Friday, August 31, 2012

Supervised by a cat

A bit of a grab bag for you all this morning. This afternoon now, I got distracted in the middle of writing.

Swam on Thursday morning. It's amazing how much better that goes when your back and shoulder muscles are not a solid block of unhappiness. Earlier in the week a 96 second 100 m was all out.  Now that time is a relaxed strong but nowhere near all out effort. The water feel is back.

Today I got pointed to Runmeter as a way of tracking run information. It was only $3 so I downloaded it to give it a try. I'm pretty pleased. Here's the map and info it emailed to me after the run. In fact, it was waiting for me when I got home. As near as I can tell, the only downside is that I have to carry my phone to make it work. Most of my run gear does not have a pocket that big, or snug enough for the weight of an iPhone. Then there is the sweat issue. Hmmm.

This was just to get out and run and see how the app worked out. Not too far, not trying to be fast, just to see where I was. I'm actually a bit surprised it was as fast as it was. The run felt pretty good, and for the first time in a while my cardio was limiting things. My legs didn't mind running at all, and could have run faster I think. They felt pretty good throughout, and the shoes are so far so good. There's even another graph I found in the app when I was poking around.

No, I don't plan to inflict these numbers and graphs on you every time. I'll label them so you can avoid them if you want. That will let my buddy Julie find them easy, because I know she lives for numbers about athletic performance.

During my stretching after the run I was supervised. Before this he had shown me what an inadequate stretcher I am, and how inflexible. Yeah Curtis, this is not news. Sorry for the poor pic quality, it's from the iPad.

My buddy Jayne posted a photo of book titles making up a poem a little while ago. While out for a lunch time walk I saw the book exchange, and decided to try to make a poem out of whatever was there. It is what it is.

I'm very popular with the Federal Government today. At least they aren't asking for money.

I have already got a few things scratched off my list of things to do. My first attempt at a time lapse photo of the almost full moon rising was foiled by the cats knocking over the phone. Tonight I'm going to use the bike stand as a mount for the camera. Let them knock THAT over. Maybe I should wash that window first.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New shoes and unrelated, a rant

There, it's been 10 months since I last bought shoes, and I've done it again. Asics Kayano 17, whatever that means. They made my feet happy when I put them on and I even got them on sale. No speed laces yet though. I suppose since I don't have any races scheduled I can live with that, though I've come to like just sliding on my shoes.

Tonight I was downstairs for a good stretching and core workout. Four very slow, very perfect pushups. Plank. Lots of other stuff.

Canadian Senate.

Hello? Is anyone still awake? The only thing that puts Canadians to sleep faster is to say "Constitutional Amendment".

Poor Joyce Fairbairn. She's been a long time senator, and has served with distinction, or as much distinction as one can serve with being a senator. Nothing I have to say should be taken as reflecting on her.

Firstly, for my American friends, Canadian senators are not elected. They are appointed by the Prime Minister. Of course it's a patronage appointment. It's one of the strongest clubs the PM has to keep his caucus in line. Do what he wants and you might become a senator. It's the very best, gold plated, platinum inlayed, diamond crusted cushy retirement plan there is in Canada. You need not do anything, you need not even attend the few meetings they have, you need not even be in the country, and you still get paid very, very handsomely. The base pay is $132 K and there are perks and additional pay possible.

Back to Ms. Fairbairn. Back in February of this year she was diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, and by April she was declared mentally incompetent. Since then she has voted 12 times on senate bills and approved $85 K in expenses.

Let's just think about that, shall we? By being declared incompetent, she would be unable to act on her own behalf in any material transaction. She couldn't buy or sell property, couldn't revise her own will, presumably couldn't vote in an election, and to be honest I'm not sure what other restrictions such a person would face. Yet she could, and did vote in the senate. For months.

It's not like it was a secret. The declaration process is outlined in law, and there are reviews and safeguards. It turns out that one of the people acting for her is an official of the Liberal Party and himself in the senate.

The senate has long been known as the home of party hacks finally getting their rewards. They do what they're told. It has nothing to do with being a "house of second thought" on bills. If the senate majority is the same party as the government, they rubber-stamp the laws. If of the opposite party they try to delay them.

By allowing a mentally incompetent senator to vote they have clearly demonstrated just how irrelevant the senate is. They brought a sick woman to work and she did what she was told. They say they had no doubt she knew what she was doing. Bullshit. It takes a lot to get someone declared mentally incompetent. Being a bit dotty or forgetful doesn't cut it.

Now she is on sick leave till her mandatory retirement date of November 2014. Sick leave? One doesn't recover from Alzheimer's. It's not about saving money, since her retirement pay will be similar to her current salary; she's been a senator for a long time. It's the idea of it. She is ill, she can't do the job, she should have been retired gracefully when the symptoms became obvious.

Instead, someone is playing games. It's particularly disgraceful that this should happen to her, since she had been outspoken on disability issues throughout her career, and had to watch her mother get the same disease.

Once again the Liberals have demonstrated why they were kicked out of office, and why they deserve to be relegated to the dustbin of Canadian history. The Liberals used to be called the Natural Governing Party of Canada, because they were in power for 69 years of the 20th century. Now they are nearly nothing and deservedly so.

What really hurts is that more than ever, the Conservatives need the opposition. They need someone to stand up and articulate what Canada is all about, and trust me, Canada is assuredly not the current Conservative values. The Harper Conservatives have gutted Canada and are continuing to do so.

The only opposition is the New Democratic Party but I am deeply suspicious of the left wing dippers. I liked Layton and admired his spirit. But I don't especially want to see a dipper Canadian government. Neither do I want to see Harper or any of his current cronies in power. The Liberals make me gag just thinking about them. What are we to do?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

followup from yesterday

Boy did Youtube ever piss me off last night. It didn't like the movie file of the fireworks I was trying to upload, and got all pissy with me. The Vimeo upload is working quite well as I type these very words thank you very much. Any luck by the time I get there I'll have video to embed. Well, that is taking longer than I thought. Not sure if I want to ante up for the plus service.

I was wondering why the video was so clear and why the photos mostly sucked. One of the guys at work suspects that the focus on the video has a chance to lock in and stay there, where with the photos it probably focused on infinity, and by the time it sees the fireworks it's too late. This is about the best of the photos.

Here's the video, about 4 minutes worth of the finale, done to live music, including singers, an orchestra, and bagpipes. I think my basic account doesn't do embedding, so there is just this link.

There was also a photo I took only because it amused me, and I've had a bit of a thing going with window washers.

I was feeling a bit creaky, but feeling very self satisfied I'd had the wit to arrange another massage only a week from the last one. I used the car2go to get from the office to her house, left it there, and Linda came to get me. When I looked at the website a little later, that car had been picked up and taken somewhere else. This is a neat service. Even if the turn by turn driving instructions would have had me turning right onto 9th Ave (NOT!) and taking the scenic route in one particular place. Not sure if I like the turn by turn instruction. At one point it got in the way of something I was listening to on the radio.

The massage was very good. Darryl, unless you find someone as good (good luck with that buddy!) you might want to reconsider. It isn't THAT far. And she gushed about how you did at IMC. The 90 minutes was great.

Oh, and I was in the pool this morning, but no water feel at all. None. So it was a bit slow and thrashy.

I realized today that my running shoes were bought last October, so they are more than 10 months old now. No idea how many K on them, but there are 2 half marathons. No wonder my feet were feeling a little tired and I got a blister on my little toe on Sunday! That's the first blister ever in these shoes. So this weekend I'm up for shoe shopping! (There, I've just given most of my readership a bit of an adrenaline rush.)

In other news I'm starting my list of things to do on the long weekend. We've scoped out plan tix, and we might be going away after Christmas. Still need to get plans flanged up, make sure the people we would like to visit, who have been very insistent we come to visit, actually, in the nicest way possible, will for sure be there. There's a bit of money math to do. Oh, not the plane tickets. It's buying the Vita-Mix after that has me worried.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Impressive fireworks

With several attempts now, I've come to the reluctant conclusion that if the iPhone takes good photos of fireworks, it's beyond my poor skills. It was an amazing show, one of the best fireworks shows I've ever seen. Yet the photos, even the best of them, are poor pale imitations of what I saw. However the video is excellent! I've tried to post it, really I did, but youtube is being pissy. It converted me to my real name rather than my blog name, which isn't a problem, I think. Can anyone suggest a web hosting service that is more friendly than Youtube? I'll try again when I've got more time.

Even with all the various cultural and food booths, and some of the food trucks, the longest line was for the mini-donuts. Gawd. Before the show. During the show, I read. And after the show. Just the thought makes me gag.

I've spent so much time pissing around with the video tonight I've run out of time to write about IMC, and the slight bit of core I did tonight.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I wore my IMC finishers shirt today

Saturday was a quiet day here. Slept in. Coffee, papers. Some errands while dodging geezers. Library to drop stuff off and pay fines. I am pretty sure I was the very youngest person in the building. There were two people talking to the two clerks. As near as I can tell they were reviewing every library transaction that ever happened to them, starting from shortly after the library in Alexandria burned down.

Then into Indigo, swamped by more geezers. I'm glad I saw that guy and his problems with parking. If I'd thought about it quicker I'd have videoed it. It took a long time, and I ended up having most of the available staff looking, but they eventually tracked down a copy of Cloud Atlas. The guy that found it for me said that inventory thing on the computer makes them crazy. They'll know it's somewhere in the store, but where? There are so many tables and end caps, and sale locations.

Then to the former geezer central, the barber shop. The one that really did it to me once has retired, and the shop now has some younger people in it. No taint. I had to take the scenic route home as a drunk driver took out a couple cars. Saturday morning at 9am and the intersection was closed for about 5 hours. This this morning as I was heading out for my run, a drunk left the road, took out a couple trees, and crashed into a garage door. That's a Sunday morning at 10. What is it?

I was grumpy that the IMC video wasn't working for the swim exit. It started working at some point during my run. Two years ago today I was doing IMC myself, and today I can't help but think about my buddies that are out there today. Hope they are all having a good day. In honour of them I wore one of my finisher shirts.

Ran an hour up to the reservoir and back. Mostly it was good, though my left side wasn't working so well. It was kind of weird, not painful, not achy, but just kind of stiff and not wanting to move. My left knee was especially bad. I took a couple of short walk breaks in the bit from 45 minutes to the hour, mainly just to move differently, and do some mobile stretches. Stretched after.

The video is on, and I'm following people. Some people are doing well, but I'm concerned that I haven't seen update data for some. Hope all is well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The butter tart photos. And others.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Semi-blissed out from the massage.

Swam Thursday, and chatted with Katie again. Worked on some 100 m intervals on 2.5 minutes, trying to be about 100 seconds. Did the last nearly all out for 94 seconds. Cool down and water running after.

I've been going to bed early this week. I think that's a good thing, but I'm perking up for the weekend. Linda was out shopping today and brought home goodies.

First up is Bankers Hall. I was trying to get the Canadian flag all visible but the wind was not cooperating. You can see the swing stage for the window cleaners.

Here's the promised butter tart pics! They are quite deep, which is hard to tell from the first photo. That's a regular dinner plate they're sitting on, and I put the berries there for scale. And for nibbling. Blackberries are just about the best thing ever. Especially this time of the year.

Linda bought only one to share, in case we didn't like it. As if. It was pretty yummy. Some butter tarts have an overwhelming sweetness to them which I don't like, but these didn't. The pastry wasn't quite as flaky as it looked, but was quite serviceable. At least it isn't the store bought shells.

Shortly after I got home a big storm rolled through, with the worst of it going to the south of us. This is what the trailing edge of it looked like. I was hoping for a rainbow, but no such luck.

Once upon a time almost 20 years ago I worked with one particular person for a little while. Then we each went our separate ways. About a week ago I thought I saw him again on the street, but I didn't get a good look, and didn't think anything more of it. Then a few days later I saw him in the +15 going from Banker's Hall to Gulf Canada, and got a good look at him. It was almost more the way he walks than seeing his face.

I almost burst out saying "Hey, I know you", but I didn't have his name to tongue. It's been almost 20 years, after all. I had a chance to think about it, and checked with a buddy I had worked with way back then to confirm his name. At that point I was confident I'd never see him again. Yet I did, and this time I got his attention by saying his name. He clearly did not remember me, but that's ok. We chatted a minute and moved on. He had retired, and was back to work for a project. That's a pretty common thing in Calgary.

It got me thinking about memory and recognizing people. I like going out for a walk at lunch. You never know who you're going to run into. Sometimes it's easy, you see someone you know quite well, and know you'll see again soon, so you just wave or nod and smile, and carry on. Or you'll see someone you know or have known fairly well, but don't see regularly anymore. That's worth stopping and chatting for a minute.

Then there is the more complicated cases, where you're positive you know them, but can't remember the circumstances or their name. That's a bit tricky. It happened to me at Talisman once. Saw a guy several times, and it took us a minute to figure out where we knew each other from. The longer it is, the harder it is. The associations fade, and people change. Then there was once a couple years ago. I was having lunch with my buddy Alan R at a now closed coffee shop. (All mourn Primal Grounds on 37 St.) A woman and her male companion walked to a table just past us, with a dog. I knew instantly I'd seen her before, and yet could not remember where or when. The dog tickled my memory too, but I'm not a dog person so that didn't mean anything. I thought about it all lunch, and it's only at the end her name came to me. In fact, I'd never met her in person before, I'd merely seen photos of her on her blog. We chatted briefly and we both went on with our lives.

The people changing part usually isn't too bad half the time. The half that's the problem is the female half. Give it a few years, and almost everything about a woman's appearance could have changed. Hair colour, style, and length. Eye colour from contacts. Her glasses. She might have lost or gained some weight. Some go and have boob jobs, some to increase, some to decrease breast size. Her height could change by several inches either way depending on her shoes, which also affects how she walks and holds herself. She could be pregnant, or have been pregnant when we met and now isn't. What she is wearing could be radically different, anything from a swimsuit or workout gear, to a formal suit, or a fancy party dress. Let's not even talk about accessories and hats. For me, an important part of remembering people is their voices and how they speak, which typically doesn't happen in a street or +15 encounter.

In short, a lot can change and our own memories and brains can betray us. We don't remember everything about a person; we do some mental shorthand, and that's why eyewitness accounts can be so unreliable. We remember the unusual and it distracts us from the ordinary. Or we remember what is important for whatever reason, and miss the unusual. There's a video of some basketball players passing some balls around and the task is to remember how many passes. Then they ask if you notice something that you'd ordinarily notice right off. And you didn't.

With another guy, it's not so bad to say, "Bill Billson, how are you?" and if it's not him, it's no big deal. It's a bit trickier for a woman. She has every reason to be a bit cautious or suspicious, wondering if she is being hit on.

How do we do this? Think of me walking up Stephen Ave at lunch time. There are dozens of people walking past me in the other direction every minute. I might be looking for people I recognize, or I might not be looking at people at all. I'm certainly not comparing each face to the great many faces that I know. Then out of all those people, something about their face, or how they walk or dress or carry themselves rings a bell in our minds. We think, "Is that Bill Billson?" or we'll know and then we decide how to react. Sometimes it's just someone that looks like a person we know.

Keep in mind the first case I mentioned. I hadn't seen him or even thought about him in 18 years or so, yet I knew right off. A random person on the street, and we'll know if we know them or not, and often we can bring their name to mind. Now think about the thousands upon thousands of other faces that go past us, and all the minor variations that are possible. How do we do that? One of the things that is fascinating about children is watching them learn out to do that and many more things besides.

I've met many people over the years by working in a variety of jobs and having a variety of interests. There are probably several hundred people I could reasonably expect to meet her in town, and maybe 1000 people or more that I've met over the years.  I've no idea really, and I'm not even a particularly impressive case. There are recruiters that carry around thousands of people in their heads. Remembering a name, some key skills, and a bit of background information is their bread and butter.

Now lets think about privacy. Most of the time we are delighted when someone recognizes us and stops to say hello. People who are being stalked are probably less pleased, and criminals are going to be very unhappy about being recognized in public. Computer scientists have been trying to teach computers to recognize faces, and they're getting better at it.

We don't mind people walking by looking at our face. (Half of us very much want the other half of us to be look at faces rather than other portions of anatomy.) Even having a cop stand there watching us go by isn't a problem, though the criminal might try to take some unobtrusive evasive action or just brazen it out. After all, the human cop is fallible. But what about a camera? A camera hooked to a computer with facial recognition software that can process many people every second. Possibly erroneously, fingering you for the bad guy. If the cops come to believe the software is always right, they might not accept a normal explanation or proof. They might dig a little deeper, push a little harder, and be delighted if they come up with something else. Who of us does not have that "something else" in their background?

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" has been going through my mind a lot lately. There is no shortage of evidence that cops can't be trusted anymore. They will lie for each other and cover up evidence or create it as necessary. They will repress anyone trying to video them at work, and the only possible reason is that they fear oversight. Our politicians are just as bad or worse. I mind the expense account scandals in UK, where moat cleaning and other expenses were charged to the tax payer. Bev Oda's orange juice and Merali's lavish meals are only a couple of more examples.

One of the promises of the internet is that it was supposed to open up a new world of information. We were supposed to be able to see what our government was doing, and take part. Well, Harper has made it just about impossible to find out what his (our) government is doing. He is essentially a dictator. As for sharing information, it's out there, but it's drowning in funny cat videos or celebrity boobs. Those are all very well in their place, but there's more serious work at hand. Somehow we have to get on top of this internet thing to learn how to share the things we want to share, and not rape our privacy while we're at it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pummeled so good

Yesterday was a stretch and relax day. I was a bit more creaky after my short bike and run than I was happy with, so I did a good stretch session. And went to bed early.

Tuesday I was for my swim and just at the finish my buddy Katie was in for her water run. I saw about 750 m then a bunch of dolphin and pull. The one 100 m trial trying to be strong but not all out was good till the 75 m point and I think I really slowed down the last 25 m. Still, 93 seconds. That tells me my form is getting back to where it was, it's the cardio and endurance that needs work. Plus, getting my back and shoulders working properly would be a good thing.

After the swim I joined Katie and water ran. We got all caught up and she told me the story of her injury. I'm glad it happened after her race, not before or during. She told me which race but I can't remember the name. It was long and in French, both the name and race. She did very well, as if we could think anything else.

From there I went to the massage therapist that Darryl Penner recommended. Yay Darryl, she's a winner! I've already booked a follow up appointment. There were lots of tight spots. Many. Very tight. Once I actually had to ask her to back off just a touch, and the rest was good, in a pummeling sort of way. I think with my normal level of tightness and soreness it would have been perfect, but I'm a little, well, a lot over the edge. Can't wait for the next one! I still need it.

Even from this morning I can feel the improvement in my low back. My range of motion is almost back to normal. I was downstairs doing another good stretch session. Lots of cat cow, pigeon, forward bend, down dog, shoulder motion stuff, laterals, intercostal twists, and I don't know what else.

I did some of those while watching a TV show called Wipeout on Youtube. The contestants attempt to go through an amazing obstacle course. Almost all of them fail, and there are some spectacular wipeouts. The squawks and sound effects are the funniest part as someone gets a rotating bar in the guts that slings them into the drink, while bouncing off other stuff.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The bike, the bike! and a rant.

No, not that sweet ride I saw last week, it was my own Estela. As I was up and around this morning I was thinking my back was feeling better even than yesterday. During the stretches I tried a new one. Lie on your back, knees up, heels near your butt. Do a mini crunch, with hands reaching toward your heels. Now twist a bit so the right hand touches right heel or ankle. Then left, repeat. During that I got a faint but distinct click, but didn't think anything of it. Now I wonder if I put something back where it thinks it belongs.

I was feeling so much better I thought I'd try an easy ride, and test it out. After getting all ready I headed out, and I was astonished how much better it felt. My last ride, every little bump and crack in the road went straight to my low back and hurt. Now it was fine. It was wonderful to be on the bike again.

There was no telling how long it would last of course, and the last thing I wanted to do was overdo it. So I kept the spin light and easy, not too fast, not too slow. Rode around the neighbourhood a bit, was out and around 37 St, Anderson Road, and Wood something or other. Yes, I rode through the Allen intersection, as I now think of it, and no, I don't know the name of that street, even though I've lived here nearly 30 years. I was looking at vehicle mirrors to see where they would come on me. I suspect that what hit him had to be a fairly high truck, a big SUV or pickup.

Half an hour was enough. It felt great! No, strike that. Some of you are old enough to remember the old Tony the Tiger cereal commercials. It felt GRRREEEEEAAAAAAT!!!!!!  It's still not completely right though. I could feel my right hip complaining a little bit. Ran off the bike 20 minutes, and did a good stretch.

I'll tell you the depths of despair that I was sinking to. I was beginning to think about setting up the trainer, so I could ride sitting up. The trainer. In August. A beautiful warm sunny August. Yeah.

Julian Assange is in the news again. I've been following this off and on for a while now. I love me a good conspiracy theory, and on the face of it, Assange has a dilly. That the sex related charges are trumped up to get him to Sweden, and then they will turn him over to the USA, where after a show trial he will be executed for espionage. The thing is, the more I think about it, the more I think he has some valid fears.

Let's start with the USA end of things. People have gradually come to notice that the USA has become a vile country. It tortures prisoners. It's sends people to torture and possible death, including a Canadian citizen. It kills known enemies in targeted assassinations, which is a bit of a gray area during wartime, I admit. But it also kills it's own citizens through drone attacks in other countries. It denies prisoners, even Americans on American soil, some of the fundamental justice rights, like Habeus Corpus. It is one of the few countries in the world that still does capital punishment, and they seem quite happy to put to death people they know are innocent, the mentally handicapped, and are especially happy if it's a person with dark skin.

As a brief digression, I am repulsed by the killing of Osama bin Laden by Executive Order. Now it's killing people like him. Then it will be accused "terrorists". It will gradually, and fairly quickly, become people who annoy the President. He signs a piece of paper, and some very highly trained people follow orders. Maybe they kill the victim, or snatch them for a show trial, or just disappear them. It's happened elsewhere. Maybe Obama won't do it again. Anyone want to take any bets that Romney would have any hesitations about signing such a piece of paper for anyone that wasn't a Mormon?

Now lets look at Sweden. In some ways it's much like Canada. Nobody pays much attention to Sweden. Most couldn't find it, or Ecuador on a map. (Sweden is between Norway and Finland, while Ecuador is north west part of South America, just below Columbia.) It mostly minds it's own business and goes about providing it's citizens one of the highest standards of living in the world. Recently, like many other countries, Sweden has been having some tough economic times.

I find it interesting that Sweden is so zealous about this particular rape charge. Quite honestly, it seems that most police departments in most countries couldn't give two hoots about a rape charge, especially if the alleged perpetrator isn't in their jurisdiction and they don't have any evidence beyond she said, he said. Ecuador has offered to host discussions with Swedish officials, in the Ecuador embassy of course, so that they can question Assange. They have refused. Why?

And Britain is now talking about revoking Ecuador's ambassadorial status so they can invade the embassy with military force to arrest Assagne so they can deport him to Sweden. Why on earth is Britain even talking about such an extreme measure? What has their knickers in such a twist? Bear in mind that neither Soviet Russia nor China ever talked about such measures, even when they knew full well during the Cold War that many embassies, especially the Western ones, and particularly the USA ones were a hub of spying activities.

What is the common thread behind all this? An embarrassed and enraged USA that has had some of it's dirty tricks revealed. They certainly have the clout to lean on both Sweden and Britain. They don't have so much clout in South America anymore, having used up most of it on bananas on behalf of the United Fruit Company. Or maybe the South American countries are more willing to stick together against the evil gringos.

In one sense, I hope that the Ecuadorians do not find a way to smuggle him out of Britain. Ecuador is pretty much a backwater in some ways, and all sorts of stuff could be made to happen there. But London is one of the major centers of the world, and the Ecuador embassy is about a kilometer from Buckingham Palace. Much harder to make something happen there.

And yes, I believe the USA wants to give him a show trial and execute him. I think it's the only reason they are keeping Bradley Manning alive. But if they come to believe it won't happen, I believe the USA will send a hit squad after him. I didn't use to believe the USA would do things like that, but there is now too much evidence to the contrary. No matter how much the the USA might insist otherwise, it has no moral authority left on these and other topics.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Much too close

On June 11 this year, as some of my readers might remember, I was out for a ride on 22x. I would have ridden through the intersection of Woodvalley Gate and 130 Ave, about 5:45 or so. I ride through this intersection almost every ride.

On June 29th, I was through it again about the same time. There was a race in between, so I wasn't riding as much as I normally would have been.

That intersection looks like this. It's a nice downhill in the direction of the arrow. It is wide open and clear, with no obstructing trees or bushes.

On June 24 this year, about 5:45, at that intersection, near the red arrow, this happened. Here's a link to the story, for as long as the Herald has it.

A long time ago, a car / cyclist collision was just another news story for me, one of many. Then I started riding, and those news stories became people that I knew, or that I knew of, or were friends of friends. I've heard many stories that didn't make the news, stories of cyclists being forced off the road, of having objects hurled at them, verbal abuse or worse. It's oh so brave of a driver in a 2 ton car to be playing chicken with a cyclist, or abuse them and speed away. Lower Springbank road is notorious for that sort of thing.

This is in my neighbourhood, maybe 2 K from my house, so I often run through that intersection, not just ride. I think I've seen Allen on his bike. It might have been one of my neighbours that hit him, and then just left him in the street. I don't like to think about that. I suppose he is fortunate that the driver didn't actually run over him, if it happened at the turn like they think. If the driver was on the phone he might never have noticed.

This is a fairly busy intersection so it wouldn't have been long till someone else came by, and I'm glad someone did. I hope someone saw it and reports it, even if they didn't realize at the time what was happening, or saw it and were afraid to get involved. Allen got a wicked nasty bruise around the left side of his torso, and a concussion. It's a good thing he was wearing a helmet. I don't know if he wears Road ID or not, but that is exactly the reason why I do.

At this point, nobody but the driver knows his or her side of the story, if in fact they even realize they hit someone. It would not astonish me if they read the story, and said to themselves, gee, I hope they get that bastard, while never knowing how their mirror got broken or bent. Maybe they were on the phone, or looking at a map, or arguing with their kids, or were impaired somehow. Unless they man up, or someone comes forward, we will never know. That must be horrible for Allen, wondering if that truck passing him today is the one that hit him, or if that driver lives a few doors down from him.

Just another thing to think about, for both drivers and cyclists. It's almost enough to make me get one of those mini cameras, and mount it on my bike so there is a record of who comes up behind me.

I've ranted about drivers before, but at the moment I'm too heartsick to give that jerk the blog lashing that is so well deserved. What does it take to get drivers to pay attention to the task at hand, that is, safely driving their weapon to the intended destination? Events like this I can understand why people want the CCTV cameras everywhere.

In other news, today was active in terms of house chores. My lawn is a mess with weeds and crap, and I'm not a fan of dumping poison on it. Anybody know of someone that does xeriscaping? I'm tempted to having someone come in with a bobcat and take the entire lawn away outside the flower boxes, and the flower box dirt as well. Then put down about a mile of weed proof landscape fabric and a few tons of nice gravel with decorative rocks, with maybe a few more flower boxes for variety.

There was a good session of stretching with some core, including 70 seconds of plank. I am amazed. There is an elbow to opposite knees thing while on my back, that is getting much better. Thanks to Darryl, I found the only massage therapist in Calgary that isn't on vacation. Or so it seems.

So, on IMC day, if you aren't in the race, and aren't at the race spectathaleting, what will you be doing?

Friday, August 17, 2012

The cat world view

The current cat lords and masters of the house are actually pretty considerate. Before our alarm goes off at most there is a bit of cat grumbling. One can sleep through this and ignore it. Previous cats have yowled like they expect to be raped any moment while they are starving to death. One cat, a big orange one, was much too dignified for that. There would be a few inquiring and polite meows to remind us of the duties that we are so clearly shirking. Then would come The Paw. It would whap against the door, causing it to rattle in the frame. The claws would come out, and slowly rip down the door, shredding wood fibres everywhere. That got us up. The only thing more effective that that for getting us up was the sound of a cat working itself up to spewing all over something. I still wonder why nobody has marketed an alarm clock with that sound.

Once they're fed we get on with our day. Thursday was a 40 minute swim that felt pretty good. For about half my swim I had the whole 50 m pool to myself. Not just my lane, not just the pair of lanes marked off by the lane ropes, but the whole darn pool! Lovely. There was some stretching in the evening. My shoulders and low back are vying for cranky bragging rights. Every massage therapist in town is on vacation.

Friday was an evening run in the heat. Nice! Limbered up, walked a bit, and started easy. The intent was to run zone 2, but I found it hard to run at that pace without plodding and thumping my feet down. Eventually I settled in, and wanted to run faster, but didn't. 50 minutes, nice and easy, with the run relaxing me. Good stretch after.

BBQ some marinated chicken afterward, with wine, of course. Now I'm musing about the cats. Right now I have Curtis trying to convince me he is in his last moments due to starvation. This is a cat that has probably eaten more than me today. Well, maybe not quite, but it's amazing how fast a cat can inhale food it likes, and how disdainfully it can ignore food it doesn't like.

I've figured out the secret to preventing Celina from slipping through doors. They are both determined to see what's on the other side, but Celina is more willing to leap for it, while Curtis is waiting for a bigger hole.

We keep the cats out of our bedroom. Not because we don't like sleeping with cats, because we do. There is nothing more relaxing that a purring cat. But it gives us a place to keep our stuff mostly free of cat fur, and there are all sorts of knickknacks that would do badly under the paws of a cat. We speculate that the cats desperately want in there because they think there are secrets behind that door. Secrets that could only make the cat world better. More servants maybe. Different, better food. Nicer toys. Something that they don't have now, and they want it. Badly.

If we're both in the bedroom, they will lounge just outside the doors, reaching under the door with their paws. I'm not sure what for, but they reach around, feeling for something. It's really funny to sneak up on them and touch the paws. One does have to be careful here; cats are pretty quick and it would be easy to get a finger caught between the claw and the door.

I've lived with cats most of my life, and they fascinate me in a way that dogs don't. Cats have clearly rationalized a world where they don't have the digits to manipulate our stuff effectively, so they work on manipulating us. Somehow they can project the air of the ones in charge instructing their lamentably incompetent staff on how to prepare the food. Even though we rarely do it right, the cats never give up hope.

We know they can hear things we can't, and I'm pretty convinced they can see things we can't. Haven't you seen a cat staring with complete fascination at what appears to be nothing? Watch, and you'll notice their gaze is slowly tracking as if the object was moving. Cats are very practical creatures. I don't think they are quite up to messing with our brains by pretending to stare at nothing. So what is it?

I like how they look at things. Very direct, very firm. There is no doubt when a cat is looking at you that you know what it's thinking. For fur covered faces that don't move much, they are remarkably good at projecting their thoughts. And maybe that's what it is, projecting their thoughts directly into our brains.

Mostly I think they disapprove. They were treated as Gods way back in the day in Egypt, and they've never forgotten. Right now ours hang around us more to keep an eye on us, and supervise, than to demand worship. That might change. All I know is that our live's are much more interesting now that they are around.

In other news today I tried the car2go thing. Perfect! This is a car rental service new to Calgary. From work I had walked a few blocks to a building to test some software. Sorry, it's a secret, I can't tell you any more than that. From there it wasn't far to my accountant's office to review and pick up my completed paperwork. That is after dropping it off on Wednesday! She is a champ! I used the app to find the nearest car only a block away. After a brief panic attack trying to remember my password, I got going, and drove a couple K back to where my own car was parked. At first I thought I was going to have to back my car out, and put the car2go in that spot, but there was an open spot a few cars down. Best of all, this is still free minutes from the signup! I'm going to be trying to figure out how to use the service more. It's a great deal.

One the way I saw this interesting union of two buildings and tweaked it in Snapseed a bit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I want this bike! or, the aliens are talking to me

While out for a walk at lunch time yesterday I saw this bike on Stephen Avenue. I want!

Ran after work today. Limbered up, ran easy 10 minutes, ran fairly hard for 15 minutes, and easy for 5. Stretched after. Normally I swim on Wed morning, and I just had no desire to this morning. Maybe tomorrow.

There is a light behaving oddly at work. It's just down the hall, where I see it every time I leave my office. It's flickering in Morse code. I'm sure of it. I learned Morse as a kid so I know. But it's been a long time, and I've long since forgotten the actual codes for letters. Well, except for S and O. But there it was, flickering away. The light people were around the floor yesterday fixing lights, so it should be good, right? What could make it flicker in such a regular way? Normally light bulbs either work by flickering so fast no human can see it, or they don't work at all. My office roomie didn't notice it at all, just me. I figure it has to be aliens, trying to send me a message. What else could it be? Maybe I'm an alien spy gone AWOL and native, and they're trying to rescue me.

On a more rational topic, has anyone tried the Iron Trac app for following a bunch of athletes?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A notable meal, and notable lack of workout

After work we went to NOtaBLE for dinner. That's how they spell it and who am I to argue. It's really good. That seems so inadequate. It's really, really good. Worth a trip to Bowness for, even if you live far SW like us. It wasn't even a 20 minute drive home, and we've driven much further for meals that were not as nice. I didn't see the bill (Thanks Linda!) but I'm told it's quite reasonable for what we got. The food is superb, and perfectly prepared.

Linda had a rabbit confit, and a big bowl of hearty soup, and a creme brûlée for dessert. Plus her own glass of wine. She is propped up in the media room watching a DVD. Needless to say, after the rolled potato skins with yummy stuff, the roasted leg of lamb with a yummy side dish, and a carrot cake dessert, along with wine, I am too full to be going for a run or downstairs to work out. I vaguely regret having lunch.

I will consider this a communal bit of tapering with my IMC buddies. Too cold and windy to run anyways.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm excited!

The bib list for Ironman Canada is out. Just reading the list looking for the names of my buddies got me remembering looking for my own name on the list 2 years ago. (How time flies!) Here's the list of people I'lll be cheering on, either because I know them personally, or because one of them that I don't know personally impresses the snot right out of me. Hint, she does not look even close to her age.

In bib number order:
510 Dan Burridge
515 Darryl Penner
 523 Justin Williams
1449 Chuck Keller
1574 Mike Bock
1591 Gord Clayholt
1800 Chris Lough
2157 Leana Keto
2296 Heather Myers
2305 Julie Anderson
2666 Tessa P
2672 Kelly Rathje
2680 Rose Serpico
2918 Cheryl Oga
2978 Madonna Buder

Did I miss anyone? That print is teeny tiny, and there is essentially no way to sort or filter it in any meaningful way short of copying it to xl. If I know you, and you're doing Ironman, let me know your bib number and I'll add you to the cheer list. I wish all of you well, and hope with all my heart you have a great day out there.

It's probably a good thing I'm not going out to cheer in person. I might get carried away and camp out for that Monday morning signup. Which would probably not be the smartest thing in the world given my work schedule over the next year or so, and my current (pitiful) state of conditioning.

In other news I was in the pool for 40 minutes this morning. The swim is getting smoother. Under 10 minutes for the 500 m warmup in the 50 m pool. Lots and lots of dolphin and pull.

Later tonight I'll go down and do some core.

I thought for sure I'd get some comments about those butter tarts. So maybe next week I'll go get some, and video myself eating them. Slowly. While drinking that excellent Guatemalan coffee. And then I'll post it a week before Ironman or something, right at the height of taper madness.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Two runs, two days, 2xbutter tarts

I did try running the Friday evening of the food trucks, but it was much too soon. Much. Settled for some stretching and a bit of core (and wine) later.

Saturday I was up early for some reason. I didn't run all that long, 30 minutes or so, but after a thorough warmup I was running strides as fast as I could and still keep good form. I did several of them, but didn't keep count, mainly trying to keep my feet light and my posture good. I could have gone on a bit, but I was starting to feel my right hip flexor complaining. No back issues though. Stretched after, with some core. Lots of runners out.

The rest of the morning was quiet, reading the papers, talking to the cats, puttering around the house, chatting with Linda. After she woke up. The Guatemala Huehuetenango Rainforest coffee is excellent. I can't pronounce it, but it's excellent. From Crickle Creek. That fueled me up for chugging through business tax paperwork. I think it's all done, and just have to drop it off at my accountant's office.

That evening we were out for sushi with a buddy that I haven't seen in some years, though we keep in touch through Facebook and blogs, and a couple we don't see enough of. It was so much fun to catch up on what's been happening in peoples lives. Kinjo Sushi on MacLeod trial is pretty good and the staff is very friendly. The place was packed, but they didn't rush us out.

The 6 of us went over to see the state of renos at J&D's house, and we chatted and laughed our faces off (one of the group is extraordinarily funny) and just had a great evening socializing. Their home is beautiful, even though it's a work in progress. (Note to self, if I ever need to get rid of reno/construction junk, just throw it over their fence, they'll never notice.)

This is exactly the sort of day I was hoping to find when I got off the part-time job Ironman training routine. Do something for fitness on a regular basis. Spend some time with Linda and the cats. Visit with friends and have a good time.

Sunday we took our time getting going, then headed out for shopping. This is fun, or can be. We go to two Farmer's Markets pretty regularly, Calgary (corner of Blackfoot and Heritage) and Kingsland (MacLeod and 71 Ave or so) mainly because they're close, but also they are great places to hang out. Sometimes, like today, we are in and out, on a mission, but keeping an eye peeled for a deal. Other times we will stroll the aisles to see what's new, and maybe have a meal there. Both have amazing bakeries, both have great places to get meat, fruit, and veggies, as well as other stuff. You can buy and nibble there, as I did with an awesome sticky bun from Yum. Cinnamon, with caramel and raisins, a bit sweet, but not too much so, and just the dough texture I like. We are very fortunate to have such fine markets here, and try to patronize them as much as we can.

Once home I was back out for a run again. I just felt like running, and since I can't be on the bike, I indulged myself. Stretched first. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm trying to be much better about stretching and limbering up before the run, working on joint mobility and getting the muscles moving, rather than just doing static stretches. After I'm walking more, and doing some good static stretching with some core work. This is the first time in a very long time I've run two days in a row. In fact, I'm not convinced I've ever run two days in a row.

This run was easy and relaxed. Walked and ran very easy to start, then settled into a comfortable run pace. This was just faster than I could go breathing through my nose, and would be able to carry on a conversation. Another couple passed me chatting up a storm, talking Kona race plans. I briefly, oh so briefly entertained the thought to speeding up and joining the conversation. Then I saw how fast they were pulling away, and thought better of it.

The run was steady, trying for light feet and quick turnover. My legs felt good. Ran 5 K in 33 minutes, then ran easy part of the way home, and walked the rest. Ran between 40 and 45 minutes Long stretch after. I could have run further at that pace, but I think right now, especially with my back still being tight, I'd rather not risk over doing it.

Then BBQ bison and some sausage, and nibble, with a tiny perfect little cheesecake tart from Yum for dessert. Later tonight I have to get ready for work, though my swim bag is packed already. I want to watch some of the original Dark Shadows to see if I like it. Maybe some more core.

Oh, and the butter tarts. How could I forget them? I know that's the only reason most of you are reading this. Years ago we used to go to a small cafe near Millarville that served great butter tarts the size of a dinner plate. A while ago we went there again, and if you search my blog you'll find it, but I'm too lazy to post a link to it, to see if the butter tarts were as good as we remembered. Well, they weren't as big, that's for sure. Today at Kingsland we saw these. They are about twice the diameter of the regular butter tarts, and much deeper. The woman at the next booth assured us they were excellent. If I hadn't already had the really nice sticky bun, I'd have bought these. And pigged out. I'm pretty helpless in the grip of butter tart lust as well. Maybe next week.

I was having coffee with a work buddy on Friday. She loves cats so I was showing her the pics of Curtis and Celina. There is the one with them in the chair that I had tweaked with Snapseed, and she really liked that one. Plus some of the cloudscapes, and she didn't believe me when I told her it was easy. So I picked the one below, which is as ordinary as a shot could be with such a beautiful cat on a beautiful Australian Cypress hardwood floor, and inside a few minutes, while explaining what I was doing, I got this. Kaching! Another sale for Snapseed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

We need a food truck verb and collective noun

I started the weekend with a birthday party! It was a year ago that the food trucks got started in Calgary, and about 20 of them got together to celebrate in the East Village. People have really taken to them, and the food I've had from them has been really good.

But what I want to know, is when the trucks gather in a group, what's the collective noun? If it's a pack of wolves, then it's a (what) of food trucks? And what's the verb for going to eat or eating at one of the food trucks? It was surely happening today. There was a happy buzz around the trucks. Long lines of happy people. Strangers talking to one another. Small groups of people planning their strategy for getting the various foods and meeting back to eat it. People wandering around what to eat. The smells were amazing. There was a great live 3 piece band going hard at it. I think they are called Double Fuzz.

Linda and Sophia got there at 11, and the line ups were starting. There were lots of line ups at 2 when I got there, and still lined up when we left. Sophia and Kris got there at 5, to, you guessed, line ups. This is what popularity looks like. For us, there was just the right amount of people there, enough for buzz, and to get an idea of what was popular, but there was still lots of places to sit.

The other thing thats interesting is the East Village part of it. This is a small area of Calgary just east of the downtown core. For most of the time I've lived here it's ranged from run down (at best) and a hazard to the average passerby. I know lots of people that wouldn't go on the bike path between Centre Street and Fort Calgary unless they were in a big group. When I rode my bike through there I mentally battened down the hatches. I've seen drug deals happening, and once a blow job under a bridge.

Now it's all different. The area, finally, is being redeveloped. It's going to go from a population of geezers and homeless in about equal proportion, to more than 10,000 well off urban professionals. Who knows, it might happen.

So without further ado, here's the food trucks! Happy Birthday! This is the block before the gathering. Normally this is empty except for construction workers.

This is part of an open plaza beside the bike path. The Bow river can be seen just past the people.

I wanted to try the Naaco truck but it looked like they were temporarily out of food. It had been really busy for 3 hours by the time I got there.

This is a model of what they hope the east village will look like in 15 years. The white buildings on the left are there now. The one that looks like a set of steps is City Hall. When they built it they didn't think about the East Village at all, so it's like the building turns it's back on it. Not the mayor of the day though, he's slip out the back door and hoist a few drinks at the St. Louis, a semi-disreputable bar in the block behind city hall. Long since shut down, as have all the bars in that area. There are still people that mourn the closing of the King Eddy, home of the Blues in Calgary.

One of the fancy installations that they hope will keep the homeless from using the river or streets as a bathroom.

 Can't imagine why I took a picture of this guy. This is a little patio off the bike path. You can see some pedestrian bridge construction in the background.

This is really quite close to downtown, only a few minutes walk away. Right where I'm standing, and the area in the photo was terra incognito for the regular downtown crowd.

I tried running after I'd been home a while, but it hadn't been long enough. My tummy was still feeling full. The food is really good, and the portions are huge. I'll stretch a bit more and try again in an hour. Or two. If I don't have that glass of wine that is calling me.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From Suncor to Telus, indoors

Last night just after posting I got these action shots of sunset clouds. This one is dressed up in Snapseed a bit. The wind was so strong you can practically see the wind streaks.

Injury recovery is always a bit of a two steps forward, one step back thing, and today seems to be a bit of a half step back. Things are feeling a bit creaky. It was a long day in the office chair, struggling with a really tedious spreadsheet. No run tonight, but I'm planning to go downstairs for a core workout and some stretching. As soon as I finish this glass of wine...

The highlight was going out for a longer than normal walk at lunch. As I was walking through the park behind the TCPL building I noticed how the bell tower spire lined up with the vertical members of The Bow building and had to shoot it. Then I noticed ordinary people walking through the +15 and had to try it. The building is still under construction, and I don't know that anyone has actually moved in, but parts of the lobby and +15 are open. I strolled through one way, taking a couple shots in plain view of the security guards. Then came back and took a few more, in plain view of the security guards.

Then this dink from the second floor tells me "I can't let you take photos in here." I asked him where the signs were, and who said so, given that it's a public space (if still under construction and some areas taped off, and no complaints about that). He just said his orders were to keep people from taking photos. I muttered "I was just following orders" under my breath, and said to him, "You're the only one saying so." Arrogant piss ant bully. He's probably got a little dick.

Until then, I wasn't sure how many of the inside photos I would put here, but because he objected, you get them all. Screw you photo bullies! What is it about taking photos and video that sets bullies off? Lately it's been the cops objecting, and I know what they are afraid of. That if the ordinary public sees how poorly many of them do their jobs, there would be a lot more noise about civilian oversight for cops.

Here's the view from the outside. Just behind me is that bit of semi circular +15. This park often has people doing Tai Chi in it. I've always meant to learn that, and never have. One thing that is really striking about the building is how well the glass and structural supports set each other off.

From the Suncor building towards the east. This used to be a blank wall, and now you can see into the bridge.

Here's the view from the +15 out into the plaza in front of the building. They are putting up some huge sculpture. I'll take a pic when they're done, if that jerk security guard isn't hanging around.

This is the entry into the +15 lobby. I hadn't realized there was so much space between the glass skin of the building and the actual innards. You can really see that in the last couple photos. Supposedly some of those office windows will open, and most of the staff will have window offices. Nice. Hey Graham buddy, I'm sure the time is coming where we have to have a meeting in your office.

This is from the Telus building looking back towards the Bow building, which you can just see through the glass off to the right.

Here's inside looking up. The perspective is a bit weird, I admit.

Here's another looking up the other way. Just as I took this the security guard yanked my chain.

And lastly, to balance out, here is Celina.