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The Big Smoke

Been quiet for a few days as I have been travelling on business.  Oh, it was not all that exciting, let me tell you.  A quick two day trip to Toronto for some back to back meetings.  That being said, it was very productive and I am feeling exceptionally buoyed by the opportunities at work currently.  I have just recently accepted a new role within the organization and this is one of the huge benefits of working for such a large company.  You can continually test yourself by taking on new challenges with the added benefit of not having to start fresh in a new company as the man at the bottom of the totem pole.

The main purpose of this trip, therefore, was to meet my new team, and that went very well indeed.  It also presented me with a chance to re-connect with some of colleagues with whom I interact weekly, and sometimes even daily, on the phone and yet so rarely have the pleasure of meeting with them face to face.  I am lucky that I work with a very good bunch of people.  They make it fun to work, and that is so important.

I like Toronto, but sadly this time around I did not get a chance to go downtown and experience the city.  I spent the entire 48 hours in Mississauga, sometimes known as ‘Misery-saga’ for reasons which become evident as soon as you get there.  It is huge, flat and totally commercial.  One large sprawling business complex after the other.  A block here is the equivalent of perhaps ten normal city blocks.  You simply cannot get around without a car.  Don’t even think about it.  As for the traffic, well it can take north of three cycles for you to get through a light.  Madness.

It doesn’t matter how long or how short I have been away from home, that feeling of coming home is awesome.  Flying in over the city and looking down at a bunch of easily recognizable landmarks such as the Olympic Stadium, I felt a surge of comfort coming over me.  I feel so sorry for those that don’t have a good home to go home too.  I cannot imagine anything more depressing.  Touching down brings you one stop closer to holding your loved ones in your arms again and not even a thoroughly pissed off taxi driver could dampen my spirit.  Why was he pissed off?  Simple: I was not the fare he had been waiting in line for all afternoon.  I was a minimum fare customer just going about five kilometres away.  I was a waste of time.  He shouted at the taxi control fella something in a language that I could not place nor could I understand, but judging by the tone, he was clearly expressing some displeasure.  When I asked him if there was a problem, he remained silent.

Excellent.  No problem then.

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Humidity

It was only a matter of time before the weather finally began to feel like the summer we know and love, and I think that this morning marked the beginning of the humidity. For those not familiar with Montreal summers, we typically get some pleasantly warm weather, low 30s centigrade is the norm for much of late June through to August, but we also get some extremely humid conditions. Much like in the winter there is a “wind-chill” factor that estimates the ‘feel-like’ temperature, in the summer we have the humidex which also provides an accurate estimate of what temperature it actually feels like outside.

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Almost tipping 30c with the humidex.

Despite the fact that this morning the true temperature was around 16c, I was sopping wet by the time I pulled up to the campus after an hour of riding into the wind.  There was a dampness in the air that resulted in seriously sticky arms that meant I was a firm favourite landing place for the many bug species that come out and hover frenetically near the water.  I don’t know how much protein I consume on the typical commute, but some days are definitely worse than others.  Today, and for the next few days, the high humidex will bring out all sorts of flying creatures that are usually no bigger than a centimetre of so, but have the velocity when consumed at high speed to cause a sharp thwack at the back of the throat.  This is then followed but some serious hacking as I try and dislodge the offending creature from my uvula onto which it has latched, seeing it as the last thing between theslim chance for life or a quick trip into the blackness that is my oesophagus.  I have given up trying to extracate the bugs from my throat as it is infinitely easier to accept that the path of least resistance is to help them down rather than up, and so a few glugs of water are applied, along with some energetic swallowing to help things along.  Hmm…..delicious!

The ride back proved to be even more sweat-inducing, and to add insult to injury the wind had changed direction and was right in my face, again!  Nothing could dampen my spirit, but the heat sure did dampen my shorts.  When I got home Marie had the most magnificent supper ready to hit the BBQ and I guzzled a can of sparkling water just fast enough to give you one of those rather uncomfortable moments when there is a huge buildup of gas stuck somewhere in the middle of your chest and it won’t go either up or down.

Tomorrow I do all it over again.  Ride safe.

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Our glorious capital

I have the pleasure of visiting our great nation’s capital today: Ottawa. A quick two hour blast down the 417, Ottawa is the complete opposite of what you would normally expect a capital city to be. It’s far from being the largest city in Canada, thus goes against my childhood theory that to be the capital city you had to be the biggest and the best. I’m not knocking Ottawa as a city, in fact I really enjoy visiting, but it is true that it is quite possibly the farthest thing from a sprawling metropolis as you can get. An it is this very fact that is a major part of its charm.

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As you can plainly see from the look on my face and the delightful scenery behind me, I did not get to enjoy any of Ottawa’s charms today. From the moment I got back from Ottawa airport with my colleague Paul, we were sequestered in a conference room hidden from the light of day by virtue of it being situated in the middle of the building. What is it with meeting rooms that have no access to natural light? Is it that the higher ups don’t want us distracted by, dare I say it, the view of a tree blowing in the wind or perhaps a squirrel nibbling on a nut? Nah, it’s not that. The reason is actually a good one: they place everyone’s regular desks by the windows as it has been proven that access to daylight stimulates productivity. It’s a shame, therefore, that the meeting room, which is used to gather groups of people for high productivity discussions, is usually placed in the darkest part of the building, the centre, because there is no other place available.

I’m here until Thursday, but I don’t think that my prospects are going to get much brighter. Back to back meetings will almost guarantee that I will be as pale as a sheet when I get back from lack of sun. I shall probably have a malnourished look about me from drinking far too much coffee and consuming too many Tim Hortons breakfast sandwiches. I’ll need one hell of a hardcore interval training session when I get back to feel normal again.

I tried doing Face Time with the family this evening from the hotel. I was on the iPhone and they were back in Montreal on the laptop. Things got off to a terrific start. I had managed to connect to the free wifi provided by the hotel and soon I was staring at the smiling faces of Marie, Em and Ollie. Only problem was I couldn’t hear a word they were saying. Their lips were moving and they seemed happy to see me. So why weren’t they telling me how awesome this Face Time thing was? Before I had a chance to figure it out the picture froze and the call dropped. “Wha’ happen’d?” I said to myself. Needless to say we switched to that ancient technology, the cell phone, to complete our conversation. Until tomorrow when I try again.

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