Archive for June, 2010
Friday, June 25th, 2010
The “Big 4″ of heavy metal played together, on the same stage, at the same time as the Sonisphere Festival stopped in Sofia, Bulgaria. Here’s Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer playing Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil”:
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
I came across some live streaming online of a variety of sets from artists at the 2010 Bonnaroo festival. A few of those artists are coming to Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, so I thought I would throw the links up as a preview. Here is what three of the artists I like sound like right now:
Monday, June 14th, 2010
The show must go on! Slash gets attacked by a crazy fan while on stage playing guitar – and continues playing like nothing happened. This is pretty cool. Sweet Child Of Mine must not be interrupted! For those of you not interested in watching Sweet Child O’ Mine all the way through, the attack happens at the 1:10 mark of this video. But then, why wouldn’t you watch all of that fantastic song?
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
This morning, we were talking about the city of Ottawa and cyclists. See, Ottawa has declared this “Bike To Work Week”. Now, this happens to coincide with Bike Safety Crackdown Month, and today and tomorrow are designated “blitz” days where the cops will be handing out huge amounts of tickets to cyclists, for infractions such as not having a bell on their bike, riding on the sidewalk, and not signaling their turns on bike paths. Most of these tickets are $35 apiece. Not that much, but if you want to conduct a “bike safety awareness campaign”, wouldn’t a warning be more reasonable?
So, the city encourages everyone to take their bike to work instead of their car this week. Then chooses this week to crack down on those cyclists and take their money. Much like that plan they had where they asked us to conserve water, then charged us more because we weren’t using enough any more. Clever, eh?
But of course, as it always does, any discussion of cyclists in Ottawa devolved into a series of phone calls bashing bikers. You know that they cut off cars sometimes? Or that some of the drivers on the roads have actually seen bikers ignore stop signs and red lights? Or sometimes they don’t even signal! My stars!
Now, there is no question that cyclists should obey the rules of the road like everyone else. And yes, they should stop for school buses and red lights and they should stay in their own lanes and so forth. But who is more numerous in Ottawa, do you think? Dangerous, reckless bike riders or car drivers with no patience who just have a general hate on for cyclists? Be honest – when you’re driving and you see someone riding their bike, do you think “oh nice, there’s someone who’s getting excercise, spending time outdoors and doing something for the environment”? Or do you think “damn bike, now I have to get around you and you’re slowing me down”?
Full disclosure – I don’t own a bicycle. I drive to work and I drive home. I do feel a little bad about that, but I live a long way from where I work and I simply can’t bike. If I lived closer to work, though, I wouldn’t own a car at all. I could walk, bus and bike everywhere I need to in this city. And I really appreciate everyone else who chooses to do so. When I see a bicycle in the road, and it gets in my way (as is bound to happen, from time to time), I really don’t worry about it. So…it’s going to take me 40 more seconds to get where I’m going? So what?
Here’s the thing – it’s drivers, not pedestrians, who complain about bikes. Why? Pedestrians are the only ones who are in any danger at all from cyclists. If you’re in a car, how can you really get mad when you see a cyclist go through a stop sign at a clear intersection? To whom does that cyclist present a danger? If you’re a pedestrian walking your dog through that intersection, sure. You could get hurt. Bikes, however, can hurt you. Cars can kill you. Would you rather have a bunch of reckless bikers or reckless drivers on the road? There is a 3-way stop on my relatively quiet corner. I would say that maybe 40% of the people who drive down that street either do a very half-assed rolling stop, or blow right through the stop sign.
What I’m saying is that there are fifty times more bad drivers in Ottawa than there are bad bikers. And we have more angry, impatient drivers than anything. And the fact that bikes sometimes slow them down is what irks them. But consider this – imagine all those people who bike to work hopped in cars instead. Never mind the environmental cost, which would be sad, but how long would your commute be then?
Of course, I believe that bike safety is important, and that cyclists should obey all the same rules of the road, when they’re on the road, as cars. For their own safety, of course. But the city could maybe be doing better things than going after kids who ride on the sidewalk, or people who don’t have a bell on their bike. And people who drive cars might have better things to do than stew over the bicycles on the roads. By the way – cyclists, strangely, tend to complain more about pedestrians than they do about cars. I wonder if pedestrians complain about people who sit in lawn chairs?
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Thanks to Sina P from LC Overhead Doors for fixing my garage door, which has been broken for more than a month. Quick, easy and not pricey, very nice.
No thanks to the people who have driven by my house for the last month. I understand that a garage door, half-opened, is a signal to suburbanites that the couple in that house is ready to swing. I never told my wife about this, because I was really looking forward to her waking me up in a panic one night when swingers rang the doorbell. It never happened. I guess it’s just a Stittsville thing.
No thanks to the uber-aggressive guy who tried to force me into having his company take care of the weed problem on my lawn. I tried to explain to him that I really, truly, didn’t care at all about weeds. And that I had absolutely no interest in having a nice looking lawn. But he was like a dog with a bone, and he wasn’t letting go. He seemed genuinely devastated that someone would have no interest in having a golf-green quality front lawn. But I don’t hang out on my front lawn. I had to take a quote from him and a bunch of papers just to get him off my porch. And lawn.
Big thanks to that guy’s company for never following up with me.
My lawn borders on a fairly large patch of city property, where my lawn mower won’t reach. Thanks to the city for mowing some of my weeds, finally.
Thanks to the G20 security detail who released that artists’ depiction of the “possibly Mediterranean” guy who bought all that fertilizer. National manhunts are always exciting. And when they end with that guy walking into a police station 30 minutes later, where it turns out he’s – gasp – a farmer, then national manhunts are hilarious.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Motorcycle Ride For Dad for the first time. What a cool experience! Riding down the road with 2,000 other bikes as people congregate to watch, and wave, and sometimes cheer, it’s something else. Some people were standing on Sussex, or Carling, holding signs with photos of their fathers or husbands. People who had passed away because of prostate cancer. People who would really want all men over the age of 40 to get checked. A really powerful experience.
I rode with Pat, from Harley-Davidson Canada, on the back of his Harley trike. He was a very gracious host, showing up a little late for his next event so I could experience the whole ride, through Almonte and Calabogie and back to Almonte. He didn’t even complain when my frontal bits encroached on his dorsal bits, which seemed to happen with just about every bump on the road. I wasn’t sure where to put my hands. I didn’t think I was supposed to hold on to him, so I put my hands on the fenders behind me. I resisted the urge to give him a big hug and rest my head on his shoulder as he drove. I did want to freak him out, but I didn’t want to crash. In the end, the trike was such a smooth ride that I couldn’t have fallen off had I tried.
The Ride For Dad is an incredibly well-organized event. Everyone involved is working incredibly hard at all times, there is terrific support from companies like the Almonte Home Hardware, who hosted a barbecue at the first unofficial stop, and the Second Cup, who provided free muffins and coffee to all the riders at the last official stop in Kanata. The Ride For Dad raised a ton of money again this year, more even than last year. 65% of the money raised goes directly to research into prostate cancer, and 35% goes to an awareness campaign. At the wrap-up event, back in Almonte, we got to hear from three of the scientists who are direct recipients of the money raised. Last year, they were given $220,000.
I spent my time eating hamburgers at every stop and enduring the barbs of bikers who thought it was rather funny that I was riding on the back of a trike. Sometimes, when they realized I was with Pat, the Harley guy, they reconsidered their amusement. Sometimes not. Many of them were disappointed I wasn’t wearing the outfit I wore for the weenie bite. Not me though. That might have been a little distracting from the cause at hand. Which is prostate cancer. Get it checked!
This woman is a bigwig. The guy isn’t.
See? He’s kind of a dweeb.
This is Pat. Pat is not a dweeb, he’s a former cop and a hardcore biker.
Lots of motorcycles mean lots of money for prostate cancer.
Somehow, even this bike can’t make me look cool.
Zoom! Well…we were not going very fast here.
This is Terry. He works with us. He’s an engineer. Which seems nerdy. But he’s still cooler than I am.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
A final word on running…no, I didn’t run the half marathon in the Ottawa Race Weekend. I got there, looked around, and realized there were ten thousand other people there to run it for me. I got there early, and started warming up. I was supposed to run with promo-guy Esther, her twin sister Judy, and two of their friends. All four girls are tiny, and the place had ten thousand runners warming up. The chances I would find any of them was almost zero. Miraculously, however, I DID run into Esther and Judy a little bit before the race. I guess it was a little easier to spot blonde twins than an individual person.
As we stretched and warmed up, I looked around and realized that I was, by far, still the fattest person there. Now, I have lost a lot of weight in the past year. And I was able to run this full 21-km (13 mile) half marathon two weeks earlier. Bushtukah gave me some great shoes, which fixed my knee problems. But having never actually run the full 13 miles (my training really topped out at 6 miles a day, and no further), I wasn’t prepared for the painful pounding my ample frame would cause upon my hips. And with about 3 miles to go, I was in agony. I finished, but I never took another step running between that day and the race itself. In fact, I barely took a step walking either.
Thanks to the junk-waxing I recently received, courtesy of the twisted minds of Doc and Woody and the soft hands of Brittany the aesthetician, I was sticking in places that might prove detrimental to my race. So I headed back to my car to get the little anti-glide stick I got from Bushtukah. Or maybe it’s a pro-glide stick. Whatever. It keeps my stuff from sticking to my other stuff while I run. I headed across the street with about ten minutes to spare, only to look down the street. I saw thousands of people in the starting gate, waiting to get going. The faster people go first, the slower people (me) go last. I had a little time, but I had to hurry.
So I ran to my car. Which was in the World Exchange Plaza, two blocks away. (By the way, the WEP has free parking all day every weekend – nice, eh?) By the time I got there, I was once again in agony. My hips don’t lie. And they said “you’re not running”. I reasoned that, as the fattest guy there, I was going to take up the most space on the starting line, and space was tight. I would be doing the rest of the runners a huge favour by skipping the race. So I got in my car and went home.
That’s it. I will continue to excercise. I will play sports. This coming weekend I will be in a volleyball tournament and a softball tournament and I will do the rowing machine and lift weights and swim and so forth. But running is OVER. I hate it. I was running six miles a day, and I hated every step, every minute, every breath. That “runners high” thing people talk about? Not so. I suspect that “runners high” is different for each person. I think some are susceptible to it, others are not. Like a peanut allergy, or the very few people who aren’t bothered by pepper spray. So I quit. I would quit eating peanuts if I had an allergy. I would start more riots if I wasn’t fazed by pepper spray. And without the “runners high”, there is no reason for me to run, ever again. So long, hip pain and anger!
Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
The World Cup is coming soon. So here’s another soccer video. This time, it’s Woody Harrelson, playing at Soccer Aid 2010, a sort of pro-am soccer tournament featuring both celebrities and real superstar soccer players from around the world. And who comes up to take the penalty kick for the winning goal, against a real, superstar soccer goalie? Woody. Check it out.
Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
I saw the late, great Ronnie James Dio playing with Heaven And Hell in Ottawa. This footage, filmed with the band’s permission, has just now been released of his last ever performance on stage with the band.