The last two years has been a complete upheaval of my former life.
It has been one year to the day since I started biking to work.
In April of 2013, I went with my wonderful wife and her family to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. At the end of the tour, there was a weigh scale, something about comparing yourself to a mammoth. It was the first time I had stepped on a scale since my last visit to the museum years prior. I came in at 300 lbs. I have always known that I was overweight, but I did not suspect that I was that overweight. The pounds seam to sneak up on you.
The idea of losing weight had always seemed a fools errand. Every time I had ever attempted to maintain any sort of exercise regiment, I always found some reason to stop. Apathy, exhaustion, too little time, too little results, all of these things contributed to not being active. I figured that I would be overweight forever, and that there was very little I could do about it.
Several months prior, on September of 2012, while on a work trip to Victoria, Peter Locke and Leif Baradoy took me on a hike up Mt. Finlayson. The hike is at a steep incline the entire way up, within ten minutes I thought I was going to die, I almost gave up at the foot of the mountain. But I didn't. I got my second wind. I kept going. I swore, threatened, and cursed my way up that mountain. A few meters from the summit my leg cramped up on me and I collapsed. I had to hobble the last few meters, but I made it.
Something happened to me after that hike that had never happened to me before. The hike had given me energy. Instead of feeling the usual all consuming exhaustion and defeat I associated with exercise, I felt more alive.
In the following months, I still did not have the will to exercise regularly. But somehow I found myself wanting to be more active.
In January of 2013, I came back on business to Victoria. There is something in the air in Victoria that makes me want to climb a mountain. Peter, Leif and I hiked Mt. Finlayson again. It was not an easy hike, but it was easier.
It was on the drive back from that trip that Shannon and I decided we would be moving to Victoria. When I looked at my life as it was, I was slowly trudging towards death; I was dying in a way that was not metaphorical. When I thought about life in Victoria, I knew I would be getting healthier and happier.
When you move to a new city, you can recreate yourself entirely. All of your old patterns and routines can be thrown out the window and replaced with new ones. I knew that biking was something that I enjoyed and I needed to ensure that I exercised regularly once we had moved. So Shannon and I only looked at houses in Victoria that were a moderate bike ride from downtown. The plan was simple: Leave myself no other options but to bike to work. I have to get to work, so I have to bike. Since a year ago today, with almost no exceptions, if I am going to work, I am biking there.
Since arriving in Victoria, I have become increasingly active. The bike ride became tougher by adding a dog and his trailer which I pull to and from work. We go on hikes or night hikes every couple of weeks. Since January I have been going swimming in the mornings for a kilometer five times a week after my bike ride in to work.
I weighed myself the other day. I came in under 230 lbs.
I look at myself in the mirror and it does not seem like I have lost weight. Sometimes I even think I look worse with the way my body droops and sags with my now looser skin. Thinner than 300 lbs does not make me thin. But the weight loss and looking good in a speedo has never really been the point; it is about how amazing I feel. I have so much more energy, I feel so much more alive, I look forward to each new day with vigor. And the best part, last time I hiked up Mt. Finlayson, it was a breeze.
When Shannon and I first arrived in Victoria a year and three days ago, we did not know many people. Of course we knew some people through my work and we were excited to spend more time with my cousin Leif and his wife Laura, but we did not have any real social group coming into Victoria.
Since moving here, the number of people who have welcomed us into their lives has been staggering.
For our moving day we reached out to an old acquaintance of mine, Jamie Stark, who I knew from my University of Calgary days. In a show of his character, he and his wife came out to help us move. We spent the evening after the move enjoying beers and becoming fast friends. Shortly after, we stole all of their friends and made them our own. We now have a strong circle of developers and their significant others who enjoy hiking and a good brew together.
I was quickly adopted by a role playing group and have been having great times with them. Victoria has been incredibly receptive to us.
But we still miss all of the great people and friends that we left behind in Calgary. Of course most of our friends in Victoria are originally from Alberta, so we are left wondering what is wrong with our friends in Calgary that they have not also made the move out yet.
Whisky Oriented Development
Victoria has an annual whisky festival. My friend Jeff and I went early to get tickets, but the tickets were sold out before we had even gotten there. Feeling disappointed about not getting tickets Jeff and I started joking about the situation. "We don't need them, we will start our own whisky fest, with whisky, and developers." I don't know at what point we realized that we weren't joking any more and that this needed to be a thing. So Jeff, Jamie, Hez and myself gathered together to start making a whisky society for developers a reality.
We started Whisky Oriented Development, a whisky tastings group for software developers. Our friend Ann was incredibly generous and allowed us use of her studio to host our events. Our second tasting was just last week and we sold out all of the 30 tickets.
Victoria is a great place for people with a bad board game habit like myself. There are at least 4 board game shops within a 5 block radius of my work.
There has been a board game group that I have been a part of that has been meeting on a somewhat regular basis. It is a great way to meet people and socialize. There are some plans on the horizon for turning this board game group into that will bring tech people together, but I will speak to that more once plans are more solidified. It seems building communities is something that I am into now.
Working For Kiind
My cousin Leif Baradoy had a startup and he needed another developer. Leif has a drive and passion that makes working with him exhilarating. I started working for Kiind remotely in May of 2012. In short, working at Kiind is my dream job.
Initially I was terrified of the job. There is a thing called Impostor Syndrome which essentially means that despite my grades and accomplishments up to this point, I was certain that I would find out I that was the worlds worst developer. Visions of the most horrific ways of this being discovered would parade themselves through my head on a regular basis. Yet somehow I always seemed to get past each obstacle.
In December, the CTO asked me in a quiet, somber voice if I would follow him to the half patio meeting room that is known as 'the cold room' or sometimes the 'career change room'. It was time for Peter to sit me down and explain that he had been looking at my code and realized that I was a complete idiot and I would be leaving immediately. But he didn't say that, instead, I was given a promotion. I am now taking on more of a leadership role in our growing team.
The CTO of Kiind, Peter Locke, has been an incredibly positive influence on my life. He is one of the main reasons working for Kiind has been so amazing for me. He has found the perfect balance of support and letting me take on new challenges. He has been a mentor to me and has challenged me every step of the way.
The Kiind team is full of great people who are passionate about what they do and excel at it. I consider each one of them a friend.
Finishing my thesis
I finished my thesis in 2012 and was granted my Masters of Science there after.
I often joke that the sole purpose of taking my masters in the area of kinesiology was to be the fat kid in middle of the class of overly fit people. I would eat chocolate bars noisily in class as they would try to not notice or drool. It wasn't the only purpose, but it was definitely a perk.
The truth is that computer science applied to any area of study becomes a very powerful tool. I used a simple feed back loop in conjunction with a heart rate monitor and an active video game to control people's heart rates. To a computer scientist, this is nothing overly special, but in fields like kinesiology which do not have the strongest relationship with computers, or the nerds who wield them, a few lines of code can change everything.
Loss of Faith
I have rejected my former faith entirely. I am an Atheist, an Igtheist, and an Apostate and I think that I am happier and a more moral person as a result. I have been spending time looking into apologetics and reading the bible and have been enjoying classifying the absurdities I have found there. I play a game with myself where I try to figure out the mindset I was in that allowed me to ignore these things before.
Of course, there has been some tensions and exhausting conversations with family around my loss of faith. Shannon is a Christian, and it is a personal struggle for me to walk that line of disagreement on the merits of faith without making it come across as a personal attack. Our ability to communicate has been strengthened by our differences.
Time in the Shop
I have been putting together a work shop in my garage. I find it very relaxing building things with my hands. Although the only real project I have had so far is putting together the workshop itself, I have a few ideas of what I want to do next and am excited to get started on them.
Shannon and I bought our first house together here in Victoria. The first place that we looked at In our whirlwind of 11 potential houses was the right one.
After a few renovations we were able to find renters for the basement. The renters we have are a great couple that we hope to keep, we just need to be mindful to not stomp so much.
We have taken this house and made it into a home. Shannon spends time out in the garden and I spend time in the shop. We have lofty plans of stone paths and raised gardens.
This post has been one long unapologetic brag about how fantastic our life has been since we moved to Victoria.
But there has been some bad things as well. For instance, we got a dog.