Glenn Kubish: Inside Coffee Outside

I’m not sure exactly when I started drinking coffee outside with these crazy humans but I started marking it on my calendar in April/2015.  I was a summer cyclist at that time and I was just starting to heal from my second fracture out of 3 in 10 months.  I was curious about meeting other cyclists to drink coffee outside.  Being part of this little community has changed my life for the better in so many ways!  Sometimes I’m alone in the dark but sometimes, I’m almost crying with laughter!

Sometimes, we meet for a Friday beer and a lot of laughter.

Sometimes, we meet for a Friday beer and a lot of laughter.

Doc Darren got a pizza oven that he could bring by bicycle so we had breakfast pizza outside one wintry morning!

Doc Darren got a pizza oven that he could bring by bicycle so we had breakfast pizza outside one wintry morning!

Sometimes, we meet on the southside to accommodate cyclists from the other side of the North Saskatchewan.

Sometimes, we meet on the southside to accommodate cyclists from the other side of the North Saskatchewan.

This community has so much diversity and zest for life. Once two or more of us are gathered, the passionate discussions begin.  It’s astonishing how much ground you can cover in a half hour or so, early Friday morning.  Hanging out with our crazy bike gang has motivated me to become a winter cyclist on all but the very worst days. Various members have enjoyed winter and summer bike races of various kinds.  A couple of us share a canoe.  Our age and career range is pretty wide.  If you have the opportunity to join a magical little community like this, grab it with both hands!!

The video:

Source: Glenn Kubish: Inside Coffee Outside

3 Ways Pokémon GO Can Create Meaningful Learning Opportunities | EdTech Magazine

Pokémon GO has only been available in Canada for about 10 days, but it’s become extremely popular, in a very short amount of time.  Players should pay attention to their surroundings, and they should be considerate of people who live and work near Poké Stops & Gyms, where you collect weapons and have battles.  Unlike other video games, players have to get out and move around their communities to play Pokémon GO.  It’s very interesting to see how much exercise players are getting, and how much interaction is happening, when players meet each other.  So many strangers have given me advice about how to play!  Think about some skills that you want to learn and how you can use Pokémon GO to help you learn those skills.  Prepositions are one area of vocabulary and grammar that are often difficult to learn.  Ask for advice and give it about where to locate Pokéstops, gyms, and monsters! Find new places around your neighbourhood, as well as when you go someplace new.


A Pokémon gym in Fort Assiniboine, AB, also the world’s largest wagon wheel & pick!

Educators from around the web offer ideas for incorporating Pokémon GO into the classroom.

Source: 3 Ways Pokémon GO Can Create Meaningful Learning Opportunities | EdTech Magazine

More Iron Horse Trail and Camping: Franchere-Mallaig, AB

Starting out at the beginning of a very hot day, Glendon-Mallaig, 15+K

Starting out at the beginning of a very hot day, Glendon-Mallaig, 15+K

Since I learned that there were 300 kilometres of completed trail in Northeastern Alberta, it’s been my mission to hike the trail bit by bit until it’s complete.  Last year, I hiked about 95K of the trail.  This year, I’ve started later, due to my broken bones in the winter, as well as my busy paddling season.  This last weekend, it was time to begin again.  I reserved a campsite at Franchere Bay, Moose Lake Provincial Park, close to Bonnyville, with the intention of hiking several stretches between Bonnyville and Abilene Junction, over the course of 3 days.

This campground was definitely not my favourite.  It was pleasant to be shaded by many pine trees, and to be close to a large lake.  However, there were many enormous trailers camped all around us, and a lot of them operated gas-powered generators for hours on end.  Others drove in and out frequently in diesel trucks, hauling their massive boats.  In other words, it wasn’t such a peaceful environment.  I enjoy the sounds of playing children as well as partying friends and families, and those sounds were also around us.  A very unpleasant surprise was finding out on day 3 that the lake was affected by Blue-Green Algae.  Unfortunately, we both swam in the lake on day 2 and had skin irritations following our swim.  Many children were swimming in the lake since the notice was only on the shower house, not on the outhouses or at the beach.  According to Alberta Health:

People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), or who ingest water containing blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days. Symptoms in children are often more pronounced; however, all humans are at risk of these symptoms.

After our night of camping, we got up to hike on Friday.  To our disappointment, it was already one of the hottest days of the year, early in the morning.  Given that, it didn’t make sense to take an extra-long hike.  We rearranged our plans, and decided to hike from Glendon-Mallaig, leaving cars at both ends.  When we drove back to Glendon, we enjoyed the giant perogy statue, as well as a nice Chinese restaurant, across the road.  The town was quite pretty, and the restaurant owner was Vietnamese, so I tried a little of my language with her.  While eating, we were surprised when another member of our group just happened to choose the same restaurant, at the same time of day, out of the entire region of the Iron Horse Trail.  He had stayed at Whitney Lakes Campground for 2 nights but found that the Iron Horse Trail was too muddy for biking, and the highway wasn’t safe enough.  In other regions, he found that the trail was too soft to easily bike.  However, he spent time taking some excellent photographs in the area.  We had a nice campfire in the evening, thanks to some friendly neighbours who brought a lot of dry firewood from home.

Saturday, we woke up determined to hike from Bonnyville-Franchere, and we drove to Bonnyville.  However, the skies were full of smoky haze that morning, due to the forest fires in northern Saskatchewan and northern Alberta.  The smoke caused a headache and burning eyes and throat, even with the air conditioning running in the car.  Again, it wasn’t a safe day for a long, cross-country hike.  We spent time in Bonnyville, where I recharged all my electronics at the very friendly A&Ws, and I picked up some groceries and medical supplies at the Grocery Warehouse.  I managed to get a pretty bad blister on the trail, so I was happy that blister bandages were available in the store.

There was quite a bit of rain on Saturday evening, which meant that I needed to set up a tarp, to protect my tent from getting too wet.  It also made for great sleeping conditions, and we woke up to find no more smoke in the air.  Unfortunately, there was a Red Alert for Aurora Borealis that night, but it would be impossible to see Northern Lights on such a cloudy night.  In the morning, conditions wee good for hiking, cool and cloudy.  We walked from Glendon-Franchere, about 10K, meeting a very friendly pet sheep on our travels. On our way back home, we stopped for a coffee at a “biker bar” in Ashmont, and I bought some very fresh veggies at a market garden in Smoky Lake.  I also stopped at Sunbake Pita in north Edmonton, for some spinach pies.

We only hiked 25K over the 3 days, rather than the 70 that we had hoped for.  Nevertheless, it’s nice to be able to look at a map and see that we’ve hiked over more of the province.  The terrain on this stretch is very soft gravel, with quite a few large, loose rocks between Glendon and Mallaig.  Most of the trail has shrubs or trees nearby, with a few open areas.  There are plans to visit the area near Wasketenau and east, as well as the area around Cold Lake, over the next few weeks.  After looking at the Backroads mapbook, I realized that there is a further network of trails that connects the Iron Horse Trail in Waskatenau with the city of Fort Saskatchewan.  Maybe someday, I will have walked from the far west border of the province to the city of Edmonton!


Can You Canoe? Try it out in Edmonton

All summer in Edmonton, there are many interesting events, and a lot of them are free!  Many students know that I’m crazy about canoeing, and it looks interesting to them.  They wanted to know where they can find out more about this activity.  An excellent opportunity is at Edmonton’s “River Day”, when many clubs and businesses that use the river meet together to show Edmontonians how they can enjoy the river.  One of the activities is lessons for boats, including kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.  The classes are low-cost, so they’re very popular.  Go sign up soon after the event begins at 10 am.  There will be 4 canoeing classes and 2 kayak classes, and possibly 2 standup-paddleboard classes.  Instructors will make sure you have the correct equipment, and they’ll give you the main idea for these activities.  You can also enjoy a free pancake breakfast, and you can try fishing and other activities.

River Day :: City of Edmonton.

Another time and place when you can learn about paddling is at MEC Paddlefest, which will be held on Sunday, June 28, at Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park this year.

Astotin Lake, Paddlefest

Astotin Lake, Paddlefest

You can buy some delicious food to eat, during your visit to Edmonton Paddlefest.

You can buy some delicious food to eat, during your visit to Edmonton Paddlefest.

Edmonton Paddlefest, Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park is another great place to try out paddling sports.  Many vendors and clubs provide instruction and the chance to try out their equipment for free.  You can also register to take quite a few different classes for free.

If you want to try out paddling, and you can’t attend these special events, you can also rent equipment from MEC or Totem Outfitters to try at any river or lake, or you can rent at Astotin Lake from Haskin Canoe, for $25/hour. I recommend that you search YouTube first for a video about how to canoe.  It’s not so difficult, but if you have no idea how to steer the boat, it’s really frustrating!

If you want to get more involved in paddling, and have regular practice, you can also join a paddling club.  There are several in Edmonton, but I’m a member of one of the more active clubs:

Ceyana has weekly practice evenings at Rundle Park Paddling Centre (Tuesdays), instruction for many kinds of paddling, trips, and practice sessions in the big (voyageur) canoes.  Members enjoy a wide range of paddling, from whitewater river paddling, to practice on a pond.  For me, my favourite activity is going on canoe trips, spending at least one night away from home.  A canoe club is a great place to meet other paddlers, to learn new ideas, and to share gear and knowledge.

Rachel Notley won the bike vote, proving transit solidarity is real

Our Premier rides her bicycle to work

As gas and vehicle prices get higher, and as people become increasingly aware of the environmental cost of driving, bicycling as transportation is becoming more and more important. I’m proud to say that I live in Edmonton now, knowing that our mayor, Don Iveson and his family are cyclists, and so is our premier. This is a huge shift from the days when our city mayor and the premier both had drivers, and giant SUVs. Sometimes, driving is the most effective transportation, but there are other options. This is an opinion piece about the shift in thinking.

Find Your Way Out of a Paper Bag: GPS Navigation

We had a skill-sharing Sunday with the canoe club today, and the skill we worked on was navigation.  Several club members have owned a GPS for awhile, and they’re a rather expensive item.  They’re not very easy to figure out on your own, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to search the internet for useful information, without too much luck.  One thing I realized was that after spending a lot to buy a fancy GPS, it still wasn’t very useful, because I had to buy and load expensive maps onto it, to actually see where I was.  Otherwise, I had a confusing selection of numbers, lines, or circles on the screen.  Also, to get from one screen to another, or to enter any information, you have to “toggle” a small switch from side to side, again and again.  I haven’t found the device to be at all user-friendly, but I appreciate being able to upload the information from my adventures onto my computer, and I was also able to share some files with other users, using .GPX files.

I initially purchased my Garmin when I was living in Viet Nam, since I was pretty active in the Hash House Harriers.  I have to warn you to avoid the HHH, a worldwide “drinking club with a running problem”, unless you really enjoy sexism, racism, drunkenness, and extremely vulgar language.  Hashers take pride in being offensive,  However, there was no other real choice in Ho Chi Minh City, if you wanted to be active outdoors.  I did have the opportunity to see some fantastic places and to meet some wonderful people through the Hash, so I don’t really regret my participation.  I’m just saying that you need to be warned, if someone suggests going on a Hash Run.

Back to the GPS: I’m still quite confused about a lot of the functions, but it’s more reliable for location, and for staying turned on, than a smartphone.  I did learn how to enter coordinates on my GPS, and then search for them, and it was pretty fun, searching for some geocaches that were hidden in Hawrelak Park, as well as some trees that Mark had marked (the name Mark and the word “mark” were very confusing at times!) for us to find.  He printed some very helpful advice for us, located at

While we were at the park, we also met some very well-known Edmontonians, Nick Lees, also known as “Nick Danger”, a journalist who was willing to try almost everything, for a story.  Nick has done triathlon, long-distance cycling, prize-figthing, you name it!  He was accompanied by John Yardley-Jones, a popular artist and cartoonist who settled in Edmonton, and who has also been very active in outdoor pursuits, holding the record for most completions of the Canadian Birkebeiner cross-country skiing race (55 kilometres long, with or without a 5.5 Kg pack).  They reminisced with Mark, a fellow sportsman.

My next step is to get a micro SD card to hold data in my GPS unit, and then to look for free or low-cost maps to store on my Garmin.  I’m hopeful that I’ll get a lot more use out of it, once it’s equipped with maps.  I’ll also try geocaching a bit more, in order to remember the skills I learned, and to have fun while doing it.  I can use the app on my phone, when I don’t want to carry a separate device with me.








The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things

The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not ThingsThis is an interesting article about research on what makes us happiest.  From my own experience, spending time and money on experiences makes me very happy for a long time.  Since I returned to Canada from Việt Nam, most of my purchases have been for equipment that will allow me to enjoy many outdoor experiences: second-hand bicycle, skates, skis, and roof rack for my canoe, as well as new running shoes, climbing and camping equipment, ski passes, and gym memberships.  I really enjoy getting to know other people while we are doing an activity, like a hike or canoe trip.  I hope to use the equipment that I’ve purchased for a very long time.

The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things.


Closing Out 2014 (YEG) | November Project

Closing Out 2014 (YEG) | November Project.

Now that my broken wrist is healing well, I can get back to my early morning workouts with November Project Canada.  What a positive group of people this is!!  We’re having a pretty warm winter, so it hasn’t been so hard to get outdoors for workouts at 6 am, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  This morning was quite a bit cooler than what we’ve experienced so far.  There were lots of smiles, shouts, songs, and hugs in the crowd.  I’m excited to start another year with November Project Canada!

Things to check out in Edmonton over the Christmas holiday

There are many businesses and facilities that have shorter hours, especially on December 25 (Christmas) and January 1 (New Years Day), but most of us also have extra leisure time and holidays during this season. Go ahead and spend 1-2 days in your pyjamas during this cold, dark season, but also make sure to get out to see or do something new!

Celebrate a New Year!

This festival will allow you to try skating for free at city hall, there will be crafts for children and food to purchase, and you can also watch the movie “Frozen”, outside in Churchill Square, before midnight fireworks.  Edmonton doesn’t usually have nighttime activities outdoors in the winter, so this will be a special treat, if the weather isn’t too cold that night!

Visit a new gym!

Less than 1 kilometre from Clareview LRT station, there is a new recreation centre in Clareview, with a swimming pool, gym, library, skating rink, and multipurpose rooms. It looks like this will be a beautiful, bright rec centre, similar to the newer Commonwealth Recreation Centre.

If you live WAY down in Southeast Edmonton, east of Mill Woods, there is another new recreation centre, also with swimming and skating available.

Skate outdoors!

In many areas of the city, there are outdoor skating rinks, and it’s a lovely, inexpensive way to enjoy the season, if you get out and skate on them.  Victoria Park Oval (my favourite rink) is already open for the season, and so is the small rink at City Hall.  The legislature has a rink below the legislature building, and the Castledowns rink will open this weekend.  Shop for a used pair of skates at Totem Outdoor Equipment, United Cycle, or on Kijiji.  Get a helmet, since you only get one brain per person.  After that. skating is free!

Victoria Park Oval: A Zamboni gives most Canadians a warm feeling, since it prepares the ice for a hockey game, or some recreational skating.

Victoria Park Oval: A Zamboni gives most Canadians a warm feeling, since it prepares the ice for a hockey game, or some recreational skating.

Discover Program | Snow Valley: only $60: rentals, lessons, lunch, day pass!!

Discover Program | Snow Valley.

This is a fantastic deal to try out a new winter sport at a very nice local area.

Snow Valley is a lovely local ski hill, and a very safe environment to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time.  It’s very popular on the weekends, so it will probably be crowded, but you will enjoy yourself and feel confident if you start here.  If you don’t have a car, there are busses that go nearby.


Injured on the ice!

I didn’t stay around for the group picture on Friday!

Short Story:

Friday I fell on the ice and I broke my wrist. I visited 2 hospitals and 2 clinics to get help.  It was a bad break.  Doctors tried to stretch my arm to fix the bone, but that didn’t work.  I stayed in hospital 3 nights, and I had an operation to fix my arm.  Now, I have a cast for 6 weeks. 

Long Story:

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to meet my friends from November Project Canada for a workout, 3 mornings/week at 6 am.  Friday mornings are hills at Emily Murphy Park.  Thursday night was rainy and it was warm (+5) on Friday morning, so I assumed that the sidewalks would be clear, and I wouldn’t need to wear spikes.  When I arrived at the hill, several people said that it was slippery, and they said to be careful.  For some reason, though, I started running and I wanted to keep running.  I have always had trouble with slipping on ice, so I’m usually very careful when it’s icy outside.  I went up and down the hill 3 times, but the third time, I slipped quickly, and I went straight down and landed on my bum.  Unfortunately, my right hand was underneath me when I fell. I knew right away that my wrist was broken.  Many people offered me help, but I wanted to sit still for a little while before standing up.

It was still before 0630 hours when I drove away, to the University of Alberta Hospital (the U).  I parked at a meter but I couldn’t even get coins out of my purse.  I checked into the emergency room (ER) and waited, and waited.  I could see that more and more patients were arriving, but no patients were going to see doctors, even after the day shift arrived at the hospital.  I asked, and the nurses said that all of the beds in ER were completely full, so the doctors couldn’t see anyone until some of those patients had been discharged.  Since I believed that I only needed an X-ray and a cast, I felt it would be best to go to a walk-in clinic.  After asking a few people I learned that X-ray was available at Allin Clinic.  Unfortunately, when I arrived there, I learned that they didn’t have a walk-in clinic, so I went to the Medicentre on Jasper Avenue. First, I got a coffee and loaf at Starbucks.  It was almost school time, so I phoned work to make sure they got my message that I wouldn’t be in.  One of the receptionists at the Medicentre began to shout at me for using the phone in the clinic, even though none of the doctors had started work yet.  I tried to explain that I was just quickly calling work, and I couldn’t open the door because of my broken wrist, but she was too busy shouting to hear what I said.  Finally, I saw the doctor and got an X-ray requisition, and my wrist was very swollen.  I returned  to the Allin Clinic, waited and got an X-ray, and they sent me back to the Medicentre with a disc (CD) that contained my X-rays.  When I saw the doctor again, he was at his computer.  He showed me that my bone was chipped away at the wrist, so I needed to see an orthopedic surgeon.  He recommended that I go to the Royal Alexandra Hospital (the Alex).

At that point, it was about noon, and my phone was dead.  I had sent text messages to my kids, to let them know what was going on, but we couldn’t reach each other.  I stopped by home to get a drink of water, to change into clothes that would be easy to manage and to get my laptop, so I could recharge my phone.  I was able to phone my kids once I parked my car at the Alex since I was using my car charger.  My son checked online to see what the waits were like at all the hospitals around the city: more than 3 hours everywhere!  I decided to stay at the Alex, since I had already paid for 24 hours parking, and it was closer to home for me.  I waited about 1/2 hour in the lineup to see the triage nurse.  When they saw that I already had X-rays and I had been waiting all morning for care, they said they would try to get me in faster.  I was in a bed in ER in less than 1 hour, and I had an ECG and a lot of bloodwork done, but it took a few more hours before they had enough people available to try to improve my arm without surgery.  Finally, there was an ER doctor and resident, and anesthesiologist and resident, a nurse, someone to cast my arm, and a respiratory technologist in the room.  They gave me “conscious sedation”, medication that only put me to sleep for about 2 minutes.  During that time, they yanked on my arm, to try to bring the broken bone into the correct position for casting.  This is called a “reduction”.  Following the procedure, I had many more X-rays.  After reviewing those X-rays, an ortho Dr. and her resident told me I’d definitely need surgery.

The good news was that I was permitted to eat.  My daughter picked up my car keys and brought me some extra clothes, and the charger for my laptop.  She also brought me a meal from Wendy’s.  When she arrived, the ER was on “lockdown”, so nobody was permitted to enter.  Luckily, a security guard delivered my things to me.  Soon after that, I moved to the orthopedic surgery unit, across the street.  Much to my surprise, I had a private room, with lots of space.  Soon, I was on IV fluids, not allowed to eat or drink anything for the whole day.  It’s pretty boring when you can’t eat or drink, and you can’t go anywhere.  Luckily, I was quite sleepy, and I slept a lot, listening to an audiobook or music while I was awake.  Sometime after 7 pm, the nurse brought my tray and said that I wouldn’t have surgery that day.  The food was quite bad, but I ate some of it, and then went to the food court, to get a meal from Tim Horton’s.  At midnight, I was back on an IV.  Sunday was the same, no food or drink, but in the evening, they arrived to take me to surgery.  It was about 7 again when I returned to my room and had a meal.

The next day, I needed to take antibiotics twice, to prevent infection.  All of my tubes were removed for the last time, and I was given a prescription for pain medication.  I went to the main building to get my pills, and for my son-in-law to pick me up.  Finally home again!  Fortunately, I don’t have too much pain, except at night, when I’m at home, and I can take medication.  It’s inconvenient to be unable to use my right hand for now, but I will probably have this big cast off in 2 weeks.  In the meantime, I’m avoiding driving and other tasks that are difficult with only one hand.

Just Layer Up | November Project

Lots of my students believe that it’s not possible to exercise outside in the winter.  It’s kind of scary to go outside in the snow and ice when you’ve always lived in a tropical country, but it’s SO much fun to be active out in the snow, and it can be very comfortable, if you dress correctly.  This blog post shows you all of the layers you should wear, in lots of detail.  Look for the vocabulary for clothes that you need.  Just for going to and from school, you need to start with boots, a warm winter jacket, mitts or gloves, a scarf and a toque.  For more fun, start getting the items in the post.  We survived 3 mornings a week of 6 am exercise outdoors last winter, with plenty of mornings of -30 degree weather.  Come on out and have fun, meet great people, and defeat winter!

Middle layers for winter exercise

Just Layer Up | November Project.