Fredericton Bike Week

Nice to see the local municipal types partnering up with some interest groups and some retailers to put together Fredericton’s First Annual Bike Week (May 25 – June 2). More butts on bike seats is only a good thing. If you’re in/around Fredericton, get out on your bike – and then do it the next week, and the next…

If you’re not in/around Fredericton, well then you don’t even have to wait for Bike Week. Or make your own Bike Week. Or make every week Bike Week.

To the 5 Boroughs

For the most part any non-paved trails or trails in the woods are still snow-covered. The roads and shoulders are in terrible shape. Wet, crumbling, full of potholes. So we do ‘road’ bike rides on our mountain bikes this time of year. Doesn’t ruin your road bike, you don’t spend all your time fixing flats in skinny tires and, the most enjoyable benefit, when you find a big long, muddy dirt or gravel road, you can see where it goes.

My compatriot Mr. T. and I had a rough idea of a route to visit 5 neighborhoods local to us. Our ‘homage’ to the Beasties record, if you will, check it out.

Spring Snow

Northside Trail, Fredericton, NB, Canada

Bit of a late season spring snowstorm dumping about 10cm of snow on our neck of the woods today. That ‘spring snow’ that is very heavy and wet and clings to everything. Huge monster flakes that are hard to miss. Went out for a walk at lunch just because.

I find days like this tricky for cameras on phones. Snowy and overcast, the photos always end up with a lot of blue in them. I adjusted this one in Photoshop a bit, but it’s still not quite what it was like standing there.

Coffeeneuring 2015: Controls 5 & 6

A tale of two coffees.

Two more disparate coffees, I challenge you to find.

The Caldera Keg heatin’ up on Chamcook Lake.

Control #5

  • Date: October 24, 2015
  • Location: Chamcook Lake, NB, Canada
  • Order: Fresh ground cup of Hobo Rouleur from Ocean Air Cycles
  • Distance: 55km round trip
  • Bike Friendly: Oh, hells yeah.

While I was on a mini-getaway in St. Andrews, NB, I went on an all day rideabout and took the opportunity to get some #coffeeoutside action in with the inaugural use of my new coffee outside rig featuring a Caldera Cone Keg Stove from Ocean Air Cycles. A more fantastic and appropriate setting you could not find than the banks of Chamcook Lake on a crisp, sunny, fall day. The views and the Hobo Rouleur coffee were excellent. As was my custom mix trail mix stash. (My ‘secret’ recipe is Costco Kirkland trail mix augmented with an additional bag of regular m&m’s AND a bag of peanut butter m&m’s. Stove worked great too. Truly an epic and idyllic coffee experience.

The Disc Trucker camoflaugin’ in downtown Fredericton.

Control #6

  • Date: November 8, 2015
  • Location: Tim Hortons, Regent Street, Fredericton, NB
  • Order: Large Dark Roast, Black
  • Distance: 25km round trip
  • Bike Friendly: Sure

Control #6 had me making the best of a less than desirable situation. Apparently, if it’s early Sunday morning in Fredericton and you want a really good coffee, my fave joint, Chess Piece is the only place that’s gonna hook you up. No one else is open on Sundays, save the franchises. I’ve already used Chess Piece as a Coffeeneuring control so couldn’t double up, so after checking out the deserted Rogers Hometown Hockey setup in Officer’s Square and some choice back alley Fredericton murals, I was forced to go lowest common denominator with some Tims. The Dark Roast isn’t that bad, but, well, it’s not Chess Piece. I know ’cause I hit Chess Piece up for an Americano anyway. The Tim’s in no way rivaled Control #5’s epicness or ambience, but I did at least get it to go and enjoy it with a view of the river, along with a few sour cream glazed.

Coffeeneuring 2015: Controls 3 & 4

Subcategory: Cookieneuring

The Coffeeneuring Challenge 2015 continues. And sometimes, it gets ugly.

Control #3

  • Date: October 11, 2015
  • Location: Read’s, Fredericton
  • Order: Americano, Ginormous Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Distance: 30km round trip
  • Bike Friendly: Yeh

Hit up the Read’s news stand and cafe in downtown Fredericton. It was raining pretty good, which in my mind merits a ginormous cookie purchase as well. The Americano was good, better than most, but I still prefer the one at Chess Piece.  Still a few spots to check out in town, though before I crown a King.

Control #4 

  • Date: October 12, 2015 – Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday
  • Location: Irving Gas/Convenience
  • Order: ‘Breakfast Blend’, Ginormous Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Distance: 50km round trip
  • Bike Friendly: Does it matter?

Sometimes, in the name of ‘The Cause’ sacrifices have to be made. I got out for a road ride on Monday, a Holiday, while most folks were still sleeping off food comas. Drawback was that pretty much nothing of consequence was open. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to punch my #coffeeneuring card, I had to resort to the dreaded gas station/convenience store stop. I just narrowly avoided complete tragedy as they were almost out of coffee in the ‘warming thermos’, but luckily I was able to draw enough ‘Breakfast Blend’ to fill a meager cup. Somewhat redeeming was my purchase of the ubiquitous ‘ginormous roadside chocolate chip cookie’ only to discover later it was actually a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. The whole ‘Breakfast Blend’ (shudder) debacle was almost completely forgotten.

Henry Rollins in Fredericton

When I lived in metropolis of Washington DC in my younger days, I passed on lots of shows and events for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps I was too cool – highly doubtful. Maybe I had better things to do. Also highly doubtful. Lack of funds? Safer bet.

Be that as it may, one person I never got around to seeing was Henry Rollins. If you don’t know who he is, I’m not gonna school you, Google can do that.

For the most part I missed out on the DC Punk/Hardcore scene, even though it was going on/trailing off when I lived there. I was kinda young, and lived in the ‘Burbs in Virginia. It was only later on in my early twenties that I realized the music and lifestyle revolution that was going on – literally a few miles from my house. Oh, the irony.

I wish I could claim to have been a part of that, knowing now the full magnitude of what was going down and how it would effect things in the future, but alas, I cannot. About the closest I can get is to say I’ve seen many shows at the original 9:30 club, great shows I’ll never forget, and honestly – though it’s improved, nice, high tech and will hold a boatload more people – the new 9:30 hasn’t 1/8th the character of the original.

I came to Rollins post-Black Flag, when he had the band and I can’t even say I was in on the old-school End of the Silence days. I didn’t hear of him ’till he sort of broke mainstream with the Weight record and obligatory ‘Liar’ video. I know, I know, my street cred is taking a hit. In my defense though, I did go back and dig the Black Flag stuff, learned the history, and most of all started reading Hank’s books.

I’ve ebbed and flowed with regards to his musical output over the years, but I’ve always stayed with and connected with his writing on all kinds of levels and found it at times insightful, inspirational, enraging, and compelling – often in the same sentence.

Those who know Hank, or even know of him also are probably aware of his status as a pioneer and bastion of the ‘Spoken Word’ milieu, performing what I can only think has to be thousands of shows up to this point just standing on a stage talking at you, though ‘talking’ really isn’t a strong or accurate enough word.

Now, I’m old and I live in a  small town. I, like many before me, have fallen woefully behind in ‘all things hip’ and I’m beginning to come to terms with that. One of the benefits of my scenic locale though is that when anyone of any sort of repute manages to make it out to our hamlet, it’s a real treat, and an opportunity to see them in really small, intimate venues that some of my counterparts down in the Metropolis would kill to have access to.

So when I heard Hank was coming to The Charlotte Street Arts Center for a speaking gig to an audience of only 200, I, to use the parlance of the times, ‘got all up on that’.

I’d listened to his spoken word albums and watched the DVDs but had never seen the man in person, so I was really looking forward to the show and he didn’t disappoint. Attempting to recap it here would be both parts pointless and unfulfilling for you, dear reader, so I won’t bother with that. He is to be experienced first hand, without doubt.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the man and his stories is the travel. There is something to be said for guy who travels to places others don’t of his own volition, sometimes against the advice of pretty much everyone, for the interaction and desire to experience new things/people/cultures.

Although we can aspire to go forth and experience the world in a similar manner and perhaps succeed to some level, we all will have different and varied experiences and I truly appreciated the opportunity to get some of that vicariously through him and his stories. It was great that he finally made it out to Fredericton, I thank him, and hopefully it won’t be the last time we see him ’round.

As everyone spilled out of the stickiness and heat of the auditorium last night – the temperature of which was no doubt elevated at least a few degrees by the intensity of the man himself – into the dark, cool streets, I had purposely parked a few blocks away so I would have to walk afterwards late downtown – an opportunity I don’t get very often.

It was calm, the streets were quiet and relatively deserted. I let myself succumb to the reeling of possibilities, reactions and questions raised by he had said. Indeed while the show had been fantastic, the subsequent feeling I left with was just as good, if not better.

A testament to the Word of the Man.

Taking The 100 Thing Challenge.

I recently finished the book The 100 Thing Challenge in which it’s author, Dave Bruno, attempts to live for a year with only 100 personal items. He did this in response his  fatigue with what he called ‘American Style Consumerisim‘ and in an effort to simplify his life and make more room for the important things. I highly recommend you read the book, whether you opt to take the challenge or not, as it has some great insights in it with regards to why and how we buy and collect ‘stuff’.

I’ve decided to take up this challenge myself, for better or worse and have set a tentative date of May 1st as the point of no return. As such I’ll be spending the winter ‘clearing the baffles’ so to speak and whittling down my possessions to my 100 (or dare I say sub-100?) list. I’ll be trying to document some of the process here and in future blog entires if you wanna read along. So a heads up: Don’t buy me anything.

Coming up with the list does pose some unique conundrums – some of which Dave provides his own solutions for in the book. One of the tenements of the Challenge is that it is and will be different for everyone, there are no steadfast rules. As such I’ve a few issues to work out myself.

Clothes

In his  book, Dave talks about limiting your clothes and counts each item of clothing as one item on the list. While I’d like to say I could do that, I don’t know if it’s as simple. For one, I live in an area of the world with a much different climate than him (San Diego vs, Fredericton, New Brunswick) and bottom line, I have seasonal requirements for more clothing items. Think LAYERS people, among other things. I’m not sure how I’m going to address this for the list yet. Currently I’m leaning towards counting categories or groups of clothes as one thing, i.e. ‘t-shirts’, ‘pants’, ‘hats and gloves’, etc. I do want to try and get rid of some of my clothes. I mean I have stuff in my closet that I never wear or I’m saving for one day, which I know will never come.

Bike Stuff

I have a lot of bike stuff. Both bikes and accessories. I’ve never had much guilt about it as I ride my bikes to work at least 50% of the time each year, even in lousy weather. My bikes aren’t super top of the line, but I have made some decent upgrades and especially when it comes to bike specific clothing/gear, I have in some cases bought quality stuff as it makes commuting in rain/sleet/snow that much more possible. I always have justified the expense of gear with the fact that it enables me to do more of something that is good for myself, the planet, and the pocketbook. That said I do plan to cull some stuff from the bike herd. I have a pretty good stockpile of ‘spare parts’ which I probably will never need and even if I do need replacements these are outdated. I hope to find some way to get rid of these without just trashing them.

This leaves me with my question of how this stuff relates to my 100 Things list. I feel that it’s important that I include it somehow and not exclude it offhand. For the clothes/gear, I’m leaning towards using the same method I mentioned above with regular clothes. That seems reasonable. With the bikes, well I’m thinking, realistically, I should count each bike as one ‘thing’. I mean, really I can only ride one at a time so any more than that are superfluous. If I’m going to keep more than one, I think I have to be willing to suck it up and count each one towards my 100 Thing list. I will probably include spare parts I do end up keeping for each bike as part of the bike, so essentially one ‘thing’ = bike and spare parts. We’ll see how it goes.

Books

Dave talks about this in his book and his final solution to the problem was to simply say he had one ‘library’ that encompassed his books. The ‘library’ counted as one ‘thing’. I’m ok with that. I don’t have a lot of books, but I have some that I’m fond of, and some I’ve even worked on or designed, so I’ll be keeping them. I still think there’s some that could go, and will, but I’ll be sticking with his idea of one ‘library’ counting as a thing.

CDs

I’ve got at least 900 CDs. Up until about a month ago, they’d been in boxes in the basement for the better part of 2 years. By example that would mean that really, according to the 100 Thing Challenge, I don’t really need ’em and they should go. Part of the reason they were in boxes is simply because I had no logical place to store them while I refinished my basement. But as time passed, I’d kinda forgotten about them. I would think about them sometimes, on several occasions even digging into boxes to pull out specific ones to burn to my iTunes library, but the simple fact is that the bulk of my music (all 140GB of it) now resides on my computer and I don’t see any going back. I’ve talked from time to time with Lyn about taking the CDs to the used CD joint and just making a few bucks (prolly far few than I think they’re emotionally worth, sniff, sniff) but then I’d be done with it.

As a designer, I’ve got a huge attachment to the album art, sleeves, liner notes, and packaging that these represent. The physical object is hard to let go of, even I really have no need of them anymore. Several times I’ve said to myself that I’d get rid of them once I’d burned them all to my computer but the reality is that not only would that take forever, it would eat up huge volumes of hard drive space I don’t have. I’d have to buy an external drive to hold it all and it seems I’d be just setting myself up for a huge heartbreak when that drive eventually takes a huge shit like they all eventually do. (One thing working on computers all my life has taught me is that no information stored anywhere is permanent, it can go away in the blink of an eye and we should all accept this fact, it makes things easier.)

Right now, my current frame of mind is to go through them, cull the really meaningful and/or out-of-print ones and either keep those or burn ’em to the Mac and sell/dump the rest. We’ll see what happens. I’ve thought about applying the ‘book library’ idea here, and calling this ‘one music library’, but the difference is, I can easily convert these physical CDs to digital files and save the space/clutter. To do that with books I’d have to actually re-buy the books. I’m not sure I’m down with the ‘audio library’ idea. Like I said, we’ll see.

One idea I am toying with is if I do ditch all the CDs, trying to do something with the artwork from inside them, some sort of mural or something. I dunno. Haven’t fully flushed it out yet. I have some that are autographed as well and thought those would be kinda cool if framed nice.

Tools/Lawn and Garden

Although Dave talks about ditching his fine woodworking tools and streamlining his toolkit down to a few essential tools, I’m not gonna go that route. I don’t harbor any fantasies of ever being a fine woodworker, but what I do have is an hyperactive DIY drive. Being that we live in a pretty rural area and in addition to getting extreme satisfaction from doing stuff on/around the property myself, it saves money, I try to do as much home maintenance/renovation as possible myself. (I’m currently in the midst of an – ahem – 2 year basement refinish that is about 50% done. Hey, I work on it when I can.) I’ve accrued a pretty good arsenal of tools, but I’m also adamant about maintaining them properly so hopefully they will last indefinitely. Self-sustainablity and resourcefulness, I think Dave would agree, are both 100 Thing Challenge compliant. And even if he doesn’t, as he says so many times in the book, this is my list, not his.

For the above reasons, as well as the fact that all of the stuff is used for the benefit of everyone who lives here not just me, I’ve decided to not count tools, hardware and lawn and garden stuff (snowblower, lawnmower, etc) in my 100 Things list. I consider that stuff ‘household’ goods.

So the whittling down will commence. I’ll post up my list and revisions of it leading up to my May 1st date once I have it going. Stay tuned.