This chart indicates my weight gain since 2016, with the big jump representing when we moved to Canada. In total it represents about 12kg.

Unfortunately I don’t have as convenient a chart for activity level and amount of calories burned, but that data shows unsurprisingly a drastic decrease in activity levels. I went from a daily average of 12km of running a day to 5 – sometimes less than 5.

I have no convenient way to track what I eat, but when we lived in Taiwan, for the sake of expediency we would plan our our meals for the week. So I have that data in my calendar. We ate far more fish, green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit than we do now. Partially because they were far more readily available and affordable. We don’t plan our meals now, as the cost of food here is much much higher than we imagined possible, and variable. It was pretty much consistently cheap before, though there might be the odd sale on imported goods.

Data is a wonderful way to understand the changes in your body, and a great tool to change behaviour. I would love to eat like my son, it’s a lot of fun to continuously eat, but my body just doesn’t require it. One of the pleasant side effects of being really active, is you get to eat more. And eating is one of the greatest pleasures.


On this day not so many years ago, I got up, ran 21k, came home and showered, ate a full breakfast, and walked to work. This was routine.

Yesterday, I tried to run 3.5k from my office to home and failed. I mostly walked.

Monday at Crossfit I took a knee because my heart rate spiked over 200 and I thought I might fall.

Activity of all sorts seems more difficult and I now think in terms of movement and not, am I making my mileage targets. So I walk, run, bike, and SkiErg.

The cause of my decrease in athletic capability could be many things; long COVID, sitting on my ass all day, or it could all be in my head. This might be something to start a conversation with a GP over but we don’t have one, and it seems ridiculous to clog an already overloaded system with abstract health concerns.

What I will likely do is create a performance baseline in which to measure improvements from. This way I may gain a better idea if there are any underlying conditions that might be affecting my ability to move. The QEH has facilities for this, but getting access to that equipment in a timely manner is about as likely as winning the lottery. So I will pay a private clinic when I have saved the money required.

On the plus side, while at the hellscape that is Walmart yesterday, we had a competition to see who could sit down on the floor and get back up again without using your hands or any momentum. It’s a test of mobility and more difficult than it sounds. I won.

The Doorway Effect

I didn’t realize that this was a thing until someone smarter than me posted a cartoon about it on Facebook (it’s good for something!). I always assumed it was further evidence of age related cognitive decline or evidence of a mind preoccupied with too many things at once. I feel better already.

The doorway effect is a known psychological event, where a person’s memory declines when passing through a doorway moving from one location to another, when it would not if they had remained in the same place. People experience this effect by forgetting what they were going to do, thinking about, or planning upon entering a different room. This is thought to be due to the change in one’s physical environment, which is used to distinguish boundaries between remembered events: memories of events encountered in the present environment are more accessible than those beyond it.

Blindness is an option

A little over 3 years ago this month I wrote about a health care experience that couldn’t have “happened anywhere else“. It was in one sense, a private/public health care system performing as it should.

Lately, I have been experiencing similar symptoms in the same eye and seeing as vision is fairly essential, decided after much procrastination, that I should go see Dr. Elaraoud, who replaced the angel who I first interacted with.

The hiccup is that Dr. Elaraoud is a specialist and on PEI that means you need a referral, and that referral costs money (either cash or through private insurance).

I’m prepared to pay the fee, I already, in addition to paying an exorbitant amount of taxes, invest a great deal of money in trying to keep mentally and physically sound. Not just for the joy it brings, but with the idea of forestalling being sick or injured, as help may not be forthcoming.

I run a money losing children podcast network so am not of means, but can still afford to pay the fee. But what if I couldn’t? What recourse is there for others? Blindness?

It’s also a month wait to see an Optometrist and an unknown length of time to see the specialist.


I spent a morning recently with my 90 year old Uncle at the QEH, helping him get from point A to point B, and ensuring when possible that he understood the instructions of staff. He’s the last remaining elder on my side of the family, with the others having succumbed to the evils of cancer and bodies that could no longer support them.

If you are open to change and are on the fence as to whether you should modify your eating and physical habits, just spend some time at the hospital to see what it could be like if you don’t. The number of people of all ages unable to move their bodies as designed is distressing.

The way our medical system operates, you only interact with it when you are at your worst, when things are broken, or when you are sick. That is if you are able to see a doctor in a timely manner. In my youth I remember seeing my GP on a regular basis and being told to take care of certain aspects of my health, lose weight and get exercise. I’m not sure if doctors still do that or if they are even allowed to tell someone they are overweight.

So while my hospital observations may represent the worst case outcome for a sedentary lifestyle, it certainly gave me some encouragement to continue trying to keep moving, keep working on some form of athleticism, as I move through this phase of my life.

Last night I reluctantly went to a CrossFit workout. All I really wanted to do was stay at the office to try and finish the endless list of tasks I have to do. But after an hour of hanging out with good people, safely sweating a bit, my mood completely changed. I was talkative even. That’s evidence enough for me to keep trying.

To quit

I dropped into KC clothing for the first time in ages yesterday in search of something suitable to wear to a dinner I have to attend. I am told that it’s socially unacceptable to wear what I arrive to the office in – gym pants and hoodie – at a fancy restaurant in a hotel. So to avoid embarrassing my son and wife with the stares of others, or the possible baring of entry, I am in need of some proper pants.

I do have pants, and my previous office wear, jeans and t-shirts, but what I have recently found out was that they were purchased for someone who was slimmer and more athletic than I am now. My legs wouldn’t even fit in one pair. Thank you carbs.

This revelation was the topper to a week of suffering through what Goggins would call Poopy Pants mentality.

About 10 days ago during a workout I seemed to have strained a minor muscle that connects to my hip, making running impossible. This occurred after having spent a small fortune on a running assessment with a local physio., where we identified some minor issues to work on, so I can get back to training after a year off due to a different injury.

Though I am not ambitious, I’ve long believed in a work harder (and smarter), keep moving forward attitude, and I shudder whenever I hear people talking about being kind to yourself. But this past week I have come the closest I have come yet to just say, what the fuck am I doing this for, and quit.

I’m a big believer in keeping active and functional fitness. So many people my age or even much younger can’t get from point A to B without a car, some can’t bear a couple flights of stairs, and then later many find it hard to even get out of a chair. That’s no way to live and a sure fire way to frequent visits to a doctor, if you can find one.

Running has been a boon to my mental health and the inability to go for a long run has contributed to a more gray outlook towards the world.

Crossfit or functional fitness I describe as essential for injury free movement. Ironically, it’s where all my injuries have come from of late. It has done wonders for my conditioning and I love the intensity of some of the workouts. It keeps my hinge (hips) strong.

I’ve been through this before and worked my way through it, but I wasn’t working 7 days a week then, and there was more extrinsic motivation than what I have now.

Perhaps It is time to reexamine my concept of work life balance and see if I have the energy to work through injuries again.

Returning to normalcy

It’s wonderful to be out of isolation and able to move about. It’s especially great to be able to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee; coffee shops being the only place in Charlottetown in winter where you can actually be around people (I don’t do bars and there are no co-working hubs).

I delayed going back to CrossFit as we tend to be in close contact with others no matter how stringent we follow public health guidelines.

Whether my symptoms were a result of COVID or simply a chest cold, or whether there is a difference I won’t know. The medical system can no longer test people let alone give people a detailed diagnosis.

What I do know is that it’s been close to 2 weeks since onset of symptoms, 10 days since I had my positive result, and I still don’t feel anywhere close to 100%. I would never expect that my lifestyle would make for a teflon armour against illness, but I am surprised at how long it is taking me to bounce back.

Today the sun is shining and coffee tastes and smells like coffee again, so life feels good.


We are nearing the end of our required isolation period. I have gone outside each day – yesterday for a walk, and later a short run. The day before I went out and pushed some wet snow around. Fresh air and exercise is a decent antidote to many things.

Sheryl is still largely asymptomatic but with enough cold symptoms that it is affecting her voice, which is problematic when we have voice over work to do. Her experience shows that rapid tests are fallible. She has been asymptomatic all along, tested negative each and everyday, but when getting a pcr test, had a positive result.

Camren is back to normal and is competing in the open tonight, and has a swim meet on Sunday. Catriona is still testing negative, likely because she spends all her time in her room.

I still have a chest cold which I had before I first tested negative and later tested positive. Because of the constant coughing, sleep hasn’t been possible this week, which has an effect on my mood, and my ability to do the things I want to do. I often wondered if those who refuse to follow public health guidelines never get sick or perhaps don’t care about not accomplishing much if they do. I can’t stand putting plans on hold while my body recovers.

One symptom which is disconcerting, is that all the coffee I have been drinking this week tastes vaguely like vomit. This after just ordering a box of coffee from a roaster in Truro (of all places). I’m hoping this is temporary.

Brain fog

I’m sitting here trying to write a children’s story and a short missive about our listener growth but am incapable of stringing sentences together in a coherent manner. I’m experiencing total and complete brain fog.

Camren was the first to test positive for COVID and is back at school today. Sheryl and I both tested positive later, and are both isolating until the weekend. Catriona is enjoying her alone time and ordering food via Door Dash. Camren suffered from sore throat and headaches, and I have a cough from hell, which has meant no sleep. Sheryl is asymptomatic.

Life is grand.


I couldn’t find my wallet yesterday, usually it’s my keys, or some other item necessary for interfacing with modern society, like a mask. In winter I wear much the same, day in and day out, and the slight deviation yesterday sent me for a loop. I left my wallet in a hidden pocket I forgot about.

It’s common to joke when you reach middle age about early onset of dementia, except it’s no joke. As you get older you might settle into a routine, or you get busy, stressed, or all of these things. Throw in what has now become banal, the pandemic and the misguided protests against public health, and I guess I could be forgiven for being absent minded. But I can’t help but think that my life has been considerably dumbed down.

Living in fast paced cities where everyday presented some challenge, constantly needing to study a hard language, using that language daily, the stresses of work and communicating with people, intense exercise and an international travel habit that entailed no planning whatsoever made for a more nimble mind.

There are few such challenges these days. Life here is pretty sedate, with the pandemic even more so.

The only answer I have to this, is to try and find something new that I curious about, but have little experience with, and try to gain some expertise. I’m just not sure what that will be yet.

Getting more sleep

I don’t always sleep well and despite for years expending effort on other areas of my mental and physical health it has remained a problem.

Lately the problem has been compounded by frequent nightly visits to the toilet, which I find incredibly annoying but have come to accept as it’s largely out of my control. A recent blood test has shown no cause for concern. To help, I resist my night time love of fruit and limit my night time fluid intake.

I’ve tried intense exercise, relaxation techniques, stretching, listening to music, reading and other activities in an effort to improve my sleep, nothing has shown consistent results. What has been working is simply forcing myself to stay in bed longer, to not adhere to a set schedule. The kids are old enough to take care of themselves and I have the luxury of setting my own work schedule. This hasn’t meant sleeping in until noon unfortunately, that’s a talent I lost when I stopped being a teenager, but it has meant that when I wake up at 3 or 4am alert and ready to start my day, I force myself to lay there for an hour. Eventually I fall back to sleep until sometime between 6 – 7am, which is sleeping in for me.

We introduce visualization techniques to kids on one of our podcasts and I have found that useful as well. If during one of my frequent trips to the bathroom I find my mind focusing on thoughts of the upcoming day, I switch my thinking to a calm and relaxing place, an imaginary place for me. That place lately has been a small room full of books, with a fire place, and a comfortable leather chair.

It’s been working most nights.


My son read my Twitter posts recently and he and his girlfriend let me know that I seem salty all the time. This comes on the heals of being told that I seem too serious and don’t smile enough.

The Twitter that I am subject to is full of vitriol, virtue signalling, and an endless stream of all that is wrong with the world. With the exception of virtue signalling (many local companies/orgs. with social media chops pat themselves on the back endlessly), I thought I fit in.

I take their comments to heart and hope to share the brighter side of me, if I can find it. Except for here, where I will continue to crank.

Likely the best thing I can do for my mental health is simply delete all my social media – even Instagram, where I am flooded with videos of rich food and extremely fit people, a weird dichotomy which helps create unrealistic expectations.

I can’t delete Twitter entirely unfortunately, but like Facebook before, I’ll just stop showing up and be all the happier as a result.


My focus with going to CrossFit has been to enjoy the benefits of functional fitness, keep the various hinges working, and to focus on the conditioning component vs. Olympic lifting (which I can’t often do anyway). As well, any intense physical activity has mental health benefits, which is increasingly important these days.

I seem to have been gifted with good heart and lungs, and excellent VO2 Max, which allows me to push myself during activities that don’t require me to move a lot of weight. Any activity involving sprinting and the BikeERG I seem to enjoy most. Endurance activities seem limited by my weak frame alone. This is not to say that I expect to be finishing the MOAB240 or even the PEI marathon, but this seems to be where I am at my best and receive the most joy.

Lately, the workouts have taken a turn to the difficult. My time is only slightly off but the effort to complete has increased exponentially. One night this week I was laying on the ground post workout in a fetal position, less something bad might happen. Last night I found it difficult to breathe.

Granted our diet since returning to Canada has taken a turn for the worse and I’ve gained close to 10kg as a result but this seemed like a sudden change. With cold like symptoms, more laboured breathing, and general malaise I thought perhaps my 5 minutes in an overcrowded box store might have given me the gift of COVID.

So I took a test and it came up negative.

Now the only blame I can place on my decreased performance is my enlarged belly and a lack of training.

Why Vaccinate?

I don’t know why I had the question or remember what online news article might have triggered this procrastination, but I thought I would go in search of “Why should we vaccinate against COVID on the Island”. We are all vaccinated, for self-preserving reasons first and foremost, and I have as much an understanding of the science to make a reasonable decision as I need. But time and time again I hear or read people having muddled responses as to their reasoning, which though they are I assume vaccinated, would lead me to believe that many are not clear as to what vaccines are and do.

Surely the PEI Gov. website would have that answer? Not that I could find with any reasonable search. The best I could find was from the Immunize BC website which though a tad lengthy for most people today, was very clear.

Why vaccinate.

When nonfactual information keeps getting repeated over and over again it replaces truth. This isn’t a messaging problem or a PR problem, it’s a design failure in government to present facts in a way that remind people of their purpose, in such a way that is clear enough to be a signal though all the noise.

Fitness data

Yesterday was a picture perfect summer day on the Island so after the days work was finished Sheryl and I headed to the beach to enjoy some of the clear blue skies while she walked and I went for a run. The Gulfshore parkway is a wonderful stretch of road perfect for a Sunday afternoon run. And if you keep going from the Cavendish boardwalk until New Glasgow, you could enjoy a nice post run feast at the New Glasgow Lobster suppers – something I will consider for later in the season.

While the weather was perfect, my run was less so. The whole 12k was a struggle, not just due to my now chronic Achilles issues, but also a seeming inability to keep going. The blame is in part mental, it can be hard to enter that zen like state where you forget the discomfort of running. 10+k has always been my sweet spot. I’d just put on my shoes and go, with little to no thought. So I was surprised at how difficult the run felt. I shouldn’t have been, as the charts below suggest, for distance running I am completely out of shape.

Running distance – my distances this past year pale in comparison to years past

Time spent on Crossfit

Health data is a wonderful thing. I can track trends and make correlations – like how my BP has taken a surprising spike along with a decrease in sleep and an increase in weight. In the case illustrated above, I can see that despite continuing to spend roughly the same amount of time focusing on fitness, the amount of time I have spent on my feet has decreased dramatically. Having good cardio fitness is only one part of running and CrossFit doesn’t focus enough on endurance.

I can expect more discomfort until my legs adjust to the increase in mileage, and if my Achilles holds, I should be back to my old self in September.

I fought the echo bike, and the echo bike won

It’s been a bit of a challenging week or two. First, persistent chest pains that kept me awake over multiple nights, then a man-cold, and now a sports related injury that has me sitting on the couch with my leg iced and elevated.

Since I became interested in running 6 years ago or so, I’ve suffered a slew of injuries. The most uncomfortable of which was extreme lower back pain that could only be abated by laying on the floor, just before I was to board a 24+ hour flight in economy. My mind, and to a lesser extent my heart and lungs, were far more capable of exercise than my middle aged weak frame. I’ve learned a lot about my body since then, have seen a number specialists, and have been scanned and probed many times.

Most medical advice on injuries aspirational middle aged athletes like myself acquire, almost universally includes the word stop. I have in turn each and every time I have heard that word ignored the advice, and instead replaced it with go harder (but smarter). It’s worked pretty well.

This past year I have despite putting my body through many kilometres of slow runs, intense running workouts, and light CrossFit workouts been injury free. I thought my more measured approach was working, and it seems to be until now.

I switched gyms recently, primarily out of convenience, but also in the belief that I would receive better coaching. That has turned out to be true, and they are far more accommodating towards an adaptive athlete such as myself.

Since joining in January I have ramped up the intensity of my workouts, and started adding more weight. My frequency has increased as well, so that I am there 5x per week. The biggest change was my discovery of the Echo bike above. If there was such a thing as hell, I am almost certain it would have one of these. It’s a torture device, and I have fallen in love with the discomfort and pain it gives me.

I used to always laugh at those who were laying on the floor after a work-out, but now the laugh is on me, because anytime a work-out includes extensive row/bike/run I’m laying on the floor in a fetal recovery position afterwards. It’s fantastic for my mental health.

Unfortunately, seemingly out of the blue this change in intensity, either from the bike, skipping, or box jumps has caused swelling and pain on the inside of my calf. I’m taking a breather for the next few days and off to Physio early next week.

It used to be common for the old folks to say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I’ve found that since the pandemic has restricted our lives I’ve lost much of the routines I used to follow, and some discipline as well. So, I am going to take this opportunity to work harder at living a more healthy lifestyle, and work through whatever injury I am suffering from.

I’ve got a cold

This is only notable because I can’t recall having anything close to resembling a cold or flu since the pandemic started, and for the simple fact that somehow despite following all protocols, I still managed to catch a virus. I suspect, at some point I touched my face prior to washing my hands, likely at the gym.

I slept poorly over the weekend which may explain why I am exhibiting symptoms – which are mild, but being a male, they feel exaggerated and I am left wondering how I will get anything done today.


I am not participating in the CrossFit Open this year, and feel no great interest in participating in the future, though that may change as the competition has been far more inclusive than I remember in the past. People with all range of challenges are encouraged to participate, from wheelchair bound athletes to people in their 60’s.

Our new gym does include the workouts as a part of their programming and I completed this last Saturday workout “21.2.”

Prior to heading to the gym I watched Tia Clair Toomeycruise through” the workout with seeming ease. Encouraged, I went to the workout without any reservations as to how hard it might be on my body. As evidence that nothing is as easy to accomplish in real life as what you on Youtube, I did not “cruise through” the workout with any of the grace I witnessed with Tia.

I was a complete sweaty mess and it took me 2 days of rest and stretching to recover.

My workout was the scaled version, which I completed in 18 minutes which though half of the Mens Rx winner of 9 minutes was not a bad performance for my first time out.

CrossFit via zoom

I joined a Crossfit class via Zoom at lunch time today and while I appreciated the opportunity to be gently goaded to get out of my chair and move my body, I hope it doesn’t become a habit. It’s essential to do some kind of functional exercise everyday and throwing myself into CrossFit training has helped my mental health immensely. It’s a great diversion from running while the roads remain perilously ‘slippy”.

But more Zoom time is not the answer, for me. It’s just far too impersonal.

Midday break

When I worked in Zhubei I would at each lunch time head out for a walk and at the beginning or the end my hour, enjoy a nice latte at the cafe nearby. My boss thought it was cute, or insane, depending on her mood, but for me it was an essential mental break. Some walking after sitting all morning also helps the body alleviate the damage accrued from sitting for hours.

With that in mind I have recently taken advantage of noon time workouts at a nearby gym to see if it helps break the monotony of the day and help my physical health. I’ve been finding CrossFit at 4:30pm or later less than ideal due to the onset of January. There is something about winter, even in balmy Taiwan, that makes me want to stay inside and hibernate. Maybe I was a bear in my past life.

So far it has been a challenge. This new gym has a faster pace and good coaching but working out midday has the unwanted side effect of making me tired. I come home afterwards, hungry, which leads to eating, and tiredness necessitates a nap. Next thing I know its after 2 and I still have a lot of tasks to accomplish.

A 2 hour lunch seems like a bit of a luxury, but I’m going to give it another couple of weeks and see if I can keep this up until the sunshine returns.

Fitness year in review

I did 405 workouts and ran 1,727kms for the year.

This is a marked improvement over the year before when due to an aversion to cold I stayed indoors and only managed 909kms of running (I worked out more, with 487 workouts in 2019).

Considering how little preparation I did and the lack of stretching and mobility work, which is essential at my age, I was surprised that I suffered no injuries. I think CrossFit and the fact that I build up my weekly mileage slowly over many months kept the injuries at bay. Now that I am restricted from running on the trails, I haven’t figured out a way to do long runs in winter safely. Between ice on the roads and distracted drivers I’m not confident that I won’t suffer some sort of calamity.

While it was a good year, it still pales to the amount of running I was able to enjoy in years past. Hopefully, I will find the will to run 2500 kms for the year, and if people would help us get the pandemic under control, run a few races.

Sometimes slow is best

In his latest blood blog post Peter writes:

Early in the pandemic times, I noticed a small growth on my temple that, given the general sense of entropy in the air, was cause for concern. I made an appointment at my family doctor last week, and while he was pretty sure it was nothing to worry about, he offered to refer me to a dermatologist, cautioning that it might take some time to get an appointment, as we have only one dermatologist serving the entire Island. As it turned out, it took less than a week: my appointment was for this morning

Thankfully as it turns out it wasn’t a cause for concern, he was “simply a victim of age”. Which from my talks with my 87yr old uncle seems to be a common prognosis for those of us over 40 whenever you see a doctor. I think I’ve heard you aren’t 25 anymore at least 3x this year.

Far be it for me to say something nice about the PEI medical system, but sometimes the delay in seeing a professional can have a positive effect. I had a mole near my temple for seemingly forever, but a number of years ago it felt ‘alive’ and seemed to be getting larger (I did write about this but for the life of me I can’t find the post). Taiwan being the cancer Petri dish that it is, I thought the worst and scheduled an appointment with one of the best hospitals to seek this kind of treatment in Taiwan. Upon arrival the doctor looked at it and said that the mole was likely benign, but let’s ‘operate’, slice it off and send the biopsy off for tests. Ok, I said. And then I asked, when? She said, I’ll send you next door and we will do it immediately. Umm, could I have 5 minutes to chill and then make a decision?

Luckily it did indeed turn out to be nothing, but the speed from which we went from me thinking I had cancer, to being told it was likely benign, to getting my mole frozen and sliced off was disorienting. Sometimes we need time to process.

What I was wearing today

It must be a couple months now, or maybe more, when I was noticing that during some activities at CrossFit my heart rate would spike and sometimes stay above the 200 bpm mark. It was a rare but regular occurrence. 185 bpm was quite common. When I am running regularly my resting heart rate is about 42, which makes getting up quickly a dizzying activity.

On top of that I’ve been suffering from the occasional irregular heartbeat. I at first experienced this on a couple long runs in Taiwan, which when you are out running 15 kilometres from home can be concerning, especially as I never run with a phone or much of anything anymore. I figured at the time it was just another symptom of poor electrolyte balance, something that I struggled with in Taiwan, to the point of almost passing out during one night time race.

Here on the other Island I’ve experienced an irregular heartbeat on a couple of occasions, both when doing burpees after some other extreme exercise. Both times I had to take a knee as the world started to close in around me. Trying to keep up with athletes in their 20’s during CrossFit has taught me just how far my heart and lungs are willing to take me.

Common sense says that someone my age should seek medical advice, especially before starting a more rigorous training plan. Before we entered this lock down, I was planning on continuing CrossFit while I trained for an ultra. Now most of my heart rate increases are a result of the 8 cups of coffee I now drink a day.

But before the world came to a rest, I did manage to see a doctor at the walk in clinic, where he ordered a number of different tests (He didn’t seem as concerned as other people). The last of which is what looks to me as very old tech., a heart rate monitor (Holter monitor) that I must wear for 24hrs. The timing of the test isn’t great, but perhaps the doctor will get some useful data.


My son this month in 2014. I don’t remember what virus was making the rounds then, it seemed non-stop after SARS, but it was suggested that it might have been H5N1.

Mr. Itchy Face

I’ve noted that lately without fail whenever I make a trip to Sobeys or NoFrills my face starts to immediately get itchy leading me to want to rub or scratch my face. Though I don’t knowingly feel stress, apparently we touch our faces as a way to relieve stress and manage our emotions.

Only humans and a few primates (gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees) are known to touch their faces with little or no awareness of the habit. (Most animals touch their faces only to groom or swat away a pest.) German researchers analyzed the brain’s electrical activity before and after spontaneous face touching, and their findings suggested that we touch our faces as a way to relieve stress and manage our emotions.

To break the face-touching habit, try using a tissue if you need to scratch your nose or rub your eyes. Wearing makeup may reduce face touching, since it may make you more mindful of not smudging it. One study found that women touched their faces far less when they wore makeup. Another solution: Try to identify triggers for face touching, like dry skin or itchy eyes, and use moisturizers or eye drops to treat those conditions so you are less likely to rub or scratch your face.

I end up constantly rubbing my face with my sleeve.

Via Nytimes

Keeping heathy

I managed to get out for a run last Saturday when the temperatures managed to climb above zero. It was great to get out and breathe some fresh air and run along the water. Its really the best mental and physical therapy I could ask for.

Hopefully the weather will warm up a bit and I can continue to run, as my CrossFit box, along with all gyms across the Island, has been closed for the foreseeable future. The mat and the weight above are my only tools to keep healthy and strong while stuck inside.

I’m asymptomatic; I assume it’s just a bad chest cold, the kind that keeps you awake all night with incessant coughing, so I’ll be staying home, avoiding the office and practicing social distancing as instructed. Social distancing has from my perspective been the norm this past year, partially due to my introverted ways and partially due to the fact that we don’t know many people here. There are never crowds anywhere, and Charlottetown in winter is bereft of people. It will be an interesting summer without the tourists to fill the streets.

This chest cold is a good reminder of the ferocity of viruses. We have been through so many different outbreaks over the years, developed excellent preventative methods, and live as healthy a lifestyle as one can. Yet, a virus may spare no one. Hence our whole household is suffering.

My son get sick first and I’m sure I said some stupid remark that the rest of us were unaffected because we have been eating better, or some such nonsense I say to goad my son to make better food choices.

I should have learned this lesson years ago. When the kids were still little and we were living in a house located in a dank alley in Hsinchu downtown, a virus swept through the house. It was unbelievably horrible, with uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting, accompanied by high fever. Each one us succumbed in order, like falling dominoes. At one time I was the last one standing when I foolishly joked that I must be the strongest in the family. Shortly after, I got sick, it hit you so hard and fast you could feel the transformation, and I was practically unconscious in bed for 15 hours, leaving Sheryl, the one who is truly strongest, alone to care for the recovery of the kids.

Kerim’s COVID-19 Potpourri

I’m quoting liberally here from Kerim’s excellent article on COVID-9, from his perspective living in Taiwan.

COVID-19 Potpourri

First of all, Taiwan was able to learn from experience, despite the fact that the political party in charge has changed since the SARS epidemic. This is a far cry from the US where Trump fired all the staff Obama had hired in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. One area where these differences can be seen in stark contrast is in the different rates of testing in each country.


One area which has been a matter of some debate is whether or not we should wear face masks. First of all, it is important to know when and how to wear masks correctly. I recommend this WHO website designed to provide exactly such information. Because many people wear face masks incorrectly, some experts (including those at the WHO, the Singapore CDC, and the CDCs of several other countries) have argued that one shouldn’t wear a face mask unless you are sick or are caring for infected patients.

However, in East Asia it is common to wear masks even if you aren’t sick and some experts have argued that this might be a good model to follow. This is especially true due to the risk of asymptomatic transmission. Moreover, as the article points out, everyone wearing masks in public helps remove the stigma associated with such behavior. Such stigma might prevent people who are sick from wearing masks.

Wearing a mask is also a “symbol and a tool of protection and solidarity”:

Race Prep.

I signed up for the PEI Marathon recently, leaving it to the last possible moment due to my uncertainty that I could actually finish the race. A part of me is glad when it will be over as following a 14+ week running regime tests my propensity for boredom.

The route itself takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the Island which makes the somewhat gruelling experience worthwhile (You don’t realize how hilly Charlottetown is until hit the arterial road after running 30k).

My inactivity all winter hasn’t positioned me for an entirely pain free run. Last winter was the coldest I’ve experienced in over 20 years and looking back over my activity data for that period it would appear I did nothing more than walk to and from the car. This has made for a maddenly slow return to fitness with no time to improve upon what I had built before. Fitness, especially with the slow recovery times brought on by middle age, is an investment which must always be paid.

For this training cycle I tried some different approaches. I eased up on the milage considerably, giving my body more time to rest. I averaged about 56km per week, topping out at 70, which is considerably less than I attempted in the past. When you include the stretching, body weight workouts and CrossFit, I devoted about 15+ hours a week to training. Generally, I follow a regime that doesn’t take in consideration my age, and I would push myself with both milage and speed. Often resulting in an injury of some sort. So far, other than some recent tightness in my achilles, I have had no long lasting issues. This may in part be due to the fact that I started this training cycle not by running but by going to CrossFit.

If I had to describe Crossfit in a word, I would describe it as humbling. Working with athletes, and being the beginner, has that effect.

Standing on the sidelines watching people, somewhat in concert, throw around metal bars, falling on the floor in exhaustion, with all the resultant cacophony of sound, makes it look like some kind of industrial ballet. The whole routine seems a bit ridiculous to me at times but it has forced me to address some problems head on that I haven’t dealt with since elementary school. Rope climbing, olympic style lifting, and some of the other movements require not only the development of a strong core (it’s done amazing things for my hip strength and mobility), they also require the development of grip strength. I’ve long since accepted my hard limits, missing the digits on my left hand means there are some things I will never be able to do, but I don’t ever remember testing those limits until now. In my childhood my inability to do strict pull-ups and rope climbing was an embarrassment, now I see it as a challenge. Luckily the coaching and community at Court6 make meeting challenges easier.

My somewhat more gentle approach to this cycle is with an eye to the future. I take my time during CrossFit and never lift heavy. If finances will allow I hope to run the NorthFace Ultra in Thailand this coming winter and have in mind either the Capes 100 in the summer or one of the many in the American Midwest.

A visit to Buddhist Tzu Chi Hospital in Taipei

Buddhist Tzu Chi Hospital in Taipei

One of the final major items on my “before I leave Taiwan” todo list was checked this past Tuesday when I booked a half-day physical at Buddhist Tzu Chi Hospital in Taipei.

Since they wanted me there at 8am in the morning I decided to stay over in a nearby hotel, as the possibility of our car dying on the highway due to these extreme temperatures we have been having was very likely. I hate driving in Taiwan anyway. Unfortunately the hotel, though cheap, was noisy as hell, they only installed those cheap single pane windows that many apartments have here, and as such I arrived at the hospital half asleep.

As far as I know, you can get a physical at any hospital in Taiwan, at a time of your choosing. National Health Insurance covers the basics but the “extras” are the responsibility of the patient. Generally, most employers of a reasonable size arrange yearly physicals for their employees which include tests that go beyond what is provided for by NHI. I chose Tzu Chi because the last physical I had at a health center in China was laughably lax, especially the psychological evaluation, and while any hospital can give you a check-up, most can’t match the convenience of a dedicated facility. Tzu Chi offered the best range of tests for the most reasonable costs.

It’s very interesting being a consumer of medical services and receiving all the data from the tests so that you can make your own informed decisions about your health. It’s a shame that we will not have access to anything near equivalency when we move to Canada, a fact that was very surprising to all the staff at the health center.

The only improvement I wish was available was the ability to have this data off paper and into a device of my choosing. Coupling this data with whats available in HealthKit would be a pretty powerful tool for giving a decent overall picture of your health over a long period of time. Taiwan has digital records but I believe has yet to bring this to the patient.

I arrived early on Tuesday, signed in at the desk, and was given a key to my locker which had a comfortable tracksuit for me to wear through-out my stay. The health center is a bit difficult to find as like many hospitals TZU has a labyrinth of different places to get lost.

When I arrived there were approximately 20 or more other patients beginning the day of health checks. The nurses were joyfully complaining of being too busy but everything was handled courteously and efficiently. You generally just sit and wait for someone to come and take you to the next test, all of which were in close proximity to each other.

One pain point which might have been a concern. No one on staff spoke English. Though I haven’t been communicating in Chinese much at all this past year, I was fine, but things would have been much easier if their staff would learn to use terms outside the medical dictionary. But there was only a couple times that I had to get them to rephrase their explanations.

Some of the results from the battery of tests I received were available when I had my doctor consult, some blood work will take an extra day, with the full report sent to me within 4 business days. The doctor consult was like many doctor visits in Taiwan. Brief and as much a conversation with their computer monitor as one with the patient. They are willing to talk with you if you disagree with their recommendations, which I did, and if you have some questions, which I had a few. They are good people doing the best they can within the system that they operate, just like doctors in Canada.

As I have been informed that getting regular physicals in Prince Edward Island will not be possible, we hope to make regular trips abroad for similar check-ups. The price is reasonable and the quality comparable to what you might experience elsewhere.

Calling my inner Jocko

Since finishing my last marathon 3 months ago I’ve had an almost impossible time getting up and out the door for further training. I still get on my feet and move, but it’s nothing like the commitment of the past.

In preparation for the marathon, and to overcome injuries I seem to consistently suffer through, I was training in excess of 3 hours everyday. Despite plenty of work and study, exercising would seem to have been my primary focus over the winter.

No amount of listening to the non-dulcet tones of Jocko Willink’s voice, or his commands to “go get some” seem to set me in motion. It could be a lack of sleep, change induced anxiety or a shift in focus, but I’m suffering from some kind of aversion to physical training. I’m hoping the clear blue skies and fresh clean air of Prince Edward Island might reenergize me.