Doesn’t feel like halloween

I enjoy halloween parties. I like costumes. I like seeing other people in costumes.
I had plans for a party to go to last Saturday. However, on Friday, during my trip home, I discovered it had been cancelled. (The location had been double-booked.)
Which was probably for the best, because I got smacked by something on my vacation and I spent the entire weekend in bed, trying to sleep it off. I didn’t have the energy to go looking for a back-up party. I barely had energy to make a soup for dinner. I couldn’t even troll Whyte avenue to look at the costumes there.
By monday I could go back to work, but my GI was still bothering me. I am still not healthy. Strangely, I am exhausted and sleepy in the morning, (partially because of issues during the night) such that it is impossible to get out of bed. But as the day wears on, I get more awake. I’m feeling rather alert right now. But we’ll see how my stomach feels after getting some food in it.
But now it is halloween and it feels very unspecial to me. I think this is probably the most adult halloween I’ve ever had.

In a chair, in the sky

I asked for a window seat, but they gave me an aisle one instead. However, the aisle seat is in the exit row. So I have plenty of legroom. It isn’t like I’ll be looking out the window much anyway. I wonder if the ticketing agent thought I was charming? Mind you, she is the same one who collected me for the security check of my bag.
However, this plane is really cold. I am still dressed for the Caribbean.
It has just gotten really bumpy. I suspect that this has something to do with Hurricane Sandy, which I’m told is visible from one of the windows.
2012-10-26 16:25

End Times

With Caribbean hotels that are some distance from the airport, they always get you to the airport very early. This was the first time I was glad for that. Fifteen minutes into the car ride, the taxi broke down. A bit of clunking and we pulled over to the side of the road.
Thankfully, he was able to get another taxi soon enough, and fifteen minutes later I was off again. I don’t know if I am mellowing, or I am acclimating to island time, or just haven’t had enough sleep, but I did not stress at all. It was actual pleasant.
I was even relaxed when security pulled me aside at the departure gate. They wanted to search my luggage. I didn’t have anything to hide, but I don’t know what they thought looked suspicious on the X-Ray. The other passenger’s suitcase was clearly being searched because of the 20lbs of coffee that took up most of the space. Unfortunately, they didn’t let me transfer some of my duty-free from my carry-on.
There was a nice vibe last night. It was more intimate with a good chunk of the people gone. I had a nice time talking to several people I hadn’t had a chance to. Of course the alcohol was flowing freely so it did get a little weird at times.
The judicial system of drunk people is rather interesting. The defendant is not allowed a lawyer, and the witnesses commit perjury with wild abandon. The gavel is replaced by a glass bottle banged on the bar (that thankfully didn’t break.) And the judge did appear to be biased from the start. The dress code is also looser.
The system of punishment should not be discussed in polite company.
I was glad I was not part of the legal system and was merely the court photographer. Keep quiet and try not to get in the range of the drama.
It also seems to be a new tradition on the last day to greet me, in a VERY friendly manner, with hands full of Icy Hot. I would not recommend it to a friend.
The evening concluded with me giving foot rubs to the two organizers. One had been awake since Tuesday, and she was still a bundle of energy. The other had injured herself early on with a fractured toe. They were still going strong. But, thankfully, they went to bed eventually. I went back to my room and packed and then got a nice three hours of sleep.
Since this is WestJet, there will be no free movie television, so I won’t feel bad about sleeping.
2012-10-26 13:45

Does Sandy put out?

Today is the day of recovery. A lot of people in our group left today. This is convenient because I think Hurricane Sandy is passing by some distance away. It has not caused any damage; it is just raining and windy. But it really doesn’t make you feel like spending a lot of time outside.
So far, all I’ve done today is sleep, say goodbye to friends, eat a bit, and do some lounging in the outdoor hot tub. There is still a sizeable contingent of people I know, so I won’t be lonely.
Hopefully there won’t be any issues with my flight tomorrow.
2012-10-25 18:23

Rain Check

It is raining a lot here. I think a hurricane is hitting the Caribbean right now. Somewhere. There isn’t a lot of wind. Just a lot of wet.
I did go snorkelling this morning. It was a bit rough, so it was hard to see the bottom. But it was nice enough.
In the afternoon was a foot massage contest. I believe I placed fourth. I may have been docked points for being too chatty.
There was some bodypainting in the afternoon. It took a long time to dry with all the humidity.
I spent a long time talking with friends and drinking coconut rum shots. A weak alcohol, so it didn’t really effect me.
Dinner. Then another get together to see who won a free trip next year. (Not me.) Then mostly conversations for the rest of the night.
A lot of people are leaving tomorrow, so the place will feel different.
2012-10-25 4:39


Today was excursion day. We loaded on to two buses and set out. They took us to a plantation, but a revolt quickly happened. The organizer of the event did not want culture and instead wanted to go do fun stuff. Most everyone was in agreement, so the tour operator had to let it go and take us to the swimming hole instead.
That was fun. And it is the first time I’ve ever seen an actual swimming hole. This was not just a pond that you can swim in. This was a small lake that was surrounded by cliffs. I’m trying to figure out why the water didn’t fill up the “hole” so I have to assume the rock walls are very porous.
The best part was that there was a zip line over the hole. So, grab the handles, lift the legs and go out into the abyss. After awhile, let go. Preferably within the designated landing zone. (One guy let go two seconds into his flight. That was scary, but he did not hit the rocks or the side.)
I think it was more fun than Ric’s Cafe in Jamaica. Less pressure to drink.
After flying through the air three times, I used my snorkel set and checked out underwater. There were some pretty sizeable fish there.
After that, we went out to the ocean. There was a nice cove that you could walk out fairly far. There was a river draining into the cove, so the water alternated between cold and warm. Beyond the cove you could see the waves crashing, surf pounding, and looking rather dangerous. We didn’t go out that far. It was also starting to rain.
On the way back, we took a small detour to a waterfall. The locals were climbing up it, and then jumping down to the pool below, a drop of about five to seven metres. The tour operator strongly recommended that we do not do that. Still two people did. They didn’t get hurt, but apparently the water at the bottom was only chest high. As much as I like to do stupid things to prove my manliness, I did not feel comfortable doing that.


I’ve had some key issues since yesterday. When I got my room, I was given a key on a bendy armband thing. However, the actual ring that attached to it was an abomination of nature. So, of course the key kept falling off. I was at least smart enough not to keep the safe key on it.
Usually I’ve been good at hearing it fall, but yesterday afternoon, during the gift exchange it went missing. The replacement key I got from the front desk just plain didn’t work. So for the rest of the day, the only way to get back into my room was to go to the front desk and ask security to let me in. Inconvenient.
I got a working replacement key this morning. It mostly works, but you really have to wiggle it. I also know where my old key is. A friend found it, and I just have to intersect with her when she is near her room.
2012-10-23 18:26


This morning the resort finally got desperate enough with their WiFi to start asking some of the tourists to do something about it. I was first approached, but I’m more of a software guy, but I had talked to a friend from Britain who works at maintaining IT. And he was able to get things working again.
The Wifi doesn’t reach my room, but the other day I noticed an Ethernet cord sticking out of my wall. I plugged the laptop in, and there was something at the other end, but it was having DHCP troubles, so no internet. Since my British friend had mentioned doing something with DHCP, I gave the cord another try. And I now have internet in my room. Not at the comfort of my desk, but at the comfort of the couch that looks out the big window to the ocean.
It might be more impressive if it wasn’t pitch black right now. And if the couch wasn’t disintegrating and covering me with grey couch dandruff.
It was mostly raining sporadically today, but we still went ahead with the weddings. Two couples were renewing vows. We didn’t have official officers of church or state, but we made do with what we had. In other words, dosed with extra fun.
It was actually very sweet. These people had been together for a long time and wanted to share that with everyone. I’m rather jealous of their happiness.
In the afternoon there was some more games. I think I did well. I popped everyone else’s balloon before they popped mine. The key is to think before someone asks you to blow up a balloon; is it better to be big, or less burst-able? And to not trust the guy who is proposing an alliance, but enjoy watching the person he does ally with get promptly backstabbed.
We also had a gift exchange. Everyone bought an item of a certain genre that they were no longer using, and then you come out of it with something new. It didn’t go that great for me, and I ended up giving my proceeds to my friend. But, in any case, I recycled things I wasn’t using.
After dinner there was karaoke. And then not much else. People are getting tired. I am too, but I can really keep going if I have a conversation to keep my mind active. It’s weird; I’ll be unable to keep my eyes open, but five minutes later I’ll be completely alert because I talked one-on-one with someone. The one-on-one is important, otherwise I’ll let other people do the talking and start falling back to sleep.
I did learn that there is speculation about my history going on. There are parts of my life I don’t want to talk about, and apparently some people are interested. I think that is the same method Apple uses with its products. Don’t talk about it and be the subject of conversation.
Tomorrow we go on an excursion. Should be fun. I don’t have the details here, but since it is for our group, it should be fun.
2012-10-23 3:42

Youthful Indiscretions

Okay. It was an earthquake. One hit Puerto Rico and we got some aftershocks. Nothing really happened here though. No damage. No injuries. No tidal waves.
I’ve been enjoying my stay here. Yesterday, a good friend, that I’ve been wanting to see again for a long time, arrived. It was great to hang out with her.
My biggest problem is that she is one of the cool kids. Due to a very bad experience when I was young, I do not deal well with the cool kids. I like her very much, but I do not want to be clingy. So, in my mental effort not to repeat the errors of youth, (which were more bad friends of youth) I’ve found myself avoiding her, especially when she is with her other friends. Which is silly and I’m hoping to get over that. She has explicitly said I’m fun.
So today I spent a lot of time with her, when she wasn’t getting a massage. And I wasn’t participating in a second fashion show. (First one was yesterday during dinner.) Fashion shows seem to mostly involve sitting around, waiting for stuff to happen.
The games we’ve been playing have been fun, mostly. Yesterday was another obstacle course, but this one was wetter and less equestrian based. I think I placed third. There was a water balloon game today, but I didn’t find it as enjoyable. It was targeted towards the girls, so the men only got to watch. And it wasn’t what you think. Get your mind out of the gutter.
2012-10-22 3:16

Clean and Sober

I’m feeling much better now. Some solid food in the system, and a lot of orange juice, and I’m back to normal. Whether that is a good thing is left as an exercise for the reader.
There was a bonfire on the beach after dinner. But as is traditional with these things, it soon started raining. After that let up, some people played with fire; in a semi-professional manner. They had tools to let them spin it around. It looked cool.
But I am exhausted. I’m surprised I’m up this late. I have had a good time today, including talking to a lot of old friends.
I would like to say I’m surprised and how little the people think of the guy who organized the Jamaica trips, but then, I’ve met him. With all the stories, no wonder people drifted to this.
In my bathroom I have found a spider that appears to be 10cm long. If I was more awake, I might feel freaked out about this. I have decided that the spider now owns the bathroom and I will start paying it rent.
2012-10-20 0:14

Five Sheets to the Wind

Okay, five drinks in a three hour period may not have been the best idea. Especially when you are effectively dealing with an empty stomach.
In other words; I’ve arrived!
My room is stunning. There is a very good chance that it is bigger than my condo. And at the very least, it has a better view. I could probably cook a turkey in the kitchen, and then hold an entertaining dinner party in the living room. (If the fridge had been stocked with something besides water and Coke.) This place is huge!
Still, we must remember, any time spent in the room is wasted time. There are much more entertaining things outside of it. So I left and hit the ground running.
I knew there would be some friends here, but the sheer number has astonished me. It seems everyone I knew from my previous Jamaica trips has shown up here. It’s great!
But as soon as I met up with them, I got drafted into an obstacle course. Because, why not? I placed third. I could have done better, but I placed restrictions on myself that prevented me from giving my all.
Then after that, there was a scavenger hunt. My team did well. I think we surged ahead when I came across a hermit crab scuttling across the walkway. And I did my best to sing a love song to a pretty woman. (Can’t go wrong with Elvis.) It all adds up.
We placed second.
Then I drank two screwdrivers in a row. That really hit me. In my defence, the orange juice here is really good and fresh. The vodka, not so much. But, as a consequence, I’ve now become pretty touch-feely. The inner-me has come out! And he’s a hugger.
I like being hugged! I now admit it to the world.

Apparently when I’m drunk I also admit things in a public forum. I wonder if I will regret this later?
But it is dinner time right now. Some food would probably do me good.
2012-10-19 19:05

Boarding my plane

The passport issues have gone away. I was able to get my new passport this afternoon. I’ve packed and gotten myself to the airport. Far too early, but that is the airport shuttle for you. At this hour, you don’t have as much choice as to when it arrives.
But now I’m off to the Dominican Republic. I’ll get to see my friends and be in a warm climate.
I’ve decided to not bring any books to read. Last time I was there with a book, I got sunburned from reading too much. And I missed some of the parties because I wanted to read just. one. more. chapter.
And now I’m boarding. Gotta go. Hope I not seated next to the guy with Torettes.

The Iron Horse Ultra

I would have liked to have written a summary of this run earlier, but let’s face it, running 160km is exhausting. Which, I suppose, is another way of saying that I successfully finished. 25 hours and 44 minutes. I even beat all my friends.
It was not nearly as hilly as many other ultras I’ve run. There were a great many long, flat portions that I could just run for a long period of time. Of course, near the end, I was not so much running, as walking.
This is also the smallest ultra I’ve been in. Looking at the results, there were only fifteen people attempting the 160km route. And two of them decided to bail and only do 100km. Another two just failed to finish. Of the eleven finishers, I was sixth. So, middle of the pack.
This meant that all of the runners were hardcore. This wasn’t an “event” race that is known outside the ultra community. This was a race for people who just wanted to do an ultra. Most people were wearing at least one article of clothing from another ultra.
The organizers were also new at this, and it showed. There were a number of areas that were done poorly, but might have been better handled with more volunteers. For instance, directing runner traffic.
The day before the race it was raining or snowing all day. The day of the race, it didn’t rain at all, but the ground was still a little mucky. Especially once we got on the Iron Horse trail. The mud was the nice consistency that likes to stick to your shoes and build up.
It started at night in the cold and the fog. We had a police escort us to begin with, which caused an interesting halo effect with the red and blue lights in the fog. But eventually, the sun rose and the fog lifted. The clouds didn’t go away, so I’m only inferring that the sun rose.
The biggest complaint I have is that the trail was poorly marked. About an hour in, I took a wrong turn. Well, more exactly, I didn’t take a turn. I was supposed to go off the large trail and clamber up a hill. I was just following the people in front of me. Thankfully, I didn’t go too far before we started getting suspicious and turned back. I probably added less than a kilometre to my distance. What bothers me though, is that if I had stayed on the trail, I would have found myself back on the race route, having travelled a shorter distance and with less hill. That is the kind of thing they really need to mark, or just not do. You shouldn’t be able to take a shortcut by accident.
The second leg, after the hill, had us trying to run across a ploughed field. Honestly, I didn’t run that much over that. At least we had a warning about the electric fence that was going to be in our way. They gave us a method to get past that.
But on the fourth leg, there was no way past the barbed wire fences that were continually in the way. And there was no doubt that you had to get past them. In the end, you had to climb over them. And I wouldn’t recommend that if you didn’t have to.
The organizers were also sparse with the flags. I think they were too close to the course to properly mark it. It doesn’t matter if the road is straight and correct, you still need to mark it. Otherwise, there is no way to tell the difference between being on the right route, and being on the wrong route. They may not be strictly necessary, but they help make you feel confident about the route. Especially if you have already lost trust in the course markers.
On the fifth leg, in the middle of the night, after running close enough to the North Saskatchewan river that you could fall in, the course markers disappeared. I kept on a trail, that turned into a road, but I had taken out my iPhone to try and see if I could get a map to where I needed to go.
It didn’t help that in the cold night, the fog came back. This seemed to cause my iPhone trouble and it kept turning itself off. Thankfully, another runner called her support team to confirm the route once I had used a map program to name the road we were on.
Yeah. Better marking was needed.
Other than that, it was fine. The aid stations had Gatorade bottles, and occasional chicken soup. I grabbed a sandwich at one, and tried to eat it on the road. Unfortunately, it had seeds in the bread. If you aren’t drinking enough, those seeds can really scratch your throat.
I really have to ask myself if I would do it again. It might be better marked next year. But it seems to only be useful to complete the Alberta triple. It doesn’t give me any points for the Mont Blanc, which means I’m still one point short for next year.

Pre-Iron Horse

I’m in St. Paul, Alberta. I left work early and drove out here. For tomorrow, I run the Iron Horse ultra. 160km. I have 27 hours to do it. That’s about the same time I had for the Sinister 7, but this is 12km further. And I didn’t even finish that run. But this should be significantly flatter.
I’ve been really stressed lately, so I haven’t been sleeping that well. And I don’t see any sleep happening in the foreseeable future. At least not once I get up tomorrow at 5:00.
The weather is pretty miserable right now. There has been rain and snow the entire time I’ve been here. I really hope it improves tomorrow. Cool weather will probably help. Mud will not.

Am I even a Canadian now?

The past couple of days have been very stressful.
During the Mont Blanc ultra, I was told to bring my passport as I would be crossing international borders. Due to the course change, that never actually happened, but I never removed it. It stayed in the pouch that I thought was waterproof. Obviously if I am mentioning it, it was not waterproof. A bit of rain got in. The cover got a little warped and some blue ink stained the first page. Other than that, it was completely legible and clear.
I assumed I would have nothing to worry about. But a friend told me I should still check. So yesterday I went to a government agency and checked. No, I need to replace my passport.
I should point out, in one week I am heading to the Dominican Republic. So I really need to have a valid passport.
I left work in the middle of the morning to collect information and go downtown to get my passport renewed. When I got there, I found out that I cannot renew my passport. Due to damage, I have to get a completely new one. Which means there are a lot more hoops to jump through to get one. The very least is that I need a guarantor.
I tried to use my dentist as one, but she didn’t have the information any more. Since the new rules came out that lowered the bar, she wasn’t asked to be one much anymore.
Eventually I decided to do it in the evening. The lineup at the passport office was huge, so it would be better to do it early in the next morning.
So, this morning I got up before the crack of dawn and got myself downtown to the passport office. I had all the documentation I needed so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.
Except that the Canadian passport office doesn’t recognize the province of Manitoba anymore.
My birth certificate is no longer good enough. I don’t know their reasoning, but my 38 year old piece of paper doesn’t cut it anymore.
And to add insult to injury, the lady confiscated my passport. She claimed it was the property of the government of Canada. But now I can’t even try to use it and hope the airplane people don’t notice it was soggy.
The solution is to get a new one. From Manitoba.
I’ve started that paperwork, and paid the extra fee to get it rushed to me. It should arrive on Monday or Tuesday. If it is on Monday, I have a good chance that everything should work out. If it is on Tuesday, I may be cutting things too close.
I’d really like to go to the Dominican Republic and see all my friends.


I bought my turkey today. The annual American thanksgiving turkey has been purchased. I usually get a Butterball, but the grocery store didn’t have any that were big. So this year I’m going with a different brand. I hope it works out.
The biggest problem was that a big turkey takes up a big portion of the freezer. And since American thanksgiving is a month away, it is going to be living there for awhile. In a way this is good, because it forces me to clean up my freezer and get rid of some things that should probably be gotten rid of. For example, I think I recall trying to maneuver these hash browns from the last time I was trying to stuff a turkey in there. Well, they shall trouble me no more.
The ice cream is my biggest regret. I had several people say they would come and eat it during movie night yesterday. I don’t blame anyone for not showing. I don’t think “Bridesmaids” was a very appropriate choice for movie night now that I’ve seen in. (It was an okay movie, just not movie night material.) Nothing to do now but mourn the passing of the ice cream.