Saturday, 27 February 2010

Curling - WOW

Yes, I've been watching Olympic curling. What a combination of science, art, and athletic control. I could try and explain that but the best way to understand it is to watch international or Brier level competition.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Numbers

Which ranking is more important to you, and which should the government spend more money on improving.

This Number
or
This Number.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Who Is To Blame For The Olympics

So is it all just fun and games and are we all just blind to what is wrong with the Olympics.

I don't think so. I think many people have problems with what the Olympics have become with more emphasis on profit than sport and more emphasis on sponsors than athletes, not to mention the impact on the communities the Olympics are held in, which is more often positive for the wealthy and negative for the poor. On the other hand, many have been sucked into the spectacle that the Olympics have become, a spectacle that is dependent on, and supportive of, corporate money and sponsors. Sponsors money feeds the spectacle and the spectacle feeds corporate profits and somewhere in there is IOC empire building.

But we support the Olympics anyway because we still believe in the ideal, and more importantly because it is the only Olympics that the athletes have.

As for the Olympic sponsors, some seem to be really bizarre.

I do find it ironic that the company that has been exploiting Canadians longer than any other company is an official sponsor, especially since their Canadian Olympic clothing is "Made in China", but they do have the protection of the Fashion Police.

I also find it really strange to watch world class athletes promoting McJunk food and I have to wonder how many IOC or VANOC dinner meetings have been held at the Official Restaurant of the Olympics. And then there are the official Olympic drugs, not to mention official beer and wine suppliers. And what is a sporting event without an official gambling provider.

And I am offended by the fact that the Olympic organizers are forcing Canadians, and visitors, who want to use a credit card at the Olympics (and do not have the right card) to get a new one.

And then there is this.

There have been protests raising serious concerns about the Olympics, although protesting at an international sports/cultural event obviously does not receive the same amount of public acceptance as protesting at international political/economic events. The protests have included some damage to the property of corporate sponsors by masked "protesters". They state their case here.

While I can certainly agree that the minimal physical damage done by these masked "protesters" is nowhere near the damage done to the poor and disadvantaged by the holding of the games I cannot condone it, primarily because it does more harm than good to the cause.

I am one who believes people should stand up for what they believe in and not hide behind masks. I am even uncomfortable with the concept of anonymous blogging, but I can understand the reason for it and it does no harm to anyone. If these "protesters" want to make a point about damage done to the poor by doing damage to the property of those they consider to be causing it, then do it out in the open, surrender to the police, and then argue your case in the courts of law and public opinion.

But what I would suggest, as an alternative to protests that alienate the public, is that in the future the emphasis be put on the People’s Summit aspect of the protests and that the protesters propose to the Olympic organizers that they will not take to the streets in exchange for the Olympic organizers sanctioning and publicizing a People’s Summit that examines all aspects of the Olympics. The media should pledge to give the People’s Summit reasonable coverage, especially the host broadcaster. The People’s Summit should be completely independent, possibly university based, and include full criticism of the Olympics. It should provide for some participation by Olympic organizers, which would allow them to state their case and, more importantly, allow them to be held accountable by the public for their actions.

This will be to both sides advantage - the serious protesters will be better able to make their case and reach the public without a public backlash and they will not be tainted by the actions of so-called anarchists, who will be marginalized and easier for the organizers to deal with.

This is not to say that the problems are not serious enough to justify taking to the streets but that the alternative can be more effective in reaching, rather than alienating, the public.

Of course if Olympic organizers are not prepared to be subjected to public scrutiny and public criticism they can always reject the idea and suffer the consequences of continuing, and probably escalating protests at future Olympics.

In closing, I want to say, as a Canadian, that I am proud of all our Bronze Medal Winners and others in the world can make as many jokes about that as they want. I do not believe that you're a loser if you don't win a gold medal. Indeed, if you've worked hard enough to actually be good enough to participate in the Olympics you're already a Winner and I am proud of all of our Olympic athletes.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Winter Biking

Well, I have actually got into the winter biking thing and pedalled over 230 km since December on the winter bike with the studded tires.

The Winter Bike

Most of my riding is around the communities of Bridlewood and Glen Cairn on the neighbourhood collector roads which are usually always clear. Lately due to the lack of snow even the side streets have been easily rideable.

The cold has been somewhat of a challenge, as biking adds about an extra 15 km/hr wind chill, so my rides have typically been limited to 15-20 kilometres.

I have to say that I am quite pleased and somewhat surprised at how well the cheap Supercycle performs, even the gears are shifting well despite the cold and slush, although I have been bringing the bike inside every week or so to clean and lube. I've been using pretty heavy lube - lithium grease and chain saw bar oil, which I am pretty sure would get the bike clogged up with gunk from the trails in the summer, but it seems to help protect from the salt and slush in the winter.

The studded tires are also fantastic. When I first started riding them I would look for every piece of ice I could to test them on. The other day I was over on some new subdivision roads where they have not been working in the winter and found lots of ice to tool around on and it was like riding on bare pavement.

The only problem with the cheap bike is the lack of suspension on some of the hard packed walking trails that are not cleared (gravel rather than pavement underneath) and even though they don't look so bad you can really feel the bumpiness without suspension so I don't usually last very long on those sections.

The actual forest trails are much smoother than that, and due to the recent trail conditions I was actually able to ride a few times on the Old Quarry Trail where the snow is packed enough that I just rode along top without sinking in, and wide enough I could ride alongside the ski tracks where there were any. Even people walking the trails are not sinking in. Other trail users seemed more amused than anything and I often stopped to chat with them. One asked me if I was patrolling the trail, probably because I had my yellow reflective vest on that I wear to be certain to be seen in traffic.

A Typical Ride on The Winter Bike (click to enlarge)

I am still looking forward to the new biking season and getting out on the good bikes but the winter bike is at least keeping me pedalling and it will be something to ride in the spring until they stop dumping bike-killing salt on the roads and paths.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Murdock River Paddling Route

Every summer we spend a week at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast in Northern Ontario called Whispering Pines on the Bay. We cannot describe it any better than our wonderful hosts do on their website.

Welcome to a little piece of Heaven on Earth. We invite you to join us to hear the peaceful call of the loon, the relaxing sound of waves lapping against a rocky shore, and the beauty of Northern Ontario. Bob and Peggy Fera invite you to join us for friendly hospitality, bountiful food, and a home away from home.
This is not an arrive late, leave right after breakfast kind of place but a real "home away from home" where you are always assured of meeting interesting people from all over the world.

Whispering Pines on the Bay is surrounded by wilderness, located approximately halfway between the City of Sudbury and Killarney Provincial Park and close to the French River.

It is located on Kakakiwaganda Lake, also known as Rock Lake, with fishing, boating and paddling opportunities. There are also old logging roads and ATV trails in the area suitable for mountain biking.

The Murdock River flows from Kakakiwaganda Lake to the French River and that is what this post is about.

I have been thinking of undertaking that paddling route with my kayak. We have paddled part way a few times but never undertaken the complete 32 km distance (as measured on the map) which includes several portages. I understand the number and difficulty of the portages depends on the water levels which do vary from time to time. But it is a navigable route.

So with that in mind I have put together a collection of maps of the route using the Canadian Topographic Maps, as well as LandSat satellite images. I also created a GPS track of the route from the map, so please note that the GPS route is not a track of an actual paddling excursion.

What follows are the maps I created. If you wish a copy of the GPS track (GPX format) or a PDF version of the maps suitable for printing at 8 1/2 by 14 inches (legal size) please email me at: richardw.woodley@gmail.com.

Click on Map Images to Enlarge Them

Garmin MapSource Map of GPS Track

Canadian Topographic Maps Combined

Canadian Topographic Map 1

Canadian Topographic Map 2

Canadian Topographic Map 3

LandSat Combined Views

LandSat View 1

LandSat View 2

LandSat View 3