Sunday, February 27, 2011

Boot Camp: Month Two

I'm not sure where I've lost it, but I've managed to shed 3kg since the beginning of the year - 2kg just in February itself. Gotta be happy about that! Certain pairs of trousers are noticeably looser now, so I'm starting to feel better about myself already.

We've been on Jenny Craig for a month now and it's very apparent that our main problem was portion size and eating too much fruit. Once we come off the plan, it should be fairly easy for us to maintain our weight as the food we're eating now is pretty much what we used to eat - just a lot less!

The exercising is also going well. I go for a walk/jog each morning before work and, whilst it's no great distance as yet, I'm noticing that my jogging is getting stronger. I'm probably jogging about 1.5km non-stop of the 5km circuit and am slowly building that up. Eventually, I hope to jog the whole route. Time may be against me though, as the mornings are going to get darker and darker. Once that happens, I'll switch to walking/jogging home from work instead. That's about 7kms, so a good distance.

We've joined a weekly walking group that goes around West End, taking in some of the steeper streets along the way and lately Smithy and I have started to do a walk around the trails at Mt Coot-tha on the weekends. Last weekend, we hiked up Mt Warning. That was a good workout and it took us just 3 1/2 hours to get up and down. I was very pleased to have only a little tightness in my calves the next day. About the only area I'm falling down in is the strength training side of things. Not doing enough weights, situps etc. We're still eight months out from our planned trek, so there is plenty of time to start working on that aspect of my training.

So, very much on track with the weightloss and fitness goals. If I can keep posting these small wins, it'll be so much easier to stay motivated.

February Book of the Month

I'm on my tenth book for the month but am unlikely to finish it before tomorrow night, so my official tally for February will probably stand at nine books. The list includes Ian McEwan's Solar, and The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World by His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama, which I got for Christmas.

A significant proportion of my private library is made up of books about trekking in the Himalayas, mountaineering and travelling in general and I am slowly working my way through the collection. This month, four of the books I read were about the Himalayas and my favourite book was Friends in High Places: a season in the Himalayas by Peter Mayne. It's a bit dated - published in 1975 - but a delightful tale of the author's stay at the Indian Himalayan home of a descendant of an exiled Nepalese Rana. Mayne is particularly fascinated by his host's ancestor, Jang Badahur Rana who was the first of the century-long line of Rana Prime Ministers who effectively ruled Nepal, and the reader is treated to a fascinating account of Jang's rise to power as well as an investigation into the infamous Kot Massacre of 1846 that cemented Jang's hold on the reins of power.

I found the history really enjoyable, but what I loved the most was the account of Mayne's stay at his old friend, Jagut Rana's, country home in the Indian Himalayan foothills near Dehru Dun. His descriptions of the estate and the people who call it home are whimsical and comic without belittling. I found myself totally immersed in the daily routines of this seemingly chaotic household and was sorry that the book had to end, but it has motivated me to seek out his earlier writings - A Year in Marrakesh and The Narrow Smile.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Musings on the flood levy

I've been doing a bit of reading and thinking about the flood levy and people's reactions to it over the past week and I have to admit to feeling somewhat disgusted by the mean spiritedness demonstrated by many people commenting on the issue.

I'd be happy to pay the levy. That's easy for me to say since I don't actually earn enough money to be liable for the levy. I went and made another $100 donation to the Flood Appeal as soon as I learned I'd be exempt from the levy. So I find it hard to imagine that people earning at least $12,000 pa more than me couldn't spare between $35 and $50 a year - for a single year. That's less than a dollar a week and you can't afford it? Really? Your budget is that tight, you're accounting for every last dollar? If you're anything like me, you toss more than that into your change jar every day!

Yes I know, you've got mortgages, cars to run and kids to feed. But it's still $50 bucks a year, folks. A year. For one year.

And yes, I know you've already donated to the Flood Appeal and why should you be forced to donate again. Well, the Flood Appeal monies go directly to assist people affected by the floods. The Flood Levy goes to rebuilding lost infrastructure. You know, stuff like roads, bridges, railway tracks. If we relied on donations to raise funds for infrastructure, nothing would ever get built.

Of course, if you're really upset by the Flood Levy you can always donate $50 to the Liberal Party's Stop the Levy Campaign, so they can save you from having to contribute $50 to the Flood Levy.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Festival of Tibet


The 3rd Annual Festival of Tibet is now on at Brisbane's Powerhouse. I'm down here volunteering on the Australia Tibet Council stall and thought I would blog about what's happening.

Last night, the audience of the Mystical Tibet concert was treated to a sublime fusion of strings, Japanese bamboo flute and the soaring vocals of Tenzin Choegyal as he joined forces with the Camarata of St John and Taro Terahara to bring us a beautiful moving performance of Tibetan songs.

Earlier in the evening Lhamo, Tashi and Jamyang, three Tibetan women, entertained the audience, singing traditional Tibetan folksongs. Each of them looked gorgeous in their traditional costumes and we thrilled to the sounds of their voices singing songs of their homeland.

Today's program is the highlight of the Festival. A hundred or so people are taking part in a meditation session as I type. The place is buzzing with people wandering around looking at all the stalls, playing on the singing bowls and tinkling meditation cymbals.

Shortly, a panel discussion on the Art of Healing will take place. Sonam Dagpo, the Dalai Lama's representative in Australia, Tenzin Norbu, a Tibetan environmental activist and Geshe Jamyang will be the speakers.

Later this afternoon, Ama-la Jetsun Pema, the Dalai Lama's younger sister will be giving a talk on educating children. Ama-la has been instrumental in the running of the Tibetan Childrens Village in Dharamsala. The TCV offers an education to any Tibetan child. Most exile Tibetans have been educated at the TCV school and many many Tibetans in Tibet risk everything to send their children over the Himalayas so they can get a Tibetan education. The talk promises to be very interesting and we are honoured to have Ama-la here.

The Festival will wind up tonight with another wonderful concert featuring Tibet2Timbuk2 and other special guests.

I'm off now to get ready for the Art of Healing panel discussion, as I have been lassooed into asking a couple of questions to get the discussion rolling.