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Archives for: August 2005

Filed in:Cycling

Glacier & Waterton Lakes Cycle Tour

August 22nd, 2005  · stk

In 1932, the adjoining Glacier National Park (Montana, U.S.A.) and Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada) were combined to form the first International Peace Park, celebrating the peace and friendship between these two countries. In 1995, the Peace Park was recognized as a World Heritage Site.

What better place for a 350-mile loop cycle adventure for a U.S./Canadian couple and their 22-month-old, dual-citizenship daughter?

The area has stunning views of glacier-carved, snowcapped mountains, cascading waterfalls, lush alpine meadows blanketed in colorful wildflowers, rolling prairies with farms and ranches, wildlife, including big horn sheep, grizzlies and deer, crystal clear running streams and rivers, and green forested mountains. The weather includes hot (85°F) days under bright, sunny and cloudless skies. Storms roll through fast and there can be cold, wet days in down pouring rain. The terrain offers thrilling downhill runs and laboriously slow, uphill slogs. The cycling climax, in Glacier National Park: the "Going to the Sun Road" over Logan's Pass. This 50-mile road is an engineering feat, offering stunning and scary views along its windy and narrow route.

Follow along on our cycling adventure, which Rachel diligently documented and Scott has edited and optimized for web-accessibility.

We hope that you enjoy the story and find it useful in planning your adventure.


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Filed in:Alexandra

The Oop on Water

August 10th, 2005  · stk

As proud parents, we think our precious baby girl walks on water, but in reality, she sinks like a stone. She will however (quite effectively and far too often) pass water!

Alex has had a love-hate relationship with water her whole life.

The H2O History

Before she was born, Alex floated in water (amniotic fluid) and was happy. Toward the end, however, "floating" was a poor description, as she had, in a sense, outgrown her pool, and was kicking to be let out.

After emerging, she had her very first bath, in the delivery ward, and it was not pleasant. She howled her pink head off and had she been given the option, she'd probably have crawled back to the safety of the womb.

During her first few months of life, her good nature began to show, as she cooed and smiled during some of her baths. Still, if she became cold, or the water was too hot, or she got water in her eyes, or if you looked at her funny ... she'd cry. But when you're tiny and you're bathing in a small stainless steel sink, how much fun can it be?

Her first pool experience came at about 6 months. We took her to the local natatorium in Vancouver and she did what she always does when faced with a new and uncertain situation ... she balled up her fists, held them close to her chest and put on a brave face. (She's always made these little fists when she's ill-at-ease. We used to say, "She's making those fists again." So that's what we call them ... "fistagains".)

By the time we moved to Edmonton, Alex had grown and was bathing in a full-size tub. Her experience continued to be a mixed bag. Some times she'd happily play with toys and it was like pulling teeth to get her out. She'd be giggling and splashing, dunking her face in the water, tossing yellow rubber duckies or "cleaning" the edge of the tub. Other times, getting her into the bath was like pulling teeth and from the volume of screaming and crying, you'd think she thought she was going to melt if she touched water. What was the deal?

Alex did get to experience a week of summer, where it was warm enough that we set up an inflatable toddler pool in the backyard. She happily splashed about, sinking plastic ships and chasing golf balls, till she turned blue and her teeth chattered.

When winter came, we continued taking her to an indoor pool and the one here has a heated toddler pool, one that's shallow enough that Alex can stand up. Our goal wasn't to teach her to swim, as much as let her get comfortable in the water. She'd walk around, playing with some of the pool toys - little watering cans, balls and floating tubes. We'd dunk her face or send her down the little slide. "Ker-plunk!!" she'd go, into Dad's waiting arms and underwater for a brief spell, only to come up sputtering and laughing.

She was comfortable enough in the pool to walk around on her own and we'd sit back and watch her, and the other kids and parents in the toddlers 15-foot square area portion of the pool. On one visit, she was near the middle and lost her footing. Down she went, neither blowing bubbles or moving at all. Unfortunately, Dad thought Mom was watching and visa-versa. It only took a second, but Rachel spotted our underwater baby first, rushed over and plucked her from imminent danger. Our hearts raced. How quickly (and silently) disaster could strike!

The incident didn't seem to dampen Alex's enthusiasm and joy for visiting the pool, but it shook Mom and Dad up pretty good. When it comes to water, we now keep a much closer eye on her, because we know just how quickly she sinks.

A Week in California

When we visited my folks in July, California was having a heat-wave and there wasn't a day under 100°F. In fact, when we left, it was 113°F in the shade. For us Edmontonians, outside was like an oven and we felt like day old lettuce. Ugh. We stayed indoors, much like we do during the Edmontonian winter, but for the opposite reason.

Fortunately, the neighbors had an outdoor pool and graciously invited us to make use of their watery oasis.

My parents didn't want to impose, but when cousins and their families came up for an impromptu family reunion, it took little time before we were all splashing around. For the remaining days of our visit, during the hottest part of the afternoon, we plunked the Oop and ourselves, into the welcoming water.

It was interesting to see Alex's progression, as she was very frightened and skeptical on her initial swim. She even cried and said, "No?" when we put her in the water the first time. (She has this really cute way of saying "no" almost like a question, as if saying, "I'd really prefer not to" ... which is way different than saying "NO!" and petulantly putting her foot down.)

Again, the neighbors came to the rescue, as they had an inflatable toddler "whale", that she could comfortably sit in, high out of the water. Soon her trepidation eased and she began to have fun.

By day two, she felt comfortable with the pool and her "whale". Enough so that we took her out and held her up, tossing her back and forth and splashing up and down. It was all so much FUN and she laughed, giggled and delighted in the water, even if she did swallow a good portion and came up sputtering a few times.

By day three, she was EAGER to get into the pool and we had purchased a set of inexpensive, inflatable "water-wings" that we could put onto her arms. They kept her upright in the pool, though she sat low enough to swallow water, if the pool became choppy. She loved the water wings, gulping and giggling at the water, as she was gently pushed from one adult to another, and towed across the pool. She splashed at the water and lounged on a raft. We took her out of the water only because she was turning into a prune.

As the visit neared an end, we bemoaned the fact that we had to go, as it was evident that her confidence and abilities were improving with each day. Though we encouraged her to "kick", she still remained motionless in the water, stiff as a board. It would have been nice to see her moving, trying to tread water, rather than just gripping the water wings and keeping her feet straight. We wonder how fast she would have advanced, had we stayed another week.

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August 7th, 2005  · stk

Idle Computer Processing Time

I've always thought that screensavers were a silly use of a computer's CPU. Why not put it to use calculating something useful?

I learned about SETI@home in 2000 and I've been a member ever since, using idle CPU-time to analyze radio signals from the Arecibo Observatory in a world-wide distributed computing project, initiated at UCB.

The concept is simple. SETI@Home collects mounds of radio wave data from outer space. The analysis of these data require more computing power than UCB can afford. So, they (ingeniously) devised a plan to chop the data into little bits and allow each bit to be analyzed by volunteers, like me, who donate the unused portion of their home computer's CPU.

So, when I'm not blogging, or playing solitaire ;), my computer is assisting UCB search the skies for signs of intelligent life. I'm no astronaut, but what a great way to help mankind finally locate conclusive proof that "we're not alone in the Universe". Of course, finding a needle in a haystack would be easier.

5 Years Later

My contribution hasn't found any alien life forms, but I have contributed over 51,702 hour of CPU time to the scientific endeavor (4,327 Work Units), as measured by the "classic SETI@Home" software. (I'm still crunching work units using this older version, on a 1997 266MHz desktop and a 1999 366MHz laptop - when they aren't stalled).

The software used by SETI@Home has changed and is now called BOINC and there are now other distributed computing projects that vie for my idle processing time, but so far, I've just stuck with the original.

I'm currently a member of the World Wide S.E.T.I. team and presently have a total credit of 94,821.47 (whatever that means).

My CPU is always maxed out, crunching fast-fourier transforms and looking for a signal in a sea of radio noise. Too bad I can't say the same for my brain, which is never maxed out and is idle a lot.


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Summer Holiday Intermission

August 6th, 2005  · stk

It's been one month since we posted. I can laugh at myself, because I had every intention of making entries, while we were away on summer holidays, but it didn't happen.

It's a bit like taking books home on Christmas holidays. You think that you'll study, but you soon find yourself back at University in January and not one book has been opened ... even though you've lugged them back and forth!

The month-long hiatus involved mostly visits with friends and family. The itinerary:

• 13-hour night drive from Edmonton to Vancouver.

• 2-day visit with grandparents (maternal).

• 3-hour drive to Seattle.

• Overnight visit with the Easthouse family.

• Overnight visit with Dave & Karen (also in Seattle).

• 10-hour night drive to California (Red Bluff).

• 2-day visit with grandparents (paternal)

• 4-hour drive to Santa Rosa.

• Overnight visit with PCT friends Tom & Sheila.

• 4-hour drive back to Red Bluff.

• 5-day visit with grandparents & an overnight family reunion with the Krezek family.

• 10-hour night drive to Seattle.

• Daytime visit with the Easthouse family.

• 3-hour drive to Vancouver.

• 5-day visit with grandparents & a wedding ceremony (Michelle & Bruce), where Rachel was the maid of honour.

• Leave Alex with Gran & Grandpa (first time away from mom & dad) and take the ferry to Vancouver Island to scout out real estate.

• Back to Vancouver and then a 13-hour night drive, back to Edmonton,

Whew ... that's a lot of driving!

Alex had lots of fun and did a bunch of new things. (We'll post about it, as time permits.)

To everyone we visited we say, "Thanks for your hospitality! It was great to see you."

We were crazy to visit California in the summertime, though (they were having a heat wave and temperatures were above 100°F every day. The day we left, it was 113°F. Edmonton, in comparison, was in the 80's during most of this time).

We're now back home for a couple of weeks, but off again on the 14th, before the University Fall Term begins (and winter comes)! The plan: a self-supported cycle-touring adventure around Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks.

Stay tuned!

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