Hello From Edmonton

Wait, wasn’t I comatose in bed three days ago?

Yep. But there’s a workshop with EPCOR tomorrow. I am feeling better, but there are signs that I’m still not well. I’ll be resting in my room as much as possible. The bus ride on the Red Arrow was peaceful.

Not much to say about the trip so far. Just hoping my health holds.

Flu Shots

Ian and I got our flu shots this evening. I decided that while we’re still healthy we’d better get it done. The other half of the family is sick. Miranda came down with a cold on Saturday and Simon started with symptoms last night. He has been going downhill all day. It’s only a matter of time before we come down with it.
Luckily Rexall had no-one waiting at 6.30-ish. We walked up to the counter with our pre-completed forms and almost went straight in. Hopefully it’ll be that empty when the other 2 go for theirs.

Rollers

It’s taken a few years, but I’ve finally bought myself a set of cycling rollers. Here they are, set up and ready to go tonight.

Norco Valence and Tacx Galaxia

I’ve borrowed rollers from other cyclists twice in the past: once from Brian and once from Kurt. As an owner of two cycling trainers and a regular user of Zwift, it took a fair bit of thinking to get me to add the rollers to our jumble of gear. If I had to sum up the reasons why:

  • It’s a singular sensation, balancing on the rollers. Always feels like you’re one twitch away from disaster (see video below). And interesting is always in short supply in the long winter.
  • It’s a different workout. I can already feel sore muscles from my short ride this evening. It works the core when you are balancing and it forces a smooth pedaling stroke.
  • Higher cadence, lower resistance. Should be healthier for my knees in the long term.
  • It gives months of bike handling practice. Things like learning how to turn your head without your bike drifting, and things like that.

I’m not cancelling my Zwift membership. I expect to intersperse trainers and rollers through the winter.

Thanks to Bow Cycle for granting me the staff discount for being an ambassador with the club. It makes a big difference.

Updated

I made some adjustments before my ride today:

  • Raised my handlebars
  • Shortened the rollers from #3 to #4 (Tammy helped me measure the axle length)
  • Put a hard surface (some wood) under the rockers/rollers on the bottom to allow them forward/backward movement.

These all were very positive changes, making the rollers much more stable. I’m still the weakest link, but it’s good to know that things are set up more optimally.

Exercising My Inner Geek

I have been hosting this website for a long time on a series of computers. There has been a succession of computers in the 16 years: my old PowerMac 7600, my Titanium PowerBook, a Grape iMac, a blue and white G3, a Windows computer bought from Esri, the 2009 Mac Mini, and most lately the 2013 Mac Mini. I upgraded the hard drive in the 2009 Mini back in 2014, but it’s been doing a light load of odd jobs.

I have been using MacOS Server for the web server stack for years now, but I found out lately that the new version of Server that is compatible with the newest version of MacOS (Mojave) removes a lot of functionality, including the web server. I was content to worry about this someday, but now that Mojave is out, I needed to figure this out. I toyed with some different options, but this weekend I thought I would try setting up the old Mini (Tiny).

It took most of the weekend, but in the end, I was successful. What I did:

  • Installed the latest version of macports.
  • Used macports to install apache, MySQL, PHP, BIND, phpMyAdmin and a bunch of other packages.
  • Then I got to work configuring everything, and transferring database info and other content to Tiny.
  • As the pièce de resistance: I set up a proper CA-signed TLS certificate for biickert.ca via LetsEncrypt. The whole site is now HTTPS.

It took a long time, especially setting up HTTPS, but it’s all done. In some ways, it’s a downgrade, going to the old computer. But in other ways it’s an upgrade:

  • The latest versions of the software,
  • HTTPS,
  • Everything automatically restarts when the computer does,
  • It leaves the “main” computer with fewer jobs (iTunes, Plex, UniFi).

And now we can install the OS update at will.

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians everywhere! 🇨🇦

The dinner spread

It was a quiet affair around here. I was supposed to have a bike fit with Tara at Bow Cycle today, but she called it off because she had a cold. Among the extra things I accomplished today because of that, one was ordering Miranda’s school photo prints. Her proofs looked nice, but it was an ordeal to pick exactly what we wanted. Tammy suggested that we just take our own photo and get prints of that if we couldn’t figure it out.

That led to the suggestion that we could do that with Ian instead of getting his reshoot. His proof had come back completely horrible. I took some time and got some pretty good pictures of Ian with the good camera and the tripod. Then, since everything was already set up, we took some family pictures. The problem is, there are three different ones that we think ended up pretty good.

Since we’re only going to be getting prints for the family, if you want to let us know what picture you like best, we’ll get you a copy of that one. Here’s the gallery of options:

This one’s my favourite

“Family with herons”

“The old standby: in front of the bookcases”

Let us know which one you like best.

Painted The Kitchen Wall

Sometimes things have been in the job jar so long, the paper has turned to dust.

When we painted the living room, I painted a little swatch of colour on the kitchen wall under the phone. The idea was to choose a colour to paint the kitchen, covering the grey. Well, that was over two years ago. Neither Tammy nor I could make a decision on a colour, and that led to just leaving it.

Today, I was going to do some touch-up painting in the bonus room, and I was faced with a dilemma: should I

  • Take the can of grey paint and cover over the sample patch and touch up the most egregious examples of horrible paint in the kitchen or
  • Finally choose a colour for the kitchen and schedule painting for next weekend?

I chose touching up, but then when I popped open the can, the paint inside it had separated so badly that there was an immovable lump in the bottom of the can and an inch of oily liquid on top. 😖 So I had to go to the hardware store to get paint either way.

I elected to try to colour match the grey and touch up the paint. But as it dried, it was obvious that the colour match was only so-so. So we painted the entire wall. Miranda was using a small brush to do the fine edge bits (covering the beige left behind by the previous owners, and the teal/primer flashes showing between the living room and the kitchen from me). Tammy tore the computer desk apart, and I did the rest. It didn’t take too long, but the difference was such a relief.

The grey arch wall with fresh paint

I even did the horrible bits above the refrigerator. Seriously, how can you miss areas the size of a tennis ball?

That should clear the way for giving the kids’ bathroom a makeover. It’s been waiting behind this in the job jar for years now.

And Then the Snow Came

It’s a winter wonderland this morning. Or “snowmageddon” if you have to drive to work in it. The kids and I walked to and from piano last night, and while it was snowing lightly, it was barely sticking to the ground. Overnight, the temperature dropped and the snowfall increased, and this morning we have this:

Leaves still on the trees

I wonder when the recycling and green bin pickup will be?

I am working from home today. The roads are a mess and I imagine the trains aren’t much better.

Brr. Cold September!

It’s been a lousy, rotten September. And I’m not kidding. I went to Winnipeg and Toronto in the last two weeks, and they are having lovely early Fall weather, while Calgary has been cold and wet, with dustings of snow. Now the forecast for tomorrow is warning of up to 20 cm of snow. There is an actual reason for it. Strongest ridge in 60 years. Arctic air is shooting straight down through Alberta.

That has meant for little outdoor cycling, and yet at the same time, I am not ready mentally to throw in the towel on the riding season. I have found some days to commute to work. And today I showed up for the Bow Cyclists ride with six other hard core (hard-headed) members. It was -3 and dry, with a windchill of -9.

Bundled up against the cold (Bart, Derek, me, Kevin, Wing, Mark and Kurt out of picture)

It was chilly, but the camaraderie was good. When we were leaving the nice, warm shop I did point out that I was there “ASA: Against Spousal Advice”. 😆 There were a few comments during the ride that “we should have listened to Simon’s wife”.

I am still hoping that the weather will revert and give us a nice October and November. We’ll see.

Hello from Toronto

This may be my shortest trip to Toronto ever: it will be 34 hours from wheels up in Calgary to wheels back down in Calgary. All for a 2.5 hour meeting tomorrow. Okay, there will be a one hour breakfast before and a 1.5 hour lunch after, but the meat of the trip is 2.5 hours.

I didn’t even bother with a suitcase.

Updated

I’m home now. The meeting went well. The preparation the night before was worthwhile. As a karmic reward, I got to live like a king on a sparsely-loaded plane on the way home.

Who has two thumbs and an entire row to himself? THIS GUY!

Magic And… D&D

After last weekend’s Order of the Stick gaming, I didn’t think it could get any better, but this weekend Miranda wanted to try playing Magic: The Gathering, and then we tried our hand at playing a simple D&D-style roleplaying game as a family today. If this is a phase she’s going through, I’m glad it came and I hope it stays a while.

The last time I got to play Magic was in 2002. I’ve had the cards since then, and a couple of years ago Miranda got them out and was interested in looking at the artwork and sharing and trading with some boys at TMC, but didn’t want to play. Out of the blue, she asked to play on Saturday morning. She made a green deck and a blue deck, and I made a red deck and a white deck. We had fun and each of us won some and lost some. Her green deck fared pretty well, while my white deck went undefeated.

Today was another miserable day, just above freezing and wet. I had had a bit of a worry about my left calf since Friday evening: it had been feeling tight like when I had the thrombosis back in 2014. I was cramped in a middle seat on my way home from Winnipeg, and was worried that I was facing another clot. Today it was fine, but I was wary of taking a risk. With time on our hands and Ian suffering with a cold, I decided to act on something that Jeff had talked about when we visited this summer.

Jeff had mentioned that he had tried a bit of Dungeons and Dragons with Katya and Alyosha. My antennae twitched at that: D&D was a game I’d tried to interest Miranda and Tammy in a few years ago. I’d even bought the red box starter game, but it hadn’t gone anywhere. He explained that he hadn’t tried to play by the rules. He just started telling them a story with a cave and some treasure and the kids had been encouraged to role play. He rolled a die every once in a while to see if something random would happen, but not doing “hit dice” or anything like that.

I’d thought about that and mentioned it at the dinner table last weekend. And today I put it into motion. I had a bit of a story to start with, and we spent quite a bit of time helping everybody develop some characters for the game. Maybe I tried too hard with Ian to come up with a compelling back story, because he cried a bit as he was imagining it. But in the end, Kaz, Astrid and Steve started their adventure in the port city on the Inner Sea.

It went pretty well, but it was clear when it was time to put it aside for next time. Ian started being a bit goofy. Too bad, because they were just about to find the treasure after defeating the bandits.

It was enough to make me not feel too bad about not riding for the second weekend in a row.