Friday, March 31, 2006

No Towels Today - The Dryer is Broken

My office building has a very nice gym and the change room has towels and shampoo – and get this – it’s free! We have a friendly lunchtime run group and we run down to Stanley Park and do a 7 km loop, or intervals or some such workout. After a quick shower I’m all energized for the afternoon and I eat my lunch at my desk later.
Today, however, there was a sign on the change room door stating” No towels today – the dryer is broken”.
Alex asked “I wonder if they have towels in the women’s changeroom.”. But another slightly sharper engineer noted that since the problem was the dryer, then most likely there were no dry towels anywhere.
We wondered if they actually washed the towels or just dried them, but that’s not really related to this story.

Suggestions were proposed on how to dry ourselves after a shower should we elect to run.
1 Paper Towels
2 Go outside Naked and run around the building
3 Drip dry
4 Hair dryer

Some of the more linear thinking engineers decided it was all too much to process so they decided to run on Friday instead.

I ran and then used the hair dryer solution.

As an aside, my running plan took a dive and I’m not in the kind of shape I should be in. I am now considering lowering my expectations of my Marathon time – lets say 4:15. It has been suggested that I just run the half marathon but I am far too stubborn for that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

No Control

Joe phoned me Sunday to ask if I could coach the first session of Masters Swim Lessons on Monday. He said that he has reduced the number of people in the class to 18 and that he would send me the swim workout he always uses for the first class. But he warned me that the first class was usually a zoo. I just laughed. How hard could it be?
I like to run a very structured swim lesson and I like all three lanes to be doing the same drill at the same time. The fastest swimmers normally have to wait for the slower swimmers to finish before we start the next set. This is supposed to be an "Intro to Masters" swim group so there are a few swimmers who have difficulty swimming 50 metres, but because it is such a popular class (is it me?) we also have very fast swimmers in it. I kind of knew that the structure would not be there for the first lesson, but I didn't know how bad it would get.
I lost control before the lessons even started.
Former "Intro" swimmers Jody and Carrie couldn't get into Paul's morning group so they have rejoined my class. They are now very good swimmers and were off doing dry land exercises while I was trying to start the class. I was forced to yell across the pool to Jody to advise her that the class had started. I was paying too close attention to the beginner swimmers in the slow lane to notice that Jody and Carrie were swimming clockwise contrary to the counterclockwise direction that Brad and Alistair were swimming. I decided they were adults and could figure it out themselves. Turns out they couldn't but Jody is so cute the guys didn't want to argue with her.
No drownings in the slow lane, but they quite often just stopped and stood up when they got tired.
I just left the middle lane alone and they finished the 1 hour workout in about 40 minutes and they were patiently standing there at the edge of the pool waiting for me before I realized they were done. What now? I don't know - uh OK - Timed 400m swim. It's all I could think of. Still 5 minutes left so I let them put on fins and do some underwater swimming just for fun.
I think they had fun, but I came across as unprepared.
I'll try to be better prepared tonight.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Drosophila (Fruit Flies)

I like bananas and I have a feeling that is why I have some fruit flies in my apartment. They can be really annoying. They completely change the way that I drink wine. Take a sip, spit out a fruit fly, take a sip, spit. Some people recognize fruit flies as legitimate "life spirits" and coexist with them. Not me. I try to exterminate them faster than they reproduce. But Genetics is causing me some problems.
At first the fruit flies were easy to send to fruit fly heaven. They just hovered there while I pulverized them. However after quite a few generations of them they are now evasive! What happened? Survival of the fittest?

My friend Pam is a PhD. student in Dr. Tom Grigliatti's lab at U.B.C. and she works with fruit flies. I met Dr. Grigliatti way back in 1985 when I was playing with frogs in the Physiology lab and my Tsawwassen buddy Nick Harden was working with fruit flies in Grigliatti's lab. Nick got his Masters at UBC then moved on to Cambridge and I just heard he was working in Singapore making a lot of money! Anyway, back in 1985 Grigliatti's lab was a dump compared to our relatively new labs over in Physiology. And they finally moved to the new building just this year! yay. Pam's lab is very impressive!
I have very bad memories of Genetics 330 except for sitting next to Shani Claridge. Here is a picture of me in Pam's new lab trying to remember how to use a microscope.

And a shot of the fruit flies.

Pam taught me some of the characteristics that she looks at in the fruit fly: eye colour, eye shape, wing shape, and bristle shape.
Looks like the wings are curved back in these flies.

Thanks for showing me your lab Pam!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Good Gluten Free Cookies

This post may be considered funny since I'm a guy and I'm baking cookies, but it really isn't meant to be. I just want to make life more enjoyable for my gluten intolerant friends.
I know a lot about gluten free foods because T. is gluten free and so is M. Many gluten free foods are absolutely terrible especially if they are made with rice flour. Panne Rizo on Cornwall in Vancouver makes a lot of wheat free/gluten free stuff but I don't like any of it.
T. taught me how to substitute hazelnut flour and soy flour to get some pretty good tasting cookies. The hazelnut flour has a really nice taste to it but you can only substitute up to one fourth of the recommended flour so the rest has to be soy. You have to go to Capers or Choices or one of those fancy grocery stores to get the hazelnut flour and it's expensive! I use the one called Bob's Red Mill All Natural Nazelnut Meal/Flour.
Here is the recipe for the cookies I am now baking.
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup water
3 T. honey
1 large egg

1 2/3 cup soy flour
1/2 cup hazelnut flour
1 c. finely chopped pecans, almost grounded
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground allspice
* Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. Beat on high speed until well combined.
* In another bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients and stir. Add dry mixture to sugar mixture and blend until well combined..
* Drop cookies onto greased baking sheet by teaspoonfuls, 1 1/2" apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookie edges are lightly browned.
* Remove cookies from oven and let cool slightly. Place on cookie racks and let set for a few hours before eating. Store in an airtight container.

Pretty easy. Even I can do it; and my kitchen is fairly spartan.
Substitute the soy and hazelnut flour mix into any cookie recipe.

Continuing on the wheat/gluten free topic there is a place on Main street called Quejos Cheesebuns that makes really great gluten free buns.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I ran into the wonderful Imelda at the UBC pool on Friday and she surprised me by telling me that she reads my blog - almost everyday!!! WOW! And she said it was funny!
I really appreciate the feedback and will now endeavour to make the posts even funnier. To be honest I get lazy and just slap any old crap up here most of the time. I should use some of my leisure time to do some serious comedy bits. Hopefully Sean and Patrick can collaborate - they used to be funny.
Thank you for your comments Imelda.

Swimmer Nicknames

I swam at the UBC pool Friday morning with my friend Pam who is also a swim coach and we were talking about nicknames we had for swimmers. Pam mentioned "Big Hand Paddle Man" and then Katie the lifeguard immediately shouted "OH! I know who you mean!"
Katie's boyfriend Paul is lucky enough to have two nicknames:"Splashy guy", and "flicky wrist guy".
Joe never remembers the names of the swimmers in our group so we have some nicknames too. There is Red, Whiny, Mr Questions Everything, Breathes on One Side, Muscles, Abs, I Don't Take Breaks, She Sure Tries Hard, and The Sinker.
Sometines I have to clarify by telling Joe which lane the person is in ie: Lane 2, The Sinker. And then Joe goes "OH! I know who you mean."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Happy Saint Patricks Day

Lavery is an Irish name! Brian, Sean and Patrick, will happily be celebrating our heritage tomorrow, and we shouldn’t forget the kids: Brendan, Connor, Aiden, and Kate.

Dad was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1925. Funny enough my Grandfather, Joseph came to Canada in 1919 after WW1, worked in the steel mills in Hamilton, Ontario and made big money. Joseph saved every penny and returned to Ireland. He met and married my Grandmother, Mary, and they had Irene and Rita, then dad (Herbert), then Joyce. They were quite well off and they owned a car and a house but the depression caused Joseph’s business to go bankrupt. Then the Laverys moved to Suffolk, England and lived in the Black Mountains. Dad went to a one room school there and the English Landlord donated milk for their lunches. It came in big cans and was heated on a wood stove and they got a mug of hot milk at lunch time. Dad’s grandmother (I don’t know which one) lived next door and she owned a grocery store and tea shop. The Laverys moved to Rosyth, Scotland when dad was a teenager and ended up going to the Lauder Technical School. As a part time job Dad delivered alcohol in the afternoon in Donfermline. The town is built on a hill and dad cycled up and down until three in the morning delivering alcohol. He made a lot of money in tips and gave it to his mother and she bought the first washing machine in town. Dad and his buddy Andrew Readdy spent all their free time cycling over the county and were the local racing champs. Dad was also very theatrical and had the lead in most of the school plays. I got the cycling gene, Sean got the theatrical gene, and Patrick got both! Dad started going to Engineering School in Edinburgh but decided to quit and join the Royal Air Force. He tried out for pilot but after crashing several Tiger Moths they made him a navigator. During the war he trained in Canada to become a navigator and then flew in North Africa and then in Italy. After the war he worked on planes in England and then finally came to Canada in the mid 1950's. He married Louise in 1959, had me in 1961, Sean in 1963 and Patrick in 1967. Dad passed away in 1990, Aunt Irene passed away a few years ago, Aunt Rita still lives in Romford and Aunt Joyce lives in New York.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Disgusting Habit

My work friend Paul Cooper is as weight obsessed as I am and he taught me that Juicy Fruit gum is now Sugar Free! With that knowledge I took up gum in order to stop my afternoon Rice Krispy Square habit. I have always disliked people chewing gum and especially teenage girls that crack their gum. But here I am chewing away at work. And I don't just take one or two pieces. I chew the whole pack (12 pieces) at once. I really should quit - I wonder what a good substitute is.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Favourite Run

I had an offer to go to Whistler this weekend, but it is Spring Break and I thought the crowds would be too nuts so I jammed out and stayed in the city. M. phoned this morning to tell me that I made the right decision. He made one ski run and said there were 10,000 people waiting for the lift so he went back to the village. What did I do instead of Skiing? I played in the snow up at Diez Vista! It's my absolute favourite run because it is so beautiful and a real challenge. No one ever wants to run it with me because they are afraid of twisting their ankles and ruining their Triathlon season. The hikers are usually astounded to see people running this trail. They think we are crazy. It is a pretty long haul - the section that I did today took me about three hours.

Park at Buntzen Lake beach and run down the lake trail - this is the little bridge you run over to get to the start of the Diez Vista trail.

The first part of the Diez is about a half hour climb. Then you cross under the pipeline and get to the eight switchbacks - Very Steep! The switchbacks take you up to the Vistas. And you are looking at the trail - hard to see it, eh? It's not groomed like the Grouse Grind. It's easy to get lost so you have to watch for the orange diamonds that are nailed to the trees.

This is the first vista. At this point you have finished with the steep switchbacks so you can rest and look at the city.

I'm not really dressed for it - and I'm wearing road shoes with no tread. I had fallen down a fair bit by this point.

Snow is getting deep but it's too late to turn back now!

Another Vista of the city

This is my favourite part of the run but it's also Bear territory -Plum and I saw the bears last time we were here. Hope they are still hibernating! Why was I runnning by myself today? Hmmm probably not too smart.

The gnarly back side is the hardest part of the run. Paul Slaymaker who now owns the Runners Den used to run this trail with me and taught me how to be a fairly efficient trail runner. One of the tricks is to look 20 feet ahead of you and not worry about the rocks and roots that you are stepping on. Also you are supposed to run downhill. Just make a line and follow it. Scary but if you overcome your fear you can do it. When I tried it today I fell down. Too icy.

After you get off the mountain there is a beautiful trail by the lake that B.C. Hydro built.

I ended up with a really big bruise on my right knee today because it was a little icy on the Gnarly downhill at the back. I'm always really proud of the bruises I get when I do this run.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Even More Oyu Tolgoi

Signs of activity in the Gobi Desert.

The "locals".

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Diving?

I help my friend Joe Lee coach an Intro to Masters swim class at the YWCA.
It was the last swim class of this session and I thought I would do something different with them. I got them to walk down to the deep end of the pool so I could show them how to do a diving start. Of course the trick to a diving start is to squeeze your forearms against your goggle straps so your goggles down fall off. And try not to do a belly flop. And make sure your swim shorts are tied tightly.
Anyway, there are two types of starts from the edge of the pool: Track start or grab start. Track start just means that one foot is in front of the other. Grab start is when you have both feet at the edge of the pool.
Start with both feet at the edge and curl your toes over the edge. Bend slightly at the waist, extend both arms backwards, throw both arms forward on the signal and "spring" off the edge of the pool with arms extended. Kick as soon as you are streamlined under water.
As we were practicing diving the cute lifeguard, Amy, was waving her arms at me and jumping up and down. I couldn't hear her so I just continued starting the athletes.
I could see she was getting somewhat agitated so I walked over to the station and got a scolding!
NO DIVING! The signs are all over the walls. Hmmm. Didn't really see them.

Sorry Amy. The class liked their first diving lesson and only 20% of the people lost their goggles.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yummy Hot Chocolate

I was enjoying a yummy hot chocolate with whipped cream at Higher Grounds last Saturday with the gang when Cindy, my speech pathologist friend, devastated me by informing me that hot chocolate is on the bad, bad thing to order list for Reflux suffers. Apparently donuts are on the "bad" side as well, but we suspect it is a typo.
I still don't officially have Reflux and no medical personnel have given me instructions on lifestyle changes in case I do have it.
Thankfully Cindy took pity on me and sent me a list of foods that I no longer can enjoy.

Here are some of the bad foods for me:
Cream, Citrus juices, Alcohol, Caffeine, Carbonated Beverages
Donuts, waffles, pancakes
Cheese, cream soups,
Chocolate, peppermint, high fat desserts, ice cream, nuts
More than 1 egg daily
Fried foods, potato chips,
Grapefruit, oranges, tomatoes

Not that I eat a lot of this stuff, but I'm going to be serious for a week and avoid all bad foods.
It's also Lent, perfect timing, eh?