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Chicago 2018

Our official Chicago 2018 video, starring Shelagh, featuring Santa, Hamilton, John Hancock, Chagall, Abts and others, with soundtrack purchased from The Weepies (and tickets too), has now been released:

The Astriders

Hands up if you've used the word astride in conversation lately. Or ever? How about the first song that comes to mind that contains astride in the lyrics? Right. Just the Father John Misty fans. And a lone Walt Whitman disciple there at the back with an arm up.

Astride is a perfectly good preposition, It comes down to us from Middle English and preserves the meaning of "extending across" or "having one leg on each side of."  He sat astride a horse, for example. Chekhov stood astride the 20th century, for example. The sailors at work astride the spars, for example.

In our time, Pedro The Lion uses the old word in a new song about a beloved yellow bike from childhood. David Bazan sings:

But I remember what it was like
Astride my yellow bike
First freedom, second life
All the places I could ride...
It's a wonderful song that make me consider how truly I hear.

On first listen, it is a nostalgic song in the well-worn theme of the freedom of the first bicycle. In…

En garde for thee

My friend Claire organized a United Way fencing fundraiser at work last week. She duct taped a camera to my side and you can see what happened next. Thanks to the Alberta Fencing Association for the tips, thanks to Brian for being a great foil, kinda.

My Miyata Six Ten

I  cannot forget the price the guy sitting  behind the cash register in the now long-gone used book store near the south end of HUB Mall on the University of Alberta campus put on my nostalgia.

He took a quick look at the front and back of the album I had just handed him. His left thumb rippled the pages back to front. He was considering.

"That'll be 75," he said, looking up.

I met the valuation with a mask of nonchalance. Inside, I felt slight despair. I knew I couldn't afford 75 bucks for the Esso Power Player Saver sticker album. I had collected the stickers as a seven-year-old kid growing up in the NHL hinterland of Edmonton. Each packet contained six stickers of pro hockey stars: Orr, Perrault, Parent, Esposito, Keon and the rest of the immortals whose images were broadcast into our living room on Saturday nights, and who we pretended to be playing road and table hockey. I would coax my father and grandpa to gas up at Esso where they could then buy for me a pac…

The point of no returning

I have a slightly annoying mental habit of replaying, as I ride my bicycle home after occasionally complicated work days, the conversations of those work days, or, worse, fictionalizing them, pretending that I had made this excellent point to that person or imagining how I had delivered this effective line to that person, until, soon, the rut my thoughts run in takes the shape of a loop that shuttles a chain of replayed or imagined conversations back and around and down and back and around again in what is, believe me, a slightly annoying mental habit.

This is why I have a point of no more returning—the point on my commute home where I insist on letting the day's back-and-forth break into pixels and blow away. For me, this point is the 142 St bridge over the MacKinnon Ravine.

The bridge is about two-thirds of the way home. Two-thirds of the way home is about one-third of the way home farther than I feel spinning thoughts of the workday should rightly intrude. The bridge routinely…

A note to my Miyata, long overdue

It was the font.

It was that familiar Miyata font—the lower-case, Japanese-styled letters with breathing room between them, and the way the decalled m, i, y, a, t and a leaned slightly forward, and, placed on the down tube, the way they guided the eye up, reminiscent of a bicycle moving slowly up a mountain pass—that took me in, and for a couple of seconds, made me stand there the other day, just stand there, staring at brand sticker on a bicycle locked to a street sign, staring standing still, while old images flickered back to life, and burned.

Back in the 1980s, I had a grey Miyata 1000. It was a touring bike – it had a long wheel base, it featured "triple-butted chromo tubing," which, I think, meant it had a strong and stiff frame made to carry a lot of gear. If it was a bit slow and ponderous to maneuver in the city, with the city's stops and starts and turns, it became what it truly was doing work out in the open on the highway. There, it was a steady and trusted …

Trail 9, Jasper

At times, I take things a bit literally. Like yesterday afternoon as I hauled my mountain bike up the path on the side of a mountain that was, in places, too rock-encrusted and root-gnarled to actually ride my mountain bike up. That's what I'm going with.

"Nice job, man, good work!"

Those were the encouraging words tossed my way by a hiker on his way down the path as we passed. He moved a bit to the side as his knapsack bell jingled.

He was right. Walking my bike up and down single track was work. By the time I had brought my bike up to the top of the rise, my heart was pounding against my ribcage. When the path evened out, I was back on the saddle and when the pitch down wasn't too steep, it was thrilling to write a zig-zag line around rocks as big as tombstones. Then the rain started. It polished the rocks and slicked the roots. I was off my bike and walking it more than riding. I stopped encountering hikers coming from the other direction. Thirty minutes alon…