Monday, 21 December 2009

On the symptoms of devout cyclists

I could title this entry as "You know you are a serious cyclist..." à la Jeff Foxworthy's "You know you are a redneck..." series of books, but it doesn't work for me. More accurately, it doesn't fit with my self-imposed "On..." blog entry title format. ;-)

I think it started with a conversation I had with my cousin Kristine over weekend about one sign I have identified as to whether someone might make a good librarian, (namely that when they go into someone's home, they invariably scan the bookshelves to see what titles are on it!), but I have begun to self-analyze myself to see some of the quirks I have that could be interpreted as symptoms of my biking habits. This was kicked into high gear when I was watching Lethal Weapon 2 last night and at one point thought, "Hey! that road has a nice wide hard shoulder!"

Anyway, here is a partial list of symptoms that may suggest that you are a serious cyclist (and I invite my readers to suggest more):
-You notice whether the hard shoulder in a movie is good for cycling;
-Your Christmas wish list includes items relating to cycling;
-You give Christmas presents with a cycling theme to non-cyclists;
-The home page on all the computers you use are set to weather sites;
-You intend your next holiday as a biking vacation, and the next, and the next, ...;
-You have a map on the wall in order to help plan your next bike trip (suggested by Margo);
-You know the bike policies of the public transport systems in your part of the world (bus, trains, ships and airplanes) and choose accordingly;

Thursday, 17 December 2009

On meeting niece-cousins at the airport

I volunteered to pick up Kristine, Julianne and Elisabeth at the airport last night using from a car-sharing organization I am a member of. The nearest service point is located a little beyond the Metro station at the end of my street. Going to the car, I suddenly noticed that I had walked into the Metro station as if I were about to take the Metro rather than pick up a car at the parking lot beyond. Fortunately, I could pretend I was just walking through the station to avoid the cold temperatures and not look too much like a distracted twit.

At the airport, I slipped into the domestic baggage retrieval area to give Kristine a hand. She had a decent amount of luggage and two small kids (4 years and 18 months) to worry about which is more than is truly sensible to travel with. ;-) After we got all the luggage and were about to head off to the car, Julianne said she didn't want to walk. As I suspected she was a little cranky from the long flight, rather than try to reason with her, I picked her up, put her on my shoulders and told her to hang on as I need both hands to steer the luggage cart. I suspect both she and Kristine were a little surprised by this. Kristine was a bit worried about Julianne hitting her head on low-hanging signs. However, I got a kick out it, and I hope Julianne did as well. I will be having supper with them and Helle tomorrow night.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

On the passing of the Olympic Flame

Mark and I were walking to a restaurant in Old Montreal this evening when as we passed in front of Notre-Dame Basilica. We noticed there were a certain number of people standing around as if something was about to happen. I then noticed that there was a woman dressed mostly in white wielding a curved aluminum object in one hand. Suddenly, I realized that she was an Olympic torch bearer waiting for the flame to arrive at which time her aluminum torch would be lit as part of the relay. We decided to wait on the steps of Notre-Dame to see the procession go by. Unfortunately, this probably took about half an hour, though the cold might have altered my perception of the passage of time. (Winter has arrived in Montreal and the biking season is over for me.)

As we waited, I realized that the last time I had watched an Olympic torch relay was on television at the St-Pierre's (family friends) in North Hatley for the Montreal Olympics! I remember very vividly alternately watching the torch make it's way to the stadium and going outside to play with my brothers on the St-Pierre's lawn. (I was 5 1/2 and my attention span wasn't great. Plus their lawn was cool. Well, at least to me then) That was the first memory I have where I know where I was when an international event happened.

There were any number of police cars blocking off traffic, as well as keeping assorted protesters at bay. However, my contrarian instincts wondered how much of a police escort there would be on the flame's passage along the C&W Rail Trail West of Castlegar, including the long and very dark Bulldog Tunnel. Come to think of it, it would probably be quite nice to have a flaming torch if you are going to go through the Bulldog Tunnel, especially in winter! It was more than a little spooky when I went through with a head lamp in September!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

On the (possible) benefits of modern technology

Margo and Chris mentioned a couple of times in their blog how they downloaded travel guides from the Lonely Planet (among other things) onto the mini-computer/netbook they brought with them on their odyssey. This has got me thinking about whether I should invest in a netbook for future trips as most of the motels I stayed in advertised free wifi. (Whether or not they actually delivered is another story and one which I was unequipped to judged.) I was just poking around the Lonely Planet website and was amused to see that the cheapest way to get their data about an individual Canadian province was via download. In addition, given my recent experience at a bike shop, the benefits of having lots of data while touring on a bike seem particularly obvious.

I must also thank Margo and Chris for bringing the benefits of electronic books to my attention. At a recent meeting at work there was a discussion about the fact that the Library is moving towards offering downloadable MP3 audiobooks, with a resultant discussion of the larger issue of e-books and their ilk. Just after one of my older and more conservative (and irritating) colleagues repeated a hackneyed spiel about how Umberto Eco said that electronic books will never replace printed books, I was able to riposte with the argument that e-books aren't a replacement for printed books, per se, but a supplement to them in cases where space and weight were at a premium, using Margo and Chris' example. This in turn lead the department head to comment about how she usually went on vacation with a dozen books and therefore for the vacationing patrons of our library, the availability of e-books from the library might well be welcomed. I therefore appeared to be very informed and up to date thanks to Margo and Chris' blog.