Saturday, December 24, 2022

400 or goal musings

You might want to top up your current drink, this got long.

Here we are again at the end of another year, or close enough. If the traffic over the last few days is any indication, people are frantically trying to make up for the last couple Christmases being restricted by COVID. The roads themselves are mostly ok, but the intersections are complete icy shite. People don't care. Zoom! I watched one guy try to pass me in a double turn lane. Good thing he was in the outside lane because he spun out and bounced off the centre median.

My goal is to spend the least time on the roads as possible, and when on them, do it early. Like yesterday, driving at 6am (yes it was dark and effing cold) to the pool formerly known as Repsol to join Katie in a swim/coffee date. 

She, of course, is a torpedo in the water. Even after a great year of swimming, and being in just about the best swim condition of my life, I didn't even try to keep up. Not even in her draft. It was actually a bit of a clunker of a swim, but the red letter part of it was that took me past 400Km this year. That was my stretch swim goal. Yay me!

Katie and I had a great catch up chat after. She is just closing in on a reading year end goal, but is a bit behind and thus is looking for shorter books. She is a huge reader, always telling me about great books I should read. Some of you know that I used to be a big reader, but it's a bit of a struggle now. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's partly because I'm doing some of my own writing, and can recognize some of the writer tricks in other books. Plus, so many books are the equivalent of paint by numbers 'artwork', or are demonstrations of why every writer needs an editor. Maybe I'm just reading the wrong books.

Or, the opposite, so opaque and twisty and ornate that it's nearly impossible to figure out what's going on. Umberto Eco comes to mind. More recently Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus was brilliant and wonderful and even before finishing I was sad because I knew I could never read it again for the first time. So I pounced on The Starless Sea as soon as I saw it. Except I could not keep track. I've been thinking maybe I should have another run at it, and take notes.

I had a video chat with another of my readers earlier this week. She and I have been talking about an autumn photo road trip for the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick colours for several years now. (Damn you COVID!) Maybe in 2023 though it depends. But we also talked about photos, and prints, and books. Both of us are interested in doing a photo book, and like the idea of encouraging and helping each other in our projects. Doing a Lightroom to Blurb book ought to be straightforward, and they make it look simple, but there are any number of pitfalls along the way. Another of my readers has had much to say on the topic.

Not least is the selection of photos. My regular readers know of my struggle to select the image of the month, and even harder struggle for image of the year. And yes, I'm starting to think about both of them. I need to look through about 3000 photos to see if I need to tweak the star ratings to winnow down to the podium.

But a book of photos is more than just a random collection of photos, or it should be. Something should tie them together to make them greater than the sum of their parts. I've been struggling with that concept for a while, so trying to do a book ought to be more than a little interesting. So there's one goal for 2023.

One concept for a book is my 50 project, which some of you know of and thank you for your participation, but it's stalled just lately. I had some thoughts about it and film, and don't think I've fully resolved those yet, but I really do want to move forward on it, and preferably finish it. So there's another goal.

And back to swimming, briefly. I put the distance numbers up as a goal, not sure if I would make it or not. The math for doing another distance goal isn't hard. A 500 Km goal is only 10 K a week (rounding slightly, and 600 Km is only 12 K a week. I've often swum those weekly distances. Doing so consistently over a year just requires the discipline to go to the pool and do it. No big deal.

But it's sort of like what got me out of doing triathlons. At first it was about seeing if I could, because there was considerable doubt about it. Then I knew I could, barring a mechanical failure. Then there was the realization that I wasn't getting faster, and it wasn't really any fun to just do it, coming in at the back of the pack and finding all the pizza has been eaten already. Really long time readers know I once finished a race within the time requirements, but they had packed up the finish line. That was pretty disappointing.

I'm thinking about the goal of being faster in the water, and wondering what's a practical target, what's a stretch target, and what's a fantasy. What makes it complicated is that as you increase your swim speed, the water resistance, the technique, strength, and cardio capacity required all go up dramatically, and it's not a straight line. It curves upward. Trying to push that hard in an aging body starts increasing the risk of injury, which is why you don't see me doing Crossfit. In fact, now I wonder, is Crossfit still even a thing?

These days a good steady state speed I can keep up for 2 Km is 18:30 per Km, or 111 seconds or 1:51 per 100 m. I know that my best time recently for 100 m is a hair under 90 seconds, and I'm already slowing down and running out of air. The space between 111 seconds and 90 seconds isn't that big, about 5 seconds per length. I'm quite sure that setting the goal of a 15 minute Km (or 90 s per 100m) is utter fantasy. Maybe best not to set a goal number, and just churn away trying to do the best I can, and see where the year ends up. So there's another goal. 

No blogging goals, I think, other that putting them out when I feel the desire. 2022 had the fewest blogs ever, but I feel no guilt. I'd rather put out an irregular quality product that my readers like, rather than a regular rag that people won't visit.

For sure I'm going to be exposing more film next year. I've got lots, and I love how it looks. Yes, there are limitations, but limitations drive you to be inventive. I was looking at one recent photo, wondering why on earth I captured an expanse of snow and some trees. It was only later, looking at the set as a whole and thinking about what I'd seen, that I remember there'd been a coyote in that batch of trees. Unfortunately the image is slightly out of focus, and it was really too far away to crop in on it.

A random person riding their bike in Fish Creek on a lovely day in late September. I figured there's enough snow and ice on the news, people didn't need more of it here.

Oh, and before I forget. This is the last book I read, Value(s) by Mark Carney. You've heard of him. Bank of Canada, Bank of England. I suppose to be accurate I should say I read some of it. The problem is that it's a great primer for economics, and much of it covers territory I already know. He would start out, let's talk about X, and then would go back hundreds, sometimes thousands of years to talk about the origin of X, and work forward. It's engaging, and well written, but I kept waiting for him to get to the point.

Thinking about the values people hold tells you a lot about why they say the things they do. Especially in the public op-ed columns, or on Twitter. They start with a warped value (I like Trump, for example) then everything else get's twisted around to accommodate that value. They don't realize how bad it gets. 

Or, thinking about what people say, tells you about their values. It's enraging when someone says the most terrible things, and when someone calls them on it, they say they were only joking. Except they weren't, and they aren't. Or when they say one action is terrible and an affront to the values of all patriots, and the exact same action is just and noble, with the only difference being if the person doing it belongs to the party you voted for. Whether an action is right or wrong, it shouldn't change because of a partisan political position. If it does, you're a hack. And the US Supreme Court wonders why it's losing respect. They are twisting their legal positions into pretzels to support their partisan position.

Of the Day



River Reflections




Film (Kodak Gold 200)


  1. Congratulations on reaching your 400k swimming goal.
    Wonderful softness in the petals on 4, and I love the top 2/3 of 7.
    I look forward to continuing to read your blog in 2023. May you and Linda have a wonderful Christmas Season. Cheers, Sean

  2. Good on ya, doing all that swimming! I'm sure you'll succeed again this year - whatever goal you end up setting. Let's chat again soon about our book projects. I'm a bit stalled at the moment, but hoping to get busy on it soon. Exercise is another matter. It only took 7 days to fall off the yoga wagon - though, in my defence, I was a little distracted by an issue with my eyes. Determined to push through and keep at it, while gradually adding more running and walking. I just don't feel safe hitting the pool at the moment. I'm also working on a 40-day writing adventure. Will send you the link to our annual newsletter, which we finally finished a few days ago. Best wishes to you and Linda for 2023! And, for sure, let's see if we can manage a fall colours adventure!


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