Last year I talked about the pros and cons of biking and walking to work, and solutions I’ve found to some of the cons.

This year has been an interesting experience yet again with the weather patterns being cooler for the most part.

One question I’ve been asked is whether I bike in the winter. Last year, no. I got cold air asthma at 4 celsius. I keep a puffer on hand now as a result. This year I’ve been biking down to -1 celsius, so I’m wanting to see how far I can go. Breathing aside, I don’t have disc brakes, so that’s not good during a snowy or slushy day. Hopefully this winter has enough dry road days near the freezing mark so I can extend my biking season.

What are my takeaways from this year?

  1. Cold mornings, warm afternoons. I found my rain jacket makes a good wind breaker, and fleece sport sweaters are a great and light insulator underneath the rain jacket.
  2. Cold morning? Keep your ear canals protected from the wind (I use my jacket hood underneath my helmet). Keeps them from hurting later.
  3. Bicycle mirrors – Best.Thing.Ever. Especially in traffic. Like in cars, mirrors make biking safer and a better experience in traffic. Both bikes now have them.
  4. Getting back on the saddle after the winter – take it easy, and be slow until you rebuild all the muscles. It’s frustrating when you’ve built up muscles and were used to going quicker. It doesn’t take much time to get it back.
  5. I actually biked the last week of February this year, it was so warm! That’s never happened before in my lifetime here in Ontario.
  6. Shed locks. Look up videos about breaking locks on YouTube. You’ll be a little shocked at how many locks give the appearance of security, but don’t delivery at all. I purchased a Stanley lock for the shed based on its ability to pass the hacker’s tests. The other reality is, if someone wants to get past a lock, they eventually will. My lock would provide too many challenges for the average thief.
  7. Foot injuries suck – I have gone over on my ankles so many times that it can happen that much easier these days. Last winter I went over on my right ankle twice. Once caused ankle grief, the other time my knee suffered. This makes walking to work not so much fun.
  8. Winter boots does not equal great on ice. My wife purchased me crampon type attachments for the icy days (which there were many). They are a permanent item in my backpack.
  9. Lighting – I made the switch to turning on my lights during cloudy days or dusk/dawn time much like cars to be seen better. I’ve noticed other bikers in town doing the same. Also, the minimum requirements for lighting in Ontario really need to be changed. Some lighting is completely useless and I fear for bikers who use them and trust that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Helmet headlights aren’t great for visibility by others, especially if you’re turning your head a lot.
  10. Temptations – Ebike conversion for one of my bikes. I’m really thinking more about this. Some people argue against, but I look at it as an overall experience. I bike much more now than before. This may convince me to bike even more.
  11. Seat post shocks – Having biked with the Verve 3 for a year, the seat post shock is a wonderful feature with a hardtail bicycle. I’m considering getting one for the Allant as a result.
  12. Straight handle bars vs. Swept back bars – Both are nice, but I have to admit the swept back talks more to my soul (as in old skool) than the straight bars do. It’s also a comfortable natural grip position. Not the greatest for mirror mounting though.
  13. Best fall / spring jacket? I received a rough weather Canadian coast guard jacket from my father-in-law, and it’s the best thing for cold, windy and wet weather I’ve ever used! This jacket has extended my biking season!

That’s all for now. I will see how close to the end of December I get with biking this winter season, and will report back.

I was one of those kids who really didn’t have many issues health wise. I didn’t get sick that often. Contrary to the rest of my family, I didn’t even have to wear glasses when I was younger! I was a bit cocky on the health front. Just a little.

Everything began to change when I was in my late teens / early 20’s.
I started slipping into depression around the time I was finishing up at college and getting ready to live in the ‘real world’.

Around the same time I decided that I was too fat (I wasn’t) and started rapid weight loss. Losing forty pounds in a few months was a bit radical, and left me underweight for my body type.

Going to my family physician, it was decided we’d try to work through my depression with talk therapy and no medications.
Some of it helped, but the depression persisted.

I don’t know how else to describe what it was like other than my own personal hell. Not wanting to think because everything was ‘bad’. Perpetual repetition of thoughts that kept haunting me into analysis paralysis. So much fear, loneliness, anger, and no hope. I had even cut out playing music because that was now something ‘bad’ for me as well.

It affected not only me, but those around me. My family, my friends, my work mates, and my relationships all were strained. It’s been over 20 years, and my memory of things is getting more sketchy with time, so I will just say it probably played a part in some relationships fading away or ending.

There was one heart-to-heart discussion with my mother that has stuck with me. She tried her hardest to motivate me and keep me going. Since I’m horrible at exact quotes, I’ll interpret – “I don’t know if you’ll wake up feeling this way for the rest of your life or not, but you need to get up, go to work and keep going. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but you need to survive.” She was totally right.

I will also note, around this time the rock group Rush had released a song called ’The Pass’. That song has remained very dear to me, as it helped me walk the razor’s edge and keep working through the tough times. Thank you for that song guys.

Fast forward a few years, my physical health began to decline. Frequent nose bleeds that took a long time to stop, really bad skin rashes, swelling of joints, blood pressure issues, migraines, continued depression all started to pile up. Why? My family doctor and I had no idea. We treated the symptoms as best as possible. My depression remained untreated with medications, and I was coping as best as I could.

One day I visited my ophthalmologist for an eye check up, and she noticed something strange and gave pause. She had found copper deposits in my corneas. She asked me to take a note upstairs to my family doctor. Two days later I was back in his office, and he tossed a medical book in front of me. “Read this. I think I know what’s going on with you now. We’ll have to run some tests, but I think this is it.”

Wilson Disease (formerly Wilson’s Disease) – a rare genetic copper metabolism disorder. Basically my liver didn’t know what to do with ingested copper and I became toxic with copper, including my brain. All my symptoms were right there in front of me in that book. A week later blood and other tests were done and confirmed we were on the right path. A month and a half later I’m in Toronto General Hospital getting more testing done, and being put on Penicillamine to help remove copper from my body.

Within a couple of months after starting treatment, it was like someone had blown some clouds out of the sky and the sun returned. I felt mentally a lot better, and other symptoms started to disappear as well. Then the real work started…

When you’re depressed like I was, countering confusing and unhelpful thoughts takes a lot of effort. I’ve read that the mind changes and adapts over time, and I’m guessing this is what also happened with me during my depression. It took around 7 years after diagnosis and starting treatment to feel like my old self again. I had reactions to things that didn’t make sense anymore that had to iron themselves out again, and thought processes that needed re-sorting. During this time, the medications I took turned on me as well, and I had to switch out to Trientine/Syprine. Taking a medication that is also killing you is not a fun experience. The blood pressure has remained, and maybe related to my WD causing heart wiring problems, but we haven’t gone down that rabbit hole.

Since my issues started with copper poisoning, anti-depression medications would not have helped me. Talk therapy definitely helped though.
These days, I have short times where I’m down due to life issues, but I can also recognize what head space I’m getting into, and how to get myself out of those funks. It’s definitely not the same as before, but being able to call it what it is and take it head on is a great mental tool.

If there’s one take away for others reading my post, if you find yourself depressed, turn to the one or more positive thing that always make you happy (for me music, others arts and sports) and invest time in doing this. Music has always been a powerful motivator for me, and it definitely helped me counter the bad feelings that crept up.

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and it should not be trivialized because it is not an injury like a broken arm or something more visible.
Depression affects so many people around us.
Learn about it, learn how to support those fighting it, squash the stigma.

I’ve had a few Commodore Vic20 computers for awhile now. Two of the three really were worthy parts machines, nothing more. I had the Vic20 at work for about a year for people to play with, but I’ve brought it home to be part of the music studio. The case looked rough, the keyboard style not my favourite. Fortunately my parts machines offered up solutions on both fronts. This vblog post to YouTube shows how I cleaned everything up and put them all together to make a fine specimen for the studio. Vinegar is the best cleaner I have found to date! Enjoy!

 

A Development Team’s Review of Oil Barons by EPYX (1983)

Wikipedia page reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_Barons
OilBarons1
I’ve had my Commodore 64 at work for around two years now, and recently I decided to bring in an old (1983) and rare game to test out with my development team during our lunch breaks.

I’ll dispense with the details of the game other than it’s a business strategy multiplayer board/computer game that uses the Commodore 64 to perform calculations of profits, losses, costs, etc. of running your oil companies and keeps track of things related to the board pieces and activities.

This review will be different than other ones online in that we reviewed things from a development team standpoint.

As per other reviews, yes… the game is way too slow on the Commodore 64 side. It’s like the C64 software was being showcased more than it should have with animations, ticker tape reports and summaries that went on and on. They took a tangent away from the overall game play when they designed and built this game.OilBarons2

Originally I tried playing it using my Blackberry Playbook with a VICE emulator installed on it and the game disk images. It was slow, and running it in turbo mode made the game unplayable. I did this because I wanted to use the LCD TV we had in our work area and not have to bring my C64 to our work area.

That failed, so back to using original hardware. We quickly discovered that the game accessed the disk WAY too much and that slowed everything down. I invoked JiffyDOS and that did help some, but not enough.

Quick Summary: The game crashed badly at turn 6, and we gave up playing the game

Bug Reports:
– 30,000 turns? We didn’t make 6 turns, how would this actually work and how long would that take?
– Jungle terrain – We hit oil! It was blue like water
– Desert terrain – We struck a septic tank in the middle of the desert?
– Survey Detonation – Wipes out trees, swap vegetation, anything not in the background (graphics)… which returns during drilling
– I entered an incorrect coordinate in to survey, went back to change coordinates, crashed to an ‘Out of Data?’ error. Typed in RUN and continued the game, but I lost my turn
– End of turn ‘event’ where a well went dry. It was actually player 3’s well, but the game reported player 1
– Calculations during end of turn caused a crash to ‘Out of Data?’. RUN allowed the game to continue
– End of turn 6, massive crash requiring a computer reboot. To be fair, old C64, old disk images… there may have been some computer, drive and media age degradation involved with these crashes. Normally the C64 and drive work perfectly fine for all other games, but I also used JiffyDOS, which usually is fine, but sometimes there are incompatibilities.

If we were to try this game today, what would we change to make it more playable?

– No animations or minimal to cut down time of play
– Multiple survey / drilling capability per turn (add some more strategy to the game)
– Possibly remove the board part of the game all together and put it on the computer
– If using a board, smaller marker pieces that actually fit in the squares (and don’t make them look like Smarties for safety sake)
– Tracking ownership of plots
– No extra computer bidders. In other words, if there are 3 players in the game, that’s all who should be allowed to bid on things. We aren’t tracking computer player locations anyways.
– If using a board, markers for tracking areas surveyed
– Less drive access!!!
– Saving a game should not end a game
– Ability to overwrite saved games
– Option to buy plots of land in addition to auctions and private deals

Overall player ratings of the game (removing buggy software from the equation)
4/10, 1/10, 4/10

A revision of the game with changes proposed could be quite fun, and we did like the concept of the game. I’m curious to see what other Oil Baron type games are out there today.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with social media. Too many sites! I’m really not sure how people find the time in the day to visit 4+ sites and peruse the latest and greatest posts from everyone they’e connected with.

I’m having less urge to post on social media these days, and I’m being more selective of what I do post.

Sharing other stories? BAH! That’s easy!

One thing that had occurred to me was that I should start putting all my posts, photos, music, etc. on my own website and broadcast my posts out from here and keep less on the social media sites. Fortunately there is a plugin for that! Voila, my first broadcast post! Nothing exciting, but here it is! Go WordPress Plugins! 🙂

Hello World!

2011-Trek-Allant
My 2011 Trek Allant bike

September 2015, my wife Corinne and I had a wonderful gift arrive – Alexandra, our daughter. Around the same time, we realized that being a two car family would probably not be necessary due to my living close to my job and Corinne being at home with Alexandra for the foreseeable future.

We debated over which car should go. We had a Nissan Cube and a Honda Element SC. Yes, two square and highly useful ‘boxes’. In the end, the Nissan Cube won out because of the suicide doors on the Element not being great in parking lots, especially for a baby car seat. I’m still sad about having to give up the Element, but I digress…

It was decided. I was to walk and bike to work. When you’re working a computer desk job, maintaining your health can be a challenge if you’re also not a particularly athletic person outside of work. My hobby is music, not sports. I figured daily exercise to and from work would be an automatic insertion of activity into my day. One year later, I don’t think I ever want to go back to car commuting unless I really need to.

The Experience:
I live in Kitchener, Ontario close to the downtown core. I live around 1.6 kms away from work. I really enjoy biking and pushing myself every day to go faster or maintain a quicker pace. Last year this time, biking averaged about 10+ minutes to work, walking 17-20 minutes. This year? Biking is down to 5-7 minutes, walking is roughly the same.

I couldn’t have chosen a better time to change my commuting method, as downtown Kitchener became a mess of construction and car commuter congestion with the new LRT tracks being laid down right beside my workplace building, and the new underpass on King Street being constructed along with the new transportation hub. This will continue for another couple years around the city.

How long did the car take to commute to work before? Around 10-15 minutes depending on which city parking lot I was parked in. With all the construction over the last year, I’m thinking walking would even have been faster.

When walking and biking, you become more aware of the neighbourhood around you, and interact with people along the way. I also value the exercise I get on a daily basis, and it also allows me to decompress and reset for work or home.

At times, I thought it’d be cool to have an old 1960’s to 80’s wagon at my disposal, but my bicycle ODOMETER was still under 300 kms since I started the daily commutes. That doesn’t warrant having another expense in the driveway for occasional fun.

I have mostly biked, because I suffered multiple foot injuries a couple of years ago that are permanent. Even with orthopedic shoes, walking can be painful at times. Winter months I just have to deal with it.

I’ve used two bikes since starting my commuting:
– 2011 Trek Allant
– 2016 Trek Verve 3

2016-Trek-Verve3
My 2016 Trek Verve3 bike

The reason for the two is because our shed was broken into this summer and both of our bicycles were stolen.  Thinking we’d never see them again, I purchased the Verve 3. Two weeks later my Allant was found, and now that has become my wife’s bike for when she gets back into biking.

For commuting, always have a storage back / panniers for hauling your stuff and/or groceries when needed. Also, have the required bell and lighting. Finally fenders! You really appreciate having those in the rain and muddy streets. They make really ingenious ones now that are flexible and pop off if whacked or caught against something. Less possibility or being ruined!

I also love the fact that I can go faster than an E-Bike on the roads with a pedal bike. Granted, I have yet to pass an E-Bike on the road yet. When I do, I have a feeling I will chuckle to myself.

The Pros:

  • Health and exercise!
  • More connection to my neighbourhood
  • De-stressor
  • No expense of a second car that would sit and rot most of its life (more money for the family!)
  • Quicker commuting time to work than using a car (my scenario)
  • Best way to combat construction commute hell

The Cons:

  • Theft concerns
  • Having to deal with rain and snowy conditions
  • Cold weather
  • Windy day bicycling
  • Bad car drivers not paying attention or not caring (biking OR walking)
  • People who don’t shovel/clean their sidewalks in the winter in a timely manner

Solutions to The Cons:

  • Theft is an on going problem. Current solutions are working. Hope to get a better shed and locking system so I don’t need to store the bikes in the basement anymore
  • Rain
    • Purchased a packable rain jacket and pants from Marks Work Warehouse to combat rainy bike rides
    • Always get fenders for a commuter bike! No skunk marks up your back from rain and mud!
    • Always have an umbrella with you if walking. Again the suit is still better for full body protection
    • Bontrager bicycle accessory – the rear storage bag has built in rain cover you can pull out to protect your stowed stuff.
  • Snow and Cold
    • Long johns are fabulous! Either that or fleece lined pants
    • What I call ‘Russian’ hats – they look dumb, but your head appreciates a proper hat for the cold
    • Proper winter jacket / layering to combat coldness
    • Strap on ‘cramp ons’ for boots during icy days prevents a lot of slipping and falling
    • Light hiking boots with proper cold weather lining in them. Make sure they are comfy as well!
  • Bad Car Drivers
    • Knowing your place helps. A car will always win. Be paranoid.
    • Being respectful of pedestrians as well. You’re now the car.
    • Lights and helmet are a must. Stupid not to have either.
    • Bicycle bell – again, it’s your ‘car horn’. Use it.
    • As a pedestrian, always be mindful of where a driver is NOT looking. Don’t think you can teach someone something either by walking in front of them. I almost was run over by a woman who panicked after hitting me once with her car, and then hitting the gas for a split second in panic and hitting me again. Be paranoid.

Tomorrow I go to say good-bye to a friend and musician buddy Gabe DaSilva.

My story started with Gabe via his SOS Portuguese Band in the 1988-1990 time period. We met via our fathers, who worked together at the Ford plant in Oakville. I played keyboards and sang back up vocals for the band. We had a lot of fun gigs with that band, and I grew a fondness for Portuguese food and culture as a result.

During this time we also recorded a lot of original songs in the band’s studio in the basement of ABC Variety on Kerr St. in Oakville, ON. Gabe was always a great friend, mentor and overall great person. We always knew he was into whatever music we were playing when he started bopping his head and tapping his feet.

Recordings in my archive are mostly Gabe playing guitar, but there was another recording that I love where he wasn’t playing guitar, and I wanted to share this one because they captured some wicked musical intensity when they recorded the song. Gabe was an awesome guitar player, but I didn’t know he played other instruments until I heard this track.

Gabe and my other friend and long time musician buddy David Kruger recorded a song that David wrote in the basement of ABC studios using an old 8 track analog recorder. The recording has suffered over the years because of tape age, and the recording was a little rough. Hey, we worked with what we had!

With permission from David, I present to you “I Know You Know”. In this song, Gabe played the drums and bass for the song. David is playing the guitar parts. I wish I had been there during the recording…

Crank it. Loud. Seriously.

Missing you Gabe. Thank you for being a friend and an inspiration. Rest In Peace.

I’m not missing or dead… really I’m not!

Music:

I’ve actually had some progress musically wise in the last month or so working with Jeremy Braden Day on his upcoming album.
Some REALLY nice material has come together since the EP was published. I’m very much looking forward to the album when it is released.

I’ve been having the creative juices flowing again, and I’m itchy to start recording. I finally installed OS X Yosemite along with Logic PRO X. Nice update Apple, I have to say. However, now I’m contemplating getting a terabyte drive for the iMac and doing up a dual boot of OS X 10.6 and OS X 10.10 with Logic PRO 8.0 / X on both OS versions.

One thing I’m going to do is tidy up my Auralplane VS Rob Adlers music pages out there. A little confusing if I do say so myself. That’s to come.

Videos:

Nothing posted yet, but the idea has been formed. I have to story board my plan of execution and just start doing it.

Life:

Alexandra is growing and I’m really a proud papa. She’s a happy kid that sleeps well. Corinne and I are very lucky.

That’s all for now!

Rob

Personal

I’ve had a very busy year! Corinne and I married October 4th, 2014, and fairly soon after, we found out we were expecting! Since that time, I’ve been busy with house renovations and preparations for the arrival of our child.

October 15th, 2015, Alexandra Sophia Isabelle Adlers arrived! Mom and Alex are doing just fine. Now it’s a matter of learning how to function with less sleep. 🙂

As to the house renovations, I’ve learned so much in the last year, and our house is looking much nicer as a result. They never end, but at least where we are now is such an advancement over where we were at. Most of the work concentrated on the main floor interior.  The music studio got some new lighting that has made it much nicer to work in.

Music

Jeremy Brendan Day & The Resistance EP has been printed, and I’m excited! Jeremy, Ron and Wayne really did a great job with this album, and I can hardly wait for the full album release. Very proud to be a part of that project. It has taken some time, but I love the results. See my May post for the tunes on Soundcloud.com.

Because of personal priorities, music has taken a temporary break while I readjust to all the changes and enjoy my new family. However, as things settle in, I’ll be back on the creative wagon starting on new projects and continuing existing ones. My mind has been racing with ideas that need some exercising.

One other hurdle I am still working through is taking my 2007 iMac to Yosemite and upgrading from Logic Pro 8 to X. I’m looking forward to some of the new features I’ve read up on, as it will fill a couple of holes in my studio gear.  The Yosemite upgrade went much better than some other upgrade stories I’ve read up on. My MOTU 8PRE had some driver complaints initially, but those have been worked out. Logic Pro X, you’re next.

I’m rated in the Top 10 for Electronic for Kitchener-Waterloo on Reverbnation.com! Well, in the bigger scheme of things, I don’t know how relevant is this? But it’s somewhat cool to hear that anyways. Perhaps I should put up newer tracks.

YouTube

I have an awesome idea that I will be working on soon for my YouTube channel. I had to get some approvals done first, but that is clear, and I can go ahead. Stay tuned!

I have checked out stats from Google for my channel, and one of the key pieces of data I found interesting was the time people spent watching my videos (avg). 2 min 30 seconds! Beetle music territory! As an experiment, some of my future videos will be conforming to this timeframe to see if that helps with viewership stats and overall viewer happiness. Obviously content has to be of some value. I stay committed to the edutainment around synthesizers form for my RADLERS channel. My Auralplane channel has been sadly neglected due to life, but hopefully a couple of the project ideas I have for that will come to fruition.

That’s all for now until next post.

Well, if you’ve been visiting my website in the last while, it doesn’t look like I’ve been up to much. Not true!

One of the projects I’ve been working on has been with Jeremy Brendan Day’s new album!

Here are some of the pre-release listens to tracks on his Soundcloud page!
I’m playing on all but Silly Little Love Song.

Jeremy Brendan Day on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jeremy-brendan-day

Beautiful Lie – https://soundcloud.com/jeremy-brendan-day/beautiful-lie

Stupid Town – https://soundcloud.com/jeremy-brendan-day/stupid-town-ep-version

Better Days – https://soundcloud.com/jeremy-brendan-day/better-days-ep-version

Silly Little Love Song – https://soundcloud.com/jeremy-brendan-day/silly-little-love-song

Chapters Of My Life – https://soundcloud.com/jeremy-brendan-day/chapters-of-my-life