Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Miracles and Madness.

Now that the Blogger app isn't getting updated for the iPhone, I'm not able to write posts on the go, hence the sparse amount of posting as of late.  I might have to start searching for a different blogging site! 

Wow, I'm down to my last shift soon and then I'll be back in town full time.  I can't believe it's already May!  Here's a picture of some of the shift crew (representing at least seven languages in total - what did I say about Canadian diversity?):
All in all, it's been a good experience.  I've been able to familiarize myself with high/medium/low voltage equipment and their inner workings and operations.  Friends and family like to ask me about my experience as one of the few females on site, and I always say it's quite alright.  Sure, there are comments about my size ("little lady," "little girl") and even how I smell (good, I think?).  There are offers to help when I'm carrying something heavy (like my own self-imposed giant luggage).  I'm easy to remember and spot.  Really, the most stressful thing for me is having to backup-park the truck.  Which is pretty minor anyway considering there is a rearview camera.  I actually don't have much reason to complain.

I'm happy to report a mini-miracle.  The matriarch of one of the first Filipino families to welcome my family to Canada suffered a stroke recently.  Things were looking bleak.  Two shifts ago, I visited and she was completely unconscious and doctors weren't very hopeful.  There was even the option to pull the plug, which was understandably an extremely traumatizing thought for her son to even have to fathom.  My parents did notice that she seemed to have more colour and movement compared to when they first saw her, so we had a small hope that she would actually get better and maybe even wake up.  Her hand felt warm and strong when I held it, and her fingers had the dexterity to search for a rosary that slipped through her fingers.   

I visited her on this set of days off and she was awake!  It was amazing.  She still can't speak or swallow very well, but she looks us in the eye with recognition and responds by nodding her head "yes" or "no" to questions.  It will be a long road of rehabilitation and recovery, but just to see her awake is such a relief :)  This tiny woman is a trooper!  She welcomed us with such warmth into her home (it was the first home in Canada that my family stayed in) and she helped out my parents so much with starting out in a new city/country/continent.  I'm so glad she's still here.  I found a picture of her with me at my high school prom (she makes me look tall, but she's actually 4 foot something and the epitome of adorable Filipino aunt):
Hang in there, Auntie Joy - we're rooting for you!

This set of days off was an eventful one.  I planned to do some major purging and cleaning at the condo but was promptly interrupted by a car collision when I was grabbing some vegan pizza (Papa John's garden pizza minus cheese plus sides of garlic sauce yummmm) with my sister.  Some guy ran a red light and was strangely dazed and very passive when we confronted him.  Either he was really depressed or really high.  Fortunately no one was seriously hurt.  Things could have been way worse!  We could have been pedestrians.  Or he could have hit a cyclist.  Or Hachi could have been in the car.  But in this case, the worst part consists of my sister having some whiplash.  And my formerly unscratched and undented car is now horribly dented on the driver's side.  I can't even open the driver door.  However, I magically was able to escape pain-free.  Again.  I realize that I now have been T-boned twice and rear-ended twice without obtaining whiplash.  Strange gift I have.  Thank goodness for insurance, which is covering my sister's physio and car repairs. 

The Oilers have made it to the second round of playoffs and it is madness in the city.  It's good crazy rather than bad crazy though.  I am quite enjoying all this city pride and spirit.

Mind Farts
-pistol squats.  i can do them now!  calisthenics is a wonderful thing
-read The Accusation by Bandi.  it's the first piece of fiction to come out of North Korea from a North Korean author that STILL lives there.  he/she has to use the code name Bandi (firefly) to avoid persecution.  fascinating short stories about the middle class but also very disturbing.  a society that is supposed to be based on equality should not have so-called middle class citizens freezing and starving to near-death

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Canada.

 https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/5e/52/2a/5e522afbcae87e54f494f0f40ddad70f.jpg
Taken from Pinterest

I am back from another shift, trying to recover from a re-caught cold and catch up on a ton of laundry from my trip.  CBC is currently airing a public funeral service for 3 of the 6 men that were killed at the horrific attack on the mosque in Quebec by some racist psychopathic idiot.  The funeral service looks very full and the capacity of the arena it is being held in is 5,000 people.  I saw in the crowd faces of many ages, many ethnicities and costumes of different faiths.  The prime minister spoke, municipal and provincial government leaders spoke and various community faith leaders spoke.  I am very touched by the show of solidarity across the whole Canadian spectrum.  This is what the world needs to move towards.  There are so many different kinds of "us" here.

Really, this diversity and tolerance is one of the biggest things that comforts me about this country.

Even at the site up north that I work at, I encounter so many different people from so many backgrounds and we are all just trying to get through each day safely while being able to earn income for ourselves and our families.  I have colleagues who celebrate Chinese New Year, colleagues who celebrate Diwali and colleagues who fast during Ramadan. 

I used to get a bit affected at the mention of Canadians trying too hard to differentiate themselves from their American counterparts.  I'm not even really quite sure why it made me uncomfortable.  Maybe because I didn't think it was needed.

But with all the ridiculousness that is spewing out of the Trump administration, I look at this massive Canadian show of love and respect after these tragic murders and I can't help but think HELL YES we are different!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Get It, Dad.

Work has me flying back and forth between Fort McMurray and Edmonton quite a bit for the next three months or so.  It's surprising how fast a human can adapt to a new set of conditions.  My first shift was 8 days and by Day 2 or 3 I was feeling like I had already gotten the swing of 4AM wakeups, camp buses, camp food and 8PM bedtimes.  While I'm at site, there's so much new stuff to learn and work with that the hours fly and before I know it, I'm bussing back to camp to eat dinner and workout.  Camp life is not too bad ... I was able to eat my fruits and veggies, use the gym facilities and finishing reading this book during my free time:
So much delight in this story.  Reminds me of the detached, matter-of-fact narration and topsy-turvy events in movies like Royal Tenenbaums and Amelie.  

I have to say, I now understand why my mom used to make my sister and I help clean the house and make sure there was delicious food to eat a couple of days before my dad would get home.  Because when I got back to my condo late at night in Edmonton after my 8-day shift in Fort Mac, I was HANGRY!!  Just a grumpy tired hungry sleepy ogre who ended up crawling into her bed.  Lesson learned.  I am definitely not driving home from the airport at 10PM while still in 8PM bedtime mode.  Instead, I'll be snacking on the plane and then taking a cab home.  I don't even know how my dad did it for two decades while having to deal with jet lag as well.  I've definitely gained a new respect for how my parents operated while my dad was out working at camps and my mom made sure the household was in good working order.    Now I am enjoying my days off before I fly out again.  The days off aspect of this rotation is quite lovely.  I don't even have to go to the office at all.  I can instead enjoy hanging with Hachi and getting delicious amounts of sleep and exercise and socializing and Netflix and books.  It's gorgeous outside too:
Somehow recent weather patterns have caused a beautiful frosty white coating on the tree branches plus it's been foggy lately too.  So winter wonderland-y.    

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Some Hope, Please.

Looks like America would rather elect a bigoted sociopath than a woman who has education, intelligence, and a background in politics.  I am quite shocked, and I don't really know what to expect.  This is one case where I hope someone is simply "all talk" and that he won't actually attempt to build a stupid wall, deport millions, spread ignorance and hate and of course, grope more women.

I'll focus on something positive amidst this doom and gloom.  I finally read the China Study, a book I've heard about countless times from plant-based eaters via social media.  And now I know why.  It's based on an enormous and long-term study on the diet and resulting health of thousands of people in rural China.  This book has countless implications for society, and I see why the dairy, meat and pharmaceutical industries want to hide, criticize and downplay the contents of this book.  North Americans continue to look for a shortcut and magic pill while consuming hideous amounts of animal protein. The links are very strong between this way of life and diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, obesity, MS . . . even dementia!  The list goes on and on.  The research is right there and society is ignoring it.   I couldn't resist and immediately had to order a copy for my parents and my aunt in the US.  I commend both Dr. Campbells for ignoring food industry bullying and standing their ground in order to publish this book.  Same goes to others like Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn who have also been paving the way out of this unhealthy mess the First World has managed to get itself into.
It really is as simple as eating plants and being more active.  You live longer, the animals live longer and there's enough for everyone to eat.  Plus it's nicer to the environment.  I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY MORE WINS YOU CAN HAVE.

SIDENOTE:  There is an interesting role that Filipinos play in plant-based eating research.  Dr. Colin Campbell was brought on to study unusual rates of liver cancer in kids in the Philippines, which led him to isolate aflaxotin, a carcinogen that was found in moldy peanuts used in peanut butter.  He then went on to find out that many of the rich kids were getting liver cancer, which led him to figure out that the poor kids, who couldn't afford animal protein, were not getting liver cancer despite exposure to aflatoxin.

Dr. McDougall noticed that Filipino men who were first generation immigrant workers in Hawaii were much trimmer and healthier than their second and third generation counterparts.  The second and third generation Filipinos had traded in their rice and vegetables for a more Western-based meaty diet, becoming heavier and sicker in the process.  Dr. McDougall was amazed at some of the older first generation Filipino workers saving up to go to the Philippines and bringing back much younger wives and even starting new families well into the age of retirement.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Spreading Light.

I've been contributing to Amnesty International for maybe a decade now but hadn't actually been to any events until tonight.  My sis and I went to go see Alex Neve (Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada) speak tonight and it was so inspiring to see someone stay strong and composed and compassionate and eloquent despite having to describe much horror and apathy in the world.  His key word as a long term human rights activist? Perseverance. Decades and decades of it. 

Much progress has been made and there is still much to do.  Amnesty international had done great work exposing and fighting human rights abuses and continues to do so.  Its  simple but bright yellow candle logo wrapped in barbed wire is so very apt - I walked away from that speech feeling sadness because of all the injustice and suffering but also hope because I was in a room full of people that care passionately about the world out there.  



Booked Lunches.

A Canadian and two Italians have been kidnapped in Libya.  I hope they are okay.  As rewarding a career as my dad had in Libya, I am grateful that he is home safe and sound despite the forced early retirement. 

Mind Farts
-saw Bridget Jones' Baby with girlfriends and laughed. really. hard!  much of the time, sequels don't live up to the hype but this was wonderfully awkward and crazy.  and the female characters have sure aged gracefully :) i like how that was portrayed.  no spoilers, but i hope i can still go nuts at music festivals when i hit my forties.  i think that may be a key to aging gracefully.. you gotta keep appreciating the new stuff, including music!
-also laughed (and cringed and snorted) really hard while reading Augusten Burroughs' memoirs.  very big contrast to my last read about North Korea.
-three cheers for the public library, which allows me to keep inhaling books.  maybe it helps that i've been able to lunch on my own and read quite a bit - my usual work lunch buddies have been bringing their own lunches.. possibly to save money in the current sketchy economy.  i've noticed that even the usual busy restaurants are not as busy anymore
-another reason to lunch on my own: my fabulous mother veganizes Filipino dishes to feed her vegan daughters.  my lunch today is a delicious eggplant adobo :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Rude Awakening.

This morning I woke up to BBC announcing that Indonesia will be going through with the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, and that Philippine president Duterte had given the "green light" to do so.  It saddened me immensely.

Admittedly I have not read up in detail on Mary Jane Veloso or Duterte but what I've gathered so far is disturbing. To me, Mary Jane seems like a poor woman who was taken advantage of and duped into smuggling drugs.  I mean, wasn't her recruiter arrested for screwing her over?    

And the stories I hear about Duterte's lack of class and tact and diplomacy when in the public spotlight and his murdering numerous so-called "drug-addicts" just completely blow my mind.  I can't help but think "WTF?!" Surely he couldn't have been the best presidential candidate? Scary as hell if he was.  

Mind Farts
-just read Charles Robert Jenkins' book about his many years in North Korea as a captured US Army deserter. He married Hitomi, a Japanese abductee. I had no idea there were so many abductees of so many backgrounds.  Hitomi's mother was kidnapped with her (they were going for ice cream on Japan) and her whereabouts are still unknown :(
-really enjoying calisthenics classes. Honestly the closest thing to adult playtime.  I can now *sometimes* hold a handstand for a measly second, but it feels great when I do do it.. I am beginning to feel my bones stacking properly in the right alignment :)
-vegan donuts/cupcakes are really good here.. I've already skipped dinner a few times to eat them.  I think it's very possible to be a fat vegan in Edmonton nowadays 
-I keep running into salsa people.. Maybe it's a sign I should start dabbling in social dancing again?