Feb 24, 2009

A Call for National Walk in the Snow Day

Okay, okay, I freely admit that I haven’t posted in several weeks; however sometimes it takes me a long time to write what I need to write about events I attended and the thoughts I had, but I have found that walking in the snow lately has helped me get over my writer’s block. In fact, this whole walk in the snow routine reminds me that 28 February 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, our late, and in my mind great, prime minister, taking his now-famous “walk in the snow”. For those that don’t know the story, Trudeau walked alone in a snowstorm until midnight on 28 February 2009 wherein he made – or confirmed – his decision to step down as prime minister. The next day, 29 February 1984, he announced publicly that he was stepping down. So, in honour of Trudeau’s walk in the snow, I think we should all take time on Saturday 28 February 2009 for our own “walk in the snow.”

Let’s encourage everyone to get out for, what we should call it, I dunno, how about “National Walk in the Snow Day”. Of course, not everyone will face the decision to step down as prime minister and not everyone will make the “right” decision that will be best for everyone involved. Remember during Trudeau’s tenure as prime minister we received great things, such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we received not so great things, such as the National Energy Program. In taking a walk in the snow this weekend, the decision you think about – and maybe postponed – could be about whether you take a job in a different city, about whether you reveal a secret to your family, or about whether you purchase a one way ticket to a foreign country.

The thing about decisions is that you can only make them with the information that is available to you at the time of the decision; remember only the passage of time will tell you if you’ve made the correct decision. The walk in the snow may only result in telling you to jump headlong, but responsibly, into something. See the benefit of walk in the snow is that it gives us that chance to focus our thoughts by freeing them from distraction, and instead of postponing decisions that we have been avoiding, motivate us to make and, ultimately, accept our decisions. Enjoy your walk in the snow on 28 February 2009.

What a weekend

To say it was an amazing weekend in CB is to be understated.
I spent Sunday afternoon at the Hoppitt-Loppitt at Ski Ben Eoin ., a fun family event. The day was made for it, sunny, clear, views from the heavens. I was only sory I couldn't be in Baddeck at the same time, but had a bit of a taste of the Silver Dart Ceclebrations when the F 118s( I think) did a flyby on the way to the Flyby in Baddeck. I wonder whatr.(s) Mc Curdy and Bell would have thought 100 years ago about the technical improvements that allowed their little craft to evolve into the craft I saw?

And speaking of evolving , I spoke to the organizers of the Walking MArathon at the Ski Hill and plans are well underway for a multi distance ( for beginners to pros) Marathon on September 12 in Cb.
and then I got home to this email.

Hi Claire,

I've been holding Nordic Walking clinics since January at the track
next to the Bicentennial Gym off Cabot Street in Sydney. Working
with Velo Cape Breton I've trained 24 people and would like to
continue, so I'm hoping that you can help me get the word out. The
clinic consist of four one hour sessions and people can pick Tuesday
or Thursday at 2pm to 3pm OR Friday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. I
teach a maximum of 8 people at a time. Now for the good part ----
the clinics are FREE. Participants need nordic walking poles ---
these can be purchased on the net. Locally, Bill at Frameworks
Fitness and Cycle on Townsend Street has them for sale at very competitive prices. He also has a rent to own offer, which is perfect if you want to try the sport out before buying poles.
Just what is Nordic Walking? Using poles while you walk transforms
walking into more of a total body workout. It also lowers the impact
on your hips and knees. To see videos of the sport go to www.keenfit.com . Nordic walking is suitable for people of all ages and athletic ability. The only basic requirement is that you be able to walk
continuously for 20 minutes. To date I've trained people who are
highly athletic to individuals recovering from joint replacement
surgery. But most of all it's a great way to get out and about
winter or summer. The track has been in a good walkable condition even when the sidewalks have been the pits.
If people are interested they can call me Andrée Crépeau at 539-9521 or email me at acrepeau@ns.sympatico.ca

So walk on anyway you want.

Feb 20, 2009

Let's bring it back to Batman...

One of the earlier posts here reminded us that walking lets you observe some strange stuff you might not notice from a car - in this case, a seemingly inexplicable juxtaposition of neon Superman and Batman signs in a store that appeared to be not about comics. We were asked to imagine who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman. And I did give it some thought, unwilling to accept the too-easy answer that Superman's superpowers would make mincemeat of Batman's.... emotional depth...?

Obviously I didn't keep this issue front-of-mind at all times, but I do pass that same eccentric store on my own walk to work (if the sidewalks haven't been cleared along the more-direct residential route - but that's another story!)

Then, this morning, I saw this.

Superman's neon burnt out.

Batman wins by default.

Update: this issue is apparently bigger than I realized. Later that same day (that would be today), I passed a known comic book store in another part of the city, and saw that, at least in this neighbourhood, the controversy is very much still alive.

Feb 17, 2009

What's in your radius?

Thanks to our friends at VELO Cape Breton for finding this interesting spot.


link: http://isocrates.us/bike/2008/12/the-1-mile-solution/

The idea is simple: Find your home on a map. Draw a circle with a 1-mile radius around your home.( My note 1.6 kms) Try to replace one car trip per week within that circle by walking or biking. At an easy riding pace you can travel one mile on a bicycle in about seven minutes . Walking takes about 20 minutes at an easy pace. So what’s within 1 Mile of your house? Check it out at http://walkscore.com/

For me it’s not too hard. If I head north , I can walk to a very neat Island ( this month only! The lake is frozen right now), east I can get the mail,;South, the neighbors are fairly quiet in the cemetery;but South there are lots of neighbors to chat with and a small hobby farm to spend time with the horses, Shetland cattle, and a miniature horse! All cool.

Manic Mondays (or Tuesdays)

So, here's the thing about walking: If you're late for something, often times you don't have anyone to blame but yourself. So, in addition to being active, proper planning and punctuation are key life skills to work on as well. I thought about this as I rushed out the door with a quick stride this morning to make it to my 9:00 meeting (I was just past the buzzer). If I only left a few minutes earlier I wouldn't have been trying to match roadrunner in a race.

I thought about how I would rationalize my late entry (watch broken, traffic, blizzard?) and I felt a little classic Bangles tune haunt my head:

Have to catch an early train
Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an air-o-plane
I still couldn't make it on time
'Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I'm gonna wear
Blame it on the train
But the boss is already there (Manic Monday, The Bangles, 1986).

Now, note that walking is not on the list for reasons one could be late. Granted, the message in the song is about the issues that Mondays can present for getting to work, and clearly the ability to make it on time is the real issue. But still.

If we are to take a lesson from pop culture, perhaps the real manic message in all of this is that walking as a means of transportation isn't on our immediate radar as an option. And maybe that could be the best reason of all to be late.

Feb 13, 2009

Walking in the big, bus-less city

I love to walk. I wouldn't mind walking pretty much everywhere. But I like it most when it's a choice. And so, when I found myself in the midst of Ottawa's recent transit strike, I had mixed emotions.

Though I ultimately chose Nova Scotia to call home, I did live in Ottawa for almost a decade. My first visit back showed me how much the city has changed without the busses.

On the one hand, this time friends were much more amenible to my suggestions that we walk to wherever we were going - because the alternative was not a quick and cheap bus ride, but an interminable wait for one of the overworked, overpriced cabs. For once, walking was the quick way 'round.

But on the other hand... busses help pedestrians. They get us (close to) where we wanna go so we can walk the rest of the way. They extend our range, letting us access farflung places in the region that we'd otherwise have to drive to. And they help keep the neighbourhoods relatively free of the stinking, honking, crosswalk-blocking mass of road-rage that results when so many bus riders are forced back into their single-occupancy vehicles.

And there were heartbreaking stories about people who were forced to walk hours to work. To these folks, for these 53 days, walking was the only way to save their jobs, and it was cold and icy and not a choice, and not exactly what Walkabout calls "the joyful side of walking".

Still, I have to tip my toque to those who were in a position to rediscover why they like walking. As student/journalist Marlee Wasser wrote,

"I forgot how much I love walking!... And you know what? It actually doesn't take much longer to get places on foot...And I get to work feeling great because I got all those happy-feeling-making endorphins going. So I’m hoping maybe the strike also helped other people realize how great walking is and how socially acceptable it should be to take the sidewalk over the road."

You go, girl. Way to take power in a disempowered, crippled city.

For me, I'm relieved to be back in Halifax - and like you, eager to help build this province's culture of walking. Unlike Ottawa, this city's core is small enough to walk comfortably, and while we get our share of storms, we don't get nearly as much frigid cold - or even as much snow. (Check out the snow that obscures my pics of Ottawa's empty bus stop and newspaper boxes announcing the eventual end of the strike, above). We've got a good thing going here.

Feb 10, 2009

Who do you like enough to take for a walk?

I’ve been thinking about who walks and why. We usually think of women as walking to get the social interaction (gab fest), but my observation of one group of guys who walk around my neck of the woods proves men like companionship too. One of these groups is a bunch of young retirees who get together 3-4 times a week. They walk around various neighbourhoods and then head off to breakfast together at least once a week. The interesting thing is that these guys have known each other for years. Two of them were in high school together. Three of them went to university together, all of them worked in various capacities for the same employer for over 30 years! Their families have played baseball, camped, curled, and attended weddings and funerals together. Walking keeps this bond strong. So who in your life would you like to bond with? Call them up tonight to go for a walk.

Feb 5, 2009

Nordic Walkers are cool.

You can imagined how pleased I was to read my latest Velo CB newsleter and see this item:

by: Andre Crpeault, VCB #57
I thought I'd send you some news re the Nordic Walking. Despite the cold and the bitter wind and my own cold-- I've trained 19 people to Nordic Walking since the first week of January. And except for some cold fingers we've had alot of fun. We meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm at the track next to the Centennial arena(off Cabot street) for regular walks.
And I'm starting a third clinic this Sunday at 2pm. I'm hoping that the Sunday and Friday group will also evolve into a regular walking session.
I've had a number of questions about footwear. You need a flexible sole----- a running or walking shoe is best. A hiking or winter boot with a stiff sole will hinder your progress.
In response to queries re trying the poles Bill at Frameworks has come up with a rental plan. Please see the following note from Bill.
Cheers to Winter - See you at the track,
ps. I can be reached at acrepeau(at)ns.sympatico.ca or by calling 539-9521.

To read more interesting stuff going on here in CB... not just winter walking but winter riding visit the spot

Feb 3, 2009

Storm is here.

Well. the storm has arrived in Cape Breton. To follow up on the sidewalk reports, shall we also have wiper blades for glasses available for the walkers who get caught in the snow? It seems to me that that is one of the great hazards of walking , not being able to see where you go. I saw this great gadget that might help out for the walkers who have to battle their way throgh small drifts.

Feb 2, 2009

There's a storm coming re: side walk reports

As the saying goes, if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. To that end, I should end this blog post now. I guess I'm not a quick study.

I do feel compelled to follow-up to August's Journey's earlier comments re: side walk reports. (See his comment from January 30th, "Why do we have road reports, but not sidewalk reports or phone booth reports?")

It can be problematic and dangerous to walk in winter - even with the proper clothing. Part of a culture of walking could include a change in the measure we use to evaluate safety. In addition to road conditions, it would be great to also include sidewalk reports. I wonder how this idea would be implemented? What is the criteria to assess? How often is it reviewed? In a city with slippery walkways and a requirement to clear paths, such a responsibility could be part of the duties of those who so diligently ticket cars violating winter parking. It's an interesting idea to consider. That's all I'm saying.

Consider this interesting fact reported (Halifax offers parking spots to drivers caught in ban,CBC News, January 28, 2009) : "Since Dec. 15, 9,333 tickets have been issued [in Halifax]. At $25 each, that works out to $233,325."

I wonder your thoughts on the issue.