Monday, March 23, 2009

A Long Way from Hawaii

I've been itching to get out for some spring cycling, but the snow here is refusing to melt, which means there's still a lot of gravel on the main roads. The combination of gravel, highway traffic and spring winds make for suboptimal cycling conditions. So, what's a girl to do? Well, traveling to a snow-free spring cycling destination is not in the cards for me this year; however, I have a different solution. Thanks to Erik.
For the past few seasons, Erik has been exploring the anonymous country roads of the greater Calgary area. Many of these roads are gravel and many don't even show up on regional maps. And, it is these qualities that make them ideal cycling routes.
  1. Vehicles, particularly vehicles in a hurry, prefer to use roads that are paved and that show up on maps.
  2. Gravel moderates speed and is useful to visually and audibly identify approaching traffic.
  3. Traveling in uncharted territory is majorly badass.

As long as you're dressed for it and have the right bike, you can get your spring training done in Calgary. It's a long way from Hawaiian Islands (as this farm owner has calculated), but it will do.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Farewell Furry Friends

After four months housesitting, Erik and I have now moved back home. It hasn't been easy though; we made two good friends during our time away. Meet Heidi and Honey. Heidi has superfluous claw that makes her paws look like adorable little mittens. She likes sitting on made beds and jumping in cardboard boxes. She also really likes laundry.

This is a rare photo of Honey in front of the food court. She likes chasing water droplets on the shower wall, freaking out and hiding.

I haven't yet adjusted to the silence at night. No cats drag racing through the kitchen. No mystery objects falling from counter/table to floor (what was that anyway? did something break? should I go check?). No animals scratching who knows what under the bed (no, seriously, what was down there?).

I miss our little buddies. I wish there were some alternative for those of us that can't commit to a pet. Like a cat brothel. For now, I'll have to rely on stuff like this to satiate my appetite for a pet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dubyah Does Downtown

Nestled between the Telus Convention Centre and the Hyatt, my office is effectively ground zero for all of the parades, protests and parties that roll through the area. Over the last eight years, this has included the G8 Summit, Bill Clinton, the World Fantasy Convention,

and, this week, George W. Bush. You can tell he was a little bit nervous, as he picked i) an oil town, ii) Canada, and iii) St. Patrick's day to deliver his first speaking engagement as a civilian. But, that wasn't enough to stop the protesters, who we had to listen to for an hour as we waited in line to get inside to hear Bush speak.

Now, I'm all for freedom of speech and the value of a good peaceful protest. And there should be no shortage of good material to protest about when it comes to Dubyah. But the crowd disappointed, offering little by way of intelligent protest. These people that apparently have enough on their hands to hang outside in the cold for a few hours in the middle of the day (yes, I was also outside, but that's different because I was 'entertaining clients') but not enough time to read the news or to brainstorm some clever protest material or to get organized.

One faction of protesters cried out against the war, the economic crisis, globalisation, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and fascism. At the same time, another group was working hard to expose the Skull and Bones and the Freemasons, that 9/11 was an inside job, that the prophet Jeremiah has foreseen all of this, and that Calgary has Marxist-Leninists. There were the randoms, with 'Kill more babies' and the oh-so-clever-and-informative play-on-words 'Buck Fush'. A fourth faction was busy spewing hate at the working class (those of us in line to get in). For the first time, I found myself to be the object of a large crowd's scorn:

Hey all you suits and your AIG bonuses!

Guilty by virtue of my gainful employment. Shame on me!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Winter Riding

Erik rides right through the winter, regardless of temperature or surface conditions In fact, sometimes I think that he prefers to ride in inclement weather. I, on the other hand, am not so ballsy.

But, there's a point at which even a fair weather rider can't take staying inside any longer. The snow hasn't yet melted and the roads are still lined with gravel, but it's warm enough to ride without a balaklava and, well, after 5 months locked indoors, that's good enough for me.

It took almost an our to pedal from end to end on Airport Road on account of a deadly headwind. A tilt of the head to watch a bird at the side of the road was enough to throw me off course. So, it was head down, legs pumping, lips smiling, for an entire hour until I reached highway 22. But, my battle didn't end when the pavement did. I headed north toward Cochrane, fighting a treacherous cross wind that tossed me back and forth across the shoulder as cars and trucks passed, breaking and then exposing and then breaking the wind. Still not enough to wipe the smirk off my face.

I crawled in to Cochrane and refueled on a hot chocolate and oatmeal cookie. This is basically like rocket fuel for cyclists. Add to that a nice tailwind to shepard me home, and I couldn't help but wonder why I waited so long to get out for a ride. Maybe 'winter' riding isn't so bad.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bavarian Love

I have to admit that I failed to recognize the splendor of German culture until this trip to Munich. Beer. Chocolate. Sausage. Ooooooompah Bands! Bavaria has a lot going for it. 

Beer is served as it should be, in ample quantities and in a social atmosphere. 
Cars are a matter of pride, with equal attention given to quality, style and performance. 
The public transit system is organized and easy to use, provided that you pay close attention to the names of the stops. A word to the wise, heading for 'something'straat is not specific enough to guarantee that you will arrive at, or even close to, your desired destination.

Another word to the wise, a front row seat at Munich's Circus Krone is not as wonderful as it sounds, once the well fed twirling elephants come out. I'll just leave it at that.