Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And then they struck turkey

So there we were, tending to the garden, when all of a sudden this guy drives up on this bike. Naturally we stopped everything and drank beer. So glad he stopped by!

In other news, we've been taking to sneaking the brand of wet food they don't like, in with the brand they do. This morning they were chowing down, then simultaneously stopped and looked over their shoulders at me to say, "there's been a terrible mistake!" I laughed. Another eternity in cat hell, I know.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The secret organization

One of my private goals is to volunteer once for every race I'm in. Not necessarily the same race. I'm still behind on volunteering, but slowly realized I could be catching up while I'm not racing.

When they changed the Calgary 70.3 course less than a month before the race, and put out a call for volunteers at the start, I signed up. That lake isn't far from my place at all, and since the lakes in Calgary are private, I figured it might be my only chance to see it.

After a 4am wake up, I ended up on traffic control on the front gate so I didn't see much of the lake. The athlete parking filled up pretty quick and then it was on street parking. Later it was helping take down bike racks and pack the athlete bags onto buses. It went very quickly. Many hands and all.

Then home for a bit of a stretch and breakfast, then off to a book club meeting. My buddy is making covers for his rain barrels. Very cool. We are going to go looking to see if there are any nice barrels we like, but I'm not fussed about it. I could build nice covers too. In my copious free time.

While I was puttering with laundry I was amused with Curtis playing in the sink. He doesn't seem to mind water so much. Even if I turn on the tap, he will sniff and lick the water, and play with it a bit.

Yes, that's the sink I clean up after doing wine making stuff. Having a big sink like this is extremely handy some days. Even if I do have to clean it with comet before cleaning wine stuff after bottling next week.

During a good core and stretch session I discovered a very unhappy muscle on the inside of my left thigh, just above the knee. I think it's the Vastus Medialus, or maybe the one that wraps around from the inside of the knee to the outside of the hip. Rolling that was a big owie!

Normally at work I try to get up and walk around regularly, but I was right into a query today, and didn't move hardly at all. Just as well I had a good stretch yesterday. Another good stretch and core tonight.

Lately I've been thinking about secret organizations. We've all seen the movies. I used to enjoy them, now I think they're kind of stupid, and all the same, really. The good guy has to penetrate the lair of the bad guy. There are stupid evil henchmen, all sorts of gadgets, and invariably an escape system for the bad guy.

Let's start there. The escape system. Here you have a meglo-maniac bad guy constructing his lair and an organization, and he takes the time to engineer and build an escape route. Putting the same effort into training his staff would go a lot further. But if you are the kind of person that builds such an organization for world domination, or something, you aren't likely to spend any time considering what happens if your plans fail.

Or maybe the organization is the good guys. There is usually a sequence of them going through some fluffy high tech entry procedure, usually alone, and they enter an office that is just full of people scuttling about doing their thing. One of which is to bring that person their coffee, some papers, and an all important briefing. How did all those people get in? Same procedure? Why does the hero get to sleep in? And does the leader of the good guy organization have a secret escape route?

Unless there's a dorm somewhere, where do all these underlings live, and park? Is there as much security for the cars? What do these people tell their families about their work day?

These organizations seem to have endless fleets of black vehicles. Helicopters, SUV's or other automobiles, ships, submarines, and various aircraft. That's not even counting the more exotic stuff, the hybrid car submarine, or invisible cars, and people that know how to use them. Then there are the gadgets. Good Lord, the gadgets. I couldn't even begin to enumerate them.

There is usually a secret genius turning them out, but I often wonder if there is an uber-secret organization that churns out all this stuff for the ordinary secret organizations. You'd think the organization supplying the rent-a-henchman would go bankrupt from supplying such poor quality workers. And how does the evil bad guy afford all these people until world domination happens? Is there an uber-secret organization providing accounting and legal services for aspiring evil overlords? Who does the catering? Even henchmen working out of fear for nothing need to be fed.

There is much attention paid to covering up the tracks and hiding the existence of the secret organization. That lasts until the movie or book reaches about the middle of the first act, then they start to reveal their secrets. Usually spectacularly. Sometimes this includes a scene where the president is briefed on it. Maybe this is why world leaders go grey and look so old, so quickly, worrying about some secret boffin organization going rogue.

But mostly it's the over the top elaborate safeguards that have some fatal flaw that can be exploited by the other side. A fatal flaw that a smart 12 year old can usually figure out how to mitigate. Usually by better training the staff. Unfortunately this line from one movie completely describes the quality of henchmen these aspiring overlords attract - "Benson, you are so mercifully free from the ravages of intelligence!"

The thing I really wonder, is if these people are all really so smart, why don't they just take over a country? Really. If they're that good at organization, they ought to be able to take over some corrupt kleptocracy through sheer competence. Once people realized they were good at running things, like providing food, clean water, and other necessities of life, reliably and inexpensively, they'd be voted into government by a landslide. Once they got the economy going they'd be able to skim a bit off the top for themselves in perpetuity. A bit off the top on a country scale can lead to an enormous amount of money on a personal scale. As long as you don't go over the top on jets and boats and castles, you can live very, very well. No reason it couldn't last your entire life.

But no, there's an ego in the way. The one that just makes you go out and buy that huge yacht and flaunt it in front of the poor. That just makes for social unrest and upsets your nice little scheme. But I guess if they had that level of maturity, they wouldn't be megla-manical aspiring evil overlords using their secret organization for world dominance.

When I look at the USA, I sometimes wonder if a secret organization really is running things, and the middle managers are getting a bit power drunk over the last few years. That flaunting thing, guys? It usually leads to trouble sooner or later.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

B&A shots

So here we are. Friday afternoon the guys came with the picker truck and took away all the pallets of left over tiles, and the rubble. There's still some siding to go. There was a 5 car collision on NB Deerfoot that backed traffic all the way past Douglasdale, which is a very long way. The only way they can get from the shop to here is NB Deerfoot. I hope they had the sense to realize the traffic wasn't getting better, and not to try.

So without further ado, here's a Before shot, noting the blue siding, naked flower boxes, and a matted surface that could be called a lawn only by the generous, the blind, or the flatterers.

Here is the After. Note the complete lack of blue. There is the privacy lattice and flowers in the boxes. The roses and climatis are doing really well, growing and blooming like mad. The transpanted day lilies are blooming as well. The lawn still isn't all that green with grass; there's lots of other stuff growing in there too, but I've never been fussed by that. Something that is a bit harder to see is the copper rain chain hanging just beside the chimney. We are pricing out doing the evestroughing, and will get the chain properly hung.

Here's one of the day lilies.

Here is Curtis supervising my post run stretching, coming over to tell me I'm doing something wrong. Or to pet him.

RunMeter was out to lunch during my run. It said that the 30 minute run was 6.4 K. NOT! I was running very easy, maybe 4.5 K or so at best. Here's a screen shot of part of the run, which explains why it thinks I ran so far.

I felt a little heavy during the run, with slow feet. Stretched well after, although later in the day my left calf isn't all that happy with me. Maybe it's all the gravel shoveling trying to raise up some sidewalk slabs that had settled.

Fair warning! There is only my feeble attempt at ornate flowery shit after this. Stop reading, unless you're into that. During our writers and bloggers meet up we were asked the part of writing that we hated. Mine is doing the ornate flowery descriptive stuff, with allusions, similes, and adjectives, or maybe it's adverbs. Whatever it is that describes nouns. Bah. See? I don't even remember what little grammar I once knew.

One has to know that 5 out of the 6 ends are sharp, but when they're amiable you'd never know. The soft rumbly purr is very soothing when they sit on your lap. Sometimes when I'm lying down stretching I like to grab them if they're nearby and give them a forcible cuddle. Sometimes they pad away, other times they sniff the sweat and start rasping away. That alone would convince anyone they have no taste buds in their tongue.

When we rescued Curtis from MEOW he'd been on the street for most of his life, perhaps all of it. It was obvious where some matts had been cut out. More remained in the coarse and greasy feeling fur. He loves being combed, even as we were pulling on the knots and matts. We'd do a little and stop, to show him that we would stop when it got to be too much for him.

The fur on his head, neck, and chest was cleaned up fairly quickly, and he would work on that. However his back and flanks stayed coarse and somewhat greasy, even after we'd had him 6 or 7 months. Steady combing with a bit of judicious snipping had removed fur clumps that gradually filled in again. Then he started working on it too. I don't think he had known where to start, or maybe he thought there was no point.

The big change happened as summer began. We call it the Big Shed. A few strokes of the comb would produce a cloud of fur. Static made it cling to the furniture and our clothing. We went through several lint rollers. They weren't designed for cat fur, I don't think. Certainly not long, fine, orange fur. We combed every day for weeks, sometimes twice a day, working especially on his gradually rotunding flanks, back, and the very soft and fluffy tail.

Working on his tail is a bit tricky, since he likes to have us work on his other end. He squirms around, making it difficult. Almost suddenly we noticed his fur changed. I think we combed out all the old tired fur, leaving just the fresh new growth, unstressed by life on the street, nourished by love, and the good food that he is so ungrateful about. What cat turns down salmon? What cats get lamb, venison, turkey?

Now you feel fur all aligned the way it should be, glistening with a silky softness that does not disguise the muscle underneath. The orange stripes have come in to provide a beautiful background to his deep, intent, double amber eyes. Warm cat fur is one of the smells of summer for me, evoking a memory of flying a kite while lying on my back, looking up into an infinite blue sky. A gray and white cat named Fuzz on my chest or looking for prey nearby. Listening to the sound of a big old radial airplane engine.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flowery sh!t warning

Hello again. Busy. Working regularly on core, though no running or biking since the weekend.

Tonight was the writer's and bloggers group, and our "assignment" is to do the writing we hate the most. For me that's the flowery ornate shit. I'm not an ornate writer at all. I try to use the smallest number of words to do what needs to be done.

One of my main writing rules is straight out of Strunk and White. 
Omit needless words!

He said it three times, but I'll only say it once, and loud. 

Much of the flowery shit in many books leaves me saying, let's get to the point here. But sometimes the point is the flowery shit, to evoke an emotion. That's fine for those that like that kind of thing, and they wash their hands afterward.

I'm going to try to practice some flowery ornate writing here. This is just to warn you so you don't think I've been putting drugs in my coffee, or some of the wine has gone bad, or I've been kidnapped by aliens who've sucked my brain.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cats and paint don't mix

One of the final steps in the recent housework has been to get in a painter for all the touch ups. You may remember we had him in late last year to refresh the paint throughout most of the house to remove the rubs, scratches, and other imperfections that paint accumulates in an active house, and to follow up with replacing some windows and doors.

After the window installation we knew there would be follow up painting there, and had tentatively engaged him. As we got closer we noticed a bunch of other work that needed to get done, both inside and outside. He gave us a really nice price and he's been at it this week. We didn't bother getting other estimates. He does meticulous work with astonishing attention to detail. He leaves the work area immaculate. He's been held up a bit by rain and wanting to get a better surface in one place, so he needed a couple more layers of filler before he's happy.

While he's been working we have to round up the cats and put them in the basement. They are so eager to offer their superior supervisory skills that they get right into the action. I know from experience that's not a good idea. The painter says they were pretty quiet today. They've been pretty spooked over the last week with all the concrete cutting and banging that was happening.

The only work remaining on the exterior is to install the house number above the garage, and have the picker truck take away the rubble. It's neatly piled rubble, but still. There are a couple rain chains to hang, and maybe redoing the evestroughing and downspouts.

I was a workout slacker last night, going to bed early. Once supper settles a bit more I'll go do a stretch and core session.

Here's a picture of a pretty flower, just because.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A twofor

If you missed it this morning, first thing, there were some nice photos of flower blooming and cats supervising. That was while enjoying this morning on the patio, quietly reading and drinking coffee. You also might have missed the post before that, which includes a novel snippet, wherein Dwen ends up being taken to a strip bar for a work lunch.

After a while I stirred myself into action and ran a whole 5 K! I haven't done that since Bermuda in February. Today felt nice and relaxed, mostly running easily, legs feeling good. The last half K was starting to fall apart a bit as I tried to maintain my pace. Overall it was 32 minutes and a few seconds for a 6:27 per K pace. Very nice for me. Stretched after. Legs are a bit tired.

The graph looks a bit weird because I didn't change it from cycle to run. The blue line is a speed, not a pace, so a higher line is better.

We had friends drop in for a social afternoon, drinking wine and chatting. Scoping out the exterior of the house too, of course. I'm quite happy to let things on my to do list age a little bit more when the choice is doing them, or chatting with friends.

BBQ bison and sitting on the patio finished up another weekend disappearing in a blur.

morning photos, just because

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just riding along

So there I was, another beautiful day, Estela calling me, the road calling me. What could I do? I saddled up, even though my left leg still isn't totally up to scratch, and headed out for a nice flat ride. Nothing too challenging like the Road to Nepal, and not as far as the Cowboy Trail or the Lower Cowboy Trail. Love those names. Anything you sweat over for that long should have a name.

But today I was not even as far as 22 when my calf started feeling a bit twingy. Or maybe it was twangy. In any case I had no need to be a hero and turned around to head home. It ended up being 28 K in 1:08, just riding along enjoying the day. Mainly I was trying to spin smoothly. I'm not that much slower than before, but there's just no endurance in my legs. That will come.

I'm getting a kick out of the graph. This is a pretty flat route, but the graph makes look like I'm climbing a mountain. That's a bit further west.

Stretched a bit after, but we ended up heading down to Black Diamond to check out a sale at Vale's greenhouse. What the river did there is just amazing. We did buy stuff, but not flowers. Do rain chains mean anything to you? Photos when installed.

Quiet afternoon puttering around the house. Even though the windows have been shut while the installation is happening, there is still lots of dust around. The furnace filter will certainly need to be changed. It was due in the spring and this will have pushed it over for sure.

It was a quiet peaceful morning working on my book. Here's a snippet from it. Not today's work, I'm noodling my way through a scene, trying to figure out how it works. All the writing today has been done to Pink Martini. I'm just in love with their music.

The snippet starts with a training course put on by a really boring instructor from the lead contractor. They have just found out they are being taken out for lunch.

She perked up when he mentioned being treated to lunch at the Shamrock, a pub not far away. She’d never been there, but often drove past it. The city had pretty strict policies about expenses, and she’d never been taken for lunch while with the City. Dwen got a ride with some of the operators on the other shift.

Blair introduced himself. ‘We haven’t met yet. I follow you on days, so I wouldn’t see you much anyways, and I’ve been taking lots of time off lately.’

They shook hands. ‘Pleased to meet you. I think you’re the only operator I haven’t actually met yet.’

Ben was driving. ‘Um, Dwen, you do know there’s strippers at this place, right? I’m pretty sure they work at lunch time.’

‘Sure. I drive past it getting to the plant. It’s hardly going to be a novelty to see a naked woman. If they bring up a male stripper things would be different. They usually put on a much better show.’

‘That’s true. I was surprised. My girlfriend took me to the Cove once. The trainer dude made it clear he thought it was all guys working here. It’s going to be interesting to see his face as you sit down with us. Remember, he came in part way through, so he wasn’t introduced to each of us.’

‘It’s going to be more interesting seeing Stu’s face. He’s a bit straight-laced, and I get the feeling he thinks I’m a bit of a delicate flower to be protected.’

Ben laughed. ‘Yeah. Word’s gone around, Dwen. If anything, we need protecting from you. How you dealt with Mac that one time told us you were our kind of girl. This is a bit of a rough bar at night, though it should be fine now. If anyone gives you any hassle you can’t handle, we’ve got your back.’

’Thanks, that’s nice to know.’

They pulled in to the lot, and joined the other people walking in to find tables. 

Stu came over. ‘I’m making some phone calls Dwen, to see if we can find another place.’

A nearly topless waitress carrying an empty tray was walking past. Dwen caught her eye. ‘Two jugs of draft to that table there please. We’re part of the City group that’s here for the buffet.’

‘Sure hon, be just a minute.’

‘Now, what were you saying Stu? What’s wrong with this place?’ The other operators standing nearby were laughing.

‘I didn’t know they had strippers here! Black and Mack didn’t tell me they were going to buy lunch for us. This isn’t appropriate.’ He pointed to the woman on stage who was toying with her bra.

Dwen shrugged. ’They’re just boobs, Stu. I should know, I’ve got a pair much like them. Relax, it’s OK.’ She walked over to the table that Kurt and Mac were not sitting at. ‘Sheesh guys, it’s not like I’ve never been in a strip bar before.’ She was careful to sit so her back was not to the stage, nor was she facing it directly. 

‘Try not to laugh too hard Ben, you’ll do yourself an injury. Any of you eat here before? What’s not good?’

Mitch was wiping tears from his eyes. ‘Christ Dwen, that was funny. Stu didn’t know whether to shit or go blind when he saw the girl on the stage.’

Erik was pouring the beer that just arrived. ‘The food here is actually pretty good, guys. I like the lasagna.’

They all went off and filled their plates, talking about the course, and how they didn’t expect to stay awake if the training as as boring after lunch. Dwen got in on the informal pool about how long it would take for Marcel to hit on the dancer after she got off stage. None of them doubted he would, the question was if he would finish his plate of food first.

Their table had a pretty good time, talking about getting a pickup hockey game started in the fall, and the best places to go hiking and skiing in the mountains. Within 5 minutes of leaving the stage, the dancer joined Marcel at their table. The other table was pretty quiet.

Mitch and Ben walked with Dwen out to the cars. Marcel was still sealing the deal with the dancer. ‘So here’s another pool for you guys, and I’ll have to trust you on it.’

‘What’s that?’ Ben said.

‘I could feel Kurt and Mac glaring at me the whole time. How long do you think before they start mouthing off about my being here?’

Ben looked at his watch. ‘Too late. The guys with them are probably getting an earful. I know it will piss off Bill, and the other guys probably don’t want to hear it.’

As predicted, the rest of the afternoon was a snooze-fest. Dwen didn’t fall asleep, but was eager to go for a run when she got home after work.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Almost done

The installer is almost done. Just a few things to go. He ran out of the jointing material, and the house number needs to be installed just above the garage door.

We got the lights today, and I've installed 2 on the brick. The one by the front door is more complicated, and I think we will need to ask really nice to have some of the tiling around that light redone so it fits nicely.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer running

I escaped query hell this morning. Rather than actually work with the data thus extracted, I went for a short walk outside for some fresh air. It was perfect for a workout. All day I thought of doing a bike or run. Run or bike.

In the end I ran. Trying to keep it nice and easy because after all, it's summer here. Started easy. This run thing is getting a bit easier as I do it more again. My legs weren't bothering me, but I still took a break after 3 Km, and stretched my hams briefly, then ran again. Toward the end I was trying to run slow and stave off overheating. Then walked home to cool down. Stretched.

Spent a fair bit of time during the run thinking about the mechanics of my run stride, trying to run lightly with quick turnover, but without trying to run quickly. Really happy with how it's going. It felt light and fun.

The house is almost done. He thinks with a good day tomorrow he will finish up. There's only a few panels left to install, but some are tricky angles. Lots of the grouting to do. We are really pleased with how it looks.

It seems like everybody going past stops to look, and several people have come up to say hello and ask where it came from. Even the installer said people have come up to talk to him about it. No surprise. He's doing a super job.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Sometimes it is very difficult to use the electronics in our house. Curtis has developed a deep fascination with whats on the screen we're looking at, instead of paying attention to him like we should be. Generally we have to see the screen so we can move the mouse and type so as to make sense.

Previous cats have focussed on the mouse. Not because it's a mouse, but because the saw us pushing it around and figured a hand that was doing that should pet them instead, so they lie on top of it, or wrap their paws around it so it can't move. One cat liked to lie across my hands as I typed. That made for difficult slow typing, but it was a good wrist exercise.

Curtis likes to get his face right up to whatever is moving on screen. He is clearly following the action and enjoying himself. I've got a 24 inch screen for the main computer, and it's amazing how much of it a 15 pound cat can take up. His tail alone is good for the whole keyboard, or almost half the screen.

I was a slacker last night. Tonight I was good, going and doing a solid core and stretching workout. Legs are getting happier by the day. I'm glad I wasn't running after work when the hail storm came through.

While I was deep in query hell today, running query after query trying to get some very specific things, I got this really odd thought that popped into my brain. Actually, a pair of them. The first was how horrible this would be if I had to do punch cards and wait days for my answer. I tend to build queries iteratively, banging something up, and then refining. There are good reasons to do it that way in my current environment.

The other is the main thought. I was thinking about all the data traffic I've been generating recently. All the queries. Once I got them mostly right it was only about 5000 rows of data, with several dozen columns, just to figure out the data patterns and make sure I'm getting what I want to get, then drill into the 1822 and 1685 rows by 4 or 5 columns. Many many times. There are some very obscure data constraints. No doubt the server is thoroughly sick of me.

The other has been doing research scrubbing manufacturer names for pressure vessels, tanks, and PSV's. There are thousands of rows of names. Some of them exist once in one database. Others live in several modules of several databases and the design is such that each one could be subtly or grossly different. I had already gone through and cleaned up almost all where the only difference was between "Ltd." and "Ltd". Yeah.

However many ways of representing of representing Black, Sivalls & Bryson you might think there are, rest assured there are more. I think that one had 24 variants. I have to go find what the actual entity is called. Not the doing business as, not the common name, not the contractions, not the brand name, not who bought that company (though I often do need to know it for something else), but the actual name. Which can be surprisingly hard to find, since many of these companies have gone out of business or been bought, acquired, merged, conglomerated, sold, changed their names, and I don't even know what else. No doubt I'll find out soon.

So there I am, consuming data at a voracious rate. Here's the thought. What if there was a meter on it? What if there was a smart meter on everything we consume? Imagine the electricity meter on your house for a simple example. We all know, or should know about load shedding when power consumption reaches its peak. I've worked places where we've had to shut things down and start all the auxiliary generators to get the power demand as low as possible, since it would affect the power bill for a year.

But what if you knew you normally paid 7.72 cents per KWh, and the meter told you that the current rate was say, double that because it was really cold out, or really hot, or there were power supply problems? Would you turn on those appliances? What if each appliance could talk to the meter, and when you turned it, it told you how much money it was going to cost you? Would this be an intolerable intrusion into your sovereign affairs? Would it be a valuable service to help you save money? Or does the very idea of variable pricing come straight from hell?

What if it was everything? Electricity, water, natural gas, data, everything your house consumed. Would it bother you to know that consuming these services at certain times would cost more than at others? More importantly, would it modify your behavior? How much would it take to MAKE it modify your behavior? We know changes in the price of gasoline change driver behavior a bit.

We used about 400 KWh of electricity, so about $30, plus all sorts of other fees, which just pisses me off. I think they dream up those numbers. Water is unbelievably cheap here, $1.6 per M3 and we used 15 M3 in a month. A m3 is a cube 39 inches on a side, or 1000 l. It's a lot of water. If I've shuffled the decimal point around right, that is .16 CENTS per litre. People pay dollars per litre for water out of drink machines and at events. That's some markup for doing squat but packaging and transporting it.

And people complain about the price of gasoline, $1.16 per litre when I filled up this afternoon. Cheaper than water from cold drink vendor. Gasoline starts as a thick black goopy substance that isn't any good to anyone in the raw form of oil. Refining it into gasoline and other valuable desirable products is a complicated process involving a variety of chemical transformations done in expensive equipment, monitored by highly trained people. Yet it's cheaper than water. Either we aren't charging enough for gasoline, or we're charging too much for water at events.

People here squawked when they required that all new houses had to have water meters, and all the existing ones were supposed to be retrofitted by about now. I should check and see how that's going. People complained that it wasn't fair to charge them for the amount they used. Bah!

However, I think it's the way of the future. Computers and meters are getting cheaper. Internet access is getting easier and easier. I suspect they are already making meters that can record when the commodity is taken, in addition to how much, and from there variable pricing is just a step away. Are you ready for it?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Two fronts of progress

Progress on the house continues. We think the installer was working alone today, since all the work was fairly close to the ground. Here's a couple photos.

This has been attracting a lot of attention. The neighbours we know (fewer than you might think after nearly 30 years here) have been keeping an eye on things. But we've had several perfect strangers wander up to talk about it. I'm beginning to wish we had negotiated a finders fee for everyone we send them.

Ran again today. It's so nice out. Good limbering up with some dynamic stretches. Started at a brisk walk and gradually sped up. After the second K I realized I was running way too fast for an easy run, took a break, then ran slower. There were a couple spots where it seemed like my feet were stuck to the pavement. Overall it was pretty good. Lots of stretching after. So far my knees have been pretty happy about running again. I could have run further tonight, but no need. I'm trying to get the muscles used to working again, without over working them.

There is still a slightly tender spot on my foot, but I might not notice in the normal course of things.  Janice L had suggested that my adductors might be part of the problem. There's been some tenderness on the inner part of my thigh, so I started rollering and stretching that a bit more vigorously, and it seems to be helping. Plus getting back into pigeon every day. Not sure how I let that slip away.

Last night was so nice sitting on the patio. I'm sure you can guess what I was doing. I'm still dressed in run gear, and it's just a little bit cooler today, so I'm not out there now. I like how the lattice is reflected in the bottom of the wine glass.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The first run in a while

I've been getting itchy to run lately. My legs and knees have been pretty good lately. Sooner or later you have to go.

So yesterday I did, nice and easy. Long limbering up and roller session. Walked and started very easy with a little walk break in the first K. Took a walk break at the end of every K, just to give my legs a change of pace. It all felt good, but didn't want to push it. By the end of 4 K my left knee was starting to feel a bit tired. Good cool down walk. It was great to be out again! Now, if I can get back into the swimming pool again. Poor Talisman, the mechanical level was flooded and their still working out a plan to reopen the pool. I'm spoiled now, but may have to get a City pass for Renfrew again.

Long stretch session after. I got in just in time to miss a pretty good storm. This is without any editing. It was really dark for a while but it blew over quickly.

The rest of the weekend has been puttering around the house. Keeping on top of the weeds in the flower boxes. Anise Hysop never gives up. Racking wine in the basement; next weekend I should be able to bottle. Writing. Reading the book club book even - Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon. I'm not much of a dog person, so lets just say I'm not expecting to be bowled over. The opening pages were a bit of tough sledding, trying to figure out who had died, who was in the room talking about it, and who was being referred to.

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride, but I didn't want to. A quiet day is what I wanted.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday morning adventure

I didn't get into trouble yesterday, even with Stampede as a distraction. This morning was a bit different. Suddenly.

We've had a bit of a jury rigged solution to keep water out of our basement. If the downspout was left alone, we get a river of water coming the wrong way back to the house. Eventually it will overwhelm the foundation draining, and it comes in a basement window. Bad. I had some big green hosing to lead the water away towards the back yard "garden".

While the crew is working on the exterior installation they've had to remove the drainpipe. They draped it over the fence to our neighour's lawn. However it will just run under the fence and back to our house.  This morning I listened to a gentle rain. That was ok. Then I woke up to harder rain, and had a bad thought.

There isn't much holding the drain stuff together. I hadn't heard it all crash down, but I've slept through louder noises. The sound of rain hitting the sidewalk slabs had changed. I got up, dressed, and out to look at it. Sure enough, water was running back toward the basement. Not a huge torrent, but still.

I thrashed around a while out there, getting colder and wetter by the second, trying to get something set up with the materials at hand. Lots of those all over the back yard. Here's what I ended up with. Not bad. Strictly temporary of course. Next week we'll want something just a little more permanent and attractive. Think rain chains.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I didn't get in trouble

Some people find trouble, or it finds them to hear them tell the story. Maybe I'm just a staid old stick, or have led much too sensible a life, but the one afternoon I go out receptive to trouble, what happens? I take public transit home and nothing happens.

Here was my view.

This was shortly after I found a food truck. I wandered around downtown a bit, enjoying the views. Things were thinning out though. Those that had to go back to the office were doing it, and those that were going to the grounds were doing that, and those determined to go drinking had already started. There was a drunk on the LRT making a nuisance of himself.

Three breakfasts for me this week. One by the landlord of the building, right beside the receiving docks. Bleah. One by SI, a company I contract through periodically. I know a bunch of people that work through them, and have a good relationship with several of the staff. It was at Craft Beer Market and was excellent! That's even without having the coffee with Bailys in it, and I think it would have tasted better that way. Several of us from work wandered over. I chatted with a few people I've worked with before. The band was actually pretty good, pumping it out like they were auditioning for that big contract. More fun was watching one co-worker avoiding a couple girls hitting on him. (Stampede has an equal opportunity policy when it comes to hitting on a potential partner. Nobody is shy this time of year.) The third was Randstad. I'm contracting through them right now. Their people are really friendly, and worked hard to show us a good time. So far they haven't called to say I won the iPad mini that I'd give to Linda. The band was so-so but at least it wasn't loud. The band is almost always too loud. The food wasn't so hot, but it was nice to sit and chat. No lunches this year, which is a bit unusual.

The one annoyance for me this year was the erratic paths people take. Normally there is a pattern to crowd movements. I can tune in and slip through, even during Stampede. Not this week. People were wandering around like half slaughtered sheep. Good thing I wasn't in a rush. It would have been horrible to miss the variation on this year's dress. It's a white lace overdress, not quite knee length, with a white solid under dress, down to about mid thigh. I saw sleeved and sleeveless variants. It looks nice, and is practical in the sunny heat. This girl was wearing a bikini under the lace part of the dress. She clearly had the figure for it. Lots of people taking second looks.

The installation is still under way, though it hasn't been the full crew every day. They started on the back today, and are about half done.

I'm impressed by him. That top slab of rock for the step weighs about 500 pounds, and it's been shifted out a few inches to give him room to work. When he first looked at it he thought it would be ok. I guess not. I wish he'd said something when I was there and we could have worked together to move it.

Must head downstairs and stretch.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Install reveal, in progress

That left IT band. Holy cow. Other things were as I expected, and they loosened up nicely, but that one. My goodness. I was breathing through it several times. That one is so tight that my therapist thinks it's entirely reasonable it's pulling my knee, calf, and then down to the sole of my foot, and probably pulling the top as well, getting my hips and butt upset. Which then starts to affect the other leg. I'll have to work on this. Where is that golf ball again?

There were some interesting comments on Facebook about the back yard activity. Here's a photo of the front door that will make all clear. This is still in progress. The west side of the house is  partially done. If you want to see the blue siding again, better hurry. Thursday or certainly Friday will be your last opportunity.

He was very nice and hung our mailbox again. There is a new light coming soon. In the second photo you can see a bit of jointing is still missing. He'll get that when he does the next batch.

And lastly, gotta love Stampede during the hot days.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The matching sunset

The other day I got a dawn photo looking northwest.

Here is a sunset photo from the exact same spot, pointed in almost the exact same direction. No editing on this, it's pretty as it is. Gotta love Alberta.

We got some stuff delivered to the house, and I discovered it makes an excellent wine holder.

It worked so well we got a bunch. Just in case we need to support lots of glasses of wine.

Lots of stretching. I'm glad I'm not trying to wear my boots. The tender and sore bits would be a whole lot more so very quickly. We were out for a nice walk around the neighbourhood, and I was feeling that in my knee afterward. Rolled the ball on lots of tight hip muscles. Bring on the massage tomorrow!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Exciting install in progress!

This photo was taken looking north west. What's unusual about it is that it was taken at dawn, not dusk. Yes, really. If I'd been willing to scramble up onto a slippery roof I could have had some amazing shots, I think. Probably I could spend lots of time lovingly tweaking them in Snapseed while recovering from the broken leg. This is only slightly tweaked.

Check it out. The back yard has become a work area for a crew of three, hard at it. The in progress photos are ok, but not worth sharing at the moment. Later it will make a better story.

Can't wait for the massage on Wednesday. Low back, look out, here she comes. Downstairs stretching it out. As long as I don't try to move quickly, things are ok. So far no cowboy boots this year. The tender spot on my foot is exactly where all the weight goes while wearing them.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Most recent book thrown across the room

One of my reads lately was A Conspiracy of Tall Men by Noah Hawley. As some of you know, I love me a good conspiracy theory. This was a little bland, as these things go, but was gradually picking up.

  • Strike one was the author deciding part way through to really pick it up with the literary thing. 
  • Strike two was the author being lazy. The two sidekicks drive into a desert town beset by conspiracy bad guys, or so they believe. Just by accident they run into the one person who has the info useful to them, and in one huge bad conversation barfs it all out, even though he doesn't know them from Adam, has no reason to do so, and I suspect good reason not to.
  • Strike three was shortly after that, when the conspiracy bad guys kidnap the sidekicks, chain them to some chairs in the back of a truck trailer, and prepare to torture them for information they know the two sidekicks don't have. That was enough for me, and back to the used book store it goes.
Once upon a time, if I started a book I finished it, even if I was cursing and swearing at the author along the way. Now I just stop. Life is too short to clutter up with characters or stories you don't care about. What really drove it home with strike two above is that I was working on my novel, with my protagonist learning about a deeper level of reality. It's quite interesting to structure a book so that things take place in the right order, and that characters meet up in a natural way. The drive in and meet the right guy in a breakfast cafe might as well have had an announcement, "Flight 6, Deus ex Machina airlines, arriving now, meet your party at the cafe with the bad coffee".

I'm still working on The Swerve: How the World became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt. It's a bit heavy going in places, but thoughtful reading. I'm no scholar of the Middle Ages, and I'm no fan of the Catholic Church, but Greenblatt certainly takes an over the top approach to some aspects of it. I can appreciate that Greenblatt needs to place the original manuscript in it's time and place, and the copy he discovered in that time and place, in order to help the reader to properly understand the impact it had on the world. But good golly he sometimes takes the long way around the barn.

I'm not sure of my selection which will be next. I suppose I should round up our book club selection, since that isn't one of the assortment. Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon. I have no idea what it's about. In other news I finally got my ticket for When Words Collide. It should be fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Much of my weekend was spent sitting right here, writing. Lots happening. Visited friends for a BBQ. Lots of time working on the flower boxes. Linda moved a bunch more stuff in. I did some weeding, and spent some time hanging out in the patio. A three day weekend sure disappears quickly when you're having fun.

I was a bit sore after the bike ride Friday, and have had a couple good stretching sessions. Today I'm feeling much better, and am just about ready for another bike ride. Talisman still isn't open, and I'm missing my swim. There are other places that will accept a Talisman card, it's just that none of them are as convenient. 

There's a reason I'm showing you this photo. Look how much the siding on the house has faded compared to some left over siding that has been sitting in the garage out of the sun.

I set up a time lapse movie hoping to capture clouds rolling into form a thunderhead, but no such luck. Lots of interesting boiling and dissipating but it isn't that interesting. Oh well. You never know what you're going to get.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Estela was a happy bike

After sleeping in till 8am.

Let's just pause a moment. 8am. During weekdays I'm usually awake at 5. Weekends I'm often up and out of bed at 6. Sleeping till 7 is a debauched pleasure. What can we say about 8? It means I've had a busy week, and the stars, planets and moons aligned so I got a good sleep. This is one for the record books.

I did some playing with my blog under the influence of coffee. There are a few new buttons off to the left. I already had the Twitter follow me button. I Tweet after blogging. I added a button to get email notifications if that's what you want, and an RSS feed. I don't know if either of those last two actually work, and would appreciate an email or comment if they do or not. (Now I know the email one works. A few hours after posting I got an email of the blog. How nice.)

It was beautiful out so I decided that it was finally time to get outside on my bike. Estela has been pining a bit, locked onto the trainer for many, many months. Even getting the trainer tire off and replaced with a road tire was easy, though admittedly, that's the easy change. The reverse is harder unless you know the trick.

The battery died on the bike computer, as I suspected it might. All the data is from the Runmeter app. Here's some screen shots.

This was a nice easy relaxed ride. It didn't seem like a good idea to head out 22X and be a long way from home if my legs decided to pack it in, so I wanted to stay in town. I had no idea the speed or cadence, and I didn't much care. It was just fun being out. My left knee didn't seem to mind standing up as much as when I'm on the trainer. Maybe my position is subtly different. The hour ride was good, but I could feel the usual left hand numbness creeping in, and my knees were getting a bit tired. I don't think I'm going to be doing Road to Nepal in 2 hours again any time soon.

Just as I came back, we were getting a delivery. A few more are coming on Monday. Exciting times for the house. More photos as things happen.

It feels so manly to be playing with power tools again. One needs to treat the circular saw with respect. I didn't lose any fingers, but we did lose a gate post. It was in the way.

It's Stampede Parade day, so about a third of Calgary is down on the parade route. The reports had Mayor Nenshi, the Emergency response coordinator Burrell, and a selection of first responders get a slow motion wave of a constant standing ovation, and well deserved. They have done a heck of a job throughout the flood. It has been refreshing to see an elected politician justly praising other people to the skies as they work their asses off, be smart enough to get out of the way and let them get on with the job, make tart observations where needed "the only bride that failed was the one not inspected by public servants", and speak truth to the idiocy that surfaced. "Don't be a Nenshi Noun" is going to live on.

Stampede in Calgary is just a bit different. I suspect people will appreciate it a bit more this year, since nobody could have blamed them for canceling this year. Just 10 days ago the parade staging ground was under 4 feet of water, and the grounds didn't have much less. The LRT tracks just outside the grounds are the only practical way of getting  there, and they looked like a roller coaster ride. Some events have been cancelled, or moved, or there are other alterations. Parking is going to be a capital B bitch the entire time. Some parking lots are converted to event tents anyways. This year several are still staging grounds for ongoing work. City Hall is going to be a mess for a while yet. Nobody is expecting this to be something to top last year. Many people are still coming to grips with the damage to their homes. I've already heard people expressing a bit of guilt about going out Stampeding when there are people that need help.

This is only a test

Just a test.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Writer Blogger meet up

I like meeting new people, which is a bit unusual for someone as shy and reclusive as me. Small talk is something I'm not good at, and I often find dealing with group activities annoying because it seems there is always someone who can't get it together.

The first time is always the hardest, but the meet up was fun. There were 5 other people, though more had said they were coming. The adventurous part of the event was finding parking. Maybe some attendees bailed at the difficulty. The entire Rose & Crown parking lot is now a Stampede beer garden. There used to be an open area across the alley that could be used for overflow parking, and it's fenced off for construction now. On street parking is limited.

Everybody seemed to have a good time. It's a new group so there were lots of intros. One of the people presented some good info on increasing readership. Another topic was on plot structure. It's a bit different than other writing or critique groups, but I think it will be fun.

Partly my interest here comes from doing a lot more writing recently. There's been some interesting stuff happening with the novel. I was really pleased that I created the need for a particular scene with two characters, with a particular result. Then I turned around and wrote that scene along with some other good stuff that fit in. Of course, it's all very wordy right now, and needs to be trimmed, but that's ok. I'm still at the barf it out on paper stage.

My legs are still feeling tired from the strong spin the other day. I may have overdone it a bit.

The old plants transplanted into the flower boxes, and the new ones seem to be happy. There are new blooms and growth showing up. So far not many weeds.

I was given a word at the blogger meet up. Mine is Watergate. Which I think was fortuitous, because I've been thinking about the "gate" suffix for a while. It used to be that political scandals had names suffixed with "affair" or "scandal". Now everything is gate. It's boring.

One of the recent ones here was Duffygate, and some news today shows it still has legs. It seems there was discussion of partisan funds being used to pay off his debt, which means the Prime Minister pretty well had to know, since he's the head of the party and has to sign off on that sort of stuff. More to come on this. Harper must be very happy that Parliament is shut down for the summer.

But Duffygate, for a while on Twitter they at least explored other names. My preferred one was clusterduff. Part of the problem with giving these issues superficial names is that the issues becomes superficial. The headline of the day. Soundbite journalism. Said and forgotten for the next soundbite, while important and complicated issues don't get discussed at all. As I've said many times, we are long overdue for grown up discussions on many issues.

Oratory used to be a prized skill. It's been mostly replaced here in Canada by obfuscation, partisan sniping, ought right lies, and a complete lack of respect for the taxpayers, or themselves even. Many Canadians despised Pierre Trudeau, but he was a brilliant and eloquent speaker in both languages. I can't think of anyone since then that even comes close. Such a shame.

Monsoon season is over, and now we are into Stampede weather. (So much for grown up discussions for the next 10 days.) This usually means warm and sunny during the day, with delight side effects, and  periodic thunderstorms or rain showers in the late afternoon/early evening. There's been some good thunderheads building and dissipating this afternoon. I haven't done any Snapseed art lately, so here's one of the storm cells building, only slightly dressed up in Snapseed.

Lastly, the South LRT line is running again as of this morning. They pumped many millions of litres of water out of the tunnels, replaced about 100 meters of track warped into a roller coaster ride, checked and fixed electrical stuff, and replaced the track bed where it had been washed away from the end of a bridge. Just amazing! So if you were wondering if you wanted to come to Stampede, do so. Please and thank you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Too humid

Normally in Calgary, when it's hot, which doesn't happen often, it's a dry heat. Not today. Too hot to do much. This is the hottest I've ever seen the thermostat. Just as well we didn't install the air conditioning, there was a request to trim power usage at peak hours.

I wish I could alternate an hour in the office with the overpowered air conditioning, and an hour outside. Only a bit of stretching to loosen my legs up after workout yesterday and sitting all day, that one muscle was all cramped up and now it's happy.

Remember that stretch of roller coaster LRT track, about 100 m worth right beside the nearly washed out bridge? Remember the flooded tunnels? Remember that little 10 day western party starting Thursday night? It's all good. LRT service on the South Line starts Wed morning at 4am. Amazing.

BBQ some salmon and shrimp in a big sandwich on a bed of Dill and a special made Linda sauce, with a mint and tomato salad. Tres yummy!

Looking forward to a Calgary writers and Blogger's meet up tomorrow.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The cats stole my golf ball

Once upon a time I could do a passable imitation of someone playing golf, as long as you didn't look to close at my swing, or the score, or the ratio between balls lost and found. This was back when I was doing shift work, so a few of us got together to hit various courses mid week.

Then I came to my senses and got off shift work, though I'm still tainted by it. I've only played golf a few times since, but still have the clubs and stuff. Stuff includes a bunch of golf balls. My buddy Sophia assures me that golf balls are totally the thing to massage the bottom of your feet with when it's tender. As I found out yesterday, she is so right.

So afterward I left the golf ball there, next to the softball I'd been using, the stick, the fitness ball, the foam roller, the elastic bands, the jump rope all on or near my workout mat. Today after my bike ride I went looking for it, and couldn't find it at all. It's probably under some shelving somewhere, next to the white foam ball they liked playing with for a while. We probably won't ever find it by looking, and it will only see daylight again when people come to cart us off to the old age home and all our obsolete stuff to the dump. Those kids probably won't even know what all the paper in the basement is.

In any case, I have others. I was even rolling my foot on it while doing some ironing. The bike session was interesting. It started a bit clunky, then got good quite quickly. Even though it's really nice out I did not feel like playing with bike tires today, and my low back was a bit tight. So once more onto the trainer, for what turned out to be a fairly strong workout. Warmup. Then all the following at about 90 rpm: 180 watts for 10 minutes, recovery, 205 to 210 for 5 minutes, recovery, then 245 for a minute followed immediately by a spin up through the gears at 100 rpm to over 400 watts, then back down to easy spin to cool down. My left knee still feels a bit weaker than the other when standing on the pedals, just at the point of maximum bend. My sit bones are feeling better about the experience.

Good stretch after, with some core. Working various leg muscles.

Then Kingsland Market and visiting the food trucks! These guys have been just amazing throughout the flood. My choice today was the Steakout Truck, though the Pizza the Hut with wild boar pepperoni from Without Papers Pizza came close. So yummy.

It's going to be a while before going to bed. It's hot, and there will still be daylight till about 10 pm at least. Our bedroom window faces west, and it was a scorcher today. Plus there will be fireworks downtown for Canada day. They did a test run a few days ago, and there will be no sleeping through it. No view of downtown from our place, even if we sat on the roof, there are tall trees in the way.

The plants are still looking a little bit shocked, but are beginning to perk up. It will be a three day week for me, as we get Parade day off. I suppose if I wanted too I could go into work and sit in our lunchroom to watch the whole thing in air conditioned comfort. It might be the easy and comfortable way, but it wouldn't be the cowboy way.