Overcoming Fear…

brave-athlete-comfort-zone

If there is one thing I understand unequivocally, it is fear. I am not talking about the boogie man hiding underneath our bed as children. I am referring to the fears that we all experience when we face the numerous challenges of life and living. It is so much easier to remain in our respective comfort zones than to tackle the challenges of personal change and adaptation to a rapidly changing society.

For some of us, our inward fears did indeed begin in childhood and became hardwired within us according to psychologists. Our childhood experiences of  hunger, pain, violence, neglect, abuse, belittlement, and ridicule set in motion mistrust and fears that can be enormous obstacles to overcome as adults.

Modern society offers all kinds of self-help books and tutorials, the services of counselling professionals, and a plethora of psychotropic drugs to either assist adults in facing and overcoming their fears or dulling our emotions and taking the edge off our experience of reality. These are all of some help and should not be dismissed haphazardly, but in my experience, human methodology and assistance alone can be likened to putting a bandaid on a deep and festering wound and hoping it will just heal itself. Unless we get to the root of our fears, and the wounds are cleaned out and truly healed, we tend to pass on those fears to our children and our children’s children.

It is almost incomprehensible to me now that we can continue to go through life thinking and acting like we are all alone in our fears and that it is safer to stay within the confines of our neatly created reality.

We were never created to be fearful, but the episode in the Garden of Eden, changed that for all of humankind. It is interesting that one of the first responses of the Biblical characters of Adam and Eve, after their disobedience, was an attempt to hide from God out of fear. A once perfect creation was now experiencing the most deadly of all human thought and emotion – FEAR.

As a new follower of Christ one of the first biblical verses I committed to memory was this:

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 1 Timothy 1:7 ESV

I had learned very quickly, on the basis of this verse, that God was very present in my life and heart via the Holy Spirit. But to experience the power of God, His unfathomable love, and enablement to live a life of self-control was a moment by moment, day by day,  and year by year walk with God, as I understood Him, each step along the way.

Slowly, over the span of some 37 years, I am still learning to trust God to help me to overcome my fears and to be healed of all of life’s harsh moments day in and day out. Addressing and overcoming our fears, both large and small, begins with our relationship with God as we understand Him. The scripture is there to lead us and guide us through the maze we call life, hopefully avoiding the traps and entanglements that tear us down and produce unreasonable fears in all of us.

To be healed inwardly of even the deepest fears is to experience the love of God in a way that is almost indescribable with mere words. I am so thankful for this journey of life and the many kind-hearted and like-minded people who have helped me along the way.

God with skin on…I like that!

The Majestic Monarch

Agriculture
Photograph courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/agriculture.html

This morning I headed out west on a road ride of a classic loop that takes one through the picturesque community of Lumsden, Saskatchewan. The morning air was a little cool with a wind from the northwest. On my way out on highway 11 (also known as the Louis Riel Trail after the 19th century Métis leader), I came across thousands, if not tens of thousands of Monarch Butterflies sunning themselves (keeping warm) on the shoulder of the highway and fluttering about the Purple Flax and Canola fields. I can honestly say that, after a couple of decades of riding this route, I have never witnessed something so majestic. Of course, I had forgotten to mount my Garmin Virb camera on the bike before I set off this morning and have absolutely no evidence of this unique moment. Nevertheless, I was rewarded with, perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the beauty and majesty of our natural world.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 6.58.41 PM

https://www.strava.com/activities/1090164610/embed/2fac6c058611c8dc6e287b06d5b2dd94827148b0

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The Willow Tree

The Willow Tree on Vimeo.

It’s difficult to imagine our backyard without this particular willow tree, but all living things must come to an end. The large willow tree has withstood harsh winters, aphid infestations, and drought over a period of approximately 40 years. The wondrous willow has provided shade, branches for children to climb on, nesting places for numerous species of birds, and majestic beauty for our neighbourhood.

Our family has fond memories and considerable sentiment for this willow tree, it’s removal bringing literal tears to my wife’s eyes. To a tree removal crew, it is just a tree. To us, the willow represents several generations of laughter and joy in our family. I can still picture our eldest daughter at 14 years-of-age, perched on a rather precarious branch, reading a good novel while sheltered from the glaring sun, our youngest shouting out with joy as she swung on the hammock fastened between two large branches, our small Shih Tzu, “Missy” getting her leash all tangled up around the trunk, looking rather sheepish and helpless.

With this in mind, it is time to say a heartfelt goodbye to an old friend who gave us more than we could possibly give back.

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Cutting down the stump before grinding.

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The Best Kept Secrets

One of the best kept secrets, at least in terms of wilderness areas with very few visitors is Condie Nature Refuge, located west of Regina, Saskatchewan. The history of the area is somewhat convoluted, frequented and perhaps settled by the indigenous people of the Cree, Assiniboine, and Saulteaux tribes on the southern plains of Saskatchewan. In the past, there has been evidence of teepee rings and primitive tools discovered in the area. In fact, at one time there was a small museum situated there representing the history, including the flora and fauna unique to that area. Unfortunately, the museum building was torn down and most of the artifacts were most likely donated to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina.

I have been visiting Condie Nature Refuge for over three decades and I never seem to grow weary of the place. Perhaps it is because the shoreline landscape is constantly changing through erosion. The little lake is indeed expanding its borders, the small animals like beavers, otters, porcupines, skunks, weasels, and gophers getting smaller in number with each passing year. Nevertheless, the area is still frequented by white tail and mule deer and is an oasis for birds of all shapes and sizes.

On this particular day I set out with a friend for a short walk along the northern shoreline of the lake to record the sights and sounds on a Panasonic mirrorless camera I had just picked up locally for a small sum of two hundred dollars. An exceptional deal given that the camera body and lens retailed, not so long ago, for over a thousand dollars.

I had no plan or script as to what I would be capturing digitally. I was just “winging it” and making eclectic choices to record whatever interested me along the way. Granted, having a plan and a script when shooting video is always a good idea as this leads to more productive post production and ultimately a much better story. But this day was going to be different in so many ways. A time to reminisce with an old friend and to enjoy our natural surroundings like we were intended to.

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Condie Nature Refuge. © 2017 Bruce Kraus. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

A few days later I sat down to edit the video I had accumulated. At first, I had no idea as to how I was going to put together a bunch of eclectic shots into some sort of coherent storyline. An almost impossible task until I realized why I frequent the refuge in the first place. Ultimately, I visit the area because it is so calm and peaceful. Almost a direct opposite of what life is like living in the city with so many people, constant traffic, noise, and even pollution.

With that in mind, I put together a HD movie that a person, such as yourself, can just toss up on the big screen and sit back and relax to soothing music and calming video. Sometimes we get so busy in life that we cannot differentiate the individual trees from the forest. From my perspective, one needs to see and experience both the forest (the big picture) and the trees (the details).

At the very least, that’s my story and I am sticking to it. Happy Canada Day! Cheers!

The Sun is Scheduled to Come Out Tomorrow by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://chriszabriskie.com/honor/
Artist: http://chriszabriskie.com/

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History of Condie Nature Refuge

History of Condie 

Human History

Before European settlement of the park and surrounding area, Cree, Assiniboine, and Saulteaux tribes utilized the area for camping. It is not sure how extensively the area was used by the tribes, but since there were buffalo in the area, it can be assumed that it was frequented often. The buffalo wallows that have been pawed out by these great beasts are evidence that they grazed on the slopes. Boggy Creek was a source of water for the herds, which in turn were a source of livelihood for the Indian tribes.

The arrival of the railway to the area brought European settlement. At the same time, the nomadic First Nations way of life was disappearing from the plains. The roaming herds of bison were replaced by the settlers’ domestic herds of cattle and the breaking of the sod and cultivation followed. In the Boggy Creek area, the European settlers actually preceded the railway. The first settlers to arrive in the Condie area in the spring of 1882 came by Canadian Pacific Railway to Brandon, Manitoba. From there they used ox carts to travel the remaining distance. In this same year, when the first owner sold the homestead property to another pioneer, 30 acres of land were broken bordering the creek. The heavy surface gumbo left by the glacial deposits of Regina Lake was ideal for producing high yield grain crops. The grassy depression of the creek was used for grazing cattle.

Robert Condie, was one of the first settlers and for whom the town of Condie was named and hence, Condie Nature Refuge. John Dougan, who was born in Condie in 1884, recalls the “old swimming hole”, as the depression in Boggy Creek was then called. At that time his father owned the land where the locals used to go for a dip on hot summer days. It was then just a 30 yard long, seven yard wide and eight foot deep hole.

Other settlers included George Burns, Thomas Cullum, Adam Traynor, W.C. and C.E. Michael, G.W. and Thomas Brown, Thomas Bredin, Sylvester Conn, and Russell and Len Purdy. The offspring of some of these families still reside in the Regina area. In fact, much of the present acreage of the refuge was purchased from the Pearce family, one of the original families. A son of the Pearce family still lives nearby.

The first crops harvested by these settlers had to be hauled by wagons to Regina, some 15 miles away. The C.P.R. had reached Regina by 1882. By 1885 a private firm, the Qu’Appelle-Long Lake Sask. Railway and Steamboat Company, had plans to load the trains onto barges to transport grain and goods to the northern end of Long Lake and then by rail. Many difficulties were encountered and finally the line was leased to the C.P.R. Then the C.P.R. extended a line as far as the hamlet of Condie, which became the first point on a rail line that later extended as far as Saskatoon. The Condie farmers built a grade and had the C.P.R. build loading platforms at Condie. It should be noted that Condie siding was about two miles from the present Refuge.

During the decade and a half from 1895 to 1910, Condie attained its peak as a commercial and grain shipment point. Wagonloads of wheat were no longer bagged but unloaded at four crude elevators. The hamlet also boasted a station, store, restaurant, church, skating rink, and sports field which serviced the whole area.

Practically all the virgin prairie was brought under the plow during this period. During one year over one million bushels of grain were shipped from Condie – surpassed in the province only by Indian Head. Proof of the richness of the area is indicated by the fact that as the automobile began to make an appearance, around 1908, practically every farmer in the Condie area bought one of these ‘contraptions’. Since this enabled them to go further afield to larger centers for goods and services, it heralded the beginning of the decline of the hamlet of Condie.

This was also about the time that the steam locomotive began to bring changes to the area. The most lastingly significant of these changes was that in 1924 the C.N.R. built a dam on Boggy Creek to provide water for their engines. Gravel was taken from the creek bank for construction of the dam known as the Condie Reservoir.  The water was piped by the C.N.R. into storage tanks in Regina. As the steam locomotive was replaced by the diesel engine in 1958 the reservoir was no longer needed. However, it remained although no longer serving its original purpose. It became a haven for water fowl and many other forms of wildlife.

Park Establishment

The reservoir and the surrounding lands remained in this state until it caught the attention of Dr. Fred Bard, then director of the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History (Royal Sask. Museum). To most people this area represented only a swamp or mosquito-ridden marsh. But Dr. Bard knew and understood nature and her beauty. He appreciated the peace of mind that nature could offer to those willing to observe her. However, his efforts to have a refuge established through government sponsorship met with some opposition and a certain amount of controversy. It was questioned whether the area was large enough for a refuge and whether it was worth the purchase price and expense of maintenance and development. Dr. Bard persisted in his efforts and it is largely through his instigation that the refuge was finally established in its initial stages.

In 1961, the Department of Agriculture purchased 287 acres from the C.N.R. for the Department of Natural Resources. Additional acreage was purchased from the surrounding farmers. The Refuge was established by Order-in-Council in July, 1963.

Historical account courtesy Regina Public Schools Outdoor Education Program (http://outdoored.rbe.sk.ca).

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When men were men…and boys…are just boys.

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The flamboyant Mario Cipollini sprinting to another victory.

The 42-time Giro stage winner, Mario Cipollini deplored the lack of action in the fight for the maglia rosa so far, criticising most of the GC riders for being afraid to take their chances.

The centenary (100th) edition of the Giro d’ Italia has been a snooze fest amongst the General Classification (GC) contenders. According to the 50-year-old Cipollini, the GC contenders of today are just not of the same quality of riders from past generations.

On Etna, there was wind. And…? Is that a reason? Do you think Pantani or Hinault would have stayed in the wheels because it was windy? I fear we may have to wait until the Stelvio for everything to unfold because even the time trials won’t see many differences between Quintana, Nibali, Pinot, or Thomas.

Mario Cipollini

I tend to agree with the former Italian sprinter. Today’s Pro Tour riders are so dependant on technology, constantly peering down at their computers to determine wattage and heart rate, listening obediently to their race directors barking orders on the radio from the comfort of the support vehicles. The GC contenders appear to be afraid to attack or do anything that would add some spark to this year’s Giro. Everyone seems content to wait for the last week of climbing, where, predictably, Quintana will ride away from everyone. This is not road racing, this is a boring snooze fest that has already lost the attention of dedicated fans, myself included.

We know everything about their watts, their heart rates, but of what interest? That doesn’t tell us anything about them. If we knew that a rider cannot produce more than 450 watts, then yes, that would be interesting to see on a screen that’s he’s reached his limit, but then again this is just data, useless gadgets that imitate Formula 1 and can only interest people who know nothing about cycling.

Mario Cipollini

Bring back the real men to the professional peloton. I am tired of just watching the timid boys and their superfluous toys.

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The Consumer: Unwitting Guinea Pigs

apple-patent-diagram
Apple Inc files a patent for a method of calculating wind resistance for a cyclist, one factor that could be used to calculate a rider’s power output without a dedicated meter

This patent by Apple will most likely get buried and never come to fruition. It is interesting that the concept (based on Newton’s Third Law) has already been developed into a product (http://www.ibikesports.com) since about 2006.

Today, most popular commercial power meters are based on some sort of measurement of direct force applied utilizing various hardware, and software algorithms. The actual cost of developing a direct force power meter (DFPM), including research and development (R&D), is actually minuscule compared to the retail selling prices. Don’t take my word for it, just ask DC Rainmaker, considered an expert in the field.

As consumers, we are paying through the nose for a direct force power meter from companies such as SRM, Stages, Quarq, Pioneer, 4iiii, Rotor, PowerTap, and so forth. The strain gauges used in DFPM’s were originally developed for the nuclear industry several decades ago, and are relatively inexpensive. The claim that R&D is expensive has some merit, but every company out there is piggybacking off each other and using the abundance of data that is already out there in the public or commercial domains. The personal power data that cyclists eagerly post to sites like Strava, Training Peaks, Today’s Plan, etc., is most likely being repackaged and sold to other commercial interests who develop powermeters and other cycling specific products. Big data is big business.

So, what is my point?

Consumers are the guinea pigs upon which technology is developed and beta tested on.

Much of the hardware and software that is purchased by the consumer, especially niche products like power meters, is underdeveloped (i.e. released as final product, yet still in the alpha or beta stages of development) and buggy until several reincarnations down the road. By then, companies have already moved on to the latest and greatest, and the consumer starts the process all over again.

The hardware failure rates of DFPM’s is very significant (again, go ask DC Rainmaker), and something the consumer is generally not aware of. Likewise, we are all aware of the software issues that plague us almost daily in the “new is always better” mentality of hardware and software development in the cycling world.

Stop this madness!

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