Snakes

Took a Mother’s Day road trip to Narcisse to see the snakes, us and hundreds of other folks!  The parking lot was jammed and people were parking on both elides of the highway for at least 1/4km in each direction from the enterance. 

It was a pleasant walk around the area between the various snake dens. Lots of kids seeing how many snakes they could catch at one time. This guy was one of my favourite shots.


I thing next year we’ll plan to take the Grandkids. I’m sure they would have a blast running around and playing with the snakes!

A few more photos over on Flickr https://flickr.com/photos/44072178@N00/sets/72157668107992076

Cottage Opening 2016

Opened the cottage a little early this year, the Thursday before the traditional May long weekend. I took a few days off and came down Wednesday evening. Part of the early opening was a group ride that was taking place in the Kenora area, billed as a “Spring Training Camp” which seemed like a lot of fun, and it would be nice to have the water running for a hot shower after the rides.  Plus, Gail & Gord are coming down on Friday and staying at the lake until they take possession of their new house in Saskatoon sometime in June. 

After last years pump problem where it wouldn’t prime, but in the end noting seemed to be wrong with it after I dragged it into town for servicing, I was a little apprehensive about this years startup. But, no problems! It started up just fine on the first attempt and after starting at about 6:30am I had the bulk of the cottage opening chores done by 8:30 and was sitting down with a cup of coffee and waiting for the hot water tank to do it’s thing.

 Being pretty lazy and enjoying the quiet. After a trip to town to look for an Apple power adapter for the laptop (unsuccessful) and enjoying the first Chip Truck of the year, it was time for a nap. Life roles at a different pace at the lake, well, at least for me. 

I’m thinking there are not too many people around right now as Netflix ran fine all evening without buffering. Normally, on a summer weekend, the wireless bandwidth is getting sucked up by all the neighbours and the Internet slows to a crawl, making Netflix almost unwatchable. 

The weather is cool at 0°C and drizzling, in fact right now it’s snowing kind of hard . HArd to see in the photo, but it’s like a micro blizzard which I’m sure will disappear momentarily, right?


The planned big group rides for the weekend have been cancelled because so many guys bailed because of the weather forecast. I guess I’m on my own. If there is a break in the weather I’ll take a spin over to Rushing River and if things really turn around perhaps a longer spin out to Minaki and back.

Walkabout

Spending the day walking The Strip in Las Vegas on the Saturday before the Information on Demand conference. Flights down were good and a $30 taxi ride from the airport to the Mandalay Bay, which looks like walking distance from the airport and I’m here. Room is great and after picking up my registration materials it’s out to explore the town on foot. Actually, I think I’ll

First Group ride on Zwift

Over the Christmas holidays I said goodbye to TrainerRoad and hello to Zwift. TrainerRoad is awesome and I enjoyed pairing it with The Sufferfest videos, but Zwift with it’s interactive and social riding,   workout plans similar to TrainerRoad, and integration with my Wahoo Kickr takes indoor riding out of the Pain Cave of solitude into a shared suffering experience of the most engaging kind.

The first few rides were a learning experience as I got used to the controls, routes, graphics and the immersive experience. I’d been used to the TrainRoad training plans, so it seemed natural to latch onto the Zwift Workouts. Even an interval workout is fun when you’re watching other riders around you and watching the ride chatter as people text & ride at the same time.

It’s surprising how engaging the ride experience is. If I’m just casually riding along and someone passes me, the competitive nature kicks in and the next thing I know I’m accelerating hard to see if I can catch a wheel or blow by the other rider.

Today was the 1st attempt at a group ride. I selected the Saturday Sit-in group as it fit my schedule and seemed like a group I might be able to hang with. I “arrive” at the start/finish line to join the group about 10 minutes before the start. Actually, I go by the start/finish a bit and try to turn around and back up a bit (down arrow for a U turn) but it’s not working for me. I switch my view to the ride leader so I can watch for the start and I’m tracking the text messaging countdown.

The ride starts and I start peddling but my display is still locked on the ride leader and he goes by me and now I’m a little lost and confused as to where I am in the group. I can’t get the display to show my avatar (figured this out post-ride) so I opt for restarting the Zwift app and now I’m back and the group is nowhere in sight. With virtually know warmup I’m now hammering to try and chase back, scanning the rider list looking for other SSI riders.  After a lap of hard riding and noting from the test messages how far ahead the ride leader is I realize that while I’m gaining a bit, I’m never going to catch up.  I slow up a bit but still have some delusions of joining up and sprint away from time to time. Here I am sloughing  up a grade on the 2nd lap somewhere trying to catch those guys in the distance.

Chasing the pack
Chasing the pack

Not the best 1st experience, but I’ll get the hand of it yet and I’ll probably look for another group ride later in the week.

And of course, Strava says…

Transistor Radio

I was looking for some electrical parts in the shop the other day and re-dicovered this in the bottom of a box.

 

One of my 1st electronic toys
One of my 1st electronic toys

When I was about 10 years old my parents went on a trip without Gail & I. We stayed with our grandparents Amma & Grandad for several days. I think is was a Great-West Life convention in the U.S. and perhaps a side trip as well, the details are a little foggy now. Anyway there was a tradition in our family that if my Dad went on a trip, we’d get some sort of a gift on his return and this trip was no exception.

Upon their return they came over to my Grandparents house on Oak St. to pick us up. After some hugs and kisses and some chatter about the trip they presented a radio just like this one to my Grandparents. I was totally fascinated with this! We’d never seen such a small portable radio. I really wanted one, bad. Mom & Dad kind of ignored that and carried on talking about who knows what, and I was getting a little disappointed. Actually, more that disappointed.

And then the big surprise!  I got the same radio! And Gail got one too, with a white case. I was ecstatic.  That radio didn’t leave my hands for quite some time.

I remember having it in bed after I was supposed to be asleep under the covers listening to Foster Hewitt and Hockey Night in Canada because it came with an earbud, super cutting edge back in the day.

BTW, it still works!

I’m a winter cyclist

That’s right, I cycle commute to work year round and this is the 4th winter for riding in the snow & cold.

Some think I’m a little crazy, perhaps.

Some think it’s too dangerous, perhaps.

Car drivers dislike cyclists, and especially winter cyclists, perhaps.

So far this winter the riding has been going well, and I’m very impressed with the motorists that I encounter on my route. They have been very considerate, giving me lots of space as they pass and no honking or rude gestures. I can’t say the same for some pedestrians.

Actually, most pedestrians are just fine, but so far this year I’ve received the most “comments” from those on two feet. Perhaps that’s just because you typically can’t hear what the people in the vehicles are saying or thinking, which might be a good thing. Ignorance is bliss.

<rant>

About a week ago, after the 1st big snowfall, I’m cycling along on a path that parallels Fermor along side Windsor Park, near my home. A gentleman is our shoveling his sidewalk. He sees me coming down the path, and it starts.

“You’ve got to be kidding” – repeatedly in an unfriendly tone.

“Take a bus!” – louder

“Are you crazy!” – really getting agitated now

I wave to him in a friendly manner.

“Do you have no consideration for others!?!”

“Are you trying to get yourself killed? Do you have a death wish?!?” – hitting a crescendo now. I’m thinking he’s expecting me to turn around and go home.

I wave to him again, in a less friendly manner, my bad, I should have just let the whole thing slide.

A week or two goes by and we get another big snowfall. Of course this is when the riding is the most challenging for a couple of days until all the ploughing gets completed. My next encounter with a pedestrian is riding into work right after the snowfall. A lady is walking two dogs down on the Assiniboine River Walkway. As I approach from behind I slow down and wait for her to notice me. I cough a couple of times just for good measure. She is walking right up the middle. The dogs are on both sides of her at full leash extension so the 8′ path is totally blocked.

When she notices me I hear “Sorry” and she reels in one of the dogs so I can pass. No problem I think, I’m not in a rush and this is fine. Just as I pass I hear “You should get a bell”, in the kind of tone that implied I’ve done something wrong. I say nothing, and ride off.

I’ve had a bell on the bike and in my 14+ years of cycle commuting, the bell is no better that not having a bell. Here is what typically happens with “the bell”.  You ring from a ways back, they don’t hear it, you ring again at a closer range and then they do hear it and things typically get worse. They get startled and either jump right in front of you, or swear at you for scaring them, or both. So, you really can’t win.

</rant>

In over 200 days of cycling a year people and cars are generally very good but you always need to be ready for the exceptions. Typically, once a year, I have a close encounter with a vehicle, thankfully never a full contact kind. I find that as long as you’re aware of your surrounding and make plans to get out of the way, things go well.

Safe cycling everyone.

 

WordPress 4.4 & Themes

Upgraded to 4.4, seems to work well. In the process I tried the Twenty sixteen theme, and this one is not for me. Text seems too large and clunky and the way it handles the banner image and the blog identity just takes up too much space.

I’d like to see the blog identity overlay the banner image as an option, that would be a nice look IMHO.

Commuter bike repair

So this week I had a problem with the rear bike rack. On Thursday the bolt attaching the rack to the lower chain stay snapped off. Now the rack is saying on.one side and the fender is rubbing the tire. An quick zip tie fix didn’t make it through the Friday commute. Time for a more serious repair. 

I pick up a couple of drill bits and a couple of sizes of bolt extractors at Princess Auto.  Step 1, drill out the centre of the bolt. I manage to snap one of two drill bits and I’m a lot more careful with the second bit. Step 2, use the extractor to remove the snapped off bolt. Well, the bolt is stubborn and the extractor snaps off on the drilled out hole. Now this is a real problem. The extractor is hardened steel and the drill bit can’t touch it. Time for Plan B. 

After some thinking I resort to a little MacGuyver move. 

  
A 1/2 pipe clamp with a bolt inserted into the band and we’re back in business. 

Caddy Lake

The first cottage experience in my life was the Caddy Lake cottage. I don’t have a lot of memories about this place as I was only 3 at the time, but a couple of them are quite vivid. The one that stands out the most is in fact probably  family legendary, and it involves a car.

Here we are, my sister Gail and myself in front of the cottage, next to the driveway, which is on moderate slope. This will become important later. I think Gail is restraining me here so that I’d hold still for the picture as my arms seem to be pinned behind me.

Gail & Garry at Caddy Lake Cottage
Gail & Garry at Caddy Lake Cottage – October 1955

Before the cottage was built and before the driveway, it looked like this when you’re standing at the cottage looking towards the lake, down the hill.

Down the hill to Caddy Lake
Down the hill to Caddy Lake – May 1955

By dad and Grandpa built the cottage by hand. And “by hand” I mean no power tools, in fact there was no electricity at the cottage. Every board cut with a hand saw, something that is almost unheard of today. Lighting was by candles and kerosene lamps. A wood cook stove was the main source of heat in addition to cooking. No microwave, no blender, no dishwasher, no washer, no dryer, no indoor plumbing!

One story I’ve been told was that my mom and some of her friends were there with us kids and I guess it was cold so they loaded up the cookstove with coal (or coke, not sure which) but apparently they over did it as the story goes. The coal expanded, lifting all the round cast iron covers off the top of the stove and it is said that the whole stove was glowing red.  I’m not sure how they resolved that but there was quite a bit of panic as they thought the wood stove might set the whole cottage on fire.

My big memory of Caddy is waiting in the back seat of the car at the top of the driveway as our parents were packing up to go back to Winnipeg on a Sunday night at the end of the weekend. We were given strict instructions to stay in the back seat and don’t touch anything!

"The Car", and our family cottage at Caddy Lake
“The Car”, and our family cottage at Caddy Lake – October 1955

We’ll, I’m almost 3, and a guy and this is boring so before long I’m hanging over the seat playing with the steering wheel. The car is a manual transmission “3 on the tree” an apparently the parking brake is not set. I manage to shift into neutral and the car starts rolling down the driveway towards the cottage in front of ours, and the lake. This is not good.

Just then my dad and Grandpa come out of the cottage with their arms full of stuff only to and see the car picking up speed going down the driveway with Gail and I in the back seat. They literally drop everything, run down and get behind the car and manage to stop the runaway vehicle before we can cross the road and hit the neighbours cottage.

I’m not exactly sure what happened after that but I’m sure I was in a bit of trouble that probably ended with a spanking. I’ve blotted that part from my memory.

(tem’pus fyOO’jit), [Latin]: Time Flies