Sunday, May 29, 2016

Follow that car!

Race day.

I haven't done a running race since this time in 2014, when I struggled through a half marathon. Today I only signed up for a 10K. I didn't have any goals for it other than to negative split it, and finish within sight of 1 hour.

My phone thinks the course was 10.3 K, and that my actual 10 K time was 1 hr 3 seconds, and my best 10 K was 59:48. I think that qualifies as within sight of 1 hr. The negative split is pretty good, with all the first 5 K's being 6 and a bit of change, and all the last 5 K's being 5 and lots of change.  Since this is the first 10 K I've done, I'd say that's a PB.

I was on top of my breathing and felt pretty good the entire way. Unlike two other people who regretted their breakfast. It was a perfect day for a run, warm and sunny to start, and not yet hot when I finished. I'm really pleased about the whole thing, though now I think I need to recalculate what I should be running tempo runs and long slow runs at. I could go out right now and do another easy run, but there is wine and snacks to be had.

My buddy Janice was a bit slower than she had hoped, but she trains at sea level. Plus the hills sneak up on you and it was getting hot by the time she finished. Once she blogs about it, I'll update with a link to it. She got a joint selfie with one of Calgary's biggest celebrities!

Janice's sister and brother-in-law were there to see her finish, and they generously offered me a ride home. Along the way we got talking about the Honda Fit, and I pointed out the window, "There's one there! Same colour as ours. In fact, that IS ours, follow that car!"

Plus I got one of Amy and Steve, hard at work calling the race. Plus there were a zillion other volunteers helping to make the race go well.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Marathon and regular running maps.

You don't want to hear about Thursday at work. We both had a big glass of wine after. I felt fine after the fast run on Wednesday, and still feel fine now.

Friday was a bit of thrashing around in the pool. First in the dive tank, then the hot tub, then back in the (cold) competition pool for an easy easy 500, chat to Katie as she ran, back in the (what seemed lukewarm) hot tub.

Home. Breakfast, then picking up my buddy Janice. We had a nice cup of tea as she checked out the garden she's only seen photos of. Then it was off to drive the marathon course. Mostly. She lived here a long time ago, and there's been lots of changes. There's one piece near the zoo we couldn't drive, there was some road closures in East Village, and we skipped one bit of it going downhill through Mt Royal around K 25.

We both realized we were hungry just near the out and back on Memorial, so of course we stopped in at Lazy Loaf and Kettle. Then the rest of the course and back for package pick up. No line up. Strolled the expo and said hello to several buddies (Neil, Richelle, Rose, Madi, Martin ). Then back through really heavy traffic home again. There are some last minute nerves, but we are ready!

I, of course, am not doing the marathon. Here's the 10 K route.

It was a lovely way to spend most of the day, chatting with someone I've only seen a few times, but we both blog, and comment, and exchange witty banter on Facebook, so it's seeing an old friend again. (And neither of us are old, so lets just make sure that's clear!)

So the map project. I knew I was going to be doing lots of running this year. Along the way I've heard of people walking every street in New York, and there's a guy doing that in Calgary. I had the happy thought of doing my runs on different parts of the bike path, and decided to start with the ones nearest water. That's along Fish Creek, the Elbow River and Glenmore Reservoir, Nose Creek, the Bow River, and as an extension the Western Irrigation District canal.

I've been marking them off by highlighting them on a bike path map, but they don't show up quite as well as I'd like.

In case it doesn't show up in your browser very well, it's from the reservoir, down to Fish Creek, across to the Bow, upstream on both sides in places, missing one spot, then up Nose Creek to 32nd. Along the Bow, missing a spot, out to Bowness. I'll do missing bit on the Bow on a lunch time run from work, and along the Elbow maybe partly a run at lunch from work, and maybe from Talisman home running after work. There is sort of a plan. We did along the canal till the construction at Glenmore. I'll need to scout out a place to park and make sure there isn't any more construction along the canal. It would be nice to run it all the way out to Chestermere, over several runs.

Once all that is done, I'll start on the round Calgary bike path. I've already done some of it, but there's lots more. I think it's done early 2017, so some of it might be a next year thing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fitness catchup amazeballs!

After a couple of big essays, here (50 years of progress), and here  (something only slightly less important than your own breathing), I need to get you caught up on the ongoing fitness stuff. Because it IS ongoing. The rest of my life, I hope. This isn't a "get fit" once and done thing.

Last Wed was a run that felt horrible. I thought the phone was lying to me, and told me 5 K when it felt like much less. The run was 5K 35 min.  I had tried turning on the app internal pedometer.

Tonight I did the same route with the pedometer off. The map looked the same, within a few meters. Well, other than the colours being different. Why? Because I ran a whole lot faster! I ran 6K in 37:14 and that's my fastest 6 K, even though the last K was recovering from A BLISTERING 5K 30:14 time! Thats 6:03 per K which for me is an amazing pace.  The left is the fast one.

This consistency shit is paying off!

Friday, 1:10 water running with Katie then swim 1K 19 minutes feeling tired.

Sat run 13K run 1:37 at 7:22 pace along the north rim of Fish Creek over in the SE. I hadn't seen much of it before since the path I usually take is way off to the south side of the park. We were both struggling a little, and we had a couple monster hills up out of Fish Creek, but it was all good. Afterward I dropped in a Strides and got another pair of shoes identical to the ones I have now.  Along the way there was this. It looks threatening but we didn't get rained on.

Sunday swim 1K 18:30 feeling in the groove. 50 m in 40 seconds, 100 m in 92 seconds.

Holiday Monday was a gong show in the pool. A pregnant lady barged into the lane I was sharing with a fast girl, and tried to run me over. I hadn't known she was there, and talking to the fast girl after, she hadn't known either. The pregnant lady just plopped down the ladder in front of her. Even with that, and 5 other people joining us, I pounded out 1 K 18:30. I hadn't intended to try to be fast, but with someone swimming just a bit faster in the other half of the lane, my inner shark came out. She was swimming 400's with a pull buoy and I couldn't quite keep up in the middle of my one K.

Afterward we went up to the track. iSmoothrun says I ran 4.95 K in 30:09 and I don't believe it. Sure there were some fast laps as I pushed hard, but there were lots of slow laps, dodging the tourists. That was brutal.  I suppose I should be counting laps, then I'd know how far for sure. Take this one with a grain of salt.

Then today. Swam 1.5 K, 27:40 nice and relaxed, evenly splitting the 500's, 9:10, 9:15, 9:15. Then an 88 second 100 m. All of it felt really good. My inner shark was feeling mellow since I had a lane to myself and I was comfortably faster than all the other swimmers in a nearly empty pool. It was nice cruising back and forth, trying to maintain form. I was imagining a secret watcher (there's a joke there) with a clipboard, counting strokes per 50 and writing down intervals, and I didn't want to disappoint her. I mean the watcher. The secret one.

Then the fast run tonight I talked about earlier. This has been good. Looking forward to the 10 K race this weekend, but I'm looking forward even more to seeing my buddy Janice from the east coast.

I've got a bunch of other blog stuff to catch up on. The great mapping project. The novel. Garden news. Did I tell you we bought a new car? So much stuff to talk about, but there's a cat demanding my attention. He's been giving me such sad looks.

Monday, May 23, 2016

1966 to 2016

Ford Falcon
Honda Fit

The Falcon was my first car, bought while I was in high school. No, I wasn't in high school in 66. This was the big three US auto maker's idea of a compact car. The father of a friend called it a toy car, too small to be on the road. Then again, he drove a Newport (3.1 m wheelbase, almost 6 m long) and didn't quite believe the Volkswagon beetle was a real thing.

dimension         Falcon      Fit
Wheelbase        2816        2530 (mm)
Overall Length  4681        4064 (mm)
Width                1859        1694 mm (not counting mirrors)
Weight              1163         1157 (kg)
falcon straight 6 170 in3 (2.78 L) Fit  4 DOHC 1.5 L
HP              105 @4400   130@6600
storage            348           470 or 1492 L (back seat up/down)

I had to install a radio, and later put in a CB radio. The front bench seats were so saggy I could barely see over the wheel, and my shorter friends couldn't. The gauges told me how fast I was going and how much gas I had, and if the oil pressure failed. I can't remember if there was a coolant temp warning. There were seat belts, lap only. Armstrong steering. It came with bias ply tires (google it), though radials were new and I put a set on. Pretty sure it was an automatic 3 speed transmission. I can no longer remember what the milage was like, but gas was cheap cheap cheap, and just as well. I once put most of a soccer team into it and drove what seemed like a long way for a game. The way back was longer and smellier.

The Fit is a smaller car, with a much smaller engine producing much more power, yet has more cargo space. Less leg room up front, though. Only room for 5 people, unless I'm allowed to put down the back seats and stack them like cordwood.

Then we get into all the other stuff that goes into a car now. For the bottom end of Honda's stable of cars, the Fit is quite well equipped. I'm still figuring out the infotainment system, but I've got it playing songs from my phone. It collects enough statistics to make the geekiest of data geeks happy. They don't even change the oil at set intervals anymore, the car is smart enough to know how it's usage has affected the oil, and will tell you when it needs to be changed. The backup camera has three settings, wide angle, narrow angle, and straight down so you can see the curb. I'm still getting used to where the front of the car is, and have wondered why they don't have a camera there, or some sort of warning about high curbs or concrete ties at the front of parking spaces.

I don't think airbags were beyond the dream stage in 66, but this has airbags everywhere, as part of a really good safety rating. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to choose being in the Fit over the Falcon for a bad collision.

Lets just say the Falcon was a bare bones deathtrap by today's standards.

Just as a cost comparison the Falcon cost about $2000 new in 66, which is about $15,000 now with inflation. The Fit is around $20,000.

This is what 50 years of progress will do. Smaller, lighter, more efficient, safer. At least the people that made the Falcon would be able to get into the Fit, and with a couple minutes of poking around would be able to drive it.

Now think of aviation progress. The Wright brothers first flew in 1903. In 1953 the USAF was flying the B-36, one of the largest planes ever made. The first heavier than air flight was 129 feet long, the B-36 was 162 feet long. The Wright brothers  would be able to recognize all the parts of it and understand the principles involved, but they'd never be able to get it off the ground. Now think about the pilots of the B-36 confronted by a 787.

Now think about what computer scientists of the late 50's and early 60's would make of an iPhone or iPad. In my school days I remember reading about computers of the future that would the size of a huge office building and would need Niagara Falls volumes of water to cool them. Then transistors came along. You've probably seen the photo of a 5 MB hard drive being loaded by forklift onto an airplane in 1956. It's the size of a couple big fridges.  A hard drive that small, should someone be so foolish as to make one, could be made so small you probably couldn't see it clearly.

Things keep changing. If you can adapt and surf the wave it's exhilarating. New stuff! Existing stuff made better. Better, cheaper, if only you can figure out what to do with the still functional old stuff. In any way you can measure, except possibly for ease of recycling, the Fit is a better car than the Falcon.

If you know the change is coming and can cope with the best of the changes, life can still be good, although there's likely to be some frustration. Some of what exists is probably good enough for this group. They might see the changes as change for the sake of change. They resent having to learn something new while they are in the middle of doing something else. Once they get used to the change they see the advantages.

Then there are those that won't or can't cope. The efforts involved in keeping up are much better spent enjoying something else. They probably have someone else around that can cope with the changes, or they withdraw from the world a little. Used to be you could put a coin in a parking meter. I don't think Calgary has a parking meter anymore. I use my phone to pay for parking, and there are little machines on every block where you put in your car's license number and a credit card. I'm not sure if they take cash anymore.

The Fit and my phone already talk to each other a little. If I get an adapter cable, and install some phone software, they can do much more. It's not beyond reason that a car will come along that requires a smart phone to be in the car, with the phone having an app that is our valid driver's license. That's while we still let humans drive. That might be getting rare a decade from now.

My granny once gave me a hard time about these books I'm writing, wondering when she'd get to read them. I told her if she had an email, she could be reading text a few hours after I got home, and get more as it was written. She said, no, she didn't do email. Nobody she wanted to talk to would use email. She wanted a book, and didn't quite get that the text in an email was the book. She wanted a book that she could hold in her hands.

At the time that was understandable, and now it's somewhat eccentric. I know there are still some people that don't have their own personal email. I've long since lost count of how many personal emails I have, as Apple evolves through software delivery. They all go to one place and thats where I look. Some people don't have cell phones, or have ones so primitive (by today's standards, not that of 1966) they essentially can't text. They are gradually losing touch with the world, though I admit some of the people with the advanced electronics are losing touch with the people physically around them.

I sometimes think that when you start giving up learning new things, or coping with new stuff, you begin to die. In Klingon, there are two related concepts:
Komerex - "the structure which grows."
Khesterex - "the structure which dies"

They apply it to their society, but I think there is an application to people as well. Get too set in your ways and you won't adapt to something new. In many cases, that might be ok, but you never know when it could be fatal. Don't adapt to new medical test results that warn of life threatening conditions and see where that gets you.

It applies to our society as well. Used to be there were two genders, men and women. Sexual relations between them were only permitted after marriage, and all others punished to some degree. Acceptance of gay rights as human rights have come a long way. Now we are recognizing that gender is a more complicated thing than we thought, and trans rights are becoming a thing, over the screeching of the various flavours of conservatives. There's some books by John Varley they should read, especially Steel Beach. That world is coming.

I'm a part-time cyborg, with enhanced hearing devices that talk to my phone. Lots of people are dependent on prosthetics that at least somewhat replace a limb or an organ. Most of the time we can't tell, until they go through airport security. That's only going to get more common as well. I wonder if in another 50 years, we are going to be looking back at unmodified humans, as the people of today look back at the 66 Ford Falcon and others of it's ilk.

Your thoughts? I'd love to read your comments.

Falcon and Fit Specs for car geeks, though I've probably disappointed them by not going into more detail.

It looked like this.  Mine was blue.

The Honda Fit is a sub-compact, or so they say.
1.5-litre, 16-valve, Direct Injection, DOHC, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder1.5-litre, 16-valve, Direct Injection, DOHC, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder
Horsepower @ rpm1Horsepower @ rpm1 130 @ 6600 130 @ 6600 130 @ 6600 130 @ 6600
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)1Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)1 114 @ 4600 114 @ 4600 114 @ 4600 114 @ 4600
Displacement (cc)Displacement (cc) 1498 1498 1498 1498
Emissions ratingEmissions rating Tier 2 Bin 5 Tier 2 Bin 5 Tier 2 Bin 5 Tier 2 Bin 5
Bore and stroke (mm)Bore and stroke (mm) 73 x 89.5 73 x 89.5 73 x 89.5 73 x 89.5
Compression ratioCompression ratio 11.5:1 11.5:1 11.5:1 11.5:1

Curb weight – MT/CVT (kg)Curb weight – MT/CVT (kg) 1131/NA 1143/1157 1170/1196 1177/1201
Fuel tank capacity (L)Fuel tank capacity (L) 40 40 40 40
Ground clearance – no-load/full-load (mm)Ground clearance – no-load/full-load (mm) 127/102 127/102 127/102 127/102
Headroom – front/rear (mm)Headroom – front/rear (mm) 1003/953 1003/953 964/954 964/954
Height (mm)Height (mm) 1524 1524 1524 1524
Hip room – front/rear (mm)Hip room – front/rear (mm) 1308/1145 1308/1145 1308/1145 1308/1145
Legroom – front/rear (mm)Legroom – front/rear (mm) 1052/997 1052/997 1052/997 1052/997
Length (mm)Length (mm) 4064 4064 4064 4064
Passenger volume (L)Passenger volume (L) 2710 2710 2656 2656
Shoulder room – front/rear (mm)Shoulder room – front/rear (mm) 1393/1336 1393/1336 1393/1336 1393/1336
Track – front/rear (mm)Track – front/rear (mm) 1481/1473 1481/1473 1476/1466 1476/1466
Turning radius – curb-to-curb (m)Turning radius – curb-to-curb (m) 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3
Wheelbase (mm)Wheelbase (mm) 2530 2530 2530 2530
Width (mm)Width (mm) 1694 1694 1694 1694
Width – including door mirrors/mirrors folded (mm)Width – including door mirrors/mirrors folded (mm) 2040/1821 2040/1821 2040/1821 2040/1821

Friday, May 20, 2016

Money. Slightly less important than breathing.

Money is important. I've talked about it a bit here, and here, if you missed it.  The first is older, rantier, and swearier. The second has some specific examples. Both say similar things. They are more focussed on getting you out of the financial ditches, and staying out of them in spite of all the crafty lures put out there by your not-friends the banks, insurance companies, and cable TV. Once you've done that and have some money you can start choosing which ways to put your money to work.

Our first wonderful financial advisor is retiring, and we're going through a transition process to someone equally wonderful so far. Our new advisor's firm puts a custom sign up to reserve a parking space, which is really nice.

We were there for several hours, going over paperwork and signing forms for both me personally and my corporation. My hand got tired. There are lots of new rules and regulations to do with background financial stuff, and it will give us more flexibility and choices. There was a bit of shuffling things around to take advantage of fee structure changes. I topped up my TFSA and RSP. (Have you?)

But we aren't done. We got homework, if you can believe it. The next meeting is to make sure everything got transferred over correctly, and look at rebalancing based on updated risk tolerance (that's the homework) and getting closer to retirement. There's a few low performers to get rid of.

But we aren't done. We need to start looking at the specifics of income in retirement, and begin planning that. CPP at 60 (which is coming up faster than you would believe!). Starting to draw down the RSP. Other stuff. Linda's is straightforward as these things go.

Mine is more complicated, given I want to work part time for a while yet and don't have a company pension. There are some things I need to be cautious about. It is entirely possible that I find an interesting contract, one that wants me to work full time for a calendar or corporate year, maybe at a higher rate than I am now, and I've got CPP money coming in, and I'd planned to withdraw RSP funds. That last would be madness during such a year, so I need to be careful I don't set up automatic withdrawals. Paying tax on earned income is a thing that has to be done, but paying way more because I drew out money at the wrong time would be dumb. Generally I've taken money out of my company as salary rather than dividends so I can continue to top up my RSP, but the time may be coming to change that.

I had thought we would go in, hand over some money, review the situation and be off. There was a thought of going to the pool. But no. Once home, hungry and exhausted from lots of detail on top of a week of work details, I was captured by cats and forced to sit. They seduced me with purrs and snores. I napped a little, then it was too late to swim.

This what happens when you treat money like a tool. Every now and then you have to maintain it, and make sure it's still working correctly. Some of the choices I made back in 1995 or so when I started this, and the ones I made along the way, are no longer the best choices. Circumstances change. Even though I'm still the same person, and still sanguine about the ups and downs of the market, I'm a lot closer to the time where the ups and downs matter in terms of overall retirement income.

I got given an updated Andex chart, good till the end of 2015. I just love these. So much information crammed into one chart. For a while I had one up on my office window at work, and lots of people stopped to look and comment. Only a few had seen one. Doing a risk tolerance assessment tells you which line you want to be on. And helps you understand why you don't sell in a panic when the market drops.

In answer to a question I was asked earlier, no, I don't own any Penn West stock. Some of the funds I hold might have it as part of their mix, but I doubt it. There's a general rule in the financial industry that for most people, any stock you acquire in the company you work for should be sold as soon as possible, and that under no circumstances should you have any part of your retirement savings be in that company. Why? Risk. You want to be diversified. If you get a salary and are building up retirement or investment savings all in one source, if that source goes under you are pooched. Enron. Worldcom. Nortel. Need I say more? Penn West stock was $12 or $13 when I started, and the other day it was 82 cents.  Oops.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Attacked by a water polo ball

Monday was lovely. 1 K swim nice and easy, 18:45, short course. After swimming a bunch of long course lately, it sure seemed like I was doing a lot of turns.

Ran after work and filled in another hole on my map. Walked from work to 1st SW and the Bow path, ran to the Skipping Stone bridge, across, over to the red Peace bridge, and back to the start for exactly 6K, 37:30. I finally nailed the gradual build! As long time readers know, I suck at it. There was very little room between moving at all, and moving at top speed. Today the first 3 K were each pretty well right on 6:30, and then 6:16, 6 even, then 5:45! I can't remember the last time I ran a k that fast! It was a bit of a breezy day for a run, but you've got to love the scenery!

Tuesday was Costco hell. Enough said.

Wednesday was the day of the treacherous assault day. I'm in the training pool, in the lane closest to the hot tub. The swim kids have just got out. Nobody else in the lane. Abut three strokes in I knew it wasn't going to be a swim worth talking about. Part way down the lane I thought I brushed my fingers against another person, then the next stroke was full on contact. At first I thought I'd grabbed some backstroker boob, and was mortified, then realized that something wasn't quite right. I popped up and looked, and there's the ball.

I toss it to the side, finish the lap, and there it was again! It bumped my head and again I panicked. I swam with it down to the end, and tossed it in with the swim kid stuff and the reels of pool lane dividers. Tried another lap, and damned if the ball wasn't there waiting for me! I guess all the tile subtly slopes to the pool. Threw it onto the goal nets stored nearby, and there it stayed.

The swim didn't get any better though. I was tired and sloppy. I missed my swim buddy somehow. I think she was done and on the way out by the time I got there.

Then the run this evening. Ick. My phone says 5K 35 minutes and I don't believe it. The audio I get every K with the numbers was coming much sooner than I was expecting. I had turned on an internal pedometer for iSmoothrun, but I turned it off after. I think I really ran about 4.5 K, which is a 7:45 pace, which is what it felt like. Slow. Clunky.

Quite the contrast to Monday. I think I was tired from that run, which was essentially nearly race pace on a warm day, plus a couple nights of crappy sleep. Bed soon, hope this is better. Looking forward to a 4 day weekend. We have at least some plans. Do you?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Attawapiskat and Fort McMurray

A friend asked me to blog about this article.  It's worth the read. I'll be here when you get back.

In case you don't take the time to read it, the author (Nick Fillmore) asks "The question arises: Why are billions of dollars being pumped in to deal with one crisis while the other is all but being ignored?"

Good question.

I'm going to noodle my way through my thoughts here and find out what I think. I don't intend to be pejorative or racist, but lots of people say things they don't realize are racist. Feel free to call me out.

Lets start with the people that were here first. There are lots of racist or patronizing ways of referring to these peoples, and some of them prefer one term over another. Who am I to choose between them? I completely realize there are many different peoples from coast to coast to coast, with different concerns, and it's a mistake to treat them as a singular people. So for the purposes of this blog just to simplify the writing I'm going to say FPH and that stands for First Peoples Here. It's not intended to simplify the issues.

Next are the peoples that came here later. As far as we know it starts with the Norse about 1000 AD, and we don't really know what impact that had on FPH society. About 1500 AD Europeans started showing up, mainly for cod, but soon were tempted by all that land. Lots of different peoples involved here too, but lets just say Europeans.

One could easily argue that the next 500 years have been catastrophic to the point of near fatality for the FPH overall, and nearly all of it was done to FPH by Europeans. Sometimes with malice aforethought, sometimes without any care for the consequences to FPH, sometimes with noble words and dirty deeds, and one can argue about the extent to which it's still going on now. No rational person could argue that it's not still happening, regardless of the intentions of the people involved.

So, a complicated scene set in three paragraphs. So far so good. Me? A descendant of European background. Back to the question.

At the root I think it comes down to how we deal with issues.  European descended society sees a problem like Fort McMurray, and we see a solution, and much of the path to the solution. Prevent the fires in the first place, limit the damage as much as possible, clean up the mess, make sure it's safe, settle insurance claims, rebuild and carry on. I don't mean to make it sound simple. It's an enormously difficult logistical problem complicated in Fort McMurray's case by the limited road access, but the point is that it's an UNDERSTOOD problem. We can work with it. We've done it before. We can break it into pieces and assign people with the relevant expertise.

European descended society sees Attawapiskat, and doesn't have a clue what actions to take. Nobody knows what a  solution looks like, and even if the current Canadian government could articulate it, it would simply become one more case of European society doing it to the FPH all over again.  Even dealing with parts of the problem doesn't seem to get us anywhere because it's an integrated whole. Trying to solve it piecemeal without some idea of the overall solution does not sound promising.

Mr. Fillmore suggests in his article we airlift prefab homes to Attawapiskat. Fair enough and housing is a huge problem, but why are so many of the homes uninhabitable in the first place? Presumably they were prefab homes too. Were the materials or design inadequate for the climate? Were they not assembled correctly or maintained properly? Doing more of the same isn't going to get us anywhere.

The Attawapiskat airport runway is 3,495 feet or 1065 m long, and it's gravel. Both the CC-130J and C-17 can fly into and out of that, but I'm not sure how much cargo can be carried and still have gas to get back to base. So the capacity is there. It's what we put in the plane that counts. Or we could plan really really well, and send in some huge barges during the summer.

There is a suggestion that we staff the hospital at double or triple the current levels. That's easy to say.  It's harder to find the trained staff willing to go there. It can easily be seen as building a dependency on those flown in staff. How long do they stay for? How do we know when the emergency is over and normal (whatever that means) staffing levels apply? Is it feasible to train some of the people that already live there in the skills required?

For 500 years European society has been doing stuff to FPH. Even if we're trying to help, isn't it just another case of us doing stuff to them? Where is the line between "helping" and "doing it to them again?" At what point does FPH have to step up and do things for themselves? What if European society doesn't think that's the right thing? Is aid conditional?

So many questions and so few answers. So much distrust and it's easy to see why. As a business analyst one of my roles is to help people in a business understand what the gaps are between where they are now and some desired state, whether that's new software, a business reorg, an acquisition or divestiture, or whatever.  Once the as-is and to-be states are figured out, and the gaps identified, it's much easier to work out the actions that will address the gaps.

The really hard part is articulating the desired end state and getting buy in or acceptance. That's where we are with FPH.  Once you have that you can discover or create the steps that will lead you closer. What are some possible end states? In no particular order:

  • Complete integration with European society. That's one of the ideas that got us into this mess. Isn't going to happen.
  • True First Nations, in the European sense of the word. A FPH group would have complete autonomy over some specified block of land. Defining that block of land could be difficult, and that's just with different FPH groups arguing about it. At one time I looked and the various land claims in BC added up to more territory than there was to share. What if that block of land has a city on it, say Vancouver? How do we get to a point (and this is going to sound racist) where the local group is ready to take (or renew) control over a block of land? Do we just turn it over, and introduce them to the United Nations and support their claim for membership? I have difficulty thinking that a group of a few hundred or thousand are going to be granted admittance. What of the relationship to Canada? Do we provide ongoing support, or are they a free and independent nation able to provide for themselves under most circumstances? How do we work out a transition strategy?
  • Some form of local government. Would it really be so difficult to declare that a particular group of FPH are a municipality, with powers similar to that of other cities and towns? How much supervision, if any, is imposed on them? How do we deal with the transition? I know there have been some scuffling between some FPH groups and the Harper government asking them to account for money given them. Their position was that it's their money, and they don't need to account for it. I beg to differ. Consider the source. The money raised from some kind of internal taxation, or industry revenue is theirs, no question. My personal opinion is that this is the most promising road.
  • An outgrowth of the current "reserve" (a word that makes my teeth hurt) system, where the rules are different. Encourage local industries with favourable tax treatment. There are some FPH groups in the Okanagan valley that have done very well for themselves, owning wineries, a destination resort, golf course, campgrounds, and other companies. I have with my own ears heard FPH people call them sellouts. Maybe there's some work to be done on that.

Of course it's possible to shower Attiwapiskat with material goods. Fillmore suggests "computers, new bicycles, dolls", but I think I'd put a package water treatment plant ahead of those, together with training on how to run and maintain it. Lets do all of that, and lots of other stuff besides, such as school supplies, and medical equipment. Package it all up in those bulk containers, and then turn the containers into housing, schools, or a medical building, whatever is needed. It might not be pretty, but those containers are indestructible, and have been used for homes elsewhere.

Then do it again, and again, till you get around to all 600 some of the FPH groups in Canada, doing the analysis to provide what they need, and not supply what they already have, or don't need, with some sort of priority order figured out. If that's the solution, then we can start putting it together. Moving material goods around is straightforward. Figuring out what is needed, where, is a bit more difficult. Getting the decisions made might be the hardest part, given the seemingly intractable overlapping bureaucracies involved.

What's missing? Life is more than material goods. Part of the problem is that many FPH groups had their cultural heart ripped out of them through the residential school system and other factors. In some ways I think this is the most important piece of all. Without a culture that tells you your place in the world, that teaches you what to value, that gives a reason for your language, that provides a context for your relationships with your family, you are lost. No material goods can replace this.

This is the part that FPH have to deal with themselves. They are the only ones that can rediscover or recreate or create anew a culture that is theirs. Some of this has been happening, and I applaud their efforts, but I'd like to understand what we as European descendants can do, without being patronizing or in the way, to support or help.

How the FPH have been treated is Canada's biggest and most enduring shame. I don't think anybody likes it the way it is, other than the people profiting from the conflict. I'd like to believe most Canadians want to see things improve, and are willing to support activities leading to that. But the devil is in the details. What activities? How paid for? Who first? What about corruption? What changes to the justice system are needed? Who leads these efforts? What is the process? So many questions.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A heroes and data rant

That week went by awfully quickly.

A while ago I saw a photo on Facebook. It showed a mangled car (probably a result of driver incompetence) and the caption said something like, "Don't you wish God were here?"

My instant answer was "NO! I want a trained team of emergency responders."

Which leads to just recently there was a cartoon in a paper. You probably saw this one. It had some "super-heros" on the left, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, some others I didn't recognize. On the right was a tired looking fire fighter wearing a Fort McMurray T shirt. The caption said something like, welcome to the club.

I was seeing red, and I've been stewing about this for a while now. Lets see if I can say why in a rational way.

There is no disrespect intended towards the fire-fighters, but why anyone would think this is a compliment is beyond me. I have zero respect for those comic book "super-heroes". They are emotional children, and often do more damage "saving" the world than whatever the problem was.  They just jump in, unaware of the issues, and do whatever strikes them at the moment. What passes for character development, plot, and conflict bored me decades ago, and the recent movies haven't improved things a bit. Enough of them.

When fire-fighters zoom up to a burning building, there is a plan. Everybody has a role, and they've trained their asses off to do it. Where does the plan come from? Many decades of experience distilled from nearly every fire that's happened across every nation with organized fire departments. It's called data. What worked, what didn't. How new materials behave.  Fire behaves according to rules. Understand the situation, understand the rules, and you'll understand what the fire is going to do, and the best way to deal with it. Which isn't to say there are surprises because we usually don't understand everything about the situation.

In some cases they wire up a house with video cameras and let it burn to test specific things. I  once watched a video of an interview with a fire-fighter as he was saying it was weird to stand around while a home burned. They had to wait till the scientists gave them the go ahead.

There are lots of hazardous substances and situations where the rule for lay people to follow is "Stay away from that shit!" Who doesn't? Fire-fighters. They have to deal with that shit. I'm pretty sure I don't have the stones to look at a burning building, pull on my protective gear, and go in there to put it out.

Even the most rabid right wing nut doesn't propose cutting the training budget for fire-fighters. The best training available still results in injured staff and lost property, and nobody wants that. Plus even they realize it might be their home next.

But it isn't just the people going into burning buildings or fighting forest fires. They're the point of the spear and deserve every bit of recognition they get. Right behind them are a host of other people, though. Radio operators, planners, logistics, maintenance, the list goes on and on. There is a role for all of them in this, following a plan.

That's why they don't want untrained people around trying to be heroes. It's dangerous enough when they know who is doing what, and to have some idiot trying to protect his home with a garden hose just distracts them. On that note, I'm going to be utterly astonished if the people going through the burned areas to assess the hazards and try to make them safe do not discover some charred bodies in the ruins.

So back to those cartoons. The fire-fighter does not belong in the "super-hero" club because the so called comic book super-heroes do not measure up in any way. I'm not sure what club the emergency responders belong in, but it's going to be pretty exclusive.

Many of these people are modest and humble, saying things like, "I"m just doing my job." Which is true, except that it's a difficult dangerous job at the best of times. It wouldn't have taken things being much different for us to be having funerals about now. Plus, you don't see any of them punching out after their shift is over. They were going till they couldn't go anymore.

And whaddya know? The relief crews were organized as well, drawing people and equipment from all over the country in a planned way. This doesn't happen by accident. A lot of people spent a lot of time planning for emergency situations, and once this is all over, a lot of people are going to look at everything that happened to see what can be learned, and what could be done better. It's easy to overlook this kind of work, but there are a lot of people alive today because of it. This sort of stuff is what taxes pay for.

Back to regular programming. A nice relaxed swim, feeling the swim love on Monday, 1 K, 18:30, short course. Massage Tues, feeling really beat up after. Water ran with Katie about an hour on Wed, then 700 m easy swim feeling kind of clunky, weak, and feeble, long course. Ran 6K 38:21 feeling pretty good.

Thursday we went out out a greenhouse just east of town. I visited with a very nice cat and got this lovely pic of a pretty flower. No idea what it is.

I discovered these in a pocket of the car during clean out the car day. Lots of other crap too. I have no rational explanation for why I have a map printed in 1999 in my car.  It's the one at the top, with the logo of a company I haven't worked for in 16 years. It's probably been 5 years since I last looked at any of these, and there they were, getting in the way each time I put the seat down to put my bike in the car.

I was laughing as I took this shot. Curtis had just come up onto my lap, trampling Celina, then settled down on top of her so I could pay attention to him. It was purely an accident that she was getting his tail in her face. I'm sure of it. An accident.

Friday I water ran with Katie, Michelle, and Antje for an hour or so, though Katie was still going when I was forced from the water. Then 1K 19 minutes long course feeling nice and relaxed.

Today was cheering on my buddy Patricia doing her first half marathon! 2:10 or so, and congratulations! I cheered her coming and going at South Glenmore park, and she looked great! Just before she came back, someone called to me from a bike, but I was looking at Patricia, and I don't know who it was. I'm going to feel awfully dumb if it's someone I know well. Was it you? (later note, it was my buddy Sue Wills!)

Then I went out for my own run, 12 in a double loop around the neighbourhood, 1:22, 6:49 pace feeling pretty good. My legs were relaxed and happy. I could have run more, but I figured this was a nice neat map.

Two construction notes. In Fish Creek, where the path has been washed away for a while, the repairs are almost done. They dumped tons of rip rap into the water and built up the bank. The paving equipment is there, probably will be done early next week. That's right at the bottom of the map. At the very top the new pedestrian bridge over Anderson road is well underway.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

swish, swash, crickle, CRACK! A naked patio.

Last you heard, my swim sucked, but but I didn't despair. I know these things come and go. Within a couple strokes of my Saturday swim, my inner shark rejoined me and I knew I was going to have a good swim. We had the choice of joining a sloppy breast stroker taking up a whole lane, or a slow crawl who was at least circle swimming. Within a lap of joining him, he went off to swim with the breast stroker and Michelle and I had a lane to ourselves.

I settled into the 18:30/k groove and actually finished the 1000 m a bit faster than that. Then 5x100 on 2, all 1:45 or faster. A bit of easy swim playing with my stroke a bit, then a blistering fast (for me) 88 second 100 m. Yay me. Another 200 m cool down, then HOT TUB!

My inner shark comes and goes, in the way of inner sharks. He was all about trying to keep up with the swim kids in the next lane. As if. But what it did do is help me keep my stroke clean, and that leads to a faster swim. I certainly wasn't putting any more effort into the swim, and if anything I wasn't breathing as hard. But that subtle difference in water feel made for a swim that was a minute faster per k.

I tried finding out what my inner shark has been up to, but he was a bit evasive. Secret shark stuff, no doubt. Maybe he's part of a team working on laser technology. He was more talking about the sloppy prey in the other next lane.

Michelle wasn't feeling the swim love so we worked on flip turns a bit. I'm puzzled by how she be simultaneously so buoyant, and so heavy in the water. She comes from a running background so it's no surprise her legs are heavy in the water as she swims. I have the same problem, (she has run muscles, I have a lead butt) and it's a subtle balance thing to fix, along with finding the right kick, and engaging the core, body balance, and a side of Jedi mind trick. I'm still working on it. But then when she wants to sink, as in an initial push off the wall, or to pick something off the bottom of the pool for good luck, there is no sink. I'm a bit puzzled by that.

Team aquatic had a swim sale, and I know you all will be devastated to learn that I did not find a skimpy little speedo I could model for you. Try to restrain your grief. All I got was some body wash. (Of which there is less to wash, I found out after a brief visit to the scale.)  Michelle was in there trampling and elbowing looking for the deals, and scored!

Later, the CRACK happened. We went to a bike swap/sale, but it was pretty picked over when Linda and I got in. I was a little intrigued by a recumbent, and thought I would give it a try.

That photo catches the exact moment I tried to relax on the bike only to find the back of the seat and headrest was too low. I think if the room had been quieter, people would have heard the echo, the crack was that loud. It didn't hurt at the time, and nobody has mentioned me screaming. You could be forgiven for thinking so. I pedaled around the parkade, amusing people by going under the mostly empty bike racks. Getting up was a bit of a trial. They wanted $1700 for that bike. It was interesting to ride, but not that interesting.

Later during ice cream, (chili chocolate and guide mint) I tried to sneeze and thought someone was stabbing me in the right shoulder. Holy doodle! That was very painful, and essentially ended that day's activities. Some careful rubbing against a door frame, some gentle stretches on the yoga mats, a pain pill, and a good night's sleep and I'm feeling much better.

Friday was a 5K, 34:22 run in the warmth. This is only slightly faster than my last run, but it felt way better!

Lots of puttering around the house over the weekend working on a ginormous to do list. Which leads me to these before, during, and after photos. We put up this flimsy diagonal lattice because we had no other choices at the time. The old one was falling apart. Last fall we found a source for some good quality lattice, and decided to replace before the flowers got too big. I was thinking June...

The climatis on the right is already intertwined, and we had to cut the lattice apart a bit to keep it. This one used to live on the back fence. When we did the backyard renos a couple years ago we cut it off that lattice, back to the roots basically, and gave it another chance here. It seems to be doing really well. The other one, on the left side of the same box isn't doing so well. I think it's a grump old climatis that doesn't believe it's spring, and wants to snooze a little longer, and take it's time getting going. Lots of days I feel the same way.

The naked patio.

Now the new lattice. I think it looks much better!

The rescued climatis is gently hooked on with little clamps till it regrows it's own. If the light was better you could see the purple blossoms.

And just because, some of the flowers in the side garden.

After that was a lovely 11 K 1:21 (7:20/K pace) run along the WID canal, starting at 50th Ave, down to Glenmore and back. My heart rate was nice and steady about 130, which is a little bit higher than I'd like. We found a little picnic spot along the bike path, several tables and a little fire pit, trees to shelter from the wind. The only problem is access. This is pretty much a ride access only. No place nearby to park and carry in picnic stuff. We didn't get rained on though the wind was picking up and the clouds getting darker. It started raining about an hour after getting home and a good thing too. It's dry here.

All in all a very busy weekend. For things crossed off on my to do list, I'm batting about 74%, that is 17 of 23 things listed.  One of those things is a big huge complicated thing, and I was pretty sure it wasn't going to all get done. I should break it up into sub-tasks. One of the tasks (tidy desk and put away tax paperwork) is pretty much the fifth labour of Hercules, and I'm well started. Nowhere near done. I might yet get one more done, and one task is dependent on another, in that if I do the other within the month, I don't need to do the first.

And your weekend?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The catch went clunk, not swish

Amazing how fast you lose water feel! I missed a week while we were on vacation. There was a pool nearby, I knew where it was, I brought swim gear, but in the end I chose to stay snuggled into bed. I think if it had been a routine I would have made it. I can drive to Talisman in my sleep, deal with getting in via the app, I know where the good lockers are, where the pool toys are, everything you need to know to sleep walk from bed to getting wet. But going to a new place wasn't something I wanted to do tired.

I'm feeling it now. Two swims this week, Tuesday and Thursday. Both very slow and clunky. The water felt sticky for most of the first swim. It felt like I was thrashing in the water. I did about 1 K. Intervals were slow.

Then today, my body thought the pool was holy water, and converted to Pastafarianism in about 100 m. The first 100 m was 1:50 which is ok for long course. Then I slowed down. Most of the rest were right about 2 minutes, working hard. Bleah. Overall 19:40. More bleah. I spent lots of time thinking about form and wondering about my kick, but I think the real issue was being weak and feeble.

What seemed to be happening is there was no glide. As soon as the stroke stopped, so did I. My catch wasn't catching, the roll was not coordinated with the pull, and the timing was subtly wrong on everything. It will come back. Maybe I'm just tired.

There was a mostly nice run on Wednesday, 5K, 35 minutes in fairly warm weather. The heat didn't bother me, and I was on top of my breathing the whole way, but my legs were not with the program at all. It was a slog beginning to end.

I'm wondering if part of the reason is a slow recovery from volume buildup. My long runs were around the 10 to 11 K mark for a number of weeks, then two weekends in a row I went way past that, and I'm pretty sure that was overdoing it. I know better.

I was feeling kind of anxious and overwhelmed today, without being completely sure why. I think it's just that I'm thinking about lots of stuff just now. And of course, thinking about thinking about lots of stuff starts a recursive loop that just gets worse. My solution was to write out a list of things to do. it's very long, though one thing has been crossed off already. Lots more to go.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Vacation runs

Even though I just read SUAR's blog, it isn't what she might think. I'm talking about actual running. I just know what some of you were thinking.

So far, running on vacation has happened in Torino, Venice, Nova Scotia, Vancouver Island, and Bermuda. Oddly enough, or maybe not, all of them were near water. Maybe there's a theme there I should think about.

The only one I had company with start to finish was in Nova Scotia, along Crescent beach. That was both a stunningly beautiful place to run, and so much fun to run with new friends. (Hi Janice and Janet!) There was a run in Bermuda where I joined a guy doing hill repeats. I was in shorts and a tech shirt, while he was in a full track suit, with a hat and gloves. We'd waved at each other a few times over the previous several days, but the first time we got close enough to talk, he said, "Canadian, right?" Except it wasn't a question. It was warm enough for me to be swimming in the ocean. We jogged around an out of business golf course, and chatted.

Torino was along the river but in a city I didn't like much. Venice was along the Grand Canal and it was an amazing experience. I was very careful and didn't get lost. Bermuda on roads and paths and beaches in the warmth and, often the wind.  Nova Scotia was always a beach. Once on Hirtle's beach at about 2 in the morning with a full moon. It was lovely, and there was another guy running as well, but he didn't want to chat. Perhaps he thought I was a stalker or something.

The least nice beach was the other day in Sidney. Gravel and rocky, with logs to dodge made it an interesting run, and the scenery was nice in an expensive homes kind of way, but it wasn't the same as running a sandy beach. Even sand can vary. Crescent beach is firm enough to drive a car on. St. Catherine's beach in Bermuda is soft enough that running in shoes would quickly be a bad idea, but it's still not as soft as Horseshoe Bay. Those give your calves and feet a real workout.  Hirtles can be a mix depending on a lot of factors.

Probably the best solo vacation run was in Bermuda on a really hot day. I ran a bunch, left everything but shorts on the beach (Bermudans are a bit prudish about nudity), swam a while, practiced some swim hard and transition onto the beach, then ran some more to dry off. Sort of.  Being sticky with sweat and dried salt perfectly suited my mood.  Our host was there when I got back, and he fired up the outdoor shower for me.

There's something relaxing about running while on vacation, at least for me. Usually there's lots of time, and you can run when and where it suits you. It's a great way to see more scenery than just walking, and gets your workout done. I find it's a big change and helps me recover from the lots of walking we do on vacation.

I'd love to go to Venice again, but not because of the run. Just because it's an amazing place. Hirtle's beach (and a bakery not far from it) have a special place in my heart, and I know I'm going there again. I'm just not sure when. I'd love to run in Bermuda again, but I'm probably not going to go just for a run.

Do you run on vacation? Where was your best vacation run?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dialed back in?

Last night was get home, reassure the cats we actually lived here and were the same humans that left them a week ago. They were kind of choked at us. Unpack, putter around a bit, fall into bed. Crappy night's sleep.

Up for a Sunday swim. The pool was empty! Love it. The first 500 m sucked, as I thoroughly expected it to after a week of not swimming. 9:45 or so. Bleah. Then I gradually found the groove and got faster over the next 500 for just over 19 minutes. I'll take it. Played around in the water a bit, and soaked up the hot tub big time! I'm still sore after a big week of walking, and last week's 18 K, and running on a rocky gravelly beach. Here's the map of that. Look at all the blue! It's lovely running along the water.

Later in the afternoon we sprayed up the sunscreen and headed out to run in the heat of the day. So nice! I filled in the missing bit on the map in North Glenmore park. 11 K, 1:21, running just a little bit faster than usual. Along the way just outside the park I stopped for this.

Boring, yes? I have to admit it looks much better when it's full of bikes in T2 for Calgary 70.3. It was about 18 C, but I didn't really feel the heat. It just felt good to run in the warmth.

What else do you do in the heat? BBQ of course! Bison. Yum! Wine and relaxing on the patio after. Linda is still scoping out the garden, seeing how the various plants are doing. We are still well behind the BC gardens of course, but there are a few splotches of colour, like this.