Thursday, December 28, 2006

Captain Canuck 2007

Our hero gently tings his fork against the wine glass. Family and friends, dining at the festive Christmas dinner table, pause with anticipation; he stands for his big announcement:

"I want to proudly unveil plans for a new, subscription-based blog that highlights the adventures of Captain Canuck. This blog would build on the current offering with all-new anecdotes, video files (in collaboration with YouTube), message alerts with the latest news about CC, and a modest monthly fee. Some of the proceeds might go to World Vision (to help those in need in Africa)! "

Our hero flees the room, shielding his head from the deluge of dinner rolls that rain down.

"I have to find a different focus group", he sighs...

Brother, can you spare some time? (on your tread)

To mitigate the caloric onslaught of the holidays, I brought home some workout attire. I have been beg/borrow/stealing workouts everywhere, esp. at the new CARI complex at UPEI which is fantastic.

So far: 2000 m swim , 13 miles run, over 3 days.

An unexpected bonus is that I have re-discovered the importance of doing normal stuff on extended trips. It really reduces the "culture shock" and being immersed in a different world (even if it is the venerated "home home").

iPod Newbie

Does anyone (e.g. Binky) know if the iPod Shuffle has an accessory to play it through speakers/stereo? Just curious... Of course the iPod has tons of 'em but I'm not sure about the shuffle.

Gift Cage-Match

This is a tale of 2 gifts that I received from my immediate family.

In the left corner, it's the iPod Shuffle. This tiny micro-player is my first entry into the next generation of media players. I have long been hooked on the musical crack of iTunes, but now I can get a fix on the fly. There is even potential that ol' Herbie (the car) will be catapaulted into the 21st century (via an adapter).

In the right corner, it's World Vision Canada. Binky, my sister, and others have been giving gifts to needy families in the 3rd world. A family in Africa received a rooster and 2 hens in my name. Very cool indeed....

And so the showdown comes down to benevolent charity versus hip marketing. It seems like a lock, but if anyone can out-hip social justice, it's Steve Jobs, wearing black. Zounds! The contest looks like it will end in an uneasy draw, save for the fact that the rooster, being the beneficiary of an aviary menage-a-trois, tips the scales.... Rejoice!

World Vision 1 Apple 0

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year in Review #3

Random Highlights of 2006

-- Hawaii. Esp. sitting in a car with 3 dear friends, listening to the waves crash into the volcanic rock at twilight. Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah playing on the stereo. It was something to be near the ocean (i.e. home) and yet not, listening to a familiar song (and yet not).

-- Summer. An evening in the middle of Missouri. Booze, guns, 4-wheelers. Bombing along a dark country road on the 4-wheeler with my Bobbi McGee, a blonde bombshell, holding on to me for dear life. The summer was one of those that they write songs about. It will always seem 10 times longer than it really was. A la Calvin and Hobbes: the days were just packed.

-- Career. Finally changing employers! Jump!

-- Fitness. As is well-documented, catching my arch-rival on the run after overcoming a 20-minute deficit in the longest tri to-date. It was my own modest Olympic gold.

-- Music. It is cheesy but I learned a gorgeous arrangement of "Danny Boy" in the spring on keys, before abandoning the instrument for the summer adventure. Often, the old die-hard tunes are that way for good reason.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Upon Further Review

Doug Greene 1 Bing Crosby 0

Original here

ps. Mrs Stacey voted for Angels We Have Heard On High -- 'twas the last carol sung at our service.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Travel Observations

-- All women in Chicago wear a black, 3/4-length winter coat. Personal style is manifested via fabric selection: sleek leather, suede, wool, etc.

-- If the creationists want evidence that humans evolved from primates, here it is: watch a group of people de-board an aircraft.

-- Montreal's airport could really use some clocks, and perhaps baggage-handlers who made the big leap to walking erect. (You can make up your own jokes here).

-- It's good to be home! It won't be a white Christmas this year, but c'est la vie, n'est-ce-pas?

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Hallucenogenic Christmas

I wrote a blog entry about "Christmas in the Trenches" but I'm not in an "earnest" mood. So:

I believed in Santa until I was 12, long after the other kids cynically huffed on their cigarettes and laughed mirthlessly at the bitter revelation.

My belief was mostly predicated on the fact that on Christmas Eve, when I was 5, I awoke late at night and, beside myself with excitement, I looked out my bedroom window. I swear, I saw him in the sky, just like in the poem.

It is not clear if I had drunk from the wrong punch bowl that evening, or if Mom had perhaps dropped some acid while I was in the womb. Maybe I was having a "rite of passage" vision, like the Iroquois. I don't know, but I saw him...

And to be honest, I'm still not convinced it's a scam. Though from the excerpt below I wonder if he uses cocaine.


And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

I'm outta here... The next dispatch will be from The Island. Have a peaceful holiday, everyone.


I don't think it is my place to blog on this, and yet I can't write without acknowledging it.

The Island lost a good man this week. He will be missed.

I could blog a dandy story that I will remember forever, but it feels wrong. Many of you have heard it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Confessions of A Pirate

I found a tune called "He's A Pirate" on iTunes from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. I listen to it way more than I should -- I have it on repeat while I shave lately (!).

It's a heroic, orchestral piece, in a bombastic, "classical" style, but this is not great art -- it's total popcorn (and yet you or I should try and write something as good), but I've come to realize how big the music was for those Pirate movies.

It also has me re-evaluating my stance of not listening to music when working out or competing. The absolute highlight of the year from a physical standpoint was overcoming a 20 minute headstart by my arch-rival during the Lake StL tri. This tune would have been perfectuoso when he came into view on the road ahead during the run.

My delusions of grandeur probably would have caught fire and I would have just burned up on the spot.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's Beginning To Sound Like Christmas

Binky has a lovely post about favorite Christmas carols.

Here are some of mine... It's hard to pick because so many of them are brilliant.

4. The Little Drummer Boy. I remember watching some animated TV special when I was 7 and this song choked me up before I even knew what "choked up" was. Naturally the best version is with Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

3. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. Berlin was fantastic and this tune is the one for being away from family. I've been away a couple of times and it is so true that "i'll be there in my dreams". I generally don't have sad Christmas's when away, because I just think of all the great ones.

2. O Holy Night. You haven't lived until you come out to the late (11 pm!) Christmas Eve service at a small church back on PEI, and see the soloist (Doug Green) do this one up right. More than once, when he nails it, I have whispered, breathlessly, to myself that it was worth the entire trip home.

1. Christmas in Killarney. I can't believe this is #1. My sister and I used to play an ancient LP called Merry Christmas (NOT White Christmas) by Bing Crosby and the Andrews sisters. One side was devotional; the other side was secular. Many tunes had that big band sound. Two of them were so cheesy that I wonder if they were written especially for the album: Mele Kalikimaka (a Hawaiian romp) and Christmas in Killarney, an Irish wannabe. Both are incredibly cheesy but C in K is delightful.

and yours?

Happy Hanukkah

A belated Happy Hanukkah to everyone! My friends J and Stef hosted their annual "party of the year" / Hanukkah party which was a blast and also a great way to introduce newbies like me to the holiday tradition.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Year in Review #2

I'm not done just yet, but here are the year's numbers.

Swim: 45.8 miles (74 km)
Bike: 520 miles (837 km)
Run: 332.4 miles (535 km)
Walk: 52.4 miles (84 km)

Total: 950.6 miles (1520 km)

It's been a great year...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Attack Cat Returns

I came home this evening to see a black, feral furball on the steps: Chicago is well!

I had been very worried recently, especially after the ice storm.

He's bigger: probably a year old now. And I think he has a food source because he's not as scrawny as he was before. Though he was still very vocal about getting some chow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Year In Review #1

I've been blogging for about a year.

Some thoughts:

-- The top two comments from people, in conversation, regarding the blog are (1) it is all about the author and (2) there's not enough about the author

-- I didn't know what my writing style would be like. Looking back, I don't write diary entries, "Happy Birthday Bob!" messages (except a vague message on my own birthday), or much about my personal life. Hardly a mention of sex, politics, or religion -- no wonder my numbers are dwindling.

-- Blogs are perhaps best-suited for those who live far away. They can get details that one would never think to mention in conversation. It's hard to summarize 9 triathlons over Christmas dinner.

-- A lot of people hate blogs and find them to be quite self-centered and impersonal: an online, cut-n-paste form letter to the masses. I'm thinking of sending them a direct email announcing my new subscription service for 2007 -- for just $14.95 a month, you can get all the CaptainCanuck news straight to your mailbox! I can make jokes like this here because they won't read this blog.


I can't believe I'm going home in less than 2 weeks! A lot to do beforehand, but looking forward to it, of course.

It's been a great year but a long one. The years where I get home more than once a year are easier.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Things Are Not Always As They Seem #34

In the NBC special on the Hawaii Ironman, one competitor was a military guy who lost a leg in action.

Near the end of the show, they showed the climax of his ordeal with a scene of him crossing the finish line. It was about 11 pm at night. The man had been racing, with an artificial leg, since dawn. A large crowd of people stood, in drizzling rain, at the finish-line, which was lit up like a beacon in the night.

The man crossed the finished line triumphantly and wept. He went over to his family on the sideline. One woman had a garbage bag over her. As the man went to her first, it was clearly his wife. I noticed that she didn't embrace him but rather stiltingly leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

I swore at the TV. I couldn't believe she wasn't more jubiliant -- this guy had served his country, suffered greatly, and then pulls off an Ironman. "Can't you hug the guy, you cold-hearted...... ??"

Then someone else gingerly lifted the garbage bag from her. She held up a 12-month-old baby for her hero to kiss. She had been standing out there for hours, protecting the little triathlete from the rain.

I teared up. LOL. My apologies to her. That's a tough family.

Exercising Religiously

Yesterday, NBC had a 1-hour recap of the latest Hawaii Ironman. It was awesome in many ways, especially since I visited The Promised Land earlier this year.

One of the human-interest stories was a Catholic nun in her 70s, who completed the Ironman yet again. She finished with one minute to spare (if you don't do it in 17 hours, then it doesn't count).

Let's recap exactly what she did:

-- 2.4 mile swim in open water
-- 112 mile bike on a course with notorious headwinds
-- as a nightcap, a run called "a marathon" (26.2 miles)

You might think that if a woman in her 70s can do this, then it is just a matter of training -- you put in the hours and just pull this off. That is absolutely false. This is a tremendous achievement. That lady sure has more chutzpah / guts than I have, and I've been in the trenches.


Sister Madonna Buder was introduced to running at the age of 48. A priest spoke to her praising the power of exercise. He described running as a "panacea with the power to cure depression [and] harmonize the mind, body and soul." Buder, full of inspiration, put on some hand-me-down shorts and went out to find the runner's high.

From this article

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another Idea

Incredibly, there are still 60,000 people without power in St Louis. It has been 6 days, and there have been several fatalities due to fires and especially carbon-monoxide poisoning.

I don't know what to do about CO, but I have had it with fires due to unattended candles. Can't someone invent this:

The Candle Attender: a container that holds candles. It might look like a small oven that a child would play with. It has heat-sensors that monitors a constant-amount of heat -- if the heat level rises dramatically (after lighting), then it squawks very loudly and might even douse the immediate area with water.

I'm not an engineer, but you get the idea... Maybe the thing could have a lot of reflecive surfaces which would make it desirable from an aesthetic standpoint.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Case For North America: Exhibit 1

From 60 Minutes segment on NetFlix: the documentary Hotel Rwanda is the #5 movie rental at the company, above the mainstream smash, Wedding Crashers.

Pretty cool....

Case Against North America: Exhibit A

There is a commercial where a blonde with a southern accent is peddling high-def TV and says "My movie is broadcast in 10DHG-XYZ. I totally don't know what that is, but I want it."

*sigh* All too true. Too bad they don't broadcast in tolerance and enlightenment.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

GoCartus Maximus

"Perfect...", he growls sardonically. Our hero, CC, grits his teeth and, leaning forward to check side-mirrors, downshifts his intrepid explorer, Herbie, into 2nd gear. Ahead, a truck has slowed down, threatening to rob precious momentum needed to make the next hill.

This is no place for a Mazda Miata. It is a dark, stormy day on a treacherous, snowy mountain route in the northern Alps. However, our hero has only 20 minutes left before reaching the rendez-vous with an international team of special forces. Together, they will smuggle medicine and toys into a impoverished country ruled by a malevolent dictator.

He feathers the gas, but the tires break free... Yikes! He quickly corrects the fishtail and glides into 3rd gear, lowering the torque of the engine, and closes the gap on the lumbering lorry. Herbie's engine growls softly against the constant frappe of sleet hitting the windshield.

Moments later, our hero wipes the sweat from his brow and makes a final turn onto a backroad. The road is covered with ice and snow, but looks passable. The car drifts elegantly onto the road. So close now, and with no traffic, the dynamic duo of man and machine speed up slightly to navigate on the snow.

But ahead there is a small intersection... it is becoming clear that nothing has traversed this area since the last snowfall: more than a foot of snow in a small drift, spanning 8 feet. Zounds! In a split-second, our hero calculates the odds, curses his vehicle's low-clearance, and guns the engine. "Hold on, Herb..." he mutters.

The car fishtails slightly like a cat swishing its tail before the chase. At 30 mph, the car lunges ahead ploughing into the snow. In a split-second, the front of the car catches the drift, and veers to the left; the rear-end kicks out violently, and the duo come to a sudden stop. Busted.

Minutes later, our hero plods into the rendezvous, and clops up the stairs. The ramshackle building is filled with office cubes. He pokes his head around one cube. "Commander Eric, can you help me get my car off the road?"

"Sure..." Eric replies, grabbing his coat. As they march toward the snowy spectacle, Eric looks up, puzzled -- "did you call me Commander?"

Now is the Winter of our Discontent

We've had a bit of a storm here in StL. I'm always biased that "real" storms happen back home but I'll grant that this one was pretty good.

I don't know the stats but a lot of freezing rain/ice and then an uncharacteristic dump of snow. The biggest news for the area is that power is out again for many residents -- this just after a PR fiasco in July when a thunderstorm left the power company scrambling. Though true sympathy goes towards the families who are trying to cope, I am sympathetic to the power company in that one can only fix things _so_ fast. (I am less sympathetic toward their enormous profit margins and rate hikes).

Some thoughts:

-- I love how winter brings people together. I have had more spontaneous conversations in the last 2 days than the last 2 months. I shovelled out a guy's car and may have found a new compadre to hit the bars with.

-- I have also been the frequent recipient of kindness, thanks to a go-cart/Miata named Herbie. Not good... I also managed to punch a small hole in the top in a fit of ice-clearing enthusiasm/rage. Really not good.

-- When I first got my car, it had mud-snow tires on it. I think that gave me a false sense of security for winter -- the car was great in the snow. Alas, those tires are long gone