The plane touched down at about 1:20pm Palm Springs time. My father-in-law greeted me and secretly delivered me to his place in Palm Desert. I snuck into the living room and watched the faces of my kids processing the fact that I was there. Their surprise and delight was music to my soul. Andrea heard us talking and came out of her room saying, “What is going on? What on Earth!” Apparently she had been having a hard time thinking she was ready to come home. That’s all changed now. It’s been a fantastic four day weekend.
Weekend at Barnie’s
Last Thursday I travelled up to Barnett House, the ATA headquarters in Edmonton, for a political engagement meeting. The ATA was updating its members on an awareness campaign for public education issues in Alberta before the next provincial election.
The meeting was pretty interesting. It was eye-opening to hear how many school divisions are hoarding millions of budgeted dollars instead of spending it. I couldn’t help notice that a lot of the biggest offenders are from the separate (Catholic) school divisions. I also liked hearing from pollster Janet Brown about how the UCP are not polling well since their new leader was chosen — though most of what she said was in this article by the CBC and I had already read it.
At the end of the day, I found out that my plane was delayed and that I probably wouldn’t be able to catch my connecting flight from Calgary to Lethbridge. It turns out — very long story short, WestJet had some major computer schedule issues and after a not great two hour sleep in a hotel on Friday night I ended up driving a rental car from Edmonton to Calgary so I could catch that connecting flight on Saturday instead of waiting an extra, extra 24 hours.
Because I was driving, I now had some time to kill in Calgary. I called my sister up to see if we could meet while I waited for my flight. As luck would have it, (or as it turns out bad luck) she was bringing her oldest, Ryker, to Olds for a volleyball game. Ryker plays for the college in Lloydminster. We met up and because Ryker’s game wasn’t going to start until much later and he just wanted to hang with his team, we decided to drive to the airport in Calgary to spend some time together there.
The roads were pretty bad when we set out but we hoped with the direction of the wind, it might not be so bad when we were headed south on the highway. It was really bad, even heading south. I had my AirPods in and was chatting with Jackie while watching her taillights disappearing into the white out blizzard conditions. Suddenly she told me there were vehicles all over the highway and that I needed to stop. She told me she couldn’t stop and was going to have to pull into the ditch. She did so and never had any real issues but with the extra time to slow I was able to navigate through the gauntlet of five or six crashed vehicles both on and off the highway.
It was just last week that a cousin of mine actually died in a collision on a snowy highway and so it made this situation all the more tense.
Suddenly I saw a car in my rearview mirror approaching rapidly. I tried to speed up to get out of the way but he was coming way too fast and I told my sister I was about to get hit. I braced for impact and was surprised at just how hard the force compressed my body against the seat. I stopped the car in the ditch and after a moment got out to inspect the damage. I took this footage:
Cars continued to smash for a few minutes. A couple of semi trailers pulled off the road and crashed into the nearby barbed wire fence.
The car was still drivable and the RCMP showed up fairly quickly. They shut down the highway and since we weren’t hurt and the conditions were so cold, the officer asked if we would take some of the people that had crashed their vehicles with us. I ended up taking the very same guy that rear ended me. That was fine but also I felt annoyed that he couldn’t have avoided me and now I had to sit beside him for the drive when what I really wanted to do was call my wife and complain about how I think he had room to drive by me.
As a result of the accident I had neck spasms and a headache, so I went into the hospital to get things checked out. The doctor said it looks most likely that I have, “what they used to call whiplash,” and he added that I might have a concussion as well. His advice was to take some ibuprofen and Tylenol and if I start acting loopy come back to the hospital.
So I took the day off work — I’ve also got a cough and cold going so I wasn’t feeling that well anyway.
The lesson of the weekend is that I won’t be flying WestJet for a quick day trip to Edmonton again, and if I find myself in a huge pileup on icy roads, get as far off the road as fast and far as possible.
and I’m still getting headaches every day. Andrea thinks it’s time to head back to the doctor. I’m doubtful that the doctor can do much for me, and I’m still hopeful they will just go away.
I hurt my back when I crashed my bike the first week in October. It’s still bugging me.
My friend Duane and I used to go quite a bit, but this year we’ve only been out a few times. As such, it turns out my desire to race fast was more than I was ready for this season. I was headed down a steep hill near the beginning of our run in the coulees. I underestimated the friction needed to make a turn, and though I shouldn’t have, I felt a slight surprise as the wheels slipped out from under me. The next thing I knew, my face planted itself into the dirt and I came to an abrupt stop.
I dusted myself off as a woman and her dog came wandering around the corner1. Duane arrived momentarily asking if I was ok. I insisted that I was fine, nevertheless I had hit the ground pretty hard and my back has been bothering me ever since — not to mention I had some minor scrapes across my face, shoulder, forearm, hip, and shin.
I guess the lesson is simple: don’t let your enthusiasm rise above the limits of the course or the bike. Especially a bike with tread worn tires.
- In retrospect it could have been a bad collision with her and/or her dog if I made the turn so (maybe?) it was for the best ↩︎
Over the summer I’ve gotten back into swimming. What’s been motivating me most is that I’m actually getting pretty fast again1.
I’m not as fast as when I was swimming for the Pronghorns but I’m feeling good about my progress. My best time this year is a kilometre in 16 minutes and 30 seconds (average speed of 24.75s per length). I’ve been using my Apple Watch to keep track of lengths and while I love that it tracks splits and distance, it seems to need a flip turn in order to register each complete 25m length.
I’m already below my goal of each 50m in 50 seconds but my ultimate goal is a kilometre in 16 minutes flat.
- Or at least what I consider pretty fast for a 43 year old who was never particularly good at distance swimming. ↩︎
A few years ago my wife and I bought a couple of self supporting hammock beds from Costco. It’s been a couple of years since I had them out and the kids were playing outside so I figured I would get one out and rest while I watched over them.
Pulling the hammock onto the support takes a bit of muscle and so this time I figured I would just leave the support not quite fully extended before I attached the hammock. Both kids watched while I slipped my hand under the canvas and snapped the frame into position. It needed quite a bit of pressure pushing against the resistance of the hammock but when I finally got it, it pushed passed the resistance into place.
I instantly realized I had caught my left ring finger at the last knuckle in a SERIOUS pinch. The resistance was too strong to pull it back out! “OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!” I yelled out keeping it kid friendly. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to pull the frame back out of place. “OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!”
I continued with the kids looking on in fear. Holy cow, I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was still pinching HARD. I thought am I going to have to send the kids in to wake Andrea from her nap to come out and help me? Was I going to lose my finger? I pulled again.
Nothing. “OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!”
I tried again — nothing.
I took a deep breath and thought to myself, I have to get it this time. I pulled hard and at the same time pulled hard on my finger to try and get it out.
“OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!” Unbelievably, I remained stuck.
And I continued trying — still nothing. The pain was intense.
Ok, one more time and this time I had to get it. I pulled on the bar and at the same time really pulled on my finger to slide it out scraping skin as it finally moved. Slowly, painfully… almost there, “PULL, PULL, PULL!” I said to myself. There was a giant squish mark on my finger, but thankfully no blood. I was finally free.
Both kids ran up to me and shouted, “Daddy, Daddy, are you ok?” and each gave me a hug.
We all walked into the house and a few minutes after putting it on ice I got this photo of my finger.
It’s been a couple days and the surface is still a little numb but, as scary as the whole ordeal was, I don’t think there will be any lasting damage.
M2 Macbook Air
Ever since my MacBook Pro (2015) screen went kaput a couple of years ago, I’ve been sharing a computer with my wife. Back in March I decided to go all out and ordered a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro with M1 Ultra, but ultimately I cancelled my order and held out for this beautiful completely redesigned MacBook Air with Apple’s M2 processor. It arrived yesterday and as fun as that other computer would have been, I think I made the right decision.
A Hero’s Journey?
I took our van in for an oil change today and with some time to kill decided to take a little walk in downtown Lethbridge. I had just crossed the street when I noticed a little girl in a truck holding a napkin that was fully engulfed in flames. Her eyes were wide and I thought about how crazy this scenario was as I raced up, opened the door, and watched her drop the flaming napkin onto the truck floor. I swished the fiery cinders out trying not to burn myself but not wasting any time. She looked like she was in about grade three (8 years old).
I asked where her parent was and she said inside the store, so I went inside the motorcycle shop and asked around. One employee told me that the guy from that truck was test driving a bike and has been gone for a long time — like a half hour.
I talked to the girl again making sure she was ok and asked how it started which she explained was that she was playing with the cigarette lighter and accidentally started the napkin on fire.
After talking with a lady who works there that said she would keep her eyes on the truck I took the above photo of my hand and continued my walk.
I guess I probably did the wrong thing by just walking away at this point and not calling the police. This parent obviously needs to get it together, however, I also have distrust issues with our local law enforcers and I didn’t want to be the potential catalyst that blows up this guy’s life. I did consider that maybe this little girl’s caregiver needs a wake up call to realize you don’t leave an elementary aged child alone in a running vehicle (with air conditioning at least) for a half hour while she experiments with fire.
I doubled back after about 15 minutes of guilt and she and the truck were gone. A couple of my fingers are a little burned but no blisters so I’m fine.
My oil change was done at that point so I came home a hero — and also, I guess, a coward.
Our Little Boy Blue
Boo is one of the two cats Ange brought with her when we got together. It was quite some time before I learned his real name was actually Little Boy Blue. Ange explained that his name evolved over the years from Little Boy Blue into Blue and eventually stuck on Boo1. I sometimes called him Boo-bons (affectionately short for bubonic—yes, as in plague—because early on he liked to scratch me).
He came from a ditch
Ange was driving home from work and saw a cat (that wasn’t Boo) crossing the highway and run into the ditch. Something compelled her to follow it. She pulled off the highway and saw, sitting off the large concrete pad of a sign, was a little kitten with huge ears. He was looking pretty rough, so she picked him up and he bite her index finger. He bit her hard, so much so that had to shake him off her hand. When he came off he ran away and she couldn’t catch him again. The next afternoon she was again working at the same place and on the way home it was raining. She decided to go to the sign and see if the kitten was there. This time she put on some fish gloves and a little cardboard box and somehow she was able to catch him. He was probably tired and hungry. He had a big abscess on his back. She put him in the box and took him straight to the vet. The vet put a cone on him and she kept him quarantined in the bathroom of her basement suite.
Boo fit the mould when it came to the “cats have nine lives” proverb. Only a couple of months later, while he was still a little kitten and hadn’t yet been neutered, Andrea left him with roommates while she went away on a trip. Boo was supposed to stay inside but was snuck out and didn’t return. Her roommate was afraid to let her know that he had lost her kitten, so when she got back she found out the bad news. A couple of weeks later, a kind stranger called after seeing one of the posters she had hung up at a local animal shelter. The man had found Boo at the research centre outside of town climbing inside a dumpster. He picked up Boo and dropped him off at the shelter and even left money with the shelter to go with Boo. Andrea was so happy to have him back she made up a nice thank you basket and gave them a gift card for Georgia’s restaurant. She still likes to enthusiastically tell the story about how happy she was to get him back.
Over the last couple months Boo’s health began declining rapidly, and unfortunately at the beginning of the month it came time to say goodbye. We’ll miss him.
- Relevant XKCD Words for Pets ↩︎
Our 2022 Disneyland Trip
On Tuesday, April 19th we left today and entered the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. It’s the happiest place on Earth — Disneyland!
And we WERE happy, because getting there was no easy task. Before we left I knew that our two hour drive (by distance) was never going to take a mere couple of hours. Traffic backing up is normal going from Palm Springs to LA, but this day was a holiday — I figured it would be a particularly good day to travel, avoiding the typical commuter traffic. Not to mention, we were setting out at noon, a time one could assume to be easiest to make the journey. Well, unfortunately, it turns out we were embarking at the worst possible time. Tens of thousands of Coachella concert goers were returning to the city on the Monday after Easter. The freeway was like a parking lot. Our exasperated three year old daughter put it best as she exclaimed, “We’re moving like turtles!” Slowly and steadily (and 5 hours later) we arrived at our destination in Anaheim.
Wind gusts were up to 110 km/hour today. The highway was closed on my way home from work. The dust was so bad I could barely see the cars ahead of me. An RCMP officer blocking the road told me about a collision ahead and to take the side roads instead. She was irked that people were driving so fast in such poor visability.
After all the detours, the winds had died down, visibility was returning, and then as I approached Coaldale, I found myself behind a “freedom convoy” of protesters. Farmers in their tractors protesting… I don’t know what — that they are tired of people being mad at them for not wearing masks? Anyway, luckily for me, they were only blocking one lane.
What would normally be a half hour drive took a full hour.