Got to know when to roll ’em. Know when to fold ’em.

Occasionally the signs of ageing are so blatant that you consider shopping around for mobility aids.

I was at the gym stretching before my warm up. You know, the thing you’re meant to do in order to guard your withered bones and muscles from simply snapping? I’ve been getting over this planar fasciitis thing. I’ve been SO GOOD, taking my time, doing the exercises, keeping my activity levels down. So there I was doing a routine swan stretch and something twinged. In anything physical, a twinge never signifies something nice. A short, sharp, painful jab most likely means you’ve got a loose cog grinding away in your otherwise able machine. The loose cog, over time, is gonna bring other cogs with it. I dunno, maybe in this metaphor the cog is magnetised or particularly charismatic. In any case, I now have a weird injury in a place that’s difficult to stimulate.

“Fortunately” my body was already fucked up, so I’ve got a physio appointment booked tonight. My new injury is more urgent than the one that previously was urgent, because one of these makes walking more painful than the other. To be clear, they’re both pretty irritating, but this new one adds a significant amount of discomfort to the pre-existing condition. I was champing at the bit to be running by last week. There’s a chance this is an easy fix that requires some kind of radical physio-fu magic. More likely, it’ll instead push back my schedule by another few weeks. It’s all kinds of frustrating. If I’m gonna keep up with the clock metaphor, I’m pretty ticked off. I’m thankful my arms are working fine, but I’ll freely admit that if they hurt instead it’d really alley-oop my metaphor.

Especially if that’d help me save face.

Altogether, it does mean that time is marching on. Time has more mobility than my body seems to these days. My frequency of physical calamities is on the up too. Perhaps this is how it happens. One little niggle swells into a full blown injury, when then becomes yet another long-term condition. All of a sudden you’re wearing crocs for the sake of your health and you realise you’ve come to the end of any semblance of a life.

Soon enough I’ll think this is relevant news. Bleak.

As per the norm, I’m being intentionally maudlin. Sure, I’m irked that I don’t have full mobility. More than anything it’s reminding me that pulling out the foam roller daily for 20 minutes could drastically improve my quality of life. None of this is getting better, but maintenance could slow my degradation. Like how they repaint bridges all the time. From age 31, I’m basically trying to prevent the biological rust from reaching my heart. If I take care of myself, it could stave off the day I fly the flag at half mast.

Wait, what the fuck am I talking about? Didn’t stretching and taking care of myself get me into this mess in the first place? Screw all this positivity shit, I got dealt a lemon. I’ll be here moping until someone finally cuts me a slice of that sweet, sweet, nanorobotics pie. This non-augmented biological organism scene is a sham.

Until then, can we get Caterpillar P-5000 Powered Work Loaders for old people? That’s the future I want to live in.

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When you think about it, what is a phone if not a fidget spinner by another name?

To cap off a week in which I’ve had nothing salient to talk about, I thought I’d talk about things of a non salient nature.

Someone at work came over to my desk to say hi and give me a swag bag today. This has happened a non-zero amount of times and as such, I’ve built up a vast quantity of swag I never wanted or needed. I have three or four different mugs that are basically colour swatch swaps. I have a small wireless speaker. I have So Many Pens. I’ve got a bunch of shirts for our TV shows. I must have about ten pairs of sunglasses by now. To add to that stack, today I got a lanyard, one of those things you stick to the back of your phone so you can turn it into a fidget spinner (I think that’s what it’s for?), some branded earbuds, a reusable plastic cup/straw combo, another pen and another pair of sunglasses. You’d think people would see the stack of swag bags on my desk and stop giving me things, surely? I can only use so many mugs daily. I rarely write by hand, what need have I for more goddamn pens? I feel like my carbon footprint is slowly and surely expanding with a wake of branded sunglasses. Can people stop giving me things now? Is there some polite way to say no to gifts? Do any so called “fans” want free stuff? If anyone out there has a use for the aforementioned products, get at me. I have things you can take off my hands/desk.

I was thinking this morning about how bizarrely entitled my brain is. I have a myriad of locked and loaded references to certain words and phrases. I’m sure most people do. Mine often happen to be pop-culturally based. Subconsciously however, my brain just expects everyone else to have the same ones drilled into their mind as I do. So when I say “It’s toasted” of course I expect everyone to be all hahaha, oh yes something something Don Draper. Sick reference bro. That’s not to say that friends of mine don’t do that occasionally, because of course like calls to like. The issue is that when the tables are turned and someone else throws out some kind of reference that I don’t know, my brain questions why they think I’d possibly know what they were talking about. But it’s not one of the meticulously catalogued call and responses I’ve spent years curating. How does it even exist? I’m not the most sensible of fellows.

I’ve been ill for over two weeks now and I’m sick of it. I’m tired of this ‘being tired’ bullshit. I want for once to not go through 30+ tissues a day. I would like for my nose to be clear of sticky yellow mucus. If my voice could politely slip back to its usual register instead of an artificially deepened mess that would be grand. The head/tooth aches brought on by excessive congestion? Maybe take a knee. Also my knees? Maybe ease up the tension and let those muscles relax. While you’re at it, tell my metatarsils and tibs to give up their rebellion. Thumbs up to that. Oh, while you’re there, the tendons in my thumb have been inexplicably tight for the past while. I’m sure the solution is to settle down, do all the prescribed stretches and let the physio handle it, but if you could magically fix yourself, that’d be a big help. It’s really swell when my body works fine. I’d love to head back to that glorious status of A-OK.

Or would that make my week a little too salient?

Something To Run To.

Today in Toronto, the temperature broke into single positive digits. While often content to nary leave the house, the radiance of a sunny day was enough pull for me to do it. I put out a Facebook call for anyone wanting to grab coffee or a meal. Nobody was taking me up on the offer, so I pottered about the house for a bit. I told myself it’d be in my best interests to go for a run. Instead I procrastinated a bunch. Why get outside if the internet was inside? There was food in the fridge and the apartment was warm. I accomplished very little, but told myself things would turn around.

A friend chimed in and said she was going to yoga, but would be free afterwards. I suggested grabbing a meal and she was keen. I thought about doing my jog to work up an appetite. I thought about going for the run, then having to come back, shower and change. It all seemed like a lot. Then I realised she’d be coming from physical work. She’d still be in workout clothes. There was no cause for me to stand on ceremony. How far was her yoga studio? I looked it up and it was all of 5.5km. Entirely joggable. I could be fun and functional all in one. I plotted my route then got garbed up in multiple layers. At four degrees, if I layered up enough I wouldn’t have to bring a coat. A thermal top, long sleeved shirt and sweatshirt later, I was sweating indoors. Perfect.

The sun was beating down and smiles were out. It’s crazy how much the weather affects the mood on the street. People jovially walking dogs, grabbing coffee. It was the utter distillation of the gentrification dream. I scrolled through my iPod and found Foo Fighters. Back in my teenage rock/metal phase, I fucking adored the Foo Fighters. It’d been long enough since I last heard Colour and the Shape, but it was so full of singles it was basically a greatest hits compilation.

Everything clicked. I’d adequately stretched and had no significant muscle soreness. My ankles weren’t tight, for once. I zipped along the footpath making great time. I had an awesome flow through traffic lights and ended up stopping when I coincidentally could use a short rest. I nipped through Bellwoods and got in some casual dog-watching. Like any time where the temperature goes above zero, it was packed out. When I turned onto Queen Street, suddenly the sidewalks were packed. I still wanted to keep up the pace, so it became a little mini-game. Not to dissimilar from parkour, I bobbed and weaved, dodging people (without cutting too close and making them uncomfortable) to keep my speed unimpeded. I went around them or sidestepped into the gap between cars and the gutter. I made good time and despite the traffic, still got there in under half an hour.

This isn’t a new phenomena, but I hope I never take my mobility for granted. The concept that somewhere is very easily run-able if it’s under 6k is amazing and I’m so fortunate that’s the case. It changes the way I see the city, enabling me to get around in a more flexible fashion. I get why cycling ends up being so cultish, in that it totally opens up the urban sprawl. You’re not bound by the particular grid and can go hard on Pythagorean theory. The neighbourhoods feel different when you’re seeing them from the ground. When your agility is guiding you, it’s freeing. You feel indomitable.

Who’s the Better Man? Eddie Vedder or Leon Bridges?

It’s nice feeling indomitable again. After sinking to the depths of a mental parabola, I’ve come out the other side with a renewed vigour. I’ll run with this momentum for as long as I can. Maybe the runner’s high can keep me aloft. Anyway, let’s sprint to the next paragraph.

A friend was hosting an event for the Red Cross. It was the kind of thing I’d normally let pass me by, but a mutual friend was keen to go. My girlfriend and I were meeting her for lunch, so after the meal we went on down to check it out. You know what? I found it quite compelling. Here’s a thing. Compassion fatigue is a big force in my life. I scroll through Facebook and Reddit daily seeing just how terrible the world can be. I’ll see a number indicating fatalities or misplaced refugees and there’ll be no difference in my head between 20 and 200,000. Numbers are black and white, they mean very little to me without colour to flesh them out. I’ll hear about a tsunami in some developing nation and it’ll blend into all the other terrible stuff that happens to places that aren’t me and/or don’t play host to anyone I know/love. It’s easy to ignore atrocities when they’re so far from your day to day experience.

This event was fascinating. I dunno, maybe I was just in an inquisitive mood. I get like that sometimes. They had one or two doctors who’d worked in an ERU (or Emergency Response Unit) floating around a space that’d been outfitted with various screens and audio components. There were pictures of the Bangladesh environment in which the Red Cross had administered aid. Talking to one of the doctors, I was able to construct a greater understanding of the scope and scale of the organisation. I had no idea that the Red Cross had 190 different international organisations around the world. I was curious to hear how they distributed aid. Apparently they’ll often have specific jurisdictions or areas in which they’ll tend (Canada deals with North America, etc). Outside of this however, if they have the resources and are interested in sending aid to an area outside of their jurisdiction they’ll get in touch with national outposts closer to the affected area. They’ll then facilitate the type of aid the area needs and how to make it happen.

The ERUs I mentioned earlier are basically mobile hospitals. The setup cost of each is about $3,000,000. This allows for equipment, personnel and capacity for training. They’ll be prepared for setup, which takes around 12 hours altogether, then they’ll be all ready for operation. The idea isn’t just to get into an area, help for a bit, then leave. What they end up doing is creating a hospital, then skill sharing. They’ll pass on knowledge to local medical professionals (and to be clear, the doctor I talked to emphasised, these people have medical experience. The knowledge they’re passing on is how to use all the particular gear the Red Cross is equipped with. It’s not like they’re coming from a place of elitist ethnocentrism). The end result is that after the Red Cross have pulled out, they’ve ideally left a self-sustaining facility that can then skill share and pass on that knowledge.

What I thought was even more interesting is that there are a shortlist of ERU varieties and a limited number of them. Water and Sanitation, Logistics, IT/Telecommunications, etc. What’s more, specific countries have specific types of ERUs. They might only have one complete unit they can send out, but these countries do have experienced personnel locked and loaded to send off to other ERUs if required. So say Canada sends a Rapid Deployment Hospital, New Zealand could send their Communications team to help smooth the relief effort, disseminating vital information, etc.

I don’t want to come away from this experience sounding like I’ve become a walking evangelist for The Red Cross. My friend did make a point of emphasising that there are a myriad of various NGOs all doing valuable work throughout the world. That the notion of helping is a bigger cause than the PR of making sure you get the best photo ops. It was cool to see that some people (better people than I, even at my most indomitable) are giving so much of themselves to those in need. I doubt I’m about to start monthly donations, but it was fascinating to gain perspective on affairs that I usually would look past.

I don’t know that I’ll become a better human, but maybe I’ll listen to Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” a couple of times.

The idea was to get intoxicated, not poisoned.

Oh what a night! Is what I’d say if we hadn’t all spent it writhing around with stomach pain. Our day was fantastic, the night was an exhibition in food poisoning 101. Our delicious streetside burgers from the suspiciously sparsely named “Burger Bar” got the better of us. Pity, ’cause they were both cheap and abundantly tasty. I guess the greater cost was unseen. Our reactions ranged from repeated vomiting, to sweating and cradling our bellies. I either spent the night sleeping or hallucinating. I’m not sure. In any case, I feel oddly refreshed this morning. Maybe it’s steadfast determination made manifest. Today we’ll bounce back. Today is Barbecue Day and by God I’m more hungry for ribs than Eve.

Yesterday was Day Drunk Day, a theme we Krushed, Killed ‘n’ Destroyed like a nice 90s video game. Starting in the Rainey Street district, everything looked oddly deserted. Another bar hop area, it was all patios and lawn games, The sky was overcast and grey, dampening the atmosphere. Still, drinking was our prerogative and we were gonna make it happen. As we walked further down the street, we noticed more people. We heard music, a jazzy ensemble playing popular covers. The place, Bangers, was pumping. The line stretched down the street. We joined, until a staff member told the line there was a three hour wait for brunch. Holy shit. Maybe we’d grab something quick elsewhere, then come back for the atmos. We picked up food truck barbecue sandwiches (mine was stacked with buttery fall-apart brisket and thick spicy sausage) then headed in.

Here’s the thing about Bangers, it was go big or go home. Their trademark was colossal brunch and Manmosas. A 1 litre mimosa containing an entire bottle of champagne. It was so potent that they refused to sell it to anyone who hadn’t ordered a full plate of food. They also had a tap wall of beer with a selection of around 60 or so beers. Crazy, creative beer catalogued into sections like “light and refreshing”, “dark and malty”, “Belgian and farmhouse” and “Nitro”. My friend grabbed a sake/pizza flavoured beer, which was oddly accurate though too savoury for my palate. Anything under 5.5% alcohol volume they’d also serve in a litre jug. Good times guaranteed. The band played and they were fucking fantastic. Lively and talented, neat twists on songs we all knew. There were bridal parties everywhere with themed shirts (which, I dunno, seems to be a Very Austin Thing). So many friendly dogs (I met a wonderfully docile and soft Great Dane called Nico). The sun came out and we had a blast dancing along. The Buzz was true and our moments felt full of love. After things quietened down, our stomachs full of beer, and hearts filled with joy, we headed out to see what the rest of day would bring.

We had a couple of impromptu photo shoots along the way, goofing about as was our way. I had my heart set on Easy Tiger Bakery, ’cause I love bakeries. I was hoping to find a cute little store with nice chocolate chip cookies or something. We wandered along to our map’s instructions and found the place. It was nothing we expected and everything we didn’t know we’d wanted. A big canal ran alongside an outdoor courtyard filled with ping pong tables. The bakery also had a full beer hall, and here I was just wanting a cookie. I ordered a chocolate chunk cookie and lost my mind. So, back home in New Zealand we have this cookie brand called Cookie Time. They’re large cookies with a crispy exterior, soft interior and big chunks of chocolate. They’re one of my all time top favourite things, and utterly remarkable for a mass produced product. This Chocolate Chunk cookie was a near perfect recreation of a Cookie Time, but also freshly baked. I found my bliss. There was no way the day could get better from there on out. I’d reached peak holiday.

Then we found our new plateau. We dithered around trying to figure out what to do, while overly accommodating one another. The result was us getting a little pissy and nothing getting done. One of us wanted to see the Capitol, but also get goofy tourist shirts. I wanted to find cheap drinks. My friend was saying we should get the drinks I wanted, while I wanted her to have her shirts and Capitol building experience. Canadian politeness, eh? We’d passed a bar earlier where everyone inside shouted at us to come inside. “TWO DOLLAR DRINKS” they’d yell. “COME ON IN”. We’d learned in school not to bow to peer pressure, so we told them maybe we’d come back later and walked on by. After my friend and I argued about why it was better to accommodate the other, our fellow friend took executive decision and walked back to the peer pressure bar. It was settled.

Turns out peer pressure was the best thing that could’ve happened to us. The $2.25 drinks were decided by big Wheel of Fortune style wheels above the bar. It cost money to spin the wheel, which would change the drink affected by the wheel. One wheel for beer, one for shots and one for cocktails. The cocktail on offer was a $2.25 Bacardi Mai Tai, so we figured there wasn’t a lot to lose. EXCEPT OUR MINDS, it turns out. The drinks were delicious and the bartender was a great bloke. He was this super down to earth guy and we all had a rad time chatting to him. One drink stretched into seven or eight as others flooded into the bar. The crowd were good hearted locals and it was interesting hearing their perspectives. The kind of people whose political views were so different to our own, but what was interesting was how little that got in the way of communication.

We really noticed that while people in America hold steadfastly different views, they steadfastly defend the right of everyone to have their own views. It’s such a staunchly individualist society where people care about their right to live or die by their own ability to take care of themselves. People loathe the concept of paying into a system of healthcare where your money goes to other people. It’s anethma to them because the belief is that if you can’t support yourself, you don’t deserve to be helped. The American Dream says that everyone is entitled to reach heaven if they can get themselves there. It’s embodied in tipping, for instance, which is predicated on the notion that the better you are at making people feel welcome, the more you deserve. The satisfaction isn’t in doing a job well, but in immediate gratification for your work.

To be clear, I couldn’t disagree more. The three of us listened to these views respectfully, then told them precisely how and why our more “socialist” society worked for us. How we felt okay about paying more in taxes so that everyone could access the system. That we earnestly believed that people’s lives shouldn’t be ruined or ended because of broken structures. The concept of someone needing to choose between going to the doctor or not leaving their family in debt was inhumane. I hope some of the message got through to them, but who knows. In any case, we were drunk as skunks when we followed one of our new friends to the fateful Bad End of Burger Bar. We all know how that turned out. Or at least, I did this morning.

Oh, and The Curse of Cookie Monster has finally worn off. I’m back to brown town. Barbecue Day is truly Hashtag Blessed.

Oh to be a carb-on based life form once more.

I’m out of town tomorrow, I’m so checked out already. I’d say I might as well be gone by now, but I haven’t packed a thing. I’m heading straight to the airport after work, so I guess packing is tonight’s business. I’m going for five days, it’s hard to mess that up.

Work lately has been both difficult and simple. It’s been difficult to put any intentionality or mindfulness into my work. It’s frankly not that kind of job. It’s been simple in that the work isn’t difficult, so I’ve been carving through it in an attempt to clear up potential covering that my coworkers would need to do. With little to no extra effort, I’m about a week ahead at this point. It’s alarming how much more I could be doing in more ways than one. I’ve been under no illusion for the past few years that I’m wasting time at this job, but clearly nobody could accuse me of wasting effort. In some ways it’s made me realise how badly I want to be the kind of person who invests their identity into the way they pay the bills. In other ways it’s brought home how severely I can’t with this job. My therapist told me two years ago I needed to get out. I listened, I tried, I failed. I guess like Aaliyah I’ll need to Try Again.

In preparation for my brief Texan sojourn, I’ve dumped keto. It’s been an incremental process over the last two days. By tomorrow I feel like I will have transitioned. It was the kind of exciting shit that’s a) not actually exciting and b) actually exciting to me. Yesterday I had oatmeal for breakfast for the first time in months. It wasn’t my usual concoction (I used coconut milk instead of soy and had no banana). As a hybrid it wasn’t perfect, but non-perfect was considerably better than non-existent. This morning I tried it with a banana. The banana wasn’t ripe and thus not sweet, but the consistency was closer than normal. My body also felt buzzed indulging in real sugar, even if it was just a banana’s worth. I haven’t done a full 180, but I’m trying to up my carbs, lower my fats and increase protein in an attempt to ease the transition. I had milk this afternoon. Tomorrow I might even try bread. What a brave new old world. On Friday I’m going to ingest every single carb based food in existence. Food truck tacos, pizza, burgers, chips, lattes, cookies, cakes, beer, happy hour cocktails. I’m going to return as a blimp to save on airfare.

I have one work day left. That’s it. I’m likely gonna do about an hour’s worth of work then spend the rest of my time twiddling my thumbs until it’s early enough to ditch. Speaking of which, it’s about time to check out here.

One more day! One more day!

What am I? I’m just a chicken. Chip-chip-chip-chip-cheep-cheep.

I’d say that I don’t know where to start, but there’s really only one place to start: At the beginning. It all began at the leftmost side of the page, right up the top. You weren’t there when it happened, but it’s where you joined in. Like, a line or two above this very one you’re reading now. At this point, you probably realised that this wasn’t going anywhere narratively. In a more literal sense it’s heading to the right in a downwards direction. Metaphorically, it’s spiralling in a downwards direction.

I was gonna make some glib comment about how my life’s following suit, but really that’s not so much the case. If anything’s following suit it’s this entry, which follows yesterday’s entry in which I talked about my newly acquired suit. Cue the groans and strap yourselves in, folks. I’m in one of those kind of moods. It’s not a bad mood per se. Also I should refrain from using the word “bad”, I’m better than that, right? Dreadful? Ghastly? Dour? Contentious? Erroneous? Double-plus un-good? Aside from padding for time, I’m not sure why I went on that tear. I’d already said I wasn’t in a “bad” mood. I had a really relaxing night last night. I’ve got no important plans for the next two days and I’m whimsically sailing through time powered by the lightness of being. Also I’ve decided I’m going to drink tonight.

*Shock*

Haven’t I been going on about keto for the past bloody forever? Now I’m casually introducing the imbibing of libations? I never said I couldn’t drink on keto, I merely said I wasn’t. I haven’t been. It makes it easier to lose weight and seeing as that was the goal, I didn’t. However at this stage the finish line is in sight. I’ve lost as much weight as I’m realistically gonna lose and I figure it’s time to prime my body once more for eating like a normal trashy human. I’ve stopped trying as hard. Simple as that. My old phone bit the dust and this new one doesn’t have My Fitness Pal installed. I haven’t bothered. I’ve stopped logging food meticulously and instead I’m just eating within the nutritional boundaries I learned from the diet. By now I kind of know how many calories/carbs/fats/proteins most of my regular foods have, so I figure I don’t need to make such an effort to harvest the data if it’s causing me such stress. Instead of aiming for specific macros, I’m keeping my carb intake low, eating moderate protein (and more on days where I lift) and having as much fat as I want when I’m hungry. Coincidentally I’m feeling a lot better about it and myself. I’m still in ketosis and the funny part is that according to the ketogenic [urine -ed] strip I just urined, I’m incidentally producing more ketones than I was when I was trying really hard. Overall I’m not sure that’ll affect anything. I’ve hit a weight where I’m comfortable. I’m happy as I’ll ever be looking in the mirror and that’s good enough for me.

Alcohol has no carbs. Diet sodas have no carbs. On the other hand, alcohol is the first thing your body processes (with it being a poison and all). Like a theme park queue jumper, it’ll push that whole ketogenic body devouring fat process to second in line. The food you eat will stay as a backlog and stick around waiting for its turn. Plus while diet drinks don’t have carbs, they can cause blood sugar spikes similar to insulin responses. These won’t knock you out of ketosis, but it’s kind of like when you’re waiting in line for a roller coaster and the person in front asks if you mind if their partner can join them. No biggie, you say. But then it turns out they’re part of a massive polycule and suddenly half of The Bay Area is pushing in line and your five minute wait became five hours. To be entirely honest, I’ve got nowhere I need to be in a hurry. If I’m gonna have a blast getting nostalgic watching the 90s promotional videos they’re screening on overhead CRT screens. Why yes, I do want to buy into the elaborate backstory of a fucking Godzilla themed rollercoaster. That sounds just like my kind of zoning out.

Plus tonight’s party is themed after The Room and I was obsessed with that film ten years ago.