Saturday, March 29, 2014

Magically, a rant

I love me a good magic trick. It doesn't have to be big and flashy, it can be as simple as a deck of cards or a ball with some cups. Except it isn't magic. It's an illusion, one that the performer has endlessly practiced. A "simple" card trick will have required thousands of hours of handling cards, and perhaps hundreds of hours practicing a particular sequence of moves within the whole presentation package.

From a process point of view, I can usually understand how it was done. I'll know that, somehow, they swapped decks, or dealt seconds, or undid the cut, or forced a card, or something. Often there are several ways to do the illusion, and I could have it completely wrong. That doesn't take away from my enjoyment.

I really liked Penn and Teller's "Fool Us" series. That's the one where people come on and try to do an illusion in front of them, and P&T have to say how it was done. Talk about a professional challenge, and yet some of them do it. Shaw Farquhar, for example. This is amazing. Skip to 2:36.

In previous, simpler times, humans didn't understand our world. We invented gods and all sorts of other fanciful explanations for what we saw around us. Recently we have developed rigorous tools for understanding and explaining our world. There are still things we don't understand, and details that remain to be worked out, but there's a lot we do have a grip on. For example, we understand the rules around gravity well enough that we can send space craft to the far ends of the solar system with complete precision, even though we don't exactly understand why or how mass creates gravity.

Let's consider an example closer to home. If you read this blog, you deal with electrical circuits. At the simplest you flip a switch and a light turns off or on. One of the great boons of civilization, all in all. I'm not sure how many people could accurately describe how this happens, from the creation of electricity at source, the transmission to your house, to be converted to light rays in a lightbulb. Even fewer would be able to describe the various procedural, material, and construction standards that have been worked out so that this can happen safely. I don't think many people would describe this as magic. I hope not.

Now a more complicated example, the small device I'm writing this blog on. If I were to take this device back to my childhood, computer scientists would wet their pants with excitement. Even after saying "transistors" and "software" to them, they would still have to work really hard to understand how it works. They would likely destroy it by trying to reverse engineer it. The one thing they wouldn't do was think it was magic.

What troubles me is that many people now use the word magical to describe what it does, or how it relates to other objects. Even Apple does it, which does them and us a disservice. Why didn't they say "science-ly"? Or I guess if it's the word, scientifically? It might seem magical, but it's nothing of the sort. It's a great deal of very exacting work by a lot of very bright people combining many different areas of knowledge.

How does that photo get from my camera to my iPad and laptop and desk computer in a few minutes, without me doing anything? Because, WiFi. I know the photo is really a very long series of zeros and ones that the computer uses to display an image. Those bright people I mentioned figured out a way for my devices to transmit data to one another, after discovering that there was a new photo without me doing anything but take the photo. It's wonderful, but it isn't magic.

Disease has killed untold numbers of people. Some of the smartest people that have ever lived have devoted their lives to understanding how various diseases work, and how to prevent transmission from one person to another, or to prevent it from happening in the first place. Sometimes it's as simple as washing your hands with soap and water between patients, and there was a huge struggle to get doctors to do that. Oddly enough, that struggle is still happening. Often it's more complicated.

Then there are the anti-vaccination lunatics. Vaccination prevents people from dying of diseases. We call them preventable diseases because we can prevent people from getting them, ever. Except people that are too stupid to understand this. People that don't vaccinate their children are guilty of child and society abuse and are not fit to mingle with the general public. Measles was essentially eradicated till people stopped vaccinating for it, now we are having outbreaks again. Vaccines aren't magic, but these people have reverted to a voodoo level of thinking that something like a thing is more dangerous than the thing itself. Seeing homeopathy flourish makes me fear for the future of humanity.

I remember when scientific was a good word. Governments and corporations wanted to do things in an evidence based manner. Maybe they did get carried away, but I blame a misplaced importance on the profit motive driving corporations to override the evidence and do what is expedient.

Science describes our world. It makes predictions that can be tested. The results of those tests are used to revise the explanations, if necessary. There is a process to describe the prediction, the tests, and the results, so that anyone else can do the test themselves. Done properly they should get the same results. If the results are different they need to understand why. There could be any number of reasons, but there has to be a reason.

The tests will get done over and over till we understand the reason. Oh, it MATTERS what the air pressure is when we're measuring the boiling point of liquids? So THAT'S why Billy Bob in Calgary was getting different results than Billy Sue in Vancouver. So now we can do a bunch of experiments and build a chart, then climb a mountain and do the test there, comparing the results to other ways of determining altitude. How interesting!

There is a reason air travel is one of the safest ways to travel. Whenever an airplane crashed a great many people went to great lengths to understand why. We've pulled parts of aircraft from the sea bottom. We've reconstructed mangled metal, and deliberately destroyed airplanes to test ideas. We learned a lot about metal fatigue in the process, and a host of other things.

Every time we figured out how an airplane crashed, we went back and figured out how to prevent it. Again and again. Now an airplane crash is a rare thing, and it's almost always human error. I just watched a video testing a wing on a 777 by bending it till it broke. They calculated it would break at 150% of the maximum design stress. It broke at 154%. That wing is bent to a degree that is amazing to an untrained eye. Now you know why I laugh when people worry about an airplane's wings flexing during flight. Consider this. They didn't guess at that number, they knew because they understood the materials and the rules involved. No doubt some engineer was assigned to figure out where there was a very slight difference between the prediction and the actual results.

Now it seems that scientific is a bad word. The Harper government certainly seems determined to destroy the means of gathering scientific evidence that might support policies they they disagree with for ideological reasons. There are many elements in the USA that seem determined to do the same thing.

The use fallacious reasoning so they don't have to believe that climate change is happening. They flat out ignore everything science tells us because they feel emotionally comforted by creationism, or it's slightly better dressed brother, intelligent design. For all intents and purposes, it's another flat earth theory or geocentricism.

I wish I knew where this came from. These people say the stupidest things, and don't seem to accept there is conflicting evidence. Their minds are closed. Anyone that says "you can't convince me" is someone you should run from. They say scientists don't accept their theories because scientists want to preserve the world as it is. Which is bunk. Scientists live to see a new theory come along that explains everything we currently understand, and makes testable predictions about what we don't yet understand.

Scientists say "show me the evidence." The problem these magical thinkers have is that they don't have evidence. Their thinking that there is something wrong with the theory of evolution, or gravitation, or their pet cause, is not evidence that their theory about such things is correct. They don't understand how science works.

They like to talk about a conspiracy that keeps them from the recognition they think they so justly deserve. I'll tell you the test any conspiracy theory has to pass. Three people can keep a secret only if two of them are dead and illiterate. It's that simple. The entire apparatus of the US presidency couldn't keep a simple burglary secret in 1972. You think they could plant bombs in two huge buildings, kill thousands of people, and keep it a secret? Seriously? Filmed the moon landing in a studio? Let's give you a drink of reality juice. Come on, it tastes great. You won't miss your delusions at all.

There are lots of theories about how to train for athletic performance. I've come to believe that there are many ways of training, and that no one way is optimum for all people. We're all different, after all. But no rational person doubts that you have to do the training to get the performance on race day. You can visualize crossing the finish line in record time all you want, but until you get your ass moving, it can't happen. Visualization plays a role in training, but it isn't the only tool. You've got to use all the tools at your disposal.

As a reward for reading through, you get a picture of my current writing companion. She normally sits on Linda, or on my shins. But lately she's been curling up right beside me. Where does this cat keep her ears?

Here they are, strategically controlling the passageways of the house. They are sitting where we have to pay attention to them, so they can convince us to activate those opposable thumbs and feed them. More.

Oh, my quad. Feeling much better today. Feeling is the right work, I can actually feel it. There was a bit of tingling that was very nice. I can do one legged squats again without pain. So nice.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not the ranty-pants bleat

Today was a very adventurous day. Had I been writing this blog about 8:30 this morning, all I can say is that it would come out very differently.

Very differently indeed. Grrr. Though I have to admit our LRT driver was totally on the ball about keeping us informed of what was happening, what our choices were, and apologizing out the ting-yang.

Tuesday my right knee started aching. I've been working on rolling and stretching, really I have. But Wednesday afternoon my massage therapist found my right quad was a solid block of unhappiness. The IT band wasn't much better. No wonder my hips and low back were hurting. She worked on that a long time. I had to ice it when I got home.

What with one thing and another I haven't been into the pool since Monday. Something about billable hours. I was hoping to hit the pool Friday, but no. My margin was eaten up by a very, very slow transit trip downtown today. I don't even want to talk about it. Grrr.

Lots of nice response from the question and answer blog. Glad you guys liked it. Meanwhile it's nearly time for bed. Another week nearly done, zooming by. I'm not sure what it is. It used to be that a work week took forever. Now they go in a blur. It seems like the year just started and it's a quarter over already.

I can hear you asking, what about the running? Nope. No running since Sunday, other than in the pool on Monday. More crap weather. The sidewalks are a menace to civilization. No way I'm going to run on those. Plus, I'm sick of the snow. Sick of it. I'm so over it. Just like zombies and vampires, over it! Done.

Golly, a bit of the crankiness is creeping through. Better shut it down before I get started on the fiasco that is Rob Anders.

Good night.

Monday, March 24, 2014

You have questions, I have answers

I've done various of these question and answer things, and they're lots of fun. (Finishes a glass of wine, pours another.) If I was really ambitious, I'd go back and provide my readers links to those posts. Oh all right, there's one to get you started, the rest are an exercise for the reader. Sheesh, the things I do for my readers. (pours a bigger glass of wine.)

So my run buddy Michelle got given questions from another blogger and answered them. Now I get a set for me. Except it's a Pinterest image, which I can do nothing with. (Pours another glass of wine.)

My buddy Sophia did one too, and it's much more inspiring than what I will come up with. Here goes. (Sips wine for encouragement and inspiration.)

1. What is something you are very proud of? Why?
Not just proud, but very proud. Hmmm. Finishing Ironman without needing medical attention (which was the primary goal) is one of the more recent ones. Being in good enough health (at the moment) to plausibly (I hope) sign up for a marathon at my advanced age is another. Both of which are part of changing my life to go from being a fat pudge, to being fit and active. Married for almost 30 years, though that isn't really my doing. I'm just lucky I haven't been traded in on a younger model.

2. When and why did you start blogging?
The first post was Oct 27, 2007. I link because this explains the why, and rather than type it all over again, I can work on this glass of wine. (Or pet a cat.) It will be interesting to see if anyone clicks on the link. Blogger thinks only 15 people have viewed that post. (If you believe anything Blogger says.) For the record, this post will be number 1670. The idea was to have my (then) coach track what I was doing, and a few other of his athletes. Other than the first post, many of the immediately following ones are very boring. It's only later I started ranting, and widening the topic base, and including photos more often.

3. If you could tell your 16 year old self something, what would it be?
Don't drink so much beer, wine is much better. High school really is a waste of time. Going through the waste of time hoops to get a degree will save a bunch of time job hunting later on. (But then again, maybe it would easier to get sucked into a job I didn't like.)

4. You run, bike, swim, make wine, write, and work. What do you like most and least about each of these activities?
(Pours a glass of wine in preparation.)

Like most
Like least
I've always liked swimming. People talk about runner's high, but I've never had it. But I've had a swimmer's high, where it was easier to keep going than to stop.
I don't get enough time to do it, and the skill goes away so quickly.
Getting out and seeing the scenery go by at a reasonable pace. The rush of downhill at better than 85 Kph.
Rain. Hail. Cold. Falling off. (Remember the teeth?) Search the blog for "graphic". Having my knee or low hurt while doing it. Or anything else.
I was a slow convert to running, and I'm still slow. (But who cares! Channelling Ruby Rod.) I've come to love it, even without the runner's high. I miss it when I can't. Best place to run so far? Bermuda.
Sometimes my knees are cranky. By now you'd think I'd be faster.
There is work writing, and fiction writing. I did NaNoWriMo almost on a whim, and was really pleased I pounded out the words to win. (I'm still revising, that's much harder.) I love the process of putting words together to say what I want, in as few words as possible. Or in fiction, to create a mood, or characters, or a scene that will add to the book.
Ummm? Having to type with two hands, which takes away time to hold a wine glass? Voice recognition software that cannot cope with the way I talk.
Make wine
I'd always wanted to try it. Drinking wine was a rarity as a young adult. When I bought it I could never rememer what I liked last time, and never really remembered what it tasted like. Now I get choices. I can taste them in my mind, and compare them to the smell of whatever Linda is cooking.
Some people complain about cleaning the glass, but I find it a very soothing activity. There's nothing I don't like.
I am very fortunate in my work. What I do is a bit of an obscure niche that is difficult to explain to people, since it doesn't fit any of the common slots. But I'm very good at it, and I've only evere met one other person that does it. I like diving into a new database and figuring out, then explaining it to people. I like listening to people tell me what's wrong with their database, and then I'll tell them how to fix it. I like drawing process diagrams. I like explaining things to people.
I'm still spending a bit more time than I'd like in the office, but I need to make hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes. There are retirement savings to be pumped up.

5. What is something you are afraid of? Why?
(Where is that darned glass of wine, it was here just a minute ago!) Dementia. We once visited Linda's dad in what used to be called the old age home. The lobby was bedlam. I could never work there. My fear is that those people are still themselves in there, unable to make sense of the world anymore, and that it might happen to me. However the odds are good. My one grandma was sharp as a tack till the very end. The other is still hanging in there, last I checked. The one grandfather died of old age, (talked to death, some said) and still with it. The other had a stroke, and never quite recovered, very sad. My mom isn't old enough that one would expect such things, though I guess it can happen at any age. (Which might explain some of the Harper Conservative caucus.)

6. What is my greatest joy in life?
I am a simple creature. Having some time to enjoy some peace and quiet, a glass of wine, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, fresh chocolate chip cookies, a purring cat.

7. What is your greatest challenge in life?
Having patience when those around me are not keeping up. Sometimes it's a case of them needing to walk faster. Sometimes it's thinking faster, or thinking period. (This does not apply to the handicapped, of course. They have their own challenges, and deserve all the patience they need.) Sometimes I'm the slow one, and appreciate the patience in others. This does not apply to activities where the plan is to do something slower for a reason. A long slow run. A trial run through a design where we are trying to think of all the applicable cases. Appreciating a glass of wine.

8. If you were stranded on a desert island with someone, who would it be? How would you occupy your time?
Some really smart engineer, or person with the skills to get our asses off the island and back to civilization when we were sick of the sand, or the wine ran out. Making preparations to get off the island.

9. Where is your favourite place on earth? Why?
Once upon a time, my father's family had 4 homes all in a row in Chilliwack, fronting a small farm. My aunt B (actually she was my grandfather's sister, I believe) had a big old fashioned home at one end of the row. She was a wonderful baker and did several birthday cakes for me in specified shapes. I remember an airplane (recognizably a DC-3) and a big ship. Her driveway had a loop at the back of the house. In that loop was half a dozen big fir trees, festooned with holly. I can remember the smell now. Not even a stone's throw away was a bit of a playground jungle gym thing, and a zip line. I had many happy childhood hours there playing with my cousins, roaming the farm and getting in all sorts of mischief.

Very seldom do we know we are doing something for the last time, or seeing someone for the last time. I clearly remember walking that area as an adult once, knowing it was the last time I would see it as it was. Of course it's all changed now.

Now my favourite place is at home.

10. What is something you would like the rest of the world to know?
I have a book for sale! Buy my book! Please! No, wait, that's not quite yet. Soon though, I hope. Stay tuned.

11. What is something you've never done, but would like to try?
I take it nobody wants to hear about the tall, twin, willing redheads, with some massage oil. Ahem. For a while I wanted to try skydiving. That has since been relegated to the list entailed "Damn fool things to try when there are no better alternatives." Probably top of the list now, is signing a publishing contract that pays me a lot of money.

In other news I water ran a half hour with Katie and stretched. The pool was empty. This is the week to swim every morning, but that isn't going to work out. I miss the year when I wasn't working, when I swam almost every morning. It's a great way to wake up.

My knee is feeling really cranky tonight. Downstairs in a little bit to stretch and roll.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Celina photobomb

Now that I'm a little more caught up on sleep I'm feeling a whole lot better. Even yesterday afternoon my knees were not all that cranky with me at all. I was certainly in bed early again.

My run buddy Michelle encouraged me to run anyway, even through it's still winter out there, and offered to come along. It turns out that once around the reservoir is exactly 15 K. 1:55 or so, at a pretty even 7:30 K pace, other than a walk at half way to eat a cookie or two while Michelle dealt with other issues. The run felt really good, so I'm glad I was out. Thanks for coming along Michelle!

Sorry Cori, we were a bit rushed, so I didn't get to video the anti-cast and swift healing dances.

I was a bit surprised how many other runners there were out, but then there's a Running Room in Glenmore Landing that supports a ton of running groups. The only place the path was kind of crappy was down in Weaselhead. Everywhere else had been plowed. So let's see, I'll do the run screen shots for those interested, then the cat photos.

And now, starring Curtis and Celina! The light was just perfect, complimenting his fur.

And then Celina had to hop up to get into the photo for one of the top 10 photo bombs ever. She wasn't there when I started to press the button.

This is one of the better photos of Curtis.

Celina was not feeling the camera love this morning.

This is what spring in Alberta looks like. Can you tell how shoveled my sidewalk is. All the snow on the fence fell last night.

Lastly, novel stuff. I dived back into the timeline software, and have got that (mostly) sorted out. More writing needed, and shuffling around a bit of existing writing.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tummy to tummy. 4am

I know that sounds like the start of some rowdy folk song.
Some of my readers probably have the wrong idea already, the lovable perverts that they are.

Something I've noticed with big orange cats is they like to sit on me tummy to tummy. Back paws at the top of my thighs, and front paws reaching up to my throat. I hope this is a sign of affection, and not incipient predation. So far I've had 3 such cats in my life, and I'm 3 for 3 in having them sit that way. Does yours?

What's getting annoying is his insistence on it happening at 4am, or even earlier. I've been dog tired this last week, and was dragging my tail by Friday. I was in bed last night at 8:30, and sound asleep very quickly after. The last thing I wanted was to be woken up early. I was. Sigh.

The cats were banished to the basement, but I couldn't go back to sleep. I sat up front a bit, then curled up the chair to snooze. The entire time there was anguished shrieks from Curtis, wanting up, wanting to cuddle. Later I went back to bed for a while, and right now I'm contemplating a nap.

I've no idea why I'm so tired, unless figuring out and documenting a weird database is taking up more brainpower than I thought. Certainly my workouts have been nothing to write home about this week. Maybe I'm fighting something off again. There are still lots of sick people at work, and I have to sit in meetings with some of them.

So you've probably figured out I took Friday as a rest day. Other than some stretching and a bit of core, today is a rest day as well. I'm not even sure where I am on marathon training anymore. I should probably be running 26K this weekend, but I can't face it today. Tomorrow I'm hoping to run about 15 K or so.

Trying not to whine here, but I'm looking at a little over 2 months to my marathon, and I'm beginning to have doubts about being able to do it. I see no point in suffering through a 6 hour death march run walk experience. I know I can do that. My goal was to run (such as it is for me) for all but the aid stations, and maybe going to 10-1 run walk in the last hour or so. There is no roll-over to next year, or getting a refund, so if I don't do it, I'll be eating the registration. Oh well, good thing it wasn't expensive.

The white wine is racked to a carboy, and the Nero d'Avola is started. Smells yummy already. Tax paperwork. I'm looking at getting that all organized this weekend. Yeah, fun times, I don't know how I take it. But first, the cat snoreons are getting to me. I think I'll have that nap first. One can never be too rested to deal with tax paperwork.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

That was no fun to shovel at all

Such is spring-time in Calgary. There is usually at least one good snowstorm in March, and I hope that was it. Things could be considerably worse, I always say. Only a few cm of snow, not the more than a foot we had a few years ago. Then again, that could still come.

Some snow is fun to shovel, or at least not much work. This is not that kind. Slushy ice on the bottom, fluffy on top, packed down by footprints, meaning I need two kinds of shovels. Sigh.

Wednesday, finally back into our awesome yoga class! I was missing it. We had a good start, so I don't know what the new people thought. Us regulars had a good time.

I swam 2 days in a row for the first time in quite a while. Wed was mostly water running, some quite hard, with just a bit of swimming in between. That felt pretty good. Today was mostly swimming with a bit of water running once the jerks in the rest of the lane left. They swam quite well, if a bit erratically, and wouldn't stop to discuss circle swimming. We ended up with 4 guys sharing a pair of 50 m lanes, and nobody else would have been able to start without disturbing 2 other people. I tried, and got ignored. At least nobody else came.

On the way to yoga we stopped in at a mall to see Can-struction. A group organizes various teams to build various structures out of food cans, and afterward they go to charity. Lots of balloons this year, and I can appreciate the technical difficulty, since you aren't allowed to bind the cans together. Still, the one I liked the most was the viking ship. The sail really is curved, and was really hollowed out. Very skillful can stacking!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


First things first. Katie and I finally met up on Monday for a very nice water run. After she zoomed off I got a few laps in churning hard. HARD! I didn't notice what time it was when I got in the pool, or out really, but given the time getting out of the car, and back in, I think I was in the water about 40 minutes.

Monday night was a really good stretching session. My butt has been really tight, and I've been rolling it with the ball. Almost painful rolling.

Tonight I was musing about going for a run, but I was captured by the BBQ chicken. Later I went downstairs for a warmup spin, and another good stretch session. My thighs are feeling really tight, and I'm really grumbly about getting scheduled into a mandatory meeting at the same time as my massage session. They had ALL WEEK, and picked that time.

I had been thinking of a run, and maybe it would have turned out really well, or maybe not. I just wasn't feeling the run love. At the moment, the thought of a marathon in 74 days, 10 hours and 40 some minutes is beginning to get on my mind.

At lunchtime today I found this article on wealth and morality.
The article is interesting, but the graph the article really caught my attention. To save you flipping back and forth here's the graph.

In a general sense that as the GDP per capita goes up, the number of people that think a belief in god is necessary for morality goes down. It's really quite a nice graph, with only two outliers. I don't know the exact circumstances of the data gathering, but was surprised to see Italy and Spain so low.

One of the logical fallacies is cum hoc ergo propter hoc (correlation proves causation). This graph could be taken as a perfect example of this. Are countries wealthy because they don't believe in god as much? Or does becoming wealthy drive a decrease in the belief in god?

There is an amazing video by Hans Rosling. It's about 20 minutes and if you haven't seen it, bookmark it and come back later. It's well worth your time.

I'm thinking about both the graph, and Rosling's presentation. Rosling makes it clear that you need to get people healthy first, then wealth will come. Healthy people drive economic activity. Part of the health comes from family planning. If you can choose when and how many children you have, you are much more likely to be able to devote the resources to get them through to adulthood.

And this is where religion comes in. In all too much of the world, family planning is inextricably linked with morality and religion. The priests make the rules, and they are working from ignorance and misogyny. They want to keep everything exactly the same, so they can stay in their cushy role of being the boss, being judge, jury, and executioner.

So why would anyone choose to believe in god, when the alternative clearly leads to a longer wealthier life for you, and even more so for your children?

Well, in the short term, not doing so could get you tortured and killed in some parts of the world. Europe went through that over much of the Middle Ages. Islam and the southern parts of the USA are going through it now. Islam leads towards beheadings and stoning, with the USA going for inadequate healthcare, some of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and poor working conditions. We see dogmatic assertion of faith as fact, based on dodgy texts, in the face of overwhelming evidence, along with an unwillingness to even consider opposing evidence.

As a world view, the last 500 years or so have proved that science works, and religion does not. If we could somehow remove religion from the world, things would get better. If we somehow removed science from the world, an experiment parts of the USA seems willing to try, you'll quickly see a much worse world. Life expectancy will fall, child mortality will go up, along with a host of other unpleasant changes. The data is there if you look. If you read. If you're willing to think.

This is one of the reasons the Republicans and Tea Parties are so scary. They believe stupid things that are contrary to fact and evidence. They are pandering to their economic class (the extremely wealthy) and are willing to throw everybody else under the bus. The really devilish part is that they've convinced the others to throw themselves under the bus.

Why would you vote for a party that actively works toward worsening health care? Refuses to raise minimum wages? Tries to change the tax system to increase taxes on the poorest, and decrease taxes on the wealthiest? And worst of all, tries to remove the rights of women to manage their reproductive health?

There's a joke I like to tell, but it assumes you know who Adlai Stevenson was. It goes like this. During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Mr. Stevenson "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Stevenson called back "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

It's only got worse since then.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

So that didn't work out the way I wanted

Now I'm wondering how long it's been like that. A little while ago I changed up my blog a bit. The other day I started adding in some new blogs to the top of my blog roll, and removing some from the bottom. I figure if you haven't updated in a really long time, you're done blogging.

Which leads to the question of what I put on my blog roll. The primary criteria is that I have to want to read them when they post an update. That strongly implies that they post on topics that I'm interested in reading. Good thing I'm versatile, and have lots of different interests. It also helps that they post fairly regularly. I don't get all judgey about posting daily, or every other day, or stuff like that. Life happens to people, especially people with children, with full time jobs that are in serious training for a serious event that they are taking very seriously. It's much more important to live your life to your satisfaction, and blog when you can, than to be breaking yourself to put up a blog you resent.

What got me onto this topic is my buddy AH. I've known her for many years. There was an experience once with her in our spare bedroom that I'll never forget. Now that you've all got the wrong idea, you lovable perverts you, let me set you straight. I fed her with information and she made a phone call. A series of phone calls. The results were easily the funniest event I've ever been involved in. Ever. My core hurt from laughing so hard, for so long.

In any case, she leads what I'll call an adventurous life in some ways, and has periodically blogged about it. I'll come right out and say her blog is not to everybody's taste. But she's a good writer, and I can appreciate a good rant, which many of her blogs are, in her own inimitable style. So there it is, with her permission. I wasn't sure how much publicity she wanted, however much it is that my poor blog generates.

In ANY case, getting to the point, I realized the little title for the blogroll area is not showing up like it does for the other stuff in my sidebar. I played with that quite a while, and couldn't fix it. I think this template doesn't like that gadget. I'll go looking, in my copious free time, to see if there is an alternate solution that works. I'm just wondering how long that title has been invisible.

While I was doing that, I was looking at my blog evaluation bookmark folder, and moved several of them into my blog roll. Some of these come from a running group in Facebook I'm part of. Some I've discovered through following comments to other blogs. If I find myself going to this bookmark folder on a regular basis, I move them to the blogroll.

Generally there are groups of topics on my blogroll. Fitness stuff, writing stuff, a bit of political stuff, and whatever happens to amuse me. Lots of my bloggers are mothers, but they typically aren't mommy bloggers. No condescension implied, but I'm just not interested. The fact that your kid shows up on your blog every now and then is fine, that's part of a family life. I'm interested in food, and have posted lots of food shots, but that's because I'm married to a really good cook. I'm just not a recipe kind of person, and neither is Linda, so I don't follow food blogs. Some of my fitness buddies are interested in food (go figure!) and post recipes and stuff, and that's all fine. We just like good food.

I'm still working out the writers stuff. There's a really active commenting community on one of the blogs about writing, and that's fun. I'm getting to know some of the other commenters, and have periodically followed links back to their blogs. But even though I hope to have a book to sell soonish, I don't want to read a blog that is all "Buy my book, I'm BEGGING YOU!!!" I'd like to think that once I have a book to sell, I'll be a little more sophisticated about it, and avoid beating up my friends. I figure they'll either buy the book or they won't, and nothing much to be done. Some have already read earlier versions of it, and they may be so sick of it they won't even consider buying the published version.

I found out today that some people use Mrs Google to search for blogs. Such had never occurred to me, which might be why I don't know about all that many blogs. Many of the blogs I read are not what you'd call commercial. I strongly prefer an actual writer's voice, talking about whatever interests them. I'll read a blog with spelling mistakes, or poor grammar, if there is a compelling story by a real voice, ahead of a commercially bland blog, even if the writer is a "professional". I'm bored with bland professional writing that follows "the rules" for success.

And yes, most of the people on there are women. Less than 10% are guys, but that isn't part of the criteria. I've had more guys, and some have dropped off blogging. I think more women than men blog overall, but I'm not sure why that is. Feel free to comment on your theories for this.

So, to make a long story still longer, if you're a regular reader, who has a blog that's not on my blogroll, and you'd like it to be, let me know. I'll take a look. And in a reciprocal way, if I've been leaving comments on your blog, and I'm not on your blog roll I'd appreciate you considering to add me to yours, please and thank you.

So where was I? Oh, yes, running. Today was the day for a nice easy run. Michelle joined me, and Terry T came along as well for a short part. She is super speedy, but wanted a short easy run, and we were it. Very social, very nice. I managed 12 K in a hair under 1.5 hours. This is almost exactly 8 Kph, or a 7:30 per K pace, or a 5:15 marathon. In fact we were a little quicker heading out, and a little slower coming back. The pathway ice was starting to melt and we had to be very careful in some places, which slowed us down a bit. That one spike we both almost went for a ride.

She carried on for the rest of her run, and then dropped in for coffee. Here's a series of shots she got of the cats. In addition to being very photogenic, they are interested in people taking their picture. Michelle got these using a burst mode on her camera.

In other news, for the first time in several months we can see our flower boxes. They will need lots of work, once winter is done with us. This rose was new last year, but we've had another rose that survives and even flourishes, so I suspect this one is looking forward to another season of growing roots and settling in.

I don't think anything survived the winter in this box, since the only legitimate plants are annuals. There are still some rogue anise hyssop and a few other things in there, no doubt at all.

The mint plant is a toughie that has survived everything so far, though I admit it doesn't look so happy here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Where to begin, a rant

Friday I ran 5K in 35 minutes, nice and easy, avoiding puddles. There are still many puddles where the storm drains are frozen. Today I've been wanting to go for a run. I think the extra stretching, rolling, ball rolling, and such has been having a good effect on my legs. Tomorrow I'll find out if that's true. Dawn runs are so nice.

Today was pick up day. The road to Red Deer was full of pick ups. I think the majority of the vehicles I saw were trucks. Most driven fast and aggressively, but there was one driven by a weenie getting in the way. If someone in the right lane was coming up behind him, he would move over to the left lane to get out of their way. Idiot.

The other pick up was wine. Here they are. The first three are the ordered kits. The last is an extra one I picked out because I'd saved so much money. One way of thinking about it is that I paid regular price for the 3, and got the 4th free. The Pacific Quartet is already started.

The kits are complete, coming with their own labels. All I need to buy is corks. I choose to buy shrink wraps for the bottle top for one simple reason. We have a dusty basement, and with the shrink wraps I KNOW the cork has not been compromised. I also buy bottled water from Co-op's reverse osmosis machine because the chlorine that's in the City water supply tends to be hard on the yeast. It also gives the wine a funny taste. 

A few times a year I have to clean out all the containers out of the garage to return for deposit. This turned out to be about $20. Mostly milk containers, lots of juice, and a few beer bottles. I usually go to the Tsuu T'ina (pronounced SootINA) which is sometimes a gong show, but today they were waiting for me. Fast and easy. Love it.

Then geezer hell. Except for the 2 kids I saw stocking shelves, I was the youngest person in the Co-op. By far. The taint of geezer was in the air. One woman was making a nuisance of herself between the fruit & veg section and the dairy section, shambling around erratically, being aggressive with her cart. The guy ahead of me in the water line up hadn't thought it through. He had a big container of water, and couldn't lift it out of the machine when full. I pulled it out for him, but he had forgotten a cart. I put it on the floor, and started on my bottle. He hadn't come back when I finished so I left. Beats me if he ever came back.

Then a couple paying for groceries with a cheque. I couldn't believe it. I thought such barbaric practices had been abolished. They've got the tap Visa machines that I love, why wouldn't you do that? Then in the parking lot, another geezer was wandering around looking for their vehicle, up and down where people wanted to drive. Slowly. I figure if you can't find your vehicle, you don't deserve to be driving it.

It made me think a bit though. Even me, in my youth and innocence, have seen the world change immeasurably in my lifetime. This laptop I'm writing on, and the iPad I'm using to exchange twitter comments and flange up a run tomorrow are amazing. Either would give the computer scientists of my youth wet pants. Our cars can't fly, and just as well given the lack of driving skills demonstrated daily, but I'm just amazed at what they come with now. I'm going to need a lesson on the electronics of it when we buy a new car. Then again, maybe we can keep this one going.

I was thinking of what has to happen for me to touch a small plastic card to a small box to pay for my groceries. In a few seconds there is a very complicated data exchange with computers that live who knows where. Soon I probably won't even need to take the card out of my wallet. The payment machine will talk to my phone. Even now, some people don't use cash. My office roomie doesn't use cash at all. Hasn't carried any for years; he pays for everything with credit or debit cards. 

Even now, what we call a cell phone, is actually used as a telephone only a small part of the time by most people. I use it most as a text machine when I'm on the go. Twitter, email, chat, Facebook, plus Sudoku, when I don't have to pay attention to driving. Turning my parking sessions on and off is probably the most important thing I use it for. I find it hard to believe that something so advanced, that I bought such a short time ago (3 years) is now obsolete. I am eager to see what the iPhone 6 brings this fall. I remain hopeful of actually understanding it.

After getting all that done I settled in. I was seriously considering forcibly cuddling a cat, but how could I disturb him? He was snoring.

I worked on the novel a bit, but mainly I was thinking about today's main errand. We will have driverless cars soon, I'm guessing 5 to 10 years or so. Technically they work fine. Now the lawyers get involved, and all lawyers do is complicate things, and hold them up. Especially the ones acting for insurance companies. The whole situation is calling for a bold stroke to resolve the issue, but the only bold stroke Harper knows is lying to Canadians.

It would be very nice to send a car to drive itself to the wine store. The staff there would load it up, and we'd do a transaction to pay for it. While I had a very nice drive, thinking, and enjoying the silence, what else could I have done with that 3 hours? An attempt at sleeping in might have been nice.

The other thing that will need to change is homes. Right now parcels get left on our door stop. Mostly this isn't an issue for books or DVD's,  but you can bet I made special arrangements for the laptop delivery. The radio was talking about grocery stores thinking again about offering a grocery shopping experience. Presumably the people most interested will be home waiting, but who knows. Even people like me might like to have food waiting when we get home from work, rather than having to stop on the way home.

We will need a way to arrange for packages to be left at a home, with the delivery person getting whatever they need to do so. I suppose if someone really wanted to, they could build a house computer around an iPhone or iPad. Siri is pretty bright in some ways, perhaps she could be trained to deal with people ringing the doorbell. I have to admit what comes to mind is the Star Wars movie where the robots are sneaking into Jabba the Hut's palace. The eyestalk coming out of the door made my week. I'd love, LOVE to have something like that. Something with a spike on it for the religious nut-jobs that come by is a bonus.

In so many ways I'm looking forward to the changes that are coming. It's going to be an exciting ride.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I spent money instead of running

Maybe it's just as well. It was a little cooler today, and I'd have had to wear tights to run. Oh, the March humanity?

What was the money for? A deposit on something for the back yard. Photos when it's installed. Promise.

I was feeling a little something or other this morning, and left a good little rant on the writing industry on a buddy's blog comments. If you're interested in that, look here.

There was some stretching this evening. This was my view. More supervision. Vague disapproval.

Last night as I was going to bed I had to stop and grab this shot. I had to, even though I woke them up. Celina had had her face tucked into Curtis's armpit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No yoga crickle-crackle

I am missing my Wed yoga class. Something about the studio owner going to India. All very well for her, but I'm missing my FF fix.

So tonight I spent an hour in the basement, stretching, doing core stuff. My tree was very peaceful. At one point I was using a softball to roll hard on my calves, IT Band, and inner thighs. Then I was lying on my back, rolling the ball into my butt. Some of it was breathtakingly painful. At one point, lying down, pressing my glute into the ball, there was this loud circle-crackling noise. I'm not sure what it was. Standing up a little bit later felt much better, so maybe it wasn't as alarming as it sounded.

In other news, I sit too much. My office roomie complains about the office chairs all the time. He is just short enough he can move the desk all the way up and stand, so he does periodically. I tried that. I'm enough taller that even at the highest, the desk is about 3 inches too short for me, and I was strongly discouraged from scrounging old phone books to put under the legs of the desk. I have to make do with going for regular water refills.

I haven't lost my mind after all. You are all reassured by this, I know. It turns out that bison painting (see Monday's post) really got put there over the weekend. I've discussed with several of my colleagues and we've all agreed. We never noticed it before Monday. So much for early senility.

Oh, and the wine store called. My last kit is in. I'll be going up one morning on the weekend, once we sort out who is running with who, and when. If you want to worship at the mecca of wine stores in Alberta, let me know. This coming weekend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The smell of spring in Calgary

I wish this could be about birds, and flowers, and La-La-La!

I really do.

But I can't, because spring is months away. What we have now is a temporary thaw. Which means we don't get any of the nice spring smells, like moist warm earth, growing and budding things, and the aforementioned birds.

What we have is the smell of thawing dog poop, and lots of it. I was running back and forth on the 37th street path between the crossing at Anderson, and the turn around at 130 Ave, and it smelled of dog poop practically every step of the way. There is an off leash area between the path and the highway, and I'd be afraid to walk up there. At least the path was clear of it. Though right by the entrance to the path the ice and snow was yellow. Come on dog owners! Have some consideration.

It turns out that loop is almost exactly 3K, which is why I was doing it. I wanted to out for a nice run, letting my legs and lungs do whatever they thought was comfortable. That turned out to be 7K, 49 minutes. I'm pretty pleased with that. The run pace graph is all over the place, but that's ok. It took a while to settle in, and I could feel whatever muscles are on the front of the thigh, just above the knee cap. They didn't hurt, but I could feel them working. I was trying to run nice and soft.

No photos today. Thanks for the kind words about the changes to the blog template.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mixed bag

I was all hot to trot got get into the pool this morning and try swimming again. My buddy Katie had encouraged me to show up, then she decided to do a bike workout instead. So there I was, wandering disconsolately around the pool deck, looking for her. The problem is that I'm really shortsighted, and have to peer carefully. I've goofed a couple times. Oops.

It only took 300 m to lose my form. Sigh. Take a few weeks off and the swim fitness goes to hell. Swam another 200 m anyways, thrashing, watching the kids in the next lane swoosh by. Then water ran for 20 minutes, feeling pretty good.

During the swim I had a bit of an insight. There's one chunk of the novel that I now realize could work set quite a bit earlier than it is now, with very minor changes. One of my readers had commented that she would love to have a doctor as nice as the ones in the book. It occurred to me that it would be a good (if minor) story arc to see the medical system being a bit of a jerk during Hardisty's bike crash follow up, and showing how that changes along with some other changes. The thought of "what would happen if doctors were rated by follow up surveys?" came to mind. After all, every time I get any service work done on the car, Honda sends me a survey. When I give blood, a survey. Lots of other occasions. How would doctors behave if some fraction of their pay were dependent on customer satisfaction about their manner? Hmmmm. In other news, I'm still revising. Still hoping to have it ready to pitch by August.

On the way into work I got some nice photos. There's a story with one of them. I was just loving the colour of Banker's Hall as I was walking along, and had to stop for a photo. These are just as the iPhone saw them.

Many office buildings hang art on the walls. I noticed this one for the first time, and it's not more than 15 feet from my office. I have to pass it to get to my office, and to go almost anywhere. This morning I was standing there looking at it, wondering if I'd ever seen it before. I didn't think so, but wasn't going to be astonished if one of my co-workers said, no, it's been there since we got here.

This is almost exactly what you'd see coming out of the woman's washroom. I was standing in the doorway (it was shut!) to take this shot. I wonder what they think of it? Maybe if I ask one of them I'll find out how long it's been there.

One of my blog buddies mentioned that I needed to update my blog a bit. That photo up at the top was just a bit overwhelming. On almost any screen you have to scroll down to get to the real content. So I tried resizing it at work, and it went away. That was a bit of a surprise. So I fixed that when I got home, and started looking at some of the other templates.

Now, I'm not particularly an adventurous guy. I don't get out much. Good enough is good enough for me. If it works, I tend to leave it alone. Even things that don't really work any more, like slippers with a hole in the bottom, tend to be used well past their best before date. So that picture has been up since September 2010, so 3.5 years, and that's enough, I guess. Upon being prodded. Now that I think of it, I don't have the faintest idea what picture was there before, or even if there was a picture.

So, if you have any comments on the revised photo, or the template, feel free to comment. Even if you don't have a comment on that, you can leave a comment about the brilliant content of my blog.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


It continues to be warm. Yay! The rivers were flowing down the street. So far the storm drains are keeping up.

Michelle and I went out to 37 street, ran down into and out of Fish Creek, then did it again by a different route. Still lots of sloppy ice down there. We ran a little over 7 K in 51 minutes. Mostly nice and easy, but working on the hills a bit. I was in shorts and my favourite tech T, and she was bright in a pink run skirt and matching outfit. Very cheerful. I've never in my life considered wearing matching workout gear.

We didn't get a joint selfie. Sorry. But then if she was in the photo, none of you would look at me and my white legs. If you don't know who Shut Up and Run is, follow the link, you will be amused.

So far, there is still no photo of me with both feet off the ground running. The first photographer that can do that, providing the rest of the photo isn't gross, is going to make good coin!

Due to popular demand, here she is, in all her pink glory. Even though there is all kinds of snow and ice, it really was quite warm, maybe 10 C. So nice.

Bleached a ton of wine bottles today. It's a very soothing activity, in between bouts of chipping soft ice.

Lastly, I had not known this was a thing. It is, and it's awesome!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

58 bottles of wine on the rack, 58 btls of wine, if one of those bottles

Whatever order the photos show up in. We are finally starting to see daylight going in to work in the morning. I got this photo from one of the +15s, it's pretty obvious which one. What I was hoping for was the orange of the sunrise. The direct photo of it didn't work, but the reflection shot did, sort of, if you look really carefully. 

What you can't see in this photo is the bowl of granola off to the right. Curtis is enroaching. I had to struggle with the spell checker to get that, and yes it's spelled right. He isn't interested in me, or even my coffee particularly. He wants my granola. He would walk on my keyboard to get there, if he thought I wouldn't notice.

It has warmed up. In the course of a short almost run (see yesterday's post) the side of the street went from solid ice to this. Today the water is running even more. Not spring yet, not even close. But we'll take it.

I spent some of today chipping ice, and trying to keep the run off from going down my sidewalk. Which is fun, but I gave myself a couple of blisters doing it. Such a weenie.

Much of the day was downstairs bottling wine. The white in the carboy before bottling. Such a beautiful colour, and a good hard layer of sediment. 

Stupid rotation wars. This is what they look like all dressed up. Now they're snuggled into the rack for 3 months.

The white was 28 bottles, and the red 30 bottles, which is a bit unusual. Usually I get 29 bottles. The white is very tasty. There were only a few drops left in the carboy after filling 30 bottles, and that was pretty tasty too. What am I saying? All my wine is tasty. 

Two kits are waiting for me in Red Deer, and as soon as they call to say the last one is in, I'm off to pick them up. If you want to come along and worship at the mecca of wine in Alberta, let me know. I usually head up on a weekend morning when the weather is nice.

There is lots of glass to clean, so I'll probably break out the bleach and spend part of tomorrow doing that, if I survive the run. I'll be sure to wear my road ID so my run buddy's know who to call if I collapse. I have faith they will drag me back to the parking lot. I hope.

Lastly, languid cats, snoozing in the afternoon sun. I wanted so much to join them. Curtis was snoring.

Friday, March 7, 2014

An outdoor almost run

It went from about -18 C (0F) to just above freezing today. When I started my "run", the ice had just begun to melt. By the time I got back, half an hour later, there was lots of actual liquid water in the street. As opposed to the mineral form of water we've had for months.

The run was nothing special, other than being the first run since the long weekend. I ran maybe 3.5 K tops, in 25 minutes. The GPS was not working, so no map. It all felt pretty good, though my legs were getting a bit tired toward the end. My lungs felt pretty good about it. I'm hoping to sleep really well tonight.

Let's not fool ourselves. Spring is months away. MONTHS! It will be no surprise to get a huge dump of snow in the next few weeks. One year we got more than a foot and a half on one day. Could be this year again. Never know. But at least this weekend is supposed to be warm. Sunday's run might be in shorts. I will do a selfie of the skinny white legs. That ought to put you all off your lunch.

This morning had an adventurous start. I was sitting there with my laptop. Curtis hopped up onto the arm of the chair I was in. There was a bit of a cough. I pushed him off, and moved the laptop. In that time he barfed out his breakfast, it landing on the chair just beside me, a few inches from the laptop keyboard. I'm sure Apple has tried to revive a laptop destroyed by cat vomit, but I'm sure glad I didn't have to ask them. I'd thought about swimming this morning, but cleaning up after that made me want to have a shower right then, not at the pool. Plus my nostrils were all whiney and whingy about the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Still almost -WTF cold out.
Still dregs of cold hanging on.
Still not running.
Still trying to convince the cats that forcible cuddling is good for them.
Still thinking about the next book to read.
Still working on revising novel.
Still waiting for the last wine kit to come in.
Still see that dust covered car in City hall parkade that hasn't moved in a couple months.
Still parking indoors because I'm a weenie.
Still making French Press coffee in the morning.
Still loving it.
Still going to bed early after a hit of NyQuil. Like now.

What's still up with you?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Not quite as planned

So after I put Linda on the bus to Edmonton, I came back home and fairly directly climbed on my bike. I haven't been there in a while.

A 2 hour ride turned out to be a bit optimistic. My thinking was that I was supposed to run 16 K, and that would take 2 hours. I had a nice easy warm up, not pushing too hard. Even so, after an hour I noticed was was starting to feel a bit more feeble and I was losing my focus. At an hour and twenty minutes I called it. I was starting to hack and cough again, even though I wasn't breathing all that hard. Stretched, and rolled the ball into some spots where it was good for it.

It's still brutal out so after a shower I settled in and spent most of the day writing. That touching father daughter scene that I'd written about 10 years too late? Rewrote that so Erin is 15. It works much better this way.

Plus the cats. This is what I had the other day. It was very peaceful supervision.

What I got today were constant complaints about the service, or the lack of it from their perspective. Celina has figured out how to rattle the big container where the dry food is kept. It makes a horrible noise. We may have to put something on top of it, a big stuffed toy or something. Curtis has made serious attempts to lie on top of the laptop, while I'm typing on it. Life can be difficult.

It's still -WTF cold here. Another week, they say. Sigh.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The elk bison chipolte chili captured me

There was a very nice response to this weeks rant on drivers and pedestrians. It's one of the more popular things I've written recently. Thanks again for all the readers and commenters!

I'm still getting over my cold, and I realize you don't want to hear about that. So fine, I can't blame you. I was in the pool water running on Friday, the first exercise in about a week and a half, except for, well, you don't want to know about that. Or that either, unless you're a pervert.

The water run went well, about 40 minutes worth, leaving my legs feeling the best since before the massage on Wednesday that nearly killed me. I went in thinking my legs felt not bad. One benefit of being sick is that your legs get a chance to recover. All I had was some tightness in my thighs just above my knees. My hams felt good. Well, once A started digging in, I started whimpering like a little girl. My quads and IT band were all one locked up hot mess of tightness. She spent most of the massage working on just that. Poor woman has delusions of being able to work on my back sometimes. As if.

After the massage I was picked up by my hot date, and we went off to a reception at the Sports Hall of Fame, put on by the Scotiabank marathon people. This was in celebration of 50 years of doing the race, and honoring the people doing the 50K run. My buddy Michelle is doing this, and was kind enough to invite me.

I also ran into the famous Neil Zellor! It was nice to get caught up with him, even if he did want to take my picture. It was really interesting to stroll around the displays. So much stuff. Beer, nibbles, nice people to chat to, what could be better?

Thursday after work we went to the Home and Garden show. Or whatever this one is. There are a couple like it. If I'd had my wits about me I'd have started the run programs, just to see how far I walked. My legs were still tired. I was on a death march to seek out and capture some very specific vendors. I wasn't interested in anything else. I was afraid if I stopped moving I'd never get going again. Normally I like watching some of the leather-lunged vendors, but I wasn't in the mood.

It's back down to minus WTF cold again. No, serious. Call it a polar vortex if you must, but really, it's just a good old-fashioned Canadian winter. Why, I remember a time when it was this cold for months on end. Back when I walked to school uphill both ways.

Even so, I'm supposed to run 16 K this weekend. As you know, I've done my share of humble bragging about running in the cold, but between the icy sidewalks, the cold, and still getting over my illness, I think it would be stupid to run outside this weekend. Maybe if I was healthy, and the sidewalks weren't icy...

Watch tomorrow for a spin session. I figure it would take 2 hours to run 16K, so a 2 hour spin is on tap. I'll make sure the iPad is all charged up. Maybe there will be a tweetfest.

Lunch today was a mix and match chili. Not the nuclear spicy chili that Linda has done in the past. This has elk and bison with a package of dried chipolte peppers, along with the usual suspects of beans, celery, and a few other odds and ends, simmering several hours. It's a wonderful smoky sweet chili, perfect for a cold day.

I think this afternoon is going to be a contemplative day washing wine bottles, in prep for bottling next weekend. Some of the bottles need some bleach. My legs need a bit of stretching while waiting for things to happen.