Puts and Takes

Beyond the job description
 
When you're trying to hire somebody for a position - don't overlook how pushing the job posting via social media can influence the quality of applicants.

Case in point: me. I had my eye on this specific government job posting - it looked okay, my qualifications were great for it but I wasn't psyched to apply for it. In fact, I was ready to let the deadline just slide on by. You're hemmed in by the Public Service job posting system, there's little if any feedback that your application goes anywhere but into the void, etc.

Then I literally stumbled upon the blog of that department. Wait a sec - the blog?? Of a government department? From that I found the Twitter account. Both the blog and the tweets sounded strangely human and non-bureaucratic.

Maybe this is a kick ass government department! I reread the job posting. Now I was psyched. So I applied.


Killarney hike to 'the Crack'
 

Headed north from Parry Sound to a provincial park we'd never been to before - Killarney. Did a great 6km or so hike to the La Cloche range, made up of white quartzite. Like snow-covered mountains in July. Unlike anything I've seen in an Ontario hike.

Also did a nice little 3km along the typical pink granite shoreline up here. Summary: La Cloche was the single best hike I've ever done in Ontario. Gotta get back there for some kayaking, or do the whole 100km loop if I ever manage to buy a tent!

Photos to come.


NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour Report - May

Just got back from NYC where a bunch of us did New York's 5 Boro Bike tour for the first time. It's a 70km ride on closed city streets from Battery Park near Wall Street - up thru Manhattan, Central Park, over to the Bronx, Queens, down thru Brooklyn over the 2 mile long Verrazano bridge and ending in Staten Island.


NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour Report - May

Just got back from NYC where a bunch of us did New York's 5 Boro Bike tour for the first time. It's a 70km ride on closed city streets from Battery Park near Wall Street - up thru Manhattan, Central Park, over to the Bronx, Queens, down thru Brooklyn over the 2 mile long Verrazano bridge and ending in Staten Island.

Oh, and did I mention there's 30000 riders doing it with you. Which means you are NEVER spread out on the course. Think very hard about taking your kids on this ride - it is very technical riding in a crowd that size.

It was rainy, but it was fun. I'd do it again, but would probably bail if the weather was as nasty as it was on Sunday.

I saw way more accidents than I expected (like about 12 that happened in my field of vision), largely due to three factors:
  • People wearing clipless pedals who had no business wearing clipless pedals. (In fact, the tour should explictly advise against them - my top speed on the course was about 23 km/h, and there were 4 or 5 bottlenecks where we lost a lane and people had to walk their bikes.
  • Pick a line and ride it! There is absolutely no excuse for weaving when you're in a crowd of bikers like that. 
  • Pay attention to the people around you! Some guy beside me threw his chain on an upwards offramp with a camber. I was pointing at him and yelling for people behind to watch out...and he still crushed some poor lady riding too close to the inside shoulder (because he was clipped in and panicking).
How to make it better organized?

  • Less people!!
  • Have staggered start areas in 3 or 4 locations around the closed course - and have the whole course filled at once. This would alleviate the stress on the Staten Island Ferry at the end of the day, with the only downside being a less focussed "festival" at the end of the ride.


April - When your project launches without you...

I've been volunteering in helping a local community advocacy group set up a website. Basically doing everything on the IT side of things - register URL, get hosting, build out content, set up email accounts, getting it indexed. Working with committees of people, and slowly building it out, kind of secretly. I thought we were making pretty good progress - and we had two weeks left before the unveiling.

Until today - when two of the local online papers featured stories with our URL in it!! Can you say "firedrill"? Oh, and one site had a typo in our URL that I've never seen before...a URL with  .com./ at the end of it.  So a quick course in .htaccess was in order.

Well, a couple of hours later, the page is in a state where I'm not ashamed to have my name attached to it, and we probably did a week's worth of "committee" work in that time - so I even have time to squeeze off a quick entry.

How many minutes till somebody asks me for a French version of the pages?

So...here it is, check it out and let me know what you think: Common Sense Crossings


February - Ski Country Update


Another great year for skiing in the National Capital Region! Back in late October, Demsis surprised everyone by grooming the Gatineau parkways when we got that early snowfall on Oct 29th. Somehow I missed that night - but haven't missed much since - and we've been "on" solid since mid-November.

Since then I've hit the Gats, Nakkertok, Blueberry Trails (Wasaga), Montebello in the rain, the Silver Spoon races in Deep River and completed the Nakkerloppet - a 25k backcountry trek. With the kids in xc racing and lessons - we're getting out a solid 3-4 times a week.

With help from friends and neighbors - I'm also getting a handle on the intricacies of waxing - hot and otherwise.

High points of the season so far:
    Watching the kids race.
    Not finishing last in my Silver Spoon race.
    Seeing Jordan pick up downhill in an single evening at Blue Mountain.
    Skiing lots with my dad.
    Watching my wife shovel the driveway as I write this entry!


Interprovincial Bridges

I spent the latter part of January helping convince Ottawa City Councillors to support the Kettle Island bridge corridor exclusively.

Kettle Island is the corridor by the Aviation Museum that would go over to Hull - and has basically a direct link from the 417/Queensway interchange today, and has an existing 4 lane road basically to the waters edge.

Despite the fact that Kettle Island was the "winner" of Phase 1 of the study, of an earlier study in the 1990s, and part of a transportation corridor identified for the past 40 years by the Greber plan...the provinces (based on some really effective community lobbying) have requested the NCC to take the top 3 choices all to Phase 2.

Should be an interesting couple of years watching this play out. Unfortunately - it tacks a year and $5M dollars onto the ultimate cost of the Phase 2 study.

So far - just about every media story I've heard on this has been spun by the anti-Kettle folks. Kind of makes you wonder if this is the case for all news stories if you scratch underneath the surface.

Probably the most interesting thing I've learned so far - is that the current crossing to King Edward - which looks all "highway like" on the Quebec side, and then peters into a mere street on the Ontario side - was initially (back in the 60's or so) supposed to link directly to the Queensway. But supposedly the Mayor of Ottawa back then kept blocking the project - and pretty much set up this problem for us all to deal with today!



Oh, What a Feeling - $2.99


Over New Year's we dragged up my wife's teenage stereo from the basement, and a milk crate full of albums. You know the stereo - the Lloyd's all in one box that had radio, cassettes and a turntable.

After opening it up and doing some basic troubleshooting, we got it spinning again, and spent a couple fun evenings touring our kids through the record collection - Rush, Styx, The Headpins, Pink Floyd, etc. Good fun. (Every grade 1 boy needs to hear Another Brick in the Wall 4 or 5 times back to back...)

Sidebar - one of the things that makes Guitar Hero so brilliant is that it's like a black-ops system to trick kids into not hating their parents music. My little guy came home from a friends house singing "Magic Carpet Ride", and was SUPRISED when I picked up and filled in the lyrics for him.

I'm a big fan of Canadian music, but there's alot of great canuck music from the 70's and 80's that I just don't have on CD or the iPod because it was back in my cassette days.

So imagine me yesterday, finding the Oh, What A Feeling 4 CD collection in a remainders bin for $2.99. 50-odd tracks - $2.99. As K-Tel says - original artists, original hits: Signs, Sweet City Woman, High School Confidential, I'm an Adult Now etc. Just listing them all makes me grin.

Best spend of the year so far.



Jan 20, 2009 - The World Changes - Hope returns to Washington

About 5 years ago, I was in Washington, DC, for some Juniper router training. I got there a day early and wandered around the city. The inner portion of Washington is laid out in a very regimental way - it was purposely designed in 1791 by Pierre Charles L'Enfant with locations for the Capital, the White House, and various monuments.

Walking around the city in 2004 - I remember thinking - this is unlike almost any other city in North America in terms of planning for scale. Starting at Congress, walking down the Mall, with the Smithsonian buildings on each side, hitting the Washington Monument, and continuing on to the Lincoln Memorial (how cool the ASL hands are!), the Reflecting Pool, and the Vietnam Veterans memorial.

The closest analogy I have is the way that Paris has such a processional avenue: starting at the Louvre, walking down the Tuileries, past Place de la Concorde, and hitting the Champs-Elysses, and eventually the Arc de Triomphe.

In DC, I remember getting hopelessly turned around at one point, and asking a street person for directions. To my surprise I got polite, perfect directions back to my hotel in Georgetown.

I keep meaning to take my kids there and check out the incredible lobby of the Air and Space Museum: the Wright Brothers plane, Glamourous Glennis, Spirit of St. Louis, and a moon rock - and you haven't even paid to get in yet!!

Watching Barack Obama take the oath today, and seeing a sea of people packed into those wide public spaces lifted my spirits.  I hope that street person was packed in there with the rest of the crowd - and felt the surge of hope as well.


2008 in Review


La météo - da weather
 


 

Playoff Dating




Some Links
  1. Dad's Yamaha FJR page
  2. Neat stuff I've read online. My Google shared items
  3. A short slide show from 2007
  4. Nakkertok Racing Rabbits - go fast!

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