Saturday, April 29, 2006

So I've made it to the Burgh of Pitts (Penn State). My 'vacation' has gone swimmingly so far. Note the quotations around the word vacation indicate that I question whether one can really go on vacation when one is unemployed. To be fair, though, this trip has had all the makings of a vacation, from lying on the beach to overeating on a daily basis to getting lost and trying new things. Anyhoo, a quick recap (quick by Shanadian terms anyways!)

Monday (As in Easter Monday): Leave for Orlando fromHalifax airport. Nothing too crazy to report - I ate all the Easter candy I had bought at the Bulk Barn and then felt guilty. Arrived in O-town, FL just in time to hit the sack at my hotel

Tuesday: Meet up with Ko, fellow road-tripper whom I met during my February escapades in Orlando. The irony is that he is friends with the American dude who I was originally planning to come down and see! We pick up the rental car ( a classy white Corolla) and hit the road headed for Miami. I learn early on to be extremely grateful for Ko's driving skills because, well, evidently I lack the balls to drive on Interstates and Turnpikes where everyone is going at least 70 mph and there are only a few car lengths between these speed demons.

We land in Miami late afternoon and meet Ko's friend Roger (v. cute & single bartender originally from New York). Roger takes us to Le Tub, which is this litle restaurant perched on a bay that became really really famous recently when Oprah decided to rave about it on her show. Afterwards we went to Hollywood Beach which is this nice strip of sandy beach with a boardwalk and shops and restaurants right on teh beach. I ate Mahi Mahi. I didn't learn until after that Mahi Mahi is dolphin.

Wednesday: Ko & I hang out at Hollywood Beach for a wee while then head to the airport to pick up Schemida. We then return to the beach and have margaritas while watching hot guys and not so hot guys walk by. Schemida and I head to her relatives' house with me at the wheel - I fear for both our lives once we hit the Turnpike, but somehow we survive and are welcomed with yummy curry dinner are big smiles from Schem's mom, uncle and two aunt. We take it easy in the evening.

Thursday: We head to the Everglades(an hour south of Miami) and take an airboat tour (amazing)!!. We then watch alligators being fed and learn a bit about some of the snakes that are indigenous to the area. I then proceed to allow a snake to be placed around my neck. Afterwards we have dinner in Florida City and I try alligator as an appetizer - yummy!!! We then head the the Florida Keys to catch the sunset from an island. We made it through Key Largo and saw the pink sunset from a cozy cove on the Isla Morada. I could definitely live in the keys...something about island life really appeals to me :)

Thursday night I head out with Ko to the bar where Roger works - Studio A. Proceed to drink quite a bit and dance the night away. Turns out being a short-haired female at this particular bar may have marked me as something I am not. Ah well, it was v. fun!!

Friday: Our beach day!! After a stupid detour to the Hertz agency (b/c I had to add on insurance for fear of being sued if we got in an accident), we landed on South Beach and set up for an afternoon of relaxation. Ah, and relaxing it was...the water was a clear blue and the sand a light tan colour. And yes, there were plenty of beautiful people!

Eventually we left our little oasis and checked into our hotel. Schem & I had decided to get a room in South Beach so we could party it up then just stumble home. We wandered down the art deco strip and then got ready for a night on the town. We ended up going to a place that was rather pretentious in my opinion - the cover was $20 and there wasn't even a dance floor!!! And then - this is the kicker - a vodka & diet coke cost $11!! So, as it turned out, the evening was OK, but did not live up to expectations...

Saturday: After waiting one and a half hours for Ko to pick us up from the hotel, we did some shopping in South Beach - mostly window shopping as there is no way I would bay $90 for a pair of cotton shorts. (See: Lincoln Road Mall). After too much shopping we headed to Haulover Beach, which is a beach where one could get a really really great tan if one so desired. Schemida and I opted to remain untanned, while Ko undonned everything and wandered up and down the beach. We had a lovely meal and later that ngiht we went to downtown Ft. Lauderdale with the guys..for a few minutes only, but I def. liked it better there than in South Beach...where everyone had seemed so fake.

Sunday: More beach!! And chimichangas on the boardwalk, then a meal with Schem's relatives and a final drinks on the beach with Ko & Roger.

Monday: Roadtripped it back to Orlando, checked into our hotel and then headed for Port Canaveral where we had reservations for casion cruise (free!!). Five hours on international waters and my first time in a casino. It was full of old men and smoke. I went in willing to lose sixty dollars. I played BlackJack,ost $30 out of $40 and then cashed out. Later on I decided to give lady luck another try and won back $25 dollars. I walked away from the table then even though it was tough to do so. So, I lost $5, which is better then losing $100 like Ko's friend, Wayne, did, but not as good at winning $175 like Ko did!

Tuesday: Schemida and I hit up Universal Studios and had an awesome day! We got soaked on a rapids ride and got to do some other rides I'd missed in February. That evening we took it easy and watched American Idol.

Wednesday: Met up with Jen in Downtown Disney and proceeded to have the BEST sandwiches EVER at Earl of Sandwich!! We then lazed teh afternoon away until Jen & I decided to hit up teh Polynesian Buffet at one of the Disney resorts - the food was to die for - it was all served to out table by Cousin Jeff and he even brought us a wheelbarrrow so we could be hauled out of the restauran at the end of the meal. That evenning we went to Chillers bar and I proceed to dance my butt off big time. THere was no point in sleeping that night since I had to catch my sirport shuttle at 5.50 am.

Thursday: Headed to Pittsburgh on early flight with a stopover in Cleveland. From Cleveland we took a propeller driven plane with about 18 seats. I was slightly fearful. I prefer jets I decided. Landed in Pittsburgh and slept the afternoon away at Emilys. When she arrived home we went to Olive Garden for dinner then had daiquiris at her apartment with a couple of her f

Friday: We headed to Farmington, PA to check into a very posh spa for the day. This was Plan B ..Plan A had been to go to Hershey, PA but the drive was too long. I got a $75 massage, worked out, swam in teh poool, enjoyed the hot tub and felt extemely pampered. ANd then we went to Pizza Hut for dinner. Thursday night we headed out with some of Em's friends to PEgasus - my first gay bar experience! It was great to be able to just dance without being groped or self-consscious about who was checking you out. Plus, the drinks were reasonably priced and there was an adult entertainer who did some crappy dancing with a leather thong on.

Saturday: Slept most of the day, then hung out at Emily's cool coffee shop while she worked. Caught a movie for a couple of hours and then had some free hot chocolate! And now I am at Emily's while she is out at a bonfire party..I just wasn't able ..too much partying for me this trip!!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I am going to Orlando tomorrow! I am going to Miami on Tuesday! Yah!!! Hello South Beach, goodbye yucky rain and boring days !!!! I can't believe how much I did this weekend - I am exhausted just thinking about it, not to mention about 4 pounds heavier due to how much I ate this weekend :( Oh well - I am making up for it by bringing a set of free weights with me and two sets of workout clothes. What could be more fun than going for a jog on the beaches of Florida? Except maybe sipping margaritas by the beaches in Florida...

Anyways, I am waaaayyyyyy too tired to be writing anything coherent. I already did two freaking book reports's amazing what one can do when one has deadlines looming.

I'm over and out for now. Catch ya when next I have the desire to get on a computer!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tonight I wrote a letter to the editor (The Guardian) for the first time. I was so incensed by a letter that appeared in Monday's edition that I simply had to rebutt.

The original letter can be viewed here -

This is my response -


Re: Mr Lank's comments as published in Monday's edition (GM crops a win-win for all). While I agree that pesticide use on crops should be eliminated, I do not believe that adopting genetic modification of our foods is a viable alternative. Pesticide use and genetic modification are two sides of the same coin - they are both products of continued efforts to industrialize agriculture. This intense indulstrialization of food production has become the domain of big business and the demise of family farms and local markets. It is multi-national companies that will 'win' if we allow genetic-modification to go ahead, for they are the ones that are patenting these new crops.

I question the foresight of accepting genetic modification of our foods based on the suggestion there is only a remote possibiliy that problems could emerge. Pesticides have been used in agriculture for over a half a century and we continue to debate the health implications of introducing these toxins to our diet, whilst spraying more and more each year. One need only recall the enthusasim with which DDT was marketed and accepted by the general public to realise the inherent dangers in accepting a new science simply on the basis that it's not yet proven to be harmful. Aside from the potential health risks from GM foods (some documented and some yet to be determined), I believe the greatest thing we stand to lose is biodiversity. The importance of diversity within any species cannot be overlooked.

There is a viable alternative to spraying our crops with pesticides, but it is not GM foods. We need to trust nature's ability to protect crops from disease, to maintain biodiversity and to provide us with food that is rich in taste and nutrients. As consumers we have the power to direct the future of our food. Buying organically and locally, supporting local farmer's markets, eating in-season foods and encouraging our governments to support sustainable agriculture are some of the simple ways that we can take back control of what we eat, where we shop and how we support our local economy.

Shannon Courtney
Cornwall, PE

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wow - today someone I know is running a Switzerland!! Yes, that's right Miss Lindsay Peters , formerly of 4H Canon Street, Edinburgh, is going to run 26 miles (roughly), just for the fun of it. Wow. Impressive stuff! I'm sure she'll do an awesome time and then enjoy a HUGE Swiss Chocolate least that is what I would do if I ever completed a marathon. Indulge myself in a store full of candy and chocolate. Why, it's almost enough motivation to do the damn run. Almost...

Instead of running a marathon today, I went to the AFC and did an hour of cardio. Then I came home, jogged 4K and did a leg workout (think lots of squats) for about 40 minutes. So I don't feel totally lazy. Why, I might even allow myself to have a piece of Mom's pumpking pie later...

So, you might think that because I haven't blogged in over a week, I've been super busy and life has suddenly got exciting. Pffftttt. Not so much. Truth be told, I've just been trying (without much luck) to avoid being on the Internet too much and including some more productive things into my everyday routine.

Let's see, what did I do this week? Kind of fuzzy but here are a few 'highlights' that should indicate just how desperately I need to infuse my life with some real excitement:

1. I went shopping and it wasn't for food!! I actually dislike clothes shopping, which is strange because I have so many pieces of clothing. My favorite method of shopping involves going into a store, finding out if they havea cash refund retur policy and then, if they do, I just skim teh racks, pick out some outfits I like, buy em, try the clothes on and return what I don't like, or what doesn't fit. I didn't have that luxury when I went shopping on Friday since sale items tend not to be returnable :) In the end I was v. pleased to come home with one pair of blue jeans, two lacy tank tops (same style, different colours!) and an awesome pair of cropped pants that make certain parts of me look smaller than, perhaps, they really are :)

2. I went to a movie - Matchpoint, which is a Woody Allen film. Can't really compare it to other Allen films, since I've not seen many (if any), but I would say it was a good movie, but not great. Not sure I'd necessarily recommend it, but I wouldn't not recommend it...if that makes sense!

3. Went to Summerside Friday night for get together organised by Christine D. We went to the new Heritage Pub, which is really really big. And that is about all. It was great to see Christine and chat with Danielle. Christine is going to the UK in a few weeks, so I will have someone to visit there ! And Danielle is going to Istanbul in July, so that's another destination to consider :)

4. Tuesday I helped a friend out and ate way too many chocolate eggs that were innocently sitting in a big bowl at the Queen Street Commons. Then we went out for dinner at the Maple Grille and I ate salmon and other yummy, edibles. Sigh

5. It's a good thing I tempered all my eating excesses with a heck of a lot of cardio and weight training. I didn't take one day off this week.Still, tomorrow is weight-in day and I am not particularly optimistic since today I was overindulgent. I mean, we had two freaking could I not resist??

Anyways, one of the most interesting things I did this week was take in a film called The Future of Food, which was playing at City Cinema and admission by donation. It was an amazing documentary - mostly disturbing and I felt tears welling up in my eyes at some points. I learned even more about the absolute power of corporations - over consumers, farmers and governments. It is nauseating to say the least - to realise how little control we have over what we are eating. To realise the plight of farmers. TO realise that genes of living things are being PATENTED! That was especially worrisome - that a corporation has patenetd one of the genes linked ot breast cancer and now will not allow researchers to conduct experiments using that gene without paying a HUGE amount of cash to the company.

WHO decided that life could be patented? (The answer is the Supreme Court of US)

More importantly...WHY are we, the collective that make up humanity, allowing a few rich white men to patent Mother Nature for their own financial benefits?

Do you really know where your food has come from? Do you know what is in it? Do you now how it might affect your health?

I don't know all the answers and I know there is a lot of science I don't understand but I will always, always stand behind the statement that Mother Nature knows best and we shouldn't be playing with that which has evolved over millions/billions of years. Our ecosystem is extremely fragile and DIVERSITY is a key part of the continued success of any species. GE foods threaten that natural diversity and in turn, they threaten us...

I don't want to rant..I really really dont, but the more I learn about everything the more I have to ask myself:

WHY ARE WE ALL SO COMPLACENT ABOUT OUR CHOICES ? Why do we just accept the credo of corporations? Why aren't we asking more about the motivations behind every action or inaction? Why are we simply accepting the cleverly marketed answers they spew at us? Don't we care anymore about having autonomy, choice and control over our own lives?

I don't just seems to me that it truly is becoming a Brave New World. Or maybe 1984. And the key characteristic is a complete apathy amongst the general masses.

We accept what corporations and governments say/do. Why? Is it because we don't believe we have a choice? Is it because we are so exhausted from working for 'the man' we don't have any energy left to fight the good fight? Is it because we'd rather be secure than truly content? Is it because we've forgotten there is an alternative? Maybe it's time for a revolution. Remember, remember the 5th of November . . .