Tuesday, December 31, 2013

AMA. Curtis and I worked out a deal

It's been a bit of a struggle. Curtis regards the laptop as an usurper taking his rightful place. Even when I help to organize him settled in, he isn't happy. But today it all worked out. We were cuddled together for quite a while, him lying on his back between my thigh and the arm of the chair.

 I figured out when a major event in the book happens, and how to merge two chunks I'd written. Writing is easier when there is the sound and vibration of purring.

That was after the swim this morning. 45 minutes, fairly strong, with the pool mostly to myself. One of the swim clubs came in just as I was finishing. I could never be part of a swim club. The coach was all 100 m this, 200 m that, on the 40 blah blah blah, echoing. There were some hieroglyphics on the whiteboard, but they didn't help. The kids seemed to get sense out of it, hopping in as I was hopping out. I watched a bit. They cruise along, relaxed, recovering, faster than I can swim all out.

Then an errand to Sunterra for a nice evening meal (herb-roasted leg of lamb, Thai salmon, roasted yam, and Parisienne spuds. Blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Carrot cake for later. Primitivo wine.) We need not discuss the woman wearing pajamas gassing up her car at Coop this morning. It was still cold. I couldn't tell if she still had slippers on.

While swimming I mused about some thoughts. Some of my buddies have just run 31 days in a row on the Strides streak thing. Yay them! I could never do that. Even short distances I think I'd be so beaten up by the end of the week I'd by lying there, feet in the air, begging to be put out of my pain.

But I was thinking, there is swim, bike, run, snowshoeing, yoga. Hmmmm. So here it is, almost 7pm on NYE. Supper was good, the wine is good, and I'm almost ready to hit publish. I think I'll go back to the novel. But maybe not. Maybe I'll put a movie on. I don't know. Hmmmm.

Runner Leana
Here are a couple of AMA questions! How did you and Linda meet?
We met in a middle school gym off of McKnight blvd October 1982. We were both involved in a medieval recreation organization. It's well known, you might recognize the name if I said it. She took one look, basically, and executed a perfect BDD. She sensed my innate weakness and vulnerability,  (cookies) and thought the odds were good for a successful outcome to the women's lifetime project thing. It just occurred to me that a couple of my blog readers could have been there, and just might have an alternate view of things. Hang tight guys, I'll get some wine to you if you stay silent about your versions. We don't want to confuse the audience here.

I have been told this is inadequate. That it's very much along the lines of what I wrote to my Granny once, where I said "Linda is out of the hospital and doing fine" and then went on to other relevant news. Which was perfectly true, and in my mind, perfectly adequate. Women. Within a week there was a letter from my Granny, addressed to Linda Mulligan (our mail from her had been addressed as Mr and Mrs Keith Cartmell up to that point) asking for ALL the details, and excoriating me firmly for my lack of understanding of her needs.

None the less, BDD is an accurate description of what happened that night. I was swept off my feet and carried away. Things have never been the same. Better of course. Yes dear, much better. In all ways. Of course dear.

Still, one has to admire her courage. I look back on myself and shudder. I was a pretty callow youth back than.

We ended up renting a townhouse, getting a cat, building the house we are now in (paying someone to build, not doing it ourselves), then getting married. Linda kept her name because I'm not fussed about things like that, and back then money was tight. After paying the mortgage and bills, there was very, very little left over. If she took my name, the bank would have collapsed our accounts together, and we would have lost about 5K of potential credit. We ended up not needing it, but one never knows these things in advance.

Would you ever shave your mustache? 
I think not. Maybe if the donation to charity went to serious values. Serious. Very Serious. Very, Very, Seriously Serious. I think you get the idea. Feel free to start a collection.

If you did another Ironman would you pick Challenge over a WTC race? 
I think at this stage I'm not going to do another Ironman. The more I think about it, the more amazed that I got through it last time. After spending a few years simply trying to get in regular workouts, I do not think I could train credibly for IM while working a regular job. If it somehow became possible, I think I'd try the Challenge, because it's the same stunningly beautiful course and closer than Whistler or Quebec.

What is one thing (athletically) you would like to achieve?
I want to do the Calgary Marathon before I'm too decrepit. Some days there is considerable internal discussion if this point has been reached or not.

As a bonus, I'll throw in a professional thing. I'd like to get my book published and on the bookshelves. Some sales would be nice. I am still musing about the self publish, and traditional publish routes. Much of what I read I'm suspicious about. It smells very much like "5 ways to make your opening paragraph pop!" or "4 tricks to rivet reader attention." Yeah.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Creaky start to the swim

I think I sat too long with the laptop the other day. My left shoulder was killing me. Couldn't wait to get into the pool after dropping Linda off.  I actually spent a few minutes stretching it out and warming it up. The 30 minute swim was essentially a long gradual warmup. It felt better and better as I went along.

Once home I cuddled the cats a bit and browsed in a mindless sort of way. About lunchtime I got on the bike for some easy spin and a good stretch after.

The year end is coming quickly, and I still don't have any particularly cogent reflections or thoughts about the year. Good thing I'm not paid to come up with them.

The novel has one more major scene to place. I need to review 3 act structure to see where it ought to go, then a bit of tidy up. It looks like I'll make my goal by the end of this vacation. The NaNoWriMo goal was to get 50K words in a semi-coherent structure. Now the goal is to tell the whole story, in a form that I could actually give someone to read. Not that it's ready to pitch to a publisher, oh no. Just tonight I was still fixing minor grammar errors that I didn't care about earlier, and no doubt there are many more of them.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again, maybe I'll go for a run after the swim. If anyone is off work and wants to go for coffee or lunch, this is a good week.

There were some nice comments about yesterday's AMA, thanks guys! I was going to post another one, but realized I need to write much more there to tell the story properly. Look for it tomorrow.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

AMA 4 and buddies

Today I was a slacker. My buddies Sophia and Michelle were running 16 K today, and I weenied out. 14.24 K yesterday isn't really an excuse, not for the hard core.

They headed off for their run from Eau Claire, and I settled into one of the semi-comfey chairs where the wifi hotspot USED to be. Lots of progress made on the book with no distractions other than the homeless guy that plopped into the next chair, stinking of tobacco.

They came back in good time and we settled into Good Earth for a wonderful chat. Not just running, but all sorts of things. It made me think about buddies a bit. Sophia I've known for years, long before social media was popular with adults, and while it's possible I could meet Michelle at a local event, it's not terribly likely. So many people and all. But there are a ton of people I've got to know through social media. Lately it's been through that mega-social butterfly Cori, though she's been buried in stuff this season.

Here's a couple shots from our meet up today. Linda insists, INSISTS I include the shot of me looking like a madman. Michelle's finger was nowhere near the button, and I hadn't realized she set it go go off automatically.

That first one is best, I think, though that last one is pretty good too. I forget who took that one.

Did you notice the change on the pages section for the Novel Snippets? Scroll down to under the followers section of my sidebar. You can now get all the snippets in one place, and in order, even. Once I'm done with the AMA I will add them there too. I might take out the follower thing, since that hasn't changed in a year or more. I think people have other ways of following blogs now.

Speaking of which, did you see the article on alternatives to Wordpress and Blogger? There's a couple of them I'll be checking out.

No run for me today, just a bit of stretching this morning and perhaps I'll get down for some core tonight.

FineFettle (Michelle C.) had lots of questions. Here's another.
AMA: What is your favourite healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks when you are training for something?

One of my all time favourite foods, any meal, any time of day, is a peanut butter and honey sandwich. But it's more complex than that. Organic peanut butter, the Coop Gold brand is good, and I sometimes sprinkle some extra peanuts in. Organic crystalized honey is best, though creamy is good too. Fresh whole wheat bread. An organic banana. All with milk, and chocolate chip cookies after. Or maybe a few chocolate chips sprinkled on the peanut butter.

Breakfast is usually granola with several kinds of nuts and fruit on top, sometimes mixed with yogurt.
Lunch could be anything, from nothing, to a full meal. Supper is the same. Linda is a good cook. Go back through my blog, I talk lots about food, though I haven't got a label specifically for food photos. Maybe I should do that. In my copious free time.

I don't eat any differently when I'm training. I figure a good diet is good for regular life and for training. Maybe the calorie count goes up during training, as I'm a bit more likely to snarf more cookies as recovery food. I'm a big believer in cookies as recovery food. I am very fortunate to not have any food allergies, or any other issues that restrict what I eat.

When I wasn't working much that one year we saved a ton of money by not eating out much. We spent perhaps a bit more than we used to by getting good quality food, with lots more of it being organic and local. We love the farmer's markets. After the XL beef scare I eat very, very little commercial beef in any form. My red meat is local bison or lamb. The chicken we get tastes amazing by itself and roasted with veggies in a hand made pottery dish, it is out of the world! Now going out to eat is a rare occasion, since we can eat better at home for far less money.

Plus, I have this odd aversion to buying dinner with the wine. There are two parts of that. Wine is very expensive in a restaurant, with a bottle costing $30 to $40 being very common, and frankly, some of it doesn't taste as good as my wine. At that price it's a whole other entree. Plus there is the whole driving home thing. One drink, and I'll drive. Two drinks, over the course of an evening with a meal, and I'll drive unless I'm tired. I won't drive on three drinks at all.

One of my big worries before Ironman was eating something that would disagree with me. Normally I've got a cast iron tummy (except for brussels sprouts, and some other green veggies), but after more than year of working towards one big day, I didn't want it derailed by something avoidable. We shopped and ate much like we do at home, though there was this amazing Okanagan salsa that was tres yummy.

An anonymous question
"How did you get over the disapproving looks from people when you were big and started working out? How did you go out in public in spandex?"

Several parts to this. Mainly, I didn't give a shit what other people thought of how I looked. I still don't. I was there for me, not for some imaginary fashion show. I knew I was big, and there was lots of jiggle, and there is still more than I'd like. I'm working on it, and will be working on it the rest of my life. More activity is one of the key ways of dealing with it. There is no practical way of hiding the jiggle, or disguising it. Don't waste your time trying. Wear the clothes appropriate to the activity, that fit you now, and get out there. You'll need a smaller size sooner than you think.

Other people aren't looking anyways. Mostly they are focussed on their own workout. If they're really noticing you, then they're posers. Anyone that mocks you has just proved they are a jerk, and unworthy of your company.

Even if other people are looking, do you know what they're saying? They're saying, "Good for you. Stick with it." Yes, you're slow, and you're feeling very conspicuous. Been there, done that. Still slow, and that 'stache is very conspicuous. Stick with it. You'll make new friends that will accept and encourage you.

Get out there and do it. Stick with it. I can't say that enough. Don't be afraid to ask others how best to fit in, where the lane for your speed is. Know your numbers and do not be afraid or ashamed to say I swim an xxx 100 m, or I run a xxx Km pace. Movement at any pace is better than an ass parked on a couch. In a group activity the leader should help you find someone about your pace. If you can't cope with part of the workout, do what you can.

It doesn't matter if you're the slowest. Don't think about that. Just get out there. Slowest is infinitely  better than not starting. Next week, next month, next year, if you keep at it, someone else will be slower, and you can pay it forward by helping them.

They people you'll see out there being active, the people in your spin class, the people you see at the pool, the people in yoga, whatever, they won't judge you for what you're wearing (unless you wear that suit past the see-through bottom stage) or for being big. Many of us have been there. They won't judge you for being slow, or clumsy, or new. Almost all of us have been there. They won't judge you if you have to dial back because of aches or pains or minor injuries. That happens to everybody sooner or later. But they will judge you if you quit.

That saying you may have heard, "Pride is forever." They aren't kidding. Whether it's the first time you run 5 K without stopping, or your first Ironman. It doesn't matter. You did it, and you can be proud of yourself. Nobody can ever take that from you. Now get out there and go do it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Year end blither with fine tusks

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first, shall we? Michelle and I ran in Fish Creek the day after the Flash Freeze warning happened. We only got a couple cm of snow here, but worried about where we planned to run, and the roads to get there. The Nose Creek path is very open to the wind, and it's still cold. I was going to pick up Michelle and car pool there.

We changed plans thinking that running in Fish Creek would be more sheltered. Mostly that's true. Here I am modeling my new run jacket. Very warm. The only problem with the face mask is that my glasses fog up even more than usual. I should see if I can find some of that anti fog goop.

The big difference is that the change of plans means I didn't get to send the best tweet of the year. I was going to say, "Half dressed and on way to pick you up." Maybe it's just as well.

We ran along, with some minor drifts, but mostly quite good footing. Then we got here and decided to turn around.

At turnaround we did the obligatory selfie. Yes, for some reason I look like a drowning person here, but really, I'm just trying to find the button on the phone.

And the close up of the tusks that you've all been waiting for. AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!

I haven't put much of the Runmeter stuff up on my graph lately. Some of the mapping has been nuts lately, and a few times it's been pissy about emailing me the data link. I know Julie is pining for the numbers, so I thought I'd indulge her. I'm pretty pleased. This is my longest run in a very long while, probably in almost a year. My legs were getting a bit tight at the end. I've been down to stretch and roller them. Over all a pretty even pace considering the footing.

Don't fret, the AMA feature is not over yet. I'm just considering which questions to do next. Thinking about who gets the next attributed question...

Another year is drawing to a close. I often take a bit of time for reflection. Lately it seems like the yearly reflection time happens faster and faster. I'm not quite sure where to start. I know you all breathlessly read every word of every blog, hot off the press, so a recap of what I've already said would just bore you.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the year. Well, except for the cranky legs for much of it, that wasn't any fun. Mostly that seems to be over now. No races at all in 2013, but I'm hoping to get it together for a marathon in 2014. Just lately the running is good.

Work is good, doing stuff I like doing, with people that ended the year appreciating the results a lot more than at the start. In any case, they renewed my contract for another year. This is always reassuring for a contractor.

I suppose the biggest surprise in the year was pounding out 60K words in the NaNoWriMo contest. Since then I've been massaging, adding some detail, fixing things, and generally playing. I'm up to 83 K words now, though some will need to be trimmed I'm sure. It's been a lot of fun, even if Curtis resents the time my lap is occupied. You can see he isn't thrilled. Sometimes he tries to walk on the keyboard, or lie on it, and it takes a bit of doing to discourage him.

I've really enjoyed taking and showing some of my photos, and playing with some others in Snapseed. I've mused about getting a nicer camera than the iPhone. Then I remember that it's still more of a camera than what some well known photographers had to work with, and think maybe I should take some lessons. Perhaps in 2014.

Something I did do was get snowshoes, and actually get out onto them. Lots of snow out there, maybe I'll have another go tomorrow. I've wanted to do this for a long time, and finally got around to it. This is something I'm still learning, that if you want something, you have to make it happen.

Off to the mall.

Back, musing about where the mall rat kids put their clothes after arriving. Even walking from the car to the mall dressed like that would be courting frostbite. Oops, someone wants a lap.

There, Curtis has abandoned my lap, and now I can write again. Over the next couple days look for some of my pages to get rearranged to make it easier to find the novel snippets (new and old) as well as the AMA feature. Once its done I'll mention it again.

Sometimes I use this as time of year as an excuse to rant about politics, but the big story this year, topping even the thieving Harper Conservative Senators, and eminent admirable Chris Hadfield, was (gack) Rob Ford. I'm sorry, I just can't. He represents everything that is wrong with Canada and politics in general. He's a perfect example of why we shouldn't let angry old white men run for office. I still say it would be interesting to have only nice brown-skinned Muslim people run for office. Enough of that.

Some people like to talk about what they'll do in the coming year. I'm not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. I've got things I worked on last year, and will continue to work on this year.

Lastly, I hope all my readers had a wonderful Christmas, and they are all ready to make 2014 the best year ever.

Friday, December 27, 2013

AMA 3, and Only 3 of the discs!

I got Linda season 1 of Deadwood for a stocking stuffer after hearing some people at work talk about it. It sounds pretty violent to me, so I'm not sure I can take it. I'm pretty much a weenie when it comes to movie violence. Last night she stayed up to watch it while I worked on other things. She's a bit of a binge show watcher. Always wanting to watch one more episode. This is how we get our viewing out of synch.

This morning when she got up I asked if she watched the whole season. "I only watched 3 of the discs!" was her indignant reply. I'm getting better at capturing these good blog titles.

I had a quiet day for me, mostly writing. I've been working on the death scene, and was struggling with it. In the mean time I was writing a couple other scenes. Something clicked and I pounded out 2500 words or so, mostly on the death scene. Now to figure out exactly where it goes and tweak wording as necessary. There's a scene that is a bunch of exposition, and I know where it goes, just need to figure out how. It happens before the scene that opens the book, but it itself isn't a book opening scene. Decisions decisions.

Even though I was up at 5 to feed the cats, and was awake enough to drive to the pool, I didn't. Maybe I should of. It was nice enough today to run in shorts and tech shirt, but I'm planning to run tomorrow. Even though the temperature is dropping like a rock. It's not often you see the words "Flash Freeze Warning" on the weather page.

We may have to rethink the run, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Instead today I had a hard hour on the bike, with some core and stretching after. Very happy with how that went.

A couple photos for you. The cats being affectionate, and the sky as the cold weather was coming in.

AMA: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I had to think about that once. I was once in discussions with an American non-profit, and for complicated reasons I would actually have to live in America. Anywhere within an hour or so of a major airport was fine. After a bunch of noodling around, I landed on Boulder, Colorado. However, America has turned into a police state. I'm reluctant to even visit there. They've taken Canadians and sent them overseas for torture.

Within Canada Calgary is pretty well near the top of the list, mainly because I like sunny weather. It doesn't have to be warm. In fact, I like the mix of climates, and don't mind cold weather. Going for a run on a clear sunny day at -30 C is very nice. We've been discussing if we want to live here in retirement, but have come to no firm conclusions.

There is a passel of relatives that live in the Fraser Valley, but if I was going to live there I should have bought a long time ago. I very much enjoyed Penticton during my two stays there. Granted I was a bit distracted, but it might be fun to rent a house there in the summer, and commute to Calgary for a 4 day work week. Maybe I could talk my boss into that. Last year one member of the team lived in Edmonton, technically speaking.

Once we nearly bought a house in Lunenburg, and some parts of Nova Scotia are very nice. Living within a short distance of Hirtle's beach would be very attractive, to say nothing of a certain bakery nearby. However, one person there talked of the fog line as being an important consideration for selecting a place to live. That sounds ominous.

New Zealand would be a nice place to live, I think, as would several parts of Australia.
Florence, the one in Italy, was very nice. I'd go back in a heartbeat. Not so sure about living there, but maybe while I was writing a book, for a year or so. There's lots of other places I'd like to live for a while, like Iceland and other parts of Scandinavia.

For a while I think I'd like to live on an island in the South Pacific. There's such a romantic vision of that, the beach, the palm trees, the climate. The bikini clad cuties. Ahem.  Then again, I think I'd get tired of just the one climate all the time.

And another made up question, this one from Sophia!
You've often said that you are not photogenic at all, which I can believe given the evidence. However your Facebook and Twitter profile photo is awesome! Who took this great shot? What's the story of why you look so good in it?
We were visiting our friends Kris and Sophia, and their adorable daughter. When this photo was taken she had crawled into my lap and was working on falling asleep. Sophia took the photo with my iPhone. Normally I'm kind of allergic to kids, so I'm not sure why I look so good in it, perhaps because I was relaxed. Maybe it's the photographer's skill. It's one of a very, very small number of photos that I look good in. This is the un-cropped version.

That profile photo is one of a very few that I like. Here's the other one, just in case you missed it. Best selfie ever! Totally by accident one morning on the way into work. No post processing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

AMA 2 or the sky is beautiful these days

This has been a wonderful vacation so far. I've been sleeping in as much as the cats will let us. Some workouts, lots of writing/editing. Not too much pigging out. Christmas we visited some friends in Okotoks, and I actually stopped to take a picture of the sky. Wouldn't you?

This evening I missed the best part of sunset, but still liked the rolls of cloud. Only slightly tweaked in Snapseed.

Curtis and Celina still enjoy playing with each other, and loved playing with the tissue wrap from presents. I just missed a flurry of paw waving.

This was dawn the other morning, though I'm looking west instead of east. You never know where the colour is going to be.

Tuesday I ran up to the reservoir and back, 8.5 K in exactly an hour. This is a fine pace for me, and if I could keep it up another 4 hours a marathon would be done. Beautiful warm weather, slightly over dressed.

Thursday I did a short run around the neighborhood, 30 minutes, not quite 4.5 K. Slipping and sliding in the soft sandy snow. It's melted a bit, and refrozen. There are some slippery bits. Lots of limbering up and cool down and stretching. I think this is going to be an important part of my routine if I'm going to start seriously training for a marathon. Do any of you hard core runners have any suggestions for good books to read on the topic?

Planning on an easy run on Saturday, if you're interested let me know.

More questions from Michelle.
How long ago did you do your first triathlon?
My first triathlon was the Chinook Half Ironman in 2008. You can read about it here and here. Yes, I only started seriously training late 2007. It's all in the old blog posts, though the first bunch of them are really boring. Even for me.

How did you know you were ready? 
I didn't. It was a goal I'd trained for, to see if I could do it. To save the suspense, I just barely made it.

Did someone inspire you? Who?
Susi de Leeuw. We started at an engineering company at the same time. Not that I'm an engineer. Later she had a tough breakup, and started doing triathlon. I was watching the internet feed at IMC 2007, waiting for her to come in on the bike. The story is at the same link as above, so if you read the Chinook followup post, you know the story.

She's been one of my biggest supporters along the way, showing up to cheer me on at IMC. Now she doesn't do triathlon anymore, and very rarely blogs, but she does lots of other stuff that makes her happy.

She got me started with a coach, which worked for a while, and I met a ton of other interesting people along the way. The other inspiration is all the ordinary people that do triathlon and other activities. Sure, the pro's are amazing, but this is what they do all the time. Watching ordinary people getting out every day, juggling work, a spouse, children, and the never ending laundry, to say nothing of the other trials of everyday life, just keeps me going. When you read some of the stories of what people had to overcome just to get the start line, let alone the finish line, how can you do anything but get your stuff on and get going?

Cori @ Read.Write.Run.Mom 
okay okay. I've been crazy busy. Here's the question...just so you won't attribute one to me!!!
How many millimetres long is your mustache?

Linda measured today. The longest hair she found was 37 mm long. The average was about 30, and the shortest hair she found was 5 mm. From corner to corner it's about 75 mm, and each wing is 45 mm. The height ranges from 40 mm to 20 at the edges. I've had it ever since I was about 17. I have no idea what my upper lip looks like. I started it as an experiment, and when it became clear my father hated it for reasons unspecified, it became a permanent fixture. I realized only later that he could not say the words "porn star" to me.

I trim it every couple weeks or so, though if I was really on the ball I'd do it every week. The barber always wants to cut it, but I'm sure they'd leave me looking like a porn star. That part of me anyways. Being a guy, it's just slightly depressing where hair grows when it no longer grows on my head.

As the hair on my head gradually thins, the mustache seems to be getting thicker. It's also going gray, which is no surprise. A few years ago while on vacation I decided I was going to be a beach bum and not shave. 3 weeks later I was horrified to see this white stripe running from my mouth, down my chin to my neck. The rest of the beard was still reddish, and it all looked horrible. I shaved, and have been (mostly) clean shaven ever since. Some weekends I don't shave, though you will be relieved to know I don't shamble around the house in my underwear. Much. Call before you drop in, just in case.

And the first attributed question, from Jayne, who says she has no fears.
When are you going to catch up on your dues (payable to me as treasurer) of the Chocolate Mainliners Association?
Ummm. I'm strictly a freelance chocoholic. I hadn't been aware I was part of an organization, let alone one that had dues. Considering that said dues are to be paid in chocolate, I'm a little dubious about the whole darned thing, speaking quite frankly.

Monday, December 23, 2013

AMA 1, or the Honey Badger of the pool

Once upon a time I did Ironman Canada. There's a joke about that. No, not me doing the race, about Ironman in general. It goes like this. You walk into a room with a lot of very fit people. You can't see the tattoos. How do you tell who has done Ironman? You don't have to, they'll tell you.

A couple things go along with that. There's a video with the impressive voice saying "Swim 3.8 K, Bike 180 K, Run 42.2 K, brag the rest of your life." And then there's "It ain't bragging if you done it."

All of this is the precursor to the honey badger in the pool this morning. Once upon a time, at the peak of my swim fitness, some buddies dragged me into attempting a 10 K swim. I made it 7 K and pooped out. Several others finished it.

This morning I was invited to coffee by my buddy Katie. She was my coach for Ironman, and is one of the most physically fit people I know. She was going to swim 10 K, then go for coffee with me. Note that it wasn't to see if she could do it, she knew she could. It was to see if she could do it faster than she did it last time. There is no way on earth I could swim 10 K now, so I planned on showing up part way through. I stood on the balcony of the Aquaplex and had no difficulty in picking her out. Swoosh. Back and forth. No nonsense. Just swim.

I got in the lane beside her and started swimming. She regularly passed me. (There's a big difference between an hour flat, and a 1:12 IM swim time!) The one time I kept up for a length or two I was doing pull, working it, and she was doing crawl at her regular pace, at about the 9 K mark, and I was probably still under 2 K. The only other time was doing some intervals. We said hi once as she swapped fins or paddles or something.

I swam just over an hour and I'm pretty pleased with it!. She came to the end of the pool and hopped out. (At the end of 7 K I dragged myself out of the pool and lay in a heap for a while.) I stopped, we agreed to meet upstairs. By the time I got my fins off she was gone. Honey Badger don't screw around. We had a wonderful chat over smoothies. Then she was off to a bike workout.

After some shopping I was home, then had to go out and get cat crunchies. On the way back, and it isn't far, I had to shovel out the car wheel wells before putting it in the garage.

That's what happens when the temperature goes from minus almost WTF to +6 C overnight.

Then there was BBQ bison burgers, me standing there in a T shirt, flipping burgers. Very nice.

And at last, what you've been waiting for! the AMA feature. These will be no particular order.

From Michelle at FineFettle
AMA(s): How long ago did you first get "active?" 
Once upon a very long time ago I was an regular active teenager. I rode my bike everywhere, played soccer and some basketball. Then I discovered driving, beer, and girls. That changed everything. I gained a bunch of weight, then trimmed it off again. Once I moved out to Calgary I started swimming fairly regularly. One of my pool buddies was pregnant and I got lots faster trying to keep up. Someone later told me she had been a contender for the national swim team. Then I stopped swimming for years. I'm not sure why. My only exercise after that was armoured foot combat in the SCA for a while. That's good for short term bursts of activity, but not much else. Then nothing from the late 80's to the early 2003 or so. I cringe now when I think about that.

What activity did you start with?
Swimming again. I'd started working way in the NE. They provided a hot lunch every day, plus snacks. I was already pretty big from eating too much and not getting enough exercise. It occurred to me that I could start swimming before work. I got back into the pool remembering that a 20 minute Km was easy, not even getting my heart into the aerobic zone. Back in the day I could reliably swim a sub 17 minute Km and was looking to break 16 minutes.

So I thought, what the heck, a few months to get back into it. Well, it took forever. More than a year, I'm sure. The first swim back I didn't even get 100 m before my arms fell off. I mean that. They stopped working. I had to float back to the side.

It took a long time to break that 20 minute K again, and the first time I did it I nearly puked. The second time, a couple of days later I did it in 19:30 and felt fine. I did lots of swimming in the run up to Ironman Canada 2010. By race day I was routinely swimming the race distance. A couple swim camps along the way, put on by Sara Gross and Clint Lien had a big impact. I can swim faster than when I was young, but I can't keep it up as long. All I can say is that if you want to swim better, you have to swim lots. LOTS. Work with a coach on your technique. Seeing a video of you swimming is the single best tool towards improving.

The point is not to get better at swimming so you get through the swim leg of a triathlon faster. No. It's to get through the swim efficiently. Big difference. By swimming better you spend less energy, and can get on the bike ready to go. I'd like to try a relay team where I'm doing the swim, and can go all out.

Swimming is still the thing I like doing most, though running is now a close second. Biking is nice but I worry about some yahoo running me into the ditch for the fun of it. I find swimming very relaxing, back and forth, feeling the water sliding past washing away my cares. I'm back at the point where I can put my stroke and flip turn on autopilot, and think about other things. I've worked out plot points of my book while swimming. The first time I did 3 K I was in a near-rage about shit happening at work. I was thinking it, and thinking it, and by the time I noticed the time I was nearly at 3 K, and feeling much better.

Stay tuned, more AMA coming again. I suppose if you submit a question, even at this late date, I could consider it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Only a run

Today was an easy hour run with Michelle and Tina. Here we are getting started. We ran up the 37 st path and along the reservoir to the point.

Half way through the run Michelle's eyelashes were all frosted up.

Tina wasn't quite as frosted.

I was frosted up a little bit, but on the scale of things this isn't bad at all.

Our selfie at the turnaround.

Overall, not quite 9 K in 1:13 or so. Nice easy chatty pace. I met Michelle's husband, and it turns out I know his sister. Small world sometimes.

We had a great time chatting, and I've got to get better at capturing the blog titles that came up. There were 3 great ones, and now I can't remember them. Sigh.

I'll work on my novel a bit more, and prep for the swim tomorrow. This being on vacation is nice.

A couple days ago I set a new blog milestone. This year has seen the most blog posts published, more even than in 2013 when I did Ironman. There's still a bit of year left, so I don't know how many I'll end up with.

This is pretty well your last chance to get in on the AMA action on your terms. Some of you might end up with a question attributed to you. Like, Have you stopped abusing your chocolate yet? There are lots of questions so far, and I've been working on answers to them. They will appear over the holidays.

Now, to go pay some bills. I love being able to do that over the internet. As does anyone who remembers the bad old days of writing out a cheque and mailing it. Or actually having to go to the bank. In some ways the world has got better.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cats. Snow. Rant link. Nice run.

If you missed it, there was a major rant yesterday on the recent developments about the prostitution laws. There may be a follow up rant about "judicial activism" as perceived by Conservative sycophants taking orders from the boys in short pants from Harper's office.

But today was the first day of a two week vacation. We aren't planning on going anywhere. Lots to do around the house. Working on my book. Working out. Tasks around the house. RELAXING!

Here's some photos from the last few days. Like the other day, whatever order they appear in is the order I'll talk about them.

This is this morning. Curtis is draped over the cat condo. It's nearly half a meter long, and he's draped over both ends. At once. I didn't actually touch him, tempted as I was. He wouldn't mind me touching his back toes or tail. His front paws he'd retract and look offended.

Celina had been left behind after Linda got up. A few seconds later she was snoozing again. She's a hard snoozer.

Some photos of all the snow we've had lately. They said we've broken a 112 year old record for snow in December, and the month isn't even close to being over. There's more than a foot in the back yard.

This is where I started today's run. My immediate neighbours are really good about shoveling. Some of them further away are not, and I spent some time running on the road.

Linda cooked and baked while I was running. I came home to these for dessert. They are very yummy.

This will be supper tonight. Or tomorrow. I'm not that hungry after a roast chicken and dressing dinner.

With wine, of course. This is the Torrontes. It's a beautiful amber colour, with gentle fruit flavors of apple and pear.

How could I not take these photos of Curtis this morning? I was trying to write and had the phone to hand. Darn cats, so distracting. And he wonders why I don't take him to the office. I'd never get anything done.

It was perfect weather for a run. Sunny and not too cold, maybe -15 C or so. Just above zero F. Not much wind. Ran 5 K very easy, 37 minutes around the neighborhood.

Working on the book today, making good progress.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Time for a grown up conversation

Canada's Supreme Court just overturned the prostitution laws here. The decision has been stayed a year to allow Parliament to deal with it, but the thing to remember is that once upon a time they promised to write laws to replace the ones that just got overturned. That was 30 years ago! Needless to say, I don't have much faith in those dickheads in Ottawa. Harper's Con's don't have the guts to think for themselves most of the time, and when they do, it's pandering to their base, in all it's smug moral rectitude.

It's good that the laws have been overturned. Canada needs to have an adult conversation about sex, and people that make their living from selling it. It's a complex world, and the old white man's view that anyone that engaged in paid sex (paying or being paid) was a moral slime ball who deserved what happened to them, and that nobody could possibly care about them, so we could make laws that victimized them even further, is long gone. We have a constitution now, and oddly enough the judges seem to be serious about enforcing it, even if the Harper Cons are not.

Except everybody (paying and paid) has parents. Most have siblings. Many have children, and there are any number of spousal or near-spousal relationships. These people care. As a society we should care too, because as that Australian General said, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. If you accept that it's ok to see some poor girl get raped and killed because she was trying to earn money to feed her children, you can hardly complain when it happens to your daughter or sister to feed her drug habit.

Here's where I stand. No society in recorded history has stopped people from exchanging value for sex. I think it's safe to say it isn't going to happen. Even in Presbyterian Canada, prostitution itself was not illegal, just everything to do with it. Communicating for purposes of, living off the avails of, keeping a building where it happened, walking down the street in a short skirt, driving down the wrong street to ask directions. Which was stupid at best, and cruel most of the time.

So if we can't make it go away, then lets talk about how to license and regulate it. Back in the day they tried Prohibition to eliminate booze. We saw how that turned out. We created very wealthy criminals that ran booze. People killed themselves trying to make their own booze. Now we have standards for distilleries and breweries. They are regulated and inspected. And taxed, let's not forget that.

Let's think about other professionals for a moment. Think about how lawyers, dentists, doctors, accountants, architects, and many others set up their practice. They rent commercial premises, customized to their needs. Some own their own buildings. They employ other professionals, receptionists, assistants, clerical staff, to say nothing of making work for other firms that supply goods and services such as cleaning, housekeeping, coffee and snacks, security, transportation, and probably others that don't come to mind. They buy and sell the products related to their trade, supporting an entire value chain.

They have professional associations that regulate conduct. There are licensing standards. There are bylaws that determine what businesses can set up where. My own office building has a coffee shop, a restaurant bar, a child care facility, and a dentists office. The one next door has a huge medical complex with many kinds of doctors, a big medical lab facility, and many other businesses.

Some businesses, such as a barbershop, the trade is conducted in public. Seeing the hair on someone's head being trimmed is an everyday experience. Pubic hair being trimmed, not so much. Much of what happens in those offices is private, but it's not secret. We all know what happens behind those doors. We talk to our accountant about our taxes. Our doctors poke and prod us in sensitive places. We talk to our lawyers about secret plans to sue the ass off that guy, or maybe just to do the paperwork to set up a new business. We talk to therapists about our neurosis, which is probably more intimate than sex, and given our society, probably closely related. Does it really matter what's happening behind closed doors? Does it really matter if our pants are off because it's time for the slippery finger of life, or because something that could look really similar to that is what gets us off?

People say that this won't work because organized crime will own the businesses. As we've been learning, organized crime seems to own most of the construction firms in Quebec. This leads to it's own problems, admitted, but we still have a need for construction work. Now that the seamy world is getting exposed to fresh air and daylight, things are being cleaned up. In any case, regulation allows oversight, if the cops and regulators haven't accepted bribes, which is a whole other rant.

Some people are squicked out by the thought of commercial sex. Frankly, when I think of what happens in some doctor's offices and hospital rooms, sex is positively clean cut and wholesome. Let's not even think about the lawyers and accountants. Would I want to be a prostitute? No. Neither do I want to be a dental hygienist, a surgeon, an accountant, or many other professions.

The nay sayers say prostitution should not be legalized because people are forced into it. Well, some are. Why? BECAUSE IT PAYS SO WELL, YOU MORONS! And why does it pay so well? Because it's essentially illegal, and people get rich supplying illegal goods and services. Decriminalize it, supply and demand equalize, competition happens, prices regulate themselves, likely going way down. Then again, maybe a really good prostitute ought to get paid the same as a good lawyer.

When you think about it, the Conservatives ought to be all over this like the white on rice, allowing free enterprise to set up. The firms would advertise they can supply men, women, she-males, and whatever else might sell. Sort of like some of the recruitment firms, developers, analysts, various professionals. Maybe these people would be contractors or employees. I don't know. They'd probably advertise training and specialities available.

In any case, we need to drag the whole issue out from under the rock where it's been festering since forever. Drag it into the sunshine and fresh air, and discuss it. Like grown ups are supposed to be able to do. How can it hurt to talk about it? Look at the issues and figure it out. How to transition to a regulated environment with what regulations?

How much oversight, and by who? If we let quacks like naturopaths and their sidekicks the homeopaths set up a regulatory body, then prostitution should be a no brainer. We know it works. I say build on the standards that other professions have. Why shouldn't prostitutes become a recognized profession?

Where should such services be allowed to set up shop? Many businesses have to abide by zoning regulations regarding noise, noxious smells, vehicular or foot traffic, hours of operation, and many other restrictions. Why not prostitution?

How much and how graphic could the advertising be? Many professions and industries have rules about advertising. Why not prostitution?

We need to get over the Victorian era ideas about sin. Rightly or wrongly our provincial governments make a ton of money from legalized gambling. And taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, which is a thoroughly obnoxious product that ought to be made illegal, or at the very least highly restricted. What's wrong with taxing people that get paid for sex? It's already happening in Canada whether you knew it or not. The government doesn't care where the income comes from, as long as you declare it and pay tax. The problem is that we're probably getting only a fraction of what's there.

One of the things the prostitution laws were designed to do was control the nuisance of working prostitutes on the street. Police went through elaborate rituals to catch and release the johns. At one workplace we had a cop come in to give personal security tips. She was telling us about her nights dressed as a hooker, entrapping guys looking for sex. That's no fun for anyone. If the trade is legalized, with organized well run brothels where the staff can protect themselves and vet the clients, then what is outside is an actual crime. Doing business without a license, trespassing, creating a nuisance, whatever.

If the business is regulated, it becomes easier to keep track of who is involved, making it easier to find the underaged or the trafficked immigrants. Please note I've no illusions about some of the seamier parts of the trade going underground, which is EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE NOW. Only it's mixed in with other parts of the trade that are technically legal. Let's sort it out, and deal with each part of it appropriately.

As long as sex is conflated with shame, and it's all hidden under a rock, there are going to continue to be victims, and we'll just keep going around the mulberry bush. Let's grow up. People want to have sex. They're willing to trade money for it, sometimes even if they can get it at home. There is no shortage of (apparently) happily married men sneaking out for something their wives or girlfriends can't or won't provide. And the reverse too, let's not forget that. There are male prostitutes.

The time is now.

Just about your last chance for AMA, Ask Me Anything, I will answer. I've got some questions lined up by people that haven't provide a question. Just because I'm evil that way.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

me, the skinny hippy

Once again, a two hour commute home in the falling snow. At least this one includes a stop for gas. Given what we heard on the radio about traffic, I suspect a 2 hour trip is one of the shorter ones. At one point they closed Glenmore trail and diverted everybody onto Deerfoot. If you don't know Calgary, these are both major freeways that were already full of traffic. This is a detour that is hideous at the best of times, and tonight is unspeakable. We didn't even try to go to yoga, since anyone from Glenmore going south, is going to be going right past the studio, taking one of the roads we would need to take. Shoveling snow is my workout tonight. I have rarely seen Calgary with this much snow.

In response to the clamor of requests for the photo of us from 1984, compliments of my brother, here you are. Never let it be said that I'm not responsive to my readers. As you will further see in my AMA Ask Me Anything feature. The questions are coming in thick and fast. Don't wait! Get yours in now via comments, email, or social media.

The orange cat is Sebastian; he was a wonderful cat and I still think about him. I still can't quite believe all that hair. And no gut. Amazing! I'd forgotten I had ever tried to part my hair in the centre like that. Very shortly after this, the part went back on the left, where it belongs. Not that that matters now. Serious contemplating a buzzer of a haircut next summer. Or sooner if I decide to start swimming a lot more.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Right now it's warm, but

I just took the recycle and garbage bins out to the back alley. It was warm enough I didn't even need to wear a jacket. However, it's supposed to start snowing tonight, and get really cold again. Just like last week all over again. There are some streets in the NE that are still impassable, I'm told.

Even getting into my massage therapist was a bit of a trick. The churned up snow was brushing the bottom of the car at times. No one body part was really bad, but everything from my low back down was somewhat tight.

Once home I got on the bike for a few minutes, then spent quite a while stretching.

I finished up The Room, a fascinating iPad game. I got it free as a promo to hook people into buying the sequel that just came out. Linda is hooked. I'm watching her just this minute. She is swiping, pinching, tapping with the best of them. I think I've just lost my iPad for a while.

Only a few more days of work, then I'm off for two weeks. Yay! I'm looking forward to some unstructured time. We don't have any plans to go anywhere, at least not yet.

I got an interesting gift the other day. My brother sent me a digitized photo from the summer of 1984. I hadn't even remembered it being taken. This must have been one of his trips through Calgary. Man what a skinny hippie I was back then!

Don't forget the AMA, Ask Me Anything feature. I've had some questions, thank you very much. I've been having an entertaining time dreaming up questions, and all too much fun thinking about who they might be attributed to.

Is that a snowflake going by? Shit. Already. Morning commute is not likely to be fun. Sigh.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The crowd was terrified, and left us alone

Let's see what order the photos show up in through magic of blogger imports. That's the order I'll write about, regardless of if it makes sense or not. I say BAH! to temporal boundaries.

This is from this morning. One of my blogger buddies was feeling grumpy, and wanted something to cheer her up. Sunrises often do that for me. My thinking is that if something as big and important as the sun keeps coming up, my problems can't be that serious. She liked the photo even if it wasn't the brilliant flame colors we sometimes get.

This is from earlier in the week. Celina occasionally likes to hop up and butt into wherever Curtis is sleeping. He sometimes looks a bit cranky about it.

Company Christmas party on Friday. The party was pretty good, my main criteria being the band not being too loud. I got to chat to a bunch of people I know, though there were a lot of empty places at the tables. Not that I'm expecting culinary excellence at dinner for several hundred, but I was disappointed by the food. Other meals we've had at this venue have been better.

Saturday I had fun going out and trying my new (exchanged) snowshoes. I went a couple of K in the big green space across the road. Only after did I realize that my left foot wasn't quite in the right place. It should have been strapped in about an inch further forward. There was a lot of snow. One drift was well over a foot deep, because that's how much I was sinking in. I really like the feeling of security I get walking on snowshoes. Mine have lots of pointy bits on the bottom edges. Probably not the best shoes for deep and fluffy snow, but there are add on tails if I want to do that.

After getting back in from snowshoeing, I changed and got on my bike for an hour of spin. I figured I might as well get good use out of the hot and sweaty.

While I'm on about it, my life has been bedeviled by small plastic tabs. A part broke off the BBQ earlier in the week. On my Sorel boots, there is a little plastic thingie that helps keep the laces in order, and half of it broke. I've only had these boots for 20 years or so, maybe more.

A few minutes after getting the earlier sunrise shot, I got these two. I thought the clouds were interesting.

This is where the crowds were terrified. The glass carafe on our French Press got broken, fortunately after making this morning's coffee. Replacement was urgent. We had some Sear's gift cards, so we braved the mall. First was the book store. I've got Cmdr Hadfield's book, and I'm quite looking forward to it. Then my bank, and then the mall. Linda burst out of the car and sprinted for the door, getting there just as they unlocked it. She is at the back of the crowd near the centre. They saw her coming and scattered for their lives just after the photo. We got up to the kitchen section unmolested. Unfortunately they didn't have the good ones. Just the cheap plastic ones that last about 3 servings. Lately we've had a string of irons that leak all over your hand as you use them, so we got another one, a different brand. They say it's made in Germany, and weighs like it. The ones that leaked were T-Fal, made in China. Never again.

A bit of web search discovered that Crate and Barrel had them (French Press, complete new ones AND replacement carafes! (Keep up.)).  The associate that helped us was really good, but I wasn't impressed by the entrance/anteroom to the store. Neither Sears or C&B had a waffle maker I liked. The Krupp one could be used as armor plating on tanks in the next world war, but we don't need that many waffles at once. We can do without a waffle maker for a while, though it still sort of works, but having a real coffee maker is a daily necessity. If you have waffle maker suggestions, feel free to leave them in comments.

We strolled around the mall a bit, entranced by this structure in centre court. Santa isn't in his chair, but showed up a few minutes later. You can't see the snaky line up thingie, full of strollers. My considered opinion is that the guy doing Santa is either really hard up for $, or has done something truly dreadful in a previous lifetime and is paying for it now. Probably the parents too.

Sears was full of geezers. I think I only saw two people younger than me, excepting the employees. Sears has changed a lot. Not that I shop there much, and today's experience isn't going to speed my next time.

Once home I limbered up and went out into the beautiful sunshine. I ran 6 k just over 42 minutes up towards the reservoir and back. Dog city. My legs felt pretty good, and I probably could have run further, but didn't want to push it. The lesson I've learned this year is that I'm good for a while, but fall over the edge fairly quickly to having unhappy legs. It was probably about 10 C, and I could have worn shorts. The spike in the graph was waiting for the lights to change. it took a long time for my legs to feel happy running, and I gradually sped up throughout the run.

I'm still gathering questions for the AMA, Ask Me Anything. Feel free to leave your question in a comment, email, or social media. Remember that I'm quite willing to invent questions and attribute to people. As a teaser to one of the questions, the numeric part of the answer is 37, 30, 5. The metaphysical aspects will be covered in the blog later.

I've got nearly another 1000 words written on the novel. Kelly is involved with some snippy verbal sparring with a stuffed shirt corporate type. It's gonna get sad.

Don't forget, AMA, and waffle maker comments.