Friday, December 30, 2011

My inner shark likes the new pool

The water feel is coming back! I had a few days out of the pool. You know, Christmas, Boxing Day. Minor distractions. Then Wednesday I had a few good laps.

It didn't quite work out to swim in the morning, but I walked from Talisman (the company) to Talisman (the pool) after finishing up. I was pretty pleased. There was something that I thought was going to take all day and be prone to errors, but I figured out a way of doing it in less than 2 hours, with much less chance of errors. Yay me!

The pool was a bit more crowded but still I had a lane to myself. Right from the start I relaxed and had the feel. I can see the digital pace clock after turning, and was keeping a pretty steady pace. There was no plan. I relaxed, and chatted with my inner shark. He liked some of the scenery, and definitely likes the new pool. I didn't really think about time, other than noting that every 50 was quicker than a minute. I didn't think about breathing, because I wasn't breathing hard. I didn't really think about my arms working, because they were just going around as my body slid forward. There was no effort involved, just catching the water, relaxing, and going with the flow. There was some thinking about prey, but that's the inner shark talking.

After a while I wondered how long I'd been swimming, since Linda was coming to get me, and I didn't want her waiting long. I looked at my watch and realized I had one more lap for 1000 m. There had been a couple moments where I was starting to lose it, but I managed to relax and get the flow and feel back. The 1000 took 19:25, and felt easier than all the previous swims for the last couple weeks. Even Wednesday I struggled and barely did 500 m before things started falling apart and getting slow and sloppy.

So I'm a happy puppy about that. It's still well off my pace from earlier this year, but the feel is more important than pace at the moment. After the K, I did 5x 50 on 1:15. Last week that turned into gasp city and struggling to be any quicker than 55 seconds. Today they were all under 50 seconds and the fastest was 45 seconds. Yes, I'm happy about that too. Progress. A little bit of dolphin kick and some backstroke and cool down finished it off.

We watched Inception tonight, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Recent "action" movies bore me. In fact, almost all Hollywood films bore me because they are so predictable. This wasn't boring. It's an interesting story, and you have to pay attention. I sort of assumed it was all going to come out ok, but the road to get there was fascinating.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First movie of 2011

Up early this morning. Crappy sleep. No idea why. I was headed towards the pool by 5:45, and in the water by 6:15. Swam 45 minutes and did some stretching and core. Somehow my swim is working my low back in ways I don't remember. Water feel is coming back, now if only the swim muscles in my back would get with the program.

Quiet day at work. I get to break in a new office roomie on the 3rd, but it shouldn't be too bad. Got lots done in the peace and quiet, and left early. It's weird to be coming home in daylight.

From there we wanted to run some errands, and we ended up at the new Sherlock Holmes movie. We quite enjoyed it, though the price of the tickets was a bit of a gasp. I'm almost positive this is the first movie we saw in the theatre in 2011. Mostly we are rent the DVD kind of people.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The four wines of Christmas, and a bonus whine

Great Christmas food goes well with wine. Or is it the other way round? I can never remember.

The Tannat was bottled August 2010. It's a rich slightly spicy red wine that goes well with rich or spicy meats.

The Gentil was bottled July 2008, and is a beautiful gold color. It's developed a very fruity character that can hold up surprisingly well with all sorts of food.

The Grenache is one of my favourites, bottled November 2007. It's good to drink just by itself, or with lighter foods, such as organic range fed chicken marinated in a specialty Linda sauce and then BBQed.

The Tempranillo is from Spanish grapes grown in Australia, bottled June 2009. Good with everything, and I'm starting to run low, more's the pity.

We had a wonderful little stay-cation. Linda is still off. I have to go in for the next 3 days, mainly because I need to have some stuff ready for early January. I don't anticipate working full days. Go in, move some stuff forward, consult with some of the stakeholders, and bail out. The stakeholders are all going to be in, hoping the migration goes well.

I ran this morning, only a half hour till my hip flexors started complaining a bit. I was really working on running from my core, and trying to be light on my feet. Everything feels good. During the really good stretch session afterwards, I was playing with my left toes. What used to hurt when I tried to curl them under doesn't hurt nearly as much. I think the break from running did some good.

The whine comes from visiting the mall today. I needed new pants. Just to piss Susi off, it took less than 20 minutes to figure out what size I needed for two different styles of pants (business casual black pants, and jeans), try on about 4 different pants before I got it right for each, stand in line, pay, and get out.

Just lately I think my biggest complaint about people is that they walk so darn slow! Seriously. I'm not whining about people with kids, or about geezers that can't move any faster. They have their own problems and walking slow is the least of them. Or the physically handicapped. I'll cut them all the slack they need and more besides.

I'm whining about adults all slack-jawed with the intellectual effort of deciding where to go next. Or so it appears. It makes me nuts when people shamble along like half slaughtered sheep, not knowing where they are going, or why, or what they will do if they ever get there. They plod along in bucolic herds, getting in the way of those of us that have some place to be.

Every now and then someone ahead of me, but behind the herd (I'm not talking about The Herd) will pull out and try to pass, just as I'm about to. Typically they don't signal their intention, and several of them have nearly been trampled. Or they'll decide to go somewhere else at random, just to mess up those of us who like orderly traffic patterns.

What don't these people understand about walk right? If you must gawk, then pull over and find a safe place to do so. In a mall there's lots of these chairs put out for the geezers. That's as good a place as any.  But to stop in the middle of the mall where people are walking is a declaration of stupidity. Pity there isn't a bounty on them. And really, what in a mall is there to gawk at? Either you know where you're going, so go there. Or you stop, and look at a map so you know where to go. There is no in between.

I have less problems with oncoming people. My path is easy to project because it's a straight line, and I'm looking in that direction. I'm on the right. Self preservation usually has people swerving though sometimes at the last minute. The lobby doorway at Banker's Hall is so badly designed. Sigh.

But it turns out that the problem often arises even before the walking. I really don't like going places with a group. Even something as simple as a group of people in a small block of offices going to lunch is all too often a gong show. Someone doesn't know where it is. Someone forgot their coat, or has one more email to send. Someone can't or won't walk fast. One woman I used to work with didn't seem to grasp what an open elevator door meant. How hard can it be? Jacket. (Scarf, hat, mitts, boots if necessary.) Go. Stop when there. This isn't even talking about deciding where to go.

Add in bikes, or running shoes, or other workout gear, to say nothing of weather, and the problems are compounded. That's why I like to do my workouts alone. I can go when I'm ready. Sometimes that's NOW. Sometimes it's waiting a bit to see if it warms up, or to see just what that dark cloud is going to do. Or waiting for the poop fairy. Adding in some high maintenance triathlete fussing about drink bottles, or going on about pace, or the workout plan, or someone that can't decide what to wear ruins all the fun.

Oddly enough, I think of myself as a patient person. When I need to wait, I can do so, and even better if I have a book, or my iGadgets. But when it involves people trying to think about that next footstep and the smoke from the grinding gears is getting in my eyes, I'm not so patient. Maybe I should work on that this year. Perhaps a short range tranquilizer dart gun is the thing. It would be so much easier to step over recumbent bodies, than to try to dodge around erratically moving ones.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Under a minute to decorate the tree

This was a nice Christmas Eve. For once I had no shopping to do. It was weird, and relaxing to have started and finished my shopping nearly a week ago.

We had a very leisurely start to the day, reading papers, drinking coffee, and cuddling the furry mammal of the house. Once that was done I was on the bike for 1.5 hrs, doing a variety of stuff, sweating hard. No pool smell, though, I think my run yesterday got it out of my skin.

Today is tree day, as I think of it. In our house we decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. There are times in the past I have thought of this as a chore, but this year the grinch in me is a bit subdued. I was looking forward to it, though I'm not sure why. It's something we do together, and I was planning to take a time lapse movie of it. Some of you might remember I did video last year and chopped it down to a reasonable length. This is about 50 seconds. The amusing part is watching Amelia watching us for the first little bit. Hmmm, you might need to widen your screen to see it all.

Here's the other side of the tree when we were done, showing the little diorama that Linda likes to make.

We don't have big plans for the day. Essentially we're going to open our presents, and hang out for the day. I'll probably watch some video. It will be a rest day, so no workout for me. It's supposed to be nice so maybe we'll take a walk down in Fish Creek.

Tonight we're going to work on another glass of wine and watch Love Actually.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Something for everyone

Lots of stuff for the blog today; in one sense it's a bit of a catch up, since there's a photo from earlier in the week I want to share. But most of it happened today.

Here's that photo. I love Bosc pears. LOVE THEM!!! They are so juicy and have such an intense pear taste that I don't eat any other kind. Here's a photo of my adventure in eating the most recent one at work.

That was just a bit tricky, since I had to dry off my hand before digging the phone out of my pocket. Good thing I noticed the label before taking another bite. You have to eat these over a plate or dish or something, or else you have to wipe up all the juice after.

Except if I turn you all on to these pears there will be fewer left at Coop, I mean at the store we do our shopping. What I really meant to say was these are terrible. I don't know why I took a pic of it.

I'm on a swimming streak! Three times now in a week. Swam 45 minutes, with minor shoulder complains and tired arms. I'm beginning to think the water at Talisman is just a little thicker than the water in other pools. It can't be because I'm weak and feeble from being a swim slacker, can it?

My Facebook buddies know this already, but I discovered a new way to make coffee taste bad. After the swim, shower, change routine, I got a coffee on the way out. A muffin too, if you MUST know. It was good. What with juggling coffee, muffin, and swim bag, I sloshed coffee all over my hand as I was getting into the car. I licked it off my hand. Ick. I won't be doing that again.

Work was work, and I bailed out early. It was such a nice day! Pity so many drivers on the road were idiots. I was nearly hit twice. The geezers were out in full force at the Farmer's Market and Coop. Standing there, like they haven't been in a supermarket since wartime rationing. Still, I was calm, patient.

As I was carrying several bags of groceries and a bundle of flowers out to the car, my doctor's office phoned. They got the disc with the bone scan, and he wants to talk to me. Now I'm nervous again. It's tough to juggle bags, flowers, phone, and try to remember an appointment. I have been known to take a note while on (the old fashioned land-line) phone, hang up, and be unable to find the pen or the note. But I remembered this time. I might have to go look at the scans again.

Once home I realized how nice it was, and decided to run. Doctor's call and all. Yes, something I haven't done for a bit over a month. I let my legs decide how fast, and just tried to keep my feet light and turning over quickly. I ran 5 K in just over 30 minute, but I didn't start my watch, so I don't know exactly. Thorough stretch before and after, especially rolling the little ball on the soles of my feet. As of a few hours later my feet feel fine. If anything, my hip flexors are talking to me.

I found a great new app for the iPad. It's called Skitch, and lets you quickly and easily mark up photos, screen shots, maps, anything really. It's fun. You can put circles and arrows and text and other stuff in the starting image using your finger, and send it to twitter (like that does me a lot of good!), email it, send it to Evernote (and there's another app you should have) or save it back to the camera roll. Here's the first thing I tried.

Which is more or less the route for one of my 5 K runs. The one I did today in fact. That blue dot isn't quite where we live. It turns out a finger is a bit big and hides what you're looking at, so if I was going to do a real version of this I'd use the stylus. I'll probably spend some time playing with this over the next 4 days of not working.

I'm sure liking the trailer for The Hobbit, and Prometheus.

Zite is another app on my iPad I look at a lot. There are some delightful surprises every now and then. Here is one.

I guess you'd have to be a fan to know that one in the middle of the bottom row is a blog I follow, SUAR. I love it when she posts a new one, since you never know what you'll get. Even more so than me, versatile as I am.

As a follow up to the rant about the medical system still being in the medieval era, I got a note from the doctor that ordered the bone scans, (not the family doctor that wants to talk to me). Things aren't as bad as they seem. In fact there is such a system. I also got a note from a blog buddy indicating she had used that sort of system here in Alberta. There's just a peculiar circumstance here in Calgary.

I just finished the Red Green book, How to do Everything. So true. So much good advice. Guys, get it, and don't let your significant other read it. The book I just started is Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, all about the various adventures with gravity. Very interesting.

Linda is watching the Borgias. Someone just sassed the pope and interrupted him twice. I predict he won't be alive long.

Tonight is the start of 4 days off. Yahoo! That photo of Tannat wine on my Facebook page? All gone now.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Deep thoughts

Or what passes for it, anyways. I was tagged by TriMOEngr to come up with at least 5 deep thoughts. About me, no less. Here goes.

1. This blog started out being an exercise blog. Mostly training notes, and a few race notes. Over time and more than 1050 posts it has expanded to include all sorts of stuff that interest me. Wine. Books. TV or movies. Thoughts about life. Photos or my little movies. The rants seem to be the most popular feature. Essentially I'll write about whatever happens to be interesting me when the time comes. I'm not much fussed about it being interesting to you. Either it will be or it won't be, and I don't have any control over that. I figure if you like it you'll read and you might comment. Or not, though I'd prefer if you did. But then all of you are busy and sometimes I'm very wordy. I can picture someone wanting to get a quick amusing blog hit, opening mine, and being horrified by the wall of text. But then sometimes I keep it short. There are several posts under a half dozen words. Sometimes I'm witty or amusing in a wordy way, but rarely funny. You never know what you'll get with me. I'm versatile like that.

2. One of the things I've talked about every now and then is what good fortune we've had to be alive here and now. And by here I mean the more civilized parts of the world. Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other places. We live in one of the safest societies yet created, that allows us more personal freedom than most people can cope with. We are free to choose our occupations, our friends, where we live, our leisure activities, our marriage partners, and much else. The advances in medicine are such that someone dying at 70 is regarded as being cheated. Our entertainment choices are endless. Anybody that wants it can be educated in almost any subject to whatever level they like. Our society and choices would boggle the minds of anyone alive much more than 100 years ago. And yet too many people claim they are bored. In all seriousness I say that whenever you hear someone saying "I'm bored", you need to treat them like they are saying "I'm really really stupid" and run far away. It is my good fortune that I'm interested in lots of stuff, and have the means and willingness to indulge my curiosity. I'm versatile like that.

3. It's coming up to the end of the year; a time normally given to reviewing the year past, and looking forward to the year coming. 2011 was a really good year for me, all things considered. I worked all but 6 weeks. Considering the last couple years I didn't work as much as I wanted to, it's beginning to balance out. I'm working at least until March, so that's a good thing. I didn't do as much on the exercise front as in 2010, but I could hardly do more. It was good to dial back and work on a more reasonable life balance. I started the year with a painful right knee and having just begun to get treatment. Massage, Active Release Therapy, and Prolotherapy shots had a wonderful result. I guess I should mention all the various exercises and stuff I as doing too. Just recently I've been feeling stronger on the bike than ever before, which feels really good after it sucking so bad last year. The run was good over the summer. I haven't run for a month waiting to see what the issue was with my left foot, and I've been cleared to run again. Cautiously. My swim started the year awesome! I did a great swim camp, and shortly after swam 7 K at once before pooping out. Over the year I didn't swim so much due to scheduling issues, but I'm getting more regular in the pool now. I'm sure it will come back quickly. 2011 is my first full year for being on Facebook. A mixed blessing. I'm in touch with cousins, and friends in a way that is new to me that I like a lot, which is great. I'm also still a bit disturbed by Facebooks cavalier attitude to privacy. I'm careful with what I put on Facebook, and have it locked down pretty tight. If you happen to be wondering why I've never responded to anything to do with any of the the games or other applications, I don't trust them at all. I block all such requests and any info to do with third party applications. Facebook has exposed me to lots of different points of view, new information sources, and all sorts of neat stuff, which I like a lot. I try to contribute my share. I'm versatile like that.

4. It's hard to explain what I do for a living. Business Analysis covers a lot of ground. I'm a bit of a geek, in that I have worked closely with developers and database administrators, but I'm not either. In the software world I do requirements gathering, documenting specifically what the software should or should not do, testing whether it does it or not, software administration, and training users. I have also worked closely with techs and engineers from various fields, but I'm not an engineer, or vessel inspector, or pipeline integrity tech, though given some of my writing and stuff I've edited you could be fooled into thinking so. At several jobs I've been the bridge between those groups of people, since typically they don't speak each other's language. I love playing with data, and finding patterns, but I'm not a database modeler. At the moment I'm working on an SAP implementation project, building forms for requesting Master Data updates, helping people document the processes for doing so in an orderly fashion, and helping administer a Sharepoint site that we think will make that whole process a lot easier. We'll find out in a few days. I never cease to be amazed at how people can mess up what ought to be a simple thing, or find new ways to crash or break software. People are what make my jobs fascinating and frustrating all at the same time. But I don't get too fussed about it. I figure there's lots of ways to make a living and if one way doesn't work out, I'll find another. I'm versatile like that.

5. Even though I think of myself as just a little smarter than the average bear, I remain fully aware of my deficiencies. Music, for example. My former office roomie knew everything about music. I know nothing. I can confidently state that I never ever would have invent the Walkman. (anyone remember those?) Nor would I have invented the iPod. Even had been in a position to invest in them on the ground floor, I wouldn't have. I know this. All the time I see people wandering around with their earphones in. Even when they are swimming, which is a perversion to me. I think it shows a disconnection from society that is troubling. Everybody wants their own soundtrack. But I'm old enough that I remember transistor radios being new. I had silence as a backdrop for what I remember of my early life. I had piano lessons when I was a kid, and didn't like them, even though I'm told I was good at it. So music never really took with me, and I rarely have the earphones in. I still think of the Beatles and Rolling Stones as new music, and most rap is an obnoxious noise. Same with TV. I still remember the day a television showed up in our house. I was in Grade 1 or 2. It was smaller than the monitor I'm looking at now, and it was a fuzzy black and white picture. Aside from the odd bit of Ed Sullivan that caught my attention, I don't remember much of it before Star Trek came on. I've never owned a TV, and it's only very, very recently that I've come to accept that some stories on TV can be really good. But I still don't pay much attention to it. Back then I'd rather go play outside. Right now, I'm writing this with the only background noise being Linda watching The Borgias. Now, in a general sense, I'd rather read, or workout, or drink wine, or visit friends. I'm versatile like that.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Buddy water running

So there I was this morning, wandering into the pool area at Talisman. Some of you know that I'm really, really short sighted. So I peer around, trying not to bump into anyone, or trip over anything, and hope nobody thinks I'm being a perv.

I could see someone water running, and wondered if it was my buddy Katie. Sure enough, before I had to get all squinty-eyed and risk calling out, she yelled out my name. I slipped into the water beside her so as to not splash the 'do, and started running along with her. She'd been at it since shortly after they opened, and had a half hour to go. So I ran with her and we chatted, and chatted and chatted. We hadn't seen each other for a while so there was lots to chat about. Good times! That water running is hard work.

After she left I swam a bit, nice and easy, thinking about my stroke. Then I went to work. It takes about 25 minutes, no rushing, to get from the pool, shower, shave, dry off, dress, walk to the car, drive to work, park, and walk into my office. That's a good number to know. Then I can eat breakfast.

This evening was yoga and I clicked my back in a wonderful way after doing some pigeon pose. Things are in that odd sort of feeling as they get used to being normal again.

Shopping is all done, which is a record for being early for me. I'm sort of missing the last minute rush. Maybe I'll go get some stocking stuffers or something. I'm sure I can hear an LCD TV calling me. Or maybe it's the cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Good news non-icky medical images

Yes, good news! I was a bit nervous about being told I was going for X-Rays in addition to the bone scan my doctor requested for me. In my world, X-Rays are for teeth and suspected broken bones. But here we are! This is a side view of my foot, looking from the inside. There is fancy language, but note the slight spur for the achilles tendon and where it hooks into the plantar fascia. There are interesting striations in the bone structure that are good. There's also a bit of a build up under my big toe pad, but nothing to get worked up about.

Heres the pay day image for me, my left foot as if I was looking down at it. The metatarsals are all there, hooked together right, and nothing broken. Yay! There are some whiter bits indicating some build up of bone, especially on that arched bit, but nothing to worry about.

Here, people, is what a bone scan looks like. Picture me lying on my back, toes up, with my left foot on the right side of this image. The whiter spots indicate biological activity. You can see the white spot on my left foot under my big toe pad. Not the middle toe where it is sensitive.

This is me lying on my right side, with my left leg further back. The white spots show the little spur on the achilles tendon, and on the keystone bone (whatever it's called) where the X Ray shows a bit of build up.

This is the same position, only showing my knees. Odd that the left one is much whiter than the right. But all looking good.

In the end, there is nothing astonishing in all the images, given my age and recent activity levels. Doing barefoot running, or even in a minimalist shoe is right out. I'm to be in a well padded shoe, and replace as needed. Which tells me I need new shoes for walking around, as the ones I use now are scuffed bare and no padding left.

I can swim my brains out, (keeping an internal eye out for my shoulders), bike lots while being careful building to peak stresses, and very cautiously, run again. Lightly. Not too much to start, not too long. Paying attention to how it feels. Lightly. Which for a big guy like me is going to be a bit of a challenge. But there are things I can do about that. I am a guy. I can change, if I want to. I guess.

Once home I was on the bike for a brisk hour spin. Good warm up, then 95 rpm while backing off on watts to a high moderate level, well aerobic. Then some easy, then 105 at one gear easier, slightly lighter effort. Then some easy and a few minutes at 85 rpm but several gears harder to start exploring a new watt peak. Focus on spin, and scuffing my feet across the bottom and back up. Cool down.

Stretched after, twists, bends. Rollered the bottom of my feet with the ball and that felt really good. I'm a happy puppy with all this info.

My business analyst brain is horrified by these images and the whole process. Why? Because to view them my doctor had to boot into Windows XP because the viewing software doesn't run on Windows 7 or Vista. It turns out that of the four major labs in town, they each use different software. That is madness. Even on my new Mac I couldn't view the images, but then I remembered last time I had X Rays. My old computer still has that software, on an older version of the OS. It took a minute for it to chug through all the data, and another minute for me to remember the interface, but that's how I got the screen shots.

I'm astonished that I had to bring the discs to my doctor. Why can't he securely log into their network to view the images, screen shot the appropriate ones for my file and to review them with me, and log out? In fact, why did he have to fill out a paper form (PAPER for crying out loud!) for me to carry to the clinic? This is essentially a medieval technology.

Now picture the process if something terrible happens to me. I get wheeled to a clinic or the hospital. They take images. They have no idea what's normal for me. For any time over the next couple of years maybe, the images I got today are probably relevant information. For that matter, the ones of my elbow, and maybe even the ones that my dentist has could all be of value in determining just how badly I'm injured. Yet none of these are available. In fact, the only info about me they know is what's on my Road ID (don't leave home for a workout without it), and who knows how long it will take to get through to someone at one of the numbers. While it's nice they get hold of Linda, it could be crucial to get my medical files. Why aren't all our medical records in a secure database available to medical staff Canada-wide?

So while I'm at it, if any of you in Calgary are having problems with your knees or feet, Dr. MacDonald specializes in knees. And runners, with a side of triathletes and motocross athletes. His clinic offers a number of services. I'd be happy to tell you how to find him.

Monday, December 19, 2011

50 m almost all to myself

Over the last bunch of years, all my swimming has been done in a City pool, unless I've noted otherwise. A couple swims at Talisman, a couple at Mount Royal or SAIT, a few open water are the exceptions. Overall, the City pools are pretty good, especially Renfrew. I really liked swimming there. The staff are great, and there's a good dynamic in the patrons. Mainly older European or Chinese people the times I was swimming, but the entire time is full of Guten Tag, Cho San, or Bon Guorno. I met  and got to know a bunch of people there, Lynette, Deb, Lori, Todd, Jarret, Jamila, Justin and his wife Lisa, Brenda, Ms Backstroke, the two Italian dudes, Lana (a para-olympian, which I hadn't known at the time) and a bunch of other people on more casual terms. The only thing, ONLY THING I don't like about Renfrew is that the pace clock is essentially unusable to the people who want it the most, since it's lined up with the floatie lane.

Plus, the hot tub there is amazing.

Yes, I meant to have those 7 words be a paragraph on their own. The tub is that amazing.

The other pools are somewhat less desirable. Canyon Meadows occasionally has the men's shower room smelling like something crawled into the drains and died there. But otherwise it's good, with the pace clock in the right place. Plus it's the closest, and I know a few people there too. Glenmore is nice, aside from the locker room guy that creeped me out. It's just a bit tricky to get to. Inglewood is a funky old pool, very shallow at the shallow end. No, really, very shallow. As in, you'd better have your flip turn nailed. Bob Bahn grossed me out. Three drunks peeing put out more fluid than the showers. And the patrons there were pig ignorant about sharing lanes.

Swimming at Renfrew really worked out transit wise, since I could drop Linda downtown, hit the pool, and then proceed on to whichever job in the NE I happened to hold at the time, or head home if I wasn't working. Over the last year it hasn't worked out quite as well, and I've been a bit of a slacker.

I used to swim at Talisman Centre, back when it was called Lindsay Park, back when I was working shift work in the mid 80's. It was nice then, and after the renovation it's really nice now. It's just expensive compared to the City pools. But it's nicer, and has a track, and all sorts of fancy-pants weight equipment I'll never use, and gyms, and I don't know what else all. Well I do know about the 10m dive tower but I have better sense than to go off it.

So I finally bit the bullet and got a pass. Today I shared a 50 m pool with 3 other people at most. I only swam 45 minutes, and it was a bit slow, but I wasn't pushing it. Lots of kick, and pull, and some fist drill. Such a nice pool. And close to work. Let's see how this works out.

After the swim I went down for the bone scan. This is a two part deal. The first part is a preliminary scan and an injection of radioactive goop. The green glow hardly shows at all, and my work peeps were polite enough not to mention it. After a few hours I went back for the second part, 5 or 6 scans of my feet and knees. She asked if I had pain in my knees or any issues with them, so they picked something up. She took a couple shots of them in particular.

Then they sent me across the hall to the x ray machine, and had three done on my left foot. As it turns out, they only put the 3 x rays on the CD, and now I have to go back and get the bone scans put on there as well. Which is what my doctor really wanted in the first place. I was hoping for the news of what's happening in that foot, and I suspect with them wanting x rays, that there is something broken. Which would be bad. But I am remaining positive, till I get told otherwise.

In other news:

  • My yoga teacher's entourage is taking good care of her. That got real exciting for them for a while but seems to be getting better.
  • My contract at Talisman (the company) has been renewed until the end of March. I sign the paperwork on Thursday. Yay!
  • The first episode of The Borgias was really good. We'll be buying the season's worth of DVDs.
  • I am looking forward to putting up the Christmas tree. There are times I haven't. The plan is to time lapse movie it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A quickie, and a Christmas card rant

The quickie was today's workout. Only an hour on the bike, plus some stretching. Warmed up, 30 minutes steady at a sweaty breathing hard pace, then cool down. Felt good.

The unquickie part is Christmas cards. Linda has a bunch of really nice ones, classy even. That went really well as we worked through my address book. Then the computerized world stopped and Linda went looking for her notebook that has a succession of names and addresses. Let's just say that some of her sisters move a lot, and leave it there. That notebook is nowhere to be found. Like many other things, a great many other things, it's in the house. Somewhere. Cuddled, no doubt in amongst other papers excavated from a surface in preparation for something or other.

So a bunch of Christmas cards are in the mail. If you get one, all is well and good. You will know who you are. Things are more complicated if you don't get one. I could draw up a nice little Visio diagram to document the thought process you could go through to decide if you are upset with me. Essentially it comes down to the variables of have you sent a card, and whether you expect a card from us, and do we know your address. With me it is entirely possible I know where you live, and yet not know the address.

Christmas cards themselves trouble me. Families are increasingly living away from each other. I have family in Ontario and BC. I have friends and acquaintances throughout Alberta, many places in BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as some less likely places, such as Georgia and Tennessee, South Africa, and Germany. One couple moves around a lot; they could be in Canmore, or any number of places in Mexico or Central America.

I stay in touch with some of these people via email, Skype, Facebook, or my blog. There is still one person more old-fashioned than me (she's 92 for crying out loud, so I guess she's allowed) who occasionally writes real letters on paper. My brother recently discovered FaceTime, and has been having fun with it. I can safely say, dear brother, that 3 am UK time does nothing for you at all.

In spite of that Christmas Cards still come. I don't know if it's a sense of tradition or what. So far the web versions of them are dreadful. Let's look at the sequence of personalization here, short of an actual visit for hugs:

  • Personal, handwritten letter. This is the real deal. You know it's them, and you know they put a lot of thought into it, over a fairly significant period of time. Unfortunately, as anyone who has received one of these from me knows, it's not exactly an easy means of communication. My handwriting sucks so bad even I can't read it if I write quickly. If I'm taking notes, on paper, I'm printing.
  • Personal, printed letter via mail. Assuming there is significant personal content adding up to a coherent whole, this is almost as personal as the handwritten letter, and certainly more legible. As the degree of boilerplate goes up, you get -
  • Non-personal printed letter in the mail. This is good for a mass update of what you've been up to for the last year, sanitized for public consumption. No juicy comments here about the presents your spouse sent back to you when he's been working in the field for too long. Children might be reading.
  • The traditional Christmas card. Which might include the non personal printed letter and a photograph.
  • E-mail greetings. This might be personal, or another in an ongoing conversation. But somehow it's not quite right for more serious occasions like Christmas. Which is why people send cards, I think.
  • Various "things" delivered over the web, demonstrating that some people have entirely too much time on their hands, and should be put to useful work.
At what point does one draw the line for Christmas cards and not send them? Some say only send them to the ones that sent them to you last year, but who has the organizational ability to keep track of that? It's all I can do to order coffee before we run out of beans. And really, how meaningful is getting a card? Am I telling a dirty secret here by saying we production line the thing? How much thought actually goes into the average Christmas card?

Meanwhile the card companies recycle their designs and continue to kill trees by the forest load. Do we really need a mass produced piece of paper to know that someone is thinking of us? And really, how much does one think of our family, friends, and acquaintances on a day to day basis? There are studies showing that people can keep track of 150 other people in a meaningful way. I suppose that tools like Facebook made it easier to keep track of people, but still, the real limitation is in our brain. At the moment I have 126 Facebook "friends", some of whom are rarely ever on. Plus some email and blog buddies, to say nothing of some real life work colleagues and I'm probably around the 150 mark. You'll notice I didn't include Facebook in the above list. I simply don't know where a status update saying "Merry Christmas, ho ho ho, bah humbug" belongs, but I suspect below email. 

What about a blog? The cognoscenti reading this could infer a few names from my text, so it's personal to that extent, even if I don't know if they will read it. Does it make you happy to know that if you're reading this, and we were in person, you'd probably get a sincere "Bah Humbug!", I mean Merry Christmas and all that"? Some would get a big hug too, and you know who you are. In between glasses of wine and the snacks of course.

So. How many cards did you send out? How many did you get? So far. What does it take to get on, or off your list?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Regularity is hard

Particularly when it comes to Thursdays. I'm not sure why, but Thursday evenings seem to be my nemesis lately. I get home intending to get on my bike, yet somehow the evening vanishes without me on my bike. In some ways it was easier during IM training. There was something to do almost every day, often twice a day. You just did it.

Now I'm trying to be a bit more balanced about it, and it's harder to do a little bit of exercise regularly than a lot. At least for me. Your milage may vary. Especially since the bike is the only real exercise these days. No running till I get the images of my foot. No swimming till I renew my City membership, or actually buy one at Talisman. Monday should be the day for that.

Today was two hours on the bike. Easy warmup, a steady workout but not over the top. Watched another few episodes of Sanctuary. I've still no idea why the second disc is fine and the first is not. Maybe the computer sees a scratch that I can't.

I've got my holiday reading all picked out. The Game of Thrones books. Packing for Mars, How to everything by Red Green, Civilization the West and the Rest, and Canadian Pie by Will Ferguson. That ought to keep me out of mischief for a while.

Going into Costco they have the displays of TV's right near the front. I actually wandered through and looked at them. We bought a plasma TV on Boxing Day 2002, so just about 9 years ago. It was a great deal at A&B Sound for mumblty thousand dollars. Plus a theatre in a box DVD player and speaker system. We got the extended warranty, which we usually don't, and it paid for itself through two repairs. The plasma is still working just fine, but I was astonished at how cheap they are. Our's is 40" in a 4:3 ratio, and the prices now for 42" widescreen plasmas are about one sixth what we paid way back then. Just amazing. No wonder everybody has two or three of them, and you see ads for 80" TV's. For the record that's nearly the size of our King bed. I'm just saying.

What got us into all this was the closure of many DVD rental places nearby. In fact, we haven't rented a DVD since the Rogers closed sometime during the summer. Nor do we subscribe to cable, and we don't want to. What a scam to buy so much crap to get so little you actually want. I'd love to get some shows through the internet, but neither the TV or the DVD player talk to the internet or to the iPad. So far my theory is to buy individual episodes to see if we like a show, watch it on the computer (a paltry 24" screen) then go on line to buy the season at the cheapest place we can find. It's getting harder to find regular DVD's since they are all migrating to Blue Ray. Our normal thing was to rent discs, unless we were sure to want to watch them again, but that isn't so much of an option anymore.

Eventually the plasma will die, which could be years, and then we'll go get a new one. Probably at half the price of today. Maybe if I buy the right box of cereal one will come in it.

Where do you get your visual entertainment from?

Oh, and after I posted this, the sunset was amazing. Starting from the South East, moving to the southwest, and then a panorama of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My tree grew roots

Yoga tonight. This was one of my better nights when the poses just seemed to work for me. Tree pose, in particular. I remember the first time I tried it. The instructor covered her eyes. It was bad. Tonight, as I shifted my weight to one side, I could feel myself settling in, even though I wasn't hunching or curling up or anything. Then slowly putting the other foot just below my knee, feeling stable. Turn the knee out and flatten the hips. Then hands up, and letting the shoulders settle. I could feel the muscles in my feet and legs working, but rather than a frantic set of spasms to correct imbalances, it was a gentle series of contractions helping to keep me stable. I think this is the first time it's really happened like this. Nice.

The other poses were mostly relaxing and felt good. I'm glad I did the stretching and core session last night. I think that tonight would have been pretty bad otherwise.

My foot is feeling better, but next Monday will come quick enough.

It's getting to the point where I will have to think about Christmas shopping. Soon. Cards are being organized for a big push tomorrow night, except that neither of us really feel like doing cards. I'm thinking of doing a real time lapse movie of us decorating the tree, unlike the clunky movie from last year.

Work is funny at the moment. My work is coming in little spurts, with some calmness in between. One of my co-workers was over the top swamped, but I couldn't really help her. I think today she got to a point of calmness. The contracts for two other co-workers are up real soon now, and they are essentially checked out now. There's some transition stuff we have to do together but that's about it. People on the larger team are sort of in the state "we've jumped off the dock and it's too late to wonder just how cold the water is". Either that or it's a fatalistic acceptance that we're all doomed and there's no point struggling anymore. In a few weeks we will find out how well a year of intense effort is going to pay off, and just what has been overlooked.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Heart of the Beast

The Occupy movement had a bunch of tents set up in Olympic Plaza for about 2 months. As protests go it was pretty civil. Nobody got tear gassed, or tased, or beaten on. Some Calgarians were somewhat inconvenienced by the protest, in that some groups had rented the park, and ended up having to share it. I honestly don't know how much of an inconvenience it was. To the tune of about $53,000 all the taxpayers were inconvenienced, since that's what it will cost to clean up the damage done to the plaza, or so says the City.

I walked past the encampment twice every working day. It was a pretty motley bunch of tents. In one sense I support what they were on about. Our society is becoming more and more unequal, with the richest few percent getting more and more wealthy at a faster and faster pace. Almost everybody else is losing ground or just barely holding it. Clearly the benefits of a free market economy are not evenly distributed.

Nor should they be, entirely. Some people take larger risks with their money and time to provide goods or services that they hope will be popular with the public, and reap commensurate rewards. I don't think that many people begrudge the wealth that Steve Jobs accumulated. There are any number of people who are richly rewarded for their efforts, and who's to say it's wrong? It's not like anyone forced you to buy the Harry Potter books, or records by the Beatles (back when they sold records), or buy tickets to see Leo and Kate almost go down with the ship.

Then there are the scumbags that steal from you. They run banks, investment, insurance, and many other kinds of companies. They create complicated trading instruments that nobody understands, selling out their own clients in search of a way to internalize profit for them, and externalize all the costs to society at large. Their companies sell you cheap and shoddy goods made by slave or near-slave labour in China and other more obscure places, containing products that are not subject to materials testing because the only criteria is that they be cheap. Which explains why toys contained cadmium, and powdered milk contained melamine.

They own the government to subvert regulatory standards, and have laws changed to favour them and hinder their competitors. They own media companies to control the news. They control their own armies, and have hooks into the police and national armies, via that control of the government that I was talking about. In the USA, corporations are people, legally speaking, and can spend any amount of money to influence elections. Their only reason for existence is short term profits. Such people and groups are a blight on the free market system, a cancer that needs to be cut out.

It's a sad state of affairs, and I can totally understand why people are protesting. Eventually they left in the face of a court order, but they left a neat sculpture behind. I saw it Monday morning on the way into work, and it had been taken away by the time the work day was over. It's a handsome piece, quite well done as far as I could see. I'd like to see it put back, if there's a way to display it safely. I'm not sure how strong or durable it is. I do not want to see it hidden away in a warehouse somewhere. The elites need to be reminded that our society has to work for everyone.

Here's a pic. Well, crap, that didn't work. There is a nice  photograph on Flickr, taken by Robert Thivierge. You can see it here. I tried to leave a comment or send a request to use it here, but effing Flikr!!!! Grr. It insists I have an account. Which I don't. And I can't get rid of it till I log into it. Which I can't. And it won't let me log in any other way. So that's been a bunch of Grrrr this evening.

While I was looking for another photo I could put here, I found this. I am thoroughly amused.

On another front, the heart of my beast has been a bit sluggish lately. The massage on Sunday wiped me out. I was a mess after. There was all sorts of tender bits. If JL lived closer I'd have had her come back next week. I should have stretched on Monday evening but I didn't.

Tonight I did a good stretch and core session, mainly trying to work out the tightness and get some mobility back. Then on the bike for an hour, doing mostly easy spin, trying to get my blood flowing. Then some more stretching after. It feels pretty good. It helped ease some of the frustrations from work. I don't think SAP is good for my blood pressure, or at least how some people are dealing with it is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Well, at least it isn't a stress fracture. Yet.

Thursday was the day for ART, though we didn't spend much time on my knee. I had him look at my left foot, and talked about what it's been feeling like. He poked and prodded and applied pressure in various places and asked me to describe the pain. There are a few spots that are actively painful when pressed even fairly lightly, though I didn't scream, and lots of spots where I feel varying degrees of discomfort.

There is a spectrum between a perfectly healthy bone, and one that has a stress fracture. Some of the bones in my feet appear to be closer to the fractured end of the spectrum, but not there yet. At the moment there is no telling what it would take to push that bone over the edge, and I don't want to find out. There are several people that have described the pain involved, and what they had to go through for recovery, so I'm quite happy to take their word for it, thank you very much.

On the 19th I'm going for a bone scan, and that should give me the skinny on what is going on in my foot. Until then, I'm not going to run at all. While it didn't hurt to run, there was some ache involved, and it's easily the highest impact thing I do. I will also be careful when doing flip turns.

It turns out that the pad under my foot bones has shifted towards my toes a bit, which is a common thing to happen to runners. I found that mildly amusing, since by my runner buddy standards, I barely run at all. If I should start real running, that pad will probably migrate down my toes and over top.

Saturday I was a slacker. I hung out at the house, puttered around a bit, and ended up watching 3 movies. Second Hand Lions, Four Weddings and Funeral, and Repo Man (the original).  On Friday I watched Prizzi's Honor, and got a real kick out of it again. One of the things I really enjoy about contemporary movies is the things that are taken for granted. Dial telephones, and pay phones. Smoking (ack, choke). Photographs taken by a photographer and developed in a studio. Cars and home furnishings. Even the mechanics of the movie itself. I'm thinking of the pacing, at the moment. By today's standards, Prizzi's Honor is very slow. There are lots of scenes that would be cut out to speed it up.

Today I was up and got on my bike reasonably briskly. I was disappointed to find that my old Cube computer set up beside my bike doesn't want to play Sanctuary Season 2. It was happy enough with Season 1, so I'm a bit surprised. I might need to fuss with it a bit, but didn't want to before the ride.

I went through a couple of TED talks while riding. Borders and contemporary history. Interesting. Easy warm up. Then 1 hour fairly steady low to mid zone 3, with some standing, some faster spinning, and spin technique focus. Cool down. All in all it was 1.75 hours, and felt pretty good. Stretched after.

Soon JL will be here to give me a massage. I confidently expect to be a bit of a puddle for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Drunken flesh-eating yoga

I supplied the drunken part. There was an after work social for my contracting company. 350 people were confirmed. It was pretty full. I swilled down two drinks chatting with buddies, then headed out. Linda had been waiting at the library, and she drove. I was in no state.

There was just time to nibble a quick snack, change, and head out to yoga, over the wails of a cat convinced she was being abandoned forever. As our yoga instructor was taking off her jacket we noticed a huge, enormous, bulging bandage on one shoulder. There had been some issue and a medical practitioner had been digging in there with a spoon or something to get it out. We all sort of assumed it was flesh eating disease or something like it. Personally, I was waiting for a tentacle to spring out and start doing the various poses. No such luck.

Fortunately there was no really tough balance poses. Just as well. After class I felt great. Time for bed, it's ben a long day.

One of my readers noted an issue with disqus about replies and email. Maybe I missed it, but there is now a way for readers to subscribe to email on comments, so they get all replies to their comment. Since I'm now replying to all comments, you will find out what I said. How cool is that?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

forgot a title, and it was so good

Firstly, my bow to the season.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled "Bah, Humbug!"

Oh, I guess, while I'm at it, here's another. Corrupted, that's what's happened to me. This sculpture appeared today on Stephen Avenue.

Ok now, Bah Humbug for real now.

I did get on my bike. One hour. Easy warmup, then some brief intense bits trying to spin easily and smoothly up to 120 rpm pushing progressively harder gears. Cool down.

Finished season one of Sanctuary. Not much of a cliff hanger though. I cheered when the Ashly character was captured and hoped for torture, but no. She annoys me. I'll start season 2 in the hope she stays dead.

It was 10 C (50 F) here today, briefly but by tomorrow afternoon it's going to be about -18 C (zero F) or so.

Ok, one last photo to make you smile. Does anyone know what kind of plant this is? They are in the planters at City Hall. I think they're real.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hydrating on coffee and wine

Book club was at our house today. The book was the first one in the Game of Thrones series, but you have to understand our book club isn't a typical one. I've been friends with BJF and LK for about 20 years now since we worked together at the Nova bunker. LK worked in the next cubicle. Then the four of us got together in a hospital room one evening and had more fun that I had ever imagined possible, and we've been friends since. We get together about once a month and chat about stuff in general, but we always talk at least a little bit about the book. That's why it's nominally called a book club. There are other members, MK is another refuge from Nova who shows up every now and then, and GS when life isn't happening, and some of BJF's friends every now and then. It's fun and we pick good books.

Linda had made a ton of yummy stuff, and we really had a good time. I drank a bunch of coffee, and since BJF wasn't driving she and I got into the wine just a little tiny bit. Yes, just a bit, though now that my day is almost done, I'll pour a little more. We don't want it to go bad, right?

Before they came it had snowed all night so I was out shoveling after I slept in. That's 45 minutes I would have counted as core and cardio, if I was still keeping track of that, but I'm not. Mostly it was light fluffy stuff, about 12 cm worth, but the bottom of the driveway was wet and heavy.

Once on the bike I settled into easy spin, trying to stay in the 90 - 100 rpm range, easy gear. This was just to spin out my legs, think about going in circles, and work on a stable core. Did some speed work and a bit of standing work, but not in a really hard gear. I kept it fully aerobic and managed to watch some DVD's. I got through the last of the Sarah Conner Chronicles, more's the pity it was cancelled. Summer and Lena are so much fun to watch. I'm also back into Sanctuary. Love watching Amanda, though it's weird to see her with dark hair and hear a different accent.

Some core afterward. Plus, here's another T shirt photo. Linda says I look scary, but it's because I was just awake and hadn't had any coffee yet. Most of you know the story behind this shirt. If not, look around my blog, I'm sure you'll get the idea.

The colourful photo yesterday was indeed of the furnace and hot water tanks. Here it is with some annotation. It was taken with my iPad in the Photo Booth thermal image setting. However, it's not a true thermal image. The hot copper pipes are, well, hot, and the cold ones are (duh) cold, yet they show as essentially the same colour. What it's actually doing is showing the amount of light bouncing off the surface. A lightbulb itself is a bright red. The big green blob is the air ducts above the furnace, and the yellow line heading off to the left is the furnace exhaust.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

No spin, but

An interesting photo to look at.

Any guesses? Come on, at least give it a try.

Friday afternoon I went to a bar after work. This does not happen very often at all, but one has to do these things for a well-liked office roomie that isn't a roomie anymore. Her work term ended, and my office is a lonelier place at the moment. We went to Bottlescrew Bills, and drank, and ate, and talked, and laughed, and generally had an all round good time. 

I was there till 10, and my rule about knowing when to leave a party worked well. When they start arguing about what shooters to order, it's time to go. One either bails out or stays till the bitter end. I don't know when that was, but I hear one of the party, the one who has a wife and baby currently in a different country, is regretting it somewhat.

Other than being a bit dehydrated, I was fine, consider I'd put away more booze than any other occasion in recent memory. Those in the peanut gallery who have comments about my memory can suppress yourselves. You will not be surprised I slept in.

Oddly enough my legs felt like I'd run a tough 10 K yesterday. They were not happy about walking over for the morning papers. I didn't really feel like getting on my my bike today. Instead, I dressed for success in a ratty old T shirt that I happen to really like, but is well past it's time.

The sign the bears have propped up against the garbage can is "will tango for garbage". I felt sorry for the nice bears, reduced to such a state. I was wearing it because I decided to tackle more of the vapour barrier project. This is certainly a messier and more tedious project than I had anticipated, but it needs to be done. I've only got a few more I can do before I need to start moving stuff away from the walls. Standing on a ladder, reaching overhead, and twisting around to get the caulk gun into the tight places is harder work than it appears to be. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

My inner shark pays a brief visit

It was Warrior Wednesday at yoga. My legs were tired afterward, but it was what they needed after the tough spin on Tuesday. I think I fell asleep during savasana.

Thursday I came home from work just beat. I'm not sure why, but I sure didn't feel like getting on my bike. My legs were tired in a way they haven't been for quite some time now. It's a good feeling in a way, but since I don't have a coach exhorting me these days, I had that second glass of wine.

Actually, I do know why I came home feeling all beat up, but that's ok. None of you want to read about work.

This morning I was up early, ready to swim. The only problem is that none of the pools in the City are open at 3am. Why is that? I suspect a centrally located pool open all hours would do steady business in the night. Lots of athletes work weird hours and would love to swim when most people and all children are asleep. Either that or are DRIVEN athletes (and the ones reading this blog know who they are) who want to get their fix. I wonder if you'd be allowed to operate a pool that had no lifeguards during off hours, and relied on video surveillance of the pool for security.

So I had to wait around till 5:30. Oh, the agonies of early morning Facebook, blog reading, dealing with email, and deciding what wines to make next year. I will have to consult with TOIC, whom I think has already made her choices, but I'm leaning towards the Spanish Toro, Australian Shiraz Voignier, Argentine Torrontes, and an Italian Nebbiolo.

We froze our asses off waiting for them to open the door. Usually the outer door is open, and we can wait in the vestibule till the appointed hour. Today it was outside, and they were late opening the door. There were some grumpy comments from the small horde, but we were amused by watching someone take 5 runs at a parking spot, in a completely empty section of the lot.

The swim was good. 45 minutes swimming, and another 15 in the dive tank doing core and stretching. The water feel is coming back, and I'm getting back to my old cruise speed again. Pity it doesn't last long. There's a couple guys that split a lane and do the same workout, and go pretty good. I used to be able to keep up with them, but can't quite, yet. During the pull set my inner shark showed up briefly to swim along, then went off to where ever it is that inner sharks go. He's glad to see me back in the pool.

Tonight has the potential to turn into a bit of a runaway. My office roomie's work term ended on Wednesday, and her NON-buyout is tonight. I know most of the people coming, and it could be good. Who knows, I may end up making a midnight visit to Tubby Dog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swim camp

Once upon a time I thought I could swim pretty well. Thinking back, I was young and strong, and was powering through the water. Then I didn't swim for a long time. Then I started again. It took a long time to come back. Then November 2009 I got a chance to get my swim stroke video taped at a Mercury Rising swim camp. Here's the story. Part 1. Part 2. Followup. Then January 2011 there was another camp. That blog has some video of the bike session.

I am completely serious in saying these camps were key to my swimming faster. Sara, Clint, and Carrie put on a super camp, and I highly recommend it if you want to improve your swim. Something about actually seeing your stroke, warts and all, has an enormously motivating effect. Here's a link to check out the details.

We're waiting for the snow here. Rain, turning to freezing rain, followed by 10 cm of snow, winds gusting to 70Kph tonight and tomorrow morning. The drive into work ought to be entertaining, crossed with terror.

While waiting for the snow I got on the bike.
30 minute warm up, with some speed work and technique focus.
45 minutes 2.0 watts per goal Kg at 88 rpm. Standing every now and then to give my butt a break. Sweating like a stuck pig, breathing pretty good, heart rate about 132 to 135 bpm. Toward the end it was getting harder, and really had to focus to maintain the output, but I ended strong, with the last 3 minutes picking up the rpm, and for the last minute going one gear harder and picking up the rpm. It felt really good.
15 minutes cool down and easy spin. Stretched a bit after.

I think I'm at a place where I need to stay for a little while, pushing these watts till it gets a bit more comfortable and I can go a bit longer. Then up it a bit. Some of the sets will be more intense, to start getting my legs ready for it. Really pleased with the bike progress.

Monday, November 28, 2011

peaceful swim groove

Once again it was a quiet Monday at the pool. Maybe because people were busy picking up after the windstorm yesterday that qualifies as a hurricane. The LRT wasn't running through downtown, which turns the whole LRT system into something that starts with cluster and rhythms with truck. It is very, very good at doing this, much better than moving people, which is the ostensible purpose of the system.

Meanwhile, I was having a peaceful swim. I wasn't thinking about time or pace or stroke count or any of that. I was thinking about renewing my friendship with the water. Learning to feel it again. Working on my body position, and trying to get streamlined again. Trying to make my flip turns elegant and tight, rather than a frothing sloshy sloppy mess. It all went pretty well. Warmed up. Did some dolphin kick with fins, and did lots of pull. This really helped get the feel of my stroke back. I think I've been letting my legs droop a bit. Only a half hour.

Much as I'd like to go for an hour or so, I'm not quite there yet. Soon. Maybe. Which is something I'd better work on, if I want to start swimming at Talisman. That's much more convenient to downtown, but as always, there's a problem. I always swim in the fast lane at Renfrew, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the regulars that swim faster than me. That will sooooo not be the case at Talisman.

That darned Facebook! One of my buddies posted a video of my favourite band, which I hadn't seen, so I had to watch it. And then a few more, then some faves from the late 70's, and a few more from fairly recently. They're still so good. I wish I'd gone to see their Sgt. Pepper show in Vegas when it was on. I am speaking of Cheap Trick, of course.

Once I got that out of my system, for now, I went down for a brief, but intense core session. Included plank and pushups and other stuff. I decline to state how long, or how many. Let's just say that some of my lower core muscles weren't quite with the program the way I'd like them to be. And sadly, that's not because I ate too much over the weekend. It's because I've been a slacker.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Genetic consequences

Balancing personal and collective rights has never been easy, and it's about to get a lot harder. Up till now we've struggled with the limits of free speech against hate/slanderous/rebellious speech. Religious freedom vs freedom from religion. Privacy vs sharing information to plan social spending. It goes on and on.

Recently we cracked the human genome, though we're still working on actually understanding exactly how much of a role genes have in determining what diseases we will get, our lifespan, our intelligence, and even our behaviours. Costs for sequencing a genome are falling at a rate that makes Moore's Law look like a slowpoke. Even now, anybody that really wants it can get their DNA sequenced. There are some useful things they can learn from this. Soon, I suspect every newborn will have their DNA sequenced at birth. (Child support laws will never be the same.)

We already suspect that we might be able to prevent the onset of some diseases, and may be able to mitigate or delay the effects of others, and we'll only get better at it. We will be able to better match tissue sample for organ transplants, and we are on the verge of growing new organs on demand. It may be that a full understanding of our genetic code may dramatically increase our lifespan.

However, there is a downside. Lets look at alcoholism for example. There is much research trying to determine of much our genetic heritage contributes to alcoholism, how it contributes to the vulnerability of of our organs to alcoholism, and how much is learned behaviour from our parents or other adults. So far, research indicates there is no one "alcoholic gene", but rather a complex mix of genetic factors that appear to be contributing to the disease.

Let's imagine for a moment that researchers figure it out, and come to understand that a particular genetic make up contributes in a certain way to a person becoming an alcoholic. Maybe not with certainty, but a strong understanding. Now what do we do with that information? From sequencing a newborn's genome we find out that they have this genetic vulnerability. Do we tell them or their parents? I would assume so, but then how much control do we put on that kid when they become a teenager and want to start drinking, just like their buddies?

One alcoholic told me he became an alcoholic the afternoon he took his first drink. One drink. He couldn't stop. If someone knew they had say, a 75% chance of becoming an alcoholic on that first drink, based on a genetic test, would they take that drink? (Yeah, I know. Teenagers. Duh.) Given the consequences of alcoholism to themselves and their families, to say nothing of the innocent people in the oncoming car, do we have the right to stop them from taking that first drink? And if so, how?

Now that you've digested that, lets go onto a hard one. Lets assume that the cost of sequencing DNA becomes so cheap that it's a routine test as part of an annual physical. You and your sweetie want to get married and have children. Some research tech somewhere takes a look at both your DNA structures, and starts testing for genetic defects in the combinations of your DNA. (It's only computer time, after all, and if we don't set computers to tasks like this they start thinking about taking over the world.) Then they find that your children will almost certainly have a genetic disorder. Maybe it's something trivial, like colour blindness. Or maybe it's something much more serious, like Hemophilia, or Sickle-Cell disease. Maybe it's something quickly fatal, like Tay-Sachs disease.

Where do you draw the line? Is a 25% chance of your child having Tay-Sachs enough to prevent you from having children altogether? Should society prevent you? Is a 50% chance that they will carry the genes to potentially pass to your grandchildren enough? Who decides? Does it matter if the family is wealthy and lives in the USA where you can have all the health care you can pay for? Does it matter if the family lives in a socialized medical system where we all share the costs? Does that give the rest of us a say in what genetic conditions are brought into the world?

Suppose we find the medical techniques to prevent or cure Tay-Sachs, is it then right to cure all those with the condition? A few years ago I would have said yes, without question, but then I discovered Deaf Culture, and the debate about Cochlear Implants. I was astonished to learn that some parents of deaf children saw that implant as an assault on their culture, and did not allow the operation. It taught me that things are more complicated than we think.

That hypothetical cure for Tay-Sachs, what if that knowledge also enabled us to "cure" other genetic "disorders". Who gets to define which genetic issues are "disorders" and get treated. Suppose that that person or committee has a thing for blue eyes, and decides that everyone should have blue eyes? Or that red hair is the mark of Satan? Or that everybody should be 1.75 m tall, plus or minus a few cm?

Who would have thought that sound waves would have led to a huge population imbalance? I'm talking about ultrasound. A medical technique designed for any number of legitimate purposes is now often used to determine gender. In some parts of the world that leads to daughters being aborted. I can't imagine what they think they are doing; if everybody is wanting sons, who are those boys going to marry and how will you have grandchildren? If we knew this would happen, should we have restricted the medical technology to places where it would be used for a benign purposes? Alas, that genie is out of the bottle.

What will it do for human society if we can fairly easily learn that having children with one particular partner leads to them having a shorter lifespan than having them with a different partner? What happens when the insurance companies get their money mongering paws on your genetic information, and know more about what diseases you'll get than you do? What if part of getting life insurance involves submitting a genetic sample? What happens to the whole concept of medical insurance?

Many people think that having more information is better than having less. Maybe so, in some cases, but until we learn how to evaluate that flood of information, it's a mixed blessing at best. A little while ago I listened to a breast cancer specialist talking about preventing breast cancer. For years they thought that better images was the solution. Then they realized that better images gave them more information than they could cope with. Those two tumors that are almost, but not quite identical have very different pathologies, but it takes an expert to determine which is which. And there are all the new things the image finds, someone has to determine if those tiny irregularities are cancerous or what. With more detail it takes longer to make an assessment. Meanwhile, some poor woman who felt a lump is walking around wondering when they will call her with the results. Very recently, medical associations have announced that at least some of the screening that is happening now shouldn't be done anymore, and the screaming about this has only begun.

Our growth in knowledge is outstripping our ability to cope with it. Any doctor working full time, and they count themselves lucky if that's all they work, simply cannot keep up with advances in their field. Yet someone with Multiple Sclerosis goes to see them and wants that surgery they heard about. Odds are the doctor may have heard of Dr. Zamboni, since he's been in the news, but probably doesn't know the details. Multiply that by the advances in the research on innumerable diseases and conditions.

It's certainly clear to me that our medical system cannot go on the way it is now. I've no real idea what it needs to look like, but one thing I do know for certain. Hang onto your hats, it's going to be a wild ride. I hope within my lifetime to read the headline, "Everything we know about medicine is wrong."

Would you get your DNA sequenced, why, and what would you do with that knowledge?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

movie and good bike

Actually, the movie isn't of a good bike ride. When I got up the dawn was looking really nice so I set up my phone for a time lapse. This one isn't what you'd call dramatic, though the colours of the sunrise are pretty good. The clouds are ok, but there is lots of other stuff happening. The shadow of the streetlamp makes a great hour glass. There are interesting reflections, some of which I understand, and some I don't. There is snow melting, and people walking by. At one point a city truck pulls up, and a couple people cover over some graffiti on the street lamps. Enjoy

While it was going I was on my bike, pedaling hard. This was one of the best bike workouts I've ever had. You have no idea how good this feels after the many crappy workouts last year. Here's the highlights:
45 minutes at 1.8 w per goal kg, at 85 rpm. Breathing good and steady. Mid zone 3 or so.
15 minutes at 2.0 wat 83 rpm. This is working a little harder, but still aerobic. I'm not sure how much more I could have gone.
5 minutes at 2.3 w at 90 rpm. This is getting into zone 4 and I was beginning to feel the burn a little.

In between all that was some speed work and focus on smoothing out the jiggles at 120 rpm. Total of 2.5 hrs.

I've looked at the video a couple of times more. I really should wash the outside of that window, and tilt the camera up and face a bit more south.

Now, before the sunlight goes entirely, it's BBQ time! And wine, though not sure which one.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I think that's single longest blogging break for me

Monday since I last blogged. That's a long time for me. On average, over 1489 days, I've blogged every 1.4 days. Well, 1.41271347 days, if you want to get picky. Don't make me go to hours, minutes, and seconds. I've got a calculator and know how to use it.

Tuesday was a wipe out. I came home. I ate. I went to bed. I snored, or so I'm told. I am dubious.

Wednesday was yoga, and I was looking forward to it. Often we are dragging our tails before class, but we go because we've paid in advance, and we know we'll feel better after. And we usually do. About half way through class I totally lost focus. It was right in the middle of this long asana. Not hard, but it just went on forever. Personally, I think our teacher put an extra loop in there. I went from doing yoga, and working the poses, to just looking like I was doing the poses. If you've done yoga for a while you know what I mean.

Thursday I did a bit of stretching and got on my bike.
30 minutes warmup with some fast spin, and focus pedaling drill.
30 minutes at 1.9 w @88 rpm, quite steady, focussing on smooth and steady pedaling, trying to keep my upper body still, and my breathing quiet. It mostly worked, though towards the end I was starting to breath harder. It was never out of control although I was sweating like mad. There was a steady drip off my face.
10 minutes easy and some fast spin
5 minutes at 2.1 w @85 rpm, and that was starting to get out of hand right at the very end, so I picked it up for the last 15 seconds.
15 minutes cool down and easy spin. Stretched after.

I'm really happy with that. Since I got the power meter I've been a lot more focussed about the effort I'm putting in, and I think I've made some improvement even in the short time I've had it.

Not that I talk about work much, but holy cow. It's really hitting the fan. The end of the year is coming fast. Many people that have been head down shoveling for all they are worth for a while now are beginning to surface. (I'm one of them. I actually had time today to tidy my desk, in anticipation of another flurry of stuff.) Others have made some terrible discoveries, and I hope it all works out ok.

And speaking of terrible discoveries, I found out today there are still people so rude and ignorant as to smoke a cigar on a public street. I got a lung full and nearly spewed right then and there. Cigarette smoke and smokers are bad, but this was horrible.

I didn't hear all of it, but CBC sent a 17 year old girl into various convenience stores to buy cigarettes. At 5 out of 10 places they didn't even checked her ID, and at another 2 places checked her ID (her real ID), and then sold her the cigarettes anyways. Grrrr!!!!!!

The only way we are going to stop this scourge is to prevent kids from starting. I'd like to see it made uneconomic to sell tobacco products in anything but a specialty store. This should be easy with business tax regulation. Want to sell tobacco? Pay the current tax. Want to sell any of the other many other products and services on the market? Pay the current business taxes. Want to sell tobacco AND any of the other non-tobacco related stuff? Pay double, or more. Make the specialty store check the ages of purchasers. Register purchasers with the government and tie our health care benefits to smoking or the lack thereof.

I see no reason why it shouldn't be made a restricted product, and made considerably harder to get. In fact, the same rules about selling booze should apply to selling cigarettes. After an educational period to publicize the rules, whacking huge fines should go into effect, for both the clerk and the store owner.

I worked in a Mac's Milk store when I was in high school, and remember a pack of cigarettes costing much less than a dollar. People used to say they'd quit if they got to a dollar, then 2 dollars. I've no real idea what they cost now, but there are still lots of people smoking. I suspect the price has already weeded out everyone that it's going to weed out.

I'm not sure why people start smoking. Maybe it's the cool, or rebellious thing to do. Or they do it because their parents do it. There needs to be a campaign to tell kids not just that it's stupid to smoke, but THEY are stupid to be smoking. People need to point and laugh at smokers. Just like they sometimes put a smashed up bloody car in front of the high school to warn about the dangers of drunk driving, they ought to be plopping a cancer ridden lung on the desk for the kids to look at. Show them video of medical operations dealing with cancerous growths. If the kids aren't throwing up, we need to find more graphic videos. I'd like to see the little camera in the fiber optic cable going down the airway of these kids, and showing them the difference between the kid that doesn't smoke, and the one that has just started.

Land that will grow tobacco can probably grow other crops. I wonder what incentives would be required to encourage land owners to plant those other crops? That has to be cheaper than medical care for all the smokers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ineffectual fluke waving

That was me in the pool today. I'm glad it was almost empty, so nobody could see how slow I was swimming. If that's what you want to call it. Or how little of it I did before hitting the hot tub. That's what I get for not swimming for almost two months. Still, the first time is always the hardest. I love the hot tub at Renfrew.

Spin this evening for 1.5 hrs. Mainly working on 90 rpm or so, trying for a reasonable watt output, but not trying to kill my legs. Stretched after, and did a little bit of core.

I was a total slacker yesterday, with IMAZ on in the background I mainly read and surfed all day. After sleeping in, and before going to bed early.