My friend Madeleine and I have signed up for a mini-triathlon in May, and she’s encouraging me to blog about my training efforts. Just general details today, but I’ll do a few follow-ups with specifics as I go along.
I had a lazy winter so I’m trying to ramp up my exercise plan slowly. I’ve been running (jogging, really) on the treadmill downstairs while watching Netflix movies, alternating between 2k uphill and 5k flat runs every 3 or 4 days. I know some hardcore runners who run outside in the winter, but my neighbourhood doesn’t have sidewalks and I don’t want to risk a wipeout on the ice, so until spring I’ll be favouring endurance over speed in my training program.
I’ve been skipping the bike training for now – we have a stationary bike but I don’t like it much, and I figure it’s mostly the same muscle group as the running, so there will be time to train for that closer to May.
Swimming has been fun – I only agreed to do the triathlon because I’d already been doing some swimming over the winter with Natasha, and I really love it. I’m working hard on improving my sloppy technique. I’ve got my face down and I’m reaching better – less plowing and more gliding. Big improvements. (Natasha’s a great swimmer and a great teacher!)
I’m not really anxious about running out of steam during the race, but I’d like to put in a really good time, so that’s my biggest motivator. My biggest obstacle so far isn’t the training – it’s eating. As usual, I’m rapidly losing weight despite carb loading – that’s just my metabolism doing what it does. Trying to find a balance that maintains my body weight while sweating up a workout is slowing down my progress.
I got invited to do some face painting at the community center this morning, and I had a lot of fun. It’s a neat challenge! You’ve got to paint fast on squirmy kids, and the things they want painted are sometimes kindof odd so you need to think fast. We did up a menu of simple shapes appropriate for cheek painting (Balloons, hearts, butterflies, etc) and suggested ideas to shy kids, but we ended up fielding demands for an Eel, cars, a Power Ranger Super Samurai, cotton candy, Spider-Man, Batman, dinosaurs, and this one adorable little girl (maybe four years old) whispered she wanted a black spider (scary please!).
When I was a kid we had those oily face crayons, and they were garbage. Lots of friction on the face, the colours were weak and streaky, and they’d break down as soon as you started sweating and smear all over the place. This afternoon we had a couple of those on the table, but we basically never picked them up – three of us shared a set of brushes and water-based cake facepaints and the difference was like night and day. The paints dried quickly, stayed bright, and were really simple to mix and blend into new colours if we needed them.
I’m thinking about buying a basic kit for summer parties – it was a lot of fun and the kids and parents loved it!
I didn’t take any pictures, sorry. I did a couple I was pretty proud of though, given the constraints.
Tags: community center·face paint
I had a perfect train seat to admire the breaking dawn. Really spectacular morning.
At lunch during the week I stopped into the university library to check out a small exhibition they were doing of work by the Canadian Bookbinder’s and Book Artist’s Guild. A member of the guild, and a former co-worker friend of mine introduced me to her book obsession – she’d tear off the covers of her favourite books and bind them like ancient magical tomes covered in leather and gold foil and gemstones. Really neat stuff.
My favourite on display in the little show at the library was this coptic-bound sketchbook by Shlomo Feldberg made out of aluminum treadplates. Even with aluminum being a relatively soft metal, I imagine it must have been a lot of work to grind out the two matching covers and then bore holes through. I often complain about the weight of my bookbag – I would have liked to pick this one up to see how much of an anchor it is.
Sadly, there were no doodles inside!
It seems like I’ve been doing little retrospectives the past few years on my birthday, so here goes!
It was another good trip around the sun overall! Maybe not as many big accomplishments as I’d like, but lots of adventures and meeting neat new people and small projects that turned out well. The biggest change was landing the new job at the university. I like being in the thick of things on campus, and I’m creatively and technically challenged, so I’m having fun. I did my first public lecture, bought a new car, learned a bunch of new code, grew purple beans, hacked a kinect, set up my workshop, filled up a sketchbook, attended weddings, funerals, births – it was busy!
I’m a year older! I’m finding turning 37 a bit unnerving though.
Natasha and I binge-watched the “Up” series of documentaries, where a set of British kids are interviewed every 7 years throughout their lives. It’s an incredible documentary series, but when you watch them in a row it’s like a time-lapse, where they age 7 years every hour, 61,320 times normal aging speed. I had to stop for a mental break at “35 up” because it was freaking me out – existential crisis. At their pace I’ve only got another 5 or 6 hours to live! AAAAAAHHHH!!!!
That afternoon triggered some kind of mid-life pressure to get stuff done. The theme of my resolutions for this year were to concentrate on making things – thinking more about long-term projects and less about just reacting to day-to-day impulses. No sports car or half-my-age girlfriend yet – it’s not one of those crises. But I’m honestly starting to fret about time, which I guess is really just about accepting that not everything I want to do in life is going to get done. Some of the things I planned to do “someday” are looking like “probably never”, and that’s a hard pill for me to swallow.
January 27th, 2014 · Drawing
A little bigger than your standard bug – I did a doodle of a Goliath Beetle. Natasha saw me working on it and found it repulsive – so I must have gotten it partly right.
Incidentally, it took me well into my mid-twenties to realize that “The Beatles” was a play on words and not just some kind of weird British spelling.
Tags: bug·doodle·Goliath Beetle
In a really cool partnership Poets.ca, the Council for the Arts, and Pattison advertising have started running bus ads featuring writings by Canadian poets. The ones I’ve seen have been really accessible, lovely poems that in a lot of ways have brightened up my morning commute.
I have a hard time bringing myself to read poetry because I rarely feel it’s about me – especially the really long-form ranty Allen Ginsberg-type raw slam poetry stuff. It feels so far removed from my life. I can appreciate the importance of the work in it’s context, but personally much of it does very little for me. It’s all the worse when it’s really opaque – when you read the words forty times and still have no idea what’s going on.
So I really appreciate the curators of these bus pieces. They may not be extra challenging, but that’s a nice way to get everyone reading it. It remains to be seen if they’ll sneak some really hard ones in there.
January 14th, 2014 · Drawing
Anousheh Ansari is a brilliant Iranian-born businesswoman, co-founder of the X-Prize, and the fourth self-funded “space tourist” (although she prefers “spaceflight participant”) to visit the International Space Station. She’s also the first person to publish a blog from space!
Asked what she hoped to achieve on her spaceflight, Ansari said, “I hope to inspire everyone – especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men – to not give up their dreams and to pursue them… It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen.”
I think she’s pretty cool, so she’s my latest doodle. I took a little over an hour to refine this one, but I was working from a pretty grainy small jpeg, so I ended up making up some things as I went along. It was fun drawing the suit, even if I took some liberties with the tubes and greebles.
Tags: Anousheh Ansari·astronaut·doodle·spaceflight participant
Charles Landelle was a prolific french painter in the mid 1800s who produced (sometimes as many as 32 copies of) orientalist portraits – paintings of exotic middle-eastern (mostly Egyptian) beauties in long drapery and soft light. His work “Judith” catches a glimpse of the biblical Hebrew heroine who worked her way into the enemy Holofernes’ trust… only to then cleave off his head with a sword, sending the invading Assyrian army packing. Whether it ever happened or not, there’s some argument between theologists – but she was a certified badass. There’s a moral in there about trying to oppress people, but also a more immediate one about the danger of keeping swords in your bedroom.
Anyhow, I thought I’d try my luck with a sketchy version of Judith and it turned out pretty well – I grossly simplified some things for the purposes of my sketch, and there are parts of it I’m not happy with (that arm!) but overall I kindof dig it. She has a very “Who’s next?” look on her face that’s pretty great.
Tags: Charles Landelle·Judith·sketch
Starting the year off on a fashion high point – I rang in the New Year dressed in a tux! It’s all downhill from here – sweatpants and ratty t-shirts for the rest of the year.
I think 2014 is going to be a pretty epic year – I have a good feeling about this one. (Writes Jason, who is currently sitting around in his pyjamas, nursing a head cold with a warm cup of tea)