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MrPutter: doing things the hard way, because it is there. Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "Sean Nichols" journal:

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November 22nd, 2014
04:00 am
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Remember to live and let live / Well it's all right, the best you can do is forgive
Winter is coming here.

It arrived the other Sunday with an almighty 2-day wallop of snow, and a 20-degree drop in temperature.

And right on schedule — I think that pretty much every year since I arrived in Calgary, there has been a definitive “winter starts now” moment, almost always falling within a week of Hallowe’en. So this year was only a day or so late. (I find it amazing that a place with such variable and often-chaotic weather as Calgary can have such a consistent start to this season.)

I internally predicted it a fair ways out, in other words.

So a couple weeks back when Erika suggested holding a games day on November 9th, I straightaway figured there was a good chance it would have recently turned snowy and wintery when that day arrived.

What better time to start breaking out the gingerbread cookie recipe?

Gingerbread Cookies of Catan!

I actually had not just the hex tiles, but an entire edible game created, including Twizzler-and-gumdrop based road/settlement/etc. sets, random number generators made out of toffee, resource cards made out of Trichotomy.ca edible paper and so forth. But long story made short, it was easier to actually play the game with cards and tokens from the original set. Being a bit too fancy for my own good.

Erika seemed suitably fascinated by them though, apparently constantly having to remind herself not to eat the game board. Success!

“You said not to eat the game board, Erika!”

The weather notwithstanding, I am still on my summer bike. Sigh. I still haven’t gotten around to buying a new winter one yet. So I’m gingerly skating around on the ice with thin high-pressure summer bike tyres. Yeeeeeah not such a great plan. I make myself nervous.

Haven’t gotten a new winter bike mostly due to the combination of a lack of time, and repeatedly blowing my money on other nonsense. What with Christmas gifts, and last month’s trip to PEI, and next month’s two weeks in South Africa, I don’t know that I’ll find the spare funds any time soon, either.

Because of course I’m still throwing $1000 a month at the Russia fund in between everything else. For now I’m still assuming that trip will be a “go”. Although I remain nervous. As things stand I’m contemplating a detour via Belarus to avoid that Russia/Ukraine border. I think it’s doable, although will be some distance out of my way. But I have a decent margin of error, time-wise. And extending my trip by a couple of weeks wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Russian classes at MRU MRU are going very well. They are giving me precisely what I’m looking for in terms of the ability to practice my oral Russian (both speaking and listening) and giving me the discipline of a formal structure around what I’m studying.

My written Russian is mostly passable (although every now and then I come across a surprisingly elementary gap in my knowledge — indeed due to the nature of learning it from blogs etc. most of the bigger gaps are at the beginner-level stuff). But my spoken Russian is (or at least was, before I started taking classes) utterly atrocious. My pronunciation of most words was very off (understandable, since I never had any real opportunity to practice or get feedback), I’m slow and stutter a lot, and I have trouble understanding others when they speak (since, again, I often don’t know how words are supposed to be pronounced).

The classes are good, but I have... a lot of un-learning to do.

It’s interesting to compare the experience to pretty much every other language course I’ve ever taken (French, Arabic, German). In all those other courses, I’ve always been by far and away the biggest keener in the class. But this one has a very different flavour, as it’s a night-school course for adults, not for credit. So everyone’s taking time/money out of their schedules specifically to attend this class and learn this material (as opposed to, e.g.: just taking something kind-of interesting to fill out their degree). Meaning that pretty much everyone else is a huge keener too. So it’s intense. And refreshing!

But a lot of practicing. (Which is of course not a bad thing at all.)

Last week, I went to a performance of «Кто Боится Вирджинии Вульф?» (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”). All I can say is: I’m glad I was already familiar with the play in English! Otherwise I suspect I would have gotten very little out of it. (Didn’t exactly help that it’s a very dialogue-heavy play with not a lot of action to reinforce/help inform said dialogue.)

As it was, I was able to pick out parts here and there that I recognized, and kindasortamaybe follow along for a bit. But a lot of it was still over my head.

A useful and fun exercise though! And next time, I’ll be even better able to follow along.

Also two weeks ago (a lot of this post seems to be about things that happened two weeks ago — it was apparently a busy week!) we had a crew from Google come by the office to take photos for Google Business View (uses Google Street View technology to create a virtual tour of the inside of our building).

If any people show up in the photos, their faces of course have to be blurred out for privacy reasons. However! We also have our grizzly bear mascot suit that we mostly use for outreach/awareness purposes. And there’s obviously no requirement to have “Little Smoky”’s face blurred out. So I put on the bear suit and spent the afternoon mugging it up for Google.

So now Google Maps in the tour of our building, in every shot there is a grizzly bear getting up to strange antics somewhere in the background, in a sort-of “Where’s Waldo” kind of fashion (except I’m a lot more obvious than the, er, illustrious Waldo).

I think that would qualify as one of the more unusual parts of my job.

But fun! (Although it took way, way longer than I expected, so had to put in a pile of extra time the next day to make up for what was lost. What else is new? #grizzlyProblems)

I totally need to put this on my business cards...:

Finally, We had a new volunteer come by the office today looking for stuff to do. I have some technology-related work I could really use some help with, but the last several volunteers have been... rather technophobic and pretty unsuited to the task (technophobia is, it seems to me, significantly more common in the environmental field than elsewhere).

So I was going through the orientation, asking preliminary questions to see where she might best fit in, and asked about computer experience (the fact that she had filled out the volunteer application form as a PDF into which she’d inserted text fields, rather than a handwritten paper version, was an extremely good sign, but I wanted to know more details).

To which I got a got a response that included a bunch of stuff, concluding with the fact that in the process of writing her MSc she ended up programming a number of ArcGIS modules.


I think I can still hear the angels singing her praises.

(What’re the chances that I’ve found a replacement for when I end up leaving AWA? )

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: The Traveling Wilburys -- End of the Line
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November 14th, 2014
02:45 am
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Don't forget me, no don't forget me / Make it easy only just for a little while
It once was the case that I could sit on posts for a while Livejournal until I got around to writing them up for LJ.

Those days are past.

I already don’t remember anything of Livejournal my Labour Day Weekend bike ride to Saskatchewan (which is to say: the most recent entry in this blog) save for those images and stories that actually occur in said blog entry (and other emails, etc. that I’ve written). Whatever other posts I had planned over the summer (about running (?) and holidays (?) and Ramadhan (?)) are no longer possible: their provisional content sublimated into the mists of nothingness.

Which makes it particularly important that I get on this now. Because I had an excellent holiday in PEI last month! And with my memories of it already fuzzing around the edges I want to preserve whatever I can of it before it’s gone.

TL/DR: PEI! And the excellent, amazing holiday!Collapse )

I’d totally go back some day.

But not to run the marathon again (fun though it was). I still have 5 provinces and 3 territories to go...

Current Location: T2N 1Y9
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Harry Nilsson -- Don’t Forget Me
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September 29th, 2014
02:13 am
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We should ride toward the sunset / 'Til the road we drive on meets the sky
So there’s Livejournal this unanswered question floating around out there: just how far can I bike in 24 hours anyway?

Well, honestly I still don’t know. Due to a combination of factors I didn’t put on my best show that Labour Day weekend. I think I can do better.


A new lower bound has been established! 403km.

Under the cut is just a recap of my tweets from the journey, so if you were following on Twitter there’s nothing particularly new here.

But if not, here are the photos.Collapse )

And then, two days later, I came back the same way I went. Without the benefit of the flat tyres or the lightheadedness — but with an extra helping of headwind to compensate — the return trip took me a little under 23h.

So yeah. I can do better.

One day! I will try again!

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: weirdweird
Current Music: Gomez -- Our Goodbye
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August 29th, 2014
02:05 pm
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I raise my flask / To the Clearing Skies / To you, sweepers / You carrion spies
Well I did originally have a longer post here, but yet again have totally run out of time and so yet again it will have to wait.

But anyway...

So. Just how far can I bike in 24h without stopping, anyway? It’s something I’ve been wondering Livejournal off-and-on for about 10 years and have kept meaning to try out, but never found the opportunity.

(As a side PSA to my flist: don’t go trawling through your 10-year-old LJ posts. Just don’t. I did (eventually) find the one I was looking for, but I also found a whole lot of embarrassment. Shudder.)

However the stars have finally aligned and I have a long weekend with some free time!

And as it transpires, an old room-mate of mine (Yes, Yep that The “Naked One” room-mate) lives in Consul, Saskatchewan, about Google Map: Okay, 268km. 470km from Calgary. (Why? The short answer is that when you work online, you can live anywhere with a high-speed connection. Since SaskTel is a government corp. they deliver high-speed internet to some very rural places in SK. And houses in Consul are cheap.)

Anyway. This seems not too far off. I’ve done BikeBikeBike 275km in 16 hours before which is my previous best-in-a-single-stretch. (Or my “peanut butter” as Kate likes to call it.) And that was in the mountains, against the wind, on a crappier (i.e.: mountain) bike, with a big backpack, etc. etc. So I figure that 400-425 should be doable, perhaps a bit more.

So indeed! I’m outta here in about 3 hours (17:00), then we’ll see how far I get by 17:00 tomorrow. I will, of course, Twitter live-tweet (or something-close-to-live-tweet). And recap on here at some point. Probably.


Current Location: T2N 1Y9
Current Mood: rushedrushed
Current Music: Mark Knopfler -- Yon Two Crows
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August 24th, 2014
11:16 pm
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My mind is filled with radio cures / Electronic surgical words
I know I’ve promised a “real post” already, and it’s coming! It really is! Soon! (There are reasons why soon will actually be soon.)

But in the meantime, there is this:
Purple hair selfie!

(And when we were at the farmers market yesterday, I ended up buying plums, purple stripe garlic, purple bell pepper, and a rather purplish blue cheese. I swear to $deity it wasn’t intentional!!! It just... ended up that way. (I also wasn’t paying very close attention to what I was buying. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.))

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Current Music: Wilco -- Radio Cure
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August 11th, 2014
05:20 am
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We shout out these songs against the clang of electric guitars
A very short update for now.

It’s been nearly 2 months since my last post and oh-em-gee so much has happened. There was running! And a trip to Vancouver! And a Ramadhan! And an Eid! And a Fringe Festival! And!

And I have several iterations of a draft of an LJ post on my computer that I never seem to quite finish and post. At this point it’s long enough that it needs be split into several posts, for sure. And... now is not the time, sigh.

Because the Fringe Festival just ended and I just got back from doing teardown/cleanup and tomorrow I am out to the mountains for several days for work and in the meantime I am ex. haus. ted. and I need to sleep.

But soon.

The Fringe Festival has theme days for volunteers (and patrons and artists and anyone who wants to dress up) and I often do (dress up - see usericon for an example from last year’s “hippy day”) but anyway Saturday was “punk rocker day” and one thing led to another and I ended up spending the day with purple hair.

And it was only temporary dye so it’s gone now but while it lasted, I... kinda liked it?


...there may be (more permanent) purple hair in my future. We’ll see.

(blah blah blah midlife crisis shut up)

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Counting Crows -- Mrs. Potter's Lullaby

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June 15th, 2014
07:33 pm
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Flying wings of films that seem / To never see the screen / Couldn't bear to face their dreams
1:47:22 in the Millarville Half Marathon Millarville Half yesterday. I think that’s a new personal best for me in the half-marathon length? Going through all my records I can’t find a faster one, anyway.

(Tho’ I could swear I’ve done faster on (at least one of) my training runs... but maybe not.)

Having said that, this includes my “usual” (for the Millarville race) 100km of biking out and back. Also lack of sleep — AWA’s annual Edmonton members night was Friday evening, so we didn’t leave until fairly late, got back to Calgary at 2AM giving me a whole hour before I had to hop on the bike and head out.

Also on Thursday evening, just for shits ’n giggles, I decided to walk Google Maps 30-ish km back to Edmonton from my meeting in Leduc. With the ensuing lack of sleep, my legs didn’t get as much of a chance to recover as I would’ve liked.

So... all told, I’m actually pretty stoked about that time.

Bodes well for the Livejournal aforementioned Hostelling International K-100 next Saturday, in which I get to run 32km, all uphill! Up to the top of the Wikipedia highest paved road in Canada!


I got this.

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: worriedworried
Current Music: Guided by Voices -- Ester’s Day
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June 5th, 2014
01:46 am
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Children grown on the edge of the ocean / Kept like jewelry kept with devotion
And now...

And now I’m pretty sure I have an apology to write.

And now I really really can’t put this off, can’t procrastinate any more.

And now I need to address this crushing, devastating guilt that’s been hanging over me for a week, causing me to stop what I’m doing and swear at myself every couple of minutes.

And now... fuck.


Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: distresseddistressed
Current Music: Fleet Foxes -- Grown Ocean

01:37 am
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After all is said and after all is done / God only knows which of them I'll become
Compartmentalization. It can be a strange thing sometimes.

So a little while (6 weeks or so) back, I helped a friend get a job at AWA.

That’s. A bit of a strange thing, in and of itself. For multiple reasons. But is also not the point of this post.

The point is... I don’t know, entirely.

It’s interesting, the way in which we (“We?” Or just “I?” Maybe this is just me?) compartmentalize things. And, uh, people. Without intending to; without even realizing it, until the fact is thrust in our faces.

And so as I’ve discovered, I apparently have a mental compartment for “friends,” and another for “coworkers,” and the boundary between them is not nearly so permeable as I might have previously anticipated.

And so now my erstwhile friend sits in this weird neither-here-nor-there purgatorial zone of being both but also being neither. And I suddenly have no idea how to relate to her. It’s not deliberate of course. Indeed I would entirely rather this not be an issue. But ahhh if only I could just will my brain to work in a certain way...

Instead her desk is right there beside my office, and I spend almost the entire day ignoring? her. And I notice it. I notice how I treat her different from all my other coworkers. And I’m angry at myself for it. And I wish I knew how to change that; how to deal with her either as with my other coworkers, or as a friend like she used to be.

But in the meantime, every interaction feels forced. Because every interaction is something I have to force myself into. Because I’m just apparently incapable of dealing with this sudden abutment of “friend” into the workplace.

Uh, help?

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable
Current Music: Fleet Foxes -- Someone You’d Admire
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12:59 am
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To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls and determine my future for me
Running Stuffs. In which I am very happy with my time in the Calgary Marathon. And post a couple videos for y'all.Collapse )

Current Location: T2M 4E6
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Fleet Foxes -- Helplessness Blues
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