Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Read today as the opening line in an academic paper on tacit collusion in the UK electricity market:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an electricity market with high prices is in want of a remedy."
- Joanne Evans, in "Why did British electricity prices fall after 1998?"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All on my own

Tonight is my first night in my new house. I started paying rent here on July 1st, but since I went away the past two weekends, I didn't have a convenient Saturday to do all my moving. Hence, I've spent the past week's worth of weeknight evenings taking one load at a time in the back of a minivan from Tuscany to Varsity. Luckily, I have a wonderful family that
a) helps me lift heavy things
b) gives me free rein over their minivan
c) has extensive experience assembling knockdown furniture
d) apparently has a great deal of patience

Daddy and I came over exactly one week ago with the major pieces of furniture. The idea was to get it all set up and in place, so that the boxes could get unpacked as they came. Unfortunately, the bed was not quite as cooperative as one might have wished, and although I'm currently laying on a comfy mattress, it's on the floor, surrounded by a mostly assembled bedframe. I feel like a baby in a crib.

The room is full of boxes, some empty, some half full, and others not even opened. I have a grand total of 2 litres of milk, a box or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a box of Wal-Mart brand Special K to live on until I get to the grocery store for real. This is the life!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Another Off the Bucket List

Last weekend I completed a goal that I'd had in the back of my head for almost 12 years– I biked the Jasper-Banff highway. It was something I tried when I was around 12 or 13, and that time I didn't make it. Ever since then, I've had a little inkling to try again someday, just to say that I had, and this was the year.

The first time around, my Uncle was taking his Young Men's group to do it and my family decided to join them. I had an old mountain bike that had cost $200 from Costco and all the go get 'em spunk of someone in the seventh grade. I got about 37 km the first evening, but then my cousins arrived and all I wanted to do was hang out with them. I think I ended up biking about 80 km total that weekend.

This time around, I figured I'd do a lot better. I remembered through my rosy-hued glasses of pre-teen memory that while it had been hard, it hadn't killed me, and heck, I've been riding a lot more in the past year than I ever had at my tender younger age. I also had a wonderful road-mountain hybrid bike that would make the long ride less of a chore. His name is Sibelius and I love him more than one really should love a bicycle. Anyway, I was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing.

Until I hit about 75 km on the first day. We were supposed to ride a total of 102 km, ending with a long hill up into the Columbia Ice Fields pass. Right around kilometer 75, when we passed our campground, I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice to just wrap up now? There's a van at the campsite, and it would still be an impressive ride."

Then I realized that stopping at kilometer 75 would just mean that I'd have to try the whole 285-ish kilometer ride again another year in order to gratify my long-buried goal. So I pushed on.

Right around kilometer 94, as I grunted up a steep incline for kilometers on end, I decided that it would be prudent to create a will. Since I was pretty much planning on dying at the top of the hill and never moving again, someone should know who gets dibs on my many assets (in particular, my shoes and my iPhone).

As I rode into the headwind across the final flats, I started to feel sick. Only copious amounts of Gatorade sustained me until I saw the sign saying "Icefield Visitors Centre, 1 km". Then I just wanted to cry. Another whole kilometer? Who were they kidding?

Suffice it to say that when I got back on the seat the next morning, it was a great test of willpower., not to mention the part of my rear that felt like a bike seat had been branded into it, padded shorts and gel seat notwithstanding.

The next two days, although difficult, were less near-death than that perilous first day. The included a lot more downhill and much less headwind. One of the best parts was the last 40 km, riding along highway 1A through the Bow Valley Parkway. By then, songs by The Script and Uncle Kracker, and Barenaked Ladies had gotten me as far as they could, and I needed some new inspiration. It was time to bring out the big guns. My old-time radio shows came on.

It was kind of weird to ride through the beautiful woods and mountains while listening to Relic Radio's The Grove of Ashtaroth, but it did the trick. If those last three hours didn't fly by, at least they didn't drag on.

At the very end, as we rode the last few kilometers into Banff, I was suddenly hit by my 20th wind and I was able to fly into Cascade Park triumphantly, to find that my brother-in-law had been there over an hour already. But do you know what? I didn't even care. It may have felt like death while I was doing it, but now in retrospect, it's an experience that I'm glad I was able to check off while I'm alive.