Sunday, 30 December 2012

You don't actually have to be a guinea pig.

Awwww jeeze.

You guys sure have short memories down there in Canada's seedy underbelly.  The same geniuses who approved the whole DDT is good for me-e-e fiasco:

Yes, the very same good folks who engineered this:

and this:

Please.  Wake up. Don't buy the party line this time around. 
Don't be a guinea pig.  Don't eat the Frankenfish.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Hitch your wagon to a star, or you will just stay where you are. D.H. Lawrence

 We know not where our dreams will take us, but we can probably see quite clearly where we'll go without them. 
Marilyn Grey

  Isn't it interesting that we celebrate the birth of light at the darkest time of the year?  We don't celebrate the dawn of darkness at the summer solstice, yet we celebrate light at the height of darkness.  
Why do you suppose that is?
I think it's because like plants, we are drawn to the light. The irony is that if it weren't for the dark, we would never know starlight.
Now is the time to envision the year ahead, to dream our sweetest dreams and to imagine their fruition, to reach for those stars and to believe we can make it so.

 After all, anything is possible.
(you never know when an art shot might strike, for example)
Whatever MOVES you,
whatever motivates you...
nurture it.  Make it grow.

Christmas?  Yeah, so it's gone for another year, but who gives a fig? It's up to us to find something to celebrate in every day.

There is a certain rhyme and even a bit of reason to all of our festivities - indeed, to the seasons.
This dark time is like the pause between breaths, it's ripe with potential.
Make the most of it, do your very best.  This isn't a dress rehearsal.  It's a test.

 The irony is that the answers are clear if only we keep close those we hold dear.
There is only one law, and it's only one word.
Love is the law.
It's that simple. 
That's it.
Now you know so please do your bit.

The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.  Ghandi

Let's make today that day.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The White Stuff: there's no business like snow business.

This is what my morning commute looked like,  though this is not my  photo.

Over and over again the last two days, it's the same question: "You didn't ride in THIS?"

It's the same thing every year. Yes, I ride in the winter, and that's no snow job. It wasn't a ton of the white stuff this time around, so I chose to stick with the Royale, even though there was a case to be made for those knobbies on the old Rocky Mountain Soul. But I like my creature comforts, the basket and panniers, the fenders and mudflaps, and Bea Bike (I accidentally named it one day) is comfortable to ride, too, so for a commute, I ride it whenever I can.

People say "You're hardcore."  I dunno about that.  My legs are pretty hard, I guess.

It's not about being hard, or tough, or brave, or any of that, though.  It's just how I like to live. And yes, you're probably right in assuming that there's an element of fool-hearty in it. Even so, it's still miles and miles better than the alternatives.  It's kindov fun, too, certainly a lot more fun than mucking about on foot or in a car in the exquisitely icy slurry we call Vancouver during a winter snowstorm.

It was  a bit of a mess.
Our CFO was stuck for hours behind buses which were unable to make it up an incline.  I drive just often enough to remind myself just  how very  little I like it.

If you're from the prairies, or the interior, or anyplace that gets cold and freezes for the season, you're probably thinking "So what?  It's just a bit of snow," and fair enough. In the prairies, in the mountains, in the high north, in lots of places, your average temperature tends to fall below zero, so the snow becomes hard packed.  The ground turns into a frozen substrate for new snowflakes to fall and settle upon.  If you allow the snow to accumulate, air is trapped between flakes, and over time it compresses until it sounds like Styrofoam when you ride on it. That's a whole 'nother kind of winter.

Rider on the Storm.  Rider on the Storm.  Into this slush we're thrown...
The thing is, it's different here.  People from other places laugh at how a little bit of snow in Vancouver can cripple everything the way it does. I know, cause I was laughing, too, from a distance. Same thing happens in London, and for the same reasons. It has something to do with how it doesn't typically freeze here. (London will freeze as cold as Moscow if the Gulf Stream is diluted by melting ice caps, but that's another conversation.)   For now, anyhow, winter storms are ice storms, generally speaking.

Every year there is a first winter storm, but this year's was a bit special.  This year saw the newly unveiled Port Mann bridge open to commuters.  And it's now charging tolls, too.  It's brand spanking new - hasn't even been open for a month yet. It's a remarkable bridge. I mean, really.  Look at it. It's a marvel of engineering, the world's widest bridge, a monument to something or other. And apparently it's closed when it snows.

Closed During Ice Storms.
Isn't that funny? 

Some people don't think so. Imagine that.

A well-respected bridge engineer from the EU, one Christos T Georgakis of the Technical University of Denmark, talked to the guys on CBC's Early Edition radio show this morning.  He (loosely) said 'It's a known problem with cable bridges. Get over it. It's too expensive to fix, and none of the fixes really work anyway.  The good thing is that it goes in cycles, so it will happen for a while, and then it will stop for a while.  It's not clear why this happens."

Isn't that comforting?

Surely everyone who finds an icy little bundle of love sitting in their lap as they cruise across a massive bridge in eight lanes of traffic just thinks to themselves "Oh right,"and carries merrily along.  None of them jump out of their skins.  Ever.

It's not going to pose any kind of problems at all, this bridge that drops ice bombs when it snows. What could possibly go wrong??!

I'm just thankful for my bike. For all bikes, really. And also I am thankful for the fact that I don't need to dodge falling ice bombs on the Port Mann Bridge.  Yes, I am mighty thankful for that. Apparently a hundred cars were hit before it was closed for the afternoon.

I'm predicting a full scale insurgence of bicycle commuters here in the lower mainland, but then it doesn't take much psychic ability to see that one coming, does it? 

It's better this way, anyway.
If I were the kind of person who actually liked to drive cars, I would be really very kind to the kind of person who prefers to ride a bike, because that person means there are fewer cars between you and the next available bridge.  

Oh here we go. I can feel an attack of elevated smugness coming on. Bike Snob warns these moments are  "punctuated by moments of abject terror as motorists do their best to kill you."

Some drivers are surprisingly aggressive, given the conditions.  And some people actually point out that I have no right to be on the road. At all. Can you believe it?!? Some people, indeed one city councilor in particular, thinks my safety and well being shouldn't be a priority when it comes to road clearance.  

Bless his two sizes too small heart. He's probably related to Robba the Fords.

It's all good.  I can navigate lots of messy situations, if I have to, but my son commutes, too.  He is a vulnerable member of the commuting public, and it's in your best interests to serve and protect his best interests, mister car-driving public. He rides those bike lanes daily, and there are more and more of us who do all of the time. 

Build them and they will come, remember?  

Reflective vests are the new Mayoral Robes.
Please notice what a good thing this is - for everyone.  I heard the mayor rode through the storm, too, in a suit.  Plus he's hot.  C'mon.  You have to admit he's kinda hot.  He's a great role model for kids like mine, and for his friends, too, who might not have quite so much stamina, cause they are not used to hauling their own asses.

If you're reading this, then chances are pretty good that you read Snobbers, too. So you know this whole thing, the entire universe is just a simulation, right?  Everything, even matter as rock hard and solid as a glittering diamond is really just a shimmering mirage of energy, a kind of "program," if you will. 

It makes perfect sense to me. I might be a few cards short of a full deck, but the science is clear.  The Theory of Relativity works. Quantum physics also works, and Schrodinger's cat is a bit spooky  because the paradox is real. In the end, science has proven that we as observers actually create the universe we are observing by the very act of observing it.  This means that we get to create the simulation we want here in this simulation.

 To ride or not to ride, that is the question.

Whether it is nobler in the main to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous traffic, or to take arms against a sea of poor urban design, and by opposing, end them...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

My secret garden: finding the sweet spot.

In troubled times it's good to find peace of mind.
It's both a journey and a destination, and my bike always helps me get there.

 The snowline is creeping down the mountains now... not much of a beach day.

We bundled up against the cold, and headed East along False Creek to Sun Yat Sen Garden

I always wanted a nice rack.

The bike route took us toward our destination, an oasis of peaceful beauty in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver's skid row.

You'll find the entrance just past a couple of pre-historic Big Dummies. Made in China.

It's a portal to another place entirely, like a reverse birth canal, where you leave behind the cacophony of  the world at large to enter a womb-like space of tranquillity.

Holeshot on the singletrack to serenity.

You'll find portals within portals, worlds within worlds, all of it designed to bring you into that silent, open space in your heart.

I checked it out.  The pond is full of crap carp.

It's been lovely, but now it's time to leaf.

You'd never know what magic lies within.

I could say I attained nirvana, but like this guy, I'd be lion.
At least it was fun tryin'.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Little tiny pieces of peace: take 'em where you find 'em.

I am a derp.

The other day I was going on at mini-me about how he spends waaay too much time with his face in a screen, playing Minecraft, and he laughed at me! The wee twerp laughed at me. I had hoped he would be considerably older than that when finally he saw me in all my ridiculous, dorktastic glory, but no. It's that obvious.   He's merely nine, and he laughed at me.

He said "What are you talking about?  You spend more time in front of a screen than I do!"  And he's right, of course.

I love technology.  The fact that you and I could video conference at a moment's notice with several people spread across the planet in real time, any time is a miracle of modern mankind and something to celebrate, isn't it? When I was growing up, that seemed very Star Trek-ish, but here we are! I've long used digital media and social networking to keep in touch with friends and family overseas, and I had a wonderful time over the span of a couple of years meeting people on Plenty of Fish, too.  These days it's this malarkey which captivates my attention.  And it's Snob's Blog where I find myself bumping and grinding in the peloton of online exchanges.

I love it.  I learn stuff online every day.  Important stuff, too.  Why, just this week I learned that you can work for the FBI even if you are the kind of person who likes doing things sans pants.

Agent Shirley Gnome
Heeeeeeey... come to think of it, a career in law enforcement might be fun, what with all the handcuffs and everything.  It would be sweet to ride as a member of the mounted police, too, don't you think?

Will you look at that?! Our dear Snobbybuns is both informative AND thought provoking..  Only trouble is, he then went on to use the word cocksucker in a pejorative sense, silly dooders.  It only serves to underline how far I have yet to go if I am to succeed in my mission to bring the world's sexual mores into the third millennium.  Meh.


Sigh. It's not Snobbers' fault I'm sad, though.

It's been one of those weeks for me, the very worst sort of week.  It's always alright it the end, though. I always have everything I need.  The day I figured THAT out was a HUGE that day a big part of my underlying daily stress, and my fear, just up and disappeared.  Thank goodness. And so it makes sense that just when I feel all alone and at the very end of my rope, just as I begin to despair of ever seeing any kind of substantive shift in our cultural world, I notice that there are other people out there moving the same message as me, other people singing the same song. Blessed be.

The arts are the best chariots a message can hope for, so I'll let Shirley spell this one out for me...

Honey, don't be afraid to put his monkey where your mouth is...

oral sex = good

Show me a true denier, and I'll show you a liar.

Oh!  I found another fabulous woman out there working the cause.  She brings a smile to my face, too, bless her sexy soul:

Tell you what:  the world needs more women like Carin Bondar, because when more of us are switched on, we will finally find ourselves well on our way to a peaceful planet.


All this hating is bringing us down.  Haven't you heard? WWIV is being fought in your head.  Right now.

 You can't always control your circumstances, but you can control what you think of them, and that affects how you feel about them, which determines how you respond to them.  In his oft quoted "God does not play dice" statement, Einstein asked us to consider whether the universe is a hostile or a friendly place. In the end, each of us is responsible for our state of mind, our state of well-being. Our hearts and minds are reflected in our answer to Einstein's question.  We each get to choose for ourselves, moment by moment whether we are focused on thoughts of love, compassion and gratitude, or on thoughts of anger, hatred and fear.

I choose love. I appreciate your being her dear digital friend.  Thank you for being here. 

Please let me share with you something which profoundly improves my quality of life.  

I've been very busy of late and had let my meditation practice fall by the wayside.  I was in quite a bit of pain, and was feeling miserable by dinner-time, when an interview on the CBC reminded me that meditation offers proven pain relief.

I always have everything I need.  Always.  

You do, too.

Here's an easy peasy, sweet-as-honey-pie little three minute meditation on Gratitude:

 These inter-tubes are pretty sweet, after all.  With the click of a button I can send a little peace, some gratitude and a bit of joy out and over to you, and three minutes after you click, you will feel it, too.

It's so cool to be able to say
Peace be with you.

ps - Despite all appearances, enlightenment is nigh.  
Have you heard the good news about Jizzus?  Kiss him on the ring and you're guaranteed a second coming.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Seeing the forest for the trees.

One observant soul noted how the big fat Vancouver raindrop missed me somehow as it fell from last week's lunch-time sucker-hole in the sky. Today it was raining your garden variety Cadillac along with all the cats and dogs...

lived to blog again
With the solstice and the end of the year Mayan epoch fast approaching, and I needed some soul suffonsifying  forest time, and since the snowline is halfway down the North Shore mountains right now, we decided to keep it simple, and stick to our local trails.  We started close-ish to Kits beach, dropped mini-me-b off

near the red house blob approximation I drew on the map below.  Then we cycled on bike-ways for about twelve minutes-ish, till we got to Pacific Spirit Regional Park. That's the great big green blob there in the map below.  It's full of trees.

It's full of trails through trees, and it's a great place to go and breathe.  Science figures it's all the negative ions in a forest which soothe us, but whatever it is, there's something healing, something grounding about spending time in the trees. I love big trees. We came in on Imperial road, which looks like this:

We found the hundredth  red balloon. 

Aaand arrived at one of the bear paw pictures on the map, only to discover that they resemble neither bears nor their paws, but that didn't matter, because trees.  

We made our way through the trees for a bit, and soon I felt like me again.  Dirty, that is...

and wet,


and happy to ride another day.

Friday, 7 December 2012

I`ll be damned. I've seen the light, and I don't like it.

My dear fellow cyclist,

Hello, and thank you for joining me, both here and out there on two wheels.  Here I am, just off the bike lane on the seawall behind the Convention Centre on a rare rain-free December lunch hour ride with the man. He is facing north east looking across the Burrard Inlet at North Vancouver.

These rare, rain-free lunch moments in December are sometimes referred to as sucker-holes, for obvious reasons.

I've been making my way through the world on two wheels for a long time, and until recently, it was a bit of a lonely affair.  That's why I am so happy you are here! To put it bluntly, you normalise me. I am no longer made to feel entirely starkers for my choices, and better yet, there's safety in numbers.  And thank you for bikelanes.  Thank you for being here because now there are bike-lanes where before there were none.

I'm comfortable with risk, remarkably so for a girl, it seems. Scientific American says "Women are the indicator species for bike friendly cities...  a superior strategy to increase pedal pushing could be had by asking the perennial question: What do women want?" (Which falls a bit short, don't you think? It's always a good idea to know the answer to that one.)   

 I embraced cycling early on because I had the good fortune to do some touring through the Rockies as an adolescent, so I sort of grew up taking my lane.  I put a lot of miles in cars back then, too, from the tender age of 14.  It was a right of passing in our extended family that each child had the opportunity to take driving lessons at the earliest opportunity. Catholic family, lots of kids, lots of dance, music, soccer... you know the drill.  Once you're of age you're drafted into taxi service. Our parents would send us all off in a caravan of gas guzzling suburbans and sedans on boxing day, and on spring break, to Banff National Park to ski at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise.  At the time, we just loved that they were willing to let us all of us kids go off on our own, but mum later confessed that they just desperately needed the peace. (I have only one sibling, myself, but you never knew how many people would be around for dinner, nor which beds might be filled with cousins that night.)

Anyhoo, I learned the road from both perspectives, and Alberta roads were wild way back then, if only cause the men of my family were let loose upon them. Even in the early years I rode my bike with the understanding that I was sometimes invisible. In those days, if it was after dark, at least half of the drivers out there had been drinking. Everything is so much more civil on the roads now.  I find myself giving the peace sign and saying "Thank You!" far more often than ever I fling the finger these days.  Though that isn't always the case. I did lose it early Wednesday morning.  I yelled "Fuck Off!" very loudly and very clearly so that the driver who was cutting me off could hear me even if she had the radio on. Gulp.  Then I looked up and noticed that everyone on the street was staring at me.

It was a street just like this street, except it was in the middle of all the skyscrapers in financial district downtown, on a bike lane during the early morning rush hour.
She wasn't moving fast, and I wasn't in any real danger, but she didn't see me because she didn't look and I got all ugly on her ass and in the process made a complete and utter ass of myself. It was an act of PMT.  That's Pre-Menstrual Terrorism. (There's this lovely high-grade B6 supplement from the naturopath which solves all that, but I tried a cheap drugstore B supplement, and I got nothing. De nada.) Sigh.  I blush to think of it. Who was that woman hollering from inside me?

It's just that I like to be visible to drivers because I like to be alive. Guess I might be a bit CDO sometimes... That's OCD, except in the right order.

When the first little man came along, I put him into a Burly trailer on his first birthday, tall flag waving, and we went along our merry way.  From the moment he could pedal we would set out together daily.  I walked my Smugness Flotilla (thank you Snob!), and he rode his wee wheels, going as far as his energetic little legs could take him.  It's incredible how quickly children build stamina. When he finally pooped out, I'd pop him in the front of the trailer, and his bike in the back, and off we'd go along our merry way.

When he was three we moved to the Sunshine Coast, to a spot on Lower Road in between Camp Byng at point A, and Robert's Creek to the west of it, to a house on the beach approximately where I put the purple star on the map below.  As you can see, the only way to get there from the Lower Mainland is to cross the water.  Cougars have been known to swim the distance, but most cattle sheep humans take the ferry across to Langdale from Horseshoe Bay over there on the North Shore.  (Except the ferries don't typically bang through the northern tip of Bowen Island the way the line suggests.  Cougars probably stop to rest there, though.) Though I am a strong swimmer, I generally take the ferry.

If you've ever taken your bike from Vancouver to the sunshine coast, you will have climbed the hill into Gibson's Landing, and you will understand how these legs came to be. Here's some guy going down the same hill on his longboard:

Once a month or so I went to the city on a supply run, and I would bring a fully loaded trailer back up the hill. The Sunshine Coast was a quasi-wilderness, semi-rural hippy/redneck community back then, and it was very dark at night. There were quite a few drunks in pick-up trucks driving around then, too. (If you're sensing a trend, you're right.) I guess at the time I might have been a bit CDO about the lights cause I figured they were surely my best protection from hormone fuelled speed demons hurtling through space and time.

Besides, this is Canada.  It's practically dark all day long this time of year, especially when it's raining and storming.  The sunshine coast receives the brunt of storms coming up along the straight, too, in a way Vancouver doesn't. We lived across from Toni Rd, and there was an easy two or three hundred metres of forest between the road and the house on the beach.  It was pitch black dark, as in you-can't-see-the-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark but once you got to the beach, it was always worth the black crossing, especially when (horror of horrors it happened once!) we didn't have the light.

Cheryl Ann Park Beach
Mark Benson, Suncoast Photography
We had a wee  bit of sand at our place, a little tiny beach, but you see from this photo how densely forested the neighbourhood is.  Sometimes we canoed our way from the bonsai garden at the bottom of the garden, to the pier at the general store,  which was about a mile away.  Whenever we didn't ride our bikes, that is.

Roberts Creek Pier
I love my life. I like to be visible and I also like to see.  

I had a wee one depending on me, and I took my lighting seriously. Not to mention the CDO.  I sourced the best lighting system I could find and in my Super Nooobness I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the best lights money could buy.  I got the exact same ones the LAPD was using for it's bicycle patrol.  My bike had a lighting system better than most cars had, plus I had an amazing search beam. It was sooooo cool.  The re-chargeable batteries were the size of a water bottle way back then,and I had two of them so there was a fresh battery every day. I loved it  It was a sweet piece of technology, and I absolutely loved it. I take some risks, but I take my kids' safety seriously. I love a good light system as much as the next guy.  
Like this next guy:

Did you catch that?  Four modes PLUS flashing. And did you notice how the flashing mode flashes the full on bright mode?  Now, I understand the importance of seeing and being seen.  I concede that flashing lights are beneficial when you are running a light system which operates off of a couple of triple A batteries.  The flashing makes you more visible for sure.  But this light system is not like that.  These lights are just as powerful as a car's lights, and can you imagine what chaos we would have on the roads if cars all started flashing?

I understand why so many people opt to buy high powered lighting systems, but I don't understand why it's legal to sell them with a flash function.  How much personal safety can you possibly achieve when you distract and bedazzle the drivers around you by burning their retinas with your high-intensity strobe lights?  How can it possibly be good for YOU?

A good friend of mine, another mother and indicator species for the success of cycling said to me this week "I would gladly ride my bike this time of year if it weren't for all those stupid strobe lights.  They make me feel nauseous and they give me a headache, and it just makes me so angry to see to many of them that I hate riding at this time of year.  Please bring that up on your blog this week."

I couldn't agree more.  I've seen the light, and I don't like it one bit.  Enlightened Cyclist or not, I'm begging you, please.  Turn off the flashers already.

Thank you.

Here's something else I've seen:

What type of Wabbit is it?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Welcome to the fold, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love the collapsible bike.

C'mon.  Admit it. You love to hate the folding bike. The hate's out there, it's real.  Folders are vilified, you can feel it, it's tangible.  You can cut it like a knife.  I've read the vitriol unleashed on our favourite dork-mobiles when folding bikes are the topic of discussion, and I can't pretend it doesn't hurt just a little bit.

But baby, I've got a Strange Love...

And circus bear is the new black.

Everybody loves to hate a folder, but don't be obtuse.  Nerds are hot, too.

Hey baby, what's your sine?

It's waaaaaay beyond edgy.  It's angled.

Plus it glows in the dark.  How cool is that?

It's attractiveness hinges on its ability to fold, but how many people really make the connection?

  dorks r us anonymous

  make your connection
please, Captain, not in front of the Klingons