COM0011: Consideration Beyond Oneself: Thoughts on Driving

I am a car guy, and for that matter a driver – but rarely pilot a vehicle.

I ride a bike for as long as the seasons suggest I can do so safely. Most years this is October. The rest of the time I walk, unless driving is the only option.

For as long as I have held a license (one parking ticket) I have shined vehicles and kept them in top shape. These efforts are for two exclusive reasons: groceries and camping (see Blog No. 5).

There seems a problem with driver behaviour. IMG_1860Like bugs in trees, this problem appears to be spreading. One common issue is the freeze of use of the in-car directional. You know, the one that tells others what you’re doing. Seriously, how long does it take to signal?

IMG_1600Rather, how much less time does it take to signal than to text message or speak hands-on into a phone?

It is a delicate topic writing about something I am also responsible: driver respect and safety. I can assure you I bring the respect. In my experience with respect out front safety takes care of itself.

This is also not supporting or sanctioning bad cycling, those who do little to help drivers or move the larger needle forward within a transportation situation that I marvel isn’t a lot worse, from a death stats perspective, than it is.

Some recent examples:

Within the last two weeks, riding down Somerset, lady in Acura (Quebec plates, confrimed up close) doesn’t acknowledge me (rear window view eyes straight ahead), much less signal, and turns right, into a laneway, cutting me off at the tire. Really?

Within the last 72 hours. Approach fourway. Stop. Actually stop. Look. Proceed. Woman in Toyota coasts across stop line and accelerates, eyes straight on, cutting me off at the tire. I followed her to the next light and banged on the window. Hello. Miss, could you please pay attention? My life depends on it.

Other questions:

Stop signs. Who uses them – by the actual rules of the road?

Yellow lights. Seems an invitation to go, no?

The overall picture is thankfully positive. The responsible, respectful and accountable drivers outnumber those who are not so responsible, accountable or especially respectful.  I will admit sometimes when I observe and let rampant transgressions get to me, they do.

This is what I wonder most: We live in the best country in the world. Or at least a top-fiver. It’s at least, Ottawa proper, probably the singularly most polite spot (Yes please, No thank you), with outdoor options (and grocery stores) second to none.

Yet behind the wheel we seemingly can’t be a fraction as nice to each other. Why is that?

COM0011: Camping: How I love thee

I find myself lucky. Of all places to be born, this place (peaceful, polite and largely pleasant) is in my view about the best. The general tax rate, coming weather change and endless political attack ads are out of my mind. I see campsites.

An elective activity, camping makes summer days tougher to beat. To me this is one of Canada’s greatest gifts.

It is also at the point in the summer where I am used to the weather, riding a bike, and particularly taking for granted the opportunity to be outside for more than 24 hours and not freeze. This is a mistake. A grave one. No sooner will I turn around twice than be back to fleece and wool socks of a colourful but increasingly more chilly fall. Until then you can find me at a campsite, looking out over the land:


I have never outgrown being outside or a tent. Though I have upped my game and level of comfort, the wonder of nature and opportunity to sleep one composite fabric from the outside has never dimmed in significance. It’s a small amount of effort and dirt under the nails to feel this good.

Some people camp with technological wonders, castles of comfort. Some people camp to hike. Others camp to swim. Others camp to relax and let their kids run wild.

I camp to camp – then hike, and swim, and bike … Being in the outdoors is the goal.

Rain? I have a tarp for that. Cold? Weather forecasting and planning. Heat to cook? A cherished Coleman stove that has been in my family since 1953 is my prized device. It’s not easy to use, but the rewards are, well, hot. The delicious suits me fine.


I marvel at the great comfort and menu options springing from a vehicle, like a dry tent, site, hot meals, and morning decaf and regular coffee.

Some see camping as impossible to enjoy. Or maybe impossible to pull off. Others can’t bear bugs, bears (if only warnings on paper) or dirt. Those (extreme) less hardy who seek the outdoor experience stick to their condos on wheels, double A/C’s, pop outs, and of course Sportscentre.

I see camping as practical, inexpensive (though that is challenged by the premium sites in Ontario), and frankly a little slice of heaven, or what I hope is close. There is something uniquely special to making it work outside for multiple days that makes me feel more alive and grateful for sights, smells, sounds, silence and especially stars than any other activity in any type of season.

For as long as I can breathe and am able to move I will camp. Because through camping I am alive, breathe better and feel I move better through city life. The woods are a magnet.

Do you camp? How? Why? And is it just me, or is any campsite meal far better tasting?

COM0011: Sharks! Taking the bait?

“It is as if God created the Devil, and gave him jaws.” – movie trailer

It seems like shark season 2015. Are you ((Cue music: Duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh)) taking the bait?

Maybe you were among the 15-million screen sharers who took in one of two main viral shark attacks Sunday – later downgraded to an “encounter” – on an Australian surfer, who, regardless, was in a very bad spot. Before the dramatic event closed a South African pro surfing competition the pictures had splashed across the world several times over.

The footage, that unmistakably sinister triangular tail of the predator, the struggle of the overmatched human and his lily white board, proved a perfect storm for the Internet.

Why is that? What is it about that?

Was it no injuries? Was it man lived to tell about it? Was it a rekindling of age-old questions (Is it safe to go into the water?) during a typical slow summer news cycle?

Sunday’s compelling close call came on the heels of earlier and repeated shark attacks along the typically placid North Carolina coast. This one involved children who frequent the area by the thousands, and loss of limbs.

Big fish attacking helpless people from their big pool is nothing new. Generally, it’s a lasting narrative that may never fade because the fear it provokes leaves time standing still.

A hysteria track back points to 1975 and the thriller Jaws. The shark was barely on screen but has since long lived on through legend, or at least a legendary soundtrack and trailer. A simple cadence amid all that suspense still brings chills, no?

Funny, how feelings and numbers differ.

Plane crashes (odds of dying: 1: 11,000,000) and shark attacks (1: 3,748,067) lead off the news.  Car accidents (1: 84), strokes (1: 24) and heart disease (1: 5), which cost and claim millions more, typically get slotted later in the run-down.

Let’s not forget: sharks are wild creatures. The ocean is their only habitat. The ocean is wild.

In some situations attacks are avoidable. In others, they are heart breaking. In events hosted in super shark friendly waters of South Africa and Australia, a situation seems almost inevitable.

Amid building and lingering fear, and questions of safety, another important statistic lays buried like a sunken ship (11,000 sharks killed globally every hour, every day).

Which barbarian is in danger?

COM0011 Women’s World Cup 2015: One Day’s Difference

The day after Indepedence Day proved a near-perfect coronation for women’s soccer in the United States. Equality has exploded like fireworks.

Elaine Thompson/AP

Storming to a 3-0 lead before coasting to a 5-2 victory over defending world champion Japan, the US capped its first world title in 16 years before 53,000 at Vancouver’s spectacular B.C. Place. The stadium appeared to be perhaps the largest (pro) US population ever off native soil.

During the two-week tournament, the weather was unseasonably spectacular, on-site crowds were impressive and a national US television audience surfed over in record numbers.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup final was the most watched soccer match in US history, including surpassing audience numbers for the male-dominated NHL Stanley Cup and NBA Finals.

Ric Ernst / PNG

Due in part to Title XI, the landmark 1972 charter mandating gender equity, and factoring already incomparable global patriotism, the United States continues to maintain a world standard for female sport. The opportunity to be seen and treated as equal – and backing up the promise through legislation – is one giant leap for all mankind.

Along with the recently passed same sex marriage law, which legalized and levelled the playing field of love across North America, America’s evolution through the first half of 2015 could have never been forecast on that first celebration of independence nearly 24 decades ago. There is still a ways to go, like the US cracking the global top-ten gender equality index.

But if anything that sunny Sunday proved, it’s that one day really can make a difference.

COM0011: Three’s Company Moment

I had a Three’s Company moment recently. It got me to thinking.

A friend jumped to one conclusion, I assumed another, soon after we unravelled a comedy of misinformation, information taken out of context, shared a laugh and got back to level.

The conversation was quick. The situation spiralled. The topic got muddied. Misunderstandings flowed like a river. Norman Lear or even Jack Tripper would have loved it.

Like accidents, Three’s Company moments happen. Unlike the popular/unpopular madcap situation comedy of the late 1970s and early 80s, the key to avoiding being the joke, being perceived as a joker, or being the laughing stock who crashed off the pavement banana peel, is to pay attention, communicate clearly, and check perceptions.

If not things can go funny fast. This may not always be a laughing matter. Words can be misinterpreted and sentiments can get lost. You never think these things could happen until they do.

Podcasting: Think Sound (Plus Planning, Details)

IMG_1424 10.53.19 AM

If it’s true anyone can take a reasonably good photo when tasked, the same can likely not be said for recording a podcast.

Podcasts, dedicated audio packages across a world of topics from comedy to music to practising better yoga, are heard through iTunes and various RSS feeds.

As a fan, consumer and biased producer, any podcast requires good equipment to start.

This medium can go in so many directions in compelling, multitrack fashion.

To low-ball this potential due to poor planning, ill-timed execution, lacklustre equipment, and poor production is not just a shame: It’s a crime.

All who produce anything, podcasts included, are to be commended.

Considering the intimacy and captive potential of a podcast, taking the time to produce not just words you can hear but a presentation will be obvious.

The key is allowing the message to become enhanced through a podcast, not having it drown, become distorted and lost.