Monday, 29 September 2014

Is it Only Monday?

There was supposed to be a blog today with the recipe for Schnitz und Drunder - just trust me when I tell you that you will thank me when I finally do get it up - but deadline shift at work!

It means that none of my planned posts for this week will probably go up because my paying job is more important that my hobby blog.

It also means that when my coworkers and I hit up the Rathskeller for our unofficial Oktoberfest on Friday, I am going to be so ready for that boot of beer.

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Reluctant Athlete: Can I Call a Mulligan on September?

Good news: I didn't regain any of the weight I lost in August!

Bad news: I didn't lose any weight in September. Well, that's not totally true. I lost and regained the same 2lbs a few times.

I can point to the facts that pretty much every weekend was busy and didn't leave time to plan for the week and that multiple early mornings + late nights at work often meant that activity plans often because 'walk for 30 minutes' because I didn't have the time or energy to deal with longer, sweat-inducing activities. But at the end of the day, I just didn't make weight-loss my priority and the results show that.

I am proud, given how some days/weeks went, that I didn't add to my weight. What started as added stress at the end of August rolled into the start of September. I was in a position where it was very tempting to throw my hands up and say "I'll get back to this after this project!" But I didn't. While I'm not going to say that every choice I made was the healthiest one - um, hello bottle of wine that is sitting empty on my counter - the majority of my choices were healthy.

I did, however, say that if I had a month where I didn't meet my 8lb goal (aim for 10lb, be happy with 8lb) I would be taking a look at where I had gone wrong and fixing it going forward. It's handy that I know exactly where I went wrong: I didn't set time to meal plan and I didn't get in all my workouts that I wanted. So October is focusing on getting those back in order.

On the work front, the crazy busy time is giving way to just straight up busy time. While the past few weeks have felt like a cascade of problems-on-top-of-problems-on-top-of-setting-up-900-learners, this past week has calmed down. While I still fully expect October to be a balls-to-the-wall busy month, it should not be the panicked-busy, short-staffed clusterfuck that August/September were.

So here's to a better October!

That sounds like a great plan!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Oktoberfest

If you have the (dis)pleasure of being my friend IRL or on Facebook, you know that I have a love for trivia. I once joked that I'm a horrible dinner guest because I can't stop passing on random trivia that no one cares about. Welcome to Trivia Tuesday, my weekly internet dinner party.

It's the end of September and Oktoberfest officially kicked off on Saturday with a parade from Munich to the fairgrounds (which once upon a time were on the outskirts of Munich... not so much anymore). But if it's September, why isn't it called Septemberfest? Because it used to be held in October.

Celebrating Oktoberfest in 1999. Can you find me?
Hint: I'm wearing a dirndl... just like all the other girls.

In honour of his marriage to Therese of Sax-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) invited the people of Munich to celebrate the occasion with a huge festival in a field outside the city gates. It was decided to make the celebration an annual event which would included a harvest festival and horse racing (although those two items have long been done away with).

How I celebrated the 2013 Oktoberfest!

The problem is that the later you get in the year, the higher your chances of rainfall. A decision was made to move the celebration to the end of September when higher temperatures, longer days, and less rainfall prevailed. As a result, while Oktoberfest concludes the first Sunday of October*, the majority of the event usually takes place in September.

*German Reunification occurred on October 3rd, 1990. In the years that October 3rd does not fall within Oktoberfest dates, the event is extended until the 3rd. To get the most bang for your Oktoberfestbuck, you should go in 2017.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Reluctant Athlete: I'm Sick

I knew that with the way work is at the moment, I was going to get run down and that would probably result in me getting sick. What I wasn't expecting was for it to happen so soon in the project. We still have over 2 months to go and I'm taking this afternoon so I can sleep on my couch and hopefully feel better soon. But then I looked at my schedule for the past month and realised that I haven't had any time off.

My work days have been long, but my weekends have also been chalk-a-block full of activities such as painting at my dad's and going in to work to do all the things I didn't get to during the week. It's just like the weekends I dreamed of having when I would think about 'being an adult' when I was young! (Honestly, can anyone remind me why we in such a rush to 'grow up' when we were little? Oh, right. So we could set our own bedtimes.)

I started feeling the achy-oh-crap-don't-get-sick feeling on Tuesday so the fact that I've made it to Friday without letting it win makes me pretty happy. The downside is that standing over a stove to cook or at the counter to prep food seems like some Herculean task that was beyond my skill set this week so my food choices were, well, I stopped tracking because they were that bad. It also means that instead of writing a post Wednesday night and posting it yesterday, I would finish up any work I had brought home with me and then go to bed. Glorious, glorious bed!

Here's hoping an afternoon off work, a night of going to bed during the single-digit hours, and a relatively quiet weekend of golf (it's for work) and dinosaurs (I won tickets to Walking with Dinosaurs) has me back on track for next week.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Canadian Provinces and Territories

If you have the (dis)pleasure of being my friend IRL or on Facebook, you know that I have a love for trivia. I once joked that I'm a horrible dinner guest because I can't stop passing on random trivia that no one cares about. Welcome to Trivia Tuesday, my weekly internet dinner party.

Canada has 10 provinces and three territories. But what makes provinces and territories different? Many people believe it has something to do with population density, but it's actually a political distinction.* 

Provinces have certain powers and responsibilities which were set out in the Constitution Act, 1867 (depending on when you went to school, you may have been taught the act by the name British North American Act, 1867, often shortened to BNA Act**). Because of the level of power granted to provinces, they are often referred to as co-sovereigns with the federal government, or as equals to each other.

Health care, welfare, education and provincial transportation (i.e. roads) all fall under the jurisdiction of a provincial government. While provinces set and collect their own taxes to fund their budget, many of the provincial programs also receive transfer payments from the federal government. It is possible (and very common) for the federal government to attach conditions to the transfer payments thereby exerting influence on provincial politics.

(Aside: The Constitution Act, 1867 was also very vague about a lot of things. The provincial and federal governments still squabble over exactly where one's control ends and the other's start in many areas of government. But hey, isn't that the fun of drafting vague, non-committal, government-forming documents?)

Territories hold no jurisdiction except what is granted or delegated to them by the federal government. They cannot collect taxes and their budgets are set by the federal House of Commons. They are essentially, although I hate using this term, dependents of the federal government.

*Population and population density, however, is used to help determine if an area can be converted to a province, e.g. they were factors in the creation of Saskatchewan and Alberta from a portion of the Northwest Territories.

**I'm not saying that sometimes schools can be behind the times, but I was taught BNA even though the name had changed 10 years earlier in 1982.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Reluctant Athlete: An Aside to My Aside

Posting a day late because I opted to go to dinner with my mom last night instead of staring a computer while I moved my fingers to make these black squiggly symbols appear. (When people tell me I spend too much time thinking about random things, I get confused as to why they don't. How amazing are we as people? How incredible that years and years of the evolution of our species has not only produced a brain capable of thinking of and discussing abstract thoughts, but that we can look at a scribble and recognise it as that thought. It is amazing that thousands of years ago, something in our evolution made that possible. How can people not find that amazing and worthy of pondering?!? Anyway, I digress... like normal.)

They are squiggles on a page but they MEAN SOMETHING TO US!
How is that not amazing?

I had a topic I wanted to discuss this week - why is there always that one person who seems to delight in you not losing weight? And why do I have to work with her where I see her on a regular basis? And why can't I punch that smirk off her face after she looks me up and down once then snidely asks "how's the weight-loss going?" And is it rude for me to counter with a once-over glance and then reply "apparently better than yours, you fat gloating bitch"? I'm guessing 'yes' on that last question which is why I haven't done it - but it's Friday night and I have to go in to work tomorrow morning because I didn't want to stay late tonight. I mean, hello! It's Friday!! What sort of sadomasochist works overtime on a Friday? At least by going in on Saturday there will be a) no one there and b) a fresh cup of coffee. No one there and a big cup of coffee is best way to get work done.

Or maybe I'll just make a drum-kit out of office supplies.

Weight-loss is still on track but I have been slacking on the physical movement side of it. My only saving grace is that I have been walking a lot between our two buildings. It's not like I'm walking between the Shire and Mordor, but making the trek back and forth a couple times a day means that my usually sedentary work-life hasn't completely derailed me. My goal for the coming week is to actually schedule some evening physical activity.

Fall is definitely here so there is a good chance that some of that activity may be jogging. I straight up confess that I hate jogging/running/moving-slightly-faster-than-walking in the summer but I enjoy it once fall returns.

Run Batman!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Ireland 2014: Glendalough and Kilkenny

The south end of Dublin backs up against the Wicklow Mts. The mountains (and as a Western Canadian, I use the term 'mountain' very loosely here) are lovely with plenty of hiking trails, including the Wicklow Way. About 1500 years ago, a monk named Kevin (later St. Kevin) fled to the mountains to find solace and settled in a valley which had two lakes. The plan kind of backfired as people followed Kevin to learn from him and study his teachings. The end result was the founding of Glendalough.

At its height, Glendalough was a huge monastic city. Despite centuries of Viking raids, it was an invasion of English cavalry in 1398 that put an end to it. Now, it's home to sheep and a daily rotation of tourists.

The Round Tower

There are plenty of day tours that go to Glendalough but if you're up for renting a car, it is well worth a longer visit than any of the tours will give you. With only two hours there, we had to skip a lot of it to make it back to the bus in time. Plus the tours all tend to come through around the same time (roughly 11-1 is high tourist time), so you can time it to miss the largest of the crowds. (We went with PaddyWagon tours. I'll talk about them later.)

The area around the Lower Lake was later used as a cemetery.
If you know one thing about me? I love old cemeteries.

After a quick turn around the lower lake area, we booted it over to the upper lake to try and get away from the two rather large guided tours clustered around various points of the site.

It wasn't until we were flipping through our pictures after the trip that we realized we had both taken the same photo of each other.

The upper lake hiding behind some trees

We were hoping to get up to Kevin's Cell, a cave in the mountain that is reputed to be where Kevin actually lived but we were running short on time so we stuck with the sites closer to the actual lake.
The ruins of the Reefert Church
It was only us and the nice French couple we befriended on our tour bus at this site.
Despite leaving us rushing to get back to the bus, I'm glad we made the effort to get away from the crowd.

We took the slightly longer, boardwalk path back to our tour bus which passed through some farm land.

When I saw this sign I started laughing. All I could picture was some dog
wandering into the field and asking the sheep if they had heard about climate change.
"What's going to happen when the rains stop and there is no grass left?
What will you eat?"
The lower lake
Dear Dogs, DO NOT worry these sheep!

From Glendalough, our tour headed through the Wicklow Mt National Park to the Wicklow Gap. The drive through the Wicklow mountains really was beautiful. Wicklow gets overlooked by tourists in favour of the South-West and West of Ireland, but it's well worth the effort to see this part of Ireland.

The Braveheart wedding scene was filmed to the right of where this pictures was taken.
In fact, most of 'Scotland' that is seen in Braveheart is actually the Wicklow Mts.

Our tour then headed to Kilkenny which is one of the reasons I picked this tour. Kilkenny was kind of a bust for us. For two very specific reasons, I was Miss. Pissypants for the rest of our day tour. It was lovely place and I will make it a point to get back there (especially for longer than a couple hours), but it was just not my day in Kilkenny.

Side note: I found out from my dad that Kilkenny is where the pub with our family name is. If you're on my Facebook, you can see a picture of it in the old Ireland photos. As I was nine when that photo was taken, I could only recall that the pub was somewhere between Dublin and Rosscarberry (one of the my aunts lives there). Just another reason to get back to Kilkenny.

Our tour took the motorway back to Dublin and got us back in town pretty much on time to when they said they would. Overall, I had no real problems with the tour company - reasonably priced, we got exactly what they said we would, the tour bus was nice, clean and comfortable - but I wasn't too crazy about our tour guide. He was friendly enough and had some great stories, but he also gave out 'facts' which I know to be falsehoods. And easily verifiable falsehoods, at that. It meant that when he was giving out facts that I didn't know, I had a really hard time believing him. For people on that tour who a) haven't spent multiple summer holidays in Ireland and b) haven't read anything on Irish history beyond the chapter at the start of their guide book, they're reliant on their tour guide to impart knowledge on them. They believed him. Would I book with PaddyWagon again? Possibly, but if I saw that man in the driver's seat, I'd return to the representative and ask for a refund.

Being our last night in Dublin until the end of our trip, we headed out with Conor to Mary Mac's in Ballsbridge. In the true, time-honoured way of our family, Conor and I both randomly sang a song each in the pub before finishing the night with phone calls to any members of the family we could think of who weren't in Ireland.

This pretty much sums up our Friday night

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Reluctant Athlete: Time Keeps on Slippin'

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
~Robert Burns

It was not my intention to only post once a week, but it also wasn't my coworker's intention to be hospitalised, so, you know, there's that. In fairness, I haven't been left with grief and pain in place of my promised joy, but I am left feeling like I am incredibly behind on so many jobs I've set for myself.

Oh, Laura Roslin and your thinly-veiled sarcasm.

The crazy last two weeks of August did give me a good view as to what the next three months of work will look like. I know I keep harping on about this "three busiest months of my life" but the workload is ridiculous at the moment. I didn't know it was possible to look forward to the end of something you enjoy. I love my job - I can't state that enough - but sometimes I miss the days of my data entry job and lack of responsibility.

I mean, I'm not president or anything, but I've got a lot of shit to do.

Where does this leave me for my healthy living goals? Well, I have (temporarily) left my gym. I love the gym, I love the girls, I love kickboxing, I hate having to do this, but it is a gym that works on a schedule and I can't make that schedule work with my current schedule. I can't justify the monthly fees if I can't attend classes with regularity. I am still committed to the goal of four hours of physical activity a week, it just means that the Chikara gym and its awesome built-in group of cheerleaders won't be the source of any of that time.

Chikara girls, you're on notice.
Come December, I'm kicking all your asses.

Other than that, it's still just about plugging away and working on the small changes I set out for myself and making sure I use my free time wisely so when really-crazy-busy-time rolls around, I'm prepared with a plan of how I'm keeping myself on track. I want to come out the other side of this work crazy with the personal achievement of losing weight while going through it.

And I fully plan to celebrate when I do... but probably with something like a day at the Spa.

Although popping some champagne in front of a cheer crowd would also be fun.