Because 42.3 Kilometers Would Be Crazy: One More Thing

I just posted a summary of my marathon (here), and almost forgot something of such importance, it would be criminal for me not to mention it.

What is so important that it requires another post? you ask.

Well, I’m not the only crazy person that decided to run an official race this weekend. And with that bit of information, it should be clear that I need to give huge congratulations to

  • Matt & Monique – who both ran a 5km,
  • Rick, Paul, & Shari – who all ran half marathons in Calgary,
  • Sue – who ran a half marathon in Ottawa,
  • Carolyn1 – who also ran a half marathon in Ottawa, and of course
  • Mark – my running partner and fellow marathoner – the weekend wouldn’t have been the same without you my friend.

Awesome job folks. I’m so proud of all of you. While Matt, Monique, and Mark all got hugs at some point over the weekend, I’ll have to send a virtual hug to the rest of you. You can cash it in for the real thing when next I see you. :)

1 Cripes on a cracker – I must have hurt my brain during the run – I almost forgot to put Carolyn on this list. She’s far too awesome not to list here, and if I’m lucky, I will get to run the Toronto Marathon with her later this summer/fall. Super fail on my part. Sorry Carolyn. For this oversight, I clearly owe you a beer.

Related articles

Because 42.3 Kilometers Would Be Crazy

The title of this post is courtesy of some random sign that I saw as I ran the Ottawa Marathon on Sunday (which, by now I’m sure you know is 42.2 km).

To be honest, I really wish I had the time to pull out my camera while I was running to take photos. I didn’t because I was worried that changing anything during the run might affect my pace. Plus, I was rather busy what with all the running and such.

But good gravy there were so many things to photograph. And I’m not talking the scenery (although that was quite beautiful too). I’m talking about the signs-of-encouragement along the way. For example, there were the signs that read

“All this heavy breathing is turning me on,”
“Marathoners have great stamina. Call me,” and
“Marathoners do it longer.”

There were so many signs along the route that made me smile; I wish I could remember them all. Sadly, my focus was mainly on the run so I didn’t burn all of them to memory. Regardless, let me offer a whole-hearted thank you to those who came out with awesomely crazy signs to support all of us crazy enough to run the marathon. We really appreciated it.

Mark, just prior to the race.

Speaking of all those that came out, I was amazed at the number of people who lined the streets of the route to cheer us on (both with and without signage). The roar of the crowd was at times deafening – in a good way. And I have to say that the opportunity to high-five all the kids on the sidelines as I ran by was especially awesome. The boost this provided was so welcome and so awesome. In fact, with the roar of the crowd, all the high fiving, and the finish line in sight, I ended up with the most incredible runner’s high for the last kilometer. It was epic.

But I get a bit ahead of myself. While the race started officially at 7am, the prep clearly goes back several months. I won’t bore you with those details, but I will try to give you a sense of the event starting Sunday morning.

Mark and I woke up at 5am to get prepped. Because it’s not nearly crazy enough to run 42.2km. We also like to throw in an earlier-than-should-be-legal alarm. Anyway, getting up at this hour had a purpose. Specifically, we spent our time munching on a light breakfast, going to the bathroom, drinking coffee, going to the bathroom, showering, going to the bathroom, stretching, going to the bathroom, dressing, going to the bathroom, walking to athlete’s village, going to the bathroom again, and then finally hitting our respective corrals. And yes, we may have been nervous enough to go to the bathroom that frequently :)

Enjoying some pre-race sugar.

After making our way through athlete’s village, we wandered to our respective positions at the starting gate (I was in the yellow corral, Mark was in blue – I think). Standing in line for the race to begin, I quickly scanned the crowd. There were a mix of age groups, heights, weights, and shapes. Clearly, insanity wasn’t limited to men in my age group. The other thing that I took in, and this is something that I have felt at all races, is the sense of community. Chatting with neighbours, figuring out where people have come from, offering last-minute advice, calming nerves, etc. It’s quite amazing. Even more so, the electricity in the air as thousands of people anxiously await the gun to signal the start of 42.2km of long distance running. Yes, clearly we are insane. But I can’t deny that the running experience is like no other.

The run started off as all runs do; lots of bumping and positioning and moving about. Basically, I do my best just to get out-of-the-way of the people who are faster than me, and get by those that are slower. My strategy is always to find my way from open space to open space with as minimal interference to the runners around me. That, and I like to find the fittest (and usually taller) person in front of me – catch up to them, and then use them as a stepping stone to the next fittest person.

The crowd at the beginning of the race :)

Anyway, the run was awesome. The first 10km came and went in no time (53 minutes). I was confident, comfortable, and energized. My breathing was slow, my heart rate was calm, and I felt completely relaxed. I spent some time taking in the sights, smelling the smells; all while listening to my running mix on my iPhone. Every kilometer or so, RunKeeperwould update me with my race pace, and overall things were great. My race pace remained consistently between 5:16 and 5

After the race. Wet, cold, but feeling great.

:34 per kilometer up to the 34th kilometer. Then things went a bit south.

Around the half way mark, I realized that my IT bands were beginning to feel a bit odd. And by odd, I could tell that they were soon going to require some attention. I hoped beyond hope that I could just keep running and maybe run through the oddness I was feeling. But over time, it kept growing. And growing. And growing. Until it was a full on scream. Specifically, my knees and my hips were yelling at me. Not because I was tired. Not because I was winded. And not because I was out of energy. In fact, quite the opposite was true. Regardless, when the IT bands speak, you have to eventually listen.

So around the 34km mark, I reluctantly pulled off the course to stretch a bit. Amazingly, there was no wall, I never doubted that I could complete the run, and I still felt completely energized and pumped. But I had to stretch. The hope was that a few minutes of stretching would allow the bands to chill out enough that I could finish the race without too much time loss.

My shiny new medal for running a marathon. W00t!

Anyway, after stretching I picked up my run again. Of course, starting up after having stopped for a few minutes is difficult. Not mentally – at least not in this instance – but physically. My body just didn’t want to move. It felt clunky; as if my joints weren’t moving the way they were supposed to. The ligaments or muscles seemed to ignore their typical pathways, and instead chose to snap from one position to the other. Nothing was smooth. And that was a terribly odd and uncomfortable feeling. There was a moment where I wondered if I had actually injured myself significantly. Of course, I dashed that thought away pretty quickly. I had a race to run and I wasn’t going to stop at 34km.

And so I carried on. Because I’m clearly insane. And when I was able to get my body moving, it eventually got back to the old pace. That is, despite the stop I returned to my 5:30’ish pace. Sadly, my IT bands were not satisfied and again, around 36km, I had to stop. The same scene repeated itself at 38km, and 40km (if I recall correctly). But each time required longer durations of stretching. And each time also required a longer ‘restart’ to get my body back to moving the way it should.

Thankfully, the last 2km of the course were lined with hundreds, probably thousands of supporters. The boost that they gave was amazing. At that point, the runner’s high was so intense that I felt no pain whatsoever. I simply realized that I was so close that I just had to keep going. And I did. I just ran, comfortably and with a purpose. The end was in sight. I had almost run a marathon.

About 500 metres or so before the finish line, I saw Matt and Monique cheering me on from the sideline. This was just the added boost that I needed to push myself the last little bit to cross the finish line.

And when I crossed that line, I’m pretty sure I let out the biggest cheer I could possibly give. A giant W00T for the entire world to hear. And I know I had a huge smile on my face. To be honest, the sense of accomplishment rivalled the sense of accomplishment that I had when I finished my PhD. Seriously. It was that epic.

I’m still on a bit of a high. Every now and then I remember that I just ran a marathon and I smile. I’m so pumped right now, I feel like I could do anything.

Now I have to start training for my next mission: a Century Bike ride, a 35 day challenge of hot yoga, and another marathon. W00t! Wish me luck :)

If This Is Posted, I Probably Didn’t Die

Enjoying a Jelly Belly sucker prior to the race.

Today was the big day. And by big, I mean epic. Today was the Ottawa Marathon – my first ever marathon. And it was AWESOME! I had so much fun, even despite the aches and pains that came with running 42.2km (that’s 26.2 miles to my non-metric readers).

Since I’m a little bit tired at the moment (and by a little, I mean a lot) I will leave you with the results and some photos. I’ll provide some commentary and overall impression of the race tomorrow.

The results:

  • 10km = 53:17, or 5:20 per km,
  • 21.1km =  1:52:27, or 5:20 per km,
  • 30km = 2:44:15, or 5:33 per km,
  • 42.2km = 4:08:49, or 5:57 per km.

Needless to say, I was on pace up until about 34km when my IT bands decided they had enough. Oh well. I’ll just have to train a bit harder for September (because of course I’m doing another marathon).

You’re Probably Reading This While Comfortably In Bed, Aren’t You? Jerk

Holy frick, folks, can you believe it?  Today is race day!  With that in mind, consider the following: as you read this post (hopefully from the comfort of your favourite reading chair, and with coffee in hand), I am likely/hopefully mid way through my first ever marathon.  and so, let me repeat: holy frick!

On what do I base the mid-point-of-my-first-ever-marathon estimation?

  1. The race starts at the not so civilized time of 7:00 am,
  2. I’m aiming to run the race in 4 hours or less, and
  3. unlike me, you probably sleep in until at least 9:00 am.

So, if it is 9ish (Eastern Time) as you read this, I should be half way through the marathon.  I’ve indicated where that means I should be based on the official race map.

This of course assumes that I’ve not been attacked by a rabid band of howler monkeys, or have decided to limp off to the side of the road to collapse into a giant quivering mass of something formerly resembling a human.

Anyway, if I have made it to the mid-point of the race by now, I’m probably wondering why the hell I ever decided to do this to myself.  That, or Mark (my running partner for the day) and I are chatting about how awesome the run is, and how much we are going to do it again.  Or perhaps I’m puking on the side of the road.  Or suffering from runner’s runs.  Or maybe I’m simply enjoying the experience while listening to some sort of motivational music.

The beauty of the race is that it is exciting and scary and completely unknown; anything could be happening right now.  And that is just AWESOME.

Carbo-Loading With Cinnamon Buns

Tomorrow is the big day. Race day. My first ever official marathon. I am a mix of emotions. Nervous, stoked, excited, nauseous, anxious, happy, gassy. Wait, no, not the last one.

Anyway, today is carbo-loading day. That is, today is the day that Mark and I are supposed to be consuming lots of carbs (good carbs of course) in order to help fuel our body for the 42.2km we need to run starting at 7am tomorrow morning. I have no idea whether science has confirmed or denied the benefits of carbo-loading, but I don’t care. It gives me an excuse to eat whatever I want and whenever I want. Granted, with my stupid stomach, it’s still a chore. So far today I have had coffee (0 Calories), a latte (~180 Calories), half a bowl of oatmeal (~350 Calories), and a cinnamon bun (~350 Calories). Clearly I have much work to do. And by work to do, I clearly mean food to eat.

The craziest part, is that I estimate I will need to consume 5600 Calories tomorrow in order to break even. My normal Caloric intake is supposed to be 2200 Calories, give or take. Those are the Calories that I require just to carry on my regular daily schedule (based on my goal weight of 145lbs – which last I checked I was under). The marathon is expected to use up at least 3400 extra Calories. Crazy. So somehow I have to find it in me to consume a lot more food than usual.

To put 5600 Calories into perspective, this would be equivalent to

  • 31 tall vanilla soy lattes from Starbucks (at 180 Calories per latte),
  • 56 bananas (approximately 100 Calories per medium-sized banana),
  • 10 Big Macs (approximately 546 Calories per Big Mac – ew),
  • 7 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard from Dairy Queen (approximately 760 Calories each), or
  • 140 cups of almond milk (unsweetened, approximately 40 Calories per cup).
Since I can’t eat dairy and I wouldn’t touch a Big Mac to save my life, I’m going to have to resort to other means. Such as an extra soy latte or two. Honestly, I have no idea how I’m going to compensate for the loss of Calories due to the run. I’ll figure something out.
Anyway, I should go grab some lunch. Wish me luck!

Related articles

Nerd Caucus: The Re-Nerdening.


So it has been a while since the nerds got together for a night of, well, being nerds. In fact, the last time I reported on such an event (known to those in the know as Nerd Caucus) was back in the days of yore when we gathered to celebrate the awesomeness of Pi Day, and the lead up to Pi Day known as the Approximately Four Pi-days of Pi Day (see here, and here).

Normally Nerd Caucus involves dinner at a sushi place. Tonight we decided to spice up our lives a bit and visit the only Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant in town (at least, the only one I’m aware of). Up until this eve, I was the only one in the group who had ever had Ethiopian. But I knew, if it was authentic, it was going to be an awesome meal.

Anyway, we ventured to the QB2 Cafe and Diner which is located on Dawson Road. The outside of the restaurant is very unassuming. Once we entered, we could tell that there was something special about this place. It was very clean, the tables were black – giving the place a classier feeling than what the entrance suggested. The waitress (and I believe co-owner) brought us water and provided us menus. Despite the fact that I’ve had Ethiopian on several occasions – the first during a trip to Chicago many years ago – I’m not familiar enough to know what to select or what anything means. That is, I wouldn’t know the difference between a tibbs dish and a watts dish to save my life. But given that I’ve never been disappointed when eating Ethiopian, I wasn’t worried.

The one thing that really made my day, and informed me that we were in for not just a meal, but an experience, was the quantity of misspelled words on the menu. Chef was replaced with Cheif or Chief, special was written specail, ultimate was spelled ultimite, and even non english words appeared with multiple spelling. Seeing this on an assignment from one of my students would cause me great concern. Here, however, it made me smile. This was going to be authentic.

The dinner experience began when our waitress came to the table to wash our hands. She carried around the table to each of us a beautiful silver basin in which to catch warm lemon water that she poured over our hands. The water was poured out of an equally beautiful, almost antique looking, silver decanter/pitcher. Clearly this meal was going to be awesome.

Jasper and I decided to split two dishes – the Smokey Tibbs (a lamb dish), and the QB2 Ultimate Platter, which included several vegetable dishes, a beef dish, and a spicy chicken and hard-boiled egg dish. Lorna and Rick opted for the Smokey Tibbs and the Chacha Tibbs (a beef dish). Babak, Warren and Jenn also tried the Smokey Tibbs (it was the chefs specialty after all). I think they had another dish, but I forget what it was.

Jasper and I also ordered coffee. Now, ordering Ethiopian coffee is a special treat because it isn’t something you just do. You have to order it in advance, at the start of the meal, so that it is ready by the time you have finished your meal. Why? Well, the beans are freshly roasted from raw, green coffee beans. Clearly this takes a bit of time. They are then brewed into a very strong, espresso like elixir that is absolutely incredible. If you like coffee, you will love this.

Anyway, to say the food was incredible would be an understatement. The table was all but silent when the food arrived. The spice was perfect, the textures were incredible. It was truly a fantastic experience. And our waitress was awesome. Very friendly, very helpful, and for some reason, I want to say very gentle. She was very soft-spoken, taught us about the coffee, the food, and the incense that was eventually lit prior to the coffee ceremony. Based on all of this, we were convinced that she took extra special care of us for some reason. Maybe she has an affinity to nerds. Whatever the reason, she only added to the overall experience. I wish I caught her name.

Following dinner, the coffee ceremony began. It started with the burning of incense at the table. The incense itself reminded me of that which used to be burned in church when I was a kid. I believe it was only used on special occasions – Easter I think. Or perhaps Christmas. Whatever the reason, the smell of it brought me back to my childhood. I absolutely love that smell. It definitely had a calming effect on me, and helped me appreciate and savour the experience. As the incense filled my nostrils and reminded me of my youth, the coffee was slowly poured into 7 tiny cups and passed around the table. I carefully sipped it, trying to savour every note of it. It was dark and strong, rich, and with a slight bitterness. It was perfect. I can’t think of a better way to end a perfect food experience.

We left full bellied and very satisfied, with the agreement that we would definitely return in the near future for more.

So dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this restaurant, you really should make the effort. I for one can not wait to go back.

For those of you who might be wondering what we discuss during Nerd Caucus, I present to you in no particular order, some of the topics of the eve:

  • Statistics at the bar.
  • Statistics in movies.
  • The Birthday Problem.
  • The authenticity of a restaurant that misspells many common english words (we all approve of this, because we feel that it almost guarantees a great experience and an amazing meal).
  • Video blogging.
  • Statistics of bowling.
  • Pod casts.
  • Job related misery.
  • Most common month for births in the States and in Canada (August/September vs April/May, respectively)1.
  • Most common month for marriages in the States and in Canada (June, vs August, respectively)2.

1 Werschler, T, and Halli, S. (1992). The seasonality of births in Canada: A comparison with the northern United States. Population & Environment 14(1): 85-94 3

2 The only sources I could find for this are here and here.  Not exactly rigorous sources.  Oh well.

3 An older reference, and specific to the northern United States.

An Orgy Of Nerdiness

So how did you celebrate the epicness that was yesterday? You know, the combination of all things awesome known as Towel Day, National Plank Day, National Wine Day (which I was only alerted to later in the day – thankfully not so late as to prevent me from partaking in the appropriate celebrations), and last, but definitely not least, Geek/Nerd Pride Day.

As you can see by the picture, I celebrated in appropriate style by merging all the days into one blessed orgy of nerdiness. That’s right folks, I said orgy of nerdiness. The picture clearly satisfies the requirements of each of these nerdidays. Note that it contains:

  1. Post plank/towel reward.

    a nerd (that would be me),

  2. a glass of wine,
  3. a plank, and
  4. a towel (yes, that is a towel I’m wearing).

To celebrate the Geek/Nerd Pride part of yesterday, I posed the following problem:

Imagine that you have impeccable penmanship. In fact, imagine your penmanship is so good that people think your writing is a perfectly formed font. Imagine further that this font is legible at any size. That is, no matter the page size you are working with, you could increase or decrease your font size such that one single letter or digit would occupy the width and height of the page.

Next, imagine that you want to write each digit of \pi. Being the nerd that you are, you would know immediately that this would be a fruitless effort because, as a mere mortal, you wouldn’t have enough time to write out each and every single one of the infinite digits after the decimal.

But what if, by writing each digit of \pi on a smaller page using our perfect almost font-like penmanship, we cut our writing time as well? I mean, it would seem reasonable to think that the time required to write a digit occupying a smaller page would be less than the time needed to write a digit occupying a larger area, especially if the speed of writing remained constant.

Specifically, let’s assume that your penmanship is so good that it would allow you to write each digit using half of the area of the previous digit, and requiring half the time to write. If the first digit takes 1 minute to write, and requires 1m^{2} of space, then the second digit would require 30 seconds to write and only 0.5m^{2} of space. Clearly the third would require half that time and space again (ad infinitum).

My question for you is this: how long and how much space would be needed to write out all of the digits of \pi?

To figure out our answer, we only need to resort to something that we discussed a few weeks back.  Recall that

\displaystyle{\sum_{i=0}^{\infty}}p^{i}=\frac{1}{1-p}, if -1\leq p\leq 1.

We simply need to use this formula for our particular problem. Consider our area. We start off with an area of 1m^{2} for the first digit (3). The second digit (or the first after the decimal) – 1 – would then be written on something that has half that area: \frac{1}{2}m^{2}. The third digit – 4 – would require \frac{1}{4}m^{2}, and so on. Generally, the n^{th} digit after the decimal place would require \left(\frac{1}{2}\right)^{n}m^{2}.  To determine the entire area required, we simply add up the individual areas required for each of the digits:


Similarly, we would find that the total time required to write out all of the infinite digits would be 2 minutes.

CRAZY! So despite the fact that there are an infinite number of digits in \pi, and we’d require all the time in the world to write them out, by applying some simple rules, we’ve turned a job that requires an infinite amount of time into one that requires 2 minutes.

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Infinity. Any Questions?

Happy Geek/Nerd Pride Day. Happy World Planking Day. Oh ya, and Happy Towel Day. So much to celebrate, so little time.

Anyway, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post (here), today is a triple threat of nerdiday goodness. To celebrate, I present to you the following brain-bending, get your nerd on, mathematical thinkable.

By this point, dear readers, I’m assuming you have read enough of my rants and raves about \pi that you know the following: \pi is

1. irrational,

2. transcendental, and

3. awesome.

Being irrational, we know that \pi cannot be represented as a ratio of integers. It can, however, be represented (at least partially) as a non-terminating decimal.  I write partially, because although we could begin to write out the infinite digits of \pi,


we’d never be able to complete the task, unless we had an infinite amount of time and never, ever, ever stopped writing. Clearly this is something that us mere mortals do not have. Or do we?

Consider the following:

Imagine that you have impeccable penmanship. In fact, imagine your penmanship is so good that people think your writing is a perfectly formed font. Imagine further that this font is legible at any size. That is, no matter the page size you are working with, you could increase or decrease your font size such that one single letter or digit would occupy the width and height of the page.

Next, imagine that you want to write each digit of \pi. Being the nerd that you are, you would know immediately that this would be a fruitless effort because, as a mere mortal, you wouldn’t have enough time to write out each and every single one of the infinite digits after the decimal.

But what if, by writing each digit of \pi on a smaller page using our perfect almost font-like penmanship, we cut our writing time as well? I mean, it would seem reasonable to think that the time required to write a digit occupying a smaller page would be less than the time needed to write a digit occupying a larger area, especially if the speed of writing remained constant.

Specifically, let’s assume that your penmanship is so good that it would allow you to write each digit using half of the area of the previous digit, and requiring half the time to write. If the first digit takes 1 minute to write, and requires 1m^{2} of space, then the second digit would require 30 seconds to write and only 0.5m^{2} of space. Clearly the third would require half that time and space again (ad infinitum).

My question for you is this: how long and how much space would be needed to write out all of the digits of \pi?

I’ll leave you to ponder that for now, but fear not; I’ll provide the answer tomorrow.

Happy Towel-Geek-Nerd-Planking Day all y’all.

Oh ya, I almost forgot! I found this gem on the intertubes the other day and figured, given that today is Geek/Nerd Pride Day, it was my nerdly duty to share it with you. I take my nerdly duty very seriously.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that 9x-7i>3(3x-7u).

Moral of the story: When you can’t say it with words, say it with math :)

May 25: A Triple Threat

Clearly the universe was looking out for me today. I meant to post about this earlier but then forgot. And it’s a good thing I didn’t, because if I did I would have failed you dear readers.

How is that possible? You ask.

Well, I was about to post a reminder that tomorrow is Geek Pride Day1 and the First Annual World Planking Day (two most excellent things to celebrate), when the universe intervened in the form of an email from one most awesome Dr. Beth. You may recall that Dr. Beth is raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Canada – have you donated yet? – if not, click the link at the right of this page. Clearly, her awesomeness cannot be questioned. This also means that any email from her must be treated with the utmost urgency. Anyway, thank the FSM I know to treat Dr. Beth’s emails in this manner, otherwise I would have missed out on the fact that it is also Towel Day (in honour of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).

So, thank you Dr. Beth for informing me that not only is it Geek Pride and World Planking Day, it is also Towel Day. That is, May 25 is a triple threat of awesome nerdidays!

I highly encourage you to celebrate tomorrow by embracing your inner geek and/or nerd, plank everywhere (so long as it’s safe), and carry a towel to celebrate the life of Douglas Adams.

To celebrate this alignment of three awesome nerdidays, I present to you the following:

Sadly I don’t have a towel picture. Yet.

Happy Geek-Nerd-Towel-Planking Day all y’all.  Happy Geek-Nerd-Towel-Planking Day long time!

1 Also known as Nerd Pride Day

It’s New, It’s Shiny, It’s Pure Awesome. It’s Also Rapture Proof.

So Saturday was supposed to be the end of the world, at least according to Harold Camping and several thousand of his followers. Given that everyone I know is still here, and things seems to be pretty much the status quo, I’m guessing the rapture didn’t happen. Or perhaps it did, and everyone I know is simply unworthy of the rapture. I doubt that is the case, because I have a strict rule of surrounding myself with awesome. But I digress.

Given that the weather was amazingly awesome on Saturday (the calm before the rapture), I ventured as I do most Saturdays to the market with my friend Manon. This always includes a visit to either With the Grain, or to Eggcetera for breakfast. In this case, we opted for With the Grain. After a breakfast sandwich and latte (which could have been the last latte I ever had), I walked over to Bits, Bikes, and Boards. I’ve been dreaming about a new bike for some time now, and I thought I’d check out what the new line of bikes might offer.

As always, the staff were great. They gave me a run down of what was available, and chatted with me about what I wanted out of the bike. Distance, comfort, speed. It was as simple as that. But also, since I don’t drive, I wanted something higher-end because any new bike would be akin to my new car. I wanted to make sure that whatever I bought would last me a long time.

My current bike, a Devinci Chameleon mountain bike, has and continues to serve me well. But given my desire to bike longer and longer distances, I definitely needed to upgrade to a road bike. Of course, this would represent a rather significant purchase, so I wanted to think about it some more. I opted to not buy anything right then and there, as I wanted to go home to check my budget and also consider other options. I walked home, excited about the potential, but also cautious in case my bank book wouldn’t support the purchase.

As I was walking, I tweeted the following:

Given that I’m writing about this, and despite a very obvious typo (decoded should have read decided), it’s probably clear that I actually didn’t wait for a post-rapture sale. Not even close. Truth be told, once I got home from my walk I cleaned up, wandered around a bit, dealt with some chores, and then jumped on my mountain bike to head back to the store. Technically I also had to drop my mountain bike off for a tune up. But this mission would also include a purchase. I was determined.

My shiny new bike

And so dear reader, after perusing the stock and chatting with the staff (who are exceptionally helpful and personable), I made a decision. I chose to purchase another Devinci; specifically, the Devinci Silverstone SL-4. My new bike is so shiny and pretty and fast and awesome. I love the way it feels. I love how light it is. And I love how fast I can go. Without much of an effort, I was biking a kilometer in 2.5 minutes. Crazy! On my mountain bike, I have to put in a far greater effort to maintain a pace of 3 min per kilometer. Awesome! And now, every time I look at my shiny new bike I want to get out on the road and fly. And that bodes well for someone who wants to bike longer treks (i.e., greater than 60km).

Anyway, the purchase of this new shiny road bike also allows me to check off item #62 on my Not-So-Bucket-List!  W00t!

Meet Lulu The Stress Cow

Meet Lulu

Hey folks. Given that yesterday I had fully expected to be raptured in the great rapturing of 2011, I hadn’t really planned any major post for today.

Anyway, I did find something the other day that I thought was so epic, I felt that it needed to be shared. What is this thing of awesomeness that I’ve decided warrants its own blog post? A stress ball.

A stress ball?

Yup, that’s correct. A stress ball. Personally, I think this is the funniest, most stress relieving stress ball that ever existed. Naturally I had to purchase it.

So dear readers, I introduce you to Lulu, the stress cow. If you want one of your own, drop by Chapters.

Happy Rapture Day

Family portrait, with all of my nieces and nephew.

So if you are reading this, it probably means that the Rapture hasn’t happened. Yet. Or maybe it is happening, but you aren’t one of the chosen few. If that is the case, I have to say that I’m flattered. Instead of being all raptured up and stuff, you have opted to read my blog.

But note, dear readers, that today is not only the day that we can expect the Rapture, it is also my Mom’s birthday. What a way to celebrate; birthday cake and judgement day!

Anyway, Happy Birthday Mom!

As I wrote on Mother’s Day, my mom is awesome. I can’t thank her enough for everything that she has done for me. For the countless hours she spent taking care of me when I was sick; for singing me to sleep; for the endless hours making cookies at Christmas; for oatmeal breakfasts in the winter; for our special mornings of soft-boiled eggs and toast; for letting me stay up to watch the North and the South mini-series, despite the fact that it was well past my bedtime; for bed times; for curfews; for trying to protect me from the abuses of the world; for allowing me choices, even when she knew I probably wasn’t making the correct ones; for all of the support and encouragement during my education, especially when I couldn’t see the end of it, and especially when I had lost the purpose of what I was doing; for reminding me why I was doing it; for proudly standing by when I graduated with my Bachelors degree, then Masters, and finally after so very many years, my Ph.D.; for keeping me grounded; for still worrying about me; for still baking me cookies whenever I ask.

She is and always will be one of the strongest people I know. She has been and continues to be one of my most influential teachers. She is my guidebook to life. She is a confidant, a therapist, a sounding board, and a friend. I take from her an example of how I want to live my life; loving friends and family with seemingly no bounds; holding true to beliefs and principles; satisfied only with the knowledge that those she loves are happy, and healthy, and content.

All of these things and more remind me of how lucky I am to have the mom that I do. She has taught me so many things and asked for nothing in return, except for the odd hug or two. And that’s okay by me. I have more than enough hugs for her.

And Mom, if you are reading this, be assured that I am happy, and healthy, and content. And I wouldn’t be this way, I wouldn’t be the man I am if not for you and all that you have taught me. I will be forever grateful for everything that you have done for me.

So dear readers, I ask that you raise a glass to my mom today. It’s her birthday all y’all. And she deserves the best day possible.

Oh, and based on what I know of judgement day, if anyone is to get raptured today, surely it’s going to be her :).

Introducing The Ass Prof Blog

So it’s official folks.  Today I launch my newest blog.  Say what?

That’s correct; I’ve started yet another blog.  But it’s not going to be quite the same as Consumed By Wanderlust.  It will still be epic and awesome and full of the nerdy goodness that you’ve come to expect here, but it will be different.  That is to say, it will represent my professional side.  It will be my professional blog.  The blog I will present as Assistant Professor of Statistics in the School of Computer Science at the University of Guelph.

Why would I want the responsibility of another blog? you ask.  Well, as much as I enjoy writing Consumed By Wanderlust, the posts here are on the less professional side.  That is to say, I don’t think my students or colleagues necessarily need to know about my travels and various adventures.  This isn’t to say that I don’t share my wanderings and such with them, because I absolutely do, but I felt it necessary to have a blog devoted to my research, my courses, and my academic pursuits.  Clearly, there will be a bit of overlap between the two blogs, but the goal is to provide unique material in both.

Anyway, my new blog is simply titled:

daniel gillisAssistant Professor of Statistics, School of Computer Science, University of Guelph

Okay, so the name isn’t as flashy as Consumed By Wanderlust, and in all honesty it’s anything but simple, but it gets to the point.  I hope you’ll take the time to check it out.  I will almost surely post less frequently there, and the posts will likely be related to interesting problems that I come across during my research or while teaching my courses.  Regardless, it hopefully will provide you with a bit of mathematical and statistical insight beyond that which has been, and will be, presented here.

Check it out.  I hope you like it :)

10000 Strong And Growing

So today marks a pretty big event for Consumed By Wanderlust. Today marks the day when this blog reached 10,000 page views. That’s awesome. Clearly I have only you, the readers to blame thank for pushing me to this milestone.

Granted, I have no idea whether or not 10,000 views of this blog in 112 days is normal.  That is, I’m not sure whether or not 10,000 is to be expected after 112 days of blogging, or if this number is above or below the average. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things.  But being a statistician, you have to forgive my wonderings. :)

Anyway, as part of the celebration I thought I would take a look at some of my blog history and traffic data. Being all nerdy and such, I present it to you in list form:

  • The blog was created on January 19th, but it didn’t go ‘live’ until January 27th.
  • Since then I’ve had 10, 000+ views.  That’s an average of just slightly more than 83 views per day.  Sweet!
  • Total views in January = 477. Average per day = 37. Total posts = 11.
  • Total views in February = 1909. Average per day = 68. Total posts = 28.
  • Total views in March = 3313. Average per day = 107. Total posts = 34.
  • Total views in April = 2532. Average per day = 84. Total posts = 29.
  • Total views in May (so far) = 1756. Average per day = 96 (so far). Total posts = 15 (including this one).
  • I’m averaging just slightly more than 1 blog post per day. :)
  • The busiest day on the blog (with 216 views) was March 10. On that day I published 2 posts: It’s Shiny And New, But Is It Squee Inducing? and It’s Pi-Eve: Only One More Pi Day Until Pi-Day.
  • Total blog posts = 181 (including this one).  Of these 117 are new (post January 19th).  The others are from an older blog of mine.
My traffic over the past few weeks. Note the total views!

Of course the data made me wonder, why was March the busiest month?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I’m assuming it had something to do with the power of Pi Day (March 14th for those of you that have forgotten).  Whatever the reason, I interpret this result as such: my readers are as nerdy as I am.  w00t!

Anyway, here’s looking to the next 10,000 views and all of the blog posts between now and then.  Hopefully I keep you somewhat entertained, perhaps provide some added nerdery to your day, and at least leave you wanting just a little bit more!


The World Is A Beautiful, Astonishing, Wondrous Place

The title of this blog comes from the final blog post of a man whom I’ve never met, but whose blog I had been following after being introduced to it by my friend Dr. Beth.  And when I write final blog post, I mean just that; it comes from a post that was published posthumously.  Specifically, It was the final blog entry of a man who spent over a decade blogging, and who knew he was about to die from cancer.  His name was Derek K. Miller.  He was a husband, a son, and a father to two.  While he died due to colorectal cancer, it is obvious from his blog that he lived his life to the fullest.  His friend Raul put it best:

Cancer: you may have taken my friend away, but you didn’t win. Because in the end, he left an amazing legacy of wisdom, courage and love.”

To read his final words, which I encourage everyone to do, click here.  But be prepared; to say it’s a tear jerker is a complete understatement.

What I found amazing after reading his final post was how much of an impact this man’s words had on me.  Someone I had never met.  Someone who lived on the other side of the country.  And here it was, a day after he died that I was reading his last ever blog entry in the University Centre on campus, trying not to break down in tears.

While I will leave you to read his words and decide for yourself what it might mean to you, I offer you the following (possibly/probably rambling) thoughts based on three things he wrote that resonated with me the most.

“It turns out that no one can imagine what’s really coming in our lives. We can plan, and do what we enjoy, but we can’t expect our plans to work out. Some of them might, while most probably won’t. Inventions and ideas will appear, and events will occur, that we could never foresee. That’s neither bad nor good, but it is real.”

I need to remember this whenever things don’t appear to go the way I had planned them.  Life is too short to waste on things that might be out of my control.  And even for those that are in my control (which I’m not sure many things are), I have to trust that I will have the strength to somehow get through them.  I have an awesome family, and amazing friends; whatever happens in life, I will be able to deal with it.

This also reminds me that I need to embrace opportunity and challenges whenever they present themselves.  I can’t put off things until later, because I don’t know if I will be physically capable later, or that I will even have a later.  I try to live my life in this manner now, but it’s always good to remember it.

“The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don’t look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same.”

To be honest, this phrase was the phrase that most struck a chord in me; I couldn’t agree more.  And I think in those times when I’m frustrated because things aren’t working out the way I wanted or had expected them to, I have to remember this.  Whatever darkness or troubles have entered my life, the world is beautiful and astonishing.  That thought alone gives me comfort, and hope, and peace.  It also inspires me.  It makes me feel that I can do anything that I want, and that I shouldn’t let fear or anger stop me from growing and improving.  I don’t want to have regrets.  I don’t want to think to myself that I should have done something that I didn’t do.  Yes, I’ve done things that I wouldn’t necessarily repeat, but those experiences have taught me things about myself that I wouldn’t trade anything for the opportunity to undo.  But to regret things that I decided out of fear or embarrassment not to do – I don’t want to have those things in my life.

Ultimately this just reminds me that my approach to the world is of my choosing.  While I don’t expect to wake up every day in the best mood, or feeling on top of the world, I do expect that when I don’t, I will recognize my state, accept it, breathe, and carry on.  I can opt to be negative, but that doesn’t lead to anything constructive.  Instead, I have to remember to breathe in the life that I have around me, recognize all that I’ve been able to accomplish with the help of my family and friends, and know that I am loved by just the right amount of people.  I also need to remember that whatever comes my way, I probably know someone that has faced far worse.  In fact, there are several friends that I draw strength from because of the way in which they have been able to deal with incredible adversity.  To say they have come through challenges or continue to bravely face challenges that I firmly believe would have crushed me is an understatement.  They are a constant source of inspiration, and awe.  I’m fortunate to have them in my life, because they have taught me so much about the world, and how I want to approach it.

“Airdrie, you were my best friend and my closest connection. I don’t know what we’d have been like without each other, but I think the world would be a poorer place. I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Wow.  Just wow.  I don’t know what else to say.  The power of these words are enough to choke me up.  When I first read them, I had a hard time not sobbing.  But they are filled with more than just the immediate sense of loss.  They are filled with the idea that this love, this connection, despite Derek’s death, will never end.  And that is just amazing.

Whether or not you’ve loved someone as powerfully as this, it’s easy to recognize from Derek’s words the importance of love in life.  Without love – be that between family, friends, or lovers – I really don’t know what this mortal experience would be.  It is, I believe, the point of our existence.  With it, we seemingly can do anything.  We are able to conjure up strength within us that we may never have known existed.  It allows us to reach our greatest potential.  It forces us to strive to be better, to live up to the love we receive from others.  It challenges us in our darkest hours.  It brings life to life.

It also reminds me of the importance of telling the people in our lives that we love them.  We never know when our last moments will be; we may not have the foresight or opportunity to construct a final post.  So it becomes even more important to tell those that we love that we love them.  To make sure they understand how important they are.  We can’t be afraid to say it.  We can’t worry that it will be rejected.  If it’s there, if you feel it, it has to be said.  For me, not telling someone that I love them would be the worst of all regrets.

So, to my family and friends, if I haven’t said it in a while (and I can’t really say it enough), I love you all.  You have made me the man I am today, and I can’t thank you enough.