Saturday, June 30, 2012

That road is gravel more's the pity

When you drive north on 22 towards Black Diamond, away in the distance you can see a small chunk of road exactly in line with 22. Even from way out you can tell it doesn't directly connect. There's a river in the way, and there aren't many bridges between 22 and Okotoks, though there are a couple of fords. No ferries though.

I've always wanted to ride on that road and see if the hill is as big as it looks, and I finally figured out how to get on it. Here's the route I was planning to ride this morning.

Unfortunately, that road is gravel. I'm not going to ride Estela on gravel roads, especially not when hills are involved.

I found this out after heading down Road to Nepal on a brilliant warm sunny morning. I got to the bottom in about 1:05 without really working it. I briefly thought of turning around and heading back to see if I could break 2 hours, but I had made other plans.

No surprise, 549 is as rough as ever. After I found out the road I wanted was gravel I headed along, trying not to get run over by the shoppers eager to get to the Millarville Farmer's Market. Some of those people are in a hurry. Here's the revised route. Plus 15 K to get from 22X to our house.

I checked out the north end of the mysterious road, just in case. Not. But what a view! I'll have to drive it to see just how steep the hill(s) is/are, and if it would be worth pressuring the local MD to pave it.

I was also tempted to ride down past the Leighton Centre, to build the distance and add more hills, but I got all distracted by this view. I can see why people pay big bucks for land out there.

In any case, the point of the ride was to get a good hilly workout, but not to totally trash my legs. I wanted to run after, with the goal to be tired at the start. I wanted to make my legs struggle a bit at first to settle in, run for a while, and call it before they gave up. This is a first brick in quite a while, after all, and I've regularly given people crap for overdoing their first workouts when they get back at it.

It worked out great. I had a super ride, saw a ton of people on their bikes, and some of them even waved and said hi. The run was a bit wonky to start. That lasted about 15 minutes then I settled in for an easy run, with one short walk break when I was suddenly feeling really really hot. I'm not sure why.

Once home I stretched, showered, read the papers, played with the cats, and snacked on some dates. Do you like dates? I think these are the best I've ever tasted. Look at the size of them!

Plus for a little while I was snoozing to the sounds of stereo purrs. Then it turned into a bit of a lick-fest that woke me up.

I am trying to choose between the next season to True Blood to find out what happens to Sookie in fairyland, or bottling more wine. I somehow think Sookie is going to win.

Friday, June 29, 2012

An odd dream

Normally I'm an up and at 'em kind of guy. Shift work messed up my sleep patterns many years ago, and they've never really been good since. In an ideal world I get an afternoon nap, then the 6 hours or so at night is all good. But being short that nap makes me go to bed early, even though I know I won't sleep through till it's time to go to work.

I've been sleeping better since starting the fitness stuff a few years ago, which is good. Not longer, mind you, just going right to sleep instead of tossing and turning half the night. Every now and then I have really strange dreams, and often can remember them. Last night I was sound asleep, and was dreaming I was in an artillery barrage with the Harperites shelling Calgary for cutting back on his campaign donations or something, when I woke up and realized there was a fireworks display happening nearby. Not just the neighbours and a few store bought sparklers.

No, this was the real deal. It lasted quite a while. Eventually I got up and watched. I think it was the Tsuu T'ina nation celebrating something, but I don't know what. I can't imagine First Nations people being terribly excited about Canada Day. In the end I got back to sleep. Then the kitty food imperialists demanded their offerings, and I went back to sleep again.

Then came the odd dream. I had flown into an airport, and Susi picked me up. I napped in the car, and woke up at the start of a bridge, which is where the dream proper started. There is sort of a small gate to wiggle through. Susi was ready to go on ahead. You have to lie on your tummy and pull yourself along on a little sled, while staying low to avoid some wires crossing the track. It's a suspension bridge, and high enough I really couldn't see what was below. The track is mostly transparent, but there was some clouds or fog. I was slowly pulling myself along, dragging my Zoot bag of many pockets, even though it didn't have triathlon stuff in it. I stopped for a rest in the middle because I was tired and hot. Just behind me was a girl in a blue bikini. The track is quite wide and I told her I was going to be a minute and she could pass if she wanted. She didn't, and we chatted while we rested.

When I finally got to the other end Susi was having a cup of tea with the toll booth guy, and had already paid for me. We were still on the bridge, and had to take an elevator down. Except the elevator was open, sort of like one of those amusement park roller coaster cars. We got in and started heading down, steeper and steeper and steeper. Susi had her arms up screaming her head off, hair floating in the wind. We caught the ejection bar as the car was going upside down, and hung there a moment, swinging back and forth. Us and our stuff dropped to a big air pad, and we scrambled to get out of the way of the next person. I don't know what happened next.

I should have played hooky from work yesterday. It was so nice and warm and perfect for a bike ride! But I had a lunch date with AD from Skystone whom I haven't seen for several years except meeting in the +15 a couple weeks ago. Then there was some people at work wanting to discuss our project and the state of certain stuff. At 2pm before a 4 day weekend. That was one meeting that didn't go long, I tell you.

As soon as I got home I was out on my bike for an easy spin around the neighbourhood. My legs have been feeling kind of heavy, so I thought this would be good. Any luck and the weather will be nice enough for a longer bike ride and run this weekend. In between all the stuff I want to get done. Repressing the lawn jungle. Dealing with a bunch of wine (bottle one kit, start another, and bleach a bunch of bottles). House tidying. Getting business tax paperwork all sorted out. All sorts of stuff that I'm way behind on. I've had my coffee, some breakfast, eye drops into Curtis, paid some cat attention, so I guess it's time to get at it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That bright thing up in the sky

Swam Monday. Lifeguards gave me hell about the trail of rust coming off me and mucking up their nice clean pool. Swam 40 clunky minutes.

It rained. A lot. Many rivers are flooding or on the verge of flooding. No bike.

Bottled a wine kit earlier this week, I forget when. It's wonderful! I'm glad I waited to let it settle. I'll bottle the other one on the weekend and start a new kit. The Nebbiolo I think.

Swam Wednesday in the 25 m pool. At first I thought I was hearing voices. Someone calling my name. Turned out KF was water running in the pool. After we chatted a few minutes I got at it, feeling much better. 1.5 Km in 28 even. Some kick and pull. Then 3 hard 50's on 1:15. These were just short of "oh shit a water snake chasing me!" at 43, 44, and 45 seconds. Breathing hard after. Cool down.

The Devonian Gardens opened today after being closed 4 years! I strolled through and really liked it. There were lots of other people there creating a happy buzz. I think some people had scoped out their favourite spots to eat and read. This is an amazing space. I wish I was still at Talisman so I could get to it without going outside. Check it out here.

The cats have settled in really well and love their new tree. We've got some medication to get on top of the eye infection that Curtis picked up. He's a total champ at accepting the drops. The pill is powered and put in his wet food. He's a bit of a pig and gobbles so I don't think he even notices.

The sun camp out and it's warm. Nice. The lawn is a jungle, and it's gusty windy, otherwise I'd skip yoga and go for a bike ride. And here you thought I was going to mow the lawn. Ha! My neighbour did and says it's still way too wet. Friday will be soon enough.

Four day weekend coming up! Warm! Sunny! Lots of plans. What about you?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A revolving rant

Monsoon season is in full swing here. That means rain and lots of it. I saw a few people on bikes out in it today, and they didn't look like they were having any fun at all.

The building I'm working in has a revolving door flanked by two ordinary doors, each of which is clearly marked "Please use revolving door" or words to that effect. Yet most people use the ordinary doors. The signage is large, clear, and placed to be easily seen. I think I finally figured it out last week.

It is a straight line from the doors to the electronic gate we have to wave our card key at to get in. This straight line is of course where people stop to chat. I had expected that. What I hadn't expected is that there are at least several people working in the building who can't cope with the revolving door, and still try to use it.

It goes like this. I was following someone out of the building. They went into the revolving door behind someone else. This door is not motorized, and therefore does not revolve on it's own. It stopped with that someone trapped. They stared blankly at the door for a few seconds, and then tried to get back out the way they got in. Think about that for a  second or two. I gently nudged the door up agains their butt, and pushed it and them along.

Another adventure in the door happened when someone slipped into the door, and rather than push it around, decided this was a good time to check their phone messages. Or maybe they were texting a friend that they were finally coming outside. I'll never know. I was tempted to revolve the door with extreme prejudice, but I restrained myself.

A couple weeks ago I was watching an adult trying to get on an escalator for what I believe to be the first time. They stood, stationary, at the top of the escalator, waving one foot at the moving stairs, as other people brushed past them, demonstrating the trick of it. I brushed on past myself. They had a baffled expression on their face. I have no idea how long they were there; my lunch time can be almost any length of time I want it to be, but it isn't long enough to watch an adult try to learn what most kids here learn by the time they are about 3.

Back into my building again. There are 4 elevators all in a row. There is a quiet chime, and an arrow sign that lights up to tell us an elevator has arrived going in the direction we have requested. In the normal world people start moving toward that elevator, and wait for people to get off. Several times now I've watched a group of people stand there and watch it arrive. There is a bit of a complicated dance that happens around elevators. People have to decide who gets in first. Sometimes this appears to be difficult. One guy walked in first, and only then apparently remembered his manners. He stood in the door, holding it open, gesturing people to go in. Past his fat and sweaty body. It's probably the closest he ever gets to the opposite sex.

That last one reminded me of the time a guy got fascinated with the elevator TV. Which, mercifully enough, my current building does not have. He was so fascinated that when the door opened on the ground floor, he stood in the doorway, mouth agape, looking almost straight up to watch the end of the segment. I was tempted to push him into next week, or the opposite bank of elevators, whichever happened first.

Such people are the surest proof of guardian angels that I know of. I do not understand how people who fail to cope with such benign technologies as revolving doors and elevators can manage much more dangerous items, such as kitchen knives, crosswalk signals, or the clear glass railings that are in vogue now.

North American cities are just about the safest places that have ever existed for humans to live. There are no predators ready to pounce and drag us off to be eaten. Aside from a few idiots who do not immunize their children, most disease is under control. There are people, at least there are this week, the Harper government is likely to fire them next week, that are paid to ensure our food is safe to eat, that the elevator will come down at a controlled rate of speed, that the crosswalk lights are synchronized to the traffic lights, that buildings and almost every other manufactured item are made in accordance with established safety standards. Unless it's from China, where who knows what's in that paint, or powdered milk. In the unlikely event that something bad happens to you, there are teams of highly trained people waiting to spring into action using specialized tools to rescue you and take you to a place where you can be treated and recover. Unless you are so unfortunate to catch a disease created by the cousins of those anti-immunization idiots.

The biggest dangers we face are not the various parts of the world around us, it's our responses to the world. Eating too much crappy food. Not getting enough exercise. Doing stupid things like inhaling carcinogens or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of narcotics. These are stupid things to do that happen to be under our control.

The problem is that stupidity used to be a capital crime. Until recently, the world had numberless ways of killing or maiming those who were stupid, those who weren't paying attention, or those who were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It sounds callous, but there is a reason, a great many reasons why the phrase, "think of it as evolution in action" got to be popular.

Now many people wander around in a fog, narcotized by the television telling them they are special and deserve the good life whether they do or not. They don't really understand the world around them, but trust that nothing bad will happen to them no matter what. Then when it does because they defeated the safety interlock on the power tool, or removed the guard protecting them from moving parts, or tried parkour without training, or crawled under a car held up only by a flimsy jack, or any of a multitude of stupid things, they snivel that it's not their fault. Then they find a lawyer who takes some company to court. Which makes the products even more expensive.

One of the phrases I hear a lot lately that raises my blood pressure is, "we don't want this to ever happen to anyone else," or close variations of it. As if this is the only time in the whole history of mankind this has happened to someone, and it's so bad that it can't ever be allowed to happen again. It's a narcissistic view of the world. One that says we're only doing this for other people, and the huge sum of money if we win has nothing to do with it. Or that we're such good people how can anything so bad have happened to us and it must be someone else's fault. Or it's a tool to get their 15 minutes of fame they think they deserve.

As you might guess, most humans don't much impress me one way or the other. They do their thing, I do mine, and the world keeps spinning. Then there the ones I mentioned earlier. The ones in court suing someone because they got hurt doing something stupid. The ones who can't manage their lives in the society that makes it the easiest that it's ever been to do so. The ones who make no effort to understand the rules our society is based on, and even worse, who denigrate the people who DO understand and apply the rules to create say, the iPhone. The ones who ski out of bounds, without telling anyone where they are going, without taking suitable clothing, food, and emergency supplies, and then wonder why one of them dies. Last I heard they were suing some organization for not telling them there might be an avalanche, and for not finding them sooner. Life is too good for such people.

I feel much better now. Some photos, just because.

When its cloudy the skies can be very dramatic. This was last week. Even though this is tweaked slightly, it's still not as bright as when I first saw it. By the time I got the phone the light had changed.

We are such good servants. The cats sent us on an errand.

Here is the result of the errand.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I think I left motivation on the bike course

This has been an odd week. I haven't been out for a run or a bike ride since the race, and only been in the pool once. Last night was nice enough to ride, but I didn't. I actually had a nap after work, which is something I don't do much. Yes, it's busy at work, but not THAT busy. It could be getting used to a new prescription in my glasses, but that wouldn't affect anything other than my eyes. I've decided I can be a slacker till the weekend then I'll get back at it.

People think of downtown Calgary as a bunch of glass towers. There are lots of them, true, but there are still lots of older buildings. Here's the view from an office in my building. I like the different textures of brick and stone, and the juxtaposition of the older buildings surrounded by the newer ones. There are two rooftop patios in view.

The Bay building opened in August 1913, and at 6 stories was the tallest building in Calgary.

There is a rant brewing about revolving doors.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

hard to be motivated though cat pics help

There was the pool this morning. I was in it. But I wasn't feeling the pool love, even though it wasn't really that bad. It took 500 m to get warmed up and even then I could tell my water feel wasn't there. Slow. Did some intervals just for a giggle, and was actually a bit surprised. 10 x 50 in under 50 seconds, on 1 minute. The first was 46 seconds, working harder than I thought I should be. So was the second. By the third I was down to 49 seconds and I was feeling oddly out of breath. I figured I'd be over 50 seconds and pooped on 4. Nope. Not on 5 or 6 either. Still 48 or 49 seconds. Pressed on, and even though I was breathing pretty hard during the break, I kept making my intervals. Yay me!

Swam some back stroke and a bit of drill to cool down. 30 minutes. Then some stretching in the dive tank, till I was grossed out by a story the guy on the radio was telling, about someone trimming their fingernails in the coffee shop line up. I couldn't take it and bailed out. Chatted with my buddy Katie briefly at the other end of the pool.

I feel fine in the aftermath of Chinook, but I'm just tired. I was thinking about going for a run tonight, but the rain and heavy legs talked me out of it. I'm sure I'll get back on the training bandwagon again, any day now. As soon as it stops raining. And warms up. Yeah, for sure.
In the end, I was a cat bed for a while, working to comb Curtis and help get his fur back into good shape. He is easily spooked by video content on the iPad. The cats are happy to share one lap, and seem comfortable climbing over each other, doing the butt sniff thing, and they are starting to groom each other.

It's hard to get a good picture of them but Curtis has really pretty amber gold eyes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A surprise guest and chinook followup

Oddly enough I found it hard to get to sleep last night. I was so tired I couldn't get comfortable and thrashed around a while. Then I was up early to cuddle cats and snooze in my chair a bit. Then I napped again once Linda got up.

I feel pretty good today. Nothing really hurts, though I'm not keen on doing stairs two at a time or anything. They posted the formal results. I was indeed last in my age group, but not last overall. Here's the string of result data, if you care to read it. All the results are here, if you have a buddy that you want to look up. Note that all transition times are included in the bike leg.

  Pos     Time    Name                  City, Country      Plc/Total Category   #       Plc  Time  /100m   Plc  Time   km/hr    Plc   Time    km

69     7:17:03 Keith Cartmell                           10/10  Men 50-59    40       34   41:25  2:05     68 3:38:33 26.4     69 2:57:07  8:27 

That isn't the easiest thing in the world to read is it?

The big exercise was mowing and weed whacking the lawn. I was ready for another nap after that. Linda had marinated a wonderful rack of lamb so I barbecued that and we had an early supper.

Then our surprise guest came. He's grown more!

We went for a walk with him down to Fish Creek. That did me good, though now I'm tired again. Somehow I don't think I'm going to go for a swim tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chinook Race fun

At last! I'm a bit faster, but not especially so, but that's not what's important. My last two tries at this race were pretty horrible days. The first one was my very first triathlon, so I expected it to hurt, and was not disappointed. Still I was, and am, pleased about the result. Finishing. That is what was important to me, and I've always been grateful for Kelly encouraging me along.

Then 2009 was a horror show. I don't want to talk about it. My goal for today was to have a nice day. Faster was nice, but enjoying the race was more important. My training has been a bit erratic so I wasn't expecting a huge improvement.

The centre of the lake was cold. Very cold. Linda says one guy came back to the beach in a boat, no idea why. I just relaxed and swam along. Turns out I was a bit wide on the first lap, and the second was a bit faster. Passed several people. Got kicked in the belly once. Who does breast stroke just before the first buoy? I felt a few twinges in both calves and resolved to be careful standing up, but they didn't bother me.

I took my time in transition by not trying to run to my bike, and was out on the bike exactly when I thought I would be. It was cloudy and a cool, with tiny little spats of rain. I felt strong on the bike right from the beginning. Most races (who am I kidding, ALL races) I got passed a lot early on, and the passers zoom out of sight and over the horizon very quickly. Almost everybody that did pass slowly pulled away. There was a fairly steady cross wind from the south. It was cold. My left hand was numb most of the ride. There's a trick some people can do on the bike, and about 10 K into the ride the need became urgent. I'm now one of the people that can, though it takes a bit of doing.

Turnaround on this road is always nice, and it was this time. I got a bit warmer for a while, then got back into the wind again. A few more people slowly passed me on the way back. There was one moment of panic where a frustrated driver blew past a bunch of other cars, and a cop in the intersection, while driving on the shoulder, and nearly hit me. He was maybe 6 feet behind me. My heart went pitter patter for a little while after that one. I got off the bike in 3:30 or so, almost exactly where I thought I'd be with my current fitness level. My times are a bit messed up there, my bike time is shorter, and the transition a bit longer. I'm really happy with my ride.

And then the run. I struggle with the run. As some of you have surmised, I am not a natural runner. Today's "run" was a very interesting experience. As soon as I started I knew my legs didn't mind running. The problem was my heart rate and lungs. The sun had come out and it was pretty warm. After about a Km of hoping things would settle down I realized I was heading for a problem, and changed plans. I walked briskly to get things back under control, keeping track of how I felt. Then I ran again. It took about 5 K to settle into where I was running more than walking. My legs wanted to run. My GI system was also working hard. I've never passed so much gas during a race. The more I passed the better I felt.

It cooled down at the start of loop 2, and I felt pretty good running for quite a ways, then the sun came out again. I nibbled pretzels. Then down in the great plain of Fish Creek I realized the last run hadn't lasted very long, and I was breathing really hard while just walking. My legs were getting tired. They didn't like the slow run. I walked much of the last 4 K. I wanted to run into the finish line, but my calves started cramping so I had to walk a bit. Still, I think I was running for the finish picture.

Even though I was walking lots, I was still feeling good. It wasn't a death march by any means. I was enjoying the scenery, both the kinds that live in the park, and the kind that just visits. There wasn't much company during the last lap but I didn't mind. I chugged along, knowing it was the smart thing to do. 7:17:xx finish time. They were packing things up, so I might be the last finisher. So what?

All the protein food was gone but Linda scrounged me some rice stuff that was pretty good. I'm going to have to either do shorter races, or get faster if I want food at the finish line. Here's a pic of me wearing the finisher gear. No medal this time!

Yes a white cowboy hat and a lime green finisher shirt. I will have to wear it if I ever do a race in San Diego. I will fit in with a particular running herd. For years I didn't have a cowboy hat, even though I live in Calgary. Last year I broke down and bought one. Now I have two.

Interesting fact of the day. Even after drinking about 3 litres of fluid throughout the day, I lost 2.5 pounds on the day.

What follows is technical stuff of interest to very few people. But then, what do I know? Julie loves it when I talk numbers. She has a guilty fascination or something. I have many engineer readers, and numbers often fascinate them. There are times I think triathlon coaches can't help but look at results numbers and think about what needs to be done in terms of plan.
Chinook has some slightly odd distances for a half.
2K swim, 2 laps in a lake.
96 K bike, pure out and back, quite hilly by most people's standards.
21.1 K run, 2 laps in Fish Creek.

So here goes a comparison to the last times I did this. These are my watch times, rounded slightly.

38:39 out of the lake ........................38:53...................41:30
43:55 out of T1 (5:16).......................43:28 (4:35)............45:50 (4:17)
4:29 into T2 (3:46:xx).......................4:19 (3:35:43)..........4:18:30 (3:32:30)
4:31 out of T2 (2:36).........................4:21 (2:24).............. 4:19:50 (1:27)
7:37 finish (3:04)...............................7:25 (3:04).............7:17:x (2:57:40)

Swim was intentionally slower, bike was slightly faster, and the run slightly faster. My transitions are getting better too. I can't remember what I used to be doing.

I'm not in the shape I'd like to be. Recovering from IMC 2010 took a long time, and letting my knee recover took most of 2011. Plus, I was feeling allergic to a plan. I'm trying to be better about work life balance, and I didn't want to be doing a workout because it was on the plan, if I wasn't feeling up for it. I blew off a few where I was thinking I'd go if it was on the plan, but I'd rather do something else. Plus the weather has been crap for outdoor rides.

I wanted to find out where I'd be if I followed my own schedule, and now I know. A little bit faster, mainly because of a better cardio base and more experience. Feeling much MUCH better after the race, even though it's a bit faster.

What are my learnings here?:

  • I didn't do enough bricks this year. My run off the bike is feeling very rusty.
  • My overall cardio still needs a bit of work.
  • The bike is coming along. I felt knackered after the 2009 bike, and felt strong after today's bike.
  • I really need to work on my run. Which is not a surprise.

I'm signed up for the 70.3 in 6 weeks. That isn't enough time to change my base, but I can work on the run, and especially brick runs. Then after that race, I might sit down with a coach. I don't want a weekly plan, I'm pretty sure of that. I'd be looking more for guidelines about volume, and kinds of work to build the volume.

Friday, June 15, 2012

13 accordions and other stuff including a mini rant

Lots of stuff on the go, but no bullet points. I tweaked the comments section so there is different stuff there, and some more options. I'm not even fully sure of what all is there, but I'm hoping people leave comments, and comments on comments, and try out the discussion section if there's something you'd like to discuss. And I'm sorry Leana, your comment got eaten. I'll try to fix it.

It's just after the mandatory pre-race meeting, and I've got a bit of a bone to pick. Keep in mind that I think Mike Bock does a great job of organizing the various Chinook races. There is an amazing amount of work that goes into putting on a race like this, and I'm glad he does it and not me. It's all round a good race experience.

My bone is the pre race briefing, going over the rules and such. That information can all be made available on the race website. Much of it doesn't change from year to year. If you're going to go to the trouble of having a projector and laptop there, use it. There were 3 slides, with at least another 2 that were needed and not available. It would be a great idea to have it showing race photos from previous years as a slide show while other activities were happening.

If it's going to be a mandatory meeting, then by golly make it mandatory. Stamp the hand of people as they leave, and they can't race the next day without that stamp. The briefing is to tell us stuff. Tell us. That. Stuff. Nothing else. You aren't there to amuse us.

If the information is on the web, then tell people they only have to come to the race meeting if they have questions or want the meal. Asking a question that is already answered by on line materials is a 2 minute penalty. Before you get into transition in the morning, each racer is asked a question covered by that material. Failure to answer correctly is another 2 minute penalty and on the spot humiliation by bullhorn.

But all that is just me. Everybody else loved it, and was hanging on every word. There was total silence in the room while he was talking. Not. Grrrr. At least he didn't do a powerpoint presentation. Thank you for small mercies and all. Plus it was fun meeting up with one Deb, but I didn't see the other Deb I was expecting.

I'm all packed for the race. I think. The wine is clear and ready to bottle. Sunday for sure, if I'm up to it after the race.

Celina and Curtis continue to settle in well. They are actually licking each other a little bit, and settle into the same lap, at least for a while. Curtis is still a bit spooked by outside noises.

I've taken some photos during my lunch stroll, but haven't had time to post them.

Here's another view of a famous Calgary building. Yes, it's right side up.

Here's the inside of the pedestrian mall from the +45 level. The new Devonian gardens will be down at the far end.

The oldest steps in Calgary are being refurbished. This is the front door to the Palliser Hotel. I think putting a polished marble beside stairs, where it will get wet, isn't the smartest idea in the world.

Until a few days ago, I suspect that I could have counted all the accordions I had ever seen in my life on the fingers of one hand, two at most. Here is an ensemble with 13 of them. It was hard to count so I might have been off by a few.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back in cat servitude

Meet Curtis and Celina. Curtis is the orange tabby. It was a quiet ride home. I've never heard so few complaints from a cat in a travel container. They got along right from opening the cages. Sniffed, with no hissing or paw waving. Celina explored right away and made herself totally at home. Curtis hid away for a little bit but then came out and explored.

Both like being combed. Celina's fur is very plush and in great shape. MEOW Foundation cut some knots out of Curtis, and his fur is a bit dusty and greasy feeling, but I'm sure it will come around with regular combing. They both demonstrated they knew where the litter boxes are, and how to use them.

So far so good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I am 40

I nearly fell asleep several times in yoga class. We were doing lots of stuff on our backs, and I was tired. From something she said at the beginning of class, I was singing this to myself.

The knee police, she lives inside of my pose
The knee police, she looks up from my toes
The knee police, she watches during tree

She knows that talk is free, and we'll cheat if we can
And when we do some poses I don't think I'll survive the class, the class

Cause she's waiting for me
Cause she's looking at me
Every single pose all night
Those watchers of my pose

(with apologies to Cheap Trick)

I picked up the swag bag for Chinook. The hard part was getting the ATA card. I found the page all right on my phone, but every time I tried to type something, the keyboard slid down. I've never seen that happen before. It was infuriating. Eventually the volunteers took pity on me and let me borrow the laptop. Here's the stuff.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

nervous or blase?

My plan was to do a core workout tonight but I didn't. There was a bit of scurrying around the house, and although I didn't eat a big supper, it seemed to sit heavy. I didn't think that would make for a good core workout. In other words, I was a lazy slacker.

Chinook half iron is this coming weekend. I did it in 2008 and 2009, and neither was what you'd call a good day. I finished, and for 2008 that was just about the only goal. For 2009 I'd hoped to improve, and I didn't. Then 2010 I was doing IMC and the timing wasn't right. 2011 I was still helping my knee heal up. Now here we are at 2012.

I don't feel as ready as I'd like to be, but then, I haven't been as single minded about training as I was earlier. Even so, the workouts have gone fairly well. It has been wonderful to have consistently strong bike sessions, verified by wattage output readings that gradually got better and better. The change I've really noticed on outdoor rides is that I feel stronger on the hills, and I recover faster from them. I'm not really running much faster, but it seems to be taking less effort. The little Oly trial I did on the May long weekend gave me lots of confidence.

Still, I've learned to respect the Chinook course, especially the bike leg. Going 47 K into the teeth of a stiff wind can really take it out of you. While it's nice to be faster, and really nice to be lots faster, my goal is really to have a good solid effort day while having fun. In another sense, this working for a living is getting in the way of some of the house projects, and I can't help but think that I could spend Saturday doing things on my list. Heresy, I know.

As always, it's a struggle to keep the balance between maintaining and even improving my fitness, and not letting it consume my life. When I was being coach, I just did what I was told, as best I could. Obedient, that's me. Now I think about each workout, sometimes not knowing what I'm going to do until after I've started, or even wondering if I'm going to do it or something else.

On days like this it's easy to get out of the office at lunch time. I'm trying to make it a habit. Something I think I'd like to try is to get at least one photo of a building, or an event, or some juxtaposition that interests me. It might just be playing with a filter trying for a specific effect. Both these pics of iconic Calgary buildings have been tweaked slightly in Snapseed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Outside and nice!

Sunday was cool and almost raining all day long. I was a complete and total slug. I barely got out of my chair all day long. Only for coffee, food, or to go to the bathroom. It was nice.

Swam Monday. Only a half hour, just trying to maintain water feel. There was a moment of being totally gobsmacked at one point, just after I started. My first 100 was about 1:47, nice and relaxed. I was just catching up to the girl in the next lane, who was doing a kick drill. Whatever that kick is called for breast stroke that is so brutal on knees. Her flip turn is about twice the speed of mine. I was gradually catching up, but never quite did, and we turned at the other end of the pool. Then she pulled away. Still doing the kick drill. A 1:47 per 100 is a pretty brisk pace for me in a 50 m pool so I had slowed a bit. I was very impressed. I'm reasonably sure that I simply couldn't do 50 m of that kick at all.

The rest of my swim was pretty good. There were some laps where I felt slow, and the clock said I was fast, and one very much vice versa. I was wondering if someone had played with the clock.

The evening was so nice I scurried around to get stuff done, and then went out for a bike ride. It's been so long! We've had a crappy June so far when it comes to bike rides, but good if you're a duck. I was out to the Priddis volunteer fire station and back, almost exactly 50 K in 1:48, for an average speed of 27.8 Kph. But that doesn't tell the story. Getting there took 1:03 working hard, and coming back took 45 minutes, spinning easy. Needless to say, the trip back was fun.

It felt great being on Estela again, and on such a nice evening. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice too, but I wasn't counting on it. Then the rest of the week is rainy, including Saturday, forecast with a 30% chance of rain and high of 16 C. That's a bit on the cool side for a race, since it will be even cooler in the morning and in the mountains. I might have to think about layers, which I hate doing.

Our cat masters are tentatively scheduled to arrive on Thursday.

Just to amuse you, here's what the storm that passed just south of here looked like after being tweaked just a bit in Snapseed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How are your wine eyes?

The weather here lately is not giving the bike love. At least not when I've been able to ride. I think I've been on my bike once since the May long weekend. Even though the forecast was not good, the sun was shining when I got up this morning. Lots of clouds when I looked out. When I went out I could see my breath on the air. Not a good sign for wanting to ride. While eating a bit of breakfast and slurping coffee I noticed a couple runners go by. That seemed like a great idea, to get a run done while it at least wasn't raining.

I was dressed and off fairly quickly. Once I got going it wasn't so cold. At the bottom of 24 St in the Fish Creek parking lot there was a huge herd of people milling around. Then just after I turned around I saw this mob heading for me. At first I searched my conscience to see what I had done to enrage so many people, but there were no pitchforks or burning torches. Just about 50 people coincidently out for a morning run. With a bike leader, and a herder/encourager in the rear. No idea what that was all about.

The run went pretty well, with a short period where I was channeling SUAR. At least Fish Creek has bathrooms, if you know where to look. I was back in almost exactly the time it took to go out, once I accounted for the involuntary seated rest. It was all at a nice steady pace, not working too hard. It rained just a little on the way back.

We were out at the Kingsland Farmer's Market to pick up a few things, and there were two food trucks there. The first, with the big lineup, was the Naaco truck. It's neo-retro Indian food. I love Indian food, but I have no idea what this means. Since we didn't want to stand in line, and Linda felt like yam fries, we went over to this one. What's funny is that seconds after he told us our order would be up in a few minutes, he waved at someone, and put some clamshells on the counter. Linda tried to take them. The guy they belonged to was looking at her with the most peculiar expression.

So here is one of the white wines I'm doing, the lighter one. This is before racking. The light is one of those little carbide wind up lights with 3 really bright LED lenses.

Can you see the difference? The second one is after racking. My eye can see a bit of haze in the carboy, so I'm going to let it sit and see if it settles out. These two wines have taken forever. Good thing I'm not in a rush.

The next pair is a darker white, almost an amber colour. Same situation, before and after racking. Oddly enough, even though it's much darker, there was much less sediment at the bottom, and it looks clearer. I'm still going to give it until tomorrow at least and see what it looks like. Bottling cloudy wine is a waste of time and wine.

This is a bit of an experiment. The movies I've put up so far have been on youtube. This one is trying a different system to see if its easier or what. This is a cloud time lapse, showing these neat bands of clouds rolling across the sky. I'd appreciate any feedback about how long it took before you could watch the movie, or if you had any problems. Not sure if it's going to give me a thumbnail. Click here, and you should get a movie. Hmm, it took a long time to upload, and seems to be taking a while to download. That's not so good.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Second round of cat interviews

Today was beautiful out. I should have played hooky from work and gone for a bike ride all day. However there was this little matter of a spreadsheet I've been working on for a week and was to present my findings to a team of data stewards. Plus meet with the Chief Inspector to go over the parts of the spreadsheet of interest to him. Busy.

In between these meetings I was out for my first lunchtime run from work in a while. At Talisman I only ran at lunchtime once, I think, as part of a 5K United Way thing. Penn West has a nice locker room and shower facilities so I took advantage.

The tough part was getting stuff out of my swim bag that I would need. You know, shampoo, comb, that sort of stuff, and get it all into the pack that I use to tote lunch and a few other things back and forth. I forgot my lock, but there was no need. Even though I was there on the dot of noon, and got back shortly after 1, I had the place to myself.

Normally downtown people run north to the Bow River path and join the herd. I do mean herd. The bike path is easily the width of a two lane road, and at lunch time it's full. It's a very nice run along that river, but I didn't feel like such a crowd. I ran south about the same distance to get on the Elbow path near the Talisman Centre, and ran down to where Stanley Park begins. I wanted to keep going. It was so nice, warm and sunny. Good scenery. It started off a bit clunky and gradually got better. My left knee was feeling a bit wonky towards the end.

I didn't do anything special, just ran easy for 45 minutes, keeping it aerobic. I got further than I thought I would. What I might do one day is run home from work. All I'd need to do is bring an extra change of clothes, and make sure I don't forget my card key so I can get back into the building the next morning.

I know most of you are waiting for me to talk about cats. Some of you know that Amelia is off to the catnip fields. The time has come to get another pair of cats to run the house. We visited MEOW foundation on Tuesday to get some first impressions and see if anyone was interested in us. There were several possibilities. We checked them out on the website, and talked to one of the staff. We narrowed the choice down to several, which is very hard, and went tonight to visit them a bit longer. One needs a vet visit to look at teeth and make sure followup from the spaying operation is all ok. We could have taken the other tonight, but we decided to hold off till we can take them both at once. That way the first kitty doesn't grab all the good stuff. Hopefully that will make it easier for them to get used to each other. We should know next week when we can bring them home.

Being interviewed by cats is very stressful, especially when you aren't totally sure how well socialized the cat is. Some are spooked by humans and run if you get too close. Some come right up and want attention. Some just lay there and look at you. I guess it's hard for them, because they see so many people go by. After a while they must get tired of the parade.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blog bullets

  • Swim, excellent!
  • Yoga, quite good.
  • Many cats. Choices are hard.
  • Working hard.
  • Woken up by really hard rain, high wind, wanting to photo hail if it happened. Not.
  • Running short on sleep.
  • Not running much otherwise. Some guilt there.
  • Feeling wine bottling guilt.
  • Getting the ironing groove back.
  • Mind blown by TED talk. (Google Juan Enriques - Will our kids be a different species? Very well worth your time!)
  • Ran cousin photo through Snapseed. Thinking about family.
  • Stampede prep happening, coworkers talking boots, and this:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A sanguinary evening

After the weekend swim meet at Talisman, I was left with slow, old, tired, and worn out water first thing on Monday. So it made for a slow swim. I didn't feel bad or anything, but the clock said I was slow. Oh well. Swam 45 minutes.

And look what came in the mail! Two sanguinary things. I recently ticked over 50 donations to the Red Cross. I hadn't realized they gave you a new donor card. I wonder if I can make it to 100 and see what comes then. And Sookie! Though I must say I don't like the cover photo especially. I'm now trying to remember how season 3 ended. Heresy though it might be, Jessica and Pam are my favourite characters. Hope there is more of them.

In other news monsoon season has started. I think I'll be back on the bike trainer tonight. Sigh. Here's a couple photos of the clouds rolling in, and maybe later I'll post a time lapse of them.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

6 cousins in 24 hours or so

I was all excited to meet my office roomie on Friday, and then it turns out not till Monday. In any case I had been into the pool. That's the first time I've swum in the competition pool when it was set up for a competition. The yellow timing mats on the wall kind of threw me off a bit. They look further away than they are, and then they are too close, which messed up some of my turns. Swam 45 minutes. The kids were warming up as I was swimming. I cannot get over how fast they are. It doesn't look like they are doing much different in the water, but they zoom by!

There was a bit of dithering when I got home. Run or mow and trim the lawn? Run or mow? In the end the lawn won out. I really must get the blades sharpened and and the cutter bar properly set. One of the helical blades is way out, which makes things very difficult.

Saturday morning we were up and off to the airport fairly early. Some of you know that the only immediate family either of us have here is one cousin each. Lee is busy working all the time. Terry has been living here even longer than Linda and we try to get together a couple times a year. There are some more distant relatives here, or near here, but I've lost touch with them again. I don't really think of myself as a family oriented person, but it's nice to be reminded that there are people that think you are family.

A little while ago one of my youngest cousins had a child. S lives in Montreal. I was pleased and a bit surprised to be invited to a party where she was coming back to BC to visit her mom and show off toddler C. (This is not the first visit.) Lots of cousins and relatives from her mom's side of the family were there, but one as well from her dad's side (which is how she is my cousin).

At first I thought, I'd have to fly out just for the weekend, and then I thought, I don't care. I want to go. I'll never again have a chance to see C being a small child in person, and she might well be full grown before I meet her again. Plus, I have a ton of cousins on both sides of my family in the Chilliwack area. Turns out my aunt lives only a few miles from where my dad's side of the family farmed though we didn't go that way. Even though I'm told my aunt and I were childhood friends, I don't really remember it; I was preschool, after all. I only ran into her on some of my rare visits.

My memories of the Fraser Valley is that it was primarily a farming community, cattle and mixed farms. Now it's strictly crops, I don't think I saw a cow all weekend. There is so little farming now there is an actual road sign saying "Respect farm vehicles." My memories are that if you saw a non-farm vehicle it was people going to church. Times change. I did see a couple guys on nice road bikes though.

In fact, S took me to where our mutual grandparents farmed. She knows where it is, but doesn't really remember it as a working farm. There is nothing there now. Nothing at all, none of of the buildings or trees or anything. However, Google maps is behind the times. You can see the barn, and the small building just the left of it is the original dairy. There is a tiny square just at the bottom of the barn where the more modern dairy was. Just above the barn is the driving shed. Sort of at the top left side of a small square using the old dairy, the barn, and the driving shed, was a small storage shed. In the photo it's a small black sqare. You can't even see the scar where the house was, a bit to the left of the storage shed, or some pear trees near it. It was a very, very small house, with no basement, so I'm not surprised there is no trace of where it was. At the top left of the image is a house surrounded by trees and a garden. That isn't there anymore either. I remember another house there that was damaged in a miscalculation with dynamite. I think it was in the field at the top of the image.

S was nice enough to leave her child in the hands of people corrupt enough to feed candy to a baby and pick us up at the airport. There were several prominent warnings on Facebook about such an eventuality but I don't know how it turned out. She didn't seem too wired. We got there well before the show started, and I got to have some quiet time with my cousins S and A, and their mom D. And toddler C, of course, who is an adorable child. She has light blue eyes, blond hair and fair skin. She has the most oddly intense eyes, and a very serious way of looking at the world. Here she is, on the run.

Here's mom S and sister A. That's a cousin of theirs, but not mine off to the right.

And all of my cousins at the party in one shot. I was only on the way home when I realized that we didn't get one of me, V, J, and R. Oh well.

I had never got to spend much time with these guys and it was nice to do so. My cousin V was coming back from a trip out of town and showed up a bit later. She is the one I know best of all my cousins and it was so nice to chat with her and her husband. We are of similar ages, and I think are quite alike in some ways. 

The pot luck food was all excellent, and I don't know what was in the burgers but they were tres yummy! I ate lots. Training be damned. We stayed till it was time to go, and then chatted yet a while longer with V after we got to her place. 

Next morning her brother J and sister R showed up for breakfast. I haven't met J since we were maybe early teens at oldest, but we got back in touch through Facebook. I used to work with R, briefly, when we both lived in the same small town, and have run into her occasionally on trips. We've at least met as adults. We had a nice breakfast and just chatted for a while, then went out and watched an excavator knock some trees down for some work about to happen on V's property. Exciting times!

Back in Abbotsford airport we found this water clock. Fascinating. I love that sort of stuff. I would have liked to watch it a bit more, but we had a plane to catch.

All in all, I'm really pleased by this weekend. It wasn't that expensive, really, especially since my obliging cousins could do airport driving so there was no car rental. I got a chance to see family I haven't seen for a while. Every time I do this I enjoy myself, and I hope the people I visited enjoy the visit as well. We say we shouldn't wait so long, and especially not have to wait for a wedding or funeral. I'm tentatively planning a trip next year. Maybe out to do a race, then hang out for a week after. V has two other siblings that need visiting. One lives where they shot The Beachcombers, so it's just a little bit scenic. For the non-Canadians, you'll have to IMDB it, I couldn't begin to explain. I have a bunch of Cartmell cousins I haven't seen for a while either, and I'm overdue for a visit there. Soon guys, soon. I hope.

And friends. In fact, I heard from one of them already. I quote "You were here and didn't say hi??? :-(" Yeah, lay on the guilt. I wasn't quite "there", though I admit it's as close as I've been in a while.