Category Archives: Lifestyle

Recreational Bike Riding

I am what you could call a normal bike riding enthusiast. I don’t have the best bike and I don’t go the fastest but I break a sweat and burn calories in the spirit of active living. The occasional trek gives a non-competitive cyclist such as myself much to ponder while travelling the trails of North East Calgary.

Today got me thinking about common courtesies and the urge to rush. Occasionally, we’ll run up behind a pedestrian. From experience we’ve come to learn that mankind seems to have this propensity to deploy technology at every opportunity. In this case it would be the “bike bell”. I can see reasons to use it but not in every situation. When it’s a quiet morning and a pedestrian is sauntering along in thought, I’m inclined to find a way around like a wide pass that doesn’t jar him / her out of their serenity. Call me strange but I’m just not in that much of a rush. Then there are those vehicles which offer a wide pass when it’s safe for them to do so. You know they’ll be looking back in their rear view mirror. I’ll give them a wave. 

Many drivers have an urge to rush and this behaviour is elicited by vehicle incursions at intersections and through cross walks. You know they feel guilty when surprised by a bicycle. Traffic regulations require vehicles to stop in advance of the stop line or in absence of a stop line, slightly in front of the stop sign. If intersection visibility is unclear, drivers should then sneak forward.  When folks cheat, pedestrians and bicyclists can be put at risk. Law enforcement seems to have better things to do than patrol this poor driving habit. Always be on guard at intersections.

Distracted driving is a reality and it is a material hazard. Pedestrians will not mind sharing a sidewalk with a bicycle if the bicycle yields to pedestrians always, passes with care, and slows down while passing. It simply makes good common sense to use sidewalks when road conditions such as narrow shoulders are unsafe to share with drivers.     

Tennis on The Board

So, your game of the week got cancelled but you still want to work on your strokes. Do visit the board at your local community centre but practice with it the right way. The right way you ask? Since the set up is crucial as a prefix for delivering a ground stroke, it makes no sense to be scrambling with the board since the ball returns so quickly. Instead, feed the ball to the board –make your stroke and only set up for another stroke if in control and set up properly. The purpose of this practice is to develop consistency without producing bad habits which can arise when chasing down errant balls.

How important is this? It’s critical because the neural pathways need to be developed without the impedence of experience associated improper mechanics. Similar to golf, tennis is difficult to pick up without basic fundamentals learned from somebody. The teaching of tennis has positively evolved to incorporate larger more forgiving balls and smaller racquets for youngsters.  Becoming versant in fundamentals is definitely a prerequisite before approaching a board without a playing partner.  There is also no denying the strength in some of the youtube content. For those who have good coordination and average athleticism but lack a playing partner, the board can be a great resource having picked up fundamentals from youtube.  Naturally, there’s good and bad content on the net but it’s mostly good so fear not. You can always hire a tennis teacher because it’s only in the one on one setting whereby your strokes can be observed and corrected.

Yes, that’s right – I, Blair Sveinson, am a certified tennis instructor with Tennis Alberta and I invite adults to reach out if keen to take up this wonderful game. I can be reached at 403-397-3110. I’m in Calgary.

How’s The Guitar Coming Along You Ask?

Well, it’s been about 2 1/2 years since getting serious about guitar. This is my old Fender Gemini III from 1987 which basically sat in storage until 2016. Looking back at the “set up” of the guitar and learning much about the “build characteristics” of acoustic guitars, it’s not surprising that I turned away from learning the instrument so quickly back in 1987. The “action” was “high” meaning that it needed a “truss rod adjustment”. Now I’ve made it easier to play and is a nice complement to my new Yamaha FG800. I’ll let the video do the talking from here on out.

Vicious Dogs Not Welcome

It’s happened again. In Cambridge Ontario a young girl has endured nineteen stitches in the face from an attack by a neighbor’s dog. The full extent of the injury is yet to be determined. Common sense suggests that vicious dogs as pets in communities are more of a risk to citizens than they are as benefits to owners. If communities and their bylaws are not going to serve citizens with common sense solutions to unnecessary hazards then the penal code should step in. It’s that simple. I’m all for liberty and rights of the individual but not to the detriment of the quality of life of others.        

Her Smell

The mere brashness of protagonist Becky in full flight fix is something to behold. This ‘90’s grunge band lead woman exposes the darkness of drug induced euporhia and the consequential effect on close relationships.  This movie’s scenes could have been done in one big take because of Director Alex Ross Perry’s apparent affinity for rawness on set. Fortunately, he found an ideal actress in Elisabeth Moss to play this unique role of a rocker gone bad.   

Backstage glam and drama is raucous . Recovery is a requisite for the real. Despite dysfunction, the bond of band mates is visceral with appeal. You’ll be left wondering about that. You’ll be perplexed by the acquiescent demeanour of a manager in quandary over a recording studio overtaken. Then there’s mom infusing support when she can digesting the chaos in context of her maternal past. 

Oh yes, there’s music but it’s secondary to the lifestyle plot and the preponderance of the prized backstage pass.  Consider the flick one ripe tomato.

The Urge For Adventure

As I write this I”m listening to “The Trip” by Still Corners. Call it up yourself and listen as I contemplate thrill seeking getaways as sources of reinvigoration for the soul.

As the youngest of six kids, I recall my brothers and sister tell tales about how the whole lot of us would pile into a station wagon” rambler” back in the sixties and head down to Michigan from our old home towns of Balmertown Ontario and Esterhazy Saskatchewan. You think there was just the eight of us. Nope…we brought along our border Collie, Smokey, as well. This was a day when there was no such thing as mini vans, walkmans or go-pros – but there was etch-a-sketch.  Mike, he would give noogies, Fred would play peacemaker, Terry would protect Marina, and Lloyd would scheme pranks with Mike. Dad wouldn’t stop for pee breaks until the whining became unbearable and mom was luckily tending to me on her lap. That’s right, no jumper seats or seat belt laws back in those days. Distracted driving with threats from the driver seat is how dad kept the car between the lines. 

It was either Aunt Mina and Uncle Art’s house who lived in Battle Creek Michigan or “the farm” in Reston Manitoba that would be our destinations. Imagine this…..losing your dog on a road trip. With all the excitement of adventure, during one pit stop Smokey must have caught the scent of wildlife and bolted into the woods. It had become hours and hours of calling for him up and down the rest stop until dad had concluded that it was time to go. The tears started flowing and moping kids were directed to pile back into the rambler. Once the engine turned over and the wheels skidded through gravel….of course Smokey came scampering back as if testing the family for its love of the household pet.

My childhood was full of road trips like this many of which were one way to new homes. Balmertown. became Esterhazy. Then Britannia Beach…then Revelstoke. There was Surrey and Cranbrook and Kamloops and Tungsten. There was Tucson. Each destination had a pairing back of kids with lives of the elders taking turns of another kind of adventure – that of career.

Interpersonal bonds grow stronger during times of excitement and play. Accessing nature while in the company of someone else also in the mode of discovery simply fortifies the spirit. The unwrapping of the unknown together in wonder is primal and reminds us of the backdrop of our lives.        

Trip To Calgary Dance Stampede

Professional social dancers tutor and exhibit their talent once a year in what’s called the “Calgary Dance Stampede”. It’s an opportunity for dancers at any skill level to get acquainted with social dancing and improve their moves. Workshops are hosted throughout the weekend and are very well run. You need not have a partner because rotations are made frequently throughout the one hour workshop sessions.

Yesterday, I attended “nightclub two step”, “cha cha”, and a new innovative line dance called “Music To My Eyes”. After dinner at Bank and Baron, a few doors down from host venue – The Hyatt, I sauntered back and took in the “Jack and Jill” competition. It was a fun filled version of the normally competitive format of the contest whereby partners are paired through a draw thereby testing their aptitudes for adapting to random partners.  Imagine waltzing to a record played backwards. Well, not for the faint of heart for sure.

Over the course of the weekend, there will be 110 workshops with most at the advanced beginner level.  I was impressed by the organization and strength of the instructors. The MC last night at the “Gala” was entertaining while introducing the challenges for the Jack and Jill contestants. Ample time in the evenings are scheduled for practicing those new steps. A Pro-Am, a show case, and a “Rising Star” competition round out the performance element of the event. It’s all sold out for today and tomorrow but do consider the event for next year in the spirit of your good health and the support of keeping social dancing alive.       

Nakiska Day Trip

Ski day at Nakiska and first foray into vlogging March 14, 2019. Busted out with a day off work after the schedule cleared. I’ve had a season pass here for the past five years. Definitely good value if you catch the early bird discount. It’s really the quickest trip from Calgary and need not occupy the full day.

Those learning to ski need an easy going comfortable setting with appropriate terrain. Nakiska fits the bill.

There’s never a snow issue here because of the well developed snow making infrastructure. The snow park is well equipped with ramps, jumps and rails. Downhill skiing not your thing? Just jump on a tube or snap into X country gear and tour the picturesque landscape of Kananaskis Country.

Homesteader Fork

Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em – Hospitality and Entertainment

I know, you’re saving up for a family vacation to see the The Great Barrier Reef down under and so all your fine dining dollars for the next while will be “order out” from KFC. The trouble with this is that good restaurants and entertainment venues are losing out on your disposable dollar and could simply shut down. We don’t care if bad ones shut down but the good establishments form part of our cultural landscape. You do want your home to be a place rich in cuisine, dance, theatre, and music.  These things bond us in the place where make our lives.

It’s bad enough that we have urban planners over developing office towers and outskirts. Worse yet, the automobile – as the ultimate entertainment center in and of itself as we spend an inordinate amount of time during the commute out to the ‘burbs.

Although the City of Calgary has made some poor development decisions in the context of facilitating cultural expression, there are still great places to go. Our city has the new Studio Bell which may be under utilized as a music centre in the context of a mandate. It has tasteful aesthetics and delectable acoustics. You must find cause to go down there. There’s been the upgrade to the King Eddy as well as the Telus Science center. Renovations /expansions will be starting on the Arts Commons as further evidence of arts support from governments, donors, patrons and sponsors. Millenium Park has been great for the kids and a new place called “Cobbs Adventure Park” is fairly new. 

My appeal to bars and restaurants is to find some reason for being other than the dining experience in order to keep people interested. Some empathy obviously goes out to the patron who has been hit by job loss, high taxes, government intransigence toward industry, and tight finances due to high mortgage balances. Sustainability in hospitality is going to require flexibility from governments on excise taxes and labor regulation in order to keep our communities vibrant.     

Facebook Unfollow Stats

You all have facebook friends you don’t follow in order to keep your facebook stream positive, fresh, and in line with your objectives of use. It’s a good thing. I’ve just run the stats on the percentage of facebook friends that I’ve unfollowed and it’s small but relevant. Here are criteria I use in order to determine if I unfollow someone:

  1. Is the platform being primarily used for commercial promotion or is there a surreptitious agenda?
  2. Do people actually sincerely share about themselves? Is it personal?
  3. Are the numbers of posts excessive and sometimes overly trivial?
  4. Can I learn something through the feed which is interesting which I wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere?
  5. Is vanity a theme?
  6. Is there a concentration toward political topics?
  7. Is the post original, a repost, or a re-circulated quote. If not original, is there context or has it been freshened with a personal addition?

Furthermore, people have the capacity for change and I’m still very interested in the lives of those few in which I’ve unfollowed of whom I may very well refollow. In fact, I’ve unfollowed one very good friend (LOL).

I suspect that most intuitively have similar criteria. Social media is evolving and frankly I’m fascinated by what I sometimes see. One friend here (you know who you are) was onto the social media bandwagon at its outset. In spite of facebook having security issues, people are resilient and continue to hang here which speaks to the power of the internet as a viable way of interpersonal connection.