Friday, April 18, 2014

Enough is Enough!

Who do I need to contact around here in order to put a stop to this "snow" thing?
Had another visit with my physiotherapist yesterday.  My left foot continues to bother me and the numbness from the knee to ankle has returned.  Its mild and intermittent but there so I wanted him to check it out.  According to him, a couple of vertebrae in my lower back are compressing the nerve that runs down into my leg and its causing the numbness.  Fortunately, its not too bad but still something to watch out for.  He did a treatment on my back which relieved the numbness instantly.  Fast forward an hour later. I'm standing at a desk at work, chatting with a coworker and my hips started getting sore.  This morning? My lower back muscles are sore however I'm perfectly happy to put up with that for a day or so if it means solving one of these ongoing problems.  The struggle continues.

The Nubster is still kicking it, figuratively speaking.  He lost a bunch of weight a few weeks after his vet visit and he's kept it off.  Poor little old man kitteh.  You can feel a lot of ribs and the bones near his back end/tail when you pet him.  However, he still has a decent amount of energy, he can jump up onto my super tall bed from the floor and is urinating regularly so I'm not toooo worried.  I'll admit, I'm not happy and DO worry that this is the beginning of the end for him but for now Mommikins and I will just enjoy each and every snuggle or headbutt he gives us and spoil him as much as we can in his remaining year.
One of his new odd bits of behaviour?  He likes to go out on the balcony, regardless of weather, and lick the concrete.  Yes.  He likes to lick concrete.  Its likely covered in dirt, dust, cigarette ashes and remnants of the doobies our neighbours smoke on occasion.  Perhaps he's getting high?  He also makes an odd grinding noise when he eats.  I think he may be ready to lose one of his teeth. Sigh.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Running Resignation

After yet another failed attempt to get back at this running thing, I have to face facts.  I am resigning myself to walking the Scotiabank Toronto Half Marathon in October.  The odds of me running it at this point (7 months away) are beyond minimal thanks to the tightening up of the arch in my left foot returning, much to my annoyance, and an overall discomfort in my legs regardless of activity level.  Sure, I'm bummed.  Part of the reason I wanted to enter this race was because things were going so well and I finally felt like a runner.  Thinks then went pear shaped late last year with problems in my calves and my feet (as you all are probably bored of hearing about).  Despite the physiotherapist visits, the problems continue to hamper my attempts to run. 
I'm ok with walking the half.  It will be a good visit with Mommikins (not that I don't see her all the time already) and my favourite Aunt.  I'll get to see parts of Toronto I've never seen before and experience what a larger race venue feels like, especially with lots of crowd participation and support, something we don't necessarily get here in Edmonton when it comes to running.  I'll enjoy my time in one of Canada's largest cities and being off work for a few days.  But I'm not giving up on the running entirely.  I'll still test the waters now and again, and I'm hoping to mix in the occasional couple of minutes of running during my half marathon attempt but my plan from here on out is that I will be walking this race.  Training begins in June and all long walks will be just that - walks.

Before anyone begins with "oh, you should do this" or "you have to do this, it'll solve your problems", rest assured, I've tried pretty much everything.  There have been two separate physiotherapists, doctors visits, site specific stretching, yoga, compression socks, new shoes, inserts, etc.  I've spent the past twenty years damaging the muscles on my feet, calves and knees by sitting on my legs, wrapping them around all manner of chair legs, and generally treating them like crap.  A few months of therapy and working on them will not solve the problems as much as I would like it too.  Perhaps someday I will run another race without the kind of sob-inducing foot cramps and calf tightness I've gone through over the past months but it won't be this year.  And that's ok.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

A Day at the Museum

On Wednesday, Mommikins, Super Duper Sister in Law, the niece, the nephew and the nephew's buddy all piled into the family mini-van and headed off to the Royal Alberta Museum.  
Other than attending a couple of recent lectures, I haven't visited the museum for over a year.  Pretty sad, I know.  We wandered around the galleries for almost two hours, Niece constantly at my side.  I love that girl. I hope she never changes.
The featured exhibit at the moment is Chop Suey on the Prairies.  It was the big reason we wanted to go (it ends this month).  Both Mommikins and I were a bit underwhelmed by the exhibit but it was fascinating to learn that my beloved ginger beef was invented in Calgary.  Although I can't understand why Edmonton loves green onion cakes so much and yet southern Albertans apparently could care less.  Pfffft.  They don't know what they're missing.
In the Syncrude Aboriginal Gallery, some of my handiwork is on display. Ok, I can't take ALL the credit for this amazing work of jigsaw puzzle-ness but my hot little hands did play a small part in its reconstruction.  Back in my university days, I volunteered at the museum.  While I spent most of my time listening to the radio while sorting through bags of dirt in the basement, I spent a few afternoons working with a grad student doing on pottery reconstruction.  This bad boy is one of those pots.  I didn't do much work on it, mainly focusing on the top lip but I loved it.  All those years of working on jigsaws with my Dad really paid off.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When putting on socks is a workout...

Today seemed to be the day of the sock.  On my way into the office, the police were arresting a man at the bus stop and he wasn't wearing any.  No shoes either.  Before that, I decided to go for an early morning run (treadmill) and I tried out my new compression socks.  Holy crap - it was a workout just getting them on! And when it came to taking them off?  I fell over.
Matching colours is for sissies.
Research has yet to show that wearing compression socks improve my running performance or that they actually provide any actual benefit to runners other than psychological. And to be honest, I didn't notice a difference while wearing them on my run this morning (although one test does not an experiment make). However, the one thing I DID notice was that my legs felt pretty good after I finished running and left my socks on for about 20 minutes while I rested.  They didn't feel overly tired as they normally would have and that's good enough for me.  I'll give them a few more test runs to see how they feel.  If the benefit IS only in my head, I'm ok with that too.  I look smoking hot in neon green.

There has been one lone can of Strongbow in my fridge, left over from the trip to Jasper last summer.  How it lasted that long, I have no idea.  After a particularly shitty, busy week at the office last week, I finally cracked it open.  Sweet mother of all that is yummy, its delicious. 

Ice ice baby
I foresee needing to stock up on many more cans.
In other fruity news, I made banana bread.  That's it.  It was delicious.  Ooooooh.  I should eat a slice with a glass of Strongbow. Yeahhhhhh.  Excuse me... I have to go.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Where Did Wednesday Go?

Normally I spend my extra day off every two weeks relaxing, not getting dressed, and taking it easy.  For the first time in a long time, I was incredibly busy all day on my day off.  First up, today was big brother's birthday so I headed off to get him a card.  I have to say, the card selections these days are horrible.  You either get something horribly cheesy and not all that funny (the option I went with) or sickeningly sappy and mushy.  My card had a big face neon booger in it.  'Nuff said.  After that it was on to the grocery store and home to rest and a quick bite to eat.  

After lunch, I headed off to the Running Room to spend an hour with the lovely Robyn, trying to find a new pair of running shoes.  FYI, she's awesome when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of proper running shoes.

Mizuno Enigma 3's
Back home for a short while (with shoes AND cupcakes in hand) before heading out again.  Big brother decided on Indian for his birthday dinner and we ended up at Origin India on Whyte Ave (10511-82 Ave). OMG.  Delicious.  I highly recommend the buffet, especially if you're picky like me.  When it comes to Asian food, I tend to eat mainly vegetarian and there were a number of options available.  Each one of them was super duper delicious!!!! I want to go back again tonight.  Mmmmmm.  Butter chicken, mixed vegetable curry, vegetable pakoras and two other dishes I don't remember the name of (one had a lot of zucchini though I think).
A whole lotta yum.
Tonight, I'm being sociable again!  I know, two nights in a row?! What's wrong with me?  Tonight is the start of our new gaming group with the super duper sister in law, brother in law, his girlfriend and a couple of other gaming newbies.  Really looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Wintery Weekend

Its a stay inside kind of weekend here in Edmonton.  Temperatures dropping down to between -35C to -40C (or colder with the windchill) means going outside only when its absolutely necessary.  I love winter and the cold weather but I'm getting a bit sick of this and would welcome the return of spring.  So, other than a trip for groceries yesterday morning, I haven't left the house.  Heck, I haven't even changed out of my jammies (except for the trip to the store)!  And, because this weather makes you want to eat comfort food, I opted for pizza.  Rather than subjecting a delivery driver to the frigid temperatures, I ended up making it myself.  Mmmm, veggie pizza!  I forgot pineapple but I added ... brace yourselves ... mushrooms.
Homemade veggie pizza - with MUSHROOMS!
Me! Mushrooms!  Bet you never thought you'd see the day when I willingly added mushrooms to anything. I'm trying to eat more veggies so I I decided to go for it.  There's only a little bit on there and its diced VERY finely but I ate them.  And I didn't throw up so I'll call it a success.

I dropped out of the Classics reading group I had joined earlier this year on Goodreads.  I'm still in the non-fiction group but I have to really be in the mood to read "classics".  And to be honest, I wasn't.  However, I am ahead of schedule in terms of my 2014 reading challenge and am currently reading Bob Brier's latest book on Egypt.
March's non-fiction read
Loving it!  Brier is one of my favourite non-fiction authors.  During the late 90s and early 00s I read a number of his books - I was going through a big Egyptology phase and it coincided with Anubis and I finding each other (hence, the name).  In other reading news, I won't be writing posts/reviews for all the books I'm reading.  For those that really stand out, I'll probably write something.  Instead I'll just add them to the list of My 1000 Books.

My super duper sister in law, Mommikins and I have started attending a series of lectures at the Royal Alberta Museum.  Mom and I joined Chandra a bit late in the series but enjoyed Melissa Bowerman's lecture A Geological Pattern Mystery.  Truth be told, I didn't read the description properly and thought it was going to be a general discussion about patterns in geology.  Oh well!  A pleasant surprise.  We're all looking forward to the next two in the series:  "Our Changing Relationship with Bears" and "Unwanted Guests: Prisoners of war in Canada during the Second World War".  The Royal Alberta Museum offers so many things to do outside of their normal exhibits:  classic movies (Monday nights - we're going to see The Killers), their uber-popular Time Travellers series of lectures in the fall, and special public programs for kids and families.

In other news, it looks like Chandra and I will be joining some other friends/family members, starting up a gaming group on Thursdays.  Its been FOREVER since I played any role-playing game so this should be interesting.  However, I'm not the only relative newbie in the group and my brother in law John, who's running the game, has promised to take it easy on all of us.  Now, I just have to figure out what Gnomequest is...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Walk The Line

I haven't talked much about running lately because, well, there's nothing to tell.  To be honest, I haven't done much of anything since everything started back in mid-December.  Things were finally starting to get better, thanks to my physiotherapist and I was able to run for five minutes at a time again!  I even managed to get in one great run with three sets of Run5/Walk2.  

And then, everything went to shit again.  Tight calves, tight feet, problems with my arthritis which had never really recovered from December.  Its my own fault though: I slacked off with my stretching and strengthening exercises when I got some sort of cold / flu thing around New Years and then I was sidelined with the stomach flu in mid-January.  I just haven't been able to get back in the groove.
Its okay Momma, I love you whether you run or not. Just give me catnip and snuggles.
The little bit of movement I've been doing has been walking.  I'll admit it; I've really missed it.  At my best, I was on the treadmill walking four or five times a week.  Part of what I'm really enjoying again:  no pain, discomfort or muscle problems (the arthritis is still a both but I've gotten used to it).  Its nice to not worry about everything from the knees down tightening up each time I lace up my runners.

I don't know what's going to happen in terms of running in the future.  I know that right now I'm not enjoying it and I made a promise to myself when I started up again last year that I would only run if I was.  For now then, I walk and when the weather warms up, I'll pull Cherie out of the closet and take her for a spin.

The half marathon is still on for October. There's no turning back as flights are booked and registration paid for.  I have no problem walking the course if that's what happens. Its more important that I finish.  I'd like to be able to say that I RAN a half marathon but I'm not going to force my body to do it if its telling me not to. The stretching and the exercises resumes today and the walking continues until further notice, perhaps with the occasional yoga session thrown in for extra help.  I can't wait to get outside and enjoy some sunshine (yes, I am officially ready for spring!).
My "official" time.
While I had planned on running a 5K this month, as you can guess based on what I've just written, it didn't go as planned.  I started off running (sets of three minutes).  I ended up more than half of it when my foot started to cramp up and I got frustrated.  I glad to just be moving these days; I've been reverting to a sloth-like state since 2014 began.  Now I just wait for my medal to arrive!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rollin' with my Bloggies

Earlier this month, my buddy Eugene (aka Mr. Anchovy) put out a question to his blog readers:  blogroll or no blogroll?  The responses he received, including my own two cents, made it pretty clear that his readers liked the idea of adding a blogroll back to his site’s design.  His post got me thinking about the early days of my own journey into blog land…  When I started blogging, blogrolls were one of the more popular features on blog sidebars.  Looking to find other blogs with similar interests and content to the ones you were already reading/following?  Just click through the links in someone’s blogroll and see where it leads you.

Along with the recent troubles I've experienced with renewing my domain name (see below!), I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with my current feed reader, FeedReader.  It doesn't update regularly which results in missing a number of posts from various blogs.  When it does occasionally update, it’s two or three days after the post has been published.  I know that I should be more forgiving considering the service is free but what’s the point of offering a service if it doesn't work!

Once again, I blame Google.  No, I don’t have a vendetta against them but if they hadn't discontinued their Google Reader which worked surprisingly well, there wouldn't be a problem to begin with.  So, now I’m ditching feed readers altogether and will use a blogroll on my sidebar.

I’ll be forced to visit my blog more regularly to know when the blogs I follow have been updated.  Thanks to daily visits to my own site, this, in turn, will hopefully help me to keep the site current, post items on a more regular basis, and really make it a site worth visiting.  Stay tuned!  The blogroll will be updated over the weekend.

OK, enough bitching for a while… a short while…

Finding My Place on the World Wide Web

Since writing my recent post, a lovely Google employee, Ying, contacted me in response to my multiple emails asking for help and provided some semi-useful instructions on the process of renewing my domain name.  Things quickly stalled however and the process became extremely complicated, especially for people like me who know little about the inner workings of all things web-based.  By this point, I was resigned to giving up my beloved domain name and switching back to a “” site.  I emailed Ying back and ranted about Google, their lack of communication and their failure to make the transition to Google Apps easy for existing customers.  I closed off by saying unless someone was going to do this whole thing for me, I wasn’t interested in trying to navigate the convoluted bizarre world path to renewing my little corner of the internet, and I would save myself the whopping $10/year it was costing me.
Why is this SO difficult?!
I was very happy when I received another follow up from Ying with an offer to call me and walk me through the process.  I declined but he also sent me another link to attempt to reset my Google Apps password (when I bought the domain name, it created an admin login and password which I never remember seeing and this is the main part of the problem).  Surprise!  It worked and I was able to get into Google Apps, set up my billing information and renew my domain name.

Everything seems to be complete now and I even received an email from Google Apps saying my domain would be automatically renewed.  Whew!  My apologies to everyone who may have changed their bookmarks from London’s Fog to the address I created.  I will be moving everything back this weekend and deleting the blogspot address by Monday.  Sigh.  Thanks for bearing with me.  If it hadn’t been for Ying’s wonderful service, I would be just another random blog on the great world wide web. I’m glad I’ve found my place and that I get to keep it!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

178. Of Dice and Men (David M. Ewalt)

From the official website:

From its roots on the battlefields of ancient Europe, through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides, and to its apotheosis as father of the modern video game industry, Of Dice and Men recounts the development of a game played by some of most fascinating people in the world.

As a former (and possibly soon to be again) gamer, Of Dice and Men appealed to me instantly. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.  I wasn't really sure what to expect as I haven't picked up a set of gaming dice in ... wow ... at least 25 years (card games that use similar dice don't count).  Did I need to be a (current) gamer to appreciate and enjoy this? Would they be talking about new rules that made no sense to someone who hasn't played since the early modules came out?  Was this going to be a lengthy dissertation on the intricacies of the various incarnations of the rules over the years???  Arrghh!  I needn't have worried.  

David Ewalt's book combined two subjects I love reading: history and fantasy and presents them in a way that even people who've never picked up a 20-sided dice would find interesting to read about.  Of Dice and Men will appeal to gamers and non gamers alike.  Whether you spend every Monday night in a friend's basement controlling the actions of the legendary Telvalco and his merry band of adventure seekers (ahem... Big Brother Dave) or someone who's always scoffed at those players and wonders just what they hell they see in this type of hobby, Of Dice and Men is for you.  It recounts the creation, rise, and numerous near-falls of Dungeons and Dragons, and the making of near legendary status of its creators and biggest proponents.  At the same time, it explores the why:  why do gamers game, especially those who play D&D, through the author's own personal journey and the lives of other gamers around the world.

Reading Of Dice and Men over the course of a week (Big Brother Dave finished it in a day!), it reignited those long buried memories of spending my junior high after-school hours sitting around a table in our science classroom, working my way through various adventures with my friends.  Perhaps one day soon, I'll pick up a set of dice again...