Connection Magic

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I have a confession to make. I don’t use any transportation apps.  I commute every work day without checking to see if the bus is coming.  I expect it to come around the same time every day and leave my house accordingly.  Sometimes, I end  up waiting five or more minutes, sometimes I have to sprint for the bus, and very occasionally, I miss it completely.  I just don’t check my phone before I leave.

With that in mind, I have to tell you about Today’s Perfect Moment. When I left work (early for a change) I knew I had a rather longer commute than usual.  I had a follow up appointment and decided to continue on the bus to the destination rather than stop, get my car, and pay for parking.  On paper, this was a no-brainer.  It meant continuing on my normal bus for a few extra minutes and taking one other bus the rest of the way.

When changing from one transport to another, there is usually wait time involved. Whenever I normally finish work, I get on the subway (after negotiating a three-street-cross as opposed to one until the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown is done) and have to transfer to a bus at Finch station.  Sometimes I can wait fifteen minutes for a bus–sometimes longer if it is late at night and I have stayed late to go out for drinks with my best friends Chris and Brian.  Adding another bus transfer could mean waiting.

That’s where Today’s Perfect Moment comes in. You see, I hit every connection almost perfectly.  Nearing the subway, all the lights in my three-street-cross turned green as I approached them.  The subway arrived just as I got to the platform level.  When I emerged from the underground to take the bus, it was there waiting for me.  When I transferred to the final bus, it too arrived just after I got off my first bus.  I made it to my appointment with lots of time to spare.

I hit every connection perfectly. Speaking as someone who has often had to wait around for a long time for bus, trains, planes, and rides to and from baseball games, hitting every connection feels great.  It feels like the system is working for you and not against you.  It feels like the universe is in line.  If that isn’t a Perfect Moment, I do not know what is.

I wasn’t as lucky on my way back, but that is to be expected.

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Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, commuting, organization, phone apps, public transportation, subway, trains, Viva, York Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rain on my Awning

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It should come as no surprise that weather is fickle. However, based on the fact that my students complain about it as much as they do, and that they spend an inordinate amount of time telling me that the weather is very predictable in their countries–they use words like absolutely and definitely, but I just can’t bring myself to write that down–perhaps this is a surprise.

As for weather consistency, that isn’t the way things work in my part of Canada, and probably in all parts of the Great White North.  I can see my students’ point.  If I cannot accept weather as a consistent, why would they accept it as completely inconsistent?

What has sparked this rumination? The beautiful summer day that was Sunday, has given way to a rainy Monday.  Yes, there are moments of sunshine, and moments when the wind isn’t so chilly.

As for me, I accept it as it is. I listen as the rain drops make unclear music on my awning.  With the window open to take advantage of the slightly less chilly weather, I can hear it as clearly as the birds chirping.  It’s almost rhythmic sounds lulling me to sleep.  The landscape, so green now, is getting a good scrub.  On a day when I didn’t have to work, it certainly is Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in acceptance, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, complaints, rain, rant, weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We the North

we the north

The TV is all about the Raptors today. Basketball fever has well and truly taken hold of Toronto, and likely Canada.  Tonight the Raptor have a chance at the championship.

I am not a huge basketball fan, but I have enjoyed the ride like many other bandwagon jumpers. I haven’t watched many of the games–often tuning in late to see how it ends, but I have enjoyed what I have seen.

It has also been nice to see how basketball fandom is represented in Toronto.  It has a wider, more demographically diverse appeal than hockey.  It also seems to bring out a louder crowd.

Much of the non game discussion has centred around these things. Of course, it has also created a cry for a second Canadian NBA team.  Since we already had one and lost it, I don’t know if and when market conditions will favour us getting another one.  Also, when they analyze the TV ratings south of the border, where the lucrative TV contracts come from, we might not fare so well.  However, if it helps grow the game north of the border, that is a good thing.

When the team started, I was living in Japan.  I came home at Christmas and snagged a T-shirt (which I still have) featuring a cute dinosaur figure.  I have to say the evolution of the clawed basketball and the incredible “We the North” slogan has been incredible.  I don’t know if there is a better slogan anywhere.

For all the fans who were there at the beginning, this popularity might make them a bit upset, but they should enjoy it and not worry.  After all, growing the fan-base was always the intention.  Getting a winner on the court was always the intention.  Getting more and more people involved was always the intention.

Go Raptors! We the North!

Posted in adversity, appreciation, Aspirations, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, authentic, basketball, NBA, sports, Toronto, Toronto Raptors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Lazy Sunday

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It might be a bold statement, but I finally feel like summer is here. Saturday’s bike ride was in warm temperatures with lots of sun.  I no longer need the arm warmers and everyone has their bike shorts on–as opposed to the long legged variety many people still had on just last week.

Though I am staring at the rain soaked landscape today, yesterday was a great day. I had my shorts on and I enjoyed the temperatures.

Did I make great use of the day? If you call enjoying a lazy Sunday good use of the day, well then I did.

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Where Are We Going?

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My cycling club does an admirable job of maintaining their website. They even send out quite a bit of email about upcoming events.  I don’t always pay attention to it all, but I did note that something special was going to happen this weekend.  All the groups were to converge on a tiny community centre that has hosted events before (forgive me, but I do not know the name of it–I’ve been there before to try on the club kit.  I’ve ridden past it a few times.  I even know what road it is on…but…..).  Another group was going to do some cleaning of the roadway near there as a community service and then depart on fast ride to the lake and back.

As I entered the usual start location, much of this was all unclear to me. I don’t own a Garmin, and I don’t have a lot of data on my phone package, so I use a pretty basic cycling computer and then compare with Strava after I get home.  I don’t download the routes and often only have a vague clue as to where we are.  I know the major roads, but not much else.

june 8 ride

 

 

Waiting in the start location, I gathered together with the C group. I recognized a few faces from last year, but I did not see anyone I had been riding with for the last few weeks.  As it turned out, nobody was there to guide the C group.  One of the other leaders, perhaps due to a sexist upbringing asked me if I knew the area well.  I say that because my group consisted of myself, one newly-joined male rider, and four women.  Of the four women, three competed in triathlons and the third was a soccer player.  So not only was geographically challenged, I was also the least fit.

Fortunately, Marina, took charge and pulled out her iPhone that had the route on it.  She led this ragtag group out of the parking lot and on our way.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have a mount on her bike for the phone and had to rely on voice cues.  At first, there were quite hard to hear.

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What does all this have to do with anything? Well, basically, we were meant to reach the community centre on the loop back but ended up hitting it on the outbound lap.  When we arrived the cookies and donuts were out, but the coffee had not been made.  This did not bother me as I had had enough coffee, and just wanted to top off my water bottle.

In addition to the snacks, the club also was giving out sunscreen and providing everyone with a chance to try on the club kit and order more of it. I had originally planned on wearing the club colours this year, but when they didn’t have my size at the original fitting, I decided against it and allocated my funds elsewhere.

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There’s a Geese crossing sign on my route.

The rest of the ride was quite good. Most of the group was the same speed so we stuck together quite well.  I don’t think a C group should be dropping anyone.  It wasn’t particularly hilly as my Strava stats indicate, but it was picturesque. I hope the photos I have included will show that.  Additionally, some of the tarmac was quite smooth.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, group rides, Newmarket Eagles, positive comments, Saturday morning, self improvement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Catches Us All

Upon first glance, Today’s Perfect Moment, is somewhat quiet in nature. However, don’t let it fool you.  It has its own depth.

After a long day that began with a little bit of a lie in, and continued in the dentist chair and ended in a hot classroom administering practice speaking tests, I was thoroughly beat. The bus ride didn’t do me any favours either, but since I complain about commuting too much, I would rather just leave that out.

From the stop to my home is a short straight walk. It’s monotony is only broken by beautiful sunsets over the Asian market, or either stationary or moving obstacles on the sidewalk.  moving obstacles include walkers, people cycling on the sidewalk (don’t even get me started on this one) and people not paying attention because they are looking at their phones.  Stationary obstacles include construction, misplaced furniture for garbage pickup, fallen trees, and really slow moving walkers.

Today, there was a stationary obstacle. The city had replaced some electrical equipment (giant green box that in my childhood was cool but positively reeks with uncoolness in my adulthood) and needed to replace the sidewalk in front of it.  To ward off mischievous types, they put up a plastic fence all around it–I’ll let you know if anyone manages to defeat the maximum security.

Rounding the obstacle, I spotted my neighbour out walking her super cute and super intelligent dog Benny. I stopped to have a pleasant conversation. We spoke for a while and wondered why Benny was on a leash.  She explained that he had gone deaf and no longer heeded her calls.  I was going to accuse the dog of indifference, but thought it unfair.

I guess time catches us all. Earlier in the day, my hygienist remarked that she had known me for some 18 years.  She wondered where time went.  I could have told her where, but I thought that too was unfair.

Dear readers, you know me well. So what was the Perfect Moment?

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, chance meetings, commuting, dogs, obstacles, time, Viva | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Growing Enthusiasm

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I’ve written before about choosing birthday gifts. In those posts, I wrote about gifts for my youngest niece and nephews.  I want to buy them every toy in the toy store and luckily, they want ever toy in the toy store.  They also aren’t shy about telling you what they want in the most direct of ways.

Buying for adults, though, is harder.  Adults come pre-conditioned to utter completely useless phrases like, “I don’t need much.” or “Just something small.” or ” Whatever you get me will be fine.  Don’t go to any trouble.”  And of course the topper, “Surprise me!”  None of these suggestions will lead to less aimless wandering of the store.  Worse, they might cause buying paralysis or panic buying.

Most recently, I bought my girlfriend some watercolours, a book on how to paint using watercolours with exercises in it, and some brushes. I thought it was a good gift, but at times my confidence waivered.  I worried that she wouldn’t have time to do it.  I also worried that while it came up as a want when we were watching some British painting show on YouTube, whether or not the desire still there.

I should also point out that visual art is not something I really gravitate to. I have been to a couple of big art galleries in Europe and enjoyed them.  I have enjoyed some aspects of pop art.  I have enjoyed comic books and Japanese animation.  However, I still prefer rhythm of words to colours and images.

That also means I don’t know a lot about art and what constitutes good art material. I was concerned as to whether or not the paints I chose were adequate.  I also wondered if you could actually learn something like this from a book–but being a man of words, I quickly pushed that concern off to the side.

On the day of the big opening she was quite happy and I felt pretty good that I had made the right choice.

Blast forward a few days, and we come to Today’s Perfect Moment. My girlfriend confided in me that she had started reading the book and had watched some videos on YouTube.  She is rather busy with work. so I didn’t expect her to have any time in the near future for this.  However, I could see a glint of enthusiasm in her eye.

Earlier today, she had the opportunity to visit the art store where I picked up the material. They had set up a display of watercolours so that people could try them out.  I encouraged her to go and check it out–if only to ask some questions.  It also didn’t seem like a bad idea to do some practice on other people’s materials first.

When we talked about it later, she had an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen for a few weeks…maybe longer. It wasn’t just a glint in her eye, but something that seemed to envelop her.  It wasn’t that edgy kind of excitement that some people get when they’re getting ready for a vacation.  It wasn’t that edgy feeling you get when a concert is about to start.  It was something deeper.

It was so great to see. It was infectious.  It was Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in art, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, birthday, enthusiasm, gifts, happiness, How to, painting, presents, smile | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Compassion Given

I entered work on a sombre note. A friend and co-worker, the person who occupied the desk beside me for about half the year, unexpectedly (to me at least) passed away over the weekend.  His name was Douglas and he was a very interesting individual who had done a wide variety of things before coming to teaching at a later age.  He is one of two people who have been at the company longer than I have.  He was well liked, had a great sense of humour, and both musical and visually artistic abilities.  He liked organizing concerts and events.  He also had seen some of the greatest acts of the 20th century performing live at both large and small venues.  It was no wonder he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

Though the goal of this post was not to eulogize him, I seem to have done that. It is probably important to understand, to at least a minor degree, who he was before I can explain Today’s Perfect Moment.

I entered work on a very sombre note. I glanced at his desk.  The duty of teaching the final week of his class would fall to me.  I wanted to do right by him and the students, but I really didn’t know where to begin.

The only other person who had been at the company longer than I walked into the staff room. She was crying.  I was worried that she had only now just heard the news.  Instead, she’d been weeping and laughing for the past day recounting memories of the man.

It was then that several people approached the two of us offering hugs, handshakes, and whatever we needed. I don’t know how I should characterize it.  Obviously they thought we would be the most affected as we might have been closest to him.  They wanted to help and it was nice to see that in this world often characterized as impersonal and cold, that people would make a point of immediately reaching out.

Later on in the day, I got a message that messenger had a big run of people commenting on his passing. Our former Director of Studies (DOS) put out a message to those who no longer work at the same company, but who knew him.  There condolences and written memories of the man reminded me that there is a unique community of souls amongst those who’ve worked with us.  I have called them an odd bunch, but they are compassionate and they tell some great stories.

It’s hard to consider these Perfect Moments on a day when most of us were just trying to survive, but there was something so beautiful about them that it is hard to deny. Maybe they are not Perfect, but they were comforting.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, Folk music, music, sombre, teaching | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Killer Beer

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Are there too many craft beers out there? This one is branded with the name and number of my all-time favourite hockey player, Doug Gilmour.  He served as Captain of my Maple Leafs, and was the single inspiration that got be back watching hockey in 91.  As a player, he was as hard nosed as they come and his determination was much bigger than his size.  There is a reason why his nickname was “killer.”  As a brew master….

Let’s back up a minute.

I asked the question, are there too many craft beers out there because I really do wonder about that. In a country of 35 million people, how many are of legal drinking age?  How many might choose the now legal marijuana over beer–only one of which can be enjoyed outside on a warm spring/summer day? (and that isn’t beer in this province)  In addition to that, how many are old enough to have seen Killer play hockey?

Another question; Should we be looking to professional athletes (ex or otherwise) to sell beer? Celebrity endorsements are as old as Converse basketball shoes, but are they needed nowadays?  Is this going to turn a small brewery into a powerhouse?

This isn’t an official beer review, but I can say that it was tasty. I don’t know if Killer had any real input into making this, but it isn’t a stain on his legacy.  I don’t know how widely available it is, but I would drink it again.

Sorry for no Perfect Moment, but I received some sad news this morning and despite having a nice weekend with my girlfriend, I don’t have the heart to write about a Perfect Moment. I did need to distract myself a little, though.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beer, Doug Gilmour, endorsements, hockey, Maple Leafs, review, sponsorship, sports, Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Disinterested Ride

eagles 2019 june 1

73kms

849m of elevation

I hadn’t been on the bike in two weeks. Had this been late in the season and had I already had lots of kilometres in, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.  As it is relatively early in the season, there are causes for concern.

The cat spent half an hour trying to convince me to feed him early. Though I declined, he was persistent.  That meant a half hour less sleep.  After feeding him, I managed to get in 30 more minutes of sleep and dream a few cycling dreams.

I woke up with plenty of time to eat a little and get organized. This was definitely better than the morning scramble I usually do.  I was also pretty efficient with my use of time.  I checked my tires while the bread was toasting.  I put on my sunscreen while the kettle was boiling.  Like I said….a good use of time.

I arrived at the parking lot where we almost always meet. There were a lot of people, but surprisingly very few women had turned out.  It was explained to me by Victor, who was riding a rather new Trek Madone (bike envy), that there was a women’s Eagle ride (the E-gals) starting from a separate place.  The women sitting astride her bike beside me was totally unaware of it.  I hope this is not an every week occurrence.  I like the male female balance in the group rides.

We set off and took my least favourite of all the Eagles’ routes. I had to ride it four weeks in a row last year and it dampened my enthusiasm for riding last year.   The thing is I don’t know why–but more on that later.

Shortly into our ride, we lost one of our members to a mechanical problem. His bike was rideable, but his shifters were rather loose, and since they also double as the breaks, he felt it wiser to get it looked after as soon as possible.  All this happened while the group got separated by a long traffic light.

So, the ride. Despite being faster on many of the sections than I was last year(12 according to Strava), I just wasn’t into it and I am not sure why.  It was the kind of ride that makes one question his or her commitment to cycling.  The weather was awesome.  I had on my UV sleeves so my arms weren’t encrusted with sunscreen and dirt.  The group was good.  I just don’t know.  The scenery was quite beautiful, but it didn’t move me.

Here’s what I think.

I am tired. I worked far too much last week and I slept far too little.  I wasn’t falling asleep tired, but I didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to chase.  When they lost me on the climb, I stayed lost.  I climbed the hill, but without much gusto.  I put a lot of effort into the downhills to catch up (with my size, I can really get the bike moving on a downhill), but by the end of the ride, I could cloze the gap, but I couldn’t eliminate it.

There is something about that route I don’t like. It has a lot of long climbs and lots of short climbs.  I’ve just come to associate it with bad days on the bike.  I also doubt that I ate very well this week.  I wasn’t eating to win.  I haven’t gained any weight, but I haven’t lost any either.

Training could be another factor. I know when I go twice a week, things are much better.  If I could win the lottery, quit my job, and cycle full time, I could probably get up into that A group.  I should also stop making excuses and get out twice or three times a week.

Those sound like possibilities, but I am more likely to put it down as “just not my day”. Strava disagrees on some points (12 personal records), but on the whole I think that is a fair description.  On Strava, I titled it disinterested ride.  I hope nobody gets the wrong idea.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, bike envy, cycling, cycling gear, fitness, group rides, jealousy, Newmarket Eagles, Saturday morning, scenery, training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments