Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

Well, I wrote the "Fonthill Airborne Regiment" post a few weeks back before posting it recently, and the old saw about pride and fall came back to bite me in the butt, literally. Feb 3, the boys and I had a fabulous day of boarding, and spent the day really focusing on our carving technique during our lesson with Curtis. So the final run of the day, the final half down Mardi Gras and in sight of the chalet, I decided to do this jump by the lift tower that I pretty much always land...

I landed all right, but then caught an edge and just walloped down hard on my right butt, sliding on my back and headfirst for a good while downhill. When I got up I instantly knew something was wrong, with the feeling like my gluteus had contracted and refused to release. I managed to make my way down but could not bend down and the boys needed to unclip me. I was in so much agony afterwards that, after 2h, I had to catch a lift home. Luckily, my guardian angels Jayne and Dominic were on their way home to Brantford and drove us home. I went to Emergency and luckily nothing was broken, but I was in agony and had so much swelling and bruising that I gained 4.7 kg (not a typo) after a week!

The picture above of my right leg was taken 12 days afterwards, so you can imagine what my entire leg was like! Oh well, I've now regained most of my mobility and lost most of the inflammation weight, but the muscle/bone contusion remains and I'm using the bike to gradually rebuild my fitness.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Brock Research Celebration

This past Tuesday (Feb 25), Brock had its annual Research Celebration event. There were research posters from about 80 faculty and students, and also a ceremony honouring recent award winners. It took 18 months or more after the fact, but I got the official recognition of the renewal of my Canada Research Chair position. Of course, I'm already busy plotting what comes when this magic carpet rides ends in fall 2017.

As a bit of a lark, I decided to dress up for the event, breaking out the full Pablo Nero Omega Pharma - QuickStep fancy tie, hankie, and even cuff links. It was good camouflage, as nobody really recognized me. Or at least until I blew my cover by hanging around the food table too much!

As you see above, the scary thing is seeing my Both Sides face much larger than real life at the event. Couldn't resist taking a gag picture with myself.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Fonthill Airborne Regiment

So I quit the Royal Westminster Regiment back in the 1980s before I got to jump out of an airplane. To make up for that, the boys and I are forming our own airborne glider unit out on the slopes. We've got passes to Holiday Valley in Ellicotville, NY (about 1:40h drive away) this season and we've decided that this is the season we learn to do jumps and tackle (sometimes literally) the terrain park. Rather than just riding the black diamond runs, we're now seeking out every little bit of small terrain and dip in the green and blue runs as an excuse to get airborne.

The shadows underneath the boys' boards prove their jumping abilities, and these were taken pretty much from a near-standstill! The past two times, we learned how to ride on the flat box, and the boys have now taken things further by riding a stack of boxes and also riding/jumping an "A-frame" box!
The great thing with homeschooling is that we go during the weekdays when there's minimal traffic on the roads or the slopes. And the "group" lessons we get with our passes generally end up as private ones. Here the boys are with David (L) and Dom (2nd from R), who have both taught us. Dom is especially awesome and fun to ride with, and we help him out by saving him from teaching beginners...

Snowboarding is just a fabulous day out and a way for us to bond as three boys, plus the bonus is that Debbie gets the day off from having to take care / put up with us!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Syracuse Wildfire Gymnastics Meet

Jacob had a pretty awesome pommel routine

The second gymnastics competition of the year was in Syracuse Jan 25/26 weekend. We'd never been there before so it was a nice road trip with the other boys' parents (Isaac and Ben) despite the sketchy winter weather. I don't think they really believe in plowing the roads around Buffalo. The boys generally improved their performance from 2 weeks prior in Niagara Falls, so there's an upward trend.
The parallel bars are always impressive to watch.

Artsy shot with all the medals to play for on the left, and the boys lining up for the pommel judge.

 Way up high on the high bars.

Zach on the pommels.

Jacob's bronze on the pommel and Zach's bronze all-around. 

Next stop Rochester NY Feb 15/16!

Saturday, 1 February 2014


From way back in September, but check out Jacob's talent in his first ever attempt at paddleboarding!


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Weather Forecasts on My Phone

The TV profile with CHCH in Hamilton

Yes it's Canada and yes it's January, but darned if it hasn't been a cold winter so far. And my cell phone seems to have a bug in it. Namely, whenever the temperature here in southern Ontario drops below -15oC or so, my phone rings like crazy with media requests! Even over the weekend, during our Syracuse road trip for the boys' gymnastics tournament, I ended up doing a phone interview at the hotel with a Northwestern University journalism student in Illinois about the effects of alcohol on cold tolerance. Apparently, if you google "faculty expert cold and alcohol" there I am!

They're all pretty fun to do, and the most recent one has been with CHCH TV in Hamilton, with my talking to their health reporter Maria Hayes about wind chill and manual function in the cold. We end up with my grad student Phil Wallace doing some snow angels.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Coolest Mexican Restaurant in Syracuse

OK, I've been offline with the blog for a long while, so let's renew with a blog about FOOD! We spent this weekend in Syracuse at the Wildfire Invitation gymnastics meet for the boys. Debbie searched out "The Mission" restaurant for us to try, and we went with the Siemens (Isaac competes with the boys).
What a totally cool place. First and most important, the food was fabulous (seafood enchilada for Tim and me, fish taco for Debbie, tacos and others all around). The decor as you can see is really neat too, with the kitchen right there in the shrine/altar area. Yes it was an actual Wesleyan Methodist church (2nd one in the USA) from 1847, and it was also a part of the Underground Railroad during the slavery era. There were lots of archeology from the basement areas, and our waiter Doug was a wealth of info and passion about the history. The church was also a meeting place in the early suffragette movement. The stained glass is all from the 19th century too.
Super fun night out. Thanks to the Siemens for the fun company too!

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Pelham Lego Robotics Team Takes First at Regional Competition
Pelham Lego Robotics Team Takes First at Regional Competition
At this weekend’s Niagara Regional FLL (First Lego League) robotics competition, Pelham was well represented having 3 teams out of the 13 competing.  The Lego Da Vincis took the 1st Place Champion award, in addition to the Robot Performance award, while their mentor team, Legolas, won the Rising Star award.
The competition consisted of 4 categories: the robot game obstacle course, robot design, project research and solution and core values, which includes problem solving skills, team work and ethics.  This year’s topic was “Nature’s Fury” so the teams had to research natural disasters, identify a problem and develop innovative solutions. The Lego Da Vincis have developed a solution to connect neighbours in the event of an emergency, so they don’t have to call 911 as often, and efficiently care for others in their community in times of crisis.  This initiative consists of a website to raise awareness on local emergency situations, how to plan a “block party” and how to construct an emergency preparedness kit.  They have presented this idea to the Mayor of Pelham and Fire Prevention Officer Saskia Holditch and have been invited to present it to Pelham Town Council on the 16th of December.  Teams are also judged on their robot design, with one judge commenting that the Da Vincis “set the standard for programming efficiency.”  The robots compete against each other to complete autonomous tasks on the obstacle field.

3 teams advance to the East Provincials Competition on January the 18th in Oshawa at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.  The Lego Da Vincis (a team from the home schooling community), the Fonthill Fury (composed primarily of St. Alexander’s students) and the Princess Margret Panther Bots from Niagara Falls. The 3rd team from Pelham, the St Ann’s Stallions, made Pelham proud and took home the Robot Design award and put in a stellar performance in all other areas.

Congratulations to all students on the fruits of hard work and ingenuity!  Your community is cheering for you on January 18th!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Racing Overload!

Jamie's bar-cam with his boy Connor. Rare footage of me actually passing someone on a MTB!

I love the bike - end of story. While cyclocross has become my passion, I just love all types of riding. But it's racing that's the real spice that makes the whole love affair sizzle, and over the past weeks I dove back in hard-core into every type of bike racing around.
First up last Thursday was the Larkinville crit series in downtown Buffalo, probably my first criterium since 2001 Nationals! Next up was my return to road racing at the KW Classic in Kitchener Sunday, my first Ontario race since the KW in 2009. All fun and games until I dropped my chain at the base of the big hill about the same time that the torrential rain started!
Then this past Tuesday, did probably my hardest club race that I can remember. Flat course but we were just killing it all day (OK part of it was my fault for hammering and attacking). So hard that I woke up sore everywhere like I was a rugby tackle dummy. That was all just a prelude for my 3rd comeback of the week - this time mountain bike racing and the local Laura Secord series put on by Liberty! Bicycles. Awesome AWESOME fun all around!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dr. Freeze and the Freezies!

"Freezies" work for Freezies, apparently...Jacob works on the shoot's storyboard...

Last fall we shot an episode of "Science Scoops" for Virtual Researchers on Call, a group producing news and videos for grade school kids about the fun and importance of science. Debbie had the great idea of "if it's meant for grade schoolers, then why not have the boys interview you?" Here's the result that went live on YouTube today!