Bike Parking in the Olympic Village

Tap & Barrel Bike Parking
Doesn’t seem to matter how many bike racks they add, it never seems to be enough. At least not on sunny weekend afternoons. I love this neighbourhood.

Craft Bike Parking

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Living Like the Jetsons – Rosie the Roomba

Roomba and Cat
I’ve outsourced my duties as Official Floor Cleaner to Rosie, a Roomba 770 we named after the robotic maid on The Jetsons. With two cats, keeping the fur balls under control is a full-time job. Rosie is temperamental, but our floors are definitely cleaner now.

The Roomba does best with frequent, small cleaning jobs. Rosie is scheduled to clean everyday, usually when we’re out of the house. It has no problem handling hardwood floors and carpet, although it does a better job on the carpet, and excels at getting into tight spaces. It’s frightening how much dust and dirt it found under our bed.
Roomba Hair Removal Expert

I had hoped it would keep the floors clean when we were gone on vacation, but it needs daily attention. The dust bin is small and has to be emptied after almost every run. When we first ran the Roomba, it collected so much dust we had to empty it mid-run. Every week or two, I take it apart to remove all the hairs that become tangled in its rollers. Not a lot of work, but not fuss-free either.

I’m impressed with how well constructed and engineered the Roomba is. It feels like it’s designed to last and be easily repaired. I’m less impressed with the artificial intelligence. I thought it would slowly learn the layout of our apartment, but it seems to bump around in the same chaotic way today as it did on its first run. Our dining room table has become Rosie’s nemesis. She spends a lot of her time caught between between the chair legs, just wide enough for her to squeeze between before becoming trapped. She often bumps around for 10-15 minutes before frustration (or the robot equivalent) sets in and she goes back to her dock defeated.

We’ve gotten better at Roomba-prooofing the house before we leave in the morning. Often, we’ve come home to find Rosie impaled on a towel or entangled on a cord we left lying on the floor. The best was when she snagged the cord for the blinds and pulled herself a few inches off the floor. Luckily the Roomba is smart enough to know when its stuck and will shutdown before causing permanent damage.
Roomba Impaled

Rosie has worked so well at cleaning up after the cats, we’ve experimented using robots to play with them too.

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Cat Lake Camping

Cat Lake in the Morning
My wife and I’s first camping trip together was to a little forestry campsite just north of Squamish. I have fond memories of that trip. I remember a tranquil lake, quiet isolated sites, and cooking great food over a campfire. One of the best car camping experiences (well almost, you have a short hike to the sites), I’ve had in BC and no reservation needed. We’ve been hoping to go back for years and finally made the trip last weekend.

Either memories can be deceiving, I’m getting old and grumpy, or Cat Lake has changed. Judging from what I wrote about Cat Lake on August 30, 2006, it was a party destination then, but it seemed more extreme this time:

The best features, though, were the lake and privacy of each site. The lake had some small beach areas, and people would float these giant trees into the centre of the lake and use them as docks, diving boards, and log rolling venues. The camp sites were nestled between hills and trees and very spaced out. On one side we had a group playing loud music and on the other a bunch of drunk girls. But at our site we could barely hear them.

Maybe they’ve crammed in more sites, but I didn’t find quiet campsites. When a group decided to go skinny dipping at 2 am on Friday night, they woke me up on the other side of the lake (noises seemed to carry more over the water than between camp sites). I was ready to take an axe to the guy screaming “stop looking at my dick, the water is cold”. There was also a fire ban prevented any campfire cooking.

Cat Lake

The lake is still great for swimming – a perfect temperature and crystal clear. The floating logs are still there and great to play on, but inflatable rafts now outnumbered them.

Typical Cat Lake Campsite
This was a typical campsite – a giant tent, trash and empty beer cans littered around, and food left out to attract wildlife. It bothered me. I must be getting old and grumpy. I love camping and we still had a good time, but I wish more people could enjoy the experience without getting high, stupidly drunk, and making asses of themselves.

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Cycling the Sea to Sky Highway

Sea 2 Sky Cycling
I can’t believe how many people cycle along the narrow shoulders of the Sea-to-Sky highway. A foam helmet and a narrow rumble strip seem inadequate for protection from the cars passing at 100 km/h. Plus the shoulders are littered with rocks and tire-puncturing debris (you see a lot of cyclists patching flats). There’s obviously a demand for long distance cycling in BC, the thousands who ride the Gran Fondo from Vancouver to Whistler every year are evidence enough of that. Too bad the infrastructure sucks.

I’ve never gotten into long-distance cycling (something about the tight shorts and expensive bikes). The longest ride I’ve logged on Strava is 8.7 km, although I’m sure I’ve gone farther than that. If there were separated bike routes, like they have in Europe, I would be tempted to give it a go. Until then, I’ll stick with biking for commuting and running for recreation.
Cruising the countryside
Photo taken in the Netherlands by Jeroen de Jongh

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J’adore Montréal – Top 10 Reasons

There are so many things to love about Montreal

  1. Awesome vegan restaurants
    Lola Rosa Nachos
  2. Separated bike lanes and BIXI
    Bike Lanes at Dusk
  3. Pedestrian streets
    Pedestrian Street
  4. Festivals
    Just for Laughs
  5. Patios
    My favourite parts of Montreal
  6. Complete bilingualism – including Shakespeare in the Park
    Shakespeare in the Park
  7. Parklets and street reclaiming
    Montreal Parket
  8. Public markets like Jean Talon
    Jean Talon Market
  9. Old buildings and Old Montreal
    Old Montreal's Pedestrian Zone
  10. Apartments with staircases
    Montreal Staircases
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Cycling in Montreal

Biking is a Breeze
After spending 3 days cycling through Montreal, I have to admit they are years ahead of Vancouver.

Montreal BIXIFor only $15, I picked up a 3-day BIXI pass and used it to zoom around the city. I was impressed with how quickly the bikes turned over. Bikes were constantly being taken out and returned by users – a lot of them locals judging by how quickly they unlocked the bikes and pedalled away. The bikes are heavy and slow, but still way faster than walking and more interesting than taking the metro.

Montreal Separated Bike Lane Bike Lanes at Dusk
The separated bike lanes downtown are good (especially around the universities), but the real highlight was the network of separated lanes along commercial streets in the neighbourhoods around downtown, like the Plateau (think Commercial Drive in Vancouver).

There is also a good network of bike routes on quiet streets, salmon lanes against the traffic on 1-way streets, and trails along parks and train tracks. They even have cleaners ensuring the bike routes are free of glass and debris.
Bike Salmon Lane Route Vert Bike Trail Bike Lane Cleaner

Vancouver has some catching up to do.

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Rand Paul and the Scariest Email I’ve Ever Read

Rand Paul recently penned an excellent op-ed in Time Magazine arguing against the militarization of police forces. It reminded me of the email I got from Rand Paul last month. It was sent to me in error and it had a very different tone. It urged me to sign up defend America’s gun rights. For only $10/month I could be “automatically entered into the FRONTLINE DEFENDERS monthly gun giveaway to win a Remington Versa Max 12-gauge shotgun with Realtree camo. Each month we give away a new gun. It could be an AR-15. It could be special high-end handguns, shotguns or hunting rifles.

Frightening stuff.

I agree with Rand Paul that turning local police forces into small armies is a bad idea. But I’m not sure how giving ordinary citizens (especially the paranoid ones) camoflauge, shotguns, automatic riffles, and ammo is any better. In fact, it sounds a lot worse.

Rand Paul Email 1
Rand Paul Email 2
Rand Paul Email 3
Rand Paul Email 4

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