Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stereotypes are a Real Time Saver. Sometimes.

One of the greatest lessons that I learned while living abroad was that stereotypes are i) useful and ii) often based in fact. I know that we are not supposed to make generalizations about people from other countries but, really, there's a reason that stereotypes exist. Once you accept them, your interactions with people abroad and your interpretation of their actions improve. Accepting stereotypes means not being disappointed when your Italian friend shows up two hours late for your dinner. It means not being offended when your dutch date asks you to cover half of the bill. It means not taking it personally when your Lebanese flatmate wants to negotiate everything.

Of course, there are some exceptions.

I knew from experience and from stereotypes, that Cypriots were a crazy bunch. So, when I came here for the weekend to attend my Cypriot friend's wedding, I expected some wild times.
I wasn't surprised when my rental bicycle resembled Napoleon Dynamite's sledgehammer (no, I did not attempt any sweet jumps).
I wasn't surprised by the gigantic pre-wedding bridal ceremony.
I wasn't surprised by the procession of honking cars that followed the bride through town for more than half an hour.
I wasn't surprised by the bottles of hard liquor that appeared at every table (some old fashioned fun!).
What I was surprised by, was a dude on the dance floor with a handgun. We cleared the dance floor thinking that maybe this was some sort of crazy Cypriot tradition, but it turns out it was just a crazy guy. It was on account of stereotypes that we did not clear the building, but perhaps that would have been the more logical course of action. I'm not saying that I'm not going to use stereotypes anymore, I'm just acknowledging that they may have some limitations.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The New Politics

Being a public official is a vicious job; one that is apparently only getting tougher. You can't be any geek off the street, as Warren G would say. Having the right skills is essential to survive and to get things done. This is why I'm considering voting for this guy:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When Adults Play

Deadgoats (and ninja pirates) forever!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kootenay Konfidence Krusher

Remember Married With Children? More precisely, do you remember how Al Bundy used to live in his college football glory days, oblivious to the pathetic heap of flesh that he had become? Well, call me Al Bundy. 
True, I'm not married and I don't have children but, somewhere during the last year, my perceptions about my athleticism and my actual athletic performance drastically parted ways. After a 14 month hiatus from the recreational racing circuit, I signed up for the Kootenay Krusher, a 50km enduro that took place near Nipika Resort in BC. Sure, I could have chosen a more gentle entry point into the circuit than a five hour bone rattler. But then, I've never been one to pick the easy way.

For the first 10km, I felt like a superhero. Back in the New York Groove. Then I did an endo on…I don't even know what. Somehow, I saved myself from mashing my teeth into the soil, but I was unable to escape skinning my upper lip (that scab moustache I'm left with looks really pretty). I salvaged what was left of my pride from the forest floor and carried on for the last painful 80% of the course.

Eventually, I dragged myself across the finish line just in time to get one of the last burgers on the BBQ. It was a miracle that I had any room after gorging on such a huge serving of humble pie. Welcome back to cycling.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

California Livin'

I'm not saying that the climate in Calgary is unfit for human habitation (I've been to Winnipeg), I just think that 7 degrees and raining is not my idea of good living in September. Perhaps I have lost my Calgary grittiness after alternating my time between tropical and temperate climates for the last year. The fact is that I've signed up for a stage race in Guatemala in early October and I need to put in some serious time on the bike. And, Calgary is not offering up the conditions that I deem suitable for training. So, a Westjet seat sale was all that it took to get me down to Palo Alto for a few days. Accommodation was generously provided by Liz (in fact, her parents, since she is also staying with her parents), who lives just a few miles from the Stanford University campus and similarly close to some grade A cycling roads.
Having been schooled in Canada, my impressions of American college life have been shaped by movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Animal House. I was curious to check it out first hand. While we were unable to check out any wild frat parties, we did have a nice cruise around campus by bicycle and an afternoon at a Stanford football game. If the football crowd is any indication, the depiction in the movies is pretty accurate. In my next life, I'm going to college in the US. And probably to Stanford, because the cycling around there is awesome.