2019 Gran Fondo Badlands

Today was the first of the two gran fondo rides I have registered for this year. This was the third time I have entered the Gran Fondo Badlands, the previous times were last year and the year before. It’s a great ride: completely different from the sorts of rides I do normally and also very different from the Tour de Victoria, which we will be doing as a family again this year in August.

The weather this week has been ranging from miserable to horrible, so it was a stroke of luck that the weather cleared up this morning. The day was dry, with a mix of cloudy and sunny periods. I drove with Adam to Drumheller, and he, Hannah, Wing and I were a team for the day.

Me, Adam, Wing and Hannah

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And they’re outdoor cats!….sort of

It all started with an idea that formed pretty quickly when I saw a youtube video on DIY cat runs. Discussed it with Tristan and a plan was formulated. The cat door goes through the dinning room window and it is well blocked off and wedged so no intruders can get in (or bugs). The cat run has many levels with artificial turf and wire mesh so they can’t get out and nothing can get in. We added a door so if they refuse to come in we can grab them.

Boooom ⛈

We were woken up at five this morning by a thunderstorm going over. Nothing like the weird sensation of someone taking flash photography in your bedroom followed by an explosion of sound.

Hope the weather improves before Saturday’s Gran Fondo Badlands.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. My day has been good: maybe awake a little early, but nothing unpleasant. Everyone was up by seven. It’s Sunday so Miranda had a BCC ride at nine. We were all going to ride down with her and then go for a little ride and stop for coffee on the way home. The kids and Tammy all got me some cards and some gifts.

Miranda’s card to me

I got some new shaving gel, some beard oil, deodorant and a new shower puff. Some half-caf coffee, too. As a joke (not really, but okay) they put some ribbons on my new wheels out in the garage. 😄

We were getting ready for our family ride, when I saw that on WhatsApp, Tara was calling for more ride leaders today. There were two different cycling events on today: the Ghost of the Gravel ride north of Cochrane, and the Branch Out Bike Tour in Panorama. Add that to Father’s Day, and we had only two confirmed leaders and one was sick. So as Tammy said, I “did the honourable thing” and volunteered. We ended up with four leaders and about twenty or so riders, and it was a beautiful morning. I led one group and Miranda was in the other one. Tammy and Ian went for a ride together.

Lunch was special: Tammy made some homemade pizzas and a ridiculous four-layer mint & chocolate fudge cake. I’m doing my best to digest that now.

All in all a good day. Now to relax with a beverage. 🍺

I made Dad a card this year. Here was the feature picture. 1978, just outside of Sealand in Oak Bay.

A couple of stylish gents, by 1978 standards


At 7:30 pm, I got an automated email from Mark’s Work Wearhouse with a final gift from Ian: a gift certificate. I need some new shorts in the worst way.

We also watched Megamind at “dinnertime” (we were still full from lunch, so popcorn was on the menu). And later, Tammy, Miranda and I finished watching Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video. Both are quality shows…

A Clean Garage

Much to the kids’ dismay, I thought that the weather was good enough on Sunday to clean out the garage. There were a few years’ worth of car road grime on the floor and general schmutz in all the corners. Everything was hauled out and spread on the lawn and then I hosed it out.

It’s so much nicer in there now. Can walk in sock-feet without getting brown feet.

Almost dry. Quick a sun shower is coming!

New Wheels for the Roubaix

Two weeks ago, I was leading out the Wednesday night Bow Cyclist Club ride. Once on the way back and once when we got back to the shop, some of the riders mentioned to me that my rear wheel was not true. It had a slight wobble to it.

Paul having fun on the ride.

Mark (club president and the Parts Manager at Bow Cycle) was there and I mentioned it to him. So he pulled the wheel off and put it on the truing stand. He used the spoke wrench to work most of the wobble out, but couldn’t get it perfect. He was looking closely at the wheel and noticed this:

A two-inch crack in my rim

These are the stock alloy rims that came with the bike in 2016. I don’t know what cracked the rim, but it marked the end of its life. I limped home from the shop and started working out what to replace the rim with. It’s been a couple of weeks of sporadic emails with Mark, but today all was ready and I picked up my bike with its new Mavic Cosmic Pro UST wheels.

Look really close and you can read the name on the spoke

Right now my thumbs are in so much pain. The wheels came with some free tires, while I had bought some much better tires late last year. I intended to simply take the cheap tires off and put the better tires on the new wheels, but the new wheels are really, really tight. It was so much work to get the cheap tires off and then even more work to get the good tires on. I expect to not be able to grip anything tomorrow.

But it’s done now. Tomorrow’s forecast isn’t too promising, but I might get a chance to go for a ride. I’d better not get a flat. I doubt I would be able to fix it roadside. It took two hours to change these tires tonight.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they cost more than our house insurance, a fact that Tammy keeps reminding me about. 😘

Updated Saturday

I went for a 110 km ride with the Bow Cyclists today on the new wheels and they worked great. The only hiccup was the long, fast downhill into Cochrane. These wheels have a deeper cross-section and more prone to get caught by gusts of wind. I had a couple of wobbles on the downhill, but nothing too dramatic. I slowed down and took it easy.

They sure look nice.

Parked in the sun in Bragg Creek

Since my Norco Valence is now back on “rollers duty”, I took the carbon fibre wheels off and put the heavier alloy ones back on. I made an offer to Miranda that she could try the good wheels on her bike, but she declined when I told her that they would be more difficult to brake with.

So I put $1600 wheels on Ian’s $300 road bike. Ridiculous, you say? Mais oui!.

Better than just hanging them on the wall

Grade 9 Farewell Celebration

Tonight was the first part of 2 in the TMC Grade 9 Farewell Celebration. Everyone, students and guests, congregated in the gym while the school band played background music. There was the principal’s farewell/motivational speech followed by a selection of student MCs to introduce, thank, and entertain us with anecdotes from the last 5 years. There were 5 classes of about 30 students each that walked across the stage one-by-one and shook hands with their teachers and the principal. In-between classes the band played an Avengers medley, a James Bond medley, and a song of farewell. They did a pretty good job on all. After the ceremony there were refreshments (cakes, sandwiches, drinks) available. Both the kids had a piece of cake. Tomorrow is part 2: the BBQ. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so they can have it in Bowness Park as planned, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’ll post an update tomorrow.
Here are some photos. I apologize for the blurriness of some, but she was a moving target. There is some video footage, but Simon will put that up tomorrow when he gets back.


As expected, the BBQ was moved to the school from Bowness Park.  It was a mix of rain and snow for most of the morning!  The BBQs were set up under the awning at the school’s entrance.  The main foyer was set up with tables filled with dogs, bun, condiments, chips, and drinks.  The students ate in the gym where they were playing games. Overall the BBQ was a success.  We were understaffed with volunteers and we only had 2 BBQs for 300+ dogs. It was constantly running around refilling and keeping an eye on light-fingered individuals form other grades. Because of this, I wasn’t able to get any pics of the event.

Hello from Edmonton

It’s less than a week since I was in Ontario, and now I find myself in the provincial capital. I am here to work with the City of Edmonton, which is poised to put Esri technology into production. I do not have any previous history of working with Edmonton, so there are a lot of unknowns this morning before we start the workshop. Juliano is here from our Toronto office to shadow me during the workshop, because we are ramping him up to do this sort of workshop on his own.

I took the Red Arrow bus yesterday afternoon. That was pretty uneventful, except for a mild thunderstorm near Red Deer. I took some time to explore Apple Notes and try setting up some folders for organizing notes like I do in Microsoft OneNote. I also played around with the Shortcuts app on iPad, attempting to make a time tracking methodology. I got it working, and in the evening I managed to write an equivalent AppleScript service on my Mac, but we’ll see if I build the habit of noting when I start tasks. Usually I track my time in Outlook, blocking time in the Calendar after the fact. That system works, but I’ll try something a little different. Maybe being more organized when I start tasks will be useful for managing my time.

I’m here until Friday: two days of workshops and then coming home Friday afternoon. I am going to miss Miranda’s “graduation” from middle school on Thursday and the celebratory BBQ on Friday morning. I hope Tammy gets some good pictures. 📸

Smoke Season Has Started

While I was away at Tech Trek this week, I knew that the weather was supposed to get warm and sunny in Calgary and Tammy reported as much to me when I was FaceTiming her in the evenings, but she had also complained about the smoke in the air. There are forest fires burning in Northern Alberta that has meant smoke. Apparently most of this smoke is from the one near Slave Lake. But I was shocked when I landed. I had a window seat but couldn’t see the ground until the plane was crossing 16th Avenue on its approach.

The view from the window after landing at YYC

You could smell the smoke in the plane as it plowed into the yellow-brown. This morning, Ian took this picture of the rising sun. The air quality level is 10+. Basically, it’s like smoking 10-15 cigarettes if you’re outside.

No cycling today

The smoke rolled in about the time Tammy was going to work. This wasn’t the way it was all week.

This had better not keep up all summer. 😡


The Air Quality Health Index has continued to worsen. It’s supposed to clear this evening, but for now…

Worst. Air quality. Ever.

Updated Again, on Saturday

The smoke blew away last night. The air quality went from being Mexico City-like to regular in the course of a couple of hours.

The whole smoke event

That meant that I got a ride in today under beautiful blue skies. Went for a 90 km ride with the club out to Cochrane.

Hello from Tech Trek 2019

It’s Wednesday, and already the afternoon of the 2nd-last day of Tech Trek. It’s been a whirlwind, as usual. It sounds like some sort of a vacation, with socialization, golf, catered lunches and other things, but it’s a vacation where you are on the go for (literally) 17 hours per day. It still is fun, but tiring.

My flight to Toronto  on Monday was uneventful, except for the drink service. I asked for a cup of coffee and got it just as we hit a patch of turbulence. I managed to keep the scalding liquid in the cup, but only just. I had an open seat next to me, so that was nice. We had a very long drive to Nottawasaga: the limo driver wanted to avoid traffic and construction on the way, but we ended up getting stopped twice at railway crossings as freight trains rolled by.

Waiting for train #2

The weather has been grey and rainy. I thought that our golf game last night would be cancelled, but the rain dried up long enough that it went ahead. I golfed with Amr, Abdul and Marko. We had fun and maybe did better than we thought we would but that meant we neither won the tournament, nor did we win the “most honest” team.


I dressed well, with my golf shoes, but it still was wet.

Eight inches of damp

Last night in the hospitality suite, it was a musical  evening. Debbie, a PM from Toronto, was there with her guitar and a small group had a sing-along, and I was included. After a while I got  to play her guitar and had a good time. One thing about it: while occupied in that way, I definitely did not imbibe much. I was proud of myself for not overindulging… and then I was awake at 2:30 am with heartburn. What the heck??? Even when I behave I get punished.

This morning was hosting and moderating a session featuring Andrew S. from Esri. It went well. This afternoon is a deep dive into Utility Network. It’s not quite core to what I do, so I am typing and listening. It’s interesting. I would like a nap… 😴

Updated Friday

I’m back home now. Since I wrote the post:

  • I made it through Wednesday afternoon. First, I attended the first half of a “deep dive” on the Utility Network. I was supposed to be in that all afternoon, but it became very clear that this session was not meant for me, with very specific questions about what happens if you do X, and X wasn’t even things I knew about. So I bailed on the second half.
  • I then chose to go to the “Advanced Python” session, but apparently that was a misleading title, because it wasn’t. I picked up a few tips, but only made it an hour before the idea of going back to my room, taking a couple Advil and lying down for 20 minutes overcame me.
  • After dinner (which was steak!) I played in the ball hockey game and had a lot of fun.
  • There was some relative peace and quiet around the bonfire.
  • Thursday happened. It was two back-to-back sessions on high-availability ArcGIS Enterprise configuration and troubleshooting with Peter, which was somewhat depressing. There are so many “gotchas” that I just didn’t know about but I feel I ought to be aware of. It was a valuable session, and will provide fodder for further conversations with Kjetil and Harold on how to position and train the Solution Architect team.
  • The bus ride to the airport was completely uneventful, which was welcome. Last year, the buses were late and our bus took the wrong exit on the highway.
  • There were a fair number of people taking the 7 pm flight to Calgary so we had a nice group sitting at Corso in the airport, having dinner together.

And then there was the forest fire smoke when we landed.

L-R: Abdul, Usama, Mike, Matt, Brandon, Simon, Adam, Rahul, Mahfuz, Dan