Sporting Life

I participated in the inaugural Ottawa Sporting Life 10K race over the weekend. It was a 10K circuit along the Canal (always a great running route), starting and ending by Landsdowne. It’s also been my first tour of the newly redeveloped space – it’s a beautiful and fascinating part of town that I rarely visit. Landsdowne / TD Place manages to feel both big and cozy at the same time.

My biggest fear about the race was not being able to run it because of my leg. In true House-ian fashion, I have been suffering from a leg pain since late February. Unlike the dear doctor, mine just came out of nowhere. Like the doctor, the early solution was to down meds (naproxen, not vicadin). After a month of that with the pain, duller but lingering, I decided that physio would be a better, longer term solution.

Thankfully, it has been an improvement. The pain has shifted and it easier to deal with, but still, up to this point, I haven’t had the ability to run more than about 4K. So, how was it adding on six more kilometres without any training, with the risk if dialing back my leg’s progress?

In the recovery area, sporting a new medal

It was a struggle. I walked a few times throughout the back half of the race. Fortunately, despite it all, my time was only about three minutes longer than my last 10K race time. The course along the Canal by TD Place and Landsdowne was beautiful this time of year, and not too hot, thanks to the rain that fell the night prior. The event itself was fairly small, too, which gave me lots of space to go at my pace.

Plus, the medals are pretty awesome!

Sporting Life MedalMy next race is Ottawa Race Weekend. I’m hoping that I’ll hit a faster time, but now it seems that I’m also contending with a pain in my left knee. If this how growing old starts, I’m already not a fan. Long life youth!

Charlie

Am I Breathing Underwater?

I am not a swimmer.

I don’t enjoy the water. Actually, I rather enjoy water; I do not enjoy being in the water. I mean, who willingly jumps into and flails around a substance that, if it gets into your lungs, can kill you?

There is, I suppose, the benefit of knowing how and being able to survive in said substance, something that really should be emphasized in a country like this one, where water is abundant – from rivers and lakes to pools and the like.

Underwater

Underwater selfie in the Dominican 2015

Yes, I’ve played in pools and could float about if I had to, but I never really reached the point where I wanted to do it, whether it be for fun or fitness or to cool off on a hot summer’s day. And I really should try to get to that point.

So I signed up for swim lessons. 30-year old me.

Ottawa has great resources for its residents, including recreational activities. There was a swim program with one spot available that started immediately, so I took it. And that’s where I find myself once a week: in a shallow pool with two lifeguard-teachers alongside nine other adults trying to figure it all out. It’s the perfect setting to learn, work on, and improve techniques while getting positive feedback , without feeling like you’re the only one in the pool who doesn’t quite know what to do next and will make a mistake trying.

And I’m the whitest one there. It’s an odd, but not unsurprising observation.

It’s working, though. I’m much more comfortable not only in the water, but with the water. If anything, I’m learning how to trust it, which goes a long way to making swimming a more regular physical, and hopefully enjoyable activity. Our community has indoor and outdoor pools, and this summer, I should be taking advantage of that.

Justification

It’s been nearly two and a half years since I’ve posted anything to a blog. That’s a long time, isn’t it? I got an email from my wonderful webspace company, reminding me that I will be billed in a few weeks if I’m planning to keep my webspace and url and all those fun digital products and services. It’s not a ton of money to keep a website, but it’s a lot of money if I’m just wasting it. I would rather have $5 in my pocket than throw $5 down a storm pipe.

Storm pipe? Is that a real thing?

What I love about websites is their permanence. Well, if I decline to pay the good OneAndOne folks, then my site will be, to say the least, un-permanent. But websites and blogs are like stone tablets compared to the disposable records we share through Snapchat and messaging platforms. Even Twitter and Facebook, you get instant shares, instant likes, but I couldn’t tell you what I tweeted a month ago. I could look it up to an extent, but there isn’t always that context, that base. Thoughts and messages aren’t really searchable these days. And there isn’t any real sense of progress. Am I a better Tweeter than I was two years ago? (I know I’m not, actually)

So, blog. If I come here and write and share, maybe I can justify that $6 a month this webspace costs me. Can I stand out from the noise and faux-news that is the baited “A senior citizen walks into a tattoo parlour and how she walks out will blow your mind”-esque articles? Do I even need to?

I think it will be worth it if I can find the time to come and create and share. People half my age probably might use Tumblr to share extended thoughts with people outside of Facebook – if people half my age are even on Facebook… I have a couple of those:

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/gamerwithouttime – A Tumblr dedicated to my not having time to play video games. More recently, my 3DS is broken, and I have played a few levels of Captain Toad. It’s good!

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/bengotfat – A Tumblr dedicated to my health and activity. It has no posts, and I’ve completely forgotten about it until now.

Part of what I love about blogging is sharing photos – usually photos that I’ve taken and posted to Flickr. There’s a service I’ve stopped paying for. But I should get to using again. So, as a hurrah for me having typed for half an hour, and for me remembering how to get into this website, here is a photo:

Took this pic out of the vault... off the ice... for everyone to see!

Where is this? Can you guess?

Here’s hoping for a few more!

Is that a Mountain Lion in my Bedroom?

So my last blog entry had me trying to convince myself not to buy a new computer. I needed strong convincing.

Then I thought about it. By waiting, sure I could set aside the money… Sure I could get by with my poor, falling-apart Dell. By waiting, however, I’m inching closer to a newer shiner iMac (expected anytime between tomorrow and never). I’m suffering for no real reason. Why not get an iMac now, start transferring over my life. Start all the projects I’l get to “when I get a new computer”?

In short, I bought my Mac. It’s like a 15-year dream finally come true.

iMac on the bus

Who says iMacs aren't portable?

Let me tell you, few things are as joyous as the moment when I plugged it in and that screen lit up. It was magic, enhanced by all 27 inches of screen.

I’ve lugged all kinds of stuff on a bus before. Faux Christmas trees, giant pencils. Mannequins. Other computers. Bringing a new iMac box on the bus turns heads. It starts conversations. It could seat two, if two people had to sit on the box.

So what have I done with this new bad boy? Well, mostly I have been configuring settings and installing updates. I’ll be upgrading to Mountain Lion the moment I get my download code. I’ve also started trying to iron out all the annoyances with my iTunes library. That’s going slowly.

So big, I can't fit it all in one picture

So big, I can't fit it all in one picture

A few things I’ve noticed:

  • This screen looks far bigger in my room than it does at the store
  • I’m far more productive (at least so far) on a desktop than a laptop
  • Everything runs smoothly – I had indeed been suffering
  • I’ve barely touched my poor iPad in the last 24 hours

I need to find $2000 on the street

I am the world’s worst blogger.

I see many great people who blog daily, weekly, biweekly, or whenever they feel like it. And usually, they feel like it every few days! I always feel like I will, yet somehow I just run out of time. Perhaps I should just be more disciplined and allot a block of time every few days. Work out a schedule. Put to use this iPad of mine, perhaps?

What I like to believe in my head is that it’s unproductivity as a result of poor tools. The Dell laptop I’ve had since 2008 is really on its last breaths (not even, since the fans don’t work properly. To use my laptop in this crazy hot summer, it has it’s own oscillating fan), and I’ve been postponing lots of projects until I get a new computer. Podcasting. Blogging. Video. Photo even.

At this point, I’m ready to embrace the full Apple ecosystem: iPhone, iPad, iMac. I’ve wanted an iMac ever since those futuristic, blue, all-in-one machines started popping up in my middle school. Thankfully, they’ve evolved quite a bit since those CRT days. I can’t help but go and play with them whenever I find myself in an Apple store or one of those blue and yellow monstrosities of an electronics store.

There’s just one small problem: I need a good 200 unmelted Bordens (we don’t use that in Canada, do we?) to get one. They start at just $1199, but add a few hundred for better performance, and may as well add a few hundred for extra inches (insert size joke here), and before you know it, you’re looking at the cost of a crazy awesome adventure – that sits on your desk.

Fall. 2012. So long as nobody announces thinner lighter iMac with Retina display (because I know it’s coming).

Photos

I went on a little adventure looking for an Ottawa installation called Balancing, only to discover it’s been gone since 2008. Oops. So I found a couple of new sculptures (and a couple of classics) to enjoy instead!

201207_18_01 - Tall Cello

201207_18_03 - Twist Up

201207_18_04 - Two of Three Watchmen

201207_18_05 - Under a Spider

The Runner

Ottawa Race Weekend course in downtown Ottawa, as run by me and Nike+GPS

When it comes to running, May was a big month for me. I ran my fastest 1k (5:02), mile (8:17), 5k (29:18), and my furthest distance (5.13k). I also recorded my 250th kilometre with Nike+ and Nike+GPS since I started using it early last year.

To top it off, I ran the 5k in the Ottawa Race Weekend with 9678 other lovely people, and managed to place 2380th (top 25%) quite a step up from finishing 5621 of 7354 at last year’s army run (top 77%). But to put my result in some context, the fastest result of the Ottawa Race Weekend 10k race reached the end faster than I did in the 5k.

Waiting before the Ottawa Race Weekend 5K

The race itself was very good. It’s a very different feeling – and very motivating – running with 9000 people, at once. You see someone in front of you that doesn’t look like they’re going very fast, so you try to pass them. In a quiet moment, a bunch of people will pass you. The people watching along the side, cheering for loved ones (and cheering for everyone in general) is great to see too. The best, though, must have been some of the signs that people held up. One was “halfway there – just kidding” around the 4-4.5km mark. My favourite that made me laugh while running was, “your pace or mine?” Twitter tells me Lululemon had something to do with some of these motivational messages. Good on them!

Starting the Race

Regardless, I’m quite happy with being able to do this. High school me who couldn’t run halfway around the school (650m, give or take) in phys ed would be very impressed. I’m hoping to do at least another Army Run this year. Maybe Terry Fox. Maybe the Ottawa Hospital Rattle Me Bones Run (I am a valuable member of their team, after all).

The big question is, what do I do to become a better runner. Is it possible for me to stay motivated through a longer 6-, 8-, or even 10k? Should I push myself harder and shave valuable seconds off each kilometre I run? I’m not really looking to eventually do a marathon. I mean, I’m sure it’s great to be able to do one, but 40+ km is a whole lot of distance to cover, and I’m sure they don’t allow of napping breaks.

Yellow Corral for 30-35-minute finishers. I did it in 29:44.9.

 Perhaps I should just get used to running 5k at a time. Hit it every time I run. After doing that a while, perhaps adding a km or two wouldn’t seem so challenging. And naturally, I would speed up in the process. I suppose there are many, many hot, muggy summer evenings for me to try to figure it out… And a few more medals (and mosquito bites) to be had in the process.

5K Medal

Beautiful, but not for me. For now.

20120308-014649.jpg

The new iPad.

Like many, I sat comfortably in a chair, clutching my iPad 2, wondering how much life my 8-month old post-PC device has left in it as live blogs refreshed with breaking news from Apple’s event. Predictably, the company touted a fancy high res screen, souped up innards, and an (belated) advanced camera system. Unpredictably, “HD” and “3″ were not mentioned following the word “iPad.” that was perhaps the biggest surprise about the new iPad.

That, and the new dictation feature that will let me be a starship captain as I tell my iPad what to blog for me.

Still, it was exciting! I normally reserve this level of excitement for Nintendo E3 presentations. I hopped onto the Apple site shortly thereafter and watched the presentation, even after knowing the script. I tried many times to update my iPhone to iOS 5.1 over the air, until I gave up and did it the old fashion way through iTunes. I wonder just how slammed Apple’s servers got…

Really, since I’m going to continue to love and cherish my now-antiquated iPad (until the next new iPad, most likely), the biggest delight was the iPhoto announcement. I couldn’t download that fast enough. I’m excited to see how much I’ll use it for quick photo edits. I’m more excited to use journals to share content, like this Parliament Tour.

20120308-020643.jpg

This is clearly Apple wanting to increase iCloud subscriptions.

Also, why continue 16GB devices? They’re useless, especially if apps and videos will take more space as they fill up that screen. I’m always trying to create more space on my 32GB iPad now as it is! This makes me curious actually… People complained when they discovered the iPad 2 warmed up with heavy use. Will this be a bigger problem?

I’m hoping this year to get an iMac to basically fill out my Apple ecosphere. That, and I really need to replace my dying laptop… For that reason alone you can have my place in that line that’s sure to form at the Rideau Centre next week.

Blogging Abroad

I’m at the airport in Ottawa, about to depart on the longest, farthest trip from home I have ever experienced! The exciting part is seeing a couple of small pockets of the Earth that promise to be very, very diffent from what I know. The downside… I won’t have Internet at my fingertips the whole time. I may have access while in Japan, but in Nepal, I wouldn’t expect anythin mgore than intermittent access, and certainly no access when I get out into the village side.

to make quick, easy posts in one easy-to-find locale, I set up http://bnjmnwood.tumblr.com. Here, I’ll post pictures and impressions when I can. I’ll probably blog here as well, just not nearly as often, and maybe not until I get back.

So yes, please keep an eye on Tumblr, which should also send tweets when I post to @bnjmnwood.

Also, iPad should stop autocorrecting Tumblr as “tumble”!

Japan Nepal

I’m traveling to Nepal!

After being involved with the Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa (NCAO) and Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN) throughout the past decade, and getting to know many of the Nepalese families who have moved to Ottawa, I finally have the opportunity to see Nepal for itself. While I’m there, I will get to see some of the capital city, Kathmandu, as well as the countryside where the best way to get from one village to another is to trek.

It all started about a month ago when a friend of mine wanted me to go to Japan to visit a mutual friend. This trip was feasable – and how often will I get an invite to Japan? Just as I was about to make that happen, it was brought to my attention that the Non-Resident Nepali Assocation is holding their every-other-year conference around the same time as the Japan trip. At this confence, I would be able to present an update to a project that I’m leading on behalf of CFFN. Also, I could see CFFN’s Community ChildCare Centre first hand, and also work on the Open University venture. Since I’d already be halfway around the world… Why not go the extra mile (well couple thousand miles)?

The decision to do both Japan and Nepal complicated the purchase of flights. It was prohibitively expensive to do an Ottawa-Nagasaki-Kathmandu-Ottawa round, and it would take far too long and require too much coordination to do round trips between Ottawa-Nagasaki and Nagasaki-Kathmandu. All the discount flight and trip websites were really starting to stress me out. That’s where Baba came in!

Baba, from Himalayan Travels & Tours in Toronto is the person to go to when you want to fly to Nepal. Everyone that I spoke to said she has helped them and recommends her. Baba was able to put together an itinerary for me at a cost much lower than I could myself. All people and things considered, she was the most important – I would say that Baba made this trip possible for me. For that, I am absolutely grateful to her. Plus, I really enjoyed telling people that I had to call my travel agent!

Now that I’m less than 2 days away from flying to Japan, packing is my greatest obstacle. I have to pack light, but enough for my trip. If I leave or forget anything, it’ll be 6 weeks before I can get it. Knowing me, I should probably glue my passport to my forehead!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Confessions of a Disneyholic

Cars 2 opens this weekend and I’m not even excited. In fact, my excitement level hasn’t been this low for a Pixar movie since Ratatouille (important note, Ratatouille was the last Pixar movie released before I started working at The Disney Store), and I think that’s because I wasn’t a fan of Cars. Don’t get me wrong, it was a decent film, but it was certainly my least favourite of Pixar’s roster. It’s no Up or Wall•E or Finding Nemo.

That the Cars universe has explosions and choppers and international locales (I think the Mater’s Tales shorts had all these, actually) hasn’t really swayed me, and seeing the main billing as Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy doesn’t help either. That said, I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised by what I’m sure will be a high octane sequel. The near Abramsian secrecy around the content of the movie, which Pixar has shown on their projects of late, will hopefully ensure many surprises.

Since the first Cars, Pixar’s storytelling has jumped to a whole other level. compare Toy Story 2′s level of emotion to that in Toy Story 3. Whole. Other. Level. Plus John Lasseter is such the man at Disney these days that nothing leaves their magic factories without his approval… And his hands are all over this movie!

As the reviews start pouring in, I’m sure that we’ll get to know whether Cars 2 is a great movie by Pixar standards, by regular Hollywood standards, or if it’s a run of the mill sequel. One thing is certain though, every boy aged 3 to 10 will be seeing it. Twice if they get their way. I’ll probably brave the crowds and see the movie, as to not break the tradition of seeing every Pixar movie in theaters since Finding memo (minus Ratatouille). If not for the cars, for the Toy Story short. Who knows? Lightning McQueen and Mater might convert me into a true Cars fan!