

I am not trying to say that spelling is unimportant. I am saying it is over-rated. It can be taught while speaking, writing and reading. The more you read, write and speak, the more exposure you get to words and the easier spelling becomes. Even famous authors get their work edited. Why not kids’ work?

I have a few friends that are libertarians. They try to tempt me into the libertarian fold. There are a lot of things about the philosophy that appeals to me a great deal. I like the idea of smaller government. I would prefer that we stop wasting money locking people up for non-violent crimes such as drug use or mental illness. I like the idea of voluntary government. I like civil rights. I like the idea that my rights end where yours begin. There are other things that I like. However there are many more things about libertarianism that I greatly dislike that I can’t overcome and therefore I will never ever join this cool kids club. Read More »

I absolutely love buying and selling things online. It’s a good way to make some money getting rid of things you don’t really need. I have bought and sold everything from vehicles to phones to clothes and horse tack. Ok the horse tack is what my kid purchased not me. Anyway there are some tricks to bargaining that will help you get the best price and scoop up the best deals.

Posting ads

1. Mark the price up ten to twenty percent higher than you think the item is worth.

2. Never accept an offer below your first price in the first week. Some people will offer you a super low price right after posting the ad because you might be looking to get rid of the item ASAP.

3. After a week or so drop your price and accept lower offers. Unless you have a lot of patience. If you wait it out somebody might come along and buy your item. But then again maybe not.

4. Delete your ad after you sell. It’s annoying replying to an ad for an item that has already been sold.

5. Always post an asking price. If you don’t people will send you ridiculous low-ball offers. You won’t get what you want.

6. Always post a photo. Ads with photos get way more hits.

Shopping for stuff

1. Offer about ten to twenty percent off the asking price. Everybody on kijiji does this. That’s why you post it higher than you think the item is worth. This is especially true if the ad has been up for a few weeks. They may have low interest in their item and they may really want the item gone and will take a lower offer.

2. Always respond to ads without photos. Everyone ignores those ads because they are risky but often those are the best items.

3. Use the watch list. If you are sending a lot of email it can be hard to keep track of who you have been in contact with.

General tips

1. Remember that an item is worth exactly as much as someone is willing to pay for it. Compare the prices posted of similar items to determine what you should pay.

2. You buy as is. If it breaks you’re out of luck. No refunds no guarantees.

3. Be careful. It’s a good idea to meet at someone’s house. It shows they have nothing to hide.

4. If its too good to be true be aware. It could be stolen. Let me know if I missed anything. I think that about covers it. Happy shopping!

I was heartened by the news that Nathan Cullen is for co-operation in the next election.

Of course, his scheme is simplistic and self-serving: some means of apportioning the candidates in a fair manner can be arrived at.

I am tired of being dictated to by a minority.  Let’s co-operate.

Lying awake last night, I was contemplating how thoroughly the government depends on our cooperation for the functioning of our country.

That’s one of the lessons of the drug war, after all.  The government created the drug war by making drugs illegal: the supposed purpose was to stop the use of certain drugs.  There is no evidence that the use of those certain drugs has been decreased, let alone stopped.  Approximately 6% – 10% of the population distributes and uses drugs freely under the noses of those who claim to control the situation.  When I say there is no evidence, I mean that anyone who wants drugs can get them, just about anywhere – as has been documented by many studies as well as personal observation.  My favorite evidence of our failure is a parliamentary committee recommending that we rid our jails of illicit drugs: if we can’t keep them out of prisons, for heaven’s sake, what would you have to do to open society to control drugs?  Run it with less freedom than we have in our prisons!  Do you want to live in a prison?   Do you think it worth protecting a junkie from heroin to turn your home into a prison?

Compare that to murder, for example: more than 99% of the population agrees that murder is wrong and actively helps the police when it occurs.  Regardless of the propagandistic nonsense that is shown on TV CSI shows, most crimes that are solved are solved because people tell the police who done it.  If even 1% of the population do not cooperate with a law, then forget about stopping them.

If 6% do not cooperate, then you have open drug markets (to those that want them) and the law becomes irrelevant except for two things:

  1. Some unlucky people are caught and punished – without any measurable effect of reducing the availability of drugs.  Those people are typically damaged by the catching.
  2. Most of the 6-10% of people who produce, distribute or consume drugs do not feel safe participating in politics since they do not want to get caught.
So it divides the population into us and them: the good people and the bad.

And that is one benefit of the war on drugs: choose an inconsequential scapegoat; separate them out and blame them for what is wrong in our world; make everyone else feel better (although afraid)!

Divide and conquer kept the British Empire going.  It works for our government, too.

I enjoyed the recent press on the UCSF study of marijuana and lung function – it repeats again the findings that marijuana, unlike tobacco, is not bad for your lungs. Unlike the bullshit regularly trotted out, moderate marijuana use actually improves lung function, strikingly similar to the way it actually appears to decrease cancer rates.  Of course, the authors don’t recommend marijuana for your health, but they could.

I have known heavy smokers of marijuana who cough the juiciest and unhealthiest coughs every day.  If you’re smoking that much, you’re not doing yourself a favor, but you are not risking anything major either – other than the waste of life and good dope that comes from smoking too much.  Moderate yourself!

The Liberals have once again affirmed that cannabis should be legalized.  They seem to do this regularly when out of office, and then forget the issue when elected or make lame attempts at “decriminalization” which means continued prohibition with parking tickets for users and jail time for producers and distributors.  Maybe this time will be different – but I doubt it.  It will take more than the Young Liberals when out of office to make the change.

Friends have told me that the Le Dain commissioners were pro-pot, too, and expected legalization to follow their report.  In doing a little research on Trudeau and pot, I got to read about Margaret Trudeau and found this fun website devoted to famous users.  Pierre, apparently, did not approve, but the site has many others who did.