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A fish in Facebrook

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I am reading Ted Bishop's Ink: Culture, Wonder, And Our Relationship with the Written Word. I am trying not to read it too quickly. I don't think there's a sequel to dive into next. So, I use my computer as a kind of teacher's internet assistant. When Hongwu is mentioned, I check out the emperor's Wikipedia page. When a willow tree in the wind is likened to a writing brush, I head for Google Images to look at a willow tree.

But I don't always get where I am going. I get lured this way and that. On the way to the willow I fell into Facebrook. In rough order of encounter, I:

saw that my friend Rosa gave a clown face to my Facebook post last night on the changing colours of traffic lights, looked at Keith's nature photography from the Upper Peninsula, monitored a debate about the mixture of musicians at Folk Fest workshops, learned that my friend Michelle went to Ikea on Thursday, a trip immortalized by a Facebook-generated video, learned my friend John needs …

I packed my pannier, and in it I put...

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When I pedal my bike through the city, I carry some things with me. Some other things I pick up along the way. Here are the contents of my red Arkel bike bags (Red Bike, Cliff), in no particular order of weight, after this morning's ride.

Ziploc large freezer bag, transparent, containing orange bandana from murder mystery dinner night in Chelem, México, where Shelagh was a reporter and Sheryl was the sheriff, eyeglasses (right lens chipped, prescription: -1.00, -1.25, not bad), 3x pencils (2 Blackwing 530 special edition California Gold Rush series from Stylus, closed on Saturdays in the summer, 1 with Chinese charactering, gift), eye drops, pencil sharpener containing shavings that remind me of a dancing woman's hemmed dress, City of Edmonton red reflector and blue reflective bracelet courtesy bike grid street team because Edmonton now has a bike grid street team because Edmonton now has a downtown bike grid, iPhone 6ring of keys: Honda Accord, not driven in a month, unknown …

What could go wrong? :)

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If I remember right, Chris Hadfield made the suggestion that, instead of envisioning success, we should all picture failure. Imagine the countless ways that things can go wrong. Engineers like Hadfield build bridges and launch rockets and keep the Talus balls from rolling into the North Saskatchewan River*, but what they're really acquainted with is collapse and the rest of the long, sad list of how things fade, snap, break, shatter, splinter, fragment, turn to ash, and, essentially, are torn asunder.

This is the honest way of making sure the centre holds for as long as the centre can hold.

Taken to its extreme, it means living life by remembering that I will die. Not that everyone will die, not we all must die, but, me, the tapper of these keystrokes, I will die. Morose? Maybe. Pessimistic? Perhaps. True? Yes. A flight plan for happiness if interpreted in a healthy way? I am beginning to believe so.

Yesterday I pedalled through the city and considered these things from my side o…

Renée

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If you happened to be driving west on Stony Plain Road between 170 St and 178 St this morning around 10:30am, and if you glanced over to the sidewalk on the south side of the road, you would have seen two people speaking. A gangly, helmeted man standing over his bicycle was talking to a stylish older woman wearing a floral print skirt, a pink turtleneck, teal-framed sunglasses, her head covered by a summer scarf from which grey pigtails poked out on either side. She moved with the help of a wheeled walker.

You wouldn't have been able to hear why, as they parted, the bicycle rider was laughing, but here is why.

"Tell your wife she has nothing to worry about with you talking to an older woman from Europe!" the woman said.

The laughing, goofy-looking guy was me. She told me her name was Renée. She was walking to McDonald's and was taking a detour from her route because the direct-line sidewalk was under construction. She wondered if she could cut across the box store p…

Tombstones of the days: July 22, 2017

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For a reason that I trust will reveal itself as time rolls along, and despite that article of faith proving how poor a researcher I am (I mean, when has data collection by itself magically suggested a theory, instead of the other way around?), I am almost nine months into a writing project that took an interesting turn yesterday.

Starting back on Halloween last year, I have witnessed in word and photograph the sights and thoughts that strike me every day I ride my bike. I am into my fourth booklet of souvenirs. I have been uncharacteristically disciplined about taking pics and reviewing video and pencilling my observations from the saddle. The entries are little tombstones of the days.

From 11.29: A joy of riding a bicycle in the city is actually touching the city as I ride. I reach out to touch the overhanging spruce boughs. I let them scrape my helmet hello. I like to run my gloved hand along the bridge railing, especially when there is a film of snow to wake up. I like to read the…

Of pennies and senses and palate revolts

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The penny dropped. I love that idiom. I am old enough to remember pennies. I was around when the government dropped the penny from circulation. I love short sentences. I love the stubbornness of solid idioms from analog times. What's better than that click sound I hear in my mind when someone voices the idiom? (The absolute best is when banker Dave Mowat employs it.) The penny dropped is the sound of realization, the testimony that insight, like starlight, takes time to arrive, and, when it does, it resonates. Just like a coin-in-slot machine come to life when the stuck penny drops.

Peas, too.

Shelagh was talking the other day about children and their young taste buds. I don't know how the subject came up. For the most part I stay in touch with the subject matter of current podcasts when Shelagh summarizes key points from the 100 or so she stays current with. So, maybe the observation about taste buds was from a pea podcast she had heard, I don't know.

The taste buds of yo…

Free speech and that naked dude at the Tour de France

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Bauke Mollema streaked to victory today in Tour de France stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay. He made his move with about 30 km to go, after much of the field had cracked. He was only 100 m or so from the peak. Still, a group of pursuers were only a few hundred metres behind. "Mollema needs a buffer!" said the announcer. I tweeted my thanks immediately.


Both announcers, Matthew Keenan and Robby McEwen, liked the tweet. That was fun. I could have a drink or three with those guys, I think.

I have been told that the Greek word for clever, deinos, also connotes a sense of terrible. Perhaps that is why those who make puns are routinely greeted with the judgment "that was terrible!" To say that Mollema needed a buffer was accurate if, by it, the speaker simply meant a little extra time and distance from his chasers. But it's clever to choose the word buffer, which carries the extra meaning of being naked. It's doubly clever, even cheek…