Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chicago is My Kind of Town

It seems that we have made a new friend. Long time readers of the blog may recall that during the Raccoon Offensive that a fiesty, feral furball was caught in a humane trap. I released him and watched him bound up the roof-top with nary a look back. I named him "Chicago" because he has white socks (think baseball).

Well, some months ago, I saw him again, and I decided to make amends by throwing some little cat treats at him. For a few weeks now, he has become more and more trusting. This week, he ate a treat from my hand and I even petted him. In fact, lately, when I go to my car, he'll appear out of nowhere in a jet-black streak not unlike Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Storms are a Pane in the Glass


Captain Canuck HQ was thought to be spared from the storms of last week. After all, HQ is just an apartment with no roof/shingles to speak of.

Sadly, the crew (me) left a patio umbrella out on the deck. Apparently the winds were so gusty that the umbrella, swayed by the wind, broke the glass in the table. This despite the metal holder built-in to the table.

However, one can't really complain. As of Saturday PM, there were still 350,000+ people without power. Though the wretched heat has abated, people are getting grumpy. I saw a large, handmade sign in the apple-pie of Maryland Heights that read "No Power. Fed Up!"

ps. It is marginally humourous that this incident took place on Wednesday PM and that I didn't notice until Friday PM. (The blinds were closed)

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Debate

The next event in Mattoon IL is a 1/3 Ironman. This is a very interesting distance because I might be able to do it, but I'm not sure. It would be rough.

However, if I do that race, I can't do other, easier races in early August, which impacts the series (see last post).

The Debate: challenge myself with the 1/3 Ironman or cherry-pick some easy races and go for #1 in the series?


Number One with a Bullet

Don't blink but I'm back in first place in the FleetFeet series...

This is mostly due to the fact that I have one race up on the main contender, and that last year's competitors aren't active this year.

The way the series works:

100 points if you win your age-group for a tri/bi, and less depending how far you are off the pace.

Best 6 races count for a possible max total of 600.

Last year, the winners averaged 99.5 per race. My current average is 79 :-} Ouch.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night

Some friends and I went to see the Leonard Cohen documentary at the Tivoli on Wednesday night. The sky was looking dark and foreboding as we went into the theatre.

Upon emerging, I thought "Hmmm.... it must have rained". I unzipped Herbie's top (Herbie is a car, for the uninitiated), and drove down Delmar.

Yow. It was no mere rainstorm: some kind of steroidal micro-cell or something. Trees down, branches everywhere, power outages.

It was a rough night for some... No power and night-time lows of 80 F after a day that hit ~110 F (heat index).

Check out these pics...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Public Radio

My dear friend Jennifer scored a gig as an intern for a show on NPR! She works for Speaking of Faith with respect to their website. Good luck, Jennifer!

This means that she works (I think) for the same organization as Garrison Keillor. However, no GK sightings as yet.

For Canadians, NPR (National Public Radio) is similar to the CBC, in that it is smart, literate, and has a certain culture about it. It is not nearly as pervasive in society down here though, which is unfortunate. My favorite show is Fresh Air. The host, Terri Gross, is one of the best interviewers I have ever heard.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's not the Heat, it's the Stupidity

The midwest USA has a fever -- the wretched "heat index" is off the charts, on par with hay lofts in which I worked as a youth on PEI. I can't imagine doing real work during the day down here.

I can imagine another tri, however: tri #5 (Ballwin) was yesterday; the "stupidity index" was high. But this was a big deal: a year ago the Ballwin triathlon was my very first one. I had no idea if I could do it. Wide-eyed, I watched the wily veterans set up their transition areas with cunning, while I naively tried to follow their lead. I ended up burning out on my mountain bike and walking a lot of the hilly run (in terrible heat).

What a difference a year makes. A new bike and a whole lot more experience. Knocked 9 minutes off my time (a 10% improvement) and finished 80-something out of 210 -- the first time I have been above the 50% percentile. The heat was rough, but no walking...

ps. Credit to Bill Cosby (and his wife) for the delightful subject line

Sowing her Wild Oats

She's a rising star in St Louis! Jess strikes again with a photo exhibit on 7/22. With top billing no less! Look for her work and other local art at Wild Oats this weekend.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Leonard Cohen Is Your Man

He's a Montrealer with a gravelly voice and charm to spare. His lyrics are accessible enough to be intriguing and yet Zen enough to provoke. Many of his songs are better known as covers (Jeff Buckley, Jennifer Warnes, etc). One song is famous for recounting a tryst with Janis Joplin (Chelsea Hotel #2). Jeff Buckley has a wonderful cover of Hallelujah which has resonated with dear friends of mine.

He's Leonard Cohen and you should check him out. A new documentary is out at indy theatres.

The film is here

Great quote:

"Now, I don't want to give you the impression that I'm a great musicologist, but I'm a lot better than what I was described as for a long, long time; you know, people said I only knew three chords when I knew five."—from interview with BBC Radio 1FM (1994)

One of a dozen memorable lyrics:

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song

I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song -- Tower of Song, Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ironmen and Ironwomen in StL

From the Post-Dispatch:

"Some Saturdays when I'm out riding 100 miles in 90-degree heat while all my friends are at the pool or at barbecues, I'll think, 'This is crazy,'" said Ofsthun. "And there's always some time during every race where you think, 'I'll never do this again.' But my sister said it's like having a baby: You forget what the pain is like. And the next day, you go to the finisher's banquet and sign up for the next one."

me: I'm no Ironman (more of an Aluminum Man), but it is true that you forget the pain. Tri #5 is this Sunday.

What Kind of Genius are You?

Quoteth from a Wired article:

What he has found is that genius – whether in art or architecture or even business – is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens. Instead, it comes in two very different forms, embodied by two very different types of people.

“Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans.

Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Run, don't walk

"Just don't start walking... Please don't stop running."

Our hero plods along the pavement, glistening in the shimmering heat as one mirage after another appears on the horizon. First, an oasis; then the St Louis Arch; finally, and strangely, a casino.

He has returned to Mattoon IL for the 4th tri of the season. Staying with the pack during the swim, he had inadvertently entered the Ulimate Fighting Championship and received several blows to the schnozz. Undaunted, he pressed on with his superbike, Blackbird.

Now, he is on the last mile of the run. So far, so good, save for the heat. It is early July in the middle of the cornfields of Illinois. Though it is not truly stifling, it is definitely uncomfortable for a Canadian. The casino morphs into an inviting ice floe. Harp seals call out to him, telling him that it would be cooler if he just slowed down.

With 1/2 mile to go, he approaches two male runners. These men are probably wholesome, honest citizens. Good fathers, perhaps; stewards of their community. But on the battlefield, they are goons. They are both in their 50s and burly. They hear our hero approach, and with a dismissive glance, turn up the pace ever-so-slightly.

The three cluster together for the next few minutes. An unspoken pact is forged: let's see who has the mettle; whoever falls back is the loser. The pack stays intact up until the last twist of the trail, which veers from the pavement onto a grassy field: 40 yards to go.

Goon A makes a charge, leaving Goon B in his wake. Goon B yells encouragement. Our hero lays back, calculating his move. With 30 yards to go, he springs into action: ignoring a pounding headache, he sprints away from Goon B and starts to reel in Goon A, who is now 20 yards from the finish. Having seen most of the field finish without incident, the crowd cheers the dramatic episode...

With 5 yards to go, our hero is right on the tail of Goon A. The narrow finish gate forces a crucial split-second decision: does he take the victory with a gauche elbow-chop-and-butt-in-line move, or does he ease up, having proved his point? He chooses the latter. A small, tactical battle won with implicit class.

He crosses the finish line. But all is not well... The long week has taken its toll and, having completely overheated, his own body turns against him and launches a rather, er, violent protest.

Minutes later, tri #4 is a memory. Our hero finishes 75th out of 90, a frank exposure of his modest talent and a testament to the elite caliber of the field.

But there is a bright side: he didn't walk.


" We, the people of Effingham, Illnois, realize that our town is effing far from St Louis. However, the journey is also effing frustrating as well -- if we don't snag you with effing traffic then we will get you with effing construction. Have an effing jolly time in Effingham, where there is more than just ham: we also have effing chicken!"

-- a message from the Effingham Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Euphemism Council

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bling Haiku

I check, they bet... raise
"lucky" Aces over Dames
blinded by bling

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy 230th, America!

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all People are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. (Decl. of Independence, 1776)

In terms of history, this is Pretty Cool Stuff (tm). A symphony built on the overtures of the Magna Carta. It is easy to get caught up in the divisive politics of our times. But as a guest in the US, I'm here to say that this place, and my Yankee friends, are wonderful. Nothing can replace someone's home, and like Canada, each country has its struggles, but I'm lucky to be here.

Bonne Fete, les Etats Unis! Happy Birthday...

ps. Plus, in addition to democracy, any country that gives us the electric guitar, the airplane, and Scarlett should be applauded.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The True North, Strong and Free

Dear Canada,

Happy 139th! How does it feel? It was certainly nip and tuck in the first years, and then again circa 1980 and 1995, but you made it, n'est-ce-pas?

I do think that the US is fantastic, and I have appreciated the handful of other countries that I have visited, but there is no place like home (not because it is home, but because of what it is). Thanks for everything, and keep up the good work.


ps. My thanks to those American friends who sent e-cards... Merci bien pour les curriels!