Archive for October, 2007

Ow ow ow ow ow. Ow.

I exercised. Ow.

I’ve been walking, convincing myself that is exercise. It is, right? But it clearly isn’t cutting it, so now that all three kids are in school full time and I don’t have a full time job, it is time to ratchet up the exercise. Significantly.

My fibromyalgia is bad. Very bad. Washing and cutting up potatoes to boil causes extreme neck pain, for instance. This makes dinner difficult. Every little injury hurts for days, and I am only getting worse. I take 2 pills in the morning and 4 in the evening, and that isn’t counting the pain pills (which I am still slowing weaning off successfully, so at least that is going in the right direction). I feel like I keep propping myself up chemically while the foundation crumbles.

So, time to rebuild the foundation. I swam laps for half an hour this afternoon. I paused every 50 meters (2 pool lengths) to rest, could only do breast stroke and my shoulders and neck still complained (front crawl is completely unbearable) and pulled a calf muscle. All my muscles are screaming, which has tipped me off to how much walking wasn’t really exercise.

I’m going back Friday, then Monday, then Wednesday again. And I signed up for yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays, and will not quit this time, no matter what. And once my body stops screaming at me for all that, I will add weight training. This will not be pretty. The squeamish among you may want to avert your eyes.


You know what I don’t get – how people manage to throw up photos so fast onto their blogs. Getting them the right size so that they don’t eat all my space takes time, and slows me down. I have two photos ready to go, except their pictures aren’t. Off to work on that.

Oh, and I also don’t get the point of having tags and categories. What’s the difference?

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Apparently, I was remiss in my description of certain details. Okay, Jon Stewart looked exactly the same in person as on the tube. You know how people sometimes say that celebrities look smaller in person? Well, Jon never struck me as particularly tall, and he isn’t. He really was just the same. The other two as well. Exactly the same as you’d expect.

He behaves pretty much the same too. He’s friendly, has a sense of humor, good at ad-libbing. He didn’t arrive on the set like a prima donna and order people around, for example. He was professional and while he didn’t spent a lot of time with us, he did chat with us for a while beforehand and did come out after to thank us. He seemed genuinely appreciative.

It was weird seeing him talk straight to the camera as though he were talking to the audience. We were supposed to respond as though he was talking to us (at the beginning of the show, he started with, “So, how you feeling? How are the kids?”). And his reactions were, of course, also straight to the camera. It made me more aware of how much of a performance it is of his. I mean, of course it is a performance. It is just weirder to see in person.

And, watching the show on TV afterwards, I realized that it is actually easier to engage with what is going on sitting in front of the tube in your living room than being on the audience. We missed some of what he said, had to peer around cameras, etc. Which didn’t make it any less cool, of course, but I wouldn’t want to see the show that way every day.

Oh, and I appeared on the show, for the merest nanosecond! After Jon introduces the guest, the camera cuts to him coming out and you can see a few people  in the audience right at the edge. Pause exactly at that moment and there I am! Our friend here has a crappy TV, so I don’t know how clear it could be, but on this TV I am a red blob to the very left of the screen, second row. If it is any clearer on other TVs, then I have actual proof of being there. How exciting.

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That’s what they made us do in the Daily Show audience this afternoon before Jon Stewart came out, which seemed a little over the top.

So, here it is, for those (Yogamum) who are living vicariously through me.
When we arrived at Comedy Central, which is a boring little office building, there was already quite a line-up on the left of the doors. On the right, with the sign, VIPs, was a line of about 6 people. As we assessed the situation, the official door guy told us the line actually continued around the corner.

Around we went and stood behind a nice older woman, waiting alone. Meanwhile, J phoned our friend who got the tickets, S, who hadn’t arrived yet, as we thought he had said something about having VIP tickets. Sure enough we had, so we happily abandoned the long line for the short line. I was number 13. Lucky 13.

After a long wait, they brought us in, putting us through a metal detector and confiscating my jackknife. Odd. We then waited in a plain white room for another long, long time. Finally, someone came along to tell us how important we were to the show and that we couldn’t eat, drink or pee.

As VIPs, we were seated first. It was very orderly, with us being directed to particular seats. We were the closest to Jon’s desk and the second row up. We were so close Jon Stewart I could practically see him clearly without my glasses.

As the seats were almost filled, people slowed to a trickle, probably because larger groups would have been rejected in favour of single people to be happy in the single seats. Finally, the last person came in and took her seat, and I realized it was the woman we had been talking to right in front of us in the first line. Thanks goodness for VIP tickets.

The doors closed and we proceeded to wait some more. Wait and wait and wait. We got to examine the studio and set in great detail. Not surprisingly, it looks a lot smaller in real life.

Finally, some guy came out and told us jokes to warm us up. He was pretty funny, I have to admit, ad-libbing as he abused the audience, ordering people to sit up straight and the like. He also emphasized that we weren’t there to watch the show, we were there to be part of the show, and made us yell and clap a lot, encouraging us to be louder and more enthusiastic.

And at last, two hours after we arrived at the studio, out came Jon Stewart. He took a couple of question from the audience and seemed funny and kind. Someone asked if the rumours she’d read on the internet about him having a role in some movie was true. He had never heard of the movie and said, “Well, unlike almost everything else you read on the internet, this appears to be false.”

What I found most interesting about the show was reading the teleprompter while Stewart spoke. A lot of stuff I’d expected to be just him, like, “Um …” were scripted. But on the other, he did vere off-script fairly frequently, tossing in extra little jokes or changing words. He must be very comfortable in front of the camera to be able to do that.

When John Oliver came out to do a live report from Victorian England, the blue screen (which projects the picture behind him) was right beside us, so Oliver was only a few feet from us. He was also only a few feet from Jon Stewart, which looked so weird. As Oliver did his bit, Steward would crack up, giggling and putting his head on his desk before recovering in time to do his part.

We also got to see the last John, whose name I can’t remember but he stars in the Apple commercials, reporting on the dollar. As a Canadian who is delighted to be buying cheap New York stuff with our strong dollar, that whole section was amusing.

The only disappointing thing was that Stewart didn’t have time to throw to Stephen Colbert at the end of the show. He talked to the guest too long. I saw the director waving at him a few times to wrap it up, but Stewart ignored him and kept yacking.

After all the waiting, the show whipped by and all of a sudden, it was over. Jon came out again and thanked us all, telling us we were no long on air, so we didn’t need to clap. And then we were back out on the street.

If anyone watches tonight and hears someone clap or whoop at the mention of the US dollar being at par with the Canadian dollar, that was J and me.

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We made it to NY! The drive, including dinner and only one pee stop, took 8.5. The kids were very good, in part due to a portable DVD player someone lent us and a couple Mr. Bean videos. 

The kids, of course, had no idea what to expect, and every hick town we encountered, they asked, “Is this New York?” When we finally did reach New Jersey, only Maya was awake. We actually got lost at one point trying to find the exit for the Lincoln Tunnel and ended up driving through a slightly skuzzy part of New Jersey, and Maya asked, clearly trying to be cool about it, “Is New York all like this too?” Needless to say, she was much more impressed once we arrived.

I am very excited about showing them New York. It is unlike anything they have ever experienced. A cool bonus is that the kids’ (Maya and Asher, anyway) favourite book series is the Lightening Thief, by Rick Riordan. There are three in the series now, and we eagerly await two more. I read these out loud to the kids and love them as much as they do.

In the first one book, we meet Percy, who is 12 years old. He bounces from school to school because he keeps getting in trouble, is dyslexic and has ADD. He soon finds out that he is a demi-god – a product of a human and Greek god. Olympus exists, on the mythical 600th floor of the Empire State Building. The ADD is because he’s wired to be a hero and the dyslexia is because he’s meant to read Greek.

Okay, it sounds kind of weird, but it really well done. Riordan weaves in all kinds of Greek myths and updates them seamlessly as well. And he has a great sense of humour too. It is a bonus that the hero has ADD like Asher does and yet is smart and funny, and also has difficulty in school – more, in fact, because of the monsters.

Anyway, New York City is Percy’s home town, so the kids have read all about it. The gargoyles can come to life in the book and if you look, there are gargoyles on buildings all over the city. There are constellations painted on the roof of Grand Central Station, so we’ll have to show them that.

And, of course, there’s the Statue of Liberty, the American Girl doll store (sigh), the Science Museum, Central Park, Times Square…


And the Daily Show. Let’s not forget that. I cannot wait.

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Slacking again

I have a nice post almost finished about a day trip we made, complete with lovely pictures. Except it isn’t complete with those pictures yet, and we are off to New York in mere moments, so it ain’t happening yet.

We are taking the kids to NY for the first time (for them). I’m very much looking forward to showing them the sights. Everyone is excited. J and I are especially excited because the friend we are staying with managed to get tickets to see a taping of the Daily Show. Woo hoo!

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Surfacing once again! I’ve been practicing my old weight loss regime. I still don’t recommend it.

As I’ve been spending so much in time in bed, I’ve gotten a lot of soapstone carving done (not the major work, just the fine sanding). I finished J’s dolphin (he found the sanding boring) and my whale. I also re-sanded and polished all my old pieces.

Soapstone is an incredibly soft stone – you could scratch it with your fingernail – which makes it ideal for amateurs to play at sculpture. Tor those who don’t know – and that is probably pretty much everyone – it works like this: first, you carve your shape, using a saw, then chisels and files. Once you have the shape, you take some rough sandpaper and sand away all the file marks, round corners nicely, etc. Then you take a finer grade of sandpaper and sand away all the marks made by the rougher stuff. Then you take some finer sandpaper than that and repeat the process, until you are down to sandpaper so fine you can hardly distinguish it from regular paper. Then you take that last sandpaper and cup of water, and sand the piece wet. Done properly, the piece will then have such a high sheen you don’t need to use any oils or polishes to darken it up, beyond rubbing it with you finders for a while.

I regret not taking photos at the various stages of some of my pieces, but I’ll do so next time. Here is a photo of a ‘raw’ chip of soapstone:


It looks much like the bit I carved this tiny whale out of years ago:


 I love the polishing stage. I love all the stages, actually. Most of my family gets bored after a few levels of sanding, probably because when they think they are ready to move on a level and bring it to me for inspection, I say, “You missed a spot here, here, here and here, and this just isn’t smooth enough here.” They could just ignore me, of course, but then their piece wouldn’t end up so smooth. I have a particular eye for detail and the obsessive/compulsive perfectionist in me loves to work out every little scratch and mark, so eventually everyone just hands over their soapstone to me for completion.

This is a loon I carved many years ago , which I have re-polished since I found sandpaper that was much finer than I had the previous time I worked on it. This shine is achieved with sandpaper and rubbing with my hands alone. No actual polish.


Last weekend, J’s brother and family were in for Yom Kippur, and we took my three nephews to stay at our house. To keep them amused at one point, we pulled out the extra pieces of soapstone and got the three of them carving too. The nice thing about soapstone is that you don’t really need to be a great sculpter to make a nice piece. Once you polish it up, pretty much anything looks impressive. If it’s badly carved, it just looks more stylized.

This one is a good example. I really don’t like how it turned out. I made a huge mistake in the whale’s tail (which you don’t get to see), but it still looks gorgeous now. It even has cool little flecks of gold in it.


This one is J’s, which is a very stylized dolphin. It has even more cool flakes.


I also watched Six Feet Under on the laptop. I never saw it on TV, but I have now gone through all five seasons in about a week and a half (I started before I got sick). It is pretty darn intense to watch a show like that in such a short period of time. It is almost like reading a book.

Anyway, damn good show, if anyone else hasn’t seen it. It made me think, not just about the issues the show raised, but about the nature of television in general. They broke a lot of TV ‘rules,’ like clear-cut good guys and bad guys, and happy endings.

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