Showing posts from February, 2016

A Passerby

This is the video testimony of one who saw what he saw on the bicycle commute home today, as might makes right—and then a quick left :)

Thanks for watching.

Edmonton, In Oil

This picture captures a lot about Edmonton. 
A police officer, his white stencilled calling visible in print on the back of his jacket, regains the upper hand on a violent jaywalking suspect after two public-spirited bystanders come to the cop's aid, while a dirty white pickup goes by, while the grey snow melts, while a witness shoots the confrontation on a smartphone.
There is a kind of visual hierarchy at play in the still life. Bad guy laid out on the concrete, police officer girded by citizens at the steepled top. 
It could be a painting.

Seeing Zip On Vision Zero

It is horrible—when you actually stop to think about it—that someone dies crossing the road in this city.

On Thursday, an 81-year-old woman was hit and run over by a man driving a pickup at 111 Avenue and Groat Road. She is dead. She died the death of a rag doll, according to witnesses.

And it then all settled into a kind of routine. The outrage was routine. The descriptions of what happened were routine. The close-call accounts of others were routine. The conventional media reporting was so routine.

The routine, now so familiar, is part of the horrible.

And the Oilers lost a close one in overtime.

So far this young year, there have been two people killed by people driving automobiles in Edmonton. In none of the accounts that I have seen was there a mention that Edmonton has formally declared itself a Vision Zero city. Vision Zero commits municipalities to the goal of zero fatalities and zero major injuries on roadways. Edmonton is late to the game, and is following New York and Bost…

Park Place

Increasingly, I am struck by the public space consumed by automobiles. 
They sit quietly, making their presences felt. Here, two pedestrians without a stretch of dedicated sidewalk along 103 Ave are funnelled onto the roadway, the automobile drivers having claimed the curbspace before becoming pedestrians themselves and walking away:

And here as I bicycle east down 103 Ave, it's me who feels the imperative of the parked car, as it escorts me out from the curb and alongside it, in the process placing me closer to the stream of motorized traffic:

Sometimes, the space taken up by parked vehicles is enough to make you stop and think. This is a regular feature on 103 Ave just west of 104 St, as deposited tour and sports team buses turn the roadway into a kind of Park Place during morning rush hour:

Now, parked vehicles do have to go somewhere. One of the laws of thermodynamics ensures that, I seem to recall. Here's a solution in Chicago that we came across earlier this month: 


Trump and Comstock

Among the experts, the séance seems settled: communication with the dead is still a perilous, one-way business. That is not to say that our efforts to make contact with the departed and dismembered are not sometimes noble and glorious efforts. It's just to say that it's hard work, all that digging, all that taptaptapping, all that listening. It remains what it always was—difficult to pick out a true signal from the other side.

Philosophers know this. Poets know this. Edgar Allan Poe certainly knew this. And now the FBI is again learning this.

It's not easy to get at encrypted information.

The news: Apple is either or both refusing to help FBI agents trying to crack into Syed Farook's iPhone—Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 of Farook's work colleagues at a holiday party on December 2, 2015, in San Bernardino before being killed by police—or saying it is technically impossible, or that it could have been possible had a state official not reset the passwor…


At 7:15 am, the proposition sounded quite reasonable.

"You spin vinyl, right? Well, we're going to spin our tires and listen to some soul."

And with that bit of one-man dialogue, the proposition's sponsor, Nick Ford, hit play on his smartphone and then tucked it in next to the portable speaker in his backpack, zipped the backpack closed, wove his arms through its shoulder straps, nodded at me, stepped on the cranks of his bicycle and pedalled out from our meeting place in the parking lot by Crestwood Liquor, me behind on my bicycle, smiling, as James Carr sang "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man" into the blue-black of the morning.

In the late 19th century, before the newly invented telephone had settled into its accepted cultural usage, it was thought to be best used as a conveyer of music. David Mercer makes this point in the book The Telephone: The Life Story of a Technology as he recounts the vision of The American Telephone and Telegraph Company's E.…

The Wonderful Words Of Winter

This is a presentation on the language of winter I shared at the Winter Bike Congress in Minneapolis earlier this month. The theme of language was developed further in talks by Bill Lindeke and Dan Patterson. I am very thankful for the chance to again share the thoughts first developed for the Winter Cities Shakeup in my winter city hometown, Edmonton.

For most of my working life, I worked in a television newsroom.

TV newsrooms are unique places. Full of, how shall we say?... unique people. People driven by wanting to get to the truth, people wanting to afflict the powerful, folks driven by the joy of telling a good story, people seduced, like Narcissus of old but updated for HD, by the reflection of their images. And some just have very good hair, and they know it.

TV newsrooms, I think, are a little more time-stressed now, but when I worked there there was still time for huge debates. And one of the hugest was whether the first snowfall of the year was, properly, news.

The debate was…

Chicago, 2016

For the record, we made it to Chicago, finally.

Whiten Our Doors Again

The silent snowflakes spun to the earth like paratroopers.

Pekka Tahkola was the first to notice the invasion. He jumped from his chair in the hotel room we were in, some fifty or so of us in one room, and he ran to the window and the world beyond. Decades of his life seemed to melt away, so that by the time he reached the window he was again a boy, or, what's more accurate, he was again the boy we chase on the other side of the man.

"Look!" he said. "The snow is here!"

We clapped and cheered. Not for long, but for long enough to make a mark. I had never before in my life clapped for snow. I have admired its beauty. I have photographed it. I have marvelled at it. But cheering for it? Never. Now, there I was sitting in Minneapolis at the World Winter Bike Congress breakout session on Finland's preeminent position in the pantheon of winter cycling and I was cheering as the snowflakes twisted and turned down down down. Down.

They were big, fluffy, beautiful …

A Trip To Minneapolis

Getting older means a new taste develops for going south for the winter.

That's why we went to Minnesota in February.

Here are some of the memories that gathered around our time at the Winter Cycling Congress.


Here is a Pecha Kucha I delivered at the Winter Cycling Congress in Minneapolis. It was called Let There Be (Just a Little More) Light.

I'm Glenn. From Edmonton, Canada. And this is the landmark High Level Bridge in my hometown. Take a good look. It's 2400 feet long. And something to see. Especially in the winter. Especially in the daylight hours in the winter, that is. When you can especially see anything at all this time of year.

Okay, that's not the whole picture about the bridge in winter. Because this is more the way it looks on some nights now after a big community crowdfunding campaign raised the money to put LED lights on the bridge. Citizens bought and dedicated individual "bulbs." In a real way, inside each "bulb" is a real story.

The bridge goes red and white for Canada Day. It can go the colours of the French flag after the Paris Attacks, which it did. It went red, white and blue for the Fourth of July. That caught your ambassador's att…