From the Mailbox

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The mail carrier/postal worker arrived rather late today.  This didn’t bother me, but it did make for a good starting sentence to this post.

Long after work was done, I made the short pilgrimage to the mailbox.  When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised.  There was a small package for me.  As I walked back to my house, I mentally went over my recent purchases, trying to guess what it was.  I am expecting a number of things that, thanks to Covid 19, are overdue.  These include birthday gifts, stamps, and some cycling gear.

Then it hit me.  It must be the screwdriver I ordered months ago.  I ordered this particular screwdriver because it was better suited to adjusting the derailleur on my bicycle as it was “Japanese standard”.  I don’t know whether it will really make any difference, but I saw a video that featured the screwdrivers and how all the top cycling teams use them,  like the idea of having bicycle specific tools, liked the design of the tool, and probably needed another purchase to qualify for free shipping.

It has been so long that I was starting to think it would never arrive.  I had already started mentally composing my complaint letter to Amazon and the supplier of the screwdriver.  It felt pretty good when it showed up in my mailbox.  It wasn’t Christmas, but it was Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Amazon, bicycles, Canada Post, Covid 19, cycling, cycling gear, mail, online, perfect moment, quarantine, shopping, tools, waiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Being Bad

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I have a short story to tell.  It feels like a confession, even though it isn’t.

My girlfriend is rather neat.  I don’t mean that she is a neat freak or anything like my third roommate in Japan.  She just takes pride in her house and is quite well organized.

Early on in our relationship, I noticed that her nail polish bottles were neatly lined up on a shelf in her bathroom.  Being the curious and deep thinker that I am, I wondered a lot about the order.  I would ask myself; Is it based on colour?  Is it based on shades of colour?  Is it based on when she bought them?

From time to time, the order would change, but not dramatically.  That’s when I started to experiment.  I found it fun to change the order of the bottles and wonder if she would notice.  If she were like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, she would notice right away and I would have gotten a stern lecture.

My little fun didn’t create any big waves and sometimes she would catch me and sometimes she wouldn’t.  She never yelled at me, but she would exit the bathroom and give me that knowing look that told me that I had been caught. She might chuckle at my efforts or she might just shake her head disapprovingly.

The truth is, I had been expecting to get caught.  I not only changed the order, but I also changed the physical orientation.  I moved them forward and back.  I created more space between them than they had before. I turned them around and I created interesting (to me) geometric patterns with them.

Why did I do this?  Of course, I wanted to see whether or not she would notice.  I also wanted to interject a bit of randomness into her life.  I like changing things and I like to see the ripples the changes make (this whole Covid 19 ripple is a bit much and the changes are going to be massive).

I hadn’t done this in a while, but then yesterday, I realized that her nail polish wasn’t observing social distancing (physical distancing is the better term but people seem to like social distancing more) rules and I had to remedy that.  In the picture, you can see I left the triplets together.

Posted in confessions, Covid 19, organization, perfect moment, randomness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Saturday Struggles

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I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have come to believe it’s true for me.  Some days, you just don’t have it on the bike.  You might have been decent the week before, but on this particular day, it just wasn’t your day.

Today was that day for me.  It probably didn’t help that our group was really composed of people from all our groups.  There were some A riders, some B+ riders, some B riders and some C riders. It might also have been because I didn’t sleep enough.  Maybe I ate too much breakfast, or too little breakfast.   It might have been a combination of all those things or none of them.

That being said, I still think getting out on the bike is Today’s Perfect Moment.  I may not have been a star, but I got out there and tried.  I had some fast sections, but I just didn’t have it on the hills.  One of the faster riders said it best when he explained that he was tired of riding alone.  I have to agree.

We put in 70kms before the heat got to be too much.

Posted in club, cycling, cycling gear, exercise, group rides, hills, Newmarket Eagles, perfect moment, Saturday morning, training | 3 Comments

The Pieces Fall into Place

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Throughout this pandemic, several things have gone through periodic shortages.  We all read about or experienced the toilet paper shortage.  I reported in a previous blog that bike stores didn’t have many low or mid priced bikes.  I still don’t know whether this is because everyone who had too much time on their hands bought one or if the shutdown of Chinese factories meant that many weren’t produced.

The latest thing to be in short supply is affordable jigsaw puzzles.  I am sure that if I went to a games store or a retailer that sold puzzles for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, I could probably find a good supply.  What I mean is that there are no puzzles to be found at any of the dollar stores I frequent.

I am pretty sure the reason is that people have taken up the hobby.  My evidence is anecdotal at best, but I have heard that more people are having family game nights and doing jigsaw puzzles.  Maybe they have gone through everything on their streaming services and are now left with nothing else to do.  If news were the only option, I’d opt for something other than TV.

On my last visit to the dollar store, I found two puzzles–and I don’t mean multiple copies of two puzzles.  I mean two puzzles.  I took the one that spoke to me most and brought it to my girlfriend’s place.  I didn’t know if it would be a hit or not, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.   It wasn’t an easy puzzle.  The colours were pretty hard and the pieces had some wild shapes.  However the satisfaction level was quite high.  Best of all, watching her face light up as she put the last few pieces down was fantastic.  It was truly a Perfect Moment.

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I am not sure if we will do another one, but I suspect that we will.

Posted in bicycles, dollar store, dollarama, hobbies, hobby, perfect moment, puzzle, romance, shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Club Rides in the Covid 19 Era

Of course, on my first official club ride of the season, I was running late.  I don’t know why.  I had actually tried to put a lot of organizational effort into the ride.  I printed up my club membership, and my Ontario Cycling membership, got a plastic case for them in case it rained.  I got my water bottle ready.

Looking back on it, perhaps I did all the thinking, but not enough of the execution.

Either way, I had to do a decent bit of riding to get to the meeting point on time.  As for wondering about whether I should be in the B or C group, it hardly mattered because of the small turnout, we formed one group anyway.  I was happy because I liked all the riders in both groups and was glad that we could all go out together.  When I say all, I mean six people.  I had ridden with all of them before and was really glad to see them out and about.

The ride did not feature too many hills, but we did a nice lap around the lake.  There was some talk of extending the ride, but the forecast called for thunder showers (which still haven’t materialized) so many of us felt caution was the better part of valour and decide on a short 5k extension.

I am tired, but finally having someone to  push me a little on the bike is certainly Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in bicycles, bike envy, club, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, group rides, Newmarket Eagles, perfect moment, Saturday morning | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cycling News

I got a great email in my inbox earlier this week.  My cycling club is now able to operate.  Of course, we have to have smaller groups, staggered starting times (and actually staggered, not leaving a couple of minutes later) and different meeting places to really stagger those meeting times.  And, sadly, no drafting.

Despite all these regulations, I quickly signed up (registration and insurance) and signed up for a ride.  Currently my ride has a rather small number of people.  If I were more sure of my abilities, I would probably join another (better…faster) but I don’t know if that group is a little better and faster or a lot better and faster.  With social distancing, it is likely that they leave me in the dust and I might get lost.  I’ve been cycling around here for a few years, but I am still rather horrible about where we are when we are cycling.

Regardless, getting set to do some group cycling is Today’s Perfect Moment.

In other cycling news…..

I went to my local cycling shop to buy another pair of bib shorts.  I bought my last pair from the shop and really liked them.  I have decided that I need more pairs of these so I can do more rides–with the club or without the club.

While at the shop, actually outside the shop since they weren’t letting anyone inside, I heard some interesting news.  They were all sold out of bikes that cost less than 5000 dollars.  I don’t know if that was because so many people bought bikes, or if there has been a lack of production–if anyone knows about this, I would love some insight.  They said they wouldn’t be getting anything until August or September and that these would be next year’s models.

They didn’t have the shorts in my size, so I was forced to order the same one from the cycle shop on the internet.  I wanted to support my local shop, but they didn’t seem to really want to help me and didn’t even offer to order what I wanted.  I was thinking of upgrading my helmet and getting a new pair of gloves….while I need to try those on, I may have to find a different shop.

Posted in bicycles, cyclery, cycling, cycling gear, email, Newmarket Eagles, news, online, perfect moment, shopping | 3 Comments

Finally

I last got a haircut before my trip to Colombia.  I expected the temperature to be warmer there and despite the minimal protection my hair gives me from the sun, I was hoping it would be cooler.

The week that I came back, I was faced with everything being locked down.  It didn’t matter much in those first few weeks.  In fact, I kind of enjoyed not having shopping as an option.  I saved some money and quite a bit of free time.  I was relatively productive.

Over the past few weeks, many things have opened up.  Yeah, there were long lines with nice dividing markers on the ground.  There were interesting checkout schemes with nice dividing markers on the floor.  There were even occasionally people who oversaw the traffic chaos by referring (often angrily) to the marks on the floor.

However, my hair was out of control and the one thing I couldn’t do was get my hair cut.  As of last Friday that was possible again.  Unfortunately, there were tons of people with the same idea.  The online check-in app was no longer allowing people to sign up and the wait times were over two hours.  I stewed about it, and then forgot about it.  I wanted a haircut, but I didn’t want the hassle.

Today was a different story.  I just happened to check the website when I finished work this afternoon and the wait was only 25 minutes.  I quickly made my decision to get it done and I rushed off to get there.  As luck would have it, there are quite a lot more cars on the road these days.  Obviously, more people are back at work….or people just like driving around looking for places to get their hair cut.

It wasn’t a typical haircut and having to wear a mask didn’t quite make it feel the same.  However, I felt relatively safe and thought that it is better to adapt than spend all my time complaining….or worse. It was nice to do something I had been denied for so long, even if it is something as mundane as a haircut.

As for the haircut, I feel so much much lighter now.  I feel like I can deal with summer again.  So shedding my locks is certainly a good candidate for Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in haircut, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Getting the Mail

superboxIf I were writing for a book, I would say that I taught from a loft, surrounded by multiple computer screens with a big panoramic window overlooking the water.  That would sound good and add an extra layer to the description of my day.  The truth is that I teach, these days and for the foreseeable future, from my street facing third bedroom with a laptop perched on a stand being held together by Krazy Glue.  That isn’t bad, it just doesn’t sound impressive.  It doesn’t  have a view of the water, or mountains.

What it does have is a view of my the mailbox (once billed as a “super-box”) for the street.  In addition to spotting my neighbours as they either stop on the way home, or make the enjoyable pilgrimage from their houses, I get to watch postal carrier (my older, less PC chided neighbours still say mailman) screech to a halt in front of the “super-boxes”, efficiently open them and load up the mail, and the slam the door closed before doing his best Indy 500 burnout to escape my street and get to the next “super-box”.

The schedule varies wildly, but I am usually teaching when this  happens.  Since I’ve got my window open, I am sure my students get the audio treat as well.

As for me, what I really enjoy now that I am home, is venturing across the street during my rather short teaching break to get the mail.  Although I am not really expecting a lot of mail (currently waiting on a Japanese spec screwdriver for my bicycle, and the complete set of stamps from Bulgaria for 1970), I check the box every day.  I like the sense of anticipation.  I like wondering if anything will be in the box when I swing it open and crouch down to peer inside.  I like getting letters, packages, and even sometimes I find the junk mail amusing.

Throughout this “lockdown” I have developed quite a few rituals which I am enjoying.  It’s only a minute out of my day, but it is an enjoyable one.  For that reason alone, it deserves the title of Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, delivery, email, ESL, mail, perfect moment, teaching, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Reading

fukuiMy mornings used to be rushed to get myself out of bed, clean, fed, and on the bus.  It was on the bus that I had time to relax, read, and even do some lesson planning.  I’ve chronicled this many times.

Things are different now.  I wake up quite early and have lots of extra time in the morning to enjoy my coffee, eat my breakfast at leisure, remember to take my vitamins, watch my neighbours take their dogs for walks–though, humourously,  some dogs seem to be taking their owners for walks –and generally ease into my day.

Up until recently, I had also spent that time checking the news and playing Words With Friends on my phone.  What has changed is that I have spent at least some of that morning time reading.  Since my commute went from more than one hour to about 30 seconds, I had let my good reading habits slide.  I was reading 60 to 70 books a year, but had fallen off that pace.  Sure, I’ve been reading woodworking magazines, but I should be reading more.

In one of my last Amazon orders–the one that brought me the bathroom fan motor I successful swapped out–I also ordered a book.  For the last bunch of mornings, it has accompanied my coffee and whatever else I had for breakfast.

The book is called For Fukui’s Sake and chronicles the two years the author spent living in Fukui Japan.  Having spent three years in Japan almost a quarter of a century ago, I often find myself reading books of the same genre.  Some have been good and some have been mediocre.

The important thing for me seems to be the search to find someone who had the same experience as I did and decided to write about it.  Before you think me foolish, I am well aware that no two experiences are going to be the same.  This is true of any place and any time, but this is even truer in Japan.  Despite economic stagnation, many things have changed in the country.  Things change quickly and wildly.  As a result, I have never found an experience like mine, but I keep reading.

What I do find are moments that make me smile and remember that young man who stepped off a plane into the warm Osaka night air, took a ride in a car that came equipped with a TV, and ventured into an unknown world full of vending machines, temples, convenience stores, rice paddies, and experiences whose significance continues to resonate.

In this particular book, I haven’t found so many of those moments, but it has still been a good way to spend my morning before teaching.  This isn’t going to be a book review.  This book was printed on demand by Amazon and it has given me some inspiration towards self publishing.  Maybe instead of reading the adventures of someone hoping they’ll be like mine, I could just write mine…or a totally fictional account that just incorporates some of my experiences…..

In case it needs to be said, reading while enjoying my morning coffee is Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Amazon, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, books, breakfast, commuting, editing, ESL, perfect moment, reading, teaching, travel writing, writing | 6 Comments

What is it about Boys and Trains

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This title is a bit presumptuous.  Because this boy likes trains, I tend to think all boys do.  I also think all boys like watching big construction projects.  Of course some girls and some women like them too while some boys and men don’t like them.  Basically, this boy likes trains.  I probably haven’t covered all my bases, but I tried.

Out for a ride on a gorgeous day, after several days of it being “too hot” or “looking like rain”–which is really short-hand for my laziness–I came upon a scene which gave me pause to smile.

I heard the sound of the train before I saw it.  Maybe I heard the sound of the train crossing rather than the actual train.  When I confirmed visually that I was approaching a train crossing the road in front of me, I got that little buzz of excitement.  This was followed by the rationalization that by the time I got to the crossing, the train would most likely be gone.

I pedaled onward wondering if I should put all out sprint power into my legs.  While I really couldn’t do that, I did climb into a few higher gears and increase my cadence.  I didn’t really think I would make the train, but a part of me hoped I would.  The bike sounds grew louder in response to my efforts.  The whirring of the rear cassette  and the sound of the spokes cutting through the air was magical.  Cars approached and passed me, but I joked to myself that this was all in vain.  They  would all definitely get stopped where the tracks intercepted the road we were on.

Unbelievably, when I took my place behind the line of cars, there were 40 or 50 tank cars, box cars, and auto-racks still to appear.  I caught the show I thought I was going to miss.  The little boy inside of me cheered.  He knew it was Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, perfect moment, trains, transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment