Thursday, June 30, 2016

Canada day 149

This may date me, but here goes. Do you remember this song? I'd forgotten the trumpet solo went on so long, but the rest was just like yesterday. I don't think we're going to get such a catchy tune for the 149th. Maybe 150, now that the sourpuss Harper is out of office and won't be throwing a damper on the party.

And, dammit, we have a lot to celebrate! I don't want to get into a laundry list because some of you might think I'm rubbing it in or something. But there isn't another country quite like Canada anywhere else. Somehow, we've taken a mix of 3 cultures, added a jigger from just about every other country, and ended up with a place where we mostly all get along.

Somehow, the old white tight-assed Scottish Protestant men that ran the country at the beginning have given way to a multi-cultural world that hasn't produced a Donald Trump. A few wanna-be's I have to admit, but that's all. We should be proud of ourselves for that at least.

Virtually everyone here is an immigrant, or the descendants of immigrants. When the government talked about bringing over Syrian refugees, there was an outpouring of help. It seems counter-intuitive, but this is the thing to do. These people will remember being welcomed. Their children are more likely to be productive citizens. Marginalizing them only creates problems down the road, as UK is discovering.

Do you remember the "boat people" of the 70's? You'd have thought that the world was ending, according to some people. That it would be the end of Canada. Where are they now? Your neighbours, two houses down. Their kids went to university and might be your doctor or your accountant.

We need more immigrants. Our birthrate is gradually lowering, and there's lots of old geezers (like me) who will be cashing CPP cheques for many years, and I want a bunch of people working to keep the economy ticking over. And sooner or later, I'm going to be in a home for decrepit people, and I'll want someone to take care of me. That they might have brown skin, or might be Muslim, or might not speak English all that well means nothing to me. So call me selfish for being concerned about my own comfort.

That isn't to say we don't have issues, we do. Living without issues would be boring. But we talk about them; we don't shoot each other. We come up with a compromise that leaves most people at least not too unhappy. Most of us understand that you don't get everything all the time. At least the grown-ups do, and by and large, Canada is run by grown-ups. Though I was wondering during the Harper interregnum.

Canada has a reputation for being a boring country. Everybody overlooks us. Maybe that's for the best. We don't have to be number one. But if any country is the secret number one, the place people want to live if they can't have their first choice, I'll bet it's Canada.

I don't have any particular plans for Canada day. Sleeping in, for starters. It's been a while since I was on vacation, and I have a week off. It will be nice.

What are your plans for the day?






Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I didn't have to race it after all

Calgary gets into a cycle about now. We get a bit of rain. Then a hot day so there's lots of moist warm air billowing around. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, adding to the moisture. Hot days make more afternoon thunderstorms. Just in time for Stampede. It's tradition.

They said there was a chance of more thunderstorms today. I was looking at the clouds on the way home, hoping for enough time to run. Just after I started I saw this, looking north and a bit west.

It looked darker than that, and seemed to be moving fast. I tried to move fast too, but I never really got in the groove. My plan was to stick close to home in case it did rain and hail and lightning and all.   Lets just say there was a bit of pressure. It ended up being 4.5 K in 29:15 for a 6:29/Km pace. That's a bit surprising.

Some kebabs went onto the BBQ straight away, as the sky was looking more and more ominous. We put the hanging plants and new pots in the garage. By the time we finished eating it was beginning to break up, and now it's a beautiful clear evening. We aren't going to take the plants out; then it would hail for sure. Calgarians can thank us later.

The run could have been much longer. Another 1.2 K would have been perfect. April was 99.6 K. May was 102.5 K. And now June is 108.8 K. I was hoping for 110 K, but I'll take it. This is as close to consistent running as I've ever been. I'm aiming for 120 K in July. Watch and see if I get there.

Monday was a water run with Katie and a blah swim. The run and the swim, that's it for workouts. So far. Lets see if I swim Thursday, and maybe bike or run Friday.

One more day at work, then a week of vacation. No real plans other than to hang out and relax and play with my new camera. I'm planning an expedition to Fish Creek, if anyone wants in. Then Stampede, which will be a short week as well. Then 6 more weeks and my contract is up.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

For the rain it raineth really hard

Three years and a week later, Calgary, or at least part of it, looked like another flood. We were warned of possible severe thunderstorms. At work today we were peering out the windows as it got darker and darker.

There was a little bit of rain walking to the LRT station downtown. It was raining a bit harder at Southland. Then it started raining really hard. We paused in a big puddle at 24 St and Anderson road. I had to wipe the bus window to get this shot. I tweeted it and got lots of retweets.


Just across from the Husky on 24th we stopped for a while. The bus driver wouldn't let anyone out. A fire truck edged past us to check up on a couple cars stuck in the water. We could see the cars bobbing in the wake of the fire truck.

A few minutes later the bus driver started edging through the puddle. The water was deep enough that it came in through the doors.

The intersection in front of Safeway was flooded, and I had never really thought of that as a low point. You can see a couple people pushing a car out of the water. Too late. It's a write off.

Closer of the truck. The drivers of such vehicles live for days like this.

I walked through the neighbourhood to get home. This is the intersection just by the shopper's drug mart.

Just north of that, a storm drain was burbling up from the pressure.

Another flooded street nearby.

A different flooded street. You can see the sun is already coming out.

At home I found this. You can see the water line on the lawn. Up till then I hadn't realized it had also hailed a bit. This isn't bad as far as hail goes. We've seen the lawn inches deep in hail, and drifts of it in the streets. We are happy it didn't happen this time, it's really hard on the poor little plants.


Some of the battered baskets.



Rather than run tonight, I ended up shoveling a huge mound of gravel. It had washed out of the alley and was blocking the storm drain. Total workout!

In the end, our house is snug and dry. A few plants got beat up a bit, but nothing compared to what we've seen. Several of our neighbours had minor floods or roof leaks. One of the roof leaks is a brand new roof, only a month or two old. There's already been an angry phone call about that.

Not sure how the rest of Calgary fared, but one neighbour told me of big hail just south of town, and that Woodbine, Woodlands, Braeside, Canyon Meadows, Cedarbrae seemed to get the worst of it. No doubt emergency services will have a busy night.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Two related topics

My latest read is When Breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi. It's not long, only 200 or so pages, but it is a thoughtful read. I paused any number of times to think about what he was saying, and how he was saying it.

He struggled to find meaning in his life cut tragically short. What makes life worth living in the face of death? His death was all too clear in front of him. He could read the medical test results for himself.

The point is that we are all facing death. Life itself is a terminal disease. The only difference is that most of us don't know when it will happen, just that it will. It could be tomorrow as a result of driver incompetence. It could be next year. It might not be for decades.

There are any number of possible causes, and we need not get into that. It doesn't matter. What does matter is what you make of living. Nobody can give you meaning. You have to come up with that yourself. If you can't come up with meaning, there is nobody but yourself to blame.

I think the very struggle to find meaning is what drives artistic creation, to have children, or to leave a legacy. People strive to create something beyond themselves that they might be remembered. The struggle itself is part of what defines us as human. His thoughts on this, and how he expresses himself make the book well worth reading. I've got a few spots marked I want to come back to.

Most people don't think about countries as living organisms, but they are. They live and die and change. This whole Brexit is just another example of change, and I'm pretty sure everybody will muddle through. United Kingdom itself is a bit of a cobbled together artificial entity and is of fairly recent construction, just over 300 years.

What's important to me is that all too often borders have been changed by men using swords, or more recently, guns and bigger weapons. What's happened here so far has involved a lot of words, a round of voting, and a murder. There's going to be a lot more talk, and probably more votes.

Historically speaking, this is remarkable. All too often situations like this have devolved into a civil war, or a war with neighbours trying to take unseemly advantage of the confusion. As long as people are talking and not shooting, I'm not fussed.

This is just another example of how the world keeps changing, and you're wise to plan and prepare for it by securing your own financial resources. With money, you have choices. No doubt some people are anxious about where they are going to live, and how it will all shake out. The rich and powerful will take care of themselves. Do as they do, not as they say.




Sunday, June 26, 2016

We ran to the salmon

A coolish-warmish rainy morning didn't deter us. We had plans. We were determined. Linda was going to storm the garden shows to enjoy and learn and admire what other gardeners have done. She was much taken with one gardener who has nothing but plants that deer and bunnies don't like. It's just a coincidence that her garden backs onto Fish Creek, which has lots of deer. She came back later with mucho more plants. Good thing she's on vacation next week. (See below)

Michelle picked me up, with the intent to park at Sandy Beach and run north along the Elbow River. The first problem is that Enmax is doing stuff near the dam and we couldn't park there. Since we had built the run around consideration of the famous Sandy Beach bike path hill, and my marking off more paths on my year map, this merited serious discussion about the change in plan. In the end we parked, and after some all important business just at the end of 50th Ave, we started off down the hill.

There was an asthmatic jogger desperate to try to keep up with us, but we lost him fairly soon. Good thing. I was kind of getting the vibe that he was scoping out my butt. We ran along the path, admiring all that there is to admire along the way. (Hint, lots.) We turned to go over the bridge leading to the path on the Elbow Drive side of the river, and ran along, waiting at the lights. I've never in my life been on that bit of the path. Normally I take the street since it's a bit shorter. (You can see where the red line separates.)


Going past Talisman we both waved at the same time, and said "Hi Katie," at the same time. At turn around we admired my buddy Jeff de Boer's salmon art. (note, not my photo, I'm not sure who's photo it is.) My own phone was buried in the spi-belt, and I didn't want to dig it out, hunt for the right spot of take the photo, all in the light rain of the moment. I'll get a photo of it another time and replace that on.

We both had a bit of a slow feeling part way, and going back we were wondering if we had slowed down a bit. Not really. I'd been looking for a 16 K run, and was surprised when it came up on the phone, and then when 17 happened we stopped, and walked back to the car as a cool down, and stretched a bit.

We both nailed the clothing. It's tougher to dress for about zero, and for when it's raining, than it is to dress for -35 C. I wore shorts and a short sleeved tech shirt and was perfectly happy both in between showers and in the bits of sun we had.

17 K, 1:54 for a 6:42/Km pace! Holy doodle! Last week we pushed a bit (within chatchatchat zone) and ran 15 K at a 6:53 pace, and was working it a bit. More than a bit. Today the only place I felt out of breath at all was up the little tiny hills near the path underpasses, and then I was back in the groove again. My feet felt light and happy till about the 15 K mark, then started talking about getting tired. Even at the very end I felt like I could have run faster.

Home and puttering. Here's some repairs to a pair of slippers. Curtis was trying to help. Such a considerate kitty. The problem is the stitching holding it together wore away and the felt part started separating. Once it begins it unravels pretty quickly.

In progress, with Curtis "helping".

Done this much when I finished the cord I had on the needle. I'll see how this holds up.

Dinner tonight. We ended up having the two smaller beef steaks, and the bigger piece of lamb will be tomorrow. That's apple pie in the background. Fresh BC blackberries and raspberries. So yummy!

Some of the flowers Linda brought home. Yes, that's a car seat latch you see.



Another of the less flamboyant lilies. I thought these were succumbing to the lily beetles, and were drooping, but no, Linda says they like pointing downward. It makes getting the shot just a bit tricky. Glad I have the camera with the articulating LCD screen.






Saturday, June 25, 2016

We all survived

A massage is a nice way to start the weekend, even if she is earning her money working on run muscles and a sore shoulder. No whimpering or sniveling though.

Friday morning was clear, cloudless, and already warm when I got up. After coffee and something equally important I headed out for a run. 7 K 45:30 feeling pretty good, running whatever my legs felt like doing. It took a couple K to get into the groove. Lately I've noticed when my legs get tired my left foot starts sliding into the step. This was good all the way. Normally the first run after massage is a bit wonky, but this was good. I'm glad I got out when I did; it was getting hot as I finished up. Later it rained.

On the way down the hill into Fish Creek I saw a couple deer, and managed to get a shot of one of them, without breaking stride. Pretty good, I call that.


From there it was risking life and limb to get the cats into the carriers and take them to the vet. Celina struggled pretty hard about going into the carrier. Then I stalked Curtis. He had hidden in the basement. Celina was shrieking her lungs out like a fate worse than death was immanent. No doubt, she was saying "I'm caught! Run for it!" Curtis is such a good kitty, going into the carrier without a fuss, and strolling around the vet's office.

Curtis needs me to get more regular about brushing his teeth again, and Celina has some dental issues.

Later I was into the library to get some photography books. Interesting reading, but what was even more interesting was going straight from them, to watching Jesus Christ Superstar on Blue Ray, and enjoying the composition of the shots more than the movie itself. I'd seen it before, of course, but I saw it in the library and wanted to watch a couple particular scenes.

One of the books got set aside fairly quickly. Two strikes, but they were biggies for me. Long complicated explanations combined with the word "simply", ending with "when the exposure is right, simply click the shutter button". Grrr. Pushing the button is simple, I'll grant you that. Condescendingly so for the author to say it. It's judging when the exposure is right. There's nothing simply about it.

I hate that word in instructions. Whenever I review any text document at work, I search for that word first. I once sent back a user instruction manual with the comment, "There are 43 instances of 'simply' in this manual, and none are appropriate. Send it back to me when all are gone." That didn't go over so well, but I didn't care.

Today and Friday I've been working the camera a bit trying to achieve particular effects. The results are so-so. Some of the shots are pretty good, just not what I was aiming form. Lots of flowers, and for a while I was trying to capture the bees that were doing their thing. Here's a lucky shot.


Here's the lily that looked somewhat sinister in a photo a couple days ago. Much less sinister now, I think you'll agree.

It's been fun working with the camera. The weather has been kind of crappy, so I've been doing some playing with the free software, just to get a sense of what can be done with the photos.

Three other flower shots, just for fun, all are the iphone.




I was up early for a swim on Saturday, but it was bleah for me and my swim buddy. Keep in mind the bleah is relative. Part of the problem is my flip turns were feeling slow, and when I stopped thinking about my stroke I slowed down. These things happen.

Last thing, I was looking for a birthday card, and saw this. I took a picture of it and sent it to a buddy. It's not the one I got, but I laughed. It's a good rule for life, and you'll certainly learn something on the way out the other side.





Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Keep trying

Look at this plant.

That tiny little plant, growing out between two blocks of retaining wall blocks. We've been meaning to pluck it out any time.

But it doesn't know that. It just keeps growing. The root has to be nearly a foot long to get to soil.

That's what nature does. It keeps trying. It throws things on the wall to see what sticks. It keeps trying to grow different things. Many of them die what with one thing or another. Or another. Many others. But as long as a few live and breed, nature keeps trying.

Then there's humans. Mostly a blight on the landscape now. So many have so much potential, and they use so little of it. Many of the ones that try give up at the first bit of adversity.

The funny thing is that achieving a moderate degree of success isn't terribly difficult.

Show up on time, ready to work.

Then do the work, whatever it is.

That's half the battle, right there. I've trained lots of people to do various tasks, and I'd far rather train someone with little or no background but was willing to dig in, than someone who already knew lots of it but didn't want to learn more.

The other half is doing it well, better than most of the people around you if you want to get ahead of them. If you want to be in the NHL, you've got a struggle. Lots of competition and at that level the differences in skill aren't big, but they are big enough to be differentiators.

But for most jobs, doing the work well is enough to get ahead. Yes, there are setbacks sometimes. People get laid off. Budgets get cut. Company priorities change. You might find yourself hunting for your next job unexpectedly. So what? Even job hunting, those rules apply. Show up, do the work, which is to find your next situation.

You don't have to be smarter than the people around you. Lots of successful people say they aren't any smarter than other people, they just worked harder. They found a place to apply their talents, and then did it. Day in, day out. Whatever it is.

Think of that little plant. It keeps growing.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Opposable Thumbs of opening cat food

I'll bet you didn't expect an anatomical comparison between cats and humans.



Area
Winner
Why
Eyes
Cats
Can see in nearly complete darkness
Nose
Cats
Can sniff out food at 50 paces
Ears
Cats
Can hear the slightest noise from the prey
Tails
Cats
Humans are completely deficient
Can lick own butt
Cats
Humans are remarkably inflexible
Claws
Cats
Human nails are just pathetic
Teeth
Cats
Sharp, ready to tear apart prey any time
General offense or defense ability
Cats
5 of the 6 ends are pointy
Fur
Cats
Much better looking than clothes, and lets not even think about naked humans
Landing on feet
Cats
Humans are notoriously unbalanced, and fragile when they fall
Sleeping ability
Cats
Humans often complain of not sleeping well
Reaction time
Cats
Humans are so slow, especially when working on food
Everything else, with one exception
Cats
I think you get the idea
Opposable thumbs for opening and distributing cat food
Humans
To the extent they get on with it in a timely way

Some humans might argue that cats don't have laps, and need human laps for comfort, but the cats would sniff, and say they did without for untold generations, and really, any patch of grass in the sun is better.

All in all, it should be clear that cats are the superior creatures. Are we clear on that?

Fitness
Swimming: back in the groove. 1K, 18:30, 4 x 100 on 2 in less than 1:45.
Running 5K 33:40, starting with calves complaining, quads cranky, and hams barely talking to me. But even the first K was good and they all settled in surprisingly well. I deliberately wanted an easy run, not too long, and was really pleased at a 6:30 pace for the first 4K. It began to fall apart slightly in the last K and I decided not to push it.

I've been slacking off in the stretching and core departments lately. Today I waved the bus down and it stopped. I got on, but the bus didn't go very far before it stopped again. Just saying.

One of the lilies is about to bloom! I have to admit this looks a little sinister. Why no, I haven't been watching any science fiction/horror movies lately, why would you think that?


Stampede will be here soon. I'm already signed up for a lunch and plan to attend a breakfast. That's about par for the course for me. Dress code for guys is already verging on sloppy.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Morning thoughts

This photo perfectly expresses my mood today.

Morning sun capturing the steam from brewing coffee. The house is quiet, even the cats are quiet. I just saw one of my neighbours out for a walk, but the street is otherwise quiet. As a pro tip, after I add water to the fresh ground coffee, (Uganda Bugiso if you're wondering), I also add it to the mug and thermos, so the coffee stays hotter. It's the little things.

I've just finished my morning reading, going through some web pages, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, email. Curtis has taken over my lap, which makes it a bit difficult to run the laptop. I'm fairly sure that he resents the electronics that distract me from the magnificence that is him.

Yesterday I finished reading Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. It's the first book I've actually finished in a while. I've been wanting to do more reading. Somehow it's always been just a bit further down my list than I get to. Look for the list on the right side, under the blog archive, though there isn't much on it now.

But I like maps, and this is a book about the consequences of making political maps without fully considering the relevant geography. He talks about those consequences in a way that makes it easy to understand what happened, but without getting bogged down into details of some ancient feud. This is extremely readable.

If you read the paper and wonder why "those" people can't get along, this is an excellent primer, and has a bibliography for further details if you're so inclined. The first is  Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, which is excellent! Marshall talks about Russia, China, United States, Western Europe, Africa, The Middle East, India and Pakistan, Korea and Japan, Latin America, and the Arctic. Given the subject matter, it's a good thing that Canada doesn't get mentioned much.

It got me thinking, though. Lots of human conflict involves being horrible to other people in the hopes they will knuckle under. The USA is particularly good at this, being horrible to nearly everyone, especially when it comes to air power. If there is one thing they're good at, it's dropping bombs and firing missiles at targets. Pity they aren't very good at picking the right targets.

We know from WWII history that bombing didn't break the spirit of people in British Isles or in occupied  Europe or in Japan. They carried on as best they could, and didn't stop until Russian boots walked through Berlin, or the atomic bombs were used in Japan.

Now we are running into asymmetric warfare, where a small group of people are opposing a regular army. The best example is in Afghanistan, where they have successfully repelled the Victorian British Empire, the Russians, and now the Americans. You'd think it would be clear by now that dropping bombs on such people isn't going to work. What would work, eventually, is the rule, "if it's alive and isn't one of us, kill it." That worked better before there were War Crimes Tribunals, and independent journalists.

The first rule to solving a problem is to stop doing the things that make it worse. Being horrible isn't working, and in fact makes things worse. Drop a bomb on a wedding party, and the survivors would have to be saints to not hate the people that did it. Why is anyone surprised they would seek revenge? If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it, even if it costs your own life.

It's hard to stop being horrible. The people you've been horrible to aren't easily going to believe you've stopped. Anybody that has ever listened to Donald Trump will never believe he will stop being horrible. His future depends on it, and sadly, there is an audience that likes him being horrible. So part of the solution is to deal with that, and get rational candidates for high political office.

But let's take a specific example. There are a huge number of refugees languishing in various tent cities. Often the camps are in countries that can't really afford to deal with them. Rich countries take a trivial number of refugees, and the USA is busy clutching it's pearls over numbers of Syrian refugees that can easily be counted in the dozens.

Enough of the dicking around. Build a town, a real one. A small city even. The idea behind the tent cities is that supposedly, the people will go home. Well, for all too many of them home doesn't exist anymore. Build a new home. Many of them. Provide clean drinking water, treat sewage, pick up the garbage, and all the various other amenities that cities offer. Many of the refugees themselves will have the skills needed.

Many people have the idea that refugees are poor, and poorly educated. That isn't always true. Maybe Canada got the cream of the crop, but from what I've heard, they have a burning desire to work, to contribute, to become part of the society. Why wouldn't you take advantage of that?

I say start building the city. Cities. Call it a speculative investment if you must. Think about the Marshal plan that rebuilt Europe after WWII. In a few short decades the Germans and Japanese when from being enemies to being foundational states of the Western economic system.

Yes, when you say billions of dollars, it sounds like a lot. But two things. That money builds something that could endure for generations; but a billion dollars spent on bombs only buys destruction. Think about where the money goes. It gets spent to buy material goods, to buy people's time. What do they do with the money? Spend it on goods and services till they get caught up. Money is like manure, best spread out.

I think it's worth trying. What's the worst that could happen? As near as I can tell, nothing worse than what's already happening.

On the fitness front I've been feeling like I'm verging on overtraining. The run is going really well, but the swim has been tough lately. I skipped a run and swim at the end of the week just to rest up a bit.

The runs on Monday and Wednesday went really well, 5 and 8 K respectively, about a 6:30 pace. Then Saturday was 15 K. I hadn't run around the reservoir in a while and Michelle was up for it. This morning, just by accident I found a blog post about the very first time I ran around the reservoir. You can find it here. We did the same route, in the same direction. 15 K, 1:43:30 for a 6:53 pace. For a long time we did long runs at a 7:30 pace, and the last few have been a bit quicker.

We were both feeling strong, starting at just over a 7 pace, and settling in just under that. Except for going up hills, this was a chatchatchat pace, her a little more than me. My quads and hams were feeling it a little, but not enough to slow down or stop. No walk breaks at all, compared to the last long run home from work, which was a bit of a shambles in comparison. What's really good about this run is that the last 2 K were fast. We went from a 6:45 - 7 min pace, to 6:25 then 6:18, and could have gone faster yet.

It was a beautiful day for a run, warm with a bit of overcast. Lots of people were out having a picnic along the path, but we weren't having to dodge too many dogs walking their idiot owners. We stretched after, watching the kids playing the water park at South Glenmore park. My bammy was talking to me a bit.

Bison burgers and lamb shish-kabob. So good.

The great camera adventure is going well. A software disc came with the camera, but my laptop doesn't have a disc reader. The replacement I downloaded turned out to be not quite the same thing. I was wondering why it wasn't "seeing" the camera images that I knew perfectly well were sitting in a folder right there. I had downloaded version 3.14, and needed a version 4.xx. Once I got that I was cooking with gas. I'm still figuring out how it works, and what changes make for a better photo.

One thing I tried was comparing the camera to the iPhone 6. Here's two shots of the garden from the iPhone. The first is the normal setting, and the second is zoomed in all the way, using the metal yellow flower as an aiming point.



Now, here are two photos from the Canon, shot from exactly the same spot, with the camera on automatic. The regular size looks much the same field of view. The iPhone actually looks like it zooms in a bit further. You can see a pink flower off to the left of the Canon photo, but not the iPhone. Maybe I didn't center it exactly.


Part of the trick here is that I'm not quite comparing apples to apples. The iPhone photos are JPEG's, with the phone and software doing whatever it does. The Canon photos are a RAW file, viewed in Preview, and captured in a PNG screen shot. The file sizes are similar. I'm not sure what they would look like if I opened with the RAW editor and captured a screen shot from there.

Here's the difference, enlarging part of each photo. The first is the iPhone. The Lamb's ears are blurry and discoloured and the back ground is completely blurred. The Canon photo zoomed in to about the same place shows much more detail and natural colour. The background foliage is clear as well. I can zoom into the photo even further, to where the edges start to pixilate. Of course, I can't tell what these look like in the published version of the blog. Maybe you're looking at the photos wondering what I'm babbling about.



I had a bit of the same experience watching a Blue-Ray disc of Miss Marple. I've talked earlier about the difference between the DVD version we have and the Blue-Ray. Last night I watched The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side. It isn't one of my favourites, but I think this one shows off how good the remastering process was.

Earlier this weekend we visited Vale's greenhouse in Black Diamond. They have an art show once a year. We didn't go on the day they had wine, oh well, but it's still nice to walk through and look at art. Much of it doesn't do a thing for me, but there were a few pieces that really called to me. I hadn't known you could get paint to texture like that. The one wheat field looked like real wheat blistering up from the canvas. Linda got another plant, I think it's called cups and saucers.

I want to get these lilies!


Millarville market opened up this weekend. It's a fun place to go anyways, and my buddy Lori D ran the half marathon. I'd considered it, but decided not to. Some other buddies showed up and we had a good time.

Did I mention that work renewed my contract till August 31? that was a bit odd, in that my boss and I had talked about the end of July to finish up some odds and ends. Then Penn West sold a zillion dollars of property in Sask, so maybe things changed. Still 80% time, which is nice.

And that's enough for now.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guest Post, Adrenaline Rush Triathlon 2016

Here is the famous Michelle with a guest post. You can see her previous posts here and here.


Race recap | Adrenaline Rush Triathlon
June 5, 2016, High River, AB


This was my first Olympic distance triathlon:  swim 1500 m (60 lengths, or 30 laps in a pool), bike 42K, run 10K.  I had completed two pool sprint triathlons before and am now happy to call what I do in the pool actually swimming (as opposed to looking like a geeky, gangly Bambi on ice with limbs flailing un-coordinately all over the place when I started learning to swim as an adult two years ago).  My goal was to finish and learn how to stitch everything together in a longer race.  I knew I could do the distances individually but it was the first time stringing a longer swim, bike and run together in the same event. 

Prerace & package pickup| I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I discovered my race number was #13!  The week before the race a string of bad luck kept me from feeling my usual pre-race excitement.  
·         Unluckily, my shifter broke on my small (52 cm) road bike and I couldn’t get it fixed or replaced in time for the race.  (Luckily Antje is just the right height and lent me her small (50 cm) road bike.  I’m so grateful!)  
·         Unluckily, I misplaced my car keys and came out to my car after swimming to discover I couldn’t drive it because I had put the club on the steering wheel.  (Luckily Keith drove me to work that morning and I ran back to my car with keys to pick it up).  
·         Luckily, my sister-in-law let hubby and me crash at her place and we slept well in the cool, dark basement.   We took her out for dinner that night and my helpful nephew reviewed the ins and outs of the course and told me where the hills and busy spots would be.  
·         Luckily, I’m not superstitious.  We adopted three adult black cats because they are always so many of them in shelters.  I ran my best 10K with race number 666. 

Race morning | I got ready, had brought my usual pre-race ritual food and had a nice short, quick 1 km ride over to the race start and didn’t have to deal with driving to High River from Calgary.  Hubby slept in and visited his sister, heading out to cheer me on a little later.  I was only the third bike to set up my bike in transition, so I ended up with some prime real estate.  I got my body marking done, drawing a black cat to go with my number 13. 



Keith showed up right then and helped me set up my transition mat, lending me some spray-on sunscreen (much faster to apply than the lotion I brought) and reminding me I wouldn’t be in flip-flops heading out of the pool to the bike racks.  The announcer went over some tips for triathletes, then it was time to head to the pool as I was in the first wave.



The swim | We lined up along the side of the pool.  Slower swimmers started first and I fit in with the 40 minute racers. 



There was a girl wearing a full scuba mask that covered her nose with a snorkel in my lane.  Don’t laugh.  She was faster than me. (Just barely, and she paused at the ends. ed)  There was a hairy pair of male legs that passed me a few times.  I moved close to the lane ropes but instead of swimming along the black line down the middle, he crowded me into the lane rope and my misfit activity tracker and swim lap counter popped out of its’ band on my wrist. My heart sank.   I have worn it nonstop for seven months and it has never done that.  Ah… race number 13.  I looked around and spotted it on the bottom of the pool in the middle of the other lane with four swimmers.  There was no way I could retrieve it so I resolved to carry on and hope to get it after the race.  I thought ahead to the bike and run and resolved to deal with any issues like flats or leg cramps and carry on.  Keith was there spectating and kindly timing my splits.



T1 (swim to bike transition) | I hopped out of the pool, said something about losing something to the volunteer and ran to my bike, pulled on socks, bike shoes & gloves, helmet & sunglasses and sprayed sunscreen on before un-racking my bike and running to the bike start line.



The bike | There were four loops around High River with lots of turns to slow us down.  Volunteers were wonderful and there sure were lots of them.  There was a big rut in the road just as we turned onto the main drag but the volunteer there was wonderful at warning us and pointing it out.  At one point, two volunteers were standing on the far side of the intersection so I thought I had to turn right.  I called out to them and they moved by the next lap to the near side so it was less confusing.  Another volunteer was holding her arm out pointing the wrong way in a turn.  Again, I called out to mention it and she had it all figured out by the next lap.  My heart sank as I started the second lap.  I remembered there was a dog-leg-turnaround somewhere and I thought I missed it and would be disqualified.  Again, I steeled myself for disappointment but resolved to carry on for the experience.  When I saw Keith after the second lap, I was so relieved!  I realized he was standing right where the confusing part was and I used him to count my laps and know when it was finally time to turn left and head back to transition.  He got some good photos of me looking fast leaning into a corner turn.  As I headed toward transition, I saw hubby and my sister-in-law and waved.



T2 (bike to run transition) | Someone else had racked their bike right over MY transition mat so I racked my bike further down, removed by bike gear and pulled on running shoes, then headed off. 

The run | The two-loop run meandered through a newer community along water and there were lots of volunteers to cheer and offer water to us.  I loved seeing the chalk art and kids!  Keith had found a shady spot to cheer and I did a little sprint and jump when I saw him. 



On the first loop, there was a guy behind me working hard.  I kept up with him and didn’t let him pass me, asking if it was his first or second loop.  He was doing the sprint so was doing half the distance and only had one loop.  The second loop was a little more lonely.  There was nobody for me to “race” so I think I slowed down a bit.  The sun was hot by then but I dumped water over my head and the back of my neck at every water station.  I love having short hair!  I grinned when I saw hubby and his sister cheering in the parking lot just before the finish line!  Hubby took this one:





The finish | A lovely young volunteer took my Velcro strap and timing chip from my ankle and presented me with a ginormous flashy medal. 



Then there were sweaty hugs for everyone in my fabulous cheering crew:  Keith, hubby and my sister-in-law.  I retrieved my misfit from the bottom of the pool, and after a shower and change of clothes, we all had lunch in the Whistle Stop (a train car converted to a cafĂ©) before heading home.   It’s a cool coincidence that hubby’s sister Carroll knows Keith from many years ago. 



Reflections | I liked the Olympic distance better than the sprint distance.  I’m built more for endurance than sprinting.  My swim was my fastest ever and faster than I thought I could do it.  My bike was not bad, considering I was on a borrowed bike that was heavier than mine.  It was great that it had a small frame and the same 3x10 gear ratio as mine.  The run came in under an hour and I’m surprised I could pull that off after the swim and bike but Keith says it’s because I was all warmed up.  There must be something to that.  I felt great and didn’t fall asleep in the car as I usually do.  I even vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, grocery shopped and made dinner later in the day.  Hubby was happy with my race day performance!  ;) 

What’s next? | I’m looking forward to doing the 1900m open-water swim leg of Ironman Calgary 70.3 with two gal pals taking on the bike and run legs for our team.  I bought a second-hand wetsuit and did a few swims in open water with it last year.  This will be my first open-water swim in a race so I’m looking to get lots of open-water swimming practice in June and July.  I’m not ready to add 90K on the bike and a half marathon to that this year so I’m glad to do it as part of a fun team.  I am tempted to sign up for another Multisportscanada Olympic distance race: Lake Chaparral triathlon (1500m swim, 40K bike, 21K run) as it’s an open-water swim “Oly” right in Calgary.  Next year, I hope to be strong and fit and healthy enough to tackle my first half-Iron in Calgary at Ironman Calgary 70.3!  I’ll only race when I feel I’m ready.  I’m not in a rush to “do it” and check it off my bucket list.  I want to enjoy the journey and make swimming, biking and running fit into my lifestyle, not make my life fit around training.  I may never actually do a full Ironman if I wish to remain married.


Thanks to my host | Keith will have to start charging me a blog hosting fee for all the guest posts he lets me do here.  I used to blog but gave it up because I lost my voice and felt shut down trying to be concise and write for an imagined audience. I debated starting a low-key triathlon blog but it’s challenging to find the right balance between writing, expressing opinions, accidentally saying things that make others mad, time management, family commitments, training, work and proper nutrition.  This is my first actual written piece of any length for fun or for work since my last guest blog here.  It took a while to process this race and feel less frazzled enough to organize my thoughts and summon semi-coherent words.  It has been a good exercise to write just for fun.  There’s no pressure with guest blogging so I’m grateful for the encouragement and opportunity.  Thanks Keith!  (Um, also THANKS FOR TEACHING ME TO SWIM!)

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