Toren Falls Down (Again)

Toren Atkinson of The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets talks about what happened at Cthulhupalooza, Second-Level Wizards, Saturday Morning Cartoon Party @ the Rio, Ghostbusters 25th Anniversary + video game, Anne McCaffrey, Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, inspirations for “Theme to an Earthquake”, The World Wildlife Federation of Justice, and the big show forthcoming on February 7th with Bloodhag & The Bossmonsters @ The Bourbon.

Accompanying tracks include songs by: Ray Ellis, Dethklok, Bloodhag Three Inches of Blood, and of course The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets INCLUDING newly released “(We’re Gonna) Kill the Chupacabra (Tonight)” now available on the Child’s Play compilation CD with Freezepop & Johnathan Coulton.

All on CiTR’s “We All Fall Down” – download the entire hour of nerdly giggles at:
and visit Marielle’s blog

Yes, Please Regulate My Asian Bear Bile

Now I haven’t read Bill C-51, but I was invited to the Facebook group to stop it. I read briefly through the description and my bullshit sense went off. First off “Canadian Bill C-51…proposes many changes to the Food and Drug[s] Act.” Fair enough. These are the guys that make sure that the products we buy have the ingredients and nutrition facts listed, expiry date, who made the food and where and when. I have no doubt that parts of the Act are outdated. The protestors maintain that “Among the changes proposed by the bill are radical alterations to key terminology, including replacing the word “drug” with “therapeutic product” throughout the Act, thereby giving the Canadian government broad-reaching powers to regulate the sale of all herbs, vitamins, supplements and other items.”

As well they should. The act is there to keep health risks off the market. All those things can poison you if they’re not properly regulated. If there is a real difference between the word “drug” and “therapeutic product” I’d like to know what it is. The protestor lingo continues:

“With this single language change, anything that is “therapeutic” automatically falls under the Food and Drug Act. There are no guarantees that this won’t include bottled water, blueberries, dandelion greens and essentially all plant-derived substances.”

That seems pretty spurious. Even so, if someone wants to sell me blueberries or bottled water in this day and age, I wouldn’t mind knowing how much radiation and pig hormones they’ve pumped into it before I put it in my mouth. At least then I can decide if it’s delicious enough to take the presumed health risk.

“The Act also changes the definition of the word “sell” to include anyone who gives such therapeutic products to someone else. In theory, a mother giving an herb to her child, under the proposed new language, could be in violation of the new law, and be arrested for engaging in the sale of unregulated, unapproved “therapeutic substances.”

From the bill:

The definitions …“sell” … are replaced by the following: “sell” includes offer for sale, expose for sale or have in possession for sale — or distribute to one or more persons, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration — and, in relation to a device, includes lease, offer for lease, expose for lease or have in possession for lease;”

That’s a lot of lawyer garble to me but no mother is going to be arrested for breastfeeding her baby. I mean come on – get real, people.

As far as I’m concerned there’s not enough regulation for “alternative” and “herbal remedies.” The reason that substances are broken down and put into pills is because no two chunks of willow bark are going to have the exact same concentration of the active ingredient that will reduce your fever and pain. That’s why the salicylic acid gets carefully measured and put into perfectly proportioned doses of aspirin, so that you know exactly what you’re in for with each pill, and can take what you know you need. The pharmacological industry is not by any means perfect but at least it is based on a systematic and measurable practice which I like to call science.

So, in summary, I did not join the Facebook group and clarification of the “sell” definition is requested, oh government of mine.

Here’s the bill (click)


Latest crockery experiment was one of the more successful ones, but still not great. Corn and black beans and chicken and potatoes and a little cumin. Just doesn’t compare to a sandwich from Safeway. And if I don’t like a sandwich from Safeway (this hasn’t happened yet – the Greek Island flatbread is particularly tasty and I get it without ranch spread so it’s actually healthy) it’s only $4 lost rather than $15 for all the ingredients for a crock experiment. Well I’ll keep at it for a while, and if all else fails the crock pot serves as a decent bowl for snacks on D&D nights.

My Terrible Philosophy in Action

Joe wrote:

The “Body For Life” book suggests an “off day” in its routine where you can eat whatever you want. It suggests that you should do your grocery shopping at the end of that day because you will be far less tempted to bring home unhealthy snacks. Your diet doesn’t contain the intense exercise of Body For Life, but perhaps a minor version of the “off day” and then buy groceries for the week would work for you.

I offer you a counter-proposal. I’ll eat “whatever I want” for 4 days and then eat “responsibly” for the rest of the month.

Whiney Food Bloggings Winding Down?


The past couple of days have been lax on the diet front. Tuesday there was chocolate as I visited Sherane’s new place and watched the new Futurama movie (7.25/10) and a documentary on nature documentaries. Wednesday was D&D and everyone brought chips. Today I treated myself to some Cadbury’s mini-eggs but resisted Falafully Good (barely).

On to the crockery: Experiment # 6. Not good. Don’t mix onion soup mix and mushroom soup and rosemary. Sweet potatoes are good though, and slightly less calories than regular potato, apparently. I misplaced my one fork so I’m eating this chicken breast with chopsticks. The other tenants keep throwing out my plastic forks assuming they’re garbage. Idiots.

Saving Up For Chips / Crock #5

Oh tomorrow is D&D and there will likely be unhealthy snacks.

This morning I had eating cookies dreams.

I’ve had a large mole on my toe for as long as I can remember, but lately I noticed there are black spots on it which weren’t there before. My physician says it’s too big for him to tackle, so he’s referring me to a plastic surgeon! Maybe I’ll get my chin tucked while I’m there. Anyway, while in his office I weighed myself on that big old traditional scale where you move the weights left and right and I was 183 lbs. Only four pounds to go! I have a feeling those may be the most difficult ones.

Crock Experiment #5: chicken breasts; chicken broth; garlic; lots of salt; potatoes; carrots; squash; pumpkin spice; coconut extract; 5 cardamoms; pepper. Truly, less is more – this is a good one! On LOW for 12 hours and everything’s nice and mushy.

Day 25: Crispy Delights 90 apple 100 granoli 110 granoli 110 apple 100 ice cream 50 vegetarian chili 180 granoli 110 ice cream 50 banana 150 ice cream =1100

I Also Love Dim Sum

After reading this post, Jason wrote:

I’ve been following your food travails with intrigue and interest. I think this post answered the big question that I have had: Why does he eat so badly? A: You’re addicted to junk food.

It’s really too bad that you are so resistant to cooking and/or eating healthy food. There is a vast, and I mean VAST world of amazing flavor and satisfaction out there that crushes your pathetic grocery store 7 layer dip and M&M’s into the dust.

I’m sure that you have heard all this ad nauseum but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. Kudos to you on the crockpottery experimentation!! Might I suggest cruising the used bookstores …for things like [The Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes]:

I will not deny that I am addicted to junk food, but I would go farther and say that I have an addiction to rich foods. How many of the following would you consider ‘junk food’: chicken shawarma, dolmathes, pita & houmous, fresh pineapple, grapes & cherry tomatoes, butter chicken, chicken korma, thin crust feta-only kalamata olive & sundried tomato pizza, Max’s turkey stuffing, goat cheese on whole wheat crackers, mixed nuts (heavy on the cashews), and anything that’s on the menu at a Mexican restaurant.

Tell me about this vast world of amazing flavour that is also healthy! I have no aversion to eating healthy as long as it satisfies my sweet tooth. I have cooked before. I used to own a few cookbooks and tried making various Indian recipes. I would make pasta with different kinds of sauces. I would make nice soft boiled potatoes with a moderate amount of butter and parmesan cheese. This was all before I found out that carbs were making me fat. I would even boil up corn on the cob – with nothing on it – pretty much until I moved. And even when I order Chinese food, it’s never sweet & sour pork, it’s always chicken with vegetables and cashew nuts. The problem is that I’ll eat several plates of the stuff and then I’ll still want a baklava or ice cream, and I won’t be satisfied with a small portion of that either. It’s not like I haven’t eaten salads and broccoli – I enjoy them greatly and would eat until I can’t eat any more. And then I want a butter tart. I remember two Christmases ago I ate about a dozen mandarin oranges and subsequently refamiliarized myself with the reading material in the bathroom.
The problem is that I’m a glutton. I need a long term gluttony-management strategy.

I left my cookbooks at the old place because they just didn’t get used. There’s a wealth of recipes on the web, and that’s what I’ve been using for my crockery. I saved 17 crock recipes to my computer, and I’ve adapted 4 of them.

Crock Experiment #4 Orange ginger pumpkin spice chicken, merging this recipe with this recipe.

As ushered by Jess and Geisel, I changed the temperature and duration of cooking for this one. I cooked this dish on high but only for the first three hours, because then I went to bed and didn’t want to leave it on high overnight. So total cooking time was 12 hours, 3 of which was on high, the rest on low. And it’s true, the yams definitely are crumbling at the touch of a fork. So – success in that regard!

The contents:

chicken, obviously
butternut squash
yellow bell peppers
can of concentrated orange juice
pumpkin spice
coconut extract

I toned down slightly the amount of ingredients I’ve been putting in. Nevertheless, this was sadly too disgusting to eat, and it got flushed (except for the chicken itself). I think next time I’m going to keep it to the bare essentials.

Day 24: Crockery 150 orange 100 granoli 110 ice cream 25 crockery 100 tomatoes 35 crockery 175 ice cream 25 granoli 220 = 950

My Old Stomping Ground

As soon as I walked in the door of Jeremy’s housewarming I was doomed. Dolmathes, olives, houmous, dark chocolate, homemade peanut butter cookies with peanut reese’s pieces, cheese w/ rosemary crackers, and introducing the Parthenon’s “God’s Dip” – essentially a Greek salad in a dip. So today I blew the diet, willingly and openly. But even though I went well outside the restrictions I’ve set for myself, I didn’t eat nearly as much as I would have if I weren’t on this diet. Still, I feel I’ve revisited the place where I am at my weakest and simultaneously my most comfortable. The place where I am the most satisfied for a short time and then I am the least satisfied immediately afterwards.
Hello, place.

It’s funny-peculiar how on one level I want to be in that place so bad, but on another level it makes me sick to think of it. In that moment when I’ve come home from Safeway with a bag of peanut M&Ms, double chocolate cookies, corn chips and 7 layer dip and lemon houmous, and maybe a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, that’s an exciting, heavenly, fulfilling moment. And then when the bags are empty and I’m full to the point of feeling queasy, I am in the moment of regret, shame, and reprobation. And every moment of the day when my mind is not occupied with work or similarly engaged, loading up on the sweets and treats IS ALL I WANT. I mean how do you manage that, really? I know that my current starvation diet isn’t really addressing the problem – more like it’s addressing the fallout to the problem – but I honestly don’t know how to fight it.

Is part of the solution to stop buying my own food? Should I shell out for someone to prepare all of my meals? Is there going to be a time when I don’t crave nachos with guacamole and kalamata olives, or butter chicken, or a DQ Blizzard? Because I’m pretty sure that the only reason I’m able to stay on this diet is because I know that said treats are in my future, and the sooner I lose these last 6 lbs the sooner I can put these delicious treats in my mouth and unintentionally begin putting the weight back on.

Paul and Jeremy and I were talking about exercise tonight. A variety of sources say that biking is good for you but helps not at all in losing weight. Is it true? If so, where’s the justice? Jeremy works out at a gym and as I mentioned I cannot stomach that (bit of a pun there). Paul champions the miracle of Chuck Norris’ Total Gym, which I’m considering. You can get them on Craigslist for $150-200 so I figure I could try it out and if it didn’t work out, sell it on Craigslist for $150-200. Kind of like a free trial with hassle. I could also get an exercise ball and try to conquer my lack of motivation. Alternately: sports sports sports sports. Indoor soccer in 2008? I did enjoy the summer of tennis. Problem is finding the right groove in terms of people, scheduling and location.

Moving on….

I had to walk down to Safeway today to get groceries. Walk! Can you believe it? Too treacherous for bike riding, especially since I almost got murdered yesterday going down a hill and trying to break as a car came towards me. Don’t tell Mom her favourite son almost DIED. Speaking of treacherous, I had to buy my chicken at Safeway, which normally I wouldn’t do, but I just didn’t have time to go to the butcher. I think I’m going to try my orange juice/pumpkin pie spice/butternut squash recipe tonight. And I’m going to put it on HIGH. OVERNIGHT. I hope I don’t burn the house down.

Because I couldn’t ride my bike I thought wouldn’t it be a good idea to go around the neighborhood and offer to shovel people’s walkways for free? That would be good exercise, and it would be serving my bourgeoisie community. Unfortunately them comic book pages ain’t gonna ink themselfs, so my muscles will atrophy as my inking skills grow (in theory).

Day 21: ice cream 125 granoli 130 banana 200 granoli 110 apple 100 granoli 110 vegetables 125 chicken 200 = 1100 calories

Day 22: ice cream 140 granoli 110 apple 100 banana 200 granoli 110 chicken 250 ice cream 25 granoli 220 = 1155

Day 23: ice cream 25 granoli 220 orange 100 ice cream 25 + FAILURE

My Veggietable Prison

zdepth writes:

I know you [are] a kitchenphobe, but STOP USING CANNED VEGGIES. They don’t have half the flavor of fresh.

I used fresh vegetables in my first crock experiment – well, carrots and potatoes and onions – and they didn’t turn out. They were still too firm and as such didn’t add anything to the dish. That’s why I bought smaller potatoes. For the last experiment I had a yam and I sliced it up, but cleaning and chopping up vegetables is not something I’m likely to get into the habit of doing regularly. So that’s why I used canned vegetables in my last experiment – I knew the carrots would be soft. Would frozen vegetables be preferable? Because if you think I’m going to shuck and cut kernels of corn off of a cob, or picking peas out of a pod, YOU’S CRAZY!

See here’s the thing about vegetables – the ones I like (carrots, broccoli, peas, tomatoes) I’m happy to eat raw rather than go to the trouble of prepping and cooking them. Potatoes are an obvious exception.

Geisel’s saying that the solution may be to parboil the vegetables (not an option for a potless and kitchen-impatient man) or simply keep them in the crockpot longer, but I’m already cooking dishes that are supposed to take 6-8 hours for 8-10 hours. Kenn says to salt the vegetables before I cook them to soften them up. Any other advice?

Day 20: ice cream 100 apple 100 licorice 200 more licorice etc 150 crockery 200 ice cream 100 granoli 110 = 960 calories

Crock Chronicles: I Want Curry in a Hurry

Things I’m most looking forward to eating when the deal is done:

Falafully Good!
plate of nachos with lots of guacamole, refried beans and olives
a big bag of candy from The Candy Aisle
pizza with feta, sundried tomato & kalamata olives
Scottish eccles cake and a florentine from Max’s Deli
The Naam’s sesame fries with miso gravy and some hot apple crisp at 1 in the morning.
Kettle Chips cheddar beer flava
Timmy Ho’s sour cream donut
DQ cappuccino Skor blizzard or Ben & Jerry’s Vermonty Python (ps – did you know that there’s a B&J shop in Coquitlam?)
butter chicken (buffet at New India restaurant) and gulab jamun

Earlier today: Picked out the tiniest whitish potatoes that I could find. Some are no bigger in diameter than a dollar coin. I also picked up a white onion (I’ve tried red and uh…regular brown so it’s time for the white) and a couple of thin yams. I put those all in the bottom. A can of spinach on top of that, and a can of carrots and a can of peas, but I drained both those last two and put their water into a bowl with a chicken boullion cube and microwaved it for 2 minutes. While that was happening I dusted the stuff in the crock with a heaping tablespoon of curry powder. I also put in four grape tomatoes for uh…garnish? The hot chicken broth I cooled with a dash of skim milk and into that I put a heaping tablespoon of curry powder, mixed it up and poured it over everything. Then I realized I forgot the small banana, so I chopped that over the pile. Then I put on three chicken breasts and put almost a bulb of garlic on top with the cloves or half-cloves equidistantly spread. Another heaping tbsp of curry powder, a pinch of ginger powder and the bounty was overflowing so I had to squish it down to put the lid on.

Just now: I don’t know what exactly my expectations were for the slow cooker, but they haven’t been met. I’d say I’m about 60% satisfied with the results so far – the smell during cooking is always better than the taste for some reason. Still got a few more experiments to try before I give up on it, though, such as:

pumpkin pie spice & orange
acorn squash & nutmeg
corn & black beans
and when I get off my diet, stuffing & swiss cheese.

All with chicken breasts, of course.

Day 19: apple 100 granoli 110 miscellaneous bits while I prepared my crockery (peas, banana, tomatoes etc) 50 popsicle 25 orange 100 fudgsicle 70 crockery 250 = 800