Friday, 29 June 2007

Coming the fall to a BBall gym near you

Henry Bekkering joins his brother Ross on the U of C Dinos Basketball Team this fall. See what they can do, For more action, search for Bekkering on YouTube.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Phones and GPS Devices

My company gave me a new cell phone today. Why is it that a phone weighing a mere 3 oz requires an 84 page manual that weighs more than the phone itself? Is Apple the only company that has figured out that devices should be so simple thick manuals are unnecessary?

For Christmas, I got a Garmin Vista Cx handheld GPS to take hiking and skiing with. This little device has 16 buttons (why so many?) and features the most counterintuitive menu system I've ever seen. There's this bright pink line on the display whenever it's on that ties back from wherever I am to the start of a hike I did 9 months ago. The compass display tells me how to get back to the start of that hike. Another display constantly tells me how far away the start of that hike is, and what direction it's in. All useless info I can't figure out how to turn off, because the 123 page manual -- which weighs more than the device itself -- is so badly written that I can't find out how to stop it.

I might just buy an Apple iPhone because I'll be able to figure out how to work it.

Monday, 25 June 2007

The F1 Driver Party (at last)

I mentioned that during the F1 weekend in Montreal, Mike, John and I went to a party hosted by Grand Prix Tours, where I got to shake hands with Sir Jackie Stewart. Thanks to my friend John, here's photos of Pat Symonds, Technical Director of the Renault team with his driver (and John's favourite), Giancarlo Fisichella.

And here's Sir Jackie Stewart himself, chatting with the party hosts, James Allen (host of Britan's ITV race TV coverage, on the left), and Matt Bishop (editor of F1 Racing Magazine on the right), shot from our table.

John wanted me to apologise for the quality of the photos; I don't see the need, given (a) they were taken in a fairly dark room (b) at night, and (c) he remembered his camera, and I didn't.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Kitchen Update, Week 7

Progress is very slow these days. I noted that one cabinet per day was being installed; there were only 2 left to do last week, and they were done. The back door got replaced, too. I gather they are stuck, since countertops have to be installed before the upper cabintry can be done. That doesn't explain why the drawer banks either side of the stove are still missing. In any case, here's the latest.

The hall cupboard is now "in". I had asked for an open wine rack. Maybe they're not finished. Here's with and without door. The cutout in the lower part is for the freezer.

The rest hasn't changed much. The stove wall is now "spaced out".

And here the new rear door. I like the plastic, personally.

The finishing of the hardwood was supposed to be this week. However, the hardwood guy delayed a week. We're assuming they're going to start painting this week (it was supposed to happen next week; we assume the weeks have shifted). But at this stage, who knows? We're still "on schedule" apparantly.

Jumpingpound Summit, June 23 2007

There is no question in our mind the best hike we know in Kananaskis: Jumpingpound Summit. The trailhead is 1:10 from our front door. The hike is merely another 1:10. The trail is great; short "steep" pitches (not that any are steep) are always followed by flat sections. The hike starts following a stream which can be roaring in the spring, or basically dry by late summer.

The summit itself? Well, the views are superb, sitting slightly above the ridge itself. To the east is Moose Mountain (sadly blocking the view of Calgary).

To the west lies the Fisher Range -- essentially an unaccessible wilderness, though there are some non-maintained trails.

You can wander up the flat-topped summit of the ridge, then through the gap and up to Cox Hill (the second summit) in the north...

Look hard in the picture; that's Yamnuska in the background, about 26 km away. You can wander south down the tree covered ridge towards Canyon Creek, and you can see Nihahi Ridge about 16 km in the distance.

Or if you're feeling adventurous, you can head east long the ridge and eventually work your way to Moose itself.

And it's a great place for spring flowers. KC found shooting stars, forget me nots and moss campion, but we saw these four and don't know what they are. Guesses? Please post a comment.

Is there a downside to this hike? It tends to be busy, and it's popular with mountain bikers. However, this isn't all bad, but it leads to entertaining encounters. Meet Maya (pronounced May-ah, not My-ah)...

Fortunately, puppies on the tops of mountains tend to be friendly.

What's that in the distance?

Seems it's a guy flying a kite.

It also tends to be light on wildlife. We saw some elk poo, deer poo, a red squirrel, and a least chipmunk.

But the real downside is that this is where thunderstorms start. KC and I were here last year, and just after we got to the summit, the rain started, and 10 minutes later it was a lightning and hail storm. Here's Karen bailing last year.

Fortunately, it was Moose Mountain and Calgary, and not us, that got pasted by a thunderstorm today.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Kitchen Update, End of Week 6

The hardwood got finished before I went to Montreal. We opted for a strip to differentiate the kitchen from the dining room, in addition to making it so we didn't have to rip up the entire dining room floor in the process.

Here's KC pretenting to lean on the new cabinets. It's imagineering, I think.

The cabinets arrived last Monday, June 11. Installation is progressing at an astonishingly slow one cabinet bank a day. They look great, but our living room is back to being a construction zone. Early in the week, you could barely make it in there for the boxes.

The cabinets are Neff, and they are not like most cabinets. The hardware in them is amazing; they're built from plywood, not particle board, and the floor mounted ones stand on metal legs.

Our favourite cabinet so far is the magic corner; now there's engineering...

The red is red. Nothing's installed as yet that's red, but it's going to look very cool when here.

And the tiger striped ones are really cool.

Cabinets are supposed to be finished this week.

Kubica Crash 2007 Canadian GP (English)

This is the most horrific crash I've ever seen in F1, and what is absolutly spectacular is that Robert was fine save for a twisted ankle and slight concussion. He was pronounced perfectly fine by the FIA doctors at Indy 4 days later, but still not allowed to race.

Canadian Grand Prix 2007: Post Race

After the race, people literally tear the fences away and run onto the track.

Why? To get to the podium to see the awards, and the champagne shower. Left to right are Heidfeld (2nd Place), Hamilton (winner), Martin Whitmarsh (Ron Dennis' deputy; accepting the Construtor's day trophy for the McLaren team) and Alexander Wurz (3rd).

You also get a chance to see the race cars up close, though sometimes you have to fight the crowds to do it. Here's Jarno's broken car being brought in through the crowd. Yes, it's that crowded.

After the podium, the crowd starts dispersing more. Most people hang at the pit wall, where you can see the cars up close, and at the far end, are inspected by FIA staff to insure they meet spec. Here's Heidfeld's car with Wurz's in the background.

Nico Rosberg's awaiting weigh in.

Anthony Davidson' Super Aguri...

You can peek in the pits and see what's up.

Sometimes, you get to see really cool stuff. Here's Lewis Hamilton's pit board held out to him on the last lap. It says with 1 lap left (L1) he's in first place (P1), 6.2 seconds ahead of heidfeld and 8.6 seconds ahead of Wurz.

After the race, it's not wise to try and rush home. There's 110,000 race fans plus who knows how many people that were working now trying to get off the island. So normally, we walk the track and look at the accident sites (then go for beer). Robert Kubica's accident was the one we wanted to see. The film of the accident keeps going up on YouTube, and the FIA keeps getting it taken down. I linked it above; maybe it will stay. But here's where he hit. He glanced off the yellow concrete barrier, then smacked the white one in the background.

The white wall moved about 6 inches, and was cracked on the other side.

Then he cartwheeled across the grass, gouging ruts 6" deep...

...scraping ruts in the asphalt, too, finally coming to rest against the wall.

And Robert was fine, virtually uninjured.

F1 exists, I think, to develop technology for use in your car. Thank F1 for turbochargers, ABS brakes, limited slip differentials, traction control, dynamic braking, paddle shifting and other niceties. I want Robert Kubica's cockpit in my car some day. Kudos to the FIA Safety guys, the BMW Sauber team, and everyone else involved in advancing car safety.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Canadian Grand Prix, Part 2

Why go to the Canadian Grand Prix? First, the scenery. The island the course is on is beautiful. The Casino is in the old Canadian Pavilion from Expo 67, and it still looks modern. VIPs are moved around the lakes on little pontoon boats.

Second, the race fans. Some are more fun to watch than others.

There's the oppotunity to get "up close and personal" with cars blasting by you at 300 km/hr (a photo I've never figured out how to take), or blasting 140 dB of noise as they accelerate out of corners at 19,000 RPM. You can do that in the corner where I sit. In fact, I typically spend a lot of time at the Friday and Saturday practice sessions "at the wall". My favourite shooting spots look at the cars coming out of Turn 1 and into Turn 2. Like the shots below. First we have Mr. Alonso...

If you click on the photo of Mr. Alonso, look carefully in the foreground and you will see the dreaded "marbles." As they race, little bits of rubber shred off the tires, and collect off race line. Little bits of asphalt do the same. Get into this stuff and it's apparantly like driving on ice -- or marbles. The is the most common complaint of drivers at Montreal. You have to be at the track to see this.

Then we have Mr. Massa...

Christian Albers in his Spyker...

David Coulthard (the first of many DC shots just for Gary...)

Jarno Trulli LEADING Mr. Coulthard (the way it normally is...)

Giancarlo Fisichella in his Renault (for John)

Kimi Raikonnen (note the removal of the logo of his tobacco sponsor. I suspect the bars are actually the bar code of the 20 pack...)

Watch a race on TV and you see the race. See a race at the track and you see the drivers learning the track, and making a mistake or two along the way. That's why I never miss Friday & Saturday practice live. Lewis Hamilton drove a perfect race to win on Sunday, despite being on a dirty track (unlike most F1 facilities, the Canadian track is only used about 3 times a year, so the track's usually a mess) that has never driven on before. So you get to see him screw up on Friday, if you're watching, and your camera is ready.

I won't try to do a lap by lap review of the race. If you want to read one, try this link:

Here's a synopsis as I saw it. Lewis Hamilton could do no wrong; Fernando Alonso could do no right. For various reasons, I got no shots of the single most important thing: the start into the first corner. But Alonso got on the outside of Turn 1, and drove across the grass into Turn 2, his first of many grassy visits. In a later lap, he did the same thing. This is what exiting Turn 2 on the grass looks like.

Alonso wasn't the only one to mow the lawn. Mark Weber did it...

,,,and Nico Rosberg tried to pass Jarno and spun them both out through the grass.

Jarno got away OK, but poor Nico was stuck there for quire a while trying to get his car in gear.

Hamilton leaft everyone behind at every opportunity, gaining 0.5 seconds a lap on whomever was in second place (usually Nick Heidfeld, who got a great start and had a great race). The best battle the whole race was for about 20 laps for positions 7-8-9 and 10-11-12. The former was Jarno Trulli leading Vitantonio Liuzzi and Mark Webber...

The latter was Ralf Scumacher battling with Takuma Sato and Mark Weber (after Mark's pit stop).

Sato went on to pass a lot of people in the latter part of the race. First Ralf, then Alonso, whom he got past. There was also a pitched battle for a while between Ralf Schumacher and Christen Albers. Here's Ralf shutting the door on Albers into Turn 1

Late in the race, Jarno had a brain fart and slid into the wall below me coming out of the pits. Afterwards he said his mind wasn't on the race because Robert Kubica's crash occured when Robert hit Jarno's rear wheel. They are friends off the track, too.

The next post will feature the last photos, including podium shots and shots of Robert Kubica's accident site.