Monday, April 30, 2012

Saving the best for last

The GVBP is done, except for about the last 3 feet. That itself would be the work of a few minutes, if I could get at it. Here's the scene.

There is an old weight machine in the way. Does anyone want this? Free to anyone who wants to take it away. Can these be sold to the scrap metal dealers? The rest of the stuff is long bits of wood, mostly flooring. Just below the photo there is an old bathroom sink tangled in with the weight machine. Don't ask my why. There might even be more stuff in there that I've forgotten about and can't see. This little piece is not going to be fun.

Almost as much not-fun as the section where one of the furnace cold air intakes is. The pipe was essentially not hooked up to the inlet section, so cold air could constantly flow into the house. I suppose one way or another it's getting into the furnace, but via the basement floor is not efficient.

Getting it hooked back together was very tricky. At one point I was using my hard hat to push up, while I pushed forward with my hands, trying to get it nudged into place. Then the trick was to not dislodge it while I taped the bejeebers out of it, carefully tucked insulation around it, and then taped the vapour barrier in place. Breathing in dust and who knows what all. I've probably given myself cancer from the insulation dust.

The other place that was fun was just above the electrical panel. Major wiring in, and out, going up into the wall for distribution to the rest of the house. There's a bit of plastic up there, covered by about a half a roll of the Tuck Tape stuck in between all the wiring trying to seal it up.

Something I forgot to taunt you all with was my treat on Sunday. Linda brought back a cinnamon bun about half the size of my head. It was very good.

Swim was good this morning. 1.5 Km in 29 minutes flat in 50 m pool. Another 30 minutes of dolphin kick and pull stuff, and some backstroke.

I'm totally counting the GVBP as core today. Standing in chair pose, on a chair, reaching above my head has me all atremble today. Much too cold to bike outside.

Signatures on paper are coming closer. When it's done I'll share.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Water. Gatorade. A process mess

I was watching the Police Half Marathon this morning, waiting for my buddy Neil to run past. This was at the aid station in South Glenmore Park, near the boat docks. I had never really paid any attention to an aid station before, and today I was thinking about it from a process point of view.

Please note, this is not intended to criticize these volunteers. Races can't happen without them, and they're doing their best. Racers are part of the problem as well.

Let me set the scene. The race route is along the south part of the Glenmore Reservoir, heading west. They run through the parking lot where the aid station is set up. Here's a little map.

The red arrow is runners, the black square is where the tables were set up, and the black x's are where the volunteers were standing. There was probably more than 5.

Starting with Outcomes:

  • Nobody injures themselves or others in the process.
  • Runners get their choice of nothing, water, or gatorade. (That was all that was provided.)
  • Runners are not slowed down any more than necessary.
  • There were numerous near misses, as seen from a safety perspective. These include:
    • Runners that simply stopped in the middle of the pack in the aid station.
    • Runners that abruptly changed direction to head for a different supplier, sometimes several times.
    • Volunteers crossing the run path to supply drinks from both sides.
    • Runners taking nutrition while walking or running through the aid station.
    • One runner was trying to pour water from a cup into a flask, while walking, while in the aid station.
  • It was difficult for runners to determine who had water or gatorade. Everybody was shouting "Water, Gatorade". Everybody, all at once, all the time.
  • Each volunteer appeared to have water AND gatorade.
  • Everybody seemed to have only a right hand, even when that complicated things. One runner reached with his right hand across his body to the volunteer on his left. Most volunteers were holding out cups in their right hand, palm towards the runners. 
  • Most of the volunteers were holding the cups like they were holding a water glass.
  • Most volunteers were standing too far from the tables and had to walk back and forth.
  • Some runners dumped water on their heads. In one case, the water bounced off their hat, into the face of the person right behind them. I hope it was water and not gatorade.
  • Some runners got their fluid of choice, then crossed the run path to get out of the way so they could drink and perhaps eat something. 
  • Runners tossed cups and stuff towards the garbage bags, even if it was on the other side of the path from them, and other people were using that space to run in.
  • Runners are looking for family or friends and not necessarily paying attention to traffic.
In other words, it was a mess. How could things be improved? First we have to recognize that runners are focused on running and are mostly unaware of their surroundings. We need to make it easy for them. Second, we need to make it easy for the volunteers as well.

Lets's start with the supply of two fluids. It is not efficient to have each person supplying both fluids. They need to remember which hand has which fluid, many times. Aid stations should be set up so that fluid 1 is dispensed at the beginning and towards the middle, and fluid 2 is dispensed from the middle towards the end. Each volunteer should only take one kind of fluid, and should stand at the appropriate end. In an ideal world there would be a sign just before the aid station, perhaps something like this.

I'd make the fluid words bigger of course. Maybe the words "NO STOP" should be in the middle diagram. Volunteers should be close enough to the table that they can grab more cups and hand them to the runners, without having to move their feet. Of course, more volunteers are behind the tables filling cups.

In the above setup the volunteers should be handing out cups with their LEFT hands. Why? Because as they hold a cup by the bottom (fingers up) out towards the runner, it's easy to let go when the runner grabs it, and then there are no fingers or hands in the way as the runner moves the cup forward. The crew captain should explain and demonstrate this to the volunteers. It makes handing off a cup so much easier.

Under no circumstances should the volunteers be crossing the stream of runners to serve drinks from both sides. Crossing the path startles the runners, and in the middle of the pack it is unsafe. Then as soon as that volunteer has dispensed their few cups, they are useless until they can cross the path and get more cups.

Trying to served drinks from both sides just confuses the runners, unless there are tables set up on both sides. In which case the sign looks like

You'll note each table mostly serves one fluid only, with a small section on the end for those that want one of each, or happen to be trapped on the wrong side of the course.

From a fluid process perspective, aid stations add turbulence to a smooth flow. In an ideal world there should be an open path for those that don't want fluids so they can run through, preferably on the left. The problem is that runners have no idea what the person in front of them is going to do. The only thing I can suggest is what my driving instructor told me many years ago, "check your mirrors and signal your intentions". If you aren't in the race top 10, you shouldn't be trying to make time in an aid station. Slow down to an easy pace. Make eye contact and point to the volunteer who has the cup you want. This will help them hand off the cup to you.

DO NOT STOP in the race course! Keep moving and if you have to stop, wait till you are outside the immediate aid station, and only then pull over to drink, eat, scratch, undress, puke, whatever.

Unless you know the course, it's hard to see this aid station in advance. I don't know if there was a sign just before the aid station to warn runners. I know I like to get nutrition in me just before the aid station so the water can wash it down. Trying to do nutrition right in the middle of an aid station while in motion is a dumb idea.

Any further suggestions on aid station design?

After the short spectating stint, I'm back home for some yard work, and once it started raining, moved in to work on the GVBP. Making good progress, only a few more sections to go. Too cold to bike today.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

TEDx Lacrosse24

As some of you know I'm a real fan of the TED talks. I've been thoroughly mind boggled several times, interested more times than I could count, and only rarely disappointed with a talk. Then a buddy of mine mentioned that there was a TEDx event at the school her kids go to. It turns out that one of the students had done a proposal for a TEDx event, and decided to actually carry it out.

I thought it would be really neat to go to one of these, and if it supports bright kids so much the better. The world is going to need all the bright kids it can find in the coming years. The theme was innovation. One of the speakers was worth the price of admission by himself. The other 4 were ok, but didn't look so good in comparison to the best speaker.

They had some video from other TED talks, a couple of which I'd seen, but that was ok. In between the kids put on some performances, all surprisingly good and enjoyable. All in all a good day.

There was some work paperwork in the afternoon. I had to insert a signature into a PDF file. I've done this before, but it took a few minutes to remember how I had done it. More than a few minutes. Stupid PDFs anyways. I just love reading company policies on health and safety, ethical behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, computing security and other such stuff. At least I didn't have to watch a video, though that may come.

Saturday I was up early to be an official witness for the Lacrosse 24 event. This was an official attempt to set a Guiness World record for the longest lacrosse game, aiming for 24 hours. Lots of paperwork to document it properly. I took some photos and video, but only one of the shots was really any good. The players were amazing, still moving pretty fast even at the end of the game. I went back to see the end and help out a bit more.

One of the things that was a real surprise to me was the smell. I played hockey in high school, where it was considered bad luck to wash equipment. There was a smell there. I used to do SCA heavy armoured combat, and there was for sure a smell to the equipment there. But lacrosse beats those easily. Wow.

In between my witness shift and the end of the game I came home and went for a nice run. It was just a bit too cool for weenie me to go out on my bike, but I saw a bunch of other riders. I rand down into Fish Creek out and back, for 90 minutes, about 13 K, nice and easy. The last 10 or 15 minutes my feet were getting pretty tired, but they were still turning over fairly well. 

Here's a few random shots from the Lacrosse game. Paperwork has to be done to track just about everything that happens.

Each team had 4 shifts. Two shifts were playing at any particular time, with another shift on the bench or in the dressing room available immediately if needed. They could and did snooze. The girl on the floor was sound asleep. The last shift could go into a quiet dressing room for some actual sleep if they wanted, or could sit in the stands with friends and relax a bit.

There were 8 women playing, and some were pretty scrappy. One got a penalty that was recorded as "holding", but really, it was a full on molestation.

Here's Martin Parnell, still moving fast in the closing minutes of the game.

I think he was asleep too, or nearly so, but while playing he could run like the wind.

Victory for everybody involved!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yes really, a hard hat

Back into the 50 m pool today. Had to wait a few minutes for the kids to clear out, but I used that time to get my shoulders more mobile. Maybe that helped. My swim felt a little bit better today. Typical workout. The plastic lane rope thingies have been very hungry the last couple days, chewing on my fingers, wrist, and arm. Not sure why.

Then I was back onto the GVBP this afternoon. The Great Vapour Barrier Project. It's going well, the end is in sight. What's also in sight is all the nails holding down the hardwood in our bedroom. I really did wear my hard hat, and really was cautious anyways. Hot air ducting has some sharp edges. So do some tools. First bandaid for the project. It's amazing what you find when you move stuff out from the wall for the first time in decades.

You would wear a hard hat too.

Rainy here, maybe snow tonight. In fact, just looking outside the rain is turning to snow. We got invited to a TEDx talk here in Calgary for tomorrow and we're really looking forward to going.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Holding it while FTTKMLs

My yoga teacher is normally so good to me. Often the poses in class are just what I needed. A few times I have suspected she has designed the class around my achey needs. Tonight, well, I need to tell you how I got there.

A 25 m pool sure seems short when you've been swimming in a 50 m pool for a while. It seemed like I was just getting my stroke groove on and there was the wall again. My shoulders are still sore so I wasn't trying to pull hard, but it still felt like I was dragging my feet a bit.
1000 m in 18:45. Core feeling the flip turns a bit.
Lots of dolphin kick and some pull.
3 x 50 on 60 s trying to stay sub 45, and barely did it on the last one. I knew there was no way I could do a fourth.
Some backstroke, which felt particularly lovely today.

More of the vapour barrier project, though without the serious contortions needed yesterday. But I did need to dig out my old BP hard hat and wear that. I'm into the section of the basement where there is hardwood on the main floor. Lots and lots of angled nails pointing down. Last thing I need is a major scalp wound.

That and some limbering up had me ready to run. I was aiming for an hour at a moderate pace, and that worked out perfectly. I went down through Fish Creek and was just amazed at how much like spring it smelled. We've had a bit of rain lately to wash things off, the river is up a bit, the trees are beginning to bud out. The air felt so fresh and nice it was wonderful to be outside. I ended up running a hair over 9 K in the hour, without trying to run fast. Even toward the end of the run my legs were still turning over at 90 steps a minute, which made me happy.

Stretched after, and did feet in the air. Just as I was headed into the shower I got a phone call that made me very happy. Then after a bit of a rest was yoga. She had rediscovered a flow she hadn't taught for a while, and decided to do it. That flow happened to be really hard on my tired legs, especially quads and IT. Then another flow with variations on intense forward stretch, which had my quads and IT bands screaming. Then a folded leg thingie that I forget what it was called that was brutal to get into, but once there it was actually really nice. Everything else was good. I managed to chat to a couple people and got a very nice invitation for Friday, and was outside before the biological imperative happened. Which is a good thing all round.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I had been planning to run today

I was up late last night watching the election results. Alberta elections are normally a bit of a snoozer. Well, a lot of a snoozer. But there was lots of excitement last night as we waited to see what would happen. All the pollsters, pundits, media, and freelance blowviators had written off the PC's. And whadaya know, they got a solid majority instead.

Count me relieved. I was not looking forward to a Wildrose victory, and this is the second best result. The best would have been the Alberta party getting a bunch of seats, along with everybody else, and we could have amused ourselves watching a minority government go through it's paces. Probably several of them. You learn a lot about people and parties in such a situation, watching them deal with the issues of the day. I still don't get why we decided to give Harper a majority government after his various abuses of power as a minority, and you have to know that Wildrose is cut from the same cloth.

We can all hope that Ms. Redford has taken a big learning from this election, and will try to force her arrogant and smug party to mend its ways. I totally believe her party got so many votes only because many voters were holding their nose, fearing Wildrose lunacy more than they wanted to turf the bastards out. Which they need.

I'm happy the pollsters got it wrong. That's one good result. I love to see them get egg on their face like this. I love it when the electorate proves their models aren't right. I hate getting phone calls from them, and despise their loaded questions. If one gets me on the phone somehow, if I don't blow them off, I will lie to them. Deliberately and with malice aforethought. I will either mix up my answers to the point they are so contradictory as to be nonsensical. Or I'll give responses that are completely false to what I believe. That's if I don't just tell them I charge money for providing answers, and they are no different than any other client, except my clients get an hourly rate. Pollsters have to pay by the question, and none has offered to pay me yet. I encourage you, in fact I exhort you to do the same. It's fun.

I also hate it when political parties tailor their platforms to what the polls tell them, or create wedge issues based on poll results. There are days I'd like to outlaw the whole polling industry. All of it. No more polls by political parties, by advertisers, by manufacturers. No focus groups. Nothing. Decide where you stand and put you or your products into the market to be judged on their own merits. In the mean time, lie to pollsters to introduce more uncertainty in their data. I do not suggest being rude to the poor sod making the call. Consider a life where this is the best job you can get.

I once watched one Alberta election, and the news organization called a majority government within 5 or 10 minutes of the polls closing. Last night it was about an hour and 45 minutes, which is probably a record. So you can understand why I was a bit slow getting started this am. I was not in the mood to swim. I had some stuff to do right after getting home again, and then prep for and deal with a client meeting. That took most of the morning.

After a quick lunch I got into the vapour barrier project, working on the area above the washer/dryer and the wine sink. Above the washer/dryer wasn't so bad, but above the sink was brutal. Here's a couple photos.

That's looking up towards the working area, with the fluorescent light right there to complicate things. I ended up having to take the light out.

When I stand, crouched, on the sink framework, and nestle my chest against that horizontal 2x4 I can just barely reach where the plastic and tape had to go. Of course there is a heat vent to complicate things. Also, there are a couple nails pointing down.

Here's the finished job, and you can see one of the nails in the top left. Amazingly enough, there was no blood shed in this section, but I attribute that to very careful planning and cautious movements. I actually channeled some engineer buddies that have done hazard assessments, and thought very carefully about what could go wrong. I suppose spending some time on the weekend looking at videos of people doing stupid things and almost certainly requiring a trip to the hospital afterward was also a prompt for being cautious.

To say nothing of what Linda would do to me if she came home from work to find me unconscious on the floor, bleeding, and who knows what other consequences.

My plan was to go for a run after doing this and getting the washer dryer area put back together again, and before it started raining. After spending way too long crouched and twisted and reaching into that tight space, there was no way I was going for a run. However, I think I will go down and do some core and stretching.

In other news, here is a very small part of our bookshelves.

What we have is nearly 5 cubic feet of obsolete paper. I can't remember the last time I opened that encyclopedia. I can't imagine what would impel me to open it now. So what do I do with it? It was expensive when we bought it in the mid 80's. They aren't printing them anymore. But there are probably a lot of homes with a set tucked away somewhere so it's not like they are rare. I don't think I can just throw them away, and I'm not even sure they are recyclable. Any suggestions? Anyone want them?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Voting day great ride

Today is election day in Alberta. It's probably the most interesting election in living memory, and I hope everybody went out and voted. Because if you don't vote in this one, where the race is close and every vote could count, and there are clear differences between the parties, then you will NEVER vote and are a lazy ungrateful bastard to boot. Exceptions for people out of the country since before it was called.

I had to share a 50 m lane today, but there was lots of room. Swam 45 minutes, my usual routine, feeling a bit on the slow side, but not wanting to push it.


A bike ride outside, on one of my favourite routes! That's why. Out 22X to the Welcome to Kananaskis Country sign and back. Overall it worked out to 27.9 Kph average speed, which is faster than race pace on that same ground from previous years. However today I was just trying to spin smooth and strong, but not being the Incredible Hulk or anything. It went really well until about the 2.5 hour mark where I started to get a little uncomfortable on the bike, and was starting to feel a bit weaker.

Winds were light on the way out, with the headwind picking up more and more the further west I got. The last bit before turnaround was tough sledding. Which makes right after turnaround sweet. I had a tail wind most of the way to Priddis, then it turned into a cross wind from the south. This is quite typical.

Most of the way out the hills seemed much smaller than I remember, and I wasn't spending much time in granny gear. There are two killer hills on the way back, at least they used to be killer hills, and they weren't bad today at all. I could feel that I was recovering faster from efforts, and could stay strong longer. This is all good.

It was a perfect day for a ride, warm, but not too hot. I took lots of water and a bottle of my energy drink, but had water left over. Someone told me train heavy and race light. So that was an extra 2 Kg of water I didn't drink, but I'm more than that lighter myself from last year, so it's all good. There is new pavement in two sections, which is really nice. There is a couple K near the turnoff for Priddis Greens golf course, and then a long stretch, starting from the top of the big hill above Priddis valley almost all the way to the Bragg Creek turnoff.

I'll have to check the calibration of my bike computer. I think the distance is a little short, but even so, I'm happy. I'm riding stronger than the last couple years, and completely put the credit on having the power meter on the trainer. That number doesn't let you slack off.

The best part was just being outside today. The mountains were sharp and clear, it was warm, there wasn't much traffic, so all in all, a great day for a bike ride.

Now, I'm waiting for the election results. For the first time since I moved to Alberta, half my life ago, I have no idea how it's going to turn out. I think it's safe to say there will be a blog or two out of the results.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stuff. Boobs. Workouts. Volunteer. Fun. Followups.

This is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge of a blog post. I'm the sort of blogger that writes about the things that interest me at the time, rather than one thing all the time. I know for a fact that my readers are interested in at least one thing, since it's done so well in the readership stats, so I'll get to that.

Followup from the really hard time trial spin on Tuesday. I felt pretty good the rest of the day but I was sure feeling it the next day. It's like there was a band of very tired around the bottom of my thighs. My knees creaked when I got out of a chair. I took it easy and did a bit of gentle stretching during the day. Yoga was really good.

I ended up being down town a couple times, and found some new artwork I hadn't seen before. Normally I got through this building on the +15 level.

Thursday into the pool for about 45 minutes. I'm not sure exactly how long since the staff reset the pace clocks in the middle of my swim. I wasn't really looking at lap times, then when I did I was flabbergasted because there was no way it could be right based on my swim. That's when I figured out the reset. It took a long time to find the swim groove and it didn't hang around for long. My shoulders are feeling very stiff and sore. Later I was back on the bike for an hour or so of easy spin, getting my legs going again, thinking about the Spin-a-thon on Saturday.

In the evening I went to a volunteer meeting for the Kid's Right to Play that Martin Parnell is working on. I helped out with the Netball 61, and will be helping out with the Lacrosse 24, coming up soon. If you're looking to volunteer for a Guiness World Record attempt let me know and I'll put you in touch with the volunteer coordinator.

Friday I was out for a run in the beautiful sunshine! This running thing is great when it's nice out. There was a bit of a breeze, but I didn't care. Up to the reservoir and back, trying to find a stride and feeling just a bit clunky the whole way. Oddly enough it was my shoulders hurting the most, and the rest of my core and hips felt stiff too.

I'm going to be trying to deal with some yard issues this year. Here's at least one thing I'll have to work with. Very, very carefully.

There was a big meeting of the lacrosse group for the players to pick up their paperwork, and to do some fundraising. There was a nice silent auction with some pretty good stuff if you're interested in sports.

Saturday was the Spin-a-thon for Brian Martin. I was not feeling the spinning love. Spin time was a bit over 3 hours, with total time just over 4 hours. My problem with these sort of events is that there is the music, the instructor's voice, and sometimes chatting to the people next to you. That last is the most important thing for me. The way my hearing is now, the instructor's voice and the music all blend in together and I can't really make sense of any of it. One of the instructor's voices today sounded a bit like the heavy breathing track of a sex tape.

Still, it was fun to see a bunch of people I know. I met Brian briefly and got a chance to sit in his bike, the one he pedals by hand. Holy crap is that hard!

I chugged away working on my own stuff. There was a break in the action and I got off to eat a bit and refill my bottles. In hindsight this was a mistake. My tummy figured since I'd eaten the workout must be over, and I never really got into it again.

A little while ago I wrote a blog post about a run by the two founding members of the Calgary chapter of the SUAR fan club. A bit after that I ranted about boobs. These two are in the top three of my most popular posts. Earlier this week the boobs rant finally worked it's way into second place.

Since then, the boobs have pulled away, 152 to 148. New readers, I think, coming from some of my political rants. One of which has muscled it's way into the top 10. Which leads me to believe that even in the hottest, most contested election in Alberta in 2 generations, there is still time for boobs. That's a reassuring thought. If you haven't read them and want to, you can scroll back through my archive to the date shown in the image. Who knows? You might find something else interesting to read.

The SUAR fan club is thinking about a run in the Weaselhead to try out both the hills sometime in May, along with another blogger and she knows who she is. Maybe we ought to start talking dates.

The two white wine kits are still doing their thing. Gravity is reliable, but it's slow. I think these are going to take a while before they're ready to bottle, but that's not a surprise for white wine. Besides, it's not like I'm in a rush.

I'd got into Allan Steel's Coyote series, and just read the latest one, where they are exploring a Dyson Sphere. Not as good as I'd hoped it would be. Very superficial. Next book club book is An Unfinished Life, which I'll start reading tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wildrose Lunacy Rant

I just listened to Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith on the radio as I was driving home from my morning swim. It wasn't the best swim workout I've ever done but I was feeling pretty good coming out to the car. Then the prerecorded interview with Smith came on, and part way through I'm growling expletive  laden commentary to myself. After dealing with a couple minor issues I figured I'd better rant about it before the bile buildup damaged my liver or something.

If you looked at the post previous to this one you'll know that two Wildrose candidates have put their foot in their mouths, right up to the hip and beyond. The one in Edmonton thinks that it's wrong to tolerate or accept LBGT kids and that it's loving to bully them into changing their orientation so they don't burn in hell. I'm paraphrasing only slightly, he was considerably more graphic. The one in Calgary thinks that Sikh and Muslim public figures only speak for those communities, but as a Caucasian he can speak for everybody. A natural entitlement, of course. Both of these are pastors in what they describe as a church. More on that later.

Let's start with "Dr." Leech. The honorific comes from an unaccredited institution. It might have been one of those $29.99 specials and if you act now we'll include a decoder ring, a $5.99 value if you call before midnight. He's the one that says that only Caucasian people can speak for everybody, that Sikhs and Muslims only speak to their communities. There are Caucasian Sikhs and Muslims, so I have to wonder who Leech thinks they speak for. While he used those two groups as an example, I strongly suspect he would include other minorities as well. Calgary is a very multicultural city, and he's in one of the more multicultural ridings. How he thinks this gets him votes is beyond me.

Plus, the mayor of Calgary is Muslim, and it's not like he's a low profile guy. Mayor Nenshi is very well regarded by the citizens, most think he's doing a very good job, and even his critics would admit he is a superb communicator. He was voted the most trusted Canadian by Readers Digest in a recent poll. Someone that thinks that he is only speaking to Muslims isn't breathing the same air as the rest of us. And this is what Leech says in public! What does he say in his church and to his friends or family? I'd believe it was a slip of the tongue if all he had said was "being Caucasian is an advantage" when he meant "...isn't a disadvantage" which is bad enough. But there were the other comments about speaking to their own community that show it's all one thought, and beyond the pale.

Moving on to Mr. Hunsperger. In my lifetime opinions on homosexuality have changed enormously. Thinking back to my school days kids were routinely bullied and accused of being "a homo", including by the teachers. For most it didn't stick, but it did to some. Fights, pushing, tripping, shoving, and subtler assaults were common. In hindsight it was rancid environment for learning. No wonder I hated school.

That is what Hunsperger wants to go back to. I don't even have to ask him what he thinks of gay people getting married; the only reason he wouldn't pop a gasket is that he probably has a sermon memorized. A discussion about gay sex probably would pop his gaskets. As near as I can tell from chatting to gay friends, the right wing politicians think far more about gay sex than gay people do.

I suspect the schools are just the thin edge of the wedge for Hunsperger. Then he can move on to discriminating against them in other ways, such as trying to deny them marriage rights. Then it might be getting them out of "sensitive jobs in government or civil service" because they could be blackmailed by evil Russian spies. Or maybe it's Chinese spies now. It would not surprise me to learn that in his heart of hearts he thinks AIDS is a "gay disease given to them by God", and as such don't deserve medical treatment. I'll stop there, but what's important to remember is that bigots like this don't stop. Give them any room and they'll come back for more.

Now to Ms. Smith. She didn't rebuke them. This is all fine with her. Not even just fine, but good. It's just another opinion, like all the other opinions that any diverse group of candidates would hold. (Diverse isn't the word I'd use to describe a party of angry old white men where only about 10% of the candidates are female.) She thinks its important that people who have strong, sincerely held religious opinions belong in government, and they are entitled to their personal opinions. What she doesn't get, is that those opinions don't stop at the doorway of the Legislature. While she says they aren't going to legislate on controversial morality issues, it's just a smoke screen. To them, these issues aren't controversial. They're right and we're wrong. She's the one that has said that wily politicians can find a way around the Charter to create legislation for a desired result.

Here's where we get to the sifting. There is a grain of truth in much of what Wildrose says. People are entitled to their opinion, up to a limit. Just like your freedom to swing your fist stops at the other person's face, your freedom of opinion stops when it damages other people or is untrue. These two pastors already have a bully pulpit for their outdated and rancid views, and they expect to be given a bigger one?

Ms. Smith says it's wrong of the PC government to bully and intimidate the people in the medical system, and she is absolutely 100% correct on that. So why then is it ok to bully children?

One could go through much of the Wildrose campaign platform and point to things that are mostly true, or sound reasonable, or are based on real issues. It's where they go with it, or getting to the details that shows the problems. 

How to say this? In Canadian public life religion is pretty much a non-issue. Canadians don't much care which church a candidate goes to, or if they go at all. Catholic, for example, might be in a paragraph with words like honest, open, communicator, hard-working, trust-worthy, ect. Nobody would blink to find a candidate that goes to the Anglican church, for example, doesn't mention that in their literature. Not in the sense of hiding it, just that there is limited space, and more important messages.

At least it's a non-issue until loons like these two crawl out from under a rock and start spewing their vile message, with their party leader standing there cheering them on. It's one thing to hold an opinion that is controversial and state your case. That's what free speech is all about. But these particular issues aren't controversial any more. 

Society has evolved beyond the primitive world view of most religions. White people are not entitled by being white to speak for other people. Non-white people are not limited to speaking to only that community. Saying such things demonstrates such an out-dated world view as to render you unfit for public company, let alone public office. 

We understand that being gay isn't a choice, it's a matter of the exact mix of hormones you get in your mother's womb. There is nothing to be done about it, and more importantly, nothing that needs to be done about it. Human rights are gay rights, and vise versa. Saying otherwise is simply counter factual, and if you believe that, I have to wonder what other untrue things you believe.

In the end, I'm still of the opinion that the PC's have to go. Wildrose might have some credible candidates; I'm not suggesting these two are representative of every candidate. Certainly the candidate in my riding, from his record, would be standing there supporting Hunsperger's opinion. The NDP want to raise taxes and swing too far the other way in terms of holding the oil and gas industry accountable. The Liberals. Sigh. I don't know if I can hold my nose that tight. 

Those are my only choices. If you're an Albertan you may have other choices. Please consider them, and make your mark on election day.

The candidate or the party? The party or the candidate? Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Retaste 2.4 wperKg or Wildrose?

The water was thick and vibraty in the pool today. You might not think that's a real word, but it has to be, because that's the only way I can describe it. I was feeling slow, as if the water was hanging on to me. The weird thing was that I could feel pressure waves on my arms and body surging past me.

The lane ropes enclosed a pair of lanes. I was in one of them, and there were these two fast girls in the other lane. Every time they went by I could feel their wake, not as a wave or splash, but pressure waves in the water. I've never felt that before. I attribute it to their power and speed. It almost felt like I was swimming into a headwind, and I could feel the little tiny variations in the gusts.

Swam an hour. Lots and lots of dolphin kick drill, with some pull. Trying to focus on stroke mechanics.

Then the bike at home. Still way too cold to be outside. I was in the groove right from the beginning. Easy spin and spin up warmup, legs feeling good.
I decided to try some of the 3 and 2 again, but starting up closer to my top end. Just because I like round numbers I decided to see where I was with 250 watts on my power meter. After 4 I realized I was doing pretty good, and could be going longer than the 3 minutes. So I got a good drink, and settled in to see how long I could put that out.

It went and went. I was steady at 148 bpm pretty well the whole time, breathing hard, sweating really really hard. As in constant rain. That's right at the top end of my aerobic range, and I wasn't sure if my legs or lungs would poop out first. I was determined to stay with it till either I hit the retaste zone, or passed 20 minutes, which would reset my FTP.

Sure enough, I got to 20 minutes, and could have kept going a bit longer. I'm not sure for how much. Yay me, and no retaste! I'll have to redo my workout guides. This is good! It works out to 2.4 watts per Kg based on today's weight.

The real retaste is local politics. The Wildrose true colours are coming out. Here's a link to a Calgary Wildrose candidate in a multicultural riding (but really, they are all multicultural, some just more than others) showing what he really believes. Here's the money quote “I think as a Caucasian I have an advantage,” Ron Leech told a radio station on the weekend. “When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speak, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community.”  Read more.

This in a community with a very popular Muslim mayor. Leech somehow thinks that Mayor Nenshi is only speaking for the Muslim community, and doesn't speak for all Calgarians? Unbelievable. I am disgusted by this on so many levels I scarcely know where to start to rant. I can't believe anyone running for public office would say anything so stupidly racist in public knowing the microphone was live, but then, Wildrose is full of angry old white men who want to return to the good old days. Quite frankly, Mr. Leech has proven himself to be unfit for any public office at any level. I only hope the voters of Calgary Greenway feel the same as I do and pick someone else.

That isn't the only incident. Oh no. The same link above also discusses the stupidity of Edmonton-South West nominee Allan Hunsperger. Here's his money quote, in a blog posting made last year, talking about “godless” and “wicked” public education, and questioning the Edmonton public school board’s policy of welcoming and accepting gay students. “You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering,” Hunsperger wrote, suggesting gays and lesbians have chosen a sexual orientation for which they will suffer in the afterlife. (From the same Herald article.)

This isn't racist, for what small comfort that might offer, but it is homophobic, and bullying, and could be considered child abuse. He thinks it's wrong to do anything about the bullying GLBT students suffer, since it's a "choice", even though they "were born that way". His thinking is so mixed up, but then religion isn't about logic and rational thought.

In both cases party leader Smith defended the comments, saying they were personal beliefs. That tells me she supports the attitudes displayed. Talk about playing to her base. I'm appalled these guys are doing so well in the election, but with crap like this coming out, I hope Albertans are smarter about getting rid of the PC's. Yes, they need to go, no question of that. But to replace them with Wildrose is like, like, well, I don't know. I can't describe how shortsighted it is. The phrase, "cutting your nose off to spite your face" comes to mind, but this is more like cutting your head off to spite your body.

The choices remain pitiful. The Alberta Party is running candidates in less than half the ridings. The Liberals remain hapless and toxic, though Raj Sherman is doing better than expected. I'm not sure what to think of the NDP. Nobody has taken a serious look at the candidates, and no doubt one could find loons there too, but nobody is suggesting the NDP could form the government. Polls are suggesting that voters are returning to the PC's to prevent a Wildrose government. That's sort of like letting the advanced cancer alone while you deal with a gangrenous limb. Hmmm, now that I put it like that, I wonder what that does to my voting decision? Hmmm.

I wish the Chief Electoral officer had the authority to remove candidates on the spot when they say such stupid things as the two examples above. I don't mean slips of the tongue when tired; that could happen to anyone. I don't mean partisan comments, or even those that stretch the truth. That's politics. These were considered statements that even in isolation are beyond the pale, and who knows what else they believe to go along with what they've said in public? I shudder to think.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busiest day in a very long time

What a day! I always thought time was invented so everything doesn't happen at once. Here's a quick recap. So quick, it doesn't do a rant about resumes. I had to put mine into a different format for a recruiter, and that was a GRRRRR experience for a bunch of reasons. But I want to go to bed, and don't want to work myself up any more than I already am, otherwise I'll get no sleep at all.

There is a medical test done to people about my age. As medical tests go it's pretty invasive, and involves a day of preparation. Most people are a bit squeamish about the subject. Today was a 2 hour consultation to inform me about the test. There was a presentation on why it's done, what the alternatives are, and why they aren't as good. Much discussion about doing the preparation right, otherwise you have to do it all over again. Then a short individual meeting to go over your family medical history and own issues. Even for such a tense setting my heart rate was 44 bpm, and my blood pressure was 117 / 67 I think. The appointment is made.

From there I swam for a bit over a half an hour in the 50 m pool, mainly thinking about stroke mechanics, and channeling Jono van Hazel, the smoothest freestyle in the world. Especially starting around the 1:20 mark. Wow. Did some 100 m intervals, 105 seconds down to 92 seconds, not trying to be fast, but trying to be smooth. That channeling thing. At first swimming in the 50 m pool seemed so slow, but I'm getting used to it. I'll probably swim into the wall first time back in 25 m.

Sat in the parking lot for a half hour talking to a recruiter about some clients they want to present me to. Which explains the resume thing I was doing this evening.

Home. Check on a buddy's Boston Marathon result. I suspect it's not as quick as she'd have liked it to be, but it was frigging hot! Run a half hour, just to get my legs moving. They weren't so keen on the concept.

Lunch. Shower. Head out for an interview, and do that. I think it went pretty good, but we'll see if they make an offer. Shopping. Hang out at Banker's Hall a bit because I know where to get free Wi-Fi and catch up on my mail. Chat to a buddy about job issues. Pick up Linda. Go to accountant to get tax forms picked up and leave behind a cheque. I have to pay the government a couple hundred dollars. Yay! Why? Because that means the government isn't hanging onto my money. I'm hanging onto theirs.

Home. Supper. Then struggle with the resume translation. Not fun. Blog. Bed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Good thing I'm not being marked on neatness

Friday, the day of doing NOTHING was great.

Saturday wasn't quite nothing, but there wasn't any workouts, unless you count some of the contortions to work on the vapour barrier as yoga. Stand on a chair or step ladder. Do chair pose so as not to bang your head on the nails holding the hardwood flooring down. Cut a piece of tape, then hold it at both ends. Reach over your head to apply it carefully to the edge of the plastic, sometimes reaching around pipes, ducts, beams, and not cutting your hands on aforesaid nails.

I've had a couple good days on that, making good progress. Half the battle is to remove all the crap on the floor or on storage units so I can get at what needs to be worked on. I found some tools that I haven't seen for a long time, and there's a lot of floor space open now that was occupied before. Let's not even talk about the feral and ferocious dust bunnies.

Some of you are old enough to remember the teacher telling you "neatness counts" on your assignments, meaning that your handwriting had to be neat enough to read. Which was always a trial for me, as my handwriting was horrible then and no better now. Kids now do it on the computer and print it. So easy. (In fact, parents of school age kids, do they print them, or do the email them? Or is it all done in a web app?) Still, there are lots of places where neatness does count in one way or another. Lucky for me sealing up the vapour barrier is not one of them.

This is a neat one. Some of the others are tape all over the place. I figure the tape is cheap, and use lots. Some of the adventures before I discovered the red tape were pretty horrible because that acoustical goop was involved. When I'm all done I'll probably use up any tape by going over the ones I did with the goop.

Saturday was also racking and stabilizing both the current wine kits. One of them had some neat filament stuff happening that I've never seen before. Sometimes as you degas and stir in the fining agent, you see "snow". It looks exactly like it's snowing inside the carboy. These were more murky. The kit with the filaments was a dark amber with lighter stranded clumps swirling around. It was really quite pretty. If people ask I'll post the video.

Even though it snowed on Saturday, I still went out to do some BBQ bison burgers, and they were really good. Then I went to bed early. I could still feel the fatigue in my legs so I figured a day of being active around the house would help them feel better.

Sunday, if I'd been really on the ball I'd have gone for a swim first thing. But I didn't. However I was down working on the vapour barrier some more. Then out to a pub for our book club meeting. The food was good, so it will be our new default location. It's in the same mall as the bakery with the best cheese buns in the city. Let me know if you're looking to join a very casual book club. Next book is An Unfinished Life.

Once home I finally got on the bike. A workout! I know my fans are cheering, wondering if I'd got off the workout bus for good or something. Not so! I've got a 5 hour spin-a-thon coming up, and I know Katie will be watching me to see if I weenie out.

Today was just a short ride though. Warm up. Then 3 hard 2 easy, with each hard being a bit harder, using gears or changing the trainer resistance. The first one was just below my old FTP, and I decided I would stop when I either couldn't complete the 3 minutes, or recover enough in 2 minutes to start the next one. I did 7 reps, ending up just barely finishing 270 watts for 3 minutes. I was panting and gasping. Heart was working hard but felt ok; I don't have a number. My legs were just barely on top of it. I was just beginning to be reminded of lunch. At the end of 2 minute recovery I was down to about 120 bpm and my legs and breathing were good, but there was no way I was going to try again. Did some easy spin work to flush out my legs, and called it a day at 75 minutes. Stretched afterward.

Now, the supper choice. The other bison burger, or a Chipolte Corn and Black Bean Chowder? Decisions decisions.

Oh, and I signed up for Calgary 70.3. Another race with my buddy Cath.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I did nothing today. NOTHING!

Well, that isn't quite true. Here is a complete and exact list of what I actually did today.

I got up, then went back to bed. Twice.
Drank coffee and had breakfast while reading blogs and stuff.
Went outside for a few minutes to makes sure the water from melting snow would drain ok.
Most of the day was spent reading The Scar by China Mieville, and I am loving it.
Ate some lunch goodies Linda brought back.
Had an afternoon nap, then chatted briefly with a Liberal handing out literature. I have his personal assurance that the Liberal candidate is a nice guy. A really nice guy.
Did some email.
Ate a light supper, and then blogged.
Thinking about going to bed early.

No, really, that's it.
No workouts. No core, serious stretching, swimming, biking, or running.
No I'm not sick or injured, it was just time for a rest day. So I rested. When I rest, I rest HARD!
No, I didn't do anything with the wine kits on the go, I'll do them tomorrow, though I did drink a glass of wine at one point.
No, I didn't do anything with the great vapour barrier sealing project.
No, really, that's it.

Yes, I loved it. I should do this more often.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Just beat the rain

It was a gray day when I looked outside this morning. After dropping Linda off I was tempted to go back to bed. But the coffee was so good, and first thing was a very nice phone call. Couldn't go back to bed after that.

Still didn't feel like going for a run though, even knowing it was supposed to rain. Instead I tidied in the basement clearing out small section that has been accumulating stuff for a long time. Once that was done I felt just about ready to go. Limbered up some more and got dressed. It wasn't as cold out as I thought, but I still needed a jacket.

My feet were light and frisky right from the start. I had a really good turnover going then suddenly discovered I was running quite quickly, by my standards. I was only out for 5 K, wanting to run only with good form. About then I realized my feet were spending longer on the ground, and my posture was starting to go pear shaped.

By the time I stretched and showered the rain had started, complete with large flakes of snow. I had some errands to run so I picked Linda up after work. In the few minutes I was waiting for her it went from mostly rain to completely snow. We've had several inches so far now, though much of it is melted.

Linda had been invited to a work function to celebrate mumbltey years of service. Many. Still snowing. Linda chatted with a few people she knew, and surprise, there were a couple guys I'd worked with ever so long ago when I worked for the City. We even met briefly with Mayor Nenshi. He's taller than I thought.

During the various announcements one person gave the hockey scores. Surprisingly enough several people commented about wanting to know how the debates were going. The leaders of the 4 main parties here in Alberta were having a debate tonight, and with the two right wing parties tied in the polls, there was a lot of importance riding on this.

We listened to a bit of it on the way to the function. I liked how Mason (NDP) quoted from the official record of the Legislature about something Redford (PC) had said on the topic of senior's accommodation and Redford kept saying it simply wasn't true. Yeah. Maybe they use the same accounting firm as for the F-35 purchase.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Look Ma, no arms!

I really wasn't sure how the swim would go this morning. My shoulders were still feeling a bit creaky, so I started easy. And what do you know? My arms went around no problems. In a few lengths I got into the groove, relaxed, and enjoyed the swim.

The catch was going very well, and the timing was good. Just as I began to slow down just the tiniest bit, my next stroke would start. Smooth. I'd watched the video of that guy with the really really smooth stroke, and I was pretending there was a camera above me filming. Suddenly I realized I was swimming with my core and back muscles, not my arms. All my arm muscles were doing is triggering the catch, and going around nice and easy. My breathing was good and even, no gasping. I'm tempted to go on about how this felt, and some of the tiny technical details I was thinking about, sort of, but I want to go to sleep now, and I don't want to put you to sleep.

Of course, all good things come to an end. I could feel my catch starting to get jerky so I worked on that, and decided to look at the clock minutes, rather than seconds. I was astonished to discover I'd been at it for 1800m without really thinking about it. I finished up the 2 K in a couple seconds over 39 minutes.

Then some dolphin kick, a bit of pull, some backstroke as cool down and my hour was up. The interesting part about sitting in the hot tub was listening to a guy whine and snivel about most of the pool being taken up for a class for those stand up paddle thingies. Even from the hot tub the other pool looked pretty calm and when I looked a few minutes later there were only 2 people in the whole pool. Even the two 50 m lanes he could have joined, there was only 3 or 4 people. He could have joined them. Jerk. Some people.

A bit later I got onto the bike not sure how that was going to go either. Within a few minutes I knew I was going to have a good spin session. My legs were liking going around and around. After a short warmup I found myself at endurance pace, and stayed there an hour.
Then a half hour at tempo, which didn't feel as hard as it did the other day.
Then back to endurance for 10 minutes.
Then a 20 minute time trial, trying to maintain 210 watts, and did it! Yay! When I got the trainer that effort level would have knackered me in a few minutes, and I could have gone on a bit longer, I think. However, I also know that this really is getting up to my max effort level for now.
Easy for 10 minutes, then 5 at endurance, 5 at tempo, and then 10 easy spin and cool down for 2.5 hours altogether.
I felt great!

Yoga class, it's like FF could read my mind. Everything was good. Worked what needed to be worked. Not too hard, not too easy. I was feeling the flow, which doesn't happen often.

Even on top of that there was other good stuff. All in all, a really good day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You know procrastination is bad when

When you'd rather sort out tax paperwork than go for a run on a sunny day.
When you'd rather put on the grubby clothes, and contort yourself getting into dusty spots to tape up vapour barrier than run.
When you'd rather investigate the issues around painting a concrete basement floor than run.
You'd rather do a core session with plank in it than run.

No swim today. Mid-morning I was thinking I should have sucked it up and gone, since my shoulders were feeling better, then I started the vapour barrier stuff again. Now my shoulders are sore again. I'll be coming back to this.

It was supposed to be nice today, 15 C! Once I was done all the other stuff and had flailed through the core session, I headed out for a run. Wearing the shorts and tech shirt I'd been doing core in. I wasn't to the bottom of the driveway when I turned around and headed back in.

It was cold! I'm guessing 7 or 8 C (45 F), windy, and cloudy out. I put on tights and two layers of long sleeved tech shirts. I was planning to run towards the reservoir where it's open and exposed to the wind. Even then for a while I was thinking I was under dressed. That was a cold wind for April.

Even though I'd done the core, and walked a bit to warm up, and jogged easy to start, my breathing and heart rate were way out of control. I felt like a geezer wheezing along. Even tired my legs weren't minding the run so much, and in fact were kind of liking it, in a secret way they'd never really admit. But my heart and lungs were not up to it. Even after 15 minutes it was only a little better. Ran little cycles of running easy and gradually speeding up while trying to maintain form. Then easing off before I started gasping and panting. Ran 45 minutes, walked after, and stretched.

Oddly enough during the run, my shoulders were hurting. They wanted to cuddle my ears, and I was constantly trying to relax them. I could feel the stiffness in my upper body and couldn't seem to do anything about it. I think my overall posture was bad too, running with my butt out, but it's hard to tell. At least I was out there moving for a while.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I was worried there for a while

I had a double 50 m lane to myself today. Very nice. At first my left shoulder wasn't very happy with me and the recovery was clunky and weird. Times were nothing special, then got into the groove a bit and picked up the pace. I seem to swim a lot slower in the 50 m pool, or maybe the water is a bit thicker or something.

Part way through some fast people started swimming in the next lane. I finished my 1500 in 19:30, which seems slow considering how hard I was working towards the end. Did some dolphin kick, and regular kick. By then the next lane was pretty full and there was lots of splashing. One pull set I was going pretty strong, and they were still pulling away from me. At one point they were simulating a turn around a buoy. The lead swimmer stopped just at the T and stood up, and all the rest swam around him. One guy was doing this fancy roll during the turn and I thought he was going to slap the guy playing the buoy in the face. Pretty sure they are a triathlon training team.

I did some backstroke and a bit more pull. One freestyle length I tried really hard to keep up with them and it didn't work out so well. I'd like to think it's because they were in a drafting pack and I was solo, but I know better. I ended up swimming an hour.

Errands on the way home. I finished the roll of Tuck Tape, so I got a couple more rolls. Great stuff, once you get the hang of working with it. The hardest part is getting my head and arms into some of the tight spaces, while balancing on a ladder. I'd picked up bread at Cobb's and it was driving me crazy all the way home to smell fresh bread while I was really hungry.

Second breakfast, and a bit of work stuff, then prep for a long spin session. Here's some of the prep. The canned goods live there until Linda drags them up to cook with. The water bottles, cookies, Clif bar, bananas, iPad, and iPhone are all part of the bike prep.

Started with a 20 minute warmup, getting settled in.
1 hour at 75% of FTP. Mostly feeling pretty good, standing a bit more than I'd like, right knee a bit niggly.
30 minutes at 85 to 90% of FTP, working hard. Then 10 minutes easy. My towel is soaked. Good thing I can reach the next fresh towel.
60 minutes as 5 minutes at 110% of FTP, 5 minutes easy, alternating the work periods at 95 rpm and 62 rpm. Or trying to. My legs were getting wonky on the last slow effort.
15 minutes easy spin and cool down. Ate everything. Drank all but half a water bottle. Was about as wet as if I'd just got out of the pool. Felt pretty good, though my legs are tired. Stretched, and did feet in the air for a while. On the bike 3 hr 15 minutes. Longest ride on the trainer in a very long time. Need to be ready for the 5 hour spin a thon in a few weeks.

Shortly after starting I noticed this funny line on my bike. The first thing I thought of was the frame had cracked! It's not even 5 years old and only has maybe 13,000 Km on it, and I don't want to be buying a new bike. Not even a Cervelo P4 now that they are cheaper because the P5 just came out. Gotta love bike porn. I worried about that during the ride, and rubbed at it a bit during the easy sections. At the end of the ride I got this photo, and washed it a bit more. After looking really, really closely, I'm now convinced that I somehow rubbed some of the paint off. No idea on what, or how, but I'll take some rubbed paint as the problem any day over a cracked frame.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A retro wine workout melange

The massage got moved to this morning after some other clients messed up their scheduling. Coffee and a massage is a great way to start the day.

Later, there was this.

That is the mess in the corner at the end of my workout mat. A while ago I recycled the cardboard boxes the wine bottles came in because I didn't think I needed them anymore and, well, there were a lot of them taking up space. As it turns out I should have kept a couple more. The boxes there are full of empties so the drying rack is put into service. In the top right corner you can see the two wine kits on the go that will fill some of these bottles, but it's going to be a few more weeks at least till they're ready. In the meantime, that corner has sort of turned into a dumping ground of stuff. It needs to be tidied up. Any time now.

One of my projects lately has been to repair, replace, or retrofit vapour barrier as needed in the basement, especially between the beams. This is tricky. At some point along the way I started looking at the cold air return duct, one side of which is pictured here.

Two things to note. It wasn't sealed up worth beans, and it's been like that since the house was built. I also had to wedge my head between the copper pipes, and reach up between the duct and a copper pipe to apply the sealing tape. This was just a bit tricky. You can see some nails poking down, and will no doubt be happy they did not puncture any skin.

More of the barrier was taped up, and I was going good till I ran out of tape. I'll buy a couple rolls tomorrow. Part of the problem in the first photo is that all that stuff will have to be moved so I can get to where I'll need to work on the vapour barrier on that wall. I'm also thinking of painting the concrete floor, and want to minimize the stuff moving.

Once that was done I discovered it was mostly a nice day, so I went out for an easy run, mainly trying to keep my cadence up and my feet light. There were lots of other runners out too, enjoying the brief bit of nice weather. Stretched, looking at the mound of stuff to be tidied, but I was thinking about my taxes. I put all tax related stuff into a pair of envelopes over the year, one for personal, one for business. Now the time has come to sort all the bits of paperwork out and create a summary for my accountant for the personal stuff. Business is next month. I should get a bit of a return, but not much. I dislike making the government an interest free loan of my money.

I've added a few more blogs to my blogroll. A couple are related to Alberta stuff, and are topical to the election. Some are workout blogs I've recently discovered, (Rose Runner and Running with Spatulas) and one that is my near-daily dose of crazy stuff. I never know what to expect of Mayor Gia. If you think my blogroll looks a little shorter than it used to be, fear not. I'm only showing the most recently updated 25, and there is a tiny little show all button at the bottom of the list to see it all.

In election news I was keeping mental tabs on the signs, and Carpay of Wildrose is way out in front in yard signs. However, there is a guy that lives around the corner from me that is industriously turning out signs for Rodney of the PC's.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

An Alberta election rant

April 23rd us Albertans have to vote on our next provincial government. Normally in Alberta such an event is a snoozer, but this one is exciting. Since Alberta became a province in 1905 there have been 27 elections, and only 4 governments. Most of the time the governments have had enormous majorities. It's said that Albertans don't so much elect governments as anoint them. Here's the list to date.

1905–1921 Alberta Liberal Party
1921–1935 United Farmers of Alberta
1935–1971 Social Credit Party of Alberta
1971–present Alberta Progressive Conservatives

The current PC's have been in power for 41 years. There are Communist dictatorships that haven't lasted that long. However, this election may see the PC's turfed out. Hence the excitement.

Here we only vote for our local representative; we don't cast a ballot for the party leader. I'll list my choices in Calgary Lougheed, and talk about the parties a bit. Then you'll understand why I'm having trouble deciding who to vote for.

John Carpay - Wildrose
Brent Kelly - Alberta New Democrats
Dave Rodney - Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta (Incumbent)
Fred Stenson - Alberta Liberal Party.
There does not appear to be an Alberta Party candidate in my riding.
There are several other fringe parties that are not running in my riding and no independents this time around. I always take a serious look at the independents. Most of the time they are one issue candidates, but you have to admire their gumption to run.

Here's some info about each candidate, taken from their official web pages, with my commentary after.

John Carpay

John Carpay was born in the Netherlands, and grew up in Williams Lake, B.C. He earned his B.A. in Political Science at Laval University in Quebec City, and his LL.B. from the University of Calgary. He is fluent in English, French, and Dutch. John served the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as Alberta Director from 2001 to 2005, advocating for lower taxes, less waste, and accountable government. John is the founder and president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (

My comment:
A wolf in sheep's clothing. Mr. Carpay doesn't believe in funding the arts through taxes. In fact, he doesn't seem to believe in taxes at all. He doesn't like our system of representative democracy, where rightly or wrongly, we enable our politicians to make decisions for us and do the right thing, and not slavishly represent what might be a neanderthal public opinion. He wants to see tax increases put to a public referendum, and thinks Prop 13 in California was a success story. He thinks City Council should contract out services presently provided by city employees. He is in favor of privatizing health care, ( I suspect to the American model) based on a ridiculous comparison between health care and the food production system. He was unhappy with Premier Klein that he didn't do enough to protest or fight the Vriend decision and it's implications on gay rights. His notion of freedoms for people lets them restrict other people's freedoms. There's lots more, read for yourself.

Brent Kelly

Brent Kelly is an elected representative in the student government at the University of Alberta and in the final year of his bachelor degree in political science and international studies. He works at the career centre at the university, educating undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows about career-related opportunities in Edmonton and beyond. Kelly spent six weeks in Vietnam engaging in development research through the World University Service of Canada. Kelly has served on the board of directors of several non-profit organizations, including the Alberta Public Interest Research Group.

My comment:
How nice. He seems to parrot the ND line well enough, and is so young he's not likely to have got himself in any real trouble. Still, some federal NDP types won their seats in Quebec without knowing French, and without visiting the riding to campaign. One took a vacation to Las Vegas during the election. Maybe he's hoping for the same revulsion to the governing party going his way here. If so, I admire his optimism.

Dave Rodney

Dave Rodney has served as MLA for Calgary-Lougheed for the past two terms, including as Parliamentary Assistant for Health & Wellness and for Sustainable Resource Development. Dave has worked on the Provincial Treasury Board and the Agenda & Priorities committees, and as Energy Representative to the Council of State Governments.  His activity is focused on his constituency and his government work has taken him across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and beyond. He has chaired AADAC and Calgary Caucus, and served on dozens of other committees. Dave has spearheaded more private members’ business than any other MLA since being elected, including the “Smoke-free Places Act”, “Alberta Get Outdoors Weekend Act” and “Physical Activity Credit”. Dave Rodney (BA, BEd, MRE) is an international entrepreneur, educator, keynote speaker, and humanitarian; and is the first Canadian to scale Mt Everest twice.

My comment:
I pay moderate attention to Alberta politics and I can't recall Dave's name coming up in the news. All in all, that's probably a good thing. I have not been able to find out if he was on the committee that didn't meet for 4 years and got paid for it, or what his thoughts are on that issue. I've been doing a bit of scrounging around the web and Mr. Rodney appears to be a bit of a political nonentity. He might plausibly present himself as a hard working politician who has been overlooked when it comes to sitting at the cabinet table. A cynic might say he's keeping a chair warm for the Conservatives and has stayed out of trouble more through good luck than good management. I don't know.

Fred Stenson
Fred was only recently announced as the candidate, and there isn't much (anything really) about him on the official Liberal website. This is from Wikipedia. (Yes, I know.)

Frederick (Fred) Stenson (born December 22, 1951) is a Canadian writer of historical fiction and non-fiction relating to the Canadian West.
In addition to his published work, Stenson has been a faculty member at The Banff Centre, where he has directed the Wired Writing Studio for eleven years. He is also a documentary film writer, with over 140 credits. He writes a regular wit column for Alberta Views Magazine. His 2000 novel The Trade was shortlisted for Canada's Giller Prize. Both The Trade and his 2003 novel Lightning won the Grant MacEwan Author's Prize for best Alberta book of the year. His 2008 novel The Great Karoo was nominated for the 2008 Governor General's Literary Award in Fiction and was a nominee for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Canada/Caribbean).
Stenson was raised on a farm and cattle ranch in the Waterton region of southwest Alberta.

My comment:
I think it's safe to assume he would be in favour of arts funding, and he says he is an admirer of Premier Lougheed. No idea where he stands on any of the issues in the news for this election. Being a writer is a huge plus in my books. He has demonstrated the ability to organize his thoughts, state them clearly in writing, and get paid for doing so. That is a rare talent in today's world.

The parties.
The problem is that we vote for people that belong to political parties. It is entirely possible that the best qualified candidate might be running for a party you find repugnant. Or the opposite, you strongly support a political party, but find the local candidate to be repugnant. That's just the way it is.

The Dippers, as they are called here, are widely seen to be the left wing fruit loop party, proposing more taxes, and more public spending on improving social conditions. They don't mind running deficits and have a very idealistic view of the political world. Their base of power is in "Redmonton" as it's known. They've been in power in some provinces, and have held the balance of power in Canada's parliament, with mixed results. They are currently the federal opposition, with a herd of new young MP's. In the eyes of some commentators the current PC leader, Alison Redford,  is known as Alison the Red and is derided as the first NDP Premier for what are perceived as her left wing policies.

The Liberal brand name is toxic in much of Alberta, and I'm probably understating the issue. A federal Liberal government imposed the National Energy Policy in 1981 (yes, more than 30 years ago) that gutted the oil industry and cost Alberta billions of dollars. Albertan's remember. They are widely perceived to be hapless do-gooders. They are a somewhat more centrist version of the Dippers.

The Progressive Conservatives have been the only ruling government that most Albertans know. They claim to be conservative to placate the strong rural base, but are blandly central where they have to be. Until very recently describing them as cozy with the oil and gas industry would be an understatement, and provides a living example of "what goes around comes around." The Premier before the current one screwed that up with a botched attempt to revise the Royalty structure that companies pay to extract natural resources here. Botched is putting it politely.

They have grown smug and arrogant, with numerous abuses of power. The most recent one that really seems to be gaining traction is the scandal of the committee that didn't meet for 4 years, while the committee members got paid $1000 a month for not doing anything, on top of their already very generous pay. MLA pay is complicated to go into and not the focus of this rant, but go here if you want to read more. Here's a timeline of the scandal for your amusement.

I think this one captured our attention more than bigger scandals have is because $1000 is a real amount of money for ordinary people. Larger amounts are real too, but people can relate to $1000. They know how long they have to work to earn it, and what it will buy them. It's a clear example of theft from an employer. And when it was discovered, they blew the messaging.

Anybody that intentionally bills for time they didn't work is a thief and is likely to get fired when it's discovered. An unintentional overpayment, which many of the MLA's can reasonably claim happened in their case, is ok provided that arrangements are made to correct the situation in a reasonable period of time. With a couple of exceptions, that's the last thing that happened. They flipped and flopped and flapped and everything else on the issue rather than do the right thing. The head of the committee wouldn't give any of it back, and didn't see why any committee member should, and said he "had done nothing wrong."

There were 21 committee members, and there were 83 MLAs. So almost exactly a quarter of the MLA's were on the take, and one could argue all the rest of them were in on the deal. Except for the ones that promptly paid it back they should all be voted out of office. But that's just the most recent sin, there are many more over the years. One could feel a bit sorry for Ms. Redford, in that she is reaping the whirlwind that was sown by her massively incompetent predecessor, Mr. Stelmach. Sort of like Kim Campbell following Brian Mulroney.

Then there is Wildrose. A new party amalgamated with the Alberta Alliance Party. They claim to be a populist party fighting for lower taxes and increased freedoms for Albertans, and to represent "mainstream Albertan opinion". They would fit in just fine with the American Republican party. Most recently they are speaking in code to support the "rights" of marriage commissioners to refuse to marry people they disapprove of. This means gays and inter-racial couples, and anything else that might offend that particular commissioner. They say it doesn't extend to allowing doctors to decide who they'll treat or not, and won't elaborate if it would allow pharmacists to refuse to fulfill prescriptions they don't approve of, like birth control.

They represent the old Alberta. They haven't noticed or haven't paid attention to the massive waves of immigration to Alberta, and how the social dynamics have changed. Calgary elected a Muslim mayor a year ago or so, and everybody I've talked to about it is happy with him. Gays are out of the closet and are not going back. They can't change abortion law, but they can de-list the procedure so (sarcasm on) that that honest tax-payers are free of paying for something that isn't medically necessary (sarcasm off). They haven't noticed Alberta is becoming a major player in a global multicultural world. 

My problem.
I don't trust Wildrose or the New Democrats with the future of Alberta. Comparing the candidates, what I can learn of Mr. Carpay makes him repulsive. Mr. Kelly is merely young and inexperienced. In the end if I had to choose between them I'd take Kelly and the Dippers because they are at least looking forward. Wildrose wants to go back to the Alberta of the past, and then do it better. Or worse, depending on how you look at it. That's over with.

The PC's have to go. End of story. They've abused our trust long enough and should be fired.

The Liberals are a toxic brand, and are simply not ready for prime time. A competent party should have been able to defeat the PC's any number of times in the past. Granted, they were up against Albertans propensity to vote PC out of habit, but still. Their current leader, Raj Sherman, is a great guy to have on the medical file, and would make a great minister. I'm not so sure about Premier.

My choice appears to be a blandly inoffensive incumbent for a party I want to see gone, or a guy who can write very well indeed but does not appear to have any relevant experience for governing in a party with no particular demonstrated competence in opposition. Decisions decisions. Let's see if anything changes at the leader's debates, or the candidate's forums over the next little while.

In workout news, a short hard bike ride this morning. Warm up, the 5 hard 5 easy, with the 5 hard alternating between high rpms, and low rpms, pushing between 110 and 120% of FTP. Tired legs at end. Cooled down and stretched.