Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dog days of Summer

This month was a rough one, what with the passing of Louise and an unplanned visit to Holly's family for her grandfather's funeral. The timing of these two events somehow worked out beautifully, as it had us out of the house for a week when it felt the emptiest for us. Visiting family was just what we both needed.

Originally I wasn't going to post anything about Louise on this blog. I already did put up something to wrap up her site - which ran for six years - I'm a little proud of that - and felt that was enough, but I still felt the need to add something here. Please indulge me a little, I've spared you the worst of it by far.

There really hasn't been much else going on for us this summer - the weather is finally starting to feel like summer, but I've been in the office a lot this season so I've managed to stay extra pale this year. Our days have been filled with work, and wrapping up those ongoing arrangements for Louise - like cancelling her dog tag renewal, notifying her vet, etc.

My birthday is coming up this week, I'll be 41. We hope to have some friends over to celebrate but I am pretty sure that will be a low-key affair - this isn't some huge milestone in my life. Yet it's still a cause to celebrate and I feel that I need that a little more than usual this year. Many of the people attending are folks I haven't really seen much of this summer. Oh, and my birthday gift from Holly this year: a trip to Las Vegas this fall. (it's also going to be my gift to her, since her birthday follows shortly after mine.) Some of Holly's family have arranged to go, and it looks like we will be joining them there.

Now THAT will be a good time.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

No more anon comments

My wife started a 'blogging challenge', where she will blog something every day for thirty days. Just seeing her start this was enough to guilt me into at least looking at my dusty old blog.

I am not participating in the 30 day challenge.

If I was to name this first photo, I'd call it 'Humble Beginnings' because this is what we started with for plants on our patio. While we have a few more now too, we still are a long way from what we have envisioned. Spring being horrible is the only excuse that I have allowed myself, but it's a slippery slope. Anyway, what we have pictured here is rosemary, mint and 'holy basil'. That last one was picked up on a whim simply because apparently the basil leaves can be steeped into a tea - it's funny how I can think something is interesting because of an unexpected quality - even a quality I generally have little to no interest in. This basil is a classic example of that, as I don't usually go for green tea that often. Still, I might like it so I figured it was worth at least trying.

Next up is a picture of Sassy, our least photographed pet. Obviously with Louise having her own blog, she gets tons of pictures. With Sassy's black fur, one generally needs a bright sunny day to get a good shot, so that already reduces the number of picture opportunities. I got this one the other day when I was lazing on the sofa and Sassy figured she would join me.

Finally, we had our anniversary recently, and as usual that meant fireworks. We walked down to the water to take in the festivities, but honestly we found the city to be somewhat quiet. Maybe the cooler weather had something to do with that, or maybe we just were expecting more activity on Robson street, like years gone by. Either way, we kept things low key this year, which was nice.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Stanley Cup fever

I have to say, in previous years I have not bothered to watch the Stanley Cup Final games. Once my team (the Vancouver Canucks) was out of contention, I would usually stop watching. Every year I would get my hopes up and every year they would be dashed. But they kept at it and kept getting better. Now here we are in June and I am still watching hockey, more excited about it than ever.

I don't want to call it, so I'll just say this: I'm hoping my team is going to win it all. It's been fun to watch, both the games and the after-game celebrations around town. We live close enough that after the Canucks post a win, we are able to take a short walk and be in the midst of the action. I have seen the throngs of fans whooping it up on Robson and Granville Streets. Heck, I've been one of those fans on several nights. It's been fun, and is just one of the many little reasons I like living where I do.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Vertigo, again

It's been a long while, but over the weekend I had another case of vertigo. It was in the evening and at first we were blaming it on the extra large (venti) Mocha Chip Frappuccino I had. Even though it was made with decaffeinated coffee, it was still a lot of sugar. Looking back at it now though, I don't think the frap really had much to do with it at all.

Vertigo is a pretty weird thing to experience. Basically, every time I moved my head I would experience a strong 'spinning' sensation that would make me dizzy, even nauseous until I could get it settled down. It was worst when I would go from a standing position to laying down - or vice versa.

Luckily I didn't have the other, more worrisome symptoms that can sometimes go with vertigo - ones that might indicate something far worse, like stroke or multiple sclerosis. I was and currently can still move my eyes to look lower than the mid-point, I did not have any loss of feeling on one side of my body, etc. For me, this was just plain old boring vertigo. About the only other possible diagnosis might be Menier's Disease, but that's so rare that I don't even consider it a real possibility. Also, there is nothing temporary about my hearing loss (one of the symptoms).

It was something that was a little controllable too - I knew that if I was standing, I should stay standing, for example. I was able to run out to pick up some takeout food and made it back home without incident. Of course, I didn't plan on taking a nap at the restaurant, so I was ok. Also, after settling down on the bed again, I waited for the spinning to stop and then I was generally ok - I was even able to play some Minecraft without getting dizzy. It isn't something that was visually stimulated - it was stimulated by head movements.

Ok, that's probably more words than I thought I would write about my vertigo this weekend. I can't remember the last time it happened, so I figured I should post something here and tag it for future reference.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Remembering Derek Miller

Almost three weeks ago I was having coffee with Bill and he was telling me about his plans for later that day. Bill was going to visit Derek, presumably for the last time. Derek, a mutual friend of ours, was suffering from colon cancer and was in the final stages. (warning, the link for Derek might not load right away. His website is getting a LOT of traffic right now and you might have to try again later.)

Anyway, at that time I asked Bill to pass on my regards to Derek, as I knew that I already had my final, albeit brief visit with Derek, back at his living wake. While the wake was a raucous success, Derek was struggling with an epic case of laryngitis that left him virtually voiceless, and with literally hundreds of his friends and family in attendance, he had time for a quick hug and about 3 minutes of conversation. It was his night, he was in rare form and it was all I needed. Then he was on to the next friend, chatting quickly, embracing and riding a euphoric wave well into the night.

Derek passed away last night, at home, as was his plan. We all knew this was coming, there were no surprises, yet coming into work today and finding out still felt like a punch to the gut. Derek made the best out of a terrible situation and managed to die with dignity and grace - even while openly blogging about the diapers and other gruesome details about his disease. His decision to blog about his cancer came from an honest place and resounded with thousands of followers worldwide. The final post was written in advance and posted on his behalf, but the words are all his. I encourage you to check it out - it's linked above.

I knew Derek K. Miller while he was alive, and I will remember him long after his passing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why three years?

Whenever I think about how long I have been blogging, my instinctual answer is always 'about three years now.' It's kind of sad because well, it's just so far off from the truth. Perhaps this is just a little insight into how skewed my perceptions are though. (For the record, I've been at this since 2005, making it just about double my estimate.)

To say I'm losing interest in this would be an understatement. In the past, I have written in spurts, but lately it just seems difficult to muster anything worth recording. I say this even as the nation prepares for an election and during hockey playoff season - two events that usually would have sparked me to say something in years gone by. I'm not apologizing for the lack of activity here, just noting it for what it is.

One thing that the blog does highlight is my lack of consistency. I recently had to write down a checklist to remind myself of certain things I really needed to do or check on every morning before I left for work. Checking that list lasted me about a week or two and then I just stopped reading it - I figured I had it down and knew it. A week after that, I started forgetting some of the things that were on the list, which is how my wife knew I had stopped checking it.

I thought it would be a good idea to track what food I eat by using my smartphone to take pictures of it and post it to tumblr. I lasted a few days of diligently recording the items I ate and then started to miss some things - the energy bar or banana on my bike ride, that extra cup of coffee. A few days after that I was forgetting to take out the phone for main meals. It is important to note here that the decision to record my meals was MY idea.

So what does that mean for my blog? I think it means that without some consistent effort from me, it just might wither and die. It's certainly not a big job to post regularly and when I do I find it helps me to focus my thoughts, at least it does force me to think about what to write moreso than a random tweet or facebook update would (not that I ever update facebook anymore - ha!)

Perhaps I should see if is taken. Yup, by someone in Finland, and they haven't posted since 2006. I guess it could be worse.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

No Credit!

Well I didn't go for my morning bike ride this morning. I was up several times last night to walk Louise, who was suffering with pretty bad abdominal pain and couldn't settle down, so I was pretty tired and opted to get an extra hour of sleep instead.

Today is going to be a busy one for me - my friend Dallas invited me to watch the Vancouver Canucks play against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. It's not often that I get the chance to go see an NHL game, so of course I jumped at the chance. What makes it even better is that Vancouver is playing well right now. Even with defenceman Ballard out with a strained knee I remain hopeful that they can win against Anaheim.

Oh yeah - I had to call VISA yesterday to inquire about some suspicious looking charges on my statement. At first I thought they were related to my cell phone but as it turned out they were completely fraudulent and not related at all. I happened to have recently installed a banking application on my iPhone and this lets me easily log in and examine things like my banking statements and transaction history. It's amazing to me how many things like duplicate charges, etc. go through unchecked, especially since that is one thing that is pretty easy to flag for further inspection. It seems we aren't quite there yet though which is why I was the first to discover two identical charges of about $230 each against my credit card. This was something that immediately stood out to me and I decided to look into it.

As a side note, if the perpetrator had only posted the one charge, I would most likely ignored it completely, assuming it was a valid charge for something else. It was only because they posted the charge twice on the same day. Sometimes I'm aided by the stupidity (and greed) of others, I guess.

Anyhow, after a series of calls both to VISA and to my cell phone provider I start to gather the needed information to determine these charges were in fact false. Both companies were very adept at handling this and one representative at VISA, an energetic man named Adam had a very clear understanding of these situations in general and was able to give me helpful tips on what exactly to look for to determine if I was dealing with a fraud case or not. His tips helped to speed this process to resolution.

But yeah - tonight, hockey game. Tomorrow, take delivery of a new stove. I figure there will be a sleep debt to be repaid this weekend.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Still biking daily

After about a week even I had to admit that blogging about each day's ride was monotonous, boring and overall, pointless. Compounding to that was the fact that I generally ride the same route each day, so I didn't even have that extra variety to talk about.

I am still biking though. Every day, rain or shine. After all, I live in Vancouver. I'm not faced with horrifically cold temperatures like the rest of my family is right now. I don't have to shovel a path to ride on. I have most of the gear needed to keep me comfortable for the duration of my ride. I feel lucky to be able to do this daily.

Even better, now the sun is starting to be up when I'm on my ride. It's still mostly dark, but now I can see the glow through the clouds in the east and by the time I return home I am able to turn off my lights.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A little story about Telus Mobility

So today I get an email from Telus Mobility. I think this is odd, since I do not have a telus cell phone, but maybe it has something to do with our home bundle, which we did recently update. No, it turns out that wasn't the case at all, so I ended up calling Telus Mobility to straighten out the matter. I figured it would be a quick call.

Turns out it was a quick way to elevate my blood pressure. Once we sorted out that I was not in fact the same person they had on file (address didn't match) I figured it would be over. But no, the helpful gentleman on the other end of the phone then suggested that I call Google instead, as clearly this was an email problem because me and the other fellow obviously had the same email address. I was stunned. I had to slow down my speaking a bit, not because I thought he was stupid (at this point I kind of did think that) but because I wanted to control what I was saying. I explained again that this was not an email problem and that the only thing wrong with my email account was that Telus Mobility was spamming me with their email. I further explained that it would be in their interest to contact the other person with my name to get the correct email address as the one they had on file was wrong.

The representative then informed me that he could not contact the account holder.

"Doesn't he have a cell phone with you guys?" I asked.

Anyway, I hope it's been sorted out. Good luck with contacting your customer, Telus Mobility. I'm thinking you might need it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Losing the sun for a few days won't be my idea of a good time

Temp: -1 deg
Precip: overcast

I saw that the temperature was below zero today and may have over reacted a little bit. I put on all of my winter gear. Consequently, I was too warm by the end of my ride. Not the worst case scenario, but I do make a note of it because I likely could have gone without one of the sweaters. For the record, I had shorts, knee warmers, thick sweat pants and my rain pants paired with a t-shirt, cycling jersey, arm warmers, sweatshirt, sweater, rain shell and coat on top. I went with double gloves and was also wearing the toque under my helmet. No scarf today.

I wear the rain garb when it is cold in part because it helps break the wind. Without it, the cold air cuts right through any sweaters I might have on. By the time I was doing my final climb back to the condo I had a couple of my layers partially unzipped to help regulate my temperature. By the end of the ride I had the peculiar sensation of being both too hot and too cold at the same time. While I didn't hate it, I can't say that it was one of my more enjoyable rides to date.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not quite freezing, but damn close

Temp: 4 degrees
Precip: none, overcast

I went with the same gear as yesterday and concluded that today's ride was the absolute coldest I can endure with only a few layers. I was cold everywhere but was able to continue on. Next time I ride at 4 degrees I will make sure I have a pair of sweat pants on in addition to my other riding gear. Also, the single pair of gloves was barely adequate and a couple times I had to stop to blow warm air in them, or ball my hands into fists to keep my fingers from freezing.

Oddly, I am not able to get new podcasts from CBC today. Not sure what is up with that, but I set out on my ride without the usual compliment of news bulletins. Luckily I did have a half watched episode of Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, as well as a podcast from Search Engine. Those carried me through to near the end of the ride, so I was ok.

But I still missed my news from CBC.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back to the Monday routine

Temp: 8 degrees
Precip: Overcast, intermittent showers, very little rain

I woke up feeling tired this morning, but headed out anyway. Last night I managed to wake up my wife with my snoring again and she was less than pleased, so it wasn't like I could skip out on my exercise even if I wanted to.

Of course, as usual, once I was underway things got better. What little rain I encountered early on was all but gone by the time I got to the park. I wore the same gear as yesterday and once again, I was fine. It's still very dark in some spots of Stanley but I'm able to continue on because the trail is so familiar to me. I do slow down though, in case there is a branch or some other obstacle.

My feet were dry when I got back in this morning. That felt so nice. I guess I managed to stay out of the puddles today.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Burrard Bridge revisited

Temp: 9 degrees
Precip: very light rain, mostly

Today I decided to try riding without the sweat pants and it turns out I was fine. So I was over dressing recently, at least once the temperatures warmed up. My rain pants are very good at keeping the water off my legs, so with regular biking shorts and knee warmers, I was fine. More importantly, I'm still wearing a toque under my helmet and I'm sure that is helping lots.

My feet still get wet. That's all there is to say about that.

So today I rode into Kitsilano, one of Vancouver's more expensive neighborhoods. This of course had me go across the Burrard St. bridge, which is always a nice ride. I made it as far as Alma street, which is actually into Point Grey and almost to UBC. I debated riding around the campus but was a little pressed for time so I headed back instead.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Temperature in the double digits!

Temp: 10 degrees
Precip: None!
cycling shorts, leg warmers, socks, thinner grey sweat pants under rain pants
t-shirt under cycling jersey with arm warmers under a sweater and rain shell
toque on my head and regular socks in worn sneakers

This morning was warm AND without rain. I felt so lucky riding today. While there was no rain falling, the roads were still plenty wet. This was especially true in the park, where runoff continues to make muddy sections of the sea wall. This is what fenders are for and mine caught a lot of the mud (but not all).

Near the end of the ride I stopped in at the office because I knew I had some chain lubricant there and after yesterday's significant rinsing, I knew the bike would need some. A quick check of my tire pressure and I was off again, to return home.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Superwet Friday

Temp: 8 degrees
Precip: constant rain

I just love how Vancouver weather tends to clear off about half an hour after I arrive at the office. It was warm though, so I persisted to do a full ride around the park. Of course that meant I had soaked feet and hands - I forgot how the colour in my gloves bleeds when they get wet - my hands were ink stained by the end of the ride.

With this much rain, I also noticed that it was very dark. There was one section on the back side of the park where I had to slow down because I knew where the road was supposed to go, but I couldn't quite see it clearly. I didn't like the idea of suddenly riding off a curb without knowing it. Luckily that didn't happen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Got out before the snow arrives

Temp: -2 deg
Precip: none
Listening to: Kevin Pollak's Chat show
A brisk, cold ride this morning. Did a single lap around Stanley Park and found I had to pull my fingers out of my gloves and make fists to prevent frostbite. One thing that was nice was there was no wind. The water was like glass in the marina, reflecting back the city lights perfectly.

Again with the brakes, I really should not have put off adjusting them as long as I did. It feels like a brand new bike again. On today's ride I really needed them too, as the far side of Stanley Park was pretty icy. This is normal, given the amount of runoff that comes off the cliffs.

Oh yeah, on yesterday's ride I was interrupted briefly by a family of sea otters as they crossed the sea wall into their home under a tree. Pretty cool, and it happened too fast for me to get out my camera (it's usually in a pocket 2 or 3 layers deep).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adjusted for more stopping power

Temp: -3 deg, no precipitation

It's still dark when I leave for my rides but is generally starting to brighten by the time the ride ends. Last night I adjusted the brakes on my bike and am happy with the result. Honestly, the thought of heading out into the cold this morning wasn't very appealing to me, but wanting to test out the new brake setup was a more powerful draw. Well that and the fact that my snoring kept Holly up most of last night, which indicates I need to bike MORE frequently, not LESS.

As I was riding I couldn't help but realize just how well my bike continues to work, day in and day out. It's about 15 years old now, well at least the frame. Much of it has been upgraded over the years but things like the headset and wheelset feel solid and true. Overall, not a bad ride today.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Saturday Sunshine

Temp: somewhere between 2 and 4 degrees
Precip: none (yay!)
I have a feeling I am going to recycle my blog titles soon. Today I decided to ride into greater Vancouver, making a point to cross over Burrard bridge. I used this bridge a lot when I was commuting and really like the view. I briefly stopped into the office because well, they have a good bicycle pump there and my tires needed a little air.

I was wearing quite a bit today because I knew it was not going to be as warm as yesterday, even without the rain. I had my coat over the rain shell and was wearing double gloves, as well as the rest of my gear. Oh, and I put a thicker pair of sweatpants under my cycling pants too - that really helped with staying warm. Even with all of this on, I never really got 'hot'. I was comfortable though, so I'm glad I went with the extra layers and didn't try to go with less.

Today was also the first day I rode with my ipod again, after breaking the glass on it. Thanks to my wife's support and suggestion, I am going to attempt to repair it, as it still has life in it. Expect a separate blog post to deal with that.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Soggy Ride today

It was about 8 degrees this morning, and raining heavily when I set out. My plan was to bike around the Stanley Park sea wall instead of biking to the top of the hill at Point Roberts. This was because I didn't really like the idea of riding down the hill and having my face pelted with rain at 40-60 kph.

I didn't like the idea of negotiating around a rockslide either, so when I saw the barricades up preventing me from taking the low road I prepared for a climb. As expected, the descent was very wet and the rain was pelting me in the face pretty hard, so I controlled my speed as best I could with wet brakes as I rode down the hill. Wow. This sounded so much better this morning as I was thinking of what I would say.

Anyway, by the time I made it into the office later that morning it had stopped raining and the sun came out. I knew I should have been out riding the night before, when it was dry.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wimpy Ride report, and two cups of tea

I wimped out on today's ride. I slept a lot last night, but still I was unable (or unwilling) to push myself for very long. I will have to go longer tomorrow, this is plenty of rest, even if I am fighting off a cold (still).

The temperature was about 5ยบ C and it was raining - not hard rain and my gear was up to the task, keeping me dry and not cold. Only one pair of gloves today, with the toque under the helmet, and I was back to the wet weather cycling shell instead of a heavier coat. It seemed to be okay with a sweatshirt underneath. My sweatpants were in the laundry hamper so I went with my rain pants and knee warmers which also served me well. I probably would have found another pair of sweats if it was colder.

Last night, while skyping with my parents, Holly brewed me up a cup of tea to help clear my throat a bit before I settled down. It was delicious, so once I arrived at work I figured a cup of tea would be just the thing - but this is horrible bitterness in comparison. I don't know how people drink this shit, honestly. (I'm going to finish the cup though because bitter or no, I bet it's good for me somehow.) I probably overbrewed it, or had too much of it or something. Either way, I think I prefer my wife's tastes in teas. This stuff is just nasty.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ride Report: Jan 4

It's supposed to snow a lot today, at least in terms of Vancouver snow. When I got up this morning though, it had not yet started so I was able to head out ahead of the forecasted storm. Temperatures were around freezing, which is a little milder than the past few days. As such, I didn't need the second pair of gloves, or the extra coat. I was cold, but it was bearable.

Unlike yesterday, there was no fog bank to ride through but there was still quite a bit of frost on the streets. I noted that it was unpredictable as to where I would encounter it. Some streets would be bare and dry while others frosted over white. Then there were the inconsistent sections as well. So long as I wasn't standing on my pedals though, I was fine with my slick tires. At least so far.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Prepare for another inversion?

I had the luxury of not heading out on my bike ride until a few hours later today, which meant I could bike in the sun. While the sun was indeed out, as I got down by the water I was enveloped in a thick fog bank.

Normally I like fog. The thicker the better. Today's was a pretty cold one, as I was noticing frost forming on the outside of my jacket as I was riding. But, I had my two pair of gloves on, and multiple layers, so it wasn't until I was riding down the hill from Prospect Point in Stanley Park that I started to freeze out my feet.

Mental note: investigate my options for insulated shoe covers.

Today's ride was nice. I like how quiet it gets in a fog bank. It reminded me of when we had a weather inversion a couple years back, although this was nowhere near as extensive. I'm glad I set out when I did, as I am sure that by now the fog has burned off.