Thursday, January 29, 2015

43 every day

OK guys, pop quiz. Hands up, how many here reading this do NOT know someone who died of cancer or has survived it so far? I didn't think so. I don't claim to any special knowledge here, but here's my list, just off the top of my head:

  • Father, died.
  • Mother in law, died.
  • Brother in law, died.
  • Wife, still here, precancerous cells and other stuff removed.
  • Cousin, breast cancer survivor
  • Close friend, thyroid cancer survivor.
  • Several other buddies surviving various forms of cancer, so far.
  • There are almost certainly more that I don't know of.
I attended a rally downtown on Wednesday to protest the Calgary Cancer Centre being delayed yet again. For the 3rd time. That's where I learned that 43 people get told they have cancer every day. That's just under 16,000 people a year that get told "You have cancer."

It used to be that was a death sentence. People talked about it in whispers, as if they were afraid to draw the attention of it. It was barely acceptable to say you had lung cancer, and mentioning other areas, that simply wasn't done in public.

Now we talk about it, and we have an enormous variety of treatments. But it requires people with specialized knowledge, and specialized equipment, and room for it to all work on patients. The people involved are moving heaven and earth to make it happen for the people that need it because they know, none better, that the ultimate clock is ticking. And the building that it's mostly happening now is old, outdated, and crowded. It was that way a decade ago.

It sounds expensive when you say the number, $1.3 billion to build. Now think about the lives cut short by delayed cancer treatments. Think about inefficiencies forced upon the people working there. Think about how now is a great time to build infrastructure because of reduced input costs. Money is cheap now. This should be a no brainer to build, especially since it was already promised. What better way could there be to spend a little over $400 per Albertan?

This is when the Ralphbucks debacle really pisses me off. They handed that out to everybody, whether they needed it or not. I certainly didn't need it. I'd happy ante it back up again.

Oh yes, we have to watch them, though. The PC's want to spend it on perks, and salaries, and bonuses for themselves and civil servant buddies at the top of the pyramid, who are not covered by the sunshine laws mandating their compensation be revealed.

Yet the Alberta PC's are dicking us around, putting it on hold again. This is a demonstration of why it's a stupid idea to spend resource revenue like drunken sailors. It's not like these crashes in the price of oil happen outside the span of a human life so you can reasonably expect that it won't happen again. No, they happen much more frequently. I myself have seen several.

The Alberta economy is cyclical, and the Alberta PC government doesn't get it. They are surprised every time when the price drops. And we keep voting them in. There are days I think Albertans are stupid, or they're putting drugs in the water.

One of the signs at the rally said "Build the cancer center. Delay the election." All I can say to that is right on. I'd like to see all the Wildrose sheep that crossed the floor after being bribed with a mess of pottage (Smith's cabinet seat is coming), get voted out. I hope that the PC's get voted out for accepting them, and for a great many other demonstrations of incompetence. We are seeing all sorts of deck clearing in preparation for an election to be called any week now, in direct contravention of a law passed by this very party, by many of the people still working there now. The election mandated by law is supposed to be a year from now.

Vote against if there is an election. Whoever is in office, vote against them. All of them. If nobody votes PC, it doesn't matter that the other parties might split the vote. It would be better if the Liberals did the right thing and folded their tent. They attract a few votes, but they will never ever get elected here. Let's see the other parties fight it out, the  NDP, Alberta Party, and even the Wildrose if it can resurrect itself from the deathblow it got. It can't be worse than what we have now.

In other news, that thunk I got out of my hip on Sunday has done wonders for my hip and back. I'm walking normally again. Yoga on Wednesday was not just pain free, but quite lovely. I could almost touch my toes again. I haven't run again, no sense pushing my luck. Maybe this weekend again.

And the swim. Oh yes the swim! Maybe the swim club had the water all warmed up and primed. Maybe it's the short hair. But I started moderately strong, and tried to stay strong. For most of the swim I had nailed the pace where my lungs were working, breathing deeply and evenly. My stroke felt great. Flip turns were good. Amazing how that happens when your core muscles aren't cranky. Towards the end I was working it a bit harder, and beginning to feel it a bit, but I could have carried on. The reward was 2K in 37:30. That's 30 seconds faster than just last week.

At first I didn't quite believe the numbers, but I did the math several different ways and it all worked out. This swimming consistently thing really works. I highly recommend it.

Still working on the human brain throughput blog. My own throughput has been a bit limited lately. The paw of Curtis continues to improve.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I walked out and there it was

This sunset, with 3 shots done within seconds of each other, south, north, and west. Wow!

And remember yesterday when I said I couldn't get a shot of Curtis's paw? Shortly after publish I got a bunch, here's a couple, showing the affected area, but not in too much detail. Such consideration for the faint of heart.

Today it looks better yet!

And speaking of better, there's today's swim. 20x100m in 1:48 on 2 min start. Super pleased!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The murk and the sunshine

The wine kit I started yesterday is doing fine. The yeast is starting to work. Probably Monday when we get home from work the house will smell a bit of winey yeast. This is a good smell.

Curtis's paw continues to improve. He wouldn't hold still to take a picture of it, sorry guys.

There's an event at Talisman today so we tried Acadia. It's been a long time since I swam in a City pool. Well, technically Talisman is a City pool, but you know what I mean. It was warm and murky. As in, really warm, and really murky. People disappeared into the murk about a third of the way down the pool.

I talked to a guy setting up to swim in the fast lane. He seemed dubious about me joining him, but we started circle swimming. His breast stroke was surprisingly fast. I lapped him twice in the half hour I was swimming. I don't think he really quite believed I could swim faster. Another fairly fast lady was sharing the lane as well, and she was really good about getting out of the way. I talked to the guy after, and he said he'd been working pretty hard trying to keep up, and thanked me for the good workout.

Michelle is a modest humble girl that would never blow her own horn about how much her stroke has improved, but HOLY DOODLE people, has her stroke ever improved. She can say what she likes about coaching tips, but she's the one doing it. The improvement is enormous! If she keeps improving at this rate, she will soon be swimming faster than me.

After the half hour swim we worked together a bit. It's really hard with the water this murky. Then some drill and technique work for me. The pool thinned out and we chatted a bit with some of the people in Michelle's lane. The last thing was a fun surprise for her, and like showing her fist drill and being astonished how well she did, she did this astonishingly well. Better than I did when I started. Look for the story on her blog.

The last few days have been warm here, and today is essentially a summer day. 15 C (60 F)! I had to try running. Had to! Shorts and a tech shirt.

Just as well the photo doesn't show my pasty white legs.

I didn't really care much about pace, and looking at the app after it turned out to be a bit quicker than I expected. My breathing was a bit harder than I expected, but my legs were happy with the pace. I was trying to take short fairly quick steps to be easy on my quads. My right one talked to me a bit, and I took a short walk break in the middle of the 4K run. Just under 30 minutes.

During a good long stretch session I got a wonderful hip thunk from my right hip. So pleased about that. Let's see what my hips and legs think tomorrow. And just like that, another weekend is gone.

I've been working on some thoughts about human brain power, and that will be coming soon to a blog near you. Keep an eye out for it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Do you know what today is?

It's the opening day of wine season! Enough of our order came in to make it worth driving up to Red Deer, and with perfect weather I can't say no.

This is just the start. There are 7 more kits arriving over the next couple of months. Today I started the Brunello. Can't run out of that.

Next will be the Reisling, then the two Meglioli kits, a Moscato and a Nebbiolo. I even bought a fourth carboy so I can have 3 kits on the go at once. At 6 to 8 weeks per kit, with only 2 on the go, I'd still be making wine at Christmas. With 3 on the go it's down to 6 months. If I get another carboy, it's down to under 5 months. Hmmm.

I have not solved the wine storage problem yet. There are a few possibilities. I'm pretty sure that 3 inch ABS pipe will fit a wine bottle, but it's a pretty snug fit, and I'd want to take a bottle to the plumbing store just to be sure before I bought any. From there it can be sliced into 8 or 9 inch lengths and stacked up as high as I like. The question is just where in the basement.

There was a 72 bottle storage rack at Canadian Tire that looked possible, but I'd like to see it assembled. I haven't counted recently, but I think I'm going to need storage for about 200 more bottles. There will have to be an inventory soon so I know exactly how much storage to get. I'll probably have to buy more bottle glass too, must remember to inventory that.

I have been amazed and appalled at some of the storage that I've seen. I run it all down to the price per bottle stored. The IKEA racks we got for the IVAR were $8, and I suppose you have to count the IVAR itself, but we already had it. I've seen racks that were at least dozens of $ per bottle.  They'd be the nicest thing in our house, and while my wine is good, it isn't THAT good. Besides, the rack is going in the basement.

So I'm open for ideas here. Any winemakers reading this? What do you use for mass storage? No offense, I'm not interested in a cutesy-poo countertop rack for a dozen bottles.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Attack of the resolutionistas

Today was a bit of a gong show in the pool this morning. I got there earlier than usual and found lots of people swimming. My buddy Katie was circle swimming with a couple of other people in one lane, and the next lane had only one person it. I found out later this person is really reluctant to circle swim. It takes the lifeguards asking her.

So she and I split the lane for a while, then two new people jumped in the water as I was ending a lap. I stopped and asked them if they were ok with circle swimming, and did they mind waiting a few seconds for the other girl to come back so she could join the pattern.

"What other girl," one of them asked. She hadn't even looked. When I explained they said they'd swim in the next lane. Poor Katie, swimming with four other people, all much slower than her, all swimming erratically. Pushing off in front of her. No consideration.

Eventually my lane mate left and Katie joined me. Even though my swimming has been coming along, I still can't draft Katie for long. She is a torpedo in the water.

We did a major run to Costco the other day. It used to be that I really ought to take tranquilizers before such a trip, but I'm getting better. I strolled along, picking out stuff, and pushing an increasingly heavy cart. The guy in the way as I was about to escape didn't get run over. I figure I earned some karma points there. Humping all the stuff into the basement totally counts as a workout, since it included several heavy containers of kitty litter.

Thank you all for concern and well wishes for the mighty paw of Curtis. It looks like it's getting better, and he's not limping as much.

You may have notice some small changes to the blog. There are 5 linked within choices for further reading, and a feedback thingie you are all invited to click. I hope to have a few other changes done. I have been told I should update the video channel.

There has been some mild curiosity about my new hairstyle. Here's a shot of that, with a reflection bonus in the work elevators.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The paw and the liquid

Unfortunately, those are not different topics. Poor Curtis.

He has been limping a little bit lately. This isn't an unknown thing. We think his paw is a bit tender sometimes. I look at it  every couple of days when he does this. I can do anything I like to his back paws, but he is very protective of his front paws, tucking them away if anyone tries to touch them.

At first the paw looked fine, maybe a bit swollen, but with all the fur it's hard to tell. Then I noticed some dried guck between the big pad, and the base of the toes, and the pad was darker. I took him into the vet this afternoon. For a while they were soaking his paw to try to soften the guck so they could see what's under it. They suspect he has a bit of an infection going on. I was given some pills to help with that, and a liquid that acts like a bit of a pain killer to make him more comfortable.

He's such a good kitty. He didn't mind the lab techs holding his paw in the liquid. He was purring. He thinks the pills are little mini-crunchies and licked them off my hand. Unfortunately, the liquid is a bit of a trial for both of us.

The day started really well, once I found an open lane in the pool. I thought I had started creaky and slow, but it wasn't. Once 500 m rolled up I realized I was having a really fast swim, without really working it trying to be fast. I stayed strong for the last part of it, and I was really, really pleased to finish 1K in 18:10. I went back through my blog looking to see if I've swum a K this fast since I started blogging, and can't find one.

So I think all the focus on technique, and swimming the CSS pace has helped. In other news, I got a haircut on Sunday afternoon. Really short. No, shorter than that. Lots less drag. Coincidence?

Sunday, January 18, 2015


The last time I swam on Friday afternoon at Talisman it was calm. Peaceful. I had the whole training pool to myself and I had an amazing swim. At the time I thought it was because I'd been awake all day and had a good lunch.

So when Friday morning came and I was stiff and creaky I decided to go straight to the office and swim in the afternoon. That wasn't a mistake, I don't think, but it wasn't as I remembered it. The place was full.

I found a lane and asked the 2 people that were just chatting at the end if we could swim circles. The woman was ok with it, but the guy was a jerk, and didn't want to. I think the two knew each other, and he said, HE SAID, her swim was almost done and if I could wait a few minutes we could split the lane. All right, I guess.

He was all over his side of the lane so I had to keep an eye on him. My swim wasn't so hot. I was trying to maintain my CSS pace workout, and not having much fun. I could tell my heart rate was too high for what I was doing, and my breathing sucked. I did what I could and called it a day.

Sunday I was in the pool again, and as sometimes happens, Michelle joined me. But first I had to get out of the house. Curtis was guarding my swim bag. He tells us he wants to go hunt for a mouse because we aren't feeding him properly. Anyone who has tried to pick him up knows that's not true.

She keeps apologizing for taking me from my swim, but I'm finding that coaching her is helping my own technique. Firstly, you need to know she is doing extremely well! For a while we were working on her stroke, trying for a more vertical entry and working on catch. Right now she is windmilling a bit. A lot. But now the windmill is going around all the time and not stopping to breathe.

We played a little bit with the position of the elbow bone. Most people, if they put their arm out in front of them, the boney part of the joint is pointing mostly down. This makes it totally impossible to take an efficient swim stroke.

Try it for yourself, even if you aren't a swimmer. Put your arm out in front of you as if you were passing a plate of food to someone, palm up. Now turn your hand over. With your other hand, feel to find out where the boney part is pointing. Probably downish.

Now rotate that hand all the way so the thumb is at least straight down, more if it will go. Feel where the boney part of the elbow joint is. It will probably  be pointing out to the side. Perfect. Now leave it there, and rotate your hand back to palm down.

Now you can bend your elbow to get a proper catch, and get your arm vertical in the water out in front of your shoulder. If you're in the pool, catch the water, and slide your body past the molecules that are anchoring your hand. Again and again, till you don't have to think about it anymore. Except you will. Nobody does it as well as they like, and the ones that think they do have coaches that are telling them they aren't.

We worked on that, and her visualization was to pretend there were people crowding her in the lane, right beside her, and she needed to have her elbows out to guard her territory. This seemed to work.

It works for me too. I'm swimming faster. Today I tested myself, 50 is 38 seconds, which is about as fast as I can swim, and 100 m is 88 seconds. Those were done separately. This is just about as fast as I have ever done it. The only documented time faster is when I was chasing Lorraine Churchill in a swim camp. That was 83 seconds.

We did a fun thing near the end. She hung on to one of my feet as I pulled her down the pool while she mostly did a one arm stroke drill. The idea was to begin to get the feeling of water moving past her faster and start to work on the idea of drafting. She liked that, and I told her it was her turn very soon, to pull me. Haha she laughed, as if.

So I made her do it. I floated on my back, lightly kicking just enough to keep my feet from sinking. She pulled me all the way down the pool, much to her amazement. This helps build a stronger catch and pull stroke.

So that was fun and a great way to start the day. I puttered around the house the rest of the weekend, bleaching stained wine bottles, more tidying, and trying to plan where some more wine racks will go. We've got 11 kits coming, and I'll need to find the space for about 200 bottles more. Decisions, decisions.

I felts so sorry for Linda once I got home on Friday. She had wanted to use my old iPhone 4 to take some pictures of a pretty sunrise. The resulting 25 second video is hysterical. I've watched it again and again. Somehow she turned it to the front facing camera, and then turned the video on. We see her eye, and bits of the sky, some of a nice sunrise, and her muttering "how" a lot. This is a still from the beginning of the video. It would be worth my life to post the video itself. She is convinced that technology is out to get her, and I can hardly blame her, given her various adventures.

Later that evening our financial advisor took out out to dinner at The Nash. This is a new restaurant in the old National hotel in Inglewood. This was a very, very seedy bar once upon a time, and before that it was a classy place. It's sure classy now. The food is great! I think we were the oldest people in the place when we wandered out after a wonderful dinner. Not cheap, but very good.

Just to finish off, here are some photos from the weekend. The first is the Saturday sunrise. It was a beautiful reddy orange that doesn't really show up in the photo.

This is the tail end of the clouds as a chinook blows in. There were all sorts of little layers and ledges that I hope show up.

And lastly, Linda showing that she can conquer the camera phone and make it do her bidding. This was just before I got the shot above.


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