Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shedding the Pounds

When we moved to Saskatoon I had been working indoors for the last couple of years and, sadly, had put on some weight. My peak, last February, was just shy of 220 lbs, which was 7 less than the highest I'd ever been, but still far more than my body is comfortable carrying. At that time I started a concerted effort to drop some of that weight, but by the August move I was only down to 208, with a goal of 195.

Obviously, walking a route every day as a letter carrier was going to help matters along, and so was playing soccer on a regular basis. But I think the onset of the cold weather has actually sped things along. Last Monday the mercury dipped to -42 when wind chill is factored in, and each day since has also been cold, so I've bundled myself up with several layers as I head outside for a walk that amounts to something close to 20km. I stay warm and comfortable - too warm, actually - and at the end of each day my snow pants leave puddles of sweat on the floor, and my parka has to be turned inside-out to dry off. My walk takes between 4 and 5 hours, depending on the day's load, and I don't stop for lunch.

All that said, it still came as a shock to step on the scales last night: 178 pounds. I had to step off and then try again. My belt is now being pulled to the tightest hole and still not quite tight enough, but that drop was amazing nonetheless. My goal now is to not drop any more, and if anything, put a couple more on. That, and tighten up this still slightly paunchy gut of mine.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Soccer, It's Overwhelming

It's been quite a weekend. The annual SISCO indoor soccer tournament ran this weekend, and since I coach two teams (Brennan's Aurora Jets, Aidan's Aurora Apollo), I had to do double duty over the past few days. The craziness actually started with a non-tournament game on Thursday night, one that I didn't have to coach. Brennan, who is 9 and plays in a U12 Division 3 league, was called up for a Div 2 game for a team that was missing some players. They rode him like a horse, I have to say, and he really proved his worth for them. They had him on defense and gave him very few breaks; pretty much as soon as he was on the bench they were ready to send him back out. And when the game was over they approached us and asked if he would be willing to join the team for an out of town tournament at the end of January. Of course he's interested.

Anyhow, on to the tournament this weekend. On Friday Brennan's Jets played at 4:45pm, and then Aidan's Apollo at 6pm. Jets won 1-0, Apollo lost 5-2. Next morning, the Jets played at 8am and the Apollo at 8:30, so my assistants for Apollo had to run things for the first half, since my assistant for the Jets was out of town. Jets tied 1-1, Apollo won 2-1. Jets played again at 1pm, and lost 3-1. Apollo was on at 2pm (and I had to run over, but made it for the start of the game - lucky this was all in one facility) and won that one running away, 9-2. The first half of that game we scored in the opening ten seconds, and then Aidan kept us in the game, making save after save until the boys found their groove. It was 3-0 after the half, and we opened it up in the second. And then there was one more game that day, the Jets on at 6pm, where they played to a 0-0 tie.

10:30 that night I finally found out that the Jets had made it to the semi-finals, something that I already knew that Apollo had managed. And so the next morning we were there for the Apollo game, at the ridiculous hour of 7am. Frustratingly, the team we played had speed to burn, and for the first 15 minutes they rolled past us with ease, and soon it was 4-1 for them. We fought back, though, and I'm proud to say it was soon 4-4. But then two defensive lapses resulted in two goals for them, and on the flip side we missed what looked like two no-brainer goals. But still, I was very proud of the boys for fighting back and making a game of it.

The Jets were a little less lucky. The team they played in the semi was the team that beat them in the round robin, and they put the boots to us. In fact, the opening goal was scored after less than 20 seconds. We were tentative and scared of the ball, and it was obvious that three of the boys were sick (one had been puking the night before), and we were also missing one who'd been sick all weekend. Before we knew it we were down 4-0 (the last on a penalty shot), before Brennan scored a goal only seconds later, but we couldn't muster much more, and you could just see those poor kids' shoulders slumping in defeat and exhaustion, as the game finished with us on the very wrong end, 8-2.

Still, I'm proud of all of those boys. It's not the same Jets team that started the season with a 13-0 win, so we need to find them again, but everyone fought hard this weekend, and I can't fault a bunch of kids between 9 and 11 for coming out of such a long and difficult weekend with little or no energy left. Good for the Jets, and good for Apollo.

We are, needless to say, all exhausted.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Enough Excitement For One Day

A little after 1pm today, and work was going fine, when my mobile phone rang. On the other end was Aidan's teacher. Seemed he was having an allergic reaction, probably due to soy from a KFC meal they'd had at lunch. Only thing was, it was sounding much worse than normal, and since he is anaphylactic to peanuts, I rushed right over to the school and then took him to the ER at the nearest hospital.

Say what you will about the Canadian health care system, as soon as I told the triage nurse that he was anaphylactic and that this was a likely allergic reaction, Aidan was hustled in to a bed and within minutes a doctor and several nurses were swarming around him, hooking him up to an IV shunt for medicine (Benadryl, epinephrine) and saline solution. He was shivering from shock and is now covered in scratches from long fingernails and a nasty itch, but within an hour everything had settled down. Only thing was, they needed to keep him for another three hours to make sure that all the allergens had cleared his system. And sure enough, several times while we were there he would flare up briefly with a rash of some sort, but never as itchy as before. And now we're home, and safe, and I'm feeling somewhat chastened.

When the school phoned, my suggestion was that Aidan be given a dose of Benadryl, which turned out to be right. However, I really should have pressed for him to be given a shot of his epipen. As the doctor said, the epinephrine in the dose won't do him any harm, and in the end it may save his life. So, lesson learned. The good thing, though, is that we're all home, and aside from the scratches and being exhausted, Aidan is just fine.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Begging vs. "Begging"

Yesterday Mark Evanier, on his News From Me blog, posted a small item telling his readers that he wants to buy something silly on eBay and so was taking donations so he could afford it. I suspect that Mark isn't broke, and I don't hold it against him for being willing to take advantage of people who want to help him enjoy his life.

However, sometimes more important matters come up. Vera Nazarian is a fantasy author who recently started a small publishing house, Norilana. I've know her for a number of years now, and even helped buy one of her stories for On Spec back in the day. She's in trouble now, due to a string of bad luck that culminates with the death of one parent, sickness of another, and the economic collapse going on in the US. Consequently, she is on the verge of losing her home. And so some good people are going about trying to help her out of this situation. My recommendation? Even if you don't know her, head over there and pony up a few bucks. It doesn't have to be a fortune, but as was shown in the US election, a large group of people all chipping in a little can make a difference.

Help make a difference for something that's worthwhile.


A Game I Can Get In To

It's called Play Auditorium, and it isn't the type of thing that you actually win. It's just a fun and interesting challenge and I am anxious for them to get the complete version out there.


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