Freedom from tyranny

Finally I got my email sorted out.
I get my internet through Shaw. I don’t despise Shaw. They have been fairly good as an internet service provider. I get my email and porn… er… uh… web browsing, without too many problems. 🙂 I dislike that if I am not on their network I can’t download email to my computer and have to go through their web interface which I’ve found is flaky at times. I think I’ve gotten past that though; Firefox seems to work better than IE in a work environment.
I’ve been suspicious of Shaw when they decided to take down my internet access. They changed their network without realizing it wouldn’t work with the old cable modem they gave me. They replaced it, but I had trouble with my home network after that. I fixed it by getting a new router, (the last one was rather old) and I blamed them for that. But I realized that if I ever got frustrated and decided to leave them, I would lose all my email. If I instead get my friends used to a new email address that I own completely, then I can switch providers at any time. FREEDOM!
Initially I just had all email forwarded to my shaw account, and I started pretending I was using the new one. But that still didn’t let me get past their webmail interface. A little research and I found that I can have two domains on my hosting site. So I transferred my personal domain to it and, after jumping through some hoops, I was able to get it set up. It was hairy for awhile. I was trying to get an IMAP interface, but I was getting errors with that. Maybe I was aiming too high because I think I prefer the simplicity of a POP interface anyway. I like to own my email and have it on my computer.
The big benefit is that my iPhone now can check and send email. I’m more connected than ever.

Friends don’t let friends say no

I saw the movie Yes Man yesterday. I’ve been wanting to see it for a long time; I liked the philosophy behind it. I’ve been trying to do it myself for years, but I based it more off being agreeable to dares. There are many dares that I’ve done. It did give me an out that I could ignore dares that were obviously not dares and just people trying to abuse my generosity.
Because that is the biggest problem with a life plan of always saying yes. It loses everything if someone else knows about it and is willing to abuse it. I remember reading a review of the movie that complained that the main character never told his girlfriend about it. I obviously disagree. There is no relationship if the other person knows the answer to any question. Why bother asking the question? You are just a follower and can’t lead anymore.
The only part I disliked about the movie was the motorcycle scene near the end. It was too over-the-top. Everything up to that point had been plausible, but a chase scene on a high-powered motorcycle didn’t fit the rest of the show.
The part I liked the best was the idea of an early morning running and photography class. What a great idea! Go out in good light conditions to take pictures while getting exercise. I’d sign up if I could.

Weighty issues

Yesterday, as an almost impulse purchase, I bought a bathroom scale. I’ve never had one before. I look forward to finding out what it is like. I’ve used it already, and according to the BMI included with it, I am overweight.
I’m getting mixed messages here. I frankly think I need to be eating more.

Salt of the earth

I have quite literally been told I don’t get enough salt. The reason I had a cramp at the end of the marathon was because my body had run out of salt. The doctor (sports massage one) recommended a salt tablet at those times. Which as near as I can tell is all the benefits/disadvantages of salt without any of the taste.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

So I have a two and a half hour layover in Toronto. Inconvenient, but lucky because apparently my luggage exploded on the leg from Toronto. (Their words, not mine.) My luggage wasn’t coming down the carousel but I eventually found it in the oversize area; wrapped in a bag with my stuff strewn around inside it. It looked like the zipper had ripped apart. My suitcase wasn’t overstuffed, and the only problem would be that it was rather heavy. The three most important things were still there (my marathon medals). I was feeling stressed, so I packed everything back in and reused the zipper again. It closed, so I’ve decided to trust it for the next leg. I probably should have asked for someone to tape it shut. Or taken out my four most valuable items (the fourth is my camera with my marathon pictures). But I didn’t so now I have something to worry about.
And I have plenty of time to worry because my plane is delayed. Instead of leaving at 7:30, I’ll be leaving at 10:00. According to a WestJet employee there was bad weather in Kelowna that caused this delay. I could live with it, if there wasn’t another WestJet flight leaving at 9:00.
I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning. At 7:30 in the morning.

Final Disney day

That was a long day yesterday. I didn’t have the energy at the end of it to update my journal. I figured I could do it on the plane. Fortunately I could upload some old journal entries because the airport has free internet.
I am very goal oriented. On a vacation, I like to gnaw on a good goal. I fell into one here when my friends started getting their Goofy shirts autographed by the characters. I joined in and suddenly it became a goal to get as many as possible. This gives me something to do instead of relaxing.
We had a plan to see if we could hit all four theme parks. The day started with Epcot. We did a few rides that we had missed. “Honey, I shrunk the audience” was really bad. We had to wait through a five minute commercial for Kodak before we even got in, and the rest was utterly predictable. Of course, I’ve been on two other 3-D attractions, so I knew what to expect.
Then we went off to Hollywood Studios. We finally got on the new Toy Story ride. Because it is so new, everyone wants to try it and the lines are long. A fastpass wouldn’t have helped so we used the brute force method of waiting in line. Then lunch at the same place my family went to last year. No mutant squirrels this time.
When we got to the Magic Kingdom it had started raining; There was no wait for Space Mountain. We split up with the others going off to do their own rides while I did my own thing. I got a snack and got autographs of convenient characters. Rain helped there. When we met up again, after the parade, none of us really wanted to go to Animal Kingdom. There wasn’t anything to see there that we hadn’t already. So we went back to Epcot.
We wandered around the World Showcase before my friends left to go back to their hotel. I then ran around and found as many characters as possible. It was hard because it was getting to the end of the day when they start hiding. The rain helped in that the lines were shorter, but Snow White refused to come out at all because of it. Her loss. I could have gotten two Princess Jasmines, one from two different parks. It is weird seeing the same character in different places.
I ended the day with a trip back to the Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks. Then back to the hotel. That was hard because huge crowds were leaving at that time and the buses didn’t list that they were going to my hotel. I neded up going back to Epcot by monorail and caught a bus there. I got there and had time to eat and pack.
All in all I traveled to five theme parks, but only three of them were different.
I should have gone to Downtown Disney…

Fourth day activities

The park hopper pass is a really great thing to have. I get to go to any park at all on a given day. And that is important because some parks don’t have a full day of entertainment in them. I thought of Epcot as the weakest park, but that is only if you are trying to spend an entire day there. If you just go for a few hours to eat or browse it is a lot of fun. Technically I’ve been there every full day that I’ve been on this vacation. In every case I always ran away from it at the end, but two of those times were to catch the bus.
The morning started early, and we went to Animal Kingdom, which was open early for special guests; i.e. Those staying at the resort. We were able to quickly ride Expedition Everest twice in a row. Then we saw the gorillas and did a bunch of other zoo-like activities.
At one point I wondered why there was a crowd at the side of the road. After looking closely, I saw that there was a woman that looked like she had escaped from Cirque du Soleil. And she did it in camoflague. She was covered in leaves and was on stilts, similarly covered. Green face paint and she was nearly invisible in the vegetation. She looked so cool.
After Animals came Magic. We took a ferry to the Magic Kingdom and wandered there. We went on Space Mountain, and saw the Monster Inc. Laugh factory. I enjoyed both. We capped the park off with a visit to Small World. It is traditional, and I am trying my best to not get the song in my head. I did a few brain exercises while on the ride to prevent that. Hopefully it will work.
I did wait in line at one point to get my shirt autographed by a number of Disney Princesses. All gorgeous and also leery of a man getting a picture with them. (Oh come on, if I have waited that long in line I’m going to get some evidence that I did it.) The Magic Kingdom is a lot more kid friendly, so the characters are much more crowded with lines. Also, you can’t see the princesses at all, not even from a distance, unless you go through the entire line. That makes a lot of sense for the Little Mermaid.
We concluded the day at Epcot and I finally saw the ride in the big grapefruit. It was surprisingly good. I couldn’t go last year because it was closed. We also wandered the countries of the world. I saw occasionaly things that I was tempted to buy: Akavit for my mother, but she’s from Denmark, not Norway; Chinese Tea for a friend who told me not to get him anything.
I wonder what tomorrow is going to bring. It is apparently going to get rather cold here. Relatively speaking.

Third day activities

After the run, I didn’t feel like napping. So my friend and I went out to Animal Kingdom. We had intended to go to the Magic Kingdom, but I was having trouble telling him what was good there. That park is really devoted to children. At the last minute we changed our minds. We got a good bus there, went in and got food to eat.
The ducks there are very aggresive and will nip you if you stop feeding them. At least that is what it looked like was happening to my friend.
Then, instead of going on a ride, we went character hunting. We got a number of them to sign our Goofy shirts. It will make a nice souvenier. I’m going to try again tomorrow at whatever other resort we show up at.
In the evening we went to Downtown Disney, basically the shopping mall and adult gallery. There are some impressive stores there, including a big Lego one. But we mostly hung out at a bar, drank and talked. The brochures claimed there were a numbed of nightclubs on “Pleasure Island” but apparently they all closed down, so the name is mostly ironic.
We’re going to get up early tomorrow, but it will still feel like we slept in.

Mickey’s Marathon completed

Yes, that hurt. It was a long run. But I got to go through all four theme parks. I stopped to get my picture taken as often as possible with famous Disney characters. The operative word here is “stop”. Any valid excuse to stop running was taken. I didn’t really care if the character was one I liked or not, they were an excuse. Can you think of why else I would pose with the Power Rangers? Some of the runners were in costume as well; I saw the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty running along. Minnie Mouse or fairies were popular costumes for people to dress up as. (For the record, I deliberately chose the word “people” instead of “women”.)
The surprising thing was that it was warm this morning. I didn’t need the emergency blanket I had brought along with me. That did not bode well for the actual run. And it was hot. We did seem to be in the shade for a great deal of it, but you can’t get out of the sun entirely. I took to dumping water on my head and it was amazingly helpful.
I will say this about Disney; It is expensive but you get good quality. There were frequent water stops and support was good. The medals you get at the end are quite nice. And it must be hard to organize 26,000 people.
I did run low on my own gels at one point, so I decided to grab a Clif shot at the next aid station that had one. I am not a fan of Clif shots because past experience has shown they give me stomach problems on runs. But I figured there wouldn’t be much further to go and I really needed the energy. So when I saw a girl with a red Clif shot in hand, I ran towards it, demanding it. (Politeness left an hour back.) She stopped me, reached behind to hand me a brown one. Ten steps later I realized brown meant she had given me an expresso flavored one. I didn’t even bother to try it and I made my displeasure apparent to all nearby. Thankfully, I had grabbed a banana on a whim at the start of the station. I’ve never had one while running, and I didn’t really want to experiment, but I was hungry. And the bananas in Florida have been absolutely great. If you have the means, I highly recommend one. It seemed to work.
Near the end, while I was taking a walk break at an aid station I watched the four hour group go past me. I wanted to be under four hours, so I quickly passed them and tried to make some distance. I didn’t look back. It was a long trip around the Epcot lake, and I didn’t take anymore scheduled walk breaks. Then I got out of the park and the finish line was near. I started going faster. I saw the sign with thirty seconds to go to four hours so I sped faster. Ten seconds away my left leg started cramping up. I limped across the finish line at about 4:00:01. In my defense, I hadn’t crossed the start line when the timer went off, so I am under four hours. It just didn’t look that way.

Park Information

Yesterday, after we picked up the race kits we went to Hollywood studios. I was able to herd my friends to going on the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. One has declared I am no longer her friend. More sedately we saw the Star Tours, the Muppets, and we closed it down with the “Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show”.
After that, we hopped over to Epcot and had dinner in the English area. We watched the light and firework show called IlluminNations, and then headed back to our hotels. We had to get up early, but I think we stayed up too late.
Today, after the run we had trouble organizing ourselves. We eventually got to the Animal Kingdom. The Kali River Rapids was awesome, but I spent the rest of the day wet. The “It’s Tough to Be a Bug!” was a good 3-D show. I think the Expedition Everest was my favorite rollercoaster, but the lineup was way too long.The Killmanjaro Safari was a good zoo ride. I saw rhinos and hippos and all sorts of other animals that are probably available at my local zoo, but being on vacation makes them more exotic. The Maharaja Jungle Trek was also a good educational experience, although I don’t know if I really wanted to see a live naked mole rat giving birth. Then the park kicked us out; We headed back to our respective hotels and ate. Now I should go to bed. Early day tomorrow, followed by the Magic Kingdom.
I would like to go back to the Animal Kingdom. It was nice and sedate and felt very adult. If we get there early we will be able to see the gorillas.

Half down, full to go

Well that is one down.
We got up at 3:00 and got to the marshalling area at around 4:30 so that we could wait, and wait, for the start at six o’clock. And it was really cold. Well, not Edmonton cold, but cold enough that being in shorts was uncomfortable. However, as soon as the run started it was great weather. But not the kind of temperature you just want to stand around in.
The actual run had its ups and downs. Thankfully not altitude-wise. In the dark it is okay that there are long kilometers where there is absolutely nothing except barren wilderess. (Barren being used liberally in the very green swamps of Florida.) It took 45 minutes before I entered an actual park, the Magic Kingdom. There I stopped to have my picture taken with Cinderella, her sisters, Pirates of the Caribbean, and possibly a few others that escape me. I skipped past Pooh because I got to have a meeting with him yesterday; He liked that I was from Winnipeg. I also got to give Eeyore a reassuring hug, and snub Tigger.
After the Kingdom there was nothing, except the sunrise, for another forty-five minutes until Epcot, and that was just a quick spin. But I did get a picture with Robin Hood (Canis Vulpes) before I burned out of there, past Pinnochio, with a big smile on my face.
Half-marathons are really nice because they don’t kill me and I still have energy for the rest of the day. All in all it took 1:55. My worst half-marathon time, but considering I’ve only done one other, I’m not that surpised. I was trying my best to pretend it wasn’t a race, despite all evidence to the contrary; I have to run a full marathon tomorrow.
I must say though, this was a really fun race. Lots of cheering, and lots to see. Lack of sleep may have colored my perception. I’ll try and go to bed at a decent hour tonight.

First day plans

We arrived at the hotel at around 10:00 and left our room at 10:30 to hunt for food. Disneyworld seems to die at 11:00, so we couldn’t go out and see anything. I don’t think we’ll be staying up late tonight either because we need to get up around 3:00 tomorrow morning. (Using “morning” in a liberal sense of the word.) Out luggage arrived at midnight so that is one less thing to worry about.
We need to go to the Expo to pick up race kits and then I think we are doing Hollywood studios.

Coming soon to a Disney near you

I have now arrived in Orlando and I’m waiting on the Disney Magical Express bus. Hopefully it will start moving soon. Then it will take me to my resort and I can think about getting food. Fortunately I’m not too hungry right now.
My plane from Edmonton to Calgary was delayed an hour because the pilots needed their beauty rest. I could have used an extra hour of sleep. The layover in Calgary was only an hour and a half, so this would have been rather tight if the next flight hadn’t been delayed by two hours. Something about an illness on its Moncton to Calgary leg. So it is now much later than I would like, but I am here.
It is cool out at night. That is nice because I’m still dressed like an Edmontonian who was dealing with -16 weather this morning. I would guess it is +10 here right now. It will probably get much warmer when the sun rises tomorrow.
According to the driver it will only take half an hour to get to the resorts. I’m putting a lot of trust to these Disney people. I never collected my luggage when I disembarked. Disney will be doing that for me. (Not Mr. Walter Disney of course. He’s busy being cryogenically frozen.) In theory my suitcase will arrive at my hotel about three hours after I arrive.
Trust the mouse.

Leaving on a jet plane

I dislike packing. And yet I seem to do it so often. You would think I would have a routine by now. But no, it’s the same thing every time; Go through your worldly possessions and foresee which ones you will need for the coming trip. What are the things that are most important, but not too important because you might lose them.
After printing out the documentation about the Goofy run I am beginning to look more forward to it. The actual Disney parks themselves I can leave.

Asking for help from friends

The problem with my resolutions this year is that they aren’t measurable. If I had had the goal to lose weight, you could check if I had or hadn’t. My resolutions this year are wide open to interpretation. The first one is somewhat measurable. I’ll leave it to my friends to tell me if I am loud or not. Simple.
The second one isn’t. I’m not even sure I wrote down something empirical at all. Just to not be so proud. How do you tell? Ideally I also have to leave this in the hands of my friends. Even then, it’s more of an internal struggle.
Since I’m asking for help from my friends anyway, there is something else I’ve been wanting from them for a long time. A favor, if you will. To help keep me more grounded, I would like any person who knows me to tell me one thing they like about me and one thing they dislike. I can use this information to try to stop doing what people dislike. (Unless I suppose they are a fundamental part of my being, such as running stupid distances.) I have the feeling that I’ve done stuff that annoys without having the slightest idea I’ve done it.
Don’t worry, you aren’t going to offend me.

New Year’s Resolution

I am not a big believer in New Year resolutions. I remember the first one I ever did. Grade One. The teacher had a group of us students together and asked one of us what her resolution was. Dead silence. “Was it to cut down on candy?” The child nodded at that. Now we knew a correct answer! When she asked anyone else in the group, the teacher got the same response. “Cut down on candy.”
I have two things I want to try to change about myself. None of them are to exercise more, but I feel I will probably end up doing that anyway. Cutting down on candy is probably not an option either; I don’t eat much of that to begin with.
The first resolution: Be quiet. I have had it pointed out to me by a friend that I am rather loud. I believe him. I do tend to have a booming voice when I want to be the centre of attention. And who doesn’t want to be the centre of attention? So I am going to start work on this.
The second resolution: Hubris. I recently listened to an Escape Pod story called Beans and Marbles. The story itself was good, but what caught my interest was the ending outro by the editor of Escape Pod. He was talking about hubris and a lot of it stuck with me. One line was: “My particular issues make it very difficult to accept weakness in myself and that makes it hard to ask for help in the things I need to do. I don’t want to admit I can’t do it all myself.” I know that is true for me. I never want to admit I can’t do it all. I want to be perfect at everything, and that is impossible. I want to be the perfect party host. The perfect runner. The perfect friend.
So, as the editor says, I can “Fail at everything or start reaching out.”
His advice: “If you feel like you are too depressed, or too alone, or too proud to say anything to anyone else, take that as your willpower challenge. Don’t prove how strong or how weak you are by keeping it in. Prove it by not keeping it in. Talk to someone.”
So, I want to start talking to people (at a reasonable volume) and not bottle things up. I know there are vast parts of myself that I keep even from close friends. I will be more honest with them. I have found myself more relaxed and happy with people who I have opened up to. I don’t want to turn into a weepy girl though.
Maybe I should get psychiatric care? I have tried that in the past, but I don’t think I was totally honest with the therapist either. Probably not a good sign.

New Year’s Eve

I went swing dancing tonight. For New Year’s Eve. I had a good time, but my sister is right. Swing dancing is her thing, not mine. I probably would have been happier playing D&D. Let me reiterate though, I still had a good time.
New Year’s Eve has a lot of pressure behind it. It is supposed to be the big party day, but it will never meet expectations. My initial plan was to do some computer work, but I’m still glad I went out instead.
I heard once that one of the best times to pick up girls is on New Year’s Eve, because they are examining their lives and probably have low self-esteem. Something like that. Swing dancing is rather chaste; There isn’t much alcohol flowing around at these events. As opposed to the bump and grind of bar dancing, which is probably where the pick-up should be happening. I know if I had gone to a bar it would have been far more depressing; I still don’t have the confidence to approach women I don’t know. But swing dancing is not a good place to pick up women.
The other problem is that I am the wrong age for swing dancing. All the girls there seem to be much older or younger than me. I’ll happily dance with them, but now that I have hit the magical age of 35 and have hit the next age category, asking a university girl for her number feels creepy. (It has actually felt creepy for awhile.)
Opinion: The men in swing dancing are the leads, so they are responsible for the direction of the dance. You can tell a lot about a particular male by observing its plummage. A floppy hat is a sign that “I own this entire dance floor and I plan to explore every part of it. I will be kicking a lot while I do this.” God help you if they are wearing suspenders too.

My ankle hurts.