Yeah yeah yeah, you turn it into a rectangle, then how do you not get tangled?

Oh I love The Internet.

It probably consumes most of my waking hours. Whether I’m scrolling through Reddit/Facebook/Twitter, playing Magic, streaming shows or, well, doing exactly what I’m doing now. I’ve become used to the internet as a forum for arguments, hatred and showcasing the worst that humanity has to offer. Political rhetoric may not have overtaken porn as the central use of the internet, but it’s zooming right up its butthole. Even with the absurd amount of time I spend on it, I still forget how genuinely useful the internet can be.

I’ve had this muscle in my arm that’s been sore for days. At the top of the forearm, kind of on the outside, by the bicep. I don’t know how I stressed it (some kind of overuse, no doubt), but it’s been making itself known quite profoundly. Any time my right arm has been bent and doing some sort of pulling motion, I’ve felt pain there. Bicep curls, obviously. Pull ups, definitely. Outside of gym stuff, certain gripping actions have inflamed it. Feeling down the arm, I noticed that the muscle was connected somehow to my index finger. I wondered if it’d been because of workplace RSI. I’ve tried at multiple junctures to do trigger point release. In short, finding points on the muscle where pressure created strong pain, and holding that point firmly until the pain eased. Letting the muscle relax, basically. I did a bunch while lying in bed last night, and found the stress abating a bit. Pleased, I nodded off. I woke up this morning, with the pain still there.

Disappointed, I consulted the internet. Google has gotten adept enough to handle my dumb queries (“muscles connected to the index finger”), and I found a page full of individual arm muscles. I looked through them all until I found the one that seemed to fit my symptoms/arm location. The brachioradialis. I then searched for brachioradialis stretches. Within a minute I’d found a YouTube video of a British physiotherapist giving a stretch for the muscle. I tried the stretch, it went straight to the source of the pain. I tried on the other arm just to test. Nope, no pain. I’m pretty sure that I’ve found how to ease the strain over the next few days. I consider this a total success.

It’s so easy to forget this part of the internet, but it kinda feels like that was what people originally had in mind. The internet, despite all the trolls and clickbait, is a massive repository of human knowledge. Chances are, anything you’ve asked has already been solved (and/or, pornified. Thanks Rule 34). I don’t know how many times I’ve asked the internet questions like:

  • How do I fold a suit for travel?
  • How do I fold a fitted sheet?
  • How do I iron a shirt?
  • How do I cook ______?
  • What is a remedy for _____?
  • How do I sew a button?
  • Sorry, I forgot the fitted sheet thing?
  • Which bike accessory fits my needs?
  • What do I eat/drink/see in this city I’m visiting?
  • Is there a free alternative to this software?
  • Is there an easier alternative to fitted sheets?

Mostly, the internet has delivered. There are any number of tasks that get so much easier with guidance, and if you’re willing to look, the internet provides.

Also, thanks to The Google effect, I still haven’t bookmarked that Martha Stewart folding fitted sheets video.

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May as well say the same for the rest of the world

I’m seeing AC/DC on Friday.

Well, an AC/DC cover band, at the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show. I’m taking a day trip with a friend. I’ll jump on most any excuse to go exploring, and our last trip there was tons of fun. Then the next day, I get to have Thanksgiving lunch with her family. Bonus. I remember when I arrived in Toronto, I had these grand designs of travelling all over Canada. I made it as far as a few cottage trips with friends, and one or two day trips. Having access to a car would make this all the more accessible, but I can’t afford the cost of owning a car in Toronto. Insurance alone is upwards of $2.5K per year. Owning a bike is quite frankly enough responsibility for me right now. So the GO train it is!

In coincidental preparation for Friday, I watched Detroit Rock City with friends. They used the excuse to psyche themselves up for an impending Detroit trip. My plans were somewhat less thrilling. The film was fun and dumb. Set in 1978, it followed four boys on a road trip, desperate to see their favourite band Kiss perform in Detroit. It was ludicrous, totally over the top. At the same time, if I’d discovered it at age 16 it would’ve been my absolute favourite thing. It has not aged well (especially considering it was released in 1999 “the same year as The Matrix” a fellow viewer kept repeating). It’s equally homophobic and sexist, filmed entirely through the male gaze. The kids get into some serious shit, and the last third of the movie grows pretty damn dark. The depths to which the kids sink in order to get to their concert defy reason. At the same time, it was a neat, forgettable movie to watch on a lazy night. We all snuggled up and passed bowls of home flavoured popcorn. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

After most people left, a few of us stuck around awaiting a second movie. As we tried to figure out what to watch next, I noticed two attendees stretching deeply. One did a lotus pose, and folded their legs into their chest. The flexibility was unreal. We all tried, but few of us succeeded. Someone ran me through the motions, then pointed out how tight my left glute was. So I stretched as we waited. I spent the next half hour, under their advice, stretching my glute out. They told me to pulse: Push the stretch with medium strength for seven seconds, then release, wait, and repeat. I tried this off and on, and couldn’t believe how much extra flexibility I gained. I tried stretching my posterior chain. One of the attendees helped me with my stretch. They were a shiatsu practitioner, and guided the flow of my back, neck, and hips. I felt the strain slowly drift away. By the end of it, I was doubled over neatly, hands wrapped around the backs of my ankles. I felt so fucking good. It made me realise just how tight I’m normally wound. How it’s possible to stretch passively while watching a show, or waiting. I understood the capacity I held to feel so much better in my body, if I just spent the time. I considered how a more robust stretching schedule would fit into my life. I went home feeling great, passing out soon after my head hit the pillow.

Then this morning I biked hard, tightening my posterior chain all the more. There goes progress.

Best of all, I don’t even need to toss any wrapping paper

Is there any more splendid feeling than giving yourself a gift?

This morning I had cereal for breakfast. On my days off, I’ve been becoming lazy about eating breakfast. My usual porridge seems too much of an ordeal, and I have cereal instead. I have a favourite small spoon. It’s halfway between a tea spoon and dessert spoon. It’s very sturdy, and ideal for porridge, which is often too hot to eat a lot of at once. When I have cereal, however, I like having a dessert spoon. It’s more in line with my ideal cereal per bite (CPB. An unnecessary acronym I’ll probably never use again). Today I reached into the cutlery drawer before emptying the dish rack. I found a dessert spoon with a large bowl, of a solid density. I realised that months ago I bought myself this spoon, then forgot it existed. It’d been buried under our more commonly used spoons. What a gift I gave myself. My cereal was at least 20% more enjoyable than it would’ve been otherwise.

Today I made a gift for my future self. I finished up at the gym, and looked at the scale. It’d been six months or more since I’d last looked. I’ve always had a pretty shitty relationship with the scale. I know that numbers are just that, and lack the nuance of proper health indicators, etc. I’m fit, flexible and fibrous. I don’t have any major ailments or conditions. I have an excellent quality of life, and I’m happy. Still, I’ve been raised on years worth of RPGs, and it’s hard not to look at those numbers like an XP meter. At times when I’ve worked hard, then seen lower numbers on the scale, it’s reinforced a positive relationship between that hard work and results. In times when I’ve felt shitty about my body, those numbers have made me feel substantially worse. A while back, I realised that those numbers had a net negative effect on my life, and resolved to ignore them.

At the same time, I’ve been feeling good about myself lately. Between going on anti-depressants, and the life changing effects of enjoying how my new work structure makes me feel, I’m riding on a high. I know that I’m not at my most toned, but I have a positive self image that’s improving my ability to navigate the world with a more balanced attitude. When I look in the mirror, I like my body. It’s a huge development, and I’m incredibly grateful to be undergoing it. I looked at the scale, and asked myself a question: Given that I’m happy with how I look and feel right now, would those numbers make a difference? I’d still be the same no matter whether or not I stepped on the scale. If the numbers attached to the way I feel were higher than I expected, but I was positive about that body, would those numbers mean anything? Purely out of logic, it didn’t make sense to get emotionally wounded by a few digits. I decided that if I could step on the scale and feel okay regardless, that would be a huge victory, lesson, and gift for my future self. I stepped on the scale.

For reference, my resting weight is around 78kg. If I’ve been working really hard at toning up, I often get to around 74kg. I think 73kg was me at my most toned. I was at 83kg for years, and it was a real effort to get under 80kg. Once I got there and made some healthy life changes, it became easier to maintain it. The scale today said 79kg. I stepped on and felt. Well. Fine. So I was heavier than my resting weight, but what did it matter? Just a number. I felt good about myself, and why would one digit change that? I’m hoping this is something I can carry forward, knowing the absurd weight those numbers have carried for years.

This was a great gift today, just imagine how good it could be in the future.

A wheely good time

To everyone who said I’d love having a bike, fine. You were right.

It’s not like I didn’t know I’d get into it, but it took some time to get there. Thing is, getting a bike is a process. It sounds simple on the surface: Give money to a retailer, receive bicycle. In reality, there are far more steps. What kind of bike do you want? Something racey and road-ish? A hybrid? A commuter cycle? What size are you? What frame fits your body? Do you need gears? If so, how many? How heavy do you want your bike to be? Something that’s easy to lift? Or one that sits more firmly on the road? These are all questions to think of before you even get the bike. Oh, and a helmet is super important too. Gotta protect your bike purchasing brain, otherwise how will you decide what you need?

Once you have one, there’s nigh endless customisation to think of. What extra gear will help you? What kind of handlebars are comfortable? Do you need some form of basket to ferry stuff around? Keep in mind that everything you get adds to your weight. Are you ever planning to cycle at night? Because that’s something to consider. Better get a headlight and rear light. Maybe some reflective gear so you don’t get sideswiped out of nowhere. You don’t want to be another statistic, right?

Are you looking to take your bike out in public? Because theft is sadly a thing. You need a lock. What kind of lock? There are U locks and chain locks and cable locks and Irish lochs. Teensy joke. But a lock is no joke, seriously. People will steal anything that’s not fixed, apparently. Friends have told me to remove anything that could be stolen, even my lights. Theft is supposedly rife in Toronto, so I was advised to get a U lock and loop it through both my frame and back wheel simultaneously. Also to get a cable lock for the front wheel. I finally ordered a substantial, fuck-off-sized New York Kryptonite lock, which has enabled me to actually take my bike out with me. Before that, I was hesitant to ride it anywhere I couldn’t safely store it. I spent $500+ on this bike. It would’ve broken my heart to lose it so quickly.

With that out of the way, I love it. I’m biking to and from work when weather permits. We have bike storage in our work basement, so it’s safe there. It’s wild doing an uphill ride home after midnight, but it’s kind of exhilarating. I may need new quad-forward jeans soon. Zipping around is making me feel like a kid again. I’m doing dumb little jumps over curbs, weaving between tight turns, speeding to make lights. I even do that silly low centre of gravity speedy bike squat thing when I’m going downhill. I’m really into gaining momentum, then letting my weight carry me. I get to choose my path through the city, doing creative problem solving on the fly to arrive at my destination faster. It’s neat.

Of course, it turns out drivers are a big obstacle. I’ve been fine so far, but there’s something about zooming past parked cars that makes me anxious. It’s only a matter of time until I get doored hard. I’ve been fully utilising my bell to keep cars abreast of my location. It’s a hella cute way to be passive aggressive. It’s kinda funny that, getting my bike so late in the season, I only have a few months before it’s over and I’m back to public transit.

Until then though, I’m gonna have my fun.

Pro tip: Make it as easy as possible to say yes

Fitness is really hard. I’ve been working at it for a long time, and I don’t think there’s a point at which it just gets easy. I was chatting with a friend about how to get back into it, and I figure if it helps others, I might as well share some paraphrased snippets.

Finding a good routine really helps, and consistency is a big part of that. If you can try to be active (note, this doesn’t have to be strictly going to the gym. Biked around a bunch? Gone for a long walk? Helped a friend move? Had a big night out dancing? It all counts) three plus times a week, it’s a good goal to hit. This is a pretty good maintenance level, and tossing more on top would help you see progress. Still, maintenance is a great goal in itself, and if that gets comfortable, work towards progress.

Unfortunately for me, sleep is a big part of the equation. I love staying up late, I don’t really love sleeping, but in the past few years I’ve noticed how much a solid amount of rest does for my body.  I try to get 7-9 hours a night if I can. If my schedule is regular (when working 9-5 I had a pretty consistent midnight snooze, 7:40am rise and shine going), it helps me stick with a routine, and recuperate after a physically tough day. Magnesium citrate isn’t essential by any means, but it does help my muscles recover well, and improves the quality of my sleep. I think you are really on the money looking at sleep patterns. That’s really hard.

So back to the routine thing. Getting something regular going really does help. The hardest thing about fitness type things is not finding excuses. If you form habits around your activity, it’s more difficult to find reasons why you “can’t” [as an aside, a big part of feeling good in your body is knowing when you do need to take it easy. There’s no value in just pushing yourself against your better interest. It’s definitely more beneficial to take a rest when you’re feeling unwell, or too exhausted to give it a proper go. You’ll get to know the signs of this eventually]. If you have a regular work schedule, try to fit your activity around it. Do you get energised and ready to face the day post workout? Or is it a useful way of working through frustrations? Maybe do it post work.

It can be worth understanding how to motivate yourself. A common dichotomy is internal motivation vs external. Internal motivation means you’re doing it for yourself. Whether that’s proving that you can accomplish something so you know what you’re capable of, or setting goals to feel satisfaction through your own progress. Maybe validation important to you, and your goals are more aesthetic. Whatever gets you moving, bud. External motivations lie outside yourself. That could be getting fit to be able to keep up with a partner, your dog, kids. Or even so people will think you’re cool. I dunno, I’m not you. Find what inspires you to work, and use it.

Good personal trainers are worth their weight in gold. And trainers are often heavier than gold, so I don’t say that lightly. They’ve always been fiscally a bit out of my reach, but I have done a handful of sessions and they deliver great results. They’re good at looking at your goals and working towards them. Or if there’s too much info out there and you feel overwhelmed, a trainer can take care of the planning for you. I’ve never had a gym buddy, but I’m sure it helps for accountability. If you’ve got someone on a similar schedule, that could help. I mean, accountabilibuddies work in AA, right? Also, having accountabilibuddies you don’t work out with can be really helpful. Just talking things through, y’know? For instance, if you wanted me to be your accountabilibuddy, and you were debating whether or not you could be bothered going, I’d be happy to talk it through. Something like:

“Have you been active over the past few days? Do you think you’ll feel better if you don’t go? Or is this an “I’ll be okay if I make it through the doors kind of thing”?” etc.”

If you’re looking for a pull quote, it’s this: Fitness motivation is really hard, because results don’t come fast, and the rewards aren’t often noticeable. Like, the reward for keeping limber is that you don’t hurt as much doing things. Say you got a lower back ache every time you left a certain chair? You’d notice if you hurt, but it rarely registers when you don’t. But that in itself is a huge burden lifted, I can’t even describe it. Being not in pain so frequently has a cumulative effect. It just feels easier to approach things, and overall makes life easier.

Look, I know how hard it is. I struggled for a good 10+ years going to the gym before it stuck. Then things came incrementally. I’ve learned a lot over time, and the more I learn, the more I appreciate what I know.

Mostly, I know that I appreciate it.

There’s still time, I could be heroes!

Today’s been busy, so I’m gonna rely on some tried and true bullet pointing. Who’s in?

Here are some things I liked about today:

  • I watched this video about an influencer saboutaging a dumb reality TV dance show first thing in the morning. It kind of made my day.
  • I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm.
  • When I walked into the front of the atrium to grind my morning coffee, I stood on the glass platform as I usually do. I looked down, and realised that there was a self-contained glass box underneath me that never gets cleaned, as evidenced by the weird big mess that was there. Like a coffin for spills. I like finding out new stuff.
  • I got to get out for a lunchtime jog today.
  • Five people waved back to me on my jog today.
  • I saw a dude walking three huskies.
  • One of my co-workers used the word “delineation” in a meeting.
  • I got to chat with a longtime DV person, and she had a bunch of interesting stuff to say.
  • Another of my co-workers introduced me to K.Flay and her album Solutions. It was a fun listen.
  • I got to eat strawberries at work, which rarely happens. It’s not even that I like strawberries much, but I do like variety.
  • I ran into a guy I’d done a bunch of job applications for and got to tell him about my new position. He seemed genuinely very stoked for me.
  • I listened to half an episode of Netflix’s Daredevil so I could witness its Described Video. The DV was astoundingly good, even if I’ve long since given up on the show. Not only was it beautifully worded, but they found a fantastic balance between the dialogue and descriptions. The DV in particular is important, ’cause the show’s about a blind superhero. A+++, would recommend ‘watching’ with your eyes closed.
  • I drank a can of clamato that’s been sitting in my drawer for fuck knows how long, and it hadn’t gone off yet.
  • It was my penultimate day in this job.

Things that I liked less about today.

  • We started the day with a shitty meeting that was shitty. Nobody was particularly impressed by it.
  • The meeting sprawled into a bunch of extra work throughout the day and my schedule got totally blown out. I’ve been playing catch up all day.
  • The strawberries, while novel, were not very good.
  • I’ve had fewer poops than usual. Like, a normal human’s quantity of poops.
  • The TTC car I boarded was stuck between stations for maybe ten minutes. I had a podcast to listen to, but it still wasn’t ideal.
  • It was really sunny, so my jog was extra exhausting.
  • I hit a bunch of stop lights on my jog, which meant it took longer. Technically this gave me a bunch more breaks though, so that was kind of nice.
  • I still have an entire day at this job.

ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY.

“Grims” for short

If there are two things I love, they’re food and words. If there are three things I love, delivering on promises probably makes it in.

I did it friends, I finally bought a bike.

Every year in Toronto it’s the same cycle (no pun intended, honestly [really? -Ed]). I’ll trudge through the winter muck, and think about a time where I could be speeding through the streets of Toronto, taking shortcuts and doing sweet jumps. I tell myself this year. This year I’ll finally get a bike. I could get around the city so quickly, keep fit, stop paying exorbitant amounts for a metro pass each month. Spring transitions to Summer, and I feel like I’ve lost my chance. It’s too late, I should’ve bought one already. If I get it in Fall, I hardly get to use it at all. So I tell myself next year. Next year I’ll finally get a bike.

I got my goddamn bike. His name is Grimsby and I love him.

I’ve been loosely planning to go shopping with my friend for a while. He’s been a bike mechanic off and on for years. Loves bikes. Bikes everywhere. He knows what to look for in a bike, all the factors to consider when buying one. He knows the places to go, he has connections and understands the parts intimately. Yesterday we finally made it happen. I told him that my overall budget was around $500. I met him at this place on Spadina. He said they find really good second hand bikes and do them up. Very fair prices, and quality materials. He’d traded/worked with them on and off for the past decade. When I arrived, he’d already picked one out for me to look at. He said it was around $300. He told me about the frame, and how lightweight it was. He compared it with another $700 bike and said they were virtually identical, aside from one or two small details that could be fixed up. He checked the height and shape of the bike against my stature. We tested how much leg extension I’d get, whether I could stand up straight on the bike if I was stopped at a light. It looked to be a decent fit. He checked the wheel alignment and tinkered around a little. He said he wasn’t gonna send me out on a bike that he didn’t think was 100% safe. He went out for a ride and came back a few minutes later, tinkered a little more and adjusted various things. He showed me the gear system, which was unusual. It was this little toggle on the right side of the frame, not far from where my knee would rise up. He passed the bike to me, and I whipped around the block. It was great to be on a bike again. I wasn’t wild about the handlebars, a little more narrow than I was looking for. The bike weighed almost nothing, but I tend to prefer heavier bikes. Makes me feel settled on the road. I didn’t change the gears, but I tested how it’d feel to use that toggle. It was odd, I kind of had to hunch over. I didn’t like it. I brought the bike back to the shop and said it was okay, but failed the Marie Kondo test.

The owner popped up beside us and asked what I didn’t like about the bike. I said I was looking for something heavier. I liked the idea of gears, and would’ve preferred something on the handlebars. He pointed out a bike off to his right. Big purple thing. The owner walked away and let us talk. My friend took a closer look. He asked how much it was, the owner said $500. My friend checked whether or not I’d be okay going over budget. I said I’d consider it. He peered closer at the bike. There was a gears system on the handlebars. Eight speed. He glanced at the gear system, then looked back. He checked the breaks. “Drum brakes” he said, as if I knew what that meant. He turned to me and whispered “these wheels are worth more than that last bike”. We measured the bike up to see if I liked the feel. It was a very comfy bike, and the height was much better than the last one. Heavy bike, which I was looking for. It had a rack over the back seat, to which I’d be able to affix a basket or something. The handlebars were wide, and I could ride in a relaxed position. He did some checks, then took it out on the road. He came back and passed it to me. I sat on and started pedalling. It felt like I’d owned the bike for years. I tried some curb jumps, messed around with the gears a bunch. It was perfect. I brought it back and told him what I liked, and what I thought could use some work. He chatted with the owner, who said the price was a flat $500. My friend told me a little about bike theft, how common it was to get wheels and seats stolen. He said there were options. I could get multiple locks, a solid one for the back, and a lighter one for the front. He also mentioned a pinhead system, which would make it extremely difficult for thieves to take your wheel on the fly. The store had one, the owner said they were $70. My friend haggled a bit, and asked how low he could go if I bought the bike. He got him down to $50, then saw a pinhead package that included seat security. Seatcurity? He asked the owner if $60 would be appropriate? The owner grabbed a bell and a few lights, said he’d throw them in for me. Cash only. I went to the bank and withdrew $500 (my max daily limit) and combined it with the $65 I had in my wallet. I had $5 cash left for the rest of the day.

We walked out, and my friend said the bike was worth about $1000.

We biked around, picked up a helmet, and I zipped off home. I blinked, and I was basically there. It took maybe 15 minutes for a ride that’d usually be 30.

Holy shit. It feels good to deliver on a promise.