montreal tips

A friend asked for travel tips from Montreal, so I thought I would post something here too. We had a great time in there the only problem with the trip was the two days of rain. Touché. Claudia and I kept remarking that it was just crazy that they all speak French. How silly are we?

Take the public transportation there; it is super easy to get around and their busses are just wonderful. We got the three day pass for $17 and were able to hop on and off easily.

Shopping Tips:
http://www.boutiqueunicorn.com/Claudia got the most perfect bag made in Montreal at this store. It seemed like it was designed for her…and at a great price.

We bought new silverware at this shop. We had been in the market for quite some time. The owner spent time chatting with us and giving us tips. The rainy and cold day we stopped in on became warmer after a good chat!

There is a lot of good food to be had in Montreal:

Olive et Gourmando
We ate breakfast here everyday. The pastries were just wonderful as was the coffee.

http://restomontreal.ca/restaurants/index.php?section=viewresto&resto_id=2303&lang=enWalking out of a luxury department store a nice man and his daughter offered to help us figure out where we were going. He directed us to the new and hip M:burger. Great food and a great wait staff made our evening.

Great Tapas here:
Don’t let the lame website turn you off: Taza Flores was recommended to us by our hotel the first night. They told us no buses went there, but they lied. The tapas were tasty and hit the spot our first night.

Good Indian here:
http://www.bombaypalacenyc.com/Default.aspxThe last night of the trip we went to Indian at Bombay Palace. The food was spicy and filling. We could have done with only two entrees for the three of us.

Claudia and I hit the he contemporary art museum on our first day. They were between big shows, but had some thought provoking works up when we were there. http://www.macm.org/en/index.html

Finally, we went for a lovely bike ride along the river and over to the island where the World’s Fair was held. Renting the bike is a great option.



Saint Louis Abbey

Driving along after Grammy had her heart attack on my way to a much needed massage, I turned to my left and there was this amazing parabolic arched chapel: Priory Chapel of Saint Louis Abbey in Creve Coeur, Missouri. It was designed by Gyo Obata. Brent and I went back this weekend to take some pictures. The funny thing was, that this time, you could not see the chapel because it was spring and all of the trees had leaves. I might never have seen it but for...

See more pictures by clicking this sentence.


book review: Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

By Christopher McDougall

I am such a book evangelist. I go into it with the same verve: “You have to read this book. It is so amazing.” And away I go, telling the person in front of me how great this book I just read is. Ugh. So annoying.

But I am at it again. I just read Born to Run. Brent and I both read it. And loved it. Brent was a runner in college, for exercise sake. I have never been too good at running, but a few years ago I had this dream about running, where it was fun again, like when I was a kid. I jumped over things and ran under logs. It made me long to run again.

About six weeks ago I started running. Slowly. One Mile. I am up to 2 miles at a go. I run until I don’t feel good, then walk. I started running because every “weight loss” book/story of success I have seen, the person has begun running.

But the book was an after thought. And what an inspiration it is. The book just makes you want to get out there and do it...barefoot. Who needs Nike? Since the advent of the running shoe in the 1970’s running injuries have steadily increased. “Shoes block pain, not impact. Pain teaches us to run comfortably. From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run.”

Did you know the foot comprises one quarter of all bones in the body and more than 200,000 nerve endings? Over 2 million years has lead to a very well designed foot for running. Putting a shoe between your foot and the ground, means those nerve endings are deadened. We don’t need shoes; we need to get off the couch. Because we are wearing shoes, our feet muscles have atrophied. The book makes the argument that our evolutionary advantage was our ability to run, unlike other species near to ours.

“Heavier people are more likely to die from at least ten different kinds of cancer.” Who knew the exact numbers?

“When cancerous tumors are removed by surgery, they are 300 percent more likely to grow back in patients with a ‘traditional Western diet’ than they are in patients who eat lots of fruits and veggies, according to a 2007 report by The Journal of the American Medical Association.” To read the actual study, click this sentence.

I have started using my Vibram FiveFingers to run, and it is so much more fun. I am really enjoying feeling the ground, standing up straighter, and breathing better. It is really amazing.

The book talks about racing, and ultra-racing, and touching moments, and high drama. It makes you want to run. So run right out and get the book!


my brother's new shop

My brother, John, has spent months putting together his new website Idaho Fly. Click here to go to the site. I am super proud of all of his hard work. I really hope lots of people will go to his site and buy lots of flies. He is located in Boise, Idaho. The website has all kinds of fly fishing goodies, and he is happy to give lessons in fly fishing as well.


copying v. stealing

I read a blog called decor8. It has lots of fun decorating idea, and I really like the pictures. I am not sure how I found it, but I did. A few weeks ago the author of the blog asked her "community of readers" about having their ideas copied by the internets.

The post was titled "DIY is not Duplicate It Yourself." You can click this sentence to read the original post. I posted a comment about her post because I disagree. I don't believe that ideas can be copyrighted. I just believe that if I see an idea and I can replicate it, well then more power to me. Fire up. Get going.

In my comment I linked to this video by Nina Paley. She wrote the movie I mentioned a few months ago, Sita Sings the Blues.

What are your thoughts?


montréal pictures

Wonderful week in Montréal with Claudia. Brent joined us on Saturday. We rode bikes, walked all over in the rain, and shopping! See more pictures by clicking this sentence.


book review: white noise

book by Don DeLillo
review by Brent Lattin (he's fine with me re-posting this...and he is a really good writer...so...)

Don DeLillo is one of those authors whose name I kept seeing but didn't know much about. But I'd seen my favorite author, David Foster Wallace, compared to him so I was intrigued. From reading the book jacket of White Noise (I found the version that was the 1985 entry on the Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) it was clear that Foster Wallace must have been influenced by this book.

The book is about a professor of "Hitler studies" at a small college. Not much happens in the book, except in a few powerful bursts. The main one is the "Airborne Toxic Event" which consists of a black cloud of highly toxic gas released after a railroad car accident. The end of the book has a somewhat gruesome scene too that I won't spoil. The book it very funny, very biting, sometimes scary, sometimes sad. I enjoyed it immensely and it makes me wish I knew how to write like this. How does one fill 310 pages with, for the most part, small nonevents (a trip to the grocery store, say) and nothing but internal monologue and conversations. Moreover, how does one do that in a way that is gripping and keeps the reader interested? Where do you learn to write a novel that says something about life as it's lived today without anything much happening to otherwise uninteresting people? I don't know but DeLillo does. And for a book written in 1985 its seems very prescient to me. His observations about modern culture may have seemed exaggerated then but have only become truer since. But the best way to convince someone to read the book (or not to) is with the following passage which I loved. If it speaks to you then so will the book, I think. It occurs as the protagonist professor is getting attended to at a shelter during the Airborne Toxic Event:

"That's quite an armband you've got there. What does SIMUVAC mean? Sounds important."

"Short for simulated evacuation. A new state program they’re still battling over funds for."

"But this evacuation isn't simulated. It's real."

"We know that. But we thought we could use it as a model."

"A form of practice? Are you saying you saw a chance to use the real event in order to rehearse the simulation?"

"We took it right into the streets."

"How is it going?" I said.

"The insertion curve isn't as smooth as we would like. There's a probability excess. Plus which we don't have our victims laid out where we'd want them if this was an actual simulation. In other words we’re forced to take our victims as we find them. We didn't get a jump on computer traffic. Suddenly it just spilled out, three-dimensionally, all over the landscape. You have to make allowances for the fact that everything we see tonight is real. There's a lot of polishing we still have to do. But that's what this exercise is all about."


movie note: the other man

Nicole and Megan were visiting this weekend. We used netflix's watch it now option to pick a movie. I am barred from picking movies. I have been barred for quite some time now. I always pick sad or bad movies.

The Other Man was no exception. I thought it was a spy thriller...No is just a sad movie. The story is based on a short story by Bernard Schlink, the German author who wrote The Reader. The cinematography was absolutely amazing as were the performances by Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, and Antonio Banderas. Worth a watch if you are ever in the mood for a very well done depressing flick.


book blurb: 29 Gifts, How a Month of Giving can Change your Life.

by Cami Walker

Sometimes life just keep throwing you curve balls, and really you have to figure out how to get out of the way. In 29 Gifts, Cami Walker dodges and weaves, as we learn about her mounting debts, her Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis, her former and sometimes ongoing addiction to drugs, in her book chronicling how she got back into the game of life by giving. We spend only 29 days with Cami, but learn about her family and loving husband. We learn about the frustrations of illness. And finally we learn that through giving we can receive love, friendship, and health. We all know that paying it forward makes the world go forward into better places. Read about how Cami puts this philosophy into practice with great results.

To my readers:
Cami has this great paragraph on pg. 18 about the stories you tell yourself in you head. She is talking to a friend who is really down:

“I think you need to stop telling this story. A wise mentor once told me to be mindful of the stories I tell over and over because they are indicative of the thought patterns and beliefs that limit me.”

This book was really great fun, and I think a wonderful gift. I am going to send it along this week. :)


new favorite podcast: To The Best of our Knowledge

The podcast, To The Best of our Knowledge is produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by PRI. I recently started listening to it in St. Louis while visiting Grammy.

The podcasts cover a broad range of topics, from the language of prairie dogs to the art of a great walk. I guess I would describe it as somewhat like This American Life, but calmer...

If you have Itunes, you can subscribe to the podcast there. Otherwise, click here to listen.

Summary from their website:
TTBOOK began as an audio magazine of ideas - two hours of smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. It's sort of journalistic (because some of us are, or used to be, journalists), but it's never about the President's speech to the U.N., weapons inspections in Iraq, or yesterday's stock market disaster. It's the kind of show that would spend an hour on the future of capitalism, or on the roots of Islamic fundamentalism. It might also spend an hour on hair. Or salt. Or pirates, road trips, psychic phenomena, house cleaning, animal intelligence, high energy physics, or how to say you're sorry. (You'll find all those shows in our archives.) It's the kind of show where someone might mention Charlotte Bronte or Anthony Trollope in one segment, U2 or They Might Be Giants in another.

Could you be more specific?
Sure. TTBOOK produces two hours of radio every week. Each hour has a theme. We mentioned some above, but the best way to get a sense of the scope of the show is to browse our recent show listings. While we do air commentaries and performance pieces and occasional reporter pieces, the majority of the program is interviews. We have a host -- Jim Fleming -- who does some of the interviews and who anchors the show, shepherding guests and other interviewers in and out of radio space. The two other interviewers on the show are Steve Paulson and Anne Strainchamps. Why do we have multiple interviewers? We don't really know -- we just like it. We think it's more interesting than having one host who asks all the questions.

What's up with the themes? Why do you have themes, anyway?
Because it lets us produce the show as a radio salon. Inviting a diverse group of people with really different backgrounds to approach one subject can (in our dreams) create a kind of depth and richness that seems beautiful to us. Our goal is to leave you at the end of each hour with a few thoughts or impressions to mull over. The way a poem can kind of reverberate, leaving you to connect the images and find your own meaning ˆ that's how the theme format works, when we get it right. We got a call from a listener once, who said something we still bring up in staff meetings from time to time: "I don't need more information; what I need is some wisdom." The idea behind the theme format is to allow a subject to develop some depth, while at the same time not boring the pants off those of us with really short attention spans.


book review: in praise of slow

in praise of slow
by Carl Honré

I bought this book years ago in the airport; an impulse buy. It has been to Germany, across the US, and sat on our bookshelves for years. Until a few weeks ago when we were purging books. We have too many. So it was either read it quickly or give it away!

Funny right, read the book about going slow fast or get rid of it?

The book makes the argument that we all need to slow down, not just with respect to food, which is the context where most people have heard of the slow movement. I think this is a great idea. I found myself nodding along, as I skimmed the book, because I did not want to spend too much time reading the book.

A few points points of interest from the book:

1. Don’t speed. You really won’t get there faster. If you do want to speed, think about someone you love getting run over by someone speeding and talking on their phone. Then don’t speed, or talk on the phone. (As an aside, I read the other day that only 2.5% of the human population are supertaskers, ie people who can do more than one thing at once. You are not in the 2.5%. Remember that.)
2. Meditation is really good for you. I am going to get a few books on meditation to get started.
3. Bra, Italy is the home of the slow food movement. We will be vacationing there soon!
4. The Super Slow exercise section was really interesting too. If you do weight training reps very slowly your body gets more out of the exercises. Read more here.

Good book. On to the next.

ada lou

my favorite picture from having ada, montana, and erin over yesterday. Click here to see more pictures from yesterday.

400th Blog Post

Wow. Can you believe it readers? Thanks!