no parking


The notice in the elevator was titled: Bicycle Storage in Parking Garage. The one pager went on to say how, according to Section 4.3a of the Condominium's Declaration, each parking spot shall be used and occupied only for the parking of a motor vehicle.

Rules are rules.

Clearly, in the picture above, you can see how my non-motorized vehicle is an issue. The rubber tip of the handle bar leaning up against the wall. Its problematic tires touching the cement floor. It is casting shadows on the wall and creating a distraction from the number painted two feet above it. (Just in case we forgot which spot was ours.) I mean the thing is just sitting there, paralyzed, and taking up space that could be used for...a larger motorized vehicle I suppose.

The bicycle is a menace. An eyesore. Dangerous and unsightly, hazardous and unsafe and needs to be removed.

We have lived in this condo for a year and a half and this is the first talk of parking spot regulations. There are two floors of parking in the underground, roughly 350 units in the building, which makes for, I'm guessing, about 75 or 100 bikes.

The aforementioned notice went on to state that several bikes have gone missing and have been vandalized. That is unfortunate. However, I've had bikes stolen (while locked) from outside my place of work and from my old apartment where the bike was locked to the wooden stairs outside the front door. The thieves took apart the wood railing and stole the bike. At least they left the wood so we could put the railing back together. Once, just my gel seat was stolen. That's just weird.

At the condo, I stopped locking my bike (to itself) a few months ago because I'd seen other bikes unlocked. And nothing happened. My philosophy is if someone wants my $99, twelve speed from Canadian Tire that badly, they should take it.

In the condo's defense, there are several bikes other than mine down there leaning against walls, taking up space behind parked cars. Can you believe some bikes are even using kick stands? Standing upright in an empty spot that should only be used for a motor vehicle. There are two adult sized bikes and two kids bikes leaning up against each other, against a wall, in a spot where there is no car. A whole group of them, bunched up together in an empty spot...the horror!

And that's only P1. I've never even seen P2. Who knows how many unlocked bikes are loitering around down there.

I get that vandalism and theft if bad.
What I don't get is why I am being offered the following two options:

(a) pay $5/month for the use of bike racks that have been installed (which is why the notice was delayed until now), with a $40 mandatory payment up front to cover the storage from September through April

(b) put the bicycle in the storage locker

Here's the thing...

(c) I am not going to pay an additional $5/month to park my bike in a rack that I never wanted and do not need

(d) The storage locker is already full of camping equipment, Christmas ornaments, golf clubs, winter boots, etc., you know...stuff you store

And in fact, there are more than two options.

I could park it outside the public bike stands on a busy street.
I could ask the neighbours with a garage, if I could use a few feet for my bike.
I could put a bike rack on the car and store the bike there.
I could lock the bike to the car itself.

But I am not going to do those things.

What I have opted to do, is bring my bike up to the apartment every evening when I get home and lug it down through the stairwell every morning when I leave. It's not so bad. There's no additional cost. I feel in control. Exercising my rights as a tenant. Because it's up to me what I put in the entrance way of my apartment whether it be a welcome mat, a coat rack, or a bike.

Incidentally, CBC radio ran a great series called Know Your Rights - an on-the-ground and in-the-field exploration of our rights as Canadian citizens where host Craig Norris navigates the complex world of what we legally can and cannot do in our country.

I haven't listened to the whole podcast yet but I intend to, just in case things escalate with the condo board. I'm guessing they'll have something to say about me bringing my bike up in the elevator. The Declaration likely states something about how the elevator is to be used only for human or canine occupants. Wait till they see my pony.

I'm not even one of those hardcores that cycles all through the winter. Up the street Set Me Free bike shop offers free winter storage if you do your Spring tune up with them. Sold.

Rules are rules.
And some people have nothing better to do than to enforce them.


solstice focus

My sister once told me, we don't multitask. What happens is we do a lot of things, really fast, one after the other. Makes sense. However, I am not convinced this is practical. Or healthy. Or even useful.

It's likely why I sometimes end up at the wrong subway stop. It's why the milk ends up in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge. Keys left in the keyhole...overnight. Typos and missed appointments suddenly have explanations.

But in all this multitasking, there is one big thing missing.

Focus.

I have been doing a lot of things really fast, one after the other for most of my life. But the past month has been a bit...full on. It is precisely why I have not been doing a lot of other things like playing tennis, or reading, or spending time with my family, or writing in this blog. A lot of the things I have been doing are assignments and projects for my job. A job that, usually, requires a fair amount of focus.

Pissing and moaning aside, one of the more enjoyable things I've done recently was make this video, a lifetime achievement tribute for Patrick Brown, former CBC foreign correspondent.

It takes a certain type of person to do a job like that. A person with talents that include language, storytelling, being a quick study, a quick wit, having a sense of compassion, humour, resonance, integrity, humour and adventure. That, and you also have to be intelligent, courageous, driven, passionate, and of course, focused.

Earlier this month, Mr. Brown was honoured for his lifetime (which incidentally, is not over) of achievements, by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. After the video, he walked up on stage at the Royal York to accept the award, and what did he do?

He thanked everyone else.

Ça c'est de la classe. Perhaps humble, perhaps modest, it's also true. You can't do these things alone. You need all those aforementioned traits, but you can't have a career like that without help. Without asking questions, constantly. Without creating your own opportunities. Without trying and without failing. Without working in teams. Without pushing. Without striving for excellence and truth.

Without focus.

There is a mountain of footage that didn't make it into that video. A lifetime really. Several lifetimes in fact. Terry Mosher, a long time pal, said many honourable and flattering things about Patrick. He also said, "He's a guy who enjoys the simple things in life. Good conversation. Meaningful moments."

Patrick said it best himself, in a piece for cbc.ca regarding his coverage of Elvis Presley's funeral, "This profession exposes us to a great deal of misery, but also to wonderful moments when the human spirit seems to triumph over everything that is mean and destructive in the world." To read the full column, Elvis Made Me What I Am, click here.

I have terrible eyesight. When I look out into the world without corrective lenses I don't see misery or wonder or triumph. I see colours, lights and darks, sometimes shapes. I am forced to do nothing. I cannot do one single thing because of a complete and pure absence of focus.

Today is the solstice.
The strawberries are ripe.
Summer has arrived.

We can only do one thing at a time.

So, like a berry, pick one...and focus on that.

presence


Watching iguanas mate was far more engaging than watching the show the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put on last Sunday night. The lack of presence in the evening's hosts made for a lame, awkward, laggy, unoriginal, stale, drawn out, bore of a show.

It wasn't the films or the music or the theme or the presenters or the acceptance speeches or the sound editing you don't care about that made the Oscars suck.

It was the hosts.

James Franco and Anne Hathaway did a poor job. It's not entirely their fault. Shame on Oscar for thinking it can get away with hiring actors as hosts. Is it because nobody wants the job? Previous hosts have included some very funny people with presence, timing, and charm. The stuff you can't teach. Over the last decade hosts have included comics such as Ellen Degeneres, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman. But the majority of the job in its 83 year history, has been filled by Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal. Icons.

Presenters are off the hook because they're only up there to present, announce, get lost. However some have more presence in that category than others, even for a short while. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis were off, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were funny, Kirk Douglas was old and funny.

The Academy's history reads in part, that it is, "Dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures, the Academy’s corporate management and general policies are overseen by a Board of Governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches."

Wonderful.

But, if it's dedicated to advancement, why is it going backward? It started heading south in 2009 with Hugh Jackman as host. Albeit a talented actor, Wolverine is not a standup comic, nor a talk show host. But he was more entertaining than this year. I still wonder if midway through the show someone called Billy Crystal at home and said, how fast can you get here? He's that good. When he took the stage he was comfortable, engaging, witty, and funny. You wanted to watch him.

Billy Crystal is all those things. He is also present. He performs. He listens. He reacts. I heard a reporter on the radio say, "It looked as if Franco was watching a show he was also hosting." The man was distracted. And full of himself. And not funny. Fail.

I agree with Jesse Wente's (cbc.ca) take. "You know something is wrong when one of the funniest jokes of the night is from a hologram of Bob Hope 60 years ago," he said.

But it was nice to see Trent Reznor win and Melissa Leo drop the f-bomb and Christian Bale forget his wife's name. Who does that? I thought he was king of the assholes since the fit about the lighting guy. This bumps his status to Emperor. Was he caught up in the moment? You might forgive someone else, but a jerk who is a jerk is still a jerk. A real prize, that one.

Receiving the award is in itself, a present. A prize. To receive a symbol of excellence recognized by 6,000 people in a Members Only club, who choose the best of the best, by voting on secret ballots. Kind of underground and clandestine when you get right down to it. And the winner ends up in a club of its own. Everlasting glory, fame and a not so little gold statue for the mantlepiece, coffee table, den, bookshelf, kids room.

"Since the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929, in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room, 2,701 statuettes have been presented." (oscars.org)

Still, I'm glad I don't have cable. I would have felt ripped off from such lousy value. I watched the show on the TV in the gym in my building. Then after an hour and a half workout, I went back to the apartment and caught snippits on a website that was streaming it for free. I saw enough.

Jennifer Westaway (cbc.ca) summed it up diplomatically. The show was "polished and predictable."

I'm also glad Inception didn't win.