Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I bought a new stereo for my car recently.

Though I haven't explored all of its features, it has been great so far. It has a display that does some fairly sophisticated animation (e.g. a moving sine wave for the AM/FM tuner). If you look close in this pic, it is showing that it is hooked up to an iPod.

Today, when it is first turned on, it shows pumpkins and a witch, and flashes "Happy Halloween" ! Charming and ghoulish.... Now I know why it asked me for my birthday when I was configuring it. Looking forward to that....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lick of the Day, Unmasked

My bro-in-law is an excellent guitar player and runs the popular site, Lick of the Day.

In a rare glimpse, you can see him better (than usual) in this video

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I did not.

Vic's birthday is coming soon. As a gift, I thought I would relate this little tale from his visit to St Louis.

The Setup

You may not know that one can actually ascend to the top of the Arch. People go up in a 4-5 minute ride on a tram: the "cars" are tiny, bizarre pods from a B space movie (see pic). They hold 5 people each, knees touching.

Vic and I were in a long line to go up, on a Saturday afternoon. A ticketing agent comes by and asks us if we are traveling together. Cleverly, Vic says "yes but we can go as two singles if that works". We are handed two tickets: a #2 and #3. Having gone up before, I knew we would travel separately but I figured that would be fine.

The Condescension

We go through turnstiles and past security (after all, this is a National monument), and stand in adjacent lines to enter into the pods.

Inexplicably, Vic scoots over into my line. Wide-eyed, I look at him and tell him that we can't go in the same line. There are finite seats, and security will freak, and, and...

He opens his arms and floats his arms downward. In a long drawl, he says "Reeeeeellaaaaaaaaax".

Then, the pods open and newly-descended visitors crawl out of them. It becomes immediately apparent to Vic that there is no way this is going to work. He scoots back into the other line. I rub my temples and wonder if our imminent arrest will make it into the Eastern Graphic.

The Plot Thickens

The ascent is long. The pods lurch to-and-fro. It is noisy, jangly, and though one can't see outside, one can see a lot of pulleys and chains outside the little window.

At the top, a full 5 minutes later, we emerge from our respective pods. Vic looks pretty green. In my best Maritime accent, I say "how'd you like that, now?".

His response was terse and serious: I did not.

Apparently, we suffer from claustrophobia, and we weren't prepared for these little pods. On his ride up, some passengers -- kids -- talked a lot about a time when a malfunction caused people to be trapped in these things for 8+ hours. This was getting very interesting.

The Payoff

After a quick look around (which isn't nearly as cool as the ride up), Vic announces that he has seen what he needs to see and it is time to go. He notes that it is quite windy, and though the CN Tower is far taller than the Arch, the Arch has more sway to it. He doesn't look so good.

I tell him that we should stay a bit until the crowd clears. He looks at me and just shakes his head quietly.

Then, with all the irony I can muster, I outstretch my arms, floating my hands calmy downward, and with a long, drawl:



ps. Happy Birthday Vic

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thank you C-Span

Wow, will wonders never cease: I am in StL watching a live feed of election night coverage from CBC on C-Span, a gov't channel down here in the US. I just happened across it while surfing....

This is so fantastic! I have only barely heard the voice of the big players (Harper, Dion, etc) in the media. Stephane Dion is speaking now -- I'm not sure I have ever heard his voice before.

(I have read a lot about these people and the policies).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada

Quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home...

I think every year now I have written about the differences between the Canadian and US Thanksgiving. This year, I'll defer to those previous posts.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tale of Two Tallies


Things are getting hot in the US. Today, an admin assistant sent an dept-wide email saying "this is the last day to register to vote. Register today for this historic election". She later sent an apology, as some one called her on being biased. Heaven only knows which way she was called on it.

I have heard people say "if X wins, I am moving out of the country", for both values of X !


Canada goes to the polls on Oct 14. Canada is currently under a minority government, which is always tenuous at best -- though some say that is a good form of government as it innately encourages balance. I believe that the Conservatives are leading the polls; the media suggests that they will win a (slim?) majority, though this is not clear. If so, this may come as a surprise to those Americans who want to migrate North in the event that McCain/Palin win down here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

IT Incognito: episode 2

Episode 2 of IT Incognito is out! Check it out here... This is not me in garb but you may recognize the voiceover at the end:

Note that this is really geeky stuff. Don't worry if you don't understand. Essentially, it is an attempt to "go viral" with some offbeat material from our IT training department. Plus, we're having fun which IMHO is inherently attractive.

No worries if you don't like it. The whole experiment tends to receive rather polarized reactions.

I think the video editing is really well done!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cardinal Consolation

In baseball news, the main focus for this town, during the summer, was the startling success of the arch-rival Cubs and our losing the wild-card spot to the Brewers.

It was a lame season. Sweet revenge is seeing both of those teams ousted in the first round, with the Cubs being swept on the 100th anniversary of their last win.

Hey -- any team can have a bad millenium!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bye bye, Blackbird ?

The last post mentioned a new search for simplicity. This isn't a joke: I'm considering selling Blackbird and retiring from triathlon.

Dean Karnazes is a famous ultra-marathon runner. In his book, he talks about his passion for running. He mentions, dismissively, a period of doing triathlons, but went back to running. When I read this, 3 years ago, I couldn't understand: triathlon is inherently greater than running and is surely superior in every way.

Now, I think I understand.

At the risk of writing a Dear Diary post or an outright rationalization, here are some thoughts:
  • I have never had medical issues with running or swimming. All pain and medical attention has been because of that bike.
  • Most bikes bring you back to being a kid. Not a tri bike: it is a finicky racehorse that has to be 'set up' correctly, with great care and non-trivial expense.
  • Both in terms of my car decision and my geography, the bike is a constant concern. Runners can drive Corvettes :-)
  • It pains me to think that I will never do an IronMan, but that just takes so much dedication. I don't think I can train for one _and_ play piano _and_ write blogs etc etc. I need something simpler, and with balance. To me, that means marathon. Running is still ambitious, no doubt, but it seems reasonable with respect to my other goals.
  • There are many indoor triathlons. They are a cross between a joke and a parlour game but they might server as a good motivation to cross-train (e.g. for swimming).
And so, it might time to close a chapter. As you can see, neither my original endeavours nor my quitting are whimisical. But it feels right. With the possible exception that the Fall St Peter's Recplex Tri is happening very soon, and I won't be in it. Jim G 1 CC 0.


ps. My swan song may well have been the 1/3 Iron Man in August 2007. After 38 miles, I couldn't wait to get off that bike. It was hot as blazes too: rather famously, I ended up in the ER for dehydration. However, for the record I remind the universe of this side fact: I finished.

Life Update

Yikes! One of the valued 'home pagers' (those who set CC to be their home page) has threatened action: a sure sign that things have been all too quiet on here.

Generally, life is great here in St Louis. Work is a dream and my neighbour has responded to a warning letter from the apt complex (i.e. the dog and late night parties have been curtailed). I have completely slacked off on fitness (more to come), but had a lot of fun this summer and fall in my personal life.

Compared to last fall, things are fantastic. Last fall, I hated my client gig and was really depressed. I was terrified to sit at the piano and was agonizing over a decision to stay here in the US. I'm not sure that I am "at peace" with respect to life decisions, but generally things are good.

My new mantra is a return to simplicity. Stay tuned for more. Also, I am well under 2 years away from the big 4-oh. I hope to re-invent myself somewhat for "version 4" in the same way that I have for version 3, which all-in-all, was a big success.