Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oops. Did it again. Grrrr!

Forgot my swim shorts, and only realized it when I got to the pool. A long time ago I had put another pair of swim shorts in the bag. Some time less than a long time ago I took those out again for some reason. Sigh. So no swim this morning.

But I ran this evening. Sort of ran. Kind of. It was pretty terrible actually. Slow. Heavy. My legs felt like they weighed a tonne. Each. I'm still going to have to fiddle with the laces. I'm not sure if I like the shoes or not. Today they seemed to be wanting me to run on my heels, which I don't do at all. 45 minutes of slowness, after about 20 minutes of core and leg exercises.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Last yoga of the session

Tuesday swim 1 hour. For a while I was sharing a lane with a dink I haven't seen before. He was determined that I wasn't going to pass him. I caught up to him fairly easily, then cruised in his draft for the last part of the length. I expected him to stop for a second, but no, he looked at me and pushed off strong. I picked it up a bit and started going past, when he started putting more effort into it. Way more effort. I almost choked laughing at him thrashing along. I sped up a bit more so I'd be in front of him at the turn, and kept going. When I turned again he was about half way down the pool, arms barely moving. Then he went away.

Then Mr. Fins joined me and Mr. Toofasttodraft. I said hi and that we were going pretty good. He nodded and started off, all oblivious like. I passed him once, and I think Toofasttodraft passed him twice, and then he went to swim in another lane. I love passing people who are swimming front crawl with fins, when I don't have them.

I did 30 minutes front crawl, 500 m kick, lots of pull, then some more front crawl. The feel is coming back! Yay!

Tuesday night was a work function at Rush Restaurant. Wow is the food ever good there! I suspect it's expensive, but our menu didn't have prices. They kept pouring the wine. It was nice the way they did the serving. A whole line of waiters brought in our courses, circling the table, then everybody had their food put in front of them at the same time, rather than one waiter hustling back and forth. Did I say the food was really good! Home late and I didn't sleep all that well.

Yoga tonight was the last class of the session. The way it works is that during the second last class we can request our choice of stuff. I did pigeon and it felt great. I didn't do wall dog and that felt really great. Lots of other good stuff. We get a break for a couple weeks, then back at it mid April.

And we had sunshine today!!!!
This was the first sunny day in about 2 weeks. Normally Calgary is a very sunny city. Not necessarily warm, but sunny. It's no surprise at all to have winter days that are 30 below, and brilliant sunshine. So to go almost 2 weeks without was making people a little crazy. It's about 5 blocks from where I park to the office, and I walk along a pedestrian mall. I think I've mentioned it's been a cold winter. The only people I'd see were huddled into their coats and walking briskly, or waiting for a light. Today was about the first day I've seen people sitting and relaxing, chatting with friends, begging for change, playing instruments, and generally hanging out on the mall. Nice.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not much to say this time

Core, 45 minutes. Including 2x10 pushups, feeling stronger with a couple flabby ones in the middle. Lots of 1 leg squats and some deep 2. Plank, but that was weenie time. Lots of stretching and oblique stuff.

Then bike 30 minutes easy spin. The top of my knee felt a little loose past 110 rpm so I didn't push it much.

That is all. Move along, nothing more to see here. Back to whatever you were up to.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I was bad last night

Very bad. We got the complete second season of Leverage out of the library. It's a delightful show about a group of 5 con artists who try to correct the wrongs done by the rich and powerful. The interaction between the characters is great, the stories are mostly pretty good, and it's all quite well done.

The being bad part was watching the first two discs last night, while drinking a bottle of wine, while eating a whole sleeve of stone wheat crackers with Jalepeno Havarti cheese. All of those go together really well, as long as Amelia the cat can be kept out of the crackers. I went to bed about 2:30, which is very, very late for me.

It was snowing hard when I went to bed, and by the time I got up there was more than a cm of snow. And foggy. The roads did not look like any fun at all.

Eventually I got on my bike. Even though I think yesterday's run was the furthest I've run at once since IMC last fall, my legs felt pretty good. They weren't even unhappy about getting on the bike. It only took about 15 minutes to warm up. From there I settled into 90 rpm in the second biggest gear on the big ring for 25 minutes. My breathing was good, heart rate was mid 120's, but I was sweating like a stuck pig. It felt good. My knee felt good. Then a few minutes easy, then 5 in the next harder gear. Then a few minutes easy, and 5 in the next harder gear, done 2 sit, 1 stand, 2 sit. The rpm's were dropping a bit, but my knee felt strong. After that I did a bit of easy spin, and some drill spin where I focussed on one leg at a time, and some spin ups. I did a bit more of a cool down than I normally would if I were going for a run.

The sidewalks and streets weren't terribly good so I ran very carefully, and essentially stopped as soon as my legs had come around. Which didn't take very long, 15 minutes tops. They feel really good now.

Weekly Summary
Swim 2.0 hrs
Bike 2.0 hrs
Run 1.5 hrs
Total Cardio 5.5 hrs
Core 2.5 hrs

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's never going to end, winter, that is

I've been a bit of a weenie on the fitness front. Once I get home from work it's really hard to get changed and get at it. But that's what I have to do, I think. If I stop for supper I typically don't get going again. I don't like to work out right after eating, and by the time my tummy has settled, there isn't enough time for a workout before I'm ready to go to bed. Being old, and all, I go to bed pretty early.

Today, at about 2am I was awake enough that I was thinking about going downstairs for a trainer ride. Fortunately I fell back asleep before I acted on the thought. My new running shoes are calling me, wondering why I bought them. Here's what they look like on my feet.

Notice that my knees are together, unlike one of my readers who says she can't keep her knees together. It's still winter out, as the following photos show. What's interesting about the hoarfrost is that it exhibits preferential spiky growth, which is pretty rare. There was just enough of a wind, and conditions were just right to force all the spikes to grow the same way. This is what it looked like outside shortly before starting my run.

These icicles are hanging from my garage, which is rare enough, but to have spikes on half of them? I think that's pretty cool.

A close up of my neighbour's evergreen, showing the spikes. Some of these are more than an inch long.

The next neighbours car antenna. I couldn't quite get the angle I wanted.

Running down the sidewalk, just getting started.
 A little tree, showing the spikes all growing the same way.

At first the run felt a bit heavy. I'd been really creaky in my hips when I got up this morning, and did about a half hour of stretching and light core to get warmed up for the run. I've run parts of this route lots of times, but this is the first time in a long while that I've done it as an out and back. The big advantage of it is that it's a big C around my house, so if things go bad I can abort and have a fairly short walk home. Which has happened often enough to make it worth planning for. Other runs, like the one up to the reservoir, there is no bailing out.

Some of the paths were clear, but most have a cm or 2 of snow on them. At least there is no slick flat ice hiding under that snow. I chugged my way around to the far end in just a hair over 40 minutes, not pushing the pace at all. I was concentrating on my stride and how my shoes felt, and what I thought of them. I dunno, they're shoes, doing what they're supposed to do. I might have to adjust the speed laces just a hair looser. Maybe.

Ran back taking about 40 seconds longer, but then I slowed down a bit near the end to begin cool down. I was working a bit harder on the way back, trying to stay strong and not give up just because my legs were feeling a bit tired. My knee wasn't bothering me at all, though my calves were talking to me a bit. I'm guessing that they are coping with a slightly different dynamic with the new shoes. Fair enough.

It started snowing during the run, and it's snowing now, so I guess I timed that right. Chowed down on the peanut butter, Nutella, and banana sandwich I'd been promising my tummy, and an entire bike bottle of water with banana flavour Nuun in it. Pretty good. It isn't cold out, only -5 C (23 F) but it's a damp cold which is quite unusual for Calgary. I layered up a bit more than I would have otherwise, and it turned out to be a hair too much.

Over all I'm pretty pleased with the run, considering its been almost a week since my last run. 1 hr 20 minutes run. Half an hour core and stretching. Tomorrow is more of the same for weather. Lets see how my legs feel about a brick tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I would die for you. NOT!

I was listening to a song on the radio this morning. Some woman was bleating out "I would die for you" over and over. I was thinking, what a dipshit she is. Dying for someone seen as the most ultimate thing you could do for them, and I can't think of anything more stupid just now. Even Twilight, which that song reminded me of. Then again, we're going to be having another federal election here soon, and that's right up there for stupid

Just what does dying for someone accomplish? Squat. The cube root of nothing. Worse than that, it leaves them to deal with a corpse, and there are all sorts of inconvenient rules about what can and cannot be done with or to a corpse. Really, what does either party get out of the deal?

I'd be much more impressed if she sang about putting some effort into it. Like taking care of someone that needs to be taken care of. Like making someone else's life easier or better somehow. The work is in figuring out just how. And then doing it. Or figuring out something useful to do with your life that will benefit many others, like inventing a way of cheaply and reliably producing potable water from dirty water. Or curing human stupidity, that would be a good one. There are no shortage of test subjects.

Wed yoga was all about the groin. Opening, stretching, working, invigorating, and I don't know what else. Even so, I went straight to bed when I got home and slept like a rock.

Back into the pool again, working on regaining this water feel thing. One hour. It's coming back. Leg exercises. A bit of core, but feeling lazy. The swimming is taking it out of me more than I thought.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New shoes

It seems like just a little while ago since I bought my last set of running shoes. It turns out to be 13 months ago. Or, one Ironman, one half IM, and one Oly, plus training for them. And according to the ART guy a couple months ago, they were in surprisingly good shape, but it was getting to be time to replace them. So today was the day. Here they are.

Here's some pics of the bottoms of the old ones. Not really that badly worn.

Here's a link to pics of these shoes when they were new. The sales guy at Gord's was bemused at the thought a pair of shoes would last that long, but looked it up at checkout. Then he was amazed. When we started I told him I wanted the same model (New Balance 767), but they don't make it anymore. Now is 4 models later. What can change that much in a running shoe? Now I get to play with the speed laces till I get them right.

First thing this am was a swim. I now know it takes only a few weeks to lose the edge. Even today I could feel myself working harder than I should have been, and going slower. Worked on form. One hour.

No run in the evening. We went up to the Clay Oven to celebrate signing the new contract to work till the end of the year.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The pool. The gym. The yoga studio. And now, the

Elevator. That's what got me started today. I hauled out the iPhone and started making notes. Why would a guy stand with his nose practically to the elevator door, just itching to get through? Who's in that much of a rush? He nearly flattened a woman who was walking across the elevator timing it as the doors would open fully.

On the LRT it's common to see people file out of the car and scrunch along the side of the train, with someone holding the door, as a line of people behind them get out of the middle of the car. Then people file back in again. Everybody knows the drill and cooperates. It works really well. Why don't people do the same thing in the elevator? I watched a guy squeeze on, and then was in the way for every one of many stops along the way. Would he get out for a second to let others out? No. He would try to guess from which side they were coming, from behind him, without looking, and half the time he bumped into the person that was trying to get out.

I always chuckle to myself about how reluctant people are to talk in an elevator. People carrying on a conversation in the lobby will stop as they file into the elevator. I'm not a particularly social guy, but I am unconventional, so I like to say hello, and make eye contact. Just to make them nervous, you understand.

The elevator lobby has 6 elevators, 3 on each side of the hall. I smile every time I see someone get out, head in one direction, then realize they need to go the other way and turn around. Don't these people know where they are going? Do they lose their orientation that easily?

Society is still coming to grips with the finer points involved in equality of genders. Today was a bad day for elevators. I watched a guy take up half the doorway space, holding a door that wasn't trying to close, and gesturing several women to leave. Myself, the first thing I thought was that he was a pervert trying cop a feel as they walked by. My rule for elevators is that the people closest to the door leave first, and keep moving past the vicinity of the door. The people waiting for the elevator arrange themselves so this can happen, since out has to happen before in. If there are only a few people of mixed gender, all roughly equidistant from the door it's fine to let the women go first. Or whoever starts moving first because they're in a hurry. But to hold the door for a woman buried in the pack at the back of the elevator is just stupid.

The only problem with this is that it often leaves me behind people who walk very slowly. Slow walkers, if there is no evidence of some disability, make me nuts. Just strolling along, down the middle of the corridor so nobody can pass them, Grrrrrrr. This is also a problem on escalators. Keep right, people! Some of us like to walk along the escalator.

The other thing today was a woman paying for coffee. Banker's Hall has something called Sunterra Market. Great goodies, pretty good coffee. You'd better know what you want. The line moves pretty briskly. Most people have a 5 dollar bill ready to go, or a couple of twoonies. Not this woman. A coffee, a snack, and her backpack took up most of the space near a till. Then stuff came out of the backpack to take more space on the counter. Then a purse. Stuff out of the purse. Then a wallet out of the purse. Then change, exact effing change, using up pennies, came out of the wallet. Then all the crap packed carefully in reverse order. As the line up got longer, everybody's coffee got colder, and the poor woman at the till was standing there helpless. Nobody could reach past pack-woman to give money to the clerk, until she got her shit together and shambled off. Good thing people in the line up didn't meet her in a dark elevator, or the custodial staff would be cleaning up a mess.

Once home I was right into workout mode. Downstairs for a good core and stretch session. Then a half hour easy spin. At one point I looked at the bike computer and found I was at 120 rpm. Wow! Much of it was above 100 rpm, in an easy gear. Flushing out the legs, since my calves had been a bit tight today. Then some feet up, and and upside down pigeon. Total of 45 minutes core/stretch, and 30 minutes on the bike. Feels good.

Tomorrow morning is back to Renfrew since the kid's swim season is done. Yay! I've missed my buddies there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

No KBRCC today, but it's not what you think

We were supposed to get some snow but it never happened. Only a cm or so, which is trivial. Not even worth noticing. Except that is just enough to hide the ice, as opposed to any other flat spot, which makes for nervous running.

Bike was good. Maxed out at about 110 rpm, but felt stronger when going slower than that. Spent lots of time around 90 rpm, trying to spin smooth. Pushed some harder gears as well, especially from the one hour to 1.5 hour mark. I was even standing for a bit. I had a really good sweat going for that portion. After that I started getting some twinges in my knee so I backed off a bit. Ended up being on the bike 2.25 hrs, most of it feeling pretty strong. Stretched after.

No run for me. Only about half the people ran. Not sure if it's prudence or just part of their plan.

No core either, since the Tri-It people were going to be doing inventory and needed us out early. That just completely and totally broke my heart.

No cupcakes either, but we had brownies instead. Not quite like other brownies you've had. Very, very moist, very fudgey.

It's really nice out now, warm and sunny. If I was ambitious I'd run now, except I have other stuff to do. Yeah, that's it, other stuff to do.

Weekly Summary
Swim 1.0 hrs
Bike 3.0 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Total Cardio 5.0 hrs
Core 2.5 hrs

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Turns out I had lots of time

The idea this morning was to roll out of bed and get a run done before it snowed. The weather people were making it sound like the end of civilization or something, but that's because they're from Toronto. Pronounced Trawna, for those that care.

I suspect that of all my readers, only the musicologist TG of F,  knew that Cheap Trick had recorded the entire Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Live. It must have been an amazing show. Cheap Trick has been my fave rock and roll band for years, and I was delighted to find the album. That was the soundtrack for the core workout this morning. Pre run. Nice. My knee was a little cranky getting up, but felt great during the session. One leg squats felt pretty good, and even reasonably stable. 2 minutes of plank. Lots of other stuff, including 2x10 pushups, and pretty good ones if I say so myself.

Then out for a run. It was pretty cloudy and I wouldn't have been surprised to have it snowing before the end of the run. But it didn't. Started easy, out toward the path, running carefully. There is a lot of ice all over the sidewalks and bike path from the recent melt. I rand down 37 st, up the hill, along the path beside the school, around the curve past my vet, and up to Anderson in 40 minutes exactly, trying to run smoothly and paying a lot of attention to posture. All of this was breathing easy, easy enough that several times I closed my mouth to breath through my nose for a dozen strides. Stupid snot. Otherwise I could have gone longer.

There was a brief moment at 30 minutes where my knee was not happy. It felt like my right heel was sliding inward and forward all by itself, even after it had planted. Very odd feeling. Stopped very briefly to stretch.

Ran back to the house past the Hull home, and around behind the house. The last K was 6:40 trying to run exactly the same speed as the rest of the run, but was probably just a little bit faster. Maybe. The whole run was relaxed and very nice. I could have chatted the entire time. I only slipped once, very slightly, and I ran on a lot of ice. That tells me I'm landing nice and square under my body, and not trying to push off too hard. Nailed the clothing perfectly.

As of 9pm, no snow. But it's good that I got it out of the way early. The rest of the day was puttering around the house in a semi-productive way. Estela is in the car, ready for tomorrow's spin session. My legs are a little tired, but not so bad. 13 weeks exactly to go before I deal with some race baggage.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I didn't forget how to swim!

Amelia the alarm clock cat did her thing again this morning. I had lots of time to get up, have some orange juice and a banana, and be at the pool for 5:25. Already there were people waiting in the lobby. I was a bit nervous about it, since I haven't swim for almost 2 weeks. Amazing, after swimming almost every day for several months on end.

I started easy, saying to myself that I wasn't going to look at my pace, and that I was just going to think about my stroke and water feel. It wasn't as bad as I feared, but it took about 500 m before I was feeling anything like normal, and I think I was still a bit slow. I took a full K to warm up. Then into some kick and pull drills. I swam two fast 100's, one in 90 seconds and that felt SUPER! The other one was a bit slower but I had caught up to my lane mate and I had no idea how far into that cloud of bubbles he really was, or where the other girl in the lane was. Swam a little more easy and relaxed.

Ended up swimming an hour, feeling fairly good about the whole thing. Stretched after. In a little bit I'll go downstairs and do my leg exercises. I'm hoping I can get out for a run tomorrow before it snows. Again. Or so they say. Only 5 cm (2 inches) so nothing to get worked up about.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

10 Ways I break the Rules

But then it always was. Still, I'm feeling a bit heavy these days. Sigh. Got back on the bike for 45 minutes mostly easy spin. Took a long time to get warmed up, and never did feel strong. Lots of twingy feelings in my knees and calves. Then 15 minutes leg exercises. Must get back to being more regular about it in spite of work and trying to get stuff done after work.

I got tagged. So here goes.
Firstly, I have to say that I don't break the rules. I'm a married man, after all. We do what we're told, at least if we know what's good for us.

1. I don't play with my cat enough. That's probably why she wakes us up in the morning well before we want to get up.
2. I don't buy into our whole consumerist TV watching culture. I get the things that please me, and work enough to be comfortable. I don't aspire to build my career. I don't want to go up the ladder. I plan to schedule my work the way most people schedule their vacations.
3. I will not willingly create, or watch a Powerpoint presentation. ppt is the mark of the devil.
4. I decline meeting requests unless they come with an agenda and some really clear purpose for my attending.
5. I eat what I feel like eating, when I feel like eating it. Which means two entirely different things depending on if I'm home alone or not.
6. I don't care what the traffic signals say, if it's safe to walk, I will. Jaywalking is just fine with me.
7. I don't properly leverage my social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and blog) to market myself.
8. I haven't donated much $ to charity lately.
9. We never, ever water or fertilize the lawn. That makes it grow, which means (eventually) having to cut it. I don't care how brown it gets or how scraggely it looks. Nor do I make any special efforts to repress the weeds. My very, very neat Chinese neighbour despairs of me, I'm sure.
10. I ride faster than the 20 Kph speed limit on the bike path. Much faster.

Consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pummeled into submission

That was the massage on Sunday. I was good for nothing after. Same on Monday. I think if I'd had a bit more time to get it together, and knew I could have a long relaxing swim, I'd have made it work. But no, On Monday's there's a meeting pretty well first thing so I have to hustle. No fun.

Tuesday wasn't really a heck of a lot better. I was feeling creaky and sore in that grumpy sort of way. Nothing really wrong, but nothing quite right either. We went out for a great, GREAT dinner at the Selkirk Grille at Heritage Park, treat of our financial advisor. We'll be going back. The food and service was excellent, and it was nice to have some space on the table to spread out the paperwork. Plus the Gasoline Alley display looks really cool! By the time we got home I was in no shape to do anything but go to bed.

Wednesday I had an 8am meeting with the guy that will be my team lead after April 1. Needless to say, I'm willing to pay quite a bit of attention to what he says. So no swim either. But, I did go to yoga. The clam pose was not a fluke last week. I did it again tonight, and got further than ever without even trying or going to the full extent of my range of motion. I don't know if it's because I've dialed back so much on the other workouts or what. Maybe peace and tranquility is sinking in, at last. Class tonight was good, except for one sequence involving lots of kneeling. I don't like kneeling stuff. But I did to proper pigeon for the first time in a long time, and it felt pretty good. Oh, sure, my feet aren't as far out to the side as they were, but it's a start.

Tomorrow the kids are still in the pool so no swim in the am. Boo. Friday for sure. This will be the longest I've been off swimming since about October. I hope I remember how.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First KBRCC in a while

I fear Katie thinks I'm going soft or that I don't love her anymore. I haven't been to one of her classes since late last year. But it's not her, it's me, or rather, my knee. Until very, very recently going to her class would just be a waste of money and time since I wouldn't be doing any of it. Well, except for eating the cupcakes after, if I lived through it.

But my knee has been slowly getting better in a two steps forward, half step back, one step sideways sort of way. It was cranky yesterday walking around getting in and out of cars but good when I got up this am. I'm still limited how fast I can spin. The muscles just above the kneecap will cry uncle sooner or later. Today it was about 110 rpm, other days it's been as high as 140 (very briefly). I'm gradually getting stronger and pushing bigger gears but I'm being very, very cautious here. I have a feeling that it would be really easy to push just a hair too hard and undo months of work. So in the meantime I've done what I could at home.

But today was the day! My buddy Lori D wanted to check it out but pretty well only if I was going to be there, and I wanted to go, but it's really easy to back out. But once I make a date or the mental commitment to go, I'll do it.

As we got into the cadence pyramids I realized I'd not be able to do the fastest ones, so I settled in at what I could do. Later we did some hill work. I got through the first two of them, then realized my knee was getting unhappy about that. Standing was ok, which was a bit of a surprise. I went through the rest of the workout mostly doing the same stuff as the others, but just limiting the rpm a bit, and typically going one gear less hard than the rest of the class. On the bike 2 hrs, chatting with Lori made the time go fast.

Then I found out I goofed on shoes and didn't bring the right running shoes. Oh well. Plodded along for about 25 minutes or so. Tried to keep up with Lori at one point near the end, briefly.

The core was three sets, BRUTAL, Brutal, and brutal. I did better than I thought but still struggled. It's all good though. I need to work on the core more.

It's been a bit of a struggle getting the workouts in but I'm not fussed about it. I've worked less, rather than more over the last couple of years, which makes getting workouts done very easy. This year I want to work more, rather than less, and make sure I'm not shorting Linda on time together. If that means a workout level that barely maintains skills and fitness, well, that's the way it will have to be. I already know this is going to be a low key race year. Certainly no travel races. I'm getting closer to signing up for Chinook Half IM, and that might be the only formal race. My buddy Cath is talking about something for the May long weekend, and those two might be it for the year. Oh, and there are people trying to talk me into the Las Vegas marathon. Hmmmmm.

Weekly Summary
Swim .5 hr
Bike 2.0 hrs
Run 1.0 hr
Total cardio 3.5 hrs
Core 2.0 hrs.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not the ABC of Keith

Lots of people are doing the ABC thing. But I'm a contrarian and love being out of step with the world, so I'm not going to do it. But I feel like writing. Who knows where this will go?

How out of step, you ask? Well, some women in the elevator the other day were talking about some kid named Beaver that cut his hair and sold some locks for big bucks. They were devastated. I thought they were talking about the TV show Leave it to Beaver, but no, this is some entertainer kid that's popular these days. I have no idea. Please don't tell me. I don't want to kill some brain cells on that.

When Ocean's 11 came out I knew it would be a bad movie because it was a remake of an old 60's flick. I confused hell out of the kid at Rogers by asking for the real version, not the 2001 remake. He didn't believe me till he checked it out on line.

My world is full of moments like that. Some bit of popular culture will come up and I'll look blank. There was a discussion one spin class of great workout music. I didn't recognize anything that was mentioned, with one exception. Nine Inch Nails were the only group that I'd ever heard of, but I'd never heard any of their music. For all I know I still haven't. Or maybe I have. All sorts of stuff has gone by during spin class that I ignore. (The "music", not the spin class." I actually find it a bit odd listening to music during spin. With my ears if there's music playing I probably can't hear the instructor. Speaking of popular culture, since I've heard of Lady Gaga, I'm assuming she's over and gone back to wherever she came from?

I don't follow sports, so when people talk about the Flames game, or more likely, I overhear conversation about football, REAL football not that overdressed pap they play in America,  I have no idea. I've only seen the Flames live twice in the 30+ years I've lived here, and we won the tix both times. That's twice more than I've seen Flames games on TV.

You see, there's another great crime of mine, I don't watch TV. We don't have cable. No sat dish. No nothing except for DVD's we get from the library, buy, or rent. I firmly believe that TV turns your brains into tapioca pudding, and one day aliens that love tapioca pudding are going to show up and all of you will be getting your brains sucked out of your head. The world will be a much more sensible place afterwards, I trust.

The Oscars are over for another year. People in the elevator again, talking about the strangest things. I figured out long ago the Oscars are nothing but an incestuous event for insiders, and has nothing to do with deciding who the best actors are, or what the best movie was. I assume that all movies put out by Hollywood are shit. I figure I'll find out about the .01% that are an exception to this rule sooner or later, and meanwhile, I've saved a ton of time avoiding having shit piped into my brain at excessive volume. To say nothing about saving a pile of money. Movies in the theatre are expensive for what you get.

Even books are going down the drain. So many of them read like the author is doing a paint by numbers thing. It's very depressing. I read one book by a famous author who's name you'd all recognize. It was terrible and long. If they'd cut out one whole meaningless sub-plot out it would have been a much better book. A third shorter, but better. I figure the editor was afraid to argue with him since he was so famous, or worse, there was no editor.

And then there's Dan Brown. (Shudder) I was in a book club where one girl LOVED Dan Brown and every time it was her turn to pick, another of his books came up. The Da Vinci Code was one of the worst books I've ever read in my life. My digestion was upset for weeks after, just thinking of it. By the time the third book came up I couldn't take it and dropped out. It's right down there with Meyer's Twilight mess, and Harry Potter. Unreadable, all of it. Popular, but unreadable.

I was dubious about Facebook for a long time, but finally joined. After a bit of training to make it ignore anything app produced, and always come up with the home page in recent posts order, and getting the privacy setting right, I've enjoyed it. I banter with buddies, have caught up with some family, and occasionally get links that really interest me that I never would have found another way. However, I'm really clear that facebook isn't life. I've got work, a social life, and training that needs to happen. Sometimes I get behind on blogging or facebook because of that, and that's ok. Speaking of being behind, this is cutting into my time to get ready for tomorrow's swim, a DVD show I want to watch (Leverage with Gina Bellman, if you're interested) and most importantly, sleep. Gotta go.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yoga - the fiasco class

She said it, not me! That's what our instructor said it would be. She had had a tough day and it was a bit fun watching her get set up and ready to go. But then the class ran on rails, just like normal. I was almost disappointed. Lots of back bendy stuff, which I really needed. And Progress, with a capital P! You know the one where you sit cross legged, and then slowly try to touch your nose to the floor? Normally, I get to about where I'm balanced, as opposed to wanting to rock backwards. But today I started going forward, and forward, and more forward. I was amazed.

I'd gone to bed early last night, before 9pm, and slept like a rock. I must have needed it. I'll be in bed before 9:30 tonight I'm sure, unless there's a ton of interesting stuff on facebook or blogs.

And San, was that you at 1am my time getting all caught up on my blog? I love seeing spikes in my readership.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The chinook is coming!

Monday was still the deep freeze. Dropped Linda off and zoomed up to Renfrew for a quick swim. Only 30 minutes, trying to crack the rust off. I was not smooth. There is a big difference between swimming once a week and 4 times a week.

Then an ART session, working lots on the back of both knees. Which felt odd. But things seem to be going well.

By Tuesday after work it had warmed up to about -7 C (19 F) which is almost warm. Tomorrow is supposed to be above freezing! Yay! We are cheering on the chinook arch we can see forming.

Leg exercises for 15 minutes, then ran 30 minutes. Starting very easy. My feet and legs felt very heavy and stiff throughout. I was trying not to do the clump clump stride, and mostly succeeded. There were some minor twinges in both knees.

I'm for sure going to be a slacker in yoga tomorrow. Last week nearly killed my legs and I don't want to do that this time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A political rant

Here we go again. Another election is in the wind. The Conservatives will present a budget on March 22. So far the Liberals and Bloc have said they will vote against it, leaving the NDP holding the hidden cards. Just what we need, the fruit loop party attempting to restrain the Conservatives. The worst of it is that we're likely to get results very much like what we have now. Each election costs about $300 million.

I'm one of the few Canadians that can actually vote against Prime Minister Harper, since he is my Member of Parliament. Everybody else can only vote against his party. But that leads to several problems for me.

Harper isn't quite the right wing zealot he used to be. He's recognized that some of his more neanderthal opinions do not play well outside of a small group of the unwashed. There is a debate as to whether he has actually and truly changed his mind (ie, that he essentially grew up), or is just hiding his true feelings during his quest for majority government. A great many Canadians believe the latter.

Still, in between his generally pragmatic approach to governance, there are some very disturbing behavioural examples that I think render him unfit for re-election. There was the example of cutting funding to the other parties for partisan reasons. There is his paranoia about communications that has led him to gag all his ministers. All public communication has to go through his office. Some of his decisions are ideological based, such as cutting the GST tax rate, and cutting tax rates for corporations, regardless if it's good public policy or not.  Prorouging Parliament to escape a vote that would have almost certainly brought down the government. Then there are all the games played in committee to avoid having work done where they wouldn't like the results. They flat out broke the law during the 2006 election with regard to spending limits. This is the so called "in and out" scandal. The Conservatives call it an accounting dispute, various auditors call it illegal. The Conservatives have a fetish about getting "tough on crime", taking a page out of the Republican playbook. They don't grasp that crime rates are dropping, they don't care that putting people in jail is a counterproductive exercise for many offenses, and they don't admit that jail is much more expensive than just about any alternative. After all, jails are a provincial responsibility so the federal government doesn't have to pay for it.

One thing in the budget is that the Conservatives want to cut corporate taxes. The other parties oppose such cuts. So the Conservative attack adds say that Liberals want to raise taxes. It's this sort of lie that makes me mad, and makes most people regard politicians as lying, scheming, sleazy, no good varmints. And that's defaming varmints.

My problem is that none of the other parties will run a strong candidate against Harper. He is seen as unbeatable in this riding, which is probably true. Many of my neighbours are the perfect demographic for the Conservative party. White, well off if not actually wealthy, well educated professionals, lots retired or semi-retired, and generally suspicious of change. Still, many of them voted for Mayor Nenshi, so there is hope. 

My choices are likely to be a party hack Liberal and NDP, and some kid running for the Greens. I've voted Green the last couple Federal elections even though I didn't think the kid would be better than Harper in the House of Commons. My vote meant $1.75 per vote per year in federal funding going to the party. I'm not sure if that funding will still happen now. There might be an independent. I like to encourage independent candidates, unless they are a one issue nutbar, and usually that's what they are. 

What I really want to see on the ballot, down at the bottom, is a choice called "none of the above". If none "wins", the parties have to propose new candidates. The ones that were refused can't run again for a couple of elections. This cycle continues till a candidate is acceptable to the voters. 

A bigger change that I'd like to see is some form of proportional representation. Canda's "first past the post" electoral system leads to perverse results. A strong majority government can result from as few as 37% of the votes, and even less if you count just English Canada. Part of the problem is that Quebec sends a large contingent of separatists to Ottawa. They are a one-trick, one province party, and yet are accorded federal party status, unlike the Greens who ran candidates in every riding. They make it that much more difficult for another party to form a majority government. Last election, in 2008, the Greens got nearly a million votes, making up almost 7% of the popular vote, and yet did not receive a single seat. Fewer voters in Alberta elected 27 Conservatives. 

There's more. In the prairie provinces, Conservatives received roughly twice the votes of the Liberals and NDP combined, but took seven times as many seats. Similar to the previous election, a quarter-million Conservative voters in Toronto elected no one and neither did Conservative voters in Montreal. The NDP attracted 1.1 million more votes than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc 49 seats, the NDP 37. Something is not right. 

Several parties have talked about changes to the system, till they win. The system gives a seat bonus to the winners, so they have an incentive to keep the system. There are lots of varieties of proportional representation, but there are two problems. One is that none of them produces "perfect" results either, and this is held up as a flaw that should prevent them from being enacted. In fact, there *IS NO* system that perfectly represents the voter's wishes. There are always circumstances that can give perverse results. The other is that proportional representation can be complicated to explain, and frankly, lots of people don't take the time to understand. They are afraid of change, and afraid that people representing values they don't agree with will get more say.

This is partly a product of Canada's demographic makeup. I've talked about this in the past. Canada used to be a white Christian country where most people had come from UK or France, or other European countries. It was run by old, mainly Scottish, white men. I'm old enough to remember people of my parent's generation talking about post-war Italian and German immigrants taking jobs. Then people with varying shades of brown skin, and different religions started arriving in larger numbers, to a predictable response. Now, Canada is probably the most ethnically diverse country in the world. Any random small town will have restaurants serving varying kinds of Chinese food, and probably Vietnamese or Thai, and no surprise to find Indian food. 

By and large, people are accepting of the immigration, though we get grumpy about people jumping the queue by boat, or cheating the system. We recognize most of these people want exactly the same things we do, a chance to live a peaceful life and raise children that have all the choices in the world for education and jobs. The vast majority of immigrants are honest hard working people that are a credit to our country.

Most of us love the diversity that immigration brings. In Calgary, a city of about 1 million, which is a small city by world standards, one can get restaurant food from anywhere in the world, or buy the products to make that food for yourself. Someone will be running an import business selling products from all around the world, or they will be applying those skills to make the products here. There are endless opportunities to explore other cultures through film, arts events, and cultural festivals. Talking to people coming from war-torn countries helps us appreciate how good we have it here. Immigrants bring new perspectives on how society should work.

I admit, not everybody accepts these changes. We were on vacation once in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The only reason you can find it on a map is that there's nothing else around it. The main attraction is hot springs, believe it or not. There is an old (by Canadian standards) hotel and spa to take advantage of them. The spa is on the top floor, 5 or 6 stories up, and part of it is open to the outside. Very nice! There I was, relaxing in the hot water, listening to a group of older people, maybe mid to late 60's. The shit that was coming out of their mouths! Immigrants. Gays. Jobs. Religion. Crime. I was disgusted, and was thinking about speaking up, but didn't. Nothing I could say would change their minds. These are the people that the Conservative party is pandering to. Fortunately, this is a small group, and they are quite literally dying off.

All politicians lie as naturally as breathing, but some are more subtle than others. There does have to be some recognition that the world keeps on changing, and people, even politicians, mature and develop new viewpoints. It's trivially easy now to dig up something that someone said years ago and fling it in their face. Harper's comments on building a "firewall" around Alberta, for example. Does he still hold those views? Who knows? It was a decade ago and he wasn't an elected politician then. Is there a statute of limitations on saying ill considered things?

But I remember hearing tape of a press conference with Paul Martin, then Prime Minister, saying that Belinda Stronach getting a plum cabinet post had nothing to do with her changing parties. The tape ran long enough to hear the laughter of the press corp. That sort of stuff response needs to happen more often.

One of the things that I would like to see is some real teeth put into the Auditor General's office. Right now the government can hide behind Cabinet secrecy. And there are some things that are legitimately confidential and to be kept from the public. Yet there needs to be a check on government. I think the Auditor should be able to look at any government produced paper or electronic files and review them for accuracy. Elected member's expense accounts should certainly be included. I want someone with an impeachable reputation be able to look at government stuff and say that even though can't share the details, it's all on the up and up. There should be a whole group of people looking to ensure that partisan party activities are separate from paid political actions.

I'm sick of federal and provincial politicians squabbling about how something is going to be paid for, which is a legacy of colonial era government structure. There's only one taxpayer, so figure out what needs to be done and get on with it! I'm sick of elected officials sitting in parliament and behaving like unruly school children, lying their faces off, faces that are bloated by years at the trough, posturing their fake outrage. I want to see someone drag the offenders by the ear out of the building and throw them in the nearby river. I'll settle for a long hook coming from off stage, reaching out slowly.

In fitness news, did a half hour of core, 1.5 hr of bike, and some stretching after. The bike was good. 0 minutes warm up, 20 minute time trial in second largest cog. Some spin up. 5 minutes in one gear harder, then some spin ups, then another 5 minutes. Some spin ups, and back to the second cog for another 10 minutes, all trying to spin smooth. I'm pretty pleased with the workout. My legs felt good. I even stood briefly in a moderately hard gear.

Still WTF cold here.

Weekly summary
Swim 1.25 hrs
Bike 1.75 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Total Cardio 4.0 hrs
Core 2.75 hrs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Relaxed shoulders are hard when it's cool out

Seems like every other step I was noticing my shoulders were trying to help out by keeping my ears warm. But I was wearing a cap, a toque, and a hood. Plus two scarves. So my ears were warm, but it's an old habit to scrunch up your shoulders when you think it's cold out. Which it isn't, not particularly. I realize some of my audience are unworldly enough (even if they do read Shakespeare) to not understand the C means temperature for all but 3 minor countries in the world. -18 C is easy, that's 0 F and -26 C is -15 F.

Started with a half hour of leg exercises and core. Then spent almost that long getting dressed. Shoes, socks, 2 pair tights, 2 long sleeved tech shirts, a heavy hoodie, a wind breaker, gloves, and the afore mentioned 2 scarves, a hat, a cap. I was actually just a little on the warm side.

Ran 1 hour steady, then another 5 minutes easy to cool down. One nice thing about running in weather like this is there aren't many people out on the path. But the ones that are out are totally oblivious. Jerks. Footing is good.

Stretched a bit more after. Legs are feeling pretty good, though they've been a bit cranky since yoga. This sitting in a poor chair at work isn't so good either. I might have to talk to them about swapping it out for another one.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Best rant in a long time. And shoes

Only problem, the rant is not mine. It's AKA Alice. Go read. It's good.

How many shoes do you have? This is really a double barreled question.
How many shoes in your current running rotation?
How many items do you have that fasten to your feet, all up? Shoes, boots, sandals, slippers, even the ragged old shoes you use for mowing the lawn or wading in the muck.

My answers? 1 and 13 respectively, which is an all time high.  Scientists haven't invented the number to describe how many shoes my wife has. I live in fear that they will be the nucleus of a black hole.

There's a bunch of ABC stuff going round the blogosphere. But I will stand firm. There won't be none of that here.

Are you distracted from noticing that I haven't blogged about my workout on Thursday OR Friday? Yes? Good.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I am in deep lust

Yoga killed my legs. There was this weird triangle pose thing. That had my legs all atremble. Then there was a bunch of kneeling stuff that I'm not big on at the best of times. I managed to cramp a muscle I hadn't known existed a couple years ago. It runs down the outside of the shin  just below your knee. It's the one that brings your toes towards your shin. Ouch.

Swimming in the evening makes it very difficult to go to sleep, so I'm off to bed really soon. My beer after work Thursday got put off, and it's still supposed to be warm tomorrow, so I'm hoping for a run. We'll see. Calgary weather is notoriously fickle.

iPad 2. That's all I'm going to say.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There was only one other swimmer in the pool

Along with a whole lot of floaties. The evening crowd at Canyon Meadows is quite a bit different than the morning crowd. The morning people get, swim, and get on with getting ready for work. The evening crowd stands around, thinking about getting in. Then they thrash around. The first half of the swim was ok; I had a lane to myself, but then they gradually moved in on me. Pity the other swimmer was in the next lane.

Swam 45 minutes easy front crawl, trying to remember how to do it, getting my feel for the water back. Worked on different aspects of my stroke. It turns out I've almost forgotten how to dolphin kick; that sure went away quickly. If I do another swim this week I'll have it again. Lots of pull. 1.25 hrs altogether. Lots of stretching after.

No idea when I'm going to be able to run. Thursday will be warm enough, but I'm supposed to meet some buddies after work for a beer. Here's the forecast for the rest of the week. Yeah, I'm feeling the love from all of you jostling me as we get our run stuff on to head out in a mini-herd, huddling together for warmth.