Tuesday, 25 December 2012

On Christmas presents given

The list of suggested presents for my eldest niece from my brother Philip contained the injunction "No princesses", something I was rather suspicious was a parental injunction rather than Désirée's wishes. As the list didn't contain particularly inviting presents in my opinion, and the present I really wished to give had princess content, though tempered by rebelliousness, viz, Pixar's Brave, I went against instructions and gave it Désirée on DVD along with Disney's Cinderella. (After all, she isn't a princess for most of the film!) :-)  Désirée was quite happy with it, Philip and Dominique less so. In the aftermath, it came out that Désirée's actual wishes had been for "fairy, mermaid and/or princess".

Conversely, the list of presents Edward's parents presented included the wish for tracks for his toy cars which ideally should not require batteries. I found exactly what was wished for in a Hot Wheels set of assorted tracks, curves, jump, loop-de-loop and spring launcher. Edward had been hopping up and down with anticipation of his presents until he opened that one. After that, it was pretty much all people could do to pull him away long enough to open his other presents.

I think I can tick that one off as well received.

Even more fun was that Désirée also got a kick out of playing with the track. Actually, Stephen, Margaret, Philip and myself have all had some fun with it!

Finally, two days ago, I was adding some reflective tape to my Arc'teryx soft shell jacket using my Mother's sewing machine when Dominique came in the room. She commented that she needed some of the tape. As providence would have it, I had bought twice as much reflective tape as I needed and thus was able to put the other portion in her stocking! She was amused and happy.

Giving presents that are obviously enjoyed is lots of fun!

On my geekiest Christmas present

 I had suggested that I would like this to my siblings. Alice and Stephen bickered over who would get it for me. Alice won. For those of you who aren't up to speed, it is a Star Trek, the original series, bike jersey in the engineering/security department colour. The one downside of it, is that in the original series, people in red shirts were very often killed, to the point that in science fiction the term "red shirt" is often used as shorthand for "expendable crew member".

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 24 December 2012

On a half white moose

I have just seen some remarkable footage of what is believed to be a "half-albino" moose courtesy of Thomas, Louise's significant other, (one whom I jokingly threatened with bodily harm if he didn't dance with her) via Louise and Margo.
  The moose, or more accurately "Eurasian elk", was spotted in Norway. From passing the article through Google Translate, I gather the moose is being referred to as "Saltogpepper" which translates as "Salt and pepper". There is also speculation as whether the elk is related to white bull elk known as "Albin" who was shot by a Danish hunter much to what I understand is the annoyance of the locals.

Of course, the article doesn't mention the possibility that the elk might be an all white elk that had come in contact with mud or something similar! ;-)  Then again, on the first "Moose Wanderings" trip, I saw a two-toned lobster.

Rather neat if I say so myself.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

On the end of biking this year and ideas for the next

Well, it looks like biking is over for me this year. A week ago I rode into work, knowing that a snow storm was expected for the following night. When I got home, I hauled Floria up the stairs and into my long term bike storage area. December 9th is a fairly late date, and to tell the truth, it had begun to get quite nippy. Of course, I am already looking forward to getting back on the bike as the bus schedule is very annoying.

As far as next year's biking plans are concerned, my main one is to go back to Scotland and go deeper into the Highlands and Hebrides. I will thus get to see Scotland before it separates from the UK, or possibly not. Actually, I just wish to see more of Scotland.

I have a notion that it would be interesting to do a week of biking in Puerto Rico in February. This idea started when Puerto Rico voted to become a U.S. state back in November. If it goes through, it would be the first time a state has joined in my lifetime. It would also be very interesting to watch how the linguistic politics play out given that Spanish is the lingua franca of Puerto Rico and the Yanks are notoriously monolingual English-speakers.

My rough idea would be go along the North Coast of the Island and visit the Acreibo Observatory. This would also be my first visit to the Caribbean.

There are a number of problems with this idea. The first is that getting to Puerto Rico from Montreal is surprisingly difficult. Despite all the ads in the travel section for Caribbean vacations these days, Puerto Rico doesn't seem to be popular. Also, despite some vague promises, Air Canada doesn't fly usefully to Puerto Rico. Its website suggests there may be flights between Montreal and Puerto Rico, but going into detail, you find that your only option is to take the one weekly service between Toronto and Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, this flight occurs on Saturdays at time that really don't work for me.

Looking at the American airlines' offerings is comparatively depressing as they generally charge $100 to $200 each way for shipping bikes. What's more is that the more logical and efficient the flight plan is, the more they charge for bikes. One airline's suggest route home was Puerto Rico-Houston, Texas-Montreal. I don't expect American airlines to offer direct Puerto Rico to Montreal flights, but I would think that changing planes at an East coast hub makes much more sense than flying to Texas.

Hence, this trip probably isn't going to happen.

On being a PUNK

There was an article in the Monday, December 10, 2012 edition of the Montreal Gazette about "PANKs" which it defined as "Professional Aunts No Kids". It discussed how there is enough of a demographic of professional, childless women buying gifts for nieces and nephews that marketers are trying to target them specifically. There is even a dedicated website called the SavvyAuntie.com.

I was disappointed by the article and even a tad offended that there wasn't any reference to the male equivalent, to which I belong a professional, an uncle and having no kids. This feeling was heightened by the fact that the relevant acronym works so well, i.e. PUNK: Professional Uncle, No Kids! This is blatant gender discrimination, I tell you! PUNK dollars are just as good as PANK dollars! ;-)
Actually, I think I'd rather prefer not being marketed to, and revel in my "outlaw" status of a PUNK. ;-)