Vegetarian Secrets: Why Didn’t You Share These??

I have a bone to pick with Vegetarians. Vegans: you’re on notice.

Now, before anyone slams me with thousands of messages and emails about the above, let me explain myself and the Canadian-tempered outrage I’m feeling. Trust me, you’re going to want to keep reading.

To all Vegetarians and Vegans out there…

*deep breath*

WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US HOW GOOD YOU HAVE IT??

Allow me to explain.

So about two months ago, my Mother and I decided that we were going to start consuming less meat, and not because of any ethical reasons or anything (not that there’s something wrong with that. Thats your choice of course.) but instead due to the fac that meat is pretty expensive now and because of the environmental impact that mass growing of livestock, poultry, etc have.

As I started exploring how I would be able to still have “hamburgers” and such without feeling like I was missing out, I discovered something magical and wonderful. Its called Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). The problem that I initially thought I would have was not getting enough protein, as meat is a major source of that in my life up until now. I figured I would need to find something to replace my protein source with something as good or better.

So I started researching. A lot. Let me tell you, there are quite a few websites out there that promote their recipes and such but are so hard to follow with so many ingredients that I swear Alton Brown would throw his hands up in disgust and frustration and just go make some Mac n’ Cheese. Suffice it to say, it took quite awhile before I found some recipes that were not only easy to follow, but didn’t require $200 in groceries to do it.

I also discovered Tempeh. While based off of the same vegetable/legume as Tofu, they have completely different textures and uses. Tempeh is signficantly firmer and cuts very much like a firm cheddar. It also works fantastic in stirfrys, egg scrambles, tacos, or burgers. I’ve also experimented with Seitan (pronounced Sigh-Tan) which has the same consistencey as chicken/pork. All three of these things (TVP, Tempeh, Seitan) are essentially flavourless and absorb the essence of whatever you cook it with. Tofu ain’t the only game in town, baby!

With all of the vegetables, fruits, nuts, and these three Game Changers, I have not only been able to get all of the protein I need and more… but its given me the chance to expand my culinary horizons far past what I thought I knew I was able to do. I haven’t even mentioned the lentils, variety of beans, chickpeas (you glorious garbonzo bean!), and so much more. Everything is more exciting, flavourful, very hearty, filling, satisfying, and most all its super super healthy without honestly even trying.

Oh yeah, and no big deal… but I’ve lost 6 pounds in the past two weeks.

Going vegetarian was one of the best decisions of my life and I have to say, the bitterness of aaaaall of you other vegetarians and vegans out there for not sharing THIS part of the lifestyle with the rest of us will pass in time.

But for now: Veggie burger anyone?

Can You See What I See?: Privacy’s Decline

Wow.

December sure has been a month full of whopping privacy breaches, violations, and very sketchy practices by individuals and companies alike. It used to be pretty simple: Your private life, what you read, ate, watched, places you went to, people you talked too, and things you liked were something that you only shared with people you knew and/or trusted. Pinky Swears were eternally binding, secrets you told to friends stayed with them to the grave, and conversations between adults never evolved out of control save for the occasional bit of unsubstantiated gossip here and there.

Well, it’s a brave new world people… and everyone is involved if you want to be or not.

I’m going to list the 4 latest big privacy scares in the past month and let you decide for yourself if people are being treated as products and services is fantasy or fact.

  1. From Mashable: Facebook bug gave developers access to photos you never meant to share. As the article mentions, when you upload a photo but chose not to share it, a glitch in the matrix (so to speak) gave app develops access to those photos… without your permission. Once again, Facebook has failed to protect its users from letting their private data fall into the hands of people who were not meant to have it. How many other breaches and failures is it going to take before people just stop using the platform?
  2. From TheVerge: Taylor Swift tracked stalkers with facial recognition tech at her concert. While some folks might say this is an isolated incident and that Ms. Swift deserves to feel safe at her own concert (and she does, no question), it makes a person wonder about the privacy of the people who were being recorded, scanned, images captured and analyzed, etc. What happens to the captured images, data, and other bits of digital information used in the process? At this point, it’s not a stretch to imagine other venues doing this for a variety of other reasons… or to see it happening on our streets (much like London, England or various cities in China).
  3. From BGR: Amazon patent hints at using doorbell cameras to build a suspicious persons database. Apparently ringing someone’s doorbell or dropping off a package has now evolved into having your face scanned and put into a database, if Amazon has their way (should the patent actually go into production). I don’t know about anyone else, but this screams privacy violation and Creepy Factor of 10.
  4. From Android Central: Facebook gave Microsoft, Amazon, and Netflix unfettered access to user data. While I’m not entirely sure why Microsoft, Amazon, or Netflix would care about my liking a cat video, that is completely beside the point. The fact that once again Facebook has allowed our data to get into the hands of companies who have no right to it and no right to access it unfettered, is more than alarming. When Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said that regulation is inevitable (speaking about social media platforms, data centres, etc) he wasn’t wrong. I certainly hope not anyways.

 

I remember awhile ago someone once told me that privacy was a myth and everything we do is either being tracked, traced, scanned, copied, disseminated, sold, etc and that privacy as we once knew it is gone, I thought they were bananas.

Well… I’m a believer now.

Can you see what I see?

Christmas Cheer: Giving or Taking?

As I’m sure you’ve heard more than one person say (jokingly or not) in the last while, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”.

Is it?

When we think of Christmas, a few things come to people’s minds. We think of giving and receiving gifts, baked goods, good food with friends and family, and paid vacations or time off work (to name a few). There is, however, the other side of the chocolate coin.

Trekking through over-crowded malls filled with angry and frustrated people looking for the perfect gift, bad mall food (because there is no way you are going to go home to prepare something and THEN go out), extremely pushy and aggressive mall kiosk vendors, hours spent wrapping all of the gifts you bought, excessive time spent slaving over hot stoves and ovens just to have the food/snacks vanish in a matter of minutes, etc.

Sometimes it just seems like so much work, doesn’t it?

Personally, I just enjoy the time off to relax and recharge the batteries. I think we all need more of that, just the simple relaxation and stress-free holiday that we honestly deserve. I understand that some people love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and everything that goes with it. If that’s what you enjoy, then more power to you and I hope the Elf On A Shelf helps with the clean-up.

For most people who I talk to during the day when asked what their ideal Christmas holiday is, respond with different things but mostly the same fundamental pattern:

Stress-free, quiet, relaxing, and often gift-less holiday. People just want to be happy, safe, and the same for their loved ones. Is that too much to ask, I wonder? I don’t believe for a second that it is.

I think we get to a point in our lives when we reach a certain age, that Christmas hasn’t necessarily lost its lustre or wonder… but we desire things very different from when we were kids. As children, it was all about Santa and presents. We were taught from a young age that Christmas meant that if we were good all year-long, that Santa would come in a big old sleigh and we would get lots of great presents for Christmas morning.

My parents were a bit more practical and told my brother and I straight out of the gate that Santa wasn’t real, that it was Mom and Dad that bought the presents and put them under the tree. From the age we were able to understand what that meant, Christmas didn’t lose its magic for us but instead it shifted immediately from a magical fat man in a cart pulled by some forest animals to knowing Mom and Dad bought whatever we got, but we were still super excited to see what they got us. The mystery of what it could be was almost like a drug, and we took it willingly.

As we got older, we once again shifted our perspective and started to GIVE presents and not just receive them. We learned that the joys of giving were just as important (if not more) than getting and the time spent with family was a gift in and of itself.

Fast forward 20 years and another shift occurred, where now we were old enough that we didn’t want presents anymore. We knew that time spent with family and that we were happy and safe were all that really mattered… and to be honest, if we wanted something we would just buy it anyways if we wanted it bad enough, as there was nothing we needed.

Jump to present day (no pun intended… sort of) and I’m a bit older now (I’M STILL YOUNG!) almost anticipating another shift in the next few years. What that could be, I don’t know, but I can tell you one thing: At Christmas I will always have a cookie and a gulp of milk for the Santa that never was a part of my childhood, for the lessons learned from my parents about Christmas as a teenager, and the gift of the small happy things as an adult.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

Free-christmas-garland-clipart-the-cliparts

Allergies: A (Sometimes) Silent Menace

Allergies.

According to the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, up to 40% of the Canadian population will be affected by at least one allergic condition in some point of their lives. That’s a lot of sneezing and congestion right there.

I, myself, have a couple of allergies I’m prepared to share with you. Get ready. Here it comes.

MIXED VEGETABLES!

No, really. My 5-year-old self is cheering so hard in my head right now.

Well, to be more precise… FROZEN mixed vegetables. It has something to do with the chemicals they use to preserve them during the freezing process and less to do with the actual vegetables but let’s be honest: who actually likes frozen yellow beans mixed with corn and peas? My reaction to this nasty bit of chilly business isn’t too severe, mostly a wildly upset stomach followed by stomach and abdominal cramps for hours.

Ok, maybe not so gentle I suppose.

The next is a doozy. You might want to sit down for this one and grab your EpiPen.

DUST!!!

*thunder rolls in the distance*

Or, to (again) be more precise… THESE GUYS!!:

sci_dustmites_free.jpg

Dust Mites! I’ll call them all Kevin. Not to be confused with the Bed Bug, their scientific name in the Entomology world is Dermatophagoides microcerasIn my world, I call them #&@!*# (or Kevin) aka “Maybe one day I’ll not be congested and able to breathe clearly out of at least ONE nostril for more than 10 seconds”. My reaction to these little guys are constant, ever-present, and very much like having a semi-cold every single day. Congestion in both chest and head, sniffles (IN JULY! I mean, COME ON!), and inability to breathe clearly.

One time a few months ago I was able to breathe through both nostrils clear as a blue sky, and the on-rush of so much oxygen coming in was so much that it actually gave me a headache. AIR GAVE ME A HEADACHE.

Thank you Kevin. I appreciate it.

Despite all of this, I don’t let it affect my life as much as I can and when I start to get a bit whiny (I said a bit!), I remind myself that there are people out there with allergies exponentially more severe than mine, so I honestly have no right to complain. There are people with allergies to peanuts, seafood, and even sunlight.

My hope is that in the future we will have the medical technology to come up with cures for these sometimes common (and not so common) interruptions in our lives. All I can say now is…

*AH-CHOO!*

Bless you. 🙂

 

Instagram Ads…Out Of Control?

Instagram.

For the few of you who aren’t aware of what Instagram is, it’s a social media platform owned by Facebook that allows you to simply share short videos or pictures with captions or quick posts without all of the extra bits and bobs you find on a Facebook page. It has garnered quite a popular following and appears to become far more popular than its mother platform amongst Gen Z and Millennials.

It’s also rife with ads. Like, LOTS of them.

When you see one of these many intrusive ads, you have the option to choose one of three things to remove the ad (temporarily): “It’s Not Relevant”, “I See It Too Often”, and “I Find It Offensive”. For awhile I would choose the seeing it too often route, and it seemed to work… at first. They then just started coming back with a different vendor or spin on the exact same product they were hawking, and it was high time I started to fight back in the only way I could think of:

It was time to mess with them.

From that point, on every single ad that would show up, I would choose the “It’s Not Relevent” route. At first, nothing much seemed to change… until about 2 weeks later when it started to seem like Instagram’s ad algorithm simply couldn’t figure out what I might be interested in. Gone were the constant ads about backpacks, geek t-shirts, and nerdy gadgets… now they were starting to get weird.

Suddenly I started seeing things come up such as dog collars, boots, airline tickets, knitting patterns, and jewelery made of everything from steel, wood, plastics, and all of the above. Its like Instagram was panicking and just throwing anything ANYTHING at me to see if something stuck, much like a half-cooked pasta noodle the chef was hoping would stick to the wall to signal that its done.

No such luck Instagram! I will constantly make you guess my interests… and I’ll never tell! It may seem like I’m “sticking it to the man”, that I’m toying with them to consistently keep them on their toes.

Well…

You would be right.

And I’m not stopping any time soon. 🙂

It’s Been Awhile…

I’m still alive!

No, really.

To say that I’ve neglected to post anything for a while would be an understatement. My apologies. As I’m sure we’ve all experienced, Life has a way of introducing itself like a teenager with a newly minted drivers license and WAY to much confidence: It goes way too fast, danger seems to be everywhere, you’re terrified in the passenger seat, and when the car comes to a stop you barely have enough time to catch your breath before the light turns green again.

A bit much? Maybe, maybe not.

I have people who haven’t seen me in a while asking me what I’ve been up to lately, how I’ve been, and have I “been staying out of trouble”, like I’m a convicted felon out on bail and every move I make could potentially land me in the clink faster than Wile E. Coyote’s plans fall apart to catch the Roadrunner.

Here’s the short answer:

  1. I’ve been working both at my place of employment and working on myself. Sometimes working on yourself is a much harder task as you think you know yourself pretty well already and people in general don’t like change or having to admit there is work to be done in the first place. What have YOU been up to lately?
  2. I’ve been doing between “Pretty OK” and “Could Be Better”. Never too much on one side of that spectrum, but managing. How are YOU doing?
  3. I always laugh inside my head when someone asks if I’ve been “staying out of trouble”. Well, I haven’t been arrested for any crimes, I haven’t broken any laws, and I haven’t terrorized anyone or made anyone’s life harder… so I would say I’ve been “staying out of trouble” pretty damn well. Have YOU been staying on the straight and narrow?

I’ll make a more concerted effort to post on a more consistent basis. I started this blog in order to, well, have more order to my life and to have an outlet where I can share parts of my life, interests, and whatever else pops into my head. I hope you don’t mind. Apologies for being a bit self-reflective this first entry back… but I just want you all to know where I stand.

On two feet.

Ba-dum, pshhh!

(Nobody ever said the dumb humour was going anywhere!)

That’s So Nice!: Random Acts of Kindness

Every day on the news we see people going out of their way to make these grand gestures to brighten someone’s day or to show a person/business/organization/etc that they care. I think its wonderful that people can create these intricate and elaborate ways to be nice to others. I think the world could use more niceness.

Do you know what else it could use?

More random acts of kindness.

“What do you think these people are doing, the ones that make these grand gestures? Aren’t they random to the person its directed towards?”

Sure, of course it is. What I mean is, the random acts of kindness that take no planning. The kind that just spring up in the spur of the moment… that catch both you AND the other person by surprise. Something that is done without any thought of attention-seeking, credit, or profuse thank-yous.

Random acts of kindness can be anything; opening a door for someone, letting them go ahead of you in a busy line when they have fewer items (or more if you have nowhere else to get to), or even putting a few extra coins in the parking meter next to yours when you see its about to run out. Sometimes RAoK can be something that nobody else sees you do, but they experience after the fact.

Shoveling someone’s walk-way early in the morning after you finish yours, so they don’t have to go outside when its freezing cold. Paying for the person’s coffee behind you in the drive-through, just because it might make their day. We should all strive to do more, without the needing to take credit for something.

I believe that in our technology-reliant society, people have come to equate kindness and being nice with over-the-top encounters that are recorded and posted across countless social media platforms for likes and shares… when in reality, the most meaningful and true RAoK are ones that don’t have an alterior motive (ie: going viral online), but instead are done simply because, well…

Its kind.