First Flight

August 26, 2008

Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream. – George W. Bush

I’m not quite sure what he was trying to say, but I image he was suggesting that you find happiness in your family and in spending quality time with them.  I’ll let the pictures talk here…

 

Two very excited man cubs.

Me at the controls.

Houston, we have lift off!

So my first flight was AMAZING and from what I understand, any flying club in North America that sports Cessna trainers will give you a good deal on your first flight, so give it a whirl.  It was about $80 and they let me take the kids.

Nothing sounds sweeter than listening to a six year old say, “Andy, do you copy? Over!” and a 4 year old chime in with “Xray Bravo Brovo Grover”.  Hilarious!  Bringing the kids was great and they really were brave, considering how loud the plane is, with them knowing that we were going up so high…actually, what calmed them down was Angie telling them that it was just like our van, only with wings.  They loved the headsets, so that helped too.

As we got about 100 feet off the ground my instructor handed me the controls and I flew, right up until we were lined back up with the runway.  I had a blast flying over the city and the kids were thrilled to pick out the likes of Canadian Tire, Sobey’s and the Keystone Centre.

The Rolling Ball

August 13, 2008

When things start to move they really start to move.

Last week Murray – a really good friend of mine – accepted the challenge to join our team for at least one week of our cycling tour (http://www.bikingforacure.com).

Also in the last week, John and I have been able to get sponsor letters together requesting many of the support services, equipment, vehicles and clothing that we’ll need to complete the trip.

I just learned today that we’ve also got our DonorDrive web site online – http://jdrfca.donordrive.com/event/bikingforacure – which will allow us to start getting the donations rolling in.  The deposit for the walk event hosted by my son’s elementary school was also made, so we’re officially 1% of the way to our goal…if you round up!

Flight Path Booked

August 12, 2008

So, here we go!

On Saturday, August 16th I will begin my ascent into accomplishmentdom.  Now, granted, it will take some time to make it happen, but I have indeed started the process.

I have my first flight lesson booked and am really excited about it.  The best part is that my kids are allowed to come with me – it is a four-seater Cessna – so now it’s just a matter of convincing them to go with me.

Around 10am if you’re in Southwestern Manitoba and looking up, you may just see me!

Fun Fun Fun Fun FUN

August 9, 2008

Bouncing along the path of Tigger Saturdays we took the boys up to Clear Lake for a much needed family time.  The whole day was unplanned.  We didn’t know at 10am if we were going, we didn’t know at 11am where we were going, we didn’t know at noon if we were staying for supper…it was awesome.

So. Incredibly. Laid back.

And, as it turns out, if you just let things happen, things happen!

After a great day on the beach, we retreated to a day-camp site and had a hot dog roast with the kids.  Of course, my beautiful fun-loving wife brought all the fixin’s for smores and we sat and just enjoyed the evening.  We doubled back along the main beach pathway to a sprawling play structure and ran with the kids for over an hour, the park session culminating with a brief, but intense, swinging competition.

On our way back to the van Angie suggested we go sit by the beach again and possibly take a stroll down the boardwalk out onto the pier.  At this point I wasn’t terribly interested – it was making for a long day – but I knew also that this was our family day and we really do enjoy walks with the kids.

Sure enough, the kids were eager and willing and we were on our way.

As we approached the pier we noticed a crowd had formed on the beach and there were speakers set up and a group of what appeared to be folk singers.  This was great!  We were rewarded for our family time by unique, memorable experiences! Who’d of thought!

But, it got even better still.  As we folded ourselves onto the beach and into the crowd we realized that those weren’t just any old folk singers, it was freekin’ FRED PENNER and friends.  Before I knew it, we were singing about how much we loved sandwiches with 400+ total strangers.  What a blast!

The concert was all part of a series of events going on in the park, and Fred Penner was acutally a guest at that evening’s RMNP Camp Fire Session.  We were treated to some great music about the park, learned more about the bio-region/bio-sphere we were in and about the ecosystems that exist throughout Riding Mountain.

Oh, and a folk-looking white guy tried to rap.  His harmonica-toting caucasian sidekick was the beat box.  It was awesome.

We wrapped up on the beach a little early and made our way back to the van.  Brandon reminded us of a promise to squeeze in a game of mini golf, so we busted it down to Onanole and snuck in under the closing wire.

The owner basically let us play a free game and gave the kids freezies.

The whole day was like God smiling on us. 

Two passed out children needed to be carried up to their beds wearing beach clothes and already mid-snore…

Finding a Groove

August 4, 2008

This week I will be moving to my new apartment in Winnipeg, which is about 11km from work.  I do this on my bike and I have altered my route to include a couple of extra kilometre around the river, bringing my round-trip excursion on a daily basis to about 30km.

Combined with a weekend ride of 50km, I will now be doing a good solid 200km+ every week.

I participated in a 100km bike ride last summer and recently received an email saying that it was on again later this year.  Last year I completed the ride (on adrenaline) in about four hours, including stops.  In the year since that trip, and in preparation for my tour with the Biking For a Cure team, I have cycled over 8,000 kms! I should be in much better shape to do this ride.

The Century Bike Ride for Diabetes benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and last year raised over $20,000 with only 40 riders (if you were wondering, I placed 36th).  I will try to find more information as to weather or not I can accept donations online and will post details if I find that to be true.

Enjoying the View

August 2, 2008

What a great way to spend a Saturday.  My wife and I enjoyed great conversation, talking about our family, our kids (including what we might name the one on the way) and tried to take the sights in as much as possible on the way to Dauphin for a family birthday party.  Brandon and Andy’s second cousin lives up there and luckily for us, that meant a trip through Riding Mountain National Park.

The ride up was somewhat rushed; I was working at the Church to try to get some projectors installed, we had terrible weather (a nasty thunderstorm was rolling through), Brandon wasn’t feeling great and we were just being us.  Translation: we were running late.

It was the second major thunderstorm in about 12 hours.  Last night lightening struck about 10 metres from our bedroom and took out a 10 metre chunk of canopy from a 50 year old tree in our yard.  The remnants were kindly left by mother nature for me to clean up, scattered through the yard and into the tomatoes in our garden.

We are very fortunate, in spite of the mess, that there was no property damage and – more importantly – no one was injured.

Tomorrow will need a solid effort to clean the trees, but today…road trip!

The party was great.  Every year the boys’ cousin hosts a themed party that usually results in a full-on every-man-woman-and-child-for-themself water fight where no one leaves dry.  I have watched and laughed from the sidelines for the last two years while my kids have tried to conjole me into joining them.  This year, in spite of an utter lack of clothes (and failing to heed warnings to that effect from my wife) I finally bit.

We went through enough water to tick off any environmentalist.  And had a great time.  If we’re going to continue preserving this annual event, we should definately try to find a more pleasing solution to Planet Earth, but we had a great, soppy wet time none-the-less.

On the way home Angie and I were noticing again all the stops along the side of the road.  For the second time today we found ourselves saying, “wouldn’t it be great to stop at all these and show the boys?”

After a couple minutes the question quickly changed to, “why don’t we?” and, “what are we in such a rush for?”  We didn’t really have a good answer, other than maybe, maybe saying it was getting on to bedtime for the kids, so we Tiggered-up and stopped.

“Mommy, why is Daddy stopping?” Anders asked. “What’s here?”

“We don’t know yet, sweetie.  Let’s go find out.”

We pulled ourselves into a stop known as Agassiz Tower, right on highway 10.  Climbing up a rough, muddy trail we came through to a clearing where a five-story stair climb presented itself summoning us to conquer it. Brandon wasn’t so sure. “Do we have to climb to the top of that?”  he asked, thinking we were pulling his leg.

“You bet, buddy.  I’ll race you.  Go!”

From the top the boreal forrest of RMNP revealed its incredible view.  The tower is fairly high in the Park to start with, so after climbing to the top you’re in for a great treat.  You can see for miles;  while we forgot to bring our camera for the party, I was able to find this shot on flickr that gives you an idea of the view.  What was also shocking to the boys was the noise (there was none) and the smell (it was nothing but forrest and rain).  It was so great to share that with them.

After presenting the required roadside attraction reading materials to the boys, we made our descent and continued down the highway to a picnic area called The Spruces.   Angie seems to remember stopping there as a kid, or perhaps, someplace a lot like it.  While we didn’t have anything to picnic with, we made our way to the boat launch and sat on the docks with the kids for about 20 minutes, listening to the water and trying to spot fish in the lake.

With the rain cleared, a killer water fight under out belts and one of the most incredible views I’ve seen in ages – all shared with my family – I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Well, it sure looks sexy ;o)

I like a good UI, and the folks working on Mesh have done a very good job of raising the bar for web apps.  This is still in tech preview, so there are some little pre-load things going on that you see, and it’s a little slow, but it’s looking really sharp.

You can’t actually do much yet, but I can see all kinds of interesting applications being built on this platform.

There are a few buggy things…the installer pops up behind other windows for me, so the security request didn’t get seen right away (I thought it had hung).

There are some things that aren’t quite what I thought they’d be.  For instance, I added a folder on my Mesh desktop (Meshtop? …sure, sounds good) and it immediately appeared on my laptop’s desktop (I had already added my laptop as a device).  I proceeded to open the folder and paste a photo in it, then I eagerly zoomed over to my…uh…Meshtop to see my picture magically appear.

No love.

How it handled what I did next, I’m not quite clear.

So, I went in to my Meshtop folder and then clicked the link to upload a file.  At the prompt, I actually selected my desktop folder (the one with the spanky Mesh icon that I assumed was a sync folder) and picked the photo I had pasted in locally.

It uploaded the file, or it appeared to have uploaded the file, but I couldn’t view it on Mesh by double clicking (I got a popup warning by IE, which, when I allowed popups and refreshed, appeared again briefly then vanished).

Closing Mesh and loading it back up, I went into my folder and double-clicked the image.  A groovy, if not basic, media viewer presented itself and the photo loaded.

A couple of things worth mentioning:

  1. First, when a folder is in icon view, the icons don’t behave how we’ve been taught to believe they would.  When I try to drag a file to the Meshtop it seems to just highlight the page, so evidently they do not have drag-and-drop implemented yet.  Thinking through that, with devices, wireless connectivity and files, there are some really neat things you could do there.  Hey, why not drag a photo from my phone to my work computer?  Cool.  I hope they implement these things.
  2. Secondly, the media viewer is fairly primitive, and I know it’s in tech preview here, but they have a long way to catch up to even some of the blogs that are out there for viewing large photos online.  I expect this to come.  Meanwhile, they’ve developed some clever gadgets to make moving through various media easier including a thumbnail viewer at the top of the folder.  Very nice, even a little hover animation for effect.
  3. There is still a lot of flickering going on, but I imagine this is just because of the early stages of the UI.  Uh…yeah, and when I say early stages, please keep that in context.  They have already put in place a multi-computer desktop management and file sync platform, so while an infant, it plays like a big boy.  Mesh will be a beast when it grows up.
  4. I really enjoy the way that news is tied to folders and items.  This is the Facebook of your desktop, and it has really interesting uses.  If you used Facebook back before it became application-infested, you’ll remember how important the feed was as part of the user experience.  Not only do they implement this on the Meshtop, but there is also deep shell integration that denotes changes, updates and additions to folders as they occur in your mesh. 

While I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, I’ve installed the plugin and will be playing with the remote desktop bits.  I think this is an interesting spin, especially if it allows for cross-platform remoting.  MS has done a great job with remote desktop, especially in the last few versions, and I can’t see this being a step backwards.

I’m going to see what’s available for developers to poke around in and maybe even have a try at something in the SDK if it’s available; perhaps that will give me a little insight on where things are at and going with Mesh.