Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The mind bending thing today

This is just one side of the fine print.

The other side is essentially similar. We got new credit cards today, and this is the fine print. I was actually reading it to see what it says about insurance and what we heard about the other day with a new high tech way of skimming.

In the bad old days, people worried about "the internet" stealing your credit card data. I took the position it was much easier to plant a skimming machine in a busy bar or restaurant, or a gas station. Now people put their credit card info onto the internet to buy stuff and don't think twice about it.

What I was thinking twice about is a report on the radio last week. Supposedly there is an app that lets a smart phone read one of these RFID or Near Field enabled credit cards while its still in your wallet in your pocket. I didn't really believe it at the time, and after a bit of research (snopes and a few others) it seems that it's one of those things that is technically possible, in a limited sense.

The newer chips are encrypted and don't "broadcast" the card info needed to create a new card or conduct another transaction. Each transaction is unique. And besides, you aren't liable for any unauthorized transactions.

It turns out the credit card I've been carrying around for the last 3 years has had this technology. So for me, nothing has changed. I don't think I'll being going to buy a Kevlar wallet embedded with silver oxide, or even wrapping the card in tinfoil.

Why is it always tinfoil?

I did not run. Though I'm thinking about it.
I did not bike. I wasn't thinking about it.
I did not swim. That was yesterday, and maybe tomorrow.
I did not core. I'm feeling lazy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The snazzy flip flops

There was actually discussion at the pool as I was finishing up and getting out. Several people commented on my flip flops.

The one lifeguard had seen them several times, and was dying to know where I got them. Tri It. The website indicates they are in stock. I've been using them a few weeks now and they are settling onto my   feet. I'm not much of a sandals or flip flop wearer so I'm still getting used to them.

Before all that chat, I had a solid 40 minute swim. My fitness is coming back so even in the 50 m pool I'm not slowing down so much. I'm easily 30 seconds faster over 500 m than I was even a couple weeks ago. Water ran after, even though there was no Katie.

My legs are much less cranky. My mobility is better, and my left knee is much happier. Even dance class tonight, Swing, Quick Step, and Waltz didn't bother them much, and that's a killer combo for knees.

That photo app I tried is lots of fun. It's called Fotopedia.  It's sort of a cross between a blog and photo journalism, and it's tied into wikipedia somehow. There are some stunning photos. You can see my experiment with putting up some photos I had of The Bow and a few other buildings downtown.  I got part way through before realizing that it's much better to pick out the photos I want on the iPad, tweak them in Snapseed, save them to the local camera roll, then select them from there in Fotopedia.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A process mess, revisited

What's wrong with this picture? It's at an aid station for the Police Half.



First, you might want to read this little rant about aid stations, from last year's race. Nothing really has changed. This year might have been worse in a couple respects. Look at that photo above again.

There were lots of people trying to be helpful, wanting to throw their cups in the garbage. That's nice. I heard many apologies for missing. That's nice too. People were almost tripping over the curbs to get close enough to hit the targets. That's not so nice. I'm just happy nobody tripped. Several people missed, then went back against the flow of traffic to get it and put it in the garbage, even though a volunteer was standing right there, dealing with it.

Even worse, people congregated around the containers. Serially. In parallel. Groups, even. Taking up running space. Just off to the right is a pole in the middle of the path. One guy nearly left his family jewels on it, trying to dodge around someone, who was trying to dodge around people just standing there. Lots of people were running with (apparently) no idea there was anyone else around them.

I'm glad I wasn't racing through there. There was a nasty cold wind much of the time I was there. At least I got a nice photo of the reservoir.


The rest of the day was pretty quiet. Playing with a new photo app, meaning I'm waiting for nearly 5000 photos to load onto the iPad.  45 minutes on the bike feeling pretty good. Core and stretching after. My legs are beginning to feel much better. BBQ some tenderloin in a Linda marinade. As always, very yummy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Front yard frenzy

There was a teaser a few weeks ago about the upcoming activities in our front yard. Today was the first of what will likely be several days. At least. Maybe more. Just in the front. The back yard is a whole other world. The use of motorized equipment is being seriously contemplated.

Mostly these are before and after photos. I knew this would be tough, but I was in the mood for it. I was out there at 8:30. By the numbers:

  • 2 cups of coffee, with a good breakfast before starting
  • 2 slivers (an amazingly low total)
  • 1 blister
  • 2 cat supervisors
  • 5 bags of yard waste, only 3 of which fit into our black garbage bin
  • 2 more bags containing cedar chips to be recycled and reused, along with other gunge
  • 20 photos taken during the day, some of which were tweaked in Snapseed and appear below
  • 2 litres of water consumed, and 1 snack, over a 4 hour period
  • 2 chats with neighbours
This photo does not do justice to how bad it looked. 

You can see some of the bits of wood that used to be that left hand set of boxes. A long time ago they used to be 2x14. The widest piece of wood left un-rotted is about 3 inches.

Of course I couldn't be trusted to do such an important job on my own. I had two volunteer supervisors.  Curtis in the front window, and Celina in the side basement window as I was doing that part of the yard.


You might remember this photo from a couple weeks ago, showing another view of how bad the front was. From a different angle, here is some of the thatch after being scraped off.




This is our mint plant. Although they are supposed to spread, this one seems happy here. I trim it from this

To this every year.

The front beds have some plants left at the end closest to me, but they are pretty well choked out by grass and weeds. The rest of the beds had a nice layer of cedar chips at one time, but the weeds have been getting the upper hand.

All I've done is taken out the chips to be washed and reused, and taken off the top layer of loose stuff. Later will come the actual digging and removal of unwanted plant material. Much later will come the addition of some fresh soil and new plants. In the corner of the box, inside the rounded stone border, lives a day lily. It's pretty happy there, but it's under siege from the weeds as well.

I double raked the entire front lawn, first with a garden rake to get the loose stuff, then the toothy rake, as I think of it, to deal with the thatch. By the time I started the side yard, the wind had begun to gust so I didn't get to the thatch raking there. It ended up being a pretty windy day so I'm glad I got an early start.

Overall this is a really good workout. The raking is a cardio, muscular, and stretching workout. Lots of kneeling and squats to work on the boxes. Bends to pick up garbage. My legs feel pretty good out of this.

Dealing with loose plant material in the wind wasn't much fun anymore. I changed tack, and started on the barbecue. Normally I clean it every time I fill the tank, but I missed last time. It was really, really cold then, and being outside working on cold metal was not to be thought of. So it was pretty gucky. It's a small price to pay for rack of lamb, bison burgers, lamb burgers, various cuts of chicken, many in specialty Linda-made marinades.

A remarkably short time later it was looking like this. Much better.

The secret? 

Stupid photo rotation issues. These are a special fibre that for all intents and purposes sucks the guck right off the barbecue. Rinse a few times and it keeps on working. Afterward a wash in some dish soap and it's good to go for the next time. A clean barbecue is a happy barbecue. An added benefit to washing the cloth is that the micro fibers also wash everything out of the creases in your hands. Other than a few chipped nails and a blister, you'd never know I'd been doing yard work today.

During the afternoon quiet period I signed up for fotopedia. I've browsed some of the stories and enjoyed some amazing photos. Maybe next week I'll try my hand at a story of my own. Of course I'll tell you about it.

In a little while we leave to have dinner with friends. Looking forward!

 


Friday, April 26, 2013

A Frenzy

No swim this morning. A Friday swim is a sometimes thing, depending on complicated scheduling.

I zoomed over to the Food Truck Frenzy in the East Village in a Car2Go. This is a neat car loan operation. Here's two parking images, before I left, and after I got there. I was wondering if a whole herd of Car2Go would migrate over from the vast herd in the downtown core. I've seen some time lapse movies like this, and it's kind of interesting. It's very popular here. By driving over I won an hour of drive time!

I got there just as they were getting started. It was a bit cloudy, and there was a huge parade downtown, so that might have accounted for the slow start. That huge parade made for brutal traffic, I'll tell you.

Here's some photos. After looking over the various menus I settled on this. The Perogy Boyz were a very close second. I might have fallen for the Steak Out Truck had it been there.


I got cheesy waffle with southern fried chicken, great cole slaw, and good fries. The chicken was moist, and tender, with a crunchy coating. Linda got something from the Naaco truck. I had a taste of it, and really must get something from them this year.

Of course we had dessert, from The Purple Pastry Chef. Normally we go with Fiasco Gelato. I ended up with lots of chocolate in the Mo.

Things were still manageable when I took this, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn this area was full of people by noon. Lots of people here love the food trucks. I just found out there are 40 of them, listed here, with links to almost all of them. Gee, I wonder what it would take to try to order from all of them over the course of a summer? Hmmmm.

There's a new pedestrian bridge going in just behind where I took this shot. You can see the trucks, with the downtown core in the background. Just off to the left is that rarest of sights in the East Village, the yellow Crane Bird. Condo construction has started. 

This is from a few days ago, just another sunrise from our house.

 My legs are feeling so much less cranky I was on the bike for about a half hour, doing an easy warm up, trying to spin evenly. There were a few interesting twitches and prickles in various parts of my legs, but I stopped when I got a little pinprick of almost pain in my knee. Then did some stretching and core. So far so good with the leg treatments. I think I'll still give it a few days before I try running, and will start that very easy.

Should be a busy weekend. BBQ cleaning is on the agenda, using some really cool e-cloth. I'll document for you. Some yard work. Dinner with friends. Sunday I'll go up the street and cheer the Police Half Marathon. I know a couple people in it, so that should be fun. Then I don't know, more yard work, I guess, if I'm up to it. Maybe BBQ something on what should be a clean BBQ.

Winter is giving us a break this weekend! Yay us!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tinnitus, IMS, and Food Trucks

Today the mail brought a brochure about hearing solutions. We get more junk mail now that we changed mailboxes, and the sign saying "if it doesn't have our name and address on it, shove it where the sun don't shine. If you don't, I will." is gone now.

As some of you know I have tinnitus in both ears. To some people this is a devastating thing that has a huge impact on their life. I tend to think of it as a bit of hiss on the soundtrack of my life and mostly it doesn't bug me. I even remember when it started. I was at a work event at the Crowfoot Schanks. It was loud. It was really, really loud. So loud I didn't enjoy the evening at all.

The next day my ears were ringing a bit, and I didn't think anything of it. It had happened before after rock concerts and such. After a while I realized it hadn't gone away, and I sought medical advice. I was surprised to learn there is no cure, only mitigation strategies. That was nearly 20 years ago.

So I saw the brochure and was thinking there had been some advances in the field. There have been, but it still seems this isn't a cure. What I see is a fancy hearing aid that helps you ignore the tinnitus sound by boosting other sound. I can already do that by listening to music via earphones. "What's that you say, I can't hear you, speak up sonny-boy!" But theirs boosts other sound as well.

So maybe this something I should check out. Ever since it's started I have more difficulty in pulling specific sounds out of background noise and it's been getting worse lately. So unless that sound system is excellent quality, and the people around me are quiet, I'm not hearing that presentation. Parties are a babble of noise that I try to ignore, and the person I'm talking to has to be fairly close and speaking up a bit. Linda has long accused me of being selectively deaf in the frequency of her voice, and I suspect my mom has some opinions on that as well. The various spin sessions are mostly following along what the others do, and trying to reconstruct it from the occasional word I can make out. Phone conversations with a noisy background are nearly impossible.

The worst is two separate conversations going on during a business meeting. I am death on that if I'm running the meeting. If I'm not running it, I make a careful note about who is doing it, and deduct respect points, with a double deduction for the supposed chair. Then I tune out till the real meeting starts again. You only think I'm taking notes on my iPad.

One technology that has advanced is muscle electro-stim. It used to be sharp jabbing little pointy sparks of electricity. Today was more like the vibration from a foot fixer, interspersed with what felt like someone grabbing my butt and giving it a good shake. It was wonderful.

But let me start at the beginning. The assessment was pretty standard, with the therapist taking good notes and asking good questions. He did some mobility stuff, and assured me there was nothing wrong with my knees. He is working on the assumption it's a muscle thing, given all the tightness he found. We started with heat pads to relax.

Then the hard bit. IMS. Intra-Muscular-Stimulation. Close your eyes and skip this paragraph is acupuncture makes you queasy. This is acupuncture on steroids. I didn't see the needles, but they go deeper, looking for tight spots. Lots of needles. With some massage around them. The one just above my left knee was breathe to the pain painful. The others were more of an ache. He said it would feel like I've had a good workout, and he's not kidding. My right calf is feeling tighter than it was, but in a better way. Before it was locked up and numb, so my heel and achilles were taking the brunt of it. Now the calf muscle is waking up. I'm almost afraid to look for bruising when I take my pants off to go to bed.

Then the electro-stim on my butt and outside of left thigh, and my right calf. All good stuff, and will go back in a week to see what's what.

Last thing. Friday is Food Truck Frenzy in the East Village at 11am. I'm going to take a long lunch, and go. Any others? Tweet, or Facebook comment, or comment here, or email, and see if we can meet up.

Comment anyway, just because I like comments. Ever had the new electro-stim? The IMS? Tinnitus?













Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Aggressive cat cuddling

One of the reasons I like cats more than dogs is because you have to work to earn a cat's affection and respect. They have their own way of looking at the world. Naturally they see themselves as the centre of it, and all attention is just what is due them.

Dogs just give it up. Dogs are all about "oh yeah, my favourite thing!" for everything that happens to them.

The exception for cats is when they don't want it. I love cuddling them then, combing them, scritching them, paying attention to them. It's ok for a minute, then they start getting grumpy. That's when it gets to be fun. It makes my day to get a grumpy cat to purr against it's will. Occasionally when I want to nap, I will capture a cat to nap with. Sometimes that works, but often not.

I still haven't totally figured out the cat dominance here. Naturally, I know I am the least dominant mammal in the house, that much is clear. But Curtis and Celina seem to take turns being dominant, or they aren't fussed about it, or they're doing it deliberately to play with our heads. Cats like to do that. For such a little cat, Celina can be very pushy.

A long time ago we used to have a cat that liked to wake us up early by jumping on us, or tickling our faces with a paw or tail, or meowing at us. The cure was simple. Unpredictability. When the cat woke me up, there was a small menu of choices. I would tuck him under the covers and firmly cuddle him while breathing in his face, or try to eat his head, and worst of all, I'd lick his face several times. He'd be gone, and quiet, until we got up. The one thing that never happened was getting food. After a while he would hop onto the bed, and snuggle up next to us, usually not within reach of my arms. We could live with that, although he got to be a bit of a pig about the bed. It's hard to move a 20 pound cat.

Yoga was brutal tonight. Often we don't want to go, and we leave happy we went. Tonight I was looking forward to it, and was regretting it by the end of the night. I was so not in a yoga mood. The room was 25 C, and it was right in my face. My knees were feeling weak and unstable. Our teacher had dreamed up this really nice flow that I would have enjoyed in other circumstances, but I bailed out of large chunks of it. At least there was plank in it, though my knees didn't like that either.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Headlights and sunglasses

It's that time of year again. Driving to work as the sun is just above the horizon. This morning I wanted to stop and take some photos because it was absolutely spectacular. Just no place to stop and get a good view.

In Calgary the streets run north south, and the avenues run east west. When I say that, I mean almost exactly. Then there are on and off ramps, corners, and curves so that at some times of the year sunglasses are a must, even at dawn. In the shadows it's still dark enough that people have their headlights on.

So this morning I'm driving north on 14th street. There's a sound wall to my right. Everybody has their lights on. Most aren't wearing sunglasses, it's a bit dark for that. Yet at the corner for Southland I saw the guy in front of me put them on before he signaled. I had mine on turning onto Glenmore, and good thing too. The sun is right there. There are times even sunglasses aren't enough, and people shade their eyes or pull down the visor.

There have been accidents on the Deerfoot bridge attributed to the glare of sunlight. Going north, the road swoops around to the right heading uphill over the river, then left and back downhill again. There are several opportunities to get dazzled, and it's a bad spot for putting on your brakes at the best of times. There is lots of traffic and most of it wants to go too fast. What makes it worse is that the dazzle happens at different times of the day, and different times of the year, compared to the avenues, because of how it is oriented.

There are times when Anderson road lines up exactly with the setting sun. It's really hard to see the traffic lights, and everybody has their headlights on. I try to avoid that particular time, but I'm not willing to give up yoga class. I can't wait for someone to invent an adaptive filter technology that knows where the light is coming from, and where the driver's eyes are, and selectively dims a small portion of the windshield. They would make a killing in Calgary.

I haven't mentioned my legs lately. Still cranky, some days better, some days less so. Assessment on Thursday. I was down stretching today, and got some interesting clunks out of my hips. As I try to roll forward on my right hip, it's like there is a huge lump of something in my butt that is preventing me from rolling, and then if I get past it, there is a huge clunk, and something inside my hip settles. I hope I haven't deformed the bone joint or socket. Other days it feels like there is a tight band around my thigh, just above my knee.

Added in some stability plank and pushups. Lots of twists and bicycle. Trying to relax in forward stretch and downward dog. Trying not to squash a cat as I thrash around.

It snowed today, just a little bit. I thought you'd want to know, so you feel better about your weather. Except for where it's worse, and you're gnashing your teeth at "just a little bit."

Even with cranky legs that feel just a bit unsteady sometimes, I'm still walking faster than most of the people on the sidewalks. There was this cute couple that took up most of the sidewalk as they lovey-dovied along, wobbling back and forth in time with my trying to pass them. Eventually I brushed past the one on the left, and walked on the road to get around them. Then there was the herd around the Tower today. Milling in a particularly bovine way out of the building and being undecided about crossing the street. I waded through, trying not to step on anyone.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The hint of spring

I thought it was going to be nice today, and only figured out walking into the pool that it was pretty darn cold out for April! It just about convinced me I should have stayed in bed. I sure wanted to. The rest of the day turned out pretty nice, but I've no doubt there is still some snow coming.

Decent 30 minute swim in a crowded lane. By the clock I was making my times, but it felt slow, then fell apart at the end.

Dance this evening was a bit chaotic. At the best of times it's hard to hear the instructor, what with the echoes and everybody else still talking, and tonight was brutal. Essentially I didn't hear anything clearly all evening. Not a big fan of Pase Doble (spelling?). Lots of taps where you put your weight back on the tapping foot, which is weird. Dancing is sure hard on my knees these days.

Stretched and rollered after dance, including some stability plank. It's probably good for me, but my knees didn't like it.

Supposedly the RCMP busted a terrorist plot to blow up a VIA rail train. The reputation of the RCMP is such that if they pointed to the sun near the horizon, and said it was dawn, I'd get out a compass. I wouldn't be the least surprised to find it's a an entrapment plot.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

no photos of the secret guests

I loved this morning. The early sunlight was such that I was scuttling outside to get some photos. Very interesting light, even if things didn't quite work out the way I liked. Here's a couple for your enjoyment.

This was first thing. I saw the orangey red glow, and got all excited for the possibility of a brilliant sunrise. However it quickly faded to gray. Later on there were some pretty dramatic clouds, but I was busy.

 Just as I was going in I thought the sun behind the evergreen might look pretty nice. I was hoping for a bit more colour.

Every now and then when the light is right, the houses on the opposite side of the green space can look remarkable. This isn't the best example, but it's pretty good. Once I caught the light coming almost perfectly horizontal, so the grass was dark, but the houses were brilliantly light. That was amazing.

After being outside for the photos I settled in with a coffee and tried to write. Some days it's difficult, and writer's block is the least of the problems. There's an iPad under there, somewhere.

Here's a more flattering shot of him.

Amelia, our last cat, was terrified of the vacuum cleaner. As soon as it got into the same room as her, she would panic and bolt for an exit. Curtis and Celina are kind of blase about it. In preparation for our secret guests I ran the vacuum around, chasing dust bunnies. Curtis let me vacuum to within an inch of his paws on the cat condo. I put the vacuum down for a minute while moving things around, and Celina was right there checking it out.


We had a wonderful time with our secret guests. BBQ bison burgers, and lamb burgers, with a Yum Bakery chocolate dessert. Lots of chat, a good time had by all. Sorry, no hints, or they'd have to kill me.

Clean up took no time at all, and we settled into a quiet evening. This wine is about 6 months in the bottle and coming along nicely.

As always, the weekend disappeared in a rush. I'm not sure why the days are going by so quickly. It used to be the work week took forever, and the weekend went quick. Now it seems like I look up and it's time to go home from work, and the week is over before I know it.

Lots of blog buddies are at various training camps, and race results are starting to come in. I was discussing racing this summer with our secret guests, and I'm still not feeling the love. I think it's my cranky legs, and once they feel better, I'll feel more like racing. I hope so.

In the meantime, at least the swim is going well. Maybe there is a proto relay team looking for a semi-respectable swimmer?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

So much for that idea, and Boston

Sometimes when stabilizing wine you get an interesting snowfall effect. We've been getting that outside here and we're all sick of it, but in a wine carboy it's really cool. After I stirred, it looked like it would be good, so I set up the camera. If you think of rasberry jam, and were prepared to wait decades for it to settle, that's what you'd see, only in 30 seconds or so. I consider this only marginally interesting, so it will only go up if someone asks for it.

That put me in the mood for it, so I started the iPad watching the snow. I was hoping for a nice snow build up effect, but it stopped. I let it run, and run, and run, hoping it would start again. It didn't so I stopped.

Then I went down for a spin session, and when I came up it had started snowing again. Now it's snowing quite hard, but the light is beginning to fade, so it wouldn't turn out anyways. Sigh. Winter has to end sooner or later. Another month ought to do it.

The spin session was not-sigh. Given what I've been going through with cranky legs I'm pretty pleased. When I got up this morning after a good night's sleep, my legs felt quite a bit better. Curtis supervised me through a morning core session, including some stability plank.



Later this afternoon I was on the bike, feeling quite a bit stronger. After a good warmup the main set had me pedaling about 100 rpm, and just over 200 watts for a minute at a time, with some easy spin in between. I didn't count, but the timing says I did 6 of them. This felt pretty good, though by the end I was beginning to feel it in my legs a bit. Good stretch session after, with a bit of timed plank, 105 seconds.

I've been thinking about Boston a lot this week, and it's still a bit chaotic so I'm going to write about it.

My first sympathies are for the wounded and the families of all the victims. It was a horrible event for all involved. Many of my friends are runners; I know people that have run Boston or would like to. There is a particular poignancy when you think, "that could have been me."

Next, while I love me a good conspiracy theory, I'm not one of those Infowars nut bars, and that's being polite. There are many events in which the American government emerges with red hands, but I'm pretty sure this isn't one of them. If it was an FBI entrapment plot, they'd have been reeled in well before-hand. How do we know? It's happened lots of times before. If it was a plot by some nefarious overseas terrorist group, the death count would have been far larger, due to the greater expertise involved. No, this was a couple of home-grown kids doing something crazy, for some yet unknown reason.

This is going to be sensitive for some people, so take a deep breath. Three people dead, so far, and some dozens losing limbs, and many others with various injuries. It's horrible, no denying it, but not easily preventable, at least not in the semi-free and semi-open society we have now.

In comparison, on average, about 90 people every day, day in, day out, die on American roads. Killed by drunks or those impaired by other intoxicants, speeding, being distracted at just the wrong time, over estimating their skills at coping with bad weather, or just plain stupidity. On top of those killed, there is some larger number of people injured, and all those families that have to cope with the fallout.

Here's the kicker. Almost every single one of those daily 90 auto related deaths and associated injuries is preventable. They didn't need to happen. Where is the outrage? Why don't we care that in a year, we lose a good sized town's worth of people? From an economic point of view, we lose the talents and potential of those people, we lose the injured while they recover, we lose the medical talents of the various medical staff that have to treat them, since the time spent treating these preventable injuries is time that is taken from other medical work. We lose the time taken off work by other workers to care for them. Businesses lose, and the overall economy loses. I'm going to slap anyone that brings up the economic gain of auto body shops, and replacing +30,000 cars a year.

Even more important is the loss to the families. Kids that lose their mom or dad. Parents that lose their children. Families that are ripped apart by a preventable avoidable death.

So yes, I mourn those three that died at the Boston Marathon finish line, and the other cop that was killed tracking down the bombers. I mourn the wounded. It's particularly cruel to see runners losing their legs. I anticipate mourning these people all over again as they get fucked over by the expletive deleted medical insurance companies. Those ghouls should be put out of business. The media won't cover that story.

But I also mourn those 90 daily premature deaths from auto collisions, and statistically there are probably about 9 a day in Canada. I mourn the many killed in gun related violence that is nearly as preventable. If that isn't enough, lets think about all the people killed by America over the past few years, mainly in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, but lots of other places too.  Economic sanctions, direct military action, drone strikes, and a bit of good old fashioned torture on the side. Nobody knows how many have been killed and wounded.

And yes, let's not forget about the American side of these wars, there are lots of service people killed and wounded, to say nothing of those raped or assaulted by their so-called comrades in arms. There are lots of patriotic noises about that, that these people were serving their country. But really they are patsies supporting corporations that make a lot of money out of these conflicts.

All those preventable deaths. There are days I think of the Roman bread and circuses put on by the emperors to distract the populace from the facts of life, mainly that the wealthy didn't pay tax, and brought in slaves to do the work, so there was no work for what we would now call the middle class, which created a gradually failing economy. Eventually the bread and circuses weren't enough, and there were uprisings. Or a horde would sweep into town and sack the place because they couldn't pay the military to keep them out.

The events after Boston certainly qualify as a distracting circus. All the disgusting politicians trying to spin the events to support their own immoral ideology. The people listening to police scanners and tweeting the info. The various police agencies under enormous pressure to find the bad guy(s) RIGHT FUCKING NOW, and having to sort through an enormity of clues. Are these two REALLY the perps, acting by themselves, or are their others supporting them? The media chasing the story, desperate for a scoop, desperate to fill the air time. All of it lapped up by a population eager to be entertained, conditioned to expecting a happy ending in one hour less commercials.

Justin Trudeau got into a bit of trouble over the words "root cause". He didn't phrase himself well, but really, if you want to stop the bombings and the street shootings, you have to look at what the root causes of the violence are. You have to hold a mirror up to your society and look at it warts and all. You have to be willing to discuss the issues like grown ups, and make changes.

The first problem in the USA is that it's being governed by petulant children, and Canada isn't much better at the moment. That makes things difficult, but the brutal fact is that the bombings and shootings and random violence will continue. One can make a bomb out of household materials. The USA is awash in guns, and people willing to sell them to anyone who asks, even if they are foaming at the mouth. Don't even get me started about the recent background check vote.

The second problem is that the innocent suffer, not the politicians and corporate predators that create and enable the conditions that produce bombers and shooters. As long as the ones in charge don't feel the pain, nothing will change. As the immortal George Carlin put it, "They own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it."












Friday, April 19, 2013

Not quite myself yet

Just feeling blah. Not sick. Just run down and tired. After a long work day Thursday, I came home, ate, and was in bed pretty quickly after.

Today I was up at 4, in the pool by 5, and at my desk by 6:30. It always amazes me how much faster the 25m pool is. Swam 40 minutes, then left as a whole herd of kids were coming in. I think there is a swim meet happening.

The early start finished my work week early. After some errands we slipped out to research house exteriors. Very interesting. Now after supper I'm wondering where the work week went, and why it was in such a rush. Curtis is purring, and I'm ready to call it a day. It's 7:45.

I made an appointment to get my cranky legs assessed next week.

There is a lot I want to say about Boston, but I'm not quite there yet. Look for a rant this weekend.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Diagonal step then 2 steps sideways

This cranky leg thing is getting old. Seriously contemplating getting more detailed medical advice. It seems a long time for what I thought was locked up muscles to unlock and relax. It's been getting better, but still.

Didn't swim today. Yoga though, including plank. There was an interesting move added onto Thread the Needle, where the opposite leg from the tucked arm is lifted up and stretched out, turning it into a balance pose.

I have to include this shot of our weird icicles this morning. No tricks, this is what they really looked like.


The food trucks are out and about, so it must be spring. I met Linda for lunch. Even though I've been working downtown for a few years now, I think this is the first or second time we've done lunch together. It was nice to go for a longer walk than usual. I had a chicken in a fluffy pita with lots of goodies in it, and some Fiasco Gelato.

Afterward we went down to the banned art show in City Hall. This is the one that was making a statement about the pristine wilderness that Enbridge wants to run a pipeline and tanker route through. Somebody made a phone call, and yanked the chain of their pet Alderman, who reared up on her hind legs and declared it was political, so it wasn't allowed to happen at City Hall. Nice touch that. There was a bit of back and forth, and since the show was supposed to close that same day anyways, they let it play out with a few face saving restrictions. I think everybody was happy, the show because it just generated more interest, and the city because it demonstrated they were firm and protecting the interests of their masters and by golly we won't let anyone do that again.

For those that are interested, I think it's dumb to export jobs. We should ante up and build the refinery somewhere reasonably near the source, and ship processed product, not raw bitumen. I know a thing or two about pipelines, and they can be the safest way to move petroleum products. Then can also be somewhat less safe than could be desired, depending on a lot of factors, most of which are well understood. Proper monitering and mitigation processes will go a very long way towards keeping a pipeline out of sight and out of mind for most people.

My big problem is the tankers. They are proposing to send tankers through some of the most storm prone waters on earth, through a long narrow twisty channel to Kitimat. I don't know what they were thinking. Why not Port Rupert, just up the coast a bit, and right on the ocean. I'd scrap the project as long as the pipeline terminal is in Kitimat.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sure glad I'm not a pro commentator

Over the last several years my blog has evolved from a pure fitness and training related blog, to one where I feel free to talk about whatever pleases me. Occasionally it pleases my readers and that makes all of us happy. But if it doesn't make you happy, that's your problem, not mine. I am not dependent on your happiness for mine.

In many ways I'm a contrarian, believing that the herd is almost always wrong. If it makes the herd happy, it probably won't make me happy. I will cheerfully use that as a rough cut to winnow out lots of crap, accepting that in a few cases, the herd might be right. Since the herd following my blog is very small, I choose to consider all of us outliers from the great unwashed herd.

Look at the stock market. There are people that believe the technical analysis tells the story, that corporate profits and such determine which stocks go up and down. Poor naive fools. There are two things that rule the stock market, fear and greed. People fear to miss a trend and buy in after it's already a trend, which is when it's too late. People get greedy and hang on too long, or bail out too soon to jump to the next hot tip.

Quite a few years ago I happened to be hanging out in a stock broker's office, and got to chatting with a  much older guy. I was a bit startled to learn he was going through bankruptcy proceedings, and had in fact been a real millionaire. Not just on paper, but actually more than $1,000,000 dollars in cash and near cash, back when that was serious money. He made some poor investments and lost it all.

What he had to say about the whole experience was very interesting. He said it wasn't especially hard to make money, but it was harder to keep it. He told me the big difference between us was that even though I had access to more cash, at that moment, than he did, that was all I had. He knew how to become a millionaire again, because he had done it once already. I hadn't.

And he's right, I'm not a millionaire, most of the way through a reasonably productive working life. But then, I never wanted to be especially rich, just comfortable, so I didn't fully apply the things I know perfectly well. Just partially, so I'm only partially a millionaire. I lost track of him after that, and have no idea how his story turned out. Those who don't know how, and want to know how to become a millionaire, leave a comment. Trust me, it doesn't involve lottery tickets or a pyramid scheme. Could I do it, even now, at my advanced age? Oh yes, I'm quite confident. Am I going to? Almost certainly not. I don't need that much money. There's lots of things I know how to do, and don't want to do.

One thing I have noted is that when it comes to the stock market, the crowd is often wrong. The basic trick is to buy cheap and sell dear. If it's cheap, that means the crowd doesn't want it, so you have to have the nerve to buy in, and stay bought in during temporary downturns. I've heard brokers call market downturns the "dummy shake" because it shakes the dummies out of the market.

Most people badly want to be part of the herd. But when you run with the herd you never get the fresh un-trampled grass, and you're always walking through someone else's shit. Which is why I prefer to do things my way. Blogging, for example. "They" say you need to monetize your blog, and have contests, and giveaways to increase readership and promote your brand. Whatever that is. Do you see any ads? You never will. If I talk about a product or a store or a service, it's because I used it, and it worked for me. That doesn't mean it will work for you.

And my brand. I haven't the faintest idea what my brand is. Any hints, anyone? Amuse me, I'd love to know what you think my brand might be, and where it might be applied.

Rest day. Massage day. Those quads and IT band in my left leg still have soreness I didn't find.

Monday, April 15, 2013

No mood to write much

First Boston was a big city. Then a cool band. Then just a city again, for a long time. Then I started to hear about BQ and this marathon. I'd known there was a thing called the Boston marathon, and I even knew how far it was. Not that I could ever run that far, until the day I ran and walked that far. I looked up the BQ for my age, and am dubious I could ever do so. Now it's a tragedy and a crime scene.

I hadn't paid much attention to it this year, since I hadn't heard anyone I know saying there were doing it. Then this afternoon I was frantically racking my brain. Hoping that nobody I knew, or the friend of a friend had been injured. Already knowing that some of the people in a community that I'm part of have been killed or injured.

My real hope out of this is that the USA doesn't go invade someone to take out their collective anger, however justified it might be. In a bigger sense, and not to detract from the horror of Boston, it's a very slow weekend in America if cars or guns don't exact a bigger toll.

Watching the snow fall, and shoveling it was the sum total of my activity yesterday. Today was better, with a strong 40 minute swim, a few minutes of water running. Then dance this evening, which is just killing my knees. Stretch and core after, including plank stability stuff.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A snowy quiet day with proof

The forecast said it was going to snow lots today, maybe 5 cm or more. In Calgary that means one part of the city can be clear and sunny, and other parts are digging out. It's a good bet that the higher you are (hello NW) the more snow you get. One morning driving to work up Deerfoot I was surprised to see a line of snow across Nose Hill park. Snow on top, nothing below, and the line between could have been drawn with a ruler.

We zoomed out fairly early this morning to get to the market as it opened. There's a new bakery vendor in Kingsland, but we already have a couple of excellent suppliers for bread, and they didn't tempt us. The bakery treats looked ok, but our standards are very high. We didn't try, since I'd picked up cinnamon buns from La Boulangerie. Maybe another time.

The market was very quiet, which was a bit of a surprise. Once home we had coffee and the buns, reading and relaxing. It snowed off and on. I napped with the cats a bit. Stereo purrs are very relaxing. Later on I was on the bike for 30 minutes. There was no pain, but my left leg certainly felt weak. I could maintain cadence with the right alone, but the left alone quickly fell off to essentially nothing. Lots of stretching after, especially the ball on the left IT band. There were some ooooo! spots today. Plank. Pigeon.

I finished Proof of Heavy by Ebon Alexander, though I'm still mulling it over. In my traditional fashion, I'm going to write about it to see what I think.

He was attacked by a rare form of bacterial meningitis and fell into a coma for 7 days. Normally this sort of illness eats your brain till you die, but he appears to have recovered fully and with a remarkable story.

The book is an easy and straightforward read. There's a bit of detail around his illness and what the impact on his brain was. The essence was that his neo-cortex was completely off line.

There are many people upset by accounts of near death experiences. They say it's an elaborate hallucination. Other people just as fervently believe it's proof of God, their God in particular. Lots of people are like me, somewhere in the middle.

I haven't believe a word organized religion has to say for itself since I saw what most people professed to belief, and how they actually behaved. One of my major rules in life is when confronted by what people do, and what people say, believe what they do every time. Then I started reading about the horrors of the Catholic Church over the many centuries up to the here and now. Anybody that thinks they've changed their spots on child abuse is fooling themselves.

So, God as constructed by old white men of Western thought is out. The various gods of the Greeks, Romans, and Norse were no better and often worse than the men worshiping them. At least sometimes afterward there was a good barbecue of fat bull to chow down on. All those gods are long gone.

I'm much less familiar with the God worshipped by various Jewish sects, and with Allah as worshiped by various sects of Islam. What little I knew of them strikes me as a God consumed by minutia and willing to smite anyone who disobeys. Or maybe that's the priests in charge of determining God's will. It's difficult to figure out.

I'm even less familiar with the Gods worshipped by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and many others, and won't go into it. If they made any more sense than the other religions they are competing with, there would be a lot more people holding those beliefs. I take the position that if a religion accurately described a real actual God, one who responded to prayers or demonstrated some tangible evidence of it's existence, and gave rules for living that resulted in everybody having a better life, it would be so compelling that almost everybody would join it. There would be very little dispute.

I firmly believe that almost every one of the people in positions of authority in all those religions are in it for themselves, having discovered a tool to help keep them fed and clothed for doing little more than talk. In some cases they use religion as a club to beat anyone that disagrees with them. Every once in a while you find a kind and gentle soul that really believes, and really tries to do good.

Yet I believe there is more to ourselves than what we see and touch on a daily basis. There are a great many anecdotal accounts of a great many experiences that cannot be explained today, at least not in terms that our science understands. Many people take the position that if you can't measure it, it doesn't exist. That seems short-sighted to me. There are many things we couldn't measure until recently, like light diffraction, yet that rainbow existed all along.

We don't know much about dreams, or the paranormal accounts of people from comas or near death experiences. They might be hallucination, or be the outcome of something that we don't understand acting on our brains, and the similarity of stories comes from the similarities of our brains. If we knew that the presence of condition x produced people giving accounts of NDE, and without it there were no accounts of NDE, we'd be on the way to getting ourselves sorted out. It's just that our brains are exceedingly complex, and the things that could be condition x are very numerous. I don't think we're going to get a definitive answer from science any time soon.

Or, they could be real as our world, in a way we don't understand yet. We don't have the language, and our sensory organs are limited. What Dr. Alexander tells us could be completely true, and we lack the language to accurately describe it. That the universe is love, and an extremely complex entity, complex beyond human understanding, loves each of us warts and all.

Our religions may have started off with someone having a mystical experience, one they couldn't explain in the terms available there and then. If they were sufficiently charismatic about describing the experience, it's easy to see how a religion could be born.

My position is that if you have an extraordinary claim, you need to be willing to provide extraordinary proof, or at least submit to conditions that will rule out cheating. I don't think I have to account to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates for every action or non-action in my life and he decides if I go to heaven or elsewhere.

However, I do think we are here for a reason, and that after we die, we are re-united with a greater part of ourselves, and that more complex entity. I think there is a self evaluation, to look back on your life here and see how you did, in a place where there is only honesty and love. Maybe you didn't learn what you wanted to learn, and you feel you have to have another go at it. Or you did learn, and it's on to the next thing.

Or you go to help someone else, or others in general. We've all met people wise beyond their years. A few words from them can have a profound impact on someone. I've had people tell me, sometimes years later, that I had an impact on them, from something I said or was doing. It's an amazing compliment. I've had people straighten me out with a few words, or I see an example of someone leading a good life.

I'm of an age where I can look back and reflect on life, while still being young enough to look forward to much more. There are things I've said or done in my past I'm ashamed of, and I've tried to do better. The book doesn't prove to me that heaven exists, though I hope it does. One of my goals is to live as if it was true. Not that going to heaven is a reward for being good. It's being able to look back on a life well lived, and present yourself to a greater being with dignity, even if that being is you in some senses.

What do you think?

Friday, April 12, 2013

The before, a disaster area

Another week zoomed. The water feel is coming back, which makes me happy. Amazing how a simple thing like not swimming for 3 weeks turns you into a floatie. Swam 40 minutes feeling stronger, but no water run after.

Core in the evening, with two plank sessions. First was 125 seconds, the other was 90 seconds. Rolled my legs with the ball. The spots that used to be ooooooooo! Are now feeling much less tender. I could contemplate running now, and if it's not too crappy this weekend I might. I'm much more likely to get on the bike.

I had Celina curled up on my lap for a nap after work. I napped a bit too. When I look at the full sized version of this I'm amazed all over at the resolution of a phone camera.


Not as pretty as a Neil Zellor shot, but I caught the sunrise for this one. Slightly tweaked in Snapseed.

Saving the worst for last, this is what I'll be working on this spring. The box to the left has essentially rotted away, and has to be removed. The other boxes are fine, but the contents need work. A lattice has to go onto the framework. I'm seriously contemplating renting a power thatcher to get all the crap off the lawn, and that's if I don't rent a bobcat and strip it out entirely to be replaced with nice clean white gravel. There is much weeding to be done, and day lilies to be moved.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One of the shortest on record

Blog posts, that is. Yawn. Many things pending, but bed is calling me. Especially after this. Light and smooth, with a great wine taste. Easy to drink lots of, especially with a big cat purring in your lap. Bottled July 2010.

Even money if I get to plank before bed. Oh, and must pack swim bag for an early start.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

pain-free core yoga sunset bliss

Our yoga studio has nice windows, and with a bit of luck we can see the mountains. Tonight, in between poses, I was enjoying the sunset reflections in the big windows of the building opposite the studio. It was very pretty, and I was managing to enjoy the subtle changes without being distracted from the class. The yellows and golds and russets exactly suited my mood. I told our teacher I had been tempted to take a few photos, but didn't, since I was enjoying the class so much.

Trying to do this class last week would have been brutal. But this week it was just what I needed. A nice workout for my legs, some good stretches and twists. My legs are feeling better by the day, with the quads and IT bands relaxing more. The aggressive rolling and core work seems to be helping.

Speaking of core, in yoga we did plank, so there's my plank-a-day thing done. This was with an interesting twist. Literally. Start in plank position. Rotate your hips so your feet roll onto their sides and you face sort of sideways. Then back to normal plank and over to the other side. Plus bicycle. Another really good yoga class in the books. This was a class that I wish could have gone on longer.

The swim was pretty good this morning too. The water feel is coming back, though I'm a bit tired from working the paddles. Water ran with Katie again.

Have you ever been so in the groove of a yoga class where you could enjoy what was going on around you without being distracted? That the surroundings enhanced the class?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nearly popped a gasket

I'd forgotten I'd taken this photo, almost by accident last weekend. This is the sun bouncing off another house, coming through our back window, and casting a shadow from our hibiscus on the wall. I've played with it a bit, of course, since it was pretty faint.

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After I leave work traffic normally isn't too bad for us. We park near City Hall, zoom out 9th, duck under the new underpass, right, then left onto McLeod Trail, and we're well on our way home. Today there was an incident of some kind on 11th, slowing down traffic trying to get out of downtown. There I was, walking WITH the walk sign, dodging cars in the cross walk, keeping an eye over my shoulder for people turning right, and sure enough. The two normal turn lanes are blocked because an idiot scooted across the intersection on a red. A guy from one of the left lanes decides to be opportunistic, and make that right turn he hadn't been able to get over for. I'd just managed to get around the guy blocking the intersection, when the guy turning right barreled into the far left hand lane (it's a 4 lane one way onto a 4 lane one way), which just happened to be the lane I was about to walk into. I gave hime a glare and shook my finger at him. He at least had the grace to look startled, and gave me a placatory wave. If he'd had to stop I'd have had some words with him, but he had some room, and I didn't feel like chasing him down on the road portion of the underpass. That got my heart rate up a little. You can never, ever take your eyes off the traffic here.

Sushi for dinner, and some awesome chocolate cookies! Then a core workout, and this is where the gasket straining happened. Doing the plankaday thing, going for time. It was getting tough, so I opened my eyes to see how long, and it was 1:45. I gritted my teeth and decided to go for 2 minutes. That took the better part of forever, panting, trying to clench every muscle that might possibly contribute to the cause, and then collapsed on the 120 seconds. Yay me!

In other news a buddy of mine wants to sell some Zipp 808/1080 race wheels. Maybe 450 K on them. Contact me and I'll put you onto my buddy. Here's a pic of her bike cuddling mine.


Monday, April 8, 2013

That was good, while it lasted

My legs have been feeling better. The swim was good this morning, considering I felt tired and slow. The water feel is coming back. I can feel myself tightening up and my stroke going to crap, so I've been working on staying relaxed and breathing deeply. My legs won't let me do as much dolphin drill. Lots of pull today, with the new hand paddles. Water ran after with Katie. She is yet another person that loves Night Circus. If you're a reader, and haven't read it, go get it. Now. You can thank me later.

Doing the regular walking after the swim and during the day was great! I felt almost back to normal, almost like thinking about considering going for a run.

However, dance class is tougher on me than just walking. Waltz and swing, two tough dances for knees. There were lots of complaints by the end of the night. I went straight downstairs after for some stretching and lots of rolling. And plankaday! Front, left side, then with leg up, front, right side, tried the leg up and collapsed. Boo.

Our book club is taking a metaphysical bent this month, reading Proof of Heaven, and Beyond Belief, in addition to the one I reviewed yesterday.

There were lots of people choked about the snow here last night. Weenies. It's April, after all, and it has snowed in Calgary every month of the year. Suck it up. Spring doesn't really come until late May, at best.

I missed telling a cat story that happened on the weekend. You might remember that both of our cats are very interested in coffee, to the extent we have to guard our cups. Linda unfortunately relaxed after she fended off a sniffing Celina. Her nose went the other way and it looked like she was going to settle in. Then the tail dived into the coffee cup like it had radar. Then out, and Celina sat there licking it off her tail with a smug expression.

Zero spam since I set my commenting preferences like this. I mean zero! I have no idea if there are hordes of real commenters dying of frustration they can't comment, but I doubt it. I've got the moderation set to a fairly small number of days.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sleeping cat snore-oneration

There was a thing or two accomplished around the house today, but it was more difficult than it needed to be. Why? Cause one, and Cause two, for your edification. His eyes are open but he's sound asleep, grunting and snoring.
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She had her face buried in her paws, sound asleep, letting out little wheezes. 
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Sleeping cats, especially snoring sleeping cats, emit waves to lull humans into snoozing themselves. Then of course, they are easy prey for lap capturing purposes. I have resisted, so far.

Even so, there was wine stuff today.
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That's an Italian Nebbiolo and the attendant grape skins. I like to warm them up a bit before adding the yeast. The one below is a Portugese Cab Sauv being racked from the primary into a carboy.
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I finally finished up two books I've had on the go for a while.
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and
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The first is a clear outline of what is not as right as it could be with the Canadian medical system. It only looks good in comparison to the American model. But compared to Australia and various European systems, it isn't so good. Where it was really interesting was the history of the program, and how what we are living with today, and the problems we face, are a direct outcome of the choices made not all that long ago.

One of the most important is that the founders, including Tommy Douglas himself, noted that everybody should pay something into the system for each use of it. It isn't free, and people should be reminded there is a cost. As it is now, most hospital and doctor related costs are invisible to the average user. I've often thought that every citizen should get a statement once a year showing their health care usage. It should note how much they cost the system, how much each member of their family cost the system, along with some numbers for comparison, such as the various averages for other people of your age.

Of course, there are many entirely legitimate reasons an individual's health care might be expensive, and a great many that are not. We do need to get better at providing alternative forms of care, such as various kinds of assisted living, and more targeted delivery of health information and services. But if people knew that x many thousands of dollars were spent on the various services, and their costs in particular are well above average, and there was a suggestion they might have to pay a percentage of the costs above the average after a review of their situation, maybe it might lead them to do something to reduce those costs.

LIKE GET OFF THEIR FAT ASSES AND GET INTO BETTER SHAPE!

The essential problem (and this is my opinion, not Simpson's) is that health care is an extremely valuable good, in economic terms. There can be nearly infinite demand for it. Why not ask for that second or third opinion? Why not get that new test, just to be sure? Why not get another round of medical imaging, just to see if anything has changed? Why not show up at emergency just in case?

However, there are a great many people lining up to take advantage of that supply, along with a limited number of people and facilities to provide the supply. As long as it's "free", people will continue to use as much of it as they can. That leads to the current system of triage by necessity, meaning wait times. The people with money try to buy themselves to the head of the line, and spend some of their money trying to bring in right wing solutions that make it easier to do that, at the cost of the people without money doing without basic care. Not a world I want to live in.

Still, this is one of the several topics that Canadians need to have a grown up conversation about. Good luck waiting for it to happen under Harper's watch.

The other is a very interesting look at history, over a fairly long term. Today's problems are not new and unique situations. They've happened over and over again. Same problems, same inadequate solutions, same dramatic ending, as in banks going bankrupt with depositors losing everything, empires falling, or many people dying of plague. Then we do it all over again. The similarities between The Roman Empire and the American Empire are striking, right down to the elites rewriting the tax code so they don't have to pay any. At least the Romans were smart enough not to get sucked into a land war in Afghanistan. With two superpowers in recent history being forced to withdrawal with bloody noses, you'd think America would know better. But no.

Bank failures and depressions. Most people know about the Great Depression of Dirty Thirties fame. However, there have been a constant stream of recessions and depressions and bank failures and busts in American history. All are from causes similar to what is happening now with the sub-prime mortgage mess. All are being resolved in similar ways (bankrupcy), except this time the greedy pigs got rewarded, and now want to do it again.

Income inequality has lead to riots and civil unrest time and time again throughout history. The times when America worked best was when incomes were only somewhat unequal. The lower class could become middle class, and the middle class could become wealthy. Now the very rich are changing the rules so that they get ever more of the pie and everybody else gets less. The 1% is a convenient number, but it's actually fewer than that. They can see the beginnings of civil unrest, but they don't care. They and their Republican lap dogs, and idiot Tea Party attack dogs, go on attacking solutions that will work, and continue to promote nostrums that will make the problems worse. They've already put up their slogan in big letters everywhere you care to look, if only you have eyes to see, "Fuck you Jack, I've got mine and I want more."

The only thing I didn't like about the book is the somewhat simplified language, and some of the jumps to relate various points. I believe them to be valid, but sometimes it's a bit hard to join the dots. But then, in some cases he's dealing with several thousand years of history. If you want every single dot joined and documented, you need to start reading Jared Diamond or professional historians.

In other news I was on the bike another 45 minutes today, pedaling a bit faster and a bit harder. Still working on trying to be smooth. Core and stretching after, using the ball. This is doing good stuff for my legs. They are relaxing and feeling much better now. Plankaday was mobility plank, not timed. Front, side, front other side, legs up, out, forward, and a few pushups.

Crappy freezing drizzle mixed with periodic snow. I'm sure glad we didn't have to go out today. Tomorrow's commute downtown isn't going to be any fun.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Markets, in the mood to shop and workout

You could be forgiven for thinking I was a bit cranky yesterday. That's ok. I wasn't, not really. I did have that glass of wine, and watched the new Sherlock, A Scandal in Belgravia, with the comments turned on. Usually in these the movie soundtrack is still audible, but it was all a bit muddied. Still interesting. This is my favourite episode of the six, and I can't wait for the next three. "Rat. Wedding. Bow." PBS, Fall 2013.

My old swim flip flops are really old, almost 30 years old. The soles will go forever, though they are starting to show wear. Actual wear, on flip flops only worn back and forth to the pool. The top fabric has been coming apart for a while now, leaving flecks of bright red plastic stuck to my feet. I just about had heart failure the first time I saw that. I saw these cool flip flops on sale at Tri It and had to have them.

We also wanted to check out some changes to the Crossroads market. Given the exact time we left home, we started at La Boulangerie. I had a crepe that was as light as air, filling, and very yummy. Crepes aren't even my favourite thing. Their food is wonderful. As we ate the place filled up, and up, and no surprise there. I mean, look at this:
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Then it was off to Crossroads. Which is just off Blackfoot Trail, but it's not called the Blackfoot Market, and neither is the Calgary Farmer's Market, which is also just off Blackfoot. The actual Blackfoot market is well off Blackfoot and is outdoor only. It's called the Crossroads because it used to be next to the Crossroads Hotel on 16th Ave, which hotel is now called something else. 16th Ave is still 16th Ave, except where people call it the Trans Canada Highway.

I hope you're all still with me. Life in Calgary is complicated sometimes what with all the change. It's a happening kind of city. Back to the Crossroads. I've never liked it much. There is a chunk of it that is second hand sales that look like a seedy flea market. That's still there, seedy as ever. But the majority of it has been brightened up, with new vendor signs. This is really quite nice. The honey place is the best in the city, and the fruit and produce market is very good. Some of the food vendors are very good too. There are some wonderful smells walking through. Linda is a bigger fan of the market than I am, but she's been there lots more.

Then it was off to Try It. I was actually in the mood to shop, and buy, which is rarer than hen's teeth. Got the flip flops, some swim paddles, and some speed laces. Looked for run shorts, but all they had were a medium women's, and my butt is never going to fit into those. They looked nice though. They are expecting to get a lot of stuff in soon, as they sell off existing stock. As always, the staff are friendly and helpful.

Then to Calgary market for bison. The truck was a bit late, so we had to hang out a bit. Which is SOOO painful to do there. I got a smoothie with peanut butter, banana, a hint of chocolate, and maybe some other stuff. Tres yummy. Linda had a mango smoothie, which I don't normally care for, but it was really good. These were from the smoothie place at the far south end. The bison eventually arrived.

I love hanging out at that market. I'm not sure why, but the vibe is perfect for me. Everything we've ever bought there has been good, at the very least. Regular readers will know I rave about Yum Bakery, Olson's High Country Bison, Big D's, both coffee places, Simple Simon Pies, the fish place, Chokolat, Knifewear, the Cherry Pit, and several others that I know where they are and what they sell, but can't recall their names at the moment.

Back home I lounged around being lazy, watching video on the iPad. Then playing with Trello to start organizing the front yard work that needs to be done. Needs very badly to be done, and has needed for a little while.
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The little cards can be sorted, filtered, searched, and moved around into different lists. Tap them, and on the back you can get further description, a checklist, and attached documents. You can tell from the little icons what's on the back. I don't need the functionality, but you can use it to collaborate with other people. You can create your own work flow lists, but To Do, Doing, and Done are the default. Kind of fun to play with.

After a while I got up the ambition to get on my bike, and had a pretty good ride. Nice warm up, then pedaling moderately strongly, at a good cadence. No squeaks or complaints from my legs. They felt fairly strong and smooth. The only thing they didn't like was standing up, and even that's not nearly as bad as it was. On the bike a bit over 45 minutes.

Then onto the mat to roll my calf especially on the ball, and other parts of my legs. Core, including plankaday for 95 seconds. A pretty good day, even if it is kind of foggy and freezing drizzle out.

Back to Olson's. You might be wondering why I linked that, and not the others. The others are good, don't get me wrong. One of the reasons we like shopping at the farmer's markets is the quality of the products. End of story. The food tastes better. Bison and lamb is pretty well the only red meat we eat now, and Olson's is where the bison come from. Here's a link to nutrition info about bison, which is one reason why we're eating it, rather than beef. Bison burger is $20 per Kg, or just over $9 per pound for those that still think in an archaic system. Maybe some people think that is expensive.

Go ahead, buy cheap meat that has been shot up with antibiotics, growth hormones, and fed who knows what, slaughtered by the thousand with chancy sanitation, and eat that. Feed it to your kids. Try not to think about the XL beef recall last year, the largest in Canadian history. Try not to think about the Harper government cutting back on funding for food inspection. The next recall could be bigger, or arrive too late for your child.

As long as people continue to make their buying decisions based on price and nothing else, our system will continue a race to the bottom. The winner will be the producers who can best cut corners and shave costs. That means lead and cadmium in toys for children. Poisonous products in pet food and powdered milk. All to save a few cents. When they go pointing the finger to find fault, one of the little fingers points at you, the consumer who shops at Walmart because it's cheap.

Capitalism was about the mix of cost and quality. The theory is that consumers will be offered a mix of products at varying prices and quality. Some will prefer lower prices and lower quality. Others will prefer higher prices and quality. The two are linked. But everybody wants a bargain now, and expect everything to be on sale, or at a lower price than last year. Then they wonder why products don't last very long.

Then they wonder why their children and pets are getting sick. It's directly related to what you feed them.

Get it together people. I'm happy to pay the people that produce good food. I want them to stay in business so I can eat good healthy food. The only way that will happen is to buy from them. So I'm happy to see busy farmer's markets, and try to encourage people to shop there.

Here's a list of the local markets. Some are seasonal and outdoors. Try them out and see which you like best, and support the people growing real food. Look for you at the market one day!


Friday, April 5, 2013

But I don't have to work out twice, anymore

Into the pool really early this morning. Up at 4:30 since I was awake anyways after not sleeping well. About 5:20 I was in the water. You notice I didn't mention coffee there? That's because I didn't. Maybe that's why it was a pretty unfeeling swim. No water feel. No feeling fast. No feeling smooth. Even the water run after was clunky.

So now it's about 7pm, and I'm dragging my tail. It turned out Linda could pick me up from work so I was home earlier than usual. I could have worked out. But I didn't. I'm not training for a race, and I'm tired. I don't want to get on my bike. I don't want to go stretch. I don't want to thrash through a workout. I don't, and I won't. I'm going to have a glass of wine, and go enjoy a DVD. Not sure which yet, but I will.

This weekend will be about planning the front yard stuff. It needs work. Maybe I'll post the before pictures tomorrow or Sunday. All of you will feel better about your yards. Guaranteed.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Deeply saddened, and happy too

I found out Roger Ebert died today. As I said here, Isaac Asimov and EB White are the writers I'd like to most write like, but Roger comes pretty darn close. I never saw him on TV, ever, I only knew him through his writing. He was fortunate enough to be able to watch a movie, understand it well enough to describe how and where it succeeded or failed, and be able to write about it well enough for ordinary people to understand at least some of it too. Further, he had the happy knack of being able to express himself clearly, persuasively, and eloquently on many different topics. If I was going to read a movie review, I looked for his first. RIP Roger, it's a sad day for literate movie watchers.

The happy part involved this:
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And this:
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Before the second, I used the first almost brutally on my calves. The ball also was deeply involved with thighs and butt. My legs are happier for it, so I am too. There were other stretches and core work involved too.

And then plankaday! 90 seconds! Yay me.

Part of trying new things is understanding that they might not work out. As I've said many times, I have nearly perfect blood, and the Canadian Blood Services people are anxious that I donate. A little while ago I found out they will send the Life Bus to an employer, pick up employees and take them to the permanent donation site, and back after. This is all very well, and I can see how it works for some people.

But not for me. The first problem is the same one as any group activity. You are at the mercy of the slowest person. The bus driver was being examined, and drove so carefully, so slowly, so driver's ed, that I think I could have walked there faster. The nurse asking the embarrassing questions was also being audited, and so she went through every step in the book, painfully. I was seriously thinking of showing them my donor card. It has a huge 50 on it, for the number of times I've donated. I get the procedure. Let's get on with. It took 2 hours from beginning to end. I'm a contract worker. Say it with me. Billable hours. I can go next door to Gulf Canada mobile clinic, and be gone from my desk only an hour. That's an easy decision.

The wine kit I started is still burbling away, and will probably be ready to be racked into a carboy Friday. Then I'll start another kit, maybe the Brunello. I don't want to run out.

I've decided it's time to replace the flip flops, so I'll head to Tri It on Saturday. There was a picture of these really cool ones on Facebook that I have to have. I briefly considered going tonight, but that means taking two long sides of a triangle in ghastly traffic, instead of the short side with moderate traffic like normal. Again, an easy decision.

Maybe I'll buy a bathing suit while I'm there. Hmmm. Maybe I'll even be adventurous in my choice. Anyone want to meet up there, and go for coffee at Lazy Loaf and Kettle after?

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