Let me tell you about my weekend.
Catalina has made it clear that she does not like my sofa. I decided that when she came back to Canada we would go shopping for a replacement. Fortunately Costco had some nice comfortable reclining chairs for sale so I took her down there on Saturday to get an opinion on them. She liked them, so we went and bought them. The store would hold them for 24 hours while we got ready for them.
We walked back home and drove the car back. It is a lot harder to drive to Costco than to walk. With all the one-way streets, and traffic jams, it seems to take about the same time as walking. Catalina went in and brought one of the chairs out in a flat-bed cart. In the harsh light of day it was clear there was no way that the box would fit in any orifice of the car. This is going to be a problem.
We thought about phoning friends and seeing if they had a bigger car we could borrow. Eventually we got the idea of borrowing one of the flat-bed carts and rolling it home that way. We called and got permission for this, as long as we deposited a driver’s license. However, that would be something we would need to do on Sunday.
In the meantime we had put the sofa in Craigslist to see if anyone would take it off our hands. In the worst case scenario we could get someone to take it away for $50 to donate to a refugee family. But we did get someone and they were willing to come on Sunday afternoon with their moving truck.
On Sunday morning we walked back to Costco. We were able to get both chairs onto one cart and then started rolling. It actually went fairly quickly, although the hill on Smithe was a bit of a struggle.
When we got to the building though, it became clear that the boxes were too big for any of the doors. So we went to the loading dock in the back and struggled to get them up the short flight of stairs. After that, with the security guard’s help, and the loan of his rolling cart, we were able to get them into the elevator and into the apartment in two separate trips.
Afterwards we took the flat-bed cart back to Costco.
Now the problem was the sofa. It was a bigger problem than it should have been, because due to reasons, there was only one elevator working in the building. And it wasn’t the moving elevator. Heck, even getting the sofa out of the apartment was a struggle because of existing furniture in the way. It would only go through doors if it was on its end and rotated through. In other words, it couldn’t be done on the rolling cart.
And with only one elevator working, it was always packed with people.
Our first attempt to get it onto the small elevator didn’t work. It seemed to be a touch too big. Maybe if we took the small legs off? Well, they needed a Phillips screwdriver to do that, and the only one I had did not work well with the small holes. Eventually I was able to get two off with an eyeglass screwdriver, which was not enough. This was not my finest moment.
On the second attempt we got it on board by treating the elevator doors like a regular door and rotating it through when it briefly opened. All with an audience in the elevator, including a security guard.
After that, we got the sofa back to the loading dock and let the Craigslist guy pick it up.
The chairs were assembled. It was soon discovered that they needed more outlets to deal with all the features. So we had to go out and buy a powerbar for them. But then, everything was done. The chairs had their place. They reclined nicely. They are comfortable and I’ve even caught Catalina sleeping in them.
And all of this moving was done while my back is not in the best shape.
When I flew to Houston last February, sitting in the airplane seat messed me up and eventually caused plantar fasciitis. I’m still feeling the effects of that.
I thought I had taken good enough care of myself this time to avoid any bad effects. I even made sure to stand up and move about the cabin on the flight. And things went well. I was able to run in Houston without any issues. I felt I had dodged a bullet.
When I got back to Canada, things started out okay. I had no pains when I ran. I even did a 23km run on New Year’s Day (four days after I got back) that, when mapped, looked like Santa. The next day, Wednesday, there was a quick run, and on the way home, I had a bit of pain in my back. Nothing serious though.
It was still there the next day. On the Friday I noticed it may have been connected to my left calf. So I spent that evening and the morning of the next day massaging it, and using a foam roller. I even made an appointment to see a massage therapist, although the next availability wasn’t for two weeks. My run at lunch felt great. Until I got to the halfway point. Then things got worse and worse. I was hurting a lot by the time I got back home. In fact I could barely walk.
On Sunday, I decided that my run would only be 5km. It still hurt. Things weren’t getting better.
By the next Wednesday, my run was only ten minutes, and it was painful the entire time.
I kept at that time/distance until last Friday when I saw a physiotherapist. He diagnosed me with an L5/S1 (Lumbosacral Joint) sprain with nerve root irritation. Basically my back is sprained, and my muscles were fighting to protect it. That is why my legs and butt hurt while I was running. And the impacts were going to make things worse.
In other words I have to stop running. I had gotten up to 288 days of consecutive running.
I have some exercises I can do that will help things. And I hopefully will get back to it soon enough.
I thought about trying to keep the streak going with water jogging, but that would have been too large a commitment to keep doing that every day by going to a pool some distance away. It is doable, but unpleasant enough to not make it worth it.
And, I’m okay with failure. I was hoping to get up to one year of daily running, but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be an accomplishment. In my head I thought of those people who have been doing daily runs for thirty years. But they do such short runs that it isn’t really a challenge. I’ve been doing usually about 12km. That’s not easy and each day is an accomplishment.
Besides, I’ve noticed several other injuries are starting to lessen now that I’m giving my body a break. So there is that too.
So for the last two weeks I’ve been in Houston, celebrating the holidays with Catalina.
Initially, my family came too; they stayed for half a week. Catalina’s mother used to run a restaurant and she kept cooking for us. We tried to stop her by inviting her out to dinner, and we ended up at Dim Sum where she sneakily paid too. Her food was fantastic! Every dish was really good. I think she was trying to fatten the family up. Well, it was mission accomplished for everyone else.
I was able to thwart her by continuing to run every day. This town is not friendly to runners. Or, maybe I should say that being out in the suburbs is not friendly to runners. The roads in the communities have sidewalks, but they are usually blocked by people parking in their driveways across them. However, the traffic is so light in those areas, I feel okay running on the roads. However, the big thoroughfares that have heavy traffic never have sidewalks. In those cases I try and run as much to the side as I can, and on some of the limited grass if that still isn’t safe. (I’m faster on the roads than the uneven grass.) The big storm a few days ago did make it harder to stay off the roads.
There were four cardinal directions I could go. To the west I could eventually get to a creek that I could run along. On the last day I found that on the north side of it there were better trails than the south. To the north I was blocked by a golf course, but that worked out well on Christmas Day when it was unused and I could go everywhere I wanted on it. To the east was industrial, and I did go a couple of times, but it was a bit nerve-wracking being next to a lot of traffic. There was also a gated community that was its own little fortress. It looked like it had good trails, but they were not meant for non-citizens. To the south, there was a bayou; I initially thought I could take a trail through it, but I quickly found it was too wet to make it interesting. I instead ended up getting lost in a gated community that hadn’t guarded its back entrance. On another day I stayed on major roads and was able to go far to the south.
The rest of the time, it was fairly domestic. We didn’t make much plans to do anything and just spent time together. Catalina still had to work, and I concentrated on a software project at those times. I made good progress.
At one point we did go out with the same clothes from our wedding and had a semi-professional photographer take pictures of us. We got some beautiful ones that I still need to organize and post publicly.
I’m now in the plane waiting to go back to Vancouver. We are delayed in leaving because we are waiting for some passengers on another flight that is running late. They have just arrived so we should be leaving soon.
When I got back from my Alberta vacation, I noticed some bubbling in the ceiling above my bathroom sink. That doesn’t look good. It was in a perfectly straight line, so it looked like it was coming from above.
I called management, and their initial thought was that I was to blame. I can’t fault them for that; whenever I talk to people who work in the building, they are complaining about mold because people don’t air out their apartments. I try to be better, but I still didn’t think this was my fault; I was gone for a week and I hadn’t been running any water. Still, it is their building so they had to come and investigate.
And investigate they did. I came back from work to find holes in my bathroom ceiling. They were now sure it wasn’t my fault and that it was a leaky pipe above me. They made a request that I clear out the closet because the leak isn’t even in the bathroom. Fortunately I cleared out the correct closet, the one next to the bedroom. I’m glad Catalina wasn’t here, because I had to place the entire contents of the closet on her side of the bedroom. You have to live tight in Vancouver, so losing a storage room is a major problem.
On a Monday, I came home to a big hole in the closet ceiling. There was a dripping pipe with a big bucket beneath it. Every few seconds there was an audible drip. The plumber had also opened the door to the bedroom and so when he removed ceiling, drywall dust got everywhere.
They told me that they wouldn’t be able to fix the problem without shutting off the water in the entire building, which would have to take place in a week. This dripping sound was right next to where I sleep. Fortunately I had a string that I tied to the pipe and led it down to the bucket, which mitigated the dripping sound.
The next day though they got in a different plumber, who removed my string and attempted to tape the whole thing up. Poorly. So now the drip was happening in a number of spots so I wouldn’t be able to use my string method. I just lived with it.
I survived under these circumstances for the week. I wore shoes everywhere and adjusted to the fact that my apartment would remain dusty and messy.
On the following Monday, I woke up to find the water was out. Apparently throughout the entire building. I thought it was due to my problem; which seemed odd since I hadn’t seen any general announcements. And to do it before people had a chance to get up in the morning? I found out from the security guard that the pipes had gotten clogged from some tenant(s) deciding to put diapers, kitty litter, food, and feminine hygiene products down the toilet. Apparently I live with a combination of idiots and barbarians.
I still did my morning run, and did my best to clean myself off with wet wipes. I had some that I had purchased years ago for emergencies like this and they were still good. I couldn’t shower at work because I had a doctor’s appointment before.
Management phoned me. They wanted to take advantage of the shutoff to get the pipe fixed in my place. This was not unexpected. So when I came home, fairly late, the pipe was fixed and the water was on. There were still holes in my ceiling.
On Tuesday I went to the management office to complain about the mess that had been made. (I was mostly concerned about the dust that had gotten everywhere.) And to find out the future schedule for the holes in the ceiling. Interestingly, the lady in management took the opportunity to vent to me instead. She had just gotten back from vacation and it was in the evening when her neighbour in the building told her sewage was coming up the bathtub. She had to spend the evening cleaning and getting an emergency plumber. The pipes were so backed up, that a snake couldn’t break it up; it was like concrete. So they needed to rip out the drywall to get at the pipe to remove it.
She tried to say it was lucky that they could do my repair at the same time; I corrected her that it was not lucky, just convenient.
In any case, she would get the repairs done by Friday. And then afterwards, a cleaner would come and clean up the mess.
That was all finished today. So, I now have a clean apartment, and I just have to get everything back into the closet. I should probably take the opportunity to purge some of the clothing as well.
I went for an eye exam today. It has been probably four years since my last one. I was a year behind when I got laid off in Alberta, and it consistently slipped my mind when I got to BC two years ago. But I’m on the ball now.
It was a short walk to the optometrist; I like downtown living. I had to pass through the Yaletown Candytown, a street festival that took over a few blocks.
Everything was professional at the doctor. This seems like a good place to go. Prognosis: My eyesight is not that bad, considering my age. I do not need to wear glasses.
However, she did put some pupil dilation formula in my eye so she could take a good look at what is going on in there. She first noticed that there is some early signs of cataracts. My mother had them later in life, so this isn’t surprising. And it is a simple operation if they want to do something about it. It isn’t a concern yet.
A more pressing matter were some warning signs of Macular Degeneration. I haven’t got it yet, so I can take steps to mitigate it. Mostly, I have to protect my eyes from UV light. The doctor was recommending I get some good UV protective sunglasses. Even better, would be to wear a hat. (Thank you Steph for your help in getting me the one that I wore today.) I also need to have my computer use a darker background, possibly using NightShift as well. I also should eat colourful fruits and vegetables, which any doctor would tell you.
I’m glad this was caught early. Although there is no cure, so I have to be careful.
Afterwards I wandered out into the festival. It wasn’t great while my pupils were dilated; it was impossible to focus on some things. But it was still a good place to hang out.
There were creepy gingerbread men wandering around. I liked the two inflatable polar bear costumes. There was some sword fighting demonstration, and I liked that one of the actors was dressed like Princess Mononoke.
There were also ice sculptures. I frankly found them offensive. This is not a city that deserves ice. It is not cold enough to support it. Leave the ice sculptures to places where the art can last for more than a few hours.
I had a good vacation. It was nice and relaxing.
My computers all seemed to work, so I could do my personal work. I didn’t get too far, but I did advance things. The chief part was to work with my father and figure out what we need him to do to start making progress. With that, things should start happening quickly.
I continued doing the running every day. The area my parent’s live in is not great for running though. Wait, let me rephrase that; it is good for a run, but not for multiple runs. There is only one area that feels safe to run; otherwise I’m running on a major highway. So a lot of my runs were on the same backroad. It’s a beautiful road, but I was on it for seven of the nine days.
On two of the days I went into the Kananaskis park to do something different.
I initially tried to go up the Moose Mountain service road. It seemed like a good challenge to do a long uphill. However, I saw the Pneuma trail, which parallels the road and I thought that would be a nicer way to go. Unfortunately I had done no preparation for such a change, so I was unprepared for some of the facts on the ground. Namely, that there are trails that intersect the Pneuma trail. And the Sulpher Springs Trail is a much more major trail that I mistook as the trail I should be on.
I started suspecting something was wrong as I was going down a lot more than I expected on a trail that was supposed to be going up. However, I figured that I could always turn around at some point and go back the way I came. Fortunately, it did not come to that. I encountered the road that I had used to drive into the park. I was able to parallel that to get back where I started, at nearly the distance I wanted to run.
Dallas, the family dog, was well-behaved the entire time.
The next time, I attempted the same plan, but with a better idea of where I needed to go. This time, I was able to get to the top of the road. I even got to the top of the peak, but I don’t know the name of the mountain I was on. From there, you could see the trail route to the top of Moose Mountain. Thankfully I wasn’t going that far. I was happy with what I was seeing. From certain points, it felt like you could see the entire Canadian prairies. I’m certain I saw the buildings of Calgary.
All of this running did continue to make me hungry. My mother complained that I was looking too thin. However, I was eating twice as much as everyone else.
But all good things come to an end. On Sunday I flew back to Vancouver. The flight from gate to gate would be an hour and forty minutes; enough time to watch an entire movie if I didn’t get distracted. It was going well until they decided to reset the entire system. The half hour reboot meant no more movie for me.
I’m flying to Alberta today to visit family.
This has to do with my vacation time. After Catalina and I got married, we wanted to go on a honeymoon. I avoided taking a vacation so that we could have a long one together. However, we are apparently not very good at planning, so it didn’t happen. Next year!
But, it has gotten late enough in the year that I HAVE to use my vacation time before I lose it. Catalina has gone back to Houston until next year. My mother hasn’t seen me in awhile, and I could use some spoiling. So I will go to visit family for a week, and use the time to rest and recover.
In December I will use the remaining vacation time to go see Catalina in Houston.
I haven’t been traveling in awhile so I feel out of practice. The trip has had an ominous start: my backpack opened up while I was walking and when I took it off to close it, my laptop and iPad went flying and hit the hard ground. The iPad seems to be okay except for a banged up corner. The laptop still seemed operational but I haven’t given it a real test.
I had plans to do a lot of my own computer work in Alberta, so it is important to me that these machines are operational. My family is out in the country, so I have to provide my own entertainment. And this will be a good chance to catch up with projects I have neglected too long.
Nothing to be done about it now. I guess I’ll just try to fly safe.
The cost of things is a continual source of stress. But not in the way you may be thinking.
I am an adult with enough disposable income that there are few things that I want that I cannot go out and buy. Only big ticket items like new homes remain out of reach. (Darn Vancouver real-estate market.) Most other things I can convince myself that I don’t actually need if I stop and spend a moment thinking about it. Usually because I can say I don’t have the space for it. (Darn Vancouver real-estate market.)
But the thing I can’t afford these days is sugar.
I have gotten a (probably) unhealthy fixation with my weight lately. Since I’ve done daily running, I have dropped in weight. I think I’m 25lbs lighter than I was when I was just doing ultra marathons. That is a significant amount of weight. I would probably be better at running an ultra now than when I specifically trained for them. (This may be one of the aspects of “Mindfulness”. I’ll have to look into it.) It’s easier to go up a mountain if you don’t have 25 unneeded pounds.
Catalina keeps admiring my body to the point where I feel like a piece of meat.
So, I have a vested interest in keeping slim. What makes it hard is that I am constantly hungry now. I justify eating all the time because I am burning an insane number of calories. I actually believe this, and I don’t think I’m deluding myself. I try and eat things that aren’t too terrible for me. I’ve taken to bringing hard-boiled eggs or small oranges to work to keep me going. But I also have a stash of fishy crackers and chocolate covered nuts as well.
I would like to eat candy bars, or have a hot chocolate, but I know those are straight up sugar, so I don’t.
I’ve given myself permission the last couple of days to cheat and eat any halloween candy that is offered. But for the most part I still avoid sweets.
Work sells subsidized candy bars in vending machines all over the office. I’ve never had one. They are pretty cheap, but I tell myself that I can’t afford them, because of the sugar.
There was a mindfulness seminar at work today. I think I failed it.
Basically you should be paying attention to things happening now. A different way would be to say, don’t put your brain on autopilot. Although when I say that out loud, it seems like a route to tiring yourself out. Decisions are draining, and if you are paying attention, you are also deciding; not directly but I can see it happening.
In any case, you should not be distracted by things.
I spent most of the class distracted.
At one point the presenter was talking about marathon runners. Something about how they stress themselves to be able take on more stress. The presenter was aware of my proclivities and so even mentioned me directly. His theory may have some basis, but I feel it is less stress and more pain. Long distance runners put ourselves through pain so that we don’t feel pain as much. We make terrible patients for doctors because when they ask us if something hurts, it generally doesn’t, even though we have broken bones that would cause normal people to be catatonic.
I trade pain for less stress.
That was why I was distracted in the class about not being distracted. The person two chairs to my left decided that he wanted to stretch his arm out on the backrest of the chair between us. This felt like a needless invasion of my personal space and started to stress me. However, I did have a solution; when he had removed his arm temporarily, I put mine on the backrest. It wasn’t comfortable, but the defence of my personal space made my stress go away.
After awhile, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and took my arm away. Within five minutes he had stretched out again. So at the next opportunity, I placed my arm back there and left it there for the rest of the class. It hurt, but I was no longer stressed. Although it was awkward when they asked us to start writing things down.
It was a suitable arrangement in my head. Pain for peace.
I do have a two day class in two weeks that should totally cover this subject. But I have also been reading the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Bleep: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. Hopefully I can improve myself to actually be mindful and not just give it lip service.
Two weeks ago, a friend visited from Alberta. He was only passing through Vancouver, but it was good to see him again. His plan was to go to Whistler and see the leaves changing colours. It sounded like a lovely idea. I was tempted to join him, but I instead fell asleep. Sunday runs are draining.
I discussed the idea with a coworker. He pointed out that it might be better to not just drive but to do a hike. He
suggested Joffre Lakes as a nice place to go. Once you park you are only five minutes from a beautiful lake. If you want more, you can hike to the upper lakes too. I was intrigued. Investigation even revealed a website describing the route. The hike was supposedly four hours, but I figured I could do it much faster if I went with a runner’s mentality; I should be able to do it in three hours, maybe less. The sun sets at 6:10 pm, so I would have to try and get there promptly.
Of course I can’t skip the morning run!
Last Sunday, the morning group run was planned to be 23km. There was talk of making it 27km. The peer pressure got to me and I stayed with the group going longer. Unfortunately, they are not the best at planning routes, and it ended up being 29km. Okay, that was a half hour longer than I initially planned.
I got on the road by 12:30. Not the best, but it is what it is. I arrived at 3:30. That wasn’t great. Fortunately, I had planned for the worst, and I had packed a headlamp and whistle and other emergency supplies. So if I got caught in the dark, I should be okay.
The benefit of the late arrival was that I was able to get a parking spot. The lot was still fairly full, but there were a few openings. Smart people were not showing up at this time. I equipped myself, but there was still a lot of stuff that I left in the car, which meant I was discouraged by a sign I saw later claiming thieves were in the area. Fortunately that sign was not Chekov’s gun.
The first lake was very close. It also had a bit of sun on it. Unfortunately that was the last I saw of direct sunlight that day; I was in the mountains, and they are not conducive to seeing the sun later in the day.
I trotted along to get to the upper lakes. It wasn’t too bad initially; uphill but doable. Then came the clearing. It had a well-maintained trail across it, but due to conditions, there was an almost invisible layer of ice over all of it; I call it the Clearing of the Ice Queen. (Ice Queen is currently not in residence.) I had good running shoes that were fairly grippy on it, but I definitely slowed down because it was treacherous.
The path was crowded with people. I was never alone for long going up. They were rightly being careful on the ice. A lot of them were foreigners, as they were all speaking languages I don’t understand. (Oddly, I seem to assume any language I don’t know is Russian.) It does seem like a good place for tourists to come. Why so many of the girls had pink hair, I don’t know.
The middle lake was nice. It was shrouded in shadows, which gave it beautiful reflections of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. I am under the impression that it is gorgeous in sunlight. Too bad.
A scenic waterfall greeted me as I climbed up to the upper lake. It was more like a staircase than the traditional waterfall you may be picturing.
The upper lake was found soon after. Once again, it was in the shadows of the mountains, so I didn’t get the advertised beauty of it in sunlight. Still, it was worth the trip.
But it was not enough for me. The trail beckoned on, and I followed it to the far side of the lake. It was getting late, and I was starting to wish I had brought gloves as I was getting cold. I hadn’t seen the sun at all and, let’s be honest, it was a glacial lake. It was important to keep moving to stay warm.
But now I was not seeing anyone. I was getting nervous, but I wanted the full Joffre; I had driven three hours to see it.
At the other end, I did find a large expedition. They announced themselves by throwing rocks into a frozen pond that I was next to. They stopped after I announced myself. We exchanged taking pictures for each other.
Then I continued on to the furthest point. I met a couple who I talked to for a bit. I asked them if there were good views that were worth going for. They told me that if you climb to the top of the mountain there were great ones. But they did point out a rise that you could get a good view from. I took their advice and continued on. I climbed up the pile of rocks that led to the glacier. I didn’t go all the way up, but went to the point where the ridge ended. There were good views.
I was now totally on my own. The couple and large expedition were behind me. I probably should head back. If anything happens, they wouldn’t find me until the next day.
Going back was quicker because it was downhill and I didn’t have to take as many pictures. I felt a lot better after I had passed people again; I was no longer alone. Oddly, I passed some people going the other direction. I was a runner and I was worried about making it back in time before sunset; these people had no chance. Still, I admire their tenacity to see all the lakes. I continued my swift progress.
On the way back, an older lady had fallen and hurt her arm on some of the ice in the Clearing of the Ice Queen. Fortunately there were a large number of people to help her. I don’t think I added much when I tried to help too, but she looked like she would be okay. I realized how treacherous it is, because I slipped and fell too.
I got to the parking lot a bit after sunset. There was still enough light that I was okay. The lot was completely different though; most of the cars were gone. I sat in my car awhile, to change into better clothes and eat some hard boiled eggs. I am encouraged that some people leaving the place all checked up on me. Did I look that pathetic?
The three hour drive back was in the dark. So no views. And come to think of it, all of the trees I had seen that day were evergreens; I never actually saw the changing colours. Or the azure colour of the lakes.
Today I did a 27km run in total. In and of itself it isn’t that impressive. I’ve clearly run much further than that. Heck, I did it longer and faster last week. But it made my total distance run this month 488.1km. That is the most I’ve ever run in a single month. Now, to be fair, a month is an arbitrary construct of humans, but it is the arbitrary construct that I am using.
My previous record was about 466km, which I did last month. This month was a day shorter, but it had the benefit of having five Sundays, and that is the day I do my longest run.
There is no way I will be able to make a new record next month. This month felt a little rough for me. Although part of me was tempted to add an extra 12km today just to get to 500km. That will be a challenge for another time.
I’m worried my body is falling apart with all this running. My joints feel fine, and the plantar fasciitis is becoming better slowly. But I am noticing my performance in other areas beginning to falter. Or that just might be part of getting old.
Last week we went the Richmond Night Market. We had been hearing good things about it, and we wanted to try it. It’s basically a bunch of stalls setup in an area of Richmond. You pay to get in. Now you can buy trinkets, but most people don’t go there for that; they go for the food.
There are a large number of food stalls there, and it is packed with people. There was a huge line to get in, but we were lucky to find a way around that: if you buy the six-person pass, you go to a much shorter line; we allied with a family of four and bought one to get in.
The food was pretty expansive. I started with some pastries and dim sum so I wasn’t too hungry. Catalina went for all the food I couldn’t eat: shellfish. She started with scallop balls, then an oyster. She was eyeing the snow crab, but that would have cost a small fortune. She instead got some squids.
The food was mostly good, but it was overpriced. All things considered, we spent nearly $100 there. Most dishes were around $10. And you would need to eat a lot to feel full. The lamb skewers were good. The rotato (a potato tornado) was a spice delivery mechanism. We had been recommended the “Stinky tofu” but we did not care for it. My friend said it was a delicacy in China, but I suppose it is an acquired taste.
It has now been one year since I started doing my daily run. It has been quite the experience.
Since I keep track of all my runs electronically, I know that I’ve done 354 hours of running. A year has 8760 hours; if I do the math, I see that I have run for 4% of the last year.
I wish I could say I ran every day, but back in March I got subjected to plantar fasciitis. That took me off for about two weeks where I was forced to endure the torment of bicycling, mostly on a stationary bicycle. During that time, I did try an actual bicycle for the first time in Vancouver. I discovered that bicycling is not as strenuous a workout as with being on a stationary bicycle; on my tour of Stanley Park I could coast. However, when I was going through downtown a van nearly cut me off, so it has soured my opinion of bicycling in this town.
Right now I am at 147 days of running in a row, when I previously has a maximum of 216. So my current goal is to at least beat that. (Two thirds of the way there!) But really, I’m trying to run for as long as possible.
I started with doing 5km and then increasing by 10% each week. After I got to 13km, I started just increasing the distance on my Sunday runs, and dropping back to 8-10km on the other ones. This culminated when I had enough distance to do a marathon. I did that the fastest I have ever done. But it doesn’t feel like it really counts as a marathon when I haven’t been doing it with hundreds of other people and aid stations. I would have tried to do the Vancouver one, but that was at the height of my injury; not advisable. (But I stilI had to check with my physical therapist. He told me the obvious answer of “No”.)
After the injury a similar pattern happened again. But this time I had a different goal. Instead of trying to do a speedy distance, I made a goal of going up the mountains of North Vancouver. So four weeks ago, I was finally able to run from downtown Vancouver and up to the top of the Grouse Mountain, also known as the “Grouse Grind”. It’s motto is “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”.
It is a beautiful route. I go through the Capilano River Valley, which is a rainforest filled with rolling hills. At the top of it is the Cleveland dam where I get a good look at the height of the entire Grind. Then up the road called Nancy Greene Way to the base of the Grind. Then it is up that trail which is more of a staircase than anything else. You can feel your ears pop as you do the climb.
It was surprisingly crowded. I was passing people the entire way. Fortunately for my ego, no one passed me. I got to the top in 48 minutes.
I hung out there for a bit of time, getting more water and taking in the view. Then it was time to move along. The Grouse Grind only allows you to go up. To get back down, most people take the gondola. I took the other option: The BCMI trail. It is less staircasey, but still a steep drop. It was slow to go down though, but downhill is always slower; you have to control your speed and it is harder on your knees. I could see getting injured very easily there. It took me about an hour and ten minutes to get to the bottom. Three people, all walking, passed me on the way. One of them admitted he does the trail down a couple of times a week for the last thirty years. So I don’t feel that bad.
Once I got back to Nancy Greene way, I ran like I was flying. The BCMI trail had given me a break, but still kept my legs active. There was no way I was making up the time though. My final pace was 8:18 per km. On flat trails it is usually around 4:55 per km. 34km in 4:42:18: A slow speed, but I got from about sea level to 1090 meters above. I feel it was an accomplishment.
Since then I’ve rejoined the Running Room for their Sunday morning runs. It’s nice to join a group again, and the distances are comparable.
Recently the air has been against me. The forest fires are causing smoky air to descend on Vancouver. For three days, I decided to take care of my health and not run outside when the air quality is really bad. That left my only option to use a treadmill (hereafter known as the “Dreadmill”. They are incredibly boring. Listening to music helps, but it is still a task. That may be partly my fault; if I get bored, I tend to raise the speed. So by the end, it is painfully fast.
If I keep on track with my normal schedule, August will be the month that I’ve run the furthest. Ever. I’ll be over 460km.
We decided to do a road trip on Saturday. Nominally it was to tour BC, but a big part of it was to go visit a fruit stand south of Cache Creek. This would be the most expensive fruit purchase of my life, but it was still a fun day.
I got up early to get a run in before we left. It still didn’t get us off at the time I would have liked. We only got to driving a bit before nine. We then headed east towards Hope, stopping off at Abbotsford for gas. From there we did NOT go on the Coquihalla highway. Instead we stayed on the Trans Canada Highway to see the Fraser River valley. It’s a nice valley, and the clouds helped give it perspective.
I did drive like a crazy person at one point to try and get the photograph I’ve wanted for a long time; I wanted a picture of a train engine, pulling cars, in front of beautiful scenery. Soon after we overtook a long train, I saw a roadside turnout that I swerved into and then ran out with my camera to catch it. I haven’t looked at it closely yet, so I hope it is good.
At Lytton we headed east, past Spences Bridge to get to Hilltop Garden Farms. There we pillaged the place. I think we got ten pounds of cherries, and a large amount of apricots and peaches. Most importantly, we got a pair of hot pepper plants. Two years ago, we passed through and bought some, and had some really hot peppers. But those plants died due to my inability to keep a plant alive. So it was an opportunity to get some replacements. I’m sure they will die a heroic death.
We then went back to Spences Bridge to try and get a lunch. However, as near as we can tell, there was only one restaurant in town and it was small, and thirteen people were ahead of us. So, we went back to Lytton to try there.
We ate at a sandwich place, and had an acceptable meal. The town did have a vibe that it wasn’t doing well. It seemed like the only functional business was that sandwich shop. We wandered around town for awhile. There was a derelict building that used to be a cafe called “The View”. It definitely had that. Although, it was probably dangerous to poke around it, what with the broken boards supporting its rotting balcony. Still, it was worth it to get good pictures. If I had been a bit more on the ball, I would have noticed a train approaching that would have been a second opportunity to get that picture I wanted.
Then, we continued on our way, north to Lillooet. That was a very scenic part of the trip. We had to stop several times to take pictures. I love to see mountains with a small break in them that let you see beyond them. A hidden valley lies there. It is far away, and unreachable, which is romantic (in the mythic usage of the word, not the love version.)
After Lillooet, we stopped to look at the view of Seton Lake. The thing that surprised me about this lake was how big it was compared to how big it looked. If you just looked at it, it looked like a beautiful lake nestled in the mountains. But when we saw a boat speeding across it, you got the perspective of how big it actually was.
We continued on to Whistler. I had thought we could have dinner here. I was actually surprised at how busy the place was. I know it as a winter town for skiing. It is high summer now, so I was expecting it to be fairly empty. But there were long waits at all the restaurants. The place actually felt like Chamonix in France. It had a similar vibe. But the food was better in France.
It was getting dark when we left, so there were no spectacular views for the rest of the trip. We got home at about 11:30, exhausted.
It was an exhausting weekend.
It started on Saturday with my company’s summer party. We were given tickets to a nearby amusement park and given free reign to have fun. I also got to bring Catalina. I went alone last year, but it was better with someone else. I did force her to go on one adult ride; you should try to do things that scare you. And she did a lot of screaming on the wooden rollercoaster, but there was a big smile on her face afterwards as the adrenaline kicked in. Having got her to do that, I didn’t make any other demands for rides.
Her favourite rides though were the little kid ones. We went on the merry-go-round way too often. I don’t even want to talk about the train ride.
There was a barbecue too, but unfortunately our company has gotten too big. There was a long line to get your food. I think we were waiting in it for an hour. If you are waiting that long, you don’t want to wait again, so you pile up your plates with as much food as you can carry. Needless to say, I did not need a dinner that night.
I will complain about the miniature golf course. It is built on a slope, so the first few holes are at such a bad angle, that it is very easy for your ball to roll right back to the tee.
The next day, Catalina and I drove out to Pitt Lake. Friends from Edmonton were in town and we decided to go on a canoe journey with them to Widgeon falls. It was different from when we did the trip last year. There were no forest fires going on so we actually had clear weather and could see the surrounding mountains. And since we were using multiple canoes, I could be in some of the distance-shot pictures.
The hike to the falls seemed to go faster too. Probably because I wasn’t as obsessed with taking as many pictures. I think we got to the falls before the crowds, but more and more people started showing up after we arrived. We ate a pleasant lunch and then swam around in the water. It was very cold though.
There is a place on the trail that we call the D&D grove; it’s where, last year, we encounter someone reading a D&D manual while hanging out in a hammock. It is also a nice place to swim without crowds. Unfortunately, it is still early in the season, so the water was very cold. And the day wasn’t hot enough to make it worth staying in for too long.
On Monday, I had taken the day off so we could give our friends a walking tour of Vancouver. This journey took us from the library, to Thierry, along Coal Harbour, into Stanley Park forest trails, to Cacoa 70 on Denman, walking along the seawall. We then took a ferry to Granville island where we investigated the Public Market and then bought some hats. The ferry took us back to Yaletown where we walked home and then had a movie night.
And on every day, I got up early to do my morning run.
Today, 7-11 had a Slurpee Bring-Your-Own-Cup day. (Restrictions apply.) I was curious enough that I decided I would take part in this event. I chose as my “cup” a large plastic container that formerly held profiteroles from Costco. I had no intention of being able to drink it all, but it was more to experience the attempt.
I did my run this morning and went to work. At about 11:30 I decided that I had waited long enough and walked over to a nearby 7-11. I’m downtown so there are lots of locations to choose from. It would feel wrong to just have one flavour with the amount of slush I was going to get, so I varied it.
I should preface my experience by noting that I have not had much pop for several years now.
I brought the Slurpee back to work and proceeded to drink it slowly. It initially tasted good. I mostly just tasted the Coke layer, but occasionally the Mountain Dew layer intruded. The Orange Crush just tasted of sweet. It was all very nice.
About three hours later though, I was not as happy. My brain felt off. Slow? Lethargic? I could still think at a regular rate (I believe.) My digestive system was also cranky; I burped a lot and felt a bit queasy.
It eventually went away, but it was an interesting experience. I am no longer a teenager; I can’t imbibe massive amounts of sugar without consequences. I have no intention to do this again, even though the event is for two days.
I will definitely have to do a good run tomorrow to burn off this excess sugar.
Yesterday was a lovely evening.
I had gone out to pick up something from a store about twenty minutes away. It was close to one of my favourite restaurants, so I decided to go there too. I finally tried their onion rings; best ones I’ve ever had.
Then, on the walk home I heard a distant sound. It took me a few seconds to realize what it was; a ship horn. A ship wan maneuvering around the harbour. And didn’t I find out last year that a cruise ship leaves at around this time?
I changed direction and got to Canada Place. As predicted, there was a large cruise ship leaving port. I had missed the initial cast off, but I got to see it attempt a two point turn. It was a beautiful time, with the sun low in the sky giving a good view of the mountains, the ship, and the sea.
After I had seen enough, I took a different route home than usual and saw a few things I hadn’t before: A status from Salvador Dali; a chocolate cafe; fountains. It was a nice way to end the day.
I should mention the Sun Run I did two weeks ago.
It’s a 10km race in Vancouver, apparently the biggest in Canada. There were 40,110 participants.
I signed up awhile ago because the people I run with at the Running Room were looking for more people on their team. It seemed like a good idea. I had had the opportunity to join as part of my corporate team, but at the time it seemed too short. Then I got injured and 10km was about what I was doing anyway.
My physical therapist was not entirely on board. But he relented as long as I didn’t push myself. No sprinting.
When he had let me start running outside again, he had told me for only twenty minutes. And then I figured out that he hadn’t given me a distance limit, so I could do the distance I wanted as long as I did it in twenty minutes. I knew at the time that that was not in the spirit of the rule, but I did it anyway. And it felt great. So he rightfully doesn’t trust me. At the minimum I listened to him and didn’t sign up for the marathon that is going on today.
The Sun Run conveniently starts close to where I live. I did run there a bit to warm up, but otherwise I was in the starting pits for about half an hour. The sun was peeking between the buildings which made it a pleasant wait.
I had signed up with an expectation of finishing in 45 – 50 minutes. That seemed reasonable. I was even concerned that I would be too slow. And when the race started, I didn’t push too hard. But then you are surrounded by people, all running. It is very easy to just try and pass that person who is just ahead of you. And there is always someone just ahead of you.
Everyone’s race shirt who was part of a team, had that team’s logo on it. So when I saw someone from a competitor company, I knew I had to beat them. I switched to a higher gear and was able to overtake them. But then I got used to that new gear. I could increase the pace, get used to it, and then repeat.
I finished in under 42 minutes, placing 622. I ran the fastest 10km I’ve ever done, and feeling good the entire time. I watched someone else at the finish line who needed to be carried away, while I don’t think I was even breathing heavy.
Catalina and I walked to the restaurant to join the after-run brunch with the others on my team. It was an hour and a half after I had finished, and the streets were still filled with people running. With the staggered start, I had technically finished before a lot of people had even started running.
When we got to the brunch, all the people I knew had finished in under 37 minutes. So I guess I know what I’m doing next year.
Last Friday, during my morning run, I observed a large number of tents being set up along sunset beach. I assumed they were somehow related to the Sun Run that would take place a couple of days later. I was informed by a coworker that it was actually for the Vancouver 420 festival. The marijuana party.
From what I understand, this is not an officially sanctioned event by the city. The organizers never got permission and just set up. I suppose it makes sense if you are dealing with an illegal substance that you just do everything illegal. At least the city acknowledged the event and didn’t ignore it; there were police directing traffic and signs letting people know what was happening, and which streets would be closed.
I decided to check it out, and discover the “real” Vancouver. Unfortunately, when I had time to go, it had started raining. This affected things.
The organizers, on the news, had sounded very proud of what they had done to make sure they didn’t disturb the park grounds. That clearly was no longer going to be true with the rain making a lot of the grass turn into mud.
I would not have wanted to be a bicyclist that day. The event was bisected by the seawall bike path, and of course there were high people wandering about. Someone could easily have gotten hurt.
I also liked that there were several booths selling snacks. And I’m not talking about weed-infused snacks. I’m talking about pies. Straight from the grocery store with no enhancements. They know the festival-goers are going to have the munchies and they are there for them.
Due to my late arrival, and the rain starting, there were a lot of sales going on. They were shutting down and didn’t want to have to haul everything back again. 2 for 1 deals. Deep discounts. Free add ons. Basically, a going out of business sale.
Still it was a good experience to see. I wonder what it will be like next year when pot is officially legal. Will they actually be forced to get permission for the festival? Will people show up when they can just get their pot from Shopper’s Drug Mart? It won’t have the cachet of being contraband.
So yeah, I got married. A week ago, on the 16th. At Prospect Point.
The day started out with rain. I confirmed this by doing my morning run and noting that I was getting very wet.
After a small breakfast my father and I went out to do a manly celebration: we went to get a straight-edge shave. It’s the closest men can get to a spa day. Then we went to join the rest of the families for a dim sum. Due to careful research by my new in-laws, we had scoped out a good place. Everyone enjoyed it, but we ate too much.
We sent the parents off early to the Prospect Point bar/café while Catalina and myself got ready. My sister, Lise, stayed behind to help us. Catalina had a dress from Dawnamatrix made completely in latex. She looked amazing. We weren’t 100% sure she would wear it as it does not insulate from the cold, and she didn’t want to freeze during the ceremony. To match her, I wore a nice suit in the same material from Libidex. Latex is not a material that is easy to get into, so it took time and lots of lubricant.
We put Lise in charge of the rings. While we weren’t looking she took the small Gund polar bear that Lana had given me. It was going to be the ring bear.
We drove up to Prospect Point. By the time we got there the rain had let up quite a bit. It was still drizzling, but it was more of a mist than rain. I conveniently met the marriage commissioner while we were both paying for parking. We went into the bar and presented ourselves to the family where they had been enjoying the happy hour.
From there I led Catalina out to the point where there was a beautiful view. It was slow going as she had very high heels on. Because of the rain, we had the lookout all to ourselves. I held an umbrella so that the bride could stay dry. The marriage commissioner declined her’s; it was such a light rain. She was very professional and had her papers in laminate; she was an all-weather commissioner.
What more is there to say? There was no objections from anyone. We said our vows. We exchanged rings. The ring bear was adorable.
We got married.
And we looked amazing doing it. My father took some great pictures. Some tourists had braved the rain and applauded afterwards. We should get married more often because we are really good at it.
We went back and did the paperwork and took more pictures. People had after-wedding drinks. Passerby’s wanted pictures of us. (Like I said, we looked amazing.)
Catalina, Lise and myself headed back to the apartment, and got the rest of the family to take a taxi to the post-wedding restaurant. (Oddly, there was a parking ticket on my car at the Point. As near as I can tell, the parking machine took my credit card and then had an error so it refunded the money to my credit card instead of marking me as paid.) Although we looked great, the clothing was not designed to be good for eating a meal. We changed into more conventional clothing.
We ate at a French restaurant next to False Creek called Provence Marinaside. It was a good choice as they were having a poisson d’avril festival, which meant there was a triple course meal available. Everything was delicious. I had the rack of lamb.
I drove everyone home in two trips. Catalina and I took some pictures with a huge mastiff that a small girl was walking outside the restaurant.
It was a wonderful day. We even hit some of the stereotypes. The ring bearer lost the rings at one point. (Fortunately they were colourful silicone ones, so she was able to find them.) Wine was spilled during dinner. Speeches were made.
Yesterday I went to the doctor. I recently went and there were some concerning high levels of liver enzymes. I got some more tests and went back to get the results. It was a little stressful because I had gone onto the web and read up on that which meant I was sure I was dying.
In the end, I am not. The levels have since gone down. I suspect they were merely elevated initially from the food poisoning I had a month ago. Maybe it takes awhile to go back down.
But these days I am worried about my health. My legs hurt. I still run every day, but it is not as enjoyable. Fortunately I have an appointment to get a massage tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be better after that. I think the biggest problem is my left heel which has previously had a fat pad bruising. I suspect it has come back. It has caused my gait to change which is probably causing other issues.Someone knowledgeable might tell me to let it rest and recover. Those people are wrong and I will not listen to them.
I also appear to have a pain in my abdomen that I thought was a hernia. My doctor thinks it is just a sore muscle, so I’m hoping the masseuse can also do something about that.
The day I arrived back at work I discovered that there was a “team building” event going on that day. It had been announced while I was gone, so I had no preparation for it. Luckily, I was up for the challenge.
There were two parts to it. The first part was to eat as much pizza as possible. That may not have been an actual event, but I took the opportunity to replenish calories.
The second part, probably the main event, was go-cart racing. I was surprisingly good at it. In the initial round, the goal was to have the fastest time around the track. I did the best in my heat. The final round, after being placed with people of similar skill, I placed third.
The competition was aggressive; at one point I was shoved into the sideboards and I’m pretty sure I got some air there. My bigger problem was that the strap on my helmet wouldn’t stay tight. The helmet stayed on, but the hair hood they made us all wear started to get in my eyes. Adjustments were necessary as I raced around the course. That was probably not safe.
There were no prizes except for honour. But it was a nice way to get back into work.
The next day though, everyone’s back was covered in bruises; the go-cart seats were hard and the corners were rough.
A week ago I returned home from Houston. It was a great trip and I got to see Catalina again. She is going to arrive in Vancouver again on Thursday, so it was a taste of things to come.
We did the usual hotel stay and joined the conference to see our friends. This meant late nights. There was free, low quality, alcohol, and I tried some champagne on the first night, but I couldn’t be bothered after that. I stuck to cans of pop. This was a weekend where I decided not to bother watching my sugar intake, so it was hedonism for me. They also made the mistake of giving me access to a buffet dinner, and I will admit the third trip was probably one more than I needed, but I still had room for desserts.
That said, I still ran every day. Part of me wants to say that was not a good idea, but who am I kidding? I have a pattern I have to maintain. Let me elaborate though.
Since I didn’t want to have to run when I was having fun with Catalina and friends, I decided to run before my flight on Thursday. Since I had to be at that airport at five in the morning, this meant I was out running at 2:45 AM. Stanley Park is a lot more skunky at that hour. It shames me that I have to correct people that I mean there are lots of skunks, not that it smelled of pot. That sort of skunky is more during the day.
In the mornings in Houston I did my runs. There is a lot of pavement in that town, but I found ways to get to the bayous and ran along those. They are murky affairs, surrounded by decaying trees, and they probably have alligators. It was different, but not as scenic as Vancouver. Despite being in the low 20’s there, it is still greener in here.
My biggest problem was that my legs were hurting on every run. I initially blamed the cramped seating on the airplane, but I think the real issue was that my shoes were old. I had run about 600km on them, and I think they had expired. I could keep up my regular pace, even accounting for traffic lights, at the start of the weekend, but by the end, every step hurt too much. When I got back to Vancouver, I stopped using those runners, but my legs still feel bad. There are bad knots in my glutes that are making things my runs slow.
In any case, I was still having a good time in Houston. There was even a pool party at one point, but as usual it was too cold for people. For non-Canadians. I did get to be inside a giant inflatable ball with Catalina that was tossed around the pool; she was obligated to wear a hamster costume. It was not a problem for her.
We ended the weekend at her new place. It a rental she is living in temporarily, so she isn’t trying to make it a home. It was also the most difficult place to run from; it’s a gated community only accessible by a freeway. Still it was a nice place to be with her.
I am continuing to run everyday and I am worrying that it is causing my body to fall apart. My heel is not happy with me. My knee is getting better, but it still isn’t 100%. My current big worry is the persistent abdomen pain; my hypochondria suspects I have a hernia.
With all of these aches and pains, I have finally seen a doctor for a checkup. With the move to Vancouver, it has been about two years since my last one. Ideally the checkup should be an annual event.
I found a doctor who is available, conveniently downtown so I can walk to him. The initial meeting wasn’t great as he seemed to only do the checkup routine which for him meant: take blood pressure and send him off for tests. He was not interested to hear about my concerns.
But I think that is how it is supposed to go. Now that I have had the tests, I’m to go back in tomorrow morning and hear the results. I have gotten the impression that he will now listen to what I have to say.
But the fact that he wants to talk to me about the results of the tests is also ominous. It may be nothing, but the hypochondria does flare up and I fear I have cancer.
The food poisoning of two weeks ago has cleared up so I don’t think I have to talk about it. I do still feel a bit weak though.
I do have a lack of energy lately, but I think that is due to bad dietary habit. I like to believe I am eating healthy; I have cut sugar drinks out of my diet and I try and eat a good amount of vegetables. But I think the bigger problem is that I am now not eating enough. I run every day. I go through a lot of calories. Maybe I should go back to sugar water?
Yesterday I went to the bank to see about mortgage options.
My current apartment is a small one bedroom. It is adequate for a single person, but it is tight. It is not big enough that I feel comfortable having non-family guests over. I am also paying a lot per month. So I would like to know what it is possible for me to afford if a place comes available.
Part of the problem is that when I look at real estate prices, the numbers don’t translate into the real world. They are huge, unfathomably huge, but because they are all huge, I am looking at them relatively instead of absolutely.
Next door to work a condo building is being constructed. Many of the places were sold out when I first investigated, (I assume to Chinese people trying to park their money in foreign lands) so all that was left was a 1500sqft. one on the 22nd floor for $2.7 million. Then I heard that a smaller one on a lower floor had become available. After asking, I found the price for that one was $1.9 million. That was high but due to the illusion of comparative prices, it was starting to feel more affordable.
However, I decided to go to the bank to find out what sort of mortgage I could qualify for. While waiting for an advisor to become available, I saw another property listed. This one was a block further from work, but only one million. That was looking promising. Pictures made it look nice too.
I have now had sense driven into me.
The bank made life clear to me. In an ideal situation, I can afford a fraction of that. A significant fraction, but definitely not a whole number. The amount I qualify for would get me a property about the size of my current apartment over a 25 year period. I would have the benefit of increasing my equity.
Vancouver has a property bubble. Everyone knows this, but it has been increasing for 30 years and doubts are surfacing that it will ever stop. The best way to make money here is to own property and just let its value go up. Having a job is optional.
The advisor was impressed with my investment history and that I had been investing for a long time; she was jealous. But then she described that she had bought a house ten years ago that has gone from half a million to $1.4 million in value since then. So even though I am a “good” investor, her purchase of a house destroyed any investments I had done.
One of the more interesting things to happen in the conversation with the advisor was her advice to get my parents’ to help me with the purchase. She even showed me the paperwork that would be needed to make it happen. I never brought it up; she just assumed. Which implies to me that this is the route most people have to go through here. It reminded me of this article which describes the concept of “Landed Gentry”.
For most of the past several years, the B.C. government has explicitly avoided doing anything that might cause a decline in home values. We were apparently supposed to celebrate the windfall that foreign capital flows had on our markets. Again, this was a policy direction aimed at funding the retirements of Boomers at the expense of the future of Millennials, or as one B.C. MLA told me, this windfall can be used by Boomer parents to help out their kids. Many will and some won’t, but what this MLA was unwittingly endorsing was the move away from meritocracy and toward the creation of a landed gentry: if your parents were lucky enough to win the property lottery, you can hope for a piece of it.
As always, if you ever want to start a conversation with a Vancouver resident, just bring up the topic of real estate prices.
Last night was the office Christmas party. Last year it was practically across the street from where I lived, so that was incredibly convenient. This year, it was at Science World, the big spherical building at the end of False Creek. Not as convenient, but not horribly so. It was close enough that I decided I could walk it; a coat check would be cheaper than parking. The walk turned out to be about twenty minutes. When I got there, I discovered a free coatrack for everyone, and stories about how the Cirque du Soleil show had used up all the nearby parking.
I had initially planned to wear my suit and tie. But when I wore it to the symphony last week, it felt large on me; I’ve apparently shrunk sometime in the past year. I decided to wear an outfit that I had last worn when I worked at FileNet in Edmonton. I know this because I found my old business cards in the pocket. That would have been about ten years ago. It still fit, but it was also a bit large. I really need to see a tailor.
Science World was a good place for the event. They tried to make it cultural and had “representatives” from five countries there. For the most part it felt like they were picking the worst stereotypes. Canadians were shown as dressing like Mounties. The Germans were wearing lederhosen. The Mexicans had a mariachi band. The better part was that there was matching food!
I started with the Mexican tacos, and then moved on to the Japanese sushi. I got mine in Aburi style (i.e. flame seared) and it was delicious. Unfortunately, due to rationing, we only got two pieces each. On the second floor the Canadians fulfilled their stereotype with poutine. The Germans’s had good pastries. The Chinese chow mien was surprisingly good.
I then passed the time seeing the educational movie in the Imax theatre, Dream Big. It was good and inspirational and made engineers look like gods who walk as men. I want to go out and build a bridge now. Actually, now that I think about it, that description isn’t correct. Almost all the engineers that were shown were women. I didn’t notice until I made that misogynist remark.
Afterwards I saw the various cultures do performances. The lederhosen Germans were doing a good band. The Mexican mariachi band may have been good, but there was a drunk co-worker (who I’ve never seen before) who seemed to be trying to be the centre of attention. The Chinese had dragon dancers wandering the halls. The Japanese had really good taiko drummers; they even let several of us try out and learn how to do it.
One of the best parts of having the party at Science World, is that you could try all the exhibits. And it is great to be able to learn science without having to deal with children running around hogging all the fun toys.
In the end, I learned that my old outfit was warmer than I expected. I was hot enough throughout the evening, that when it came time to walk home, I felt no need to put on a jacket for the outdoors. It was nice to slowly go along my running route and soak up the sights that I normally run past. The fog that has been lingering around Vancouver has made everything look different and exotic.
I saw the dentist today. It was at one o’clock, which is when I usually take lunch. So beforehand, I ate a plum as a snack and had my usual apple a bit before the appointment. The cleaning and checkup went quickly. Due to a weird quirk of fate, I had gotten into the habit of flossing every day since I last saw them, and they could tell. I got back to the office at two, although I was told not to eat for half an hour.
I had a meeting at two though, but I couldn’t find the other participant. This would be my last chance to meet with him before he leaves the company for an exciting opportunity in Singapore, so it was an important one not to miss. When I discovered him, he was running late, so we didn’t start until half past.
Just when it ended, the fire alarm went off. “This is not a drill.” We all shuffled out of the building to wait for the fire department, which is kitty-corner to the office, to deem the crisis over.
Only then did I finally get my lunch. At around three o’clock.
Yesterday was Catalina’s last night in Vancouver before heading back to Houston. I tried to make it special.
In the afternoon we watched a movie (Finding Dory) then I took her out to “The Flying Pig”. It is a very good restaurant that we both enjoy going to. The veal picatta that she got was fantastic. I wish I had ordered it instead of my half chicken.
After that, we dressed up and went to the symphony; the one across the street from where I live. They were doing “Classics of Broadway”. I know she likes to go to the symphony, so I tried to pick a performance that I would enjoy as well. And since my enjoyment is directly proportional to how much I recognize the songs, this looked like a good bet.
I did not recognize any of the songs in the first half. They were dong the classics in chronological order, so the early ones were really old. They also shied away from the most recognizable songs. So the work from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was not the title song, but “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. (I’m not even sure the song that I think is in the play is actually in it; they may only share a title.)
In the second half, it got better. But I now have The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music stuck in my head. That said, it is much better with a full symphony behind it instead of a bunch of kids singing it on a small TV.
They did not do the title song from Oklahoma! but they did for Jesus Christ Superstar. It concluded with a sample of three songs from “Phantom of the Opera”. Unfortunately, by this time it was getting late, and we were both getting tired. A matinee performance would have been easier on us.
My life has a routine these days. I get up, go for a run, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, make and eat dinner, recover. This does not give me the most interesting life.
The running has been going well. It looks like I will have run further in November than I did in October. Which doesn’t actually get me anything; it barely gives me bragging rights. I don’t think anyone would care. The biggest issue is that it is always raining these days. So I’m getting wet, and I don’t think my rain jacket actually protects me anymore. Eighteen years may be enough of a lifespan for a rain jacket. I need to get a new one.
Catalina returned to Vancouver so it is nice to have her here again. It is too bad about the weather. I wish I could take her more exciting places, but it is pretty miserable right now. I am trying to take her to new restaurants, and I think we have a new favourite sushi place.
Work continues. I’m enjoying my current project. I seem to like tasks that involve cleaning up existing code. It isn’t profitable for a company though because customers usually like new features. The behind the scenes stuff doesn’t earn money, but it reduces code debt.
I wish there was more I could say, but like I said, my life has a routine.
Halloween had a special treat for me. Stanley Park became the place that did not want me to leave. That is a good start for a horror film.
In the early morning, before the sun had risen, I ran along the seawall from False Creek to English Bay. On the shores of Stanley Park, I continued on. Suddenly, after Third Beach, there was a truck on the seawall path. Easy enough to avoid, so I kept going. When I got close to Lionsgate bridge I had made the distance I needed to so I turned around.
And then I discovered why that service truck was on the trail. They had closed the gates for construction. This was a bit scary, because it was still dark and I was trapped where no one knew I was. The fence had too fine a mesh, so I couldn’t climb it. Fortunately it was low tide, so I ran back a bit and then clambered down into the side of the wall to the shore, covered in seaweed. I didn’t think of it at the time, but this was dangerous. It was slippery and dark and if I fell, I would not be seen by anyone for a long time. Or some ancient horror could have risen from the concealing seaweed and taken me to a watery grave. Either or.
I clambered through the rocks and eventually got to a beach and could take the stairs back to the seawall. I continued my run. I got to see the signs that they had put up after my passage warning about the closure. I guess they didn’t try more to stop me because they assumed I would continue around to the other side instead of turning back.
In the afternoon though my company had encouraged people to do some volunteer work this month. So I walked back to Stanley park to help with removal of invasive plants. (My coworkers took the bus and I saw them pass me both coming and going.)
English Ivy has been planted around buildings, but it is not welcome in the park. It out-competes the native plants. Himalayan Blackberry is also a mean and nasty plant that, although providing nice berries, does not belong. Both of these are very good at spreading. The Blackberry is also mean about it too, with spiky vines that will cut you.
The sad thing is that because they are so pervasive, after we are done removing them, there is only bare earth. We are defoliating. Maybe a fern or two can keep going, but we are removing a lot of plants.
I’ve been told that parks will now be ruined for us. We will now notice the invasive plants and know that they should not be there.