Category Archives: Personal

Refer to family only

Fish Creek Provincial Park Videography

Following up on my New Years Day 2014 Bicycling Ride post, my friend Ian reported he was able to find my winter biking video on YouTube directly by searching for “fish creek park calgary”, and then filtering for the most recent upload (at the time, it was at the bottom of the first page – with 14 views!).

Trying the search myself, I was amazed at the variety of fish creek videography being produced – and how many local videographers there are!

Here’s an “Ice Cave” exploration, reminiscent of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation.


Watch these snow boats fly east along a frozen Fish Creek towards the Ranch. Amazing that a propeller works in snow!


I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an RC plane flying in FCPP before.


This last one seems inspired by Wayne’s World and Home Improvement.

Calgary Flood

If you follow any mass media news, you’ve probably heard about the flooding in Calgary caused by high water volumes in the Bow and Elbow rivers. The rivers join together in the downtown heart of Calgary, where most businesses were shuttered during the worst of the flooding. However, many residents along the rivers were also significantly impacted with lost homes and property. My family has been exceedingly fortunate, only my son’s and my bicycle routes to work have been affected.

In order to bicycle from our home (on the west side of the Bow) to our work (on the east side), there used to be a choice of five bridges – with commute times ranging from 50 minutes to 2 hours depending on the route and bridge. Today, only one of the bridges remains navigable, but the commute is still less than an hour and a half. The bridges themselves do not appear to have been significantly damaged, but the surrounding landscape and pathways leading to the bridges may be forever altered.

My heading photo now shows the McKenzie Meadows golf course, close to the south end of Calgary,  5 days after the start of the flood. The photo was taken looking west, with the Bow River and Rocky Mountains in the background.

My Japanese friend Toshi

IVL and Xing Staff in Japan, 1997

My thoughts have been with Toshi Ikeda lately in the aftermath of the devistating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Toshi was the Japan business agent for IVL Technology in the mid-to-late 1990’s when I was responsible for technical product managment and licensee support. On my many trips to Japan, Toshi accompanied me as both colleague and friend. He made sure I knew where to catch my next train, and where the best noodle shops were for a late night snack.

Some years later, I was in Japan on behalf of NovAtel and was able to catch up with Toshi at a Yakitori bar. I don’t know how he has fared as a result of the earthquake, but sincerely hope he and his family are well.

Here’s a picture of Toshi from a 1997 dinner in Japan, including Fred Speekeen and Barry Larson from IVL, and Nishikawa from Xing.

Merry Christmas

It’s the day before Christmas Eve day. Time has a way of slipping away from you if you don’t keep an eye on it. I guess that’s a good thing if it means you were preoccupied with other things.

Was out for what will probably be the last bike ride before Christmas. Only just over an hour, but riding snow-packed walking trails makes it seem like twice that.

Well, off to to finish some errands.

Merry Christmas!


Yaa Hoo! It’s the Calgary Stampede!

The gosling arrived as usual this spring. Parents are always the same, wary as ever, and hissing and honking when anyone gets too close. Do you have children?


A few weeks later the ducklings arrived. Our daughter thwarted Mother Nature and rescued 4 chicks being harassed by crows (reluctant dinner guests?). After a number of calls to various civic and provincial government offices and environmental NGO’s, the chicks were relocated to a nearby backyard sanctuary on Sundance Lake.



The deer in Fish Creek Provincial Park are friendly as usual…


Hey, we have a new patio now!


Yaa Hoo! it’s a parade.


My friend Ian spent his day shuttling visitors to the parade route in his big white limo.


Like many Oil & Gas companies, we hold a Stampede Breakfast. This year I got out my road bike for the trip downtown. Not far after leaving home, I met James making his regular commute from Canyon Meadows to a downtown office. Chatting as we rode, we made the 1-1/2 hr ride in what seemed like only minutes.


Yee Haa! Some young ladies two-stepping at the corporate breakfast.


These young ladies are our Quality Assurance Inspectors.


Horses are everywhere during Stampede week. Here are some tenderfoot’s, touring the downtown from horse-drawn carriages.


After breakfast, it was time to head to work. I rode out of downtown on the pedestrian bridge just visible center-right, down the Bow River pathway a piece, and then onto the Irrigation Canal pathway the rest of the way to work. Just another commute in paradise! (~1hr from downtown to Foothills Industrial).


Keep the rubber side down!


My Photos are Back!

You may recall my post from May 2009, where I described how my home NAS was “temporary unavailable”. The story now has a happy ending. Everything is back, including family digital photo’s and scanned image going back to the turn of the century. However, the moral of the story is still backup, Backup, BACKUP! (at least 2 independent copies).

The path to recover was a long one:

  • Spring 2009 – I saw an ad for COSSFEST 2009 (Calgary Open Source Systems Festival, It was too late to attend, but I put a note in my calendar for COSSFEST 2010.
  • Fall 2009 – the mother board and system drive fail in my FreeNAS box, and I start researching FreeBSD, the Unix-like operating system used by FreeNAS.
  • April 2010 – I attend COSSFEST 2010 and meet Paul from Protospace (, who was demonstrating a blinky-LED project in the meeting lounge (Protospace is a Calgary Hackerspace, see Hackerspace in Wikipedia)
  • May 2010 – I cleaned out the basement and donated an assortment of embedded system prototyping platforms to Protospace. While there, I met Andrew Preece, a storage specialist and all-round uber-geek, who offered to help with my data recovery problem.
  • May 2010 – I spent the day with Andrew at the Calgary Protospace. We had a full day, 10:30 am to 11:00 pm, with only a couple hours out for dinner. You can’t imagine my exhilaration at 3pm when Andrew was able to get a file listing from the previously uncooperative drive array. Another 7 hours and I had the photos copied to my laptop – and a nice Mother’s Day surprise for my wife.

Thanks also to “Andrew 2″, who provided moral support while hacking together a security system for an upcoming paintball game (and more importantly, made a Starbucks coffee run).


What am I listening to?

Bicycle commuting weather has returned to Calgary. I commuted to work twice last week on my classic Miyata 1000, and plan to beat that record this week. This morning was a little chilly, but at least I didn’t have to scrape the frozen rain off the jeep windshield.

Back in the saddle also means having 2hrs a day again for podcasts. I’m using my daughter’s old iPod nano (also a classic), and its 1G memory just balances my consumption with new content being published.

So, fanfare please, here’s my current list:

  • FLOSS Weekly (, an offering of interviews with free and open source project leaders.
  • The Changelog (, presents interviews with free and open source project leaders, but tends to be geekier than FLOSS Weekly (but not always).
  • BSD Talk (, provides periodic interviews with those active in the BSD (UNIX-like operating system) community (e.g., FreeBSD).
  • Lullabot Drupal Podcast and Drupal Voices ( A great way to get into Drupal CMS development. The Drupal Podcast is a theme-based group effort from the Lullabot development team; Drupal Voices is short inteviews with non-Lullabot Drupal developers.
  • CBC Spark ( a weekly tech program for the lay person, each episode consisting of a half-dozen topics or interviews (full interviews also available for more depth).
  • The World: Technology ( An interesting collection of tech-related stores from around the world (albeit with a western bias).
  • CBC The World This Week. Nice wrap-up of the previous week’s global news to catch up on while bicycling to work Monday morning.
  • CBC Radio 3 Podcast (, a theme-based weekly program of Canadian independent music. I keep a couple annual roadtrip mixtape episodes on the iPod, as well the Sweatin’ to the Indies episode, for when I just want to pedal.
  • CBC Radio 3 Top 30 (, a weekly review of Canadian independent music. This is the first year I watched the Canadian Juno awards (Canada’s equivalent of the US Grammy’s) and recognised most of the songs and artists.

The Law of Explanation

I came across the Law of Explanation yesterday and it really resonated with what I’ve been trying to explain to our children:

The first half says “When you’re explaining something to somebody and they don’t get it, that’s not their problem, it’s your problem.” Anything that’s important, that’s deep enough to matter, is probably not self-evident; it’s going to require a lot of explanation, and that’s an essential part of your job.

The second half says “When someone’s explaining something to you and you’re not getting it, that’s not your problem, it’s their problem.”  The effect of this one is that you have to do a very courageous thing: say “No, I don’t understand.”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place? Tim Bray, XML co-inventor and Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems, reportedly explained the law in a convocation speech given at his Alma Mater this spring (and shamelessly stolen by me from Barton George’s excellent blog

2008 North American Solar Challenge

Did the multi-mode commuter thing yesterday to see the 2008 NASC (North American Solar Challenge) finals at the University of Calgary. I first drive to a Calgary C-Train Park&Ride with my bicycle in the back of the van, then rode the train downtown with my bike and gave the van keys to my daughter so the van could make it back home, and finally got back on the train to get to the University of Calgary. I reached the finish line just in time to see the U of C car cross the line (finishing a very respectable 6th out of 14 in the final standings).


When a five minute notice was given for an approaching car, everyone headed to the finish line to watch the car, with its team jogging along side, come down the timing lane and across the checkered line. After post-finish checkouts by officials, the cars were put on display and team members answered questions. The students, together with their supporters and mentors, have made an incredible achievement. Although the vehicles may not be commercially viable, the value of the gained knowledge and experience for the students is immeasurable.



It was disappointing to see the Canadian governments didn’t seem to recognize the importance of the event. Both the Federal and Provincial governments had prepared speeches read in their absence, so the sold Canadian politician attending in person was an alderman – who left me with the impression that the highlight for them was the road trip with the local media. In comparison, the US presented a speech in person, which although focusing on US achievements, nonetheless demonstrated government awareness and provided publicity for the cause. Too bad for us north of the 49th, opportunities like this don’t come often.

After watching a few more cars finish and inspecting the vehicles on display, I bought a couple shirts to both remember and advertise the occasion (proceeds going to the U of C team’s expenses), and then pointed my bike south towards home.

At the finish line ….

  • 1st – U of Michigan, 51:41:53
  • 6th – U of C, 75:42:53
  • 14th – Oregan State U, 145:20:00

The rest of the photos….