Category Archives: Family

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This post will likely end up darker than most of what I’ve written previously. For those who came here expecting my usual fare, I apologize. I should also apologize in advance because I’m likely going to drop the f-bomb. Trust me, each and every one is in my opinion warranted. Mom, you may not want to read any further.


I’ve been struggling over the last 24 hours about how I wanted to address something that happened yesterday. In fact, I have been torn about whether or not I should write about it at all. But, given that this blog is often an outlet that helps me sort through the comings and goings of life, I’ve realized that if I don’t write something I’m going to pretty much drive myself insane.

When I arrived on campus yesterday I opted to check my on-campus mail – an entirely unremarkable and typically uneventful habit that usually has me finding the odd memo, but more often empty space. Yesterday I smiled as I saw what I assumed was a much delayed Christmas card – a small envelope decorated with a peace dove; a small berry laden branch in its beak.

The envelope was addressed to me – appropriate title, full name, and including my middle initial. However, it was also addressed to an office that I haven’t had since 2010, so the original office information was scratched out and updated accordingly by the fine folks from Math & Stats who would have handled the mail.  There was no return address, and after reading the contents I would scan the envelope again to identify that the Canadian stamp hadn’t been post-marked by Canada Post. That is, the letter was hand delivered to campus.

I returned to my office, settled in, and happily opened the envelope. Inside I found a tattered and stained pamphlet. There was no note; zero indication of who sent it to me. It was just a pamphlet.

Without getting into the details, I scanned the pamphlet and immediately felt my stomach knot, and my heart rate jump. I was instantly overwhelmed with a feeling of dread, of unease, and of maliciousness. My mind raced to plausible alternatives, and the best I could come up with was that someone I knew found this pamphlet, thought I might find it hilarious, and decided to send it to me. There’s a huge part of me that hopes that is the case.

But, I reasoned, why no return address? Why no note reading Dan, read this bullshit. Can you believe people are like this? If this were a joke, wouldn’t the punchline be obvious. Wouldn’t my reaction be this is hilarious?

Instead I kept returning to the pamphlet and the words within; words like blasphemy and heresy and anti-Christ. I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve received something like this. I’d like to say that it doesn’t bother me. And I’d like to think that I won’t ever receive something like it again. But I can’t honestly say any of those things, because history – my personal history – has taught me that I would be foolish to think such things.

To be honest, it has been a very long time since something like this has disrupted my life. It’s been many years since I felt like my feet have been swept from beneath me; like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me; like the world in which I live is a dark and scary place – full of threats and fear. And I loathe this. I loathe these feelings so much because I would rather choose to live in the light, to believe that we all have something amazing to offer this world.

So to whomever sent me that note – fuck you. Fuck you for spreading darkness and fear. Fuck you for trying to intimidate me. Fuck you for being a coward. Fuck you for thinking that your vitriol would change me. You may have hit me when I wasn’t expecting it but I’m not so easily defeated. I know who I am and I know I will come out of this the better man – because I have been through much worse than your pathetic attempt to bring me down.

To the family and friends whom I’ve chatted with about this, thank you for your support, thank you for your concern, and thank you for just being amazing. While I’m likely going to be out of sorts for a day or two, know that you are the beacon that will keep me on course.

To anyone out there who has to deal with bullying, or harassment, or homophobia, or sexism, or any of the many other horrible things we do to each other, stay strong, focus on the helpers, and know that you are stronger than those who would choose to make you feel small.

Buyer’s Remorse? Not Yet

The wee fuzzball, enjoying a quiet Christmas night

Today is a comfy-pants kind of day.

Like many of you, I spent yesterday celebrating the Christmas holiday the way it was intended to be celebrated: with lots and lots of food. And booze. And more food. And coffee. Also scotch. And pie.

And because I’m a spoiled bastard, I did all of this while barely contributing much more than my presence to the Christmas celebrations. Personally, I think the Christmas day hosts got the short end of the stick. They prepped and cooked and cleaned and served and served some more; I was chauffeured around, delivered to and fro, stuffed full of treats and coffee, and I was fed and then fed some more.

Today my waistline feels as if it has expanded into territory it hasn’t seen since a hasty retreat several years ago. While the food was definitely worth it, I’m sure a case of buyer’s remorse is going to kick in soon enough. But that’s something to worry about another day. For now, I’m going to enjoy the quiet comfort of my home, and the wee fuzzball snoozing next to me.

I’m also going to spend the day with the very comforting knowledge that I have an amazing group of friends; people who invited me into their homes, treated me as family, and shared their holiday traditions with me. So thanks again Bang, Lindsay, and Henry for an awesome Christmas brunch. And thanks Mark and Julie for a fantastic Christmas feast. I’m so very fortunate that I have you nerds in my life.

Merry Christmas all.

 

I Miss The Mountains

We came. We saw. We conquered.
Me, Rick, and Aidan at the top of Sparrowhawk

On Tuesday afternoon I made my way back home to Guelph, having spent the prior week visiting Rick in Calgary. The adventure was amazing – but that really wasn’t a difficult bar to pass given that the trip involved mountains, hiking, meeting up with friends, good food, a drink known as Better Than Folgers, more mountains, Banff, hanging with both Rick and my brother, and basically celebrating the anniversary of the grandest of adventures known as the Big Mountain Challenge.

Since I returned I’ve been running around a little crazy – doing last-minute and final prep for the course that I’m teaching this semester, organizing my undergrad and grad students1, organizing several projects, organizing the Farm To Fork launch party, trying to come up with a prioritized list of things to do, and basically doing whatever I can to make sure the next several weeks/months aren’t too stressful2.

Easier said than done, obviously.

Despite all of this (and the occasional build up of anxiety3) I’m feeling good. I think my trip has a lot to do with that. There’s something special about mountain air that does my body good – providing me with better focus, more energy, and the drive to crush whatever obstacle might be in my way. And I’m going to need that this semester, because my list of projects and papers and grants and talks and posters and events could be overwhelming. I just have to remember to take the time – especially when the anxiety and stress start building – to stop and reflect on my mountain-top adventures. Because nothing destroys my stress quite like the mountains.

And I think that’s why I miss them so much.


I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures and a video below – some of these are new, some you’ve likely seen before, and some are courtesy of Rick. Enjoy.

Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Nerds
Nerds
Adventurers (at Mount Indefatigable)
Adventurers (at Mount Indefatigable)
Climbing Sparrowhawk
Climbing Sparrowhawk
Not the summit of Sparrowhawk, but still pretty impressive.
Not the summit of Sparrowhawk, but still pretty impressive.
Pika!
Pika!
Sunset following our Sparrowhawk climb
Sunset following our Sparrowhawk climb
Climbing Mount Indefatigable
Climbing Mount Indefatigable
At the top of Indefatigable. Epic scramble. Epic ridge walk.
At the top of Indefatigable. Epic scramble. Epic ridge walk.
More of Indefatigable
More of Indefatigable

1 Which really means organizing myself.

2 Such as snuggling with Elliot.

3 Apologies to Julie who had to hear a mild rant today.

 

Sparrowhawk Down

My note to the mountains - left at the top of Sparrowhawk
My note to the mountains – left at the top of Sparrowhawk

Yesterday we conquered Mount Sparrowhawk and it was – in a word – amazing.

Sparrowhawk stands 3121m (10239ft) above sea level, and requires 1350m (4429ft) of elevation gain from the trailhead to reach the summit.

The hike began at 10:40am and ended about 8.5 hours later (including several stops for snacks, and about an hour relaxing on the summit). The first part of the trek was steep; winding through beautiful forest, and offering views of Spray Lake below, and a seemingly endless line of mountains all around. Despite losing the trail (thanks to my wonderful vision) we eventually found ourselves above the tree line. It was around this time that we were passed by a woman – probably in her 40s, possibly 50s – who ran by us.

Laughing at the top of Sparrowhawk
Laughing at the top of Sparrowhawk

“Just training for a marathon” she called to us as she ran by.

Just training for a marathon I thought. Amazing.

We carried on, tackling scree and talus, and making our way to the summit which slowly crept closer. Trail marker after trail marker were eventually passed. The lake below shrunk, the sky seemed to grow larger, and more and more mountains became visible in the distance. The terrain was rough, but in spite of its harshness, moss and lichen were abundant. We also heard the unique chirp of pikas which called the mountain home.

We came. We saw. We conquered.
We came. We saw. We conquered.

After about 4.5 hours of hiking, we made the summit. And holy hell, it was absolutely breathtaking. The weather afforded us views that were seemingly endless. I have no idea how many photos we ended up snapping, but everywhere we looked was deemed worthy of a picture. I wish I could describe just how amazing it felt.

We stayed atop the mountain for about an hour before making our descent. The trek down was faster as parts of the mountain side were covered in scree; permitting us to ski down.

Enjoying the views at the top of Mount Sparrowhawk
Enjoying the views at the top of Mount Sparrowhawk

The hike ended at Spray Lake – and even though the water was icy cold, it was the perfect spot to cool our feet after such an epic hike. We didn’t rest long, however, as hunger called. Fortunately, the town of Canmore was nearby so we stopped at the Grizzly Paw for beer and burgers.

Today this leg of the adventure comes to an end as I have to board my flight home in a few short hours. I’m going to miss the mountains, and I’m going to miss Rick. Fortunately I know that this will not be our final adventure together, nor will it be my last day in the mountains.

So be prepared mountains – I’ll be back.


Falling To My Death? Not Today Indefatigable. Not Today.

The Mount Indefatigable trail - hitting both north and south peaks.
The Mount Indefatigable trail – hitting both north and south peaks. Image via: http://www.soistheman.com

Yesterday Rick, Aidan, and I jumped into the car and headed to Kananaskis country to face the challenge of climbing Mount Indefatigable (stopping first at Starbucks and Safeway for necessities like go-go juice, snacks, and lunch).

Approximately 1.5 hours from Calgary, Indefatigable actually represents two peaks and a ridge connecting the two. The southern peak is approximately 2556m (8386ft) above sea level, while the northern peak is slightly higher. According to this website, the peak reaches 2678m (8786ft) above sea level. Not the highest peak that Rick and I have ever done, but still a solid adventure.

Rick, getting close to the southern peak of Mount Indefatigable
Rick, getting close to the southern peak of Mount Indefatigable

The first half hour included a rather steep incline, and amazing views of the lakes surrounding the region. The weather was perfect – not too hot, not too cold – and the company was fantastic. The hike included a lot of laughter and chatting, and every few steps hooting and hollering. Why? Well, it turns out that we were hiking a decommissioned trail; decommissioned because it is home to several generations of grizzlies. The hoots and hollers were to warn them of our presence, and hopefully scare them off. The last thing we needed was to be eviscerated by a hungry grizzly.

Once we passed the tree line, we were greeted by the ridge that defined the Indefatigable trail. According to the experts, the trail from north to south would be tough, but we were determined to conquer it. There were a few sketchy areas that gave all of us pause – partially to figure out our footing and grip, partially to breathe, gather our thoughts, and quell the voices in our head that might have been screaming to turn around because holy shit why would we put ourselves into such a crazy situation? To put the climb into perspective, there were sections where, while not quite vertical, we were forced to hug the mountain for fear that the slightest slip would send us falling several hundred metres to the valley below. In fact, the major hazard described for this climb: falling to your death. 

Rick pretending to be Icarus on the sketchy part of the climb.
Rick pretending to be Icarus on the sketchy part of the climb.

Talk about a rush.

Fortunately none of us fell to our death. And despite a few breath caught in our throat moments, we reached the north peak with only a few scratches and scrapes. Our reward – absolutely spectacular scenery. Honestly, the views were probably some of the best that I’ve ever seen from a mountain top.

After resting for a bit, we began our venture along the ridge from the north peak to the south peak. Walking at times on a path about a foot and a half wide, with very steep drops on either side was amazing. Strangely, we all felt quite comfortable traversing the ridge.

A nerdtacular shot at the top of the north peak.
A nerdtacular shot at the top of the north peak.

We reached the southern peak around 5:00pm. Tired, but still energized, we took some more photos, soaked in the scenery, and then began our descent. The trail here was steep at points, but well-defined and quite easy to hike. Along the way we ran in to some mountain goats who seemed to be enjoying the views of the valley from high above.

The entire trail took us about 8 hours, including several stops for snacks, lunch, and about 10 thousand photos.

Honestly, yesterday could have only been better if our friend Paul was able to join us.

Helloooooo Mountains

At the edge of Ha Ling
At the edge of Ha Ling.

Just over a year ago Rick and I began the Big Mountain Challenge to raise money for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. The adventure required that we hike several mountains, canoe Lake Louise, raise oodles of money, and spend a large portion of our time being spoiled rotten by the awesome folks at Chateau Lake Louise, the Banff Springs Hotel, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it.

To say that the adventure was one of the greatest experiences of my life would be an understatement.

On Wednesday night I flew into Calgary to meet up with Rick once again – this time with my brother Aidan in tow – to celebrate the anniversary of the Big Mountain Challenge.

Our adventure started yesterday. While Rick was at work, Aidan and I ventured to MEC (for some necessary equipment), and then to the Calgary Farmers’ Market (for some necessary donuts and other foodstuffs). After sufficiently stuffing our gullets, we picked up Rick and made our way towards the mountains. Specifically, we made our way towards Ha Ling Peak.

The hike was short, full of steep inclines, mixed with sunshine, cool breezes, and later on, a bit of rain. We started around 5:30pm and finished four hours later. As per usual, we were greeted with amazing views during the entire hike, and breathtaking views once we reached the top (a few shots of which are provided below for your viewing entertainment).

As with most of my hikes I learned a thing or two on the mountain. First, dehydration, exhaustion, heat, funky airline food, and Aidan do not mix. Second, I challenge anyone to differentiate between the remnants of a bear attack and red Gatorade mixed with prosciutto and white bread. Third, I prefer climbing up a mountain in the dark vs. climbing down a mountain in the dark. Fourth, rocks and roots are extra slippery on the way down. Fifth, and most importantly, I love the mountains.

Today is our rest day. Tomorrow we tackle Mount Indefatigable. Later, Mount Sparrowhalk.

Yup. The Big Mountain Challenge Anniversary is shaping up to be a pretty epic adventure, and I couldn’t be happier.


1 Ha

At the top of Ha Ling
At the top of Ha Ling
Hiking up Ha Ling
Hiking up Ha Ling
NERDS! I'm being followed by nerds.
NERDS! I’m being followed by nerds.
The beast known as Ha Ling
The beast known as Ha Ling.

Shenanigans Are Nigh

Rick and me near Sentinel Pass
Rick and me near Sentinel Pass, during the Big Mountain Challenge (Sept. 2nd, 2012)

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly the time for shenanigans, but shenanigans are nigh – so very, very nigh.

For those not in the know, I’m about to take a real vacation. What do I mean by real vacation? Only that I’m about to board a plane (requisite number 1), travel afar (requisite number 2), and do something crazy (requisite number 3) with someone almost as crazy as me (requisite number 4).

In this particular case, I’ll be boarding my flight to Calgary on Wednesday eve. You can rest assured knowing that my flight will more than likely include a scotch or two – because, well, VACATION!

On the other end of my flight will be fellow partner in adventuring shenaniganery, Mr. Rick. You may remember Rick from last year’s Big Mountain Challenge. You may also remember that last year’s Big Mountain Challenge happened at approximately this time last year – which makes this trip our Big Mountain Challenge-versary. While having a “versary” isn’t a requisite for any of my travels, it does up the awesomeness that is this trip.

What crazy things are we going to be doing? Well, in true “versary” style, we shall be celebrating the Big Mountain Challenge-versary by climbing several mountains. This may or may not include (but most likely will include) jump shots, yoga, high-fives, and seemingly death-defying photos that aren’t really in any way death-defying. Okay, maybe the death-defying photos involve things that most people would find crazy and such, but never fear – Rick is the voice of reason and has the power of veto should any of my ideas push the envelope of good taste or safety. Actually, he’s only ever vetoed things that push the safety envelope, because let’s face it, good taste is not really in our vocabulary. Ha!

So far I’m only aware of two adventures that we’ll be doing. The first – retake Mount Yamnuska. Apparently the first time Rick and I did this, we actually didn’t hit the peak. Clearly this is a mark on my otherwise spotless (Ha!) record, and it must be rectified. The second – conquer Mount Bourgeau.

I can’t freaking wait.

Of course, I still have a bunch of work to do before all of this happens. Which means I need to focus. Easier said than done. My brain is full of outdoors-y thoughts, mountains, fresh air, adventures, shenanigans, laughing, chatting and spending time with someone I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with.

Sigh. Only 52 more hours until my flight leaves. But who’s counting?

So This Is 38

Apparently I’ve survived another year on this, our wee blue-green spaceship

Thirty-eight.

Three Eight.

Three.

Eight.

I’m trying to decide if thirty-eight has a nice ring to it or not. There’s nothing particularly wrong with thirty-eight. It’s a perfectly cromulent number, composed of two rather curvy digits (and who doesn’t like curvy digits?). But it’s also not entirely notable. It doesn’t represent any of the standard milestones – sweet 16, legal drinking age in Canada, legal drinking age in the States, 25, or dirty 30 – and it’s just shy of the four decade flag. It’s not prime. It’s not a perfect square. It’s just plain ole thirty-eight.

And yet, as I sit here thinking about how plain thirty-eight appears to be, I just can’t seem to accept it. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that 38 could be awesome.

I mean, the years that came before 38 have been pretty great. I’ve been fortunate enough to land myself a job that I love, and that permits me the opportunity to explore (both theoretically and in application) the world around us. I’m surrounded by a rather weird yet incredibly wonderful assortment of family and friends who, despite the crazy ideas that pop into my head, never cease to offer their support and love (and sometimes pie, or date squares1, or chocolate). And I’ve been able to travel – not nearly as much as I’d like, because let’s be honest, I’d be travelling and exploring and adventuring every day if I were independently wealthy.

My life is pretty awesome. I don’t write that to brag. I write it because it’s good to take stock and remind myself just how lucky I am; to remember that even on those days where I’m not feeling like things are going my way, that the overall trend has been positive and getting better every day.

And this is why I get the sense that 38 is going to be anything but plain.

So here’s to another year of adventure, another year filled with shenanigans, and family, and friends; a year full of highs and lows – but mostly highs; a year full of laughter, and more laughter, and laughing so hard I cry just a little; here’s to 38.


1 I’m not saying that date squares would be a pretty stellar birthday gift, but, actually, wait, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

You Hang Up

We should be best friends
We should be best friends.

This weekend was the 30th anniversary of the Hillside Festival. It was also the 2nd time I attended. My first venture to Hillside was 2 years ago. At that time, I attended because I had promised Dr. Steph that I would.

And I’m a man who keeps his promises.

Apparently.

What is Hillside? For those not in the know, Hillside is a giant music festival that is held at Guelph Lake. It has several stages, hosts numerous workshops, and has crazy awesome food considering it’s a music festival.

Seriously, I’d go just for the food.

Anyway, this year’s visit was slightly different from the last. This year I went to Hillside because I was running one of the workshops. The major goal was to teach people about food insecurity, and introduce them to the Farm To Fork project.

I started the workshop out by having everyone introduce themselves; name and a brief description of what they do for a living. A bit of an ice-breaker if you will.

During the second workshop, Dr. Steph joined. Naturally, she introduced herself as Stephanie and stated “I’m a Statistician”. Of course, I already knew that, what with the fact that the two of us basically held hands and hugged our way through the joy that is the PhD together. At mention of her being a Statistician, I may have cheered a little (It’s not too often that Statisticians are cheered, so we try to cheer each other on whenever we can).

Shortly after Steph’s announcement, one of the other audience members – a student of mine who knows that I too am a Statistician – decided “You two should be best friends”. I mean, we’re both Statisticians, so clearly we have to be best friends.

Despite my love of all things math-y and stat-y, it got me thinking: what would our relationship be like if all Steph and I had in common was our shared love of numbers and greek letters? Sure, we’d be able to calculate the estimates of various model parameters, we’d be able to derive an estimate of the variance using Taylor series expansion and the delta method, we’d be able to simulate millions and millions of individuals given certain statistical properties and correlation structures, and we’d be able to develop new and novel methodologies for data that aren’t quite normal – but would that be enough to sustain us?

I believe we just divided by zero.

I’m confident to say yes, I believe we could have a relationship based solely on the beauty that is math and stats. We would get together, derive and extend models, talk about statistics, write code, run simulations, and be perfectly content.

But it wouldn’t hold a candle to the relationship we have. It would be devoid of the crazy long nights spent hunkered over a computer, stressed beyond belief, tired beyond words, desperately trying to solve whatever problem-du-jour popped up on our paths to PhD’dom. It would be devoid of the adventures in New York City, and Vancouver, and Toronto, and everywhere else we’ve found ourselves. It would be devoid of moments of absolute insanity, laughing until we couldn’t breathe, and our sides hurt, and our faces hurt, and tears of joy poured out of our eyes. And it would be devoid of all of the lows that come with the process of getting a PhD, and the challenges that life sometimes throws at you. It would be devoid of the hugs – the hearty celebratory kind, the comforting and holding me together kind, the I’ve missed you so much kind. It would be devoid of such an amazingly beautiful and wonderful and kind person. It would be devoid of love and friendship and so much awesome. It would be devoid of everything that I love about Steph that is so much better than math and stats.

So while I could be best friends with Steph because we share the common interest of Statistics, it wouldn’t be enough. Because Dr. Steph is so much more than just statistics.

- no, you hang up.

 

Natasha The Spider

The Incredible Spiderman

Remember just over a week ago when I met Natasha? And then remember how I held Natasha like we were age-old friends? And remember how I promised there’d be video?

Well, dear readers, I am happy to say that a video is ready for your entertainment. I think the video gives you a general sense of how freaked out I was, but I’m also amazed at how well I held myself together given how much I was screaming on the inside. I’m not saying that I deserve an Oscar for my performance, but I’m also not saying that I don’t.

A huge thanks again to everyone who helped me deal with my fear. Thank you to so many of you for coming out or supporting me via the Twitter. Thank you to everyone who donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association. And an extra huge thanks to Jasper Tey for filming the event. Not only did he manage to capture how much I was shaking, he spliced together – in my opinion – a really entertaining mini-documentary of the occasion. You sir are kick-ass awesome.

And now without further ado, I give you Dan And Natasha, A Love Story With 10 Legs.



Choosing My World

The past week has been, well, thought provoking to say the least.

Earlier in the week I learned that a former office mate was killed in a car accident. While I didn’t know him other than as the always smiling Masters student who shared an office with me, his sudden death was a shock. He was 26 years old, and based on our brief exchanges while we shared office 309A together, and based on the things I have read that his friends and family have posted since his death, he was full of life.

Since learning of his death, I have found my thoughts have often wandered to him – wondering how cruel it seemed that his life had been cut so short, wondering what those he left behind must be going through. I have answers for neither of those things. All I know is that his death has struck a chord in me.

That chord – that still raw nerve that had been struck earlier this week – was struck again today.

This morning I learned news of a friend – someone much younger than me – that took my breath away, quite literally. My heart ached and my stomach turned on news of a terminal illness. Again, I wondered how cruel it seemed that someone so young would have to face their mortality in this way. How was this fair? Knowing this person as I do – so full of life, so amazing, so smart, so positive and happy, and gifted with one of the best smiles possible – the kind of smile that beams from every corner of their face – how could I accept this outcome as anything but cruel and wrong?

Obviously there is no rhyme or reason to disease and death. There is no way to accurately predict where and when our time will come. Sure, we can attempt to evade both as long as we can with pills and diet and exercise and even machines, but there are no guarantees, no sure fire solutions, no magic, no last minute pleas with whatever higher power you might believe in. At least, I don’t think there are. But then again, I don’t really know. I’m not sure anyone knows really.

What I do know is this – our time on this earth is limited. It’s not enough to just wake up and go to work and come home, lather, rinse, and repeat. It’s our responsibility to live every day as best as we can. I’m not suggesting that it’s our individual duty to solve all the problems of the world, but I am suggesting – demanding even – that we at least wake each morning with the goal of making our little worlds better. Smile. Help someone. Be kind. Hug your friends. Bear hug your friends. Tell those you love that you love them. Tell them again. And remind yourself that you too are loved and are capable of amazing things.

We can’t control many things in this world, but we can control how we choose to live in it. This week I was very much reminded of that.

The Year That Was

I also have conquered Cascade Mountain. It's also what I do.
One of the most amazing things I did this year? The Big Mountain Challenge.

Remember back in the old time-y days of 2012? Those were good times.

Anyway, now that it’s the future I figured I should take a few moments to look back on the year that was 2012 to remember what I’ve accomplished, and identify those challenges that have eluded me for one reason or another. Perhaps the challenges were a bit too grand, perhaps I didn’t try hard enough, perhaps I realized the challenge wasn’t worth my time because something more important fell into my lap, or perhaps life just got in the way. Whatever the reason, I’ll use the things I did and the things I didn’t do in 2012 as a baseline for the things I’ll want to accomplish in 2013.

So, without further ado, I present to you dear readers my list of successes and failures from 2012:

  1. I ran 2 marathons in a 3 week period, plus 15 half-marathons in 2012 – 5 in December alone. While I hoped to run 3 marathons in 2012, the Goofy race should allow me to cross run 3 marathons in a year from my list. I also ran in 8 official races although my goal was 12. One of the eight races included my first Around The Bay 30 km, my fastest 10 km time, and my first sub 4 hour marathon. In total I ran 944.3 km despite having a goal of 1000 km. While I missed my running mileage target, I’m still excessively proud of what I managed to do over 366 days.
  2. I biked 582.2 km, although I had aimed to bike 2200 km. This is probably my biggest failure of the year, and something I’ll need to work on in 2013. Regardless, I posted my very first 80+ km bike ride in 2012.
  3. I walked over 1500 km successfully crossing another item off of my list. This challenge seemed almost too easy though, as I walk to and from the office almost every day. As such, I’ve upped my walking mileage goal significantly for 2013.
  4. I helped Rick raise over $25000 for the Kidney Foundation of Canada by climbing 5 mountains in 7 days.
  5. I went zip lining again, edge walking twice, sky diving again, bob sledding, and ice climbing.
  6. I blogged every day for an entire year.
  7. I significantly reduced my debt, and increased my net worth. W00t!
  8. I managed to reduce my original 30 year mortgage to 14 years by negotiating a lower interest rate, and increasing each payment by 15%. This year I’ll once again increase my biweekly payment to reduce the length of my remaining mortgage even further.
  9. I learned to cook dairy free treats (such as pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and Irish cream). I’m definitely going to keep exploring this in 2013.
  10. I travelled to Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise, and Ottawa. Sadly, I didn’t make it to New York City in 2012. I also didn’t travel outside of the country. Clearly my wanderlusting ways won’t allow this to become the status quo. Regardless, my trip to Banff and Lake Louise to compete in the Big Mountain Challenge with Rick was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was so much more than a vacation, and something that I won’t ever forget.

Overall I managed to cross off 33 things from my Not-So-Bucket-List list. While this is fantastic, my original goal was to cross off 42. Even still, I can’t complain. I was busy the entire year with challenges, work, and fun. I spent a great deal of time with people I love. I travelled. I experienced new things. I pushed myself further. I laughed. I laughed a lot.

To say that 2012 was fantastic for me would be an understatement. It’s not that there weren’t set backs and challenges outside of my lists – because there were. But I know it was fantastic because when I think back on all of the things that happened in the past 366 days, I can’t help but smile. Friends, family, adventures, successes, failures – all have brought me to where I am today.

Truly, looking back on the year that was reminds me of how lucky I really am.

Here’s to an amazing 2013. Happy New Year everyone.


Welcome Christmas

This is one of my favourite Christmas morning Calvin & Hobbes comics.

After all of the running around, preparing, and planning, Christmas has finally arrived. For many, that likely means presents, food, drinks, more food, even more food, and dessert. And if you’re me, it might also mean some scotch, because Christmas really isn’t Christmas without a wee dram or two.

Anyway, having stuffed myself silly, I seem to be suffering from food-sketch; you know, that point after eating where you’ve realized that you’ve had one cookie too many, or perhaps you should have worn a muumuu to dinner. It’s the same point when all the blood has rushed to your stomach to digest the vast quantity of foodstuffs you’ve just ingested, leaving your brain without an ample supply of oxygen and at the mercy of such tasty beverages as wine and scotch.

Given this, I’m going to stretch out on the couch and lose myself in a movie or two.

Merry Christmas everyone. I sincerely hope you were able to spend your day surrounded by those who mean the most to you.

Christmas Eve Eve

I remember when I was younger how time would slow to a crawl prior to Christmas arriving.

Holy hell. How is it Christmas already?

With all the running around and shopping and cooking1 and visiting with friends2 and parties and lunches and gift exchanges and pub crawls3 and beers and cookies, time has flown by. When I was young, it felt like every second until Christmas morning was longer than the last. And here we are – tomorrow is Christmas Eve – making today Christmas Eve Eve.

Given the crazy schedule of the past week or two, I opted to spend the bulk of my day lounging at home watching movies while the wee fuzzball purred contentedly nuzzled in the crook of my arm. I assume he was purring contentedly because he remained there, curled up with me for hours. He purred through several movies, only moving when I had to get up to answer the call of nature or to get something to eat or drink.

After we had finished watching our second movie, I had one of those moments where I was reminded how awesome the simple things in life are, and how amazingly lucky I am to be able to enjoy them. I think that’s one of the best things about this time of year. It’s remembering all of those little things that make life amazing. It’s not the fancy ribbons and bows, it’s not the shiny new baubles and trinkets. It’s the laughter and smiles shared with loved ones. It’s the time spent with family.

And in my case, it’s the Sunday mornings spent watching movies with a good friend.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve all y’all.


1 Ha! Who am I kidding? I didn’t cook anything.

2 One of my favourite Christmas things to do.

3 Such as last night’s the 12 Bars of Christmas.


Persuasive Moves

I should be this bendy all of the time.

Since I’m going to be back on the treadmill tomorrow chasing down my dream of crushing Goofy, I figured I’d spend as much time as I could over the past few days stretching. In my world, stretching is as important as every minute I spend running. Honestly, if I didn’t take the time to stretch I can’t imagine how I’d feel. I’m sure my body would become so wound up and tight that at some inopportune moment in the very near future, it would just snap into several pieces.

Fortunately yoga and stretching help a lot. Combined with massage, and visits to my friendly neighbourhood Chiropractors1, and the odd round of acupuncture, I manage to stay flexible and loose enough to maintain the excessive mileage required to train for half marathons, marathons, and the Goofy race. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m stubborn as hell.

As of right now I feel much bendier than I did on Sunday when I opted to cancel my scheduled 30 km run. My body isn’t nearly as achy or stiff as it was then. In fact, I was considering adding a run today because it feels so much better. Sadly, my hamstring and quadricep muscles have apparently decided to resist my persuasive stretching moves2. How that’s possible, I have no idea – my moves are pretty persuasive. Because of this, I’ve decided to err on the side of caution and not push an extra run that isn’t necessary.

Look at me being all cautious and stuff.

To provide a little more convincing to those stupid hams and quads of mine, and because my hams and quads are so very clearly asking for it, I’ve decided to write this post while rolling around on my Y-roller. You may remember mention of this little torture device from previous posts (such as here).

It’s difficult to describe the pain that I can inflict on myself using this rather innocuous looking device. Suffice it to say, I’ve been dropping some pretty colourful language3. Poor Elliot is so disturbed, he’s resorted to hitting the catnip.


1 The good Doctors Mark & Julie.

2 Stupid hams and quads, why won’t you relax?

3 Mom, if you are reading this, colourful language means phrases like the following: