Thursday, February 28, 2013

Conflagration

Being caught in a conflagration isn't a good thing at all. You are unlikely to survive. Neither is much of anything else, and that includes buildings, roads, and societal norms.

There have been Great Fires in a number of cities, some caused by benign neglect or the authorities losing control, some caused by direct action such as bombing. The cause might be obscure, but then it grows and grows, getting out of human control. It will go on till it runs out of fuel.

The only good thing is that essentially society has a clean slate to rebuild. Sometimes trying to build on to an existing structure or situation is much harder than than it really needs to be. After a conflagration they can clean away the the rubble and get started. Many places have enacted more stringent building codes in an attempt to prevent it from happening again.

Eventually of course, something will happen. There might be a fire, or any number of natural disasters, or a plague. No matter how careful we are, our societies are more complex than we know. Sooner or later, shit will happen, all we can do is prepare, hoping to mitigate the outcome.

On a smaller scale, it happens to people. Sometimes someone will say, "I was on fire out there" meaning they couldn't do anything wrong. That's an amazing experience when it happens. But sometimes it's a catastrophic event that forces them to change their life. The classic example is a middle-aged guy having a heart attack, and then having to change his diet, his level of activities, and sometime his profession.

Pity it took such a major event to force the change, even though all the signs were there for those with the eyes to see. There are many pressures building now. Climate change. The economic crisis. Aging populations. Stephen Harper. Nobody knows how they will be resolved, but history tells they will be resolved one way or another.

This is the last in my series of 28 words. My faithful readers supplied me with the words that became the titles for the February blogs. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I'm reasonably pleased. Hope you liked them. Back to my usual whimsical titles tomorrow.

Today we braved the rain and went to the far end of the island. The big surprise of the day happened at the bus stop. The other day I had chatted briefly with the guy that lives just up the hill from us as I was heading out for a run. He recognized me and pulled into the bus stop to offer us a ride. Turned out he was going the same place as we were, and he very kindly gave us a ride. We had a wonderful chat. Bermudans are so friendly!

The Dockyards was supposed to have a glass blowing demo, but they were having an equipment problem. Maybe it had to do with the rain. I could watch glass blowing for hours. So I watched them doing some lamp work, which isn't as much fun. Not sure if you can see it here.




After we got home I headed out for a run. The rain had stopped, and the sun was trying to shine. It was warm and humid, but nice for me. Warmed up a few minutes running very easy, then picking it up. Ran down to the gate in the railway trail that keeps people from getting into the tank storage farm. Mostly ran easy, and pushed a little harder going uphill. You might think Bermuda is flat, but that would be a mistake. Walked a bit to cool down, and stretched after.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cinnamon

As I was browsing thorough the big blob of text below about the health benefits of cinnamon, I couldn't help but flash on the cinnamon videos. Have you seen them? Someone puts a spoonful of cinnamon into their mouth. A few seconds later they are coughing, crying, spitting (dribbling) it out, and trying to rinse out their mouth. It's pretty funny if you think stupid people are funny.

A couple of those recommendations seem contradictory. Like cinnamon having a regulatory effect on blood sugar, and the one that says cinnamon mixed with honey is good for arthritis. The big block of text below is there for those interested. I just like a dash of cinnamon in a coffee hot chocolate mix, or in cookies, or on pancakes. That sort of thing.

Today is a quiet day. Kind of windy, with intermittent rain. We strolled around St George. I was thinking of running, but haven't yet. I might not.

The rum swizzle at lunch today was much better than the one at the jazz performance. I think the difference is that these were mixed individually, and were a bit more fruity. I could get very used to having such a drink on hot days. Here's a recipe. http://www.swizzleinn.com/ee1.php

I'm about 10% of the way through Perdido Street Station, and loving it. Something about how he uses language to paint a picture just fascinates me. Linda is working on something called Wedding Fever she found on a shelf here. She is happily smiling, and occasionally giggling.

Even though I didn't bring any of the novel with me, I might work on that a bit. I've had some thoughts. Dangerous things, thoughts. Never know what might happen if you open the door to those. The dream I woke up to this morning started with some of the novel characters out skiing. Then a volcano erupted (or something) and they had to get down the hill, and it sort of morphed into seeing and running and jumping over some fantastical architecture.

Cinnamon (pron.: /ˈsɪnəmən/ sin-ə-mən) is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be "true cinnamon", most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as "cassia" to distinguish them from "true cinnamon".[1]
Here are 10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon that may make you want to include it in your diet every day.
Lower Cholesterol
Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Yeast Infection Help
In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
Cancer Prevention
In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
Anti-Clotting
It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
Arthritis Relief
In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
Anti-Bacterial
When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
Brain Health
One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
E. Coli Fighter
Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
High in Nutrients
It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Osteoporosis

Lets say it fast and get it over with. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder. Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. Osteoporosis is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis, because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disease; osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue.

Neither of these are anything that I've spent any time thinking about until very recently. As I ramped up activity levels there was a corresponding increase in the stresses on my body. For a while I was wondering if I'd broken or cracked one of the small bones in my foot. The x-rays showed these neat striations where new bone had been laid down, which is a good thing.

More recently I've had a very creaky lower back and periodically stiff right hip, especially where the top of the hip flexor is anchored. It's taken longer to get sorted than pretty well any other injury. Since I've started to get really regular with pigeon pose, it's been feeling much better.

Plus there is the age thing. Up till now it hasn't been much of an issue, but it seems to be getting a bit closer on some days. The workouts seem to helping hold it off.

Today was a relaxing day. We slept in, then bused into Hamilton. Last year we had a great day touring the botanical gardens, and attending a jazz event there, so we wanted to do that again. Desmond Smith is one of Bermuda's top sax players, and for this does a very nice mellow show. Plus the rum swizzles never hurt. Then into Hamilton itself for a little bit of shopping.

The fun thing was being in shorts and a t shirt, with the locals wearing coats, and complaining about the cold. They cannot conceive of Canadian cold. Then they would never complain about Bermuda weather again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Flibbertigibbet


Since this word refers to a talkative person I think I'll do this blog post totally by voice. There will be minimal that it who knows what this will turn out like. I'm lying in a hammock in the yard of the house that we're renting in Bermuda. I was out for a run a little earlier today around the northern part of the island. It's a beautiful warm and sunny day here today just like a summer day in Calgary. The people here think it's kind of cool though I saw a runner who had long track pants and a longsleeved jacket on. Stopped and chatted with him briefly he told me about some of the runs that he's done around the island.
Last year when I was running I ran along the beach but since I had my phone in my pocket I didn't go into the water. I spent a year regretting that I didn't just put my phone in my shoes and do that. So for today's run I left the phone at home. And yes I ran along the beach and then got myself wet. There's a tiny little beach called athletes cool between tobacco baby and St. Catherine's beach. It faces directly into the wind and it was quite windy. The waves were all a foot higher self which doesn't sound like much but it was I'll spray and windy. I didn't swim. I waited of just far enough so that I was about 50 or waist deep and docked under and got my cell phone my cement. I ducked under and got wet. It was very nice drying off in the sunny warm and then running back to the house. The whole run and swim Clark may be an hour and a half tops I would didn't have a watch maybe only an hour. It was all nice and comfortable not running too hard or too fast.
The salty water tasted just great. Sea level air is warm and not too humid and wonderfully. Running here is paradise compared to Calgary. I'm probably going to run every other day or so depending on exactly what we've got planned. There is stuff we want to do but we don't want to exhaust ourselves chasing around.
Last year when we came by the time we got off the plane waited for her luggage tried to find the cabdriver that was supposed to pick us up and got to the house here it was dark and raining. This year went much better. The flight was a little bit early our bags were just about the first ones out. The lines for the customs office or short. We were out grab the first cab because we knew where we wanted to go and gave him directions. So last year the cab ride was $35 with the tip I think. This year it was $20 with a tip much better.
We walked into town and did a little bit of shopping for some of the staples that we want. Unfortunately the wine section of the store was closed so we had to go back again today can't do with wine. So today we picked up a nice bottle of yellow tail for a whole $12. We're doing a little bit of planning to see what we want to do tomorrow and the rest of the week We have some ideas already of course one doesn't get this far without having at least some ideas.
So I'm all nicely cooled off from my run I did some stretching in the yard. Then browse the Greek Internet with the wireless connection open the yard in a hammock in the warm sunny day maybe maybe I should take a picture and let you see the view that I've got here I'll see if I can do that.




Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flatulence

I somehow suspect this one is going to go over well with the SUAR crowd. (Hi guys, don't be afraid to leave a comment!)

Do you remember that Mythbusters episode, Do pretty girls fart? They made Kari these huge boxer briefs with some sort of detector in them. It took forever with her hanging around the shop. Silly Mythbusters, all they needed to do was have her run. 10 K would probably do it.

Along with laundry, this was something I didn't think about when I started getting more active. Nobody told me, but then, neither did I ask. I'm fortunate that my systems work pretty well, and I didn't anticipate any problems. As to that, given the wide variety of possible outcomes, I've come out of it pretty well, so far.

Triathletes and runners are pretty open about bodily functions. For all but the very shortest of races they have to be taken into account. It is remarkably easy to have a gut issue take over your race and destroy your hopes for finish results. Sometimes it can prevent finishing at all. Sometimes flatulence is greatly to be desired as a way of helping you feel better. The problem is obvious. There you are on your bike, or somewhere on the run, out in public. Even if one is confident that gas will be the only result, it's nearly impossible to relax to the extent needed, and no more, while continuing to move forward. Unless you're lucky enough to be on a bike downhill.

The only people that confident are newbies. Experienced runners have a saying, never trust a fart. Or if you're a political runner junkie, it's trust, but verify. That means a toilet of some description. Which are sometimes in short supply when needed.

If you were designing activities to give people gas, you couldn't do much better than triathlon. You have to get nutrition and hydration into you regularly. You are trying to put out maximal aerobic effort, so it's very easy to get air in with the water. On the bike you are hunched over, working your core, churning whatever you had for breakfast.  Running has an inescapable up and down motion unless you are really really good. Your gut is not working normally, what with all the blood going to the muscles. Even so, the activities often go on long enough for nature to work her course, with all that implies.

And there you are, looking at your watch, doing pace calculations in your head and comparing that to the feelings in your gut, wondering if you'll make it to the finish line. Or to the next porta-potty. Or the next set of bushes. It isn't a fun experience, and I'm so glad that particular day I ran down in Fish Creek (where there are flush toilets) rather than up towards the reservoir (where there is nothing). Three visits in a medium long run is a record for me, one I hope is never broken, or even challenged. There's a reason many runners and triathletes carry a little wet one package tucked into their shoe or a pocket.

There's no polite way to say this, so I'm just going to say it, and let the gas disperse as it will, so to speak. Fart jokes in movies are a cheap sophomoric attempt at humour, and it's only the overall immaturity of the audience that has them continue to appear. To me it's a sure sign the writer doesn't have anything to say, and that a movie isn't really worth seeing. I admit the possibility that a fart joke sight gag could be witty and funny in a movie, and conceivably could be important to the story or character development. ONCE! I'm reasonably sure there isn't a writer that skilled working in Hollywood. Maybe for the BBC.

But just like gratuitous violence or nudity, gratuitous flatulence diminishes a movie. Treating it as a joke makes it more difficult to discuss openly when necessary. There are many people who have medical conditions relating to the bowels, and flatulence is the least of their problems. Triathletes, marathoners, and other endurance events need to discuss such issues, and have provisions for them during races. Some people have been brought up to be ashamed of how their elimination systems work, and are mortified to have to discuss it even with their doctors. Having society treating it as a joke just makes it worse.

It's just another example of where our society has to grow up. Things hidden out of sight will fester and not be treated seriously. Drugs, prostitution, abortions, breast feeding have all been stigmatized at least, and criminalized at worst, and it hasn't made any of the problems any better. It's just made criminals richer. Various societies have ritual drug use, often tied to religious, or other spiritual ceremonies. No society in human history has succeeded in stamping out prostitution, so we might as well talk about it and figure out the best way to deal with it. If we don't treat abortion as a medical procedure, it will be treated as a back alley crime that leads to more expensive medical issues. Just as adults eat with each other in public through the use of polite conventions that most of us learned as children, there is no reason a baby cannot be fed in public with some polite conventions.
No workouts to speak of today. Just lots of sitting.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eviscerate

Sometimes I really like to get into a problem. Tear into it, strewing bits and gobbets everywhere, though often I tag them so I can find them again later. It's a good way to thoroughly take something apart, and then you'll know how it was put together. Or at least you will if you took good notes.

But less commonly it can be used to indicate something essential has been removed. Like the recent Canadian Omnibus bill in relation to Navigable Waterways. My understand was that prior to the bill, navigable meant by canoe. Now take a look at the map of Canada. It's full of lakes, rivers, and all sorts of bodies of water, hundreds of them, maybe thousands. All protected from the depredations of the oil and gas companies because proposing to do anything above, in, or under one of these bodies triggered a review. Often it was by a tame lapdog, but a review none the less.

So what did our government do? They say they toughened the protection, but somehow, accidentally or otherwise, made it applicable to only named entities, and only named a few. A tiny percentage, most of which are in or adjacent to Tory ridings. Go team go! I note that the Elbow River is not one of the protected entities. I guess the fact that Calgary gets half it's drinking water from it isn't relevant. Here's the list, if you're interested.

Sports are generally considered one of the more egalitarian institutions, though some organizations had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. Triathlon still has it's issues, in that there are fewer places for pro women than pro men in the championship race. But for age groupers, while people compete by gender and age group, we all line up and start together. It's a lot of fun to see all different people in the same race, even if some guys get all choked up about being chicked.

Generally, that line up and start together starts well before the race, when it comes time to sign up and pay. Our society is pretty firmly based on first come first served, though there are subtleties, and exceptions. Then the people running one triathlon brand decided to create a line cutting club, and enraged a bunch of people. I blogged about it at the time, and as far as I know they still have not taken my advice about a waiting list. Seems like a no brainer to me.

Lots of my race buddies are busy signing up for races. For them the races are an important motivational tool. Or they like to race. Or it's a chance to hang out with buddies. The races make the training worth it, even if they don't end up on the podium. I'm still not feeling the race love. Maybe after I get back from vacation, and some warm weather running.

After the great run yesterday, my legs stiffened up a little bit, even after the extra stretching session in the evening. I was a bit worried this morning, but once I was up and around it was all good. Did another core and stretching session today. Working on push ups and pigeon and other stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sequestered

This is not about the current bout of insanity in the US Congress.
Neither is it about the Cardinals getting together to select the next Pope. I've done that one in passing. However there are obvious parallels between these two that maybe I'll explore in a later blog. The best possible thing we could hope for is a meteor strike that takes out both institutions in their entirety. That would go a long way towards convincing me to believe in a merciful God.

No, I'm going to talk about triathletes. In particular, Ironman triathletes, and wannabes. The world is a busy place these days. The big time-eater is earning a living to feed the ungrateful mammals that share our homes. I speak of course of children and cats. Plus the odds and ends just to keep things going, like laundry or paying bills, though that is infinitely more convenient now than before. Why, I can remember a time when one had to actually travel to a bank or other physical place, stand in line, and write a cheque or pay in cash. Can you imagine? What a primitive world that was.

Nobody gets enough sleep. We see it in the sales of sleeping pills and coffee. Both constantly whipsawing at each other in some poor human's anatomy. Gradually the impact of them wear off, so you have to take more and more for less and less effect. That doesn't end well.

Then we come to Ironman trainees. There are some very funny Extranormal videos about triathletes. Here's one, just to get you started. The hell of it is, the people that think it's funny, think we're kidding. There are in fact several times I got up at oh dark thirty for a run. It's kind of peaceful running that early, providing you watch out for people heading into work while still asleep. Even now, most of the time I'm in in bed at 9 pm, and have been in bed and asleep much earlier. Getting up at 5:15 every work day might have something to do with that.

There were lots of weeks I spent between 12 and 14 hours training, and I think I had a few weeks more than 18 hours. This is not considered a lot. In fact, many ironman trainees would think I was a bit of a weenie.

At that level of activity, your life gets stripped down to essentials. It was easier for me in that I wasn't working for part of that, but during the peak, I was. Thank you considerate employers. Your life is work, train, sleep, try to take care of anything else that needs doing. I am very fortunate that Linda was kind of amused by the whole thing. I think she enjoyed the time I was out of the house. As I've said before, I don't know how people with kids do it.

Even in daily life you can often tell who is in serious training. Fit people carry themselves differently. They often get through life more quickly. They certainly walk more quickly. They look longingly at the muffin in Sunterra, but don't buy it, though they have the right change ready for coffee. They get on pool deck, get in the water and swim. They get on their bikes and go. They run any time of day or night, whenever they get the time.

There has always been a small group of people that seek out retreats, silent or not. They sequester themselves from the world in search of God, or inner peace, or just to get away from their kids. Or maybe just a little silence. It's hard to find silence these days, so I can sure understand the desire for a silent retreat. I have sometimes thought I'd make a good hermit, if I could find a comfortable cave, with weekly maid service, and reliable internet.

For all they are out in the world, triathletes in serious training are actually not really there. They are in their heads, thinking about their training plan. Wondering how hard to push, if that niggle is something serious, if that known issue will flare up, where the nearest bathroom is, if it's going to rain, (or hail, or snow), why they are or are not in the groove. Many of us are obsessed with numbers; pace, heart rate, cadence, distance, turnover, time, frequency. Maybe, just maybe we might notice how hawt that person that just passed us is, but maybe not.

I hit the sweet spot in the swim today, in a crowded pool. I haven't been 3 in a lane for a while, and the two other guys each swam just a bit faster than me. That meant I was hustling to keep up. We were all doing intervals at the same time. I was pleased with 3 consecutive 100's in 90 seconds on 2 minutes thought the clock was a long way away and I couldn't see it well. In the water 40 minutes.

As I was walking into work I was feeling really good. A little bit tired from the workout, but also feeling strong and invigorated. That's a nice feeling.

It took a while to find the sweet spot during my run this afternoon, but about the 2 K mark I found it. My breathing had started off feeling a little rushed, like I was working too hard. Then I relaxed, and even though my pace didn't really change much, my breathing caught up, and it turned into a really relaxing run. About the 7 K mark things starting getting to be a bit more work, and I could feel that my run was not as efficient as it had been. I'm really pleased with it. Stretched after, then again later in the evening. This is the first time in a very long time that I've had a good run and swim on the same day.




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Canister

Contrary what a certain database used to think, it's not spelled "cannister". That's just the least of it, but things look much better now.

It used to be that things came in canisters, ones you could keep and reuse. I've long since forgotten what originally came in my all-time favourite canister, but I sure know what often comes in it now.

Untitled

Some of you have seen this and know too. Yummy, right?

My grandfather was a bit of a pack rat. He was farming (after a career in logging) when I met him, and in both those professions you never know when you might need something. Some little something that can be used for something else so you can get on with the job at hand. He had this wonderful big shop that had a huge boat in it. We were forbidden from going in or on it, upon pain of worse than death, and oddly enough to those that know me, I have no memory of ever doing so. There was lots else to keep my attention. Lots of jars full of odds and ends, tools, and stuff in general. That shed is still there, but not much else from the old farm is. Life moves on.

How many of you remember small town hardware stores? They were full of canisters of stuff too, for people that needed an odd something to get on with the job at hand. You don't see them any more, I guess it's uneconomic to sell things a few at a time, when it's easier to package them up in plastic, and create a supply chain to fill a super-store with dozens of ever size, except just one of what you need.

I can remember the last time I was in one. I was on a turn around in Fox Creek, and took the scenic route back to the motel. That would have been late 90's sometime. It was just as I remembered them to be, but you could see the winds of change sweeping in. I expect now it's a full sized Totem or Home Hardware, though maybe not a Rona. Or it's closed and people have to drive 45 minutes to Whitecourt. I am unlikely to ever be in one again. I mourn the loss of Ribtors, here in Calgary. It was a classic.

There are many empty canisters in my basement. More are filled with stuff I should probably throw out, but then almost certainly I would need it. That's how it goes. As long as I don't take action about it, there is the potential of creating a small shop down there, neatly organized. That potential has been there nearly 30 years, unrealized in any meaningful way. Yet I'm thinking about being semi-retired in a few years. What is retirement about, if not potential?

Some people retire, and go to sleep. Eventually they die, and sooner or later someone notices. Not me. In some ways I can feel myself waking up, getting more alive, discovering what I'm here for, and enjoying it more and more.

Short workout tonight, ending as soon as the fish and rice was done. Mostly stretching, but some pushups and other core stuff.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Animation

Like every red-blooded boy, I grew up watching animated cartoons on Saturday mornings. I loved them. Even today, I can't help but smile every time I hear Rossini's work, especially the Barber of Seville, because I flash on the Rabbit of Seveille, where Bugs massages lotion into Elmer Fudds head, and they have a race with the ascending barber chairs. You know. Sheer brilliance.

Then along came Jessica Rabbit. No, sorry, I mean Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Taking animation to a new high, even if it doesn't particularly hold up well now. Then came Pixar's lamp short. I saw that at the Plaza theatre, and knew the world was changing when the audience applauded. I remembered the name, and was ready when Red's Dream came. I loved it. I'd never seen animation like it, and neither had anyone else.

Animation well done can make people feel things they never would otherwise. Pixar has gone on to make some of the most memorable films ever. A few minutes into the movie Up, and without any words, most adults can feel the joys and pain of the protagonist. The ones that can't need to be investigated for being a psychopath. Do we even need to talk about "When she loved me?"

 Ok, I'm back now. I had to take a little break. We can invest our emotions into something that we know isn't real. Wall-e doesn't exist, yet everybody was cheering for him during his adventures. There was almost no dialogue in that movie, and there didn't need to be any.

In contrast, I find that too much animation or CGI in a movie that has real people in it makes me care less about the people. When we were watching Salt, there is a scene where the Jolie character is going out a window, walking on a narrow ledge, dodging around an air conditioner. There are many other improbable scenes where you know it had to be fake. There is no way the movie industry is going to risk a million dollar actress. It was well done for what it was, but I didn't care a hoot about any of the characters.

Which animation do you prefer? Old school Looney Tunes? Pixar? What's the animation film you love the most, and why?

It was only after I had finished yesterday's blog that I realized what huge change had happened, and I didn't really even notice at the time. Tree. It felt solid and stable. Meditative even. It was like the lower part of my body was planted in the earth. Fiona has been saying that all along but I thought it was a figure of speech. Now I understand how meditative it could be. In yoga class tonight we did tree. Totally relaxing, and I didn't want to stop at all. I used to really not like tree at all. No balance. The rest of the yoga class tonight was excellent, especially working stiff shoulders.

The swim was the first start on the stiff shoulders. I was trying to get a faster swim stroke going, pushing the pace a bit. Naturally I got a bit out of breath. Warmed up. Tried the faster stroke and messed up my kick and sucked water a few times. Did dolphin kick, and pull, trying the faster stroke. That worked a bit better. Tried 100 m intervals on 2 m, each time 1:35. Backstroke cool down. In the water about 35 minutes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Giggling

There are many ways that people laugh. Some have a big deep belly laugh, some have a quiet little titter, often hidden behind a hand. It's circumstantial too. The best joke in the world is cold pancakes with no syrup if there hasn't been any warmup. After that warmup, once you're into the habit, almost anything is funny. The very earliest punchline I can remember is "Please." I often don't have much of a sense of ha-ha, but I was just a kid and I got it.

It's nice listening to people laugh. Really laugh, not the forced laugh that goes onto laugh tracks. The world needs more people enjoying themselves. However, there is one exception to this, and it's like fingernails down a chalk board, only a thousand times worse. Worse than bad rap.

It's teen aged girls giggling and screeching. I get it on the LRT if I leave work mid afternoon. It's a good thing I don't have duct tape in my bag because I'd use it. It's a horrible noise. I don't know why they do it. It's the most profoundly unattractive noise a person can make. Worse than listening to someone vomit. That usually stops fairly quickly, in the great scheme of things. Teen aged girls go on forever.

Maybe they get into the habit and it's self reinforcing, sort of like the audience for a good comedian. Once you start, it's hard to stop. The secret is to harness that, and get into good habits. At work if you get into the habit of logging in, check email to see if anything is actually on fire, then start working on whatever your current project is, it gets easier to get the work done. After you've got some solid chunk of something done, get a coffee or tea, cruise through your email and trash 90% of it. If you get into the habit of just starting, it becomes much easier to start, even if it's a horrible task. Sooner started is sooner ended. The only exception is if they've announced a re-org, and you have reason to believe you're on the hit list.

Workouts are a good habit. If you're in the habit, your body expects you to do it. One day you'll find yourself putting on the right shoes and clothes for the weather outside when you haven't even consciously thought of it. It's just something you do.

Saving money is one of the best habits you can have. As long as you are paying interest to someone or some organization, they own you. Credit card debt is the worst of all. Move heaven and earth to get out of debt. A few years back I took a bit of a risk on a start up company. It lasted about a year and half, then it was a long time till I was working regularly again. We had money saved, and our house was paid off. Our lifestyle didn't change in the slightest. Oh, I guess we started eating better because we didn't eat out as much.

People ask me how to get into better shape. They usually ask about activities, and gyms, and fees. I tell almost everyone that at their stage, all that stuff is bullshit. Signing up for a gym is a waste of money. Before they start working on getting into better shape, they first have to build the habit of working on getting into better shape. Depending on their current level of activity, I tell them to go for a brisk walk every day for a month, rain or shine. It doesn't really matter how fast or how far. It's best if they do it at the same time of day, but not essential. If they do that, I'll talk to them about what's next. If they don't do that, talking to them about fitness is like talking to a eunuch about sex.

Frankly, I'm at the building the habit again, aiming for a more reasonable level. Tonight I was down for 45 minutes of stretching and core. I got some interesting clunk noises from my hips and low back, and all feels pretty good.

I'm building another habit, a daily one. Any guesses?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Perfusely (sic)

I had to look this one up, since at first I thought it was profusely. Even Mrs. Google wanted to tell me about profusely. After a bit of looking I got it sorted out. Turns out perfusely isn't actually a real word.

Perfuse is:
1. To coat or permeate with liquid, color, or light; suffuse.
2. To pour or diffuse (a liquid, for example) over or through something.

[from Latin perfūsus wetted, from perfundere to pour over, from per- + fundere to pour]
perfusion  n
perfusionist  n
perfusive  adj
perfused  adj


Profusely is 1. Plentiful; copious.
2. Giving or given freely and abundantly; extravagant: were profuse in their compliments.
[Middle English, lavish, from Latin profsus, past participle of profundere, to pour forth : pro-, forth; see pro-1 + fundere, to pour; see gheu- in Indo-European roots.]
pro·fusely adv.
pro·fuseness n.

After a workout we could say I sweated profusely, and perfused my jersey, shorts, and socks. So I learned something today, which makes it worth getting out of bed and all. Which is just about the only thing I've done today. I've had a very lazy day, it being a stat holiday here in Alberta. Lots of reading and web surfing after being up late last night watching DVD's.

For some reason after a day of listening to Pink Martini and Roy Orbison I was in the mood for some Dead Like Me and stayed up late. That was after buying stuff online. In spite of all the blandishments of iTunes, Amazon, Indigo, and others, I don't buy much on line. Linda gets all sorts of stuff that way, but I don't. Till yesterday. I loaded up the iPad with Perdido Street Station, Paperless, A Stroke of Insight (our next book club read), Black & White (a live Orbison album), some Straight no Chaser, and the Traveling Wilburys double album. Call me old school if you must. Oh, and the first Pink Martini album. And an app called Sound Uncovered that looks really neat. I'll have to dig out the good earbuds for that. All in all a big day of buying for me.

Other than being lazy, I haven't done much today, at least so far. There's a few dishes to do, maybe I'll deal with them, then tackle the next word. During our book club meeting we were talking about blogging, and they asked if it was hard to do. I know some bloggers struggle to find something to blog about, but that typically isn't my problem. If anything, there are usually a couple of blog posts jostling each other in my head, struggling to reach my fingers first.

My problem is trying to keep the posts short. Yes, short, even though I know some of them have been imposing walls of text. There was one that got split in half as I was about to post, because it was just so long. I enjoy writing. I enjoy the process of trying to translate what's in my head to something on screen that will give you guys a flavour of that. Some go better than others.

Some people have a problem publishing, since they keep seeing issues, and making tiny correction. Profusely. The best one I ever did I pounded out in about 20 minutes, read again, tweaked a couple tiny things, and published. That was Derp, by the way, which according to one set of stats, not many of you read. I actually quite like that one.

Some I spend more time on, polishing, rearranging, and trying to perfuse the text with my actual thought, while being clear about what I'm not saying as well. It's trickier than it sounds.  

And the (sic) part of the title? From Latin, sic erat scriptum, "thus was it written".




Sunday, February 17, 2013

Burgers

Age has become less relevant lately. It used to be that knowing how old a person was you could assume certain things about them. How healthy they were was a big one, what music they liked, if they had living parents, what they might do for hobbies, and no doubt lots of other stuff. But us boomers and our infatuation with youth have kicked all that aside.

At first I was a bit nervous about sharing an office with someone substantially younger than me. As in, young enough to be my daughter, and depending on exactly when her birthday is, it could almost be in wedlock. But even though she loved music and knows everything about it, and I know almost nothing about music, with tastes that range between antediluvian and crustacean, we got along just fine. We happily argued about stuff and shared a quirky sense of humor. Then her term ended and my new roomie was even younger, just graduating university. We had fun sharing a project, and then I was the one leaving. I'd love to work with either again. Our ages were somehow not relevant to working together on a project, which you'd expect of professionals, but it wasn't a bar to us enjoying each other's company.

I have been very fortunate in being able to substantially increase my fitness starting from blob-itude in my late 40's. Many of the people I've come to know in the tri community are younger than me, but again, that doesn't matter. In the races you're only compared to people in your own age group. We're all trying to do the same thing, go faster. At the spin sessions I was often the oldest person there, though not always. I think that one particular couple is just older than me, and they are widely known in the tri community here as the best looking couple in triathlon. The indefatigable KF has really young taste in music, given that she is hanging around with high school kids. (She is a teacher.) She gets them to make up play lists for spin class, and I have to admit some of their choices are a mystery to me. Though I did like Tetris, and watching her dance on the bike to it was worth the price of admission.

Plus I've "met" many people through my blog, and they could be any age. Sometimes the photos can be deceiving. Blogger meet ups are so much fun, since you've come to know that person at least somewhat through their blog. It isn't like meeting a stranger, it's meeting a friend again, just the first time in person. A couple of my blog buddies on the East Coast were meeting up for coffee today at a particular bakery I've actually been to. Several times been to. I am quietly gnashing my teeth because it's an awesome bakery, in a beautiful part of the world, and I'd have loved to be there. Another posted in quick succession a pic of a chicken mole sauce and a west coast beach pic. I'm weak for both. Then there's a bunch of blogger buddies in the Boulder and Longmont area, all much younger than me. Golly, fitness much in Boulder? I was looking at the times for the Boulder 70.3, and I'd be hard pressed not to be last in my age group. Maybe next year I'll find out.

So how I got this word is that I attended a blogger meet up just before Christmas. I was the only guy there, and my buddy Leana was the only other person that I'd actually met before. It was lots of fun. I started following several new blogs out of that. One of them has recently emigrated to Canada and is waiting for her paperwork and wedding. In the meantime she does lots of workouts and blogs and tweets. She is very funny. There was a tweet exchange when she was back home visiting. She texted her mom to bring home "Five Guys". I couldn't resist. Twittered back "FIVE??!! Your mom?". Her reply nearly had me peeing myself, "burgers!" Only then I remembered there was a burger chain called Five Guys. I knew I had a word.

Burgers have somehow become the go to fast food snack. Originally, hamburger was considered a very  lower class food. It was almost dangerous to eat, given the rampant cost cutting in meat industry of 100 years ago, or so. Along the way unionization started to happen, and federal regulation, so meat packing became a respectable profession. As a side effect, commercial meat became safer to eat. Then Ray Kroc came along and figured out how to industrialize hamburgers. Actual taste was not a consideration. 

A couple hours down the road is a huge meat-packing plant. 4,000 cows a day killed huge. Perhaps you've heard of it, given it was the source of the largest meat recall in Canadian history. I've blogged about it a bit. I'm still not really eating commercial beef. The only exception was at OEB the other day, when I was really in the mood for a burger. It was very, very yummy. I somehow suspect they are not using the lowest cost food supplier, given the quality of their food. Other than that, if I'm eating a burger, it's bison from Olson's High Country bison, and I've BBQd them. 

In Europe there is a bit of a crisis because some of the "beef" has been shown to have horse meat in it. I don't think I've ever eaten horse, and I know many people would be nauseated at the thought. Still, in many of the adventure stories I read as a kid, you knew things were bad when they started talking about eating their horses. Or the dogs, for the arctic expeditions. It was with regret, but needs must.

Just west of town there are these cool looking animal overpasses. They have built actual bridges over highway 1 for the critters, and it turns out they are widely used. Humans are supposed to be the smartest of the animals currently on the planet, and I think it's incumbent on us to try to help the other critters cope with our growing footprint. There was a recent Facebook post about an owl that died because it ate a poisoned mouse. It was brilliantly written and I nearly cried. Poor owl. Yet millions upon millions of creatures die because humans want their space, or don't care about them, or care only because they're good eating. It doesn't matter to them a shark can't swim without their fins. Bastards. I can only hope we are not held to account for the creatures we've killed.

Before the book club today I was on the bike for a solid 1 hour workout, then a good stretching session afterward. I think this doing pigeon and some of the other hip opening yoga moves has been really good for me. I'm not getting the aches in my low back and butt that I was, and my pedal stroke feels smoother and stronger. 

However, I'm still not really feeling the race love. I know lots of people put in the training time because they love to race, and feel competitive. Even in the race for the middle of the age group pack, I'm not what you'd call competitive. I like training for itself. Often the blog writes itself while training, and parts of the novel have as well. 




Saturday, February 16, 2013

Plethora

We are faced with a plenitude -- indeed, a plethora -- of suspects, all of whom have the ability to use black magic against Master Sir James Zwinge, and had the opportunity of doing so.

I've loved that sentence since I first read it many years ago. In fact it's all I can do to read it enough to verify the quote and NOT go on reading the rest, as they discover which magician did the dirty deed, and not through black magic. It's set in one of my favourite SF/Fantasy universes, and I regret the author died so young, so there won't be any more. Still, we have Too Many Magicians, and The Napoli Express, and some others, and the world is a better place for it.

One of the things that's happened to me over the last few years is people asking how I can spend so much time working out, and people sadly admitting to me that they could never do an ironman. Then they give the reasons they can't. Usually just a couple per person, but in aggregate the list is amazing.

In the first case I'm not spending so much time lately. I'm trying to settle in about an hour a day on average, and it's still a bit of a struggle to find the balance. I can feel my old bod is finding it more difficult to recover than even just a couple years ago. Plus I'm determined to have a social life.

Today, for instance we met the couple that is probably our closest friends (as some of you know, we aren't a particularly friendly or social couple) for lunch and a movie. We went to the Kingsland Market and each picked up what we liked. Tragically, La Boulangerie is no longer at the market. I had a quite nice Lamb Souvlaki, and a piece of carrot cake nearly the size of my head that was tres yummy.

Untitled

Then to Canyon Meadows for a $5 movie. Tell me again why Empire Studio 10 charges $13? We watched Hotel Transylvania, and had a perfectly nice time chuckling at it. The theatre was nearly empty. Then here for tea and conversation.

So what wasn't I doing? I wasn't on the bike, or out for a run, though the weather was nice enough to be outside on the bike, with a bit of care. Neither was I in the pool for a swim, nor doing a core workout in the basement.

Of course, we don't do this every day. Most of the time I'm pretty good about getting my workouts done. After all, I don't want to degenerate back into being a blob again, and I do love eating food.

However most people are not good at doing workouts at all. They know, in a theoretical sense, that they should. Sort of like how smokers know they should quit smoking. They have a plethora of reasons why they can't, or shouldn't, or won't. Some people have genuine health issues and could never put out the effort to get into shape for an Oly distance, let alone an IM. Others have complicated lives, and it would take organization and work to be able to make time for the workouts. Some will and some won't. And then some, well, essentially they have a TV habit to keep up with. Pity we will be paying their health care down the road.

One of the things that is really really cool about the triathlete world is the plethora of motivational phrases they have, and the support they give to each other. I think the one I like best is "Pain is temporary, pride is forever." Unless, of course, you really overdo it. The other one I like, and I don't hear it much is, Swim 3.8 K, Ride 180 K, Run 42.2 K; Brag the rest of your life.

Most of them don't thrash around looking for excuses, they get their game on and do it. That sort of attitude is wonderful to be around. It works for all sorts of stuff. Get in, get on with it, get it done. Almost always the fear of it (whatever it is) is worse than the it itself.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Juxtaposition

In case you hadn't noticed, today if February 15. In Calgary.
Does that and this normally go together?

Untitled


Thought not. We had a bit of typical winter earlier on, but the last couple weeks have been warm, just around freezing. Today was almost hot, 10 C (50 F) so even though I'd swum in the morning, and had a big lunch, I had to get out for a run in shorts and SUAR shirt while it was so nice out.

One can discover the most interesting things when you look through a database in detail. Lately I've been working on cleaning up Asset Types and Asset Descriptions. Some things naturally go together. Some things could go together, and you can't decide until you look in more detail, or get more information. Other things don't go together at all. It is not possible, for example, for a Treater to be an asset type Air Receiver. It's just not.

I've been spending a lot of time looking at lists of things, sorted and filtered different ways, trying to find like things, while remembering other odd things I discover along the way. I make lots of notes. Sometimes I don't realize that there are entire separate groups. Just today, for example, I discovered that that the coolers on compressor drivers could be in 3 places, each with some naming drift. One is a group starting with Engine, another with Jacket, and a third with Water. Until I had seen each separately, there was really no way I could get them beside each other to actually compare the names. Gotta love SQL, once you know what to ask for.

This is why I get paid, to sort out issues in databases. If things were perfect, I wouldn't get hired, and I'd have to go find honest work I probably wouldn't enjoy near so much. But really, there are two parts, there is the database itself, and the people that work with the database. Both can be the problem.

The database is the innocent party in this. All it knows is what it's told. It might be badly built, making it easy to enter erroneous data. I have frequently astonished database owners and users with what is in their database. Often they are blissfully ignorant till it comes time to migrate the data, or actually make use of it. They don't believe it till they are shown. The good managers accept what they are shown, and want to make it better. The bad managers don't believe, and when they accept reality, their next step is to discipline the workers involved.

Sometimes the people involved are innocent as well, victimized by processes they had no hand in, and working under instructions to do only as they are told. So when they get a piece of paper with nonsense on it, that nonsense goes into the database. They might not even care much if the paperwork is messy, and will guess at what's on it. This goes along with a lack of knowledge about the assets in the database.  There is a huge difference between a Flare Tank, and a Flash Tank.

Until you work with both together, and figure out some good process, you'll recreate the same problems you had. Many companies carry on in their worlds, thinking they are doing ok. It's only when they start losing money, or look bad in benchmark comparisons to other companies that things have a potential to change.

People are the same. We've carried on with an old something, because it still worked. Then when you suddenly see how much brighter and clearer the new TV's are, and how coarse and dim the old one is, and how inexpensive the new ones are, it gets harder and harder to watch the old one. It doesn't matter it is, the same process happens. We wondered why a food processor wasn't working very well anymore after years of service, and found out by accident that the blade was as dull as used dishwater.

Anybody watching the pool this morning would have had an interesting view in the 50 m pool. In the far several lanes was a swim club. Coach yelling, kids going zoom. Then me and another guy, going swoosh, more or less. Then beside me in the next lane was a guy doing a very slow version of front crawl. There was so many bubbles it was hard to see what he was actually doing. I don't want to be a creep about it, but I love watching fast swimmers to try to figure what they are doing. There are days being really short sighted sucks.

In the water 45 minutes. Much the regular stuff.

Ran this evening, hoping again for a nice easy run, but my legs took me on one of the fastest training runs I've ever had. My feet felt light and fast. Plus running in shorts! How nice is that at this time of year? I got into the groove early, did some strides going up hill, tried to take it easy going downhill, and just in the last little bit my legs started getting sloppy. Long stretch session after, with some core, including plank. This wine tastes really good. All in all a great start to the long weekend.














Thursday, February 14, 2013

Derp

This was the first word I was given, and I had to look it up. Yup. I am in no danger of winning the pop culture section of Jeopardy. I was afraid I was going to have to look up all 28 and be forced to reassess my literacy self esteem. The next bunch reassured me.

It turns out that many of my rants could have had Derp in the title. Many. Most, perhaps. There is so much in the world that I see, in person or on video, that makes me wonder what they could possibly have been thinking. If anything. There are times I wonder if some people have lost all sense of self preservation. Maybe the title could be the subject, a paragraph explaining what happened, and derp being the sole commentary.

But that would be sound bite ranting, and I refuse to submit! One of the things I liked about Mayor Nenshi's campaign was that he didn't apologize for speaking in grown up paragraphs. He demonstrated that at least some of the population can think beyond a sound bite, and can recognize when they aren't being patronized. Mainly because that's what the elites mostly do to the rest of us.

Just like the police are (supposed) to enforce the law in an impartial manner, I'd like it if there was an impartial body devoted to enforcing the truth in politics. That when a politician in a debate lies, a big red game show sign saying LIAR goes on over their heads. More importantly, since they have no shame, their microphone gets cut off. One minute for the first instance, 2 for the second, and so on. The only problem I foresee is that it would very quickly become a very quiet debate. Perhaps that's for the best.

Part of the problem with our democracy is that the bureaucracy has been stifled, and the politicians don't say anything of import. The real stuff is behind the closed doors. What's said in public is sound bites with only the slightest relationship to the truth. That's no way to run a country. Everything that our government does, everything that goes on paper, should be open to the public sooner rather than later. Anything to do with politician expenses and pay should be open to the public in real time.

Too often governments now use the terrorist label to suppress information, and act in extra-judicial ways. It's starting now with (mostly) terrorists or plausible impostors if you don't look to closely, but it will (if it hasn't already) expand to people that embarrass the government, people that disagree with the government or the ministers in the government. Then our whole judicial system will collapse.

There is much whining about victim's rights these days. People think criminals have too many rights. What people now don't understand is that Monarchs used to disappear people they didn't like. Elected or semi-elected governments do the same. The whole structure of our judicial system is to make the police, and indirectly, the government, prove there is a case against the accused, according to established rules, before depriving him or her of their liberty or property. Victims had no rights, because they were not impartial; the state was acting for them.

Those technicalities that let the "guilty" get off scot free? That means someone didn't do their job properly, or they really were innocent, and the victim of police entrapment. As soon as we accept that what "everybody knows" is a suitable court for deciding who's guilty, what you really have is a popularity contest. The Catholic Church did this for centuries, acting as the accuser, the prosecutor, the judge, the punisher, and collector of fines and property forfeitures all in one. No wonder people that disagreed with the Church, or had something the Church wanted, ended up discredited, tortured, and burned.

I don't want to go back to that, but there sure seem to be lots of people that do. They naturally think they'll be the ones in charge. Some of them are in charge now.

I was in charge of my spin workout tonight. Home, change, on the bike. Grrrr. Warmup, feeling strong, and comfortable at higher rpms than what has been comfortable for a while. Pushed some big gears. On the bike an hour, a good solid workout that I'm pleased with.

Stretched and core after. Pushups even. Pigeon. Looking forward to the long weekend. Lots to do. With any luck, none of it will be derp.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Handyman

I once worked with a guy whose last name was Hands. Really. 3 guesses what his nickname was, and the first 2 don't count.

Being a guy, it's natural that I think of myself as a bit of a handyman around the house. So far I haven't done any serious injury to myself, just run of the mill cuts and scrapes and such. Unlike when I was working at the City taking apart a big V 12 gen set. A wrench slipped off a bolt, and I banged my knuckle against the metal. Not hard and I didn't think anything of it because it didn't hurt. Then I realized it was a machined edge, and there was this huge slit in the back of my hand that spurted blood when I flexed it.

After a while I ended up getting stitched up at my doctor's office, back when you could still get into one. He showed me how I had been THAT close to severing the tendon that helps make that finger work, and if that had happened they might as well amputate the finger since there was nothing they could do about it. Not sure if that's still the case now.

It just reminded me of the time I nearly lost a finger to a snowmobile clutch. If there had been a ring on that finger I might have lost it. I've been really careful about my hands ever since. Even when we married, I didn't wear a ring at work. Periodically I needed to put my hands into small spaces, and I feared getting a ring caught. It would certainly get bashed up.

Plus, I hadn't seen a ring I liked. That had to wait till I was on a trip to California, and saw one I really liked by an SCA jeweler. It wasn't terribly expensive as these things go, but it sure seemed like a lot of money then. Later I got Linda a matching ring from the same guy.

10360 or so days ago we moved into this house. Over the years I've done a bunch of work on it:

  • There is a rose coloured tile floor in the back room. Never going to do that again, though I need to fix some grouting.
  • Helped a buddy strip up a hardwood floor, then put it back down in our bedroom. Never going to do that again.
  • Painted. I'd like to never do that again.
  • Drywalling. Never, ever again. 
  • Took out walls and put in new ones. Maybe would do that again, but probably not in this house.
  • Installed toilets. An ordeal I'll probably have to go through again.
  • Uninstalled sinks, and reinstalled new. Would do that again.
  • Sealed up the basement better in the Great Vapour Barrier project some of you might remember. Parts of that might need redoing over the years. It would be fun, almost, except for all the stuff in the way.
  • Installed shelving and storage. An ongoing task.
  • Done some electrical work. Cautiously, very very cautiously.
  • Assembled no end of IKEA stuff. There may be more of that. 
  • Replaced a recessed light pot (not the bulb, the pot itself) which involved many trips up to the attic, each time involving something like a muscle up. No more, please. 
  • Sealed up gaps between shingles and other stuff. Shouldn't have to do that again, warranty with new shingles.
  • Fixed loose siding. Would rather not do that again. 
But more and more, I want to bring someone in and pay them. Just because I CAN do something no longer means I HAVE to. We can afford alternatives that do not involve the risk of much bad language, and me leaving skin behind. My skin is getting more and more precious to me as the years go by.

Wednesday's seem to be a quiet day at the pool, at the time I go in. They had the training pool set up for 50 m, and there was only 3 or 4 people in the pool. I'm always slower on 50 m. 1K 19:45 getting lazy and slow in the middle. Some intervals, not many. Some backstroke, and a bit of thoughtful stroke. Here is where I figured out that my thumb is off in left field, when it should be cuddling my fingers. Worked on that a bit, but it will need constant attention for a while. Soaked in the hot tub for a bit.

I remain baffled by the readership of Retractable. The torrid pace has backed off a bit, but still going strong. Run for Sherry is still pulling in the readers, it should crack the top 10 pretty quick if this continues.

Looking forward to yoga tonight, I hope it's things that will make my tight legs happy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Specificity

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

I do not propose to bore you with a long lecture in statistics. Unless of course, you are deeply interested in the proportion of negatives which are correctly identified in a binary test and the closely related concepts of type I and type II errors. But if you ARE interested, you already know. And if if you AREN'T interested, you've probably already fallen asleep in a stats class, and I don't like my readers falling asleep.

However, one of their illustrations compares the results from a colonoscopy to the fecal occult test, which happens to be one of my experiences from the last little while. Neither was what you'd call fun, unless you're even more perverted than the people doing Ironman.

My first experience hearing about a colonoscopy was a buddy who had Crohn's disease. She was telling me about her various ordeals, and the point of the story was that once she realized half the hospital staff had seen her butt, she had lost all sense of personal modesty. It had never occurred to me that someone would mount a camera on a flexible tube, and push it where the sun don't shine. I was still very young in some ways.

There was a thread on various blogs about locker room behavior. People shocked or uncomfortable by other people walking around in the nude, conversing, showering without drawing the curtain (there are curtains??) and other such behavior. I get a kick out of some of the people changing at the pool by trying to wrap a towel around themselves as they change. I don't get it. It's just skin.

One advantage of the internet is that you can find pictures or descriptions of almost anything that might interest you. This might be partly why we are more open about various diseases. It used to be that cancer was too terrible a word to use in open conversation, except to whisper that someone died of cancer. My buddy was very open about having Crohn's, and what the impact on her life was. It blighted a few conversations, but she didn't care.

Then I was put on the list for it, purely because of my age. Otherwise, there were no indications at all. It took a couple or three years for me to bubble to the top of the waiting list. In the meantime, as I recently found out, some people from the Helios Clinic jumped the queue. That's dirty pool. If our system triages people based on urgency, it's not right to let people jump the line for other reasons, like the ability to pay.

I am very interested in Kurzweil's thoughts about the singularity, and our brains merging with what we now call computers. At the same time we are making astonishing advances in medical technology. We are on the cusp of being able to grow a liver or kidney on demand for a specific person by taking a scraping of skin cells. Imagine that, being able to regrow organs and have them transplanted to replace a failing one. We would live much longer than we do now, perhaps as long as you could keep your brain interested in what's going on. I don't read about anyone talking about replacing brains, just merging our consciousness with machines. I'm old enough that it's going to be a near run thing, to get the technology on line while I'm still young enough to be able to take advantage. You kids reading this, stay healthy, your life is going to be amazing.

In my ongoing road to planet fitness, tonight was a run. It started off a bit clunky. A while ago I'd bought a pair of winter tights, and they turned out to have a seam that irritated a sensitive portion of anatomy. I tried wearing the Under Armour tights under them, and it turned out to be pretty snug. Very snug. I could hardly move my legs. I think those tights have shrunk. So if you're about 5'6" to about 6 feet, no bigger in the legs and butt than I am, and are interested in a pair of winter tights (washed, obviously!) let me know.

Only 5 K, aiming for about a 7 minute pace, and it ended up being a bit quicker. It took almost 2 K to get going, and the last bit was a slog. There is a ton of ice to cross roads and some driveways. It's that flat slippery stuff, with some water on top. Oddly enough, I don't mind running on it, and very rarely slip. Walking is a bit of a different story, but it was ok tonight. Here's the RunMeter graph. I'm not so thrilled with how they do the map now, a square is much better than this wide rectangle. I simply don't believe the elevation numbers. There is no way there is a 25 m hill in the first quarter K. Maybe 2.5 m.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Chuffed

There are lots of times I've been chuffed. It's not everybody that can lose a bunch of weight and go from being a sedentary blob to being able to complete an Ironman. There are times I've done really good stuff at work, or at home, and that feels good.

Then there are times, and I'm sure you'll pardon me if I gloss over them, when I wonder what on earth I was thinking, or sadly consider how it all went caddywhompus. It's fortunate for me that nobody noticed, because I'm not much of a noticeable guy. I don't think anything I've done would make the fail blog, though I suspect my bike crash that produced those horrible dentistry photos might come close. I still wonder what happened. (For my newer readers, search for "graphic followup" or go back to early September 2008 in my archive. I don't want to make it too easy to find, because you have to really want to see these. I did respectably well in a gnarliest injury contest that Steve in a Speedo put on. You've been warned.)

Some of the things I get chuffed about are meaningless to other people. People that don't get blogging, or writing in general, won't get how I feel about the blog. I started almost by accident, because several other people I was buddies with and being coached by the same person started them. The early posts are pretty boring, much of them just workout info, but there are few gems in there. Feedback and comments from readers make me really happy. I often respond to comments, but not always. Depends on how much time I have. Recently I changed my blogging schedule, so I'm being kept a bit busier.

Today's swim was between chuffed and antichuffed. The times were ok, but I wasn't in the groove at all. No water feel, or very little of it. I was feeling a bit out of breath somehow for the pace. The kids swooshing by like sharks in the next lane didn't help. One was doing a flutter kick almost as fast as my pull, and about the same speed as front crawl. In the water about 35 minutes.

Coming out of the pool I stopped to admire the sunrise. Very nice! That put a smile on my face.

Tonight at dance is quickstep, something we've only done a couple of times.

My major bit of curiosity is the readership of my February word posts. Most of them have about 30 readers. I only see hits that go directly to the post, people that come to the blog home page can read it, but they get counted differently, and I'm not sure I trust that number. Since mid-December, when a not quite anti-gun rant went way above normal readership, things have been pretty steady. The Run for Sherry generated about three times the normal readership, I'm assuming from other SUAR fans. That's a bit of a special thing, so I understand that. The huge, puzzling winner in the readership counts is Retractable. It's become the 6th most read post in a matter of a week or so. I have not the slightest idea why. There are no boobs in it. Nothing to attract search engine attention like my all time number one post. No photos, no rant, (a very minor swipe at politicians, so minor it hardly counts) no naughty words, no innuendo, no tags at all in fact. Nobody has told me it's on reddit or something similar. It's a mystery.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Recumbent

There is a guy in my neighborhood that has a yellow recumbent bike. I've seen it any number of times, and one day after a run I got a chance to talk to him. There is a full fairing, and though it wasn't on the bike that day, there is a windscreen that quickly fits on. It's a cheerful yellow, and goes pretty fast, since the wind resistance is almost nothing.

He loves it, and started riding it because his back wouldn't let him be comfortable on a normal road bike. The dirty little secret to these is that most people think they are expensive, but that's only if you haven't looked at top end road and Tri bikes. There is usually a bit of space for cargo as well, though you won't want to go shopping at Costco or anything.

Best of all, there is a Canadian manufacturer, in Ontario. You can look them up here, and see all sorts of their recumbent bikes. I'd love to check these out and take one for a spin. It would be a cool way to commute to work, though I wonder what the parking fees would be. I wonder if a guy my height can fit in one; there are lots of cars I can't get comfortable in.

Recumbent can also apply to being seated in a lean back chair. Comfortable. This is a nice thing to do, and yesterday I spent a bit of time doing that. Not much, it's been a surprisingly busy weekend.

This morning I was up nearly for a hard 60 minute spin session, followed by a bit of stretching and core. Yes, pigeon, and some pushups. Not many.

Then the real workout, going to Costco. I remain astonished how cheap TV's are. It looks like I can get a 52 inch in the space we have. For a few minutes I was thinking of buying one, just to get the suspense over. But I didn't. That part of the store, and every other part was afflicted by geezers. These guys just don't care. They abandon their cart anywhere and go for a walk in some erratic direction to look at something, at random times. The Calgary Farmer's market was a bit better. I love going there. It has such a buzz and energy. I watched one young couple get hooked into the knife place. They were staring at the display open mouthed and panting a little. Granted, they have gorgeous knives, but this seemed a bit over the top. However, they were at the right place; if you want good kitchen knives, this is the best place in Canada to shop. Of course I bought something at Yum.



Cobs bread had two of them (geezers, not knife shops), trying to decide what they wanted, and both of them were trying to pay with nickels and dimes, rummaging through their purses for a few more when it wasn't enough. Me and the guy behind me were almost ready to pay for them, just to move them along. Then they hauled out the plastic. One had a mitt full of 20's in there. Coop was geezer city, but other than one guy determined to be in my way, it was ok. I managed to beat him to the till.

Then other shopping. It was so nice out I had to go for a run after getting home. I started out easy, intending to run an easy pace, but my legs were having none of it. Within a K I was down to about a 6 minute K, then settled into about a 6:20 pace for most of the run. That was pushing my lungs a bit, but my legs were happy with that. The last K was slowing down for a bit of a cool down. Short walk before the run, and a longish walk after. 6 K, 39 minutes altogether. Very pleased!

More stretching after, and some firm rolling on my quads, IT, and hams. This really must become a habit.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Napkin

Consider the humble napkin. Disposable paper, there when you need it, disposed of when you are done needing it. I have my own issues with things built to be disposable, but we need not go there at the moment.

They can be soft and fluffy and flimsy, to coarse and hard. There are advantages to either and anything in between, depending on what you need. There is no end of manufacturers to make them, and marketers to sell them.

They replace cloth, which needed to be laundered. I can remember people carrying around handkerchiefs, and what's more, actually using them. Blowing their nose, carefully folding it after, and putting it back in their pocket. The mind reels.

Most of us have table napkin rings, and haul them out for a fancy dinner party. But did you know their real purpose was to be individual, so you could roll up your napkin after a meal, twist it into your napkin ring, and be assured of getting your napkin back at the next meal? Really. Doing laundry was hard back in the day, so you weren't going to launder a cloth napkin after every meal.

In my wilder dreams, I've been to a world where everything has a scrap of personality. Everything is slightly alive, and the more complex it is, the more alive it is. Those things have a claim on us if they serve us well. There's a reason that IKEA lamp commercial was so popular. How many of you feel slight guilt at throwing away something functional, merely because a newer one exists?

The napkins, of course, are not very alive at all, yet on some level they still remember being trees. Beautiful, complicated, living trees. And we cut them down to make into napkins and other disposable products.

Our society has been all about making things easier for us. I wonder if we've gone too far. It's so easy for us here and now, that we forget how difficult it was not all that long ago. But who really wants to wash out poopy diapers? Nobody I expect, especially my buddy Shannon who is coping with twins while trying to hold his shirt over his nose. Or so he says. I expect he's over it now. Maybe we need to get over making things so easy for ourselves.

The run details are in an earlier post today, Running for Sherry. I should have set up the iPad to take a time lapse of outside. We've had short bits of beautiful warm sunny weather, and near white out conditions. It's a very spring-like day, but anyone that thinks spring is coming any time soon is deluding themselves.

Run for Sherry, a bonus post

This month I had planned on doing a creative writing exercise, taking 28 reader supplied words, and doing a blog a day in Feb, about those words.

However, the run for Sherry deserves it's own post. I don't know Sherry Arnold, but she is the cousin of a blog buddy of mine. Find Shut Up and Run in my blog roll, and it will not be hard to find more info about Sherry. The very short story is that she was snatched off the street a mile from her house, and killed by two drifters.

What's really horrible is that isn't a one off crime. It happens over and over again. Sometimes the woman lives, traumatized by the ordeal. Often she doesn't. In Vancouver BC, there is a continuing story of how Robert Pickton was able to kill dozens of women. The Highway of Tears refers to an 800 Km stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where (officially) 18 women are missing, and some think it could be as high as 43. There is no end to the heartbreaking stories. It doesn't need to be like this.

All these women are somebodies daughter. Many are somebodies sister. Many are mothers. None of them deserve this as a result of doing nothing more than living their daily lives. Yet it will keep happening till we make it stop. All us guys need to start standing up when we hear misogynistic comments from other guys. We need to raise our sons to respect women. We need to start stepping up to the plate to make a safer community.

I'd hoped to get the Calgary SUAR fan club together, but it didn't quite work out for one reason or another. It was Leaha and me today. I've been out for bike rides with Leaha before, but this is the first time we've run. She is still recovering from being hit by a truck a couple years ago.

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We were out for a very easy run in Confederation park. I've driven through it any number of times, on 10th St or 14th St, but I've never actually been in it. I'll have to visit again.


Along the way I had to get a photo of the little stream that runs through the park.
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We ran and walked 6 K nice and easy. Lots of very slippery sections. I'm normally pretty steady on my feet, and I had a bit of a ride one time. It was a beautiful day out for a run. There were several other runners, and even a small pack of cyclists.




Friday, February 8, 2013

Beneficiary

Are you, have you been a beneficiary? Inherited or been given money? Was it a surprise?

It's normally used in a financial context, but I'm looking a wider world here. One of the things that really grinds my gears is people talking about never taking or getting anything from anybody, having to fight for what they have, resenting taxes, seeing restrictions on how to make money or acquire goods as an infringement on their personal freedom. This is essentially a two year old's view of the world.

Those of us living here and now didn't invent this world, the one with cars, and electricity, and hot and cold running water in comfortable homes. Some of you may have been involved in building some of the recent refinements such as complicated web things, and that's fine. All of us started with what was here, passed on by earlier generations. The least we could do is appreciate their gifts.

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton in a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676. The phrase is older than that, though, going back to the 12 century. Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.
(Dicebat Bernardus Carnotensis nos esse quasi nanos, gigantium humeris insidentes, ut possimus plura eis et remotiora videre, non utique proprii visus acumine, aut eminentia corporis, sed quia in altum subvenimur et extollimur magnitudine gigantea.) From Wikipedia.

Some people like to say we are more civilized than earlier generations. In fact, I suspect we are exactly like previous generations; we just have more complicated toys. Unfortunately, the most common use of those more complicated toys is to kill other people. Yes, I fully realize that lots of good stuff has come out of the military developments. But the people giving the orders to fire drone missiles at villages on the other side of the world are exactly like the general who ordered "Kill them all, God will know his own."

I sometimes wonder what we would have accomplished if we hadn't had a millennia long dark age imposed by Christianity. In some ways the Romans were surprisingly modern, and if we could have built on that we might have colonies on other planets now, come to a proper understanding of our own biology and DNA, and just maybe, come to a mature understanding of ourselves in our world. An understanding that other creatures have to live here too, and the way we are living now is very bad for them.

The other half of being a beneficiary, is being a benefactor. Are we collectively being a benefactor to our children? Are you, personally? What, exactly, are you doing to make this a better place for us and our children? Will our great grandchildren think we were giants? I rather think not. They will look at some of our toys, and might like them, or maybe they'll think they are unbelievably primitive, the way the think of dentistry even a few decades ago. I'm pretty sure they'll look at how we despoiled their world and will think the less of us, wondering how we could be so stupid as to foul our own sandbox, especially since we have no way of leaving it.

Up early and on the bike for a short and surprisingly sweaty spin session. I didn't think I was working that hard. Easy gear, low wattage, not breathing hard, but sweating like a stuck pig. No idea why. Then a bit of core and stretching. I found a great spot in my butt to roll on the ball. I was getting these great crunchy clicking noises.

If I wasn't planning on running for Sherry tomorrow, I'd have run this after noon. It was so nice out. Maybe I should have anyway.






Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gobsmacked

There are times I am open-mouthed with astonishment. Even though I consider myself a reasonably well educated person, have experience working all kinds of jobs with all kinds of people, have traveled through lots of Canada, USA, and bits of Europe, there are times I shake my head at things, and marvel that I was there to see it.

There's been a few experiences at work like that lately at the state of data in a particular database. It would take a long time to explain, and only the database geeks among you would really get it. (They know who they are, and will remain anonymous.)

Lately the sunsets have been amazing. I got another set of great shots tonight waiting for Linda to get to the car, and posted one of them on Facebook. No Snapseed, no nothing. Here it is. Pity I hadn't got there a few minutes earlier and had the wit to set up a time lapse move.

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As some of you know, lately I've been struggling with fitness. No injuries, just sick for a while, and low grade nagging stuff that makes me not want to do stuff. The more I think about it, the more amazed I am that I ever got through IMC. I don't dare sign up for that sort of distance again. Right now I'm not even feeling the race love for Oly distance.

But the biggest bit of gobsmacked I get is when I think about our world just now. We have these amazing toys to play with. The iPad and iPhone and their ilk are just one example. So now, just so you all know, I now assume "I am bored" = "I am stupid". If I hear those words, that person gets dropped, and I'll try to avoid them. Stupidity is contagious, sort of like the flu or common cold. You never know when some aspect of stupidity will stealthily invade you and take over. Next thing you know you'll be going to Walmart wearing things most people wouldn't wear on Halloween for a dare.

Of the 28 words that my readers gave me, I had to look up 3 of them, and one of those was because I didn't believe it was spelled that way. Research is ongoing. Caddywhompus was one of them. But today I learned a totally new word, and interesting set of concepts.

I know that a couple of my readers will know what a salt bath heater is. For the rest of you, it's a piece of oilfield equipment, where a flame passes through a firetube. The firetube is immersed in molten salt. Also immersed in the molten salt is a coil where the process fluid picks up heat from the salt bath. They could use many heat mediums to transfer the heat, but salt is good for a bunch of reasons. I just assumed it was regular salt. The word is eutectic. The salt bath is an eutectic solution. I hadn't known that. And subcooling, just figured out some of the fine details there too. Fun!

Even though I've been in the industry for mumblty years now, I'm still learning new stuff, especially when it comes to the exact terms that things should be called, and why. I normally have tried to enforce data  consistency, even if it might not be exactly the right terms, but at least it's what the other people understand. My office roomie is a journeyman parts man, and he's a stickler to have things named correctly. Naturally the databases we've been looking at have been driving him crazy. Who knew there could be about 2 dozen different ways of saying Flare Knockout Drum? And don't get me started on compressor vessels.

Even with McLeod Trail being partially closed between Talisman and my office, I went to the pool anyways. That's the most convenient route, but there are others. I knew it would take time, so I took my time in the pool, and tried to be calm. 45 minutes swimming. 1K 19 minutes, 6x50 on 60, aiming sub 50 seconds. Some dolphin kick and lots of pull. Backstroke to cook down.

Had to laugh as I was getting in. I was arranging to swim up the rope and down the middle with the guy that was already there. He looked a bit dubious and said, "Ok, but I swim pretty quick so I might lap you." Unfortunately for him I'd seen him swimming. Frothy shite all the way. He started right behind me and I lapped him on the 5th length. Given lots of the people at Talisman are rockets in the pool, much faster than me, I can't imagine where he got the idea he was a fast swimmer.

One last bit of gobsmacked. As I was getting out of the pool, one of the snynchro teams was working on a routine. At one point a girl appeared from underwater, and it looked like she ended up being entirely out of the water to wave all her limbs in what is undoubtedly an artistic manner. Pity I wasn't wearing my glasses to properly appreciate it. Anybody that thinks these girls aren't athletes should try it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Antigonish

I like anti words. The contradiction contained within is delightful, forcing us to consider both the meaning and the not-meaning. Gonish is slang for being almost gone, or about to be gone. I'm in this state almost every day. This has actually been one of my big life learnings, that I'm often gonish, and Linda is often antigonish.

We found out about it when we were in the SCA, many years ago. At the time we had a faithful hatchback Honda Accord. An amazing amount of stuff would go in it, providing it was put there in a certain order. A very certain order. Which meant all the things that went into a bigger containers had to be put into it first so it could be put in the car. Which means those things had to be found and prepared, and packed and all that good stuff.

Once all the stuff was in the car we would be off to the event. Sometimes this would be a one evening affair in town, meaning not much stuff to take. Sometimes it would be a long weekend event in BC, or Washington, or even Oregon. To me this is a straightforward exercise. Hoping to be on site for a certain time, planning back through drive time, pack time, preparation time, and all that leads to a tidy schedule, with certain things done in an optimum order leading to us being gone with everything we need and no thrashing about. One could put it into MS project, though I never did (MS Project is the work of the devil).

There are some activities that support those objectives, and activities that do not. According to me back then, time spent on anything that did not support us getting out onto the road was time wasted. It could be done after we got back. After all, the task at hand was to get onto the road. Let's get on with it! Chop chop! as my parents liked to say.

Let us just say that Linda had a different view of it, one leading to a great deal of stress on occasion. Linda took a longer view, knowing that somethings still had to be done and doing them now made better sense overall, even if it slowed down the immediate activity of packing.

Plus there was the emotional needs thing, which I struggle to understand, even though I'm pretty sure my own emotional needs drive me to do things, though I have cleverly dressed them up in logical clothes. Linda needed to leave the house neat and tidy. She needs to not feel rushed, so she can work through the task at hand without feeling rushed.

Some people struggle with being a triathlete. Not the activities, all the stuff around the activities. They struggle to bring everything they need, and boy do we need lots of stuff, some of which is not obvious to outsiders. There are people that have, or could write an entire post about body glide. This is not one of my problems in life. There is a list. Much as I dislike xl when it tries to be helpful, it does lists really well. Complete with little check boxes if you want. Follow the list, pack things, check them off. Tick tick tick. Done. Go. I don't understand why some people have difficulties.

My take on things is that it's better to be early. Once there one can relax. Sometimes that means killing a bit of time in airports, or a coffee shop before an interview. That's fine, I seldom have difficulty amusing myself at such times. If you leave yourself lots of time, you'll catch the green lights. There will be no idiot in front of you in traffic. You'll find a parking space right away, or you'll make the transit connections. As soon as you're running a bit late, life starts to happen, and you get later. As witnessed in the drive to the massage today.

Other people I know run on their own clock. They get there when they get there, and it somehow all works out. I'm not sure what it would be like living with them, but I suspect I'd find it very stressful. This isn't quite Linda's thing. She likes being on time and even a bit early. It's just that, well, I don't quite understand what happens. What I DO know, and took me years to learn, is that trying to help is bad. Very bad. Extremely bad. Bad with a capital B.

So there we are. Antigonish and gonish. Still married after all these years. Which could lead me into a riff about marital happiness, but that's a blog for another time.

Oh, and yes, Antigonish is a nice little town in Nova Scotia. I've been there. My brother in law made us stop for Tim Horton's coffee as we were driving from Cape Breton to Digby.

No swim this morning. Last minute change of plans due to 2 lanes of McLeod Trail being closed, just where I would have to drive it twice. It's tough enough to get out of Talisman, make the U turn, and head north. We bailed. I'll try Thursday though.

Massage was a pummeling again, my legs were so tight. I nearly cried. My whole left ham was a huge knot. I think she considered it a professional challenge. Maybe it was the drive there. I had two Car2Go swiped out from under me as I was walking towards them. I really must start making reservations. Then since I was late I hit every light red. Every pedestrian cross walk, and nearly watched one woman get killed. I'm pretty sure the driver didn't notice her, and was probably wondering why I was stopped. She spasmed just as the car went about 5 feet in front of her, so I don't think she noticed till then.

Yoga was nice. Our class has the most musical Oms. Triangle pose did not love me but the rest was good.


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