Back from Brampton

It was such a short, tiring trip that I didn’t even post my “Hello from X”-style post. I flew into Toronto late on Tuesday this week and took the short taxi ride to Brampton, which is one of the three municipalities in Peel Region (Mississauga and Caledon being the others). I was there to facilitate a two-day system architecture review workshop in advance of a pilot project to implement Cityworks. I didn’t get into my hotel room until 9:45, so skipped supper in favour of ironing my dress shirts and reviewing the information which had been sent to me while I was in the air.

The workshop went very well, and wrapped up just before lunch on the second day. We found a few issues to make recommendations on, but their knowledge and practices were quite good. We met at the annex building next to City Hall. It was an interesting building and obviously new and built to be growing space for the future.

The corridor outside the meeting room

The downtown area of Brampton is pretty nice and seems bustling.

A view of downtown up Queen Street

My hotel was about six kilometers away, much closer to the major highways cutting through the area. It was not a nice area. I went for a walk after the first day and didn’t feel safe even though the sun was shining. Lots of low-rent businesses like payday loans and pawn brokers (along with high-end car dealerships, go figure.

Since we were finished early, I got dropped at the airport by Mahfuz around quarter to two with hopes that I might rearrange my flight home. No such luck: the afternoon flights to Calgary were full. So I spent a couple of hours in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel working on the documentation before checking my suitcase and going through security. I filled the next few hours with a mix of reading, programming and walking. I walked Terminal 3 from end to end almost three times.

The flight home was uneventful, but sweaty. The AC wasn’t working fully, I think. Tammy and the kids picked me up a little after 10 pm and we drove home. There was an impressive line of thunderstorms to the north, flashing lightning. I’m glad it wasn’t right over the airport, or my flight might have been delayed or diverted.

I’m taking most of today off because with the extra work in the evenings and travel time I’m already at 40 hours for the week. Next week I will work to get the draft document done for Brampton, and then it’s time for vacation!

Phase One Complete: Ian’s Room

We have entered another round of home renovations. This time, it is Miranda who has spurred us into action. Quite frankly, I thought that we’d done enough for 2017 already. We’d done the roof, hot water tank, garage, and pergola. If anything, the next step was painting the kitchen, but no one was clamouring for it. 🙂

Miranda wants to redecorate her room in a more spartan, Japanese style. This is not a minor coat of paint. One of the casualties of the change will be her bed. This is the loft bed that I built in 2011. It made the move with us to Calgary and Miranda has had it for almost six years, but now it’s Ian’s turn.

Order of operations for Miranda’s room:

  1. Clear it out.
  2. Disassemble and paint the bed.
  3. Clear out Ian’s room.
  4. Paint Ian’s room and move the bed in.
  5. Tear out trim, carpets from Miranda’s room.
  6. Paint Miranda’s room.
  7. Install flooring.
  8. Install trim.
  9. Decorate.
  10. ???

Today, we have completed step #4. The paint in the kids’ rooms has needed to be done since we moved in, but kids’ rooms are hard to do. So. Much. Stuff. The old colour was a grey with a purple tinge. Now it’s Behr Navajo White, which is a yellowish-sand off-white. It’s so much cheerier in there now. The brightly-coloured bed helps too.

Ian in his new bed

We should finish step #6 before our trip to Victoria.

Sylvesters Visit, Bed Painting

It’s been a bit quiet on here, but things have been happening in this pause between one trip to Victoria and another. An unexpected one is that we got a visit from Jeff, Katya and Alyosha. They had been making their way back across Canada from Halifax and stopped in Calgary. They had been in Halifax for the Scouts Canada Jamboree and it was an odyssey in the telling. Five weeks of travelling. They camped at the Calaway Park campground, and Tammy and the kids met with them for most of a day of rides.

Ian, Alyosha, Katya and Miranda

We had a great barbecue on the deck in the evening when I got home from work.

Also, this week we pulled apart Miranda’s bedroom and her bed. She is now living in the basement. First step is re-painting the bed in preparation for it being Ian’s. Now, Ian’s room is mostly emptied. We will paint it and then move the bed in and re-organize. Then it will be time to remodel Miranda’s room. She’s got some bold ideas. I hope they work out. Tammy and Miranda and I have spent a bunch of hours this week painting the bed. It’s pretty much done except for a bit of white trim. We’ll do that when we reconstruct it in Ian’s room.

Purple, pink and white have been replaced with red, blue and white

On Break for 2 Weeks

Thursday was my final day of work in CLB 1 – truly. Columbia College now no longer offers this level. The lowest they have is CLB 2. Of course, no one showed up to this class. They received their report cards on Monday and Tuesday and certificates and we had our farewell party on Wednesday.
Our party went very well. There was a lot of food and only a few students. I love Syrian food even though it’s a lot of pastie-like dishes. There was cheese, spinach, or beef-filled pasties, tabouleh, shawarma, cakes, and squares. I also received some gifts: a purse and a shirt, some flowers, and a chocolate-orange cake.

They were a great bunch of people, especially when you allowed them to be themselves.  I just hope my next bunch are just as great.  I start back on Aug. 14 with CLB 3 (then I’ll be off for a week+a day with out Vic trip).  Of course, now I have to start from scratch again because I have no pre-made lessons for this level. I guess I’ll be planning while on holiday in Vic. 😄

Ian’s Birthday Party

Today was Ian’s 10th birthday party. It was from 11 to 3, and the scheduled things were:

  • Watching Lego Batman
  • Barbecued hot dogs and burgers for lunch
  • A water fight at the park

Tammy extended the invitation to parents to stay, and we had enough extra for more visitors, but no one took up the offer.

Watching Lego Batman

While the kids were watching the first half of the movie, Tammy and I were in the kitchen filling water balloons. Bwahahaha.😈

There will be soaking. Oh, yes, there will be soaking.

The deck was where lunch was held. It’s great that we’ve got it in pretty good shape. With the extra table for the buffet, it felt awesome.

Ready to serve

Chowing down. From front left: Ashton, Aksel, Ian and Ethan

The guests were pretty well-behaved, if full of inane conversation.

Blowing out the candles. Six girlfriends!

Then the real action began. The boys changed into their swimming trunks and we slathered on sunblock and headed to the Tuscarora Park for the squirt gun fight and water balloon games.

The boys were soaked to the skin in minutes.

Uncontrolled chaos

More chaos

Robin, Gilad, Eli and Sophie showed up partway through, in enough time to take part in the water games. We played a relay race, a water balloon tossing game, and a game where you had to put a water balloon between your belly and a partner’s and see how many times you could spin around. I think Eli and Sophie won every game.

Afterwards, the boys were picked up and Robin, Gilad and their kids stayed for a bit, sitting out on our deck.

It all went very well. I think everybody enjoyed themselves. A simpler birthday concept, but it worked well.

Happy 10th Birthday, Ian

Ian turns 10 today! Wow, double digits.

I feel fortunate that everything has worked out that I am home today. After all, this is the first full day that I’ve been home in the last week.

We got up fairly early today, because Tammy had an appointment to see the foot doctor this morning. We had breakfast (Ian made his own toast and soft boiled egg) and Ian opened presents and birthday cards.

Ian with Miranda’s birthday card

Ian and a Lego ferry set

We all headed out to the doctor, which was only a hop, skip and a jump to Chinook Mall. Ian wanted to shop at the Lego Store. We browsed for a while, and then he handed me a tiny, $7 red car set. “Really? You have all that birthday money and you want that?” It turned out that he had his eye on the Big Ben set, but that was a lot more than he had. The Saturn V rocket set was closer, and I offered to cover the difference for him, but then he got all wishy washy. So, he hasn’t really spent birthday money yet.

Dinner will be ribs with trifle. His birthday party is tomorrow, so watch for more pics then!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Man.


Here are some pictures from dinner with our ribs and trifle.

Ready for ribs

Birthday trifle, complete with M&Ms

The Trip Home

After the smoothness of the drive to Victoria, the day before, and the ride itself, I suppose I was due for some payback.

Ian and I got up a little after five with Dad and we were on the road by 5:30 in the morning. We had a reservation for the 7:00 ferry, but we needn’t have bothered. We got to the terminal by 6:08, and there had been no waits for the… drumroll… six o’clock ferry. I don’t know how long it’s been in place, but apparently there is a 6:00 now. That takes the pressure off the 7:00, which wasn’t full when we sailed.

Goodbye, Vancouver Island

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The Cycle of Life Tour 2017

Yesterday and today were the days that I sometimes felt would never come: the two days of the Cycle of Life Tour. 200 km over two days on the bike with 80 other people who helped raise money to support Vancouver Island Hospices.

We needed to be at the start/finish line between 7:30 and 8:15 for an 8:30 start. Dad and Ian came down to see me off. Dad drove the Tiguan. The idea had been that my bike could go on the back, but everything was soaked from overnight rain that only stopped at 6:00. We put my bike in the back instead.

Dad and I

Things were starting to dry up, and we were off.

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Gear Dropped Off, Goodies Picked Up

The major goal of the day was to drop off my camping gear and check in for the Cycle of Life Tour.

Gear ready to go

I went through the checklists again and checked everything twice, so 🤞 that I’ve remembered everything. We headed out a bit early so that we could go down for a walk on the breakwater. We were timing it so that we could see the Coho ferry passing by. We got a chance to see it docking on our way there, so that was a bonus!

Dad and I on the Ogden Point Breakwater

Dad claims that he’s never walked out on the breakwater ever before. It only took forty-seven years of living in Victoria…

We were lucky: there was a cruise ship in. It was the Norwegian Jewel, and it was enormous.

Ian and I and the Norwegian Jewel

We waited and eventually we saw the Coho. We also saw lots of cabin cruisers, float planes and whale watching boats.

MV Coho

After that, we stopped by McDonald’s for coffee until it was time for the 4:00 drop off for the Tour. We found the place without too much difficulty, and dropped my stuff and signed the waver and got my swag bag. Not a bad haul.


And here’s yours truly, wearing my new jersey and cap.

All ready for tomorrow.

Trip to Victoria for the Cycle of Life

Yesterday, Zachary, Ian and I climbed into the Tiguan at 5:00 am and headed for Victoria. The time has finally come to take part in the Cycle of Life Tour. Zachary has been visiting for just over a week and it was time to take him back to Victoria. Work has been nuts in the days leading up to my time off, plus my time at the Human Performance Labs has also been a priority, so I’ve felt like I haven’t been paying close attention to my preparations. This trip is a combination of a family trip, a bike event and camping. Trying to organize for all three has hurt my brain. 🙂
Tammy and Miranda were up to see us off. The sun wasn’t up, but it was already twilight when we left. The sun was just starting to hit the mountain peaks when we stopped in Banff National Park for our first stretch of the day.

You can see the smoke from the forest fires in the photos. It was smoky for the first part but then cleared up, despite us driving fairly close to the epicentre before turning south onto the Coquihalla.
We stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s in Golden, and then continued on. We were making good time, but there were a number of slowdowns and even one outright stoppage for construction along the way. B.C. is making good on their pledge to widen the Trans-Canada from Kamloops to the Alberta border, trying to eliminate the two-lane segments.

Here we are, stopped before Glacier National Park. We stopped in Salmon Arm for gas and supplies, and continued on to Kamloops where we stopped at Subway for lunch. We hit a few rain showers along the way. Enough to make my car and bike dirty, but not enough to cause any distress. The temperature got warmer throughout the day, until it was about 25 degrees in the Fraser Valley. Warm, but not too warm.

We got so lucky at the ferry. We’d been warned of a probable wait for the 5:00, but as it turned out we were the last car they let on. The ferries were Ian’s favorite part of the trip. Let’s see if I can remember all of the things he was excited about:

  • We were going on the Spirit class ferry (Spirit of Vancouver Island)
  • We heard the horn as the Queen of Nanaimo left Tsawwassen and we saw it parked at Galiano Island
  • The Coastal Inspiration was docking at Tsawwassen as we were leaving
  • We saw the Spirit of British Columbia in Active Pass
  • We saw the Queen of Cumberland at Maine Island
  • We saw the Salish Eagle, one of the three new small ferries
  • We saw the Coastal Celebration leaving Swartz Bay
  • We got to see our ferry dock since we were parked right at the front end of the boat.

The Salish Eagle passing us.
The weather was warm enough to make spending time outside on the deck pleasant, especially when we were out of the wind.

Thanks to making the 5:00, we arrived at Dad’s about 7:15. Zachary was reunited with his mom, and other than forgetting his phone charger in the car and having to come back for it, our trip was done.
Now three days to recover before doing it again, in reverse this time.