Monday, August 31, 2015

Fish Creek view path

I wasn't sure about the whole darned thing today, starting with the alarm clock. Normally I'm on it before it goes off, but not today. It took a long time to get started.

By the time I got home I was mentally enthusiastic about a run, but my legs weren't so sure. They were feeling kind of creaky. But it's a beautiful sunny day, warm but not hot. No smoke. I had to at least try. As I was getting my shoes on I realized I didn't really want to run any of my normal routes. I wanted something new.

So I dodged down the garden path. Part of the neighbourhood has a central walkway with lots of grassy space. Today it was fresh mown. Quiet. A few people puttering in their back yard as I ran past.

From there it was sort of down into Fish Creek, then a hard left to the start of the path along the north edge of the park. The views are lovely! I ran along, having settled into an easy pace, lungs and legs both happy. My eyes were even happier! There are so many subtle shades of green, with some bits of red from some kind of bush just beginning to show up. Quiet. Peaceful. It was exactly the kind of run I was looking for. I ran a bunch of stuff out of my brain, and I'm happier for it.

Some of the path is paved, some is red shale. There's a bit of up and down. You can peer into the back yards of expensive houses to see how the rich live. At 3 K I had to decide if I wanted to go lots further or turn back for home.

My quads were feeling a bit tired, and I didn't want to turn this into a slog, so it was back home. More quiet streets, mostly. It ended up being 5 K, 36 minutes, all nice and easy and relaxed. Everything but the stairs were chat chat chat pace. I was careful on the stairs.

Lots of stretching once home again, trying to relax my quads. There is more than the usual amount of difficulty in writing this evening, because of a particular big orange cat who is determined to "help" me write. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that paws can operate a track pad. One day he's going to put it all together and life as I know it will be over. Maybe you'll find him a more amusing blogger than me.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I'm thinking

So many things to think about. Some big, some not so big. Some with consequences, and some with no consequences to speak of. None the less, they are all competing for the very limited number of  thinking cycles in my brain. (No snarky remarks from the peanut gallery!)

Part of the problem is that one can't thoroughly think something through, then put it on a shelf and be done with it. Usually something else intrudes along the way and lucky if it's only one something else.   There is a cost when we stop thinking about something, and start thinking about something else. It's not just mental effort to let a whole bunch of stuff go, so you can load up other stuff so you can think about it. There's actual physical effort. It takes energy. The fact that nothing is seen to be moving doesn't mean nothing is happening.

I was tempted to list all the things that I'm thinking about, off and on, but that would just encourage the things further down the list to yell louder.

Where to start? The default thing in my brain now is my novel. I got some really good advice about a small part of it, but it applies to the whole thing. I'm trying to take a step back and look at it again. I want to clarify what the story is and who is involved for what parts of it. Then comes the part of arranging words on a page so that the reader knows what the story is too and what's more, has a reason, or reasons, to keep turning the page.

It's not just one of three large Scrivener files, each of which I'm pleased to call a novel. All three hook together, and I want to consider all three together. What is the actual sequence of events and why? What do I tell the reader about, and what remains hidden?

Part of the problem is that publishers like to label things. Mystery, thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, are just a few of the labels. They know which they are interested in, and how to go about selling them. The buying public is fickle, so there is a lot of uncertainty about the whole process.

There's a joke. How do you end up with a small fortune from farming? Answer, start with a very large  one. (badabump!) The same could be said for publishing.

Of the three files that I'm pleased to call novels (call me an optimist), one is a mystery and sideways love story. One is mostly science-fiction with a hint of mystery. The last one, well, I don't know. Modern life. Beyond one tiny very plausible thing, it's all life as we know it. A big mix of stuff.

Expect me to be working on this for a while. At the moment I'm trying to think about it as a unified whole, broken into reasonable sized chunks, each individually packaged. Later, with great fanfare I'll announce a boxed set, a few with autographs for the faithful fans. (You remember what I said about being an optimist?)

Friday afternoon was spent with my buddy Sean D, drinking beer, eating appetizers and dessert. Neither of us had to go back to the office, so we had several hours of leisurely conversation. I won't say we solved all the problems of the world; we didn't drink that much! But we talked about lots of stuff, including the state of Calgary's market for our profession, that is, business analysts in oil and gas. It's a pretty precarious time. Many of the people we know are not working. One just got a job after looking more than a year.

One of the rules in our business is that you have to make hay while the sun shines. We never know how long till the next contract. I was in a right spot when the music stopped this time. That hasn't always happened. At the moment the job is tough sledding for some reasons I don't propose to get into. The advice, "suck it up, Princess" applies, and is being applied. But I don't think anybody is going to lose the narrative thread if I mention that the words vacation, and retirement, are coming to mind a little more often.

Some lighter topics. We went to the Global fest fireworks show last night. Impressive! If the issues involved in getting many tens of thousands of people out of the park were easier to cope with I'd go every night. As it is, they close 17 Ave for blocks in each direction, and it's full of people heading for wherever they parked, or hope to find their shuttle bus. We did very, very well to be home 45 minutes or so from leaving the park gates.

As it is, we strolled some of the booths, hung out with a buddy, and watched the excellent show with the full moon as a backdrop. It was beautiful. I didn't even try to take photos this year, other than the one of the moonrise below. Why bother when you can go here and look at stunning Neil Zeller images?

And the cats. They had the right idea today. We settled for lunch with buddies, and puttering around.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The prettiest yet

The smoke cleared a bit this morning. Long enough to go for a short run and get the photos below. In the space of a 2 K easy run the air went from fresh with a slight taste of smokey, to just smokey that was beginning to dry out my mouth and make my lungs unhappy. Still, it was my first run in a week or so.

Linda has started some garden clean up already, figuring if she leaves it, the job will only get bigger. In the mean time, there are more lilies! And cats, don't forget to scroll down for the cats.

The cats have been a bit more determined lately to be in my lap. Poor Curtis, Celina curled up on top of him.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The inner shark does CSS

Considering this is one of the pools at Talisman for the next month, the other pool wasn't all that busy. Maintenance. It has to happen. I didn't mind so much, but the good hot tub was closed. Sigh.

I've been sleeping really hard lately, but not enough. It was a bit of an effort to drag myself into the pool. Normally I don't do warmup. I just get in and swim. Today I put in about 250 m warmup, slowly getting it together while I tried to decide what to do.

Then I realized I hadn't done the CSS thing for a while, and started that. Normally my first one is fast,  and by the third I'm in the groove. This first 100m was slow, about 1:44, which isn't a good sign. The second was a bit faster, and the third 1:38.

Then my inner shark buddy visited, and I got in the groove, then next 10 or so were 1:41 or 42, cruising along nice and relaxed. The shark was not impressed with the prey at all. We chatted about stuff as I zoomed along. My catch was working really well and it seemed effortless. My reach and roll was spot on, though I noticed a slight hitch as I breathed to my right. Then there were a couple where I was working a bit to maintain pace, and for the last one I busted out a 1:37, just because. I was beginning to feel my arms and shoulders a bit. New goggles made me realize how gunked up the old ones were.

15x100 was enough, and a totally lovely swim with a whole short course lane to myself. Pretty pleased at that, though I can't expect that to happen much in September. Cool down, stretch. I think next time I need to start shortening the rest interval, even though that makes watching the clock and figuring sent off times more complicated. Such is life.

On the way out the sun was just barely visible through the murk.

Still murky this evening. The iPhone camera doesn't do the colour any justice at all. It was a beautiful orange.

We went out for dinner to Patisserie du Soleil. I've been there many times for coffee or lunch, but this was the first time for dinner. I'm really pleased with it. Nice to have a good restaurant within walking distance.

Right behind it is something I'm less pleased about. Do I have to worry about being tainted with it so close? Still building a head of steam, never fear!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Madison via Westlake

The immortal Donald Westlake nailed it, in the words of Chief Inspector Francis Mologna (pronounced Maloney). "No, he didn't take it. No, he wouldn't take it. What did the man think he was? You don't get to be top cop in the great city of New York by takin bribes from strangers."

Used to be your mother's maiden name (and what an anachronism that phrase is) was a common security question. A person's name, address, and phone number might be in the book, or it might not be. The people you actually knew would know more about you, but that typically wasn't a lot of people in the great scheme of things. If they or you moved, you tried to stay in touch with letters or phone calls.

If you were a married person, and wanted to have an affair with someone, your choices were somewhat limited, outside of certain well known professions that involve lots of travel. There was always the risk of being seen with someone you shouldn't be, at the wrong time or place. Oops.

How the world has changed. Social media has changed everything. Some people try to blog anonymously, or used to. That got tricky pretty quickly when they posted race results. When I started this blog I didn't even think about it. I use my real name. I didn't try to hide my address. Why bother? Anybody with the wit to look in any local phone book going back 30 years is going to discover my name, address, and phone number. Good luck calling that number, it's kept to give to people we don't want to talk to.

Then there's Facebook and Twitter, and, and, and. I probably haven't even heard of some of them. Some people share more than others, and thats a personal decision. Someone got the clever idea that hooking together people that wanted to have sex with a non-spousal person would be a good way to make money. What was that Barnum said, "nobody ever went broke underestimating human stupidity." Something like that.

Now, understand me here. I can barely keep one woman happy, and sometimes wonder how well I'm actually doing. Trying to keep two happy is insane. If you want to be out having sex with other people, that's between you and your spouse, and you and the other party. Properly done, nobody ought to get hurt, but almost nobody does it properly. Too many societal expectations cluttering things up. Lots of fallout.

As an aside, the piece of fallout that just baffles me is why someone who has been having an affair with a married person, then convinces that married person to leave their spouse, turns around and marries them. What is the ONE THING beyond doubt they know about their new spouse? That they cheat on their spouse. So, why? Note that trying to be gender neutral here. All those cheatin, lyin, no good men? Think about who they're having sex with.

If you want to have sex with someone, man up, fill your boots, and take responsibility. Be honest about a fundamentally dishonest situation. There's already enough evidence about it. Why would you sign up on a site that takes some information about you, in return for money and a promise to hook you up with someone else, and expect it to stay secret?

As we've seen again and again, it's not the secret that does people in. It's the cover up. Trying to keep the secret a secret in the light of contradictory evidence. It brought down an American president. It's covering the Canadian Senate and Prime Minister's Office with even more disrepute. It's hard to sort out, but there are already claims that people have killed themselves over the Madison exposure. As another side note, anyone that claims God has forgiven them for the sin, and you should too, is trying to steal your money.

It's hard for some people to believe, but nothing put on line is ever going to go away. I wonder what will happen as the current generation of children grow up and are confronted with images or text about their parents doing things they would rather not think about. Or see images of themselves as young people that their parents put out there.

Anybody that thought their signing up with Ashley Madison would stay a secret is stupid. End of story. They didn't think it through. It's not like security breaches are a new thing. Credit card numbers and identities were being stolen long before the internet happened.

Several potential politicians have been caught saying stupid things on social media. Donald Trump seems to be getting away with it so far, but that can only last so long. One recent example was a 21 year old who had some tweets from 4 years ago surface. Oops. I can remember some of the things a 17 year old self might have said in the heat of the moment and I blush. Good thing there was no internet then. Anybody with a trace of honesty will say the same thing.

We need a new paradigm. A new way of thinking about lots of things. I don't know what that looks like, but it starts with honesty, and is based on reality. People want sex, and drugs, and are going to buy and trade for them regardless of what the laws say about it. Whether you think it's right or wrong, the transactions have been a fact, are a fact, and will continue to be a fact. People will say stupid things at inopportune times. We might as well face up to it, and deal with reality.

How do we tell the difference between a 17 year old who says something stupid, and someone who really does mean what they said? Should the person that grew out of that 17 year old be barred from running for any office for the rest of their life? Is an apology enough? Is some form of restitution necessary? How much? How long? So we find out a public official cheated on their spouse, does that disqualify them for office?

More questions. Why do we let politicians get away with their lies? Why aren't we laughing at them to their face? Why do we put up with behaviour from them that would get them fired in any other profession in the country? No other workplace would put up with those antics.

One advantage of social media is that there are the beginnings of grown up conversations beginning to happen. There are still way too many trolls, of course, but we're learning to deal with them. I like to think of this blog as one of the places for those grown up conversations. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A smokey swim

Calgary is under an air quality warning. Smoke from forest fires in BC and Washington are a thick blanket over us. When we can see it at all, the sun is blood red. This morning it looked foggy out. One a scale of 1 to 10 for air quality, we are currently and 11 or 12. Parts of BC are a 14. My eyes are watering when I walk outside. I see people running but I don't think I'm going to until it clears up.

Michelle and I scored an open water swim in Lake Mackenzie tonight! Yay us! Really, yay her for organizing it. I was thinking of doing the under the bridge thing, but since the sun was already gone into the haze, I figured it would be pretty dark. I did an out and back, probably about a K. The water was lovely.

I'm still getting caught up after the cable modem failure. I was thinking about the lack of internet, and how things changed. Maybe I'll blog more about that. Some Sunday post swim photos to hold you over.

In the mean time, must zoom!

The death of a cable modem

It worked Sunday early morning. It didn't work Sunday mid-morning.

I played with it. Encouraged it. Talked firmly to it. Tech support was willing to talk firmly to it, but it wasn't taking calls. It wasn't talking to anybody.

So I'm not ignoring you, it's the cable modem. The plan is to pick up a new one tonight on the way home.

In the meantime I actually had time to read, and (gasp!) finish a book. Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond by my buddy Jayne Barnard. It's a fun steampunk romp. I'd read more of it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The shoes of a stranger

Well, not THAT strange. One of my best friends and all.

It's said that if you want to know someone you have to walk a mile in their shoes. Firstly, I'd never get my feet into them. But I was thinking about that during my run today. (5K, 34 minutes, mostly nice and easy trying to keep cadence up.) We've been talking about all sorts of interesting things. Buying vs renting a house vs condo. Working. Retirement. Places to live. What to do to enjoy living.

It's all been quite wonderful. This is why I think it's important to keep your social circle well mixed. It keeps your opinions and thoughts well mixed too. You don't get stale going over the same old same old.

The same happens with writers too, and explains why we need editors. We get too close to our words, to our stories. We need that outside voice to tell us what they think after reading our words. Just because I can see and hear the characters in my mind, along with all the nuances of the setting, and several variations of the major plot points, does not mean the reader will, unless I give them the right words in the right order. It's very difficult.

So difficult that I want to go back to my book universe, consider what I know about it, then try to set it aside as I think about what the actual story is that I'm trying to tell. See which bits of writing so far, if any, support what I'm trying to do. Then build upon that.

Wish me luck.

If you don't see me for a while, send out a search party. I'm likely bogged down in the Great Swamp of Plot Possibilities.

Friday, August 21, 2015

29 exactly. To the day.

Do you remember what you were doing Aug 21 1986? As it turns out, I hadn't remembered either, till we had to go buy a new washer. Turns out we were buying a washer then, too.

It died this morning in a squealing grinding noise, with some burning rubber smells. I suspect the main bearings packed it in. Of course, we checked out getting it repaired. They chuckled, and said they wouldn't even begin to know where to start looking for parts. We can't complain.

The dryer is a similar vintage, and is still working, but isn't very electrically efficient, if it ever was. It's made odd noises too, sometimes. We decided neither of them owe us anything. Delivery tomorrow. I think that sale was the quickest ever for the sales person. We were trying to beat the Saturday delivery cut off time. We made it by seconds. No dilly-dallying about. We even caught a sale.

The other thing that happened today was snow. Mostly rain, but actual snow in there too. Did I mention it's August out there? I tried taking a photo but it doesn't show up.

The big news is that an actual real live editor asked me to send him The Sweet Elixir? And he's read the first chapter and a bit? He didn't buy it, of course. I knew that going in. But I know what to work on now. Back to the drawing board, as they say. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A novel-thinking autopilot swim

The pool was quiet today. There were only a couple other people in it when I joined. My thinking was to have a relaxing swim, to stretch out and cruise along till it started getting sloppy.

It ended up being 2K in just over 39 minutes. This is a bit slow but speed wasn't the point. I wanted to take it easy on my knees, so no race speed flip turns. I'm normally down around 37 minutes for 2K if I work at it, but 79 turns, each a second or so longer than it should take, is most of the difference. The last 300 m I had to think about the swim a bit, and stay focussed on it.

I was thinking about my book universe in the light of what I learned over the weekend. I've got a new scene in my head that I thought would make a good intro for a new book. But something someone said to me makes me wonder if it would be a good lead in to finding a villain. I played with that a bit.

The first one also got some thought, wondering about tuning it up as well. I almost like how it ends, a bit more work is needed. But the beginning is still not as strong as I'd like. Since that book is the opening to the whole book universe, I want to get it right. Oh well, it keeps me out of mischief and off the streets at night.

It's really nice to be able to hold different scenes in my head and play with setting and dialogue. Maybe there's too much dialogue. I try to fit different things together and see how that works. One of the things that might make these more difficult to sell is that I'm not intending them to be taut thrillers with sparse prose and action from end to end. No, these are more gentle, cerebral novels. I'm pretty sure there is an audience, I'll just have to find it once I'm done writing.

In the meantime my arms were going round and around, my body sliding through the water, nice and relaxed. That left me nice and relaxed for a dental appointment where they are taking an impression for a crown. We chatted about wine during, though it was hard for me to hold up my end of the conversation.

In cat news, they are beginning to relent, and start to nibble the new wet food.

We are having a buddy come visit this weekend and I'm so excited! This will be fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A unique thing happened

It's common in an office for treats to come around. Maybe lunch stuff left over from a meeting. Sometimes treats left over from a party the night before. Let's not even talk about Halloween. Maybe someone brings in donuts.

One of my colleagues brought in plums and handed them around. Home grown plums, very juicy and sweet. I was trying to think if I'd ever been given fruit at work.

Then someone dropped off a huge bag of Taber corn in the lunchroom. There was a brisk run on that. I can categorically state that after 4 decades or so in the work place, I've never been given corn on the cob on the job. And Taber corn, at that. This is the best sweet corn in all Canada, available only for a few weeks a year.

We had it with halibut steaks. Such a tasty meal! And wine, I need not mention.

People at work are happy (so far) that I've finally started on a task everybody but management has wanted done for months. MONTHS! But management are the people that pay me, so I have to do what they say. For a while.

It's lovely out, so I went for an easy half hour ride after work. Just out and around to see what's what. My legs felt pretty good, but there's no real strength in them. I can feel it going up hills.

We had a lovely bloom this morning. It's huge.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I got nothing, or, con app design

Usually by now the blog juices are flowing, but I'm not feeling the love tonight. Yet.

A couple good things happened today. I was about to load some stuff into Maximo, and discovered a bug in the software. I wasn't even testing. So that put that load off for a while, I only hope it doesn't go stale.

I had a completely nice run tonight, 5K, a hair over 34 minutes. The last 3 K were each exactly on 6:39. I've never run so consistently in my life. I haven't been out since weekend before last and was wondering how it would feel after all that time off. I think I needed the rest.

The Duffy trial is still sordid, but I'm hoping they can trace the trail of slime back to the lair of the controller in chief. I simply cannot believe that Harper didn't know all the details right from the start. The head of steam for a rant is building. Stay tuned.

I've been mulling over the When Words Collide weekend. Eleven streams of programming! There was something for everyone. Even the bit of a walk between the buildings wasn't a bad thing. It gave you a bit of fresh air. I'd looked for the +15 between the two buildings, but missed the stairway, and hate waiting for elevators. If there was a map to get there I didn't know of it.

Mostly my programming choices were pretty easy, but there were a few I had to think about. Some of the rooms, for some of the programing didn't have microphones. Mostly that was ok, as the people doing most of the panels are used to speaking up and projecting. I left one panel because the presenter was practically whispering, and what little I could hear wasn't making sense when compared to the mouse waving on the screen. So for me, one poor presentation, several that were excellent, out of about 20, all the rest were at least pretty good. That's a darn good batting average.

The registration process was a bit slow, considering that the only thing that needs to happen is to exchange a name for a badge, a program book, a map and program summary on one page, and sign a list. I think of race package pickups that go smooth as grass through a goose, and wonder if some of the same principles could apply. Rather than put the name cards in a card file box, put them and all the program stuff in an envelop, put a label on the envelop, and store the envelops in a box in alpha order. Person comes, gives their name and maybe a confirmation number. Volunteer hands them an envelop. Next! Or allow the attendees to print off their own card and provide a place to pick up the additional materials.

Here's an idea for a smart phone app. Come talk to me if you want some more formal business requirements. Not that I expect the con staff to develop it, but I wish it existed so that conventions could license the app, and download their information into it. The end result is that attendees get an app on their phone that lists all the programming information. As they select each panel, the information is added to their calendar. Everything is all linked together so that you can relate a room to all the panels and presenters, if you should want to not move much. Or click on a particular presenter to follow them around, you stalker you. See more information about the panelists, with links to their organizations. Search tags for topics of interest because of course, the various panels would be tagged.

Several times I found myself looking at a panel name on the schedule, then had to find it in the program book to get more info to decide if I wanted to attend. Then read the info about the panelists. Not particularly convenient. The app includes a map of the convention space. It would list the sellers in the dealer room, and tell you which table they're at. You could easily access hotel amenities. Report a problem to the con or hotel staff. Additional information such as slides or reference material from panelists could be loaded into the app before or after. Maybe include a place for the participant to make their own notes. If you gave it permission, the app should tell you which of your contacts are at the con, to make it easier to plan a meet up. Maybe even deal with registration stuff too.

Don't get the idea that I'm complaining! Not at all. I think the organizers and volunteers did a great job! From my perspective, things ran on time, and all the panelists I expected were there in the right place at the right time. The printed materials were good. I heard lots of people talking about good presentations, so it's not like I got lucky. I love that you can sign up for professional sessions with editors; you could probably put on as much of that as you can find editors willing to do it. There were panels for learning to write better, learning how to sell and market your book, to discuss topics of interest to writers, to buy books. What's not to like? I'm still willing to do a panel on Scrivener, since lots of people seem to be intimidated by it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The cat overlords speak

And they are not happy.

Of course, cats are almost never happy. As long term cat staff, I realize and accept this as my lot in life. But even factoring this in, the local furry overlords are grumpy, and letting us know about it.

They don't care that we work our fingers to the bone to buy them cat food (3 kinds!) or various toys. Or that we comb them often, usually daily. That we provide laps, and chin scritching. That they have the finest windows available. They don't believe we consistently top the cat polling as best staff. (We ask other cats if they would like to lead the life of Curtis and Celina, and to a cat they say yes.

No. All they know is that this wet food smells a bit different than the last batch. Never mind that it's the same as the batch before the last couple, of which they snarfed down with unseemly haste and disgusting noises.

It won't hurt Curtis to lose a bit of weight, but Celina is pretty slender. It's my theory cats know to the mouthful how much to eat to keep fur from bone. That's how much they are eating lately, but we will remain firm. Firm I tell you. No exceptions. Yes, we've heard all about the cat judge, and we've been pre-sentenced to so many eternities in The Great Kitty Box in the sky that a few more won't matter.

Here they are, trying to convince us the end is near for them. That they are weak and feeble. Do you believe it?

The sunrise this morning was pretty nice even though it came along awfully early. Still catching up from a busy weekend.

Shortly after this was taken I was in the pool water running for an hour with the awesome Katie, hearing the stories of her latest adventures.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Still processing, too soon to sum up WWC

Third day at When Words Collide. Wow! More chatting with old friends, and taking first steps towards new friendships. I know many people go to these conferences as a working trip. They want to pitch their book to an editor or agent, or they have signed up to be pitched (brave souls!).

For some it's a chance to build professional relationships. For the fan it's a chance to chat with a favourite author. The aspiring writer can get valuable advice from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Having people talk about what has worked for them, or sometimes more importantly what didn't work for them, is pure gold.

This year for me was about the panels and mingling. None of my current projects are really quite ready to be pitched yet, but I'm inspired. I want to get these to a point where I can send them out to the world and see if anyone will buy them. I promise, this blog will never be buymybook,buymybook,buymybook.

I almost need to build up a little checklist of things to do. Who am I kidding, it's a big checklist. Better get started. What do you mean, I have to go to my day job tomorrow?

For the weekend I deliberately ignored politics. For those that like my political rants, never fear, I'm sure there will be another this week. Somebody has to have done or said something to annoy me. As for workouts, I've been a slacker over the weekend, other than walking between the two buildings. This gave me some fresh air and a bit of a break, but it's not exercise. I'll be back in the pool tomorrow.

But there were garden pictures this morning! Here you go. The pink lilies have recovered nicely from the hail and set some new blossoms.

The last of the orange lilies. They really got beat up by the hail.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I don't care if it's 7 calories per gram!

The last panel of the day was on health and fitness for creative people, hosted by Sandra Wickham. Lots of good info, most of it not new to me, but well presented. There were lots of other great panels too, this just happened to be the last one I attended today.

As you all know, I drank the health and fitness kool-aid some time ago. I'm completely convinced an active life is better than an inactive one. Most of you are as well, since this started as a fitness blog. (Hint, don't go back and read the first bunch of posts, they're pretty boring.)

I don't mean to be all judgey or anything, but it's a safe bet that lots of people attending are on the less active side of things. Those are their choices. I completely realize that for some people it isn't a choice, it's the result of events beyond their control.

One of the choices I make is to drink wine. I really enjoy the taste, and how it goes with food and friends. I tend not to think about calories. One slide in the presentation said carbs and protein are 4 calories per gram, fat is 9, and wine is about 7. Doing some math tells me that most of the glasses of wine I pour probably have about 200 calories. That's 10 to 15 minutes running. Just saying. Yes, I'm overdue for a run, I know.

Life is all about choices. Balance. Priorities. I love chocolate, wine, and many other things. I love being buried in the novel I'm writing, trying different ways of phrasing something to see what's right. I haven't been reading much lately, but I love being buried in a book. Most of the time I like being at work. The last really, really good book I was buried in was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and I love it when I'm that immersed. I'd like movies a lot more if there weren't so many stupid ones happening now. I love being out for a run or a bike ride, and especially love being in the pool.

Even some swimmers say they get bored in the pool, but that's never happened to me. I do lots of thinking while swimming. Some of it is technical swim thoughts, but often I'm on cruise control and thinking of other things. I've written many blog posts in the pool, but some novel breakthroughs have come while swimming. Or running or biking.

Writing is funny, hard, frustrating, and many other things. There is something magical about reading a book that lights up your brain. The words resonate within you. The story unfolds and the characters become your friends. Some of the phrases make you stop to catch your breath and you have to go back and read them again.

There's only 26 letters in English. Some of them aren't used much. Many words are only 5 to 7 letters long. A novel is somewhere between 50 to 100K words. How hard can it be to arrange them on a page? Well, until you've tried it yourself you have no idea. Then there's everyone else trying to do the same thing, and readers trying to find the books they want in a waterfall of them. 

That's what's great about When Words Collide. Everybody there loves words, and the worlds that they weave. There is so much to talk about that 11 streams of programming just gives you a taster of what's available.

Then there are all the hallway meetings with old and new friends. Meeting new people, and just chatting. Making a sweaty knuckle appointment to pitch a book to an editor, or handing over a page of text you've agonized over to an editor with a blue pencil. It doesn't matter, really, what your mom or your friends think of your book. They aren't buying it, committing scarce dollars, and scarcer time to putting it out into the world. That's where you find out if you're in the game, or a spectator. (Good luck with that, the odds are terrible, but don't let that slow you down.)

Last year I had hoped that next year would be the time I'd be able to actively pitch a book. Well, no. I struggled with the ending. And a beginning. And bits of the middle. To say nothing of the dialogue, when exactly certain things happening, or how much to show of the setting. Decisions, choices. I built most of a bridge novel along the way while mulling over choices. Pitching next year for sure!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why I don't trust Blogger stats

For a long time, almost since the very beginning of this blog, my blog post 'stock at large means only one thing' was the most read post by far. Lately however, 'Run for Sherry, a bonus post' has been getting crazy readership. I don't believe it of course. Its been coasting along in readership obscurity, then had a day of reading that pushed it well up, then into the top 10. Some time today it jumped past 'Stock', and is almost 100 reads ahead.

Either people have been forwarding the link, or the bots have discovered it. And discovered it and discovered it, and so on.

In the mean time I've been hanging out at When Words Collide, a Calgary writer con. After a slow registration process, I found my first panel. It clearly explains why I've been having trouble plotting my books. I was trying to fit them to the wrong archetype. Just as written it fits much better into The Virgin's Promise structure.

I was sort of thinking I'd go for a run before the conference, but can you believe it? I actually went back to bed after making coffee for Linda. I even went back to sleep, lulled by the cat chorus. When I got up I was feeling really heavy, so passed on the run and was domestic instead.

Which leads me to weekend conference planning. I live so close that it didn't seem worth while to rent a room. But the more I think of it, having a bit of a home base here would be good. I could slide out for a run between panels, shower, and be back at it again. Sometimes just having a private space to relax and recoup your mental energy is a good thing. So far the best I can do is find a quiet place and watch the world go buy.

You think I misspelled that, but no. I'm in the dealer room at the con, watching people browse books. The big surprise of the weekend was running into my buddy Martin Parnell. I hadn't known he was interested in this. Glad to see he's up and around after some medical adventures.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Yes, it sounds like a wrestling league, and in some ways that's true, I suppose. But it's all mental wrestling. Words. Ideas. Selling books. Very difficult work. We need a chance to hobnob, consort, consult, and generally have fun with others like us.

When Words Collide is a weekend long writing convention. I've been to several now, and have a wonderful time. Looking forward to diving in tomorrow. I'm not ready for any of the pitch sessions, or other active editor interaction stuff, but I hope for next year.

I run into a surprising number of people I know there, which is always good. The first year I went I was astonished how many I knew. Let's see how many workouts I fit in.

Like today! Swim 1000 m, 18:30. 100 m 91 seconds. 100 m 92 seconds. That's back to my pre-race workout pace, which is good. And for the big surprise finish, 250 m in 4:20. That is a 17:20 pace for a 1000 m. I was beginning to get a bit sloppy though. Still, it's very encouraging. I think I have to do more of these longer intervals. Can a 1x of something be considered an interval? Hmmm.

We had a lovely dinner at Blink. The occasion is a secret, known only to a select few. We had wondered how busy it would be, what with the lay offs here. Normally a place like that would be pretty full about 6 with the after work crowd out for a nice meal, but today it was half full at best. Still a nice vibe though. I'd go back, I think.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sick of it! Sick of it all. Grrrr!

I am snarly just now. Been that way all day, since shortly after getting into work.

Back with the Duffy trial was still a thing, I was interested in seeing the twists and squirms of the powers that be that have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. The trial started up again today, and during a quiet moment I checked the tweets.

Sigh. Me and every other normal Canadian understands that the whole bunch of them in the Senate are thieving lying waste of skin excuses for humanity that don't even deserve to be on the group W bench. They've been caught and it's all over but the lying. Someone should audit every one of them to within an inch of their accounting lives.

The whole thing is just sordid and I stopped. I don't know if I'll start again.

I haven't been following Harper's sanctimonious holier than thou lies. I'm sick of him and all his works. He's the perfect example of the big lie working. What he represents is not the Canada I grew up with, but rather is the complete opposite of it.

It's really hot and humid here, and it doesn't help that I have to wear a sweater in my office. My feet were freezing as I huddled over, brooding over the injustices of SQL and a badly organized database filled with bad data.

The last batch of wine was ready to be racked and stabilized. Let's just say it got stirred HARD, and that's why there are no swear words in tonights blog.

It wasn't all bad. I had a lovely lunch with a buddy, and a nice massage that beat up all the muscles in my legs. All of them. I almost cried. I'm glad I took Friday off. Maybe I should take Thursday too. And maybe Monday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A whole kilometer!

Back into the pool again, and swam a whole kilometer. Yes. Longest swim since the race. Since then various portions of my anatomy have been creaky, so I didn't push it.

Today was nice, if slow. Just on 19 minutes and it took about 750 m to warm up and feel strong in the water. There was some stretching and water running after, just to round things out.

Pounded out another 1500 words! Yay me! Here's the start of this chapter, as it's written now. Enjoy. Things might change.

Dwen paused at the half-flight of stairs up to the digester pump house. “Hang on a sec, Les, I just want to check the sump there.” She wriggled past the stairs. “It’s sure cleaner now since Kurt flooded the place.”

“That was before I started. I was chatting with some of the maintenance guys that did the cleaning and painting. They realized pretty quick it was actually a cushy job once the worst of the grease was gone and really got into it. Look, they even painted the lip on the cutout to the crawlspace.”

Dwen jiggled the pump float to make it run, then turned around to look. “Yeah. That was not long after I started, and I still remember how gross it was. Erik held me by my belt so I could look inside and see where stuff was piled up. Their glasses kept fogging up. I haven’t looked since.”

“I’ve never looked, is it still a mess under there?”

Dwen squatted and twisted the emergency light around to shine into the crawlspace. “I’d known it had dried out and was pretty clean, or most of it was.”

“How would you know that if you haven’t looked?”

Monday, August 10, 2015

An idea

As some of you know, I've been working on and off on a a novel titled "The Bone in the Digester" for years. YEARS! The files have been migrated through at least 3 computers, through various formats. I was ever so glad I hadn't got rid of my old cube, since the text was in a proprietary format my newer computers couldn't read.

The story has grown and changed. For a long time I didn't know if I had a love story, a mystery, a techno-thriller, a police procedural, or what. It's really a door that opens the world to 3 other novels. Or I suppose more accurately, one really long one, and one somewhat short one, all interconnected in a complicated way.

I wrote much of that really long one in a huge NaNoWriMo session a couple years ago, and it's been expanding and growing as well. It's called "The Sweet Elixir".

But I can't go straight from "Bone" to "Elixir" the way I had. So I chopped the messed end off of Bone and rewrote it. Which means I need a new ending for Bone so it is it's own story. I've mused with a couple endings, and I've known the data behind the ending. That got written, but it's a classic example of telling, not showing. Limp as an overcooked noodle.

Just the other day in the shower I figured out how to write the ending, and how to bridge from what I've got. I made some quick notes, and I'm sitting outside in beautiful weather, in the shade. Wine. So you'll excuse me please. I must write.

Oh, since you insist. A garden photo to hold you over.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The wine storage problem solved

After yesterday's afternoon run, and some yummy treats, we were in the mood for a movie. I like to browse through the trailers, and the iTV box has some truly dreadful ones. I very nearly rented 3 Headed Shark Attack. No, really. It looked so deliciously bad. I mean, it had Danny Trejo in it, so what more do you need?

In the end we settled for Ex Machina. I was expecting a bit more of a plot twist about who was an AI robot, but I wasn't disappointed. I didn't know where it was going, and that's a good thing in my books. Much of it was shot in a hotel in Norway, and while it's beautiful, I think I'd be a bit creeped out staying there. Maybe it was dressed up, or down for the movie and looks quite different in real life.

Slept like a rock, and missed the first part of #coffeechat. We had found this great coffee that I was going to share.

The coffee has a reddish tint, lots of big coffee taste without any bitterness. I'll be buying it again.

We ordered lots of wine kits last fall. I'm just making the last of them now, and was trying to figure out storage. I didn't have enough racks, and couldn't get more of what we had. The racks that fit into the Ivar aren't made anymore. They were replaced with a lighter gauge of metal wire that is designed to be supported by a shelf. It's much more expensive, and much less efficient.

Then we were told of the Omar wine shelf. Checked it out and Yay! I assembled it this afternoon. The unboxing.

This is the hardest part of the instructions. It took me a long time to see the difference in the two sketches, and I used to be so good at those 'spot the 12 differences in the drawings' things. Once I figured that out, and that the two pieces form a cone that snug into the grooves on the rod and support the actual shelf, I was good to go.

Here's the first one. It's quite sturdy, and if they sold the rack itself as a separate item like Ivar shelves, I'd buy several more. There's lots of space between the racks. Instead of 6, I think I could get 8 in a section.

Here's all of them tucked into the corner.

You didn't think I'd waste time loading it up, did you?

Summer is the time for BBQ bison burgers. Stop me if I've said this before, but so yummy! No workouts today. I'd say I'm feeling lazy, but I got lots done today. Any time now I'll tackle the business tax paperwork. Yes, any time. Real soon now. Any moment.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Which Speedo? The poutine, burger, bridge run

So here we go. You wouldn't believe the pressure from my readers! I finally gave in and bought a Speedo. But which one? Let me know what you think.


Or to horrify every reader, maybe both?

Lots of errands and zooming around this morning. Curtis had the biopsy stitches in his paw removed, and it's healing up well. Still a bit of an issue we have to keep an eye on. We will start him on some hypo-allergenic food that we hope will help avoid triggering the auto-immune issues. He's such a good kitty, going into his carrier, then coming out at the vet without persuasion.

During one of my stops I finally had a Rocky's burger. Pretty darned good for a commercial burger. Someone else had gluten free poutine. Later there was a burger and poutine fueled run starting at the top of 14th St near the dam, and running over all the new bridges. It turned out to be 11 K out and back. It was a lovely day for a run. Warm but not too hot. Still cool in the shade, of which there was a fair bit along the river. Lots of scenery for both of us to enjoy.

We've been wanting to do this run for a while. During the winter we ran as far as Sandy Beach, and had to turn around. Now we kept going.  Here's some photos of the bridges and the area around them.

My run buddy, if you hadn't clued in already.

The bridges were destroyed in the 2013 floods. One of them was partially torn from the towers, and had a tree lodged in it. The walking deck was a long way above the river, but it came up a long, long way. Many people didn't like the suspension bridges because they were bouncy and narrow. They managed to keep the original towers, but the new decks are very nice, good for pedestrians and people on wheels.

The river valley is beautiful this time of year. Really, it's beautiful all the time. There were a ton of people enjoying the river, floating, wading, or just sitting and enjoying. Sandy Beach and Stanley Park had lots of people taking advantage of the great weather.

We even walked through a vacant lot to get right down to the river. (Only $1.375 MILLION plus a build contract with a particular builder. Holy Doodle!) I can see the attraction of living there, but the floods of 2013 are still being cleaned up. One nice bungalow had some weathered looking notices on the door talking about flood services. I suspect it hasn't been lived in since then. Sort of a pity.

My feet felt really good in the new shoes, but my quads and knees were talking to me a bit throughout the run, especially the downhills. I'm glad we took periodic breaks on the bridges for photos. And a sprinkler was going in Sandy Beach! We took turns holding our electronics and ran through.

It was maybe a little bit further than I should have run. Jumping from 4K to 11K is a bit much, but I'll give my legs a rest tomorrow. Still, there are a limited number of days this nice, and you have to take advantage. A little soreness and tiredness is a small price to pay.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The brain dead week

Some might blame watching the political debates, but I was kind of dragging it from the beginning of the week. After a 4 day weekend I was just beginning to get used to it.

Then it hailed, and hailed some more, keeping me from a run. It's been a tedious week for massaging data, and fixing errors made by data entry staff who lacked some of the basic literacy skills. There the paperwork is, plain as day, and the data says something else.

I've been feeling run down and trying to catch up on my sleep, so it's been pretty quiet on the fitness front, till today. I was back in the pool getting my shoulders moving again. There was a very happy making event, but it isn't mine to talk about, so I'll leave it there, with you all dangling in suspense. I was very pleased though.

It's the weekend again, and the top of my list is, (sigh) business tax stuff. It's one of those things that you just have to dig in and it's not so bad. But if you go back a year, you'll remember me saying much the same thing, and meaning to set up a system to make next time easier.

Here I am, next time, and no system set up. How is this possible? I have the tools. I know how to do it. There is lots of time available. The benefits are obvious. So why?

There is some shopping to do this weekend as well. I am firmly told that a speedo must be involved. In their dreams. The rule is, if you are credibly competing for the national swim team, you can wear a speedo as brief as you like. That is so not me. Nuff said, I hope. MEC here we come, Linda too.

The 1st Street homeless hangout has been de-grotiffied. Yes, those are lights set into the sidewalk. The renos are complete on the west side, and I expect them to start work on the east side next week. The only complication is scaffolding set up above the sidewalk where they are doing repairs to the west wall of the Palliser. I'm sure they'll work it out. The underpass is much nicer now. I wonder how long it will stay that way?

Did I mention I was going to sleep in tomorrow?