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Tag Archives: cool

Cycling is awesome

This is a cycling nerd totally geeking out.  He might be me.

This is a cycling nerd totally geeking out. He might be me.

Okay, just to warn you in advance, this article is a doozie. I also meant to post it months ago.

Today – Sunday, September 8th, 2013 – was a life defining day for me. Not in a “I’m quitting my job and living off the Earth from now on” kind of way, but in a life-defining “I know what I love” way. It’s a day when you recognize at the end of it that your life will never be the same, because you understand yourself that much better. My dad would have said it represented being on the path to self-actualization.

It’s a day when you catch foreign tourists photographing you as you make a phone call at a telephone booth while leaning on a mountain bike and are covered head to toe in mud; a day when you see your father cry as you approach him holding a piece of paper that says “degree” on it; a day when you turn to your brother beside you and scream “we’re going to the Stanley Cup finals!”; a day when you stand on a beach and watch the first place team paddle in and cross the finish line at Eco-Challenge; a day when you see your future wife walking towards you with barely contained emotion; a day when you stand on a mountain ridge and look around at 360 degrees of forever and realize it’s exactly the place you want to be at exactly the time you want to be there; a day when you get goosebumps as people cheer you on crossing the finish line at the Ride to Conquer Cancer; a day when you first hold your son or daughter, look down at them, and feel their warmth and their movement…

So now that you know my biography, what happened to me, today? Well, I went to a bike race. Sounds pretty stupid, right? Read more of this post

Stratos – Colour Me Inspired.

Image from the Stratos test-jump. That’s a long way down for a dress-rehearsal.

The short message of this article is that the Red Bull Stratos is a shining beacon of hope for the human race’s incredible will to survive and advance in spite of itself.  You’re gonna think I’m nuts, but that’s okay; colour me inspired.

I’m not usually a sucker for a publicity stunt, and I think that personal preference is still in tact.  So when I say that yesterday I almost lost my mind watching the Red Bull Stratos jump from over 128,000 feet, you might accuse me of succumbing to the marketing hype of the year, or the decade.  Nay, I say; what Felix Baumgartner and his team accomplished was not only an amazing and daring physical feat, but also a marvelous scientific achievement and a beacon for what the human race can do if it really sets pettiness aside and tries.  Sure, the Red Bull logo was all over this, and Felix Baumgartner is responsible for dozens of daring jumps all over the world with that emblem flying proudly on his parachute; but you have to accept that this time, the Red Bull logo was attached to masterpiece of engineering, precision and invention.

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Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline – book review

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.  Don’t read my lame post, go buy this book and read it instead.

I have to stop reading the same sets of books and branch out some more, otherwise I might never read another book like Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline) again. I got it for my birthday last year on Kindle, and when I finally got around to reading it, I found I couldn’t put it down. It called out to the child in me who grew up in the 1980s, it called out to the video gamer in me, it called out to the geek in me; this book was not deep in any way, but it was a shout-out to everything that was awesome in the 1980s and a love letter to anyone who was born in the late 1970s to enjoy it. It proved to me ultimately and was a cry for justice that the virtuous geek is truly the greatest hero humanity has ever produced.

You should just stop reading this review now and go get the book.

No, seriously; did you not read my last statement?  Go read the book.

The book is set in the future, in the year 2044. Things are not good for the human race. Resources are scarce, most of the population is poor, and in many parts of the world anarchy reigns over the establishment, which pretty much exists in name only. Entire cities worth of underprivileged people live in communities called stacks, which are row upon row of mobile homes, stacked on top of each other in sketchy frames.  They are a fire department’s worst nightmare.  They are the residents’ worst nightmare.  They are the reality of the world that people live in.

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Assassin’s Creed – So Far

My buddy Raul got me Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for my birthday last year. I really had no idea about these games except that they seemed to be quite popular. I didn’t even know who made them (Ubisoft Montreal). Well, when everyone went home after the dinner we’d invited them to on my birthday, I put it in the PS3 and took a look. I didn’t come out until about 3:30 in the morning. 3:30 in the morning is nothing really all that special or crazy, but it is a little bold when you have a 2-year-old to match your morning wake-up time with!

Spoiler alert: I do spoil a bit of the overarching story in this write-up; so if you want to play them and get the surprises, don’t read this and play the games first.

The Assassin’s Creed series follows the centuries-spanning conflict between the Assassins and the Templars. In general, the Assassins view themselves as defenders of peace and more importantly free-will, and the Templars view themselves as perveyors of peace through control. So, Templars would force peace by abolishing all religion to end all wars, where Assassins would – no matter their beliefs – defend all religions even at the expense of holy wars happening so that people still have free-will to choose. In each game in the franchise, you get to explore history through the eyes of an assassin in a particular historical era.  Historically, the Assissins and the Templars were real groups, whose interactions are documented in lots of places, including this book. One of the really great strengths in the series is the real history woven around the games, and they stick to it as much as they can and have you dealing with real people from the eras.

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Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean rules. Get this game.

As we were finishing our last Lego adventure (Lego Star Wars III), we were seriously holding high hopes about Lego Pirates of the Caribbean.  Why?  Because Lego Star Wars III was so awful.  Bad levels, really annoying quests to get to 100%, and it just plain was not as much fun as the original Lego Star Wars (the Complete Saga).  As general fans of the Lego movie adaptation video games, we really wanted Lego Pirates to be good.  It was sitting there, unopened as we fought our way through that Star Wars fiasco, but we couldn’t just give it up, admit defeat and move on.  The reward, my friends, was triumphant.

While one of my main complaints about Lego Star Wars III was that the general mayhem smash-em-up bonus levels was something we really missed, and while Lego Pirates didn’t end up having much of that either, it was such a far superior game that we didn’t even notice.  Lego Pirates is all around just a blast to play, and yeah, I wouldn’t be writing this unless we’d gotten to 100% complete.  Not only that, but we got all the PS3 trophies that are built into the game, something we’ve not worked with before as our Lego game-play to this point has been on Wii.  We are now in the process of collecting the other Lego games for PS3, because they look a lot better and feel a lot better there!  So, fun replay value down the road.

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My 20km Commute

So I live pretty close to work, but I quite often take a detour on my way home to give a bit of a longer ride.  I credit the longer commutes with helping me to lose 10 pounds over the last couple of months.  I really enjoy the route, but it’s a hard thing to describe to people as parts of it can end up being a through fields and parking lots and holes in fences type-thing.  The easiest way to describe it is to show it, so I recorded my commute last Thursday to show the route.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit through the full 50 minutes of the commute, it’s time-lapsed with comments here and there.

I chose an excellent tune by Orbital called “Time Flies” for the soundtrack because that’s kind of what the video represents!

I can stretch the route out even further by going all the way downtown before heading back to the west, but I find that’s a bit of a time trade-off, and it’s better to stick to the 20k and stay under an hour to get home and see the family.  I’ll still go all the way downtown once in a while, but not too often.

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."

Baby Sabrina In Motion!

It takes me a while to get to this stuff sometimes, but here it is, check it out!  A video from the first moments of Sabrina’s life.  She’s 1 month old now, and is doing really well.  When she’s awake, she’s very alert and usually wants food.  Sounds healthy to me!

Great Ride Home.

I wasn’t expecting to make a post about a good ride today.  By all accounts, I should have been absolutely beat today.  However, it turned out to be the opposite.  While my muscles were slightly fatigued, apparently I have improved like mad in the last couple of weeks.  I should maybe have expected it as I shaved a full minute off my ride in this morning over 7.6km.  A minute is a lot over that distance.  And here I’d planned on going out and taking it easy because my muscles were tired!  I didn’t think I hit it that hard, but there you go.

The ride home was the same:  over the 20km, I shaved about 5-6 minutes off the time on the ride I posted a couple weeks ago and I maintained a lower overall heart rate and a higher speed.  Yeah, I put some new wheels on my bike (and they are awesome), but I don’t think that should have had anything to do with it.  I feel like they roll a little better than the stock wheels, but they are pretty cheap and I bought them so I could swap tires on the bike during the winter by just changing the wheels.  It’s just easier and faster.  So, they’re cheap wheels by all accounts.

Anyways, here are the stats… I’m like 10bpm slower than I was before with better overall performance:

Ride home from work - August 25, 2011

 

Good ride home.

I had an absolutely great ride home today, and it made absolutely no sense to me.

My little girl was up a good portion of the night last night, so I doubt I got more than 2.5 hours of sleep.  Add on top of that, full exhaustion of the day of work.  Then there was Friday’s ride home, where I did a short 10km route home and was faced with 30-40km/h winds in my face the whole darn time.  It was raining too, but I don’t mind that.  Riding in the rain is just wet, riding in the wind feels like mother nature is personally singling you out for a large amount of unnecessary torture.  Wow, that was horrifying.  I actually swore at Nose Hill Dr. as I was riding up it, refusing to drop to the granny gear on the Norco.

Such a different story today.  By all rights, I should have been exhausted.  I started with a resting heart rate of 80bpm, which is pretty darn lazy if you ask me.  Then I rode from the University Research Park across the University Campus, down past the hospital, and to the Bow river.  I felt like an absolute god, completely invincible.  So, I decided to push it.  I headed left towards downtown at the river to make a 20km loop home, instead of making a 13km loop that would be achieved by turning right.  I didn’t get to kill the hill by the hospital like I usually do because of high traffic, but I kept a pretty good clip going for the rest of the ride.  The muscles hurt a bit doing it (they’re always gonna complain) but they didn’t stop providing power.  I also maintained a pretty decently high heartrate more comfortably, as compared to rides I’ve done in the last couple of weeks.  I don’t think I could have sustained a higher pace for the ride than I did, but the sustained pace I had was much improved over last week.

The charts speak for themselves.  Forgive the mess, but I only wanted one picture.  🙂

Stats from my ride home from work, August 8, 2011. Data comes from my Garmin Edge 305, and the graph comes from Sport Tracks.

You can see the speed is kept pretty constantly near 30km/h.  My hearrate seems to always hover near 175-180, but never lower than 160 (unless I had to stop for something – and even if I did, that’s fast recovery!).  That awful climb at the end is Nose Hill Drive, but it makes a really cool shape to the graphs:  speed goes down, heart rate goes up and grade goes up!  I need to get my speed up on that climb with the full panniers.  It’s better than last week, as I was hovering around 10km/h, but I know from last year that I’m easily capable of sustaining at least 13km/h on that with the full ballast of my lunch bag, clothes, laptop bag, and jacket in the panniers.  The thing I’m happiest about on the heart rate plot is not how high it is, but how comfortable I stayed while keeping that high value throughout the ride.  I was worried about running out of power, but I didn’t.

Hmmph.  Maybe the awful ride on Friday slapped some performance into my sorry legs!