Sights to see

I finally got around to doing some real sightseeing today.
I got up at the crack of noon, horked down a two-donut breakfast and then went for a run. I followed the same route I did last year, except back then it was on a bicycle, and this time I was on foot. Surprisingly, it took almost exactly the same amount of time. I did take some shortcuts though; I didn’t go around the Formula-1 track this year. I also knew the true route to take and didn’t get lost as often this time. Since I did it on a Sunday this time I could follow the other people using the trails.
Afterwards, once I had gathered energy again, I had the requisite poutine for a lunch. Nice carbs in that.
The Port of Montréal is having a festival, so I got on a bus tour of the shipping facilities. Unfortunately, if I had thought about it, I would have realized that the entire program was in French. That wasn’t exactly conducive to an enjoyable tour. But it was free. It was air conditioned. And I got to sit down. And the equipment for moving huge containers is impressive.
I have noticed I haven’t taken any pictures of Montréal. I did all my picture taking last year.

No Regrets

There is an XKCD comic titled Regrets that I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of. So, at the party tonight, there was the girl I’ve been hanging out with a lot. I decided to make the plunge and kissed her.
I have no regrets over that, which is the point, but I don’t think it is leading anywhere. She might just want to be friends. Which is annoying if you are only going to see someone for a weekend. Even a long one. And it was more of a friendly, chaste kiss than something that might indicate more.
But Montréal has been fun. Especially with all the late night partying. (Is that the sun coming up?)
Is it because I’m on vacation, or is it the city? I’m having a much easier time approaching women here. It still doesn’t mean I get anywhere. I’ve noticed I’m a social butterfly. (I might not be using the term correctly.) I will start a conversation with a woman, but as soon as the talk has covered the first subject, a big flashing “ABORT” sign goes off in my head and I thank her for her time and move along. My brain obviously is out to sabotage me. I need to learn to stretch out a conversation.
I did catch one hot girl checking me out and I approached her. She started the talk by wanting to take a picture with me. Happy to oblige. But I remain suspicious. I got the impression she liked men fawning over her, so I didn’t want to be just another trophy trying to get her attention. But now that I write this out, I’m thinking, she was checking me out? So it’s not like I’ve been given a bad sign.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Or maybe on the plane.

Well, tonight I stayed out late. Or should I say last night, because it is now this morning. Montreal is a fun place to party. The people are friendly and I can meet old friends who are a lot more party-happy than the ones I have in Edmonton.
All I really did yesterday was try to shop and hang out with friends. The initial foray of shopping didn’t go so well; I needed someone else’s opinion. In the afternoon I hooked up with a girl I had met and she was able to give me advice.

First night in Montreal

I went out to dinner with friends. It was good to see them all again.
The odd part is that I seem to be turning in at a reasonable hour. I’m probably going to get a decent night’s sleep and be able to function tomorrow. Especially with the jet lag.

Walking along

Montreal is a very pedestrian friendly city. The citizens almost take it for granted. For them, traffic signals are merely a suggestion. So I went for a walk, and probably ended up going too far. There was so much to see.
I passed four Le Chateaus. There probably is the greatest concentration in this city. Or at least this province.
My hairstylist, yesterday, suggested a department store called Simons. She said there were great deals there. Montreal is apparently a good place for clothes shopping. I wandered in and saw a few things of interest, but I have no fashion sense, so I’m not sure if I’ll look good in it, or if it is a good price. I definitely felt cheap when I went into the designer section by accident.
The Apple store here is much more impressive than the one at West Edmonton Mall.
I even saw a victim of war crimes. Well, maybe not. She might have been a fashionable victim of war crimes. But it did look creepy. Eat a burger lady!

Phone tag

Last Sunday I joined the collective and I now have a cell phone. Nominally it is a reward for completing the Death Race.
Some people (you know who you are!) will be upset to hear that I got an iPhone. Many more are jealous, and contemplating getting one themselves. I’m wondering if I’ve spoiled myself.
When I got my first car, it was a Honda Civic. The thing is very reliable and I’ve had little trouble with it. It is made for people who just want to drive comfortably without having to deal with a host of problems. The cup holders are even designed well. You pay a premium over American cars, but you earn it back over time with less hassle and fewer repairs.
But I’ve never had to deal with the headache of an American car so I don’t know how bad it is for other drivers. Failure to empathize. I remember getting a car rental briefly and astonished at all the little things that were poorly made. Starting with using the key to unlock the door. (You have to turn the key awkwardly to do the more common operation of unlocking instead of locking.)
This is also my opinion of Mac versus Windows. But I do have a Windows machine at work so I do get the idea. Mainly I’m learning to hate Java, but that’s another story.
Now, with an iPhone, I’ve got a well engineered phone that seems to like me. Everyone else has a cellphone that has features no one uses, and a confusing interface. Yet I’ve never dealt with those, so I can’t relate. This just works.
I have gotten rid of my land line, so all phone calls now depend on the iPhone. Luckily, (I have tested this) I can still let people in the front door of my building through it. Heck, I don’t even have to be in the vicinity to do that. (Or even the same province, but I don’t want the roaming charges.) There isn’t much point to that if they can’t get into my unit, but it is an option.

Saskatchewan airspace

I’m in flight to Montreal right now. I had intended to do this post from the airport because there is free wi-fi, but WestJet decided to board early. So I don’t know when this will actually get added to my journal.
My biggest problem right now is cash. I had intended to grab some from an ABM along the way to the hotel where I would take the airport shuttle. Unfortunately, I forgot that it is on Whyte Avenue, and they lock those atriums up overnight so that homeless people don’t move in.
Is there even a CIBC in Montreal? Can’t check on the internet to find out…

Running makes you stupid

I should be running right now. But I had a haircut appointment and I’m going to justify it by saying I’m still on recovery.
I wonder how long I can milk that for?
But, apparently it has taken less than a month for us to start thinking about doing it again. Only worse. There is the Alberta Triple Crown which would be three specific ultras in a single year. I say that I don’t want to do it, but part of me does. I’m going to need to be strong to convince the others that it would be silly.

Exhaust-a-fest 2008

My sister is in town now. Of course I must now try and exhaust her. I took her to a play, dinner, and then rented a movie last night. We got halfway through the movie before she conked out.
So things are going well.
Four plays today.

In the vacuum of space, no one can hear you scream

Okay. I’m alive.
The presentation took longer than I expected. Time I could have spent cleaning up my place.
It was an impressive vacuum cleaner, but it was interesting noting the tactics he tried to get me to buy it. I was told that the manager was feeling “generous” and there were super deals that I could have today. And only today. And don’t tell other people about this super deal we’re giving just to you.
I have a policy of never buying something at a sales presentation. At least not for a week. I want to mull it over. That was my defense against most of their sales tactics.
I am feeling a little vulnerable. I tried to keep him just to the main areas of my home. But I was nervous when he complimented me on the nice place I have. He even told his boss that over the phone.
Was my joint just cased?
And I have no idea who this person was. He gave a name, but now business card. No pamphlets. No proof that he was a legitimate salesperson. I don’t even know if I could pick him out of a police lineup.

Invasion: Home

My sister is coming to visit.
Of course, this is the perfect time to have a fruit fly infestation. It’s my own fault. I need to be more proactive with taking out the garbage.
There is a tendency to not want to take it out until the bag is full. I’m a guy, so I don’t smell anything. But I do notice that there are little bugs floating around my kitchen now.
This will reflect poorly on me.
I am going through a whole cleaning phase right now, to prepare for her visit. I was about to start the vacuuming, when I got a call. Apparently, because I answered a survey last month, I’ve won a free gift. Some Ginsu knives. All I have to do is let them demonstrate a vacuum cleaner. Convenient timing.
Or this might be an elaborate ploy to get access to my home while armed with knives.

Could someone check up on me in an hour?

Do not question the system

You know my movie picking system? The alphabetical one. Lately I’ve run into some trouble with it. People have been commenting on movies that they say are bad, making me think I should avoid them.
This has caused me to doubt the system. I have started going through and deciding if I want to see a movie. Adding a decision to the process slows it down incredibly. I used to be able to go in and out in less than five minutes.
Well, enough of that! I’m back to alphabetical. And even if I have heard a movie is bad, I’m still going to go see it if I have the slightest inkling to.
And Along Came Polly wasn’t horrible! It wasn’t great. But as long as you realize it is not a comedy, but just a romance, it is a lot more tolerable. American Wedding and Analyze That are coming down the pipe.

My watch fell off a table today. It still works, but the display has gotten screwed up; The top and upper-right parts of each digit don’t display anymore.
I hate not knowing the time.

But I was still the center of attention

A week ago the Running Room was asking for volunteers. What the heck, I’m not running the marathon. I have the time.
So, this morning, I was part of their fashion show. The biggest problem was getting out of a warm, comfortable bed at an early hour. But really, I should be used to that by now.
What is the point of a fashion show? I can’t really believe that showing clothes off, far from a store, will encourage people to go buy them later. Or maybe that is just because I’m a guy.
I was only in front of people for less than a minute. One of four models.

Six alarm fire

I enjoy hearing the sound of thunder in the distance. It is a nice soothing sound. I was plugging away at my computer this evening, mostly wasting time. Suddenly there is a loud strike that sounds like it came right outside my window.
And then the fire alarm starts going.
I grab the two important things to rescue and head out. Near the fire doors on my level there is a strange smell. Someone else describes it as burnt plastic. That isn’t good.
Eventually six fire trucks show up. Multiunit dwellings rate a lot of trucks.
In the end, nothing seems to be on fire and we’re let back in.
A half hour later I find that the lightning did hit the building, specifically the firewall. It travelled down the rebar through the concrete. There were some exit wounds near the fire doors where it blew out the drywall. Which explains the mess on the floors in the area.
My unit is right next to the firewall.


When I ran the Death Race, I was a little surprised that I never changed clothes for the entire run. Yes, I was stinky and smelly, but I never got too cold or too hot. The biggest change was rolling up or down my sleeves as necessary.
Now, I have noticed that my clothes don’t seem to fit anymore. My waist appears to have shrunk; I need to use another notch in my belt. I’m not fashionable, I hate shopping for clothes. I do not want to have to get an entirely new wardrobe.
But I also don’t want to eat more.

I sense that I’m not getting a lot of sympathy from people over these problems.

Lucky Day

I consider eight to be my lucky number. Today is the epitome of that number. 08/08/08.
For some time I had decided that if I was going to do a major event, this would be the day to do it. Something like a wedding. But I’m still 100% girlfriend-free, so I don’t see that happening today.
It feels like a bit of a letdown that I have nothing exciting planned. Unless something unplanned is in the works that I don’t know about…

I think I’ll drive extra carefully today.

Death Race result

Yes, I did it. I did the whole thing. And it was hard. As advertised. I wonder in horror what it would have been like if it wasn’t a dry year. My shoes were muddy on every leg.
I was doing this with two friends, and we started out together, but we eventually separated. I did see one of them at almost every relay point, but the other one took off faster than either of us.
Leg one was the easiest. Nineteen kilometers that I barely noticed. It rained a bit, but that just kept you cool.
Leg two was the hardest. There were two mountain peaks, and in between them was the Slugfest, a muddy, vegetation filled tripping hazard. It didn’t help that a kilometer in, my left foot started to hurt. Did I tie my shoe too tight? I thought I had broken this pair in, but they were still fairly new trail runners. I ignored it, but it hurt for the entire leg. Fortunately it seemed to go away when I changed shoes at other legs, but the pain was still there, just not as sharp.
On Mount Flood, the top was cold and rainy. After I left it apparently started to sleet. Unfortunately, I needed to stop to eat up there. It didn’t seem right to eat while you are still climbing; That would upset the stomach. My backpack also broke. Nothing irreparable, but the jury rig that a volunteer helped me with made getting stuff from it a lot harder. It was easier to ask someone else to get something out of it.
I forgot that I do not require glasses to see, so I never took off my sunglasses. With the rain making them opaque, I’m surprised I didn’t fall down more than the once. I twisted my right ankle, but like a good runner, I walked it off. Then there was the mudslide down to Washy Creek and up to Grande Mountain. Then there was the plummet down the side, back to town. The poles really helped so my knees aren’t totally shot. And the trail runners also kept my feet alive.
Leg three was actually rather pleasant. It is the easiest leg. New shoes also helped. Going downhill mostly (which I knew I would have to pay back later) made it quick. And 45 minutes into it there was a sign saying I had reached the halfway point. It lied. An hour later I realized that that would have been one of my fastest runs ever if it was true.
I did have to take a break when I ran into a bear and her cub. It took a few moments for my mind to register what I was seeing. That was no large dog, but a big black bear running across that clearing. And a cub coming down the tree. I stopped, called out to others that there was a bear, and slowly backed away. Eventually it wandered into the woods, and I joined someone else continuing on the trail. Fortunately it headed in the opposite direction of the bear.
Leg four is often considered the hardest because it has the tallest mountain and it is the longest. But it wasn’t that bad. The climb up was steady, if a bit muddy, but by this time I wasn’t in a rush. I had made the important cutoff with an hour to spare, and I could probably walk the rest of the way to the end. And I don’t think it rained at all for this leg.
Once I got above the tree-line and was going on the switchback, the biggest problem was the sun in my eyes; I had abandoned my sunglasses at the start of the leg. The view was fantastic, but I didn’t have the energy or time to enjoy it. After the top, it was actually pleasant running downhill. I tried to rush it as much as possible because the sun was setting. Once it was down, I was totally dependent on my headlamp. And I didn’t want to run when I could only see a small patch of light. I hadn’t trained with it and it took me awhile to figure out that when I was seeing a black thing scurrying towards my feet, it was only the shadow of a leaf. I hooked up with a girl who was part of a relay team and we stuck together. Safety in numbers. She had taken the Death Race training course so could give me pointers. She was also cuter than my friend who eventually caught up with me, so I let him go on without me. We did walk most of the way until we hit beaver dam road. It was a gravel road downhill and we made good time, but we should have taken some breaks because my legs were aching by the time we hit bottom.
Leg five was a walk. I tried to run at the start, but it was through a lot of vegetation with rocks and roots. My legs were so tired by this point that I was tripping a lot. Several people passed me. Surprisingly I eventually caught up with both of my friends. It took me awhile to realize this. I was not mentally prepared to catch up. We stuck together for the rest of the run. Well, walk.
The Smoky River crossing supposedly had a fantastic view of a rock formation. I wonder what it looked like. There, we were told that we only had twelve kilometers to go. We continued on, climbing steep hills. I was desperately trying to remember what the course profile looked like to figure out how many of them we would have to deal with. It was worse in my head.
A few kilometers later we came across a course volunteer. (We saw his dog first, but only its glowing eyes staring back at us.) He said we only had eight kilometers to go. One of my running partners said we had roads for the last seven kilometers, so we had something to look forward to. We continued on to a part called the “Root Route”. That was not a place you want to run in the dark.
Sometime later we came across a sign saying we had nine kilometers to go.
With the sun rising, you could start seeing shadows, and under those conditions a lot of things look like a road coming up. Afterwards we discovered that there is only road for the last three kilometers. One of the last signs we did see was one saying there were hamburgers in five kilometers. We hoped that meant the end, and wasn’t just saying the location of the nearest McDonalds.
Then we came out of the woods. It was bright enough to turn off the headlamps. And we all crossed the finish line together. We had done it under twenty two and a half hours.
My left foot hurt the most after I rested. It had swollen up a bit, and any pressure I put on it, hurt a lot. I eventually figured out that it was better if I put a tight shoe on. The next day my right ankle started swelling. And of course, I am now walking like a penguin. I have got to see a masseuse and get these muscles working again.
And, since the award ceremony, I have the official Death Race coin that comes in a nice box with my name engraved in it and an incorrect time.

Will I be able to sleep tonight?

I’m in Grande Cache now. The drive here was fine, although probably a little fast. The rain didn’t bode well.
At the orientation session we were told it was a dry course this year. I don’t know how that works but I’m willing to go with it. The speaker was very inspirational. So afterwards it was, “Wow! I’m pumped. Let’s go to bed.”
The chief piece of advice: Go slow and conserve your energy. No one ends strong.