More obvious answers to obvious questions

(Technically the question is implied, not stated outright.)

Question: The Trick to Shorter Meetings?
Answer: End them sooner.

Thank you. My consulting fees are reasonable, please see my LinkedIn for more.

Treadmill walk: Pandemic edition (2 of an ongoing series)

On the last day of the first full week of working at home, I chose to not go for a walk at noon–not because it was cool and rainy (that’s oddly nice right now, because it means fewer people are out and aboot), but because I wanted to start getting back onto the treadmill regularly again.

Strangely, I was peppier than expected, especially during the second km where my pace was a zany 8:48/km. I don’t know if the music* got me revved up or if I was working out frustrations, but I motored. And felt pretty good, too.

There’s not much else to say because, well, treadmill. I am thinking of doing an actual jog on the treadmill soon, but I think I want to do a few more outside in the plaguelands first.

Stats below. Compared to the previous walk, my BPM is a lot higher, but again, I was trucking, so no surprise there.

Speed: 6.5 km/h
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:09/km (9:22 km/h)
Time: 30:03 (30.05)
Distance: 3.28 km (3.21 km)
Calories burned: 328 (277)
BPM: 151 (133)

* the music was Brian Wilson’s 1988 solo album, which I actually quite like, despite the weird, almost formal-sounding vocals

Egg quest complete!

I didn’t even realize I was on an egg quest until I went shopping for eggs.

Of course, in this time of panic-buying and hoarding, the grocery store had no eggs. Like, none at all, not even the most expensive, free range “the chickens that laid these live better lives than you do” eggs.

I went across the street to Shoppers Drug Mart as they have a few aisles devoted to groceries. I wasn’t expecting them to have any eggs, but lo, they did! I grabbed a dozen (I didn’t see any signs indicating limits but I’m not a panic-filled hoarder) and went to the checkout…where the cashier was standing behind a giant plexiglass partition. It had a cutout in the bottom for me to slide the eggs through so he could scan them. He did so and placed the eggs and the receipt at the end of the till, away from his body.

It was a bit weird.

But now I can have eggs for breakfast for at least six days.

The real key to social distancing

With both provincial and federal governments starting to get testy about people not practicing social distancing when out in public (in order to slow the spread of COVID-19), there are plans in the works for fines and other measures to make people behave more sensibly while in the middle of a global pandemic.

But the best plan of all is set to arrive tomorrow and it won’t cost any government a single cent (if they still minted them):


People will pack the beaches and parks when it’s sunny and 14º but not so much when it’s below 10º and pouring rain.

So thank you, Mother Nature, for not raining on our parade, but rather being the parade.

Run 647: The first pandemic run

Run 647
Average pace: 5:48/km
Location: Brunette River
Start: 1:42 pm
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 29:13
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 12ºC
Humidity: 55%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 166
Weight: 171.5 pounds
Total distance to date: 4845 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (205 km)

Technically today was not my first run since the global pandemic started, but it was the first since, to frame it colorfully, shit got real, with lots of closures and a huge emphasis on “social distancing”, which I will get to in a bit.

First, this was my first run in three weeks. I’m not sure how I managed to go another three weeks without doing an outdoor run. I swear I’m not lazy. Today I headed out in mild conditions wearing my light long-sleeve shirt and would have been fine in a regular t-shirt, as it was not cool in any way (in all senses of the word).

I wasn’t sure if I was going to run at the lake or the river, so I walked to the end of the river trail to give me more time to decide. Given how many people were about, I chose the river trail, as it would be easier to keep some separation between myself and potential plague carriers.

This turned out to be surprisingly difficult, despite the river trail actually being a gravel service road that is wide enough to (barely) accommodate two vehicles passing by each other. Why? Because people are dumb or indifferent. Observe below.

Good people: Walking close to each other, staying on one side of the trail. Lots of room to pass by without getting close.

Bad people: Spreading themselves as far across the trail as possible, making it impossible to keep the recommended safe distance away, which is six feet or two meters, depending on how metric you are. For example, two friends (?) were walking down the trail, but they were walking down the middle and also had some strangely large gap between each other, effectively providing three narrow channels for me to choose from. This would be like if every chalice at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was poison. You can’t help but to choose poorly.

There was another pair that did the opposite, which creates nearly the same issue. One was walking a dog (all dogs were leashed today, which was nice, if odd, to see). One walked on the left side of the trail, the other on the right, with a gap between them that again left me insufficient space to squeeze through as per social distancing recommendations. Why would you even walk like this? It would be like walking on opposite sidewalks down the street. Do they secretly hate each other? Does one of them have dog allergies? These two ended up making me alter my run.

Oh yes, the run. It was surprisingly stressful because I did not want to have to keep carefully dodging around people who could potentially be carrying COVID-19, I just wanted to run. I almost felt like stopping early to I could just get out of there. After going between the two–let’s call them “space” people–I realized that given where they were, I would have to pass between them at least two more times to complete my run. I opted to turn around early before getting to them the second time and when I got back to the entrance I was at about 4.5 km done. I ran off the trail and onto the sidewalk on North Road, figuring I’d do the last 500m by running into and through Lower Hume Park. It was then that I saw directly on the sidewalk a huge group of people. I mean, this is something I never see. It’s like they specifically appeared to induce anxiety in me. I waited a few moments for a gap in traffic, then crossed over to the empty sidewalk on the other side.

I didn’t hit 5K as soon as I would have liked, so had to turn out onto the field and finished as I ran across the baseball diamond. It felt a little weird.

The actual run itself was fine, especially given the three weeks away. My pace was 5:48/km, better than expected (though as always the river trail is more forgiving than the lake), though my BPM ticked up a bit to 166, though it’s possible my general fretting may have contributed there. I was pretty tense the whole way, only relaxing a bit during those rare moments when no one else was in sight.

I actually wished it had been raining so these people would have stayed home to watch Contagion on Netflix.

I’m not sure when I’ll run outside again. Maybe when the weather is miserable, which will ironically make me happier.

A stroll around (half of) Burnaby Lake

Yesterday Nic and I took a break from the pandemic to stroll around and take pictures at Burnaby Lake, roughly up to the halfway point before taking the SkyTrain back. Ironically, social distancing was far easier on the SkyTrain (virtually empty) compared to the trails at the lake, as it was sunny, mild and packed with people. And ducks. And pigeons. And poopmonsters.

Here are a few pics I took along the way with my iPhone 8. Nic’s DSLR with a telephoto lens that could double as a murder weapon took better close-ups, but hey, you work with the tools you have. These pics are still better than what my vintage 2008 digital camera could do.

Still Creek being true to its name .

Looking west over the lake, not a lilypad in sight.

Fungus in the forest.

And the obligatory duck picture taken at Piper spit:

My only political cartoon post (possibly)

I normally don’t post political cartoons, but I’m making an exception here because I think this one perfectly captures the essence of a person entirely unfit for the position he holds and his real priority–himself.

For future generations (if any): This refers to the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020

More things not to do in the pandemic (and a few you can)

Closures continue, though we’re not in full stay-at-home mode yet like California, where its population of 40 million people (more than all of Canada) are literally being asked to stay home and not go anywhere unless it is for an essential service.

Here’s the latest bunch of things I can’t do:

  • Go out for dinner (all restaurants are closed except for take out and delivery)
  • Get a coffee (Starbucks is closed. Technically, I still can go because they are keeping stores close to emergency services open and there is one a few blocks from Royal Columbian hospital that’s open, so if society begins to totally collapse and I want a final oat fudge bar, I’m set. For now.)
  • Go to a playground in Vancouver (the ones in New West are still open for the time being, with signs basically telling kids not to play together which…uh, good luck with that?)
  • Go to work (work from home started on Wednesday; staff are only going in on an as-needed basis)
  • Buy groceries between 7-8 a.m. (reserved for seniors and those at risk, though I’d only shop this early if I was doing it in a dream, anyway)
  • Go to The Other 11 Months local NaNoWriMo weekly writing group (postponed indefinitely for obvious reasons, though I haven’t gone for quite awhile due to my extended writing slump)

But to not go all Negative Nellie, here are things I can do:

  • Grab a bunch of free games from services ranging from Apple’s App Store to
  • Buy Serif’s line of excellent Affinity software for 50% off
  • Go outside, provided I practice social distancing (as a bonus, the weather has finally been sunny and mild this week)
  • Ride the bus for free and enter through the rear doors (to promote social distancing)
  • Purchase a Nintendo Switch w. Animal Crossing bundle (just kidding, this thing is sold out everywhere)
  • Bu the new iPad Pro with LIDAR! Why would I want an iPad with LIAR? I do not know.

The next phase of this pandemic will be interesting. Everyone will adjust to the restrictions and the novelty of it will keep things interesting for a few weeks. But I suspect a lot of people think it will also be over in a few weeks and if it’s not…what next? People lived through years of war, but in our hyper social media-dominated world, will we as a society have what it takes to keep it together if all of this starts stretching past weeks and into months?

To quote Home Simpson, “I don’t know.”

At long last toilet paper

A blog headline I never thought I’d write.

Today at noon–the first day of spring (and a glorious early spring day it was)– I went to Save On Foods and found the toilet paper aisle empty, as usual. But at the end of the aisle there was a small pallet with a partly opened cardboard box…filled with Western Family toilet paper!

I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been working from home and able to check over lunch they would have been out again after dinner, even with the new 1-per customer limit (down from 2-per just yesterday). I consider this acquisition a minor miracle, given the awesome panic and hoarding that is gripping the general public.

I am hoping this is the last time I feel a need to blog about toilet paper.

This day

Today was not a good day.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Also, here’s a quote from someone on Broken Forum:

On another topic, people have been stealing toilet paper out of the hospital bathrooms, because apparently humanity is beyond redemption, and also desperate enough to steal the single-ply industrial sandpaper they use there.