36 today

... after 11 long years, I'm finally a square again.

CPO with Blaise

I took Blaise to his first orchestral performance a couple weeks ago. It was an earlier and shorter performance, a part of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra's Rush Hour Series, so it worked well for a young lad.

I had to get there early as the parking was about 4 blocks from the Jack Singer Hall and Blaise would have to walk the distance. Once we found our seats - close to the rear, but right in the centre - we figured it would be a good idea to go use the bathrooms before the concert began after I explained Blaise how moving around and talking was not allowed while the orchestra played.

I propped Blaise up on our stack of jackets as people moved into the seats in front of us, but it still didn't give him the view he wanted. Blaise accepted my offer to sit on my knee and that's where he stayed for most of the concert.

The concert was entitled The Red Violin, a title from the film by the same name. The composer of this suite is an American and so they designed the concert as one from American composers:

  • Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man 
  • Kernis:  Too Hot Toccata
  • Corigliano:  Suite from The Red Violin
  • Bernstein:  Three Dance Episodes from On the Town 

Donovan Seidle, a local violinist/composer, was the soloist for The Red Violin and as an encore, he played some ridiculously fast piece that blew Blaise away. I thought Copland's trumpets or Bernstein's English horn or Kernis's double basses would be Blaise's favorites. Instead, the violin captivated him as you can see from his journal entry the next day:


Marathon Training: Day 61/118

Ah! My knees!!

It was a little surreal running by myself for 2 hours (exactly) on treadmill today, alone in a gym. When I reached 21 km at 1:57:13 I just raised my arms for about 3 seconds and then ran the last half km. I did let out a feeble "woo!" too. No celebration, just a 6 minute cool down and then 12 minutes of stretches as I chugged water. I was sipping my electrolyte concoction every 10 minutes during the run, and boy, did that make me thirsty.

I got home after 6 pm and just wanted to sleep. I lay down for 30 minutes then came down to visit with my family. Amber fed me some delicious pasta with chicken and a salad. I took an Advil and iced my knees (they are feeling somewhat better now).

I forgot to mention my weight loss in my last post too. So far, I've burned 11 lbs or so. Easily understood since on today's run alone I burned 1800 calories.


Marathon Training: Day 60/118

Oof. It's been a while since I last updated my blog on my marathon training. Guess why? I've been so tired from running.

Tomorrow I will run 21.5 km and I will try and do it in 2 hours. This is just over a half marathon and 3 km more than I ran last Friday (18.5 km in 1:42)and 5 km more than I ran the Friday before that. How will I feel after the run? Hopefully like I felt last Friday: a little exhilerated and very tired. Hopefully not like 2 Fridays ago after running the 16.5 km (1:31): very nauseated and very tired (after this run I chaperoned a high school banquet and wanted to eat a plate covered in 4 pastas and 4 sauces so badly, but I couldn't because I was so sick). I have found a solution though (I think) - it's below.

After speaking with my sister Salomé on the phone about that bad run, she gave me some rather vital info. Since I'm running on a treadmill, I should be running with an elevation level of 2.0 since it's so much easier than running on the road (which I can't do because of all the ice and snow). She also advised me to do "toe taps," 80 of them each day to strengthen my shins (which have been aching quite a bit).

So the reason I got sick during the 16.5 km, I presume, is the loss of electrolytes. To resolve the issue, I looked up some recipes so I don't have to drink Gatorade. A squeeze of lemon, a pinch of potassium chloride (weird salt), a pinch of kosher salt (sodium chloride), a teaspoon of honey and lots of water. If I sip this every 10 minutes, it keeps the nausea at bay and really keeps me alert. I still follow long runs with some blended berries mixed with whey powder and water to energize.

Sadly, I missed my first 2 days of training. Not because I couldn't do it, but because I willfully chose not to. I missed a 5.5 km run and 60 minutes of cross-training/weight training. I've made up 1 of those kms already, but then a couple days ago I quit a 12 km "quality" run 1 km early at 11 km. This quality run I did on Tuesday was a Yasso 800: "six 800 m 'sprints' with 400m recovery jogs." My sprints were between 13.2-5 km/hr and I was just ill afterwards. So ill that I don't recall drinking my electrolyte drink - maybe I should have...

I've begun to compile a list of supplies I will need for the marathon on May 6:

  • vaseline for my lips - they get right dry
  • electrolyte drinks in small containers strapped to me
  • energy drinks in small containers strapped to me
  • 2 ibuprofen tablets (one for before the race, one for 2 hours in)
  • a sweat/headband so my eyes don't sting from the sweat
  • running shoes, socks, shorts, shirt
  • iPod and earbuds (still not sure on this one)


World Premiere of "For What it's Worth, Milk a Goat"

What a great evening! We had 37 people come out the evening of March 3rd to the world premiere of my second feature length documentary. People from various parts of my life (long time friends, cohousing, church, work) and a few strangers who came with some friends filled the seats at 7 pm. Blaise and Acadia came too, watching the movie from a blanket on the floor in front of the first row.

I introduced the film upstairs at the West Hillhurst Community Association before clicking play and turning out the lights. Then, sitting with my own anxious thoughts, Amber joined me and I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the movie. More so, I was able to enjoy watching and hearing others watch the movie. The audience laughed consistently at all the parts I thought were funny, and then some.

Before and after the film, the audience enjoyed some snacks we provided (goat cheeses with baguette, liquorice, M&Ms, veggies, Jones Sodas). I had to veto Amber's wish to provide potato chips. Chips!! at a movie!!

After the 72 minutes were up, the audience generated some good applause. I conducted a Q & A with them and got some great affirmative feedback saying I captured many of the aspects really well. I had anticipated most of the questions: What happened to the goats after you left Guatemala? What is your next film project? What life goals are you working at now? What were you doing in Guatemala? Will I ever keep goats again? There were some more unexpected ones: Tell us your thoughts on pasteurization. How much milk could a goat produce? The supportive and complimentary feedback was really nice to hear from everyone. I recognize that, yes, they are my friends, but I can tell feigned enthusiasm and it wasn't feigned. And really, that makes it worth producing the film.

The best part though, from my seat, I could watch Blaise and Acadia's response to the movie. They laughed with everyone else and sat mesmerized by the goats the entire time. I'm proud of them for staying up 2 hours past their bedtime to share the evening with us. Acadia's thankful words this morning: "Thanks that we got to stay up late last night."

What to do with the film now? Several people have told me they are interested in a downloadable version and so I'll look into that. I may organize a couple more informal viewings here in Calgary or send the film to friends who want to screen it for others. I'm pretty open to whatever.

Last night has injected some filmmaking life into me. After having "For What it's Worth" rejected at all 6 festivals it was submitted to and having no time to dedicate to my current projects, I've mentally just abandoned my film production aspirations. After watching the film again and enjoying the viewers' positive reaction, I'm more hopeful of producing more movies in the future.

Finally, to everyone who contributed to the film as characters, camera operators, as the narration recorder (Angus) and as the soundtrack composer/performer (Justin): Thank you!

Saga: Man vs. Toilet

November: Amber alerted me to a pool of water in our family bathroom (we have 1 1/2 other bathrooms). The leak appeared to come from the toilet and it was a substantial pool of water, so action had to be taken. Amber mopped up the water and I turned off the water supply. Not wanting to put my family on the street, I decided against calling a plumber and chose to take a look at the toilet during the Christmas break - we have 2 other toilets after all.

December: With time on my hands, I watch YouTube videos demonstrating how to dismantle a toilet safely and what parts are typically the cause of a leak. I figure I will be able to spot the broken parts if I take the throne apart first before heading to Rona to buy the replacement parts. I get all the water out of the bowl. I catch the bit of water from the tank as I unhook it. I place the tank on the ground, unbolt the bowl and lay it on the ground too. Disturbing the bowl means I have to replace the wax ring at the base - now a disgusting black sticky mass. I figure this is likely the cause of the leak anyhow... I note the rubber washers holding the tank to the bowl seem a bit iffy too, so I decide to replace them too.

Returning from Rona with new parts in hand, Blaise assists me in reassembling the can. With the water supply reconnected, I flush triumphantly!

Amber informs me of the pool of water by the toilet a few hours later. She mops it up. I shut off the water.

January: It seems clear to me that, as I am still an amateur plumber, I must not have put the wax seal on properly. I inspect the toilet carefully to see if I can spot any other issues. None spotted. I pick up another wax ring, dismantle the entire toilet and swap the recently replaced with an even newer wax ring. After reassembly, I flush and water gushes from the middle of the toilet. Clearly, I've made a mistake in reassembly. I clean up the mess this time. Take the tank off and find that the spongy ring the tank sits on has probably seen better days. I pick up a new one, certain that victory is at hand. Now you can tell by the number of paragraphs that follow that I did not cure the ailment. Water doesn't gush now, but hours later, the telltale pool of water reappears. I mop up and shut off. I need time to think.

A week later I decide that the leak needs to be traced. The pool of water is always in the same place because it is a low spot on the bathroom floor. But where is the water coming from? I choose to set up a timelapse. I sprinkle green Kool-Aid crystals on the ground, put my laptop on the counter, setup my tripod and camera so it can see much of the floor around the toilet, turn on the water and flush. I return a few hours later... nothing. It's toying with me. I know there's a leak, but it's not manifesting itself for me. I flush again.

This time a green line appears along the right bottom rim (as you can see in the YouTube clip below) and spreads like a plague to where the water traditionally pooled. Aha! I've caught it on film. But this doesn't tell me anything I don't know. Water could be dripping off the tank, rolling down the bowl, flowing to this side of the toilet edge before it touches any Kool-Aid. I'm foiled again.

February: Having taken a few weeks to cool down, I am ready to re-engage the monkey on my back: "Hello toilet. You have a purpose. I want to help you fulfill your purpose. Let's work together so I can get on with living." I take a more tactile approach. I turn on the water, flush. Flush again. Then I hug the toilet, touch every washer, bolt, and cool curve. Something is amiss where the water supply connects to the tank. There is moisture. I check a few minutes later and sure enough, there is a water drop. Victory will be mine. I have hope, mingled with doubt based on my previous defeats, but light is shining on this scourge now and I can move forward.

I decide a simple tightening will solve it. I haul out my big plumbers wrench and tighten the nylon bolt, dry the area and wait. Wet again. Hmm. How about more tightening? Worth a try, so I repeat. No success. Well, I may as well look at replacing that part. Another trip to Rona reveals that the components to this piece are not sold separately. Everything up to this point has only cost between $1 and $3. Replacing the ballcock (I know, right?) will cost $18. I'd like to find an alternative solution. I try teflon. It fails. Water is leaking out of the tank through a rubber washer, so maybe if I put a rubber washer underneath and not just above? The guys at Rona tell me that I should just use plumbers grease and stop-leak putty. I buy the putty as I have grease at home. After a big mess and a sad realization that the guys at Rona may not know what they are talking about, I give in. During the frenzied experiments, I ask Amber to help me move the shelf from behind the toilet. As we lift it, it jostles the ceramic lid of the tank, and crack, the corner breaks off. I need to buy some contact cement next time I'm in Rona. I walk into Rona to find a dual-flush toilet on sale for $130. While I'm tempted, I resist the temptation since I would have to find a way to rid myself of my current toilet. I return to the familiar "Sinks / Toilets / Showers / Bathtubs aisle and fetch a ballcock. A quick install later, some flushing tests, check-ins every hour for 6 hours and VOILĂ€! Mission accomplished. Toilet loses.