Thursday, October 30, 2014

There would have been buttage

My Facebook message thingie had a nice surprise for me last week. The famous Rachelle of Tri-it, my favourite triathlon store had told me I'd won. Yay me! I stopped by yesterday to pick it up and found a bunch of Clif stuff and a T shirt. How nice!

Yesterday after my swim I realized I was on the very verge of a catastrophic material failure in my swim suit. Catastrophic, I tell you. Nobody at the pool wants to know what they would have discovered about me.

So while picking up my prize I also tried on a couple swim suits. The 36 didn't even go over my butt. The 38 sort of mostly did, but felt small. Hence the title of today's blog.

On the way to yoga I stopped in at Swimco and started at a 38. Baggy. Which was fine because it made me look at a 36, and those ones had a shark motif on them. They fit perfectly, and well, they have a shark motif on them. How could I not buy?

Which reminds me, I swam yesterday in the lane next to the kids. Swoosh! Shared a lane with the only other swimmer in the 4 public lanes. I'm not sure what the people in other three lanes were doing, but it didn't involve much movement. The two of us swooshed back and forth to some purpose. At one point we were racing the kid next door who was doing cool down, or so I assume. We could almost keep up.

Tough massage. My therapist is very hard working. Then a very painful yoga session. I had a back muscle spasm in the middle, and that was all she wrote. Home. Pills. Body rub.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A thunk, dissected

There was that wonderful run on Sunday. But the rest of the weekend I sat too much, and I could feel it in my low back and hips.

Monday I hoped the swim would help. I had a nice chat with Katie for about 15 minutes, then swam 1.5 K (first time for that in quite a while) in 29:30 or so. Most of it was pretty easy, but I was struggling with my nose clips till I took a break for a second and put them on the right way. Then it was good. Stretched a little after, with a few minutes in the hot tub too.

Hips and low back still hurting. Stood at work almost all day.

Tuesday was a dreadful start. It's a good thing the liquor stores aren't open at 7am or I'd have been pouring scotch into my coffee. There was lots of Grrr. Then a morning dissecting that particular bit of grrr, so I could explain exactly what was wrong. There were several unhappy people by the time I was done, and I was feeling better. I suspect there will be still more unhappy people as the ripples spread.

Stood all day, hips and back still hurting. Leaning against the stair railing at home, it hurt to pick up my foot to take off my shoes. Lots. Breathing and straightening up, and shifting my balance hurt at unexpected times.

I slithered downstairs to my mat, and slowly and gently started to stretch. A few seconds in and I could tell my back liked it. I was on my back, both knees off to the right. I let my knees settle, and there were little creaking sounds as some of the muscles gently stretched. I stayed like that for a while.

Then I slowly flopped my knees over to the other side, and as they passed the mid-point I knew it would be good. I could feel my vertebrae slowly moving, the muscles shifting. I hadn't even got all the way when there was this wonderful, slow, sliding, drawn out, meaty, satisfying thunk. Not a sharp click that feels like something snapped. No, just a nice feeling of everything settling back into place, vertebrae talking to their neighbours again.

There was instantly less pain. I did some other stretches, with some residual tingling. But as soon as that thunk happened, I knew I could go for a run this evening. The matter had been very dubious before.

A few minutes later I was dressed and on the way out the door. I couldn't believe how good my legs felt. I decided to run exactly what my legs felt like doing, and it turned out to be 4 K, 27:30. It felt great! Breathing nice and easy, not getting too sweaty. My cadence gradually dropped throughout, so this is something I'll have to work on, and my pace gradually increased. See for yourself. I finished it while it was still good.


Then off to write club. They're trying out a second location in the SW, not all that far from home, so I thought I'd try it. Perhaps this will be where lots of my NaNoWriMo activity will take place. So far so good, though the wifi is really slow.

Cat photo reward for getting this far! This is what literary criticism looks like in our house.

This is complaints about not getting a lap.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Some newness, and the heat gun trick

Much as I'm a staid old stick, liking what is tried, true, and familiar, there are times I venture into newness. New phone. New apps, and trying to figure out how they all work together. Changing habits to take advantage. I've discovered Siri is really good about making appointments for me.

That discovery happened leaving work on Friday. You might remember I had some lab tests last week. The doctor's office called as I was getting out of the elevator, digging out my phone to use the card key in the pocket. It's hard to mentally switch up using the phone to open a gate, to talking to someone. No panic, but as soon as I had a time and date, I was out the gate, and wanting to get it recorded before I forgot. I forget easily. (The peanut gallery can stop snickering any time now!)

I'm trying to leverage other apps that might actually help me be organized, and get more use out of the phone. Such a marvelous technology. The trick is using it for something that is actually useful and helpful to me, and not just a high tech way of doing something for the sake of doing it a high tech way. One of my buddies loves to write with a fountain pen on nice paper. I don't quite get that, but there's lots of times an ordinary pen and some paper is all that's needed.

Here's how Saturday started.




No muss, no fuss, no screams of rage, no broken fingernails or anything else. The secret is to get the tire nice and warm. I got it onto the tire just using my hands. That's how to avoid pinch flats.

I did a bit of easy spin, calibrated the brake unit, and did a bit more easy spin. Mainly to warm up the leg and circulate my blood a bit. Nice stretch session after.

Then the last of the back yard winterizing, and a bit of garage cleaning and organization. Last backyard BBQ of the year, doing chicken then rack of lamb. So yummy! Now the BBQ is tucked into the garage. I'll still use it over the winter, just out at the front of the garage so I'm somewhat sheltered from the cold and wind.

I didn't mention there was wine to go with dinner, and a chocolaty dessert. But you guys guessed that, right?

Sunday started early. Some swim coaching, and a bit of a swim myself. Mainly some intervals. Nice.

Then out for a run. We parked in the East Village near the new bridge. We checked it out then started running east. This was 2 new bridges for me, and it's been a very long time since I've run in this area. Very nice. We took our time, running a little slower than usual, chatting. Michelle did a marathon last weekend, and I was putting her through her paces in the pool, so I wasn't fussed about the pace.

It's also the first time using iSmoothRun, and I'm impressed so far. Let's see if I can get some screen shots. She lent me a Spibelt, and I'm pretty impressed with that too. I think I have to buy one, unless someone local has one they don't use anymore and want someone to take it off their hands. He said hopefully. Hello, anyone?

The Google Earth map of our run from the iSmoothrun file.

Here's the pace and cadence graph. Getting cadence will be interesting, I've often suspected my steps have slowed down, and it seems to be true. The average today was 82, and my count several years ago was closer to 88. Let's find out what the numbers really are!


Cagary's newest bridge. There's some formal name for it, but the popular name is "The Skipping Stone". Three guesses why.

My run buddy pointing out some architectural features.

Another view of where we started the run. This used to be a very sketchy area. Very. I probably wouldn't have walked alone there a decade or two ago.

My other run buddy has a problem with her toe. You might have heard about it. My understanding was that a crack in the pavement took her by surprise. This is it.


Coffee and a nice chocolate treat at Bite after. So nice! All in all a lovely morning. Some errands later in the day.

I'm starting to get it together for NaNoWriMo, plotting things out. It goes like this.
Action intro for Dwen and Les.
She meets some other people. Reference to a larger group of friends.
She has unusual dreams.
She has an unusual occurrence in the waste water plant where she works.
She follows up on that occurrence, meets more new people, and discovers a complication with Les.
She explores, and makes further discoveries, with some knocks along the way.
She learns some startling things.
Some of those startling things make huge changes when they become known.

There, does that interest you? Are you intrigued? Do you want to learn more about Les and Dwen and  find out what the unusual occurrence is? I hope so. (Why are you yawning?) If you aren't yawning, and want to do NaNoWriMo, let me know. We can be writing buddies.

I've been playing with the camera in the new phone. I'm impressed. Cats. Need I say more?







Thursday, October 23, 2014

Iconoclastic rant, batten down the hatches!

Everybody almost certainly knows about the shooting in Ottawa yesterday. The news was full of it. I mean that in more than one way. You know what I mean.

Let's start by saying that, yes, it's sad that young reservist got shot. It's amazing that nobody else got shot, except the guy who started it. The news bleating about the whole thing had me tweaking my Twitter settings, and scrolling past a lot of crap on Facebook.

My first question on hearing about it, and hearing the label terrorist being applied almost instantly, was, why it wasn't terrorism when the 4 mounties were shot a few years ago in Mayerthorpe? Why wasn't it terrorism when Lepine shot 28 people in 1989 at Ă‰cole Polytechnique?

Is it just because he (apparently) has some links to Islam and fears that he has been 'radicalized', whatever on earth that means? Is it because he shot a member of the Armed Forces, and then stormed Parliament? Where is the line between some gun nut gone crazier, and terrorism?

Amid the bleating about why our various security forces didn't prevent the attack are cries that say security forces need more tools. More oversight. More intrusive monitoring. Greater ability to detain those suspected of being bad. All in the name of keeping Canadian's safe, of course.

My response is a very loud, very rude noise.

The average Canadian has a completely trivial chance of being killed by nutter carrying a gun, let alone a "terrorist" on a mission. Trivial. You're more likely to win the lottery. Take a deep breath. Think it through.

You know where your real risk is? Being in or around a motor vehicle. On average, a little over one person is killed a day in Alberta (400 per year), and 74 per day are injured, (27,000 per year). That's out of about 3 million Albertans. I don't worry about a nut with a gun, not for one second. I worry about the people driving the cars around me, every second I'm in a car, or near them.

Let's review here, shall we? In the bad old days of Kings, they could and did lock up or kill anyone that disagreed with them. Holding the wrong opinions too loudly could be fatal. This is why our structure of laws is built the way it is. The authorities have to prove that some particular person broke some particular law at a particular time and place. Not just say it happened, but actually demonstrate the proof.

Too often people say that criminals have too many rights, and that's bullshit. I want to see criminals having the right to a fair trial, complete with evidence, and the police following the rules. Every time. I want to know that the people deprived of their liberty are actually guilty, even if it costs me more in taxes.

Why? Because when we allow the police to get sloppy, and allow people to go to jail "because we know they're guilty", we are sliding down a dangerous slope to the bad old days of Kings. I emphatically do not want Stephen Harper and professionally paranoid secrete security agents collecting "tips" from the public. That's called East Germany, not that long ago.

We've already started holding trials where the accused can't see the evidence against them, because it would reveal state secrets. Another loud rude noise.

We've seen Revenue Canada threatening non-profit clubs with audits because they wrote a letter to a politician. Politically motivated audits are a fearsome weapon. They're also wrong. I completely support a Revenue agency that reviews the taxes that people and corporations pay, checks the numbers, and runs audits based on objective criteria to ensure that the tax laws are being complied with. Not an agency acting at the direction of a frightened little man.

Why do I care about this so much? Because I have opinions that some in power might take offense to. Stephen Harper is actually my MP, though I've never voted for him. I also think he's the worst thing to happen to Canada and Parliament ever. I don't think he should be re-elected, and I tell my neighbours that at every opportunity. Bullies and control freaks have no place in positions of authority.

So far so good, at least so far. Lots further along the spectrum we get into nutter territory, people that call for the violent overthrowing of the state, or assassination of various political figures, and other such nonsense. They hear voices, or think that God has told them to do this, or they blow some little thing all out of proportion, or they let some other nutter talk the into doing something stupid. Our police have their plates full of such, and I can see where it's hard to draw the line between the one that's really going to do it, and the many that are just going to talk about it.

But really, we have to keep the police on a tight budget so they prioritize on what they think is the real threat. If they had the budget to collect a file on every living Canadian, they would. And then someone would act on it, sooner or later. Likely sooner, for suspect motivations. Maybe their neighbour parked in "their" space in front of their house. Maybe they played the music too loud. Maybe guy with license XYZ 123 took his parking spot at Costco. Let's just take a quick peek at what the files say, shall we? Hmmm. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The middle ground is troubling. The Harper government has labeled as "terrorists" various environmental groups that wanted intervenor status in pipeline hearings. What nonsense! This is why we have to push back on the calls for enhanced security oversight. It becomes all too easy for those in power to use those forces to target those who disagree with them. At first it's the big things, but it will spread. And then we're back to the bad old days again.

Life is all about balancing risks and freedoms. Harper thought that placating his base was more important than trying to track certain kinds of firearms. I haven't the slightest doubt he will use this shooting to push for greater intrusions into the lives of ordinary Canadians, and that he won't make any changes in his position about a gun registry. There's an election a year or so away, and this will certainly be used to help him stay elected and in charge. Expect to hear all sorts of crap on this topic, and be prepared to push back.

I think it was Franklin that said, "Those who would trade their freedom for security deserve neither."

In other news, a pretty nice swim yesterday. Tired arms and shoulders. Then a yoga session that featured, you guessed it, shoulders! Yahoo, he said. Uhuh.

It's getting a little cooler here in the evening, especially when the sun goes behind a cloud. The 5K 35 minute run got a bit cool towards the end. RunMeter has failed me for the last time. Three runs in a row it hasn't picked up a GPS that RunKeeper finds perfectly acceptable. Deleted. The only problem is that RunKeeper is just a little bit rah rah rah for my taste. I may shell out for iRunSmooth. Any suggestions from you about which iPhone app is good for tracking running?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Good thing I didn't run, I think

So you know how some people post nothing but rainbows and unicorn poop? Here's some honesty tonight. I'm a bit cranky. Just a bit.

Let's start with a small rainbow. Monday's swim was really good. About 1.25 K or so, not sure exactly. A few intervals, and a bit of water running. Even though the water was cold, it was all good.

I am normally a knows where he's going kind of guy, and normally like to walk a straight line at a brisk pace to get there. Just lately it seems like people are getting in my way. They come out of nowhere, or stand around taking up the entire frigging sidewalk in front of the Palliser like half-slaughtered sheep. Then I have to maneuver around them, trying to restrain the urge to just trample over them. That isn't well thought of.

Normally I like the +15 system, but perhaps using it after a 12 hour fast isn't the best idea in the world. Yes, lab tests time. So there I was having to put in a couple hours of work on a complicated query, not just before coffee, but before breakfast. So to say I was eager to get into the lab to do the bleed and pees thing is a bit of an understatement. You'd think some of the people around me were deliberately trying to be obstacles, and not just to me either.

But I was channeling the time in Torino, going into the train station. I was tired, cranky, and wanted to be on the train. There was a longish walk to the doors, and a flood of people coming out. I was wearing a bright yellow coat (If sir will wear a coat of that colour out in public, he will find nothing of interest to him in this store.) and decided I simply wasn't in the mood. I locked eyes on the door, and walked an absolutely straight line toward the door. I was looking over people, paying them no attention at all, projecting the complete willingness to walk through them. The crowds parted around me. Linda was hanging onto the back of my jacket trying to keep up.

Then there was the guy this evening, tailgating me under 9th ave on 4th St SE. Turning right onto 11th Ave he goes wide trying to get around on the left, but I'd already signaled and was sliding over. He tried for the right, but someone was coming out of a parking spot. Just past the construction, as I had my signal on to go left, he cut through the end of the construction zone, and zoomed past me in the far left lane. I'm in the next to left, with two more over to my right. Then he zooms across in front of me to get over in the second to the right lane. We exchanged glares at the light. Then I nearly peed myself laughing as another idiot blocks the intersection on him.

Tonight, paying bills. Now, keep in mind I remember when you had to pay bills by mailing a piece of paper to each company, or visit their office in person, and wait in line. This was before paying bills at the bank. Now I can sit at a desk for a few minutes and shuffle money around. It's wonderful.

Except when you lose an envelop in the clutter on the desk. Oops. At least it was only the phone bill for the number we give to people we don't want to talk to. Then it was one of those times when everything seems to struggle. Unable to separate pieces of paper. Opening an envelop, using a tool designed for the purpose, that I've used only a zillion times in the past, was suddenly a difficult task. I checked all the math twice.

I signed up for some of my bills on e-post, and I'm seriously considering going back to paper. I have to remember to look at the bill, since only the mobile phone bill comes as an email, and even then I have to go looking for it. This time Direct Energy sent some bafflegab about account changes, but the bill finally arrived so I could pay it. No changes. Just late.

Tonight was to be a run night, but after a little bit of dithering I decided not not. My hip, quads, and hams are feeling just a bit tight, as if just the right stretch would click them and all would be good. I was feeling rushed and cranky, and decided that rest is better for me than the run. If my bike had been set up on the trainer, I might have done a short ride, but no. Getting that done isn't hard, but it isn't a task to be done when feeling cranky and tired. Even with the heat gun trainer tire trick.

And while it isn't quite singing you out with a rainbow, here's another nice sunset. This is actually looking south.



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?

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