Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I found God in the lobby of the Hyatt

Walking to lunch today, I passed Eric Clapton in the lobby of the Hyatt. He was sitting there just like any regular person - you'd have never guessed he had entranced 16,000 people last night. But I knew, because I went to the Eric Clapton concert. It was excellent, as expected. For an Eric with a 'c', he's alright.
There was slightly different crowd in attendance than the recent shows I've attended (Billy Talent, for example). Besides generally being older, they were much, much more mellow (to put it politely). I've seen older crowds rock out - Santana and The Who being recent examples - so I can't chalk the 'mellowness' up to age alone. These people apparently did not know how to 'get down'.

It was unfortunate, since the energy of the crowd usually plays such a critical role in the overall feel of a show. There were also no fancy performance enhancers, like elaborate light shows, pyrotechniques, fancy costumes or choreographed dancing. But, Clapton shone right through the lethargic crowd, delivering a powerful and satisfying musical experience wearing a simple button up shirt and blue jeans and relying on nothing more than his voice, his guitar and his band.
The ride home on the train was the a little more lively. Some frat boys provided the entertainment; offering cheers for pretty much anything that came into their heads - the Stamps, the Flames, spring break, 'the gas pedal' (what the hell does that mean anyway?). I love that people like this exist.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I recently blogged about my tendancy to volunteer (impose) my services as a spellchecker to those less fortunate (intelligent). I often do this without even being asked; that's just the generous, kind-hearted sort of person I am. When you've got mad skillz like this, it would be selfish not to share. Some view my interest in (preoccupation with) proper spelling as helpful (annoying). Some may say I'm a nerd (loser), but I've decided to embrace my nerdiness. It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite games is Scrabble (second only to Monopoly). Maybe I'm just trying to bring Scrabble into my everyday life to create some sort of philological paradise. Scrabylon, if you will. When I saw these cuff links the other day, I knew I had to have them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Indian Weddings are Cool!

This year is shaping up to be the year of the wedding for me. Two so far, and at least two coming up this summer.

My friend and coworker, Adil, just got married and I was invited! It was my first Indian wedding. He and his wife, Zenita, were kind enough to include me in many of the activities that comprise the event. This included a Pithi for each of the bride and groom, the wedding, and the reception.

The brides Pithi might be viewed as the Indian equivalent of the caucasian shower - but its much cooler. A very large group of friends and family gathered to enjoy some delicious Indian food, get some Mendhi done, and offering gifts and prayers. The prayer part involved each person individually approaching Zenita, placing a sweet (smarties, if you can believe it) in her mouth and putting a fragrant paste on her body. The smarties fondly reminded me of my Aunt Keli. I knew only Zenita, yet I spent the whole night engaged in conversation with various friends and family of the bride. I was touched by how welcoming everyone was.
The grooms Pithi doesn't really have a caucasian equivalent (that I'm aware of). Again, it involved a large group of friends and family and the prayer and gift process. At the start, the prayer process looked much the same as the brides, with the smarties and the fragrant paste, except that Adil was conspicuously wearing a white shirt and track pants (in contrast to the fancy and more traditional looking attire worn by Zenita for her Pithi) and the floor was covered with tarps. After Adil's family and most of his friends had blessed him, it was the groomsmens' (and other close friends) turn. It was at this time that it became apparent why Adil was dressed differently and why the tarp was necessary. In place of smarties and paste, this group drew on a wider variety of materials to wish Adil well, including ketchup, mustard, flour, and eggs. Entertaining to say the least. Women are so much more civilized. Adil's Pithi was followed by another ceremony and then by a huge amount of delicious Indian food. I was again amazed by how welcome I felt at the event. Despite the fact that there was close to 500 people in attendance, Adil's mother went out of her way to ensure we felt welcome and understood what each of the ceremonies was about.
The wedding ceremony took place at an Ismaili Temple. I wore a skirt, only to discover that shoes were not to be worn inside and everyone had to sit on the floor. I should have done my research. I don’t think I have sat on the floor like that since grade school; I'm really out of practice. The ceremony itself was surprisingly formal. It is interesting to see how different religions address unions. When the formalities were finished, we ate some delicious Indian food.
Later that evening was the last of the events. There were a few more traditional ceremonies, which were followed by a fashion show, and some delicious Indian food. All in all, a great experience. My key lesson from the event is that I need to make more Indian friends. Indian weddings are great! Thanks Zenita and Adil.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bye Bye Banger Hair

As I was blowdrying my hair this morning I decided it was time to free myself of my banger hair and fast forward into 2007. As Dean from Fubar would say "Turn down the suck". Good riddance banger hair! Thanks to Tim Arsenault at Mirada Salon for liberating me.

(yes, the picture is blurry, I had to get Kareen to take a picture of me with her blackberry).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Switching direction

The ride home on Sunday was great; three hours and 20 minutes on fatigued legs. The wind had changed from Saturday and was coming more from the south, which meant I had a bit of a cross wind (instead of a full on tail wind); but a cross wind never felt so good. Isn't it always the case that the headwind is so much stronger than any tailwind you get? One day I think I might just head out on an extended bike trip and ride in whatever direction the wind takes me each day. I think it would be interesting to see where I end up after a month.

I was pleased with my little experiment this weekend. The wind didn't really bother me, it was just nice to be outstide. Highlights for the weekend included:
- no flats!
- taking so long to get to get to Canmore that I almost ran out of batteries on my GPS
- negotiating a 10% discount on my room at the Drake for having cycled there from Calgary
- getting drunk after a third of a pint of beer at the Rose and Crown
- wearing my bike helmet while buying a snack at the gas station on the way home and having the attendant how much gas I was buying
- going for breakfast with a client on Monday morning who mentioned that, while he was on his way home from the mountains on Sunday, he passed some nutcase riding their bike on the highway

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Character Building

I'm in the base building phase of my bike training right now. Translation: I'm building my aerobic endurance through long, steady, moderate aerobic efforts. With my 'fair weather' riding mentality, this has meant hours inside on the trainer. Fortunately we have a dvd shelf full of all available Tour de France coverage, all of my favorite movies (and then some), and every episode of the Simpsons and Nikita. But even though I have no shortage of viewing material, the trainer can get boring during Calgary's long winter.

So, when I saw that the forecast for this weekend called for temperatures above 10 degrees Celsius on both Saturday and Sunday, I figured it was a great opportunity to get some volume in outside. I've been wanting to spend some time with my TransRockies partner (our schedules are not particularly compatible). Since she spends her weekends in Canmore, I figured I could combine these two objectives by riding my bike to Canmore. 100km each day seemed about perfect. Plus, with Erik away this weekend, a night in Canmore seemed a bit more exciting than a night home alone.

This time of year is always a bit windy, especially when we get the westerly winds bringing in the warm weather. I knew I was facing the prospect of a headwind on the way out. I know I will need to challenge my fair weather riding mentality as I prepare for TransRockies. I definitely did that today. On a ride that should normally take no more than three and a half to four hours, after five and a half hours into a strong headwind, I made it to Canmore. I'm not just base building, I'm character building.
In a sick sort of way, I liked it. Maybe it's because I'm deprived of fresh air and sunshine. Or maybe it's because I expect I'll have a tailwind tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Musical Hat Trick

Three shows in one week! That's what I'm talkin about.

It started with Wolfmother, a band from Australia that has been described as the next Led Zeppelin. When I was first asked if I would like to go, I declined. Although I had never heard their music, I figured it wasn't worth my time because I could never like a band with that name. But then in the wake of my 'live music kicks ass delerium' following the Billy Talent concert and having only heard seconds of one of their songs, I changed my mind. Leading up to the evening of the concert, I still hadn't heard more than the little clip of their music on the much music concert listings commercial. It was a total gamble and, to raise the bet, I was still on painkillers, so drinking was out of the question. The stakes were high - the music had better be good. I was not disappointed. Despite a few overindulgent guitar solos, they totally rocked the house. I think this band is going places.

Next up was the Martyr Index. My friend, Megan, has been in this band forever. I don't know how long. Maybe 8 years? I'd never seen them play until Wednesday (I'm a really horrible friend). They play anarchist rock, which means they play a lot of venues that I don't frequent. So, when I saw they had a gig at the Ship and Anchor, it seemed like a great opportunity to finally see a show. I had my reservations, since it was a 'school night' and the show wasn't starting until 8pm, according to their website. What I didn't realize was that there were two opening bands and that it didn't actually start until 10pm (which meant the Martyr Index came on at midnight!). Fortunately the opening bands were actually good (well, the second one was anyway), and the late start gave me a chance to catch up with Megan before she went on. Maybe I'm biased, but I thought their show was great. It was a bit short, but worth the wait. Meg has always impressed me with her vocal skills. Plus, the band has a violinist. I'm a sucker for violins and rock. I don't listen to much anarchist rock, but maybe I will now. I will definitely try to check out another show sometime soon (ie. In the next seven years). But maybe on a weekend.

And to round things out, I checked out Buckwheat Zydeco on Sunday. This was another total gamble, as I had not heard any of his music before going to the show. Buckwheat Zydeco has been said to be the greatest party band in the world. Now, I don't know if I can vet that, but I did have a good time (mostly). The highlights included Buckwheat's white alligator skin cowboy boots (which matched his blindingly white smile), watching his geriatric bassist play his guitar with his teeth (cool!), and watching his son rock a washboard. Oh yeah, and he had a handful of catchphrases - like 'uh oh', 'do you know what time it is', 'united we stand, divided we stand, nobody fall' - which he used frequently and totally out of context. I don't think it was intended to be so, but it was hilarious. The lowlights were the totally random and self indulgent accordian and keyboard solos, which stretched the show to about three hours. Perhaps I lack the depth to appreciate anything beyond a good melody but, to tell you the truth, sometimes I find such solos more annoying than artistic. In the middle of the ONE HOUR encore, when Buckwheat said 'do you know what time it is?', Chris responded quietly with 'yes, its 10:30, for the love of god, get off the stage'. That about sums up my parting sentiments, unfortunately.