The Night Before the Conference

Tomorrow and Thursday is the ATESL IRCC-funded Language Training Learning Event at the Shaw Conference Centre here in Edmonton.

Our trip got off to a slow start because the bus was late. On the plus side we had a replacement driver and a full-sized coach with a bathroom! We stopped in Red Deer for a take out supper at Tim Horton’s. We managed to roll into downtown by 7.10. The Westin Hotel was the first stop and the bus got stuck in their parking lot. 😆 I’m rooming with a fellow teacher, Cleo, and we’re on the sixth floor of the Marriott Courtyard with a view of the river. We’ve already checked in, so we just need to be at the Centre for 8 to get the provided breakfast. Lunch and snacks are also provided each day.

I anticipate there will be a zillion ESL teachers at this thing, so I’m not sure what workshops I’ll be attending each day. I’ll attempt to update at the end of each day. There’s a networking mixer tomorrow night, but other than that I don’t know of any other plans.

An Afternoon at the Gours’

Today we went over to our friends’ house for lunch and board games. We hadn’t seen them since at least December – it may have been longer. We decided on a potluck lunch theme which turned out to be homemade fries, home made hummus, pitas, a gnocchi salad, a spinach salad with apples, and some fish sticks. It was all very delicious even if it was a rag tag mix.
After lunch we played 2 cards games: Sushi Go! and Love Letter. Both are good games that are quick to play.
After a couple of rounds of games we moved to the living room where they had a karaoke machine set up. I’d never had the chance to do karaoke before and it was quite nerve-racking. My voice was really quavering in terror as I belted out Minogue’s In Your eyes. 🤣 I got used to it and ended up singing 4 songs. Miranda sang 2 and a duet with Simon and Ian sang 1. Simon ended up singing 4 too. It’s actually quite fun once you get over the nerves.
We ended up leaving around 5.30 and braved the icy conditions along the way. It was a great afternoon and I hope we can get together soon.

I forgot my watch

I know, it doesn’t sound like much but boy was it distracting yesterday. It was the first time in two and a half years that I’d forgotten to wear my Apple Watch. I looked at my bare wrist countless times over the course of the day. It was a nice reminder of how much I use it.

Since Tammy and I bought our original watches (Series 0, now on the kids’ wrists), neither of us have gone a day without them. We’ve gotten nicer bands for dressing them up for special occasions, but any other fancy watches we owned have been relegated to the drawer. I was trying to explain to Davor at work just how discombobulated I was and summed it up this way: I look at my wrist for four major reasons:

  1. Time and Date. Duh. I’ve always worn a watch. A lot of people I know stopped wearing watches when they started carrying phones with the time on them, but I never did.
  2. Weather, in particular the temperature. In a place like Calgary where the weather is so variable, having the temperature at a glance really is useful. It was -29 when I went to work yesterday, and +6 today.
  3. Notifications. I get electronic messages all day, every day. Yesterday reminded me of how much better it is to get notified of them by a tap on the wrist (and seen at a glance) than an annoying buzz in my pants pocket.
  4. Activity tracking. Over the years, I’ve changed a lot of fitness habits, but there always is the trap of my office chair and a lot of sit-down hobbies. The multicolored activity rings on my watch face are a reminder to get up and move around and if I forget, there’s a tap on my wrist every hour.

There are many other things as well, but these are the killer apps for the Apple Watch for me, in that order.

And I remembered my watch today. ⌚

New Glasses

Today my new glasses came in. For the first time ever I have bifocals (which officially makes me a geezer) and a pair of prescription sunglasses. It was cheaper to go with 2 pairs instead of the just the one.
I have to admit the bifocals are weird. It’s like having water on your lenses. I have to get used to not looking down in them when I’m not reading. Plus the little line is distracting at times, like going downstairs. I decided to get bifocals instead of the progressives because the 3 tiered lenses bugged me. My distance part was so small thanks to the frame size and I don’t really need the mid-range for computer work since I changed jobs. It might have worked better with my new ones, but I chose not to go with it this time.
I hope I get used to them. I may still have to go back to progressive otherwise.

Of course Simon keeps calling me Sam (from Cloudy with Meatballs):

    or I could be Johnny Test’s sister, Susan:     


Considering how nice it was in late November and the first half of December, it seems as though winter has been trying to make up for it. First it was the snowy, frigid week over Christmas, and now a winter storm. It snowed about eight inches last night and it’s supposed to keep snowing all day today.

Of course, this is the day that Tammy is subbing at work from 9:30 to 2, and then teaching from 6:30 to 9:00. She has made it to work. We’ll see what happens the rest of the day. I’ve decided to work from home.

Family time together in Mexico

Colin’s sister Barbara is here in Bucerias visiting with us from Rotherham England. Her flight from Manchester England was eleven and a half hours a direct flight on a Boeing 788. We are having a wonderful time together.
Here are a couple of photos enjoying time on the playa.

Bike Fitting Night

Tonight, Liz ran a bike fitting seminar at Bow Cycle. It started at about 6:30, and ran until near to 8:00. She went over a lot of the basics on how to make a bike fit better. Basically, you’re always compromising among comfort, efficiency and power. She went over seat height and reach to the bars, amount of “drop” to the bars, etc., etc.

Liz, with her test dummy, Mark

I got a couple of measurements done:

  • My shoulders are 42 cm across, which determines the optimum handlebar width (should be the same, plus or minus 1 cm).
  • My sit bones are 117 mm apart, so the optimal saddle width is 143 mm. Interestingly, my Norco’s saddle is 143 mm, but my Roubaix’s is somewhere around 136.

It was fun to be there, and to see some of the new 2018 bikes. Curiously, Bow has some Cube road bikes in this year. As I discussed in my 2016 bike purchasing decision, I was interested in a few different Cube models, but Bow hadn’t ordered in any of their road bikes. They only had mountain bikes and cyclocross. This year, apparently they ordered some “Attain” models.

The Day the Furnace Went Out

Dun dun dun! 🎵

I always feared that it would be during a cold snap that our furnace would stop working. And today, at -19, it did. However, we were home at the time, figured it out pretty quickly, and got a guy to come take a look at it within hours, so all’s well. In fact, we even got away with a relatively minor expense: $301.

It started with me working from home. Tammy was off, and I had a chiropractor appointment at 11:45. Both of us had complained to each other in the morning that it felt chilly, but I knew that the thermostat was at 21 degrees, so I thought it was either mental or insufficient air circulation. I went to the chiropractor, and when I came back I found Tammy fiddling with the thermostat.

“The reason we thought it was chilly in here is because it’s only 17 degrees.”

I know nothing about fixing furnaces, so other than checking the pilot light, replacing the filter (dirty) and turning the furnace off for a bit and then on again, there was nothing to do. Tammy called the place whose sticker was on the furnace, and they suggested the things we’d already done. So I headed off for a meeting downtown, while Tammy waited for Rico the furnace guy to arrive.

I got a stream of texts from her in the afternoon.

The furnace seems fine now and the house is toasty. Rico indicated that the furnace we have is a good one that will essentially last forever with maintenance and periodic replacement of worn parts. That’s good news.

It could have been so much worse, like when we were away in Edmonton. 🙀

Service School with Miranda

Today was the first day of two days of bicycle service school at Bow Cycle. Yes, the same complete overhaul course that I did in 2016 and in 2017. But this time, I took Miranda!

Hamid, Mark, Mike, Phil and Miranda. My bike in the foreground.

With her joining the club, I thought it would be a good idea for her to know how her bike works. It’s also a really reasonable cost for a complete top-to-bottom rebuild of her bike, which is six years old this year. I took my Giant Seek commuter bike, for the same reason. I tore down my Valence in 2016 and my Roubaix in 2017.

Miranda did very well, keeping up with everyone else. The funniest part was about mid-day, Colette (one of the ladies taking the course) was amazed when she came over and looked at Miranda’s workstation. She was being her usual orderly self, which is to say completely amazing.

Miranda’s ridiculously organized workstation

Both of our bikes have been torn down to nothing. We’ve started putting our stuff back together. She will have new bar tape and new brake callipers, as well as new cables and tiers. My bike is getting new cables, but also a new 1×11 shifter system (no front derailleur, and a wide-ratio 11 speed cassette at the rear. Look at this thing. It’s amazing. The lowest gear is bigger than my disc brake rotor!

New 11-speed cassette

We finish up tomorrow!


The course is now over, and not without any last-minute drama. Both Miranda and I were finished early. I was waiting for one of the instructors to have the time to take a look at my rear hydraulic brakes, which had gotten squishy late in the year. I replaced the original mechanical brakes in 2015. I didn’t think much of it, and at about four, Mike quickly bled the brake line. That was when he noted a leak, and persistent air getting into the master cylinder. It took until almost five to definitively say that the brake needed to be replaced, which meant that I actually finished late. Oh well. New brake on the rear.

It made me think about how much of this bike I have replaced. When I bought it in 2012, cost was a major factor. It was $600. But as with most bikes that you buy to a price point, the long-term costs add up. If you compare the bike in the photos in 2012 to this one, there’s a short list of what is still the same.

Is it still a 2013 Giant Seek 3?

The things still the same:

  • Frame
  • Seat post
  • Handlebar
  • Disc rotors
  • Fenders
  • Front reflector.

That’s not a long list.