Friday, March 18, 2016

Back to Front Crawl 

Regent Park Aquatic Centre. Image by Shai Gil

Saturday I went for my first swim in almost three months. I just didn't have the urge in the winter to walk out in the cold to a pool where first you have to have a cold shower, then get submerged in cold water then get out, have another cold shower and walk back home in the cold. That’s like four layers of cold I could do without. But it was warm on Saturday and once I had finished breakfast and got bored of reading online news (about Donald Trump), I thought it was time to get back in the pool.

In the three months I wasn't swimming, I’ve been going to the gym working out with weights and on fitness equipment. To be honest, I haven’t noticed any difference in my physique, strength or weight. Maybe biking is a little easier and, notably I haven’t gained any weight which must be a first for me between January and March. Usually I simply hibernate, perfect my brownie-in-a-mug recipe and pack on about 10-15 pounds. Not having gained weight has been a huge success - I really am the greatest (to be said in the voice of Donald J. Trump. See, I am reading way too much about that guy). One of my reasons for doing weights has been to strengthen my shoulders for swimming so it seemed like maybe I should try it out and see if any of this “dry-land training” had helped.

Short answer: no. No, it did not.

Weirdly I sort of forgot how to do “swimming”. Not necessarily the stroke itself but all the activity around getting in the water in the first place. I forgot the combination of my lock, I messed up the precise undress/redress sequence. I used to be like one of those marines that could take apart and re-assemble a rifle in a hot minute. Yet on Saturday I was putting on my shoes before my pants (metaphorically… and a little bit literally). Should I stretch out first? Where was my shampoo? Where are my flip-flops? Where do you put your shoes? Socks in the shoes, or in the backpack? Finally I got in the water and I could not make it through a 10-lap set. In December I was doing 3 x 20-laps. Now I could only do four or six laps and I was beat. Eventually, slowly I did my 50 laps and headed for the shower (via the hot tub of course). It was a reminder that the only way to improve at something is to keep doing it.

Then I noticed what I always notice. Those people who really are much worse at using public facilities than I am. The over confident guy who really thought he was tearing up the fast lane but was actually pretty slow (he was so impatient to get by me, then once in front he was so slow I immediately passed him). The guy who was really fast but jumped between lanes always looking for the less crowded one. That hipster couple who didn’t swim in the pool but only used the hot tub. There were people who didn’t really know how the showers worked. Motion sensors people! Someone clumsily knocked down the wall-mounted seat meant for those with mobility issues and it fell with a thundering clang. The two lithe 20-somethings in their string bikinis not wearing deck sandals who looked more like they were on spring break than at a lane swim. The old guy washing his junk with no regard for the fact that he was in public view. The woman who seemed to be drying her hair the entire time from when I entered the change room until the time I left. So I won’t worry about having to start over from the beginning. We’ve all been there before which is better than never getting there at all.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

That Fresh Warm Cotton Feeling 

Image via Designspiration

One sunny winter morning I opened the blinds and laid out the clothes that I planned to wear. By the time I had finished my shower my jeans had been soaking up the warmth of the morning light like a cat asleep in a sunbeam. Putting on warm pants is such a fantastic feeling it’s like being cloaked in a full body hug. That cozy sensation was exactly what it felt like when I held my fully functioning and recently repaired phone in my trembling hand. The shock of my joy left me sort of stunned then surprised at my relief.

Saturday evening, a brief moment of clumsiness had disabled my phone. It only has four buttons, but now the most important one and the touch screen were unresponsive making it slightly less useful than a paperweight. Who uses paperweights anyway? Perhaps playwrights who compose scripts on some windswept park bench or something.

Keep in mind that a phone is no longer a phone. It’s a very powerful, compact and expensive computer (though not as expensive as other computers) that happens to make phone calls. Like anyone with a smart phone, I use my phone to take photos and videos, check the weather, send e-mails and texts, read books and news, organize my work calendar, track my exercise, listen to music and even to change channels on my TV. Needless to say it’s pretty important. I’m not even the kind of person who is that absorbed by their phone. I often forget it at my desk at work or after putting it in privacy mode at the movies will forget to turn it back on until the next day. Yet without it, I felt abandoned and isolated. I desperately tried putting my SIM card into two older phones (which work fine by the way) only to find they weren't supported by my network, thus were almost as useless as my busted phone. Read more »


Saturday, March 05, 2016

Seen in February 

Better Call Saul image via The Movie DB

I guess February is always a run up to the Oscars so those films that are in the running and still in theatres are relentlessly marketed and advertised. One evening I went to the theatre at the Manulife Centre at Bloor and Bay and seven of the eight films screening there had an 80% or higher Rotten Tomatoes rating which is kind of bananas. An embarrassment of riches you might say. Given all that I don’t think I watched or saw half of what I wanted to.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2016


I've been working from home the last couple of days because of winter weather. Well, that and Monday I had a flat on the way to work, then Monday evening it took me almost an hour to repair it before limping home. I had all the tools and even a spare but the spare inner tube had a weird twist that I could not straighten et voila, pinch flat when I inflated it. Luckily I had a patch kit with a single patch left and was able to repair the inner tube I was originally trying to replace. Combine a tire that I have no confidence in with weather better suited for sled dogs and a Leonardo DiCaprio movie and it being easier to not go somewhere than going anywhere and you have just the right recipe for enjoying the winter wonderland from within the confines of my own four walls.

One notable absence within my four walls are any number of fast food restaurants I depend on at work to keep me alive. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if I lost weight over a few days of not eating at my place of work where "breakfast sandwiches" can be procured at any turn (Tim Hortons, Starbucks, A&W, Second Cup) or where a pack of chocolate covered almonds or a soft drink can be found within reach. It's easier to find junk food at work than say a pencil. Here's to working independently, alone, from home, by myself, with no one to talk to…