Sunday, October 30, 2011

Katie's cupcakes

No seriously, it was warm out, almost hot even. The weather web page said 16 C (61 F), and I think it was warmer than that. Shorts and T shirt weather! Love it. We had lots of days in July and August that weren't this nice. Maybe I should have rearranged my day and gone for a bike ride outside.

But then Katie would be bereft or something, thinking I didn't love her, or her cupcakes anymore. We can't have that. Spin actually went really well, lots of interesting stuff. I was on the bike 2 hours, and I think the time has come to replace the shorts I did IMC. Let's just say there was some rubbing, and a slight bit of chafe in a couple of places perilously close to taint.

But the spin was smooth, which made me happy. For a long time at spin sessions it was all about survival and not puking. Then I got to where I could get through them mostly in one piece. Then I had a bad stretch where I struggled. Now the spin is going good and I'm enjoying it.

In the end I didn't run off the bike. I did the 2 hours, then spent some extra time stretching, then moving into Katie's Killer Core session. Many many pushups. I got the first 5 done regulation, and the other 50 or so were from my knees. What else was there? I don't remember. There is a hazy recollection of side plank, but it's all a sweaty blur after that.

Well, there was yummy cupcakes, with chocolate chips in them. That's important.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ranting, in spite of fabulous weather

This is another week of the best season in Calgary. Generally sunny and cool during the day, colder, but still not cold at night. Today was a beautiful day for running, about 8 C (46 F) with a bit of a wind. My concession to the cooler weather was to put on a long sleeved tech shirt.

After a bit of stretching I ran an hour even about mid zone 3. It turned out to be 9K almost exactly. The goal was to keep my feet quick and light. I checked my turnover several times and was right on 88 steps per minute, counting every time either the right leg touched the ground. Sometimes I count when it's the left leg, but not both.  If you do the math, taking 85 to 90 steps per minute works out to 5100 to 5400 steps per hour. However, the pedometer said I took 9100 steps during that hour. I am baffled. I could understand the pedometer reading 10,000 to 11,000 steps by counting each time one of my feet touched the ground. 9100 "steps" per hour works out to 151 or 75 steps per minute, depending on what exactly it's counting. I don't believe either of those numbers. Anybody have any experience with pedometers that explains this?

A little while ago I was reading about efforts in the USA to change the laws around abortion. And birth control. And miscarriages. Here's the article.  These fruit loops want to classify birth control as abortion. They think birth control causes abortions. And abortions (any abortion, at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason) are bad. And since abortion is the destruction of an embryo, then miscarriage, which is the same thing, is a crime too. The Christian Taliban don't care how it was caused, they just want a chance to snoop into someone else's affairs to accuse them of a crime. And we all know how keen the USA is to prosecute and punish crimes, especially against the poor and black.

I'm so appalled I barely know what to think. For almost all of human history, women have had little or no control of when they got pregnant, and had to put up with astonishing mortality rates around child birth. A pregnant woman, and one with small children was traditionally tied to the home delivering child care. Since there was no effective birth control, she was at the whims of her husband about how often they had sex and she got pregnant. Very few women survived till menopause given the primitive medical system until very, very recently. It's probably the single largest waste of human potential. But then they weren't real people, so what did it matter?

That there are men who want to regress to this world I can at least intellectually understand, since it gives these neanderthals control to make up for their lack of stature out in the real world. Tying a woman to a small child is just about the best control mechanism there is. 

But that there are women who want this change leaves me dumfounded. Why? The only thing I can think of is that they assume they themselves will not have to get on that pregnancy treadmill, but don't mind their sisters or daughters having to do so, in order to satisfy some weird control kick. I don't know.

There are already 7 billion humans on this planet. We don't need more. We need less, way less, since we cannot sustain our living standards much longer. We need to help countries get their birth rates down. If we don't, eventually the Four Horsemen will. Every country that has increased funding to educate girls and women, and help them with family planning have seen their family sizes drop, and the standard of living go up. Hans Rosling has some amazing presentations on this. 

The USA might be the first, and hopefully only, first world country to test the reverse. Obliterate the right to birth control, watch family sizes grow, watch the GDP fall even more as women contribute less and less to the economy, and watch a very bad situation turn even worse. And they will have done it to themselves.

What makes it harder to understand is that they are willing to let big corporations police themselves, even knowing they will foul the environment in the singleminded pursuit of internalizing the profits and socializing the costs. Why do they insist on controlling the wombs of the world, that never did any harm to anyone, and not control companies with established records of pollution, human rights abuses, fraud, and many other crimes?

I blame the right wing religious fruit loops. They are all about exerting control, and using whatever stick comes to hand to regain control over society, with themselves at the top of a new theocracy. They have been attacking science as a whole, with the individual fronts on medical research, climate change studies, teaching evolution, dumbing down text books in general, and more that don't come to mind this instant. Any resistance to them is met by hysterical outrage, again, using whatever cheap debating tricks come to hand first. 

Including outright lies. Their big one is that the USA was founded as a "Christian" nation, when it was no such thing. If anything, the Founding Fathers were clear they wanted a nation where the government couldn't meddle in religion, and vise versa, because they believed that everybody ought to be free to worship as they pleased. There are many more.

Voting rights are also under fire, and not just for women. The Republicans have been trying, and recently succeeding more and more to disenfranchise the poor, the mobile, the black, the Latino, the immigrants, the atheists, the sick, the military, and anyone that has ever been in prison. 

The USA is already one of the least egalitarian nations in the world. I just saw a great TED talk on this. Go take the 16 minutes to watch this. I'll wait till you come back. In fact, I'm going to watch it again too. He has some great graphs that show how much of an outlier the USA is. As I've said, some inequality is good, but too much is very bad. Too much led to the French Revolution, and led to a great deal of social unrest the last time it got to these levels in the USA. 

I think the OWS movement is the start of a new wave of unrest. If the elites don't get off their cloud very soon, and realize their drive to have it all is going to lead to a situation where nobody has anything, including them, that realization will be forcibly brought home to them. More and more people in the USA, and growing numbers in Canada, are being pushed into a place where they no longer have anything left to lose, no attachment to society around them, and a burning rage towards the people they perceive as having caused the problem.  

Such people are dangerous. Protests and marches will get bigger and bigger as more people lose everything. The messaging will get louder and louder as the elites ignore them. The problem is that it tends to get out of hand. The police start trying to enforce the will of the elites, and scuffles turn into struggles turn into running battles turn into outright warfare and cities burn. As we all know, the USA is awash in guns. 

In recent decades, we have seen many revolutions. As long as the police or the army are willing to fire into a mob, the people commanding them will retain power. For a time. But we see revolutions where the police don't fire into the crowds, and that government is finished. Even tyrants that seem strong can be overthrown in the historical blink of an eye.

I don't know which way the USA will go, but I suspect starting fairly soon, the police will be firing into crowds, and it will go on for a long time. Many politicians are former military, or come from a legal prosecution background that tends to look down on most people in the system. Almost every governor routinely signs off on executions. Going from that to ordering the militia to fire into a crowd of protesters is only moving from retail to wholesale murder. Not such a big step. Anyone who wants to know what happens next need only read the history of Rome, or 18th century France, or modern day Iran.

For much of my life, the USA has been the self proclaimed "City on a Hill", with the President "the Leader of the Free World". They claimed the moral high ground in all the many, many conflicts they inserted themselves into. As I've learned more and more history, I see more and more the difference between what the USA says, and what it does. I think it's this, more than almost anything else that has led to the decline of the USA. Until they get their shit together, the decline will continue, which will affect us and everybody else. 

Lest you think I'm only pointing south, Canada has lots of warts too. We have problems with what we say, and what we do, especially where Natives are concerned. Our corporate elites have a nasty habit of selling out Canadian companies to foreign interests, who then (understandably enough) manage the company to suit the owners, rather than the people who built it, or live down wind. Our political elites have a nasty habit of skimming off the top and creating rules that favour them if it's good, or penalize other people if it's bad. Many of the rules that apply to ordinary Canadians don't apply to the people that run the country, and that's a bad thing. 

Most of all, people being passive only encourages the vermin in power to carry on with their theft. We need to be an active populace watching the government, and making them watch the big corporations and other organizations that are trying to make a world that only works for them. It isn't just voting, or writing letters. I think the time has passed for that. It's time for people to work together to form Non-Governmental Organizations to multiply our influence. To get standing before the committee meetings, the public hearings, the Royal Commissions, and other places where public policy is decided. We need to start getting ordinary people into political power, and ruthlessly remove them from it when they demonstrate they have been swallowed by the system.

Lots of changes needed. Who else will I see trying to make those changes?

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm glad that week is over

And I think that's about all I'm going to say about that week at work. Just so you know, I'm working on a big glass of wine. Well, two glasses.

Thursday was a rest day. Friday I was thinking about going for a swim first thing in the morning. Thinking about it was all I did. I really should have. Maybe tomorrow.

At least I did get on the bike for 1.5 hr spin in the evening. What's interesting about this is that this is the first time Amelia the cat has come downstairs when I'm on the bike. The old trainer, I think, to her sounded like the breathing of a big carnivore or something. She never came to visit. Tonight she crept downstairs and watched for a while.

Spin was good. Long warmup, though. It took a really long time, but I didn't rush it. After that I had several sets at mid zone 3 sort of effort, working on smooth spin. This was a bit of a struggle today. I didn't push it too hard, I was happy to chalk up a reasonable workout.

I have been musing about a rant lately. Politicians, mainly, and why we let them get away with the shit they get away with. But there are other things in the mix too. I'm not sure what will come out when I finally start typing. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yoga brutality

I think Fiona is trying to make up for starting us off easy this term. Either that or she is really optimistic about the progress we've been making, and what we're up for. Tonight's class was really hard, even if it didn't have any side plank. But it did have Tree. And then Folding Tree, or as I think of it from my experience, Tree Toppling in High Wind.

What it also had was Warrior 1 out the wazoo. Exulting warrior. Triangle. 5 pointed star. Side body. Cross body. Various lunges. And some variations along the way. Chair, then chair with legs crossed ankle to knee. There was a fun little pose where we used an orange block to prop up our hips, and then fold our knees to our chests to relax. Sort of like an upside down Child Pose.

Which, as I think I've said before is the hardest pose for me. I can't relax, I can't breathe, I feel all constricted, and want it to stop. So I don't do it anymore. Both Fiona and Helen think it's just a bit perverted of me, and unnatural.

I was beat by the time Savasana rolled around, and yet couldn't relax. I'm thinking of a Sharepoint process I'm designing, and need to talk to SJ about if it will do a particular thing that will be handy. Rather, will it do that without doing a lot of programming and add ons.

Plus, I was thinking about my workouts over the next few days, and wondering if I can get myself up to the max hours I'm allowed to bill by staying a bit late and then running home after work one day. Like tomorrow, or maybe Monday at the latest. I've ridden home from downtown any number of times, and have a couple routes depending on how I feel. I'm just not sure how the shortest of them would work for running, being not entirely sure if there is sidewalk in certain places, and if the construction on Elbow Drive right near one particular bridge would mess me up.

So, I had an unquiet mind during Savasana, so it's no surprise I had an unquiet body. I was also thinking about how my hip bones were pressing into the mat, and how my hip flexors were not relaxing. That's a lot of thinking, isn't it?

Do you ever have times when you can't stop thinking? Your mind goes around and around, like the gerbil in Susi's brain, and no hookah pipe in sight? I find the only thing that works for me is to start writing down the various thoughts, especially the to do's. Once I do that I stop thinking about them. What do you do to quiet your mind? Besides drink wine, of course.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Teenaged hormones

No, not me. Not even close.

I was totally grossed out at the pool today. Those of you who know exactly what I did when I worked for the City of Calgary all those years ago will understand how hard it is to gross me out. But those kids succeeded.

Just like there is football season, or basketball season, there is a swim season. All the local high schools get the kids in the pool twice a week, and have a competition at the end. Every pool has the kids from the local high school coming in so you can't escape. This goes on for about a month. I can't remember. Today was the first day.

It's fun watching the kids swim. Some of them are very, very fast. Some, well, lets just say they need all the practice they can get. So this morning I'm doing my lengths in the lane next to them. They swim a bit, then stand in a group in the deep end to listen to their coach yell at them. It's not quite chest deep on me. There I am breathing to my left, looking at all the legs, and a funny shaped bum. I take another look, and there is a pair of them. They are funny looking because this couple has their hands down the back of each other's swim suits. Well down, if you get my drift.

I was trying to do a flip turn and not gack at the same time. I'd never thought of such a thing in a public pool and all. This was beyond hair, or bandaids, or even snot floating in the pool as far as the squick factor was concerned. I was thinking I should complain, but I'm sure they'd just deny it, and I really had no idea who it was.

The rest of my swim was uneventful. 1K in sometimes choppy water, a little under 20 minutes, working on form. Then hustling in to work. Sigh. I miss the long swims when I didn't need to rush out of the pool.

Then after work I hopped on the bike for 1.5 hour spin. During a good warm up, I actually did some one leg drill, just to see how it felt. Just to see how long before I had to quit. Mumblety seconds. Katie would shake her head and give me a sad look. Most of the spin was a little faster than normal at a middling effort. I was trying to spin the legs and work up a bit of a sweat, but not overdo it. I wanted to work on the circle thing. It's coming back.

Monday, October 24, 2011

25! or, a very full yoga class

My plan for tonight was to do a good core workout, and maybe a little bit of easy spin before or after. But then Linda (TOIC) reminded me I had missed one yoga class next week, and I'm going to miss another in November. Dinner that night will be so yummy it will be worth missing a yoga class. Helen, the yoga studio owner, is very good about allowing people to make up missed classes by attending other nights.

So Linda urged me to attend a beginner yoga class tonight. I've taken several classes from Helen, and she nearly killed me each time. The poses are held for the better part of eternity, or so it seemed back the. Linda very earnestly pointed out I was doing much better at yoga, and that this was a beginner class.

I decided that might be for the best. At least I should try, right? Things were going good, as people filed in. And in, and in some more. There are about 27 or 28 mats laid out around the room, and there were 25 students, plus the instructor. It was kind of full.

And then the words side plank came up. SIDE PLANK!!! In a beginner yoga class?? I was beginning to get heart palpitations. Katie had us doing side plank at KBRCC and that was a failure for me. Then I realized the pose was starting with front plank, and my dread was complete.

Then it got better. Helen was telling people this was an intro pose, and they were to do it from their knees. Ok. Then I thought about how I had been going to do core tonight. So, while doing front plank I did a really slow pushup. One. Then side plank, on my elbow. I even raised my foot. Then front plank again, then the other side with the foot going up a couple of times. These felt like long side planks, but were probably only 30 seconds. There I saw one girl doing side plank on her hand, body straight as a, well, plank, other arm up, one leg slowly going up and down. Wow.

Now I need to go pack for my swim tomorrow morning.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I had hoped for a much more dramatic sunrise

Appliance repair people. Can't live with them, can't live without them. It turns out our oven needed a new igniter. We had called earlier in the week, and were assured, confirmation number and everything, that a repair person would be out Friday afternoon. On Friday they called to say they had overbooked and the repair person would not be appearing, but maybe Saturday. Then they said Saturday afternoon. Then Saturday about 5.

In the mean time some friends called. They were picking up their little boat from Glenmore Landing, and asked if we wanted to go out to dinner. Sure! They arrived. No repair person, and by now it was 5:30. We had phoned and complained, and tried to reschedule. Just everybody had their shoes and jackets on the repair guy arrived.

Our buddies played with their kid in the park for a bit. Then as the repairs were finishing up I sent them off to the British Chippy, and stayed behind to pay and see the guy out. That took a little longer than anticipated, but I got to the restaurant just as the food arrived on the table. I mean just. The waiter was in the process of putting plates of fish and chips on the table. They were pretty good too. I suspect we'll be back, though I won't have the canned Guiness again.

Something about the seating made my back feel wonky, and then I had a dreadful sleep. Though I can't really call it sleep, since I didn't really. Even the night before I was up early, then snoozed in my chair with a cat, only to be awoken from a sound sleep by a phone call. When I finally got out of bed this morning, I was an achey creaky grumpy mess. On Friday I had managed to bang my wrist at work hard enough that I was icing it that evening. That's one of the things that contributed to the poor sleep.

The sunrise was looking quite promising, with a gap in the clouds that I thought might under light them in a very pretty way. However, it didn't work out. This isn't the best time lapse movie in the world, but it does show today's dawn. I suppose I should have had it tilted up a bit, and facing a bit more south.



Here's the direct link.

I slowly got it together and decided not to inflict myself on my friends at spin class. Just because my day didn't start well is no reason to inflict it on anyone else. A little later in the morning I went down and did some careful stretching and twisting. There was no great and shuddering SNICK of my back going back where it belong, but things did feel better.

A little after that I climbed on my bike and got stuck in. Good warmup with some fast spin once I was ready. A little bit of standing, and a few minutes of hard effort. Then 20 minutes at what I think is mid zone 3. Breathing easy, sweating lots, legs happy. Easy spin. 15 minutes at a bit harder, up at the top of zone 3. Heart rate was stable and breathing was still good, sweating more. Easy spin. Then 5 minutes hard, up around 200 watts. Sweating a ton, breathing really hard, legs beginning to feel it.

So it appears that at 90 rpm, about 160 to 170 watts is sustainable till my butt gets tired, 180 to 190 watts is sustainable for a little while anyways, but 200 is not sustainable for much over 5 minutes. This gives me a nice baseline for training efforts.

I was on the bike 1.75 hrs altogether, then did more stretching afterward. This felt really quite good. Rollered my legs. There is a tight spot on each quad. And I was right, this was not as much fun as KBRCC, though I am getting caught up on DVD television. I've still got another season of Sanctuary, the last few episodes of Dollhouse, and a season of Leverage to go. Anyone seen Boardwalk Empire, is that any good? What else is good for television on DVD?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Running in the fall

There's something special about running during autumn. At least for me there is. I love the colours, the temperatures, the smells, everything about fall. We don't get the bright reds of the maple trees, but we do get an amazing variety of yellows, russets, light oranges, and golds from the changing leaves. I love running through the wooded areas, and I guess I have to included our neighbourhood as a wooded area, since there are lots of trees. For a city plopped and sprawling across the bald prairie, there are a lot of trees.

I ran in shorts and tech shirt (the SUAR one, if you were wondering) today, and it was perfect, maybe 10 C (50 F), light wind, mostly sunny. I wish all my runs could be at that temperature. Cool enough to go hard and not get heat stroke, while warm enough to not have to worry about what to wear.

Today's run was a little quickie, a kiss and promise run. We have friends coming over (someone from my blogroll, quick, guess who it is) and we'll go out for dinner. Plus there is an appliance repair guy supposed to be over, and they are running well late now.

When I got the scale last week they also included a pedometer. Now, I don't have much faith in these things, but I tucked it in my back pocket during my run to see what the number after was. So, after a 7.75 K run, in 50:20, nice and relaxed, the pedometer said 5840 steps. or 116 steps per minute. That is one weird number, and I don't understand how it got that, or what it means. I know I run pretty reliably 85 to 90 steps per minute. There were no breaks, and I ran pretty steady, even for me. I reset it just before the run, and looked at it as soon as I finished. I'll maybe try a couple more times to see if it does any better. Perhaps I'll tuck it in a waistband, or in my hat or something. Though they did say it was meant for walking, and didn't work for jogging. But I'm running. I hope.

The run felt really good, my feet were light and happy. Mainly I was trying to keep my feet light, and my steps quick, and it mostly worked out that way. Breathing was regular and I could have chatted with a running buddy.

I went down through Fish Creek and saw a small herd of deer a few feet from the path. The people walking and riding by didn't seem to bother them at all. They were browsing through the old farm that used to have the horses that did the Christmas sleigh rides. They moved the horses out before the floods a few years ago, and they've never returned. I liked saying hello to them as I ran. I sometimes wonder where they got to.

My floating elephant theory is a big hit with some of my team mates. We have found it a very useful technique for dealing with one of the issues facing us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lets see

This photo. The one with the funny blodges of light. What I was trying to do was take a photo of the blank concrete wall outside office. There were interesting reflections of light on it, from my office buildings. I was thinking of making a time lapse movie to see how the light patterns changed during the afternoon, and figured I'd try a regular photo, just to see what happened.

You'd think the light reflections would be rectangular to match the windows, but no. I guess the glass is subtly warped, and the concrete surface probably isn't any too flat, leading to the odd shapes of the reflected light. I'll still try to get a time lapse movie done.

There are some interesting mirror effects here. My desk is closest to the office window, and the window is to my left. All I did was turn to look out the window, put the camera near it, and take a picture of the light reflections. The concrete wall looks a lot closer than it is.

Now, take a closer look at the photo. You can see my wedding ring where it always is, on my left hand ring finger. How on earth am I holding on to the camera? It's a mirror image. Somehow, the photo sort of looks like it was shot from outside the building, but it's really a mirror image. I really don't know how I got the sense of depth, since the phone was right up against the glass.

Wednesday was totally blah. I didn't even go to yoga. I iced my wrist and went to bed early. Probably best for my co-workers.

Thursday morning was a swim on the way to dropping the car at the service shop. The swim felt kind of clunky. It's like odd bits of me were poking out in to the water. This was not a smooth swim, but it was better than the big guy in the next lane gently waving his flukes. With fins and hand paddles, and working at it, he was still moving too slow to share a lane with. The girl in the next lane was cooling down so I shared with her. After 20 minutes and some stretching, I was into the hot tub. After work was picking up the car and going for dinner at the Clay Oven. Then bed shortly after.

Friday was back on the bike for an hour. Lots of warm up, as I was feeling kind of heavy and plungy pedalish. Meaning I wasn't spinning as smoothly as I'd like. During warm up I worked on that, and periodically throughout the spin. 2x10 min at a comfortably hard pace, one I could maintain longer than 10 minutes, but I'm still training my butt for the saddle time here. I think I've got the watt readings dialed in now for how hard I want to be working. Some easy spin, but it was still feeling clunky and I didn't want to push it. Bed fairly early, and hoping to sleep in tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spin Studio

The new furnace is all installed, which means I could put my little fitness area back together again. You can see Estela all set up and ready to go. My old computer is up and running, ready to play a video. There is an iPod player between the keyboard and monitor. You can just see the corner of the interlocking floor tile I put my yoga mat on.

Even better, I rode, while watching Sanctuary. I wasn't so impressed with these two episodes. 1.25 hours, mostly easy spin, but also doing some work to figure out where the top end of my aerobic range is. Then some stretching after.


Even knowing what this photo is, and how I did it, I'm surprised at how it turned out. Not at all what I expected. I'll give you a hint, I was in my office at work. Anybody want to speculate?

Thanks for your kind words about the sunrise photos. It's not like I did anything special. I just leaned out the car window and fired away.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First KBRCC of the season

Katie's spin classes are lots of fun. She keeps it moving and there's lots of good stuff. I'm still figuring out where my fitness is, trying to match up effort, watts, breathing, heart rate, and how my legs feel. Once I get dialed in I can start building.

We rode 1:45, with a good mix of stuff. My legs are doing well so far, no complaints from my knees, and I pushed fairly hard today. Then a 20 minute T run. My legs felt a little bit heavy throughout this, but moved well enough. Then the dreaded core, starting with 15 pushups. Sheesh. And plank. My fave of all time. Yeah.

Just for fun, here's a couple photos of the sunrise when Linda was taking me to work on Friday. No I wasn't driving. The sky was actually a little bit grayer than the photo, but the contrasts were just as dramatic.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Crime and Punishment

Once upon a time I believed that punishing criminals was a good thing, generally the more the better. Then they'd learn and they wouldn't do that anymore, would they?

Then I grew up.

Before I get stuck into my rant, I ran for an hour today, up to the reservoir and back. Mostly nice and easy, but with some faster bits. Thinking a lot about good running form. There was hardly anyone else out on the paths, which was weird. It was beautiful out, 5 C (41 F) sunny, and hardly any wind. I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt and it was perfect. My feet were a bit tender after. I think these shoes have a bit less sole than my old ones.

Now for your irregularly schedule rant.

I started reading more about our justice system, and the many failures attached to it. I started reading more about corruption in the police and legal professions. I was on a jury once for a trial involving firearms offenses and what a gong show the prosecution case was. I started reading more about what actually happens in jail, and after one gets out. I began to realize how expensive it was to keep people in jail. After many years, I began to get a better sense of human nature.

Now, this is not going to be a rant that talks a lot about the dollar values attached to various options. Those numbers can be hard to find, especially when the current government is not releasing them, last time I looked. This is going to be more a rant about right and wrong, and the various failings of imperfect human beings.

Lets start with the big one. Capital punishment is wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Why? The fundamental principle of our law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. There are numerous safeguards in our criminal justice system because the history books are full of examples of people highly placed in government abusing their powers at the expense of the average citizen.

We make the prosecution go through hoops to prevent the punishment of innocent people. We make them go back and touch second base just to be sure that they can actually prove a particular point. Without that, it becomes too easy for the prosecution arm of the government to pick a likely victim and say they did the dirty deed. All too often the victim is from a visible minority group, or holds unpopular political views, or simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Even with these hoops, hoops that the unwashed say protect the criminals, there are several examples in Canadian jurisprudence of the police manufacturing evidence, the prosecution hiding or stonewalling on evidence favourable to the defendant, and the justice system dragging it's feet on recognizing DNA evidence. The names Steven Truscott, Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Thomas Sophonow, Ronald Dalton, Greg Parsons, and Randy Druken are proof of that.

There are many people that say we coddle the criminals and abuse the victims. I say, the first problem is to understand who the actual criminal is. Eye witness accounts are notoriously inaccurate. Police lie and fabricate or hide evidence. The legal profession seems to like to take the easy say out. Many people say it's too hard to convict criminals, and I say that's just fine. It SHOULD be hard to convict criminals. People shouldn't be going to jail and ruining their lives, and the lives of their families because people are too lazy to do their jobs.

If we don't know, or can't prove it, then we shouldn't be convicting. I like the Scottish verdict, "Not Proven". Essentially, the judge or jury is unconvinced that the suspect is innocent, but has insufficient evidence to the contrary. This verdict is sometimes referred to as "not guilty and don't do it again".

Jail is a horrible thing to do to someone. The loss of freedom is just the beginning. There is the violence from gangs, rape, drug addition (and if we can't keep drugs out of jail how on earth are we ever going to keep them off the street?) and perhaps worst of all, diseases like TB and polio are coming back in prison. Those will have a huge impact on our health care system. Then there is the post jail stigma. Who wants to hire a con? Nobody. If they can't get a job it becomes really easy to understand why they return to crime.

Given the horrible outcomes involved, not just for the people involved, but for society at large, it makes sense to try to prevent people from turning to crime in the first place. Trying to prevent the injuries caused by the criminal justice system is the right thing to do. That fact that almost everything is cheaper than putting someone in jail is almost beside the point.

So, how do we keep someone from a "Life of Crime?"

I want to take a little bit of a diversion first. Bear with me. I'm not going all religious mumbo-jumbo on you when I talk about a soul. I mean the part of us that knows right from wrong, recognizes that other people are people too, and that some actions cause anguish for other people. There are some people who apparently don't have one. I'm not sure if they were born without one, or they somehow lost it. In either case, these people are gravely ill, and are a mortal danger to the rest of us. They need to be recognized young, and will need special care. In what follows, I'm not talking about this group of people. I'm talking about regular folks that just happen to be falling into the cracks (lately they are more like gaping chasms) in our society.

Science is getting better at understanding what is going on in our heads, but we have a long way to go. Our minds and brains are the most complex things that we know of. Much of what we think we know is probably wrong, or at best incomplete. All we can do is keep working on it.

But what we can do is recognize when systems like school are failing some kids. I don't mean failing in the grade sense. I mean failing in the sense that the kids aren't responding to the situation. We need to get better at teaching kids. We know much about what engages the attention of children, and how they learn. We need to support that. In some cases, we have to work a lot harder to reach some kids. Maybe they are challenged somehow, or they are not quite ready for what's coming, and need a break, or a different approach. We cannot label kids and discard them. We have to find a way to reach every single child, and help them learn to deal with our ever more complex society.

One thing we have to do is weed out the poor teachers. Out. Fired. Whatever you want to call it. Seniority be damned, they have to go. If they don't love, or at least like kids, they probably shouldn't be teaching. If they can't be professional about doing what has been demonstrated to work, regardless of their personal beliefs, they are in the wrong profession. There should be lots of ways to help them find the audience they can relate to. Maybe they need to deal with older or younger kids, or the challenged or the bright. But if after a reasonable period, and reasonable attempts to help them, if they can't made the grade (pun intended) they should be out. They don't need to be infecting kids with their shortcomings.

While I'm on about it, religious education has no place in school. Teachers can believe all they want, but try to infect the kids with it, and they should be fired. I'm still amazed the Roman Catholic Church in Canada is allowed to run a school system.

I would stop lumping kids together by ages, and feeding them a formula of courses culminating with a standardized test. Kids learn at different rates at different ages. We have got to be smarter about education time. Here's a link to the Kahn Academy. He's got some great ideas about using video to help kids learn. Whatever it takes, we've got to do it.

Adults too. We've got to be smarter about education standards, and understanding what knowledge a person really has. It is a complete waste to have an engineer or a doctor with foreign credentials driving a cab. We should be putting those people through some form of customized  course work to ensure they meet Canadian standards, without making them take all the courses all over again. It is madness that a teacher in one province has to go through major hoops to become certified in another.

That leads to my next point. Employment. Paid employment. Pay that lets one raise a family. A society that is unequal enough to let people take risks and reap rewards for doing so, but not so unequal that the financial classes gain mega-wealth by manipulating the system against everybody else. Henry Ford made history when he paid his assembly line workers more than he had to, because he recognized they were the perfect market for buying those cars, and spreading the word.

Money works better when everyone has some. It works better when it stays local, circulating between people and businesses. People need the understanding that work will be compensated fairly regardless of the status of the job.

Lately it seems that so called blue collar work isn't respected. You call a plumber when needed, but you don't want your kid to go to trade school. One of the reasons plumbers are so well paid now is that there aren't a lot of them.

There is no such thing as a criminal type, at least I don't think so. I am not making the argument that if we had more blue collar or trades jobs for people, there would be fewer criminals. Conrad Black is the refutation of that argument.

But I do think that if it is more possible to find and keep reasonably well paid employment, we will reduce the number of people driven to crime out of economic necessity. There is a huge change needed in our working society though. Jobs have status. Some more than others. Less status usually means less pay. Often these lower status jobs are harder work, sometimes manual, sometimes menial. None the less, they need to be done, and the person doing them is worthy of respect.

Which leads me to a digression. Two digressions. One of the best ways to decide if you want to hire someone, is take them to lunch, and see how they behave towards the wait staff. Your potential hire might be kissing your ass, but if he or she is a jerk to the wait staff, they are jerk, period. Easy hiring decision.

Another digression. Part of the effort in educating the young has to be the recognition of people prone to addictions, and preventing it. The so called war on drugs has been a failure, unless you're a cop or a drug supplier. We need to keep people from becoming addicted, not just to illegal drugs, but tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medications. I confess to some uneasiness about this. Imagine for a moment we had a genetic test that could with 100% accuracy identify someone who would become an alcoholic with their first drink. We're nearly there. What do we do to prevent that person from drinking, and yet allow them the freedom to make their own choices?

So what do I have so far? Better education that is geared towards a person's particular strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully that would lead to training that lets people understand what they are good at, and what they would enjoy doing. That might be advanced education to become a scientist, or vocational to become a plumber, or any other specific education for specific fields.

In the past one of the things that was done to young males that nowadays seem to be most likely involved in criminal activities, was to send them off to a war out in the boonies. That was a good outlet for hormonal urges. But Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, and a few other local hot spots aside, there aren't many wars going on anymore. In fact, this is one of the more peaceful times in human history. Peaceful in the sense of few wars going on, and peaceful in the sense that crime rates are low and falling. Most of us don't need to particularly worry about street violence from criminals. We are more likely to face economic violence from white collar criminals and abusive government.

So as a replacement, I suggest we put people in an organization like the army, but one dedicated to public works. We provide food and housing, and a modest salary. They do stuff like hump sandbags during floods, clean up after natural disasters, help maintain public assets like buildings, parks, rivers, various infrastructure, and generally supplement volunteer labour when it's needed. It might be picking up garbage, or shoveling snow for seniors, or planting trees, or being the actual army reserve, or helping to clean up industrial messes. It could be anywhere in Canada, and maybe even overseas to aid after earthquakes. There are no shortage of groups looking for volunteers, and if the work is benefitting Canada as a whole, maybe these people should be provided as a labour source. The idea is to keep them active, and give them some structure.

Some might call this work for welfare, but I tend to think of it more as an advanced education in real life. They will pick up social interaction skills, organizational and project management skills, and may just find out what they want to do with their lives.

I take the position that crime is a wake up call. What's been done so far hasn't worked. So we provide whatever is needed to figure out what needs to happen. Maybe they need to be supervised 24-7, either via a GPS monitor, or by a group of the public service group.

Clearly, removing criminals from society and immersing them in a jail culture does not work, so lets stop doing that. Much like the Insite harm reduction clinic in Vancouver decided to try something different, lets immerse people in society. Rather than a few dozen or hundred hours of volunteer service, maybe it should be thousands of hours. Lets try different programs to help the criminal and document it so we know what works or doesn't work.

Canada is a country with small population. We need as many productive people as possible. Losing people needlessly to jail, or disease, or crime, or anything else is a waste. Finding out how to help people be healthy and happy in society is essential. It would be wonderful to have us all be productive, but I'll settle for avoiding destructive behaviors.

Updates

One of the joys of living with computers is that every now and then one must update the software. Now, don't get me wrong, I like using computers, but they are a tool to get stuff done. I want them to work without me fussing with them. I'm willing to putter a bit to tune, customize, tweak, and jump through a hoop or two in order to have it work the way I want it to, but I don't want to be going under the hood to get all filthy and stressed out.

Which is one of the major reasons I started buying Apple stuff a long time ago. Generally, it works. It does what I want, when I want. There have been some frustrations along the way, but I'm very pleased. So far I haven't had any difficulty in using the Windows world at work, and the Mac world at home. At least until Vista came along. Vista. Sigh. And the network at work is so slow, I'm always thinking I missed my click or something, but no, the stupid little circle is spinning.

Over the last little while I picked up an iPhone 4 and and iPad 2. Generally I like to stay an upgrade back, so as to let other people find the unhappy surprises. Which means that when upgrade time comes, there's a few more steps involved. When Snow Leopard came out I was meh. Then, when Lion came out, it turned out you needed Snow Leopard to get there. Oh well.

I suppose I should have done Lion first, then the new software for the phone and iPad, but I did it the other way round. Each took a couple of hours. I started Lion last night and finished it off this morning. Totally painless, except for the Steermouse software that makes the Mac mouse actually functional. I had to upgrade that.

Now I'm learning the various new things. I've discovered that if I want, I can use the iPad as a trackpad for the computer. That might be fun. I use the phone or iPad as a remote control for the music. There are new ways of getting at my stuff, and new icons to play with. So far so good.

I also got one of those fancy-pants Tanita scales that give body fat and a bunch of other numbers. My weight has been creeping up lately, and my pants are getting a bit snugger. So I think a daily reminder will be a good thing. I'm not fussed about the actual numbers, more the general trend. I played with it a bit last night, and got a bit of variation in the numbers, but I suspect that it is probably pretty sensitive about exactly how your feet are placed in relation to the sensors. I may put some yellow stickies on it to make sure I'm in the same spot each time, and see how that works out.

The first scale I looked at was $99.99. That was better than expected, then I got a rude shock that shipping was going to be $106.99. WHAT! Then I saw the little button that said free shipping on orders over $100. OK, so I went looking for the next most expensive scale. They all do pretty much the same thing. I found one for $109.99, and sure enough the free (ground) shipping button showed up. I've lived this long without a scale, so I didn't mind a few days travel time. That's exactly what it turned out to be, along with $46 in various customs fees. It was double boxed and arrived intact. Set up was a breeze. Must remember to have a note pad handy to note the numbers.

That seems to be the only option. The Fitness Depot website said there were some in store specials (sale price more than what I paid), but the in store people said it was a web offer only. I hate runarounds like that.

It's been quite a week. Tuesday was the energy audit, then a new massage therapist came over. That worked out pretty well. The first couple times with a new therapist are a bit of a learning experience for both people.

Wednesday was a bit of a blah right after work, and yoga, but I've talked about that.

Thursday was my ART appointment. All is well there. One of my long time blog readers contacted me about my old spin trainer. His dad was looking for one. A few emails and a visit, I now have only one spin trainer again. I hope it serves him as well as it did me. Thanks JK!

Workouts, I hear you saying. Where are the workouts in all this? Well, true, it's been a bit of a gong show week, and I can hear the new spin trainer calling me. And the pool. So after the trainer and the new owner left I got my swim bag all packed. Even better, on Friday I got up in time to get to the pool.

I had a lane to myself till the last couple of laps of my 1000M. This was a relax and warm up swim, working on form, not trying to set any new records. The first half was good, and the second half I could feel I'd lost the edge and was slowing down. That's ok. As I was finishing someone else joined me, and when I stood up another person hopped in the lane. I decided I didn't want to cope with that and went off to the dive tank for some deep water core. I haven't done that for some time, and worked through all the various moves. Nice.

In the evening, once I'd got the Lion download started, I put Sanctuary on the old computer, and settled in for an easy spin while watching Amanda Tapping in a submarine. Not the best episode. Spin was good, more experimenting with resistance settings, and seeing what that does for watts and my gearing. So far so good!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yoga breathing

After the big day in the life on Monday, I took it easy Tuesday, till my new massage therapist showed up and pummeled me for a while. That was good, working on my left shoulder mainly, but a bit of both calves too.

The energy audit guy showed up during the late afternoon. As expected, the big news was the need to replace the furnace. This was not a surprise and will be happening early next week. That the 3 outside man doors leak badly was no surprise either. One has warped, one is not square since we thing the house settled a little bit, and the most sheltered one is where they put the exhaust fan. He pointed out several other things we can do, and we get the full report in a couple weeks. This is all in aid of getting some government rebates that cover part of the cost of the audit, and a bit over 10% of the cost of a new furnace. Which, since we had to do it anyway fairly soon, is a good deal.

If I'd been ambitious I would have gone for a run after work today. But I was feeling kind of blah most of the day. I moved offices again. This is my 4th one since starting mid February. Fortunately I don't have much to move. My office roomie and me don't like this office as much. We used to have a sliver view of the mountains, now we get a concrete wall from the next building. Plus we think the lighting is a slightly different colour, or darker, or something. Perhaps in time we will settle in. At least the rest of our immediate team is all together now.

Yoga class was interesting. Most of the time my breathing has nothing whatever to do with whatever it is that we are doing. I'm usually panting a little bit. Sometimes a lot. Tonight, during a kneeling lunge thing, where you breath in, lunge the one leg forward, spread the arms open and do a bit of a back arch, I found I was actually breathing in time with the motion. Slowly. Relaxing. Peaceful. Except for my knees not liking when I kneel on them, I could have done that for a while. Maybe I'm beginning to get the hang of this yoga thing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Day in the Life

Beth of SUAR fame tagged me. So here you all are.

Today being Thanksgiving, I slept in. It being Thanksgiving, I knew I had to include some photos. I am crushed to admit there are only 16. Not twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was. I'm sorry.  Put me on the group W bench. At least I'm not facing blind justice here. (The young pups with no kulture that don't get the reference can email me.)

Here I am a few minutes after getting out of bed putting coffee in the microwave. Yes that is the right time. You don't want to see what my hair looks like. The last few mornings I was up at 3:30.


After some blog surfing I noticed the sun coming up, and tried to capture the frost on my neighbour's garage. I'm not sure how well that turned out.

I'd made a to do list for the weekend. A couple things have been done already so they have been removed. I'm really liking Notes Plus as an iPad app for capturing hand written (printed) notes.

Here's my desk, middling messy. I like to try to keep it tidy, but it doesn't happen that much. I also had to clean up and organize the tax paperwork from tax season. That's what the big mound of paper is. There was some other paperwork to be tidied too. The shoe laces are from the new Brooks. Now that I've done speed laces, I can't use regular laces for my running shoes. Note the medals hanging in the top left corner, where I can see them. Yes, I'm a Mac guy.

Here's the after. You'll note the AOL CD that I use as a coaster. I'm not sure how long it's been there, but it's about 10 years. It works really well. Once upon a time when I worked at Skystone Engineering, I brought in a bunch of old mainframe hard drive disks to use as coasters. Same idea, I like to use and reuse where ever I can. It's the way I roll. That's an old HP 11C. I love RPN. The extra cable is to synch my phone and iPad. Soon I won't have to worry about that.

After the desk I was out tidying the yard for winter. We could still go months without snow, but that's not the smart bet. One year we had a huge dump of snow on Labour day, and it never really let up. At the moment the forecast is calling for some snow next weekend. It supposed to be warmer than last winter, but that isn't saying much. As long as it's sunny, I don't care about the actual temperature. But when it's cloudy I get moody. Which, Susi, is why I don't live in Vancouver, and, V oh favourite cousin o'mine, why I don't live in the Fraser Valley.

I mowed the lawn it one last time, emptied the water barrel onto the flower beds, pulled a bunch of weeds and generally tidied. I also managed to talk to 3 of my neighbours, which is always nice.

One of the things about making your own wine is that periodically, no matter how careful you are, some of the bottles end up with some residue on the inside. As a routine thing one has to remove the labels and clean them, and that's a soothing activity. But once the residue builds up you have to get a bit more drastic. I'll dump some bleach into the bottles, and add hot water, with a bit more bleach in the bucket and let them soak a bit. Then I'll put in some small ball bearings in each bottle and whoosh that around. A bit of scrubbing and rinsing generally takes care of any film or deposits. But some of the crud is made from sterner stuff. I dump in some straight bleach, the ball bearings, maybe scrub with a bottle brush, and whoosh that around for a while. That always works. Rinse it all, and they are ready for the next batch of wine. Which we should be ordering in a month or so.

Here is a typical before shot. I don't know how well the film will show up. This is why I use clear glass rather than green. One look tells you if it's clean. The only reason to use green glass is to protect it from sunlight. Since my basement never sees sunlight, I'm not worried about it.

 Here's an after shot. Clean and ready for more wine.

Like I said, it is Thanksgiving. Here is the chosen wine for the meal. I bottled this December 4, 2004, and this is the last bottle. It's very good. There were several wine diamonds on the cork, and a huge one with a bit of sediment at the bottom.

Naturally, there has to be a bird. There's just two of us, so even the smallest turkey is mega overkill. We'd thought of ordering a Turducken, but left it too late, and even the smallest of them are still pretty big. This is a Guinea Fowl, with carrots, potatoes, dates, rice, shallots, wine, and fresh herbs mix good for poultry. Here's what it looks like in the pot.

Here's the the plate. It was every bit as good as it looks. There are also 3 containers made up for lunch next week. I could go on here about how we appreciate what we have, and the life we lead, but that would just make you all jealous. Fruit flan for dessert, and I've previously posted photos of them. No need to drive you all mad again.

One of the tasks is to move stuff away from the furnace and tidy up the fitness stuff. Now that I've got a new trainer, I've got an extra trainer. I can give you a really good price on it. Any takers? More of the summer fitness stuff was put away, and the winter stuff was dug out. I'm really looking forward to the next run in -35 C (-31 F) weather.

 After dinner we went out for a nice walk around the neighbourhood. Here's the view from the top of the berm just beside 37 St, looking south.

From the same place looking south and west. The mountains really are there, but they are hard to see. Mornings are the best times for mountain photos.

At the south end of Woodbine is a place that overlooks the west end of Fish Creek. This is a panorama shot using Photosynth.  We really enjoy walking around the neighbourhood, and with all my training I haven't done much walking lately. Normally I have a few routes I like to run, or I go down into Fish Creek and run through all those trees. It's a great park, and one could run for hours and not run on the same path. It takes me about 40 minutes to ride my hybrid from the west end at 37th street (just to the right of this photo) to the Ivor Strong Bridge at the east end.

After the walk I was downstairs doing some gentle stretching and core. The elbows to opposite knee thing sort of works, but I can really feel the deep core muscles just below my belly button protesting. They are still tired from the run last weekend.

As you can see, my to do list is much shorter now. I'm feeling very accomplished. I think it's time to pour another glass of wine, and maybe put on a DVD. Perhaps Buckaroo Banzai, I'm sort of in that mood. Or maybe the Fifth Element.

And Beth, don't hold it against me that you don't have a shirt my size. Should I win, I will give it to the girl that coached me last year. She is TOTALLY a Shut Up And Run kind of girl, and would love to wear your shirt. I'm totally loving mine. It's my go to running shirt, and has had several compliments.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tacx Flow Review, or -

If I'd known it would be that easy I'd have filmed it.

As a followup to the Big Dance yesterday, I'd like to give a huge shout out to buddies Jill, Lorraine, and Jennifer. They all had a great race in hot conditions. As well, blog buddies Ulli, ELF, and a few other people who are friends of friends. Glad to see everybody had a great day. And what a race for Chrissie Wellington and Mirinda Carfrae! Less than 3 minutes apart over not quite 9 hours. Wondering if Mirinda could catch her. That is amazing. They both proved they are champs with a capital C. Let's not take away from the next 3 girls coming in over the next 10 minutes. I think the top echelon of female triathlete competition is going to be very interesting over the next few years.

Today turned out to be cloudy and cool, so I gave up on the outside bike ride. Sigh. Fall is here at last. Some of you may remember one particular experience last year with me trying to get the trainer tire on. I'd just as soon not go through that again, so I prepared carefully. After I got the old tire off I gently warmed up the trainer tire using a heat gun until it was warm to the touch. Then I scuttled over to the rim, and worked it on, carefully pushing in the tube and getting the tire onto the rim. I got down to the last few inches and much to my surprise the tire popped onto the rim without even having to work it very hard with my hands. I've had to push normal tires harder. So I'm thrilled!

As I said yesterday, there were no instructions in the box. I found this site with good instructions, and followed them. I could wish some of the sketches had been a bit clearer, but it all worked out. About my only complaint is in where the cords attach. The data cable, and input from the cadence sensor plug into the bottom of the roller unit. How hard could it have been to put them where they were easier to see? I was pretty careful draping the cables so they wouldn't get in the way. This might get to be a bit of a pain to take the setup to KBRCC every week.





I got the rest of the computer gear on the bike. Setting up the Tacx computer was a snap! It was easier than some of the regular bike computers I've had. Even tweaking the roller tension to zero took only two attempts. Maybe I got lucky. I was up and pedaling before I knew it. The controls are pretty simple. I've got the basics mastered, and plan to take another run through them to see about some of the other functions.

My current bike computer, a wireless Cat Eye, is still hooked up, so I did a bit of comparison. Cadence was right on.  The Tacx updates quicker. The speed was about 1 Kph difference, and I forget which is reading higher. I've futzed with the Cat Eye calibration enough that I might have the wheel diameter wrong or something. The Tacx readout is huge, which makes it really easy to read. That is a huge plus for me. At the moment I've got time at the top, cadence in the middle, and watts at the bottom. There are lots of ways of tweaking the display to get what you want. I didn't get the heart rate strap, so I'm still getting heart rate numbers with the Timex.

This is the first indoor ride in some time, and during those last rides I was still having knee problems. So today's ride is a bit of a self calibration exercise. I certainly do not propose to bore you all with numbers all the time. (But I know Julie is a bit of a freak for numbers, so I'll email them to her, just to make her happy. The things I do. hahahaha! )

The incline can be adjusted from -4 to +9. After a bit of poking around I set it at +1 for most of the workout, and -4 for easy spin cooldown. The +1 seems to be about the resistance of my last trainer, though I don't think the comparison is linear.

Last year, if I was on the big ring, and in the 3rd biggest cog, I could pedal about 27 Kph, 85 to 90 rpm and find a stable place for breathing and heart rate somewhere mid zone 3. Today, same gearing, heart rate about 128 to 130, breathing deep and regular, but not gasping or panting, I rode 10 minutes, trying to stay around 190 watts. The watt figure actually moves around a bit compared to cadence, so I'm guessing that calculation happens faster than the cadence numbers update. That felt pretty good. I could keep that up longer.

I stood up for 1.5 minutes, pedaling hard, in the hardest gears, at about 245 watts, and that sure got my heart rate and breathing up. I suspect if I want to do standing work, I should change the incline settings to make it a bit harder.

Later on I tried to pick one gear harder to maintain 200 watts for 10 minutes, and made it to 7. I think I could have gutted it out till 10, but certainly not much longer. This got my heart rate up to 133 or so, and breathing a lot harder. I was beginning to feel a bit of a burn, so I backed off.

For some high cadence easy gear spin I topped out about 180 rpm, (briefly), but spent some time working around 120 to 130 rpm, where I'm getting a bit of bounce and back fat resonance, to see if I could smooth it out. This is a major improvement from where 115 rpm would have my knee screaming.

Near the end of the ride I wanted to find out how loud the trainer was. I pushed gears and cadence up till I was about 425 watts. It was quieter than I thought it would be, more like a strong whirring fan noise than anything else. It certainly would not interfere with listening to music or talking to someone. Not that I can maintain that power output very long! Linda was reading upstairs, and couldn't hear anything but the brief peak, and even that wasn't loud. I'd be able to do a spin session while Linda is sleeping.

Of course, these watt figures are only valid on my bike and trainer. I have no idea if they are comparable even to other readings from the same trainer model, let alone other ways of calculating watts. I'm just going to use them as a baseline for me, and not get too carried away about them as a number. If maintaining 200 is at the high end of my performance now, and at the end of the season it's at a higher number, then I'll know I've improved. But without knowing a lot more about exactly how much resistance is involved, and exactly how the unit calculates watts, I won't be able to say anything for sure about how much I've improved. I'm going to look up some info about training when you know your watt output. If any of you have any material you'd like to share, I'd be happy to read it.

The ride was 1.5 hours long, and felt really good. My legs felt strong, and my spin fairly smooth. The ride is more stable than the old trainer. For a first ride, I'm really pleased, both with how my knees feel, and how the new trainer is working. Anyone want a gently used basic CycleOps trainer?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some new stuff

Today was not the day for a day in the life. I've been tagged, but today is not typical. I bought stuff. That's rare for me.

Normally Saturday morning is an easy wake up, reading the papers and drinking coffee and petting the cat. But today we were out of the house and heading up to the far NW to visit Bow Cycle. I've decided the time has come to get a better bike trainer, one that has a power meter. After some shopping around I decided on a Tacx Flow. I couldn't justify the extra cost for a Bushido because it really needs a computer for the video display.

I managed not to look at any of the bikes, but you'll note I didn't go into Speed Theory. Their website says they've got an Orbea Ordu for an amazing sale price. If I actually saw it, I might be tempted.

Assembling the trainer was a bit interesting because there was no assembly instructions at all. I ended up finding some on line, and just as well, it was not obvious how it goes together.



With any luck tomorrow will be nice enough to ride outside. If so it will be the last time for me. I'll put the trainer tire on and get the trainer computer all set up. I've got KBRCC starting next Sunday!

I've also got a used trainer for sale, a CycleOps, basic model.

I've never really been happy with the latest New Balance shoes, the 980 or something. I'd really liked the ones I had before that, the 767, so the 980's were a real disappointment. They were heavy and somehow they made me want to run on my heels. They got beyond filthy at the trail run, and I decided it wasn't worth trying to clean them.

So here are the new ones.


Brooks Adrenaline. I took them out for a nice 5 K run this afternoon. They feel very light and comfortable on my feet. Much better than the last ones. This 5K was 31:30, not working too hard, mainly just checking out my legs to see what they think. No complaints.

I tried Fitness Depot for a scale to read weight and body fat, but they didn't have the Tanita. There was an el cheapo that didn't work right. Looks like I'll have to order on line.

In between stuff I'm watching the Big Dance. Chrissie is now in second, and Mirinda is maybe 5 minutes back. This is shaping up to be good! So far my peeps seem to be doing well in the heat.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Zoom!

I've been dragging my body around this week, just a bit, but am mostly recovered from the race. At least enough that I was thinking about going out for a bike ride last night, if it hadn't been raining, and wasn't cold. Yeah, I'm such a weenie. The weekend is supposed to be nice so I held off on the trainer tire struggle, just in case I can fit in one more ride outside.

Any advice on bike trainers? My buddy Cath loves her Tacx Bushido. I'd like to get one with a power meter, which of course means it comes with all the other goodies. What's your experience?

Yoga on Wednesday was a painful experience. My low back was still very tight. By the time I was getting into the poses, the rest of the class was getting ready for the next one, and it's not like F was going fast. Oh no. It was me being slow.

Work has been thoroughly zoom. The deadlines are closing in. Our team is frantically getting our deliverables ready to fling over the wall. So of course, yesterday me and another team member were in an all day course for ProVision. I'd had an intro class so I was all set up, but that intro class had been a slit your wrists experience. This one was much better, and we actually learned something. It still seems to be going 3 sides around the square to get to where you want, and I don't like the printed output, but I don't have a choice in these things.

Plus, we lose a day moving offices. Normally office moves are a domino chain of events, but my office roomie and me swap with another office. Nothing else. Just a swap, and we both end up further away from our team leaders. Plus, we lose our tiny slice of the view of the mountains from between two buildings. Our view is a blank concrete wall now. Sigh. At least it works out for my schedule, since I had to leave early that day anyway.

Saturday is Kona! There are several people I'm going to follow, but I don't know if I'll do it the same way I did last time. Here's who I'm following, hope I didn't miss anyone. And what a pain that list is to work with. Idiots at IM that publish it that way. Grrrr.


127 Uli Bromme

404 Jill Kirker

1170 Lorraine Churchill


1472 Elizabeth Waterstraat


1479 Jennifer Mansell

1275 Darin Hunter


1699 Michelle Milot
I'll be cheering these people on throughout the day, and hope it's the day they dream of.


Plus of course, Chrissie and Rinnie. I hope they have the best day ever, and THAT should be a race we'll be talking about for years to come.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Deeply saddened

RIP Steve Jobs.

You are one of the few people who can say they truly helped make the world a better place to be. Not just for a few people, but many, many millions of people.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I think I'm being hit on by a bot

I got home from the race to discover this in my stats page.



This is an astonishing peak! Even if someone had discovered my blog, and avidly devoured the pages as fast as they could read, I don't think it would produce a peak like that. And the referring URL looks kind of strange as well. I tried to follow them, and they all lead back to "ebookseeking.blogspot.com", and then it turns itself into advertising. Just on principle, I'm going to go clean my cookies. t.co is something twitter uses. Don't know about the others.



Anyone else have this happen to them?

I'm feeling pretty good about the race. My hamstrings are still a little grumpy with me, but my hip flexors have mostly forgiven me. I've done some light stretching and a bit of rollering with the stick. Planning to get a good night of sleep again. That will help. Yoga Wed. Then see how I feel about an easy spin, or a swim.

There is a rant brewing about how Harper doesn't really care about victims at all, except as how they advance his frighten almost everybody and put the rest in jail agenda.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The only race of 2011, muddy wet and all

Once upon a time it seems forever ago now, I trained my tummy mostly off and did IMC. I got through it by the skin of my teeth, having my body crap out during the last peak of the training. I found out later than I'd actually done the race with a partially torn meniscus in my right knee. I was in pretty tough shape.

My priorities over the winter and spring were to try to get my knee back into shape with prolotherapy and ART, and lots of specific exercises. Even though I'd struggled with the bike for most of 2010, it was the running I wanted to work on. And oddly enough, running didn't particularly hurt my knee, though it would if I went too hard, or too fast, or too long. Biking is what made my knee hurt. Which is weird, I know.

Early on in the year I thought I'd make this year a run focus. Trying to learn to run better. I also did not want to jeopardize my knee recovery. Plus I was working a busy full time job again. One that likes scheduling early morning meetings, so it was difficult getting to swimming. Plus, I was enjoying being unstructured. There were a number of workouts, or rather proto-workouts, that had I been on a plan, going for a big goal, determined and all that, I would have pushed myself through it. However, many of them I rolled over and went back to bed. It was nice taking a mental break from a full on training schedule.

The consequence of being a bit of a slacker showed up this weekend. I thought a half marathon would be a nice distance. One that would let me gauge my fitness and running ability. I didn't want to do Calgary Harvest, way too many people involved. But I heard about a nice little race in Fernie. I pictured running through the trails along the river, enjoying the mountain views, listening to the Elk River, crunching the leaves under foot. I could see it in my mind. When I signed up, there was only 4 other guys in it, and I thought that 3 out 4 was excellent odds for a podium finish.

Plus, my buddies Cath and Jason live in Fernie, and it's always nice to see them. And I had an opportunity to stop in the windy pass to get the salsa from Julie. But she was out training. MG was asleep, so I visited with Peanut for a few minutes, then we headed out. MG will never know how hard I looked for an NDP sign.

Reality struck this morning. Big time. I got a good look at the course map, which included an elevation profile that I hadn't seen before. The first 4 K or so are a nice flat warm up, then it turns into a scramble for the next K or two, straight up the mountain. That's the way it looks anyway, and Jason assured me it wasn't far from the truth.

The drive down had sporadic rain. Saturday afternoon was nice. Package pickup was quick and painless, and for a nice surprise, I got our house number as the race number. I thought that was a good omen. We walked back into town to have a late lunch, then down the road to Beanpod Chocolate for a snack. They make their own chocolate! It was wonderful! (J&N, just go there next visit, you can thank me later.) That will be on the list of things to do next time we visit. Cath was talking of snow shoeing, which I've always wanted to try. So I guess we're going down there again in the winter.

We woke up to rain. Rain rain rain. And just cool enough to dither about what to wear. There would be no leaves crunching under foot. I ended up going with tights. Most of the women were in capris, and most of the guys had shorts on. You could just see your breath on the air.

Sure enough, the first 4 K was flat and then headed up the mountainside. By then I was well back in the pack, so it was a slippery, sloppy enchilada going up there. Just after the 5 K mark I found my legs, and it was nice running till about the 9 or 10 K mark, then it started to hurt. It sort of varied between light and hard rain, then about half way through the race it stopped and started to warm up.

The rest of the course was pretty flat. My support crew showed up en masse under a bridge about 10 K to cheer me on, which was very nice. My hip flexors had been talking to me about this experience, and they were not terribly happy with me. Except for the scramble up, my breathing and heart rate had been just fine, but my legs were not in the running mood. At some point in the teens I started walking a few steps just to give the him flexors a break. There are some tricky bits on the path, what with tree roots and mud, which are never a good combination, to say nothing of a cold river RIGHT THERE.

I'd figured out pretty quick this wasn't going to be a fast race for me. The bottom of my feet were getting tender what with all the rocks and stuff. The course had only water to to drink, being handed out by partially-trained beings less than half my height. One time I'd pointed to one little guy and was aiming to take his cup. His buddy, between me and him, tried to rush in and force me to take his cup instead, as if that was the competition or something. By then I wasn't in the mood.

The late teens were a bit of a sufferfest. I was trying to limp on both feet. The problem with walking is that it catches stones that go into your shoes. I had to stop a few times to dig them out. In the end, I think the course was short. All the K marks came about when I expected them, up till 20. And then really quick, and I know I wasn't running that fast, there was the finish line.

It was nice to sit and fold up for a little while. Back at the house I showered carefully (just a touch of nipple chafe), and used the ball on my feet, and the stick on my legs. The drive back I stretched out and relaxed, and tried to snooze, and it was really good till I tried to put my shoes back on just before getting home. My left hamstring cramped really badly. Ouch.

It is clear unstructured training doesn't get the job done. I weighed a bit more than I thought I did, which didn't help the legs. If I'm going to do well in the planned triathlons next year, I've got to buckle down and get serious about the core work again. The base is mostly still there, but I need to work on muscle strength and endurance. And getting the weight down.

Now, I'm sure you'll pardon me while I go pop an asprin and put my feet up.

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