Monday, July 28, 2014

Wrap Up of Interstellar Rodeo 2014

Interstellar Rodeo is quickly becoming my favourite summer music festival! Proper chairs, shade, protection from rain, food trucks, short lineups, no early mornings or late nights and la creme de la creme: indoor bathrooms with proper plumbing! Oh yeah, and a pretty good line up of music as well!

Here's my Top 3 from this year's festival:

1. The Strumbellas
I thought I liked this band, but the remind me of Mumford & Sons and Mumford & Sons remind me of an ex, heartbreak, and I avoided listening to The Strumbellas. But they were good live, very good, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set. One of my music crew bought me their new CD, saying that "We are making new memories this weekend. Now when you listen to them you'll remember us and the fun we had." Touche. Now Strumbellas CDs are on repeat in my car. 

2. The Lone Bellow
Never heard of this band, but they put on a high energy performance that we all got into. More memories made!

3. Wagons
I remember really liking them in 2012, and they didn't disappoint this year either. Henry Wagons is the Australian Gord Downie - quite the entertainer. Fun times.

Biggest disappointment:
Gord Downie and The Sadies
I love The Hip and I love The Sadies but this combo didn't work for me at all. The only saving grace was watching two of my music crew, who had never seen Gord perform live before, react to his craziness!

Runner Up
They cancelled Friday due to weather and added a concert on Monday. But alas, I have a meeting to attend and can't attend Monday. Sad face.

Book Review: Anything Boys Can Do

July book club genre was short story, on the premise that it's summer and short stories are shorter and easier and more fun to read (?). I'm not a short story fan for the same reason I don't like watching movies - I'd rather get into a novel or a TV show and really get to know the characters, setting and story progression. Short stories, and movies, always leave me...dissatisfied.

July 2014: Short Stories

Anything Boys Can Do
By Angie Abdou
183 pages

I picked this up after a recommendation on Facebook, and since I'd read The Bone Cage by Abdou and liked it, I thought this collection of short stories would be ok. The premise sounded good: it was meant to be a collection of likeable women dealing with life and romance in a man's world.

In actuality, almost every story is about a woman who has an affair that does/does not ruin her marriage. Oh and the last story is about amateur wrestling.

Blah. Read something else.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: The Cure for Everything

No idea how I happened upon this book, but as I'm currently trying to "get healthier", it seemed like a timely read!

The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness
By Timothy Caulfield
234 pages

Timothy Caulfield is a health junkie (and academic), who like all of us I'm sure, is tired of all the commercial and media bullshi*t surrounding fitness, diet, and health fads. His book covers four areas of healthy living: fitness, diet, genetics and alternative medicine. In each chapter, Caulfield tests out a claim and researches the facts behind what "works" and what doesn't.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on exercise and dieting. Fitness wise I learned the best ways to exercise are intensity or interval training and resistance training. Targeting specific areas doesn't work. And, exercise isn't the best weight loss method (that would be diet) but does help you get fitter and healthier, and being fit and healthy is more important than being skinny (so I keep telling myself as I try to learn to run using my C25K app).

The diet chapter was interesting as well. To lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight) you have to eat small portions, cut out junk food, and ensure 50% of your diet is fruits and vegetables (easier said than done). That means water, not juice or pop too. Cauldfield follows a diet put together by the authors of the Pure Prairie Eating Plan, which I bought at our local independent bookstore. It's a decent recipe book that advocates for simple, healthy meals made from ingredients available locally. I reckon it was worth my money.

But then the book stopped being awesome. I'll be honest, I thought the chapter on genetics was a bit boring. And I just skimmed the alternative health chapter because the message was that alternative remedies, naturopathy, homeopathy etc aren't evidence based thus it don't work. I didn't need to read 50 pages proving the author's point over and over again.

One of the appealing aspects of this book was that the author is local so I cheerily enjoyed the local references. Plus, the University of Alberta is a prominent employer of many of the experts (as well as the author) and having spent 7 years there myself, I enjoyed the name drop.

This book is well researched and includes information from the latest scientific studies, statistics, and expert interviews. Caulfield does a great job of infusing his humour (sarcastic, self deprecating, etc) throughout the text and this made it an enjoyable read. I was super annoyed by his lack of academic citation for the studies/articles/statistics etc mentioned, but Caulfield does include a disclaimer about this, as well as all the citations at the end. Such is the way for popular general health literature I suppose.

I learned stuff about exercise and dieting, thus reading this book was well worth the effort. If you'd like to learn stuff about your health too, give this book a look.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bike Commuting: #irideYEG

Recently, I bought a new house! It's fantastic and I love it! I also love living where I live - the neighbourhood is safe, close to all amenities and is lined with big old elm trees!

I specifically bought a house in an area that offers me non-driving commuting options. Driving in rush hour makes me angry, and parking/gas costs are ridiculous these days. I purposely bought a house a 2 minute walk away from a bus stop that will get me to work in a reasonable amount of time on a direct bus without a transfer.

But the best part about the location of my new house is that it makes it super easy for me to bike to work! It's a safe, flat, 12km round trip on quiet residential streets and I love it. Riding my bike to work has helped improve my health and fitness, saved me money, and gets me there and back without making me angry! I love it so much that I'm seriously considering becoming a year round bike commuter, which is a daunting task given our Alberta winter's but I think it'll be worth it!

This week I was featured in a post on the YEGBike blog, as part of their #irideYEG series.

I think the blog has been a great initiative used to promote cyclists in Edmonton from a human standpoint - we're not just bikes who weave in and out of traffic while complaining about crappy bike infrastructure - we're actual people who are doing our best to keep our commute eco friendly while staying fit and enjoying the beautiful scenery of our city!