Friday, June 30, 2023

Sling shots

It's not what you're thinking. 

Though my name is David, my target is not Goliath, and this has nothing to do with stones.

It's about my slings.

No... I didn't break or sprain my arm.

I'm talking sling bags.

My first sling bag

Before our trip to France last year I picked up a very basic sling/waist bag from Mountain Equipment Coop. It did the trick for our trip and it also worked well for bike rides.

What I don't much like about it:

a) the strap is too thin

b) the bag is ORANGE. Definitely not something that will pass unnoticed, and somewhat unlikely to match whatever it is you're wearing, even if you work in construction or for the fire department.

What I do like about it:

a) it's maybe the lightest of all slings on the market.

b) it folds into itself and zips up, so when not in use it takes up very little room. It's very packable.

c) it can hold the jackets I take on all our trips:

        i) my super-packable, scrunchable, minimalist Uniqlo semi-water-resistant wind breaker.

        ii) my very packable, scrunchable, Uniqlo featherweight down jacket.

        iii) my packable, wind proof, and super-waterproof, Arc'Teryx jacket.

Those jackets, and, depending on the weather, wearing all three at once, will keep you comfortable whether it's an unexpected slightly too cool summer evening breeze, a sudden rain storm, or out-of-the-blue frigidly cold winter-like weather. I like to be prepared.

d) it can also hold, at the same time as a jacket or even two of those jackets, my phone, and my camera.

It did the trick in France last year. When we got caught in rainy weather way up in Montmartre at the Sacré Coeur basilica, I just pulled my Arc'Teryx jacket out of my sling and it kept me nice and dry as we strolled down to the equally iconic Galeries Lafayette department store, several kilometres away, to grab a bite to eat, and to do some shopping. 

Not bad at all, but not perfect.

My research continued.

We're off to Spain and Portugal in the fall and I wanted to see if I could find an even better solution. Perhaps one that I could use daily, rather than only when traveling, hiking, and biking.

My new sling bag

I went out on a limb and purchased a Tomtoc EDC sling bag.

It has a lot going for it.

a) it's not ORANGE. It's black.

b) the strap is nearly seatbelt-wide, and comfortable.

c) it's compact, but it can still hold any one of my jackets, plus my keys, my wallet, my sunglasses, my phone, my AirPods, and my camera. And there still some room left over for a few other odds and ends, like theatre tickets. Yay!

And yet, nothing is perfect.

Taming the drift

The ORANGE one drifts more. The Tomtoc drifts less. It drifts less due to the smart design of the strap and its anchor points.  Yet drift it does.

What is sling drift?

Every sling has a place where it likes to be. You can find that place by wearing the sling and walking a kilometre or so. If you resist the temptation to tug and poke, the sling will find its happy place all on its own. 

I can more or less guarantee that wherever that place may be, it's not a place you'll like having the sling.

If you're riding a bike the sling will begin taunting your thigh with each pedal rotation. Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump... Ya, that's annoying.

If whatever it is you're doing makes it necessary to bend forward, like folding or unfolding your Brompton bike, the sling will jump for joy and swing into action, gleefully interfering with whatever it is you're trying to do... Ya, that's annoying.

The drift fix is pretty easy. Just like a loyal loving pooch, your sling needs a leash.

Here's my leash trick:

Get a short length of paracord and a small carabiner. Sew a small loop at one end of the paracord and attach the carabiner to it. Clip the carabiner to a belt loop opposite the side where the sling sits. Find an attachment point on the sling bag, for the ORANGE sling it's the strap where it meets the bag, for the Tomtoc it's at the end of the bag where there's an attachment loop; measure the required length of the leash you are making, cut the cord to that length allowing for sewing a second loop, use that loop to attach the leash to the bag (feed the leash around the attachment point and feed the other end through the loop you made), clip the other end of the leash to the belt loop that works best, and just like that you have tamed the sling drift. When the leash isn't needed, just tuck it into the sling.

Clipping keys

We have two cars with remotes, and a garage door control fob that also opens the main lobby door, and the door from the garage to the elevator lobby. That means that the garage fob needs to stay handy. Just leaving it in the car isn't really an option.

Keeping keys and fobs handy is simple. Clip them to the outside of your sling.

Instead of a traditional key chain, I use a carabiner and a key ring for the car and garage door remotes. 

I use a more traditional key chain for the other keys (in my case that's a bunch: our townhouse key, the locker room key that also opens other keyed locks in the condo building, the key to the padlock on our locker, and the mailbox key.

I use the carabiner to clip the key chain to the car and garage remotes. I hang my keys on a hook in the closet. That keeps them handy and all in one place.

When you go out and about, unclip the key chain, lock the front door and toss those keys in the sling. Clip the car and garage remotes to the outside of the sling bag. 

Problem solved.

In my case, due to the design of the Tomtoc sling, I ended up trying more than one configuration. In the end I bought three small metal carabiner-like things that screw closed, at Mountain Equipment Coop.

They are quite small and don't clutter up the sling. They provide really good anchor points: one on each end of the sling serving as the anchor point for the anti-drift leash or to hang the sling on a hook in the closet, and one attached to the sling strap where I clip the remotes.

I've been using this set up for a little over a month. 

It's taken a little McGyvering as I mentioned, some getting used to, and some trial and error, but it is turning out really well. I like that the Tomtoc is comfortable, and that my pockets are more often than not empty. It's a better look for the pants, and it just feels nicer.

It's going to be really handy for our fall adventures.

And yes, the ORANGE sling is coming along too. We have some really interesting hikes planned, including the Caminito del Rey, and snacks and water will go in that other sling. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Cool tools!

I am not, definitely not, absolutely not, a "tool guy".

My father's lifelong hobby was woodworking. He was really good at it. My sisters and I have some serious furniture our dad created for us. Our dining room table, stunning, solid, refined, and generous, with cherry, oak, and ebony hardwoods, exotic veneers, and exquisite and rare inlays. Truly special. My father's legacy literally lives on in our daily lives. That is the true meaning of treasure. 

I inherited some of his tools, but only the everyday tools, and only those I might have an actual use for. A hammer my dad owned for ever. Some vice grips. A laser level, a Vernier caliper, a few hand power tools... basically very little. 

The serious tools (table saws, drill press, lathes, planers...) went to my brother-in-law who could actually use them.

That doesn't mean that I don't have an appreciation for great innovative tools that meet a real need. Tools that fit their purpose to perfection. Tools that take very little room, yet are reliably there when they are needed, but otherwise, are all but invisible. That is my definition of cool tools. 

My Leatherman Wave fits the bill. 

But move over Leatherman, I have two other even more amazing and mind-blowing examples to share. If you want either of these, read on, the links you need are at the bottom. To get there, just read on and allow your interest to be piqued along the way.

The Brompton tool

I'll start here, because I own this tool, and it is a true joy to put to use.

This tool has all the components needed to all but completely disassemble a Brompton bicycle.

With the Brompton tool you can

  • Adjust, or completely remove, the saddle;
  • Remove the wheels;
  • Remove the tires;
  • Remove the grips
  • Adjust or completely disassemble the controls
    • Break levers, calipers
    • Gear shifters
    • Cabling
  • Remove the handlebars
  • Remove the mudguards
  • Remove or replace the easy wheels
  • ...
This list literally goes on, and on. If you were to use the tool to remove every component possible, all you would be left with would be the frame and the cranks.

Like everything about the Brompton, the tool kit is highly, highly engineered and exquisitely mated to the bike. 

How does it disappear when not in use?

It lives in the front section of the frame.

When the bike is folded it is obvious and easy to see, but only if you know where to look, and what to look for. The wrench does double duty as a handy way to pull the tool out of hiding. 

If you didn't know anything about it, for instance you bought a second-hand Brompton and didn't know about the tool, it might take you quite a while, perhaps weeks, or even months, to find it and figure out what it is, what it does.

Basically it's a ratchet driver that is also a wrench, with all the right bits for the ratchet, and two tire levers that also serve as wrenches.

The MetMo Pocket Driver

I mention this amazing tool second, because I don't actually own one.

You see, this is one of those fascinating things about the world we live in. In this case it's Kickstarter. A platform that allows smart people with brilliant ideas to bring their inventions to life.

There is something enticing about this tool. It's similar to the Brompton tool in many respects because it's also a ratchet driver, it's incredibly compact, and also because it is highly engineered to be robust, and to perform in tricky situations. 

Another thing the Brompton, the MetMo Pocket Driver, and Brompton tool have in common? They are designed and produced in the U.K. Wow!

Because of its form factor, the MetMo Pocket Driver fits in your drawer, in your pocket, in your glove compartment or console, in your purse, even your evening bag, in your saddlebag, top case, handlebar bag, in your backpack, or your travel sling. Super easy for it to be right there whenever there's a loose screw, a stuck bolt, or a fiddly bit of gear that needs a quarter-turn, a tweak, a twist, or a twirl.

Now that I've got your attention, I'll let MetMo's arty images tell the rest of the tale. 

If you now realize that you simply can't live without one, or the other, or even both of these wonders, here are the links I promised. Have fun, and have no fear, you will have spent wisely.

Hmmmm... I forgot to mention that although MetMo reached out to me asking if I would do this, I am not compensated in any way by Brompton or MetMo for this post. It's 100% motivated by my love of cool tools. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Trashcan solutions

 We just returned from a family event in Florida.

At some point I mentioned to Mason that for many years and in multiple locations at our home in Montreal, my offices at CGI, and now at our home in Toronto, I have used trashcans as a solution to the wire mess that is inevitable with computers and network gear. 

Mason was interested to learn more, and I promised photos. Mason expressed concern that bundling power supply cabling with ethernet was not recommended due to electro-magnetic interference. I acknowledge that, but it's something I have always done, and haven't had any issues that I am aware of.  Although see below about a magnet war that destroyed some key equipment.

Sending one photo by email is fine, but multiple photos is a trickier challenge due to file size.

I thought about alternatives, and decided that a blog post could do the trick.

So here goes.

There are a number of ingredients that result in the wire mess:

  1. Power supply
    1. There are the power bars needed to plug in all the devices. Sometimes the power connection is direct (for instance with a Mac computer) more often the power connection is indirect and requires plugging in an AC/DC adapter.
    2. In addition to the little brick that takes up space on the power bar, the AC/DC adapter has a long-ish cable, often with a micro USB connection that plugs into the device. That is the first source of excess wiring. Modems, routers, bridges, they each have a little brick and excess micro USB wiring.
  2. Network cabling
    1. Modems, routers, computers, printers, microphones, and other devices that depend on rapid and voluminous data use RJ45 ethernet network cables, as well as phone or optical cabling. While it is possible to make custom length cables, I have never bothered, you will soon see why.
    2. Often the ethernet cable runs to and from from the network components are short, in the case of my network gear, maybe from mere inches to a foot or three max. That means more excess wiring, depending on the length of the ethernet cables.
There are readily available tools you can use to tame cabling, but tie-wraps are essential.  In my most recent cable management for my sit-stand desk I installed Ikea undermount cable trays. I posted a video that you can get here. A word of warning about electro-magnetic interference that I did have though. In the video you will see that I mounted two Ikea lighting remotes next to the remote for the sit-stand desk. The Ikea remotes are held in place by strong magnets. Over time the magnetic field from the Ikea remotes destroyed both the sit-stand desk remote, and the control unit for the motorized legs. It took a lot of brainstorming with the amazing support folks at Progressive Desk to figure out what was happening. You will see in photo #1 below that the Ikea remotes are now installed on the risers for my monitors. The sit-stand desk is back to working perfectly. Hopefully the Ikea magnetic remotes aren't working on destroying anything else, like my Mac.

So here is what I do.

  1. I plug everything in.
  2. I use tie-wraps to route the cabling.
  3. All the excess cable gathers at a single point along with all the DC power supply cables. From that point, the cables are gathered and from there descend into a trashcan (most recently I used a Muji storage cube). The excess ethernet cable takes the same path. All the power bars currently there are four, and all the AC/DC adapters live in the trashcan.
  4. That's it. Wire mess tamed. Easy-peasy.
Here are the photos. In the first photo if you look carefully you will see 7 cables on the desktop in this order: lightning cable, micro USB cable, female USB, female USB, lightning cable, USBC, lightning cable. I can pull on each of those cables to extend them. The reason that works is that you can see in photo #5 that the excess cable simply falls in a controlled way into a trashcan. The other cable that falls into the trashcan is the main power cable that connects to the power bar that sits in the Ikea cable management tray. As my sit-stand desk rises and lowers, the cables lower into the trashcan, or rise up, as the case may be. Kind of cool, very functional, very handy.

Photo #1
Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Photo #5

Photo #6

Photo #7

Photo #8

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Little bit of a morning stretch

Each weekday morning my watch kindly wakes me without disturbing Susan.

I rise, meditate briefly, exercise, then go for a ride. While I exercise I think of what path to take on my ride.

One possible route is to take the Finch trail east to the Don river trail which is my favourite trail. 

I have only rarely taken that route because of the distance, and because, I am ashamed to say this... concerns about coyotes. I have come across coyotes twice on the Finch trail. There was no cause for concern because the Finch trail runs under a hydro electric transmission corridor, it's wide open, and in both cases the coyote was warily keeping a great distance and going about its business.

Until this morning, I felt that the Don river trail presented more risk of coyote issues because I imagined I would be the only person on the trail because it was early spring, and because the trail, while set in an urban area, actually feels quite remote. The narrow paved path wanders along the ravine, following the Don river branch (more of a stream than a river, truth be told). My concern is that I might startle a coyote and prompt an attack. 

Yes that's a little silly, and cowardly.

Today I decided to go that way.

No coyotes, or even foxes, the wildlife was only squirrels, a woodpecker, delightful sounds of rushing water... and ten or twelve pedestrians and walkers, often with their pooches. Far from threatening in any way, it was pure delight. The music streaming in my AirPods matched the scenery. 

On the return route, I took the Sheppard subway for a couple of stops because parts of the route have serious climbing, and I needed a break. Besides, as wonderful as the Don river trail is, Sheppard avenue from the top of the hill west of Leslie to Yonge is very urban, and not bike friendly.

Occasional rain drops fell on the two kilometre ride from Sheppard subway stop back home. All told, 11.74 (excluding the subway ride) kilometres bright and early this morning, for a total of 2,607.22 kilometres since I began tracking my cycling on November 20, 2021. 

Not too shabby.

Maps of this morning's two segments. The scale is different in each, and therefore misleading.

Friday, May 19, 2023

2 B's and a F

 I was rarely a really good student. I made sure to pass, and to get really good grades when I could see that getting those grades was vital to an eventual next step.

But this, is not about, that.

And no, it's not about B-words and F-words either. Well I guess it is, but... not those...

You see, we live in a very urban area, Our condo tower is among the shrimps in our neighbourhood at 24 stories. New skyscrapers are constantly popping up like spring tulips.

Fortunately Toronto is blessed with numerous ravines. Most have streams running through them intent on dumping more and more water into Lake Ontario. The ravines are generally sufficiently steep so that builders avoid them as too costly for building homes profitably. 

And thus, as I do my outdoor morning rides on well-maintained bike trails in the midst of wonderful green spaces, including some in the nearby ravines, my almost perfectly silent Brompton fails to alert the local fauna lurking in the flora, and this week I saw two bunnies, one of which crossed my path a little too close for comfort, and this morning on my way down into the Earl Bales Park ravine, a sly but shy fox was about to cross my path but made an abrupt U-turn and sprinted into the greenery, not to be seen again.

Thursday, May 18, 2023


The scene as I left my firm's town hall meeting yesterday evening
How do you know when the urban environment is threatening and bullying the green environment?

Well, one thing you can do is pay attention to the trees.

Shocked tree seen on our evening walk

Monday, May 15, 2023

Mother's Day

 You can't make this stuff up!

Our kids organized a very nice Mother's Day brunch at a local restaurant.

There were flowers, and treats, and laughs, and fun with the kids and grandkids.

I enjoyed a little creativity, colouring with crayons with my granddaughter, building and re-building a little pyramid from the usual trash.

I suppose I was inspired by the "trashion couture" art on the wall... I had already taken pictures of six of the works to add to my digital collection. Lora Moore-Kakaletris's work now lives in my collection with works by Andy Warhol, Monet, Lawren Harris, and many, many other artists whose work struck my fancy over the years, including work from museums from Montreal, Athens, Toronto, Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Portland, Seattle, Bayeux, and Amboise.

We had a very enjoyable brunch. Then came the funny finale, and the silliness that inspired this post.

I had my credit card handy, waiting my turn to pay, when... a power failure took the restaurant out. There was a collective ooh and ahh from the crowd, questions from the kids, and the wireless card reader that the waiter was offering me became...

That instant irony made me laugh!

We hung around waiting for the power to come back on. Just as I thought of telling our waiter we would return later in the day to settle the score, the power returned, and a few minutes later, their payment software branded as "Toast" returned and I was able to pay.

Soon after, we came home (the restaurant is just down the street from where we live). The music I had left playing, wasn't. That's not good, I thought. You see all my music plays on our network thanks to Apple and the wonder of streaming.

The power failure had been brief at home, but knocked my Mac out. Oh the joy of recovering all my work-related spreadsheets.

Another inconvenience thanks to the law of averages. The one law that never fails to apply. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Flat Friday

Geared up, unfolded, and good to go, with a plan to cycle my longest loop, but in the opposite direction. 

Wait… why does the front feel… wah, wah, wahhhhhhh.

My early morning ride time was re-allocated to flat repair.

Not so bad really. One puncture in just over 2 years. 

Plus, I got to fix it in the comfort of home, as opposed to outdoors, in the rain, on a cold day…

So here's another reason why I am a huge Brompton fan. Everything I could possibly need to work on my Brompton, is INSIDE the Brompton.

In this photo, you can see it, but unless I pull it out a little, it's almost imperceptible: the comprehensive Brompton tool kit, and the brand new never used spare inner tube.

With a tiny tug, here they are.

No need for a saddle bag, and when the bike is unfolded, the kit is invisible, because both items live inside the main chassis tube. That's an option that only has the potential to exist in a folding bike, and absolutely exists in every single Brompton.

It was my first bicycle flat repair in a long, long, long time. But, like riding a bike, once learned, the skill lasts a lifetime. I more recently fixed Vespa flats, but those are a cinch because Vespa tires are tubeless.

The one disappointment: inside the tool kit, there used to be two patches. My intention was to patch the puncture. Alas, somewhere along the way (the Vancouver trip? The Ogunquit trip?) the patches went AWOL So I replaced the inner tube. I then took the spare inner tube from Susan's bike and put it in mine. So I am back to 100% Boy Scout readiness, but I still need to patch the punctured tube and put it into Susan's bike.

All told, not the morning I was expecting, but you know what they say, experience is what you get... when you were expecting something else.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Go with the flow

I have ridden past this fountain many times in the last few years. Today may be the first time I paid it any attention. If the fountain had become the heart of a contentious issue, and had I been questioned as a potential witness, my response would have been "what fountain?".

It's modern, modest, doesn't splash, and it's a nice touch in a very urban setting.

I stopped to take the photo because I noticed the fountain as I waited for the light to change. Now that I am thinking about how to describe how it fits in this morning's ride, the fountain seems like an expression of my recent post about how change often behaves like ocean currents.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023


 This is a very short post.

Today our condo was assessing the underground parking as part of its capital planning and the experts wanted the P1 level empty today.

Condo life is relatively new for Susan and I. It's just over seven years. In all that time, I have never, ever, ever seen the parking empty.

Wow! That's just P1, but still, quite a sight. The other two levels were assessed yesterday and the day before.

The end of an era


It was time. It's about time. It's time.

In 2010 it was time to begin riding Vespas. The Scoot Commute is what I called it, because, inspired by what I saw so many Parisians doing when I was briefly in Paris in 2008, I decided to commute to work in Montreal on a Vespa.

It all kicked off in the early spring of 2010. I won't go into too much detail on what followed. It's all laid out in minute detail in this journal (blog? I like journal. I don't like that it sounds hoity-toity though. Oh well.). To make things easier there is a link to a chronological list of posts above, or you can click here.

That decision to live more of my life on two wheels affected so many things. I learned to be even more different than in the past. Although, to be honest, I was always different. A lefty, bilingual, raised a Catholic, but married a beloved Jew, disowned by my parents, then forgiven. The list goes on. Commuting sixty kilometres a day on a Vespa in a busy city, rain or shine, in the heat or the cold? That's not 'normal', but...

I made friends. Not in my neighbourhood, like 'normal' people do, but all over the place. In Ontario, in British Columbia, in Pennsylvania, in New York State, in Florida, in Germany. I rode scooters in all those places. I rode a scooter to the Piaggio plant in Pontedera, Italy (to be fair, Italy is not exactly Germany, but I was riding with my German friends, so there's that). Never in my wildest dreams could I have pictured all the joy my Vespas would bring.

Today it's time.

Journeys all have places where experience shifts. Sometimes change is abrupt and jarring. Mostly though, there is a gentle drift, when the dominant theme and a new theme join paths, like ocean currents, unseen, seamless, relentless, eventually drifting apart, each going their own way.

Miata, meet Vespa. David sails off on a dragon red Vespa, and the mid-life-crisis-red Miata (Susan coined that colour) is left behind, and eventually, over time, takes a different path (from David to Marc, and beyond).

Vespa meet Brompton. David pedals off, folding, unfolding, folding, unfolding... and just like a Brompton, the journey must always be unfolding and shifting. Now the dragon red Vespa sits idle, and soon, in a matter of days, it will take a different path (from David, to Adam, and beyond).

A note to Adam.

Adam, my wish for you, is that your new Vespa will light up your life, the way Vespas lit mine.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Flaming Roseway

Would you be content to live there?

I know, what kind of a question is that?

Context often makes the difference between the head-scratch-and-cock-eyed-stare, and the nod.

It's a little street, or laneway, that meanders along a row of townhouses, closer to the eastern tip of one of my usual morning rides.

Approximately two years of riding that route, once or twice a week, from early spring to late fall, and I never managed to notice the street name before this morning.

What a great name!

Early this morning, eleven degrees Celsius, with blue skies and gorgeous puffy white clouds, headed to 26C (if you can believe it), that street sign seemed like the harbinger of a great outdoor riding season to come.

So long P2 Loop, hello Flaming Roseway!

PS: it's now quarter to six and twenty-six degrees Celsius on April 12, 2023!!!!! And my Brompton cycling adventures in the early morning now total 2,422 kilometres!!!!!! 

PPS20230425 My friend Ed (see the comments on this post) is a very creative guy. I often think that there isn't anything he could set his mind to that he wouldn't be able to do. Ed sent me these images of his handy work in designing and building an actual Roseway. Here is Ed's Roseway:

Monday, March 27, 2023


If there is one thing that seems clear to me at this point in my life, it's that you and I have a love-hate relationship with progress.

Many people might say they enjoy progress.

Progress and the colourful merry-go-round at the town fair have many things in common.

The gentle spin as the ride begins is delightful; we happily anticipate more to come; the slow swirl of the early rotation has us wanting more; a twirl that makes us flick our heads left and right to make sense of the scene beyond the prancing horses makes us tighten our grip on the pole; all too soon, we begin to have had our fill of the ride; any faster and we fear losing our grip... 

My grandfather was a published author. I only recently read some of this books. I can safely say that unless you studied French-Canadian literature at a Quebec university, you have never, ever heard of Oscar Masse.

I never met him, he passed three years before I was born.

The novel I am reading now, published in 1922, begins in his present but quickly shifts to explore what life was in the 17th century, in what was then neither Canada, nor the U.S.

Oscar began his book with his impression of progress. He wrote of the modern wonder of steam and electricity, how cars replaced his father's horse and carriage, cinema replaced theatre, how planes seemed destined to replace cars, and he foretold a crazy future where telephones might become wireless. His narrative then slips back in time, to the early days of the colony and he paints a picture of a very different world.

For many, 1922 has left no trace in our present. Here in Toronto, that past has been mostly erased as the new replaces the old at a crazy pace. The skyline seen from the lake no longer looks like what it did even ten years ago.

The truth is that all technology progresses at an exponential pace, whether it's the industrial revolution, or the digital one.

In large measure progress today is driven by computer chips, either directly, like our 'smart' phones, or indirectly where data networks, container shipping, and air travel result in our global economy. We have shrunk the world. North America, Europe, and Asia were, not that long ago, worlds apart, and now are only hours apart. What happens in Moscow and Beijing, affects the price of our bread and butter within just a few days.

Some of us want off that carousel. To return to a time that made more sense to us, when our neighbours were more like us, spoke like us, ate as we ate. When we didn't need to update our software, when our cars didn't sense their surroundings...

I have to admit that the pace of change once really frightened me, freaked me out, when I was sure that younger, computer-armed generations, would surely obliterate my career because computers and I were strangers.

I survived, unscathed, and even prospered, once I learned to type and made computers my friends. 

Today I gave up my morning bike ride in the sub-basement to share these thoughts with you.

I enjoy writing and sharing. It's something that allows me to express the essence of my self. To be artistic, to share my thoughts, and perhaps to persuade...?

ChatGPT4. What the heck...? What are you doing here?

Hey ChatGPT! Can I call you AI...? Write me an article about how the exponential pace of change is challenging our capacity to adapt, making people long for a return to simpler times.

In recent years, the world has witnessed a rapid and exponential pace of change in various aspects of life. The advancement in technology, globalization, and demographic shifts have accelerated the pace of change, making it challenging for individuals, societies, and even institutions to keep up. The exponential pace of change has been so rapid and unprecedented that it has made people long for a return to simpler times.

The capacity to adapt to change is an essential aspect of human life. However, rapid, complex, and unrelenting changes can overwhelm even the most adaptable humans. The exponential pace of change has been so rapid that people are struggling to adapt to its consequences. This struggle to adapt is evident in many aspects of our lives, including our social, economic, and political lives.

People's longing for a return to simpler times can be attributed to the fears and uncertainties brought about by change. The rapid pace of change has left people feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed by its negative impacts, and uncertain about the future. As technology and globalization continue to shape the world's landscape, people fear that they may be left behind if they do not keep up. For instance, the exponential pace of technological change has created anxiety about job loss, privacy concerns, and social isolation, making people nostalgic for simpler times.

The pace of change is also affecting social values and norms. The traditional social norms and values that have governed human societies for generations are undergoing rapid changes. The internet and social media have fundamentally changed how people communicate, interact, and form relationships. The traditional social norms that helped build communities and social cohesion now face significant challenges. This loss of traditional social norms is generating a longing for a return to simpler times when the community and interpersonal relationships were the backbone of society.

Moreover, the exponential pace of change is driving the demand for quick fixes and immediate gratification. People are used to getting anything they want, whenever they want it. This kind of instantaneous gratification is making people impatient, making them desire simpler times when life was more predictable and manageable.

In conclusion, the exponential pace of change is outpacing our capacity to adapt to it. As a result, people are uneasy about the consequences of change, and they long for a return to simpler times. However, change is inevitable, and we need to come up with strategies to adapt to it without losing the positive elements of our traditional values and norms. Rather than fighting or resisting change, we should embrace it, learn from it, and take steps to mitigate its negative effects.

Oh wow... Let's see... literally as I ate my breakfast, a) I searched on Google on my iPad for "ChatGPT"; b) I downloaded the app from the Apple App store;  c) I posed the question; d) I hit enter;  e) I waited maybe three minutes, maybe less, and BINGO! In all, in well under ten minutes I went from almost no knowledge or experience with AI, to that article.

The app wouldn't let me copy the output, or even my own input. I'm guessing that it "thinks" that it owns the copyright to my input as well as to its output? Let's see, as between one who sows the seeds and reaps the crop, that nature produces, who owns the crop, Mother Nature or MOI? I suppose that, for now, its intelligence is truly artificial.

I should add that it took my tools and my knowledge of computers to do a screenshot of the output, airdrop it to my desktop, feed the screenshot to my text scanner, edit the transcription in my word processor to remove spurious carriage returns, and paste it into blogger.

OK, so now I'm both lawyering AND bragging.

ChatGPT for its part just kept its mouth shut and instantly produced, claiming no credit, as far as I can tell.

So what do you think? Who wrote the better article? Was it me, or my 'buddy' AI? 

I spent hours, thinking, conceiving, writing, editing, preening, re-reading, tweaking, from 7:15 until I published this at 12:17.

AI puked out its text in mere minutes.

So that's now. And in two years, four years, a decade? If computers as we knew them spawned social media that might just be rotting society to its core, what will AI do?

I have no fear for my future. That's because I basically no longer have a future to speak of. I'll be 71 in June.

How does all this make you feel?

I'm curious.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023



This morning I was surprised.

"Surprise" is a word that gets lots of use. "I was surprised..." "we surprised him with..." "it was a surprise to learn..." "it was a nice surprise..." "I don't like surprises..." "it may surprise you...."

My surprise today happened on my morning P2 Loop.

No, it's nothing even remotely bad or disturbing. Besides, I do my best to be extremely focused and on the lookout for cars and people coming and going.

What surprised me this morning was a first for all of my 286 P2 Loops to date: another cyclist came down the ramp from P1. Hard to tell, but I suspect he was as surprised to see me, as I was surprised to see him.

I am posting this because it's an opportunity to explore what a surprise is. I think that it's something sufficiently out of the ordinary that it lights up our neurons as soon as it happens. Not always enough to provoke a significant physical reaction like a jerk, or a gasp, or a shout, but certainly enough to feel a psychic jolt of a kind. It's definitely a physical experience that stems from our perception of our environment.

We become familiar with our environment. We develop complex sets of expectations. It's our way of navigating our world, of predicting the imminent future. The surprise is unexpected. This encounter certainly fit that bill.

He was a serious cyclist, perhaps a commuter returning home. Our paths crossed in an instant. We were traveling in opposite directions, me northbound approaching the ramp, he exiting the ramp to head southbound. I assume he was headed to P3 because after that brief moment I didn't see him again.

We were alike in many ways as far as I recall. Both men, both dressed in shades of dark grey, both wearing gloves and black helmets, both alert, and very focused on riding, both moving at a decent pace. Both silent in our movement.

We were also quite different. His was a road bike, mine a Brompton. Mine had lights fore and aft, his had none.

Now I wonder how he would describe our flash encounter.

Was he surprised?

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

What's a million?

I'm glad I asked.

Clearly it depends on what you count.

Stars? A million is nothing, less than a drop in the universe.

Grains of sand? Nada. Maybe a sand castle on a beach?

Humans? Humans are never nothing. We are just the most amazing and bewildering things in the universe... as near as we can tell, we think. It's likely that many of the cities boasting of a million or more people, are places you have never even heard of.

Money? Ha... not what it once was, that's for sure.

So what's this particular million?

It's actually the millionth

The millionth Brompton bicycle rolled off the Brompton assembly at the sacred plant in London that all Bromptons come from, including mine. I 'liked' (loved? hearted?) the video of course and just had to comment.

I recommend that you watch the video too. It's obviously historic. It will be even more so if King Charles heeds my advice and knights Andrew Ritchie, Brompton's brilliant creator.

Feel free to chime in and poke King Charles in favour of Sir Andrew Ritchie.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.