Monday, December 27, 2010

Reluctant Winter Runner - Part 3

Finally gave the "traction aids" for running on ice and snow a whirl while visiting my mom in cottage country over the holidays. It was minus 20, likely colder than that with the windchill, so I bundled up and gave it a go!

I was surprised at what a difference it made, at least for me! Bare in mind that Mom lives literally on a very "back" road and thus very little traffic but thick ice! Lots of hills and chances to go for a spill! I felt completely solid and safe and did an easy 45 min with some hill repeats (with her Pyranese mountain dog Bella in tow)!

I will say though that since I have been home, I took the shoes with the traction slip-ons on for a run on our city sidewalks and through my local park. I got about 10 min out of the park before I realized one of the aids had slipped off! I made tracks back to retrieve it and had to sit on my duff in the snow to put it back on my shoe! I really didn't notice it missing at first until I looked down!

Placebo affect? For me, I could still feel the other shoe digging in.

All in all I really think they are worth the money. I know you can get a cheaper version at Giant Tiger, not sure if they work as well.

Even just for my own piece of mind, I seem to push myself faster, knowing I won't hit the dirt, er ice!

Love my traction aids and my RunKeeper app!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The End of Comedy? The Arts?

I complain all the time about how absorbed people are in their technology. I bet many of you sat in on your children's Christmas concerts/pageants this year. I am curious, when you looked around, how many of the parents were texting during the performance? Sure, it may not have been little Johnny's class up on stage, but does that give people license to ignore the other children?

It didn't occur to me until I read this article about a veteran stand up comedian who is hanging up the mic because the audiences are turning into zombies, that the performing arts may suffer because of our need for immediacy and validation.

In the comments section of the Toronto Star article, someone offers that they work at a theatre and that this sort of thing happens all the time. Texting, video taping, people letting their kids run in the aisles or taking them to a show that is inappropriate for their age. People just don't seem to care.

Not only is etiquette dwindling, but the performers, like the comedian in the article, are saying enough is enough. They are not being respected.

What will this do to our culture, one that was once rich in artistic creativity? One that at one time appreciated a 90 min performance and showed that appreciation by not speaking nor doing anything but paying attention. I'm not sure if some theatres do this, but one in our city asks people not to unwrap candy during a performance as to not distract the subjects on stage!

Many balk and say simply "it's just the time we live in".

Is it? I happen to know some people that don't even OWN a cellphone. Some that never Tweet, Facebook and some that don't even have an e-mail account.

I am guilty. I text, surf, Tweet, Facebook but a face to face conversation takes precedence. The only exception is an emergency.

So what IS an emergency? I guess it differs with everyone but I'm again curious. If someone yelled "FIRE" in a theatre, would people take them seriously? Would there be an urgency to get everyone outside? Or would people just look around at each other and wonder what they should do? Wait until someone TOLD them what to do?

Certainly an interesting an experiment to conduct. I suspect we've all become sheep and would wait until a leader emerged to shepherd people out.

That's exactly what has happened when it comes to technology taking over our lives. We've become sheep. No one seems to want to stand up and say "enough is enough", reclaiming the respect that people deserve.

Some people have rules for themselves like turning off the smart phone during turkey dinner. Some sadly do not.

Technology may change the culture we live in. Maybe for the better, maybe not.

It's really up to you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Technology and Christmas

It's fascinating to me how fast technology becomes obsolete. Every year it's a new gadget especially this time of year! Video gaming units, HD or 3D TVs, satellite radio, EBook Readers, with each turn of the calendar, there's something new coming down the pipe.

This video was broadcast here in Canada in 2003, long before EVERYONE had a cell or smart phone as we live now!

2010 appears to be the year of the iPhone4. The lure of a function called FaceTime has left many drooling for the new function, especially during the holiday season. Here's Apple's ad promoting it:

For many of us, members of our families are flung around the globe and we ache to be geographically closer. I have talked to my nephew on the phone in England during the holidays but in later years got to see he and his sister open their gifts via webcam. This kind of technology is so precious!

But it still saddens me as I get prepared to take the train to visit relatives, that I will see most with their heads down on the old Via Rail. Almost every train is now equipped with WiFi and many that commute to larger centres like Toronto, bring their laptops to do work on the way to their place of business. Most in the coming days however will also be toting a smart phone of some description letting Mom and Dad know when their train gets in. It is possible to go from point A to point B, a 5 hour journey say, and not speak to a soul! I think social networking, texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, are so popular because every human soul needs validation. Someone to care. It used to be that face to face conversing was the best form of that but someone responding to your pithy Facebook status is a form of validation. Getting text messages constantly, validation. Tons of Twitter followers, validation.

While the gadgets come in handy for travelling (What did we do before cell phones and people had to drive to Grandma's house in a snowstorm for Christmas dinner???) I think it's important to have that REAL "facetime" with the people you love! Put the smart phone away, you don't need it! Is it really necessary to let all your Facebook friends know you are now carving the turkey? TALK to one another people! Enjoy your family while they are still around!

When a smart phone loses it's dazzle, it can be recycled and forgotten.

Friends and family cannot!

Reluctant Winter Runner - Part 2

I haven't tried the traction aids. I've been running without them. I frankly thought I'd fall flat on my face! I decided I wanted to conquer the challenge of running without them. I'm going quite a distance to visit relatives for Christmas, far enough north that it'll take me the better part of a day on the train. The place is out in the sticks and always snow and ice laden. I want to get a couple of runs in out there, I've run there in the summer, and I think the traction aids will be ideal.

I have been cheating though running on the treadmill and doing spinning classes indoors. Not quite embracing winter as much as I wanted to.

It's a work in progress.

Just like I am .

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reluctant Winter Runner

I like running. I don't have the love for it that some do and never took it up until I was well into adult hood. However, I don't have any joint pain at my age (knocking on wood as I write) and realized that there are alot of folks near my age who do and would give anything to be able to run again. So I figure, why waste good health, right? Cycling, on the other hand, was not only my transportation and independence as a kid, and sometimes as an adult, but I developed a true fondness for it as the sport weaved itself in and out of my life through different people and events.

But you can't cycle in the winter, at least not outside! I'm sure some do, but I'm just not that hearty!

I have always despised running in the winter, not because of the cold, but because of the ICE! I am a clumsy fumbler at the best of times, so have always feared taking a spill on the ice. I chatted up a few running pals and they suggested attaching something to the bottom of my shoes.

I bought these at Costco.

It says "Everyday Traction Aids" but they're attached to running shoes in the picture on the packaging. They may be a crap time but I can always take them back. I had visions of them being like toe picks on figure skates and that they'd mess me up!

I'm giving them a go this afternoon.

I'll be wearing a pink hat.

Please be kind.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Technology and Weather

It's amazing to me how much technology has advanced when it pertains to forecasting! Many complain that they weren't given enough warning when a natural disaster hits and still more complain when "warnings" and "watches" are issued and the storm never comes.

Growing up we heard terms like "Doppler Radar" and "Stormtracker 2000" but now you can sit in the comfort of your own home or even access satellite images from your smart phone!

In our little corner of the earth, and it was almost like a bubble, we had an enormous amount of snow fall for a constant three days with virtually no break in the flurries. The kids had three snow days in a row, which is unheard of, people were stranded and sent home, public transit shut down for a full day and retail shops were busy if people could walk to them. Many became creative with trying to keep the families busy. For the lucky ones that embrace the season, it was just plain fun!

It was fascinating to observe people posting photos and videos of just how much snow had fallen, and how the storm had affected different areas of the city on Facebook and Twitter. I took a few too!

All in all it was a great experience, and experiment, of how we deal with winter storms here in Canada and how our forms of communication have changed and grown.

As for the forecasters? In a rare turn of events, they were dead on!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hot Air

I recently discovered one of the coolest contraptions ever created!

Not that I would ever buy one for my home but man, what comes out of those warming cabinets is heaven!

I had to have a procedure done at the hospital (I'm perfectly okay) and while I was waiting, I was covered with a WARM blanket hot out of one of those "warming cabinets"! I asked them to hand me the remote and I'd be set!

I know that traditionally "spas" and some barbershops stock towel warming cabinets, but warm blankets? Genius!

I have heard about people who would put their blanket or quilt in the dryer for a few minutes before climbing into bed. I think I remember a guy who did something similar for his girlfriend. Did I say guy? I meant servant, poor guy.

Anyway, I'd never experienced this before! I thought it was fantastic! Wouldn't it be great if every new dream home could be equipped with one of these? You put a bunch of them in, then they're ready anytime you have a movie-watching night and want to snuggle with a warm blanket when the snow is falling outside! Perfect!

And you don't have to use the extra hydro that throwing them in the dryer would! Plus, the warming cabinet doesn't feed on socks! It's like getting a burger at a fast-food joint! Sitting on the heat rack, waiting for you to choose it!

I vote for convincing your landlord that it will save on hydro bills and installing them in apartment buildings in say the laundry room for easy tenant access! It would most certainly be more "green" than a traditional dryer!


Yeah, about as full of hot air as the cabinets themselves! But hey, a girl can dream right?