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Showing posts from June, 2012

Jeez, I Can't Find My Knees (Running Commentary)

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The proverb reminds us that for want of a nail the shoe was lost. Springsteen says everything is everything. The Butterfly Effect reminds us of storms that can be traced back to small changes somewhere else in a non-linear system. Shelagh says everything hinges on your knees.

We've been thinking these kinds of thoughts lately because it has become painfully obvious that our dreams of running the Big Sur half marathon in November, that the money it will take to get us there, and that the time consumed by training for all of it rests on our knees. Our wobbly knees. Our almost five-decade-old knees.

Wikipedia does a good job underlining the importance of the knees:


 It is the largest joint in the human body and is very complicated.[2] The knee is a mobile trocho-ginglymus (a pivotal hinge joint),[3] which permits flexion and extension as well as a slight medial and lateral rotation. Since in humans the knee supports nearly the whole weight of the body...


Largest joint. Very complicate…

Ted Talks

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If story isn't the most ubiquitous word these days, then it's behind only innovation. Or creativity. Every day there is a new voice (that's pretty everywhere these days, too) telling you it's not the tools, it's the story, or to share your story, or join the story, and so on. There are directors of media & story. Construction sites tell stories as they build storeys. You can even storify your stories.

What's the story with story?

I'm going to spend some time thinking through the answer to that question. I think the shattered mediasphere and its broken economic model has just about everybody looking to story for salvation. But those are thoughts for another blog.

Ted Byfield taught me about story. Or, maybe it's more accurate to say he taught me to love story. But as I write these words I realize it's more accurate to say Byfield taught me to fear story.

Vancouver, 1987 -- There I was, a young writer ordered to report to the newsroom at 7 am to g…

Tiger Breaks Up

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Tiger is a lot of things, not the least of which is a modern media marvel. Here, the man and the medium come apart at the same time.

Walking With Shelagh

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The hike isn't quite over until the following morning when the hips and quads and knees give their assessment of the work the day before.

So far. So good.

Yesterday we drove up from Banff to Lake Louise, cutting off the main highway and taking the road less travelled by tractor trailers and RVs, the Bow Valley Parkway. Years ago, 25 or so, I think, I pedalled that route with Jaime and Mag on the way to their wedding in Jasper. It's a gorgeous route. The road makes you think. I don't know if I'm the person now I was then, but there are some things that haven't changed. I have never driven a motorhome in the Rockies. Okay, I've traded modes of transportation, and don't even have that Miyata 1000 anymore, but I still take pictures of the road ahead.

We tooled around the lake and the hotel for a while. We took some pictures. And more than once heard  ourselves saying that this was as beautiful as a postcard. Or this looks like a scene from a movie. It's cur…

Running With Xenophon

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If you look closely down the path in this photo, you will see the runner that  I would like to be but I am not. Way in the distance, that little speck? That's the woman who caught me, passed me and then left me to consider the meaning of it all.

I run in part to substitute the pain of running for the pain of not running, having come to the conclusion that there is no equation free of pain. Either I sit at work and sit doing my school work and sit in front of the TV and sit in the car and develop the hip and back and knee pain that turns good moods to bad, or I run on the treadmill and run on the jogging paths and take the stairs and develop the hip and back and knee pain that feels better.

But I also run because thoughts drop in when I am in motion. There is probably some ancient basis for this. I remember from somewhere that Aristotle was known as a peripatetic lecturer, because he walked or moved around as he spoke. It's an attractive lesson, that somehow a body in motion i…

Midway To A New City

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We're in the middle of that quintessentially Edmonton event. No, not a summer festival or an Eskimos game. Not a run through the river valley or a debate over who has the right of way in a traffic circle. Not a stroll down the aisles of a farmer's market or a joke about how many Stanley Cups Calgary doesn't have. Yes, once again, we are trying to come up with a name for this city's summer fair.

It seems that Capital Ex doesn't work, because, well,  nobody knows what it means. It has remained more of a question than an answer.  I think it was the Edmonton Journal's Paula Simons who greeted the-then new name this way: Capital Ex? Capital Why?! That was equally parts clever and prophetic. Now, it seems, Northlands agrees, and there is a contest under way to re-name the summer fair.

For those who don't remember, Capital Ex replaced Klondike Days, which, we were told, was showing its age. Of course, there were other problems with Klondike Days. Nobody like dressi…

Running Commentary 2

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One of the most interesting aspects of writing a communication plan is imagining the answer to the question, what does success look like? It's a question good enough to help frame all sorts of projects and efforts in real life.

Including the Big Sur half marathon in Monterey in November.

Somewhere along the way, Shelagh and I have somehow made that 13-mile run a possibility. I have never run a half marathon. I have run a half half marathon twice. Once, really. The first time, I finished, but came away with a sore left knee. What I remember most keenly from that race is the message I sent to my legs with the finish line in view. "Okay, let's kick it up a gear and sprint to the finish line," I said. "Forget you," my legs said. It was bewildering. I ordered my legs to move faster, and they simply rebelled. I could not run faster. The second time I ran that distance, I couldn't finish. The pain in my knee forced me to stop. By the time I walked the course,…

Peggy Olson, Clare Drake, at al.

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Peggy Olson is admittedly distracted. She's been dropped from the Heinz account and now she believes she is only hours away from being dumped by her boyfriend. And so when the agitated Ginsberg and Stan come back to their common office playing roles in one of the oldest stories known to man, she is not quite there. And maybe that is part of the point.
Ginsberg: She couldn't have been struck by lightning a week ago?
Stan: You think that's her idea?
Peggy: What happened?
Ginsberg (sarcastically): The boss's wife had an idea.
Peggy: Any good?
Stan: It's better than what we had.
Peggy (after a pause): Good for her. It is not the most memorable scene from Mad Men, and, at 34 words, it is only slightly longer than the trademark silent scenes, but it makes you think.

Ginsberg, the junior copy writer, and Stan, the art director, have just come back from Don Draper's office, where they were told to take a completely different direction on the Heinz pitch. That's be…

Behind The Scenes

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Beneath the surface is where the cool stuff happens.

The Latin preposition is infra, meaning below, under, and, by extension, out of view. The related word that comes first to mind is infrastructure, a noun whose currency has risen to the level of the title of government departments. The minister of infrastructure is, accordingly, in charge of the highways and sewers and the electricity lines, and all the rest of the technologica that supports the communication and commerce of modern life.

Some of these thoughts bubbled up while watching CBC's coverage of the Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Today, there is a pageant of boats on the Thames and anchor Peter Mansbridge is, in this video, talking via smartphone to James Raffan, who is steering Canada One/Un, a canoe from the Canada Canoe Museum, down the famous river. (Jack the audio on your computer.)


About 9 seconds in you see a briefly frustrated Mansbridge gesture and mouth the words "Just wait!" …

Thanks For The Memories

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McLuhan somewhere said something that I remember to be something like:  our electronica has succeeded in externalizing our sensory organs to the point that our central nervous system is now outside of our bodies. I don't know if that is right. I don't know if this is the passage from Understanding Media that I am trying to find:  Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerns. (p. 3)  Part of my point is that I can't find it. I can find the evidence on the left, a note to myself to "get a better grip on the extension of the human organs." But I can't recall the quotation from memory, so I am forced to try to find its tracks, either in the margins of my books or by typing "mccluhan external nervous system" into a Google. That is how I came back to the the quotation above. And that got we wondering what is really …