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Category Archives: Random

Stuck in the 90s again

2013-11-29 15.33.12It was a time of Seinfeld, X-Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and when we were still open to the wonders of computerized special effects in Jurassic Park (they had not yet been abused by George Lucas).  Accessing the world outside your computer was predominantly BBS and 14.4 modems.  It was a time when I was young – physically, mentally (not that this has improved), and to Calgary itself.  Moxy Fruvous said it best: we were stuck in the 90s.  Grunge was king (hey, at least they wrote their own music), U2 was riding high on Achtung Baby and Zooropa, and I was in high school in downtown Calgary. Western Canada High School was and is about French Immersion and the IB program.  I’ll be honest up front, I am not an overachieving kind of guy, and French Immersion was my entrance ticket to Western.  Lucky ticket, though; golden ticket.

2013-11-29 15.33.43For a lot of people, high school is painful, stressful, lonely and difficult: hormones are firing on all cylinders in both sexes, and it’s a time in our lives when average people likely experience the worst in themselves, as a result. For me, though, and quite a few of my friends (Erik, for example), high school presented some of the best years of our lives.  From September, 1990 to June, 1994, I called WCHS my home and met many people whom I still consider to be family.  Maybe it was my oblivious nature that shielded me, or maybe I was lucky, or maybe it was a deep-down desire to have fun wherever I was (I vote this, and I vote my friends shared this sentiment), but I avoided the bullying and cliques that found painful memories in so many people.

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Politics starts and ends here.

First, I don’t normally get into the political comment game.  I keep it in the back of my head that it might be interesting to run for office some day, and I am mindful of what I post on the internet as a result.  I do a mental litmus test for how people will judge me for what I say when I post it.  I assume I’m a reasonable person, so I assume my litmus test is useful.  Hopefully my political commentary doesn’t anger anyone too terribly, and this type of writing will hopefully end here – there are much more fun things to write about than what feels like junior high school peer drama.

Why did I write this?  I was on my RSS feed and found this article on CBC.  It really made me angry.  So here’s my commentary, a message to the over-entitled whining-because-I-got-nothing-better-to-do sore loser right of the USA:

First, you didn’t lose. Your country is far too black and white when it comes to this distinction – it’s one or the other, you’ve won or you’ve lost, and there is no in between. It’s why you pour so much money into international competitions to strut about and chant “USA” when you win and you’re the best, but if you lose then someone obviously cheated. You could put that money towards fixing your own internal problems, but that would be socialism, so it’s better to keep puffing your chest to the world.

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Sacrificing fitness for fun and enjoyment.

This is just plain and simple more fun.

This is kind of about drinking a Dr. Pepper after going for a run.  Don’t worry, it’s not about slacking off and going on a junk food and video game binge for pure enjoyment (though, that does sound appealing).


Partway through the summer, I realized that I had completely stopped running.  I was doing a pretty good job at this (though I don’t exactly enjoy it) through the winter, running to work at least once a week and then doing a group run on the weekend.  With all the riding I’ve been doing to work this summer though, and with all the lovely weather we’ve had in the past couple of months, I hadn’t run since February… until last week.  You see, I’d been putting it off.  I knew I hadn’t been running, and I knew that I was reaping tremendous fitness benefits from the cross-training running was providing, but it was too late.  It had been too long, and I knew I would have to work myself back into it.

I also knew that this would take time, recovery time.  So I didn’t care, I just kept riding.  Getting out of work to 30 degrees and sun outside with mostly east winds meant glorious long commutes home through wonderful Calgary pathways… with a tail wind.  Winter loves to beat me down with cold and headwinds, so the warmth coupled with the conditions made for some purely glorious rides.  My fitness was and is excellent, but I was no longer getting the boost of the cross training, but I also didn’t care.  I just kept riding because it was so nice out.  I knew I was setting myself up for an eventual fall…

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Carrots, Cross-eyed, and Electric Bikes.

I’m gunna git ya!

It’s hot in Calgary right now.  I know there are a lot of places a whole lot hotter than Calgary right now, but when we have been struggling to make it over 20 degrees for all of “summer” so far, a sudden blast of 30 degrees makes everyone both happy and sad right now.  The same way that we laugh at other cities in Canada who shut themselves down after a foot of snow, people laugh at us for when the heat goes above 25 and we have to start having rolling blackouts because the system can’t handle the sudden load of air conditioners turned on for the one week of the year we might “need” them (because, it still drops to almost 10 overnight… seems like a decent air-conditioner to me).  Well I don’t have an air conditioner, and I do have a lot of grumpiness, so here goes.

I did a nice commute route home tonight, as can be seen here.  I don’t get to do it in 30 degree heat that often, so I take days like this as being a bit of a treat.  The wind seemed favourable today instead of the usual blast out of the west straight into my face on the way home, so I lengthened it to the funny finger-trap bridge before looping back towards the northwest.  As always happens when the weather improves, the fair-weather commuters appear on their bikes to get to and fro.  I’m 100% behind this, I think it’s great that more people get out and on their bikes, it’s just too bad a lot of them don’t know the rules of polite cycling on city pathways.  Seriously, buy a bell, people; the pedestrians will thank you – they thank me!

Now let me state this outright.  I don’t like you, electric bikes.

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Near Miss?

Okay, I know this likely wasn’t even close because I know more than a little bit about the rules for flying, but you don’t see this every day. I was driving with Graham to pick up some pizza tonight (delicious Tom’s) when he was suddenly pointing out the window and saying “Star! Star!” I had time at a light, then in a minor traffic jam to snap a couple of phone pics. Conn trails in a perfect X!  Forgive the horrible photos, dusk plus dirty car windows plus car glass = bad.  🙂


From a light, X marks the spot.


While stopped in traffic.

It’s good to have help.


It was a pretty nice day out yesterday, so I took the opportunity to clean up some bike drive trains while the weather is still good.  While I was doing this, I enlisted the help of my roommate as a mechanic. He’s an expert, and he helps me to keep the rides in top-notch condition.

The tourists are getting restless

Axe-Man and his side-kick... The Tripod.

I’m starting to get a little concerned about the state of things in the mountains.  Let’s be honest, tourists can be frightening.  No more so than this guy, who we found at Lake Minnewanka walking back to the parking lot.

We were out there just before Sabrina was born for a last minute three-family-member day out in the open.  Tourists are everywhere, and you can usually tell them from the locals.  I’m not sure if this guy was just trying to fit in, or if he had something else on his mind.  Still, he is clearly a tourist.  The wardrobe gives it away.  There are not many locals who will wear white loafers while out for a jaunt in the wilderness.  What was confusing though, and what led to me thinking he might be trying (a bit too hard) to fit in was his equipment.  What’s with the axe?!  I’m struggling to figure out what a tourist would need with an axe, so I’m now a little scared of tourists.

The only other possible explanation is that his name is Axe-Man, and he’s a super-hero.  The guy walking beside him, obviously that’s his side-kick:  The Tripod.

I did it.

Wow.  After I got home from my ride today, I decided to check out my weight.  I did it, well, almost.  I’m close.

I originally thought that the Withings scale I got from my company was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen.  I mean, who the heck wants a wi-fi bathroom scale?  Turns out it’s one of the most motivating things in the world.  It’s not because the scale uploads all your weight data for the world to see (I don’t publicize it), it’s that the graph is right there in your face.  I’ve got it on my phone, and I’m addicted to loading it up, and seeing the downward trend on that weight line.  It’s just awesome.

Back to today.  I started at around 180lbs, which was an all-time high for me.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve been not doing any exercise besides commuting by bicycle (which I love to do).  I experimented with a brief stint of removing pop completely from my diet (I was off it for a month), but have since started drinking it now and again and am still losing weight.  Today, the scale read 169.5 lbs… that is the first time I have been in the 160s in like 2 years.  I’m pretty jazzed really, and I feel the difference!  Well, to be honest, I had a pretty sluggish ride home, and I was expecting to find I’d gained like 4 lbs or something.  169.5 though, it’s awesome.

My goal is 165, and it is decidedly in reach.  Maybe I will set a new goal when I get there, but I am not addicted to weight loss.  I will only lose weight to the point that it’s healthy and helps me to have more fun at the activities I love to do (such as cycling, duh!).  Here’s the plot since I turned the scale on:

My weight from June to September - a little upslope is in there for "had a kid, didn't sleep much."

Waterfalls should be on rocks, not hard-wood.

So, we have a 3 day old baby.  We’re getting used to life with the new family size.  We’re camping out at home and hanging out.  And what happens?  A pipe bursts in the ceiling above our fireplace overnight.  Fantastic!  So we spent the rest of the week and the long weekend with a house full of fans and dehumidifiers.  Noisy, nasty, blah.  The cabinets in our family room will have to be replaced.

Thankfully, none of our personal effects were damaged.  Water hit the cabinets and shelves on the right in the photos, below, and those shelves were mostly populated with DVDs.  Plastic covers save the day, I guess!  There were some photo albums higher up, but they did not get hit.  Water poured into the basement too (where we had another pipe burst last year), but no damage was done to personal effects there, either.  Really, we were very, very lucky.

If you have poly-v plumbing in your house, for goodness sake, get it out.  We are not messing around and it’s coming out.  Some pictures of the fun:

What we found in the morning. Note the torn ceiling and bubble next to it by the light, dripping water.

What the family room looked like after the leak was found and water turned off.

What the hole in our ceiling looks like right now.

This plumbing is to blame. If you have this grey poly-v plumbing with plastic fittings, get it out of your house.

Photography vs Security

Paranoia. It’s an interesting thing. I really enjoyed this exercise that a group of street photographers undertook in central London. It actually made me uncomfortable several times, and as a photographer I’m not sure how I would have handled the passive-aggressive nature of the security guards who were dealing with the photographers. I’ve never been approached while doing street photography in London or in any other city, and I carry just as much if not more gear than some of these guys do. The great thing to observe is how polite all of the police officers were: and that’s an experience I have definitely had in England.  When you travel, it certainly pays to always be on your best behavior, but also to know your surroundings.