29 August 2006

"Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them." --T.S. Eliot

28 August 2006

Lack of flying computers and bloody walls

The weekend was conspicuously quiet. I visited with Curtis, Jeff and Calvin on Friday night at Curtis' place until the guys headed to the bar around 1am. We talked about many topics including the necessity of gay people in society to promote creativity and evolution (we do serve a purpose, dammit!) because families tend to not do so many things creatively or progressively because they are preoccupied with raising children; why the universe unfolds at the rate it does and why time travel is impossible - the rate at which time progresses is unalterable. Those two topics were enough to stretch the conversation out for a couple of hours. We also talked again about the realities of Calgary's gay scene and how much work and equity would be realistically required right now to get a competitive bar scene going in the city again.

Anyways, I always love talking to Jeff and Curtis because we always challenge each other and our thinking patterns are all just different enough that we can agree on something but bring different perspectives to the same topic.

I got a call from Owen Friday night that he, Chloe and Trezlie were coming to Calgary Zoo Saturday morning so I met up with them at the zoo around 11am and walked around for a couple of hours until I had to leave at 1pm to pick up my rental car. I stopped in at Ryan's house for a couple of hours before heading to Lethbridge. I had an interesting night with my cousin Robert. Let's just say he and a couple of his co-workers were well on their way to complete inebriation before I even got there. It led to an evening that I wasn't expecting to say the least. I was disappointed that I didn't get to have a deep conversation with Robert while I was there. We went out for breakfast Sunday morning and watched "National Treasure" before I packed up and headed back to Calgary. In retrospect, I should have spent the weekend in Calgary and saved the expense of a car rental for another weekend later in the year that is cheaper.

I got back into the city and got my errands done before jumping on the bike for a couple of hours of riding. I tried to head out on some familiar routes out of town, but so many of them were blocked or re-routed due to construction that I ended up riding a route through the city. I coincidentally met up with Natasha and Steph near North Glenmore Park and we rode together back to Elbow Drive. Natasha headed home while I rode with Steph to the south end of Elbow Drive at Fish Creek Park. She lives close by in Canterbury Park, so I ended up just riding back downtown alone from there. Ryan came over in the evening so we could get his iPod servicing requests done online and we hung out until Joe got home from work around 10:30. Pretty soon it was lights out and the end of another relatively quiet weekend.

In anticipation of Nationals, I'm going to be out training in the evenings until Thursday. I'll probably be laying low again this weekend although Mom and Dad are heading to Red Deer so I'll probably go up Saturday night to visit. I guess I technically start my holidays on Friday since after that I'm booked off until the 18th. Whee!

24 August 2006

US housing sales spur crash-landing fears

US existing home sales data released yesterday shows the deteriorating housing market is unravelling at an even faster pace than expected, with no signs that a bottom has been reached. The data have left many market experts wondering if the sector is heading for a crash rather than a soft landing. Figures released from the National Association of Realtors show sales of existing homes fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.33 million units in July, down 4.1% from June and 11.2% from July, 2005. The decline was sharper than the 6.55 million unit pace economists had been expecting. Sales of single-family homes fell even harder to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.51 million units in July, down 5% from June and 11.4% from a year ago. At the same time, housing inventory rose 3.2% to 3.86 million homes for sale at the end of July. This represents a 7.3-month supply of homes, which is up from the 6.8-month supply of homes in June. Fitch Ratings managing director Bob Curran said the pace and depth of deterioration has been faster than he expected. “It kind of looks like it's going to be a harder landing than we'd been expecting,” Curran said. However, he isn't ready to revise his projection for a 9% decline in existing home sales, 12% decrease in new single-family homes, and 10% decline in single-family housing starts in full year 2006. Next week, reports on manufacturing, job growth and the economy's expansion may provide more evidence on where the US is headed. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago president Michael Moskow said yesterday the central bank, which kept rates unchanged at 5.25% this month after 17 straight increases, may have to lift borrowing costs further.
(Globe and Mail 060824)

I really don't know if anyone is finding this to be a big surprise. A large chunk of the 'bubble' housing market over the past few years has been driven by speculators looking for a quick buck. Eventually anything driven by speculation ends up crashing back to reality. Stock market, anyone? It's interesting though. Collective mindset can alter the future - now that the analysts are publishing their concerns about which way this is headed, do you not think this affects the common man's perspective on it. Everyone will start freaking out because the market analysts said so, not because any clear fundamentals told them so. Very interesting.

23 August 2006

World Gone Mad?

I don't wanna work....

Well, here it is Thursday already and I'm just barely keeping my head above water. Aly and Darren are both on vacation and I'm the only one keeping the Web App support ship afloat. It's been an overwhelming week of project balancing and meetings.

(WARNING: Shameless 'please feel sorry for me' list of crap-to-do follows).
There are at least 15 fix / enhancement / transition / design / support projects on the go right now that I'm trying to mitigate in everyone's absence. Let's see -- on top of the regular slew of support calls - "this is missing here", "I got an error there", "I deleted that there - can you get it back for me?" - there're two production changes today for EAI Webtool and the Tariff Publishing System virtual directories, enhancement proposals for MARVIN, PW DocGen, and Legal Suite (at 100+ hours each), XSLFO changes for TPS and MARVIN PDF Generation to interface with the new corporate PDF solution, EdiFtp rebuild, TPS file read errors due to Office Smarttag editing issues, IRCF, MSCF, RMCF search index scheduled task setups next week, MARVIN SendRFI process errors, IBM PortalUtils.dll registry errors on st2cprcoma02n2, new development work for TP&E Same-Page Crew Consist form using Infopath and Sharepoint and a review of these services' development proposals (just how exactly are we going to use Infopath at the company anyways? How can we apply a governance model to the services provided?), Sharepoint service definition (ongoing forever and never committed to - when will I know when I should ever get trained on this framework?), rollout of a Daily Correspondence Database for yet another VP, training on the EHMS.R2 service that we'll be supporting come October (yay! now I have to learn something about Linux and a UP custom data engine!).

It's slowly driving me mad, but at least it's making the weeks go by quickly. Darren is back next week, Aly is on his honeymoon until the 5th, and I'm not back from the EC until the 18th. So we won't be back to full strength until mid-September. I'm pretty relieved I only have another week of support work and then two full weeks off! I'll also be relieved when at least one of the guys (Darren) comes back next week. Technically, I'm supposed to give him the support phone and laptop on Monday morning, but I think I'll wait to switch until the end of the week. I'm not too keen on getting the support equipment back on the day I return from vacation, so by doing this I'll allow myself a week at home before having to take over on-call support again.

The weekend was a blur of beer and prayers. For the first time this summer, I was able to hang out with Doug, Jeff, Calvin, Curtis, and Darren for both Friday and Saturday. Friday night we went to Ming to have drinks with Jerome and Bruce, who are moving to Montreal at the end of the month, and on Saturday we went to the Apollo Inferno dance with a pre-party over at Darren's house. At Darren's house, his neighbor upstairs freaked out while we were on the deck and proceeded to throw his computer in pieces over the balcony into the park below. Apparently it was because he had just lost a bunch of money on online gambling. Between this episode and the crap that went on in our building earlier in the week, it certainly was a few days of witnessing bizarre behaviours.

There weren't many people at the dance but we had lots of fun and knew a lot of people there, so we made the best of it. We all ended up back at the apartment for more beer and prayers, and Doug and Darren ended up spending the night. I spent all day Sunday on the computer 'looking for' music....

Tuesday I was all ready to go to the Crit races when I got a call from BK around 5:30 asking me if I was ready to go to dinner. We had planned to go for Mexican with Ross, Christine and Carter and I had completely forgot. We had a good visit with them, although I think I was acting like a bit of a dink and for that I apologize, Ross.

Last night I was going to go for a run after work and as it turns out, they switched the combination on the door locks to the changeroom yesterday and since there is nowhere to find out the new number after 5pm, I was kinda screwed. So I went home and planned to head out from there but I got on the computer again and spent the rest of the evening 'looking for' music again.

Long story short - I haven't done any training or anything of the sort since last Thursday. I guess I rode my bike a bit around the track on Monday before team pictures, but that's about it. I've been feeling really lazy and burned out, and then guilting myself over it because Nationals are only two weeks away. I gotta pull up the bootstraps, dammit! Racing tonight will hopefully inspire me to just get over myself, suck it up and prep.

Joe seems to be enjoying his new job. He's a lot more relaxed and comes home happy. It's a big positive change. His only concern is whether he's going to have enough money for the EC trip, but we'll manage that somehow - not a big deal, it's only freaking money (or debt in my case), right?

The camping trip to Waterton this weekend is kiboshed - my cousin Bob ended up selling his trailer. He really wants his daughter Katy and I to come down to Lethbridge this weekend, so I guess we'll do that in lieu of camping. I'm pretty disappointed though - I was totally looking forward to camping in Waterton.

I just received some bad news from Ryan this morning. He was out walking Takeo and Hoshi this morning when Takeo suddenly collapsed and couldn't get up again. Apparently he had a big growth on his spleen that ruptured and was bleeding internally. The decision was made to put him down. Ryan called me this morning, obviously devastated. He and Takeo have been best friends for ten years. It's so hard losing something as close as a pet. I've known Takeo since he was a wee pup, so it's very hard to accept. If you talk to Ryan, please give him your condolences.

Takeo and Hoshi, January 2006

RIP Takeo, 1996 - 2006

21 August 2006


Synergy Racing Cycle Club (14 of 25)

18 August 2006

Stupid Things

The past few days have been retarded. I'm not sure what's going on - I think my mental state has been affecting my physical state and surroundings as well.

Tuesday was a fairly normal day. I was still exhausted from Provincials on the weekend and was happy that it rained Tuesday night so I didn't feel so guilty about not wanting to go to Midweek Mayhem Crit racing that night.

Wednesday we had an organizational meeting for the Calgary 2007 Continental Outgames running event at Original Joe's in Kensington. A lot of good ideas came out of the meeting - expanding Calgary Frontrunner membership numbers, creating an organization committee for planning logistics, funding, marketing for the running events at the Games, and some of the near-term tasks that need to be completed. What I was concerned about was volunteerism. We are a fairly small running group that is being tasked to take on a fairly large commitment. Plus, of course, they are asking me to be a committee chair. As many of you know, I stretch myself fairly thin at the best of times (so much volunteering to do!) and I'm not sure if I really want or need to take on the additional responsibility of helping to organize an international sporting event. It's the same old story of a small group of good organizers seemingly being the only ones capable of putting together any and all events. Once you do it once successfully, you are forever doomed to be the first one asked to organize any event forever after.

However - I do have to consider that I'm not planning on running for any CBTL executive position next year, and I don't plan to curl this winter (and if I commit to organizing the Outgames event, I certainly won't have the time), however I will still have off-season training in the weight room 3-4 days a week, plus running, plus work which gets busy in the fall, plus the Synergy team obligations which get busy in the late winter. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but in the short term I have some definite action items I need to complete.

I ran up for the meeting and ran back downtown afterwards. Got home, chilled. Thursday was a very busy day at work and as I usually do (but need to change), I didn't eat or drink much during the day, plus I was fatigued from the run on Wednesday. We had the monthly points race event at the velodrome Thursday night and in my deficit, I pulled out of the race early with horrific calf cramps. I wonder how that happened (duh!)? I felt good and was leading in points until about 50 laps in when I started to feel slight cramping in my calves. It wasn't until about 15 laps to go that everything went to hell and I was forced to stop. I felt like such an idiot since I knew exactly what happened and why. I was pretty pissed at myself so I left the track in a huff without really saying goodbye to anyone. What a loser.

Finally got home and went to bed. Then at 2am there was a huge commotion at the neighbors apartment and in the hallway by the elevators. We think they have a crackhead friend that was either fighting someone or freaking out and they were trying to calm him down. At any rate, there was screaming and smashing in the hallway. The cops showed up and forcefully removed this guy. However Joe took picks of the hallway. There was blood everywhere.

So everything calms down again around 3am. Then at 7am, the fucking idiot is back in the building smashing on the neighbors door trying to get in. He would smash on the door for fifteen minutes or so, then go down to the lobby to buzz the apartment, then come back up and smash on the door again. This went on for TWO hours. Joe had repeatedly called building security and the cops again, but no one showed up until 11am. According to Joe though, the neighbors have been finally given a 24-hour eviction notice, so hopefully that will be the end of that.

The interesting thing is how long these people have been able to hold onto their apartment. This same crackhead cracker attempted suicide off of their balcony several months ago, and they've been warned for loud parties and littering before. They're also the only ones on the 11th or 12th floors that cause any problems generally, so it's surprising that it has taken that long for them to get evicted. Good riddance anyways.

Separate train of thought: In Joe's conversations with our building manager, we found out how much the apartment rent rates are going for new tenants. It's really freaking scary. The bachelor suites - $980, the one bedrooms - $1250, the two bedrooms - $1450, the penthouses - $1800! How much are we paying? $1150. At a rate of two increases a year of $50, it will take about 7 years for us to be paying market rate for the rental unit we have. It was a bit of a relief to know that we have a bit of breathing space in this insane market to wait out a calming of house prices once we get into a situation to buy again.

Anyhoo, I hope the most stupid parts of the week are now in the past. Maybe not yet. It's casual Friday in the office today, and I see one of the ugly fat wheezing women in Operations is wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt. Nice. Some of the things they wear to work make me shudder (stretch pants, flip flops, my god). I figure we've got maybe three months until the higher-ups start clamping down on this pajama-rama creeping into the office. I'm not a big fan of ties and formal wear either, but come on people. You're not in the suburbs anymore, Dorothy. Dress up and act the part of a salaried employee of a major corporation fer chrissakes. Guh - my calves are shot and with the lack of sleep I'm hobbling around the office today. To top it all off, the Office Hottie hasn't been in the office the past few days. Gotta get the hell out of this stupid and ugly zone.

We're planning a get together with Jerome and Bruce tonight since they are leaving us to head to Montreal on August 28. It should be a fun evening.

I've also committed to race the AB Provincial Road Race on Sunday in Bentley, a small town west of Red Deer. The course is horrendously hilly from what I've heard, so I'm not really looking forward to it nor planning on doing well, however it's the last big road race of the season and it will be a good ride nonetheless. Therefore I'm going to head to Red Deer tomorrow and stay the night at Owen and Chloes' and play with Trezlie for awhile.

That should be it for the weekend. I'd really like for things to stop being so stupid.

16 August 2006

Dobbs: It's good to be a superpower

By Lou Dobbs
CNN

Wednesday, August 16, 2006; Posted: 2:13 p.m. EDT (18:13 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Soviet Union, Marxist Leninism, the Evil Empire and their ugly metaphor, the Berlin Wall, crumbled and collapsed almost 17 years ago.

At the time, I thought it was strange that the United States didn't have the inclination to celebrate. There were no victory parades and no fireworks; nor did Congress declare a V-CW Day, as in Victory in the Cold War. There weren't even any grand speeches about America's emergence as the World's Only Superpower.

But a grand smugness did grip most of Washington. And hubris became the foundation of almost every national policy, foreign and domestic. And why not? We were entitled as the World's Only Superpower.

What a blessing, all these superpower advantages. What other people besides Americans can afford not to make their own clothes? The world has other people for such menial tasks, and they sell us all but a few of our shoes, shirts, slacks, suits, dresses and coats (and, of course, accessories). We now import around 96 percent of our clothing.

What other nation can afford to dismantle its manufacturing base and export high-paying middle-class jobs overseas to lesser, cheaper foreign labor markets and then buy back the goods those poorer people provide us?

And energy? Why, we Americans have money to burn. We spend $15-20 billion each and every month to import fuel for our cars, trucks, office buildings and few remaining factories and plants. We can be heedless to the consequences, because as Vice President Dick Cheney suggests, conservation doesn't work well anyway. So why be bothered with such irritating constraints?

Because we're a superpower, we needn't concern ourselves with silly little annoyances like trade and budget deficits. Who cares? What greater proof of our superpower status can there be than 30 consecutive years of trade deficits, evaporating surpluses in services and agricultural goods and even technology.

Our trade deficit in manufacturing soared nearly 300 percent from 1997 to 2005, surging to $662.5 billion. Our business and government leaders soothingly remind us that we are a technology economy and needn't be distracted by developments like the reversal of what was a $35-billion surplus in high-tech goods to what is now a $44-billion deficit. It's great to be The Superpower.

What about all that money we're burning? Not to worry. Spend it if you got it. Well, we really don't have it, actually. We're borrowing more than $2 billion a day to send to those lesser souls who are uncomfortably situated in poorer nations that can only aspire to our superpower status.

As to our government's budget deficit, again, that's not a problem. Our federal government keeps two sets of books: one that shows our budget deficit shrank to $319 billion last year and the Treasury Department set that shows $760 billion. Now, we don't want anyone to get needlessly anxious here. It turns out that our national debts and commitments actually stand at an incredible $49 trillion. But let's just keep that little number amongst ourselves.

The federal government uses a quaint accounting system that would be illegal for any large enterprise in America, and there are those who believe our government should be more transparent, or perhaps honest, if you will. One of those with a very unpopular wet-blanket attitude is David Williams of the Citizens Against Government Waste. "If this happened in the private sector, we would call the government 'Enron,' " Williams says.

David, David, David...A little less negativity, please. David Williams is among that small, insignificant and clearly irrelevant group of eccentric rationalists who care about cause and effect, truth and consequence.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, is among them as well. In his new book, Cooper writes about things like the fact that our federal government last year paid out $38 billion to the wrong people and that $20 billion of taxpayer money simply disappeared from the government's treasury.

Negativists like Williams and Cooper get all a-gaggle over the fact that the GAO can't certify the books of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the Energy Department and NASA. They're even upset that the federal government has failed its annual audit for nine years in a row. Talk about Nervous Nellies.

So what if the U.S. debt rating is heading for junk status by 2025, according to Standard & Poor's. That's a problem for nations that aren't superpowers, don't you think?

When it comes to international relations, our superpower status is even clearer. Though admittedly, it is a little embarrassing to watch how easily the United States imposes its will on the Middle East and brings aspiring superpowers like China to heel on issues like human rights and democracy.

Looking back, I'm grateful that we didn't celebrate our emergence as the World's Only Superpower those many years ago. In our current exalted state, it's clear we were wise not to do so.

Revisiting the discussion about the Matrix - do you question why you question what the goverment and the corporations say? Well, you shouldn't. Everything is smoke and mirrors today anyways. Nothing we do in our society is based on reason or rationality anymore.

It's quite obvious 'they' release only the information they deem relevant to maintaining their power (which is the same as keeping everything as is). For whatever information they can't control, 'they' design their metrics so that they only deal with the parameters that are favorable to their position. If the governments ever got to the point where they had to follow the reporting guidelines like Sarbanes-Oxley, they'd be so screwed. They would be showing insolvency almost immediately. What a bunch of morons, pigs at the trough, liars.

Like what has been said many times before - the government believes 'why stop spending what you don't have when you know full well you're never going to have to pay it back?' Think about the repercussions of that one for awhile - the entire financial system is truly a house of cards......things that make you go hmmm....

14 August 2006

Weakened

Tired today....what an exhausting weekend! I was feeling physically and mentally exhausted all last week -- I really hadn't had a chance to rest and recover from the Montreal trip and it was taking its toll by then. Monday we got back, Tuesday night I had gone to Swan's after training, Wednesday night I went out for a few bevvies with my friend Bob from Toronto who was in town for a reunion, Thursday I went out with my friend Kathie who was also in town visiting and we ended up at Aly and Naila's wedding party at Lucky Lounge. By Friday I was tired and concerned that the Provincials in Edmonton we not going to go as well as I hoped, however things worked out very well. I had a good sleep in Edmonton on Friday night and woke up Saturday feeling pretty good.

Frank and Craig duke it out in Match Sprints

Saturday at the track was SOOO long. We got there at 8am Saturday morning. There was a two-hour rain delay in the afternoon so the racing didn't wrap up until 8:30pm! The match sprint/scratch/pursuit days are always very long, and a rain delay only makes things longer. At any rate, the Synergy team did very well over the course of the weekend. I was very happy with my pursuit time of 5:06.4 which was good enough for third place in the event. Jamie Sparling and Devon had identical times of 5:02.1 and had a 'pursuit-off' on Sunday where Devon won with a time of 4:58. The scratch race was essentially Bicisport vs. Synergy, but we were outnumbered and they had the better team strategy. However, Devon and cp ended up getting points, I ended up in 8th place after the final sprint in the chase pack did me in. I had simply had enough. Felix won the Elite Men's sprints, Frank won the Master A Men's sprints. Natasha and Steph were consistently in the top 3 in their events.

Felix and Jeff Bakal in Match Sprint semi-finals

Sunday was rain-less so things went smoothly. I had a disappointing time in the kilo in the morning, but everyone was complaining of slow times so that made me feel slightly better. The points race in the early afternoon was a lot of fun. I pulled some effective strategic moves which landed Bob Veroba and myself in the lead for laps 8-20 or so where we picked up a bunch of points before we caught up with the chase pack again and had to jostle for positioning again. Later on Jamie Sparling jumped with a block from Bob, Graeme and Mike and he remained in the lead for the rest of the race, however Mike and I broke off again and stayed in the 4 & 5 positions for the remainder of the race (cp and Tom had regrouped with Jamie and were taking sprints for 2 & 3 positions). Overall, I was told I came in second in the race but I haven't seen any official results yet. We got off the track at about 2:30 which was about a half-hour later than I had anticipated. I had planned to leave Edmonton at 2pm in order to get back to Calgary in time for Aly and Naila's wedding at 7pm. So I essentially got off the track and jumped in the car and was out of Edmonton at 3pm. Traffic was flying on Highway 2 and I made it back to Calgary at 5:30, but I had to dump stuff off at the track, pickup a wedding card, money and gas up the car. I made it into the apartment, arms full of gear at 6:15. We were on our way to the reception at the Roundup Centre at 6:50pm. Whew!

Dylan Menard and Graeme in Match Sprint semis

The dinner and ceremony were great. Being as burned out as we were, Joe and I headed home around 11:30.

12 August 2006

Montreal's World Outgames 2006 Cycling Recap

by Michel Ducas
PedalMag

August 11, 2006 - The 1st World Outgames held from July 29 to August 5 in Montreal, was a great display of sportsmanship with athletes competing for the love of their sport, not for glory or money. The Outgames, born out of the controversy with Chicago’s Gay Games, provided gay and lesbian athletes and participants of any sexual orientation with the chance to go beyond their limits. The international field included athletes all over the world including Australia, Germany, Israel, France, Switzerland, New Zealand and more.

Cycling was an important part of this sporting and cultural event – there was even ballroom and country dancing at the Outgames. Organizers didn’t have to look very far to find great venues for the road race events which were held on Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve (used for F1 and ChampCar racing), and they chose Little Italy for the criterium (the same venue was used at the Tour du Grand Montréal).

Age group categories were also divided into licensed and non-licensed riders for the three road events that were scheduled - a road race, an ITT, and a criterium.

The men’s road race on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve was won by Jonathan Arsenault (18-29 years) and by fellow Canadian Michel Detry (30-39) - there was only a one-second difference between these two winners. In the women’s race, Caroline Théberge (18-29) and Geneviève Gauthier (30-39) were the winners as five riders finished with the same time of 1:07:58.

In the ITT, another Canadian, Reid Dalgleish, was the fastest of all men in the 30-39 age group winning with time of 12:51. As for the women, the fastest racer in the 30-39 age group was Geneviève Gauthier with a winning time of 7:03.

Gauthier’s medal was her second of three golds as she also won the criterium edging out Julie Madore at the wire. In the men’s crit, Michel Detry won his second gold at the finish line, over David Taillon, Stéphane Dodier and Reid Dalgleish.

Three TTTs were also held - men, women and mixed. The men’s event saw Canada win over Great Britain and France. Jonathan Arsenault, Michel Detry. Fernand Roseboom and David Taillon had a 1:33 lead at the line.

The women’s winning team was international, with two French, one Canadian and one British racer finishing ahead of two Canadian teams.

The mixed TTT had an all-American podium, with a Canadian twist. The winning team consisted of two Canadians and two Americans. Michael Bone, Steven Zendt, Daniel Coughlin and Antonietta Lembo won by 1:32 over their closest competition.

The MTB race was held at a great venue, the Parc du Domaine Vert in Mirabel, just a few clicks north of Montreal. Only four competitors showed up for all categories, meaning everybody ended up with a medal. Eric Spencer, from Valcartier, Que. won the 18-29 category, and USA’s Robert Dodd won the 40-49 age group over Canada’s Mike Wolfe. The only woman competing, Elizabeth Campbell from the USA, was also awarded gold.

For more info and complete results visit www.montreal2006.org

09 August 2006

Fraternizing the new office hottie

I can see now how difficult it can be for some people to avoid 'fraternizing' with co-workers. We have a new co-worker on our End User Services development team that just started here on Monday. Apparently he's worked at the company in the past on other project teams but left to work in Dubai a couple of years ago and is just getting back to Calgary. All I can say is that he is absolutely stunning. Every time I see him I can't stop staring at him. He is mid-30ish, greyish flecks in his gorgeous (and full head of) hair, flawless bone structure in the face, beautiful smile, glimmering eyes. Body could use a little bit of work (but not much), and boy does this man dress flamboyantly! In the status meeting today we were introduced to him (of course I was having a hard time not staring), but he said that he always came back to this company because 'the girls in the CST were so beautiful'. *Sigh* I guess that says it all. Not that I would expect him to play for our team, but it's nice to fraternize, er, fantasize. At the very least, he improves the IS team's ugliness factor by quite a bit. Okay - a lot.

07 August 2006

Nous avons retournés -- Merci Montréal!

Just got back this afternoon from Montréal -- what a fantastic experience! It sucks to be back, but it's also nice to be home. So many pictures, movies and stories to tell!

We got into Montréal with just a couple of hours to spare before the Outgames opening ceremonies. We got there in time that I was able to mass with Team Calgary in the meeting area at Olympic Stadium. The Opening Ceremonies were incredible! Calgary and the rest of the Canadian teams got a huge welcome into the stadium. While we were queued up in the tunnels to enter onto the main floor, the Dutch, Brit and Aussie teams in front of us were yelling out chants (presumably like football chants?) that were so loud and boisterous one couldn't do anything but laugh and cheer along! Many artists including k.d. lang, Deborah Cox, Martha Wash, Jonas, Sylvie Desgroseilliers, Diane Dufresne, and the Cirque du Soleil performed. It was pretty overwhelming to walk into a stadium filled with 45,000 people while the announcer is introducing 'Team Calgary'.

Team Calgary

The British welcoming committee!

The Opening Ceremonies



The French cheerleading squad!

Deborah Cox

Cirque du Soleil



Afterwards, I met up with Joe at Berri Station, we walked the Gay Village and headed home for some sleep after a long day.

Sunday I left the hotel early to pick up my registration package at the Convention Centre and walked around a bit. Joe and I met up with our friend Mellissa from Calgary and hung out for the day. I had to go to the international Frontrunners meeting at 4pm as a representative of the Calgary team since we're supposed to be organizing a running event at the GLISA Continental Outgames being held for the first time in Calgary next year. I left them for a few hours in the evening to ride out to the cycling venues in Jean- Drapeau Park and then met up with them again for the Montréal Pride Parade. We sat with Phil and Rob for the parade. Afterwards we headed back to the Village and bar hopped for awhile. I headed home for some sleep while those two stayed out and partied until the wee hours of the morning.

Montreal Pride parade

Mado float

The Village - Sunday night


Monday morning was the ITT. I clocked a time of 12:51.8 on the 8.6km course, good enough for gold! I beat the next time by almost 30 seconds which was quite substantial on this short course. Afterwards, Joe, Dennis and I went to Square Viger (the Outgames HQ/Athlete's Village for the week) and then walked around the Village again. Joe and I headed back to the hotel and went out for Greek food at Acropolis.

ITT podium

Flex!

Callum (Edinburgh), Dennis, Andrew (Glasgow)

yummy gold!

Tuesday was the Road Race (64km). It was 36C out and 46C with the Humidex -- definitely the hottest temps I've ever raced in. The race course was flat and fast. The (straight AND cute) Montréal team of four was working together at the front and screwing things up for the rest of us. Our average speed was over 41kph. I definitely worked the hardest in the lead pack and the finish came down to a sprint that I came in fifth in. I chased Stephane Dodier, one of the Montréal guys on an early final sprint which didn't work out as the sprinters came up from behind us and caught us at the line. Jonathan Arsenault took the win.

After the race we went back to the hotel, cleaned up and headed back to Square Viger. There was lots of people and entertainment going on. The thunderheads rolled in in about fifteen minutes and in very short order put an abrupt end to the festivities. We hung out under the roof of the main building in the square packed in with hundreds of others while the rains pours and wind blew. When the rain lightened up Joe and I headed back to the Village but the storm had sent most people inside or home for the rest of the evening, so there wasn't much going on and we simply headed back to the hotel.


Wednesday morning, Joe and I went shopping on Ste-Catherine. We did our obligatory spree in Simon's and then headed home to prep for the Criterium race which took place in Little Italy. It was hot, humid and raining off and on all afternoon so we weren't even sure at that point that the race was still going to go. Dennis and I biked up to the course and met up with Joe, Barb and Myrna there.

The Crit was fast and furious from the gun. The Montréal guys were working off the front again, fishing out sprinting solos or duos and getting the rest of us to chase. I was the marked man since they were intentionally trying to force these chases upon me in particular, or at least new that I would take the bait. A surprise sprint about 15 minutes in gave two of the Montréal guys a lead, with their third guy (Jonathan) rejoining the chase pack of four as he couldn't keep up the pace with the other two. Dennis got caught in a crash at this time and went down hard behind us. I didn't even know that he had gone down until afterwards, only to learn that he had broken his clavicle and was being taken to the hospital. All week they had been seeding the Licensed men with the Unlicensed men due to time constraints, but I think this was a big mistake since the majority of the unlicensed men would get shelled off the back early in the race and then became more of a hindrance on the courses than a help. Just ask Dennis about that!


Once again, the finish came to a final sprint of five riders for the bronze. It was a close photo finish and once again I ended up in fourth. Michel Detry was the winner. What a great race! The average speed of that one was up there again, around 42kph, with the winners coming in about 30 seconds before the chase.


Thursday morning Joe and I went to watch the triathlon in Jean-Drapeau Park since there were so many present and former Albertans we knew that were racing. It was a lot of fun to watch and I regretted not competing. Had I known that our Team Time Trial was going to be kiboshed on Friday morning, I definitely would have raced it as well! I should've brought the running shoes and speedo just in case!

The Calgary triathletes - Dan, Lisa, Guy, Peter, Darren

We headed out for food afterwards, got cleaned up and headed to the Sundance on Ile-Ste-Hélène at the Calder Monument. My favorite DJ Tom Stephan (Superchumbo) was headlining. We had a lot of fun and despite the smallish crowd, the men were pretty and I even got to meet Tom later in the evening!

Sundance

Reid and Tom Stephan

Calder Monument

Montreal skyline



Au Contre-Courant pool party -- sexy men in speedos!

As we walked back to the Métro station at Jean-Drapeau, we stumbled upon the Montréal swim team's (Au ContreCourant) pool party at the Aquatic Centre. It was like a Bel Ami video come to life! We ogled the men in speedos for awhile and took pervert shots and video before heading home.

Since Dennis was incapacitated, the remainder of the time trial team had agreed to go ahead and race anyways. Jari Mäkinen from Finland, myself, and Bryan McSorley from Calgary were to race but come Friday morning, Bryan was a no-show and Jari and I didn't have time to get together with anyone else so we ended up not racing at all. It was a great day for another time trial, so I was pretty disappointed.

Jari (Finland), me, Andrew, Callum

In the afternoon, Peter and I packed up the bikes and the four of us got ready to meet Gail and Rosemary and Barb and Myrna for dinner at Gibby's in Old Montréal. It is a fine restaurant in a historic building that used to be a horse stable. After a fantastic meal (I had Sea Bass, Joe had Chicken Kiev), we walked around the Village again and met up with Dennis and Fabio for a drink at Café Européen. There were huge lineups at all the clubs by that time, so we had a couple of drinks at some lounges and then headed back to the hotel. Scary - I'm getting too old for lineups!

Saturday morning was another trip to Jean-Drapeau Park for BBCM's 'Gay Day at the Beach'. It was hot and sunny - perfect weather for cruising guys on the beach! BBCM had set up a dance tent away from the beach (what's a beach party without the beach?) and because of the Outgames Marathon street closures in the morning they were late setting up the tents, etc. We hung out on the real beach without even going into the BBCM venue at all. There were lots of sisters hanging around while we were there and Dennis and Fabio joined us for awhile until we all headed back to the hotels to prep for the Closing Ceremonies.

Gay Day at the Beach



Fabio, Dennis, Joe

The Closing Ceremonies were a lot more subdued but there was a lot more alcohol being consumed by everyone. Liza Minelli was the headliner for the show and it appeared she had had a few beforehand too! Also appearing were Marjo, Marie-Chantal Toupin, and Melanie Renaud. DJ Tracy Young played for the crowd at the end while we gathered up things and headed with Phil, Rob, Brad, Rob, Peter and Paul to Square Viger. We went into the VIP section with Brad and Rob for awhile and chatted up Mark Tewksbury and Thomas Kevin Dolan in anticipation of Calgary hosting the first North American Outgames in conjunction with Western Cup next year.

Liza!

Closing ceremonies



The crew - Barb, Reid, Brian, Jag, Myrna

DJ Tracy Young

Afterwards Peter, Paul, Joe and I went to Bato Thai where we met up with Guy again for food and parted ways soon after as Joe and I were heading to the Soul Party at the Convention Centre while Peter and Paul had to catch their flight back to Calgary very early on Sunday morning. We got to the Palais du Congrès around midnight, and due to our imbibing earlier in the day didn't have the resolve to stick around until Junior Vasquez played, probably around 5am (yikes!). It was sort of stupid - you couldn't leave the venue at all, water was $5.50 a bottle (beer was $6), and there was no where to get away from the harshly loud music (ie. no chillout room). They definitely set up these productions for the tweaker crowd - like who could survive until 10am without booze or water unless they were on something? It was well attended, but sort of disappointing considering the cost of the ticket. We found Phil having a nap at a table later on and he and Rob left soon after. We hung out with Darren and Dean (who were feeling the same way as us) for awhile before we decided to leave too. It was still 4am when we got home.

Paul, Peter, Mark, Reid

Nighttime walk - Hôtel de Ville



Didn't need anymore...

Sunday was nice and relaxing. We walked the Village again, walked Old Montreal and the shopping districts on Peel and Ste-Catherine, and checked out the bar strip on Crescent. We headed back to the hotel around 6pm and crashed for the rest of the evening.

Windsor Station

The airport was harrowing this morning. I had gotten the bike box to Montreal with no issues, however when we were checking in they wouldn't check in the box since it was overweight, so Joe and I frantically shifted equipment from box to bags in the middle of the airport, and then had to present it all again for manual inspection at security since it wouldn't fit through the x-ray machine. After that harrowing experience we were finally on our way back to Calgary. I was secretly praying that everything would arrive in one piece and fortunately it did.

Tonight we're just chillaxing as it's back to reality in the morning. We are flush with great memories and new friendships and blown away by the success of the Games and the effort put forth by the GLISA staff, and all the volunteers of Montreal that made it a fantastic success! Next to Calgary in 2007 for the first GLISA North American Outgames and Copenhagen in 2009!