Exploring Toronto

One of the cleverest and most philosophical limericks is:

There once was a man who said, “Damn,
It has borne in upon me I am
But a creature that moves
In predestinate grooves;
I’m not even a bus, I’m a tram!”

It’s strange that living in Canada’s largest city I nonetheless overwhelmingly see the parts that are within an hour’s walk of my home, and I tend to see the same short stretches of street day after day when doing chores, meeting friends, or working on my research.

To deliberately defamiliarize myself a little I took the list of 75 TTC subway stations on Wikipedia, drew a random number between 1 and 75, and took the subway to York Mills to explore a new neighbourhood and take some photos.

Next time I’ll try to do a random journey while there is more daylight left, and perhaps with a friend in tow. As an experiment this time I only brought my keys, camera, and a TTC payment card — no phone, music player, cash, or wallet. I had a surprising number of conversations, perhaps just because I wasn’t listening to headphones or staring at a screen, but clearly actively paying attention to what was happening around me.

U of T summer gym fees

A small but indicative example of how the University of Toronto doesn’t prioritize the welfare of its students is the way in which the gym access included in student fees during the fall and winter terms is cut off in the summer, requiring students to pay a per-facility fee to keep using it. This is especially bad for grad students, since they are likely to be around during the summer and also likely to be impoverished, since U of T’s exceptionally stingy funding packages usually provide nothing during the summer (though full-time work on your research project is still the tak of PhD students) and there are few TA positions available.

Given the demonstrated benefits of fitness and exercise, the significant psychological challenges of grad school, and the millions it spends on fancy new buildings it seems like it would be much more sensible for U of T to make gym access a year-round service for year-round students.

In any case, I went to the attractively faux-Gothic gym in Hart House yesterday and found that my fitness has degraded less than expected since my wrist injury pulled me out of Judo. My mind has been full of worries lately and 90 minutes alternating between elliptical and rowing machines was a considerable help.

I should make a point of going at least twice a week as a Judo replacement.

Maternal visit concluded

I spent most of today working on the theoretical framework for my forthcoming proposal, but this morning I went with my mother and some of her friends to see Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum.

Also, I took a break in the evening to try yoga for the first time in Massey’s Upper Library. It was quite challenging, both because I lack the balance and flexibility and because my injured wrist cartilage had a tough time with all the ‘downward dogs’. Still, something worth trying again, especially if I can’t return to Judo.

Two weeks off Judo

We’ve been learning a throw which I find very awkward, which involves holding uke’s wrist and pushing it straight up into the air while turning the person over your hip. Practicing the Saturday before last left my wrist rather sore and, at Tuesday’s class, when a hold-down escape put all my partner’s and my weight on my right wrist it was acutely painful and led to me taking it easy for the rest of the class.

Today I saw a doctor at U of T’s sports medicine clinic and he said he thinks it’s a tear in my triangular fibrocartilage complex and that I should take two weeks off. I will have to do some cardio on my own time.

I also asked about avoiding rib injuries and the only advice he could give was “don’t do Judo”, which is a bit surprising from a doctor in a specialized sports medicine clinic. I don’t imagine it’s a line that goes down well with varsity athletes.

Judo update

There are some Judo words which I only know how to pronounce phonetically.

Among them is the name of Sensei Isador. I remember it because I know he’s not a window…

My mnemonics for remembering throws and hold-downs are similarly silly. Cramming vocab for my yellow belt grading, I decided that Kata gatame (where you hold uke down with one of their arms pressed against their face and hold them on their back while on your belly or on your knee beside them) was easy to remember because a katana is a sword you wear on your side (a bad choice since “yoko” often means “side” in Judo, as with another low-belt hold-down: Yoko-shiho-gatame). For Kami-shiho-gatame, I thought this on-top belt-grabbing hold-down would be well-suited for removing a camisole.

Tonight I also invented a protocol for dealing with potential rib injuries. Early response with an ice pack seems to help a lot, but it’s impractical for nights when I need to work. By putting on my MEC poofy down vest, putting a belt across my chest at a suitable height, and putting a 2 kg bag of frozen veggies against the ribs in question, it seems I can reduce inflammation without impeding research or typing ability.

I have also been making slow progress with my project to lose 15 pounds.