Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I told my counselor that I think Jeremy and Melinda are quite shy. She asked me where they got that from. I've always considered Carmen the more outgoing of the two of us so I had to say myself. I have to make an effort to interact with others. Over the years, various things stimulated me to be less introverted. My Grade 5 teacher made a surprising comment in my final report card about me being a leader in the classroom. Something I never considered.

In Grade 8, I decided I needed to get out of the house so I said I'd go out every Friday whether there was anything on at the school or not. I made the rounds to a number of youth drop-in centres. I played floor hockey and some billiards but I saw lots of other things, classmates getting into drugs, friends I never wanted, girls I couldn't respect, ones I could and lawless youth pranks. As I went to various spots, I'd see the same people. I had to wonder what other youth my age were doing.

I ended up having my first girlfriend in Grade 8. She was my best friend's sister. She was a year older than me and we only really went on one "real" date. Most of the time we hung around with my friend and sometimes her friend, as a foursome but they would often disappear and leave us alone. I remember one time hitchhiking. A couple surprisingly stopped, let us all pile into the back seat and took us from Ontario Place to downtown. My girlfriend's parents eventually found out and went ballistic saying I was corrupting her even though I consider that she initiated the relationship. OK on reflection maybe we were too young but it ended that way with me forbidden to see either her or my friend. It was really a young infatuation. We met many years later on the ferry from Ward's island. Glad to see each other but quickly ran out things to say. We had had some good times but never really knew each other.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

If time could move backwards 

If time could move backwards. Carmen said she had a dream where time ran backwards.

I’ve moved my home office upstairs because I can’t seem to hear Carmen calling from the first floor anymore. And she seems to have forgotten how to use the Intercom feature on our cordless phones. I’m in the back room. And as I reflect, I remember having my first computer in this back room before Melinda was born. I am using my Netbook now on my old desk that I built for when I went to university. It has since gone to the basement then with Alicia to Waterloo then back here. And the home made, built-in power bar still works. But as I stare out the window I see the large Maple and gangly apple trees that were mere sticks in those days when I used to be in this room..

If time could move backwards. But it doesn’t, we always move onwards.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Percé Quebec 

An island with a hole at the end of the Gaspe. Seemingly quite remote but there is quite a large tourist crowd in Percé. In midtown it is pay parking only. The first two nights we stayed at a motel just outside the midtown so we got to know where the free parking was and it's really only a 5 minute walk to go to the wharf.

The boat tour to Bonadventure Island is really worthwhile. The Northern Gannet nesting grounds are amazing. I've never seen so many birds in one place and none of them are vacating. In fact, I'm sure if you got too close by crossing a barrier they would attack to hold their nesting area.

The third night we spent in Motel de La Cote Surprise. The view of the islands from the balcony were well worth the extra cost. It really helped that we had sunny weather and beautiful sunset illumination. Sunrise is behind the rock. Nice but the islands are back-lit until the sun is quite high in the sky.

We successfully walked out to the Perce rock. Right to the hole in the rock (island) although they try to discourage this, there are hundreds that seem to go each day. They removed the staircase at Mont Joli but if you go further down the shore (corner before Mt. Joli Road with Spaghetteria), you can park and walk down the stairs to the beach. The best time to go is when the waves aren't high and during a first or last quarter moon (neap tide). I had always known the full and new moon gives the widest swing in tide but it also means a shorter period of time to get out and back plus more tidal current. A local resident said the best time is during a neap tide which worked well with us. You should probably check the tidal tables for the area by the time we got back to the little bit of water you have to cross the stepping stones were almost covered.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Ride 

Riding the second year in the Ride to Conquer Cancer (Ontario) 2009 was a lot more relaxing than last year. The first year I was a little stressed about how I’d handle it. I paced myself and was generally cautious. This year I just burned out. I got to the finish line by 1 pm (beat last year by an hour). Part of the reason for that is the lunch arrived on Day 2 frozen. Really frozen solid. The potato salad could not even be separated. I gnawed off bits of the turkey sandwich and then tossed it figuring I’d get real food at the BBQ at the end. I hope the organizers didn’t pay for those frozen lunches. One rider took the lunch on their bike rack to the next pit stop. An hour later… Still frozen solid. The rest of the snacks and meals were great.

I passed an Indian (distinctive blue turban) fellow at least 3 times during Day 2. I’ve decided that finish time is mainly governed by the rest stops. He was riding a moderate pace but I think he hardly stopped at all and would pass me at the pit stops. I tried riding hard on Day 1 but I only got to camp around 3:30 pm (almost the same as last year). To make a dent in faster time, an easier bike than my mountain bike with slick tires would help but if you think of it, the speed increase can only be in the 10-20% range. Say going from 20 kph to 24 kph. On a 20 km leg you cut your time from 60 minutes to 50 minutes. Those 10 minutes can easily be burned up by running some video, having an apple and going to the washroom.

The early finish on Day 2 was probably helped by getting up early. I got up before 6 am. I went to put my camcorder on charge and noticed they were already serving breakfast. There was basically no line-up. So I ate. I looked for people I knew on the ride but didn’t see anyone. By the time I went and packed up my gear and organized my day bag, a huge line-up appeared for breakfast and coffee. I figured I better get on the road. I know last year I had to line up at the exit to the bike corral since they need to check your wristband against the bike number. I think it’s more for people who have the same model bike. The group is a pretty honest bunch.

The roads were good. No construction this year. Someone said they added some hills to Day 2. I seem to remember some of those hills from before but there was one steep uphill that many were walking. I geared right down and ended up only riding slightly faster than walking. The main advantage is you can gear up faster, as soon as it starts to flatten.

Road closures were really well handled. Many riders would say “Thank you” as they passed the people waving them through. Some were police officers and some bikers (motorcycle). I tried to think of different things to say as I passed, like “Wonderful job, excellent work, etc.” I cracked a few smiles from them. One policeman had a difficult job. It was a busy junction and the riders needed to turn left. I hate to say this but when there are 3000 riders and 30 cars, the priority has to be the riders. Anyway, one idiot driver, not sure if intentionally or not, drifted right to the edge so we’d have to ride on the unpaved shoulder. The woman ahead of me stopped to shout at the driver. Unfortunately, now she was blocking me. I decided just to ride pass her, as I heard other riders behind me already riding on the shoulder. We could have had a pile up otherwise.

Day 1 there were four of us that pretty much stayed on the same pace: Sue, Gail and Keith. We split up for a bit and then find each other at the rest stops. One stop I thought I’d get really behind. Sue and Keith left but then I stopped to video the guy who was doing the whole ride with a hand crank. He broke his back last year mountain biking and became a paraplegic. Never lost his love of riding. While I was videoing, I saw Anita who lives in my neighbourhood and volunteers for many Cancer events (or at least I seem to see her at these events). I was probably 10 minutes behind by the time I left. I rode hard and did find the group at the next rest stop.

The camcorder was fairly bulky to carry but worked out well. The sound captured is a lot better than the camera and the zoom means you can identify people easily. I tried to pan through the crowd to try to get most of the 3800 rider’s faces. Well more than last year anyway. I had a bunch of viewers last year that seemed to be random like the nephew of one of the people dancing and I had no idea who was dancing when I shot it. I also had one person stop me who had appeared on the Via train videos from last year. It sounded like he was looking forward to riding the train with me again. Riding videos were really just novelty. I wanted to get one riding down the escarpment section but I think the shot I did get is better, including the wedding party that was taking photos at the lookout.

The weather was great. Cloudy the first day and sunny on Day 2. It was fairly cool which is what I prefer for riding. I think the only thing worse than riding in the rain would be a scorching hot day. Day 2 last year must have been a bit misty or foggy. I only noticed this year while we were riding at the top of the escarpment that we could see right to Toronto. There’s a video pan of the skyline.

Carmen, Melinda and Anna (Carmen’s mom) came to pick me up at the finish line. Traffic is a little chaotic on the Niagara Parkway during the Ride but they parked up at the Skylon tower. Not too far a walk. On the way back to the car, we got a perfect view of the rainbow over the falls. I saw the rainbow last year from the bus but didn’t get any photos.

Thanks to all my supporters this year and the other riders that made the days enjoyable.

2009 Videos.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

CBC - The Brain 

I'm always listen to CBC when I want to hear new ideas and stimulate the brain. My laptop has CBC.ca as home page but I rarely go any further than the current news. Here's an interesting one they had posted on their "The Hour" Blog:


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Saturday, January 10, 2009


An interesting series on Nanotechnology.


It confirms some of the environmental concerns that I have had and raises others. Did you know that companies have stopped listing whether their products contain nanoparticles? Nanoparticales are known to never breakdown.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Working the Rotary TV Auction 

The Rotary TV Auction is staffed with volunteers. Even most of the Rogers TV staff are volunteers, there are the camera persons, production and someone maintaining the bid board on a laptop with video feed to the studio van. When you call in you get one of the ten people taking bids. The call bounces in priority with those at the front getting most of the calls. At the end of the block, usually all the callers are busy. The experienced bid takers will always let the phone ring a couple of times to make sure the caller ID comes in. That way they can confirm the number and name of the person. If they don’t match they are supposed to make sure there will be someone at the number given within the next hour for the callback if they win.

Once the bid form is completed, Air Cadet volunteers take them and put them up on the bid board; in order, by bid amount and by sequence they are received for duplicate bids. There were also some Scouts helping run the forms around and helping with the phones. The phone bid takers are watching the bid board for current bids. So when you call a bid in, there could be people still writing bids or posting them. At the end of the block, all the bids for the item are stapled together in the bid sequence. If a winning bidder cannot be contacted then the next highest bidder may get a call. These stacks of forms are taken upstairs by the Air Cadet volunteers to the call back room. The winners are called and entered into the auction database

Working the phones gives you a feel for who are bidding. There are some occasional bidders and there are those who are bidding on a lot of items. The ones that just rattle down the things you need on the bid are the regulars. Within the 15 minute block, the calls usually come in the first 5 minutes and then in the last 5 minutes. Those in the first 5 minutes like to set the base for the auction item. In some ways, they want to put the bid in and see how long it lasts on the TV. Those in the last 5 minutes want to win or make sure they win the item. I had one woman call and bid $7 for an item. When I hung up, she immediately called back and bid $8. I thought she had overbid herself but then I noticed the item on the board was already $7. She must have realized that I couldn’t have sent the form up to the board and that someone else had bid $7 before her. The bell rang while I was on the phone with her.

I had a split shift. I worked the phones from noon to 2. From 2-4 I had some of the food upstairs and talked with some of the other volunteers and saw some more of the data entry process. It also gave me a chance to bid on some items since they have a live video feed in the break room. Rajiv had this shift and he happened to answer the phone for one of my bids. From 4-6 was my second phone shift. By then I was used to the routine. If I got a bid during the 5 minutes in the middle of the block, I would decorate the bid amount with the marker. Usually, I’d put smiley faces in the zeroes. The first time I did it, it gave the air cadet manning the board a chuckle. I could also look up on the board and see which bids I took. Just something to do while we were waiting for phones to ring. I had fun working the auction and also getting to know the North Scarborough Club members a bit more. Now I look forward to next year.

Oh by the way, it looks like they will lose the anchor items of furnaces and air conditioners from Mersey. So now they are looking for other big draw items to go on the front of the flyer. Let the Rotary Club of North Scarborough know, if you know a company that might want this kind of exposure and is community minded.


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