Category Archives: Coffee

My Downward Spiral Into Cookie Madness

Is it weird that when I see the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man I think of s’mores?

I’ve spent the better part of my day number crunching, drafting a report, thinking about a grant, and eating. Eating a lot it seems (well, a lot for me).

Okay, maybe it’s not so much that I’ve eaten a lot, maybe it’s just that I seem to have eaten nothing better than the empty Calories known as cookies and coffee. True, I also had some eggs and smoked salmon, and perhaps some chicken and shiitake mushroom soup – all very good and healthy food choices – but it feels as if I’ve eaten mainly sugar-laden balls-o-unhealthiness washed down with artificially whitened-sweetened-and-fully-caffeinated java juice. Perhaps it’s the gut rot speaking, but I’m guessing I shouldn’t have had that last cookie/coffee combo.

Sadly, I’m sitting here plugging away at the number crunching/report/grant related stuff I need to do, and all I can think about is another cookie and coffee. On the plus side, all of the cookies are gone as I know better than to buy an entire bag of them for fear that I will eat them all in one sitting. And I would. Because I’m gluttonous like that. On the negative side, I have oodles of coffee in my condo. I also have oodles of coffee cups. And a Keurig machine. This could be a lost cause.

To add insult to injury, I didn’t run this weekend either. That’s correct – mine was a weekend full of gluttony and sloth.

This marks the first weekend I haven’t stepped on the treadmill in I don’t know how long. And I feel terrible. Stuffing my face full of cookies, drinking copious amounts of coffee, sitting in front of my computer for far too long this weekend, AND not running? What the hell Gillis? What the hell? indeed. I feel a bit like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, except without the jaunty hat, sailor’s collar, and neckerchief.

Clearly tomorrow I have to get back on track. For now, I’m going to avoid another cup of coffee, and I’m also going to try to use my current post-gluttony feelings to keep me motivated this week. Because I can’t turn into Stay Puft – I just can’t pull off that outfit like he can.


Two Deadly Sins In One Day

Ethiopian deliciousness – get in my belly.

In honour of my friend Mark’s 37th birthday, we1 drove into Toronto today to wander the city. And by wander, I mean we sauntered about stopping often to sample various foodstuffs along the way. And while we walked a lot, I don’t feel that it was enough to work off the food I ate. Instead, I just kept stuffing more and more in my gullet. At least, that is how it seems to me. I guess in retrospect I only ate a half order of fries (with dijon gravy2) and a latte before heading to the African Palace for dinner.

And oh what a dinner – vegetable samosas and a platter full of delicious Ethiopian cuisine, followed by fresh roasted Ethiopian coffee.

After so much gluttony, I currently find myself somewhere between oh-so-full and painfully-full. I really should have known better. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t think that I should have eaten less3, I simply mean that I should have worn my eating pants.

Despite the pantal-distension, the gluttony was well worth it. Better still, the company was fantastic and the day was filled with much laughter.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pass out on the couch while watching a movie. Because why stop at gluttony when I can throw in sloth for good measure.


1 We being me, Mark, and Julie.

2 Holy hell why haven’t I ever had gravy and dijon mustard together before? Deliciously delicious.

3 Not only does my Goofy training demand the Calories, but I’m a light eater at the best of times.

Christmas Cheer

Coconut Irish cream? Don’t mind if I do.

A few days ago, my friend Dr. Julie (via Dr. Vicky) passed along a recipe she had received from someone she knows on the Twitter1. The recipe in question was for a Bailey’s type Irish cream. However, there was a twist. This was a recipe for Irish cream that I could drink.

Why’s that? you ask.

Well, it just so happens that this particular recipe is made with coconut milk. Delicious, tasty, and so not dairy; is there anything that coconut milk can’t do?

Anyway, since I have not been able to drink Irish cream for some time – what with dairy always wanting to burst forth from my insides like the alien baby that it is – I knew the minute that the recipe was passed on that I would have to try it out.

Of course, I had to modify the recipe because I didn’t have the required Jameson’s Irish Whiskey on hand. I did however have an unopened bottle of Crown Royal.

The recipe was simple – which is good because my culinary skills demand simple. After combining 2 cans of coconut milk (one light, one full) and half a cup of brown sugar, and then bringing it to a slow boil for about 10 minutes, I added the magic. In this case the magic was half a cup of strong coffee and a cup of boozy goodness.

Verdict – after chilling – I can only say that this tastes like the greatest thing in the history of ever. You really need to try this.


1 At least that’s where I think it came from. My memory is fuzzy – probably from drinking all of this Coconut Irish cream2.

2 Don’t judge me. It’s delicious.


Dear Santa

Mmmm, Christmas coffee.

For the past two days I’ve spent the bulk of my time in meetings. Given that we all know how much I love meetings, you can imagine how thrilled I was to realize that I would spend the better part of my waking hours locked in a room discussing this and that and everything and nothing1.

Fortunately, the meetings turned out to be very productive. And better than that – they ended early. For those not in the know, nothing is better than a meeting that ends early2. This is also a sign that the day is likely going to be awesome.

When I got back to campus I did what any reasonable person would do; I headed straight to Starbucks for coffee. And this, dear readers, is when my day transitioned from awesome to awesomer. That’s correct; I wrote awesomer.

You’re now probably wondering how my day could get any more awesome than a day that included a meeting that ended early. Well, on arrival to Starbucks I ordered my usual3 coffee. I may have also ordered a slice of their cinnamon cake, because shut-up, I wanted cake – stop judging me. When I handed my card to the cashier to ring in my order, she promptly handed it back to me stating

Don’t worry about it. Your order has been taken care of, courtesy of a Secret Santa.

To be honest, I didn’t understand what she had said first. When it finally registered, I stood there gobsmacked.

Seriously? Some mysterious someone bought me a coffee and snack? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

I attempted to play cool; and by that I mean I grinned like an idiot. Sadly, I couldn’t help but embrace my giddy response.

Who? Wha? 

I’m pretty sure I tried to ask several questions about said Secret Santa, but all that came out of me was a stupid grin. When I finally managed to mutter something that resembled an english sentence, the cashier simply told me that she had no idea who had bought me this gift; the only thing she knew was that one of the other cashiers had informed her that she was to watch out for me and pass along the gift.

So ya, today turned out to be pretty spectacular. It’s amazing how something as simple as buying someone a coffee can make all the difference in the world.

To whomever bought me this gift, thank you, thank you, thank you. It really was an amazing surprise. It was the cherry on top of a pretty awesome day.


1 Usually nothing.

2 Except, I guess, not having a meeting in the first place.

3 A tall blonde with a single pump of hazelnut.


 

More Hours Please

More of these please.

I almost got up at 7am this morning. Almost. Then I realized that I was still exhausted, what with this silly cold robbing me of my energies, so I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. Normally I’d embrace the exhaustion and just get up and on with my day. However, given that December is all about being über healthy, I figured shaking this cold should be the top priority on my list. That, and training for the Goofy Race of course.

Amazingly I slept until 10:30 am. Given that I went to bed at 2:30 am, this was an epic sleep in my books. When I finally dragged my butt out of bed I felt significantly better than when my head had first hit the pillow. Not perfect, but getting there.

I soon found myself in the kitchen fumbling with the Keurig machine and trying to decide which type of coffee to make. During a short break in an internal dialogue debating the benefits of a dark roast versus a vanilla flavoured light roast, I thought about the list of things I wanted to accomplish today. The minute I did I immediately wanted to punch my 7:30 am self for not getting out of bed sooner. How in the hell am I supposed to get all of this stuff done today?

As I stood there waiting for my tasty vanilla light roast to brew, I remembered that today was Saturday. I don’t have to do any of this stuff today. In fact, I could sit my ass on the couch for the entire day eating bon bons and not need to justify it to anyone but myself. That of course was the problem; justifying it to myself.

Anyway, I spent some time trying to figure out how I would get everything accomplished. By the end of that mental exercise I realized that I’d need about 4 extra hours in my day; that, or I’d have to drop 4 hours worth of activities.

My mind immediately went to my training run. If I dropped that from my list I would have at least 2 extra hours (including stretching). And given that I’m still sick, it only makes sense not to run, I thought.

For whatever reason, the other voice in my head took over. 

Shut your pie hole Gillis. You are running today, and there will be no further debate. 

My other voice can be a bit demanding.

After that, a calm came over me. I suddenly knew how today would play out. I’d spend my post-breakfast hours cleaning the kitchen and living room, then I’d tidy up my bedroom. When those activities were complete, I’d lace up my shoes and get my ass on the treadmill. Whatever happened after that would happen without a plan. I’d either complete my list, or I wouldn’t. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I get on the treadmill and put in the mileage I needed to in order to prepare myself for Goofy.

And that, dear readers, is what I did. And I have to say, it was a rather fantastic day. I cleaned. I ran. I stretched. I had dinner with friends. I hung out with the wee fuzzball. I got groceries. I went Christmas shopping. And now – now I’m just finishing up a delicious IPA that my friend Justin not only delivered, he also made.

Perhaps I should sleep in until 10:30 every Saturday.


Fa La La La La La

This Christmas sweater and turtleneck combo is so bad, words fail me. Image found here: frockon.com/2011/12/20/an-ode-to-the-ugly-christmas-sweater/

So it’s November 24th, which means that Christmas eve is but 30 days away. For whatever reason my mind hadn’t completely accepted this fact. I didn’t particularly feel any Christmas spirit despite having several Christmas parties already penciled into my calendar. Braving the malls over the past few weekends1 also didn’t seem to help.

Perhaps my lack of spirit was a function of the excessively long Christmas buildup. I of course refer to the Christmas displays that were out in stores even before Halloween was over. I also refer to the rather early playing of Christmas music I heard while walking through the mall even before Remembrance Day. Call me old-time-y, but I like to celebrate one holiday at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Grinch, I just feel that some of the sparkle that is Christmas is lost when the holiday requires 6 months of prep time.

Anyway, today I decided to once again brave the malls in an attempt to cross some things off of my Christmas naughty and nice list. I also hoped that this would be the thing that switched my Scrooge switch to low.

I won’t say the attempt was a complete failure: the Christmas tunes were pleasant, spirits seemed high, and there was some fantastic people watching to be had2. While I’m not completely into Christmas mode as of yet, I can say that the Christmas spirit is building. Regardless, I left the mall with not a single thing crossed off my naughty and nice list. Perhaps last-minute panic shopping is what I need to find that perfect gift for that special someone.

No matter – I may try again tomorrow. This time, however, I’m going more prepared. Instead of a list of who’s naughty and nice, I’m going to try to come up with ideas of what said people on that list might like. Planning – it’s the secret to Christmas shopping. Well, that and a little pre-shopping cheer3. That’s a rule, you should write it down.


1 Unsuccessfully, I might add. Unless buying myself a latte, lunch, and a Keurig coffee maker can be called successful Christmas shopping.

2 To the twenty-something who opted to pair jogging pants with a sports jacket and t-shirt – I’m not quite sure what image you were going with, but I question your choices. Ha! I kill me.

3 Read Scotch.


 

My Other Office

All the Maths shall be mine. All of them.

Last night before I turned off the lights, before I pulled up the covers to protect me from whatever monsters might lurk under my bed or in my closets, and before the wee fuzzball snuggled up next to me, I checked my calendar so that I might set my alarm at an appropriate get-out-of-bed time. What I found was shocking, and at the same time filled me with just the tiniest amount of glee. You see, dear readers, I realized last night that my schedule was devoid of all meetings today save for a haircut at Acqua Salon downtown at 5pm.

With this news in mind I did what any reasonable person would do - I opted to work in my other office. You know, my downtown office. For those not in the know, my downtown office is rather large. It has square footage in the Red Brick Café, the Joint Café, Planet Bean, Ox, the Woolwich Arrow, and the Baker Street Station (to name a few).

The best part about working in my downtown office is that I’m almost always productive. So much so, that I’m pretty sure that I should just work downtown all of the time. I think the atmosphere of the various cafés – I mean my office - provides just enough background noise to keep me somehow focused on whatever task is at hand.

For example, my latte at Red Brick today was just what I needed to finish grading the lab demos and reports for the class I’m teaching. A trip to the Joint for lunch – quinoa salad, thank you very much – was the perfect venue to allow me to finally master some of the math that had been vexing me last week1. And once I had figured it out I realized how simple the solution was – so simple, that I should have been able to figure it out last week.

The fault clearly lay with my on-campus office working environment. It so obviously lacks lattes and the white noise and sometimes cacophony of a café, that finding a solution there was pretty much impossible. I should have known better; I should have been working downtown – because clearly mathematics are best discovered in a café. I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.

What’s the moral of today’s story? Perhaps that I need to work in a café, with a cup of delicious coffee goodness, and time to zone out2 without being interrupted in order to get anything done. Or perhaps I’m just making up excuses to work downtown. One of those must be correct.


“A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.” — Paul Erdos


1 Specifically, I was able to show

\mathbb{E}\left[\phi_{i1}|\phi_{k1, k\sim i}, \phi_{i2}, \phi_{k2, k\sim i}\right]= -\frac{\Lambda_{12}}{\Lambda_{11}}\phi_{i2}+\frac{1}{m_{i}}\displaystyle{\sum_{k\sim i}}\left\{\gamma_{1}\phi_{k1}-\gamma_{12}\left(-\frac{\Lambda_{12}}{\Lambda_{11}}\right)\phi_{k2}\right\}.

2 Also known as getting my math on.


 

Short And Sweet

This sexy leathery piece of sexiness-in-leather-jacket form could have been mine. Apparently I was being a “responsible adult” by opting to wait. Pffffft.

A short and sweet post, as I’m off to a party. This may or may by be the first Christmas party of the season – I’m not sure. I am sure that I’m not quite ready for Christmas.

Anyway, today was a another awesome day – this time spent with friends as we wandered the malls attempting to get a head start on our Christmas shopping.

I ended up buying lunch and coffee. I also tried on a new leather jacket that tempted me with its sexy leathery awesomeness. I didn’t, however, buy it. Because I’m trying to save money for my house. Or because the $400 price tag reminded me too much of a flight somewhere awesome. Or it’s because I’m a responsible adult. One of those most be correct.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I failed at Christmas shopping today. Fortunately, I’m okay with that.


A Cure For Last Night

An amazing display on my way home from a great day wandering Toronto

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my friends Lorna and Rick – correction, Dr. Lorna1 and Dr. Rick – become Dr. Lorna and Dr. Rick, married couple. While both of them looked absolutely fantastic – she stunningly breathtakingly beautiful, he tall and handsome – the best part would have to have been the way they both lit up when they looked at each other.

The ceremony was short, included some tears, but was filled mostly with laughter and fun. Kudos to the couple for dropping an awesome high-five when the vows were completed.

The reception was held at Hernder Estate Winery, and it was absolutely beautiful; great atmosphere, fantastic food, and of course some delicious wines to sample. Thirty different types to be exact. And sample we did. I particularly enjoyed the Riesling, but there were some reds that seemed to be popular at our table as well.

Given all of the liquid courage, the party went late into the eve. The dance floor was full, the music was fantastic; at some point glow sticks made their way onto the dance floor. The party was definitely worthy of a wedding celebration.

And then I woke up this morning. Blargh. While I wasn’t terribly hungover, I was definitely feeling the effects of drinking too much. I was sluggish, my stomach was doing a most unfortunate dance, and my muscles were rather sore. Oh, and then there was the dehydration. I couldn’t drink enough water this morning.

Glow sticks. Every good wedding needs glow sticks.

Fortunately the weather was amazing, so after lazing in bed for an hour or so hoping my hangover away, I got up, had a really hot shower, and then got ready for my day. My mission – head into Toronto before coming home to Guelph2. The purpose of my mission – there was none. I was just going to store my bags at the bus station and wander about. And that, dear readers, is what I did.

I arrived in Toronto shortly before 2pm, ate some food, drank some more water, then got myself a walking coffee. A walking coffee, for those not in the know, is any coffee that you get to go, for the purposes of strolling a city on a beautiful day such as today. And today was a walking coffee kind of day.

I had no particular goal in mind, no particular thing I wanted to see. I simply wanted to wander and people watch3 and perhaps just breathe in as much of the beautiful autumn air as I could. To be honest, with every breath in I started feeling more and more human and less and less like the hungover zombie I was. Every exhale seemed to remove a tiny bit of the poisons I’d pumped into my system the night before.

It truly was a fantastic day to wander around Toronto.

And now I’m home and relaxing with the wee fuzzball – thinking how full my weekend was. I really am a lucky bastard.


1 The recently minted Dr. Lorna!

2 As there is no direct bus route from St. Catharine‘s to Guelph. Unless you call driving to Toronto first direct.

3 People such as the preachers and prophets preaching about Jesus or Islam or any number of other religious views. I believe on one corner there were three separate groups for Jesus, and I’m not quite sure they were all preaching the same thing. When asked if I wanted a pamphlet about Christ – which I turned down – I was promptly told that I was going to burn in hell. I simply smiled – chuckled actually – and carried on my way.


 

A Picture Of Grace And Charm

So NSERC, we meet again!

This week is going to be one of those weeks. You know, the kind of week where you have about eleventy-billion major projects to complete, but only about enough time to finish 3 of them; a week where sleep will be a rare event, coffee will be consumed – if only it were possible – intravenously and continuously, gut-rot will become a close and personal friend, and nerves will most definitely be frayed.

Clearly I’m going to be the picture of grace and charm by the end of the week. Wait. That’s not right. I’m more likely going to be a large steaming pile of frustration coated in the delightful stink of exhaustion.

While a part of me wants to throw in the proverbial towel, call in sick, build a protective fort made of pillows and blankets, and never leave my bed again, I know that isn’t a possibility. It’s also what I would call a giant bag of sucking. And that, dear readers, is not who I want to be this week.

Instead, I’ve got to Suck it up Gillis! and just push through. As a very wise fish once taught me, I’ve got to Just Keep Swimming! Just Keep Swimming! It sounds simple and perhaps cheesy, but it’s true. I have to tackle one little thing at a time; knocking one task after the other off my list. Eventually, somehow, the things that must be finished will be finished. Everything else will be reassigned to a should do, could do, or won’t do pile. And I’ll just have to be okay with that. 

Of course, if that fails I can always fall back on my fort of pillows and blankets plan. I probably should have mentioned previously that the fort of pillows and blankets plan also requires a bottle of scotch. ;)

 

The Very Serious Business Of Being A Grown-Up

Celebrating a very grown-up day with a very grown-up beverage and my wee fuzzball.

Today I decided to play grown-up. That is, I put on my big-boy pants and my big-boy shirt, brushed my hair and brushed my teeth (much like responsible adults do), packed up my wallet, gave Elliot a snuggle good-bye, and sauntered over to Starbucks for a tall coffee before I got down to the very serious business of being a grown-up.

For those not in the know, getting down to the very serious business of being a grown-up meant shopping for such things as washers, dryers, flooring, backsplashes, tile, sinks, counter tops, and vegan brownies. Okay, perhaps the vegan brownie wasn’t truly a part of my big-boy pants-wearing grown-up kind of day, but holy cripes on a cracker it was good. I digress.

As part of my mission to remodel after the floods-o-August, I decided to spend today shopping for things that I need in my condo. First and foremost – a washer and dryer because holy hell I can’t believe how much I take for granted the luxury of having laundry facilities in my own home. Over the past 6 weeks I’ve been doing laundry at my brother’s place, or at my parents’ place. While I’ve been absolutely appreciative of their hospitality, I really can’t stand the inconvenience.

Fortunately I was able to find a very grown-up laundry set at Leon’s. They are new and shiny and energy-efficient and shiny and made by Whirlpool and shiny and front loading and shiny and oh my god so shiny. It’s disturbing how excited I am about this purchase which should arrive October 10 – not that I’m counting or anything. Also, did I mention how shiny?

The next item on my list of grown-up things to do was flooring – specifically flooring for my living room. While only part of the carpet was damaged during the floods, I’ve opted to take this opportunity to replace it completely. So off to Home Depot I went. There I toyed between laminate and hard wood floors, ultimately opting for hardwood which was only slightly more expensive than the laminate that I oh-so-loved. And the hardwood floor – so shiny! Again, I can’t believe how excited I am about this purchase. I’m even more excited about actually having it installed. My condo is going to look so damn sexy.

Did I just find my size 6 kids costume for Halloween? I think so.

I spent some time looking at backsplashes, lighting, paint, and fireplaces but opted to stop the spending spree at the washer, dryer, and hardwood flooring. While today’s purchases were pretty much on budget, I can say for sure that the lighting, paint and fireplace are all well below the budget I had set aside. I’m not sure about the backsplash yet, so I can’t really call if it’ll be above or below budget. Of course I’m aiming for below budget because that’s what grown-ups do.

Of course, today couldn’t be all about being a grown-up. And for that reason I opted to look for a halloween costume. I found a very charming pumpkin costume at Home Sense. I figure I could just pair this with a nice set of green tights and I’m set for an evening of scaring the locals.

In case you were wondering, the costume is meant for a size 6 child. I’m not sure if that says more about the size of children these days, or perhaps about the size of me. Regardless, I think the costume is a winner.


A Big Day

guelPhonography.ca – check it out.

I really should be in bed already.

Okay, technically I am in bed. What I really mean is that I should be asleep.

But why should you be asleep Dan? It is only just after 11pm and you typically don’t go to bed until well after midnight.

Well first, thanks for keeping up with my comings and goings. Second, I should be in bed because tomorrow is going to be a very long day. It’s also going to be a lot of fun.

To start, I’ll be heading downtown tomorrow morning to head into Toronto1. My first mission will be to grab coffee for fellow School of Computer Science nerds Amanda2 and Chris (and myself of course). My second mission will be to find them on the Go Train. Our destination is the Ontario University Fair (OUF). The University naturally has a large plot of land at the OUF where high school students can come, chat with students, staff, and faculty, and learn about the courses and degrees offered at the University. The day is bound to be a lot of fun.

Afterwards I’ll be returning to Guelph to head immediately to the Guelph Civic Museum to enjoy the launch of the guelPhonography exhibit. The exhibit includes 30 pictures of this awesome city as seen through the eyes of the rather ubiquitous smart phone and the creative people who snap them. Somehow one of my pictures made it into this exhibit, so I’m uber stoked to see it on display.

Tomorrow is definitely going to be a long day. It’s also pretty much guaranteed to be a fun day. Regardless, if I expect to survive the hours needed for both of these events, I’m going to have to call it quits. So with that, I bid you adieu.


1 Via the Go Train which now services the awesome city of Guelph.

2 Whom you may remember from such epic adventures as the Ottawa Road Trip 2012.


My Five-Star Weekend

20120923-231950.jpg
From the Zen Kitchen: vegan bourbon pecan pie, lemon tofu cheesecake, and chocolate cake. Also known as “get in my belly”.

Amanda and I are currently somewhere between Cobourg and Toronto, on our way home from Ottawa. We’re a little tired, but nothing that a little coffee and snack won’t fix.

My weekend in Ottawa with Matt and Monique was awesome. We spent most of our time at Monique’s parents’ house in Aylmer, Quebec. The house is beautiful and given its proximity to the Ottawa river, felt more like a five-star getaway. It was exactly the rejuvenating weekend I had hoped it would be.

When I woke up this morning I was greeted by a most amazing sunrise – the first of autumn I think. The pinks and oranges and blues were intense, and demanded that I pull myself free of the blanket cocoon I had wrapped myself in. There was a crispness in the air – the type of chill that only an autumn morning can bring. Today was begging to get started.

After breakfast we slowly packed up the car. Matt and I spent some time outside together chatting while taking in the incredible view of the river. Spending time with Matt is something I don’t get to do often enough, so I cherish these moments. He’s a giant slice of awesome and one of the most incredible people I know. I guess what I’m saying is that I miss his face on a daily basis.

The rest of the day included sauntering around Ottawa and a most amazing dinner at a vegan restaurant named Zen Kitchen. The food was incredible and the desserts were dairy free deliciousness. I will definitely be going back when next I’m in town. Possibly just to have a meal of desserts. I’m an adult, so I can do that.

Anyway, after an amazing weekend I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready for another crazy week.


My morning view. Not too shabby.
Autumn sets in over the Ottawa river
Today is shaping up to be pretty spectacular
Sunset over parliament

Road Tripping

Sun setting behind parliament (photo taken in May, 2012)

Today I opted for a wee change of pace from the typical day of working in my office. Did I relocate to a coffee shop? You betcha. But not just any coffee shop. In this case I’m sitting in the Second Cup on the corner of Bank Street and Somerset Street West in our nation’s capital. That’s right folks, I’m currently working away in Ottawa.

How did I find myself in Ottawa-town?

Well, earlier this week I decided that I needed – needed I says – to get away this weekend. The goal – visit some friends, get out of my house, and avoid work at all costs. If possible, I also wanted to get in some hiking or other out-of-door activities in order to fully capitalize on the last remaining moments of summer.

Shortly after that decision was made, I found myself chatting with my friend Matt. Before long, plans were in motion to head to Ottawa and possibly Gatineau – just across the Quebec-Ontario border. And because the universe decided to smile on me, my friend and School of Computer Science colleague Amanda was also venturing to Ottawa this weekend (for a conference). More specifically she was driving. Clearly a road trip was in order.

And so, at the crack of 6am this morning, Amanda and I grabbed some coffee from Starbucks and then set out on our trek across Toronto, past Kingston, and into the loving arms of Ottawa. Despite the grey and rainy skies, the city is just as awesome as when I last left it.

Amanda is currently settling in to conference mode. I’m happily reviewing some student assignment submissions, while enjoying the comings and goings of the fine people of Ottawa. And good lordy, there are some fine people in this town.

Working at a coffee shop in Ottawa while I watch the fine people of Ottawa walk by? Yup, that’s far superior than working in my office.


Grizzlies – Smarter Than Your Average Bear

Who knew Grizzlies could count?

So today Rick and I were supposed to summit Mount Temple – an 11624 foot behemoth a stones throw from Lake Louise. To say we were stoked would have been an understatement. In fact, we spent a significant amount of time last night organizing our gear and laying everything out for the trek, including setting up a 4:45 am wake-up call.

I won’t lie, 4:45 am was painful. Really painful. But it wasn’t so bad considering what we knew we were about to do. We showered, packed, and made our way down to the main floor so that we could grab breakfast and our boxed lunches.

Shortly after 6:00 am we met up with Jason – the same fearless guide who led us up Cascade Mountain. Sadly, that’s when he had to inform us that Temple wasn’t going to happen. Not for weather, and not for dangerous conditions, and most definitely not because we weren’t up to the challenge. Temple couldn’t happen because of a law. A law about bears.

Seriously.

Grizzlies are clearly refined – dining only on meals of three or fewer hikers. Four would just be gluttony.

Specifically, the area that Mount Temple calls home is also home to Grizzly Bearsan important part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem1. And because Grizzlies live in the shadow of Mount Temple, a law has been enacted to protect both bear and hiker. That law states that hikers may only enter the land of the Grizzly if they do so in groups of 4 or more2. Further, all members must maintain a maximum distance of 3 metres between each other. In other words – hikers need to stay close together – and not wander off from the group.

Unfortunately, despite our big smiles and bigger personalities, Rick, Jason, and myself were still only three people. Three is clearly less than four.

But not to fear, dear readers, all was not lost. Not by a long shot. Because Jason – our most excellent guide – had a fallback plan. That plan was to climb not one, but two mountains in place of Mount Temple – Mount Fairview (9003 feet, 2744 metres), and Saddleback Mountain (which isn’t as tall as Fairview – but I couldn’t find exact numbers on it). While neither mountain is as tall as Temple, both offered a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Mount Fairview – conquered!

The day was fantastic – the weather was perfect, the views were amazing, and it was rather awesome to be able to climb two mountains when we had only thought we’d be climbing one. On top of all of that, Rick and I were able to cross off a few other of our to do items that had been given to us by several friends. Those items included: yoga on a mountain, singing for my friend Mel – a.k.a. @consuming_copy, and a jump shot or two (all provided below for your entertainment).

Anyway, now we’re just relaxing and enjoying the beauty that is the Fairmont Banff Lake Louise Hotel.

And don’t worry folks, we haven’t forgotten about Mount Temple. Rick and I will return – perhaps next year – to knock that off of our list.


Rick has conquered Mount Fairview.
Taking a moment to reflect on the climb.
Getting my jump on.
Enjoying the scenery.
Because it needed to happen.
Not my best bridge pose – but the rock was a little bit awkward.
So much epic scenery.
A tasty brew to celebrate our climb

Be warned – I can’t sing.


1 As posted on the signage we saw as we climbed Mount Fairview.

2 Who knew that Grizzlies could count? Clearly they are smarter than your average bear.