Saturday, September 29, 2012

Musings

A bit of a grab bag here, since I'm bagged from zooming around Calgary today, in insane traffic, with all the construction that HASN'T been worked on all summer now being worked on. I should have stayed home to ride my bike. And run afterward. One thing I did was to update my blogroll. Look for new names!

I recently signed up for a Twitter account and have accumulated a whole 31 or 32 or 33 followers. I'm following 86 Twitter accounts. Some funny, some newsy, some practical, some people I know personally, some I know of, and some strangers. I've been musing about LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and my blog, wondering how they best go together, so I'm going to noodle on about it a bit. Feel free to talk about your experience in comments.

I started blogging first, on October 27, 2007. This is post number 1267 for those who care about such things. It was a fitness blog at first, and since then it's branched out to whatever I feel like writing about at the time. It took a bit to get used to the Blogger platform, and while it's got better for dealing with photos, it's still pretty primitive. I've come to really like blogging, and have met some really interesting people through blogging. Some of them have moved on and I miss them (Loose Moose I have some links for you! Or search the Calgary Herald for moose photo and video.)

It's interesting watching which blogs get read, though I don't really believe Blogger's stats, and which get comments. One thing that amuses me is that by far the number one post for attracting spam is a dull technical swim post. No idea why.

The blog is the main source of my stuff, if you happen to be interested in my ramblings. I always like getting comments from my readers, and almost always respond. I've got a blogroll on the side that I regularly use to keep track of other blogs. Who goes on there? People that I like to read, that update regularly. I admit, regularly is used a bit loosely.

LinkedIn is pretty much a business related tool. There's a nice photo of me looking all business-like in a tie and everything. I list work skills, and with only a few exceptions I'll link to anyone I've worked with. I keep it up to date with work skills, and I'm starting to use it a bit more often to browse business related topics, since that recently got added. I don't use it for social interaction unless there is no other channel.

Then, after a great deal of musing about it, I got a Facebook account. Here's the very first comment I made. You'll need to scroll down a bit. Fb has been fun, though eternal vigilance is need about privacy settings. I've got it locked down pretty good, I think. Only Friends see anything. I don't do many company likes. I won't respond to invitations for games, and about the only 3rd party apps that know about my fb account are Zite and Twitter. I don't have a lot of information about me on it. Some of what's there is deliberately wrong.

I've struggled with photos on it, and have essentially given up. The only photos I put there now are the cover page to show off Snapseed art. For a while I was doing book reviews, but that was an experiment. If I'm going to do one it's going to be on the blog. Which reminds me I need to write up The China Study.

I like Facebook for the little snippets of people's lives. Chats. Witty (or semi-witty) comments. It keeps me feeling a bit connected to people that I've met in one sense or another but who happen to live elsewhere now. Places like South Africa, Norway, Victoria, Melbourne, Ontario (lots), lots of places in BC, Colorado (though I haven't personally met any there yet, a visit will happen sometime. Preferably when the kids are out of diapers. Well, SUAR's are already, unless that recent thing goes really bad.) and lots of other places in Canada and USA.

Who will I link to on Facebook? That's a good one. For people out of my past, it has to be someone that I'd be interested in getting to know again. Would I go for lunch or coffee with them? I generally lean towards people that I have actually met, but there are lots of exceptions, mainly from the blogger world. There are some family members on there, and that was a surprising big thing for me, given that I haven't been much of a family guy for most of my life. I've reconnected with some cousins, and that's been fun. I'm not likely to connect with people I've merely worked with, unless we've become actual friends.

Twitter was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. For the longest time I couldn't think of why I'd want a Twitter account given the 140 character limitation. If there's anything I say, it's almost certainly going to take more than 140 characters. More than 140 words, and I'm pretty sure I've exceeded 140 paragraphs a few times. Then someone said that it was the way to find food trucks, and that you didn't need to actually say anything.

And yes, it is a pretty good way to find the food trucks, which is sometimes an important thing to know. It's become a major tool for getting various kinds of news, including traffic reports. There's probably a way to get those on their own page or channel, but I haven't figured that out yet. I'm also still figuring out some of the finer points of the Twitter world. Generally what I put there is a notice that I've blogged, along with the link and a teaser to entice people to read. That gets copied to Facebook. Both are the main tools I use to drive traffic to my blog.

There are a few chats or responses to tweets, and that's about it. With so few followers there isn't much point in retweeting something. If you're interested in following, there is a button on my blog to do that. It will be interesting to see if I pick up any followers after this is published.

Foreshadowing, or a teaser about upcoming blogs. I'm always thinking about blog topics.

There was a recent vote in the Canadian House of Commons to study when life begins. It's a back door to reopening the abortion debate. It was defeated. Now there is an upcoming one about selective sex abortions. That will be a long and well thought out post dealing with the murky gray middle. It will likely piss off lots of people, you know, the simpletons who think the issue is black and white.

There was a doctor in the news recently talking about graduated drivers licenses, in the sense of gradually restricting driving privileges as people get older. My take on it is that everybody ought to be tested to failure in a simulator every 3 to 5 years or so, with licenses removed as necessary. I don't care how old you are, or how it empowers you to be able to drive, if you aren't safe you shouldn't be behind the wheel. In a related story, driverless cars are being tested, and I for one can't wait.

The death of choice and outright stupidity in modern politics. Unless Linda slips a tranquilizer in my meal, this is likely to be a full blooded, foaming at the mouth diatribe. Probably mostly Canadian politics, but lots and LOTS of examples in USA.

Plus the ongoing fitness notes, photos as it pleases me, some burbling about wine, and food, and anything else that comes to mind.

Now it's your turn. How do you use Social media?


Dawn photos

I felt great all evening after a wonderful run yesterday. We watched a very peculiar French movie from 1967 called Le Samourai. Even though the hit man does some really dumb things, and we were laughing at French notions of murder investigations "Round up the usual suspects!", we really enjoyed watching it. We had no idea what would happen next, or what the motives of the people involved were. That's a rare pleasure.

This morning I was up and in between coffee, paying attention to cats, reading blogs, and taking it easy, there was an incredible dawn happening. Here's the sequence of photos I took, with the last one also being filtered in Snapseed.

Sometimes the camera sees a scene better than eyes, but today the limitations of the iPhone sure showed up. Still, it was a very peaceful morning.

















Friday, September 28, 2012

A 30 year conversation

The pool is clear again. Did a hard half hour trying to keep up to the swim club kids next to me. Not. Half hour yes, keep up no. Good swim though.

Here's two of the most famous guys in Calgary. They've been hanging around talking for just over 30 years. I've walked past them any number of times, but never took a photo till now.




By the time I got home Thursday I was ready for a rest day. I was thinking I "should" get on my bike or go for a run, but I was still feeling kind of beat up. Besides, there was a follow up appointment coming to the house.

Friday was a different story. I had a nice food truck lunch (Shwarma) in the park behind the Nexen building with a couple buddies. I haven't been there since I worked for NOVA. Good news, my ex office roomie is back at Talisman on a short term contract, but I bet they extend her. It was hard to go back into the office. It was a perfect summer day. Look at the temperature!

As soon as I got home from work I changed and headed out for a run. No plan, other than to run the way my legs felt like. I was down into Fish Creek, with my legs feeling light and strong. After warming up for the first K, I picked up the pace and ran what felt comfortable and strong. A 6 minute K used to be race pace for me, yet today at that pace for much of the last part of the 5th K I was relaxing and getting ready for the hill.

The really good part of the run was being able to lean forward, and run from my hips. My feet were picking up, and while I was breathing fairly hard, it didn't seem like my legs were working very hard at all. Yay!





Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looked gross, tasted great

It doesn't take much kale to make things green. Like, oh, say, a fruit smoothie made from banana and an orange. It was green and frothy. But a tasty addition to breakfast.

If it was supposed to be a good pick me up and give me energy, then I don't want to think about what I'd have been like without it. What a shambles of a day. Stupid data. Who puts spaces in an LSD, for crying out loud! Queries that struggled with me. XL trying to be helpful, and Access trying not to be.

Plus a fire alarm at work, slowly down 7 floors. At least it's not 37 like a couple of times at Talisman.

Yoga was a good killer tonight. Part way through my hip flexors said they had had enough and packed it in. "Show us the bear" they said, "and we'll move again."

I am astonished to discover that a blog post named "Chocolate" has the lowest readership of all September, with the exception of one about gunge, which is understandable. But the Chocolate one even has good photos. I don't get it.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Purple shoes and related blither

Lately some of my blog buddies have been writing about shoes. It started with AKA Alice bemoaning her child's statement "They're just shoes, Mom." Clearly this was not her daughter. Hmm, that conversation was actually not in a blog. And Seriously posted a photo of shoes that got her all, well let's not go into that.

Last week I had lunch with a former office roomie, who among other things was telling me about the tribulations of trying to save money and not buying shoes. I felt her pain, because I learned how important shoes are to her. Our office had a frosted glass panel in the middle, with clear glass above and below. While seated, she could see the shoes of the people coming, and could say hello to them by name, every time for the women, unless the shoes were new. In which case there was an introduction that had to include when purchased, where, on sale, how discovered, how they felt, who made by if it wasn't obvious. I was impressed.

I don't "get" shoes, despite owning more now than at any other time of my life. I mean, my goodness: 1 pair dress shoes at work, 1 pair to get back and forth to work and light hiking/walking, 1 pair running shoes, 1 one old pair running shoes that are used as outdoor slippers, 1 pair indoor slippers, 1 pair bike shoes, 1 pair sandals, are the ones in regular rotation now. Add in a pair of winter boots, a couple old pairs of running shoes that I'm not sure why I'm keeping them around, an old pair of walking/hiking shoes to mow the lawn in or other dirty outdoor stuff, and a pair of steel toed boots I haven't worn in years. And I think that's it. I do fully realize that by the standards of any self-respecting females, this is pitiful.

So in that spirit. When we were in Milan a few years back, I got a photo of this pair of shoes that got one particular buddy of mine all excited, and it will probably make her day again. Three guesses who likes purple, and the first two don't count.


At the time I hadn't noticed a reflection of me in the shot. Perhaps you can tell that I'm wearing a yellow wind shell. There was a student march taking place through the streets, and all the expensive clothing stores had these large, extremely well dressed men lurking near the doors. Large men. Much larger than me. Wearing suits more expensive than I would ever contemplate buying.

I was interested in going in to one shop, a) to get out of the rain; b) to avoid the student march; c) to look at one really nice suit, and d) to get a price on a really nice dress that would have really suited a co-worker of mine at the time. It lead to the funniest thing that was said to me the entire trip. "If sir will wear a coat of that color in public, there is nothing in this establishment that will be of interest to him." I've never been thrown out of anywhere so exquisitely. Which is why Becky didn't get that dress; the fact it cost €700 had nothing at all to do with it.

The pool wasn't so exquisite this morning. They've been doing some work on it I guess, and it was very hazy. Murky even. Normally you can see 50 m crystal clear, but today two body lengths was about it. Shared a lane with a few other guys and had to hustle to keep up. 30 minutes.

Strong bike at home this afternoon. 1 hour. Good solid building warmup. 5 minutes at 180 watts. Easy spin. 8 minutes at just over 200, then easy spin. 3 minutes at 215 watts then up to 225, easy spin. All these were at a nice steady aerobic heart rate or easier, though I was breathing a bit hard at 225. Then 3 minutes at 250 watts. That pushed my heart rate up to the top of aerobic, but my breathing was really hard. Cooled down after, and stretched.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Unknown stuff

This post will be full of stuff you don't want any more details about. You want it to remain unknown. Unlike the chocolate.

The difficulties in upgrading computer memory on a 4 year old computer.
Decision issues about 10.8.2 and 6.0 and iPad 3
Trying to figure out (way too many!) front door options. Plus the other outside doors.
And 2 outside windows.
Starting to track re-shingle options.
The joys of home ownership.
Colonoscopy results.
The slippery finger of life.
Cholesterol  levels.
Complicated data transformations and migrations and mutations.
What I think of Britain and Canada merging diplomatic staff and other Harper stupidity.


Run Meter results from today's run. Which went really well, thanks for asking. Hot out. Warmed up, then ran strides. Ran easy and walked to cool down. About 45 minutes total. So nice out!

This is an unretouched photo from Saturday morning. Just to get your minds off the things you don't want to know any more about.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chocolate

Friday we visited a trade show and came home with a box and two appointments scheduled.




There were several things BBQd on a quiet Saturday, but I ended up eating the bison burger. Of course there is a glass of wine in the background.

And then dessert! This what it looked like at the start.

Part way through I had to stop and savour being in heaven. Total chocolaty heaven. Oreo crumb base. Then a crunchy layer, that had a bit of coconut in it. Then a delightful mousse, light and fluffy and melt in your mouth and not too sweet. Probably just about the best I've ever had. Then a poured dark chocolate layer, with some shavings on top. Oh, and a raspberry. Just amazing.

Sunday was a nice ride on the bike. My legs felt strong. Did some moderate pace spin, trying to work a bit of speed and strength, while watching the first episode of Sherlock. I'm hooked.

Cleaning wine bottles can be very soothing when you're in the mood, and I was. I'd bleached a bunch of them just a bit too long, and that takes almost as much scrubbing to get it off. Massage, with Janice! She's back. And another Sherlock episode.

All in all a very nice weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flirting with hotness

There is a high pressure system parked over Calgary for the last couple weeks, and will be here as far forward as the weather people are willing to predict. Scope this out.

Calgary often has wonderful fall weather, clear sunny days that vary between cool to warm. Over 25 C qualifies as a hot day here, and doubly so in late September. Maybe I should take some vacation, take my bike off the trainer, and get out for some rides. At least I'm out running regularly.

Swam on Wed morning and was not feeling the water love. You sure do a lot of flip turns in the 25 m pool. Felt slow and clunky. Gave it up as a bad job and water ran with Katie instead.

Yoga. Holy smoking cow. I wore shorts and my lightest thinnest T shirt. I had a premonition. The woman that owns the studio teaches the class before us, and she likes it warm. Really warm. Verging on hot yoga warm, though she says she keeps the room so cold people have to put on a sweater during savasana. I think she's hallucinating from the heat. It was hot going into class so Fiona put the fan on, and that didn't help. She checked and it turned out the heat was still on, on a day that topped 25 C. No wonder we were cooking. The class is seriously discussing if we should tell her that we're going to start doing yoga naked if it's going to be that hot. I was sweating pretty good. During yoga. Sweating. Sheesh.

The class itself was excellent, as always. Lots of good stuff. I had something to drink after getting home and was out like a light.

I've wanted to try running home from downtown for a while, as my long slow run of the week. Now is good since it's warm, and Linda is on vacation so she can rescue me if needed. I walked to 2nd St and 17 and started easy. I was thinking of trying to average 7 minute Km pace, though I was a bit worried about the hills. There is a fair bit of up.

The big issue on the path was people taking up space and wandering erratically. One kind of cute Asian girl and her buddy were all over the path. Of course I caught up with them just as someone on a bike was coming in the other direction. There was a whole lot more confusion than there needed to be. Why is it that whenever you are overtaking someone slower, there is a third person suddenly involved? I'm passing a pair of people, running right on the centre line, when someone starts ringing their bike bell behind me.

It all worked out fairly well considering when I started I felt heavy and slow. It took a couple Km to get into the groove. I've done this route on my bike many times, and its even nicer running, as you have time to look at the river and the natural scenery. Much of the run is park, though two sections are on rich quiet rich residential rich streets that have rich renovations done to rich homes on a frequent basis. I chugged along, mentally writing my blog.

The big surprise was seeing Valeska near the Rocky View hospital, we stopped and chatted very briefly. She was just starting her run heading downtown. Downhill downtown. Then through a cloud of smoke where the patients and staff hang out. It never ceases to amaze me that hospital patients are allowed to smoke. To my way of thinking, smokers have no interest in being healthy. So if they have a condition that normally requires hospitalization, they should be forced to quit for the duration. Or the alternative is to put them in palliative care so they can die comfortably and with dignity. Or as much dignity as coughing up black shit out of your lungs allows you. Of course I wouldn't pay the nurses a bounty on "accidental' medication overdoses. Of course not! How could you think such a thing?

Going past Glenmore Landing I realized that I could make it home but it was going to seriously stress my legs. They were already starting to feel stupid and didn't want to pick up enough to get over cracks. I called Linda and met her at South Glenmore park. Turned out to be 11 K run, with a nice cool down walk, and then stretching when I got home. Running all the way home on the path will be about 17 K or so, which is just a little bit much for a long run right now.

I'm really pleased with my splits. The 6 K was up Sandy Beach hill, and that's just as tough running as riding. Just before the end of 8 K is where I ran into Valeska. There is a short steep downhill during 9 K that I walked and snarfed a Gu, and it took a bit of effort to get running again. K 10 I was almost back to pace but I was really feeling it. Plus I was starting to feel the heat. This is about as warm as I can run and control my reaction to the heat. Slowing down slightly and running in the shade I could cool down. Out in the sun I could gradually feel myself reacting to the heat, but it wasn't the outright mugging that I've had in the past, where once the heat attacks I'm done.

All in all a pretty good run that I'll have to try again.





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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

chicken with crusty mustard marinade

Well, the marinade was not crusty till it was baked, or at least I assume so. I saw the meat marinade container in the fridge this morning as I packed for work while it was completely dark out, and just assumed I'd be doing BBQ tonight. But no, the minute I walked in the door there was baked chicken with that wonderful sauce, on rice, with corn on the side, and a gentle white wine (pun intended) to wash it down.

Work gave us a pedometer last week. Next week we're supposed to track our steps, aiming for 10,000 a day. I'm about 6000 not counting workouts, not counting walking around the house after I take off my work pants, and not making any other changes to my routine. They say there is a way to account for workouts, so I'll wait and see. There are some good prizes.

Sushi for me is almost always an evening thing, but today I had lunch with a former office roomie. She chose a sushi place because it's good, they make each order as it comes rather than prepare a bunch in advance, the service is fast, and she's on the clock. They pay attention to her arrival, departure, and lunch times. I wouldn't put up with that myself. The sushi was really good, and it was nice to get caught up.

I waited just over an hour to go for a run, and started easy. The 4th K was the fast one, then easy. Just over 30 minutes, with some walk to cool down and stretching after. It was a bit weird running so soon after eating. How long do you wait to run after eating a meal?

One of the blogs I read had some pictures of Risser's beach, and then a couple of Hirtle's beach, just because I asked. Which had me going back through my own pictures of Hirtles. The first is a Snapseed dress up preview of what's going on Facebook cover in a few minutes. The other is a nice one with lots of wave action.




Run meter stuff now. Look at that time for 4 K! Woo hoo! Considering my legs felt kind of heavy and clumsy, I'm pretty darn pleased.


Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm Canadian, of course I have an opinion

This photo perfectly describes my Sunday.


Any questions? Well, if you insist. Slept in big time, which means about 7. Read. Browsed internet. The big moment of activity was cleaning the labels off some wine bottles and ironing shirts for work. Lots of sitting around reading, providing a lap for cats. Peace and quiet.

Swam this morning in a crowded pool. The public had a pair of lanes, one of which was taken up by swim club wannabes. The person organizing this said I was ok to swim up the lane rope and down the middle. So there I was getting ready to do so, and join the guy that was already doing that. When he saw me there he switched to swimming up the middle and down the rope. So I joined him. Then realized the people in the other lane couldn't stay there. The lifeguard asked us to switch, so I did, waiting for the other guy. He got a bit pissy, but did it.

Swam 35 minutes or so, typical workout, feeling pretty good.

Home, and on the bike fairly quickly. It felt much better today, and I was warming up much quicker. At the end of 12 minutes I'd gradually worked up through the gears to 200 watts. Took a brief bit of easy spin, then settled in to 15 minutes at 205 watts or so. It felt pretty good, legs were comfortable with the level of work, heart rate was pretty steady at the mid 130's, and breathing was deep and even. Took a 5 minute easy spin, then tried 125 watts. This didn't work out so well. My legs could feel the work, my lungs were really working, though my heart rate wasn't much above where it was. I found it hard to stay steady and my pace kept dropping off. Stayed there 5 minutes and dialed it back. Easy spin for 15 to cool down.

Stretched and a bit of core after. 6 slow really good pushups. Lots of bicycle elbow to knee thingies.

Now for the promised opinion. Big surprise, it's about the hockey lockout. I'm not a big hockey fan, at least not a pro hockey fan. I stopped watching about the time Bobby Orr was invalided out of the game, which I thought was disgusting. Without him the game was boring, and then it got worse.

The owners pushed for the deal last time and the players were reluctant, but it turned out better than they thought. Bettman says the deal was "too fair" meaning the greedy pig owners didn't get as much as they wanted. Now they want even more, and unlike most other industries, are not willing to carry on under the terms of the old deal. They are giving up too much money, of course. Not willing to share the proceeds from the golden goose with the people that help take care of it.

You can see I don't have any sympathy for the owners. I have no more for the players. In one year of working a few hours a week, most of them will get paid more than what almost anyone watching the game gets paid in their entire life. Hmmm, I wonder if Mitt Romney is a hockey fan, he could be an exception. Lots of other places they could play, since that's their avowed desire, to get out and play a game. They all have huge Mcmansions on a huge lot, they could flood a regulation size rink in their back yard and invite over their buddies to have at it. Oh, they aren't getting paid? Boo hoo.

The only people I begin to feel sorry for are those connected to the industry, taking tickets, ushers, food and merchandise vendors, rink maintenance people and the like. The media people are vultures that will get assigned something else to do, so no skin off their nose. Note of course that I do not include that buffoon Don Cherry and his CBC sidekick whatever his name is. If a hockey lockout keeps them off air I'd say that was an unintended win.

So as far as I'm concerned the owners can keep the players locked out till hell freezes over enough to play hockey there. There is lots of other hockey to watch. I don't even know what the leagues are called. Junior A? Western Canadian Hockey League? AHL? There's a local team called the Hitmen, get out and watch them. I was working out of Medicine Hat once when the Tigers were in the playoffs, and there was no other topic of conversation till that got dealt with. Those people aren't going to miss the NHL. There is hockey in almost every arena in every town and city at almost every hour of the day or night. There are many other sports to watch on TV, if sports you must watch on TV, and some of them aren't even female beach volleyball.

Once people get used to there not being NHL games, we will find other things to do with the space and time they used to take. It might be other sports, or it might be something else entirely more worthwhile. Like getting off your fat ass (none of THEM in my blog reading company, I expect) and playing sports yourself. Like spending time playing with your children. Imagine that. Or even, (gasp!) talking or doing stuff with your spouse.

As a bonus, you get a second related rant, entirely free. Up in Edmonton there is a billionaire trying to build a hockey area. Poor sad man, he can't quite talk the City into paying for it, and threatens to go elsewhere. Let him go. It should be against the law for tax money to build a pro sport arena. The billionaire owners and the multi million dollar players can easily afford such things. They just don't want to. After all, one doesn't get to be a billionaire by spending your own money. They could sell bonds if they wanted to raise capital that way, and the public could buy them if they thought it was a good deal.

Building an arena, or other recreation facilities for amateur usage is something else entirely. That is quite properly the decision of the local municipalities to decide how best to spend the provincial funding. There is always something that needs funding, roads, water systems, municipal employees, the list doesn't end and recreation facilities belong on it. I think playing sports is an integral part of childhood, and I don't really even care what the sport is as long as they enjoy it. Hockey, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, cricket, baseball (even though it's the most massively boring "sport" ever invented) all have their fans, and the kids learn good stuff from being involved. Don't even get me started on football, as that leads inevitably to Mayor Ford, and he is easily the topic of any number of rants.

Here's two photos, just because, the original and the Snapseed version.






Saturday, September 15, 2012

5 and other numbers

Last night I really went to town with The Stick, rollering my IT band and quads. That was just a bit tender. This morning I decided to see where I was on bike fitness, and was completely prepared to hide my face in shame.

It wasn't so bad, though it was a very slow start. It took 10 minutes to get to 85 rpm, at a really low wattage. For the next 20 minutes I gradually went up through the gears, then did a bit of easy spin. My legs mostly felt pretty good, though my right quad and IT were feeling a bit grumpy.

Then I tried 175 watts for 10 minutes. Heart rate was mid 120's and breathing easy. Right leg still a bit grumpy but with some knee twinges thrown in for variety. Then easy pedal for 5.

Then between 200 and 205 for 5 minutes. Heart rate was mid 130's. I could feel the effort in my legs and was breathing harder, but could have gone on longer. Easy spin for 10 minutes to cool down a bit and try to get my legs used to moving a bit faster.

Then out for a 3 K run. Haven't run off the bike for a long time and had no idea how it would feel. My feet felt quite heavy at first, though not my legs. It was a pretty nice run on a beautiful day. My legs are happy. I wasn't thinking about pace at all, or breathing or anything. Just enjoying the run. The GPS behaved today.


For the last little while I've been thinking about the recent release of the iPhone 5, and some of the media reaction. Much of it ranges from doom and gloom and Apple is failing, to Apple has lost the innovative edge, to I'm bored, to we got what we expected and it's a pretty darned good phone.

I got an iPhone 4 two years ago as a little reward for completing IMC. It was my first smart phone. Then, and now, I am FUCKING AMAZED by it. I remember getting a transistor radio for a present when I was a child, and I now find it difficult to express how small it was then, and how big it is now. It was portable in that a child could carry it from place to place. I'm pretty sure you could plug it in, and it took 4 D cell batteries. I'm just guessing at dimensions but it was probably a foot or more long, 8 inches high and 4 or 5 inches deep. For an AM/FM radio, no shortwave and certainly no CB. I suspect the speaker fidelity was laughable by today's standards. I don't have any idea how much it cost.

The early cell phones were portable in the same sense. They certainly didn't fit in a pocket, and cost an amazing amount of money. But now smartphones are common, and everybody knows much of what they'll do, and that "there's an app for that" for a great many other things.

Here's a short, off the top of my head list of what I use my phone for nearly every day, in no particular order: as a phone to talk to other people (duh), text message, email, link to social media, news reader, a camera and photo display with hundreds of photos, a video camera, a GPS run tracking tool, calculator, metric/imperial converter, appointment book, contacts list, errands and to do list, stores and plays days of music, map, finding a car2go, figuring out differences between 2 dates, Evernote!!!, remote for iTunes on home computer, watch viral videos, and much more on a more irregular basis, all by touching a glass screen. One of those uses is a video call, a la Dick Tracey. In a package that fits in a pocket and is easily held and used in one hand. It would almost fit as a wrist watch. With a battery that powers it for the better part of a day, more or less, depending on a number of things.

Granted, that's a big watch.


I know some of you are jaded now, but think about that list. You probably do many of those things on your phone and likely many others, depending on your interests and app collection. That list used to take a large number of different devices, some of which were quite expensive, and some of which didn't exist even a few years ago.

Take that phone back to oh, say, 1970, and you would blow the minds of every computer scientist in the world. Even telling them there is a tiny computer chip with transistors on it, doing all that stuff, they would have no idea how it was done. GPS, there is another rant right there. How many of you actually understand how GPS works? One of my buddies is working on his Ph.D in GPS stuff, and he says that maps and run tracking and stuff like that are the trivial uses for the technology.

Let's think about airplanes for a minute, rightly hailed as one of the greatest inventions and advances for humanity. Picture the Wright brothers the day after that 1903 flight, being taken to a top secret hanger, to look at a 747 somehow time traveled from 1970. While the size and materials used would no doubt astonish them, they would understand every salient feature of the aircraft with at most a few minutes thought.

 Now back to the iPhone. Apple produces this amazing product. It changes our world. Then they make it better, and better, and now better again. Maybe I missed another better. But think of it, an amazing product that nobody knew they wanted, and they make it better. Each successive iteration they can barely keep them in stock. With all that some people are bored and disappointed.

I submit to you the problem is not the phone. The problem is the lame brain holding the phone. I feel no need to upgrade my phone because, holy crap, IT'S FUCKING AMAZING!!! I'm still learning new things I can make it do. There are new shortcuts I learn to make it work better. I find new ways of using it to make my life better probably every week on average. I'm pretty sure I'm nowhere near taking full advantage of it. My getting the iPhone 5 is a bit like me going and buying a Cervelo P5. (Sorry non-fitness junkies, you'll have to delve into the seamy world of bike porn to understand that.)

 What do people expect? When they first released the iPhone the naysayers started by saying it couldn't possibly cost less than $1500 and couldn't possibly be that small, and why would anyone buy them anyways. Now the tech media builds unrealistic expectations, saying the next product "should have" x, y, and z, all of which are technically or commercially impossible right now. Or they complain that this amazing product doesn't do some particular thing they want and therefore it's junk or useless. A few rounds of this nothing that Apple or any other company supplies would make them happy.

You wait. The iPhone 6 or 7 will be 1 mm thick, have a holographic screen of any desired size while also fitting neatly into a pocket, able to take giga-pixel images if desired, and store millions of them, will come with every book every printed, every movie ever filmed, every song ever recorded by any artist, will have a biofeedback loop directly to our brains so we don't need to say "call Bill Smith", we just have to think it, will have more computing power than today's most powerful supercomputer, will never need to be recharged, will seamlessly link to any other computer network to share data 100's of times faster than today, and people will STILL be unhappy.

Why has Apple become the biggest and richest corporation in the history of the world? Simple. They sell products that people want to buy. Not have to buy. Want to buy. There's a difference. Products that are well built, and not only meet the needs of millions of people, but fulfill needs that they didn't even know they had. How cool is that?

Will they continue to do so? I hope so. If they don't, someone else will. Certainly Steve Jobs had a lot to do with where Apple is now, but some of the smartest people in the world are working there. They are sitting one one of the biggest pools of capital in the world. I suspect there are a few more things in the pipeline.

If you haven't seen it, the perfect finish to that rant is Louis C. K. and Everything's Amazing and nobodies happy.

To leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy, here's a cat pic. Taken, yes, on the iPhone, wirelessly transmitted through empty space, without me having to do a single thing, into my main computer, where it sits in a folder waiting for me to put it into this blog for your amusement. Just the technology of the blog is amazing, but that's another story.


Friday, September 14, 2012

What it really tastes like

Lots of things today. Here's a photo from one of our vacations in Nova Scotia, taken on Hirtle's beach. I loved it, and you'll see a bunch of photos from there show up on my cover page from time to time. You see a bit of the spray coming of the waves. I watched that for hours one day. There are few things as restful as a beach.


Swam this morning, 30 minutes and water ran another 15 or so. That helped the muscles from yesterday's run. It was an odd swim, though. I was swimming with my arm muscles, which I haven't done for a while, so it was kind of slow and really tiring. I'm not sure why I was doing that.

In response to reader requests, here's the bottle of wine for tonight. The label is a nice copper foil that I thought went well with the lily in the background. It was bottled July 16, 2011. I poured, swirled, and sniffed. And sniffed and sniffed. It smells like wine. I conclude that I don't have a good sniffer. It's a nice clear light ruby red.

Taste. It's a lighter wine that rolls over your tongue with a gentle and slightly sharp fruity taste. No one particular fruit taste beyond grapes and blackberries. It makes my mouth tingle just a bit. Where some wines come in with a full blown assault on your tastebuds and hang around to see what else you're going to eat or drink, this is milder and better behaved. You taste and swallow, then get some echoes that fade away. Then you want more. I find it goes well with almost anything, though it doesn't quite have the fruity or tannic punch to go with really spicy foods. You could easily have this with fish if you wanted, or a nice lamb roast with traditional veggies, but probably not with chili or a pepper steak, or jerk chicken.

By comparison, here's what the teaser ad for the wine says.

The Region:  Puglia forms a long narrow peninsula, making up the heel of the boot of Italy.  Dry and warm, it basks in the Mediterranean sun, and has a long, rich history of grape growing.  The Appenine mountains give an excellent range of elevations and soil types, and this region produces more wine than any other in Italy, specializing in intensely ripe grapes from its hillsides.
The Wine:  Italian Primitivo is deeply colored, rich and concentrated, exuding aromas of blackberry, plums, tobacco, prunes and red cherries, with the Italian signature of firm tannins and a long, gripping finish with notes of vanilla and toast.  While deep and intense like most Italian reds, it retains acidity to balance fruit character and marry well with food.
The Food:  Primitivo shines in the company of assertively flavored foods like lamb, pork, grilled beef, ribs, roasted red meats, wild game, spicy cheeses, and pizza.  Its firm backbone of acids and tannins makes it work well with rich and spicy foods like Italian sausages or lasagna.
Ageing:  Medium-bodied but with good grip and intensity, this wine will begin to open up after six months, the richer flavors will show at twelve months.

Last word. One of the tests of wine is how it tastes by itself. No cheese or crackers, no mouth cleansing with gelato, no little nibble snacks. Just drinking the wine. And chatting or reading, or whatever. How does it taste after a glass of it? Still tasting good? Some wines you get tired of after a glass because there's just so much stuff happening. This Primitivo isn't so dramatic. It's balanced so that you taste it everywhere in your mouth. Even after two glasses. And a bit of a third, just to try to answer the question of what it tastes like. Which is proving harder to describe than I thought it would.

One of my blog buddies asked about people wearing their race medallions. I don't, but they are hanging near the computer where I can see them. Right now, even.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Unbelievable run numbers!

Look at these!

Run Time: 33:42
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 6.21 km
Average: 5:25 /km
Fastest Pace: 3:25 /km
Ascent: 9 metres
Descent: 11 metres

With splits:
Kilometre 1 - Average 6:00 /km
Kilometre 2 - Average 5:25 /km
Kilometre 3 - Average 5:12 /km
Kilometre 4 - Average 4:24 /km
Kilometre 5 - Average 5:25 /km
Kilometre 6 - Average 6:09 /km

Isn't that amazing??!! Come on, cheer it up, I've been wanting to put up numbers like this since I started running.

Wait. That time for the 4th K, that works out to just over a 7 minute mile.  That fastest pace 3:25 /Km is a 5:30 mile. I don't think I could run that fast even with a bear chasing me. Even that first K, I consider anything faster than a 6 minute K (9:39 mile) to be verging on race pace, and I took it easy to get my heavy feeling legs happy about running.

Something is wrong. In fact, I knew it was wrong listening to the 2 K announcement of pace and time. It came sooner than I thought it would, and it was much faster than I thought it would be. I knew I was having a good run, but this wasn't right.

I didn't worry about it, I just ran, and during "5K" it started falling apart, so when "5K" came I slowed down and ran very easy for a K to start cooling down, then walked home.

The run time of 33:42 I believe. But not the distance. As soon as I was home I looked at the map. The blue line is what RunMeter thought I ran, and though it's a bit harder to see, the yellow line with red dots is what I actually ran. That turns out to be pretty close to 5K, though I wasn't paying attention exactly because I figured RunMeter had it taped. I guess not.




You can see the blue line is all over the place, and rest assured, I didn't run that. I'm not sure why the blue line is all over the place. The elevation graph is whacked too. I guess the GPS world is pissy tonight.

Needless to say, I'm still pretty pleased with this run. The first and last K were slow, but the middle 3 felt fast and light. I could believe those were near or even slightly under 6:00/Km. Doing 5K in 33 is much closer to my real training times, and so, sad to say, I can't report a huge increase in my run speed. Maybe next week.

In other news, gave away some of my nearly perfect blood, while chatting about yoga with the person doing the needlework. Then suffered through a very smelly LRT ride home. If I'd have known it would be that bad, I'd have planned better and run home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crickle crackle backle snackle

My massage therapist really worked me over on Tuesday. I wasn't up for much of anything Tuesday evening, though I did pack my swim bag. But I didn't swim this morning. I was a asleep like a rock, and it took a while to get going.

Even during the day I was out of it. At one point I was going out for a walk at lunch and I'm standing around in the floor lobby, wondering why an elevator was taking so long. I hadn't pressed the button.

Yoga was nice, though the flow was long and hard for me. I could feel my mobility getting better throughout. At one point in the evening we were doing eagle stuff while lying on our backs. At first I could barely tuck one elbow inside the other. Then I breathed and relaxed, and there was a whole series of snickle snackles from by back, and suddenly my arms were a whole lot more mobile. I even manage to tuck my toes behind my calf, which I haven't been able to do for a great many years. There has been a big improvement in my back mobility in the last few days. Maybe I was slightly premature in putting on the trainer tire.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prepare to be enraged if American

Today is a sad day in the USA, marking the 11th anniversary of the second attack on the World Trade Centre. Seeing those buildings go down horrified me. I feel for the people that were trapped in the buildings and died horribly. I have not the slightest doubt that their families still feel the loss of the people taken from them. Nothing I say here is to denigrate the dead, the innocent victims of the attack and the emergency responders who were doing their jobs as best they could. I'm on about the living.

Yet what has happened to America since then has horrified me even more. The stupid airline security theatre that can't even prevent that from happening again, let along whatever some evil genius comes up with for next time, and which costs billions of dollars while seriously inconveniencing millions of people. I suspect one could argue the USA has lost more in time and money through security idiocy in airports alone, than the entire attack, cleanup, and rebuilding cost.

The two useless wars that are essentially a re-creation of Vietnam the way the generals think it should have been. While doing the searches a little further on I think I saw a figure that said more soldiers have died in one or both of the optional wars than died in the attack on WTC, but that could easily be wrong.

But what really gets my goat is the holier than thou attitude about the attack, presenting it as the worst terrorism attack ever, anywhere, so bad it's the only one worth talking about. That the number of people killed is a huge unthinkable number, a good reason for the optional wars, the racism, and all the other debris bobbing in the wake of the attack. Yes it's certainly one of the worst, and it's fortunate that so many escaped.

But let's think about this rationally for a moment. WTC death toll in 2001 is about 2800. I'm rounding since I see a number of figures from different sources. Now lets look at some other deaths in the USA.

In 2010, there were 8775 murders by firearms in the USA. (source)
In 2009, there were 11493 homicides in the USA. (source)
In 2005, there were 12252 murders by firearms in the USA. (source)

Those happened to be the first three sources I found when I searched "USA deaths by firearms". Any of those numbers could be wrong by a bit, and they may not be properly comparable because of different methodologies in collecting and manipulating the data.

Now lets look at deaths in vehicle collisions, using search term "USA deaths from vehicle accidents". As you all know I really get cranky calling them accidents, but that that's what the world is calling them. Look, a wikipedia page showing deaths every year. You can look up the whole list if you want, and get carried away with a detailed analysis, or go find other sources if you don't like Wikipedia. I'm after the 30,000 foot view here.

Here are the three most recent years of data showing how many motor vehicle deaths happened in the USA.
2008 - 37261
2009 - 33808
2010 - 32885
Again, there may be methodology issues.

Let's just round the numbers a bit and say that:
3000 people died in WTC. Once.
10000 people per year, or 833 people a month died from firearms.
35000 people per year, or 2916 people per month died in motor vehicle "accidents".

So, the final layer of summary.
Every 4 months, Americans shoot as many other Americans as died in WTC.
Every month, month in and month out, a WTC happens on American roads.
Nobody cares enough to change anything in either case. Even suggesting that we think about discussing the possibility of examining if registering some firearms is a good idea will send the NRA into paroxysms of rage. If anything auto safety is even more untouchable. American driving and car ownership is all about freedom! Freedom with a capital F and maybe all caps. Y'all excuse me if I don't get worked up about the WTC deaths if you don't get worked up about far more of them, especially preventable ones.

I don't get it. That many deaths are important only if other people do it to you, but it's ok if you do it to yourself? Over and over again? Is it any wonder why so many people think that the USA has gone completely bonkers?

That was enough to start a pair of wars that have killed an unknown but large number of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Those people would certainly say that the drone attacks causing some of those deaths are terrorism. But the 168 people that died in Oklahoma City in 1995 has not prompted any response I can notice about eliminating these so called militia groups, or restricting the ability of these nut bars from getting assault weapons. Is it because they're mostly white? Or just another instance of society gone bonkers?

If America really thought that the lives of people were important, they'd do something about all these deaths. They would start restricting firearms like other civilized countries. And yes, I fear Canada, or more particularly Harper, has caught the American disease and is rolling back restrictions on gun ownership. They would do something about those vehicle deaths, like teaching people how to drive. I haven't even talked about heart disease. They would dial back on the military and start trying to be friends with other countries, rather than trying to bully them into doing America's corporate will against what is likely to be their own self interest. Hmm, maybe they've peed too much in that bowl of Wheaties for the next few generations of breakfast eaters.

All these things would start cutting the amounts on the cost side of the overall American budget. Throw in some tax increases and maybe they wouldn't fall over the fiscal cliff that is right there in plain sight. That would certainly make it easier for the rest of us to keep our houses in economic order, or restore them to that condition. But that would take some common sense, and caring about the average person, of which there is apparently not one shred to be had in all Congress, or if Kansas and Texas are anything to go by, in the State legislatures either.

As a followup, contrary to some American beliefs, they aren't the only country to suffer terrorism attacks. The English were subject to decades of terror bombing by the IRA, with an estimated 1800 people dying over about 30 years. Someone else can argue if it's better or worse to have one big attack, or many small ones at random times and many random places. Israel has probably been the most intensive target of terrorist attacks (yes, I know Palestinians would call them something else) of anybody. India had the attacks in Mumbai. The Russians had the Beslan massacre. All are horrible in their own way. It's a one downmanship contest that nobody really wins, and what's left behind are the living who miss their parents, siblings, or children.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I gave it up

Both me and Estela are crying inside. This summer was one of the nicest I can recall, perfect for bike riding, and my back was so cranky for much of it I couldn't do it. Some days I couldn't even think about it. Still, I had hoped it would get enough better to go for a real ride. I gave up on that today. There will still be some nice days, but I think we've just had our last hot days. For those with ears to listen with, winter has announced it's coming.

So tonight I put the trainer tire back on, and set up the trainer. It's all calibrated and read to go. I think I can ride sitting up and work my core, where I'm not comfortable leaning over onto the handlebars for any length of time. Good thing I don't have a tri bike right now. There is still tightness in my low back, and when it comes to pedaling my butt and hams feel weak. Even 85 rpm seems very fast right now.

After about 15 minutes worth of light pedaling to get the trainer calibrated again, and just to see how it feels, I was down on the mat doing some stretches and a bit of core. It's a poor substitute. I wish I knew what I'd done to have this happen, so I'd know not to do it again.

This morning I was in the pool for a nice 30 minute swim, and another 15 minutes water running with Katie. The water felt thick and gooey today. Did 3 100 m intervals on 2 minutes. Dolphin kick and pull. Kind of sloppy overall. I think I really have to start making the effort to get into the pool 3x a week, instead of two.

Part of the problem with streets that run east west is sunlight. Actually, in Calgary, it's the avenues that run east west, and streets that run north south. At certain times of the year, at certain times of the day, driving is very difficult. Even walking has its challenges. Today, as I was walking into the sun, all I could see of the people coming toward me was silhouettes. Here's what it looked like. I'm not sure how the red orange flower petal patter got into the photo. I didn't put them there. I would have liked to have centered the sun between the buildings, but that would mean standing in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Calgary, when the drivers can't see squat. Not a good idea.


Oh, and Linda just reminded me. Only my Facebook friends will have seen this photo.


This is what got served for dessert at the book club meeting we hosted on Sunday, only I also bought more blackberries and raspberries for people to add if they wanted. They did. Other than talking our faces off, drinking wine, eating that tart and other goodies a la Linda, I did nothing all day. We're reading Cloud Atlas next time, but the meeting won't be at our house, so there won't be any fancy tarts. Just pretty good pub grub.

And in my smile for the day, someone put this on my Wall. My inner shark was very amused.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Every 34.1376 hours like clockwork

Who knows where this is going to go? I'm writing late afternoon after a long easy run, a nap, and then drinking coffee while reading the paper. Normally the paper comes first, but today was a bit unusual.

You see, last night was a huge carbo-loading event of food trucks. (Translation, I pigged out.) I don't normally eat that big of a meal in the evening. I didn't sleep particularly well at first, then drifted off. This was not a surprise.

There was once a long time ago, when I was at a turnaround in Empress. Some of my readers are in the Alberta oil and gas industry and know exactly what and where I'm talking about. (Hi Leana, Susi, BJ, Lisa, Mike, Chris, Alan, Graham, Marilyn, Kim, David, Terry, and Milt). For the others, a turnaround is where they shut a whole gas plant down, throw a zillion workers at it, tear some of it apart, add new bits, fix things, and generally get it ready to continue making millions of dollars for the owners. Just turning off the gas stream costs big dollars, every day, hour, and minute the plant is down. Let's just say there is some urgency to get everything done and get it going again.

Empress is well on the way to the middle of nowhere. Here is a screen shot of the plants and surrounding territory. Just as an aside, that little patch of territory has a lot to say about your electricity bill in Alberta during the winter.

That doesn't help you place where it is? Try this one. I can still see the plants, but I know what to look for.

I forget how long the drive is to Medicine Hat, where we were staying, but I think it's about 1.5 hours one way. Once you've done it a few times, it just seems to take forever. As a side note, look for highway 884 on the left side of the map. Talk about desolation. It's ruler straight, flat, and one could easily believe that nothing has changed since the Depression. The big one in the 30's. Highway 41 is a bit better.

Ok, so we've sorted out what a turnaround is, and where it was happening. My boss at the time was an important person, in that his approval was required before flanging up pressure vessels. I worked directly with him, making sure he had the data to make decisions. It made for some long days, even by turnaround standards. How long? 12 hour days, 7 days a week, till our work was done was pretty standard for me, sometimes longer. Lots of it is spent waiting for things to happen.

On this day we got into our hotel about 9pm. Shower, down to the dining room for dinner. Ravenous. Then we wait for a couple of the others to show up so we can talk about some issues. Eventually the hotel told us to order or they'd shut the kitchen. It's about 10 pm now. I had a huge steak and baked potato and salad. Back to my room about 11. What a mistake. I didn't sleep a wink, my tummy wondering why I hated it. Then up early again, for a 7am start at the plant. That was a really long day.

Ever since then I've been leery about eating big heavy meals in the evening. Especially later. I actually plan my life around it a bit, knowing how it affects me. But that burger was so good, and it was only a little after 5!

This morning I did not need to eat breakfast, and didn't. After shambling around a bit wondering if I should try my bike again, I decided on a run. There was just enough crankiness in my back that I didn't want to push it, and Linda was out with some buddies and so unavailable for a pick up if I needed it.

What a pity, since it was a totally perfect day for it. Not a cloud in the sky. About 20 C (68 F) Not much wind. Sigh. So I went for a run instead, a nice long slow one. Skip below to the run details if you want them. I want to make another detour here.

While running I was thinking a lot about life, the universe, and everything. It started with politics, the two American parties holding their conventions, and the news that the Harper government had ended diplomatic relations with Iran, closing our embassy there, and kicking out the remaining Iranian officials here. I was thinking about what I do for a living, how long I might be able to do it, and what retirement looks like for me.

A tall order, and tough to write about in a way that makes sense for readers, since my brain often processes things in several directions at once. That comes in handy when you're trying to subtract one database from another. But I'll try.

America is in a huge economic crisis, mostly of it's own making, and that has a big impact on Canada. Two optional wars. Banking stupidity on an over-the-moon scale. Tax cuts. It goes on. Obama went over the top in promises 4 years ago, and I think he badly underestimated the hatred the Teatards have for him. I don't think anyone could have reasonably expected the total gridlock in Congress. His major fault was to try to work with them as long as he did.

The Republicans have made it clear they want more of the same. I cannot understand why any woman would vote for them. I can't understand why any immigrant, any non-Christian (Mormons excepted) would vote Republican. In fact, I'm completely at a loss to understand why anyone in the 95% would vote Republican. The one percent I understand. Even the top 5% I can understand, since they could be forgiven for thinking they'll join the top rank real soon now, or that enough of the benefits will trickle down to them. But anyone else? Not a hope.

Now, I have a bit of a confession to make. If I had to define my politics by recent American standards I'd be horrified. But let's open the timescale ever so slightly, but still within living memory. In a lot of ways I'd probably call myself an Eisenhower Republican. Here's the 1956 Republican Party platform. Granted, it's a party platform, and hence has lots of bumf in it, but look at the overall emphasis on the good of all Americans.

Now the Harper government and Iran. What Baird said in no way justifies closing the embassy. Much of his laundry list is years old. I think there is something else behind the change, and the public justification are lies. One of my rules in life is that you'll get further and gain a clearer understanding of the situation if you assume that a politician is lying every time he or she opens their mouth. Stuff like this demonstrates just how Harper is stupid. In the world of realpolitik it's important to talk to your friends, and even more important to talk to your enemies. A mid to lesser power like Canada doesn't close off channels of communication for that laundry list. I figure the reason is either stupidity, or trying to please Tel Aviv. I admit that's sort of a have you stopped beating your wife kind of statement. But that's what Harper tries to do to others.

Harper has continued to run his government exactly as he did when it was a minority. Divisive, in your face, unapologetic wedge issues designed to benefit big corporations and the wealthy people that own and run them. The rest of us are just occasionally noisy rabble. Watching how our federal government is behaving around the Enbridge pipeline to the coast tells you everything you need to know about how it does business, and who it does business for.

Which leads to my situation. I happen to work for an oil and gas company these days. In fact, much of my last two decades of work have been in the oil and gas industry. Nova Gas Transmission (now TCPL), Amoco (now BP) and BP, Skystone Engineeering, EOS and IMS, Talisman, and now Penn West.

If you are reading this blog, you depend on my industry for your lifestyle. No quibbling. Anything in your house made of plastic is from petroleum. It's probably heated by gas or oil. Your electricity might have come from a gas powered generating plant. Your car is practically the personification of the petroleum industry. Even your bicycle has it's roots there. A good part of the transportation infrastructure came from the push of the petroleum industry to get people and equipment out to the boonies to drill. Those huge towers in downtown Calgary, and thousands of the jobs in them and the rest of the city/province/country exist because of the petroleum industry. If you want to say I'm in the IT industry rather than oil and gas, then what are you reading this blog on?

All that said, the oil and gas industry is not an unalloyed good. Having such strong wages in one industry makes it more difficult for other industries. I remember listening to the owner of a farm equipment dealership talking about the difficulties of keeping the heavy duty mechanics required to service his products. The petroleum industry can swoop in in offer wages that are double or triple what he can pay.

A person might choose to make less money as a trade off for other things, being able to live near family, or the ocean, or to enjoy small town lifestyle, or many other things. Those choices start getting harder when you can double your wages or more. Scroll back up and look at that map again. I somehow think not many people ride to the Empress plants on their bikes. Nor are there many recreational opportunities nearby unless you really like chasing gophers. Even Medicine Hat, which is a nice little city if you like old people and hot weather, has somewhat limited opportunities.

Then there is the problem when petroleum products are spilled where they don't belong. We are not terribly good at cleaning it up again, though there have been no shortage of opportunities to practice in a variety of climates.

So here I am, earning what I think to be quite acceptable money doing things I like to do. We have managed to live within our means since before we were married. That prudence paid off when the industry here went into one of the inevitable bust cycles. That happens, just as sure as night following day, though the timing is a bit uncertain. I had essentially a year and bit off to work on IMC training and experiment with a retirement lifestyle for a while. This tells me that I'm not ready to not work.

Even though I'm still a bit more creaky than I'd like, I'm still able to get out into the sunshine and go for a run. That's still a mildly amazing thing for me, who didn't use to run until a few years ago. My health is much better than it was. I'm making good money at a job I like, which is not the case with a great many people right now. Life is good, and I'm loving and appreciating it.

I'm just a bit nervous that the politicians will screw it up. Ok, I'm a lot nervous. The economic recovery is a slow slog, with many people not working or underemployed. There are so many ways it could get worse, and both Harper and the Teatards are eager to try them. I'd love to work only part time starting in a few years, but a lot depends on the economy. I know a lot of people about my age or a little older are thinking very seriously about retirement decisions. It's really hard to decide when you have no real idea how much money you'll have because returns on investments suck so badly, if you've even maintained your capital.

The 34.1376 hours like clockwork? I started the blog when I started training for triathlon, trying to get into better shape. Since then I've published well over 1000 posts. On average, they come out every day and half or so. Not quite set your alarm clock and plan your day around them, though I don't mind if you do, but close.

The blog has become a fun thing for me. Some people struggle with what to write, but as you can see, that's not a problem for me. I don't have a zillion readers like SUAR or Steve in a Speedo. I don't care. I write for me, and to some extent some of my regular commenters and readers. And that's what I'm going to continue to do. This one isn't a major milestone or anything, I was just struggling for a title.


Run details start. Stop reading here if you aren't interested in them. Scroll down and comment instead.

The run was really nice. 13 K, 93 minutes. I walked to Anderson, and started easy, intending to keep it easy. I even wore my heart rate monitor for the first time in a long time. Here's the map of where I went. If you can't see it, I touched the bridge in the Weaselhead.

And the graph.

I didn't look at the heart rate zone calculators before the run. I wanted to do what I thought an easy run was, and see where my heart rate went. Overall I'm pretty pleased. the first half of the run it was low 130's, and the last half, the uphill half you'll note, it was typically mid to upper 130's. Peak heart rate was 147 and it came down smartly after that hill. Maybe the run wasn't quite as easy as it should, since the calculators tell me my zone 2 pace is under 131 BPM. Except for the hills, though, I was breathing very easily, and would have been able to chat or breath through my nose.

That elevation graph isn't particularly accurate. It should be a mirror image around the 7 K mark. Still you can see the spike in my time climbing out of South Glenmore. Toward the end my feet and legs were getting a bit tired and sloppy so I stopped at 13K and walked the rest of the way home for an easy cool down, then stretched after. A few hours later my right hip is feeling a bit cranky. I'll go stretch some more when I'm done writing.

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