Wednesday, May 31, 2006

at least all that olive oil will keep my coat glossy and flesh supple

WARNING: This is another post with little original writing, consisting mostly of links.

Yesterday, a friend told me she went for lunch with her boss, and he's on this wacky new diet called the Shangri-La diet, invented by this experimental psychologist from Berkeley. I was literally agog at the explanation.

Yep, for everyone who's tired of the low-GI diet, the bacon-and-eggs diet (Atkins), or even the Vodkins diet (invented by my hilarious and lovely former banjo instructor, where every time you reach for a beer, you have a mixed hard alcohol drink instead. Rum and Diet Coke, Rye and Diet Gingerale, and the cornerstone: Vodka Tonic. He lost 20 lbs in one summer.)

Here's the NYTimes article with an explanation of how it works, and a little bit about the dude who invented it.

Here's the link to another blog that describes it well enough that there's no need for me to repeat in as much detail. "The claims are outrageous, the 'plan' is absurd and counter-intuitive..."

SUMMARY: You make sure there's a window between meals of at least two hours, and you drink 1 Tbs of olive oil in the middle of the window. You do this one to three times a day. You do not let anything flavoured in any way to pass your lips during that window (including toothpaste).

What do you think? Is that just the strangest thing you've heard? Drink olive oil between meals!

My BMI is a little on the high end of normal so I'm going to give it a go for a week or so and see what happens as an experiment. (I promise I'll stop if I start feeling cruddy.)

UPDATE: There are TONS of detractors, but no one can tell me olive oil is bad for me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


At last! Relationshapes has arrived!

RELATIONSHAPES is all about relationships:

The love...the sex...the arguments...the break-ups and make-ups...and the endless talking about feelings!

It's relationships from "a new point of view" — the point of view of motherfuckin' GEOMETRIC SHAPES.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

useless as...

My favourite email today, in response to one in which I confess to feeling like I've been a bit useless at work this week:

-----Original Message-----
From: [Favourite Coworker and Friend]
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 11:27 AM
To: Banjeroo

Well, I didn't want to bring up how useless you've been this week... but since you did...

You've been more useless than:

- The Director's Cut of Bambi, in which his mother is revealed to be a Succubus from the 13th circle of Hell.

- The perpetually wriggling subcutaneous worm that is known as my hemorrhoid.

- Ted Kennedy at an Alcoholic's Anonymous meeting.

- Ted Kennedy at a Rape Prevention Fundraiser.

- Ted Kennedy.

With fondest regards,

[Favourite Coworker and Friend]

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lower Mad, I enjoyed you, plenty

Dear Lower Madawaska River,

Last Saturday I enjoyed you, plenty. Thank you for giving me permission to enjoy your curves and form.


So a couple of weeks ago I made friends with a fun new person. I say "I like paddling" and he says "Let's go paddling". And here's the magical part: we actually GO PADDLING.

We drove up to his cottage on Friday night to get us in the right sort of area, i.e. where most of the water is the kind with current, and so we could get going early on Saturday morning. To start the paddling day we had a quick breakfast at the small-town diner, and then drove off to meet two of his friends. One of them lent me this little beauty. (Only mine was red, not camo.)

Here's a quote from the site:

In collaboration with American slalom champion John Kazimierczyk, Esquif has created a canoe with the performance of a high quality composite with the toughness of Royalite. Looking for lightness, precision and acceleration? The Spark will surprise you.

Well the Spark surprised me alright. I, a gal who has spent hundreds of hours in canoes and many in tough conditions, dumped not once, but TWICE while JUST SITTING THERE in FLAT WATER. How's that for precision and acceleration?! RAH!! Maybe there was even a third time that I tipped just sitting there, but really, I dumped so many times on Saturday I lost count.

(not my photo, I borrowed it from the Internet)

Last year when I took the women's solo whitewater open canoe course, I remember I was with all these women who were experienced flatwater and whitewater tandem paddlers, and we all remarked at one point or another "Jesus Christ, it feels like I've never even BEEN in a canoe before".

And it's true! Solo whitewater canoes (even ones that aren't race boat slalom models) are funny little creatures. Making the switch (especially from flatwater) is sort of like driving automatic all your life on small side streets where you rarely drive faster than 40 km/hr, and then suddenly having to learn standard. Only, you learn standard on a freeway. At 100 km an hour. And the first time, you find you're in this thing you discover is called 1st gear and you nearly blow out your transmission and clutch again and again as you figure out how to shift up. And you have to look for the gas and brake pedals while you're flying along, because they're not exactly where you might expect them. So imagine now that I had only learned standard once before, over a few days, a year before, and was suddenly hopping back on the freeway to learn more. In a Ferrari. That's what Saturday was all about.

The Esquif Spark is so spinny and agile that you feel (as the fella who owned it said) "as though you've got a ball bearing right under your bum". I felt pretty game to go for it, but I couldn't remember a goddamned thing except the basics: 1) keep your paddle in the water 2) power strokes are at the front of the boat and end at your hip 3) lean downstream 4) DO NOT GRAB THE GUNWALES.

I noticed a huge improvement once I remembered, on about the third set of rapids, a little thing you might call "how to steer".

The thing I liked the most was that the guys I was with were so laid back that they just kept smiling and hauling me out of the water when I dumped. I got to just feel out what worked (in the beginning, precious little) and what didn't. With them being so relaxed, I stayed relaxed, and stuff started to come together and make sense on a physical kinetic level. I even started to remember how to do things properly. (And there was also that random older guy in the neon helmet who took pity on me at the end of one particularly "wet" run who kindly and briefly reminded me of how to properly execute a couple of strokes while we hung out in an eddy. Thanks buddy!)

It was also totally new for me to be with people who were strong capable paddlers (extra useful for the constant rescues I required) but who in general had little to offer me in terms of technical instruction. Either they didn't know enough about solo canoes (because they were mostly kayakers) or they were unwilling to teach (not in a mean-spirited way, more in a humble "what do I know" way).

By the end, I at least managed to run a few rapids that had some minor technical elements and some pretty big water without dumping. It was exhilarating to punch through some waves and actually exert some control over the boat. The course I took last year left me feeling intrigued; but this more casual experience -- despite the greater abundance of mistakes -- left me feeling totally enthused. I can't wait to go again.

My new paddling friend asked me if my post was going to include details about all the "RIPPIN'!!!" I did on the river. My response: "what, like all the rippin' I did when I dumped like a goon just sitting there in the flatwater?" His charitable reply: "No, those parts didn't NEED rippin'. Mention the parts that NEEDED rippin' that you RIPPED!!"

In compliance with this request, I just found a trip report (you don't have to read it) that refers to one set I "ripped" in my borrowed red Ferrari as "the canoe eater" (Raquette Rapids, 12th para or so).

either or

Favourite thing IM'd to me today: "I either have really bad hemorrhoids or rectal cancer."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

what is it with all the ninjas anyway?

This morning one friend sent me an invitation to ask a ninja.

All my smarty-pants friends who are so clever with their little RSS-feeds will tell me that this is SO 15 minutes ago, so I post it for the rest of you...

Monday, May 08, 2006

why I should either take self-defense or start listening to my gut

Sometimes love unfolds like a blossom, sometimes love dawns like a new day, sometimes love shows up wearing a garish clown suit and honks a horn in your ear over and over and makes you want to smash it in the face with a crowbar.

A couple of weekends ago I went on something that I didn't think was a date and that I specifically asked that we not think of it as a date, but he showed up in the clown suit with the horn and the honking, leaving me wondering where the hell was my crowbar.

How it even came about was like this: weeks ago I went to see some short films about some canoe trips, because that's the kind of thing I'm interested in, just like you're interested in eating brownies and getting drunk on Jagermeister. Or whatever.

Anyway, walking back, a few people headed to the same bus stop, where about 10 different-numbered buses come through. One of the people was this guy who was friendly and chatted with me for about three whole minutes. I was friendly back because I'm a friendly person. Then his bus arrived, and he hastily handed me his card and said "I'd love to connect again sometime." I thought "OK, seems alright, likes paddling, whatever, sure."

I emailed him a while later, a brief note, and he emailed back. He was a little on the extravagantly effusive side in a slightly creepy way, which should have turned me off right there, but instead I thought, "maybe the guy is just not so good in the email medium", and I issued a restrained, polite response. I told him (because I was sure of this part) that I was just interested in the possibility of being friends. He agreed.

So I consented to meet up with him for a walk and a chat. What’s the harm, right? No harm. But my gut all along said "don’t give this man your number or let him know where you live."

Why did I go at ALL then, when my smart little belly was telling me all kinds of useful stuff? I suppose because I’m reasonably confident (that I could handle anything - if it were set up safely), curious (about different types of people, even ones I might not end up liking per se) and I generally like to have the philosophy that there are sometimes pleasant surprises in unlikely places.

So I set some parameters around the time, place, and duration, and met him in a popular park where there happen to be kid swings. When I arrived, there he was, swinging. He stayed on the swing for another 30 seconds after I showed up, then hopped off and said with forced nonchalance and a tinny little chuckle, "I guess you caught me being myself".

"Sweet Jesus," I thought, "not the new age and aging (but-you-can't-make-me-grow-up-I'm-a-free spirit!!!) self-absorbed, bullshit hippie type." (Which is, as my dear friend Adrienne correctly observed, "one of the least attractive types out there".)

Over the course of the next hour, we walked down to the river (where there were tons of people) and talked – or rather, HE talked, and I listened... Because really, how much do I have to TELL a man who I’ve just learned made a living as a professional psychic for a while? Indeed, why talk at all?

My curiosity - and silence - was richly rewarded. For example, it was revealed that in addition to his being psychic, he had had a "huge amount of energy work" done and that as a result he had "changed completely as a person", was in fact "a totally different person now", and that he "never got angry anymore". I wonder if by "energy work" he meant multiple treatments of "electroshock therapy".

He also kept referring to himself as "that handsome man", as if repeating this would make it true. Not so, my friend. Not so. Oh, and also, he's really into Tantric sex. Ew. Just imagine an hour of this type of conversation. Think Tim Robbins' character in High Fidelity, but even more repulsive.

So I’ve established the garish clown part of the simile I think. You must be wondering about what kind of metaphorical horn he was honking in my face?

Let me tell you. All the while he was talking about Tantric sex and how he can look "about three years into the future", he kept touching me and caressing me – lower back, waist, arms. I kept pulling away and walking farther and farther away from him, but finally had to say "OK I am really uncomfortable with you touching me. Please stop."

I mean, I don’t mind being touched – with people I know and where a mutual desire for physical contact has been established, I am super snuggly in fact. But this, this was making me cast about for blunt objects.

I guess it makes sense that he's no longer working as a psychic because his skills are curiously dulled - why, he even had trouble correctly interpreting basic body language. We sat on a rock for about half an hour and in the course of that half hour he kept inching toward me and leaning in; I kept inching back and leaning away. By the end, I was practically in the bushes. Psychic? Maybe. Psychic enough to read my mind and know that I found him physically invasive, totally inappropriate, and quite repulsive? No.

A few hours after we wrapped it up (which I did carefully and diplomatically, because who knows, really, maybe he was also subtly casting about for blunt objects by that point, know what I mean?), I got an email from him with some creepy lines in it, to wit:
I enjoyed you, plenty. I enjoyed your smile, your eyes, your posture, the playfulness of your showing me your tshirt and giving me permission to enjoy your curves and form.

THIS in fact is why it has taken me over a week to write about this, because it was SO gross, and SUCH a creepy misreading of what transpired (he looked at my shirt, big deal, there was no invitation and no permission to "enjoy" ANYTHING). I could not think about the whole event and this creepy email afterward without wanting to compulsively scrub every inch of my skin with Comet and/or [wanting to] barf. He read my rigid body language as flirtation? After I consistently recoiled, asked him to stop touching me, refused to commit to seeing him again, ended the visit abruptly? He was enjoying WHAT?! Ew. Ew. Ew.


Anyway, I felt I had to handle it delicately but firmly, put a final stop to the nonsense and replied (with the email equivalent of a crowbar in the face, I suppose):
I actually quite strongly feel that we are not on the same wavelength and I very clearly feel that I don't want to pursue anything with you.

And so, I have reached two conclusions:

1) I have to start listening to my gut. It is usually right.

2) I hope that in the karmic sense I have now earned the right to be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of someone delightful amd unexpected. Or maybe this was karmic payment for the surprising and unmitigated pleasure of meeting Eliza K Thomas on the night train from Barcelona to Granada about a year and a half ago, and then having breakfast with her three mornings in a row in Granada's Plaza Nueva before tramping around a beautiful city in Andalucia like some kind of free spirit hippie type.

Friday, May 05, 2006

sweetness and light

A friend of mine at work routinely gives me nasty notes that make us both laugh. People come by my desk and see them posted on the walls and assume either he's cruel or that I've got some melancholic disorder. Neither assumption would be correct. Haven't I ever explained to you that I'm a very happy person, but I still like all the sad songs in the minor keys?

He also does a voice we call "the dirty trucker", which can make me laugh until my stomach hurts, but that's for another post.

A few months ago:

Keep your
chin up!

Relationships aren't
for everyone!

(get a cat)

And then later, handed to me while I was on the phone with a graphic design firm:

Every minute you spend
on the phone is
one minute less you
have to find
someone to love

And yesterday, on a post-it note:

Isn't it obvious why I love this guy?

power brokering

My friend Lovey Thurston Howell III pretends to think that I have this crazy powerful job (as opposed to being the writer/editor/hack that I am), and whenever she calls me at the office, she asks something like "So, did I disturb another meeting of world leaders? How have you altered the fate of the planet with your power-brokering and high-level negotiations today?"

I usually sigh dramatically and then respond moronically along the lines of, "Well, Kofi is getting all up in my grill, and he's a good man and all, but fortunately we've managed to get Condi to back off, you know. Meanwhile we've switched the GDP of Thailand with Ecuador, halted the environmentally destructive boolifruit harvest, but I'll be damned if I can't get those shipments to turn back from Italy in time for the vernissage at the gallery in Mongolia next week!"

She then replies with something like "Call the Swedes darling, they're very good at that."

Then we make plans to go for a walk and have a cup of tea and maybe talk about the possibility of doing a canoe trip this summer. Because, you know, even high-level international negotiators who hold the fate of the world in their hands have to take time off and go sleep in a tent and cook dinner over a fire occasionally.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

a new name for it

A good friend of mine went to the gynecologist today for a pap and general checkup. The doctor cheerily announced that her vagina was "jim dandy".

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

standard negligence

I decided to post this after all because my brother is funny and I have no soul.

(posted with permission)

----- Original Message ----
From: brother
To: banjeroo
Sent: Wednesday, April 5, 2006 2:50:15 AM
Subject: this IS the best ever....

Hey roo,

This is the ... THE best website I have come across in a while.

so frickin funny. "Long pants" is one of my favourites.... especially the part about "daisy dukes"... Ha ha ha...

love b

----- Original Message ----
From: banjeroo
To: brother
Sent: Wednesday, April 5, 2006 5:27:16 AM
Subject: Re: this IS the best ever....

B, you are so funny, and soooooo 2003. You are talking to a person who has been attached through the umbilical cord of office jobs to the womb of the Internet for a LONG time. I have been watching Strong Bad since long before the lappy as an excellent way to avoid actual work. Did you check out Teen Girl Squad? Under "toons"? That is one of my favourites. Glad you finally found this website. Tell me that I at least told you about Strindberg and Helium too.... ?


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: brother
To: banjeroo
Sent: Wednesday, April 5, 2006 12:44:16 PM
Subject: Re: this IS the best ever....

shouldn't have said that to a budding lawyer... now I might have to sue you for negligence for not telling me... (this is what I'm studying right now)

1. Duty of Care? Yes
* the brother sister relationship is a close one
* it was reasonably foreseeable that negligence on the part of sister could harm brother
* being an older sister comes with attendant obligations to younger siblings, particularly in what are close families. While it may not qualify as a fiduciary duty, it is close to such a relationship.

2. Breach of the duty? Yes
* sister failed to meet a basic standard of care by failing to notify brother of cool website.
* sister and brother communicate often, and often about "web" content.
* defendant may argue that a failure to act is not actionable; however, in light of the near fiduciary relationship it is not unreasonable to extend a degree of liability to sister for negligent omissions.

3.Harm suffered? Yes
*years of lost strong bad time, damage familial relations, psychological suffering, loss of dignity and self-worth.

4.Causation? Yes
* but for sister's failure to notify brother, the harm would not have been caused.

5. Damages too remote? No
* sister knew or ought to have known that this type of injury was reasonably foreseeable. Though she didn't have to foresee the specific chain of events or the specific consequences, she was aware that by failing to notify brother of cool website that he was put directly in harms way.

see you in court!

love b