Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shopping (and Reading): Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

I recently decided that I absolutely had to have an Amazon Kindle. I already have a Kobo and I make Amazon book orders with some regularity so it's not as if I needed it; although that argument could be made for any device these days even though we find life increasingly difficult to go with out them. In the ended I rationalized the purchase in this manner: at 139$ it was less expensive than a dress at Banana Republic, which I have a tendency to buy without a moments hesitation and considering how much I read, the price per use would be worth every penny.

I have been increasingly disgruntled with the Kobo. I bought my first Kobo a few years ago and I had no end of trouble with downloading content (books that wouldn't transfer) and software updates. One software update crippled my Kobo, forcing me to exchange it for a new one at Chapters. I was grateful for their willingness to exchange the device but it was worth noting that they already had a number of returns for the exact same reason. Apart from the very slow on/off response, I lived in harmony with my Kobo for a while after that (refusing to update the software unless I absolutely had to) until my company gifted everyone in my department with a new Kobo Touch. At that point, I was in a good place with my Kobo Classic but I decided to move on and embrace new technology. It was an improvement to use WiFi connectivity to download books rather than having to download via the kobo application and then use a USB cable to transfer content to the Kobo itself. There are usability issues however; the touch screen is so sensitive that every move I make while reading in bed seems to trigger a page turn, sometimes numerous pages. Accessing the ToC and other menus while within a book is not without frustration. First world problems, right?

The aspect that really made my decision to try the Kindle was the Kobo store. Seriously, it's horrendous. There's no such thing as a wish list or 'save for later'. You can only buy one book at a time, meaning that a promo code for 40% off is only good for one book purchase and lately you can't even apply a promo code to a best seller so you may as well forget about a discount altogether. The store inventory is simply flooded with erotica. If the navigation and categorization was better I wouldn't complain but when I search in Fiction & Literature and and end up sorting through pages and pages of 50 Shades wannabes, I get annoyed. I know that sounds like a minor detail, but I just can't get past a bad interface (it's the reason I dumped Netflix). Kindle has the advantage over Kobo, considering you can buy content on the device or from the Amazon site. In my opinion, Amazon is one of the best sites out there for navigation and browsability; a definite boon for Kindle to be able to piggy back on that success.

My Kindle arrived on Monday, one day after I purchased it. Set up was non-existent; it was already linked to my amazon account. Book purchase and transfer is both easy and instant. The protective case I bought is a perfect fit; functional and attractive (I chose Honey, which ended up being very nice). You simply open/close the lid to turn the device on/off and it takes mere seconds to load. Marc gifted me (through Amazon, so damn easy!) with a set of the first four Game of Thrones books; needless to say I'm psyched to dig in. Even better, the Paperwhite version illuminates the screen so that you no longer have to keep a light on to read at night, which means you don't have to disturb the person you sleep next to. I was psyched last night when I settled into bed to read in the dark. I will say that the Paperwhite screen is not as easy on the eyes as the Kobo. I can already tell that my eyes will fatigue quicker with the Kindle as the glow of the screen is a bit more intense and less natural than the Kobo screen. For all my complaints about the Kobo, I think they did a great job with the look & feel (i.e. contrast) of the screen. I think I will hold onto both the Kindle and Kobo and alternate usage based on book price, availability, etc. It's totally normal to be giddy over a book reader, right?

Amazon website

Shop: Gap Fitted Boyfriend Cat Print Shirt

I'm a few kitties short of being a crazy cat lady, but it's not for lack of trying. I just want to share a couple pictures of today's work shirt, which gives me joy. I guess this is what they call 'dressing for women' because I bet there's not a guy in the office that thinks this shirt is a good idea. No matter, me likey.

Photo courtesy of Gap Fitted boyfriend cat print shirt in Navy

Photo courtesy of Gap - eeeek kitties everywhere!!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I've been delinquent. At first I had a hard time figuring out why I wasn't inclined to post but I think I've figured it out. You see, when I started writing a blog again it was with the intention of writing about my hobbies and interests; steering clear of topics like daily stresses that can leave me with quite a negative frame of mind. I wanted to write about things that I love or that interest me while avoiding the stuff that makes me surly. But it's hard to write about hobbies and interests lately because my head just isn't into it.

As you may or may not know, I have ulcerative colitis, a rather unpleasant disease of the bowel. I had symptoms as far back as high school, but it was only diagnosed in the last 10 years. I have flare ups and periods of remission, but lately it just seems like a never ending flare up that won't go away no matter what pill or vitamin I take, no matter how I alter my diet or stress level. I have been left feeling frustrated and depressed. I've never been so uninspired or so lacking in energy. I'm trying very hard, I really am, but if I am left to my own devices I would stay in bed or lay on the couch in my pyjamas and do absolutely nothing. I can't be terribly easy to live with right now.

I realize that the crap-tastic winter weather probably has something to do with it. I had vacation time during the 40+ cm snow fall, which justified (to me, at least) my hibernation. But after the snow was cleared, I still felt like hiding out while. And then a horrible cold snap (at some point it was -39C with wind chill) had me scurrying from my home to work to home, with zero interest in venturing outside for any other reason. I've been taking SAD to a whole new level. During my isolation I didn't even pick up a book, post a blog update, try a new recipe or even organize my closet (a personal favourite); I ate ready-to-eat food (and we know how great that is for your stomach!) and cut through shows/movies on the PVR. At least I had the courtesy to shower and change my yoga pants daily.

But the other day I went to a scheduled appointment with my therapist  (I call it my bimonthly tune up) and although I did not want to go, I found it (as always) extremely beneficial. I was getting so weighed down with options that have failed me. It felt good to sit down with someone and explain the symptoms in detail without worrying about how personal it is. I have held back on much of the detail regarding my tummy woes because I don't think my friends and family need to hear the gritty details. But this ends up putting up a barrier when I try to explain how I'm feeling while omitting key details. I guess this is probably a result of not divulging explanatory details but I am so weary of all the dietary suggestions I get from well meaning people that only partially understand the disease; I know they mean well but many of these mainstream diet trends are really not nutritional supportive of a disease of this nature.

All that to say, I'm going to go about things a bit differently and see if this improves my mood and my health. My battle plan consists of:

- Quitting the use of ineffectual medication: I am on daily anti-inflammatories that just do not work. I have been taking 3 pills a day for over 2 years now and I think it's time to see how my body functions without them
- Finding an Acupuncturist to see if this helps with any of my symptoms, specifically energy and pain management
- And the big one; accepting my illness and body as it is now, instead of fighting against it. I've gained weight due to lack of activity and energy, both of which are by-products of UC. I have been feeling pretty low about my appearance and lack of initiative to do anything about it. But as my therapist pointed out, I need to heal, and that requires being gentle with my body. Apart from walking and perhaps some yoga when my abdomen is not swollen, aggressive exercise is a no-no. There is no point in beating myself up over not going to the gym right now. I think this one is actually the hardest thing to do, because I have been upset with myself over this last year about the weight gain.

I guess these kind of look like some belated New Years resolutions. I gave myself an extra month in coming up with them so I better stick with them a bit longer than most.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Work: Back to the Grind Stone

I feel like a kid about to return to school after a summer vacation. I don't wanna go back!!!!

Tomorrow I head back to the office after nearly 3 weeks off. Sigh... I guess it's just as well, thanks to all 45+ cm of snow still littering our streets (thank you, city of Montreal for not even trying to remove snow from a storm that occurred more than a full week ago!) I've watched way too many The Chew and General Hospital episodes...I fear I may be addicted. That and I don't want to leave Eleanor alone, she is too cute; I am contemplating sneaking her into the office in my purse.

On the bright side, when I get back I am starting my new role as a Senior PMO Analyst, which is pretty exciting. A majority of my time will be dedicated to managing the project management office, something that genuinely interests me. It's a new position, so I will have the chance to help define the responsibilities that go along with it. The role definitely appeals to my sense of organization but I believe it will also offer me an opportunity to be creative in defining our project methodology/processes. I see this as a new interesting dimension to my role and it is much needed; my level of engagement hasn't been what it use to be. But first things first, I will have to get through 3 weeks worth of email backlog and follow ups before I can get to the new work. Wish me luck! Much caffeine will be needed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome to the family, Eleanor!

Meet Eleanor. She's my (okay, okay, our) new bunny, a Christmas gift from Marc. See kids? Let that be a lesson to you! If you beg, plead, rationalize and whine long enough, someone will eventually acquiesce! I'd like to say I'm kidding about this one but truth be told, I was more than a little persistent in my quest for a pet and since we can't have a cat (allergies) or a dog (landlady), a bunny seemed like a good option. I've always had a soft spot for rabbits and I've done enough reading about rabbits as house pets to think its worth a try.

During the past week we have gone all over the city to stores and shelters in the middle of some of the crappiest Montreal weather and Boxing week chaos until we found her. I was leaning towards naming her Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock (a la Phoebe Bouffe) but I finally decided on Eleanor Binky instead (and if you don't know what a binky is, youtube 'rabbit binky' for a giggle). Her name hardly matters at this point anyway since I can't stop calling her bun bun, or dou dou or any other repetitive combination of cutesy syllables. It's like my brain shuts off when she comes out of her hiding place to eat, play, drink, etc. I'm trying desperately not to pick her up every time she comes out so that she won't associate being out in the open with me always grabbing at her, but I must admit that it's hard to resist. I've totally regressed to a child like state; you see what happens when you don't let your child have a pet when growing up? Let my desperate need for pet affection be a lesson to you!

It's been a fun couple of days getting to know her. She's a bunny, so you know she's skittish and all that, but I can already see changes in her trust and interest level. And boy does she like to poop! She's pooping everywhere and with such frequency! I guess I will have my work cut out for me with her litter training, but for now I'll just let her be as she's less than 2 months old and getting use to her new surroundings. The way I see it, first comes litter training and then vicious attack training for her future as the next rabbit of Caerbannog. My little Eleanor of Caerbannog!