I’ve always been tight for space in the the < 1 car garage I’ve currently converted into a bike hole:
It’s a good size as a workshop, but when I’m trying to store two bikes in there it gets awkward. The easiest fix would be some alternative storage for bikes. Using shipping containers to build a garage is a thing. There is a company nearby that sells them, though the prices aren’t public. They seem to go for two to four grand, which seems a lot for a metal box, but I’ve heard lower prices about.
A ten foot container next to the garage would look something like this:
With some driveway expansion and levelling I could connect it through the currently useless back door while making it a drive out storage shed. With the garage no longer having to hold bikes it could become what it’s a great size for: a workshop.
Another alternative is to just build an extension off the side of the existing garage wall:
The long, cold Canadian winter has me thinking about ways to make my limited space more usable.
motorcyclists blown in the wind with fallen leaves clinging to summer
On-bike photos using a Ricoh ThetaV 360 camera attached to the windscreen with a flexible tripod auto-firing a shot every few seconds…
Soon enough TMD will go back into Canadian Winter Hibernation Mode and it’ll be all mechanical repairs from under a foot of snow in here…
Over 20°C and very windy on Friday. Everyone was out, bikes blowing in the wind like leaves, clinging to the last breath of summer before the long dark swallows us for months. This year is particularly sinister with pandemics and second waves breaking over us. Canadian winters are inherently isolating, but this year doubly so. Look after yourselves.
I’ve been a student and then a teacher through the earliest iterations of online learning. At university I took one of the last mailed correspondence courses in the mid-nineties and I’ve been online since BBSes and user-groups in the early 90s. That whole time I was working summers and holidays in IT jobs, though they weren’t called ‘IT jobs’ yet. For two summers I helped Unitel Engineering digitize their paper based parts ordering system at their electronics shop in Scarborough by moving everything in their decades old paper based system from filing cabinets to Lotus123 on DOS/early Windows.
After graduation I got my first full time gig at Ontario Store Fixtures where I was attached to the programming team that was converting their old DOS based manufacturing system to JDEdwards OneWorld integrated management process. This was a very early server based system that was the step between desktops and the cloud based systems we use today. Two years teaching overseas in Japan showed me the technology that was soon to arrive in North America, such as digital cameras and high speed home internet. I played Diablo with a friend in Mississauga from my apartment in Akita City and watched Y2K pass over us at a thousand year old temple. When I wasn’t doing that I was helping engineers and doctors translate their work for international consumption, working on everything from electronic/robotics systems that helped parallelised people move their limbs to the latest in LCD technology coming out of the NEC factory near where we lived.
By the early naughties we were back in Ontario and I was a certified IT and network technician and working full time in the field. I changed directions into teaching in 2003/4 and my first teaching job in Peel Region had me setting up the first wireless router in the board in our library so students with their newfangled Blackberries and wireless laptops could get online – it would be years before board IT caught up with us. The next summer I got a job in their new elearning summer program. We were using the Angel online system which was a rudimentary webpage with such basic media that you had to hand code the html if you wanted it to be anything other than text.
One of my favourite elearning experiences came in those early days. Peel didn’t run elearning as a credit factory. They focused on strong students with digital experience and then pushed for advanced course delivery. In our Grade 12 academic class we had students from across Ontario as well as international students from Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai who were taking the course to prove they had the English language skills necessary to attend university in Canada. Working with this international group felt like what the future of teaching could be.
A good example of the above and beyond nature of these students was the final exam, which happened in a live two hour window. The students overseas were up in the middle of the night and when the internet went down in part of Mississauga my student who was in that blackout called around, found a friend with working internet and rode her bike over there to complete the exam on time. Back then elearning wasn’t an excuse to do less, it was a reason to do more.
I continued to teach elearning in summer school for the next five years as I moved to my current school board and they started up their own elearning program (I volunteered to be in the inaugural group and was the only one in it who had actually taught any). This branched out into blended face to face and elearning classes ranging from career studies to a specialized locally developed media arts program for at risk students as well as the usual online English courses. Early versions of video conference like Adobe Connect came up and I always seized this emerging technology to develop better learning relationships and bandwidth with my students. One day we were all on a live video conference working independently when one of the student’s moms came in and asked if he wanted takeout hamburgers for lunch. She laughed when we all replied that hamburgers sounded great. That was in 2008 before unions and school boards conspired to take video conferencing off limits. It took the education minister in a pandemic emergency this past spring to get Ontario’s education system to begin using this technology again… twelve years later. Sabotage by political interests in Ontario education are a big reason why we are still so bad at elearning.
Rather than focus on students who needed access to courses and had highly developed digital skills and resilience, elearning devolved into a way of offering credits for at risk students that didn’t want to attend school. It was then decided to give elearning sections to teachers in smaller schools that were losing population instead of giving those sections to teachers who had the experience, skills and interest in making this challenging emerging learning situation work. The end result was students and teachers who didn’t want to be in elearning. As that all happened I found myself removed from teaching it and by 2012 I was no longer doing any elearning at all.
Elearning implementation has always suffered from a lack of vision. It stumbled into existence as a substitute for mail order courses in the late 90s and early Zeroes because it was cheaper and faster than all those stamps. In the early days it was tentatively adopted by programs like Peel’s independent summer school but it has never been adopted into specialized virtual schools and was still struggling for acceptance up until this year when suddenly everyone was an elearning/remote teacher.
Even in 2019 unions were attacking elearning as a ‘lesser than form’ of teaching in an attempt to stop government attacks on public education. That Ontario’s anti-education government was suggesting stuffing 40-50 students into elearning classes shows how this scalable system is prone to abuse and pedagogical deflation. Those union attacks annoyed many members like myself who have been working on developing this emerging medium of learning for most of our careers.
There is nothing education does better than look backwards and poorly handle change. If it does adopt technology it’s usually to try and redo what it has been doing for decades as a cost saver. Google Docs instead of photocopies, online forms instead of quizzes, worksheets on screen instead of paper; educational adoption of digital tools is all about the Substitution in SAMR; use it while keeping things as much the same as possible. As I said earlier, elearning implementation has shown a startling lack of vision and leadership.
There was a time when you had a choice…
I recently didn’t get an elearning job, but that’s OK because the last thing I want to be doing is middle managing to the status quo, What I want to do is explore and expand our best digital pedagogical practices; seeing how cheaply we can do the minimum doesn’t do anything for me (or anyone else not in management). There still seems to be a lot of pressure to overload elearning classes with students and then using limited corporate walled-garden systems from attention merchants like Google. This is baffling from a f2f teacher perspective where I’m seeing people getting paid teacher salaries while not actually doing any teaching. We could leverage the influx of teachers into the system much more effectively than we are to quickly create smaller remote classes that would involve teachers actually teaching and supporting learning instead of babysitting.
I’d want to advocate for smaller class sizes in elearning, especially in higher needs classes where remote teachers are also doing the jobs of guidance counsellors and special education support in a dangerous time. I’d also want to advocate for an efficient system for vetting alternative online systems that offer greater bandwidth with our remote students, but most boards have equated student privacy and cybersecurity with exclusive deals with tax dodging advertising/technology giants rather than looking to create a diverse yet secure ecosystem of online digital tools for learning. Signing an agreement with an attention merchant to indoctrinate the students in your care in their advertising systems so you can hand them graduates familiar with their products is an easier box to check.
What would my dream elearning job be? Let me take my digitally expert senior students in software engineering/game development and computer engineering, give us leading edge tools and let us see what digital learning is capable of in 2020. By exploring emerging technology we could not only make elearning more effective, but also ease the social distance anxiety many people are feeling.
Just before school started this year in its masked, socially distanced, quadmestered and frankly diminished capacity, I saw this tweet from Jon Resendez. It stayed on my mind as we launched this uneven and unsustainable (for the people doing double cohort, double classes remotely and f2f all day every day simultaneously) quadmester. More pedagogically sound elearning processes wouldn’t just help remote teachers at the moment, they’d help everyone since we’re all remote teaching in one way or another, it’s just that some of us are trying to do it while face to face with students at the same time.
There are two sides of elearning I’d want to explore with my digitally skilled students. My computer engineers could focus on the physical hardware that might improve remote learning outcomes and my senior software engineers would be able to explore and even write the software we need to explore and expand communications between remote teachers and their students.
One of the exciting evolutions happening right now is in virtual reality. We’ve been exploring this through our board’s forward thinking SHSM program since 2015. As the technology has matured prices have tumbled. The Oculus Quest 2 runs at a resolution that would have required a $1000 VR system connected to a $2000 high speed PC back in 2015, but it now costs less than $500 (very close to what a Chromebook costs). What might a class equiped with immersive, fully interactive virtual and augmented reality look like?
If you’re more future thinking how about a detailed 3d model of the ISS that you and students could explore:
… or a universe simulator that lets you create gravitationally accurate solar systems? You can explore the deep ocean or amaze yourself in Google Earth VR, which is so engaging that you often forget you have the headset on while you’re in it. It was a lifesaver for me during lockdown when travel wasn’t happening. Seeing parks on the south tip of Africa closed for COVID also brought home for me the world wide nature of what’s happening.
The benefits of experiential learning in VR can even extend to giving everyone a feeling of what it’s like to be autistic. Students who experience VR tend to feel that they’ve actually experienced it. This is a big step away from passively reading a webpage or watching a video, which is about as far as elearning goes these days. Bringing experiential and immersive experiences to elearning will revolutionize the process and radically change what our ideas of a field trip is (elearning students don’t currently have field trips).
Beyond the experiential benefits of elearning, what I’d really like to go after is using virtual and augmented reality as a work around for social distancing. This is leading edge stuff – labs are looking into it now, but from a business perspective. Education won’t stumble into it for years, but wouldn’t it be something if we could leverage this current technology in time to help us all manage the social isolation we’re all feeling?
In 2018 Nick (our national finalist CyberTitan) led a team that developed a VR title they called a ‘virtual classroom’. The idea was to let students use 3d avatars to meet in virtual reality. All VR headsets have microphones, speakers and cameras build in, so they’re already inherently designed to be communications tools… and that was more than two years ago…
Our kung-fu in the software engineering class has only improved since. Not only could we explore existing virtual and augmented software opportunities for educational use, we’d also be capable of developing our own VR classroom 2.0. We just need the room and support to make it happen. What would room and support look like? I’m currently looking at 31 students with a waiting list in software engineering next semester. If we’re still waterboarding everyone with quadmesters in semester 2 then splitting that massive class into two sections of 20 each would mean we could all meet face to face in the morning to resolve problems and take aim at new ones and then go virtual in the afternoon to test what we’re working on instead of the current schedule that would have me trying to be in two places at once while depending on another teacher who has no idea what we’re doing to ‘support’ the remote learning. In short, it would mean arranging the class around pedagogical effectiveness rather than seeing how many students we can stuff into one section.
Beyond the hardware and software research, I’d also like to address the massive gap we’re experiencing in our current elearning charge. The digital divide is deeper and wider than you think because it’s not just about a lack of connectivity and available technology at home, it’s also about technological illiteracy because Ontario education assumes that students and staff all know how to use digital tools rather than training and teaching them in it.
We hand students digital technology in the early grades and just assume they understand what it is from home use, but that home use, if it exists at all, is usually habitual and very limited. Just because students aren’t afraid of technology doesn’t mean they understand how it works. Every year I see grade 9s who think they’re digital experts because they’ve owned a series of game consoles since they could walk. Their parents’ choice to digitally impoverish them by only ever handing them toys instead of tools makes it even more difficult to teach them computer engineering because they think they know everything when they don’t even know how to share a document, or unzip a compressed file.
It would be a satisfying thing to develop a hands on mandatory technology curriculum that makes all students literate in technology use in the same way we expect them to be literate and numerate in languages and mathematics. Like those other foundational literacies, digital/media literacy is a foundational skill if we’re using this technology in every class (as we are).
There is much to do in remote elearning in order to make it a viable learning strategy both during the COVID19 pandemic and beyond, but we need vision and the will to explore where this is going instead of just waiting for business to hand us down their leftovers or an uncaring government to use it as an excuse to Walmart education into pedagogical irrelevance.
I was once talking to an administrator who said, “I hate the word pedagogy, what does that even mean anyway?” The complexity in the concept is exactly what we should be protecting as we continue to evolve learning in our digital age. Pedagogy is not a concept that plays well with a management approach that is looking for cheap and easy solutions. Perhaps that’s why I always feel like I’m the one fighting for it when I’m talking to educational management, but we should always be working toward it even if it’s difficult.
Developing a more pedagogically powerful elearning system won’t just help us manage this pandemic crisis, it would also help us manage the looming environmental crisis of which this pandemic is just a symptom. If we could get elearning to begin approaching the pedagogical complexity and interpersonal bandwidth of in-class learning we could be restructuring education so it isn’t pumping millions of tons of carbon emissions into the air from bussing students to remote locations every day. A truly digitally empowered local school could be a k-12, walk-in experience for all but a few students because engaging, high bandwidth virtual communications and connectivity would mean we’d no longer have to burn the world to keep education looking like it did in the 1950s.
There are so many reasons why we need to develop vision and stop reflexively supporting status quo thinking in Ontario education. Leveraging experts in the system for their expertise rather than populating the system with middle managers intent on maintaining the status quo would be a great place to start.
1… Track Days:Grand Bend Motorplex does beginner track days at various times throughout the summer. I’m going to make a day where I can go down there and give the Ninja a workout in a track environment. It’ll be an early start, but if I can time the weather right it’ll be a great opportunity to develop more fluid riding and gently get a feel for how the bike handles in more extreme conditions. A hundred bucks doesn’t seem bad for a full day of track time. If not Grand Bend then there are other options. Cayuga is $125 for a day and an hour and forty five minutes south through Hamilton. Mosport and Shannonville are both venues for Riderschoice.ca, who offer track days there. I haven’t been to Shannonville since I did the Nissan advanced driving school in the 1990s, it’d be nice to go back. Shannonville does their own track days, for $145 a day. Calabogie is way out Ottawa way, but it ain’t cheap, though the track is supposed to be fantastic. 2… Off Road Training:Yamaha Adventures is a lovely hour and a bit ride north of where I am. The full day package on their bike isn’t cheap ($329), but it would give me a chance to get a feel for off-road riding without the equipment overhead. Trailtour also offers trials and dual-sport courses, both of which are cheaper alternatives, and they happen to be under an hour south of the family cottage. Trials riding is very technique intensive and would do a lot to improve my balance on any bike. As many different experiences in as many different circumstances as I can manage, that’s the goal this year.
The Concours customization continues slowly. The (too short) Canadian riding season is staggering to a close, so I’m out on the Tiger whenever possible (3°C this morning). Soon enough the snow will fall, the roads will become salty nightmares and I’ll have lots of mechanical time on my hands. Today it’s a cold front coming through with high winds and torrential rain that has me in the garage instead of out on the road.
The front light is now prepared to go into the wiring loom, as is the rear one. Both front and rear are LED units so I’m having to make a few changes to get them happily connected to the twenty three year old loom. I’m going to mount the rear lights higher up under a rear cover that’ll also wrap up the back of the seat.
I’ve got basic framework in place – I’ll eventually paint it all flat black so it fades into the background, but for now I’m just leaving it metal coloured. I was originally going to get the body panels done in thin metal so it looks Mad Max-ish, but that doesn’t look likely to happen any time soon. I was watching Out of Nothing the other night and they said they’d taught themselves fibreglass body panel building, so I intend to do the same. I’ll work out the panels in bucks and then make fibre glass finished product; it’ll be a good project.
I’d originally tried a smaller coolant tank in the back, but it couldn’t handle the needs of the bike, so I’ve relocated the stock one under the back seat. With panels in place it’ll be all but invisible.
As much as possible I’m hoping to keep the bike looking mechanical and simple, but with some carefully sized fibreglass I should also be able to keep the ugly bits out of sight.
Up next is wiring in the lights and finishing the back end. After that it’s just making fibreglass. Two side panels for the back and the rear cowling for sure. The stock front fender is way too heavy looking, so I’ll be looking at options for that. I might do something strange to frame the radiator – that top rad hose is a natty looking thing.
The only mechanical part I’m looking for is a very basic instrument gauge. I’ve been collecting ideas on Pinterest, so eventually I’ll come across the ideal piece and grab it. I heard once that Axl Rose bought a new Harley and had it customized so it looked old by adding patina to it. Only a rich person would do something so asinine. The Concours has had a long, hard life; it comes by its patina honestly. What I love about the bike is that it’s mechanically very sound (now). Rebuilt carb, rear hub, bearings, brakes – it’s new in all the right places, but you couldn’t tell from looking at it.
It’s getting to the point where this thing is starting to look dangerously hipster cool; I might have to grow a beard.
“Among richer families, youth sports participation is actually rising. Among the poorest households, it’s trending down. Just 34 percent of children from families earning less than $25,000 played a team sport at least one day in 2017, versus 69 percent from homes earning more than $100,000. In 2011, those numbers were roughly 42 percent and 66 percent, respectively.”
This isn’t a story about childhood; it’s about inequality.”
I used to love playing sports. Refereeing and coaching at summer hockey camps helped me feed myself in university and I’ve coached, time kept and ref’d soccer and hockey since I was 10 years old.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found men’s leagues echo the pointlessly competitive nature of kid’s sports with ex-Junior players playing in D division men’s hockey just so they can score half a dozen goals each week and run up the score. It’s nearly impossible to find a men’s hockey league that isn’t populate by assholes.
Max used to love gymnastics, but he ended up getting chased out of it in his pre-teens because the only way to do it was competitively (being female was also increasingly a prerequisite because the entire sport, like all sports these days, orientates itself on the most likely competitive success).
Coaching at school was a way to stay in touch with sports, but that too went sour with student athletes (only the wealthy ones who could afford the time and money to play games and practice after school nearly every day) not showing up to practices and playing with that same pointless competitiveness even when they didn’t rate against the opposition.
I’m currently on a hiatus with sports, but I still miss them. I wish I could find a hockey league that wasn’t an excuse for men to work out their frustrations on each other. I wish my son could participate in sports for the shear joy of it rather than turning every physical activity into a competition. We’d all be much healthier and happier if we had access to financially accessible and for-the-joy-of-the-game sports.
It’s a shame how we’ve turned sports into an excuse for competitiveness – usually along with the pipe-dream that your kid will one day be made a millionaire for playing a game. Having coached at a competitive hockey camp, it’s a tragedy to watch those all or nothing kids not make the cut into professional sports – statistically speaking almost no one does.
Norway sounds like they’ve got this, like so many other things (they also nationalized their oil reserves and used them to pay off their national debt and offer free education to all its citizens), right.
“Norway’s youth-sports policies are deliberately egalitarian. The national lottery, which is run by a government-owned company called Norsk Tipping, spends most of its profit on national sports and funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to youth athletic clubs every year. Parents don’t need to shell out thousands to make sure their kids get to play. And play is an operative word: Norwegian leagues value participation over competition so much that clubs with athletes below the age of 13 cannot even publish game scores.”
Hipsters with their coiffed hair and well tended beards (even the women)
ride their Scramblers to interesting places
I’ve been reading the somewhat baffled traditional motorcycle media’s reviews of the new Ducati Scrambler. With few exceptions these articles are being written by Baby Boomers who find the idea of “hipsters‘ to be very mock-worthy. That Ducati is aiming the Scrambler at a younger audience really seems to get up the nose of Boomers who are used to everything being about them.
Being a Generation Xer I’m skeptical of any kind of social organization and assume nothing is ever about me, but I also find that I have more culturally in common with other people of my generation than I do with any other social distinction (race, class, education, religion, politics, citizenship…). When living in Japan the GenXers we met had so many shared experiences with us that we just fell in together; the times in which you find yourself define you. If you’re looking for a review of social organization by birth cohort (generation) then this piece by The Social Librarian will catch you up. See if it doesn’t do a decent job of describing your generation.
I’m not sure why people can’t treat generational differences in the same way they treat cultural differences. You’d be a big jerk if you decided to travel around the world and spent all your time talking about how every other culture is stupid compared to yours, yet people don’t seem to hesitate when doing that about other generations. That Baby Boomers, themselves once torn apart in the media because of their newness, are now having a go at hipsters shows just how bad their memories are getting as they age.
According to the urban dictionary, hipsters “value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.” What’s not to like about that? Unless you’re a cranky, old, conservative, Boomer motorcyclist who thinks that the pinnacle of motorcycle evolution is a Harley Fat Boy, you’d have to think it delightful.
Beards, hair product & old bikes…
Hipsters are one of the primary movers of the café racer resurgence. They enjoy looking back before the neo-liberal globalization that Boomers have brought us, I can get into that too.
Given a choice between hanging out with a bunch of Harley Boomers at a Tim Hortons or a group of Hipsters at an artisanal beer bar/gastro-pub, I know where I’d head.
I’m left thinking maybe motorcycle magazines need to diversify their writers instead of hiring all the guys they went to high school with in 1970. Maybe then anyone other than a Boomer might get a fair shake in print. In the meantime, go Ducati, go! A successful Scrambler means all those traditional, conservative motorcycle magazines will have to update their staff (maybe even hire someone born after 1965!), or face irrelevance.
The world moves on. Enjoy hipsters while they’re here, soon enough they’ll grow up and sell out like everyone else has (some first-class GenX skepticism there, eh?).
The desperate attempt to pry motorcycles from the well manicured hands of the hipster is ongoing…
I took the Concours out for a brief ride in the sun this afternoon to get a feel for her. She’s a very different machine than the Ninja. The carbs are a bit touchy when warming up, but then work in a very satisfying and immediate mechanical way once the bike is at temperature. It’s a much bigger bike too (over two hundred pounds heavier), but surprisingly lithe for its size. Where the Ninja picks up nicely in lower RPM, the Concours pulls immediately with a much flatter torque curve; the word ‘meaty’ comes to mind. The Concours was also surprisingly lively at higher RPMs, pulling hard to the redline. Not like the Ninja does (which is more like a bull in a China shop), but it still gets you down the road right quick. The lightness of the internal bits in the Ninja’s 649cc parallel twin make it spool up like a turbine. You can feel the complexity and weight of the Connie’s in-line four cylinder as it builds RPM. Where the Ninja screams like a banshee (and sounds lovely doing it), the Concours has a deeper, more sonorous song, though (and surprising to me because I really love the Ninja howl) equally enticing. I can see why previous Concours owners have said they’ve had no trouble keeping up with sports bikes, this is an agile, athletic machine that belies its size. In corners, especially at speed, the weight of the Connie seems to disappear and I can hit apexes in a similarly precise manner to the much lighter NInja. With so much torque on hand, you don’t need to keep the engine revving hard to get immediate pull out of it. The Connie will go quickly without appearing to, with the Ninja you’ve got to keep it on boil to get that astonishing acceleration (as opposed to merely shocking acceleration at lower revs).
Controls wise the Concours is a much more comfortable machine. The seat is wider and softer, the bike feels more substantial and not so wasp wasted between my knees. The fairings keep the wind at bay, especially around your feet. In the rain your feet are soaked through on the Ninja where they are hanging out in the elements. Riding in cool weather means thick socks. I kept bumping my toes against the Connie’s lower fairing until I got used to using less toe on the gear change. Knee bend is still pretty bent, though not nearly as much as the Ninja and with the wider seat didn’t seem so intense. The Connie’s gearing is much higher than the Ninja’s. At 120km/hr on the highway you’re up around 6000rpm on the Ninja. I’d guess the Connie would be doing under half that at the same speed. A more relaxed bike that still has hidden reserves and is light of foot, I’m looking forward to getting to know Connie better. As I was riding home we fell into a groove, like a horse extending its legs into a comfortable gallop and I realized just how far this bike could take me. She’s been sitting too long and wants to put road behind her. Instead of wondering when to stop on the Ninja, I’ll be wondering how much further I can go on the Concours.