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12-hour shifts &mdash even relatively easy 12 hour shifts — are hard.

It's 05:09 as I type this. I've been home from about 1 hour and 40 minutes after a 12 hour shift. 12 hour shifts are long. And become 14 hour shifts if you take travel times into account.

I've managed to eat, and watch the latest episode of The Expanse, which is that bloody rare example (perhaps Game of Thrones rare — or maybe that's a bad example, since I've never read the books and gave up on the show a season or two back. But I think it serves to illustrate the point) of a television adaptation which is very nearly as good as the books on which it's based.

But for now, it's time for a shower and some rest.

Just thought it was more than time this space (LJ version) showed more than bloody tweets (and, DW version, showed anything at all). (Hi Nellie!)

Exeunt! (But have a picture! After almost a week of rain, it's hard to believe this was the scene on my street only a week and a half-ago (February 19th, 2017, to be precise).

Where are the snows of yestermonth?

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Have I mentioned that I love soccer? And also, cycling? And even, winter?

Young Geoffrey sets out for his soccer afternoon in Ottawa.

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Tuesday 22 January 2013:

(14.8 kilometres to work @-16C)+(1 Canadian grown Internal Digestion Engine+2 Wheels+2 Canadian thighs) X (14.8 kilometres from work @-20C)+(1 Canadian grown Internal Digestion Engine+2 Wheels+2 Canadian thighs)=
One Cold but happy Young Geoffrey

Wednesday 23 January 2013:

-26C = Fuck it. I'll take the bus.


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By my own, idiosyncratic, calendar . . .

(Happy New Year, again)

January 18, 2013, OTTAWA — What a year it's been. Okay, 17 days, but it's almost *felt* like a year since, and more, since I last rode my bicycle, leaving it at the airport on the Friday before Christmas. The snow started coming down, joined by freezing rain, just as I started to head for home, so I circled back, parked the beast and took a bus.

* * *

The morning of December 22, 2012, was an old fashioned Canadian winter's day, snowing hard and blowing. And, old-fashioned Canadian at the wheel, new-comer riding shotgun, we were off (yes, through that first snowstorm of the year) to Quebec City and then Laval, for what turned out to be a wonderful (if too brief) holiday.

And then, shortly after our return to our Nation's Capital, Raven came down with a cold. She was out for (get this!) 12 whole hours before returning to the pink of health. I, on the other hand, took sick and am only now (finally!) coming back to life. (12 hours vs nearly *20 days*. It's a wonder I still love her!)

All of which is to say, I've been remiss.

I haven't mentioned that I reviewed Christopher Hitchens' last book, and that said review was published in the winter issue of Humanist Perspectives. They misspelled my name, but at least they got my website's address right. I'll be posting it their sooner than later.

I haven't mentioned the surprise sale of a photograph to one of Canada's major museums — in large part because I have not yet seen the cheque. (Memo to self: follow-up on that invoice!)

Nor have I finished my reviews of Elisabeth Sladen's memoir, Neil Young's genuine stream-of-conscious volume, Waging Heavy Peace, nor, most importantly, have I done nearly as much as I had intended to on the biggest project I have on the go.

It's not one that I've mentioned here much, if at all. Partly because I'm lousy at self-promotion, partly because it's far from ready for prime time and partly because there's a second party involved. But said second party has given me the go-ahead to mention it, and so ...

I am co-writing the memoir of a remarkable woman, one who endured the twin traumas of the sort of personal disaster you would think could only happen in fiction (or maybe on one of those daytime television freak shows), as well as abuse from a not just one public institution that should have been protecting her, but at least *three* of them.

It's a powerful story of a woman's desperate battle to protect her family and to find at least a semblance of justice from a system that seemed bound and determined to give her anything else.

Anyway, I am very happy to report that I have had two good night's sleep in a row (the first such series of the year, or so it feels) and that, yesterday, my personal "January 1st", I added about 1,600 words to that book and am damned if I don't make a daily habit of similar numbers for the next few months.

More to come, sooner than later. I promise!

Reprinted, with modifications, from a bloody Facebook posting, of all things, and posted first at Edifice Rex Online.


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Helsinki, Moscow, Oslo ... eat your hearts out!

Ottawa is the world's real Winter Capital!

The weather tried to freeze him
    it tried its level best.
At a hundred degrees below zero,
    he buttoned up his vest.

— James Stevens, 'The Frozen Logger'

November 17, 2012, OTTAWA — With the official start to winter still more than a month away, the evening of Wednesday, November 14, 2012, felt unusually cold to Ottawa bicyclist, writer and all-round bon vivant Geoffrey Dow when he unlocked his bicycle outside the Ottawa International Airport.

His machine's saddle was dusted with frost, as if the atmosphere itself was freezing out of the sky.

Not to put too fine a point on it, he deemed it unusually cold for the middle of November.

Cycling towards home he soon saw why. He pulled to the side of the road to document the situation some 15 kilometres south of his home in downtown Ottawa.

Electronic sign seen on the evening of Wednesday, November 14, 2012, near the MacDonald-Cartier International Airport.

"Why yes," Mr. Dow agreed when asked if he felt cold. "Now that you mention it, it is a touch on the nippy side!"

Having snapped the photo, he zipped up his jacket and clambered back aboard his bicyle for the long ride home.

  — 30 —

(Originally posted at Edifice Rex Online.)


ed_rex: (1980)

Thanks to those of you who wished me a happy anniversary of birth — it was.

The whole week was a good one, the highlights including an outing in Gatineau Park on snowshoes (I am the bigfoot-like creature at left), finally getting out onto the canal and dining Sri Lankan style.

And also, a Mysterious Ottawa Valley Apparition, caught on camera by the one and only Phantom Photographer, who was able to attend this year's Winterlude opening ceremony, while I laboured on this week's edition of True North Perspective.

Cut to spare those uninterested in my personal blatherings. If you want them, or the striking photo of the Ottawa Valley's no-longer mythical Dance of the Winter Turkeys/Danse des dindes d'hiver come to spectral life, click here.

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Me and my riding machine (the hockey stick, yes, was an affectation) after a 14 k run from the Ottawa International Airport, January 15, 2012. Thanks to the Phantom Photographer for the image.

Well, that was a first for me: my bicycle chain froze.

Yes, Gentle Readers, Young Geoffrey has his bragging hat on again.

13 kilometres there, 13 back. And that last half was at a temperature of -18 C (that's about exactly zero Farenheit for you Yanks).

The frozen drive chain meant that I had to keep up a constant pressure on my pedals. Any time I eased up (let alone dared to try pedalling backwards!) the thing would escape the cogs and just slide forward when I tried to move forward again. Only thing that would fix it was to dismount and jiggle it back and forth with my glove a few times, then get back on ol' paint.

Truthfully, it's really not that hard to do; the worst part is that the roads are narrower because of the snowbanks (and yes, a little more treacherous due to patches of snow and ice improperly cleared. I ride faster in the summer).

Surprisingly (at least it was to me, when my parka gave up the ghost a few years back), the key to staying warm is what your mom probably told you: layers.

The proof is in the freezing

That's right: if a screen-cap is proof, then I've got proof!

I wear a headscarf (like an Arab or a slavic babushka) under my helmet; a pair of jogging pants over my pants; a t-shirt, button-shirt and sweater beneath a leather jacket. Add in a pair of glove inside a decently warm pair of mitts and — voilà! — I usually need to unzip and loosen the scarf before I reach my destination.

And that's about it, really. Just bragging.

I suppose I can add that I'm really glad that I braved the weather for more than bragging rights. As some of you might recall from Facebook, I managed to pick up a flu that knocked my onto my ass last week (despite having had the shot; Raven didn't get it and so far hasn't got the flu, either — go figure), so my body was craving some exercise.

Aw right, maybe I've lost the magic touch when it comes to these personal entries. Or maybe not. What do you think?

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You know, by and large, I'm liking my job. The pay's not to far north of minimum wage, but a day's hours (usually) are south of a full eight. Door-to-door is probably about seven hours, which I don't mind at all. Also, I like driving and my passengers range from distant to friendly; thus far, only one whom I would qualify as an actual prick (though most of them could use some lessons about tipping).

It doesn't hurt that the boss seems to be one to treat his employees as people, rather than "human resources". In my case, as someone who gets to work either by bike or public transit, he's made a point of ensuring that I get a ride home if it's especially late or especially cold (sometimes, in truth, I'd have preferred to ride, but felt it would have been churlish to say "no").

Rather revealingly — at least, I think it's revealing; does a sample of five or six out of maybe twenty drivers qualify as significant? — all of the co-workers I've had the chance to question have been with the company for years. Five years stands as the shortest stint so far. And further, with one exception so far, they've all gone out of their way to emphasize that they think it's a good place to work and that they like the boss. All of which suggests that my positive experience is the norm, not an exception.

So. Job. I like it, as jobs go.

Not that it's all open roads and scantilly-clad flight pilots.

Last Thursday saw me get back to Ottawa physically tired and my arms actually kind of sore.

It was our first real winter storm and I was very happy to find myself driving the boss' four-wheel drive SUV rather than a standard passenger van.

The trip to Montreal wasn't too bad. Snow and wind, only three cars in the ditch, and only an extra half-hour on the standard two-hour drive. But the trip back?


Snow. Rain. Freezing rain. More snow. Lunatic transport trucks roaring past with 15 or 20 centimetres between their vehicles and mine. Eight (count 'em!) cars in the ditch. Two-hour drive took four hours, and I arrived back in the office to have some of my co-workers questioning my employer's sanity.

Me, I just shrugged. It's not that dangerous, if you slow the fuck down — which, obviously, I did.

Meanwhile, talking to flight attendants has me (and Raven) contemplating the possibility of making "Come fly with me" our respective mottos. Working 12 days out 30 has a definite appeal.

(The photo, by the way, was taken by my passenger on the way to Montreal, as we crossed over the Lac des deux montagnes to get onto the Island.)

ed_rex: (1980)
To say I now understand how Scott and company felt while on the return leg of their Antarctic holiday would be both crass (as crass as calling that fatal voyage a holiday) and untrue.

But, mercy! Cycling 12 or so kilometres in the face of a north wind that made -9C feel like -17 feels damned cold at 0400 hours.

And yet, strangely enough, I feel good. And I am super glad to see snow replace all the god damned rain we've been having.
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Some informal remarks in praise of taxation

Ottawa got a sad bit of news this past Sunday: skating on the Rideau Canal is done for the season.

Had I been the better blogger I promised to be back in December, you all would know that Raven and I have been making use of this, most wonderful, public amenity, the nearly eight kilometre path of pleasure that is the Rideau Canal in winter.

Though Raven was born and raised in a warm clime off the coast of southern China, she has taken to winter like the proverbial Esquimaux, and has thus allowed me the great of introducing her to the joys of ice-skating.

We started off only a day or three after the canal opened for the season, back in early January. I hauled out my hockey skates and we went down the canal and rented a not-too-good pair of figure skates for Raven.

She quickly decided that the pics on the end of such skates are just face-plants waiting to happen and the next time we went out she had on a pair of hockey skates. (Which, I've noted, now seem to be the skates of choice for probably a majority of the women I've seen skating out there; when I was a kid the sight of a woman or girl wearing anything but figure skates would have been shocking.)

I'll spare you tyhe blow-by-blow account of our progress, but suffice it to say that she began as a terrified, arm-clinging newbie, to a relatively confident skater who, last time we went out, soloed for more 400 metres.

We froze on cold days, and sweated through the warm ones, but we made good use of a marvellous public amenity. And Gentle Readers, there were days Raven and I were out there with what must have been thousands of our fellow citizens, making making joy of the hardship of winter on "the world's largest skating rink"."

At no out-of-pocket expense to anyone but those hungering for hot chocolate or Ottawa's famous beaver-tails (the greasy pleasures of which, I am ridiculously pleased to say, I have yet to sample).

And naturally, I'll turn a private joy (and a public one, which is the point) into some consideration of things political. (Sorry about that.)

Ten minutes or so with Google haven't seen me located any official numbers, but blog post quoting an article from the Montreal Gazette suggests the National Capital Commission spent around $1 million anually "for skating purposes".

Though I can imagine — and am sure examples are online for the having — a neo-conservative (or neo-liberal, if you want to wax historically pedantic) argument for the abolition of this "waste" of tax-payers' money, it is precisely this kind of un-quantifiable and, indeed, arbitrarily-defined, public "good" that civilization is for.

I'm sure there are arguments to sell off the canal — or rather, to sell off the right to turn the canal into a skating rink and make a profit in so doing — though I suspect most proposals would leave the canal itself in government hands — a 19th century national defence transportation system is unlikely to be fully profitable in the 21st.

A million bucks might sound like a lot of money — and it is by most individual measures — but it is a very small price to pay for vastly improving the quality of life for a great many of Ottawa's citizens. Human beings are not just economic animals, as some would have it. If we are any one kind of animal at all, we are social animals, and if the benefits of public parks are not easy to quantify only a fool would deny they exist.

So here's to "wasteful" spending of tax-payers' dollars and all the joy it can bring. (And yes, that is me coming to an awkward halt in the video.)

Cross-posted from my blog at Edifice Rex Online.

ed_rex: (ace)
The CBC's weather page says it's -26 C out there (-35 with the wind-chill, but only small children and naked old people count that). I am recently home from a soirée, which I bicycled to and from which I cycled back home again. I've been reminded that the air in one's tires contract quite a bit at these kinds of temperatures, so it was slow and difficult slogging, but otherwise quite exhilarating. Why yes, I am kinda hard-core. Why do you ask?

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