A Timely Gift…..sort of

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In the middle of teaching my phone rang. I had the ringer on silent and had no intention of answering it. I figured it was someone trying to sell me airduct cleaning. I did notice that it was a very local number, so I forced the call to my answering machine. When I checked my message during the break, I quickly understood that it was actually a message from my neighbour.

She explained that two newspapers had been delivered to her house. She thought it might have been mine. When I answered that I haven’t taken delivery of the newspaper in quite some time, she started wondering aloud about it. She explained that one paper was on her porch and the other was in her bushes. I listened to her theories but really couldn’t respond. These kinds of things stress her out. She doesn’t even like it when the mail truck makes a poor three point turn into her driveway.

Actually, I guess what really happened was that the first attempt at delivery ended up in her bushes and knowing that she was very likely to complain, they decided to deliver another newspaper to her porch rather than even attempt to retrieve the first one. I don’t know whether I should applaud their problem solving skills or roll my eyes at their laziness or their obvious disinterest in trudging through the snow. If they deserve any break, it could be that it was actually dark when they delivered the newspaper, and they might have found it difficult to track it down……maybe.

In the end she offered me the paper. While any windfall is deserving of a Perfect Moment, that isn’t quite it. What made it a Perfect Moment was that the complete Toronto Maple Leaf schedule for the shortened 2021 season was in this particular paper. I am unsure why they thought Tuesday was the day for this rather than Monday, but since they employ sketchy delivery drivers, I shouldn’t expect any logic anywhere else in the company. I would have found the schedule online when I needed it, but to be given a gift like this seems like a fantastic omen.

That is how I am going to look at it.

Posted in delivery, free stuff, hockey, luck, lucky, Maple Leafs, mistakes, newspaper, Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding some Rhythm in the Virtual Classroom (and other stuff)

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Today’s Perfect Moment is getting back into the rhythm of work and realizing that I hadn’t forgotten how to teach. Yes, it’s silly to think that with so many years of experience that I would feel that way, but the truth is that any time spent away from the classroom gives rise to such thoughts. I don’t take them very seriously, but they are there.

Class, although far from Perfect, went well enough that I can label the whole thing as a Perfect Moment. It felt comfortable and nothing dragged. It was good to catch up with my students to see how they have progressed in my absence. It was also good to touch base with their anxiety over Covid 19 and how it will affect them when they return to their countries.

On another note, I purchased an agenda (some people call them planners, or schedulers–probably some other terms I am not up on). I decided to do this to work on my accountability project. I just grabbed something inexpensive from the Dollar Tree (sometimes I prefer this place over Dollarama). I had to search harder than I expected to find something suitable, but in the end I managed it. The other problem is that these stores are full of temptingly cheap chocolate and soft drinks. Luckily, I managed to not buy any temptations…… this time.

In this agenda, I am listing all the exercise and positive things I am doing. Currently this will include notes on exercise and reading. I want to be able to see how I am doing when I need to be accountable for my New Year’s resolutions.

I considered listing some of my bad things (I ate a piece of chocolate that I got for Christmas) but I decided that I didn’t see the point in that. If I want to obsess about what I am eating or how much TV I am watching and want to have a book of shame, I will make a separate book for that.

Posted in accomplishment, accountability, dollar store, dollar tree, dollarama, exercise, New Year's Resolutions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

And So it Begins….

After several weeks off, I am back to work tomorrow morning (or this morning depending on when I post this and when you read it). The commute will be quite easy– from the kitchen to the office should only take ten seconds or so. Nonetheless, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want another week of vacation.

Though I should pick one Perfect Moment for the day, I want to shine a light on a few of them. Just so you know, some of them deal with support and its role in our lives. There might be a lesson here somewhere…..but don’t worry, there won’t be a test.

Eating

My girlfriend was kind enough to prepare a delicious, healthy, and not highly caloric meal for me. I can’t erase all of my bad eating habits in one fell swoop, but with a little encouragement I can make some positive eating changes.

Accountability

When I wrote my list of resolutions, I stressed that accountability was an important part of these things, and I stick by it. The whole reason to list them here was to encourage myself to have some accountability. I even set myself a timetable to measure my accountability. However, it never hurts to have some help.

In that vein, A Dude Abikes reached out to me to propose supporting each other in the accountability phase of our goals/resolutions. I thought that was fantastic. Support is key to achieving a goal, and having support that lets you know when you are slacking is also important.

Starting in on my goals

Sometimes, my goals are thwarted by my own stubbornness. You see, I have a couple of books I am somewhere in the middle of from 2020. I don’t know why I didn’t follow through with the books, but neither is a challenging read, and neither is dull. If I only had one book on the go, I would probably not worry about starting another one, but with two (actually 3 if I include Lawrence Block’s stamp book) there seems to some internal resistance. However, yesterday, I finished one of them (Lee Child’s Past Tense–it is a Jack Reacher novel and I think Tom Cruise has ruined them for me). I had about a hundred pages to go and was able to blast through them pretty quickly.

This should free me up to start reading books that I will count towards my goals for this year. Since I started this at the airport in Colombia a few days before Covid turned my world upside down, I can’t count it in this year’s books.

I also managed to Zwift today. I put in a good effort and I even had a few minutes to tweak my avatar. I still am pretty low on the learning curve, but I will continue for a while before making any drastic changes. I still need to explore the training sections and do some of the sprint tests.

Posted in accountability, bicycles, books, Covid 19, cycling, cycling gear, eating, exercise, food, goals, New Year's Resolutions, reading, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The First Day of the New Year

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Today’s Perfect Moment was spending the first day of the year with my girlfriend. We couldn’t go out and celebrate, but we managed to find a quiet way of celebrating. We had Chinese takeout from an overwhelmed restaurant, some good on demand TV, and some Happy emotions when the year changed.

We spent today eating an interesting breakfast that only a diminished pantry could supply along with some strong coffee to face the challenging year ahead. We are definitely hoping for a better, calmer, and more positive new year.

Sadly, Notre Dame, could not deliver on the promise of a solid year of football. While sports does not really matter in the big scheme of things, I would have loved a positive start to the New Year in this regard.

I have decided that this year will not have me looking back and analyzing the past year. It really isn’t necessary until we get beyond the pandemic. Hopefully then I can look back with some real perspective.

My year started off pretty good. I hope it continues.

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From This Day Forward

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First and Foremost

Happy New Year everyone. It is bittersweet saying it, but I want to start off the year positively.

Though I know turning the page in the calendar isn’t the end of the pandemic and really doesn’t change anything, I think there is a little bit of optimism in the air. I feel as though we are turning a corner and I want to look ahead to my year.

Optimism

I feel as though the vacinations will make a difference and I will be able to take a trip this year. I don’t know where, but I am confident that it will happen.

Work will get back to normal and I will be teaching full classes again in person. Students will once again make it to Toronto to study English and the competitors which weren’t able to stay open will allow those that did to recover.

Challenges

There are lots of political, economic, and geographical challenges ahead. There will also be lots of fallout when we finally count the cost of the pandemic and political turmoil. Some things will have changed and others will bounce back. I can’t predict it, but we will have something to teach our children.

Resolutions

I am not afraid to make a few resolutions for the New Year. What I will do differently is check in here every quarter (or earlier) to see how I am doing. I’ve got to hold myself accountable and this is the best place to do it.

Reading

I used to read 60 or more books a year, but once I cut my commuting time from two hours to 30 seconds, I didn’t read nearly as much as I would have liked. It also didn’t help that the library was closed or even when it functioned, it really didn’t allow for browsing.

This year, I am setting a modest goal of 25 books.

Writing/Blogging

I resolve to

  1. write at least six short stories and one novel this year. I have been claiming that blogging was exercise for writing fiction and this year will see me finally follow through on that. Too long have I been sitting on things that need to see the light of day.
  2. blog five times a week. Specifically, that means I will blog here four times and at least once on my other blogs. I know I should sort out a schedule, but that really isn’t something I am comfortable doing.

Fitness/Cycling

This is a difficult area since I have so often failed in the past to follow up on these goals despite their importance to me. I hope by writing this that I will take a bit more accountability in this area.

I resolve to

  1. Zwift at least 4 hours a week in January, 6 hours a week in February, and 7 hours a week in March and April. I didn’t wait for the New Year to start before jumping on this one.
  2. get out on my bike as early as possible this year and put some road miles on my bike. This will also mean joining the club early, and using the technology in place to gather people for some casual rides before official club season.
  3. stretch three times a week and follow all the stretches in my cycling stretching book. Obviously, I cannot do them all in the first week, but I hope to be doing all of them by April.
  4. do body weight exercises at least twice a week.
  5. drink fewer carbonated soft drinks and plan to eliminate them by summer.
  6. be a serious and able B level rider within the club.
  7. take part in the club time trials.
  8. go on one cycling vacation this year.

All of this should result in weight loss, but in reality, diet and muscle building offer the best hope in that regard. Zwifting alone will not do it. Eating better should be a goal, but since listing a bunch of food I shouldn’t eat has never been successful, I should learn the lessons that foods can be eliminated slowly, but a better mental attitude towards eating needs to be acquired first. Actually, a better mental attitude towards everything above needs to be acquired first.

House Tasks

There are lots of things to do around the house, and I could list dozens of tasks (if not more), but I will list the ones that need dealing with right now. Many of these can be done rather quickly, but always seem to get pushed to the backburner. Hopefully by listing them, I will actually get them done.

I resolve to

  1. paint the kitchen and hobby room.
  2. organize the kitchen cupboards and pantry.
  3. organize the laundry room and get rid of the boxes that I was “saving in case I need them.”
  4. get the e-waste to the e-waste depot as soon as they open to the public
  5. replace the curtains in the bedroom.
  6. cut down on the stuff in the filing cabinet.
  7. Make planters for the back yard.

I could name a lot of other nebulous tasks like declutter, but without a clear goal and a clear way to measure if I achieved the goal, there is no point in listing it.

Travel

I would love to make a list of goals in this area, but I will have to wait and see how this turns out. The best I can do now is save money so I will be able to pay for it.

Final Thoughts

Okay 2021. Bring it on.

Posted in 2021, advice, bicycles, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, books, cycling, exercise, Exodus Travels, fitness, New Year's Resolutions, reading, stretching, travel, travel writing, writing, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

YouTube Lends a Helping Hand

There seems to be a divide in my family when it comes to the importance of instructions. Some believe that they don’t need to be read unless absolutely necessary and some think they should be read completely before anything is done. I fall somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I fret over them and sometimes I ignore them until I run into a problem–the more often that happens, the more likely I am to become one of those people who reads the instructions. It worked for the bookshelf that I put in the stamp room.

Thankfully, these days, we have YouTube. I don’t have to read instructions. I can just watch someone else explain it to me. This worked fantastically when I needed to repair my stove, and has helped me do a bunch of things.

Setting up my turbo trainer required reading some instructions, but I started my Zwifting (that’s word right) just by following the on screen prompts. However, probably because many people will be starting their New Year’s Resolutions soon, I noticed the latest video put out by the people at GCN (which if you ride a bike, you will absolutely love….probably). It was on the homepage waiting for me. It covered how to start off using Zwift. It was concise and hosted by an ex-pro rider. I learned a couple of things and it certainly helped today’s ride. I am still way above my riding weight from the summer, but day two was much better than day one.

So, to sum up, Today’s Perfect Moment is finding something useful on YouTube (without actually searching for it) at the exact time that I needed it.

Posted in bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, exercise, How to, perfect moment, training, YouTube, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trying Out Zwift for the First Time

Today’s Perfect Moment is my first Zwift ride. For those not aware, Zwift is an online platform that allows you to simulate riding outdoors with a pretty cool interactive landscape. If you have the right equipment (and you don’t need the highest of tech) you can simulate climbs and downhills, flats and sprints all in either a world famous landscape or a totally fictitious one. It has other features like riding with friends, training programs, and other stuff that I haven’t even begun to explore yet.

Since I don’t have a fat bike and do not want to risk slipping across the snowy landscape where I live, this seems like a good option. If the gyms were open, I might have opted to do spin classes or Zwift classes, but that isn’t an option here and won’t be for a while yet–despite everyone’s optimism.

Though most of you don’t know me, I should confess that I often buy things and then don’t use them for a considerable amount of time. Sometimes they go where they are supposed to go and other times they live in my front hallway for a time. While this is sensible in the Covid era, it often makes people wonder why I bought the things at all–explaining that they were on sale just doesn’t seem to cut it.

In what might be a record for me, I got the thing set up quickly. Today, I took my first ride. I’d like to say that I was stellar right out of the gate, but that just isn’t true. I’ve put on a few pounds since it got too cold, too rainy, and dark too early to cycle outdoors. I wasn’t great, but I got the heartbeat up for a sustained period of time and I did a good job on the Sprint. Not being familiar with the set up, the course, the information flowing on the screen, I put most of this down to a tuning ride–of which there will be a few more before I feel comfortable.

That being said, it was good to be on the bike again pedaling. I and my body missed it quite a bit. I enjoyed the graphics and liked the interactive bit. I also enjoyed expending the energy and sweating terribly. Good thing I got those mats on the floor.

My setup is not perfect. I need that sweat protector for the bike (ordered) probably a fan because it is incredibly hot, and I really should make a musical playlist for my ride. Having music to shout along to would probably make the riding a bit more enjoyable. I also should eat properly and stretch before riding. It is all part of the learning curve.

Baby steps.

Posted in Covid 19, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, exercise, experiences, music, preparation, stretching, weight loss, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

What You Can Accomplish (when you don’t have to go to work)

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There is something beautiful about waking up on a Monday morning and not having to get up and go to work–though these days “go to work” really means changing rooms in my house. I am off for this week and won’t have to log into work until the new year.

Oddly enough, I woke up early this morning and almost convinced myself to get up and make something of the day. I was able to shut off that foolish inner monologue and get another hour of sleep. If you read my stamp blog, you’ll know that I was awake late last night and really had a good reason for staying in bed.

Despite a late start, I got a few things off the “to do” list and I am feeling pretty good. I reorganized all my teaching books so they are finally off the floor. I also made the bookcase safer–it won’t tip over now. The recycling mess from Christmas is sorted and out for collection along with the non-recycling. The dishes are done. I even managed to do a little decluttering–not Mari Kondo decluttering, but still much better than before. Most importantly Zwift is installed on all my devices.

Just as I type this, I realize that this blog is mostly written. Other blogs have been read and responded to. I should probably start on my resolutions…but I think I will save that for tomorrow.

Taking it all into consideration, I still think getting a chance to wake up at a pace of my choosing was Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in cleaning, cycling, decluttering, exercise, organization, perfect moment, sleep, vacation, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

White Christmas

The idea of a white Christmas is immortalized in song and the idea is often expressed by my students–including those who lived in climates where a white Christmas would have been a sign of the impending apocalypse. It has never been that important to me, though. I love Winter and I expect the snow at some point in the year. It doesn’t have to arrive on Christmas eve or Christmas day, though.

I can’t recall a white Christmas in recent years. Maybe I am just full of Global Warming hype, but I have often told my students that most of the time the snow only starts to stick around permanently after Christmas. They nodded (not always a sign they understand me, but I usually let it go) and some even pout a little. I guess their image of Canada is one of perpetual Christmas and perpetual Christmas weather.

This year, it had snowed several times before Winter Proper began. Though it showed signs of sticking around–lasting several days a few times, ultimately, the snow disappeared and thoughts of a ski vacation seemed to vanish–not sure how this will play out in the Covid era, but like golf, it might be deemed a safe exercise.

This year, we did in fact get a white Christmas. The landscape is covered in snow and ice and the ditches are littered with cars without snow tires. The shovels are dripping with melted snow and backs and joints not used to the work are tired and achy. On the good side, hot chocolate (Cocoa if you prefer) and other libations feel just that much better in one’s belly as our rosy cheeks regain a more moderate colour. Our new gloves are proven warm and waterproof. Things seem right in the world again. I even have a Perfect Moment to write about.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, Christmas, ESL, skiing, snow, students, teaching, weather, winter, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Early Christmas Present to Myself

First and foremost, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to anyone celebrating anything. If you’re not celebrating anything or because of Covid you are not in the mood to celebrate anything, all I can say is that we are here for you if you want someone to listen to you rant.

It has been a busy few days. I finished painting, and touching up where the masking tape took off the paint. It isn’t perfect, but it will do. I haven’t got many of the things I am planning on putting in the room in and organized, but it is getting there.

I have started to set up my Pain Cave (is it only cyclists who use this term?) as I was finally able to get my hands on a trainer. I’ve got a bunch of things still to move, but the bike is up and facing the TV. Soon I will be on Zwift lagging behind other riders just like in real life. I am determined to be in better shape when the outdoor cycling season starts again next spring. I’ve put on the covid pudge (as a co-worker called it) and I am determined to get it off.

I know I should be writing something more reflective and in tune with the holidays, but this is all I’ve got for now.

Posted in accomplishment, bicycles, Christmas, Covid 19, cycling, cycling gear, exercise, perfect moment, presents, reflection, weight loss | 19 Comments