Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boys vs. Girls

I realized something today...
...I'm turning into a boy.
This is not exactly new knowledge, but something I've been worrying about for awhile, something that was confirmed today (says the girls who is currently 'working on transcript coding' while watching a marathon of Deadliest Warrior on Spike TV).
Let's look at the facts:
- I watch boy TV. I don't watch fashion or home or make-over or romance or gardening or drama shows. I watch bloody, violent and disturbing crime dramas, and M*A*S*H, and space cowboys. And that's just the 'fiction TV' on my list. I also watch tons of Discovery Channel stuff, like Mythbusters and the other science-y shows. I have been known to watch Jurassic Fight Club and am currently enjoying a marathon of Deadliest Warrior. Come on people, this week I watched dinosaurs go to battle, and today I've seen battles between pirates vs knights and the IRA vs the Taliban. I watch Spike TV more than any other channel (although that's because they show 9hrs of CSI repeats, and I do draw the line at UFC).
- I watch boy sports. I'm obsessed with curling, and also enjoy hockey and baseball. Though I used to watch gymnastics and figure skating, I can't be bothered with those sports nowadays. Mostly I require my sports to have ice and/or sticks of some sort. And no music.
- I listen to boy music. I'm a closet Metallica fan and like my rock hard and loud. And I love twangy, brooding, folksy alt-country. I hate slow, love songs and ballads. Oh and I love playing Guitar Hero, the rock songs, not the pop crap.
- I watch boy movies. In the past two or three years, I've only seen Superhero movies and epics like LOTR and Harry Potter. Seriously. Recently, I was invited to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, but I chose to go to Watchmen instead. I hate rom-com or rom-dramas and much prefer action, and men in tights who can fly and blow up stuff.
- I read boy books. Recently, all I've really read is depressing Douglas Coupland, National Geographic, war bios and Lost boy/child soldier stuff out of Africa. I hate hate hate romance and anything from Oprah's Book Club. Shopaholic, gag.
- I'm anti-girl. I'm not fashionable: I don't buy clothes or bother much with streaking my hair or make up or spa treatments. I don't scrapbook or do yoga (I'm anti-Lu Lu Lemon too), nor do I like flowers or 'pink' anything. I'm not one for hugging, or changing the tone of my voice to become a high pitched annoying mouse. I dislike babies and shopping. I do not own a brand name handbag, and I don't wear skirts or dresses or shorts or high heels or strappy sandals or jewelry. I don't cry (ever, if I can help it). I'm fiercely independent, as in I can open my own damn jars and can change my own light bulbs. I'm not scared of bugs (good grief, ask me about my UK bug stories!). Basically, my heart is made of ice and stone.
Similar to brainyjane22, I can counteract some of these boy traits though:
- I do watch some girly TV. I love Top Model, both the American and Canadian version. Why? I hate fashionable materialism and 'pretty', and am not either. So why do I watch these stupid models show? I do like watching those skinny bitches fight, and it warms my heart to see not-so-pretty girls get made over into gorgeous angels. I watch Project Runway too, which is also hypocritical because I hate fashion. And even though I hate weddings and marriage and love, I watch Say Yes to The Dress, this stupid wedding dress show. Why? I have no idea. I will never ever wear a white dress. So really maybe all these shows are just a reaction to my rebelliousness?
- I have a soft spot for boy bands like NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys. Seriously, I've been to concerts and everything.
- One of my favourite films is Amelie. That's not very boy like. Plus it's got subtitles.
- I do read tons of 'librarian' literature, books about books, that sort of stuff. My favourite books recently were Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series about a female FBI/librarian type who battles book characters. Oh wait, that's also violent crime drama stuff...
- Ok, I admit snakes are icky and I'd choose a cat over a dog any day. Plus I've a soft spot for Bath and Body Works lotion and soap, and recently discovered Sephora. It bothers me when my jeans get greasy after cycling and I have two stuffed animals in my car.
Wait...maybe I'm not turning into a boy! This is all about society projecting it's stereotypical crap on our lives! I'm allowed to be anti-girly, after all, I do live in a free country. What's wrong with being unique (or an odd duck)? So I'm not becoming a boy - I'm just becoming more of a geek!
That I can live with...
(Play the Boys vs. Girls game, or read the webcomic)
Now back to Deadliest Warrior...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Smells of Summer

Summer has finally arrived.
I'm not actually a big summer fan, because I hate hot weather, but I am enjoying cycling and seeing the summer sights of Etown.
And backyard fires, with hot dogs/smokies and smores. Sitting beside a fire is one of my favourite things to do. I love the smell (yes, even when it permeates my clothes and hair) and eating 'fire roasted' food!
So here's hoping this summer is full of backyard fire nights!
(pic via this cc flickr set)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Espresso Machine Video

A while back, I wrote about a field trip my publishing class took to the UofA bookstore to see their espresso machine. Here's an excerpt about what the machine does:
"It'll do self-publishing, textbooks, course packs, family histories, out of print and scanned material (as long as the copyright is approved), all for like 2cents a page, with full colour glossy covers and everything! Savings for students on customized course materials are enormous, and these machines *might* revolutionize the publishing industry (if publishers ever caught on to a good thing besides profits)"
And now here's a video that show's how it works:
Very cool.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

X-Rayed Wii

Eye candy for the nerd in all of us - X-ray photos of our favourite technologies:
I'm a bit biased, and there are pics of the other gaming systems, so you *must* check out the flickr page...
(via Explainist)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Post Problems

Did you know...
It costs $6 to mail a book to Iceland.
And $11 to mail a book to Ontario.
That's the stupidest thing ever! It's right up there with flights being cheaper to England than Toronto. Canada Post is so stupid! They don't offer a small packet option, and apparently that's why there's such a cost discrepancy. Stupid stupid stupid.
If it's any consolation, Royal Mail is stupider. They lost not only my Christmas box with all my presents and DVDs in it in 2004, but also my application to fix my national insurance number for tax purposes in 2007 (and who knows what else in between). I guess even with the stupid postal system, Canada isn't all that bad.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Laptops vs TV

I like coming across things that validate my life, meaning I like it when I realize I'm not the only one...
"In-Stat: 66.3 Million US TV Viewers are Simultaneously Using a PC While Watching TV
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 18, 2009 - Over 66 million consumers across demographic categories are using the Internet while camped out on their sofas watching TV, according to market research firm In-Stat Based on In-Stat’s recent survey, 33% of all male respondents, across age groups, reported that they are sometimes using a personal computer simultaneously while watching TV. Among some male age groups the behavior was as high as 50%. In contrast, about 25% of female respondents reported using a PC while watching TV."
I'm a serial multi-tasker. I can't remember the last time I just sat down to just watch tv, or just read a book (except on the train). I'm always on my laptop, and the tv is always on. The other day I was semi-listening to the tv, semi-reading stuff for work/school on my laptop, semi-checking up on my email/facebook, and mostly-watching archived curling footage on a corner of my laptop.
I think I have a problem. I need to go outside...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

I capped off my weekend of no class fun by sitting in the blazing sun, admiring the blue sky, and watching the Edmonton Capitals baseball game. It was a really good time, a nice mix of friendly conversation and baseball.

The Edmonton Capitals are a 'new' team for Edmonton (formerly called the Cracker Cats, also known previously as the Trappers), and are owned by the same guy who now owns the Edmonton Oilers hockey team. That being said, there is definitely an enthusiastic marketing strategy going on, which is great to see. They have fireworks the first Friday of the month, movies on a Saturday, meet-the-team opportunities on Sunday, cheap kids meals on Tuesday and cheap hot dogs on Wednesday, with a whole mix of one-off events thrown in. Tickets are slightly cheaper than a seat at a movie theatre, and who doesn't love a reasonably priced hot dog combo? I hope it goes well: I hope the people of Edmonton embrace their 'new' team and begin to regularly fill the stands.

I know I'll be back soon...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fresh Air Cinema

Last night, a bunch of friends and I went to the outdoor movie in Churchill Square (for those not from Etown, think concrete park in front of city hall). The weather was good for it, warm until the sun went down and no sign of rain. The movie, Tales of Despereaux, was kinda crap, but the whole experience was fun. It was neat to be sitting in the square in a camping chair, chatting and people watching. There were a lot of people there, lot's of kids and families, and far less 'local colour' that I'd expected. The cops and peace officers were out, as were the balloon animal clowns, cotton candy sellers, Fat Franks hotdog cart and even a stilt walker. The movie started 45mins late, because it was a bright night, but other than that, I'd say it was a good night, and I'd go again. They're running it twice more this summer, at the end of July and beginning of September, so be sure to check it out if you're local.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

CTV Edmonton Open House, Part II

My class this weekend was cancelled, which is majorly inconvenient in many, many ways, but also allows me to have a bit of fun this weekend.
I went to the CTV Edmonton open house today. I've always watched CTV news, so am more than happy to support the local station by jumping on the 'save local TV' bandwagon (more information about the plight of local TV here and here). Apparently about 3000 people came out to the event, which included hot dogs, local talent on stage, and a tour of the station.
The tour was awe-some, well worth the 1.5 hr wait! I love going behind the scenes at places, and the CTV station did not disappoint! The whole tour took about an hour, and we got to see all the technical aspects, as well as meet the news personalities. It was really cool to see all the staff out and about, meeting and talking to everyone. I've been watching CTV news for as long as I can remember, so the personalities are kind of like family. Everyone was super nice, and smaller than they look on air! Except for Dave Mitchell, one of the sports guys, who is just as tall in person as on screen. He also came out with the best line of the day: "Josh, Josh, Josh, it's all about Josh!" (Josh Klassen is the much loved meteorologist). Even the news desk is smaller; I actually got to stand behind the news desk where Carrie Doll and Darryl McIntyre usually sit! Anyways, it was pretty cool to see the station, and I'm super glad my class was cancelled and I got to go.
If you'd like to sign the petition, send an email, or find out how to support local tv stations, check out CTV's page. It's a cause worth getting behind!

Friday, May 22, 2009

House Cleaned

Today's word of the...month
house cleaned: what happens when a new boss takes over a work place, and all the awesome employees leave (of their own choosing, or not).
eg. "So-and-so was cleaning house, and I got house cleaned".
This is happening right now at two of the places I work, and at library school. Why do all the fantastic, repectable, fun people have to leave? And where does that leave the rest of us (next month's word: screwed over)?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

1000 Awesome Things Is Awesome

Need to waste some time on the internet? Take a look at the blog for 1000 Awesome Things. It's gotten a lot of press lately, after it won a Webbly Award. Not bad for a Canuck!
I just went through the archives (as of today he's only on 763, counting down from 1000) and picked out a few nostalgic posts that were pretty clever:
#814 Cheesy Theme Songs from the 80's - check out the comments too, someone's posted the lyrics to 'The Littlest Hobo', or my page about 'The Raccoons'.
#844 Celebrities on Sesame Street - 'Chung chung...', did you know Law & Order and Sesame Street share studio? 
#847 Old Classic Board Games -  Umm, hello, Hungry Hungry Hippos rocked! And I'm ashamed to admit it, but a bright 9 year old once beat me at Connect Four, and seriously I wasn't trying to lose like I usually did when I played students during rainy recesses.
#898 Playing Old-School Video Games - Oh Mario, I'm so sorry I could never remember the way through the castle on level 8.
#945 Spending All Your Money On Candy - I had a soft spot for red feet, hot lips and fundips.
All the posts inspire 'oh yeah' moments of truth, and are worth a look if only to figure out why he's included that last picture...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CTV Open House

Recently I wrote about the plight of local news stations. CTV NEWS Edmonton just announced plans for an open house to help support their cause:
I would so totally love to go, but I can't because I have a class! Boo! Someone go and take pictures for me. This sounds like a great opportunity to a) get behind the scenes of a tv studio and b) help local television. I hope the turn out is fantastic.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer *sighs*

I can describe my summer so far in one word: *sigh*. Being an research assistant for one of the profs might have super awesome fantastic benefits in the future, but for now it's boring and tedious and stressful. The weather has been crap, so I can't even take out my bike or enjoy going for walks (snow, in May, seriously!). I'm so busy with work and school that I haven't yet had the chance to see many friends (although Wolverine and sitting around a fire last weekend might signal a change in this wind at least). Plus, I might need to move out, the thought of which is keeping me up at night.
And I miss curling, not necessarily playing it, but watching it and reading the blogs for sure. Fortunately, both TSN and CBC have video archives. Yes, I am about to become one of those people who watch old taped sports games for fun in the off season. Even I think it's pathetic, but it can't be helped - life is just kinda blah right now and I need to do something to coax out the sun...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Online Dating Is Annoying...

I can't believe I'm about to write a post about online dating.
Here goes nothing...
So during a bout of loneliness like 2 months ago, I signed up for plentyoffish, an online dating site. I know, desperate, eh? I beg to differ (slightly). When I was living in England, I went to half a dozen weddings, the majority of which were for online couples. Now that I'm back in Canada, plenty of people have told me to sign up, citing that they (or someone they know) had great success with the online sites. I put it off for awhile, but finally bit the bullet.
And it was fun for awhile. The first thing I noticed is that the site is full of nice, normal people, sorta like me, looking for other nice, normal people. It was flattering to get messages from seemingly nice, normal guys who though I was cute or funny or whatever (when does that ever happen?!).
But the novelty wore off rather quickly. I hate superficial conversation, thus exchanging superficial emails full of empty compliments is not the way to win my heart. Gosh, and boys sure do get cranky when you 'forget to reply' or delete their messages (can you say psycho?).
Anyways, after 2 months on the site, I'm quitting. Lesson learned: serial email dating is not for me. The quest for the perfect guy for this odd duck thus continues...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Red Winged Visitor

The other day, as I was sitting in my 'office' (aka on my bed with my macbook on my lap), I saw this black thing fly by. Could this be the first 'bedroom bug visitor' of the summer? Is it summer? It's cold and snowy in May, so maybe not, but there was a bug in my room nonetheless. And I'm still traumatized from all my 'bedroom bug visitors' in the UK...
I found it on my window, and squished it, but before I did noticed it was not an ordinary bug, one I'd never seen before. It had red wings. I got all creeped out and worried it was poisonous or something else terrifying, and then resolved to hunt it down on the internet.
So, can you imagine what gets returned in Google's image after you plug in 'red wing' bug?
Yeah, so I added 'Alberta' to my search and had a bit more luck. I ended up on an Insects of Alberta site, which is quite amateur-ish, but looking through the pictures helped me to identify my mystery guest. I did, of course, cross reference the material, but kudos to the AB bug man, he was spot on, and oh so very helpful.
Apparently I just killed a Scarlett Malachite Beetle, which is neither poisonous or terrifying. They came over from Europe, and are quite common for a short period of time around May/June in Canada, though apparently quite rare in England. Oops, maybe I shouldn't have killed it? But really, don't animals use bright colours to indicate to predators they are poisonous or otherwise unedible? The last thing I needed was a toxic roommate.
Note to all bugs out there: if you want to stay alive, stay out of my bedroom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Future of Newspapers and Local News Broadcasts

One of my current 'topics of interest' is the publishing industry. I'm quite interested in the whole issue surrounding the future of newspapers (and local news media in general), so naturally the Edmonton Journal (and all the Canwest papers) ran a series on this topic during the 10 days of the year I couldn't read the paper because I was on holidays in Vancouver.
Yesterday's post inspired me to hunt down the series, and here are the links (although I'm not sure if they're permanent links, so read 'em while you can!)
- Too early to write newspaper's obituary: This article gives hope for readers, citing stable and growing readership and profits, while pointing out how the American newspaper situation is different than the Canadian one.
- Newspapers deliver for advertisers: Newspapers are apparently still effective places for companies to advertise, especially when complimented with the other media outlets. The decline in ad revenue is noted to be due to the current economic climate, and not necessarily due to the death of dailies.
- US newspapers under seige: Further going into the difference between the current US/Canadian economic climate, this article mentions that in the US there is more competition for such services, and that Canada has done a better job of marketing print and online companion sites as a partnership, not a replacement.
- Power of printed word has grip on culture: Apparently happy people read papers, and tv/radio/internet mediums need newspapers because that's where all the experienced and trusted journalists are. Where do you think the online sites get their stories?
- Future lies in our ability to change with it: This discusses how the newspaper reflects, and in a sense 'makes' a city, and this is why we need local content. Newspaper will have to evolve, not shrivel up and die.
- Internet not a threat, but opportunity to flourish: Arguing that the internet is complimenting newspapers, not replacing them, this article lists some of the changes going on in the newsroom, and points out why everyone will benefit.
I suppose it's kind of hypocritical to read about the death of newspapers on the online version, but it just goes to show that we need both mediums, and that each has it's place in today's world.
There's also murmurs of local televised newscasts going under (Oh Canwest and CTVglobemedia, what have you done! Why are you messing with my routine!). That makes me so sad, I've been watching the CTV news my whole life - the hosts are like family. My local news station is appealing to people to sign a petition to the Minister of Heritage, in order to save local programming.
Did you know "Current regulations in Canada allow cable and satellite companies to take CTV and ‘A’ programming without compensation. These companies then charge you, the consumer, for the programming they take for free. Most TV subscribers in Canada hold the false belief that part of their basic monthly bills goes to their local TV stations. This isn't true. Television service providers, including cable and satellite companies, are reaping huge profits at the direct expense of local Canadian TV stations that are going out of business. As a consumer, you are at risk of losing local programming options on the dial."
There's also a newspaper article titled Local TV near extinction from the journal that reiterates the situation. Another article, Mainstream media still has life left in it, gives a bit of hope, for the industry. Once again, it's all about growing and changing for the right markets at the right time in the right places. The industry is going to have to reconcile Mainstream Media with New Media. Why does one have to die for the other to survive? The article says it can be done and offers proof of this partnership from the past:
- The office computer was supposed to create the paperless office; instead, office paper consumption has doubled in the past 20 years.
- E-mail was supposed to replace snail mail; the amount of mail going through Canada Post has increased slightly.
- Internet sales have increased; so has the overall square footage of retail and the number of retail stores.
- Cellphones are now ubiquitous, but the number of land-line telephones installed has doubled in the past 20 years.
It also mentions that newpapers are actually making a profit, it's just that the companies have massive amounts of debt (we're in a recession after all). And don't forget that older, retired people like to read newspapers, that's exactly where Canada's demographic is shifting to.
Fortunately one publisher thinks "They may be somewhat different, but we're a long way from disappearing as either news companies or as print operations."
What should you do to support local news? To save these cultural institutions, please buy the paper, watch the broadcasts, sign the petition and send an email or letter to the Minister or your MP...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Google Is Green?

Here's an interesting article, "Google Is Greener Than Thou: One Newspaper Equals 850 Searches in CO2 Emissions" (via Stephen's Lighthouse).
It compares the amount of CO2 emissions created for google searches to other things such as:
- a 100% recycled daily newspaper (850 searches)
- a glass of orange juice (1050 searches)
- a cheeseburger (15000 searches)
Why is everyone slamming newspapers! I love my morning newspaper! So I wont be giving it up, nor will I be giving up cheeseburgers (it's BBQ season). Pauvre le publishing industry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Garbage Decomposition Break Down

It's been awhile since I posted something green...
How long does it take for the garbage that you throw away to decompose or break down? Are you ready to be shocked?! Here's the break down from Green Tips:
Glass bottle: 1 million years Monofilament fishing line: 600 years Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years Disposable diapers: 450 years Aluminum can: 80-200 years Boot sole: 50-80 years Styrofoam cup: 50 years Tin can: 50 years Leather: 50 years Nylon fabric: 30-40 years Plastic film canister: 20-30 years Plastic bag: 10-20 years (??? 500-1000 years???) Cigarette filter: 1-5 years Wool sock: 1-5 years Plywood: 1-3 years Waxed milk carton: 3 months Apple core: 2 months Newspaper: 6 weeks Orange or banana peel: 2-5 weeks Paper towel: 2-4 weeks
Seriously. Check out Green Tips for more info.
This comes via the One Green Year blog, which you can check out for more info too. I came across this blog way back sometime in 2008, but declined to add it to my RSS feed because they boycotted Alberta. Now, I admit Alberta's got some pretty terrible environmental policies, but the province is trying to clean up their image, and we're not all that bad. If it wasn't for our dirty oil, the rest of the country would be dirt poor. The authors of the blog moved to Alberta recently, and they've been getting quite a lot of media attention, so I guess it all works out in the end: it's all about spreading the message!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Facebook Manners

As I've written about before here, here, and here, I have a love-hate relationship with facebook. To delete my account or to not delete my account, that is the questions.
Regardless, here's a 'classic' video about facebook manners:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bike Commute: Goal Accomplished!

Well, I did it. I rode to work yesterday. I didn't get mugged, or hit by a car, or rained on. My hair didn't look much worse than normal after being under a helmet, although I failed to take into consideration the what wearing a backpack would do for my sweatiness, so next time I'll bring another shirt to change into. I forgot to pack deodorant too. No one stole my bike. I saw a dead jackrabbit and deer leg (?) on the road. I've realized all underpasses smell the same (and that's not a good thing!). I think I need to get fenders in the future, to deal with those pesky puddles. Oh, and definitely a pair of gloves too. A nice lady walking her dog said 'thank you' after I warned her of my approach with my bell. Nice drivers stopped at crosswalks, but apparently no one in this city knows how to use a signal light. I think I inspired a co-worker. Overall, I enjoyed it.
So now I'm thinking I can make it all the way to the university, as it's only an extra 5km (16.5km in total, so an hour and a half). The things I'll do to save $5 and lose 10lbs! 
I think this will be the last 'Bike Commute' post of the week. Did you enjoy the theme? I suppose if I ever tackle the university I'll write about that at some point, or maybe if something interesting happens over the summer while I'm riding. Thanks for the advice, now get off your computer and go get some exercise outside!
(photo here)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bike Commute: Links

Here are some local links I've been reading in order to prepare for this whole bike commute thing:
Edmonton Bicycle Commuters - A great local group, this site has a lot of links, plus describes all their project and what they do. I have a few friends involved with EBC, and I've heard they've got a great shop with all the necessary tools for working on bikes. They are a really friendly group of people, a great community to get involved with.
City of Edmonton Cycling Guide - There's tons of info on this municipal gov't website, including laws, safety concerns, links with transit, and the city's cycling map.
Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club Safety pages - Though it's an old school website, I learned a lot about bike safety from this website.
Bikeology Festival - Cool name for local bike festival that takes place in June, sounds interesting.
Bike Route Blockers - This blog posts photos of how disrespectful local traffic and drivers can be. Run by EBC, they've also got a lot of great links, especially regarding contacting local authorities etc.
Other links:
Bike to Work Book - Free for downloading (the first 50pages at least), this book does have some interesting info, especially about why bike commutes are a good idea and it dispells some common myths.
MapMyRide - This is what I've been using to map my route(s). The map function is pretty good, and I've found it helpful for finding distances.
Commute By Bike Beginner Tips - These links to 10 different newbie articles was really helpful.
Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips - There's tons of tips on this site, including safety, equipment, and loads of links.
REI Cycling Advice - Tip pages on everything you'd ever need to know about cycling and commuting.
Have I missed anything?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bike Commute: Problems

Only a few days into my quest to be a bicycle commuter, I've already encountered a few problems which require solutions, which means I need some help...
Problem: There's tons of sand and grit on the road, which is completely understandable post-winter, but still unacceptable. On some road I had to ride 3ft from the curb to avoid the sand, and on a couple residential streets there are actually 'sand dunes'
Solution: This is out of my control. Hopefully the city cleans up the streets soon.
Problem: My forehead gets all sweaty after a long ride.
Solution: I've heard wearing a bandana helps. I know I have one somewhere...
Problem: My hair looks terrible after being in a helmet.
Solution: Hmm, I'm not quite sure what to do about this one yet...
Problem: How can I avoid showing up for work all sweaty?
Solution: I guess I could bring a change of clothes to work (at least another shirt). This brings up the issue of panniers vs. backpack which I haven't considered fully yet. I don't ride super fast, so really, this might not even be an issue.
Problem: I'm at the mercy of the weather.
Solution: I live in Alberta, which is the 'land of drought and forest fires', so rain isn't necessarily a huge issue (although one I'm not sure about handling, not riding in the rain is the solution to that, except is supposed to rain for like the next 10 days, grr). Lately, it's the wind that's been crazy, and besides not riding, I have no other solutions.
Problem: My pant cuffs get dirty.
Solution: I guess I need to find some ankle straps.
Problem: Is it safe, as a woman, to ride my bike downtown?
Solution: Um, yes? It's just the ghetto of Chinatown, no biggie, right? I wont be riding at night for starters.
Problem: My parents think this is a very bad, very stupid, and very dangerous idea.
Solution: Yes I'm an adult, but I'm also a student living in their spare bedroom. As long as I don't get hit by a car or mugged (see #7) I should be ok.
Any other problems I should consider, or solutions to these ones? Comments appreciated...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bike Commute: Testing Part II

The test ride of Part I of my bike commute went so well on Sunday, I decided to go ahead with this whole crazy idea and test out the entire route today.
According to mapmyride, my commute is about 12 km. It's a two part commute: Part I consists of the 6.5km from my house to the major intersection at Yellowhead freeway and 97 St, and Part II consists of the 5km straightaway from the major intersection at Yellowhead and 97 St to the court house downtown (97 St and 104 Ave). 
I really enjoyed Part I yet again (twice) today. It's level, safe, somewhat quiet and relatively well paved. I always expected Part II to be the challenging section, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Crossing the Yellowhead freeway was actual easy, as the sidewalk under the overpass is extra wide (so I didn't feel guilty using it) and then I just walked my bike through the intersection at the lights. From there it's a half block sidewalk ride to a bike path which leads to 101 St. I can ride on 101 St from the Yellowhead all the way to 118 Ave no problem: it's a quiet residential street. 
My first challenge was crossing 118Ave. I could (and did) just go to the 97 St. lights, and then use an alley back to 101 St, or I could (and did on the way back) use the pedestrian crossing across the busy traffic circle. Edmonton only has two traffic circles (and one has lights) so it's not really our drivers' forte. I don't think this will be a major problem though, because I'm not riding during rush hour.
From 118 Ave to 111 Ave, my options are to continue down 101 St, which becomes a slightly busier residential street, or take the alleys down 98 St. Taking the alleys is like offroading, but it's super quiet with no traffic, whereas 101 St is nicely paved, but busy. Plus the sidewalks are small, so I have to ride on the road. I'm not above using sidewalks when I fear for my safety (screw the $50 fine if caught) or when they're a designated dual path, but even I have some standards. I think I'll be ok on the road once I gain a bit more confidence though.
From 111 Ave to 104 Ave presents my final challenge. This is the Chinatown I was initially quite worried about, but it also wasn't as bad as I thought. I can ride the entire way down to 105 Ave on 98 St, which is super quiet. The only problems are crossing 107A Ave and 106 Ave because they are quite busy. I could go 1 block east or west to cross at lights or a crosswalk, but as I'm not cycling during rush hour, I think just waiting a few minutes for a clear path will be alright. Oh, and the last couple blocks between 107-105 Ave are very poorly paved and lined with, shall we say, 'colourful locals'. If you're from Edmonton, you'll know what I mean (if not, consider that 106/105 Ave consists of a few homeless shelters and soup kitchens). From 105 Ave, it's just a short sidewalk ride under another overpass, and...ta da...the court house appears. 
It took me about an hour, and really wasn't that difficult a ride. I think Part II will get better once I've done it a few times, as the problems are quite minimal. The good thing is I quite enjoyed the ride. I'm really excited to try it out for real on Thursday, if it doesn't rain...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Bike Commute: Gear

And so the saga of my bike commute continues. I think I'll make it a week of themed posts! 
Getting into cycling of course requires acquiring some gear. 
What I've got:
Bike - I've got an old Canadian Tire mountain bike that might've cost $150 fifteen years ago. I only rode it off and on for the first few years, but it's been sitting in a shed ever since. It's a bit rusty, but seems to work alright. I wont be too upset if someone steals it, and if I do indeed keep up this 'hobby' I'll buy a road bike later.
Helmet - I've been wearing a black Bell Impulse, which is quite comfortable, even though it makes me look like a mushroom. In hindsight, perhaps I should've gotten a more colourful one, but I'll find some reflective stickers to put on it.
Stainless Steel Waterbottle - I'm not using my nice Klean Kanteen, but a cheap Walmart bottle, that's already scratched up. I think it needs some stickers though!
Backpack - I've got lot's of bags, but it remains to be seen if wearing a backpack annoys me.
White front turtle light
Red Back turtle light
What I need:
Gloves - yeah, after only a few rides I can see the need for cycling gloves.
Jacket - I've got loads of usable jackets and sweaters, but and thinking about getting a colourful water resistant cycling jacket from MEC. The black one is quite smart looking, but maybe yellow is the way to go?
Reflective Stickers - I don't intend to ride at night, but maybe a couple reflective stickers will be beneficial.
Ankle Straps - These will solve the problem of dirty pant cuffs.
And then there's the whole issue of fenders, racks and panniers, which I'll leave for another day!
What else do I need? Any suggestions?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bike Commute: Testing Part I

I'm serious about this whole 'bicycle commuter' idea. I honestly think I can bike from my house to the court house downtown, once a week, for one of my part-time jobs. No kidding.
According to mapmyride, my commute is about 12 km. I think of it as a commute with two parts: Part I consists of the 6.5km from my house to the major intersection at Yellowhead freeway and 97 St, and Part II consists of the straightaway from the major intersection at Yellowhead and 97 St to the court house downtown (97 St and 104 Ave).
Today I test rode Part I. It took my about 30mins to cycle the 6.5km route. It's the easiest part of the whole trip, consisting mostly of designated cycling sidewalks/pathways and minor residential or service roads. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip! It's flat, and not too difficult, with few major intersections. After an hour there and back, I could've kept going. 
So I'm really liking the biking thing. I enjoy it 100x more than running (which I half heartedly took up a year ago, I'm still on the 3-on/2-off routine and I hate it, I really hate running on the stupid treadmill in the basement...), so that leads me to believe there are other ways of staying fit and healthy. Could this be the beginning of a new hobby???

Can I Become A Bicycle Commuter??

Last summer, my goal was to go canoeing. I never managed to find the means or the company for such an excursion, but I did float down the Elbow River in Calgary, so I came close to realizing my dream. My goal this summer was supposed to be floating down the Pembina, but I'm busy most weekends with school, so that's become my backup summer goal.
My goal for this summer is to ride my bike to work. Sounds easy enough, right? I hosed the cobwebs and rust off my 15yr old Canadian Tire p.o.s bike, pumped up the tires, and took it for a 2min. test drive down the driveway. It still works. I bought a helmet, bell, lights and u-lock. I'm ready, right? I only work downtown once a week - that's do-able, right?
Except it's 12km from my home to my job at the court house. That's not the problem: the problem is I have to cross the Yellowhead freeway, and get through Chinatown (which is narrow enough as it is, and bordered on both sides by dodgyness). I figured it would take an hour, which I'm ok with, but friends have said it'll take more like 1.5 hours, which I'm not ok with. It's not like I'll ever ride late at night or in the rain, but a 3hr commute for a 5hr shift, just to save $5 on parking or bus is crazy, right?? I'm going to test out 1/3 of the route today, so we'll see how that goes. The things I'll do to save $5 and lose 10 lbs...
Any thoughts/comments/suggestions about how I can realize my dream are much appreciated!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

We're Off To See The Wizard...

If you're in Edmonton, and haven't yet seen the Citadel's latest musical, I highly recommend 'The Wizard of Oz'. I saw it last night with my mom and sister - it was fantastic! Actually, it was one of the best musicals I've seen, and I've seen a lot of musicals! The costumes were good, set fun and colourful, staging interesting and varied, singing excellent and acting up to par. Of course the dog and munchkin kids stole the show, so cute!!
Take a look if you're around, it plays until May 31, 2009. Check out the official page for a video trailer and more pictures and information.