Friday, September 30, 2011

Lack of London Ontario MEC News Creates WTF Moment

I swung by the retail units that will be occupied by Mountain Equipment Co-op last week to see how things were coming along. There wasn't much to see, really. No signage, no fixtures, just some empty cement-floored retail space.

Being a very nosy individual, I stuck my nose up to the glass and saw that the wall between the two units had been removed, so I guess that's good. Disappointed that there wasn't much to see, I turned my attention to the building permit posted on the glass. Upon doing so, a word I had never seen before caught my attention. Apparently the wall that had been removed was a "demising" wall:

I don't know about you, but a demising wall sounded like bad news to me. Of course, "demising wall" has a nice innocuous, almost boring meaning:

A wall used jointly by two parties under easement agreement, erected upon a line dividing two parcels of land, each of which is a separate real estate entity; a common wall.

The tenants of 4A and 4B put up a demising wall to divide their previously contiguous apartment.

source: urban dictionary

Unfortunately, the seeds of a WTF attack had been sown the instant I read that page. I mean, what would a demise-ing wall look like? Could people really live with one?

Rantwick visits Mom and Dad in their new condo.

No wonder detached dwellings cost more.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SARATS Disease

I will never enter any tree other than The King in my Autumn Tree Smackdown, for good or ill. Still, now that SARATS season has rolled around, I notice individual trees more than I normally would, so much so that I'm beginning to see things.

For example, this tree looked like it was doing a "Don King":

You know, Don King, the Boxing Promoter?

Can you see it?

How about now?

Hmmm. Judging by that little episode perhaps it would be OK if SARATS season went by quickly.

As I finished this post I thought, "Oh no, what if Don King recently died or something? That would be in pretty bad taste." It has happened before on this blog. Just so youse all know, Don King is alive and presumed well (no mention of anything on wikipedia, anyway) at the age of 80. No freaky foliage faux pas today, my friends! 

Yer Pal, R A N T W I C K

Monday, September 26, 2011

Biker Gang

I met a biker gang last week, the Silver Spokes. I tried to look them up to provide some contact info, but only found non-London clubs / groups of that name. We chatted a bit before I did a ride-by video of the group:

Although I talked a little about this blog, saying they could find the video on it, nobody has contacted me with any more info about their group. If some turns up I'll add it to this post.

As often happens when I see a friendly group of casual riders having a good time, I thought about whether I might enjoy being part of one. I cherish my alone time on the bike, but that shouldn't preclude riding with others once in a while. Just the same, thus far I have always opted to cycle on my own. I guess I'm just not a social animal that way.

I'm not a shy person... I find work and other relationships easy enough, but I'm not exactly a collector of friends either. Gang membership and mentality just isn't my style. I suspect that this quality in myself will eventually prove to be my loss. Who knows, maybe some day I'll just join in. Maybe.

Upon re-reading this post I realize that it contains more than a dash of pretty boring self-involved rumination. Ah well, I guess I won't be the first or last blogger to do a little introspective rambling; I will, however try to keep it at acceptably low levels. Unless of course you want to be my shrink. If that is the case, I warn you that I refuse to pay for our sessions and reserve the right to self-medicate at will. Like right now, for instance.

Yer Pal,

Friday, September 23, 2011


The Second Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown, North America's premier fall-foliage-posted-on-an-obscure-website competition, RULES! That is all.

Seriously though, I've had some comments inquiring about some of the rules so I thought I would do a post for all to see. Rules are fairly few.

1) Your entry should should feature 1 or if necessary just a few trees featuring an obvious star-power tree. This is a Tree Smackdown, not a "forest face-off" or "copse competition".

2) Since I hope to continue to run this competition annually, your picture should be of a tree from this 2011 Autumn season.

3) Your picture should be one you took yourself. Including some information about where the tree is from in your submission would be appreciated.

4) Your tree can be from anywhere you like. PaddyAnne from Vancouver won last year with a tree from New York. If you snap it, you can send it.

5) Submissions are due by midnight, Dec 15, 2011 EST. I wait so long because many of my readers seem to come from the Southern (United) States.

I think that's it. Don't forget to spread the word, and if there are any questions, please comment.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A True SARATS Threat

I visited The King on my way home yesterday. He's showing signs of change. It's too early to tell, but if he suits up in Orangy Yellow like the first time I wrote about him, look out. Here he is:

Thanks to my being less active on the blog, I fear there may be fewer submissions this year, which only increases your chances of winning a smallish (but not tiny like last year) jug of the best maple syrup I've ever had. What follows is an excerpt from the 2010 contest:
I won't lie... when I located the prize I also bought some for myself. I have tasted it and it is everything I had hoped. Jakeman's has been voted best tasting maple syrup in Canada in recent years and always places in the top ranks of most maple syrup ranker's rankings. So, the prize is a small amount (100 mL, 3.4 fl. oz.) of pure Canada #1 Extra Light maple syrup (click here to see how freaky I am about it) from one of Canada's top producers, located only about 30 minutes from my home of London Ontario.
This year the prize will be 500 mL of that same outstanding tree nectar.
If you're not a totally selfish maple prize freak though, you may want to tell your foliage lovin' friends. Now that I no longer participate in facebookizing or tweetilating, maybe you could do it on my behalf. Or send some emails. Or bring SARATS up at dinner parties, club rides, drug orgies, political demonstrations, church gatherings, whatever. I just wanna see some trees. If you know of some website where foliage rules, let me know, and I'll try to invite even more people.

Stay Leafy, R A N T W I C K

PS - If my impartial panel of judges (whom you will all see when the time comes) chooses The King as the best tree, I would of course award the prize to 2nd place. If you couldn't tell, I've got a good feeling about The King this year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Papa got a New Pair of Shoes

Hey, before the real post begins, if you are a member of the "Silver Spokes London" group I met on the trail this morning, please click on my profile link and send me an email address I can use to notify you of when the post containing the video of your group goes up. If you want to send me details about your group and how people can join you, I'll be happy to post that too. Now, to our regularly scheduled program...

I got new cycling shoes early in the summer. Big news, I know. They're the classic MTB type with spd cleats and three velcro straps. Good thing, too:

The preceding scenario repeated itself about one week later, that time in a more public place with a couple of other cyclists nearby, waiting for a light. I felt super-cool all over again. I really like my new shoes.

Yer Pal,

PS - That ugly bar tape complete with duct tape repair job has long since been fixed, so back off, man.

PPS - I'm glad I've moved my everyday camera position from chest to helmet, because I really don't like camera shots that look straight up my nose.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Tilt-A-Whirl

Last week the kids and I went to the Western Fair here in London Ontario and I went on my favourite ride. Are you a ride person? I'm a ride person. Although my trepidation grows with each passing year, I'm still game to ride the biggest, scariest coasters and any other contraption aimed at scaring the hell out of its riders, just for fun.

The ride I enjoy most, however, has been around since the 1920's. Perhaps it scared the hell out of people back then, but these days I think many consider it something of a kiddie ride. It is, of course, the Tilt-A-Whirl. I don't care if it isn't exactly macho; it is the best ride ever. For some unknown reason it causes my joy-joy glands to go into overdrive, resulting in uncharacteristically unrestrained laughter. Evidence:

Kiddie ride or not, there is an unpredictability about the Tilt-A-Whirl that I have never felt on any other ride. Chaos theorists dig it. You know you're gonna spin, but when and how hard is a physics-related mystery. If you haven't been on one since you were a kid, I strongly encourage you to try it again as a grown-up. I liked it as a child, but love it now.

Yer Pal,

PS  - I took the video using a GoPro HD Hero on a Chest Mount Harness. You can check that stuff out at the Official GoPro® Store

Monday, September 19, 2011

Leave Your Car at Work Day

I'll bet you didn't know that Sunday September 18 was International Leave-Your-Car-At-Work-You-Stupid-Fool day!

The Rantwick family got a second car in June. Work has demanded that I drive during the day over the last couple of months. My cycling commute trips have plummeted. I've been feeling crummy physically and I swear my brain doesn't work as well when I don't get my alone time on the bike. I was bummed out until I had a pretty good idea, I think.

Yesterday I attached the bike rack to the car, drove it to work and left it there, riding my bike home. I intend to leave it there all the time. I will commute to and from work on the bike and use the car for work or child-related "emergencies" as needed. I notified those who might be tempted to tow a crappy car that was sitting overnight in the parking lot all the time that they shouldn't do that. I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner!

Today I enjoyed an Autumn morning commute that reminded me of all I had been missing. I visited the King. I rode beside the calm river in a light rain. It was awesome. I intend to fully enjoy "Leave Your Car at Work Day" every day from now on.

Yer Pal,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Only at the U

Signs are everywhere. We are bombarded with signs both "official" and freestyle every single day. As some may remember, I am a great noticer of signs. I mean, there's this kind of thing:

Or intriguing, less formal messages:

Or messages that seem a little sinister:

Yesterday I took my daughter to physio (stubborn sprained ankle, getting better) at the Fowler Kennedy sports clinic at the University of Western Ontario. I was just hanging around outside people watching and feeling incredibly nostalgic (I went there) and old when I saw a small sign, partly obscured by undergrowth, behind the Ivey Business School. Being a curious, sign-noticing kind of person, I moved in for a closer look.

The sign was basically a "Don't Walk Here" or "Keep Out" kind of thing, yet managed to be so much more:

A tiny, hidden sign on a three foot post with a sad bend on the corner. A remarkably detailed, polite (dare I say erudite?) message that you could only find on a University campus, defiantly protecting a tiny triangle of trees on a vast, busy property teeming with clueless oafs who would happily trample understorey growth and tree seedlings. Remember Rat Trap Press' FARATS-winning "Charlie Brown Tree"?

That sign felt like a nerdy, wonderful "Charlie Brown Sign" to me. I really liked it.

Speaking of trees, I grabbed a pic of the King of Autumn the other day. He's still pretty green, but I have a good feeling that he will ROCK this year and smoke the competition in the Second Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown (SARATS)!  

Can you see it? He's got his game-face on for sure. If trees had teeth, his would be gnashing, baby. You better get looking for a good entry now.

Yer Pal,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tough Times and Tasty Trees

First, let me say how sorry I am for being rather absent lately. I have slowed down many times over the last couple of years, but never like this. I really really like writing stuff for this blog, yet I have found that lately it has been quite impossible. Nothing bad has befallen me or my family, so that's not the reason. Work and Life have yet again just taken priority.

That said, some bloggy things are just too vitally important to forgo. I am of course speaking of the Second Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown!

I have been blown off my my usual riding routines by the winds of annoying work-related bull***t and thus have not photographed the King of Autumn yet, but I most certainly will in time to make my own entry.

If any of you are still with me, please find that smokin' good Autumn tree, because this year there will be just one prize for the big winner. The prize will be some kick-butt maple syrup again, but it will be in greater quantity and the same top-notch stuff offered last year. If you know any other Foliage Freaks, well c'mon, send them this way!

The voting for the best tree will be by an unbiased panel of judges to be revealed a little later on... you'll just have to tune in to find out who.

Sticking with last year's format, please send me your pictures of Autumn trees giving us a show. I would prefer shots of one or just a few trees, since even The King can't reasonably defeat a whole mountainside of fall colour. Pictures must also be of this (2011's) season of leafy goodness, since I hope to do this annually until I don't want to any more. That said, all pictures of fall foliage are welcome. Submissions will be accepted until Dec 15, 2011. I'll post the pictures here as they come in, and then the voting by my mysterious panel of judges will occur. Winner to be announced early in the new year.

For those of you who thought you might escape the wrath of the King of Autumn, it is definitely ON. Let's rock.

Yer Pal,

PS - For anyone who doesn't know what the hell I'm on about, click here for the 2010 FARATS posts.