Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the workout trail

Swam Monday. Short but hard.

Went to bed 7pm, if you can believe that, and slept like a rock. About time. Maybe this cutting back on coffee is a good thing.

Biked Tuesday. Working on smooth. Mostly endurance pace with some short spin ups in the same gear to above FTP. Good stretch session after with some core bits.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ugg. Bleah. Argh. Mostly photos.

Here is the whole article with the recipes. You'll have to enbiggen them to be able to read them.

I slept very badly last night. Not sure why. I sure didn't feel like doing a spin session, or go for run, or even do the spin AND a run. Linda had wanted to go up to Cross Iron Mills to check out a particular store. I had never been there at all. At least I don't think I have been, and nothing I saw today was familiar. Yet my memory is suspect, and Linda is pretty sure I've been there.

These sculptures are by my friend Jeff de Boer. Let's just say there's a bit of a western theme to the mall. All 1.4 million square feet of it, which is about the same size as Chinook Mall. It just seems bigger because it's all on one floor.

I really liked this clock. The workings are visible and and you can see them move. I have a short movie I can post if anyone requests it.

Overall, I see no compelling reason to go back.

Now I'm off for a house errand involving plumbing. Let's hope this goes well...

Update. No leaks and successful flushes mean I saved over $150. The company fixing the fan exhaust from the guest bathroom (for what I think is a reasonable price), also gave us a quote for replacing toilet innards. Once I found out what the parts cost, and watched a video, I was astonished at their quote. Even considering  my time at the rate I bill out to Talisman, I still saved money. Yay me!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I feel much cleaner now

First was a nice 6:30 am dip in Talisman pool. Wondering what's going on because there was lots of cars in the parking lot. 1.5 K in 29 minutes nice and easy and relaxed. Puttered around a bit with some dolphin kick and had to work out a hamstring cramp. Once that was gone I did some pull and kick and a bit of drill. Finished up with some water yoga and stretching. My low back was really tight at the end of the 1.5 K. Out of the water after just over an hour.

The hot tub is fairly nice, but not as good as Renfew. Still, it was nice to relax in it for a little bit. From there I wandered up to see what was going on. There were some swim clubs in the pool, with the coaches yelling at their kids. But the main activity was synchronized swimming qualifiers. The girls would do a particular figure, and the judges would hold up their scorecards.

I'm always a bit suspicious of judged events like this, but the judges seemed to be fairly consistent. I got to chatting with one of the parents, and was astonished to discover this was an expensive sport. I knew pool fees wouldn't be cheap, but hadn't known that it's paid coaches, not volunteers. Myself, I'd choke on a $300 swimsuit.

When I started watching they were about half way through a group doing a set of individual figures. After they were done there was a bit of a break, then another group of girls moved into the pool. Some of them were doing some laps to warm up, and I'm afraid I laughed. They are graceful and athletic doing the synchro figures, but most couldn't swim worth beans.

Once home I puttered about. Today was the day for tackling the paperwork infesting my storage unit drawers. My way of dealing with paper that comes in the mail is to stuff it in a drawer. When the drawer is full and it's January, I sort things out.

There are 4 piles. Things to shred. Things to recycle. Things for storage downstairs. And lastly, things that are more or less permanent reference, or something I might need soon.

I shred everything that has my name or address on it that I don't need to keep anymore. Line of Credit statements that show a credit of 14 cents. Old receipts. Old phone lists. Work job reviews from 2004. Stuff. I shredded two full containers worth. Here's the pre shredded pile.

There was lots to recycle. And some stuff to go back into the drawer. Like a bike fit and lactate threshold test done in 2009 that shows my wattage to be (hangs head) 163. Clearly I've improved since then, as long as both tests are calibrated to anything close to the same standard and are comparable.

One of the other things I found was this. Why?

This. Here, for all those that wanted it, is the secret recipe for my energy drink that I use for longer rides. Of course, I make it slightly different.

If I were one of those Shit Triathletes say guys (Julie's is the funniest) I'd be only using reverse osmosis water, fair trade organic tea picked in the early morning before the heat of the day, organic honey where the bees are part of a registered trade union, sea salt that was harvested with no dolphins or shark fins damaged, and non pesticide orange juice. Sometimes, just to mix things up, I'll toss in a Nuun, the Wildberry goes better than the other fruity flavors. Not that we have much choice up here.

Recycle is everything anonymous I don't need. There was lots.

Stuff I need to keep is mostly things like bank and investment statements. It turns out there was 3 years worth of stuff, so I put it all into one pile. From here it goes into a white plastic bag, and downstairs into a big storage tub downstairs. I have periodically had to go through these bags to find a particular piece of paper, so it's worth doing. I'm considering a system where all receipts go into one place, in date order. There are times one needs old receipts, for warranty claims mainly. That's why I like Apple and emailing a receipt. It turns out they store it in their own database, so even if you lose it, they'll still know. If I was really organized I'd just take a photo of this stuff.

While I've been writing this I'm also importing more CD's into iTunes. It turns out song 5000 is Since the Last Goodbye, on Ammonia Avenue by Alan Parsons Project. The wine is Sagiovese. The meat is the last of the roast lamb on a nice onion bun, with double smoked cheddar cheese. Salty chocolate caramel tart for desert.

I've had a couple comments not show up, and I don't understand why. No links to put them in the pending file, they aren't spam and don't show up there, one shows up in the iPhone mobile view. I will have to post them manually I guess.

Friday, January 27, 2012

10 watts makes a big difference

Now, where was I after being so rudely interrupted by Blogger eating my big post? Oh yes. I'd talked about my Tuesday bike.

Wed was yoga. At the time I didn't think much of it, but my tree was really strong, waving only slightly in the breeze.

Then Thursday morning I was in the pool and my balance was shite. It sounds odd to talk about balance in the water, but it was off and I could feel it. I was working a bit harder to maintain my pace and wasn't getting clean air for breathing. My roll was slightly out of time with my stroke, and it felt like my feet were dragging. Did several 100 m intervals on 2:15. This is coming around. 40 minutes in the pool.

Friday I was on the bike again. Sorry about the numbers. (no I'm not) Warmed up and some spin technique. Then 5 minutes at 175 watts to really get my blood flowing. 5 easy. Then 20 minutes trying to stay between 190 and 195 watts. My breathing was regular and deep, heart rate stable at low to mid 130 bpm, cadence about 86 to 88, legs feeling good, and sweating hard. This was a good effort, and I could maintain this for quite a bit longer, I think. It takes a little bit of focus to maintain the pace but I'm not fighting for every watt. Then 5 minutes easy.

Now the hard part, upping the brake setting a level, same gear and cadence, trying to maintain just over 200 watts. This takes work to maintain. If I don't look at the display my legs tend to slack off. Breathing is hard. I can feel the effort in the legs. I lasted 6 minutes and dialed it back. I could go longer if I really want to push, but I'm not sure if I could go 20 minutes. I am sure my legs wouldn't be happy with me, but I think that's going to be what it takes.

It's surprising how quickly the limits close in at such a small increase in output, only 5%. That takes me from steady state to over the edge. At least I know where I am, and now I can go through the book and start doing some of the other tests and calculations to figure out what I need to do to improve.

The weather sure looks sweet for next week! 12 C (53 F). That's practically a heat wave. You can bet I'll be out for a run or two. I may even be in shorts and short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2x11. Again

The first time Blogger eats a post, it's a huge one. With cut and paste from two separate blogs. Links. Photos. Maps. Graphs. Spreadsheets. A movie. Grrrr. So I'm starting over, and you might not see some of that stuff. Unless this glass of white wine inspires me more than I think it will.

Both SUAR and Xenia  tagged me with the recent 11 thing. Since I get an amazing number of readers from SUAR's blog (Hi guys, feel free to comment and say hello!), and Xenia once sent me a Popener just because, I figured I had to respond.

Da Rulz.

1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

I'm picking the 11 people by whoever is at the top of my blogroll when I finished this, unless it's one of the above, or someone that has already got their 11 things up on their blog. Unless I think they would enjoy being tagged again.

11 Random things about me. The really great one about my dissolute youth where I won a game of 10 pin bowling, lost my virginity, and did not get into a drinking contest, all on the same night, is gone. And I had it worded so carefully. Sorry guys, maybe another time. Blame Blogger.

  1. I have now lived in this house longer than every other house put together. Without even trying I can remember living in 11 other homes (how's that for a coincidence!) Talk about putting down roots. The book collection is right out of hand. There are times I think we'll never move again, just because of the books. And the wine too, of course.
  2. I've lived in two countries, and in 4 Canadian Provinces. I have not yet visited PEI or Newfoundland. Or any of the Territories.
  3. One of the sounds that most reassures me is to hear airplanes flying overhead. Jets are ok, but it really should be a prop, and especially an old radial engine. It makes my day in the summer if I hear an old radial engined airplane flying overhead.
  4. My go to comfort food is a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Organic crunchy peanut butter. (The Co-op gold brand is really good.) Unpasteurized honey that has crystalized. Fresh whole wheat bread. I got the taste for honey that way because my maternal grandfather kept bees. When visiting we had home baked bread, milk fresh from the cows, the honey, and lots of garden fresh veggies. I didn't know how good it was.
  5. There are 4882 songs in my iTunes collection. The most recent that I know of off hand was recorded in 2011. The oldest was first played in the early 1200's. There may be some even earlier, that just happened to be the first CD I found.
  6. The thing I most want to shout out at people is "Walk faster!"
  7. I like to make lists of things to do. Often I don't get to all of them. Some things have been on my to do list for years.
  8. There are rules about facial hair for men. A beard shall be full, lightly trimmed for neatness and hygiene, complete with mustache. A mustache alone is fine, neatly trimmed, and not sculpted into weird shapes. Anything that isn't one of those two things is out. Especially out are: goatees, soul patches, the thin thing outlining a jawline that isn't there, mutton chops, handlebar mustache, just scruff underneath a jawline and clean shaven above, and anything that involves spending more than 1 minute a day maintaining. Women, I admit, the grow in period is pretty tough, but there are creams for soothing inner thigh rash. And then, after a while, considering always neatness and hygiene, delightful things can happen for you.
  9.  Cats, polar bears, and sharks are special. There are not enough of these, and too many humans these days. One day soon I want to travel and visit the polar bears and sharks. Preferably not the same day.
  10. Shaping molten glass with only some wet newspapers and basic tools is fun. There are some wines the exact colour of molten glass as it cools.
  11. I have often thought that current sporting events are pretty boring. What follows are some suggestions for livening them up:
    1. Golf. Tee boxes should be moved closer to the greens, and point both ways, so a course can be played forwards or backwards. A tournament starts with a foursome on each tee box, some going forward, some backwards. They start at the same time and play on through. Final score is number of strokes times number of minutes to complete 18 holes. Extra points for passing another foursome. Only protective gear on the head allowed. It would be permissible to have one me member of the foursome to have unlimited shots as a way of assisting his or her team mates to play through the opposing teams, but they can have only as many balls as they can carry or scrounge.
    2. Triathlon, providing the polar bears agree to cooperate. The bears enter the water 30 minutes after the last swimmer (Ironman distance). They can eat what they catch, but aren't allowed to cut corners. I wonder if cheetahs could be trained to chase down bike riders?
    3. Baseball. A bunch of weenies. The game should be outdoors. Once started, a game shouldn't be stopped for any reason at all, up to and including tornados. There should be a pitch clock rule, obliging the pitcher to throw the ball within a certain number of seconds after the catcher tosses it back to them. Say 5 seconds. There should be a rule about possession of the ball and bodily contact.
    4. Basketball. Make the height of the basket variable for every game, ranging between 12 feet and 15 feet, say. 
    5. Hockey. Get in a fight, you're gone for a season's worth of games. Double that for nasty stick work. Forfeiting your salary, of course. And really, since it's a team sport, each player ought to be paid a certain base salary. From there a portion of their additional salary is based on skill at playing or negotiation. But at least half the salary should come based on the number of points the team gets. Win the game, and your team gets full salary. Tie, and you get half salary. Lose, and you don't get that portion of your salary at all. That ought to take care of players calling it in during the season. Plus, only the top 8 teams go on to the playoffs.
    6. Swimming. Enough of the endless discussion about swimsuits and how much they contribute to records. Everybody swims nude.
    7. Speed skating, cross country skiing. I'm sure there is a way to work polar bears in there somehow, but haven't figured out the details. 
    8. Ski jumping. Much as I dislike subjective judging criteria, I think ski jumpers should be given extra points for flapping their arms as they jump.

From SUAR, because she was first.

  1. In five words or less, tell me your most embarrassing moment (example - mine would be boyfriend, toilet, overflow). party, booze, pee, not pants.
  2. What’s one habit you need to break? I am helpless in the grip of cookie lust. I really should do something about that, but it's easier to ride or run for hours to make up for it.
  3. What’s your favorite book of all time? Damn you SUAR! This is brutal. I've read tens of thousands of books, and I have to only pick one??!! Have a heart. Dancing Aztecs by Donald Westlake. It's probably the funniest book I've ever read. Honourable mentions to Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, anything with John Dortmunder in it (hint, Westlake again), most of the Regency romances by Georgette Heyer (surprised you, didn't I?), early Larry Niven. As a bonus,  the writers I would most like to write like are Isaaic Asimov, and E. B. White. 
  4. Have you ever cheated on a test or a partner (don’t need to tell me which one)? No. Been tempted though.
  5. If you weren’t doing your current job, what would be your profession? Giver of Advice.
  6. Do you think Bob Harper is gay? I don't know who Bob Harper is. I know of a Stephen Harper, although I'm pretty sure he is not gay. He's being a big dick lately. Does that count?
  7. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? The night Linda agreed to put up with me for the long term. We were in bed when I proposed.
  8. Would you be able to run further or faster? I can't conceive of needing to run further than 42.2 Km, unless something with big teeth and slow paws is chasing me. I can hardly run slower, now, can I, so I anticipate being able to run faster.
  9. What food gives you gas? Beans are about it. My guts are pretty well behaved.
  10. Ever done a cleanse or had a colonic? No, though I'm on the list.
  11. What’s your dream marathon? Finishing, still running.

Now Xenia, because she was second.

  1. Which movie/tv show/character most resembles your life? I honestly don't know. Linda says the doctor in Northern Exposure.
  2. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? It's only money, and it's easily replaceable. Time with family and friends, irreplaceable. Time spent doing what you think is fun, irreplaceable. 
  3. What was your ultimate dipshit moment (so far)? There's been a few times I've gone over the line at work in terms of providing feedback. Sometimes my mouth and parts of my brain get me in trouble.
  4. Marry, f*ck or kill: choose either group – (a) Val Kilmer (current, not young version), Kevin Federline and Russell Brand; (b) Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. No brainer. Kill them all. The world will be a better place. Kill those standing next them too, while you're at it.
  5. Which country would you most likely be arrested in and/or shot at and why? Any Islamic country. I have no respect for a religion that treats women like they are not even human. I don't have much respect for religion in general, as I think it is an atavistic holdover from an ignorant and barbaric past.
  6. Which person (alive or dead) would you most want to bitchslap? Stephen Harper. He's fucking up a country I love.
  7. Which special talent or skill do you wish you had? Invisible bitchslapping. There are lots of people on my list after Harper.
  8. Who or what would you consider to be your archenemy? Fate.
  9. Pop or soda? Ick. Don't drink either. Tried flat coke at the second last aid station at GWN, and nearly threw up right there.
  10. What’s your favorite holiday? Plaid day.
  11. How would you prefer the apocalypse to go down? Swiftly, if it must at all.
Last, my questions for the tagged.
  1. What moment of your life, if captured on video, would go viral?
  2. What do you most want to shout out at people?
  3. How old were you when you lost your virginity?
  4. Related to #3, did you respect yourself the morning after?
  5. What is your comfort food?
  6. If you couldn't live in your current country, where would you live? (Assume they would let you in.)
  7. What book do you most want to see made into a movie, and who plays the lead roles? Alternatively, what book should never be made into  movie?
  8. What movie should never, ever be remade? Yes, I know it's too late for the Italian Job.
  9. Is there anything conceivably better than hot, willing, twin red-heads, with whipped cream and chocolate?
  10. What is one thing that "they say" is bad for you, that you will not give up?
  11. Would/do you clean your house before the cleaning services comes over? WHY?
And the nominees for tagees are:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It arrived!

This is a book that has to be read with a calculator in hand. I can see myself setting up an xl spreadsheet just for the things I'm interested in. I just browsed through it tonight, reading little bits and pieces, and I'm very impressed. Thanks for the tip Darryl!

On the bike for 1.25 hrs. Good warmup with some spin drill, then 4x5 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, cool down.

And I've been tagged. This will take some thought.

Monday, January 23, 2012


One of the tasks on the weekend was to round up all the recently bought books, document them, brand them, and herd them all into the basement library. Except for a couple that are in progress of course. Here's the mound, and of course just like always, I missed one, hiding in the spoor on Linda's desk.

It warmed up today, which made an enormous difference in the attic. Almost all the frost buildup is gone and it doesn't have that humid feel. It's supposed to be warm again tomorrow, and that should finish it off. Now if only the trades company would call us to set up an appointment, all would be well.

But that was after the swim, which after all, is the important part of the day. 1K 19:10, actually feeling a little bit clunky today. Lots of kick and pull. Even a 100 m interval in 94 seconds, strong but not all out, just to see where I am. In the water just over 45 minutes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Running to disassemble a hard drive

The intent was to walk to the pool after work on Friday, and Linda would pick me up afterward. However there was a domestic issue that was at first thought to be a plumbing problem in the basement. Turned out not, and thanks to Cam Corbett Plumbing we found out the real problem. Over the last bunch of years the exhaust fan for the guest bathroom has been venting directly to the attic. This hasn't been a problem as it isn't used all that much,  Calgary is bone dry, and our house didn't have a humidifier. Now it does. So when Cam looked in the attic, (it's a long story), he found hoar frost all over everything up there. But the description at first was a bit alarming, and once I got up to look it didn't appear anywhere near so bad.

The words "inches of frost or ice" were what I was told at work, and I envisioned *thickness*. All over everything. Waiting to melt. Turns out it was a thin layer of frost, extending inches *along* the vent stack for the plumbing. So we are in the process of getting someone in to fix the exhaust vent and check all the other vents just in case the humid air also came from somewhere else.

Here's a couple of photos. The first shows the exhaust vent pipe lying beside the fan enclosure, with the black plumbing vent stack in the background. Note the lack of frost buildup on stuff. Imagine our relief. The second shows just above that, with the frost buildup on the underside of the roof and the vent stack.

I put a piece of plastic wrap over the bathroom vent cover to keep any more warm moist air from rising through the fan, so if that's the only source, I am hoping that the coming warmer weather will sublimate the frost without it turning to water.

As promised Saturday did warm up. I ran about noon, even though it was still about -10 C (14 F), and I overdressed just a bit. I can sure feel the lack of regular running lately. My legs felt very clunky, so I only went about 45 minutes, with a couple of walk breaks right near the end.

The fun part of the day came later. Non-tech-geeks can skip right down to the comments.

For a long time I had a 250 GB drive as a backup. First to the cube, and then to my current iMac. Having the backup saved my bacon once, a year after buying the iMac. The hard drive failed about a week before the warranty expired, and I managed to get a Time Machine backup just before it went bad. Apple was great, replacing the drive complete with a newer version of the OS, and making sure I knew how to restore from a backup. It all went like clockwork.

A little while ago the backup drive failed. No surprise really. It kept starting and stopping as backups were needed, which is hard service compared to running all the time. When you think about it, hard drives are an amazing piece of technology. In the mid 50's, a mere 5 MB was the size of a dishwasher, and weighed a ton. No, really, a ton. Here's a photo you may have seen. My first hard drive was for an Atari 1040 ST, was 10 MB and the size of two large pizza boxes stacked up. (The ST wasn't even my first computer, I had an 800 XL before that.) I seem to remember the drive costing $700.

When I was at Skystone, a buddy of Linda's disassembled a mainframe, and because she knew I'd like it, she brought home parts of the hard drive. The discs became coasters for the board room table. The reader became a paperweight. At one time I've no doubt it was extremely expensive, and it amused me to think it was now modern art.

Skip to today. Just for fun I decided to take the drive apart to find out what it looked like. I had been amused by a discussion I found on some board about destroying hard drives. Really, the paranoia in American society amazes me, but some days I begin to see why. They seem to think there are agencies using their black SUV's and black helicopters flying in formation scrounging for discarded hard drives, and then mounting space age efforts to recover the data. One person said, in all seriousness, that the only way to be safe was to grind the disc to iron oxide, and then demagnetize the oxide. Good grief.

Think about how a hard drive works, and you'll realize that taking it out of it's enclosure is enough to render it essentially unreadable, and using a hammer on it is overkill. So I took some pictures along the way. Here we go!

I think this cost me about $400 in the late 90's, but I really don't remember. It had stopped working, and would only make clunk clunk clunk noises. Since I had everything on my current drive I didn't care about recovery.

 I even had all the screwdrivers in the correct sizes and shapes to take it apart without any improvisation. I was almost disappointed.

Here we are at the moment of truth, ready to break the seal.

Sort of like getting a tire off the rim. I was surprised it was so hard.

Ah! That's why. A secret screw.

Treasure! A gold disc.

It took a while fiddling with it to get the discs out and remove the controller and arm.

I knew it couldn't be very big, and here it is. Turns out the enclosure could have held another disc.

All they are now is shiny circular mirrors.

Here's the promised photo showing the controller from an old mainframe. It weighs several pounds. You can see that it's the same sort of idea though.

I've had this AOL CD for a very long time acting as a coaster for my desk. Time for a new one now. I'll take the other one to work and use it there.

The new back up hard drive is 2 TB and was only about $250. Two Terabytes! That's about 3200 of the old-fashioned CD's. Yes, I know, I could probably have got the same drive space cheaper, but didn't want to fool around with formatting it. I'm a plug and play sort of guy. I'm having some trouble comprehending how much file space that is. In round terms that's 2000 GB, and 45 minutes of video is 1.4 GB. So I could put 64,000 minutes of video on it, or 1071 hours. With no efforts at file compression. I don't think I'm going to have a problem with file space for a while.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

No workout stuff segued into a rant

The cold snap is almost over. I've been sleeping like a rock, barely able to get myself out of bed in the mornings.

Our friend Gail lent us a ton of books when we visited over Christmas, and Linda has been chewing through them. I've been chugging through this one.

Overall I liked it, but he did go on and on at some points. I was getting a bit tired of it by the end. His idea is there are 6 reasons why the West dominated the rest of the world over the last 500 years:

  1. Competition between states and corporate entities. Europe had relatively many small entities competing vigorously for advantages.
  2. The Scientific Revolution. I think this is the main one. As long as people are repressed by backwards religions or governments nothing can ever change, since change hurts those in power. 
  3. The rule of law and representative government. Mainly meaning property rights and enforceable contracts. Which have now become a tool of oppression in some places. 
  4. Modern Medicine. It's hard to argue that a society isn't doing the right things when it's people live longer, get fewer diseases, and most children survive till adulthood. 
  5. The consumer society. The demand for more and better and cheaper goods, beginning with textiles. Which leads to a trap.
  6. The work ethic. 
One thing that he overlooks is climate. When all the days are the same, and you can always go pull fruit off a tree, or find something to eat by looking around, there isn't much incentive to save up for a rainy day. But when you live in a climate that has winter, you know that you have to make plans for that. Food, shelter, fuel for heat and cooking, a water supply, and warm clothing are just the start, and the consequences of a planning failure could be freezing or starving to death. When you don't know exactly when winter will come, there is incentive to get stuff done now. Today. 

There is incentive to have a store of wealth to trade with other people if necessary. On a small community level makes sense to store like goods against theft, spoilage, or other loss, in a few central places, rather than in many little depots. Having a temporary excess also means methods of tracking who owns what, or is entitled to how much, which is the foundation of the banking system.

One thing that is interesting is how fast empires can fall. Depending on exactly what you measure, the Roman Empire collapsed in the west within a human lifetime. The British Empire went down the tubes in less than two decades after WWII. The Soviet Empire was only a few years from the pullout of Afghanistan to the collapse. 

How quickly will the American Empire fall? Fairly quickly, I suspect. They are deeply in debt, their military is overstretched, their government has become venal and corrupt, to say nothing of incompetent and moribund. They've only lasted this long on the market's force of habit in treating them as a safe refuge. Eventually the world will figure out they are not just financially bankrupt, but morally bankrupt as well, and act accordingly. The President used to be called "Leader of the Free World" (yes with capital letters) but now he can't even lead his own country. 

In fact, that word free is interesting. The USA can no longer be described as a free country. People have to show their ID papers to travel. Citizens are encouraged to spy on one another and report odd behaviour. The President can order anyone at all to be killed or tortured, for any reason or none. Anyone can be "disappeared"; held in prison indefinitely without trial, without having to state a reason, without access to a lawyer. The various agencies routinely spy on citizens and violate what little remains of their civil rights. Their property can be seized without effective recourse. The laws have become so complex that nobody knows what they mean, and people are coerced into pleading guilty because the alternative is to go bankrupt paying court and legal costs. The wealthy can buy all the justice and medical care they can afford. Everybody else goes to jail or goes bankrupt. You can't even escape medical debt through bankruptcy. The "justice" system is barbaric enough to execute people for imaginary crimes, especially the poor, the black, the mentally ill. 

What civilized country in it's right mind would:
  •  seriously consider Mr. Santorum or Mr. Gingrich as candidates for the highest office in the land? 
  • do anything but laugh at the Tea Partiers, railing against government spending by saying "hands off my medicare!"?
  • let the right wing religious nut bars have anything to do with making government policy? 
  • let the wealthy write the laws so as to make them more and more wealthy by stealing from the poor and the middle class?
  • let corporations be considered people, complete with free speech rights and the power to buy government officials?
  • even bring up for discussion the idea of making birth control a crime?

Eventually the USA will get what every other empire in the history of the world had coming to it. I'm torn on this issue, because I know many Americans and they are wonderful people. Many of the ones I don't know are wonderful people. It's a pity their country has been stolen from them and has become a vile place that is unworthy of respect in the modern world. I fear as their empire crumbles more and more, faster and faster, that Canada will be dragged down with them. I'm just not sure what we can do about it.

On a lighter note, more distraction arrived today. We think we watched all the episodes, and we think in the right order, but aren't sure. But we didn't watch the extras, no time. This ought to be good. I desperately want to know how much James Callis offered to reduce his salary when he found out it involved having Tricia Helfer draped all over him. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best yoga class (crack!) in a long time

Into the pool, not sure how I felt about it, but it ended up really good.
1K 19:15 working a bit, but not struggling.
lots of kick and pull drill
intervals, getting down to ~45 or 46 seconds per 50m, still on 1:15 though, for a little while
Swam 50 minutes altogether, and could have gone longer. The swim mojo is getting stronger and more relaxed.

Getting from the pool to the office was brutal. Slow. The destination parking lot, the one with an indoor walk to my office was full. Then I was trapped in traffic to make a slow loop back to the one we usually park in. A very slow loop. Then a long walk, only half indoors, to the office. I really didn't mind the extra distance.

Then coming out after work, it had warmed up substantially. I didn't even bother to zip my jacket or put on my hat. Only -23 C (-9 F) and very little wind. I really wanted to go for a run, but had to save myself for yoga.

It was a great class. We were doing this one shoulder thing and something in my back and shoulder cracked so loud F turned and looked at me. It was a good crack though, and my shoulders felt better. That's not all. Lots of forward bend stretches. All good. Another Ying shoulder stretch supported on a couple of blocks that was just lovely. An armpit stretch that felt really good. There was another stretch that as I was getting into it, there was another deep subtle clunk, low in my back or hip. Not sure what that one was, but it was good.

Someone, I won't mention her name, was snoring in Savasana.

Just finishing up The West and the Rest, will write about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Even my inner polar bear knows better

I don't mind running in cold weather at all. But this is a bit much. Just a bit.

Here's the kitchen window. Frosted up even before we started dinner.

Here's me after about 20 minutes of shoveling the driveway and sidewalk. A 30 minute run would probably have me carrying a pound of ice on my face. No thanks. Yes, my face was beginning to go red. A minute of handling a metal key ring outside had my fingers going numb. Running outside is a stupid idea, even though I'm wanting to run. Yes, that hat is warm. Just warm enough.

Instead I got on my bike for a short intense workout. Warmed up. 5 minutes on, 3 minutes easy, increasing the brake in between each set, which drives up the watts by about 10 or 15 w at the same cadence. The 4th one was getting towards the retaste zone so I backed off. Cooled down I guess I didn't wait long enough after dinner.

I'm seeing strong improvement in how long I can stay at less than peak effort, but the curve drops pretty dramatically, as illustrated in this fancy high tech graph. (I can just see DC Rainmaker covering his face with his hands.)

Working to push the Now curve over to the right. Lots over to the right. And up too, that would be good. Advice from my readers please and thank you. I know what wattage the bend in the graph happens at. Should I be spending my time at the bend and pushing to maintain it longer, or should I spend it closer to the bottom of the graph where I can only maintain the effort for a few minutes? I realize I need to do both, but what's the balance between them?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Here, this will make most of you feel better

See? -30 C is -22 F, in case you were wondering.
No, I didn't run tonight, though I walked briskly to check out my neighbour's house while they are away.

Normally when I swim in the morning, I don't put on socks, and wear my suit underneath my pants. Typically I don't even button up all the buttons. I figure why waste time in the locker room? I was regretting the no socks thing this morning. Briefly. Not many other people were there so I got a spot close to the door.

The hard part is walking into a warm moist environment after being out in a very cold, bone dry environment. My glasses instantly ice over. Days like this I regret not having the laser surgery. Pity I can't even read about it without scrunching into a little ball of fear.

Though it's not as bad as the bar fight I sort of got into one day, many years ago when photo-gray lenses were cool. It was a very bright day, these were the dark lenses, and this was a very dark bar in between dance sets. No, not ballroom dancing. But you don't want to hear about my dissolute youth.

45 minutes minutes in the water, struggling a bit, not feeling smooth at all. Swim, kick drill, pull, intervals, drill, cool down.

Going back out to the car was really cold. I even wore a warm hat.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Long hard spin as it snowed

In Calgary you never know what you'll get for weather. Yesterday was clear, sunny, and about the freezing point. In the evening it got much colder and started snowing. Well, it started snowing here. As we left our friend's after dinner there was barely a flake or two, and it stayed that way most of the night. It was snowing hard at our house, and about 4 or 5 cm fell altogether. Throughout the day it snowed very lightly, and was fairly cold, about -18 C (0 F), and with the windchill it was closer to -30 C (-22 F).

This morning I saw a herd of 6 runners churning by. This was the very first time I've seen such a large group going past the house, and thought it was an odd day for such a thing. After running yesterday I had no guilt at all about heading into the basement for a good spin session.

I put on a movie, set up my drinks and snacks, and settled in.
30 minutes easy warm up with some spin exercises.
30 minutes about the middle of my aerobic range, with some harder bits, and some standing.
5 minutes easy.
repeat the 30 hard 5 easy twice more, trying to stay closer to the top of my aerobic range. Sweating hard. The last 10 minutes were real work for me as I was trying to stay strong, spin smoothly, and not quit early.
20 minutes cooldown, and some stretching after, for a total of 2.5 hrs.

I can say without fear of contradiction that the credits for Chronicles of Riddick are much, Much, MUCH longer than for Adam's Rib. 

This was right up there in terms of effort and duration on the bike, and I'm really pleased. I felt strong and comfortable. This is good.

This coming week is supposed to be cold and snowy. So I guess winter has finally arrived. I may even run at Talisman, more for the novelty of it than any other reason.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First run for the Calgary SUAR fan club

I weenied out of my swim this morning. What with a really poor sleep, being up really early to feed the Mammal that Meows in the Night, relieved several kinds of bio pressures, I went back to bed and fell asleep. I figured this was better than trying to swim while feeling cranky.

Here we are, almost ready to run. As far as I know we are the only two members of the Calgary chapter of the SUAR fan club. Those being defined as owning shirts. There's a couple other people here that I know read her blog, but I don't know who's bought a shirt. They are great shirts to run in, btw. We've been buddies quite a while now, and are just getting around to running together.

I added a long sleeved tech shirt, and S from The Mama Runs added a jacket, since by Calgary standards for this time of the year, it was really warm. Just above zero (32 F), and a beautiful sunny day. We ran almost exactly 6 K nice and easy, in about 45 minutes. I didn't wear my watch, and we had a lovely chat. The view of downtown is pretty spectacular from the ridge. I haven't been up there for many years, and there's been lots of changes. Next time I'll take her through Fish Creek.

Afterward was more chatting, fondue dinner, and yet more chatting. Their child is delightful.

On the way home it was just starting to snow, and by the time we got home it was snowing pretty hard. For the first time in many, many years, we had to go through a Checkstop. Right on Crowchild near 26th. They didn't want to talk to us. Glad to see these out and about.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Broke the Thursday jinx

The last bunch of Thursday's I've been a slacker. But not tonight. Home. Changed. Inserted a movie in the computer. Pitch Black, if you were wondering. Spin.

20 minutes warmup. 45 minutes steady at 1.7 to 1.8 watts per goal Kg. 10 cool down.

I've had harder workouts, but I'm trying to get more consistent, and stay caught up on sleep.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Relaxing swim. Relaxing yoga. A Loonie.

The new pool is a bit more crowded these days, but still not bad compared to the old one. I'm still working to get used to the cold blast of air across the lane I like to swim in. Which lane is that? The one where I can see the time clock after pushing off the wall. That helps me keep on time.

This morning I wanted to play a game. Every lap had to be faster than a minute, preferably about 58 seconds. I'd keep going without looking at my watch until my lap times started going up. That turned out to be 1K in 19:15. Then some kick, some pull, some sprints. Then some relaxing stroke, trying to feel the water way out in front of me, working on the very first parts of the catch, trying to slice into the water as perfectly as possible, and pulling as smoothly as possible. This was totally NOT a strength thing, it's all feel, communing with the water, feeling my balance, working with my breath.

Which as a good precursor to yoga. Normally I pant in yoga, breathing from the top of my chest for most poses. Tonight I managed to relax in the Warrior 1 and 2 poses, and breath slowly and deeply. It makes the pose much better, more relaxing. I think I'm beginning to get the hang of this yoga stuff. About time.

One of the things about getting old is that the money keeps changing. You get used to something, and it changes. The other day I was digging some change out of my pocket and this really bright coin with lots of weird stuff on it showed up. Everything was sharp and clear on it so I think it was quite new. I'd never seen one like it before. It almost looks Egyptian. I actually took a picture of it. Back when they introduced the dollar coin, I thought they were nuts to put a loon on the front. Why would you do that when you could legitimately put a polar bear on it? If people would just take my advice life would be ever so much better.

Turns out it's to "celebrate Parks Canada’s 100th anniversary. Features stylized land, air and aquatic fauna, varieties of flora, as well as a symbolic park building and the silhouette of a hiker framed by a snow-capped mountain range."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Felt like a broomstick had been

No broomsticks during the swim. 750 m, then water run, some (kind of) sprints, water run, some drill, and cool down. Fairly pleased with it.

The broomstick happened during the spin this evening. It felt like someone had taped it to my right thigh, from the outside of my knee to my hip bone. Weird. That whole muscle felt like a big solid lump moving slightly out of time with the rest of my leg.

Warmed up 20. 10 medium, 5 easy, 10 harder, 5 easy, 2.5 minutes really hard, 10 easy to cool down. Trying to concentrate on spinning, when my legs wanted to go up and down.

This is the first time in what seems forever that I've swum and biked the same day. I ought to sleep well tonight.

Here's the promised whiteboard christmas drawing. It started with the tree. Then some ornaments were added. Then the cat. Then some presents. The star. The fireplace, with detail gradually added. Then the words, which were filled in. Music. The banner. Ribbons and bows. I'm not sure when the little train set was added. Artists, LT, JH, KC, and SJ. Or so I'm told, I only know which are my bits.

Most recent reading. Although I disagree with the author's ideas. For a polar bear life is very simple. There are only two kinds of things in the world. Things to eat. Things to play with. Humans can be either, or both.

This is my current read. This is similar to books such as Guns, Germs, and Steel, and I like this kind of thing. Sometimes it's very small things that have a large effect, and once ahead, it can be very hard to catch up.