Sunday, October 19, 2014

Well, that was spectacular

Today was a photo day. The sunrise was amazing. I was out there in my bathrobe getting the first couple shots, then went and dressed. Plus other photos in the morning light. These are all unretouched.

Our neighbor's evergreen tree looked much more brilliant green against a really dark sky. The photo doesn't do it justice.

One of our rose bushes out front.

Guess in the comments what this a picture of. Winner gets a free year's subscription to this blog!

Celina has been complaining that Curtis gets more photos in the blog, so I've been trying to balance things out.

This is after my mid afternoon run. The little sweat pervert is ready to get off on sniffing my sweaty bits.

After all that was a nice book club meeting, then out for a run. Supposedly this is my long slow run for the week, but my pace buddy is off doing a marathon today. I was left to run all by myself, dodging bicyclists galore on the path. This normally means I run faster than I should.

I ran up to the reservoir and back, trying to take it nice and easy. It ended up being 8.3 K in exactly an hour. What was funny is that my legs didn't particularly feel like running. They felt heavy and a bit stiff, but chugged along at a pretty steady pace. Considering I was on the bike yesterday I'm pretty pleased. Here's the RunKeeper graph. The RunMeter one was pooched.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unexpectedly, several things

Here I am, sitting outside, writing. No parka and stuff. Not shorts either, I admit, but it's high teens, sitting in the back of the house in the shade. Lovely.

Where to start with unexpectedly?

Writing. Some of you may remember last year I did NaNoWriMo, and succeeded in writing a "novel" in the month. Technically, it doesn't have to be a novel with a beginning, middle, and end, complete with real live characters, stunning exposition, and an arresting plot. It could be a shopping list, as long as it's 50,000 words. I validated "The Sweet Elixir" with 60some thousand words, and when I checked the other day it had grown to just over 110,000 words. There should be a sequel to it, but I'm not there yet.

I have been musing about what to do for this year's contest, and unexpectedly, ideas have been coming to me. There is one scene I have in my head, where Dwen has an unexpected conversation on the stairs at the very south end of new aeration. And another of her in a dire situation. So far so good.

The first book I ever wrote is called The Bone in the Digester. I stalled on it for many years because it couldn't decide if it was a love story, a mystery, a thriller, or what. In the end, well, the road to the ending took a hard right turn into sort of science fiction, and I had a great deal of fun with it. There is a solution to the mystery, and so far so good. Two solutions actually, and a twin's thing that I'm not sure is a digression, or a major plot point. Plus lots of other good stuff I liked in the detour, and so far so good there too.

But now that I've written that out, it's begging for it's own sequel, the one that ties that story to Elixir. I've begun to map it out, and the ideas are coming thick and fast. Good thing I've got Evernote on my phone.

The interesting thing for this one is to start telling the story for people that have not read Bone, and that's all of you. I need to introduce some characters, though if you've read Elixir you've met some of them already. This is part of the challenge of writing a sequel, to not bore the people who've read the one before it, and not leave new readers completely out to sea. One of the characters changes quite a lot between Bone and Elixir, so that will probably get worked in too. (Pauses to make a note.)

So I think what I'm going to do is back up a bit, to that right turn, and have another run at it. Maybe this is cheating for Nano, but it's not a rewrite, or a copy paste dump. Now that I know what that says, I want to try taking it in a slightly different direction and tell a different story, aiming to get to a particular result. This ought to be interesting.

So there may not be quite as many blog posts in November. But wait! Another unexpected thing. Last November had 19 posts, and that was not the fewest that year. Which is a bit of a surprise to me. I sort of don't remember doing so many blog posts. Some of them had snippets. Is this something you want to see, or don't want to see? Leave a comment and say so.

But this year 19 per month has been my average, and if this continues the rest of the year my output will be the lowest since I started my blog. Not that I'm trying to go for raw production, oh no! I aim to produce a high quality blog for my readers. Just don't panic if the posts are a bit more spaced out next month.

Remember, I have this big orange literary cat that wants to be involved in the writing. Very involved. Linda says he resents the laptop, and views it as a rival object, but I think it's just that he wants to help. I'm pretty sure that with his razor sharp kitty senses, he thinks he can flop on the keyboard in such a way as to press the various keys sequentially to produce the great cat novel of the century.

Then there was yet another unexpected thing today. It was not just nice out, it was nice enough for even a bike weenie like me to go for a bike ride. So nice I work shorts and a bike shirt, just like during summer. Sunscreen even!

While my legs have been feeling better, I'm acutely aware that they haven't been feeling the bike love the last while. My thinking was today to head out and see what they thought. I figured Road to Nepal might be overdoing it, so I was out 22X to city limits. Then as I was turning around, in a completely unplanned way I met up with my neighbour and one of his buddies. We chatted right back to the house, me playing with the bike draft for most of it, but I did a bit of pulling too.

It turned out to be an hour, and 25 K overall, almost exactly. I'm very pleased with that, and unexpectedly, my legs are pretty happy with it too. I can feel my right quad a bit, and my knee wasn't as fluid as I'd have liked, but this is all good. Normally by now the bike is on the trainer big time.

There was an unexpected thing at work too, in that the manager of our group resigned. I was really looking forward to be working with him. Sigh. And an unexpected SQL thing that would be much too boring to explain, if you don't already know SQL.

I've been having fun with the new iPhone. The camera is fantastic! I'm seriously thinking about getting one of the actual camera apps that gives more control over the settings. Do any of you have any recommendations there? I've even taken some video of Curtis, and some slow-mo. I can remember when slow-mo replays were an amazing thing on TV. (What's that you say? That I'm old enough to remember TV itself being amazing? Hush you.) So getting them on a phone is pretty amazing to me.

Some photos as a reward for making it through all the unexpectedness.

Who wants to meet up for this? Was thinking of doing breakfast, heading over to Glenbow, and then maybe doing lunch after. Probably not during November (because we're all writing, remember.)

Here she is, the hard snoozer in the sun.

Curtis, the gatekeeper of the kitchen.

I totally love this pose, how he hooks his paws over the front, and looks over his kingdom.

So for comments, please and thank you. November snippets in or out? And any iPhone camera app recommendations?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Short, intense: So not me, but

The weather here lately is just amazing! I am loving it.

Wednesday was another strong swim. 1 K, 19 minutes exactly, not even trying particularly hard. Some intervals after, and my swim ended early because they were swapping some lanes around. Very pleased.

Then tonight is another great evening for a run. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm trying to work on consistency, so out I went. The RunMeter graphs are way better on the new phone. I don't know if that's because the phone sensors are better, or the software is better or what. Although the very beginning of the elevation line isn't right, I was going uphill at first. Here's the graph.

For whatever reason I really felt like running fast once I got warmed up. Even at the fastest I didn't feel like I was running really hard. It still felt natural and I could have run at that pace for a little longer. Not much, but some.

In the end I decided that if was going to go faster, I'd better also stop sooner, and not over do it. I'm loving having happy legs and don't want to get them cranky again.

Right at this moment I'm struggling with a large orange literary cat. He is insisting on "helping". This is getting difficult. His grasp of grammar is very poor, and spelling isn't his strong suit either. Or working a keyboard, for that matter.

We all know I love reflection shots. I got this the other day just after arriving at work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Still in shorts, outside, running

Calgary has had a whole lot of snow already this winter, to the tune of a million dead trees. The pruning and removing branches is still going on, and will be until next year. We've had several nights of frost already.

And you know what I found while running today? Bugs. Swarms of little bugs. Annoying. But that's the only annoying thing about the run. It was a lovely evening, high teens or so with a light breeze. I headed out to run whatever my legs wanted to run. Most of the run was regular deep breathing but no gasping. For those that don't want to squint at the chart, just over 6K, 41:30 minutes, feeling great.

I'm not sure if I'm on a different version of RunMeter now, but this elevation line is much more believable. The app interface has changed a bit, and I'll need to see if there are any new options to play with.

On the way back in I grabbed a couple shots of the garden. There is still some colour there, mainly in a bright blue plant. No idea what it is, though Linda will know. These photos are completely unretouched.

Still domesticating the new phone. The ordinary ring (old phone) is a little tinnier than on the 4, and I'm not sure I've got notifications all worked out. I've got it all set up to work with my ear glasses, so I"m happy about that.

I found the burst mode in photos by accident, and holy cow does it ever capture a lot of photos in a second. I haven't played with the video yet.

Monday, October 13, 2014

An overdose of feeling thankful

What a wonderful long weekend!

During Ironman training they talk about rest days, and knowing when you need one. It's true. There's a difference between being tired, and carrying on with the workout. Then one day you'll wake up with a planned workout, and you know you aren't going to do it. No thinking involved, you just know. You go back to bed, and go back to sleep.

Saturday had been planned to be a quiet day, and I woke up with that feeling reinforced. I didn't do anything other than hang around the house, doing a bit of writing, and watching me some Kona Ironman video. It wasn't as much fun as it has been in the past. Every other word out of the announcer's mouth was a product or company endorsement. The leaderboard webpage was a complete and total failure. When I can't figure out how a web page works, the GUI is a failure, and no further discussion needed.

As far as I can see the only story of the day is that Mirinda Carfrae started the run 14:30 down on the leader, then proceeded to catch her on the way to a 2:50:xx marathon and a 9 hour total time. I watched her blow by Rachel Joyce (who turned in a completely respectable 3:06 run split) like she was an age grouper. That's yet another new course record. In case you were wondering, the actual fastest marathon by a woman is 2:15 or so. I can only wonder what Carfrae could run if she wasn't all tired out from a swim and bike first.

I felt sorry for Sister Madonna Buder. Tackling Kona at 84, then DNF on the bike because of a simple mistake. Sigh. I am in awe of her, tackling something that I would be reluctant to do just now. I just hope I'm still around and mobile at 84. Doing any triathlon at that age would be nice, let alone Ironman.

Sunday, oh Sunday. Another lovely run with my buddy. We ran up to the new bridge going in at Sandy Beach. It doesn't look like it will be much longer. Coming back we stopped to admire the mountains beyond Glenmore Reservoir. The vantage point just behind the hospital is wonderful. The mountains looked huge, and looked like they started just beyond the reservoir. I'm surprised there wasn't someone there with an easel painting. The temperature was perfect for running. We ran just over 10 k in about 1:15, with a short break at Sandy Beach. No selfies, no mountains pics. Sorry. We were too busy enjoying the run and the chat.

After having cranky legs on and off for much of the last two years it's been really nice to be feeling strong and stable while running. I've been gently stretching and starting to do some core again. Rather than build milage or speed, I'm just going to try to stay consistent running about 25 K a week for a while and see what happens.

The rest of the day was house stuff. Oh, and I got a new iPhone. I decided the time had come. Spent some time domesticating it, but have still been startled by some of the noises it makes. I still don't know why the FaceTime call today with my brother went to the desktop, and not any of the other devices that I thought were set up for that. Now I do. He called my email address, not the mobile number.

Sunday Linda's cousin and his wife were coming over for brunch. Before that I got into the pool for a great swim, with the pool almost all to myself. 1K 18:55! Some kick, and 5 x 50 on 60 seconds all but the last  under 50 seconds. (sorry about the hashtag glop. That's what I get for inserting the less than symbol.) People often talk about getting bored while swimming. I don't get it. I could have swum much longer, thinking planning thoughts for NaNoWriMo, and generally being happy about where I am these days.

I don't mean to suggest it's all rainbows and unicorns, but I really am happy these days, and thankful about life. While I'm still not in the shape I'd like to be, I can go for a nice run with buddies. Swooshing up and down the pool is all good. It even feels like the bike love is coming back, just in time for winter. The recent doctor's appointment didn't find any concerns, though the lab tests are still pending. My health generally feels excellent.

We are coming up on 30 years married. Jokes about it seeming like forever aside, it's been a fun ride. Well, maybe a few exceptions, but everybody that's married knows about that. So far we haven't planned anything special to celebrate, like a trip around the world on the Queen Mary II or anything. We will probably hang out at home and drink some wine. If you have some suggestions about what to do between those two extremes, I will read your comments with interest.

The work I'm doing is enjoyable for me (I completely understand that most people don't like writing SQL queries and playing with data, but I do) , and I like the people I'm working with. The company is going through some pains right now, but that's to be expected the way the world is. Companies that are not changing are about to go out of business.

In the bigger picture, I (and pretty well all the readers of my blog( and thank you for reading)) live in the safest and most secure societies humans have yet created. Yes shit happens, (and if we could cut down on the numbers of idiot drivers it would be much better!) but by and large we live pretty peaceful lives. We almost all have enough to eat. We might wish there was no need for food banks and such, but it wasn't so long ago that people could and did starve to death on the street.

And disease. Everybody is all freaked out about Ebola, and yes it's a horrible disease, but the odds of a North American getting it are trivial. Republican paranoia aside, there are no legions of Ebola carrying ISIS (or whatever it's calling itself now) fighters massing at the border to infect you all, or worse, threatening The American Way of Life. You've a better chance of hearing you've won the lottery while getting struck by lightning.

The people you should be worried about are those idiot anti-vaxxers. What they're doing is child abuse, and a menace to public health. Claiming a religious dispensation for vaccination is saying you're unfit to live in the modern world. People like that, and those that don't follow their doctor's instructions about completing a course of drug treatment are one of the reasons why we have the so-called super-bugs.

We know beyond any doubt that a reasonable diet, and a reasonable level of exercise will lead to a much happier, and prolonged life. But lots of people don't even do that, and we wonder why the hospitals are full. To me, it's a no brainer. Here's a little modest proposal. How be people that complete a half ironman or equivalent be charged only half the medical portion of their taxes for that calendar year?

I was pushed aside by a bossy cat as I started writing the blog. Celina hopped up and pushed me over to the side of the chair so she could snuggle in. She's still there several hours later, though I've got up to have some supper and change chairs.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Shark. Bike. BBQ. Warmth!

What a nice day!

Up and off to the pool in good time, though it was very busy. I jumped into a lane with a three other people. One swam quicker, and the other two about the same speed as me. The way it worked out I didn't want to push off in front of them at the top of the clock. Maybe I should have. I drafted for 50 m getting into the groove. Then caught up to the guy and mostly passed him on the turn. My inner shark came out big time as I was trying to pass the other girl, before the faster one came back. Was just pulling back in as we all came together.

I haven't swum with my inner shark for a while now, and it was good to meet up again. We swam together lots when I was at Renfrew, maybe because I was chasing other swimmers lots, and there were a couple people I could just keep up with if I worked at it. Talisman is a nicer facility, but there aren't many people who swim about my speed. There's the swim club kids that could probably swim faster than me using only one arm, and my buddy Katie who can cruise along at about the fastest speed I can swim at all. Then there are people that swim much slower, and good for them for getting out and trying.

If you want to check out more about my inner shark, check out:
 how sharks claim trips on their expense accounts,
or my thoughts vs shark thoughts,
or some shark jokes,
or a shark ditty with apologies to Christine Lavin,
or what the shark thinks of synchro swim girls,
or I'll bet you didn't know sharks are the strong silent type.

After the pass I cruised along trying to stay in between the faster swimmer and the other two. Then the faster one went away, then the other two. I don't think I was swimming really any quicker than recently, but the flip turns were much better, so I think that accounted for the faster 19:25 for the 1000m swim.

Then 4 intervals on 60 seconds, with my shark buddy cheering me on. Those were all between 45 and 50 seconds. Cool down. I was really pleased with the swim. Afterwards I picked up some La Boulangerie treats for Saturday morning. They do the very best cinnamon buns. No wait, they're terrible. Awful. Worst in the city. Don't buy them there, at least not before me.

Coming home after work I was struck anew by what a beautiful day it was. Autumn really is Calgary's best season. The temperature was up around 20 C! I was so impressed I decided to try to get out on my bike, since I don't want to run 2 days in a row. Poor Estela has been languishing in the basement. I was a bit nervous about it since my last ride was much earlier this year, and didn't go well. The plan was to zoom around the neighborhood and keep it light and easy.

It was lovely! Not quite 14 K, just over 30 minutes. My legs felt pretty good about it, with my right quad and left calve feeling a bit weak. RunKeeper weenied out and didn't give me any data after, though it was talking to me. RunMeter was very pissy about getting the data out after. No, I did not get a selfie of me on the bike.

After a recovery cookie and a shower I got the BBQ started. Even though the sun was beginning to go down, it was still really warm out. I sipped some wine and did the Bison tenderloin just right. It all went down really well with some spuds and corn.

Later I'm trying to compare the costs of buying an unlocked iPhone and getting a month to month contract, with getting it through Telus. It's pretty confusing. My buddy Leana had some good suggestions for using the old phone. The apps will still work perfectly well.

In the end I shook my head about the whole darned thing. It looks like I can buy the whole thing through the Telus store, and start paying more monthly for a bigger data package. I left it there and worked on my blog, and other writing. That feels much more productive.

Tomorrow I'll be watching at least part of IM Kona. Hope my buddy Sara Gross has a great day!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

But there was no gratuitous trampling!

The weekend had a wonderful beautiful run with buddies, well up on the list of best runs ever for me. Monday I swam, and felt great. Did 1000 m in just under 20 minutes, then 3x50 m on 60 seconds. That's feeling better too.

Tuesday morning I felt great! Then I sat way too much at work, and during one meeting I was sort of twisted looking at the whiteboard, and the guy that was speaking much of the time. I limped home. Still, I tried running. That might have been a mistake. There was walk breaks. It was short. It was slow. Add very to those statements. Mega very. Well up on the list of worst runs ever.

Massage Wed afternoon, where my wonderful therapist put 1.5 hours into pummeling my thighs, with a bit of butt and calves. They felt much better after. Then a really good yoga class. My head attended this time, which was good.

Then a really nice run tonight. 4K, 29 minutes, gradually building, though the pace line for Runmeter is all over the place. The graphs for RunKeeper are much better.

And I was smiling, sort of. And as you can see, it's October 9th, and I'm wearing shorts and tech shirt.

Then I had some errands to run. It started with Rona, then Coop. Then Rona has moved the light bulbs, and someone scrambled the display. Then to Bulk Barn where I overdosed on the sugar smell. Then the Dollar Store for a few Halloween decoration.

Then, at last, Coop. I was braced for geezers. I was ready for the pre Thanksgiving crowd. I was going to go in, get 4 things, and get out. If a gratuitous trampling happened because someone didn't get out of my way, well, that's life.

Except they didn't have the granola I like, and nobody got in my way. I was almost disappointed. Other than a poor hapless grocery clerk bamboozled by Linda so he didn't know if he was coming or going, there was no chance. Maybe just as well.

Swim tomorrow, at some point. Let's see. Should be nice weather all weekend. Happy Turkey everybody!


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