Greetings from 53.5° where overnight on Saturday the ambient air temperature and the air quality index were both 10. A temperature of 10°C overnight in July is not great but it is not the end of the world. An air quality index of 10 however is as close the End Times as I want to experience, thank you very much.
The portion of the week where I was not encamped indoors to avoid the smoke was spent preparing for the new campaign I start running tomorrow, cycling, drinking a few beer, and reading a few books. In other words, status quo.
I finished two books this week, or at least I would like to take credit for two books. I finished one for sure, if the definition of book is something with an ISBN or ISSN.
Book #23 for 2021 was "The Rosewater Insurrection" by Tade Thompson. This is the second book in the Wormwood series, and I read and commented on the first book two years ago. In summary, an alien lifeform has inhabited a large area in Nigeria and the relationship with the humans and other fauna and flora is complicated. In some ways, the - let's call it terran - flora and fauna benefit greatly from the alien presence. However, there are reasons to be cautious of course, and Insurrection deals with the debate of how to live with, or exterminate, a clearly superior and uninvited guest. Thompson has created a super series with this trilogy, one that is bursting with ideas. I highly recommend picking up the first book in the series, simply titled "Rosewater" and then diving into Insurrection as well. I will try to have less time between the second and third books in the series than I did after reading the first.
The second book is called a "pamphlet" by the author, which is, I think, a deliberate nod towards the pamphlets used to spread liberal, socialist, and communist ideology. Since it was not published and cataloged formally, I was unsure if I should count it as a "book' in my reading for the year. Given the thought-provoking ideas and the list of words I had to look up, I decided that it was sufficient to classify as a "book" so I created a book manually in my LibraryThing account.
Book #24 for 2021 was the previously mentioned pamphlet, "At the end of the world, plant a tree: Considerations for the end of Human Time" by Adam Greenfield. This was something that akin to my reading of Peter Fleming's "The Worst is Yet to Come" in 2019. The pamphlet was an overview of how so many of today's trends spell an end for the interconnected and global world that has only existed for a few decades and only for a small percentage of the world's population. There is, like anything that Greenfield writes, a lot to unpack.
It is said that depressives have a clearer view on the world, something that Greenfield mentions in his pamphlet. Greenfield lays out a stark assessment of how broken our societies and global structures are and how COVID has exposed the flaws and problems, again reminding me of Fleming's argument that things are only going to get worse.
There are positive points in the pamphlet, like the power of community and skill-sharing, and the long-term selfless act of planting a tree. There is symbolism in the act of planting a tree where it is a "gesture toward a time yet to come, even when you know full well there is no future you or your survivors will inhabit or give name to".
So, get out there, plant a tree, commune with your fellow humans, share some skills. And buy the pamphlet as a fundraiser for Libreria which looks like a super cool bookstore.
I finished another segment this week, pushing past Grenfell, Saskatchewan. There is a surprising amount to say about Grenfell on Wikipedia given that it has a population of roughly 1,000 people. My personal reason for including Grenfell as the end of a segment is that two of my great-grandparents are buried there. That would be my father's mother's parents.
Here is the updated progress chart. I am going to push to complete the rest of the next segment so that I can push into Manitoba.
There were three entries on the Music Finds playlist for this week. First up was a new single from Kurt Vile, an artist that I have discovered since subscribing to Tidal. His latest, "Run Run Run" is energetic and catchy. Looking forward to the rest of the upcoming album. Next was an album by the Drug Store Romeos. I must be honest and say that I did not like this album. The songs that had promise on first listen either changed tone halfway through or dragged on too long. For example, "Building Song" starts out strong and really hooked me in, but then it seems to just repeat for four minutes.
Last up was the latest album by the Wallflowers, "Exit Wounds". I read somewhere earlier this week that "One Headlight" by the Wallflowers might be the best song from the 90s, and I think even if it is not, it is one of the best. The new album is good with "The Dive Bar in My Heart" and "I'll Let You Down (But Will Not Give You Up)" as the standouts. I think this is an album that needs a few solid listens to to really appreciate.
Over the last month, I went through my first bag of coffee from Rogue Wave, a roaster from here in Edmonton. I heard from two sources that Rogue Wave is a "passion project", where the owners are in business to continuously improve and offer products that continually innovate and evolve. With an ethos like that, I thought I would try it.
I picked up a Guatemalan been called Bendición. This started out well, with the beans being quite fragrant. The first few cups were good, maybe not what I was looking for, but definitely good. Here is a picture from one of the first espressos I brewed with it.
You can see the nice dark beans and the rich espresso. Unfortunately, the beans got worse quickly. By the end, the beans were dried out and brittle and the output was weak and lacking much flavor. I do not think I did anything wrong as the beans were stored in an airtight glass container in the fridge, exactly like every other bean I use. I will go back and try another bag from Rogue Wave and will ask them if I did something wrong. If that second bag has the same issue though, that will be as far as I get with them.
Two new beers this week, both with a bit of personal connection.
First up, Beer #780 was the Lavender Sour from Moody Ales in Port Moody, BC. This was a good sour, with a nice lemonade flavor and a wonderful aroma from the lavender. I know the owner of the farm that supplies the lavender, so that's a plus. (3.5 / 5)
Second up and coming in as Beer #781 was a beer that caught my eye since it literally has my name written all over it. I was not going to pass up the Robert wild ale from Trial and Ale, another local brewer. This is a wild ale, meaning that the yeast culture is captured from the air and not from a commercial yeast. As a result, there is definitely some wild "funk" in the taste, which is the defining characteristic of wild ales.
The naming of this beer came from the production process where the brewers were calling it "Blood Orange Brett", with Brett being short for Brettanomyces, which is the yeast. So Blood Orange Brett shortened to BOB and then was formalized for production by extending BOB to be Robert.
As for the beer, it was good. Dry and sour with some citrus. I am not sure it was worth $18 but this is an intriguing brewery, and I am definitely going to try more from them.
There were quite a few new words from the Thompson book but those are in my Kobo and I do not feel like getting them out right now. As a result, all of these words are from Greenfield's pamphlet.
Greetings from the confirmed location of 53.5° north latitude. Contrary to the standard definition, this past week was at least 15 days long. It was not a bad week by any means, just long. As I mentioned last week, I was trying to sell a car on Kijiji and that was an experience that I would not wish on many people. It ended up being a successful transaction and I am happy we did not just accept the trade-in amount from the dealer, but it was a lot of work.
From a sociological perspective, we - or at least I - have self-selected a pretty narrow slice of the population to interact with. Middle-class, cycling enthusiasts, technology focused, liberal-minded. Every once in a while, our daughters will make a friend with someone that comes from a family that is on the periphery of that slice. Maybe they will be more liberal, more educated, more religious, or younger, but usually there is enough common ground to build a relationship on.
Selling something on Kijiji puts you on the outside of that slice and exposes you to the entire spectrum of people and humanity. There is no way to be insular as the act of posting that ad blows up the bubble of comfort one has with the self-selected circle of friends. Of the nearly 100 people that I interacted with during the process, I was exposed to many different types of people. Some were quite friendly. Some were less concerned about keeping appointments and obligations than I am. (Trying to be polite.) There were lots of people with writing styles and grammar that suggest recent arrivals to Edmonton. There were lots of people with writing styles and grammar I would consider lazy . There were also a lot of people that knew how to fix up cars, which is clearly not a demographic represented in my current bubble.
As I said about, the transaction was successful and I was not concerned about the deal turning ugly, but walking away from the deal with a pocket full of brown bills was a bit nerve-wracking.
Moving on, I was catching up on emails the other day and I came across a newsletter from Studio D that was really interesting (sign up here if interested). I know about Studio D from a Kickstarter that I backed a few years ago. Their Field Study Handbook is an amazing book filled with best practices and templates to successfully do field work pretty much anywhere in the world. I pull it out and flip through it often just to read about topics like In-depth Interview Stages, how to build a Pop-Up studio, and how to pitch a research project.
In the newsletter, Studio D asks the question "What skills does one need today?". At the top of the list is literacy and numeracy, which seem like obvious choices.
We live in a time when literacy is the dominant skill—learning how to write, read, and comprehend what is written, closely followed by numeracy. Given that there was a time before literacy (roughly 7,000 years ago), will we live to experience a post-literate world? For example where communication with letters and words is essentially delegated to or abstracted by technology? - Studio D, Radar Newsletter #24
They suggest that there are five other -acies that one should focus on.
Four of those five -acies are made up words, but the concept behind them and the need for them seems obvious. I am particularly intrigued by the concept of Artificialacy. Knowing when some corporate algorithm tampered with your entertainment stream is not something I considered before but is something I will look out for in the future.
As a parent, one focus I am trying to impart on my daughters is self-sufficiency. They should know the basics like how to wash laundry, how to budget and invest, how to plan and manage conflicting tasks, how to cook at least ten different meals. I am also trying to teach them the importance of having a good toolkit. In the past, this meant knowing how to use a hammer, saw, screwdriver, and maybe even a multimeter. Today though, I am expanding the definition of toolkit to include macros and commands in Excel, and coding with Python. Most of those fit into literacy and numeracy. Thinking about how to incorporate the additional -acies presented by Studio D will be an interesting parenting challenge.
I was able to finish another book this past week, and got half way through another. Book #11 for 2021 was "Lost Light", the ninth book in the Harry Bosch series from Michael Connelly. I really enjoy the Harry Bosch books, but for some reason I have not read one since 2016. In this installment, Bosch is now retired but has not given up being a detective and decides to investigate a cold case from four years prior.
I really cannot say much more as I risk giving away the plot. Suffice it to say that for this book, Bosch comes to grip with life as an ex-cop, and because he is Harry Bosch, he pisses a lot of people off. Well worth the read if you are going through the series and potentially good enough to read without reading the first the first eight books in the series.
This week was for good for cycling and my cross-Canada virtual tour, with just over 100 km in the saddle. In addition, I closed off the final two segments of the current leg between Edmonton and Lloydminster.
With that leg complete, I now move into my third province on the virtual tour. This next leg between Lloydminster and Saskatoon is a decent length of 411 km. At my current pace, I will be able to complete is by early June.
Fun facts about Vermillion and Lloydminster. Vermillion was founded in 1902 and had a population of just under 4,100 in the 2016 census. Lloydminster is a border city, with a split between Alberta and Saskatchewan. Lloydminster has a population of 31,410 according to the 2016 census, with 63% of the population living in the Alberta portion of the city. This makes sense when I first saw the numbers given the lack of a sales tax in Alberta which would seem to be an economic driver to focus living in Alberta. However, the Wikipedia article points out that the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster is exempted from the Saskatchewan sales tax so as to not penalize Saskatchewan businesses.
Next up is North Battleford and then on to Saskatoon via Biggar and Rosetown.
There are a lot of beers to report this week, but that is because I did not report on any last week. Even so, seven beers in fourteen days is faster than my current overall pace since March 2015 of one new beer every 2.95 days.
The first beer of the fortnight and coming in as Beer #749 was the Troubled Monk If the Crown Fits Kettle Sour. A ton of pineapple and a very fresh taste. I find kettle sours are often not that sour but this one seemed too un-sour to carry that label. That said, this was very tasty and I could see this beer being a huge hit on a crowded patio some day. Hopefully. (3.75 / 5)
Beer #750 was the Pond Surfer ale from Town Square. I was expecting a more bitter taste based on the color but this was very easy-drinking. A bit of pithiness but not too much and a nice level of malt. Good stuff. (3.5 / 5)
Next up and coming in as Beer #751 was the Albertosourus from Edmonton brewery Campio. Based on recommendations from friends, I went in with high expectations but was disappointed. This one smelled more sour than it was unfortunately. It did have a beautiful color, but I found the fruit flavors were too mixed and muddled. (3.0 / 5)
Beer #752 was the Arcade Glow Pale Ale from Boombox Brewing out of Vancouver. This was a decent ale with a fair bit of hops and some nice crackery malt. I will have to look out for more from Boombox in the future. (3.5 / 5)
The next beer was a complete departure from the standard offering. Beer #753 was the Phillips Zonkey is supposed to be a Brown Ale, which is not something I typically like. For this one though, the first taste was "wow". Very fresh. Added a nice sweetness to the standard muddled brown ale. The ginger has a bit of zing to it for sure. (3.75)
Last up were two beers from Cabin Brewing out of Calgary. I have raved about Cabin of late and was really hoping for another two knockouts. Beer #754 was their Starburst ESB (labeled as a Triple on Untappd). This was very good with the freshness completely masking the high ABV (9.5%). Lots of fruits and a great aroma. Definitely one to pick up and hoard in the back of the fridge away from unappreciative guests. (4.0 / 5) And finally, Beer #755 was their Night Kitchen ('Smores) Imperial Stout. I did pick up some creaminess from the lactose, but not as much as other Imperials. (My reference beer for this style is still the Iconic Milk Stout from Situation.) Overall, this was good but a bit weird. (3.0 / 5)
Note that my numbering on this blog and on Untappd no longer match, and I am not sure why. Untappd has me at 754 beers but the numbers seem to reconcile back to Beer #700. I will dig in and see if I can figure out the issue.