Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Recent Lost-and-Found Stories

I don't know about you but losing things just frustrates and irks me, and makes my blood curdle until I can get closure by finding whatever it was that I lost or misplaced. I had a few situations these past few weeks that warrants recording in a blog so that I can be better equipped to avoid having it happen again.

Dropped Car Keys in Ski Slopes
We went to Mount Seymour with Steve and his kids Josh (soccer club teammate) and Jaime to go skiing and snowboarding during the first week of January 2019. There wasn't a lot of snow that day and didn't get to zero degrees until we got to the top of the hill. It was raining I remember which would have been perfect conditions for locating the worst thing one could lose at the ski hills - car keys. It must have fallen off my jacket at the bottom of the Lodge Chair Lift because that's where Steve got the keys from the chair lift attendant. Some kind soul must have found it on the snow before it got buried in it and turned it in. I panicked and started retracing my snowboarding path on foot down the hill. I must have looked pathetic combing through the snow that a few people asked if I was ok. I even check the rental desk and ticket office if anyone turned them in but was told it might be until late in the day at which point I was already thinking about how I would keep my kids warm while I had car towed and the expenses that would incur. It was the only car key I had and there was no other option to me so you can imagine the huge sigh of relief when Steve shouted out over the chair lift that he may have found my car keys. So grateful. I purchased this Tile Mate for $30 at London Drugs to make sure this doesn’t happen again. It’s coverage is 45 meters and pairs with my iPhone using its location services to indicate where on a map it was last seen.

iPhone Cell Phone Misplaced?
The same week in January 2019, we went to Cloverdale Skating rink to celebrate with Brian and Monique. Many rounds around the skating rink later, my wife says that she couldn't find her iPhone. She had our friend Teresa call her cell phone but they couldn't hear it in the vicinity and no one was picking up if someone had picked it up. I had this happen multiple times already where she would misplace her phone and so I immediately launched the "Find iPhone" app on my own iPhone to try and triangulate the whereabouts of my wife's iPhone. I was very surprised that it showed up a few kilometres away at the Boston Pizza restaurant in Fraser Hwy and 160th Ave Surrey. I used the send alarm function of the mobile app to remotely trigger an alarm on my wife's phone. After doing that I called the phone number and funny enough someone picked up. The other persons explained that her husband thought it was for someone who worked at Boston Pizza because of a calendar pop up on my wife's phone about our upcoming dinner at another Boston Pizza location later that night. I arranged to come and pick up the phone. This was another major headache that was avoided because my wife carries her driver's license, gym cards, and other cards on her cell phone case so we would have to go through cancellations and get the various cards re-issued. Crisis averted.

Teeth Braces Lost in Compost Bin at Food Court
We spent the boxing-week walking around Tsawwassen Mills Shopping Outlet Mall early one morning to avoid the crowds. It was our down time and also our workout as we must have circled the mall multiple times. After working up an appetite, the kids and I headed over to the food court for some lunch. My son has the habit of wrapping his teeth braces in a napkin and placing it alongside his plate while he ate. I got a text to meet up with my wife at a store so we quickly finished up and handed the food tray to one of the food court custodians to trash or compost the food tray contents. After meeting up with my wife and walking around some more, my son asks for his braces to which I of course adamantly said I didn't have. We retraced our steps and he said he remembers wrapping it in a napkin at the food court earlier. We ran over to the food court to try and find the garbage bin and the compost bin where they may have disposed of the wrapped braces. The custodians said they just emptied the garbage bins in the area where we remember dropping off the food tray. Our only other option was the compost bin. I offered to go through the compost bin to weed through all the napkins to look for the braces but the nice custodian said she would do it and proceeded to put on gloves to get to this dirty business. We must have been close to the bottom of the bin when we hit jackpot and found my son's braces still wrapped in the napkin. I was so relieved and we gave her what we had in our wallet worth $25 for her trouble. My son got a harsh scolding that day and am sure he will be more mindful of where he leaves his teeth braces from now on.

Missing Clothes in Gym Locker
One of favourite gyms is the Steve Nash Sports Club downtown on Georgia and Dunsmuir Street. I enjoy lounging in the steam and sauna rooms there, after a hard workout at one of the group fitness classes. I just wish I can afford the monthly membership fees as I already have a family membership at YMCA and can't see myself holding two gym memberships. However, I can never say no to free 7 or 14 day passes and take every opportunity to go during my lunch breaks. I freaked out on one of these visits when I came out to my locker to change back to my work clothes but found an empty locker. I was so sure someone had stolen my things so I ran to the front desk in nothing but a towel around my waist to declare a robbery. They sent someone to the men's change room with a master key to try and unlock neighbouring lockers. I was so sure it was my locker that was emptied because it was locked when I got to it initially and opened when I put in my 4-digit password. My previous landlord Sam was there too and was willing to lend me a shirt to help with my predicament. I said what I needed was a pair of pants and said thank you. Nevertheless, the staff with master keys must have had this happen to members multiple times because he went ahead and opened the locker next to what I thought was my emptied locker. I was so relieved to see my clothes, my shoes, and my backpack there after he opened the neighboring locker. I felt so stupid for having forgotten the locker number and the staff just smiled saying this happens a lot. I was already picturing in my head that I would take the skytrain home in towels because my wallet was also missing and that I had to cancel all my cards when I go home. Another crisis averted but got me thinking that I need to inventory the cards in my wallet now to ensure I can easily cancel those cards.

These are just some of the more noteworthy lost-and-found instances that I remember recently where I had lost something but thankfully was reunited with the said lost items. How about you, can you beat my list?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Half-Marathon statistic as a Measure of Fitness?

I'm not sure if anyone does the same number-crunching that I do when it comes to their fitness workouts. I ran the BMO half-marathon for the first time this May 2018 and did ok but I think I would need to run the same course at least three times to get an average. 

I did the Scotiabank half-marathon this June 2018 and have run that same course three years in a row now. I don't think I can compare one course with another even though they equal the same distance. 

Here are my stats from the past three races:

2018 96/200 1:57 
2017 76/194 1:57
2016 78/226 1:48

Average placement is 83/206 or at 60% fitness level when compared to a relatively fit population of runners in my age category.

Is this a correct way of estimating fitness level?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Review of 2017

As I write this blog entry, Christmas week is coming to an end and we are preparing for New Years eve. I can't believe 2018 is here and knowing that 2020 is a few years away does not make it any less amazing that we have been blessed to see so many blessings. I traditionally have been making newsletters that I send out electronically to friends and family but since it seems I have missed sending these out in the last Christmas then perhaps it's easier to just list them out on my blog and forward that on.

The beginning of the year I signed up for the Peninsula Runners 8km Resolution run and this set me up for the rest of the year with other races. I did the UBC Triathlon Sprint in March, Vancouver Sun Run in April, Scotia Half Marathon in June, and Turkey Trot 10Km in October. I have added weight training to my routine at the gym using programs like Strong Lifts 5x5 and Wendler Log 5/3/1. The most telling results from all my workout is the great results from my Q1 blood work. Happy to say I was able to improve by a few points in the right direction and hope to continue with that momentum in 2018.

We stopped with soccer games for my daughter in 2017 but continued with it for my son. Not sure we will continue going forward as I don't enjoy the early morning weekend games. The kids continue to excel at swimming lessons weekly and ballet twice a week is more than sufficient in terms of exercise I would think.

I took a break from BCIT courses this year but I did manage to attend one technology conference at Orlando, Florida. I also finished one certification in TOGAF enterprise architecture. 

The second year at work with Sunlife at the helm is going steady but wish 2018 would reveal a little bit more of the roadmap in the years to come. The road is bumpy and am confident that next year will prove to be a turning point for most people at the company. I am also seriously considering revitalizing the aminsolutions.com brand and blog with more frequent posts and hopefully start it back up with help from my brothers.

We were more active this year with attending church masses and even got to listen to Father Augustine's homily on Christmas day. We only found the advent candles the third week of December so the kids didn't quite get into the 'preparation' mentality closer to Christmas. Next year we will make sure the tradition continues to shine brightly. I enjoy attending the morning masses during the Christmas holiday season but throughout the year it is a little more difficult with one car and my wife working on weekends. Nevertheless, we attended many of the holiday masses with my extended family and in the new year we will look for creative ways of attending the morning masses.

We were reunited with my in-laws from Ontario for two weeks which was great. We went to see the Niagara Falls, went on a speed boat tour, biked my longest bike ride ever with my nephew, and got to spend precious time with family we haven't seen in ages. My other nephew from Toronto also found a job in Vancouver and is now staying with us. Christmas eve dinner was at house this year and New Years eve at my other in-laws at Cloverdale. No major life-changing events this year but if I can improve on the year, it is to spend more time together with my siblings getting closer to one another and burying any grudges if any.  This and revitalizing any and all relationships with friends near and far would have been a good area to improve on.

That's a recap for now. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Top Nutrition Advice from a Registered Dietitian

My wife, kids, and I recently attended a 2-hour food seminar with a registered dietician at our local Fresh St Market and learned a thing or two about healthy eating. Someone once said this about healthy eating and nutrition - that they are "already aware, and just need to implement it". I assume the "it" is the healthy eating part which to me means that until it is implemented, then they are eating less healthy in the meantime. I think this is where the extra learning comes in that comes with attending these quick seminars. If anything, learning that this is a way of life and not a form of diet is worth the cost of going to this very free seminar/tour.

DISCLAIMER: These are my own notes and may not be accurate and not necessarily reflect what the dietitian said. It's all reliant on my note-taking skills that day.

Eating out at restaurants = no.
Prepared foods = yes.
Eating well is not not expensive.
Plan on buying 5 dinners when you go grocery shopping and use your freezer often.
When food shopping, divide your list into categories like vegetables, proteins, carbs, grain, etc.

Follow the 80/20 rule.
Aim for 80% healthy eating and 20% not so healthy eating. Go for 7-8 servings of vegetables per day.
Carbs do not make you fat.
You should eat every 3-4 hours instead of big meals.
Combining carbs with protein helps anchor your energy.
Snack wisely and mindfully.
Fine to combine protein and carbs.
Eat colourful foods, with tons of orange and green.

Balanced meal = 3 to 4 food groups.
Fill half your plate with vegetables.
Quarter of your plate fill with meat, fish, and poultry.
Quarter fill with potatoes, rice, and pasta.
Go easy on processed deli meats because it increases chance of colorectal cancer.
All processed meats are the same regardless of preservation methods.

Gluten is not bad for you, it is protein and comes from wheat.
Just don't use white refined flour and go with whole wheat instead.
Organic foods is not healthier than conventional.
Buy frozen.

Coconut oil is not better than olive oil.
Stick with vegetable oil high in omega3.
Avocado oil is good because of high boiling point.
If you see oil start to smoke while cooking then start over with new batch.
LDL is only one marker for heart disease, there are many other markers. Triglycerides are a better marker.  Omega3 with dha are betters. Good fats - walnuts, almonds.

Cholesterol and fatty foods do not increase blood pressure.
No hydrogenated oils. Heating and cooling foods creates trans fat. Did not know that.
Eat more fatty fish like salmon and halibut. No deep fried foods, limit animal-based foods because that is where saturated fat comes from.
Plants have no saturated fats.
Fiber like apples, soy protein is good.
ApoA and ApoB shows particle sizes in LDL, better indicator.

GMOs do not cause allergies.
Genetic modifications are not labeled in foods but organic foods are never genetically modified if you want to be safe.

Limit 25-50g of sugar per day.
Honey and agave are not any better than sugar.
Healthy gut is important by following the three Fs (I forgot what they are).

Brown eggs are not healthier than white eggs. It's just the type of feed given to the hens.

Osteoporosis is not just an older lady disease.
We use calcium everyday, density of bones starts to go down after 34 years of age.
1000mg a day of calcium needed for under 50 year olds.
A glass of milk or milk substitute is about 300mg.

Multivitamins will not really improve your health.
You can change your metabolism.
Strength training at least twice a week.

Fat does not transform into muscle and vice versa.

Sea salt is not lower in sodium than table salt.
Don't need to do cleanses, it is not needed because our kidney and liver do all that work.

Final notes from the dietitian's presentation:
1)stick to Superfoods 2) revisit portions 3) reduce sugar  4) avoid transfat 4) reduce processed food 5) have vegetables - proteins and carbs - unprocessed- hydration - pleasurable

Keep a food journal.

Some great sites to be aware of when it comes to food journals and nutrition ideas:

Keep in mind H.A.L.T.S. (forgot what it each letter stands for).
No mindless eating, i.e. no tv while eating.

After the seminar, we walked around the Fresh St Market store and talked about the  different foods at various aisles.

Here are some more info I noted during all the tour:
VitaSupplements with Phytosterol lowers cholesterol by 15%.
Rule of thumb when consuming protein per day - 1.2g of protein per kg of weight.
Enriched wheat just means white refined bread, a no.
Naked bar cashew and dates.
Amaranth grain.
Dijon lemon oil.

I believe there is another seminar in November and January.

Monday, October 5, 2015

70 minutes to Complete a Normal Wash Cycle?

This is a part 2 of my efforts to fix my Whirlpool Washer and the dreaded F21 error code http://www.chromiloamin.com/2014/09/how-to-fix-error-code-f21-water-not.html. This code means there is a slow drain issue with the unit and that it could easily be fixed by emptying the contents of the lint trap or replace the motor. I have already removed all the contents of the lint trap (which had a lot of gunk buildup) but the F21 error continued to persist so I thought that the next logical thing to do is to replace the drain pump motor. Maybe the lint trap buildup just caused the motor to malfuntion.

The water pump part number 8540024 was replaced by part# W10130913 and I was able to source it cheaply from Walmart US for US$70. I could have purchased it from ReliableParts and have it shipped to the store which is close to my house but that would have set me back $173. I ordered thru Walmart US and had it shipped to my mailbox at Blaine via 5dPackages (they only charge $2 for packages under 30lbs). After picking up the package, I followed the instructions here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ShBSvrPq3A to replace my old water pump. It was super easy.

The moment of truth came. We had enough dirty laundry to test the washer, to see if the F21 error had been resolved. Success! I no longer see this dreaded error but the clothes were still wet. It didn't spin at the end of the normal cycle (ran for 55 minutes) which is why I think the clothes are still wet. I set the dial to Drain/Spin cycle to see if I would have to replace the belt that makes the drum spin. This cycle takes 15 minutes to complete and it does spin quite fast. It even successfully drains the water and results in drier clothes.  Total wash time is 55+15=70 minutes.

Have you seen this before? I think there is sensor that is not calculating the load correctly and therefore not going into the final spin cycle. Haven't been able to find anything else about it on the interweb however. I think I'll let this one ride until it breaks again at which point I'll head over to The Brick for another front-load washer.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Engine Break Cable Replacement for my Lawn Mower

It's been more than 3 years since I had any issues with my 11A-410A552 MTD Yard Machine lawn mower (see previous history here http://www.chromiloamin.com/2012/05/part-2-black-smoke-from-my-lawn-mower.html) so it must be time for it to give me some anti-love. The engine break cable broke this past week so I couldn't mow the lawn. It also broke a while back but I was able to jerry-rig a replacement by re-connecting the cut cables with some wires and super glue. Can't believe that it lasted for 3 years. Instead of doing the same fix this time, I gave in and bought a replacement engine break cable. I searched around the web for the correct part number to order from MTD's website or from Ebay but my lawn mower must have been made before 1996 because I can't find any manuals for it.  The closest I could find was from Sears with part#746-0551 but said it was a throttle cable. It didn't look right so I just went to CanadianTire and was lucky that MTD sold this part #746-0552 for $20 including tax. It was the exact cable I was looking for. Problem solved.

I can now get back to not mowing my lawn.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race

I finally completed my first obstacle race called Rugged Maniac. It was a very easy race for me, at 5k in total and 25 obstacles. Perhaps it was because I was expecting it to be difficult like Tough Mudder or the Spartan race so I over trained for it. Or maybe it was just tailored to be an easy race with so that there is a repeat next year. Whatever it is, I had fun. 

I went with my friend Greg, Amy, Colin, and their friends this year. They live very close to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds so I just biked it to his house for an easy 6k ride just so I can get warmed up. After checking in, we immediately climbed a chest-high wall to get to the start of the race and this was great teaser. 

When our wave time started at 1pm, I immediately regretted wearing white socks as we start out with "shoe catcher" obstacle where you cross a mud pool and immediately find yourself knee-high in mud. One of my favorites was "the ringer" because I didn't think I could do it. I have a bad shoulder and didn't know I could swing across like a monkey over a puddle of brown water. I think it was thanks to losing so much weight that I was able to carry my body easily. 

Near the end, there was "the warped wall" which was a half-pipe and required a running start to get to the top of the wall. There were helping hands at the top to hoist you over the wall but I didn't need any help getting over. The key is to make sure your shoes aren't muddy or wet so that you have enough grip to propel yourself over the top. 

I didn't get the timing chip this year but the clock at the finish line said it took me 1 hour to complete the race. I don't think I'll time myself in future Rugged Maniac races because this was all just for fun just like the Color Me Rad 5k race earlier this year. I would definitely do it again and just wished more of my family and friends would join in. It was probably the $100 price tag at the gate or the prospect of getting injured that deterred many. I say stop whining, get over that obstacle, and let's get rugged!