Up, Up, and Away

Up, Up, and Away!

The June weather hasn’t been so bad, which has allowed me to get out running pretty regularly. I also ran my first race of the year as well. In fact, it was my first race in 11 months! I did okay, running 5k in 21:41, but that’s nowhere near my regular 5k pace. I am hoping that I will gain some speed as the summer progresses, but so far my training runs have not been very fast. I also haven’t been getting out for any longer runs either. It feels a little bit like I am squeezing them in whenever I can get them, which sometimes makes me rush through them or go shorter than I had intended. I have been running in the evenings, but I may have to switch back to mornings.

Tammie and I went to the Rise and Climb Adventure Course recently, and it was really fun. The course is a set of three levels, each higher than the previous one. And within in each level, there are a set of climing challenges divided by rest platforms. It was quite fun and I managed to climb all three levels and complete most of the challenges. Tammie did really well too, getting through level 2 even though she is not crazy about heights. They also had a tandem zipline, which was quite exciting. We only rode it once because we spent so much time climbing, but it would have been fun to do again. We spent three and a half hours at the course, so we were pretty tired when we were done. I’d like to do the course again sometime, maybe when it isn’t quite so hot. They offer night climbing, which sounds pretty interesting. I wonder what it feels like to be hanging 10 meters in the air with only the blackness beneath you.

Tammie and I also got to see X-Men: Day of Future Past. It was marginal at best. I felt like I was watching an entire two hour movie whose sole purpose was to undo X-Men: The Last Stand (which I suppose it kinda was). I didn’t care for most of the characterizations, and really thought they missed the mark with Wolverine. I also found it didn’t contain enough action and way too much introspection and brooding. I don’t really enjoy dramas that are disguised as action films because a few of the characters are wearing superhero costumes, but maybe I am in the minority.

Samantha is finished of Grade 1, so is starting her summer vacation. We have her in several camps over the summer, such as swimming and tennis, and I hope she enjoys her time there. I am taking a few weeks off with the kids as well, so we’ll find some nonsense to get up to. Work has been pretty busy lately, but more manageable than it was in the spring. I am trying to keep on top of the projects so my weeks off don’t mess with the scheduling too much.

Well, another work week is on the horizon, so I best wrap it up for the evening. Another Monday ahead!

Randy

Time Rushes Like Water

Time Rushes Like Water

Winter has finally let us go from its icy grasp, and I think that spring is upon us. The last time we had snow was only two weeks ago, but it was short lasting and soon replaced by rain. The warm temperatures are arriving a little bit more frequently now, although it is still much cooler than it was last year. I have tried not to let the weather dampen my spirits for running, and I am getting back into a good schedule. I have not run any races yet, but my training runs are getting better. Faster speed and shorter recovery time, plus I am just starting to enjoy them more. The warmer weather to come always helps give me a boost on the running cycle too.

We just got back from a trip to Fundy National Park. We struck out on the Three Vault Falls trail, since many of the other trails were closed this early in the season. The trail is easy it first, but then gets to a few challenging sections. On the way down, these come in the form of a steep descent, and on the way back they are a steady climb. The falls themselves were amazing, and the water was flowing spectacularly with the spring runoff. There was even still some snow tucked away near the falls, since the sun hardly gets that deep into those ravines. The kids had a great time, although they were pretty beat by the time we got off the trail. We had lots of snacks and breaks to keep morale high, and they seemed to do the trick. The weather was absolutely perfect, and there were almost no bugs to speak of. We are hoping to get a few more trail hikes crossed off this summer, but we almost always have to leave Prince Edward Island to complete them. Most of the trails here are very flat showcase much of the same scenery. Trails in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have more variety in both difficulty and vistas.

I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it was awesome! Totally loved it. Captain America is one of my favourite Marvel characters, and they did such a good job with him in his second feature. Lots of great battle scenes and good-guy heroics. I also really liked the way they handled the Black Widow. She served a really strong role in the overall story and they resisted using her as a sexpot or just a pretty face. In fact, the only one who had a gratuitous shower scene was Steve Rogers! Next up is X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I am not so sure about that film. I didn’t like X-Men: First Class, so I am a little worried about the franchise carrying over on those characters. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Well, I guess that’s it for now. Summertime here we come!

Randy

The Storm Rages

The Storm Rages

It’s been a rough winter in the Great White North. We are digging out from another storm today, in which we received almost 50cm of snow in one night. The winds were also incredibly strong, topping out at over 100 km per hour. It isn’t very often that the entire province literally shuts down completely, but yesterday was one of those days. The sun is out today, but the winds are still really strong. I’ve spent about 3 hours shovelling snow, and I’m feeling pretty tired. Tammie and I decided this year to not hire any snow removal services, and with record snowfalls this year, we kinda got bitten in the ass. Oh well, you win some and lose some. Hopefully spring will soon kick in and we can finally get on the road to summer!

I took off almost six months from running because of a foot injury. It wasn’t broken, but became very painful. I have narrowed it down to swapping to a new kind of shoes that have a foot-box that is not the right shape for me. I have begun training again, starting with a novice program, and am about four weeks into the schedule. I am hoping to have a good base back under me come spring, so that I can get some decent races in for the summer. My goal is to mix in more cross-training with my running this year as well, because I’d like to be in better overall condition. I think a little strength training will help with my speed as well. I have no particular racing goals this year, although it’d be nice to get ten races in or so. I’d be happy with that.

Work has been pretty busy since December. We have been working on a few larger projects, in addition to our flagship software. One of the newer projects is using the Laravel framework. It has some nice features, including very powerful routing and object relational mapping. I have to admit that I find using Composer to be cumbersome. I suppose you don’t really need to use Composer again after initially installing Laravel, but we use it for almost all our update processes. Some people love the Linux command line, but not me!

The first must-see movie of the year is coming up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I loved the first Captain America so I can’t wait to see this one. It is awesome that Scarlett Witch and the Falcon are also in the movie. The apparent take is that Cap has some issues with how Shield is working a little too pre-emptively, perhaps not always been the “good guys”. I think that creates an awesome moral dilemma for Steve Rogers that will play out well on-screen. We shall see!

Hopefully next update will bring better weather!

Randy

I'm Going to DisneyWorld!

I’m Going to DisneyWorld!

We just got back from our epic trip to Disneyworld in Florida. It is a trip we spent six years saving for, and we finally got to make it a reality. We had five days on the resort grounds, which gave us at least one day in each Disney park. We stayed at the Pop Century resort, which was a basic but nice place to stay. Being able to hop on the buses and go to the parks in 20 minutes or less was pretty awesome. I hate driving. Staying on resort also gives you easy-access to meals, fantastic staff, and exclusive access to attractions. I’d highly recommend it. We chose to go in the first week on December because it is one of the least busy time of years. It also allowed us to experience Disney during Christmas, which is pretty awesome.

The parks themselves are exactly as advertised. The kids enjoyed Magic Kingdom the most, as it has the most classical Disney elements. Cinderella’s Castle, meet-and-greets with all the Disney Princesses, rides devoted to Peter Pan, Pooh, and Mickey, and so forth. I always enjoy the Animal Kingdom, with its fantastic forest feel and awesome safari and nature paths. Tammie enjoyed Hollywood Studios the most, since it contains the most exciting rides and a lots of live-action theatrics. We also hit Epcot, but I think it was the least favourite park for us. The International attractions that ring the central lake are for the more mature crowd. My favourite overall ride was probably a toss-up between Soarin’ and Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Tammie loved the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios. Luke loved Soarin’, and Samantha really enjoyed the Animal Kingdom Safari. The only ride we missed that we really wanted to try was Test Track in Epcot, but it was down for service.

The weather in and around Orlando was spectacular. It stayed between 25C and 30C the entire time we were there. Each day was sunny with a slight breeze. Quite a change from home, where a snowstorm raged while we were gone! We also got to visit the Lego Store, which plays a little too much into my Lego fetish. They have sets built and out on display everywhere, and you can buy every set that Lego is producing at that moment. The store also features great play areas and activities for kids, which is something you don’t see around here. And yeah, we spent a few dollars there before we escaped.

The kids were fantastic travellers in the end. They didn’t mind the plane rides, were excellent during security screenings, and were infinitely patient with the constant bus hoping. And we packed in a very busy week, so bedtimes and snacks were not always consistent. In fact, Tammie would probably say I did more grumbling than the kids did!
Now that we are back to reality, Christmas is just around the corner. Tammie is scheduled to work Christmas Day this year, but we will have part of the day with her. Work has been pretty busy, so I probably won’t take any extra days off during the holidays. I have a few projects to finish off before the New Year hits, so I’ll try to knock those out.

I have been playing a little bit of Civilization V recently, and that is one awesome game. It is so addictive, always trapping you in the “one more turn” mantra. I have only skirmished against the computer so far, but it is amazing how much you can learn to detest your opponent. They taunt you, steal your stuff, and attack your friends. I have a special hatred of Napolean.

I haven’t run since the summer, but am going to start again soon. I am not sure my foot is 100%, but I don’t want to wait anymore. I really like to run outside, but the short days during the winter always make that a challenge. I am going to try to squeeze some runs in at lunchtime while at work, than get a few more in on the weekends. Hopefully the weather won’t be too bad. It has been frigid (below -20C) the last few days, and today a winter storm is brewing outside!

Well, it appears I have a gingerbread house to build, so I best be off. Until next time.

Randy

From the Bottom Up

From the Bottom Up

So the start of the school year and come and gone, and so far the kids seem to be adjusting well. Samantha is enjoying Grade 1, and seems genuinely excited to head to classes each day. Luke is fitting into his pre-K program well, and is beginning to make some new friends among his classmates. Both of them head into their classrooms without any hesitation (or even a look back in most cases), so it’s great that they seem to be adjusting well socially. I’ll credit Tammie for that because she is so good to make sure they get out and meet other people. I am a bit more introverted, and have gone literally weeks without talking to anyone who wasn’t a co-worker or family member.

My foot is still not 100%, so I have decided to skip all remaining races for the year. I don’t want to be out running and end up with a bad limp or nagging injury heading into our December trip to Disney. I’ll probably begin working out again soon, but just not with much running. The strength training and conditioning program I was completing during the summer will become my primary activity instead of running. I am disappointed that I have missed out on the later part of the season, especially the Prince Edward Island Marathon weekend. That is always a great event and one of the highlights of my year, running or otherwise!

Work has been pretty steady, with a variety of projects on the go. With a mix of some smaller and some bigger work, there has been a lot of hopping around. I have really begun to work with responsive design in my front-end work, and it is an interesting approach to building web applications. To do it properly, I find that you actually have to start at the smallest screen you are looking to support and work your way up from there. That approach definitely changes the way you look at designing an interface. I was introduced to Bootstrap by a co-worker, and I really like that framework as a starting point. The Bootstrap folks have created some great tools that make developing responsive designs much easier than doing it from scratch.

Well, it’s getting late and I think I am going to sneak in a little gaming before bed. Until next time!

Randy