Showing posts from November, 2015

The #yegbike Christmas Turkey Drop

What a great day...

... on this, day 58 of the six months in Edmonton that cannot sustain winter bicycle riding. Foul weather? No, fowl weather.

Thanks to B's Diner for the community commitment, and thanks to the beauts in the #yegbike community for giving your time, and your poultry.

Control Yourselves, People!

Most of the vehicles that use a city's traffic system have too much power for the system. 
And so there are all kinds of built-in controls that automobile drivers face or endure or ignore at their own, or a pedestrian's, peril. These micro-control mechanisms include: lanes, the proximity of other vehicles, the shape of the roadway, stop signs, traffic lights, and controls from other realms, namely, weather conditions. You can drive an automobile only so fast. You can save only so much time in a typical city commute. Infrastructure doesn't exactly sound like freedom.
Even if the open road calls: 

(Full disclosure: I ride that short section of 104 Ave on the sidewalk, slowly, stopping for all pedestrians encountered, saying hello, so that I am not killed on the roadway.)

Talkin' Edmonton Weather With Siri

I asked Siri a simple question.

Siri, asked I, what is the forecast for Edmonton? (I typically wait for Josh to answer the question on CTV, but, I was about to get on my bike, and needed to know. And the only entity at hand was designed in California.)

Siri came back with this: Some bad weather coming up between today and December 14, 2015...down to -14 degrees Celsius.

Being a child of the age of the fact-value distinction, I saw what Siri did there. I wanted a number, maybe some information about wind and snow, and what I got was a judgment. Not fair.

So, while in the meteorontological mood, I asked Siri another question: why do you say cold weather is bad? Siri was evasive, offering to search. Typical.

You don't think it's nice in Edmonton? I asked.

No, I don't think it's particularly nice in Toronto, Glenn, Siri countered, sounding my first name like an exasperated mother figure computer program bot whatever.

My point, I asked Siri next, was that when you say cold…

An Unexpected Meeting

Tonight I turned my bicycle north onto 125 St from 102 Ave and promptly smashed into myself.

In front of me and blocking my path ahead was an SUV that was corkscrewed in the middle of the road, sitting there, then moving slowly backwards and closer and closer to the curb of parked cars behind it and then lurching forward a bit, then moving backwards again, long white reverse lights and shortshortshort red brake lights.

My thought about the driver was not in keeping with the approaching Christmas season.

It took another half minute or so for the SUV's driver to wrestle the metal back into the proper direction, opening a channel for me to pedal by, my thoughts, as mentioned, uncharitable.

And then the sound of three raps from the inside of the driver's side window as I moved by. I stopped and turned around and watched as the veiled window slowly glided down to reveal her face. She was a big frightened.

"Can you help me? I don't know how to get out of here," she sa…

Classic Alex!

I am putting this in the blog so I don't forget the question I texted to eldest son Alexander tonight.

And the answer I got back about 20 minutes later. 

I asked Alex about margin because I am working on a presentation that hinges on a creative handling of the word marginalization. On my own, I had made an etymological connection between "margin" and "margarine," but Alex advised that was "flimsy" and, moreover, "false."
Why I thought I could venture out all on my own when we have a son trained in classics at the University of Alberta is beyond me. Actually, it's pretty much all beyond me.
A classics degree is not the most obvious path to take in a technocratic, careerist world, but our technocratic, careerist world needs classics kids. We need their perspective, their long view, their commitment to learning and accuracy and the concepts the gird public life.
Gratias tibi agimus, Alex.


Here are some of the small ways to make a big difference for commuting bicyclists in Edmonton, according to some of the commuting bicyclists in Edmonton I have asked.

Clear major bike routes of some of the parked cars, including the illegally parked curbsquatters.Clear snow or pack snow on the tiny portion of roadways that are designated bicycle friendly.Make mandatory for new automobile drivers a section of the road test performed on bicycle. (Okay, that's not so small!)Keep or increase level of police effort aimed at slowing speeding cars.Etc.

I put the question out to the #yegbike Facebook community because the politicians have bicycle commuters in a vulnerable position. That is, talking about grand visions for the future of urban cycling infrastructure that somehow manage to spill conveniently into the term of the next city council. While we work and wait for that future not to arrive, what are the small things that can be done to make a difference for those who ride bicycles …

Three New Words

Here, in the latest instalment in an occasional series, are three new words ready to be sent into the world.


Far away from other people, especially those neighbours from whom one could borrow tools for minor home repairs were it not for the foreboding of connection, entanglement.  


        A curbside depression or hollow in a road surface caused by wear or subsidence that removes sense of agency from commuter cyclists whose alternatives as they pass over are to hit curb, hit hole or swerve closer to passing automobile traffic. 


          Display names of soldiers as a large number of small pixels on a television monitor, typically in order to summon the presence of the absent on Remembrance Day, as in video below from ATB Place in Edmonton.

A Bicyclist's Conditional Response To The Changing Weather; Or, On Listening

It is said that Hemingway famously said that it was the sound of others that taught him how to use his own voice.

The formulation makes perfect sense, of course, until you try to unpack it. For, what is Hemingway
saying, precisely? That most people never listen to other people? To some other people? To themselves? To nature? To the essence of things? To audible sounds? To silence? To everything?

And there is another difficulty in the pronouncement, and is contained in the knot of the first four words of the quote: I like to listen. Easy to say, easy to write, easy to apply to myself, but check it against my experience of the world, where the sense of "I" seems to grow in direct proportion to the sound of "I." Stronger, it seems, is the urge to speak, to make my points, to make my voice heard than the urge to keep quiet, listening, contemplating. Hemingway claims to have overcome this seemingly eternal urge that has bedevilled us, seemingly eternally. One senses t…

The Tragedy, This Night, Of The New York Mets

What a beautifully nightmarishly operatic thriller the game of baseball is.

The New York Mets were only three outs away from winning Game 5 of the World Series and sending the fall classic back to Kansas City. But at that moment, the real battle wasn't even on the diamond. It was in the Mets dugout, where starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who was 90-ish pitches in and two runs up, was informed that manager Terry Collins was taking him out of the game and handing the ball to Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

"No way!" an agitated Harvey was seen to say to the deliverer of the message, the team's pitching coach.

Harvey did not accept the verdict. He went directly to the skipper and pleaded his case. On international television. As the home crowd, sensing the drama unfolding below, chanted in one voice: Har-vey! Har-vey! Har-vey!

When it was Harvey who ran out of the dugout for the top of the 9th inning, and not Familia from the bullpen, the mob went wild, and it was there for a…