Hill training

I made a change in my running habits today. Instead of the normal run, I started hill training. As the name suggests, it involves running up and down a hill. With the Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay Race on my schedule, I really have to get in training.
It was a good day for it. There was great traction. Probably because there is no snow in this town anymore. It was a high of 9 degrees today. Traction is very important when you are fighting your way up a hill.
A word of advice: Don’t have a Blizzard as a late afternoon snack when you are doing hill training in the evening.

Improv class again

Once again I’ve started another Improv class. This time there are a record 13 students. So it is crowded and you don’t get that much individual attention.
My biggest problem is that I am the one with the most experience here. Everyone else seems to have just come out of the level 1 course, or they haven’t been doing many other classes. So I am in real danger of becoming cocky. That killed me in a previous class. I have to remember that I don’t know everything and that I can still learn.

Computer attention deficit disorder

I’ve been working on learning how to program in Cocoa. I’ve got a book on it and I’ve been slowly going through it. It’s hard to devote time to it though. I seem to have collected too many hobbies. I reached the point where I know enough to be dangerous. I’ve started writing a program. It could go better, but I have no instructor to ask questions. That’s the problem with book learning.
The program I’ve been trying to create is different than the one I’ve been working on for the past twelve years. I decided to try and make a Sudoku solver. Something with an actual user interface as opposed to the one I have that needs me to babysit every step in the debugger.
Progress died a quiet death last week. I found that someone has written a Sudoku solver that does everything that I wanted mine to do. And more. It’s hard to feel motivated when someone has already finished the race.
So instead of continuing that line of attack, I installed Diablo II on my computer and started playing that.
Why, yes, that game is five years old.
I first played it when it came out, when a co-worker brought in a copy and let everyone use it. I played it after work on a Windows machine and enjoyed it. Eventually the guilt got to me and I purchased my own copy of the battle chest version that had the expansion. That was about the last time I ever played the game.
On Saturday I finally cracked it open and installed it on my Mac. I played a few levels and tried to remember how everything worked. Good times.
Then I did an experiment. I took the saved games from years ago from a different platform and copied them into the appropriate folder. To my pleasant surprise, they worked. I could use my old character and finish the expansion without going through the whole rigamarole from scratch. Of course I have forgotten how to use my high-level character effectively. So maybe I should start from scratch…
I can’t completely blame that other Sudoku program for this. On Friday I started as a player in a new D&D campaign that was based off of Diablo II. It’s fun. Basically a black and white morality game where you go around and kill things. Simplicity. D&D at its core. It brought back memories, so I decided to try the original.


So tomorrow I have to vote. I don’t support the liberals. My conservative MLA has done squat for this riding and I would really like to punish him, or at least let him know that the conservatives can’t just assume every riding in Alberta will support them.
For the last few elections I have supported the Green party. How can you not like them, and they appreciate every vote.
But, in my riding there is an NDP running, Linda Duncan. The newspaper did an article on her last month and I like a lot of what she is saying. The thing is that I don’t like the NDP. They couldn’t balance a budget with an army of accountants. (Plus the cost of that army would almost certainly unbalance that budget.)
I’ve been going with the assumption that my vote doesn’t count. Then Jack Layton announces that this is the riding in Alberta where he thinks he will finally get his second NDP MLA elected. And he’s speaking historically with that last statement, not currently. The NDP really aren’t loved in Alberta.
So if I vote strategically, I should go for Ms. Duncan. That makes sense, doesn’t it? I have a plan, I am content.
Then Mr. Layton goes and ruins it. He declares that people shouldn’t vote strategically. You should vote for the party that is going to do the best for Canada, instead of the party that isn’t the worst. Otherwise Canada will never get the best.
Please realize I am paraphrasing from memory here, so it isn’t an exact quote.
Now what? Was he speaking on a riding basis or a Canada basis? I don’t know! The former would mean I should vote NDP, the latter Green.
Any advice now would be greatly appreciated.

Vice Versa

I’ve noticed something about my job.
The product I am programming is quite old and has a lot of stale code. Much of it was written poorly. I’m sure it was good at the time, but its age is showing. It makes maintaining it harder, and new features are difficult to implement because you are fighting that legacy.
Every so often, we programmers would propose rewriting parts of it. This would make it more efficient and easier to add new features. Sounds good, doesn’t it? The problem is that the managers will always ask “Will the customer notice?” No, they won’t. So we would spend many months working on something to make the user experience exactly the same. So the proposal would die.
Lately though, things have changed. I now work for a large company that loves its bureaucracy. This has led to a new development. We have finished the work for a new release that won’t go out for several months. So we have time to do stuff. Now we can change the code, but only if it won’t change the customer’s experience. In other words, “Will the customer notice?” is working to our advantage. The documentation has been written, so as long as the UI is the same, we can get away with a lot.
We still need to convince a manager though.

Cooking class

So I went to a cooking class tonight instead of running. In my defense, it was an event organized by other runners. The chef was John Lizotte and he was teaching French cooking. The class was set up that we all watch him make the dishes, and then eat a four-course meal of his creation.
I can’t say if I actually learned anything. He was good to watch, and he knew what he was doing. But I’ll be honest, I really can’t see myself making Creme Brulee. I’m not a big dessert person, and the amount of trouble that goes into making that dish is more extensive than I usually put into making a main dish. The rack of lamb was tasty, but also looked like a lot of work. I probably will try it one day, but not soon.
The Coq Au Vin left me with a quandary. It looked easy enough that I could feel safe attempting it. There were two problems though:
1) My mother’s Coq Au Vin tasted better than what he made. His was still good, but the comparison makes me nervous. If he, with a full kitchen and a lovely assistant, couldn’t match her, what hope do I have.
2) The recipe requires at least 1/2 cup of red wine. I don’t drink, so it is expensive to buy a bottle of red wine and then throw most of it away. I certainly won’t cook fast enough to use it all.
Mr. Lizotte provided recipes, but looking at them, he didn’t follow them. At no time was the can of cream of mushroom soup used in what he demonstrated. I took copious notes, but I can’t guarantee I got everything down that I would need.


There is an online game that I’ve been playing, UltraCorps. It’s for a beta test and has been a hoot to play. Basically it is a massive multiplayer game of “Reach for the Stars”. Simple rules, but still lots of strategy.
It is the first time I’ve played so my strategy has been a bit lax. My biggest problem was that I made too many allies. Almost everyone around me agreed to non-aggression treaties early on. There was one who agreed but then never got around to playing the game so he has a very small empire that I could crush easily. But I want to be honest and stick to my agreements.
But, remember, I said almost everyone. There was one person, across a vast gulf of empty space who only said “Maybe later”. Well it’s later, and I still haven’t heard anything. So I plopped a large force on the nearest planet and took it over. He seems a bit perturbed. But to ease things over, I sent him a polite explanation:

> Do not know why you took <CENSORED>, I have the capabilites of sending a fleet there that to re-take it. You will not be able to make the giganto, if that is your intention
Our ranking diplomatic representative has been at the <CENSORED> post for TWO YEARS! And your military government hasn’t once invited him to their year end banquet! Of course you must realize this means WAR!

It also has to do with that in turn two I sent you a proposal for a non-aggression treaty. You politely declined by saying “beliebe[sic] it is to early to talk about any non-agression treaties, but I am prone to them, only later “. Since that time I haven’t had any communication with you. Meanwhile every other star empire around me has been more than willing to sign treaties. This leaves me with only one direction to head.
> I had no plans to attack your empire, If you leave gannise unprotected, for me to take next turn, and sign a non-agresion pact I can offer you 2 Megabots V2 as as gift fleet as aprecciation.
While your offer is interesting, I have to refer to “The Ten Commandments of UltraCorps” section 8: “The correct answer to a threat or ultimatum is ALWAYS ‘Come get some!'”
So, I must respectfully decline.

Bring it on.

Bonus points if you recognize the declaration of war.
I’m feeling good about this. I realize I am not winning the big overall game. The person in the lead has three times as many planets as I do. Still, I’m having fun.


I’ve noticed something lately. The thought of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister doesn’t feel me with dread anymore. I don’t know why, and it worries me.
Is it because he is rising in the polls and I want to be like everybody else?
Is it the recent leak that he is a big fan of the original Star Trek?
I don’t know. I remember not liking the guy, but now he feels tolerable.
Do I want to try him for awhile as a conservative-lite. (Half the fear-mongering with no Liberal aftertaste.) A minority government nicely restricts his power and he has to listen to the people.

I’m still not voting for him.


When I was growing up my father never played the guitar. I knew that in the past he had played a lot. Lately, I’ve gotten it into my head to learn to play. My father kindly lent me one of his old guitars. I brought it with me to Edmonton after my last visit to their home.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get it opened. The lock on it didn’t have a key to go with it.
I took it to work with me today because there is a locksmith nearby. While there, a co-worker showed me that no key is actually required. You just need to push the lock to the side and it opens.
Then things got interesting.
The guitar in question is a Martin. Research by co-workers shows that it was made in 1958. The finish on it is Brazillian rosewood. That is from an endangered species and hasn’t been used since the 1960s. They were all amazed at it, and somewhat jealous.
I took it to a guitar store after work. They were practically drooling over it. It was in nearly mint condition. A few minor repairs were needed, and I’ve left it with them. I’m not keeping it as an investment, I got it to play with.
The sad thing is that I found out my father hasn’t played regularly with it since 1961. He used to love to play, but six months after his honeymoon he got so busy that he hasn’t had time since. So I missed a huge part of my father’s life.

Needed rest

I’m feeling better today. Yesterday was not so good though. I woke up feeling fine, but as soon as I got to work I started getting worse and worse. I guess poor air quality. By the time I got home I had a horrid headache.
I’m glad I went to sleep early. Especially with the hindsight I have now. If I hadn’t done that, the phone call I got at five in the morning would have really disrupted my rest. And I can’t say it was an important phone call.

“Hi. The grass is green and the moon is purple.”
“Who is this?”
“It’s Billy.” (I don’t know a Billy.) “Did you know the devil has scissors?”
“As long as he isn’t running with them.”
“He’s using them right now to cut bud.”

Canadian Debates

I’ve been sick, so I haven’t been updating. Nothing interesting happens when you are sick, so I have nothing to say.
However, I’m watching the Canadian political debate. I’ve noticed a few things.
1. Jack Layton always seems to talking like he is in a commercial. He’s not really debating, but using it as free ad time.
2. Three of the leaders have admitted, proudly admitted, that they are from Quebec. I haven’t heard anything about Western Canada in this debate.
3. Best question for Gilles Duceppe. “If Canada can be broken apart, can Quebec be broken apart?” The speedy answer “No!” makes him look hypocritical.
4. Stephen Harper remains scary. He seems convinced that he is helping the poor by raising income taxes on them, and lowering the GST for everyone. I personally think the GST is a good tax. If you don’t want to pay it, don’t buy anything. I suppose it is a sin tax against consumerism.
5. Gilles can’t say “Democratic”. It comes out as some weird assemblage of consonants.

My person opinion is that I like how the Liberals run the economy. They seem to be very fiscally responsible. The complaints about underestimating the revenue is silly. We should always underestimate revenue because it is so much better that overestimating the money you have available. The problem with the Liberals is that they have gotten arrogant.
Stephen Harper is not Prime Minister material. I think when the Reform merged with the Progressive Conservatives, and they were electing a leader, the previous leaders shouldn’t have been allowed to run. I think Belinda Stronach would have been more palatable than Harper. I don’t know if she would be good as a PM, but at least she isn’t just a reincarnation of the Reform party.
I have never voted for the NDP, and I don’t want to now. They are not fiscally responsible, and they seem to hate business.
I wish Gilles Duceppe would just leave. The threat of separating is hurting Canada. If you are going to go, just go, so we can get on with our lives. Do it soon though. Alberta is about to put a huge load of money into the federal government’s coffers. I would rather if Quebec didn’t get that if it was leaving. Metaphorically: I want the man (Quebec) to leave the wife (Canda) the week before she wins the lottery.
I do have peace of mind in the knowledge that my vote doesn’t count. My riding has always voted conservative, and probably always will. So I already know the incumbent will win. I get to vote for whoever makes me feel the best. That party will get the $1.75 my vote is worth.
It would be nice if any person running in my riding would actually try and get my opinion.

Small kid vaccine wanted

I have decided that I am allergic to small children.
On Monday I attended a small party at a friend’s place. One person had brought their family, which included a baby and a small girl. The next day, I had a scratchy throat. Coincidence? I also wasn’t at my best, but I blamed that on coming off of a vacation. Today, I am really out of it. Not enough that I couldn’t go to work, but I really wasn’t there.
But, I still went running today. I actually just got back. It’s been about three weeks since I last pounded the pavement. I kept up a good pace, and I think the fresh air did me good.
It’s probably just as well that the girl previously mentioned never phoned back to arrange the coffee date. I am not in the mood to play phone tag with someone who doesn’t seem interested in me. Or it might be that it took too much sucking up courage to phone once, that I don’t have the energy to do it again. Take your pick.
Life continues.

Second anniversary

Yesterday was the second anniversary of this journal. Not really a cause for celebration, but I should note it anyway.
New Year’s Eve: I went to a bar. Saw people I know. But it was just like any other bar evening. I still don’t drink, so no getting sloshed.
A few minutes before I left, I did meet a girl. She gave me her number, and seemed totally convinced that I wouldn’t phone her back, because “the cute ones never do.”
I did phone her a few minutes ago. We had a nice conversation, and we are probably going to meet for coffee tomorrow.
I’m worried about myself though. It took about half an hour of sucking up the courage to actually pick up the phone and call. I think I have gotten so set in my ways that I am now afraid of changing. A girl in my life would definitely cause that.
So maybe I am in need of a resolution to try and change that.
I hate resolutions….

I resolve to revolve. I should be able to fit that into my schedule at least once a day, with celestial mechanics continuing at their present rate.