Sunday, 31 August 2014

Cycling: What I Have Learned So Far






As I push ever farther into the world of cycling I have learned lots of fascinating things.  I have been thinking of getting a new bike, but with winter approaching (add as many Game of Thrones quotes as you want here) I am wondering if I should wait.  As a result of this indecision, I have been doing a lot of research.

Ø      Not far from where I live, there exists a 15 km or so (it is longer, but construction issues for bridges and such has blocked off part of the trail until next year).  I have ridden it a couple of times and it was amazing.  If you want to read about my ride and see some great pictures, please click on the link here: http://todaysperfectmoment.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/august-24-2014-the-nokiidaa-trail/

Ø      There are a huge number of bike shops in my area, and along my commute path, and near my work.  I had no idea cycling was so popular.  When I was young, only children rode bikes.  The upside of this is lots of places to shop.  The downside is that even places which sold reasonable bikes now have some higher end bikes, and prices seem quite high.  I mean, I have seen bikes which cost as much as my car did when I bought it new.

Ø      There are a lot of magazines devoted to the hobby/pursuit.  I have counted about 10, and I am sure there are more.  That's incredible.  Whoever said the printing medium was done was obviously wrong.  Despite the complaints of these magazines just being glossy catalogues that push expensive and unnecessary products on the gullible, there is some decent writing between the pages.

Ø      There is a crapload of extras for the cycling crowd.  Is all of it necessary?  Of course not.  Is some of it vanity driven?  Absolutely.   Does it affect me..... sadly, I have to answer yes.

Ø      I like riding a bike much more than going to a gym.  Seems pretty obvious, but that is what fuels the decision to buy a nice bike.  Living in a climate which produces bone chilling cold and snow for a large part of the year doesn't help.

Summing it all up.  I am definitely interested in this hobby.  Where I take it from here, only time will tell.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

RIP Television


 
Is television finished?  Of course it isn't, but are we in the midst of its decline?

I was out riding my bike around today, trying to decided if I should buy a new TV.  I found a couple that I am interested in, and if I bought them today, I wouldn't have to pay tax.  I couldn't decide if I should spend 900 bucks on a new TV and sound equipment, or if I should save the money for the cool bike that I want to buy.  (feel free to comment--but I have about 1 hour to make this decision).

While riding I stopped to talk to a woman who was also riding, but taking a rest.  She mentioned that she loved watching Netflix on her laptop, and was planning on throwing out her TV.  I didn't ask her if she would give it to me, but not that I think about it, maybe I should have.

The point being, I know a lot of people would rather pay a small fee and their internet provider rather than traditional cable.  If they had sports on Netflix, I am sure a lot of us would do the same.  If they make more TV series for Netflix only, would more people rather watch them?  I don't have the answers to these questions--and I am still wrestling with the TV debate, but I guess only time will tell.   Maybe this is the beginning of the end of television as we know it.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Back in the Saddle Again


Okay, I succumbed to tool lust.  I bought the bike repair stand.  I admit it.  And yes, I have been to several bike shops.  I probably don't need the big box of tools, because I have lots of other ones.

The good news is that I have so far resisted the urge to buy a new bike.  I used the bike stand to tune up my neglected bike.  So, I feel pretty good.

I even took the bike out today.  I realized three things. 

  1. I, in fact, do love riding.  It felt great to get the bike moving at a good speed.
  2. My cardio is terrible.  Despite losing some weight, I really need to up my cardiovascular training.  Fortunately, that was the reason for getting on the bike again in the first place.  Why go to the gym and get on an exercise bike when I can bike on an actual road.
  3. When you fall, or crash, it still hurts.  Yes, in my first bike ride in a couple of years, I had minor accident.  I was cutting through a catwalk that, rather than paved, consisted of rectangular concrete sidewalk patio stones (or something like that).  They had spread apart in the centre, leaving a gap just big enough for my front tire to find.  Escaping it resulted in a collision with a chain link fence, some scrapes, and a probable bruise.
On the plus side, I was rewarded with an encouraging number on the scale as well.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hobbies Lead to Tool Lust


Once again I find myself in a hobby conundrum.  The only good thing is that I recognize it, and might be able to escape this one.  However, I am not really sure.

I used to love riding my bicycle.  I rode all over the place.  This might have a lot to do with the fact that I didn't have a car, but I am pretty sure that isn't all of it.  I know I loved the feeling of speed and power.  I remember once thinking I could be in the Tour de France.  I was never that good, but every boy has to dream.

I have always owned a bike.  When I had a job as a teenager, I took my bike to work every day.  If I had the choice of bus or cycle, I always chose cycle.  When I lived in Japan I bought a bike on a whim and had to carry it home on a very packed subway and train.  This was the kind of thing I did.  I never second guessed decisions like that. 

Lately, I have been thinking about getting back on my bike before the dust in the garage consumes it completely.  It would certainly help with the fitness part of my diet.  Of course, being dusty, it is going to require a bit of maintenance, and that is where the dilemma comes from.  I could pay someone to do it for me, or I could do it myself.


I know that I would rather do it myself.  Yes, it is a mechanical job, but it doesn't seem that hard.  So, I did what I always do.  I checked the internet and found lots of good resources and tools.  Do you see where I am going with this?

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have tool equipment lust to a terribly high degree.  Sometimes, I love hobby tools more than the hobby itself.  I thought I was strange, but after reading other blogs and internet forums, I know I am not the only one.  Plus, I am one of those guys.  I think tools are cool.  I want them, and I want good ones.

My current lust features two things:  A bike stand for working on the bike, and a dedicated set of tools.  Of course, there are some really flashy ones out there, but I have settled on these two.  The fact that they come in sexy anodized blue is just a coincidence--or is it.  Perhaps, I really don't need these things, but I scratched the itch, and I am now I am starting to obsess.

I probably have enough tools that I only need a few specialized ones to do any repair that I want.  I also don't need sexy blue tools.  Plain ones will do.  As for the bike stand, while not necessary, it certainly would be handy.

The next deadly step is to go to a bike shop (rather than the internet) to see what they have.  I might succumb and regret it, but what else can I do.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Latest Hobby Itch: Arduino



 
 
I know I shouldn't do it, but I've got the itch.  I have become obsessed--no, that's not right.  The word is too strong.  Okay, I've become intrigued by Arduino, though I am not sure why.  However, I can explain how it happened.
I was looking for a new project.  Actually first I was working on my decision making processes.  That is why I read a book that differentiated between gain and pain tasks, and how we put off gain tasks in favour ending pain tasks.  The book recommended scheduling time for gain tasks, and not worrying about how long they take, or whether they every get finished or not.  Sounded wonderful to me.  (If I can figure out how to do it, I will put a link to the book in my Amazon store at the side of the page)
So, despite having lots of these tasks, I decided I wanted something new.  Kind of a silly thing, but that is how my mind works.  That is how I started writing this (and three other) blogs.  If nothing else, my typing skills have gotten better.  I thought I would like to do some sort of science/technical project.
In days past, I would have gone to the Efton Science Store.  Alas, that has disappeared, and I had no idea where to look.  So, I consulted my fallback position.  I checked Amazon and searched for "project kits".  That is where I found Arduino.  Just like a boy, I saw a kit full of interesting parts (all the bells and whistles), and thought, WOW!  I need that.  Though, in truth, I was not overly clear on what it was.
You've got to admit, this is cool.
After some YouTube videos, which are a tech nerd's dream, I am still interested, though perhaps overwhelmed.  It is probably too complicated, but I am as fascinated and overconfident as I am nervous and confused.  I consider this a normal state when thinking about a new hobby.
So, I ask you.  Have you had any experience with Arduino?  Can you tell me anything about it?  I would really like your help.  Also, if you know anybody with experience, could you send them to this blog to help me before I spend all my money and end up with a desk full of electronic bits and pieces.  Please.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

World Cup Thoughts


 
World Cup season is upon us.  My television is full of games, repeats of those games (condensed and not condensed) and a whole lot of commentary about those games.  My students, often proudly wearing their nation's jerseys or waving flags, are chatting non stop about the game.  They have begged me to watch the game in class on at least one occasion.  I suspect in the coming weeks, this will become a regular occurrence.

There are positives and negatives to all of this.  It is great to see such enthusiasm in people.  There is a hum in the air, and electric vibe if you will.  In most cases, I can tell they are talking about the World Cup, even though I can't hear what they are saying.  They are either discussing the latest controversial calls, the penalties or lack of penalties, the game, or making plans to watch the game.  All in all, that's pretty exciting.

There are a few negatives, sadly.  One downside is that my students are not really paying attention to school.  The begging to watch the game which seemed cute on the first day, will grow pretty tiring by the end of it all. 

Also, probably since I am not a fan, the marketing looks rather insincere.  When the Olympic hockey was on, the sports channels proudly proclaimed it "our game".  For the Soccer World Cup, the same station is calling it something similar.  While I guess it might be true for some, it doesn't ring true for me.  It just seems like shameless marketing.  Of course, what this means is that I am a victim of marketing.  They manipulated me before, and now they are manipulating someone else.  I guess I am more upset at myself than them.

In the end, I hope my students and everyone else enjoys this month of soccer.  I hope no ill feelings are created by these games.  I hope this tournament creates some happiness in the world.

 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Yahoo vs YouTube


So I have heard that Yahoo is going to offer a competitor to YouTube.  I am kind of excited about this idea.

Don't get me wrong.  I love YouTube.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I watch a lot of JVloggers, and spend more time than I should watching old TV shows and clips online.  I even have some videos on YouTube.  I think I have about ten.  They haven't gone viral (and I wouldn't receive any money even if they did) and only one of then has had a really strong number of views--though I am not sure what the attraction is, and nobody has commented on it.

I guess I just want to be there, on the ground floor when it happens.  While it won't be a new thing (like YouTube was), I would like to say I was there from the beginning.  I want to be one of the originals, even though the idea won't be that original.

There are problems, however.  What kind of content should I put up?  I am not in Japan, so JVlogging is out.  I live in Canada, and while I love my country, I cannot see any blogging potential there.  I love my hobbies, but since I switch them around so much and am rather lax on completion, I am not sure there is anything there either.  I love to rant (check out my other blog site to see what I mean) but I have a face for radio--and who would want to see a static image of a wall or picture while I rant away?

I am excited and I want to participate, but I don't know how.

On another note, I still don't know what they are going to call this thing.  YouTube is a brilliant name.  Yahoo tube sounds derivative.  YahooTV doesn't sound cool.  They already have Yahoo Screen--so I guess that's not it.  I suppose, if I were to name it, I would call it OnYahoo.