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Recent quotidian vignettes too long-form for a status update

Today I did something I cheerfully call The Death Ride:

  1. Ride from Port Moody to New Westminster for work
  2. After work, ride from New Westminster to south Richmond
  3. 35-minute bike race
  4. ride back to Port Moody

The name is a misnomer. You only wish you were dead. The morning ride is about 30 minutes, the evening ride is 3-4 hours, depending on how you figure it.

Failure's Virtues

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. - Thomas Alva Edison.

I have been thinking about the utility of failure, especially its importance to institutional quality.

Axe contest winners!

Yes, at long last I got around to judging these entries. And I picked a winner.

Actually, I picked two. And an honorable mention, who didn't win anything.

HONORABLE MENTION: Bill Asher. He evoked the spirit of "friendly" riding very well and punctuated it with a "Hell yeah! I love riding a damn bike." Very anthemic.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: Bob Schwartz. His meditative story of perseverance and effort and simple, agonizing riding with his daughter, was worthy of note. TLO picked it as the winner, and I said it was powerful enough, but not anthemic enough. We're going to award Bob, or maybe his daughter, a nice new cycling toque from my club.

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER: Dave the skiier.

The Worst Journey in the World, The Good Parts Version

At the recommendation of a friend, I read The Worst Journey in the World (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 available via the Gutenberg Project), an account of Scott's fatal Antarctic expedition. It's an amazing story, told adequately.

There are no spoilers in this review. Or rather, the book assumes from the start that the reader knows how this story turns out: Scott, with four companions (and many more in support teams) makes an attempt to become the first man to reach the South Pole. They make it, but Norwegian explorer Roald Admunsen has beaten them by a mere month, and Scott and his party die on the return trip.

Enormously impressive cave found on nearby island, locals unimpressed

[Yet another reminder: if you post your best "power anthem" (i.e., a sort of personal-best moment) in the comments on my "win a video camera" post, you could win a Flip MinoHD, courtesy AXE, makers of fine tools for manly stink reduction. No need to read the entirety of that page: just post a good story. Contest wraps shortly after June 8, so enter now.]

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Why doesn't anyone tell me these things?!

Obscene message in a bottle found on a dirty beach

IMG_0904.JPG I guess we should have expected it, really. On May 15 we hiked to Marmari (Μαρμαρι) Beach, a 2 hour round trip on rough, hilly paths (plus half an hour of swimming and beachcombing).

Our reward was nice swimming and the filthiest beach I have ever seen. I don't directly blame anyone.

It seems that certain beaches are just well-positioned to catch every bit of floatsam around, and this is one of them: the litter on the beach was surely not the result of visitors to the beach, as the character of the debris wasn't right: not enough broken liquor bottles, too much stuff that looked like it washed overboard: milk crates, orphaned sandals, broken up plastic bits of just about anything imaginable, what looked like a marine transponder or radio, and so forth.

Tales from the Crisis Zone

IMGP5015.jpg[Another reminder that I'm giving away a Flip Mino HD, courtesy of AXE, makers of fine body washes for teenaged men, and those who want to smell like them. I have had a chance to use both now, and can report that they both work surprisingly well. TLO's opinion of the "Shock" flavor have been notably positive. My tasting notes say the nose is good, with aromas of seaweed and menthol, and no bitter aftertaste. Or was that the wine from last night?

My big fat Greek bicycle

Today is my rest day from riding, and instead I did some gardening with my father-in-law. The "planting" we were doing involved, quite literally, breaking rocks with a pick in the hot sun. It was fun! It was fun because I only do that sort of thing once a year or so. Let's not dwell on it. Instead, some notes on my recent bike upgrades, which I put together the very first day we got to the house. Priorities!

Before:

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After:

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It's my ridiculous city bike.

This thing rocks. I've taken a basic 5-speed city bike and added just enough parts to make it into a happy set of wheels for Syros.

Notes from a troubled and sunburned country

It does no good for me to pretend to have a special insight into Greece, its economy, its national character, or its current role as bête noire of the Eurozone. But I'm here, I was recently delayed by riots, and if I was shy about offering opinions based on scant evidence, well, what kind of bloggery would I be engaging in? I'm not a mommy, after all, so I can't tell you what my kids or my appliances did.

Notes from Syros

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Here's what I did Monday: