Everyone falls


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I finally stopped painting for a bit and bought a new bike. Yes, it was a self-indulgent exercise but I had the all-clear on the home front, I bought it literally with found money and it was something I wanted to do.

For the people out there who care and ask (and there are some) it’s a 2016 GT Grade Alloy Tiagra. It has two wheels that go round and round and handle bars and … Look. It’s so far advanced from my 25-year-old Bianchi that it’s hard to explain the differences. But I took it out last weekend for a 55-km shakedown and it was great.

The rider was less than great, but better than he was a year ago. Maybe I’ll talk about that another day.

But for now, here’s where the story gets fun – for you at least.

For the first time I’ve bought a pair of cycling shoes. People who don’t cycle or spin will be surprised to learn that cycling shoes serve a purpose beyond making you look like some faux-Euro knob clicky walking through Starbucks. No, the actual purpose is to allow you to lock your feet onto the pedals of the bike. (An aside: for the record I don’t drink coffee so I don’t clicky walk in Starbucks, and I also don’t wear the lycra cycle shorts. Mine are baggy even though I’m skinny enough now to get away with Lycra. I just don’t want to cause a scene, right?) Continue reading

Remembering Mr. Hockey


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I’m repeating something I wrote here nine years ago about one of the greatest nights of my childhood.

Me, my dad, my cousin and Gordie Howe.

Howe died last night. We are not likely to see anything like him again and I wish my boys could have seen the way he played the game. The word “great” is used too easily these days. Howe really was great.

I remember . . . Continue reading

Sometimes that happens


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Parenting isn’t rocket science or brain surgery, but once it starts it’s a life-long commitment. Obvious, but true.

The front end is heavy lifting, the back end is more fine tuning. And after about 15 or 20 years – if you have any honest self awareness at all – you start to see how things are really going.

This will not be a soliloquy on the brilliance of my kids or our greatness as parents. There always things to do better, things we might have done differently. They still don’t know how to cook, do laundry, shovel snow, pickup clothes, or buy beer if there’s someone else in the house to do it instead. But, overall they’re better-than-okay kids and we love them.

No, today is about understanding that your kids will look at your example for a long, long time. The paths you choose, your conduct, your lifestyle, your generosity, honesty, work ethic, kindness, friends, choices. In short, your character. As the old saying goes, the way you behave when you think no one is looking.

Sweating it out today on a spin bike with 23 other people at 6am, I reflected a bit on this if only to distract myself from the heat of the room and punishing regime to be completed. Continue reading

A fate worse than death


It drives me crazy sometimes, the degree to which we have all become slaves to technology. It’s true the technology we have now improves our efficiency and makes communication easier and adds lifestyle conveniences we could never have imagined outside of an episode of The Jetsons.

But sometimes I think that all that time spent staring at a three-inch screen is time taken away from our humanity, if I may be permitted a grand sweeping vista for this moment. I pass people walking in downtown Toronto who are staring at their phones watching Seinfeld reruns while they walk. Seriously.

Really, is your existence so bereft of stimulation that you need to watch 20-year-old sitcoms while you walk from the train to your office? Or is it that Seinfeld is just so damn compelling and socially timeless that it’s worth bumping into strangers over and over and over en route to work?

Anyway, that wasn’t even my point.

My was going to be about what happens when the technology goes away. Like it did in my house last night.

A modern day horror story, no less. A fate worse than death. Continue reading

The long weekend


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Some end of the long weekend this and that . . .

Our house is in a quiet neighbourhood. Nothing much ever happens. Occasionally the kids at a nearby pool get a little loud for an hour, or someone has a once-a-summer backyard party that goes into the night. But, pretty tame. We all smile and roll with it.

So yesterday I’m out in the yard cutting, mulching, edging, fertilizing and more. A relatively new neighbour – they’re been there about a year – calls hello over the fence.

Chit chat. Nice guy. Oh, BTW. We’re having a party for my daughter’s first birthday tonight and … it might get a little loud. I wave him off. No worries my friend. Little girls and piñatas? How rowdy can it be? Don’t give it a thought. Enjoy the party.

So, seven hours later at 10:45p, Pad – who has to get up around 6a for work – comes down wondering when the pounding south Asian disco music – and the music was really, really bad – is going to let up. It was so loud that even with the windows and doors closed, we had to turn the volume on the TV almost halfway to full to be able to hear it. Continue reading

A price worth paying


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There are benefits to social media beyond being able to show you what I had for dinner or complaining about the challenges of commuting in the largest city in the world that doesn’t understand commuting.

Social media is sort of like a never ending class reunion. You run into people you haven’t seen in a long time, you catch up, you meet their families. And sometimes you share a moment.

We have friends in Halifax who we were once quite close with – we worked together, shared dinner parties, that sort of thing. We moved away, life goes on. They have two kids – now young adults, a boy and a girl. Both were competitive paddlers, and one – the daughter – is a nationally carded athlete.

She won multiple gold medals at last summer’s Pan Am Games and is a tenacious competitor. Trains hard, competes hard, studies hard. Ever since she can remember, she chased the dream of being an Olympian.

And this week her life’s work came down to one race and she didn’t make it. Pause and think about the only goal you have had for a dozen years coming down to one race, a few seconds of your life. Continue reading

Cause and effect


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This may seem obvious but hear me out.

If you eat chicken wings every night for dinner and have four beers every night and you never exercise and have poor sleep habits, bad things are going to happen. Sure, you can get away with some of that for a while. Being young helps.

But sooner or later, the clothes stop fitting. Climbing stairs is harder. Your trim waist disappears under fat. You’re at risk for major disease – cardiovascular, type-2 diabetes, joint problems. Eventually, there’s a high probability you will die prematurely because of things that were always in your control to change.

There are wildfires burning all over Canada – especially in the north and west. The horrific scenes from Fort McMurray are the defining image of the spring weather, but there are fires in B.C., northern Ontario and across the Prairies.

And it’s just the first week of May. The trend from long-term data is bad – the US National Interagency Fire Centre says last year was the worst on record for US wildfires. And there have been fires consuming more and more acres of forest, year over year, since 2000 than in the years before that. Simply put, the problem is accelerating.

Why? Continue reading

Painting: less fun than you think


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I think painting is one of those things probably best left to professionals, but when you would rather spend your money on a new bike or clothes or just about anything, then look to save a dollar where you can.

And so it came to pass in the last couple weeks that some casual musing by me about taking on a project at home while Laura passes through a heavy schedule of travel, trade shows and whatnot, turned into me painting the main floor of the house.

It’s less fun than you think.

The project started on the weekend with the kitchen … it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it’s Tuesday and … the project is still in the kitchen.

Cleaning walls. Cleaning the ceiling. Cleaning the cabinets. Applying yards and yards of green masking tape before even opening a paint can. And then finally, painting. Continue reading

Is it just me …


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It could be a result of my creeping old age, which some days is less of a creeping like an afternoon shadow across a patio and more like a wild galloping horse from which I have fallen, attached only by a single foot stuck in a stirrup as I get dragged along to an inevitable conclusion.

But my question is this: is it just me, or is it cold?

This spring seems to be slower in arriving than a tax refund. Slower than just about any spring I can recall in the last few years.

It is absolutely true our winter was relatively simply – maybe two or three mornings when shovelling was required and perhaps two or three weeks of true, raw chilling cold. So are we paying the price for that now?

Where are the scientists and their data on global warming, alarming us about the coming tropical reckoning? Even on Saturday and Sunday, days filled with glorious sun and blue skies, it was too cold for my old bones to cycle. The windchill created on a bike moving 25 or 30 km per hour is outside of my comfort zone.

So no biking for me yet – and no, I have not yet replaced the Bianchi. These things take time. Continue reading

Two in the win column


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I will bore you with a short entry today that is large on bragging rights and short on substance. Your humble scribe begs your forgiveness on both those counts.

The humble brags involve two significant “dubs” as the kids say – a dub being a “W” which is a win. So, follow along, I had two big wins.

The first win was Saturday morning when I was part of a small but loud crew from our gym which climbed all 144 flights of stairs in the CN Tower. We were not fastest and I was certainly not fastest among the five of us. But I started last in our crew, and we all finished within two minutes of each other.

My time was 22:14, which I thought was okay for an old guy and well below the 40 minutes or so that we were told was the generic benchmark for average. I am nothing if not average. No pauses or breaks en route to the top, I just climbed. Continue reading