Dad’s Summer Visit

For the first time, Dad is visiting when there isn’t any snow on the ground! He’s been here after Thanksgiving and at Christmas, but never when things are warm, sunny and green.

He flew in on Thursday night, just before 10 pm. Ian and I went to the airport to pick him up, because Tammy and Miranda got back late from their BCC ladies’ ride and we weren’t going to greet him with half the family smelling bad. 😁

Friday morning, when Tammy and Miranda went to the orthodontist, Ian, Dad and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. Then we had a lunch out on the deck. It was starting to get hot, and we were expected to meet up with Sepideh and her family at Arbour Lake. We thought about begging off, but went and were glad we did! Sepideh had managed to snag one of the gazebos so we had shade, and the lake was neat.

The view from the gazebo

Ian and Ilia played in the sand, building a sandcastle, and we went for rides in paddleboats.

Me, Sepideh, Ian and Ilia

Of course, there is a reason that Ian’s all wet in this photo. I encouraged him to jump into the lake when we were in the middle of it. He was wearing a life jacket, so that was fine until he tried to get back into the boat. He couldn’t haul himself out of the water, and I couldn’t get enough leverage to pull him in. So we “towed” him back to shore where he scrambled onto the dock with Tammy’s and Miranda’s help.

We came home and recuperated for a while. We barbecued some burgers, and had an impromptu “early birthday” for Ian, who will turn 11 later this month. Tammy had baked a carrot cake that was delicious.

Ian ready to blow out the candle

Then Tammy and I dragged ourselves out to yet another event. You can tell that she and I are generally introverted. This event was the Bow Cyclists Club Stampede Social. Tara had managed to swing 30 tickets to the Wild Horse Saloon’s Stampede Tent, which is another sort of Stampede event that Tammy and I had not sampled until now.

View of the stage from the back

It was crowded, with loud music and expensive drinks. But for all that, we had a great time. It was too loud to carry on conversation, so it was either stand around and drink, or get in the mix and dance. Knowing Tammy, we chose the latter!

There was a live band (Steve Arsenault Band) and a DJ in the space between sets. The dance floor was crowded, but we had a great time bouncing around for at least an hour and a half.

The band from the dance floor

We didn’t stay too late, and were home by 11:00. Dad and the kids had played some games in the evening: Uno and Anomia.

Today, Tammy was off to work, and Dad, the kids and I headed for Drumheller. We went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Dad had never seen the hoo doos or the dinosaur museum. It was a great day for it. It had rained overnight, but today was sunny and fresh. Not too hot. The canola was in bloom.

Fields of canola

The museum was crowded, but not nearly as much as it would be later in the day. When we arrived, there were about 20 people ahead of us to buy tickets, but when we left, the lineup was out the door and around the corner.

We took our time and looked at all of the fossils. Here’s Dad, Ian and Miranda ready to enter the “time machine” that takes you back to the Precambrian.

Ready for time travel

It was good. We were hungry by the time we were done. I’d made some bunwiches, which we took to the playground/picnic area.

Not sure what else will happen before Dad returns to Victoria tomorrow evening, but those were all of the major planned activities!

I Know… Not Many Posts

It’s just been that kind of week. There’s been a lot going on, but it’s all the garden-variety sort. The kids are on summer break now, and that’s changed the pace of things. Miranda’s making origami things and reading. Ian’s got limits on his iPad time this summer, so that’s working out to more variety of activities. He’ll be working on Swift Playgrounds with Tammy on the iPad this summer. He still wants to code a game.

Dad’s arriving Thursday night for a summer visit. Ya-hoo! Stampede time! 🤠

Both kids are enrolled in the Bow Cycle Kids’ Summer Bike Challenge. They have to log 45 to 75 minutes of bike riding a week to win prizes. Of course, for Miranda, that’s no problem, because she gets more than that per Bow Cyclist ride. In fact, on the Sunday ride, her group stayed out for three and a half hours and covered 64 km!

Ian has been going for longer rides by himself on his road bike, like 10 to 16 km. In fact, I ran into him today as I was riding home. He was coming the other way on the bike bridge over Stoney Trail. He and I did 27 km last Thursday.

I’ve had a bit of a quieter week at work (finally). The APL project that had been jamming my calendar full is on hold, so there is some space to do the other priorities. I’ve also finished writing a Mac version of the perennial software development task: the FFF.

The Fantastic Fiduciary Friend for Mac

The only thing that really has been getting neglected is the housework… It’s July and I haven’t attacked the falling apart lattice on the deck yet.


Reading with Ian

For the last week or so, Ian and I have been reading together in the evenings. I didn’t want to post anything too early and jinx it, but we’re on to Chapter seven of The Eye of the World, and he is really starting to get engaged.

En anglais et en français

I had been pondering trying this for a bit, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I have been listening to the Wheel of Time Spoilers Podcast. It is going through the books a chapter or two at a time, combing over the books and freely talking about how early events connect to later things, etc. You don’t want to listen to this podcast if you haven’t already read the books.

And for Father’s Day (which didn’t get a post this year, for some reason…) I got a French language copy of the first book of the Wheel of Time series. I started reading it, and was overcome with the desire to read it with someone. I had already inflicted the series on Tammy once.

He knows almost nothing about these books, other than them being huge and taking up a whole shelf in the living room. The prologue was touch and go, and then the first chapter he was antsy. Then I started reading right next to him, and he is reading along as I read aloud. We’ve just gotten past the Winternight and the West Wood chapters, and now he’s really getting excited. I hope it keeps going. He is stopping me and asking questions when he doesn’t understand something, and I am asking him questions about the story and he can tell me lots about it. As always with Ian, it’s interesting what he fixates on, but the story is there. 🤨

I am having a bit of a race with myself. Which is faster: Simon reading the French copy, or reading the English copy aloud to a ten year old? So far, it’s neck-and-neck.

Calaway Park

It’s the Canada 🇨🇦 Day long weekend, and the kids and I went to Calaway park this morning. I took Tammy to work, along with her bicycle. If the weather holds, she will try to ride all the way home. It’s a good 27 km or so, so everybody think positive thoughts! 🤞

At Calaway Park, we hit Timber Falls early so that we would have a chance to dry out.

The “before” picture. Wetness ensued.

The other notable happening was that Miranda talked Ian into going on “Chaos”. I refused, knowing that it would give me motion sickness.

Miranda and Ian on Chaos

It ended up making Ian a bit dizzy. Not so much that he felt barfy, but enough that he stuck to the rides that he knew from then on: Adrenaline Test Centre, Pirate Ship and Air Gliders. Miranda and I hit the Storm before we headed out, and Ian watched and waved.

Ian’s First Ride up COP

As is our usual, when Tammy and Miranda went for their Thursday night ladies’ ride with the Bow Cyclist Club, Ian and I went for a ride of our own. This night was a special one, because Ian had been bugging me for a long time that he wanted to try to ride up the hill at Canada Olympic Park. COP is a bit of a byword around Calgary as one of the world-class local hills for cycling. It’s not long at 1.3 km, but it is steep. It averages 8%.

COP hill

To put that in perspective, that’s in the same ballpark as famous hills in Europe such as Alpe d’Huez.

On this night, Ian and I rode up it. He stopped only once, but he made it!

Ian just before the last hairpin

When I posted the ride on Strava, Ian got lots of support.

  • Adam Clark Was that Ian’s first time up COP?
  • Simon Biickert yep!
  • Adam Clark Well he must be getting ready for A group rides then.
  • Tammy Biickert Way to go Ian!
  • Phil Arsenault Great job Ian. COP is tough!
  • Karyn Silenzi Nice – that hill is my nemesis!


Gran Fondo Badlands 2018

I’m home, tired and sore after a long day. It was the Gran Fondo Badlands, in Drumheller, AB.

It’s really hard to summarize the day, because it was so eventful. There were ups and downs, pain and joy. To set the stage, though, the weather around here turned horrible yesterday. The forecast was nothing but high percentage chances of rain and thunderstorms. And we were planning on spending more than six hours out on bicycles in it. Keith had made the trip from Vancouver to be here. He is staying with us until tomorrow. His take on the situation was: “Think of the stories we’ll have to tell.” Mine was: “Don’t trust the weather forecasts around here.”

It was looking like he was going to be right on the way there. It was intermittent, but there were downpours. The kind where you have to kick your wipers on high speed. It was still raining lightly in Drumheller when we arrived and had some breakfast. We were ready to go.

Keith and I, ready for the weather

The roads were wet. But the rain disappeared.

The starting line

That’s when our plans started going astray. Eleven kilometres in, we were in the bunch when Keith got a flat rear tire. I stopped to help him change it.

Keith changing his tire

We said that we’d used up our bad luck, and the rest of the day would be better. The truth, however, was different. After the second climb of the day, I got a flat in my front tire.

Flattering picture…

We made it partway to Wayne when my tire went soft again. Then when we were at the aid station in Wayne, Keith’s front tire went flat. That was four flats in sixty kilometres. We were having to borrow inner tubes, because even though we came prepared, our reserve supplies were already used up.

We rolled out of Wayne and going southeast, until the turnaround for the 100 km route. Keith and I had both signed up for the 160 km distance, but we were so far behind schedule. We were more than four hours into the ride and we were only at 75 km. I was starting to feel more positive (no flats in 15 km and the weather was perking up), but Keith was starting to wear out chasing me. We agreed that he was going to turn back, and I was going to go at least as far as Dorothy, and maybe climb the last hill of the ride.

I set off, and immediately appreciated a tailwind. I was feeling good, and pushed over 40 km/h for almost 20 km to Dorothy. I was feeling so good that I went straight on and climbed the hill. Then I thought I could go as far as the 140 km turnaround. When I got there, I reasoned it was mostly flat to the 160 km turnaround…

As I was heading towards the 160 turnaround (straight, rolling road to the east), I was staring at a HUGE thunderstorm. It was getting closer, but I could see it was drifting left to right, so it wouldn’t hit me. I saw a number of lightning strikes in the distance.

So I did the whole distance. After such a rotten start, it felt good, despite the fact that I rode solo into a headwind for the last 52 km. I stopped to take a picture in the hamlet of East Coulee, and texted Keith to let him know where I was… it was 2.5 hours since we’d parted ways.

East Coulee and Hoo Doos. Storms to the left of me, blue sky to the right…

It started to get a bit painful in the last 20 km, particularly due to my left foot. I was riding my Roubaix, which has Speedplay clipless pedals. At the first stop, I had to use the portajohn and needed to cross some muddy ground to get to it. From that point on, my cleats on my shoes were muddy, and so were my pedals. It was harder to clip in, but still workable. When I clipped in at Dorothy, little did I know that my left wasn’t going to come out again. When I stopped the last couple of times and at the finish, I couldn’t get my foot out. I literally had to get a friend to help me get my shoe off (still stuck to the pedal) so that I could get off of my bike! I left it there until I got home.

I was the last of the Bow Cyclists to finish. I saw and waved to almost all of them as they were on the return leg when I was still heading outwards. And most of them were there at the finish to cheer me as I arrived. It was a great feeling. I was 132nd out of 147 finishers of the 160 distance. 7 hours and 17 minutes, but only 5:59 of that was in motion. When I set out on my own I thought I might be the last overall, and I was fine with that.

Considering the weather forecast, the day was beautiful. Considering the flats, the ride was great. Both Keith and I were right: there were lots of stories, and you can’t trust the forecast. 🚴‍♂️

Summer 2018 Piano Recital

The end of another year of piano lessons is here. Miranda has been studying musicality and improvisation with Miss Jessica, and Ian has been in the Level 3 class at Viva Musica. They are both doing very well, and they got a chance to show off at the recital.

The kids on stage

Miranda played two improvisational pieces with Miss Jessica.

Ian played “Left Alone”, which is a play on words: the piece is played entirely with the left hand.

Both did very well and I am very proud of them. They still have some make-up classes in the next couple of weeks, but the “school year” is over.

It’s been a long time since first exploring lessons for Miranda, and buying our piano.

Stampeders Game from the ENMAX Box

I got an email from Mary when I was at Tech Trek:

Hi Simon,

ENMAX has invited Esri to come to the football game – Calgary vs Hamilton – and Dave and I are going.

There is room for one more.

Don’t know if you want to come, but wanted to invite you.  No pressure either way.

Can you let me know tonight?


I said yes, of course. And tonight was the night. The view from the box was good.

View from the box towards downtown

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Hello from Tech Trek ’18

It’s late spring and I am in Southern Ontario at Tech Trek. It’s still early in the week: yesterday was the flight from Calgary and drive to the Nottawasaga Resort, dinner and welcome session. Managed to stay pretty much on the straight and narrow last night, so I’m feeling good this morning despite the early hour. The weather’s lovely so far. I snapped this of Lake Ontario as we were approaching YYZ.

The view out my window

The one bit of drama from yesterday was nearly losing my phone. I put it down on the seat next to me in the limo and then forgot to pick it up when we arrived. I was in the line to check in when I realized what I’d done. I ran out of the front doors and spotted the limo and sprinted. Lucky for me, the driver had stopped at the side of the road to get his GPS route back to the airport or it would have been much worse. All’s well that ended well.

Today is a long day in the main ballroom with presentation after presentation. Golf tonight!

⛳ 🏌️‍♂️


I am back from Tech Trek now. Tammy and the kids met me at the airport after Tammy finished her pro-d session at the College tonight.

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MEC Century Ride, and Five Years in Calgary

For five months, I’d had today circled in the calendar: Mountain Equipment Coop Spring Century Ride. I’d talked about it with the club members, made plans, etc. Then it occurred to me on Friday that I hadn’t gotten the usual email from the organizer on the week of, telling me to pick up my bib number at MEC on Thursday night. I wondered if there was some new privacy restriction where I needed to check a particular box to get emails from them. But when I went through my email and our financials I realized that I’d never actually registered. I had registered for the Gran Fondo Badlands and for the Tour de Victoria, but not the MEC rides. So, I registered last night and drove the 130 kilometres to the event start this morning.

Clouds, fields and mountains

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