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Archive for December, 2011

30
Dec

A Training Run for Kids with Cancer

   Posted by: Paul    in Charity, Training

As the clock ticks closer and closer to 2012, the date we leave for the walk is approaching. This has me looking into what I could do to further motivate myself for training. At work this week, Glen mentioned the Sporting Life 10k Run, so I decided to check out their website and see what it’s all about.

The purpose of this race is to raise money to send children with cancer to summer camps. This aligns quite well with the Wayfarers’ goals in the Quest for the Cure, so that was certainly a positive start. The date of May 13th was far enough away that I didn’t have anything planned yet. (Note: a quick check online led to the discovery that May 13th is Mother’s Day. Mom, I hope you understand why I won’t be able to visit on this weekend. I’ll make sure to call you when I’m done the run!) The date was far enough away that I had time to train, and still well in advance of when I leave for the Quest so it wouldn’t interfere with any last minute planning.

The route is very similar to portions of training walks I’ve been on walked before, so I don’t believe the 10km will feel too long. Also, and thankfully, it’s mostly downhill. Not finishing where I’m starting is less than convenient, and has made my decision to take public transit there and back is better than trying to find parking with my car.

I’ve never done a 10km run in my life, and yet, I had to select my time when registering. The fastest selection was for less than 48 minutes, which I didn’t even want to attempt to get into. I’ll let the faster people leave at 8AM without me there to slow them down. I settled for the third group, with a time of 56 to 59 minutes, with the hopes that I will be able to get myself in good enough shape to run the race in under an hour. I don’t want to admit that it will take me more than an hour and that I will be slower than half the people doing the race. I have a standard to meet now and thus, motivation for training.

With the snow outside now, I’m not even sure where I will be training just yet. The idea of signing up to a gym has come across my mind. I believe seeking professional help to get in top physical shape for the grueling journey of walking approximately 26km a day, every day for four weeks, is certainly a good idea. Having a treadmill to run on and practice doing 10km inside, before taking my run outside in the spring, would also be beneficial to training for this run.

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28
Dec

First Taste of Snow

   Posted by: Dan    in Personal, Training

Until just yesterday, Toronto had not seen much snow at all this winter.  We had seen some flakes falling here and there, but never had it really stuck to the ground longer than an hour or two in daylight.

Yesterday was a combination of rain and snow, and as the temperature fell over the course of the day it became more and more snow.  And ice.  By the end of the evening, as I walked home from a nearby mall, there was still an unpleasant amount of slush on the ground but it was rapidly freezing.

It has been easy to walk through the entire Toronto autumn this year, and until today I was wondering if it would be a problem in the winter as well.  This morning I woke up to a heavy layer of snow over everything and slippery ice hiding beneath it on the sidewalks even from my front door to the bus stop, so I am finding myself doubting the chances of finding another weekend in the near future to do an impromptu 20km training walk like Andrew and I did a few weekends ago.

The gym I have been attending for over a year now is kind enough to allow us to train there on guest passes, so sometime in the next month we will be gearing up for a terribly boring 28km treadmill walk.  With the treadmills we will find it easier to keep pace, since they won’t let us slow down to enjoy the scenery – but with the same lack of scenery the walk will seem a lot longer.  I usually aim for about 5 kilometres per hour when walking, so including a half hour break after the first 10 and an hour’s break for lunch after the first 20, we will be looking at just under seven and a half hours at the gym.

I enjoy my time at the gym for the most part, but a big part of my love of walking is the scenery – seeing places, seeing people, even places I’ve seen before.  Removing that and just walking the treadmill can be dreadful, even during my regular weekday workouts of one or two hours.  Walking a treadmill for six hours will be a challenge in and of itself.  Hopefully having the rest of the Wayfarers with me will help.

What do you do to help occupy yourself at the gym?  Do you listen to music, watch the TVs that some treadmills have?  Let us know in the comments here or on Facebook!

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22
Dec

A DCL Donation

   Posted by: Paul    in Charity, News

On December 22nd, 2011, DCL International held its annual company Christmas lunch.  Every year, DCL makes at least one charitable donation to an organization where funds are raised until the end of the lunch.  Knowing this, I approached the company president about the idea of the Wayfarers and the Quest for the Cure a couple months before the lunch, and he agreed to help us out.

The deal we struck was that the amount of money I raised from the employees of DCL International by the end of the Christmas party would be matched by the company.  If I raised a 1000$, he said, the company would match that.  Also, if I raised 10$, that’s all DCL would donate.  I was going to have to do a little bit of work to get a large donation from DCL.

Paul accepts a cheque matching employees' donations at DCL InternationalHowever, I was not left to do this all on my own.  I worked with Michelle who was organizing the Christmas party and sent out a mass emails to the employees explaining the cause.  They also received a letter in their pay envelope about the charity at the same time they got their invite to the party explaining the fundraiser.

Employees had two options:  They could donate online ahead of the lunch or to bring cash with them on the lunch, which I would upload to the site as one large donation from DCL employees.  A link the Wayfarer website was given as well as a direct link to our Canadian Cancer Society donations page.

After my initial email and the pay slips went out, I received a couple large donations.  Time went on and not too much more was happening.  The week before the lunch, I sent a reminder email and the donations really started to come in.

Before even going to the Christmas party, a total of 1505$ was raised.  Another 2265$ was raised at the party (including what will be a 1000$ online donation) for a total of 3770$, which will be matched by DCL, bringing the total of money raised by the company and its employees to 7540$!  This also makes DCL International our first contributor to get their names listed under Kings of the Quest for a donation greater than 1000$.

The show of support from my company for the Wayfarers’ Quest for the Cure has been excellent.  I would like to thank my fellow coworkers for donating so much money individually to get the total donation number raised to as high as it reached, and would like to thank DCL International as a company  for agreeing to match the total raised by our employees.

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20
Dec

Conversations and Music

   Posted by: Dan    in Personal, Training

This weekend Andrew and I decided to do an impromptu (roughly) 20km training walk.  It’s getting chilly here in Toronto, though it’s nowhere near what it usually is in December; I started bundled up and left the house at a brisk -6 degrees but ended up not wearing gloves or a hat by the end of things, and having taken off my sweater.

Turns out walking really does warm you up.

Walking with a small group – especially a group that can be broken into pairs – is easy. You can lose yourself in conversation, about anything at all.  The fact that you’re not just on a treadmill staring at the same spot for several hours helps; training on treadmills is a thousand times harder than walking city streets, even familiar city streets, for exactly that reason.

When I walk alone, though, I find it much easier if there’s music playing.  I like a wide variety of music, and keep an eclectic collection on the MP3 player that I always keep with me for long bus rides or walks.  Because of this, though, I’ve noticed something that anyone who works out with music notices straight off – the tempo of the music matters.  So do the lyrics.

I am easily affected by music (listening to sad music puts me into a sad mood, happy music puts me in a happy mood, etc.) – it’s why I often listen to more upbeat music than most people, especially in my general group of friends.  When walking, especially on a cold winter’s day, I want to listen to something with a good tempo for sure.

My top three bands for the last few months of training have been The Beatles (their “1” album), finger eleven (“Life Turns Electric”), and Maroon 5 (“Hands All Over,” but also their single “Moves Like Jagger”); fast beats keep my feet moving and my mind off of any particularly bad hills.

I am, however, looking for something new to listen to.  When I say my tastes are eclectic, I mean it: in addition to the above, my MP3 player has singles from Jay Z, Tim McGraw, Ellie Goulding, Adele, Vivaldi, Omnia, and video game sound tracks.  Eclectic.

So please: comment here, on the Facebook group, @ us on Twitter – let us know what you recommend to listen to for long walks and help us with our individual training.

16
Dec

The Little Things: Water

   Posted by: Andrew    in Personal, Quest

Ah, it’s always the little things that can really get to you, isn’t it? No matter what it is, the tiniest thing can really ruin a good outing – anything from an hour to our Quest.

While I’m sure each of us is going to have a couple small irritations on the walk, Dan and I have talked a couple times about one that will probably seem rather odd, but that we both share:

Water.

Specifically, both of us react extremely negatively to getting water in our eyes, be it rain or in the shower. It stings about as much as if there’s an irritant in it – I can remember complaining, as a kid, that the no-tears shampoo was a filthy, filthy lie.

Personally, I also can’t stand being slightly wet – if I’m caught in the rain, I usually end up feeling tense and uncomfortable until I either dry off completely or can get home to shower – one extreme or the other is okay.

Unfortunately, Scotland in October is rather wet in parts, so there’s every possibility this will end up being a personal bugbear on the trip for both Dan and me. I’ve been forcing myself out in the rain recently, but I’m likely just going to have to learn to live with it while walking!

Do you have any experiences of trips being ruined, or almost ruined, by something pretty small? What do you think would be your biggest little irritant while on this walk?

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13
Dec

A Yule Auction

   Posted by: Paul    in Amtgard

On December 10th, 2011, the Duchy of Caradoc Hold held its winter coronation event named Yule.  Yule is an event where people gather to play Amtgard in the snow and are able to retreat to a cabin and gather by the wood stove to warm up.  Warm food is served as the outgoing officers present awards to the deserving players of the past six months before being replaced by a new group of officers that will lead Caradoc Hold until their next coronation event in June:  Tribal Rivals.

I’ve attended the past 3 or 4 Yule events before this one; however the specific reason that Dan and I were drawn to attending this year was that Geoffrey, a local player and the outgoing and incoming Ducal Consort, was running an auction with most of the proceeds being donated to the Wayfarers and their Quest for the Cure.

Thanks to donations from various players in attendance (and a few who were not there but had sent their items in), the items that were auction off were as follows:

–          A nice cane

–          Three inkblot paintings

–          A chain mail brassiere

–          Four scarves

–          Two massages

–          A story to be written with topic chosen by the winner

–          A pie for my face

–          A pie for Dan’s face

The most common winning bid was 15-20$ for each item, with the two pies going for the most money.  I was up for auction before Dan was and it looked like I was going to be pied for a small sum of money, so I outbid the current bid with  bid of 20$.  Seth, the man who had the current bid, was unhappy since he didn’t want to spend so much money.  However, Shawn, a traveler from the Kingdom of Goldenvale, stepped in to help Seth and they bid 22$ together.  To my great delight, instead of hitting me with the cherry pie, the pair decided to eat it, and even shared a bit of it with me.

Dan wasn’t so lucky.

After reminding the room of reasons why they would love to hit him with a pie, the bidding started.  After some fast and furious bidding, Kevin of Wolven Fang teamed forces with Nathan of Felfrost to place a 40$ bid that was declared the winner.

I did not get to witness Dan get pied in the face but I saw him come back into the lodge with a face covered in apple pieces and crust.  I laughed at him, happy I escaped that fate, and completely okay with the fact that his pie raised more money than mine did.  I also offered Dan first run at the shower back at our hotel.

In total, the Wayfarer’s portion from this auction was 150.50$ with an additional 27$ donated directly to the Wayfarers.  All of the proceeds from this event were donated to the American Cancer Society.

The Wayfarers would like to thank everyone involved in this auction, including the Duchy of Caradoc Hold for allowing it to take place, Geoffrey for pushing for it and being the auctioneer, everyone who donated an item to be auctioned off, and everyone who placed a bid, whether a winning bid or a big to bring up the price.  We couldn’t have done this without you!

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12
Dec

Character Bio: Eoghan

   Posted by: Dan    in bios, D&D

As we posted about in our November 7th article, Mondays for the next little while are being devoted to the Dungeons and Dragons module that we are developing for people who want to get involved with our cause.  The five stock characters who will be included in the module pack all have basic backgrounds that will allow anyone to play them – today ends this segment, with Andrew’s character.

Eoghan’s parents tragically perished when he was quite young, leaving him to the street gangs of a major city. Luckily, his natural charm saved him from the worst of that world, charming his way out of any real trouble. He was only six when he “found” his first musical instrument, a lute.  A passing minstrel, part of a travelling troupe, heard him practising one day and invited him along, promising to teach him songs and sorcery in exchange for agreeing to work for him. Eoghan has only now left that troupe, deciding to strike out in the world on his own.

Character sheet: [coming soon]

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8
Dec

Burns Night 2012

   Posted by: Dan    in Burns Night, News

Wayfarers: Quest for the CureRobbie Burns, poet and author of Scotland, was born on January 25th and the day is often celebrated in Scotland (and by Scottish emigrants to other countries) as a day to toast Scots heritage with scotch whisky, haggis and good friends.

Because of this, on Monday, January 23rd (so that you can celebrate in your own way on the 25th!), we will be hosting a Burns Night at the Duke of York pub here in Toronto.

With the doors opening at 6:30pm and live music provided by the York University Celtic Ensemble, we will have a served dinner provided from the Duke’s menu and only a short speech – promise! – from me.  A silent auction will also be held with donations from around the city to help raise money for our cause.

The cost of this semi-formal gala dinner will be $60 if you pay in cash, with an additional small fee of $3 (totaling $63) if you would like to pay with credit card or debit card via PayPal, just to cover the costs we incur for accepting them at all.  Proceeds after covering the cost of the meals themselves will be donated directly to the Canadian Cancer Society through our website.

Only 86 tickets are available to the event and we are aiming to sell out, so if you are interested contact us at burnsnight@wayfarerquest.com – we will put your name on the list.

Ticket reservation is available using this form or by emailing the relevant information to the email address provided above!

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7
Dec

A Night on the Quest

   Posted by: Paul    in D&D, Quest

The adventurers slept peacefully, dreaming of the treasure they would be busy hauling out of the dragon’s cave, after defeating the great beast in an epic battle.  But their dreams were cut short because their throats were slashed in their sleep by a wandering group of goblins.

That’s not your typical story and certainly not something that adventurers want to have happen to them.  Even adventurers need sleep though, so what do they do to avoid this situation?

They take turn keeping watches throughout the night.

The Wayfarers will be emulating an adventuring party on their Quest for the Cure, and as such, we will also be taking watches every night we’re camping.  While we are aware that there will be no actual goblins to be found during our watch, we will be camping near public roads and it’s never a bad idea to keep a lookout.  Some random people might wonder why someone is camped there and come investigate or some local animals may decide to visit us if our food is accidentally left accessible.

As such, we have already discussed our watch plan and have narrowed it down to these generalizations.

  • Each night will consist of a 10 hour rest period.
  • Four Wayfarers will take watches, while two Wayfarers will enjoy a full night of sleep.
  • Each Wayfarer will cycle from an end watch (1st or 4th), to a middle watch (2nd or 3rd), to a night off.
  • The Wayfarer on the 4th watch will be responsible for preparing breakfast.

The reasoning behind the rotation is at such.  Taking an end watch is easier than a middle watch because your sleep for the night – while shortened – is uninterrupted.  So after taking an easier watch, a Wayfarer would get a watch in which his sleep cycle gets interrupted.  This Wayfarer would then be rewarded with a full night’s sleep the next night to catch up on rest.

One thing we have left to decide is the length of the watches.  We could do the simple thing and divide the watches evenly into 2.5 hour watches.  However, it may be beneficial to make the end watches 3 hours long, and the middle watches 2 hours long.  Waking up for the middle watches will likely interfere with sleep the most, so shortening their length might be beneficial.

Here is an example of a six day segment of how Wayfarers A through F would do watches.  The numbers 1 through 4 indicate the watch number, while the letter S means that particular Wayfarer gets to sleep through the whole night.

Wayfarer

Night 1

Night 2

Night 3

Night 4

Night 5

Night 6

A

1

2

S

4

3

S

B

4

3

S

1

2

S

C

2

S

4

3

S

1

D

3

S

1

2

S

4

E

S

1

2

S

4

3

F

S

4

3

S

1

2

Will this watch plan work for the Wayfarers?  Do you think anyone will fall asleep on their watch?

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6
Dec

Might for Right

   Posted by: Dan    in Personal

There was a lot of fantasy in my childhood.

I remember taking walks through the park in the back of my childhood apartment building with my dog Grover (named after the blue Muppet from Sesame Street), my mother beside me.  She would start us off: “Once upon a time…”

“A dragon lived in a cave!” I would say.  Or “a Knight was searching for a damsel!”  We would continue like this, back and forth, making up a story as we went for a long and winding walk along the back paths of a forested ravine in the middle of Scarborough.

When I did this, I broke my dad's ribs. Summer off with pay!

When I did this, I broke my dad's ribs. Summer off with pay! I was a great son.

I had always been a reader, ever since struggling my way through literary classic “Hop On Pop” by the esteemed Dr. Seuss.  I devoured the Frank Dixon’s Hardy Boys books (and even a lot of the older Nancy Drew series, given on loan by my grandmother with bright yellow hardcovers).  It wasn’t until I discovered King Arthur in the compilation of legends by Howard Pyle – later also responsible for my love of Robin Hood, alongside Errol Flynn – that I found my literary true love.

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