My WordPress.com Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.
Amazingly I have been using WordPress.com for 6 years! I’m not really sure where the time has gone, but suddenly I’m here. I know when I started using the platform in my classroom I had great plans to communicate with my students — which I did sort of. Then I created a variety of other sites for other purposes, which were also used sort of. Finally I created this site. While I am not a power user like many other blogger, I still find time to post things about my journey towards a healthier me, as well as some photos and book reviews. Here’s hoping I can log a few more kilometers running and biking and crank out a few more post in the coming year.
Thanks for playing along!

A Tale of Two Seasons

Usually my autumn and winter running is much like the start of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Surprisingly, I  have enjoyed running and the the feelings associated with it. Although I have often said I do not exercise and I am not a runner, that isn’t really true. That said, once winter comes along, I stop running. Because where I live it is usually cold and snowy in December. Look at the forecast from this week in 2014:

YOWWeatherDec2014

Do you notice the temperatures? Most days the thermometer registered a number around 0C, but check the fine print. In Canada we use this little thing called wind chill to indicate what it really feels like. That means on most days it wasn’t really sitting just above or below the freezing matr; no is really felt much colder, like -15C (5F for any readers south of the border). And if that’s not bad enough, take a look at snowfall? On December 10, there was 15 cm of snow. That is NOT running weather.

Let’s jump ahead a year. Back in late October, as the weather started to get colder, I stopped running. I managed to time my break perfectly with a case of shin splints which wasn’t fun but it did help add to me excuses reasons for not running. I assumed that we were headed to another cold, wet, snowy autumn and early winter. Oops, I didn’t see the El Nïño effect coming into play quite so early. Look at the weather for this week:

YOWWeatherDec2015

What a difference a year makes! Nice early fall running weather in the middle of December. Of course this doesn’t mean I have actually been running. However, as I was walking my dog and thinking about a comment my daughter made regarding a Green Christmas, it occurred to me that perhaps I had missed an opportunity to log some additional kilometers before the real impact of winter hits. I could have built up some credit before the worst of the winter eating really sets in. Of course hindsight has 20/20 vision; I haven’t taken advantage of this awesome weather, and I’m regretting it. Of course in any year, there are some ups and downs so maybe this is the down for me; when I had the chance to push myself, I didn’t do it.  But next year holds great promise. I’ve already started working out at home with bodyweight exercise and my bike.  I’ve been down this path before, but I’m getting further ahead, and not falling so far behind, as I have other times. As always, there has to be hope.

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

Which distance is correct?

  On the weekend I ran the Somersault Events Fall Colours 10k race. The route takes you from the Cumberland Heritage Museum through the local community. As the name suggested, the route has many trees that are in full fall colours. It’s also a hillier route than I was expecting; nothing outrageous but certainly more hills than flats. What I found most interesting is the discrepancy between my running app and the official distance of the race. I’ve been using Strava since May when I switched from the Nike+ app because it kept crashing and draining my battery by 2kms. 

On race day, I noticed at each km marker that Strava was hitting that distance a few meters earlier. Nothing major, but it clearly added up. By the end of the race, the app was reading 10.8 km; I checked a few other people and we all had the same extra distance. So whose distances are correct? The runners’ or the race event organizers’? At the end of the day I had a solid run and a PB. I cut 4 minutes off my race time finish at 61 mins, but if I use the app distance/time then I cut 9 mins and I came in under an hour (56 mins). Hey it’s pretty hard to complain about two PB’s in the same event. Like I said I’m happy with the results, and one day I will actually finish a 10k race under the 1 hr marker. 

Is it common for running apps to be so different than race distances?

What’s more important to you: training/recreational PB or race day PB? 

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

Okay, so this post doesn’t actually fit the photo101 activity for the day, nor does it have anything to do with the blogging101 activity.  Actually it doesn’t even have anything to do with my intended blog.  I just wanted to write it.

It’s hard to think about connectedness without thinking about things that help connect kids with their parents and with their friends. November 10 is the 45th birthday of Sesame Street. That show connected kids from all over the world to each other through their friends on that magical Street. Thanks to Pete Morey (@CBCPeteMorey), guest host of CBC Radio 2 Drive show (@CBCR2Drive), for reminding me about the brilliance that is Sesame Street, and the way it connected kids with their parents.  Here is just one example of how the show connected kids with their parents — the awesome guests:

 

Blogging 101: Dear Reader

What makes a good reader? Well I guess somebody who takes the time to stop for a few moments to actually read what I write is a good start. But really that’s not enough; it’s just the start. One of my favourite memories is of a student telling my I wrecked music and movies for her because I made her think about them. Of course she said this with a smile, and she did explain that she actually liked that I encouraged and expected her to think. As a blogger, I want to challenge thinking.  The reader doesn’t have to agree with everything I write; in fact it might be better if s/he doesn’t agree. All I ask is that you think about what I have to say. Challenge me or question me in the comments section, if you want, just don’t stop thinking.

Consider this series of photos I took this summer in Vancouver after a round of golf.  My wife wanted the young crow to have a prize, something the older and more dominant crows couldn’t get, some of her chips.

Thinking Crow 1

The Crow investigates the chip

Thinking Crow 3

Now what to do with the chip?

Thinking Crow 3

Crow grabs the chip

Thinking Crow 4

The crow has finally decided what to do.

New day and a fresh look

As I’ve been spending more time blogging this week, I realized I wasn’t very happy the theme I was using. So I opened up the dashboard and started poking around the themes. With a nod to my years as an English teach I have selected Hemingway Revisited. I like the cleaner layout, and I hope you do too.

Photo101: Water & Bliss

Water is life. Seems like a pretty simple concept. Not surprisingly, many of the memories and photographs my family have involve and cherish water.  There was a time I thought that because my wife came from the West Coast, we placed more value on water-ish things.  But then I remembered some of the things I did growing up in land-locked Ontario.  Water was ever present.  There were the cottages my grandparents owned along the Ottawa River, learning to sail at my aunt and uncle’s cottage in the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River, playing in a river with my best friend John and then the two of us almost getting swept away (best photo I wish I had — John’s dad took a great shot of us that exists for me now only in my memory), earning my swimming bracelet at camp, playing in the ocean and on the beaches of Barbados, having a swimming pool in high school and a hot tub in university.  That’s a lot of water, and it doesn’t even include snow, which we get a lot of in Ottawa.  Not bad for a kid who grew up in Ontario.

When I met my wife and she explained the wonders of BC to me, I didn’t really get it. I should have known, really, the significance of water since the month after we started dating we took a trip to Biddeford Pool, Maine.  There isn’t much to do there except sit by the ocean and listen to the waves.   But I didn’t clue in.  So what, I thought, you lived in a city that was on the water and close to mountains.  Sure you still thought of Vancouver as home even though you hadn’t lived there for 8 years.  Big deal.  Turns out I was wrong.  It was and is a big deal.  We take our kids there every other year, more often if we can manage it, because there is something amazing about being on the water.  Our first stop is inevitably the beach at Spanish Banks. We stay with family who live near the Fraser River, and we rent cottages on the Gulf Islands.  The years we do not go west, my wife always find a way for us to spend time on the water, whether it be visiting friends at their cottages or renting our own in Western Quebec or in Maine.  We love those trips because we see family and we re-energize even though we’re always doing something.

So with all this thinking about water, and trying to always capture a new photo for this experiment I’ve undertaken, I made a point of stopping at Hog’s Back Falls on my way home from work.  I have visited this place many times in my life because of the magnificence and power of the water moving over the falls.  I often wonder how many people who drive over the bridge ever stop to see the falls.  If they have any idea of what goes on just below their cars.

Here is a series of shots from the east side of he Hogs Back Falls taken with my Nexus 7 tablet.

Hogs Back Falls 2

Hogs Back Falls cascading down the rock chute

Hogs Back Falls

Hogs Back Falls and the upper and lower runoffs to the Rideau River

Water Cuts Rock

Hogs Back Falls and the passage of time

Google created Awesome Photo

Google created Awesome Photo

So that’s what I came up with today.  But because I’m also trying to cover my Blogging101 task for the day, I’m going to throw in a couple of other things.

First are some summer holiday shots from Saturna Island, BC, our Gulf Island get away, taken this summer during the super moon; you can really see the impact of the full moon on the tides:

The low tide during the Super Moon of July 2014

The low tide during the Super Moon of July 2014

East Point Beach at High Tide

Of course a blog about water needs to have a picture from the Georgia Aquarium:

And to wrap it all up, I have to turn to music.  I often have a soundtrack that runs through my head, and no post about water would be complete without the Rev. Al Green in this “Soul Train” clip from 1975:

Al Green “Take Me To The River”, Soul Train circa 1975

Thanks for wading through to the end of this post.