Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Books!

Troy Bayliss: A Faster Way

It has been a long time in the making but the riding book I have been working on is finally done. I did this with Troy Bayliss, who is a three-time World Superbike Champion from Australia, and through David Bull Publishing, the same publisher as my suspension book. Troy and I did everything over Skype, it was a bit of a challenge with the time change but it all worked out great. I got tons of great information from Troy, he is super nice and it was a pleasure to work with him. You can get more information about the book from the link in the right sidebar here, and you can order it directly from the publisher there or through Amazon.

Just below the riding book picture you'll see another cover image, this is an e-book that Deborah and I have put together. It's a cocktail book with 12 recipes, all our own creations, and Deborah did a fun illustration of our parakeet George for each recipe. This is available through iBooks, and viewable on an iPad or Mac.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

RTI Update

Energy expended for 500 sessions on the bicycle

Shortly after I got home from rehab, I got my own FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bike so I could do my own therapy at home. The FES bike, made by Restorative Therapies, is essentially a stationary bicycle that uses electricity to stimulate the muscles in my legs directly to work the pedals on the bike. The benefits from using active therapy, rather than something that only moves my legs passively, is that the muscles are actually doing the work. This is better exercise, increases circulation, and reduces atrophy and spasms.

I have been trying to use the bicycle three times a week, and definitely notice a difference when I miss a few days; when that happens my legs can get quite stiff, with more spasms. Recently I passed 500 sessions total since I got the bike. RTI stores data from each session on its server so I can track progress, the graph here shows total energy expended during each session from the very beginning. You can see that a while ago there was an increase when I upped the time of each session a bit, from 40 to 45 minutes. And, more recently, the bigger jump shows where I increased the resistance that the bike provides, making the muscles work harder. This change has had an interesting effect: When I do have a spasm now, it seems that my legs are a bit stronger and I have to be careful not to accidentally kick something.

I have never really noticed the exercise aspect of riding the RTI bike, and my pulse doesn't increase much when I'm on it, but over time I will continue to ramp up the resistance to see what happens.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nitobe Memorial Garden

There was one cherry tree blooming in the garden, but we were too early for most of them

Last week Deborah and I went out looking for cherry blossoms, and one of the stops we made was at the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese stroll garden at the University of British Columbia. I have been to UBC a couple of times for research studies, but I had no idea the garden was there. According to the information on the flyer, the garden "is considered to be one of the best traditional Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five outside Japan." Unfortunately we were a bit early for the cherry blossoms at this particular spot, but it was an interesting visit nonetheless and well worth checking out. You can see more pictures on my Flickr page.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stanley Park

Beaver Lake in Stanley Park

Yesterday Deborah and I went to Stanley Park, the huge park near downtown Vancouver. We have been quite a few times before, but mostly just driven or wheeled around the perimeter - there is a nice paved path all the way around, right on the water's edge. This time, though, we went to Beaver Lake right in the middle of the park and checked out some of the trails in that area. On the park's guide map, there is a trail around the lake that is even marked for wheelchair use. We did that loop, about one kilometer, and it was very flat and smooth for wheeling. It looked like some of the trails going off from that loop would be nice also, we will definitely be going back another time to explore more.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Great Blue Heron

Our resident great blue heron

A regular visitor in our back yard is this heron, which for the past couple of months we have seen almost every time we go out. It seems to be getting more and more familiar with people, and recently has been standing right next to the pathways even when there are quite a few people going by. Herons are very common in the area and we see quite a few regularly, but this one has fairly distinctive plumage on its belly where others that we have seen have none. At first I though that was a male/female difference, but evidently it's not and telling them apart can be difficult. In any event, because it's been so close to the path and standing so still I am able to get some good pictures.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Steveston Snow

Yes, we get snow in Steveston

Just before Christmas we had some snow in the village. Since we moved here we have not had a lot of snow, and it has never stayed on the ground more than a couple of days before melting away. Although we have hardly any snow compared with the rest of the country, I was pretty surprised when I looked at the average numbers for the area: In the past 30 years, Vancouver has had on average nine days of snow with 45 centimeters (17.5 inches) falling each year.

I did try to go out when it snowed, but I didn't make it past the end of our building's front walkway. Because there is so little, the city is not equipped for when it does snow. Our street is not plowed, the sidewalks are not cleared at all, and it is all left to melt on its own. Any little bit on the ground makes wheeling next to impossible, meaning I was pretty much stuck indoors for those days. Deborah took these pictures showing how picturesque the area looked.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Own Nature Show

These two bald eagles are often in the tree right across the road

Deborah and I live on the third floor of our building and right across from a farmer's field. From our living room window we have a great view of whatever is going on, and this fall it's been very busy over there. In October it was full of snow geese on their yearly migration. A couple of weeks ago the two eagles in the picture returned from their summer in the northern parts of the province, and now we see them almost every day. A couple of times we've watched them hunting in the field, and occasionally the crows will gang up on the eagles trying to get them to leave. We've also seen hawks hunting (and getting picked on by the crows), and a couple of days ago there were two trumpeter swans, which we've never seen there before. Right beside the field is an equestrian farm co-op where they offer riding and horsemanship lessons, so we even have horses going by a couple of times a week.

It all makes for an interesting show and while I do sit at the window with the camera and binoculars fairly regularly, I often wonder what I am missing when I am not there!

Trumpeter swans

Red-tailed hawk

The view on a frosty morning