Sunday, June 30, 2013

A few more gardening pics

I took it easy today, other than going to the garden centre to get some Climatis Ivy and some roses. It was hot by Calgary standards, and Linda wanted to wait till the evening when it got a little cooler. That seemed like a good idea to me.

Just as we were about to head out Linda got a call from work about coming in next week. The only problem is that her manager had approved holidays for this coming week, long before the flood, but it seemed that someone didn't get the message. Considering many City servers were flooded I suppose that shouldn't be a big surprise. There's been a bit of back and forth and at the moment it looks like she still has vacation this coming week.

I got one chuckle out of the flood this week. The only bridge that failed was the one inspected by the company that runs trains over it. They were more interested in "not interrupting the flow of commerce" than ensuring public safety. There could easily have been 4 flaming rail cars floating down stream on a flooded Bow River. I can't think of how that could possibly turn out anything other than bad, and catastrophic is easy to imagine. Their idea of "inspection"seems to be answering the question, "are the tracks still there". Maybe this is why we have so many derailments. So much for industry self regulation.

It wasn't until I was a grown up that I fully understood the great Canadian curse, "God Damn the CPR!" They've run their tracks through the middle of almost every town in western Canada, and there is not a damn thing the municipalities can do about it. My work building is right beside the tracks, and let's just say it gets a bit distracting at times. I sure hope the City was keeping track during the bridge issue, and sends the CPR a bill. They ought to include lost time for 10's of thousands of people sitting in traffic as some of the major roads in Calgary were closed.

I feel for the people that were flooded. It's a horrible thing to happen to your home. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But what were these people thinking? It's a flood plain. Now we all have to pay to rebuild their homes. In Calgary it might be another 100 years till they flood again. But that isn't true in High River. So far there have been a huge number of homes condemned. I don't know if they can search them for possessions that can be salvaged.

Before they rebuild the town, there ought to be some serious conversations, starting with the question is this a sensible place to build a town? Used to be we wanted to build near a river. Now we know how to reliably pump water and move goods, so this isn't as big a concern as it was. It should be no surprise that High River floods. The name is the first clue. I don't even know how many times it's had major floods, and this last few weeks isn't the first, or even the second. There's been a bunch of major floods, and any number of minor ones.

So if they decide they really do want to build a town there, they ought to take about a bazillion tonnes of gravel, and build the whole town about 10 feet higher. Or if that isn't an option, then put up huge banks on the river, and I do mean huge, say 10 to 20 feet above THIS flood level, and then decide where the town boundaries are, and put the same dike around the entire town. Too expensive, you say? Go fuck yourself with some barbed and pointy instrument. How often are we expected to let ordinary people lose everything from a flood? And how often are the taxpayers going to be on the hook for damage? Fix it once, and carry on. Maybe we shouldn't allow people to build in a flood plain, or do so at their own risk, with any home they build being completely uninsurable. Good luck getting a mortgage.

Where was I? Oh yes, plants. In the evening we got things planted. We have more day lilies than we know what to do with. We only planted a few a long time ago, and they've been happily breeding and growing. I was dealing with a solid root ball nearly a foot across at one point. Some might not survive. Oh well.

I do have to say I wasn't impressed with the class of people at the plant store. The staff were nice, the other customer's were jerks. Someone stole our cart. One big woman stopped in the middle where several of us were trying to get through, and announced with a pissy face that we had room to get by. She hadn't noticed we had roses. I managed to scratch her leg going by. Yay me!

Here's more photos of the patio. There are some climatis to climb up the lattice, and some roses and day lilies to help shade their roots. The big blue thing is a mint of some variety. I loves that corner.



It's been nice sitting outside on the patio. Lately the weather has been really nice for it. Watching some of our neighbour's checking it out has been fun. There's a bit more to do on the front, mainly the areas just around the boxes. The theory was that there was some extra plants there, with a brick border to keep the grass out. That was a futile thought. I'm not sure what is going to happen there. No doubt The One That Knows All is cogitating on it. I've got some tasks for tomorrow in prep for a big change.

Then will come the back yard. That will be more work than the entire front. It's a mess and I hate it. I'm not looking forward to doing anything with it. Does anyone have a teenager they could rent out for some slave labour, I mean that wants to earn some money for strong back, weak mind sort of work?

Today the only workout was some stretching in the morning, and after the gardening. Sophia had suggesting using a golf ball on my foot instead of a softball. That hurt a lot more than I thought it would. I didn't think my foot was that sort, in that one spot. My goodness. With any luck tomorrow I'll be up for my first road bike trip.






Saturday, June 29, 2013

I saw Belinda!

Funny how things go from day to day. The last bike was clunky and bleah. Today as I got out of bed I knew I'd get on my bike pretty quick, and it would be good. It's odd, I felt a bit stiff and sore, yet I knew the bike would be good, at least for a while. And so it was. Right from the first pedal it was a nice smooth spin. I had a supervisor keeping a firm eye on things, though she didn't say much.


After a nice warm up I started going up through the gears to find a spot where I could feel the work, but not be overworking. There was a sweet spot at 225 watts where I could go for a minute then recover, then do it again several times. Then to one gear easier, and settle in at 190 or so for two minutes. My legs didn't mind this at the time, especially after a good stretch and core session after. At the end of the day they're feeling a bit tired. I think, I hope, I'm ready to take the trainer tire off and try a road outside. Not Road to Nepal, I know that's too much for me. But it would be nice to get out towards Millarville, maybe on Monday if the weather is still nice.

Visited with my buddy James. Love conversing with him. Then off to Owl's Nest to buy some books to support their flood fund raiser for Pixie Hollow book store in High River. We had arranged to meet our buddies Kris and Sophia. Later we wandered over to the farmer's market and met Leana totally by accident. Here's the books I got, and the difficulties of getting the photo should be apparent.




But the fun part of the day was when I was talking to James at Lazy Loaf and Kettle. Such good food there! We were out on the patio in perfect weather, and shortly after sitting down a small party got up and left. I just about swallowed my teeth.

Writers, you know what I mean when you can see and hear your book characters in your head? Well, one of the characters in my book was in that party. It was Belinda, if you've read this particular snippet. I almost said hello, so it was a good thing I had a mouth full of sandwich. She looked exactly has I had pictured her in the book. I just wish I'd been close enough to hear her talking but that would have been creepy. This girl was wearing a red summer dress from a light fabric that faded to a mesh at the top and bottom, exactly something I could picture Belinda wearing. Brown hair, in a braid, near waist length, check. Pretty, check. Tall, check. Nice figure, check.

As I thought about it over the next couple minutes, I was wondering if this happens to other writers?

Since my brain has been well into the book lately, here's another snippet. No Belinda in this one though.



Les strode into the primary control room, dropped his hard hat on the table, and himself in the chair with castors. He gave himself a push against the instrument panel to spin around once while crossing the room to end up in his favourite position, feet on a desk corner and head against a corner of the annunciator panel.

`How many times did you have to practice that before getting it right?` Dwen asked.

Les rolled his eyes to the left. Dwen was seated at the computer, ostensibly working on her daily report. `Let me think. What with all the spare time last set of nights, and the quiet days this week, I’m sure this must have been the first time.`

`The scary thing is that I believe you. Anybody else trying that would give themselves a concussion. How do you get away with it?`

`I didn’t even think about it. Perhaps that’s the secret. If it works for the gateless gate, it ought to work for a chair. In any case, things are good.`

`Well yes, that I could tell. Even if I had to go look at it.`

Les kept a tactful silence.

`So what does your buddy have to say for himself?`

`Mmm? Oh yes, Andy. I know him from a book club. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and told me he was looking for someone a little more outgoing, and I don’t know, a little more on the ball.`

`And?`

`I had told him the story of how the plant engineer got covered in foam, and how you argued with Stu about the piping set up. Plus a little about the training that I’ve had here. I guess he remembered, and asked if you were single or what. I hadn’t paid much attention to your relationship with what’s his nose, but said I would ask. Then I met Stella, you broke up with Al, and it all came together.`

Les shifted to a more normal posture, and looked earnest. `I don’t really know if you’ll get along or not, but he isn’t a creep. He’s fairly fit and likes outdoor stuff, so you’ll at least be able to talk to him about that. Stella seems nice, but she had a bad experience on a date. She figures meeting another couple somewhere is more reassuring than being with someone she doesn’t know very well.`

Dwen settled back in her chair. `I suppose that’s fair enough. Where did you have in mind?`

`Stromboli’s is supposed to be good, and it’s central. Andy’s been there and is willing to go again. It’s right in Kensington beside the Plaza Theatre, if we want to do a movie after dinner. There’s a bunch of coffee shops just around the corner, and it’s a short drive to Electric Avenue if we want to do that.`

`I’ve heard good things about Stromboli’s, and I like strolling through Kensington. Along the river is nice too. I’m not much on drinking these days. If Stella has had a bad experience she probably wants to avoid alcohol for a while. So you figure that Andy will behave himself?`

`Well, he’s not going to try to rape you with another couple right there, though I suspect you could deal with that. If we all meet at the restaurant with our own cars, there’s no opportunity for the screw or walk routine.`

`All right. I haven’t had much luck with the guys I’ve met lately, so maybe a semi-blind date will change my luck. This coming Saturday?`

Les beamed. `Great! I owe you a favour, though if things work out with Andy for you, I’ll consider it paid off. Meet there at 7, have dinner, and see how things are going before we decide on plans for later?`

`Sure. You can even give Andy a hint and tell him not to splash on any aftershave. I’ll let you make the plans and reservations.`

...

`Hey Les, how’d your date with Dwen go?` Eric called across the coffee room.

Les took a plastic container from his lunch bag and put it into the fridge. `A date with Dwen. What makes you think that?`

`Saw you and her coming out of Stromboli’s on Saturday.`

`Ah, and did you see the other two people between us as well?`

Eric rolled his eyes up and to the left. `Not really. To tell the truth, I didn’t even recognize our Dwen at first, then I took a good look. I never realized she had such great legs. Then I noticed you. Maybe there was another couple, but so what? How’s Dwen in bed, big boy?`

`That couple was a tall guy, taller even than me, with black hair, and a blonde woman about Dwen’s height. His name is Andy and her’s is Stella. You didn’t notice Stella’s arm in mine, and our date was just fine, thank you very much, though I don’t know what business it is of yours. I’m glad you’re not a witness in my defense in court. The lawyers would tear you apart in cross examination.`

Les had taken a seat facing Eric, with his back to the door. `Since she’s just walked in, you could ask her how things went on her date. I’m sure she’d be delighted with your compliment, and if you ask nice, she might even answer the other question you asked me.`

`Hey guys. Do I want to know what I’ve walked into, or should I go come in again and pretend it’s the first time tonight?` Dwen asked.


Did you miss the 1500 posts retrospective?


Friday, June 28, 2013

The vet adventure

First, if you haven't read my retrospective on hitting 1500 blog posts, you need to go look it over. I included links to a bunch of posts that might help explain what's going on here.

Today's adventure was to take two cats to the vet at the same time. Oddly enough, we've never done that before. All our other cats were on different inspection and validation schedules. Since these two are  almost exactly the same age, and we got them at the same time, they are on the same inspection schedule. Somehow, I had to do this alone. Linda, displaying her talent for knowing ALL, had another appointment so she couldn't help.

There was a promising beginning, both were asleep in the afternoon sun. I stalked and pounced Curtis. The capture went well, since he's pretty amiable about that. He was not happy about being stuffed into the carrier. He somehow managed to get his toes into the air slots, and resisted quite strongly. I had to pull him out, flip him over, hold him by the paws and slide him in.

Celina was even tougher. She is very strong for her size. When I tried the same stunt, she somehow managed to double back on me like a snake and almost escaped. There were  a bunch of very plaintive complaints. The car was a very loud trip, but once we all got into the vet's waiting room they were placid again. There was a small dog going crazy there, so I think they felt they had to be dignified and stoic, just to keep up the cat image.

This is the same vet we've been going to for about 30 years now. They just moved closer to us, into the space a Roger's Video store used to be in. You know, I miss that whole business model already. I'm pretty sure by the time I get onto the "get things over the internet and display them on your 60 inch flat screen", there will be some entirely new thing coming along. And when or if I get on THAT, it will be on the way out shortly after. Since by then I'll be getting on, and Kurzweil's singularity may have happened, I (me personally) might not have the wetware capable of compliance. By then every book on earth will be dust or nearly so, except for a few in museums. I don't know what I'll do to amuse myself then.

Where was I? Yes, wrestling with cats. Good exercise. The cats are fine, other than Curtis being a few pounds to heavy according to the vet, and a tendency to some teeth issues. As always, once they were out even at the vet's office, they didn't want to get back in again. I'm fine, though the matter was in doubt for a few minutes. Afterward the wine and nice dinner was well earned.

Yesterday I was just about ready to head downstairs for a spin session when I saw an email from my boss about coming in to work. So I did for a few hours to push a brutal spreadsheet a little further towards completion. After getting home I got on the bike and had a moderate spin session, then a good core and stretch session. Mobile plank and all. The side plank with the leg raises is coming along.

I could feel it a bit in my legs this morning, leading to another stretch session. Mowing the lawn counts as core, since it's one of those push mowers. It was a beautiful day here, and for much of the last several years I'd have gone for a bike ride. However I'm still getting my bike sit bones toughened up, and I'm not sure how my legs will deal with some of the hills. Eventually I'll have to try.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

1500

This is published post 1500. There are couple drafts floating around, but they don't count. I hit 1000 (and of course my newer readers will want to read that one as an intro) on Sept 2, 2011, so that's just over 660 days for the 500 posts. About 2070 days for 1500 posts overall. Starting the beginning of this year I wrote a post a day until mid April, for 104 days in a row. Some of you do run streaks, I do writing streaks. Though lots of my writing energy is going into my novel.

That should be enough numbers for now. No cake for the blog this time. Things are all messed up here with the flood. Evidently during one of the news scrums today, it was noted that for all Calgarians who complained about the lack of stop light synchronization, now they really know what it's like without any, since at the moment all stoplights are on their own, and many aren't working at all. It's traffic chaos right now, and I'm glad I don't have to be out in it. Except I was, work called me in this morning, after I read on our info site that the office would be closed today.

So what have I been up to for 500 blog posts? Here's a selection of some that amuse me for one reason or another. If I'd written this last week, or next week the selection might be different. Is there one I missed that you think should be here? Feel free to comment. Think one of these is sub-par? There is a special form you can fill out at keith@bitemybutt.com.

Yes, feel free to leave comments. I like them, and sometimes respond to them. I read them all, usually several times. I don't have all that many readers, according to the lying Blogger stats, but I appreciate the ones I have. As you know, I have only the finest quality readers.

I've been working a bunch on my novel, and have posted periodic snippets. Work is chugging along well, thank you very much. I continue to try to balance my social life and fitness life, and it's been a bit of a struggle. The fitness is getting harder. I think this old age thing is getting closer.

Amelia snuck in a rant on me. Rotten humans.

My all time pool swim gross out. Not hair. Not band aids. Beyond even floating phlegm.

Versatile deep thoughts.

Boobs, a rant. One of the all time favourite posts, at the top of the reading heap for a long time. My mom even commented on it. I don't really believe the Blogger stats any more. I don't know what they measure, and they can't even put things in proper descending order. So I don't really know what my most popular posts are. But lots of readers liked this one.

I finally got pissed about training Skynet, and fixed my blog. I implore you to fix yours if you are still putting your reader through the text recognition hoops. I fixed my blog so that anonymous comments were not permitted. Since then I have deleted 1 (count 'em ONE) piece of spam, and I had to think about it.

I took a day and toured Calgary's +15 system, and taking photos. Note - DO NOT load this on a portable device over your phone line. Many photos in there.

After this rant I had to wash the froth off the screen.

A follow up of sorts, though one person emailed me to say I'd missed an obvious title of "a feel up of boobs". Poor me.

People wonder why we don't have a dog. Their dietary choices explain all.

Some of you probably don't want to read about this, since you know it will be happening soon.

I didn't blog about Amelia at the time. We were too upset. She had been slowly slipping, and then sort of fell over the ledge. We had rescued her from the SPCA, and I don't think she ever got over the experience. She was a nervous twitchy cat all her life with us, and even though we tried to give her a good home, there were several adventures along the way. See her rant above. We waited several months before we got new cat overlords. They have worked out very well, benignly ruling, and having their fur groomed. Curtis in particular has had his fur improve 100%. It was coarse and greasy, now it is soft and silky.

One of my trademarked lotsa stuff in a post. One of my inspirations finished a half ironman at 82.

Social media musings.

Long political rant with an amusing allegory.

I get asked how to go from fat to fit. Here's how.

I won a prize! And other stuff about me. Me! Yes, me!

A rant about the health care our health care system needs.

Zombies, a rant.

News. Or rather, what isn't news.

You can still leave a comment on any of these, though I have comment moderation turned on for older posts. This ensures I see them, and I'm always delighted by comments.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Excitement is building, coming soon

A quiet day. Core. Gardening. Aggressive cat cuddling. Invasive human cuddling by cats, as per the photo. Both wanted my lap and attention.


Working on my novel. Here's a snippet for your reading pleasure.



`Dwen, have you seen Bill since last coffee?` Mitch asked as she joined the rest of the crew in the lunch room.

`Yes, I was down there about 4. He’d done the samples and was going to check the aerator motors and do some shoveling on the walkway. Why?` It had been a long shift, and her husky voice said, what now?

Mitch sighed. `No special reason, but it’s not like him to miss a coffee break without telling someone. I wouldn’t think about if it wasn’t so cold out. Did you read in the paper the other day about that poor woman coming home from a date? She slipped and banged her head on the car going down, then froze to death less than 20 feet from her front door. I’d hate to see anything like that happen here.`

`So would I.` She picked up the phone and called the old aeration control room. `Nothing. I’ll page him to call us here.` After doing so Dwen plugged in the kettle for hot water to make one of her specialty hot chocolates. The kettle boiled without the phone ringing. Rather than pour the water, she caught the Mitch’s eye. `Bill isn’t normally this late, and there wasn’t anything going on that would make him late. Your call, do you want to go looking for him?`

`I’m going to feel awfully stupid if all we do is interrupt his nap.`

‘He’d deserve it for not letting us know. Les told somebody, I’ll bet.’

‘He did, like always.’

One of the other operators had just finished rinsing his dishes. `If you like, rather than going back to the primary control room, I’ll go through the tunnels down to secondary, and meet you there. I was going to go early anyway and take a walk, and there’s as good a place as any.`

`Thanks Erik,` Mitch said. `Gord, you stay here till someone calls you. If Bill shows up or calls, page me.`

Dwen and Mitch checked outside the back door, but Bill’s truck wasn’t there. They had taken separate routes through the main building in case Bill had walked over for some reason, and met at the door closest to old aeration.

After a minute of buttoning and zipping, they stepped out into the cold pre dawn air. They walked directly over to the central entrance to the walkways over the aeration tanks. They paused for a minute before entering the fog bank that was always over the tanks in winter.

`It doesn’t look like any footprints have come out, and it’s been a while since it was shoveled here`, Dwen observed.

`Lets go straight to the building. If Bill isn’t there, I want to wait till Erik joins us before we go anywhere else. The last thing we need is to go chasing our tails.`

Dwen always enjoyed looking at objects that were covered in built up frost. They were so pretty, especially trees. Since the plant produced the conditions for the frost build up, she had lots of opportunities to see it. She wasn’t looking at that this time. She looked at the surface of the walkway, and at each intersection they peered out as far as they could. Not that it would do them much good, visibility ranged from a few feet to a few dozen feet in a swirling shifting pattern of pre-dawn fog. In a few minutes they arrived at the control room door. They looked particularly carefully at the walkway outside the door, but didn’t see any footprints.

A quick look inside the small control room showed them they were alone. Bill’s truck was parked outside on the clarifier deck where it belonged. `No parka here, but I didn’t see anything to indicate he went out of the room onto the walkway,’ Mitch said.

`Before we walked down here, maybe we should have called Les in primary,` Dwen said. `Bill’s got to be somewhere, and he isn’t here.` A phone call to the primary control room woke a dozing Les, who said that Bill wasn’t there. `And that’s all the operators accounted for, except Bill. Where could he have got to? Maybe Erik found him in the tunnels.`

Through force of habit, Dwen had been looking over the instrument readings. `Boy, the DO sure took a dip in tank 2 about an hour ago. I wonder why? It was fine when I was down here.` She started keying through the computer. Mitch distrusted computers, and had pulled out the old pen charts.

`And it’s only number 2,` said Mitch. `The rest look fine.`

The door they had come in a few minutes ago pulled open, and Erik walked out of the fog. He shook his head. `I took a trike and checked out all the new tunnels, then rode over here, carried it down the stairs by the old alum room, and checked out this gallery. Nothing. You didn’t find him either?

`No. We called Les, and we haven’t heard from Gord up at the lunch room. What now?` Mitch was plainly baffled.

Dwen turned to them with a sick look. `The DO in tank two was down, but is coming back up, and it only happened in that tank, right? What’s the worst thing for depressing DO?` she asked, in the tone of someone who already knew the answer.

`Blood, of course,` replied Mitch. `But the slaughterhouses warn us when they are sending high blood content into the system, and besides, it would be everywhere...` He stopped in horror.

`One of the aeration motors is tripped out.` Dwn considered for a moment. `It’s going to be dawn soon. Lets close the inlet and outlet gates to tank 2, and shut off the motors. It’s low flow right now, so the rest of the system can pick up the load. He’s got to be somewhere.`

Erik went to get one of the powerful hand flashlights and a sample pole from the truck. He met them at the door to the RAS pumphouse, at the east end of the aeration tank. This was both the beginning and end of the tank, since the inlet flowed down an inside channel to the east end of the tank, then into the tank to the north of the channel. The flow through the tank went west beside the channel, through a cut underneath it, and back down the south side of the channel toward the east again. They decided to start looking at the end of the tank and work against the normal flow. Without the aerators going, the fog wasn’t the normal roiling mist that made it impossible to see the surface of the tank; it was more like a normal mist coming off water. A slight breeze blew it aside. Working together, they carefully looked at each cell, leaning through the railings to look under the walkway as they went.

`This is the cell where the motor had tripped out, isn’t it?` Dwen asked as they got to the third cell from the beginning of the tank.

`Yes,` replied Mitch in an absent sort of way. He was looking over the motor and bearing assembly. `This seems fine.`

`Dwen, look! Here, hold the light. Over there,` Erik cried. He sprinted down the walkway to the other side of the cell, and used the sample pole to reach down to the liquid level. Dwen had followed him, and managed to get the light onto the foamy lump Eirk was prodding at, just as half of Bill’s face rolled up to stare at them. Erik leaned heavily on the railing and was sick. Dwen was never sure how she didn’t lose her grip on the flashlight as she collapsed onto the snowy walkway. Mitch joined them, and his breakfast made a contribution to the tank. There was silence for a moment.

`Erik, can you work him over to the side of tank? Do you think we can get him out with the sample pole?` Dwen made a sound deep in her throat. `I hate to say this, but is all of him there?`

Monday, June 24, 2013

We have a patio again

More gardening today. My neighbour a couple of houses down and I took his truck to Rona. I wanted to get some lattice and a few other odds and ends, and finally get some privacy again. We used to have a lattice a while ago. Every spring I would go out and screw it together where it had come loose. Then several years ago I realized that it was coming completely apart. I took it down, and over that summer I dug out the boxes and put down a layer of newspaper and cedar mulch.

I don't want to think about how long ago that was. It's been a while. Now, doesn't this look much better? Still lots to do.

It's still not the nice thicker cedar we used to have but better than nothing. Tomorrow I'll go get some Climatus, and some roses to climb up the lattice. Stay tuned for further BIG changes. Hint, much as we like blue, it won't be there much longer.

I've lived with cats most of my life. It never ceases to amaze me the postures they sleep in once they come to realize the house is safe, and no predators are going to pounce on them. If I tried to tuck him into this position, Curtis would protest a lot. Here he's merely complaining I've interrupted his sleep.


Last night I was up late writing. I turned around to see the cats curled up on the chair together. Celina was giving me the look telling me I was keeping her up. I love how cat's eyes behave in photos.


My feet are less tender, but it still comes and goes. I was a bit of a slacker today, other than wrestling with lattice in the wind, trying to get it done before the rain.

We sat out on the patio this evening, drinking a glass of wine. It's a nice evening, a bit cool and breezy. Although I've been having fun being domestic the last few days, I'm not unmindful of people a few miles away dealing with a major flood.

I got a chuckle out of our Mayor. At one point during a press conference he felt compelled to talk about people boating on the river. The swollen dangerous river that has burst it's banks in several places and is still running at record levels. You can see the clip here. The words Nenshi Noun will enter the local language. As in, Don't be a Nenshi Noun, used to describe idiotic and inconsiderate behaviour. Here's a bunch of Nenshi related stuff to amuse you.

Today on short notice they put out a call for volunteers to assemble at McMahon Stadium for 10 am. They hoped for 600, and could deal with a max of 1000. There was 2500 people there willing to work. The evac centers have been turning away volunteers on an hourly basis. The Stampede grounds are a mess, and they had to practically tranquilize herds of volunteers that wanted to go in and start cleaning before the water had even gone away. Stampede starts July 5, and believe it or not, they are going ahead. Maybe not as the year of planning had anticipated, but going ahead.

Today I saw a photo of part of the LRT tracks near the Stampede Grounds, here's a screen shot. They look like a roller coaster ride. As far as I know they are still pumping out the LRT tunnels and haven't even been able to assess the damage down there. It could be weeks before the south LRT is working again. The only practical way of getting to Stamped is the LRT, so this is going to be interesting. There is a crew pumping out 7 stories of the garage under city hall. It's going to be weeks before people are working in there again. They are trying to arrange alternate work arrangements for Linda and many other City workers. Wouldn't you know it, this is the time of year we pay our property tax.

On a personal front, my office is dry, and has been dry. The power was out, and our building is in the queue to be assessed. They are restoring power very carefully, and all the buildings in a substation grid have to be ready to go. I'll be off Tuesday for sure, and they don't know about Wednesday.

To be honest I'm liking the break. I've been taking the various officials at their word and avoiding the emergency areas. There are times when the best help you can give is staying out of the way.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

We gardened

I have overdosed on flood porn. I've been obsessive about checking twitter and facebook every few minutes and looking at the many many pictures and videos. I won't put any of it here, since I'm assuming that if you want to look, you can ask Mrs Google yourself. We remain warm and dry.

Yesterday evening was actually like summer, and we went for a bit of a walk. There was a nice sunset with a beautiful full moon showing up.


 Today started nice. Linda went out to the garden centre and got some plants. As many of you know, our flower beds have been a disaster of their own for a while. This is the year to start doing something about it. I'd dug out the two long front ones and cleaned out the growth. Two roses were to replace the day lilies and other encroaching plants at the end of the boxes. If these roses are anything like the Alberta rose by the garage, in a few years I'll be trimming it back with a chainsaw and trying to keep it out of the lawn.

The idea was to take out the lilies and divide them up. We wanted to be pretty through about getting the intruders out, but couldn't wash them like we had planned. Calgary has banned the outdoor use of tap water to help the treatment plants stay on top of the required supply. In a side note, I am laughing at all the people buying bottled water. Calgary tap water is very good all the time, and it's still exceeding the provincial standards.

So we had fun hacking the lilies apart and put them in the other boxes. Chatting to a couple neighbours.  Enjoying the sunshine. Glad I'd sprayed mosquito repellent.




We were just about done when it started raining, so we packed it up. Old day lilies are really tough, so I hope at least some survive the experience.


It rained a very little bit, much less than what we had expected from the clouds. After we were gone we slipped back out to battle the swarms of mosquitoes to plant the last of the other stuff. Petunias, I think Linda said they were. Whatever. Most of my experience is with waste water and petroleum plants. I barely know one kind of green plant from another.

I was down really working my left calf muscle, and a bit of tenderness on the bottom of my foot. It was fine during our walk and tightened up a lot after. Today it's been tight again, so I was downstairs rolling and stretching. It almost feels bruised.

Friday, June 21, 2013

There are other things to worry about

Hi. We are fine. There are lots of people worse off than us here.

Our biggest worry today was getting a window installed, on a north facing wall, while it was raining. There was a four man crew. Let's just say they went to town and got'er done.





Other than that we are appalled and horrified at the flooding not far from here. I'm pretty sure the parking garage for the building I work in is full of water. They told me to stay home today, and it's not like that broke my heart. I was sort of planning it anyway. I'm actually going to be a little surprised if we are not told to stay home the beginning of the week as well.

When I say downtown is flooded, I'm not meaning the rain has built up on the streets and the gutters are full. I mean the buried parkades are full of water. The LRT tunnel behind city hall is full of water. The Saddledome is full of water up to row 14, and there is a tiny little event called the Calgary Stampede that is supposed to start in a couple of weeks. The rest of the Stampede grounds are under about a foot of water. As is much of down town. Some of the big electrical transformers are in danger of being flooded. The underpasses under the railway tracks are completely full.

I don't think any of the bridges over the bow river are open except to emergency vehicles. For some the bridge deck is under water. I saw a clip that said the bridges are fine because they're anchored to bedrock, and that's well and good. But if the soil supporting the nearby roadway is eroded away, there's going to be a problem. That appeared to be the case for north bound MacLeod Trail near the Earlton LRT station.

Bad as it is here, it's worse elsewhere. High River for example, and I'm not being facetious. There is actually a very nice little town about an hour south of here with that name. I saw a photo that looked like there was about 4 feet of water in the main street. The whole town is flooded. All of it. About 15,000 people have to go elsewhere.

If you can get to a house promptly after a flood there is stuff you can do to save it. But if it's been a couple days, especially if the water is up to the main floor, it becomes an insurance nightmare if it's cheaper or better to tear down and replace, or try to repair.

Many people have spoken of getting themselves, their families, and their pets out, and having to leave everything else behind. Some are lucky enough to bring things like essential paperwork, photographs, and other irreplaceable treasures. That still leaves a house full of soaking wet stuff to be dealt with. If you still have a house. Some have had their entire house swept away, which means that the plot of land it was on is gone too.

Think about that for a moment. There you are in an emergency shelter, knowing that everything you own is there with you. Not knowing what the insurance settlement, if any at all, will be. Some people don't even know if their house will be there. I can't imagine that, and I'm a person who was told as a child the house I lived in had burned down.

It's been raining pretty well all day, though it is nice at the moment. At some point, hopefully soon, the rivers will start receding and we can start putting our city back together. I'll be looking for a place to help out. Blogging and workouts might be sporadic.

There are times when one must focus on the essentials. Stay safe, try to stay dry.




Thursday, June 20, 2013

The rain is NOT mainly in the plain

It's everywhere.

Google Canmore Cougar Creek, or High River, or Bragg Creek. It's awesome and horrifying all at once. There is lots of water upstream of much of Southern Alberta, and its all trying to come downhill at once. A good chunk of central Calgary along the rivers are in the process of being evacuated. They think by morning 100,000 people will be displaced. I won't be going in to work tomorrow. There are entire communities under mandatory evacuation order. High River looks like it has about 4 feet of water in the main street.

Even getting home today was a bit of an ordeal. A bunch of low lying roads were closed. They've built a berm 6 feet high across 5th Ave near Elbow. But first, I had to take the shuttle to the Honda dealership to get the car. Routine servicing. That's up in the NE, only a few blocks from where I used to work. This time of day it usually took 35 to 45 minutes or so to get home. Deerfoot was a parking lot, so I went north to 16th, over to 52nd, south to Glenmore, South again on Barlow to Deerfoot, then north to Anderson and home. It took 1.25 hours. Lots of traffic. Lots of rain. I got a few shots along the way. These are straight out of the camera, no Snapseed or other enhancements.





This last one was just a few minutes ago. Torrential rain just ending.


We are warm and dry, so far. If the water gets so high that we have to evacuate, then essentially the entire city will need a place to go. Can't go west, the road is partially washed away near Canmore. Can't go south, the road is flooded and might be washed away near High River.

Somehow don't have the ambition to do a bike and core workout tonight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The rain is hosing down

I've been lucky so far. It's monsoon season in Calgary, and we're getting record rainfall. Right now it's coming down as hard as I've ever seen it happen, with the clouds just screaming along overhead.

It rained hard, briefly, during yoga class and was fine when we came out. We were home a few minutes and it started again. This is the last class of the year for us, unless we get onto Helen's crazy summer schedule. Probably not, at least not for me. I can go down into my fitness cave and do all the yoga I please, on my schedule.

Have I said what a wonderful teacher we have? Today we were playing with our feet, and since the bottom of my left foot is a bit tender, this is all good. This was a move that she had known and forgot about till she was reminded at her wine I mean yoga retreat. It was in Naramata, so you can understand my confusion.

There was a short bike yesterday, then a good stretch and core session. That's when I got into the serious thoughts post, which has had some nice comments.

This morning I was in the pool for a nice swim, though I had no water feel at all. Which is a pity because I was sharing the lane with a couple of fast swimmers and it would have been nice to be on my game. Then water ran with my buddy Katie for a little while, getting  all caught up. I get tired just listening to what she gets up to!

Still not signed up for any races. I don't see any point of doing races while not completely recovered. I've suffered through enough races just to finish. I don't need to do more of that. It's another thing entirely to be healthy and pushing to claw my way up that fiercely competitive age group I'm in. That would be nice.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A friend triggers serious thoughts

As you know, I've been married a long time. A few years back I was suddenly put in the position of approaching a woman sitting by herself on a bench, and introducing myself. My liver didn't quite shift in my chest, but I sure thought about it for a minute. I most assuredly did not want to come across like some perv hitting on her.

This was at one of the private lakes in Calgary, and my coach at the time had arranged an evening swim courtesy of a resident. I got there on time, and didn't see anyone I knew. This tall blonde woman sitting there had what looked like a wetsuit peeking out of her bag. Eventually I summoned my courage and asked if she was Leaha, here to swim with our mutual coach. It turned out she was, and we chatted a bit as the others were very late.

Eventually we zipped each other up, (our wetsuits!) and just as we were about to get in the water everyone else showed. I nearly cooked waiting for them. We had a nice swim, and we were on chatting terms at the periodic occasions we met up.

Back in 2009 her and Shannon and I tackled the Calgary 70.3 course, and of course I blogged about it. She is an experienced runner and was working on building up to Ironman Canada 2011. She never got there. She was struck by a car. Here's a link to Leaha's story link. It isn't long, and it's worth taking a minute to read.

Since I've been involved in triathlon I've heard of a number of people being struck by cars or having bike crashes or being murdered as they are out for a run. Often they are the friend of a friend or blog buddy. Leaha is the first person I actually knew that had a really serious injury. It really isn't the same when it's someone you actually know.

I visited her in the hospital after she was out of the coma, but still nowhere near recovered. It is a very strange feeling to be talking to someone, when there isn't really anyone home. It was night and day visiting just before she moved back to Ontario for a while. While she was still struggling, someone was there to talk to.

Her recovery has been amazing, though she has had to work and struggle for every bit of it. She is one of the people I think about when my own life gets a little difficult, or so it seems. Compared to what she has gone through, my troubles are trivial. I only had to learn to eat, talk, and walk once. Seeing her up and around is a testament to the power of our brains to recreate ourselves in the face of tragedy.

It's related to how I feel watching the Ironman finish line camera. The pros are all nice and everything, finishing in times that make me shake my head, knowing how frigging difficult it is. But what I really like watching is after the 14 hour mark. These are my people. These are the people that probably are not sure if they would actually finish. It doesn't matter if you've done it before, every race is different. Crossing that line is an emotional experience for them. It was for me. That finish line photo is probably one of the biggest grins I've ever had in my life.

There are many days I wonder if I'm doing everything I can with my life. I go earn money to pay my bills, I dabble at fitness stuff, I write, I socialize with friends, I try to enjoy myself. But I wonder if I'm really making best use of who and what I am. If there is something I should be doing that is as difficult for me, as learning to walk and talk again was for Leaha.






Monday, June 17, 2013

Faucet failure with a side of slutty

Sunday was a whole lot of nothing. Well, that isn't true. I did get a couple things scratched off my to do list. The jungle got repressed, once again. The eco spray seems to be doing a nice number on the dandylions, but it isn't touching the vetch and that other stuff. Another flower box got finished off, ready for planting. A ton of Anise Hysop is coming up. I thought we'd got rid of that a long time ago, but I guess it's patient. I looked at playing with money to pay bills, but lost ambition. Maybe tonight.

There was an embarrassing moment in the washroom of the pub where we hold our book club meeting. I was waving my hands under the outlet, and nothing was happening. Then I realized this is a more primitive model, where I actually have to touch something to make the water flow. Oh, the humanity! I'm glad nobody was watching.

What I was trying not to watch was either of the two waiters. I can appreciate that they need to hustle for tips, and it helps to dress to accent your highlights, so to speak. But there's a line, and both of crossed over into slutty territory. One had a mostly off the shoulder top and a spaghetti strap bra on. Well, mostly on. Most of of the time it and the top was not just off the shoulder, but off the bicep and working on the crook of the elbow. I figured it was even money the right boob was going to make a break for daylight. The other waiter was more covered, but the outfit, the hair, and the makeup looked like she had just got off shift from her dominatrix job. She was scary. Service was very slow. In the few months we've been there things have gone downhill pretty far.

Much of Sunday was working on my novel. A new and interesting character has shown up in two different places.

Then the important part of the day, placating the mammals of the house. And BBQing the bison burgers.

There was a really good stretch and core session after getting warmed up working on the lawn. I can feel it in my hams today. I'm already tired of the lawn growing, and monsoon season can end any time now. Getting a bobcat in to strip off all the grass is more and more attractive.

This glass of wine is tasting very good. I'll be ready for bed soon.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

I ran again, actually ran!

Saturday was supposed to be rainy all day, so my initial plan was to putter about the house inside. I did manage to get two items checked off my to do list - excavate the laundry table, and bleach a bunch of wine bottles.

It's nice to see clean glass emerge after the remnants of label goo, old water spots, wine film or other buildup is removed. Some of that goo is pretty stubborn. It's a peaceful activity, and can be almost meditative. My hands still smell a bit of bleach.

We had a thunderstorm sweep through with some light hail. I didn't see it. By the time I emerged from the basement it was nice again. My feet were itchy for a run. I was feeling warmed up, having been doing lots of bending and stretching and squatting and twisting, and all that while doing wine bottles.

Changed and headed out, with the thought I'd do whatever my feet and legs were happy with. Look at the pace time on this graph!


My feet and legs were happy and light. I wasn't pushing the pace at all or trying to run fast. It was warm but not hot, with a nice breeze. I could see the mountains. I was relaxed and enjoying it. This is how running is supposed to feel. My lungs and heart were working a bit, but could have carried on longer. Just at the end I could feel my run form starting to fall apart. Rather than push it, I hit the button, and walked home to cool down. There were some interesting tingles in my left calf, almost as if a prickly plant was brushing against the top of my calf.

Good stretch and core session after, including plank. Lots of wine in the evening. Today my feet are feeling a bit tender. I'll go do a bit more stretching, and rolling my feet on the ball. That feels so good! Book club in a little while.

We had some Telus guys show up at the door. At first I thought they were Jehovahs Witness, but no. They wanted to give me a TV, and a PVR, and a cable package for $130 dollars a month. He kept asking me what I liked about Shaw, and didn't seem to understand that I wasn't getting my internet from them, and that I'm not especially keen to have phone, internet, and cable all from the same provider. Nor am I keen to pay the extortionate fees for cable service. If we do this at all, we'll buy our own equipment, and hook it up to Netflix or Hulu, or whatever else seems good. Anybody else try that Telus package? What did you think? We can't be the only door they banged on.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Where am I?

First things first. If you missed it, and it hasn't even been there 24 hours so it's entirely possible if you have a life, you might want to read one of my better rants. Mainly political, but that's where the Stupidity Kool-Aid seems to be getting drunk these days.

On to today, and the pool in the morning. Swam 45 minutes, the usual workout. Water ran after. It wasn't as rusty as I thought it might be given how long it's been since I was last in the pool. I think I can carry on the way I was with swimming.

Once home, onto the bike for an hour. Easy warmup, 20 minutes at the middle of endurance pace or so. Heart rate 115 to 120, light sweat, easy breathing. Easy spin to cool down, with some spin ups to 115 rpm. Sit bones complaining a bit, quads a bit tired, especially just above the knee, and hams were feeling it. Toward the end I could feel my spin losing smoothness. I think I'll stay at this level for a week or two, trying to stay on the bike a bit longer, but hold off trying to push big watts.

Good stretch session after, with just a bit of core. There was a bit of clicking in my left knee, but that ironed itself out.

Five years ago tomorrow was my first triathlon, the Chinook Half ironman. I still want to have a good day that this race, but this year isn't going to be it. During my ride today I was feeling a bit out of shape, compared to myself from 5 years ago. I'm pretty sure I'm not ready to go do a half iron, though these things are hard to tell until you try.

In some ways I think I'm stronger, and I think my base cardio fitness might even be a bit better, but my muscular endurance sucks. Hopefully that will come around. So at this point I want to continue the core stuff, and start swimming and biking regularly again. This will start working the muscular endurance and building the cardio more, without the impact of running. That will come. My thinking is to run a little bit, nice and easy so I don't forget how, but don't stress them too much as they work on the bike. A year is a long time for a gradual build.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Stupidity Kool-Aid Rant

There must be something in the water lately. Not just here, seems like everywhere. I almost don't know where to begin.

The 3.1 Billion is still missing, as far as I can tell. However it's possible that they found where it went, and the media is focussed elsewhere. No surprise there.

For my lifetime, Canada has mostly been a pretty sensible place. Compared to many parts of the world it's heaven on earth, which explains why so many people emigrate here. Oh sure, there's been a few scandals here and there, and some exciting politicians. They are generally from the coasts. One was Flying Phil Gaglardi. Another was John Crosby. And what do we get from the middle of the country? Buttermilk Bill Davis from Brampton, the King of bland.

But generally Canadians are a pretty boring lot. We go about whatever the business at hand is, and over the last 146 years have produced a great place to live. Sometimes it's muddling through, and on some things we got lucky, but there have been any number of Canadians over the years that are widely regarded as being extremely good at what they do.

But now? Again, I'm struggling to know where to begin. There is simply so much of it. Stupidity, that is. Federally. Provincially, in several provinces. Municipally in the biggest city in the country.

It isn't even like shit happened and people are dissecting the entrails. Oh no. Most of the stories are on full boil, with new developments daily. It's hard to say if the boiling will make things better or not, but the odds are against it.

Let's start with the guy that gave a sitting Senator (the politician, not the sports team) $90,000 to pay back expenses he had improperly claimed. Even that bland statement covers a multitude of sins, all of them stupid:

  • Nigel Wright was at the time the Prime Ministers right and left hand man, being Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's Office, making him one of the most powerful men in the country. By all accounts he is supposed to be a smart man. What on earth was he drinking to think he could give a Senator $90K?
  • And why did Duffy accept it? It's not like he's poor, or he shouldn't be. Senators earn very good money, thank you very much, and have expense allowances and other top ups. Plus when he worked as a media person, he was making a very good salary. At the very least he could have made arrangements to pay it back.
  • Why did Duffy claim the expenses he did? Frankly, if he tried that for any other employer in the developed world he'd have been fired for theft, and maybe charged with fraud. The man claimed expenses to which he was blatantly, obviously, clearly not entitled. One once, but many times.
The story spirals out from there. It seems there is a slush fund for the PMO that only Wright, and the Prime Minister himself had signing authority on. They vehemently deny that the $90K came from there.  Harper denies being involved, and I almost believe him. But then, that's why one has a chief of staff. It appears that Duffy was never eligible for the Senate appointment in the first place, and made some pretty bald attempts to further feather his nest.
Today the RCMP is actively investigating and the Senate Ethics officer has suspended their investigation. It shouldn't take the RCMP more than a few days to make either Wright or the bank cough up the cheque. I have not the slightest doubt there will be more revelations to come. And the whole thing from beginning to where we are now is stupid! Every attempt to minimize or hide the initial crime has made it worse. You'd think they'd learn.

Which leads naturally to the current Alberta Health Services fiasco. The whole health department has been a running sore of an embarrassment for years now. The Health Minister just yesterday fired the entire board for not doing what they had been ordered to do. It isn't like this board is comprised of rogue elements going wild. No, the thing to remember is that they were appointed by THIS VERY MINISTER! 

We all know that people chosen for such positions have one overwhelming qualification, best put by the immortal Sir Humphry Appleby, as "they are one of us." The chair of the recently fired board has tried to dress it up as maintaining the integrity of a (supposedly) signed contract. Said contract was to pay about 100 senior executives about $3.2 million between them, at a time when they are cutting services to the disabled, and the government is hectoring other unionized staff.

Yes, the Health ministry is a huge, complicated beast. But good golly, the stories of stupidity that have emerged over the last few years make me wonder what is in the water. Google Duckett and the cookie. And yes, they have tried to make the various scandals go away, and they only get worse. So the board didn't learn, and so the government hasn't yet learned. 

Which in the spirit of symmetry brings us to municipal politics. A minor one first. A prominent local developer was caught on cell video badmouthing city council's perceived policies on development, and notes they had given a fruitloop right wing organization more than a million dollars to stack Calgary city council with councilors opposed to Nenshi, I mean, those who would vote as they were told to, I mean, those who were development friendly. So far, they have been spinning madly trying to walk it back. Nenshi needs to merely refer to the video. 

Can I insert a quickie here about Mayor Nenshi? He is the major exception to my rant about stupidity. People have been astonished that Cowtown would elect a brown skinned practicing Muslim with unruly hair and a big loopy grin to be Mayor. It's only been a couple years, and he is widely regarded as one of the best mayor's we've had. There is an election in a while, and running against him is considered to be a fool's errand. Before him there was an endless succession of split council votes that would go around and around and around, as the councilors ganged up on the perceived weakest vote, then try again. Council was always in the news. Now, it works. There are some hiccups, but they are getting things done. I think we're pretty darned fortunate.

In contrast to Hogtown. Toronto. Pronounced, for my American friends, "Trawna". The news today is that Mayor Ford still won't answer any questions about the video of him smoking a crack pipe, that three trained journalists have seen, and independently reported on. The questions he won't answer today revolve around a police raid on the house where it is alleged the crack was smoked in. I haven't been paying a lot of attention to Twitter lately, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it mentioned that the local police knew about the crack video even before the journalists.

I don't see how this one can get any better, as seen from the perspective of Toronto. It isn't like this is Ford's first bought with, with, I don't even know what word to use. Notoriety? Yet he persists in carrying on, hoping, like all his previous offenses, that it will go away. The whole thing is stupid. Normally I'd say stupid with a capital S, but even this has serious competition in the stupidity department. See above.

From the record, it is my considered opinion that we shouldn't be voting for angry middle aged to old white men any more, especially those of the right wing persuasion. Recently they've been displaying a remarkable amount of stupidity. Maybe we should be seeking out brown skinned practicing Muslims with unruly hair and big loopy grins. 

But wait! There's more! Quebec is a different place. They say they are a different nation, and deserve to be a nation, and they are so special they want to be a fully independent nation as long as Canada pays the bills and continues the equalization payments.

So in Quebec there is the current stupidity, and institutional stupidity. The latter is exemplified by the current corruption scandals. As near as I can tell, every elected politician in and around Montreal, and all the construction companies are in bed together to fuck over the tax payer. But that's business as usual.

No, the current stupidity is the Quebec Soccer Federation, and no I don't know what that is in French, telling players that wear turbans they are welcome to play soccer in their back yards, but there is no place for them on the soccer pitch with other kids. "It's unsafe, and the rules don't permit it". Well, that same rule doesn't permit a lot of things, like female players wearing head bands or scrunchies for their pony tails. 

They are currently in a peeing match with the Canadian Soccer Federation, which has pulled their sanction for holding official events. And rightly so. They should take a page out of the Alberta Health minister's book and fire the lot of them. Supposedly Quebec is a secular society, except for Catholic relics. Those are allowed because they're "cultural". But they are going out of their way to restrict other cultures and religions.

Again, for American readers, in Canada it would be considered quite rude to ask someone which church they worshiped at, or to invite someone to worship at your church, unless that other person brought up the topic. As an example, even though I'm atheist, if a new neighbour wanted to know what churches were nearby, I'd be able to point them to a Catholic, JCLDS, Jewish, and United church not far from here. But I'd never take the initiative and suggest they attend, or that they shouldn't attend at all. It's quite simply none of my business.

I know people in Quebec, and they have much the same approach to religion. It's the people in public office that seem to be pandering to what they think of as the national interest. Which often means the old Quebec. Which, in an odd sort of way is really similar to the old Canada. The one run by and for old white men, Catholic in Quebec, Protestant in the rest of Canada. The one that is gone forever now. We have had so many immigrants from all over the world that we can never put that genie back in the bottle.

And you know what? I'm happy about it. There are a ton of Muslims that are just as horrified by their supposed co-religionists when they commit a terrorist act as we are. And yet, look at the USA, most of the terror  acts are either committed by white men with fruit loop beliefs, or by government agents for who knows what reason. Calgary has a huge Asian population, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and others. The simplistic, racist view is that it makes for good eating, and lots of choices for accountants. All the Asian people I've met and worked with over the years have been smart, hard working people that are a credit to Canada.

Stupidity is choosing people to run our country and institutions on the basis that "they are one of us". One of my key rules for life is that whatever is hidden away and done in secret will fester and go rotten. That goes for food, people, and acts of government. So when the Health Minister goes to appoint new AHS board members, they ought to open the competition to everyone in the province. Post their names and resumes on line, and make the choice in a clear, transparent way. See if the "one of us" is really the right choice.

There needs to be some institution that can force the people that are perpetrating these acts of stupidity to bend and spread 'em. To produce the paperwork, to tell the truth, to come clean. The performance of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons over much of the last decade has been stupid and shameful, and there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it. I don't know what Kool-Aid they've been drinking, but it has to stop.

I can't help but think that what much of the world needs now is some adult supervision. I just don't know what that looks like. I have no idea if any of these people are still alive, but I wonder what the mother's of some of these idiots in the news think of their sons? Usually it's sons, but that $16 glass of orange juice comes to mind, small potatoes that it is.

In one sense I want to go slap some sense into those people. In another I just want to go away and ignore it, which is exactly what they'd like me to do. Because then they would continue the private gravy train.

Social media has facilitated some amazing events over the past few years. Maybe we can figure out how to harness it to reduce the amount of stupidity in the world. Given most of the blather that is on Facebook, for example, I'm not hopeful, but there is some promise. Any ideas?



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

pre-rant, and warm yoga

My legs continue to be good. If I'd known how warm the yoga studio would be, I'd have skipped class and gone for a run instead. It's such a nice night out, and our regular instructor is out of town. Her replacement was nice, and there were lots of good moves in there. However I was much sweatier today than usual.

There has been a ton of stuff swirling in my brain lately. Work is busy. My novel is percolating. I'm trying to get regular with workouts and continue with core. Plus, there is all the stupidity that's happening lately. In no particular order, Rob Ford (multiple indictments), Stephen Harper (multiple indictments), Duffy (multiple indictments), Wright, Wallen, Quebec Soccer Federation, Alberta Health system (multiple indictments), the Alberta government in general, and several others that are swirling too fast to be noted at the moment. Any or all of these might be involved in an upcoming blog. I'm thinking tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yay, official end to cranky legs!

Normally I don't have much difficulty coming up with stuff to write about here. How much my readers like it is another story entirely, but that's their business. Some things they like, and I guess that's about as good as it gets.

The formerly cranky legs have been improving a lot over the last month or so, and the last week have been back into normal territory. Normal, in the sense of I've felt this way before after races and big workouts, the next day. Normal in the sense that things are still tight and I'm still hoping and working for improvement.

During my massage today I got worked over pretty good. There were a few tight spots still, but overall much better. She even got to work on my shoulders and mid back a bit.

Once home I was pretty eager to get on the bike. My idea was to do a bit of a spin to flush the legs, and then some stretching with a bit of core. And holy cow! My legs felt good on the bike, light, even, and spinning smoothly. At one point not all that long after getting on, I looked down to see 95 rpm, which over the last bunch of rides was bumping up against my limits. Today it felt easy.

Still, I didn't push it. Did a few spin ups, and tried a few minutes of moderate effort, with an easy spin cool down. 30 minutes altogether, then onto my mat. Good stretch and core session.

I'm looking forward to a gradual start, trying to build some consistency as I rebuild my base, and not get my legs cranky again. I never thought I'd say that I've missed running.

I see that the trailer for the second Hobbit movie is out. Smaug, what I could see of him, looks pretty good. Still, I have the same objections to it, that I had to the first one. There seems to be lots of stuff in it that isn't in the book, or even hinted at in the book. Making 3 long movies was expected for Lord of the Rings, and justice was done there. But 3 long movies for one short book? Seems like over kill to me. I suspect this one will end just as the main battle at the end of the book begins.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Core is hard when the cats 'help'

Shortly after the cats woke me, I headed downstairs. My thought was to do some stretching and core first thing, and maybe go for a run while Linda slept. It's really hard to do all that when 2 cats are all over you. Under you. Rubbing up against you. Watching and critiquing your form, or lack of it. I got some stretching in, then went upstairs for coffee and some breakfast.

It's been a quiet day here, with rain on and off and ON!! and off, and on again. I did some work on my book, and read through our book club book (Gift of Fear), but I found it hard going. I went back to my other read, Conspiracy of Tall Men, which is interesting me a lot. So far the Illuminati have not shown up. Can't wait. What's a book about conspiracy theories without the Illuminati?

Racked the red wine, and started the white, a Riesling. Washed some bottles, and for a wonder, even the hard ones weren't so bad. There's a ton that need bleaching though, maybe next weekend. Tidied the fitness area and need to vacuum it. Then the core part of the day, I guess.

No run or bike, but I think that's ok. I'm feeling just a bit of normal tightness in my hams, so progress is happening. A run would probably be ok, but I think more recovery is better in the long run. The core work seems to be doing really well, and I've read so much of people that try to push their recovery. They end up injuring themselves again, or delaying the return to full potential.

The first thing she said when I called

This social thing, I don't know. It's quite the change for me. For a year or so I had essentially no social life training for IMC. Now I'm doing the work thing, the social thing has really taken off, and while the core is going well, the cardio training has taken a bit of a back seat.

Going to High River used to be easy. You drove south on #2 till you crossed the diagonal railway tracks, and made the next right. High River is this nice little town in the foothills, though the suburbs are attacking it lately, with a thriving arts community. The view west is amazing, and from some vantage points it takes your breath away. Today was all about the cloudscapes. The sky is huge, with the land unfolding out in front of you. The sky is different shades of blue, and all sorts of wonderful cloud shapes that were just begging to be painted.

We used to go down several times a year to look through the shops and stroll. One gallery had this table that kept calling me. A nice round dining room table, made of birds eye maple and other more exotic woods. It was gorgeous and would have suited our home perfectly. It was also more than a month's gross income at a time when I was still spending most of it. We never did buy it. I don't think I could ever have actually covered it with a table cloth, and I know I'd have whimpered at every spill.

Then they put an overpass over the railway. That was ok. Since the last time I've been down that way, (there is another more scenic route) they put in another exit. So I took the first exit like normal, then I'm driving along wondering where all the stuff is. I did the same thing driving into Okotoks from the south. There's a new stoplight that wasn't there last time. Turned off one too soon again. Darn this constant growth, making me reset all my mental maps!

Pike's Pottery was having a sale this weekend. We have a ton of their stuff, most in the green and copper Earth Spirit series. We chipped a small plate a while ago, and wanted to replace it. We also ended up buying some other stuff as well. A new mug for me  in a darker green and lighter copper, with a brighter glaze, as well as a pair of cereal bowls and a honey dipper in the same glaze.

We didn't do any other strolling around. As we left the shop I called my buddy MT that lives south and east of there to confirm our meet up. MT and I worked together a long time ago, and we got on really well. We recently met up on Facebook, and invited us out to her place when she found out we were heading to High River.

Let's just say there was a bit of salty language over the phone. It was sunny then, so she couldn't see the phone screen, and hadn't realized I could hear every word as she was trying find out if it was on, or she had turned it off somehow, and getting her son to shut off the lawnmower. I was laughing because it was just like the conversations we used to have.

You know sometimes how you meet a person again for the first time in a while, and you aren't sure what to talk about? That uneasy silence? None of that here. It's been 16 or 17 years since we last saw each other, so there was lots to catch up on, but it was like we had last seen each other a few weeks ago.

Most people would say she is retired, but that's far from the truth. Her just telling me what she's been up to almost made me tired. I can confidently state nobody would guess her age. We had a great visit, and then suddenly realized we were beginning to run a little bit late for dinner with some friends in Okotoks. We said our goodbyes, but I'm pretty sure we'll get together again. She is in Calgary every month or so. Her turn to visit us.

We always have fun visiting G&G, our Okotoks friends. We've known them many years now, and it's so nice to catch up on them. Technically, they are retired as well, but he's working part time doing something he enjoys, and she always has artistic house projects on the go.

It was really late when we got home, later than I usually stay up. My day had started early with Curtis wailing out the Song of his People at a respectable volume, trying to convince me he was hungry. They still turned up their noses at the wet food we're trying out on them. After that I settled in to coffee and writing, pounding out about 2500 words of the latest twist in The Body in the Digester.

Friday, (don't you love backwards posts) I was on the bike for a medium strong spin, and a good core and stretch session after. My legs were feeling more equal strength, though my left knee wasn't happy about pedaling standing. There was a pause just at the point it is most bent. My breathing and heart rate were good for the effort, but I was sure getting sweaty.

Am I going to post a novel snippet? Not of this bit, I don't think. The Scrivener writing tool is suiting me perfectly. It's much easier to work with than a pile of text documents. Pity they don't have an iPad app yet, though I'm told they are working on one.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Double Unders are hard!

What a great day outside! I was thinking of running all day, wanting to be out in the warmth. I was especially thinking of running as they drained some of my nearly perfect blood today. The nurse was a little surprised at my blood pressure, (I think 110 over 65) and heart rate of 48. I take it you're fairly fit, she asked. Well, I'm trying. Evidently that is on the low end of what they will allow.

That run today. Limbered up really well. Tried to run nice and easy, which was a bit difficult. My right leg was all bouncy and happy, and my left leg felt very wooden and stiff. I think was limping on it a bit. Two two short walk breaks, just because.


Stretched well after, rolling the ball hard on my legs. The hams are feeling a bit stiff, and there is a bit of creakyness in my left knee. Doing a supported one leg squat, I can get way lower on my right.

I'd picked up a jump rope and some stretchy bands with the last of the Sport Check gift certs I won last fall. The jump rope should be good in short bursts to help strengthen my legs. Just for a giggle I tried double unders a couple of times, and got whapped across my shins with the rope for my trouble. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Closer to Madness

In addition to being a really good song by the awesome guitar player Jesse Cook, it's also rapidly getting to be my state of mind.

I started with this.

SELECT MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.CLEAN_UWI, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.RECORD_SOURCE, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.SOURCE_STATUS, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.NUM, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.ID, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.NUMERIC_ID, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.EXTRA_VAL_10, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.EXTRA_VAL_6, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.STATUS_1, [PV Service Status Codes].PV_Status_Desc, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.STATUS_2
FROM MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC LEFT JOIN [PV Service Status Codes] ON MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.STATUS_1 = [PV Service Status Codes].PV_SERVICE_STATUS
WHERE (((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.CLEAN_UWI) Is Not Null) AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.RECORD_SOURCE)="ROUGHNECK") AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.SOURCE_STATUS) Not Like "MISSING") AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.TYPE_1)="Tank") AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.NUMERIC_ID) Is Null) AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.STATUS_1) Not Like "RecycleBin")) OR (((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.CLEAN_UWI) Is Not Null) AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.RECORD_SOURCE)="MAXITRAC TANK") AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.SOURCE_STATUS) Not Like "MISSING") AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.NUMERIC_ID) Is Null) AND ((MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.STATUS_1)="I" Or (MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.STATUS_1)="O"))
ORDER BY MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.NUMERIC_ID, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.EXTRA_VAL_10, MASTERFAC_WKSPC_MAIN_TABLE_LOC.EXTRA_VAL_6;


That gave me about 15000 rows of data to triage. I'm still at it, finding all sorts of idiosyncrasies in the data. Later on I figured there was another pair of blocks of SOLD's that I couldn't get into that query anyways, so I ended up doing a really clever MATCH thing in xl. I need to check it all tomorrow to make sure I wasn't too clever. That can happen.

Did you know that Access and XL do sorts in subtly different ways? Even after more than a decade of serious XL use in data migrations, I found a new way for it to screw you over on dates. I was wondering why two fields were sorted together, and marked as duplicates. At first I figured they were duplicates elsewhere, but I gradually tracked them all down, and then just these two were left. Finally, the light dawned. It thought the serial number like 1-10-3274 was DATE, for crying out loud, which isn't a big leap because it happens often. XL has a fetish about dates, and I've used many swear words in association with XL and dates. Then it happily figures out how many days it is from when it starts counting dates, and then it uses that value to sort and mark as a duplicate to the actual text value of that number. Sigh.

Just for the record, when I get a choice about doing dates, I always do them like this. Today is 20130605. yyyymmdd. They sort nicely. XL doesn't think it something else and try to be helpful. There are no stupid / or - characters to mess things up. I admit that XL doesn't know how to do date arithmetic with it, but that's XL's problem. If *I* need to do it, there's an app for that.

Lets not even talk about data with leading or trailing spaces. Just don't do it. Ever. Please and thank you. I've never so badly wanted to fix data in the source system, so that my triaging would be ever so much easier. There is so much crap in Serial Number, which is actually EXTRA_VAL_6 in the SQL above, which complicates both the query and the triaging. Still, I suppose that if it wasn't a mess, they wouldn't need me to come along and tell them how to clean it, and in the meantime, get some useful work done with it.

That run yesterday felt pretty good. I was light on my feet, with only the slightest pulls just above my heels. It started really clunky, and then about a minute in it suddenly got better. Overall it felt pretty good, and if I hadn't had someplace to be, I might have run longer. I did not run today. How did I only learn today, that today is national running day? When did that happen?

Tonight was a good core session, working tired hip flexors and calves. Then a great yoga class full of all sorts of zenny yogic goodness.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

50 units of nearly perfect blood

A while ago I passed 50 blood donations. They gave me a pin and a new donor card. Then I got an invitation to an awards ceremony. There was a certificate and some yummy munchies.

I even had my photo taken with the cert, but I won't be showing you that one. Linda says I look more than just a little wild eyed. The angle makes it look like I have a huge divot on the right side of my head, and that I have no hair at all. Which isn't true, there are at least a dozen strands.

Lots of the room had done 50 donations, 2 people at our table had done 75. There were two people in our room that had done 1000 donations, though I'm not sure if that's platelets or plasma. Still, it was sitting in a chair for a couple hours, 1000 times. They have spent an entire man-year with a needle hooked into their arm. (As a snarky political side note, that's considerably more than anything "Senator" Duffy has done for Canada.)

The guest speaker was a little boy about 8. He would have died essentially just after birth without many blood donations. His mother nearly broke down speaking with us, to say thank you. For all I know he got some of mine. Or not, it doesn't really matter, he got what he needed because someone gave. There are many, many people alive now because thousands of people donate blood. That blood I can replace in a few weeks has made a profound difference to those people, their families, and their friends.

There is never enough blood. Can you donate? Have you? If you can, and haven't, why not? If you don't know if you can, go find out. My next donation is on Thursday, number 55. Hope to see you there.

They talked about signing up for stem cell, and blood marrow donors and I think I'll sign up for those next donation. Please sign the organ donor card on the back of your provincial health card. Consider supporting laws that make organ donation the norm, and you have to sign the card to NOT donate. One of my friends is alive today because she got a kidney donated by someone who was a genetic stranger to her.

In other news, the core stuff is continuing. Ran 15 minutes tonight before the award ceremony, nice and easy.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The oldest novel snippet, for new buddies

Once Curtis was fed, we slept in. That doesn't happen often for me. Then some errands at banks and markets. Some quiet time, listening to the rain. Very nice. Did some wine stuff, ending up with 30 bottles of Italian Nebbiolo. That doesn't often happen; I usually get 29. There is a batch of Brunello started now. BBQ chicken. Very yummy!

I mentioned I'd met up with an old buddy on Friday night. Part of the novel I'm working on was mentioned. Here it is for them. I'm not sure I've ever actually posted this before, though I think a few people have read it via email. Reading this for the first time in a while, I see places that need improvement. That's ok. And I just remembered, there is another death scene too. Maybe I'll post that next week. I think in all the history of crime fiction, nobody has ever died this way. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't post it.



Bryan adjusted his face mask while dragging the air line and water hose to the other side of the digester sump. This was where the drain pipe entered the digester, and was the only part that couldn't really be hosed clean. He had already dug out several 5 gallon pails of heavy black silt, at the cost of making the mask slide around on his sweat. The euchre game during coffee break couldn’t come soon enough.

One more pail, then I’ll take a breather and move the light so I can see what I'm doing. I swear the light never shines on what you need to look at, and it's always so dark in here. You'd think with the 4 manholes open and over a dozen lights we could see better.

A few shovelfuls later a white stick clung to the side of the shovel and was left poking out of the silt. Even with gloves on he didn't want to touch it without hosing it off first. For good measure he hosed around the sump, then moved the light into the sump with him. He squatted carefully to take a closer look.
It was long and slender with a knob on the end. It came out easily enough, and he gave the rest of it a quick swoosh with the hose before holding it up to the light.

It’s a bone. I’m holding a bone in my hand. What do I do now?

Bryan stumbled out of the sump and waved the bone at the safety man. All he could think was that he was going to miss the euchre game after all.

`Gail, Gail, here, take this, let me out of here!` he cried as his feet scrabbled at the wooden steps placed below the manway.

`What’s the matter, are you ok?` Gail asked. She had been checking the air equipment and had missed Bryan’s discovery. `Here, you’re gonna hurt yourself thrashing around Akkk! What’s that?` She took the bone by her gloved fingertips. `Bryan, what the hell! If this is another of your practical jokes --`

Now that he had torn the mask off, and was pawing at the safety ropes Gail could see his face was pasty white and sweaty. `Stop it!` she yelled, and slapped at his hands. `Sit down, I’ll get this stuff off you. You’re out of there and you’ll be ok now.` She carefully put the bone down on the air tank trolley, and pushed Bryan down onto the nearby upended pail so he couldn’t see the bone. She made soothing noises as she stripped off his safety gear and unzipped his coveralls. `Lean back, and take some deep breaths. Calm down.` She eyed the bone. `Look, I’m going to have to call the management, and they’ll call the police. Think about what you are going to tell them. I’ll just be on the phone over there, don’t go anywhere.`

Bryan’s face was looking a little better, she thought. How would a bone get into a digester? She paged her foreman. `Hey Two Dogs, this is Gail down at number 5 digester. Get your lazy carcass down here, there’s going to be shit happening that you’ll need to know about.` Next she tried the Chief Operator’s phone, and got lucky. `Chief, this is Gail down by number 5 digester. Bryan found a bone in the sump, yes a bone, an honest to God bone. I’ve got it right here!` Silence. `I thought so to at first, but you should have seen his face. Nobody is that good of an actor.` Silence. `How the hell do I know what to do? You get paid the big bucks to make decisions, do something. Probably calling the police is a good idea.`

`Geez, what an idiot,` she said to Bryan as she hunkered down on another pail. `Are you ok now?`

Gail was not surprised to see Mitch and Stu, the Operations Supervisor show up first. Two Dogs never hurried. She handed them the bone and said, `Bryan found it in the sump.` Stu simply looked at Bryan, who was shivering and making hand-washing motions.

Mitch took the bone, and held it in his gloved fingertips, a look of revulsion on his face. Stu peered at it with his usual amiable interest. `You’re right, this is no joke. Lets see, first things first. You,` he pointed at the Chief, `call the police. Tell them we’ve found what looks like a bone, and we’ll need some specialists to look through the silt to see if there are any more remains. Tell them to bring their own self contained breathing gear. Get someone to wait for them at the front gate and bring them here. Get someone else to lock every other gate into the plant; we don’t want the press wandering around. Make sure someone is on the front gate every minute. Log who goes in and out. Got it? And you,` he pointed, as Two Dogs strolled up, `get every explosion proof light and all the extension cord this place has down here. Pull them off any other jobs. Get every portable air pack down here. Do it now! If the cops beat that equipment here you won’t have a job to slack off at. Gail, get some “danger, no entry” tape, and wrap it around every door and across every tunnel into this pump house. We don’t need a bunch of spectators. Don’t do the east doors, but stand there yourself, and don’t let anyone in unless they belong. Go!`

Gail started up the stairs two at a time. The Chief was already on the phone. Two Dogs gawped. ` What,` he started.

Stu cut him off. `Deafness isn’t one of your sins, but you have lots of others. You know what I want, and I want it now. And in a few minutes the cops are going to want it too. If you have to explain to them why it isn’t here, they’ll likely charge you with obstruction of justice.` Stu had found the magic words. Two Dogs hated dealing with cops even when he was innocent. He headed off, if not as briskly as Gail, certainly faster than Stu had ever seen him move before.

Stu turned to Bryan. `Ok,` he said, much more gently, `this is going to be the last few minutes of quiet time you’re going to get for a while. I’m not going to ask what happened; I can hear it when you tell the cops. Get it straight in your mind. I doubt anyone has ever found a bone in a digester before; they’ll have lots of questions.`


`Stu!` The Chief waved the phone. `911 wants us to stay on the line, and I’ve got to get to another phone to deal with the gates!` He let the phone headset drop by it’s cord and jogged up the tunnel leading toward the main control room.

Dwen had never seen so many people in a digester pump house, nor the inside of a digester so well lit up. She watched in admiration as the senior cop got things organized. Once he seen the bone for himself, and where it came from, he realized there wasn’t a fresh body to look at or for. `We’re going to be here for a while. Is there any way to get it quieter in here so we can hear ourselves think?`

`Well, I don’t know, we need all this to keep the process going,` Mitch dithered.

`I’ll have those lagoon pumps off in two minutes,`Dwen said. `The place will be a lot quieter then, and we can review safety procedures. It won’t hurt anything to be a little behind schedule, but Mitch, you might want to phone out to the lagoons to let them know`.

The cop watched as Dwen wound down the variable-speed high pressure pump, turned it off, turned off the low pressure pump, then turned off the seal water pumps. `Better?` she asked.

`Yes, thanks. Chief, don’t you have a phone call to make?` He paused until the Mitch agreed, and left. `City foremen, they’re the same everywhere.` He sighed, then focussed on Dwen. `You looked like you knew what you were doing there. Are you next in charge after numbnuts there?` he asked, waving his eyebrows at the departing chief.

`I’m the senior operator on shift. Even the Chief shouldn’t do anything in my area without running it past me.` She looked him straight in the eyes, and added `and neither should you. You’ve got a job to do here, and I want to help you with it so nobody gets hurt, and the process doesn’t get messed up.`

Stu showed up as Dwen finished. `Exactly right, officer. I’m Stu, the Operation’s Manager here. As far as I’m concerned Dwen Burns is your contact for operational issues. Tell her what you want, and she’ll get it done for you. First safety thing is hard hats. The firemen are ok, but we’ll have some hard hats for your guys in a few minutes. We’d appreciate everyone wearing one while they are inside the building.`

The cop nodded. `Fine. First, I’m going to need a statement from the person who found the bone, and anyone else that was here at that time. Next, we’re going to have to search that tank for more remains.`

Stu took another cop over and introduced him to Bryan. They decided a quieter more private place yet would be better. Stu took them upstairs to collect Gail from the door, and put another of the plant personnel on door duty, then took them up to the administration building.

`Ok, Ms. Burns, lets take a look at this tank, and you can tell us what we need to know about it so we can search it.` He put his fingers in his mouth for a quick whistle over the hubbub of people talking and the background plant noise. `Come on over and listen up. Ms Burns here is the operator in charge here, and nobody touches anything without her say so. If you need something, ask her. Ms. Burns,` he gestured.

Dwen stood on the bucket and looked over the attentive faces. Don’t think I’ll much difficulty coping with this lot, she thought. `My name is Dwen. For the fire fighters, the only thing you need to know is that this tank, big as it is, is legally a confined space. The process generates methane, and even with all the venting, the low oxygen level inside requires that supplied air masks be worn at all times.` She paused for second, then said `and besides, it smells really bad.` The small crowd chuckled.

`What we have here is called a digester. It’s called that because it takes the suspended solids that are in wastewater, and through an anaerobic biological process, breaks them down and produces methane. The methane is compressed and piped down to the bottom of the tank through those long silver tubes you see hanging from the roof. That keeps the tank mixing. What settles out is a fine silt, and we have to clean it out periodically. This pail is full of the silt that was shoveled out earlier. The sump in the middle is mostly full, and there’s probably still some in places on the floor. Once inside you can at least get at it. But if you put your head in the manhole and look up, you’ll see some pipes up there that could well have material on top of them. The tank is 110 feet in diameter, and the centre is 6 feet lower than the sidewall. The pipes are about 20 feet above the bottom of the tank. Any questions?` The various people had taken turns shuffling forward to look in the manway.

`Can we get some more of these lights in there?`

`Yes, the maintenance staff will do that. If you want them somewhere special let them know. Please note that you cannot use your own flashlights in there unless they are certified explosion proof. We have some we can lend you.`

`Will the floor be slippery?`

`Not really any more slippery than any other wet concrete, but you will have to be careful of your footing. Some parts of the floor are more smoothly finished than others, and there could be process residue. As well, there will be lots of   electrical cords and air hoses in there. Um, officer, I’m assuming you’ll want to check the top of the pipes?`

`Yes, will it be safe to put ladders in there?` he replied.

`As long as there is a person holding the bottom of the ladder when someone is climbing it. For some reason working against a curved wall in the dim light seems to be somewhat disorienting. We’ll run a safety rope down from one of the roof manways for the person going up the ladder.`

`It’s not like we can’t see everyone that’s in the tank,` one of the fire fighters said, `but the rules call for a person posted at the manway to act as a safety man. Can you supply one, or do we need to use one of our people? And given the number of trained rescue people that will be in the tank, do you think we can dispense with everybody wearing a safety line?`

`I’ll get someone posted here.  I’ll insist on the person on the ladder wearing a safety line. If your professional judgement says we aren’t compromising safety by dispensing with the other people wearing a safety line, I’ll go along with it.`

`Ok, we’ll do it that way,` the firefighter said. `I suppose we should start with the pipes, so anything we knock down can be washed into the sump and checked there.`

One of the police officers frowned. `Wait a minute. I’m a forsenic expert, you mean that I’m not going to be able to look at the evidence in situ first?`

Lori and the boss firefighter shook their heads simultaneously. `Nope, you’ll have to do all your work out here. You can take over the centre of the pumphouse floor if you want, and there’s several pails worth to get you started. We’ll bring you more pails as soon as we can.`

The meeting broke up into a series of procedural discussions. The forsenic technicians only wanted a hose for water and some extra lighting for their work station, and were soon involved in a minute examination of the silt. The fire fighters sent two men up to the roof to handle the ladder safety rope, and a team of five into the digester. One would go up the ladder to search the piping, one would hold the ladder, and three would take turns digging out the sump.

Once things were underway, the officer approached Lori and asked, `I’d like to get more detail about the digester, is there a quieter place we can talk?`

`Sure, lets go up to my control room upstairs. It’s past time I went through the computer anyway.` Lori led the cop upstairs into the control room, and casually tossed her hard hat onto a table. `Have a seat. Give me a minute to look at the essentials here.` Her fingers started dancing over the keyboard.

She finished and said,`Ok, that’s enough for now. What would you like to know?

`Ma’am, could I get your full name, and title please.`

`Ceridwen Burns, I’m an Operator Three.` She spelled Ceridwen. `Call me Dwen.`

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