My afternoon

I took a nap on my couch this afternoon. It was oddly recursive; I dreamed I was on my couch napping, unable to wake up but still having a dream. The final dream was actually interesting. But only boring people force others to listen to their dreams.
I went and saw Adam today. I’m not sure what my opinion of it is. I did see some scary similarities between the main character and myself. Especially chilling was the similar size of his bed, and the exact same cover.
I’m going with the theory that he was an extreme case of Asperger’s. I don’t think I’m that bad.

Fringe Festival 2009, Part The Last

A Final Whimsy (7 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
A nice David Belke drama. It concerned itself a lot with the stories (whimseys), true and false, that families tell each other. This one has a side-story for me. The ending was ambiguous. I don’t like an ending that I can’t figure out. It makes me feel dumb, that I missed some clue that would have explained it. I can understand the enjoyment of of having an ending you can think about, but I want to know that the author knows what is going on. Conveniently, the author was right there at the back of the theatre and I could interrogate him. He did know what was going on, but he also repeated the last line. “That’s the problem with whimseys. You never know which ones to believe.” Hearing that gave a nice recursion to the piece that increased my enjoyment a lot.

Self realization

Or maybe I’m just socially inept and I can’t blame it on anything but me.
I would like to thank my friends for the compliments that they’ve been giving me; cheering me up and presenting some evidence otherwise. But I would also like to apologize. I’ve done something in this blog that I’ve been trying to get away from. Whining. No one likes to read whines.
Or at least if I’m whining, whine about something interesting.
My haircut appointment today kept me waiting 35 minutes!
No, that isn’t interesting…

Learning about the condition

Now that I’ve written it down, it has become more real for me. Either that or it is because I can now see a movie on the condition.
I have not done a lot of research, but the term Aspergers has come up.
So I’ve been out of it lately. It is rather depressing to read a wikipedia page and see it describing your life; enough so that I’m finding I don’t want to read too closely. The line “Childhood desire for companionship can become numbed through a history of failed social encounters.” is particularly chilling.
But what does it mean? I now have an excuse as to why I am terrible at relationships. But is that all it is, an excuse? I still should socialize. Don’t decide it is impossible and not try. But I remember people telling me talking to girls is easy. Now I can say it is not.
Driving home, I saw pretty girls on Whyte Avenue. I don’t think I have a chance with any of them. I would rather stay at home and do some computer work.
I’ve been looking back on my life with a different viewpoint. I distinctly remember times in Jamaica, at Hedonism, where I’m pretty sure beautiful girls were interested in me. And I was too clueless to realize.

Shop til you drop

Today there was a lot of shopping.
First, I signed up for a course at NAIT on GIS. I’ve been wanting to take it for awhile, but last year it was cancelled. I’ve waffled enough, and now I am committed.
Then I went and bought some planters. I have a plan now to actually grow things. My balcony gets far too hot in summer, and I thought that if the walls were lined with plants, they would absorb some of the heat. My friends have recommended hops. It is an ivy like plant so hopefully it will be happy covering the walls.
My final purchase was to go to Fast Trax. I had a 15% off coupon that expired soon and I wanted to abuse it. I needed new compression shorts after my last pair’s seams ripped after a paltry 125km run. I also wanted good trail shoes for the Lost Souls Marathon. And I had been hearing a lot about barefoot running and I wanted to buy some… well not shoes exactly, more foot coverings. They protect the feet but provide no support.
The foot coverings are apparently very popular and although I found a pair that seemed to fit, I might be better with a smaller pair, which they didn’t have. I now wait until they get some in so I can comparison shop. I can wait; I don’t want to experiment in the three weeks before my big run so I would have to hold off anyway.
The compression shorts weren’t available in my size. But I was able to buy new trail runners. I have to wear them a lot now to break them in.
I’ve been told shoes can only handle 50km at one time before they need to recover. So I need three pairs of shoes for the Lost Souls. I figure trail runners are my best bet, and now I have two pairs. For the last lap I’ll probably won’t care as much.

Fringe Festival 2009, Part 3

The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval (9 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
This play has everything. Comedy, drama, and an explanation of Canadian culture. Chris Gibbs continues to be funny and intelligent. He is a master of self-deprecating humor. It is easier to write a review if you list all the things you disliked about a play. I can’t think of anything.

The Art of Being a Bastard (6.5 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
This was actually very educational. It might have been better titled, “How to Pick Up Girls in Bars”. I should have taken notes. Not incredibly funny but I had a good time.

Unsolicited Letters (3 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
They did put an honest try into making a good play. And it was a good first try. But they didn’t have enough content. There was only one plot-line in the play and it wasn’t big enough for the 50 minutes they allotted. It felt like it was dragging at points. I’m glad I got to see it for free, although I would have preferred not to see it at all.

Introspection again

I’ve been analyzing myself again. I’m not happy with what I see. I am comparing myself to other people and to what I see in movies. I think I’ve come to conclusion that I’m emotionally dead.
The short of it is that I have never loved. I have cared for people, but I have never been in love. I don’t even know if I could recognize the symptoms. I can’t even say I’ve lusted. I feel I am just pretending to have emotions. At least pretending the happier ones. I have anger, pain, and jealousy.
I am not proud of any of this.
I have friends who just think I’ve been out of the dating scene too long. They put me at the kindergarten level of dating expertise. I can’t disagree. But I still need to try, and hope I can get through this dead zone. (Is that fair on the other person?)
I think I’m autistic. Just skimming through the Wikipedia article on it and I can see a lot of the symptoms in myself. I’m not good with facial recognition or eye contact. I have compulsive behaviour and ritualistic behaviour (I don’t like EVER using the bottom step on a staircase.) I am not comfortable with human contact even though I would like to feel it. I’ve tried to be more open to hugs, and I should like them. But I don’t like initiating them.
Tangent: I’m wondering what would happen if there was a test to screen for autism before birth, or even a way to cure it. If the same thing could be done for homosexuality, there would be an uproar. I would feel the same way for autism. Despite all my problems, I wouldn’t want to change myself completely. Nerds form an important part of modern civilization.
I don’t even know why I’m posting this. (Compulsive behaviour?) My current theory: As I come closer to understanding myself, I want other people to know my thought process.
I don’t like having a conversation die. If I have to say things, that I shouldn’t say in public, to keep the conversation going, that is apparently what I’ll do.

Thoughts on running

I grew up in Winnipeg. It is very flat there. I remember going on a trip to Milwaukee for a convention and being fascinated by a slope in a downtown street. It just seemed so unreal. Running in Winnipeg was always on a flat surface. When I did my first marathon there, the only hill was an overpass. I wonder if the land of flatness has anything to do with my love of topography?
Now I live in Edmonton where the downtown angles are much steeper than anything in Milwaukee. And they have been excellent training for the ultras I have signed up for.
I’ve been worried about my next one, the 160km Lost Souls in Lethbridge. I know next to nothing about it. Is it harder than the Death Race? Well that has changed. We had a meeting with someone who has run it. I’m now a lot less nervous. It is still going to be hard, but knowing is half the battle.
We’ll be running in the Lethbridge river valley, which is twice as deep as Edmonton’s. Each 53.3km loop I need to do three times should take ten hours to complete. I have 35 hours, which gives me a five hour safety margin. I don’t need to carry too much water or equipment, as the support they have there is fantastic. (He mentioned that smoked salmon was available at one time.) It may be very hot though.
The confidence is nice.
We’re trying to figure out what we are going to do on Sunday for training. We could run 40km, or we could go on a really long hike. I overheard on the Death Race that hikers do better than runners, so a hike might be preferable than just another long run. We’re at a late enough stage that we can’t do much more to get ready.
We also seem to be turning into a gang. Mike got a BMW and has been raving about the German engineering. Now Robert is thinking of getting one. Apparently I need to get one as well, and then we can all wear our Death Race jackets. Maybe go racing in the flood control channel.

Fringe Festival 2009, Part 2

How is this for pressure? Instead of movie night, I thought going to see a fringe play with my friends would be a better idea. I had an idea of what would be a good play, so I recommended that one and made a plan to see it.
Twelve other people went with my recommendation. I enjoyed the play, but I kept hoping all these people I dragged to it would also like it.

Space (7.5 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
I really enjoyed this. There have been other plays that are more moving, but this one was a comedy that didn’t take itself seriously. It was really low on plot, and more focussed on having fun. i.e. Check your brain at the door. And I think they added an extra subplot just to allow the use of special effects on the robot.

Totem Figures (7 out of 10)
Style: Autobiographical
TJ Dawe isn’t as funny as he used to be. But he is more thought provoking. I saw a late night show after a long run so I wasn’t paying as close attention as I would have liked. This is still a good play and you get some good insight into who he is. Bonus: You learn how he got his name.

Grimmer than Grimm (6.5 out of 10)
Style: ADD Skits
I’m probably giving this a lower rating than it deserves. I had dragged a dozen people to see this, so I was more critical of all of its faults. I liked it, but there were a few slower parts that dragged on a bit. But they did their job of graphically portraying the worst of the Grimm’s fairy tales.

Fringe Festival 2009, Part 1

Spiral Dive: Episode Two (8.5 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
Fantastic, but I think you should only see it if you’ve seen Episode One already. It would be too hard to follow otherwise. The actors are very good, able to portray multiple characters and make it easy to tell them apart. I especially liked the pilot from Montreal. Only one downside; forgive my language, but I think this blew its wad too early. They had a vivid description of an aerial battle that I think would have been better later in the play. It was too close to the start and I hadn’t really gotten into the show yet.

The Occulist’s Holiday (8 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
Stewart Lemoine once again does a nice play. It isn’t that memorable, but it has a good story. The characters are interesting and they develop quite a bit. I want to go to Switzerland now.

The Maltese Bodkin (6 out of 10)
Style: Traditional play
This is an early David Belke work, first performed in 1991. He wasn’t quite the powerhouse he is now, but he had good fundamentals. I did enjoy this, but I think I would have liked it more if I knew Shakespeare better. But you only really need experience in that to recognize characters, and it isn’t a requirement to get the full entertainment value. However, it really helps to know MacBeth.

Fringe Festival 2009

I think I’m getting burned out. Previously, I loved the Fringe Festival and would easily see a dozen plays. But now I’m just too tired to get excited about it. (That, and money isn’t flowing as freely as it used to.) I’ve still got plans to see eight plays, but there are others that I would also like to see. I just can’t seem to gather the energy to go see them.

Thursday, August 13th
8:00 – 10:00 The Maltese Bodkin
Saturday, August 15th
1:00 – 2:20 The Oculist’s Holiday
7:15 – 8:35 Spiral Dive: Episode 2
Sunday, August 16th
3:00 – 4:15 Space
9:45 – 11:15 Totem Figures
Monday, August 17th
8:30 – 9:30 Grimmer than Grimm
Tuesday, August 18th
8:15 – 9:15 The Art of Being a Bastard
Thursday, August 20th
9:00 – 10:15 The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval

Death Race 2009

I remember the last time I ran the Death Race. It was hard, but not as hard as expected. The training was harder than the actual race.
That was not true this year. A heat wave descended on Grande Cache for the weekend. It was stifling, and not the best conditions for running. The weather really changed the conditions of the course. Alberta has had a drought for the summer, but it had been raining recently in the area. So there were places that were wetter, and places that were drier.
In some races they weigh the runners to make sure they aren’t over- or under-hydrated. Since running makes you stupid, our support people were also thinking intelligence tests should be administered as well. I tried to keep myself from over-exerting myself. I took any reasonable chance to sit down if I could. Fortunately some volunteers stationed around the course were willing to give up their chairs. I never stayed too long, but I think the short rests helped.
The food provided was very disappointing. It almost looked like they had raided a grocery store. There were very few energy bars. I was more likely to find melted chocolate bars. Most critically, they had very little salt snacks. When it is that hot, you need salt! At least there was a good supply of Gatorade.
The day started out nicely, and I thought that if the temperature stayed that way for the entire time it would be perfect, but of course that wasn’t meant to be. By the time the first leg was done, it was already warm and I had blisters forming. I had also passed a girl who had collapsed.
Last year, the second leg had rain. This time it was hot sun. The climb up Mount Flood was slow. But coming down, and going through “The Slugfest” was much easier. There was no sliding down mud slopes into creeks; It was solid footing. Also, my feet didn’t hurt this year. Last year, my right foot was in pain almost immediately and it only stopped when I changed shoes. But I figured out what was wrong a few months ago; My shoe had been on too tight. I actually wore the exact same shoes this time and had no problems.
Near the top of Grande Mountain you could see lightning off in the distance. I would have failed the intelligence tests as I was trying to figure out if the long aluminum poles I was using were a good conductor of electricity. The rain that followed did help a lot. But plummeting down a mountain side wasn’t exactly safe to begin with. And for some reason, near the end of the leg, a bystander darted out right in front of me as I was coming down the hill. She wanted to grab a pack of cigarettes on the trail and I nearly hit her.
The third leg was the pinnacle of the heat wave. I ran it at the hottest point of the day. As advertised, the valley was a heat sink. Fortunately there were no bears this time. However, I had sunglasses at the start of the leg, but I appeared to be missing them by the end…
At the transition to the fourth leg, I drank two bottles of Gatorade, had an eDisc and a salt tablet. It was a few too many electrolytes, and I couldn’t run for awhile. Fortunately, leg four is well known for Mount Hamel appearing immediately; I was going to walk anyway. And because it was so dry, there was no longer a stream running down the trail. There was a gaping crevasse in the middle instead, but that was easy to avoid. I got to the top just as the sun was setting. The nearly full moon wasn’t as helpful as I had hoped. I ran down the other side with the headlamp going. This was when things got better. It was now cool, and I was going downhill.
At the Ambler Loop station there were a pair of ambulances. Many people were getting pulled off the course. I stopped by them and got some medical supplies put on my foot to help stop the blisters that had formed, or were going to form. Then it was a run down a hill to the start of leg five.
Leg two is the hardest, but I think I hate leg five the most. It comes at a time when your legs are tired, and they make it full of uneven ground. In the night, with only a headlamp, you can’t tell if it is a leaf, root, or rock you are stepping on. You will trip if you run. I have to walk. And once you start walking, it is very hard to get back to running.
Hell’s Gate was lit up nicely with bright lights, so I could see a bit of the landscape. It looked very nice. I think I cheated a bit here. While the boat was crossing, I un-kinked my water tube so I could gulp instead of sip, and I ate an entire powerbar. In other words, I took my sweet time to get going again. But none of this counted against me, because the clock stopped until I decided I was ready to go again. I’m not sure if that counted as cheating. I continued on, and once again got mixed signals about distance as I ran. 13km. 8km. 9km. 5km. Hopefully I’ll figure it out someday although I think the last two distances quoted were correct. I gained a huge blood blister on the sole of my right foot. It seemed to come into existence over the fifth leg because it wasn’t there when the doctors looked over me.
I crossed the finish line at a little over 23 hours. It was tough but I had done it. And it was provably tough. Only 33% of people who had signed up, finished. Jack Cook, who had finished first the last three times was unable to complete.
I beat Jack Cook!
The rest of the weekend was spent napping and eating. I didn’t have the energy to go see the festival. We didn’t even stay until the end of the closing ceremonies before driving home. I did discover that I appear to be allergic to the official race shirt.
Since then, I’ve been concerned about the nail of my left little piggie with roast beef. It looks like it is trying to make a break for it.