The Logical Philosopher

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Geneva, On-Time

DSCN1320 copyBack October I spend the weekend in Geneva, and holy time do they take their watches seriously! Fortunatly, my trip gave me 2 full days to spare and see the city. Half of one of my days was spent exploring St. Pierre's Cathedral. With excavations under the church hall dating back as far as 350AD, and the actual Cathedral buildings being started around 1160AD, there was some impressive architecture.

The view from the North Tower offers a panoramic view of Geneva and the lakefront: Geneva. This would have been the view of all of Geneva and Lac Leman when the city was first formed:

Excavation underneath St. Pierre's Cathedral. This mosaic floor was from ~200BC, and would have been the original floor that the bishop would ahve welcomed their guests into:
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Crest on St. Pierre's Cathedral: DSCN1291 copy

Inside St. Pierre's Cathederal. DSCN1312 copy

Corner of one of the towers in St. Pierre's Cathederal. I was allowed to climb up into the spires to look at the view. It was one of the highest points in the old city, looking both over the lake and the entire old-town.
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The rest of my time was exploring the Old Town.
Place Neuve. The Grand Théâtre de Genève can be seen in the background: DSCN1347 copy
The Grand Théâtre de Genève (Opera House), originally built around 1876
Rue de la Corraterie:
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Mur des Reformatures: It is about 5-meter tall and 100-meter wide wall runs along one side of the Parc des Bastion.
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You can see the Lords Prayer with a picture of John Knox preaching at St. Giles. Roger Williams (16th century theologian) is on the right.
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And yes, for those who know me, I did visit [Jean-Jacques] Rosseau Island.
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Unfortunately there was 3 things on my list I didn't get to do:
1) Visit the UN. I ran out of time but would have loved to see the Great Assembly Hall.
2) Impressionist wing of the Art & History Museum. I was looking forward to sitting and contemplating a blog post while looking at the works of Van Gogh & Renior. While the rest of the Museum was open, this wing was closed "because of the birds". I am not sure what that meant, but it sounded ominous when the Security Guard told it to me after I tried to get through the locked door.
3) The Jet d'eau. On the lakefront there is the world's tallest jet spouting water 140m into the air. I walked down to the Jet, both days, but it was too windy for the Jet to be operating.

All the more reason to visit again...

Monday, December 07, 2009


Haley on her McNuggets explanation:

"You know how nuggets are made? These nuggets are actually chicken fluff covered by a layer of
crispy nugget crust"

I almost think I need to start a twitter feed for this.


Haley said to me today:

Dad, you know the H1N1? Well the "H" is the coughing part and the "N1" is the swine flu part...

A technical 5 year old

Haley borrowed my blackberry to type a letter. This is what she wrote:

Haley mIChELle coWAN CUpcaKEe. Jhhgguutretykdtewabggujf.
B vhgghggghhghghghyhjh. Sdsdhgffhguklklooooo. Ggggffggfohjegdgvrvggrg

My blackberry spellchecker changed it to:
Haley Michelle Cowan Cupcake Jamborees Vaughn Sainthoods Gastrointestinal

Who would have known.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Simple Tip Please

They say India is corrupt and sometimes you need to pay up to play. Well, they were right.
I had to pay my first bribe to a policeman today... He didn't want rupees, but american
dollars. It was, as he said, "just a simple tip please". I guess that's what happens when you
are the only white tourists in the place...Too funny.

Between the crazy Bangalore drivers and the spicy pickled lime peels, this has been quite the

More details when I return....


Sunday, October 18, 2009

5 weeks of training = 1 big Screw You

Granted, I was unprepared. But I was fueled by the intrinsic motivation to be able to say both figuratively and literally "Screw you" if I crossed the finish line.

  • 5:00 am Marathon Morning. I awoke to the alarm, a distant buzz on the other side of the bedroom which would ensure the actual movement from my bed to silence the noise.
  • 5:10 am Breakfast of champions. Bananas and peanut butter. I don't like either, together OR apart. Having to wash it down with a Power Gel? Priceless.
  • 6:00 am Time for a hot shower and Motrin. Anything to loosen up the muscles before they get raked over the proverbial coals.
  • 6:15 am I headed out the door, leaving a silent and sleeping house behind me. In fact, not even Riley, our dog, wanted to wake up when I slipped out the door.

I arrived downtown around 6:45 and spent the next 1.5 hours contemplating dropping out and just going to hang out and watch the runners.

8:30 am - Race Start. After the gun went off I looked around and realized I actually started at the very back of the 5000+ pack. The entire back. Like where the special needs people start... that means my starting picture is with the Special Olympics of this marathon. Great!
Nowhere to go but up!

From this point onwards, time was not a relative measure. I would experience my day in a measurement of distance....distance ran to be precise.

  • 10k Did the first 10k in 58 minutes...which was my goal so far.
  • 14k I started to think my training motto of "Hills and Pavement are for race day" may have been misguided. Pavement is HARD and hills are STEEP!
  • 16k I thought back to my chiropractors advice on "If your neck siezes up before 15k, then drop out. If not, then you'll maybe be ok". I recall her stressing the 'maybe', which was I am now sure for "like a 5% chance it won't" sort of 'maybe'.
  • 16.5k Yep. My neck seized up. Good thing I made it to 15k and no backing down now!
  • 20k I arrived with little fanfare, just under the 2 hour even mark. Slow and steady....
  • 24k You know they say not to try new food out on race day? Well, I went against that. PowerGel has a new product out that tastes and looks like a Gummy Bear, but with a gel filling. Mmmmm...
  • 26k I start to realize I have done about 150k of running in the past month in preparation for this race. That means my race accounts for 25% of my total running in the past 5 weeks. Usually over a 15 week program you ramp up and do about 600km. Whoops.
  • 27k I am officially on my longest run since the Marathon last year. I feel it too....
  • 28k I could feel the PowerGel Gummy Bear rolling around in my stomach....yes, perhaps it IS true not to try new things on race day...
  • 30k At a 3:05 timing I have officially dropped behind any sort of target to set a PR, in particular since I have given up running and have walked the past 2k.
  • From about 30-40k I slipped into the cycle of walk 1k and massage out the kinks in my neck, then put up with the pain and run for 2k more. If I could describe the pain, I would have to say it felt like an ice-pick being shoved in between my shoulder blades, then about 1000 acupuncture needles simultaneously piercing my skin from the tops of my shoulders to the tips of my fingers. Fortunately my thumbs were not feeling anything by now, so they were good blunt massaging tools for my neck.
  • 36k I arrived at the Harrier Hash Aid Station - which serves up shots of beer for passing
    runners. I fought my previous encounter with drinking beer while running and went for it, dulling the pain as I walked. It was perhaps the best aid station of the day.
  • 40k By this time all I could think was "fuck it. I'm sore. Let's just get this done and over with"
  • 42.2k Finished!

My chip time was 4:32. A full 30 minutes slower than last year, but with a considerable decrease in training. When I was running I was doing about 5:30minute/km easy pace, and had a few km which were in the 4:30m/km mark. My legs felt great, which was nice, I just couldn't move my neck around to enjoy the scenery of both nature and runners (the latter seemingly improved the faster I moved up the pack of racers).

Things I learned about myself on this race:
1) 150k over 5 weeks in training is too little. Next time I should set the minimum around 200k for sure, or at least 6 weeks.
2) Allocate a little more budget to massage + chiropractor if I don't follow point #2.
3) I shouldn't move my bedroom upstairs the day before I race. Having to navigate stairs so soon after was a little challenging, and resulted in much mockery by my wife.
4) Flying to Europe on a 14 hour flight only 2 days after the race is not a good idea. (On a positive note the free liquor on the long haul fights seemed to dull the pain!)
5) Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever: Never. Say. "Can't". To. Me.

See you next year...just hopefully a little faster and a lot less sore.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How's this for marathon motivation?

She looked at me with a look I can only describe as disdain, but with a professional attitude.

"How's the knee"

"They are a little sore."

She rolled her eyes at mem. "They? Great. Now its both of them. Have I mentioned you are stupid? What's with you guys?"

"I take it your husband is racing on a similar 4 week marathon plan? If I recall last year we both did pretty well with the little training we did."

"He better not be..." She started. "Yeah, because if he does race I'll have a pace bunny with the sign 'Idiots United meet here' out for both of you." And with that she slamed closed her file (as much as she could slam a paper file) and ushered me out the door.

Another marathon on 5 weeks of training? Only 4 runs at 20k? No problem. Why? All this "can't do attitide" around me has fired me up to proove them wrong.

Yeah, how's THAT for motivation? As most guys will confess to, I'll take what I can get.

Friday, October 02, 2009

I think I found my new Burning Platform

Billings Learned Hand, a U.S. judge and philosopher from the early 1900s, once talked about change occurring only when
things reach a point that "cries out loudly enough to force upon us a choice between the comforts of inertia and the
irksomeness of action."

Best. Quote. Ever.

Enough said.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Grandpa is a liar

Little LP, very seriously, addressed me today with the following: "Dad, did you know Grandpa lies to me?"

"Oh," I said, "what kind of lies does Grandpa tell you?". I was hoping it was about things like the birds and the bees, but I soon found out - while animial related - I didn't have much to worry about.

"He tells me things like giraffe's have short legs!"

He was so serious, it was too funny to not laught at him!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Bird is Asleep....

A post from my notebook... a few months old....

"It's dead! It's dead" he cried, running down the stairs.

I looked up to see Jordan heading down the stairs, full tilt. "What?"

He arrived breathlessly, bursting to tell the news. "A bird. It flew into the window!" His hands animated his sounds as he yelled kabash! to punctuate his point. "And guess what, mom said YOU have to deal with it."

I groaned. "How come when it's something dead, I get to deal with it. But when it's something like, someone came to the door and dropped off chocolates, SHE gets to deal with it. Go ask here that."

A few hours later I got round to my task, but upon reaching the "dead bird zone" I found nothing. No alive bird. No dead bird. No bird at all. Not even a feather to suggest one had been here, and managed to break it's neck on the window yet fly away unscathed.

I wandered back downstairs and found the kids. "Hey guys, are you sure there was a bird upstairs? I looked but didn't find any."

Haley jumped up. "I know! I know!" she squealed. "It was on my deck sleeping, but I tucked it in for an afternoon nap." She took my by the hand and lead me up stairs to her room. Sure enough, I looked under her covers and placed gently on her princess pillow was a "sleeping" bird.
"He'll wake up soon, right dad?"

"hmmmm, yeah. I'll wake him up and set him to fly out the window while you go downstairs and ask mom if there is some chocolate around you two can go eat together."

Moral of the story: Sleeping birds may lie, unless you have children in the house. Otherwise they lie in their bed, waiting to be woken up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There are times I wish I was a full time blogger....

... and today is one of them.

1) It's well above 30 degrees outside. Nothing better than to be sitting by the ocean contemplating and writing in my journal.

2)My left brain is full. I keep trying to Load "$", 8, 1, but can't find the right disk to do a mental load from.

3)I have almost finished my deck, and installed the hammock at home now. Talk about the ultimate blogging location - close to wifi and the beer fridge.

and the best reason:

4) When you hear, in passing, someone say "So what do you you think Porn Stars fantasize about when the go home to their partner? Do you think they bring their work home with them?"

I mean, with line like that, all I think is of the blogging fodder I could get out of it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hammock's r' Us

I spend my long weekend balancing the trifecta of being sick, snoozing in ferry line-ups, and entertaining at least to of: a dog, a 6 year old, and a 4 year old.

I did, however, bring something in my weekend arsenal which would balance these needs perfectly.

A Hammock. BUT not any hammock, a double hammock...... and with this double hammock spread between 2 trees in the shade, I spent the better part of the weekend trying to sleep off a cold that had been plaguing me for about 10 days now. I highly (and I mean highly) recommend the family size hammock from The Hang Out Place on Granville Island. As I dozed in and out, all I could think of was "This is what summer is all about."

The picture is from when I was at the Hang Out Store with LP-ette, testing out the Hammocks. It gives you a representation of what I was doing on Hornby, only I wouldn't let anyone in with me lest to spoil the tranquility. I will admit upon discovering the room I had to sprawl, I dutifully wiped out my Blackberry to update my Facebook Status: LP is testing the "Hang Out Place" queen size hammock, and is currently suspended between 2 trees... Man this thing has girth!

With a few naps out of the way I was strong enough to get out for a good paced ride up Mt. Geoffery, if you consider a "good pace" as riding behind Little J, age 6. He kept asking me to take me where I go riding, so we rode up to the green trails and did some gentle - yet undulating - out and backs. He had a great time, and upon the return back home I collapsed again in the hammock, and snoozed until the next requisite game of "hit something over the volleyball net".

Here are the statistics from my 3 day weekend:
4 naps
2 beach excursions
2 hours of riding
6 Tylenol for Cold
umpteen giggles from the kids...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Going to France so I can slow down....

I have been writing. Not in the narcissistic way, but in a self-preservation. Unfortunately it has mostly been in my mind. Occasionally on scraps of paper, and although my leather bound journal has never strayed far from my side, the only time it has been opened was to record a fine wine or single malt notation.

To say the work-life balance has been interrupted is an understatement. But several days travelling across France this past week solidified my commitment to Go Slow, and spend all of August incommunicado on a small island, far away from the reach of technology.

We were 2 evenings in Annecy, France, a beautiful town that is connected to one of the historical authors and thinkers of the French Revolution, as well as the upcoming individual time trial for the Tour de France. Having a visit 18 days later would have climaxed this visit to a point beyond blogging...

The trip was for work, which usually means a 30 hour travel day (via 3 airports, a train and a car), followed by several 12+ hour work days, followed by a 30 hour travel commute home. However, when travel is required I make it a point to try to get out and see parts of the world I would otherwise probably not have the chance to visit. On this trip, I found 1 place I would visit again, especially if on a holiday.

On arrival we went on an drive to see the surrounding region from the top of Col de la Forclaz. In reality we drove most of the way but did have to portage through a cow maze, before getting to the point where we could watch some Parapenter's soar across the lake. Re-read that last sentence... yes, we actually had to go through a maze of cows.

On our way up we passed a field, reminiscent of the Sound of Music...

Had my wife been with us, I am sure she would have jumped the fence and ran into the middle of the field, spinning her arms like only Julie Andrews could.

You can see the dots of the Parapenters, essentially going from one peak on the side of the lake, across the lake and beyond another peak. Even from that height, we were unable to see the landing spot they were heading for.

At the top we watched both new and experts take their turn at jumping off the summit edge, their Parapents being buoyed by the thermal drafts a mere 1 or 2 feet off the ground. A colleague told me the expert Parapenters can stay up for a few hours, going across the lake and eventually to a landing site.

Annecy, with several small canals (with emphasis on the word small) snaking throughout the old part of the city, has a plethora of outdoor cafes which allow you to take in the afternoon and evening sights. Revelers mixed with lovers, tourists mixed with locals. I tried to make the transition from tourist to revelers, but had a difficult time convincing my coworkers to do some team bonding over many drinks (at least many in the Canadian sense).

By far the favorite part of the city was the discovery of this: Rue Jean Jacques Rosseau, and his monument.

Reading some of my early posts, circa 2005, you may see some influence of Rosseau. In fact, his book is one of 2 or 3 that sit along side my journal to read when I am in the contemplative mood (with Thoreau being one of the others).

We capped our 2 days in Annecy with a quick photo visit to the Monastery Church, with it timed by our local host to be both closed, but devoid of tourists. .

On our way back, our trip would not have been complete without a quick 3 hour tour of Paris, with a visit to the Sacre Coeur, and the Arc de Triomphe.

All said, short trip and full of historical monuments, but Doug's Summer Solstice post has me Pining for the Fjords of Hornby.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A 4 year old's perspective on travel

On airport lights: Ohh, look, it is still lit up for Christmas.

On phoning home: How does daddy's voice get from there to here?

On Hotel Stays: Who are you staying with? Nobody? Well, that's lonley.

Monday, May 11, 2009

3 Months in 3 Pictures

Holy Crap - 3 months and no posting. If you only knew how busy I was, you'd cut me some slack....

March: A month of trying to get up to Hornby (3 failed "I'm packing the truck!") I finally got up to get the water tank installed on Hornby.

This sign is what March seemed to feel like...

April: I basically spent most of April travelling for work, or sequestered to a small windowless room doing 8 hour Innovation Sessions with a group of 10 people. Nashville. Toronto. Rajpur. Vancouver. And not one bike ride the whole month...

It felt like the whole month I only got outside once, but barely refrained from leaping off the cliff:

This was taken at the Savage Gulf in Tennessee.

Fortunately I did manage a stop-in to the big T.O. to visit some Vodka Bars and French Restaurants. I have never had such an inkling for some petite castor in my life... (ahem, yes it is a restaurant)

I also found out I was a marshmallow, as compared to a piece of fruit. Go figure.

May: I traded my rental car back in for my truck and a mattock, and got a water line trenched from the tank to my trailer. That's Dave, my F.I.L., who also taught sailing on the island last year. I think this year he realized if he wanted a shower in the trailer if he came up again, he was going to have to help get some water plumbed in.

All that is left is a little 12V wiring to my pump then putting in a filter and I should be able to pump water from the tank into the trailer. I can't wait to have my first 2500 gallon shower this summer.

Later... LP.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pink Haley

Haley, who is sick with the stomach flu, came in to the kitchen holding the Pepto Bismol. She wanted more so when she threw up again it would be a "pretty pink".

Even in sickness she if fashion conscious.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Blue Haley

It was breakfast time, with some help from the kids. Or so we thought.

"Haley, can you set the table?" we asked, merely hoping for the placemats to be put out.

But not today. She was efficient. Not only did she get the placemats out, but also her plate. Without us knowing, she also managed to sneak the box of blueberries over to the table. By the time we looked over Haley had managed to open the blueberry container and put a heaping pile of blueberries on her plate.

“Haley! I just bought those! They were for muffins I was going to make today. Do you know how much they cost?”

Her reply was quick, and amazingly accurate: “Yes. Like sixteen dollars.”

“That’s about right.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Green Jordan

“Dad, how much money do you have?”

“About $2000”

“No… that’s impossible. Nobody has that much. Maybe like $200, but that’s all you probably have.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A 6 word memoir for 2008

This week, Opinionistas reminded me of the 6 word memoirs that Boing Boing made so cliche in 2008.

It actually took days to think. Think of my six succinct words.

Here were my top 2008 reminisces:

  • Experienced complex cultures with new perspectives.

  • French wine, Irish beer and Hornby Island.

  • Juxtaposition of knowledge created serindipitous opportunities.

  • I finally came down to this:

  • Traveled lots. Made progress. Got behind.

  • It was true on many levels....

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    An Obamanation

    I made a Obamicon of myself at

    You should spend a few minutes on their Top Rated section. Some very funny ones have been uploaded...

    For those wondering the backstory on the creater of the original Obama poster, Shepard Fairey, watch this short interview from the LA Times.

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Buffed & Caulked

    I spent a large part of today buffing and caulking. Yes, back to the renovation. After a 2 month break the time has come to get my workbelt back on.

    Finally, after 4 months of using it, I sanded down the butcher block top we had installed in our kitchen. At 5’ x 7’ it took awhile, especially considering I started with 100 grit paper (which actually smoothed it beyond what the kitchen company delivered it as), and finally ending up at 220 grit. I was sanding with one hand, and running the vacuum with the other, so the mess was reduced to only a fine layer of dust everywhere.I buffed in some beeswax and oil mixture, which set up nicely. A second, and maybe third, coat tomorrow and I can call the main kitchen island as done. Unless you count the missing fake drawer front, missing recycling sorter, incorrectly installed pull out spice rack and…, well, a few more things. At least I managed to sand out the pen marks the kitchen installer put in, right after he installed the top. Arrg!

    Then I caulked… since installing the trim 3 months ago, my plan of procrastinating until the joints had settled seemed to work. I filled about 30 corners – which seemed much worse than when I originally put the 30 corners together.

    Tomorrow night I sand 30 corner joints, and prime the bare parts of the moulding.

    I checked my calendar tonight and it has been 295 days since the renovation officially began (i.e., ground actually broken by the excavator), but over a year since we first gave our sketches to the architect and the contractor. It really is the last 10% takes 90% of the work, especially if your budget finished up before the contractor did, and he left it all for you to do!

    We started with this:

    We moved to this:

    And then to this:

    And, while not yet finally, but it felt like finally, to this:

    Still to do in the coming months:

  • Paint the trim.
  • Build a closet. We now have a closet in the house, but with no door or shelves I have the task of making something to fit some old antique windows we have. Ikea just doesn’t feel right for this...
  • Rebuild the deck. I put a temporary one up to get our permit signed off. I am happy with a plywood deck, but LP-ette isn’t.
  • Move the old kitchen entrance way over 3”. Who would have thought a 2” mis-measurement by the kitchen designer would cost me 50+ hours in rewiring switches from one side of a door to another, all while needing to move the door over!
  • Re-drywall, tape, mud, sand, mud, sand, mud, sand, texture, prime and paint the 2’x6’ chunk of drywall the electrician had to cut off to get our new panel rewired.
  • Move the shed I built a few years back to the other side of the house. Not sure how I am going to do that…
  • Install the ceiling fans. I have 2 to install. On the 15 foot ceiling. With a 6’ step ladder. Not sure how I am going to get that one done either…
  • Landscape. Landscape. And Landscape more.

    And next week my water tank gets delivered to Hornby, which is 3 months behind the schedule I thought I would be on.


  • Thursday, January 22, 2009


    Ok, ok. Stop nagging. I will post soon.

    I do have a day job again... sheesh.