Monday, October 31, 2011

Cynical cyclist store

I did this for fun, but if anyone wants to buy a shirt and support the blog, I would appreciate it. I will add more ideas in the coming weeks. I also am working on another project with a friend. Hopefully we will have something happening with that in the new year. Thanks. Blayne.

thecynicalcyclist store

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemade granola recipe.

I have been making my own granola for the past year or so. Of course, I love making as much stuff at home instead of buying it from the grocery store. I like to know the whole ingredients in my food, the freshness of it, the amount of sugar and fat in the items, and that it was made in a clean environment free of pest and chemical residues. In my kitchen I only use plant based soaps that are biodegradable and phosphate free, and I use vinegar for sanitizing. Thats it. Nothing harmful to anyone except dirt and germs.

This granola recipe was introduced to me by my wonderful girlfriend. It is from Hollyhock on Cortes Island. Hollyhock is a adult learning center retreat that uses delicious, whole, organic ingredients in their kitchen. I have heard many great things about this place, but I have never visited. One day I would like to go there for a writing workshop.

6 cups of oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup honey

Pre-heat oven to 250F. Put honey and oil in a pot and slowly warm on medium heat. Add the honey to the oil in a measuring cup to keep the honey from sticking to the vessel. Mix all dry ingredients in  a large mixing bowl. Once the honey and oil start to bubble add it to the dry mix and stir well until all the mix is moist. Place on cookie sheets(I use 2) and place in oven. Bake for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until it is golden brown. Don't forget because it can get "well done" really quickly.

This granola is full of protein and is low in sugar. It isn't very sweet and is great as cereal, mixed in yogurt or apple sauce. The yield is quite big too, and it lasts a long time. Enjoy.

Friday, October 28, 2011


As I was organizing tonight, I found an envelope on the counter that I was given at Victoria General Hospital a few weeks ago when I took Natalie down for her check-up. I looked in the envelope and it was a medical summary of Natalie's treatment at  B.C. Children's Hospital. For some of you who are reading this and are un-aware, she was born with stage 4s Neuroblastoma of the adrenal gland. It is a developmental cancer that occurs when the effected cells don't get stop growing like they should. They continue like the fetus was still developing quickly in utero. By chance, Natalie was over due by a week and the doctor decided to send her mom for an ultrasound just to make sure everything was going okay. Shortly after the test we were called in to be told that they saw something in the pictures and were concerned. It could be nothing and clear up before birth but would follow-up with another ultra-sound after she was born.

She was stubborn and didn't want to come out an meet us so the doctors elected for a c-section and Natalie joined us in the world early in the morning on October 22. 2003. She was huge and happy and such a great baby. I was thrilled, I had been hoping for a daddy's girl and my wish came true. She had a follow-up ultra-sound and the mass was still present, so our doctor decided to re-visit the issue in three months.

Three months go by and it was a fabulous time. Natalie's first Christmas, and I remember her first smile like it was yesterday. She was an easy, quiet baby. She was not fussy. It was perfect. And then we had to go in for the ultrasound, I was positive that all would be well, it was just a blockage in the liver and it would have cleared out. We went out for a nice walk while waiting for the doctor to call with the results. We arrived home to a message from the the doctors office telling us to go there immediately and see him. So we got the bad news, her mass has grown and spread, and we had to leave to Childrens Hospital in Vancouver that afternoon. My heart sank. How could my perfect, beautiful little girl be sick. Why did this happen to me. What did I do? What did she do? It wasn't fair. We arrived at home and luckily Natalie's grandma pulled in right behind us to see how the test went. I asked her to come to Vancouver with us, I had no idea where to go. Not knowing my way around at all, that added extra stress to the whole thing. She was more than willing to come, and off we went for the first ferry we could catch. I know is sure cried a lot during that ferry ride, looking out over the water wondering what would we find out once at the hospital

We arrived at the Emergency at Children's. We spent the night there, waiting for a bed up in the ward. 3B. The oncology ward. We were at the hospital for the better of two weeks. During that time, Natalie had x-rays, bone scan, CT scan, and an exploratory surgery to biopsy the mass and to insert a central venous line. The surgery was on February 14th, 2004. The surgery went well, but the surgeon wouldn't touch the adrenal gland for fear that it would pop and it would spread the cancer cells through-out her body. The diagnosis came in shortly after the surgery and the news was positive. The Stage 4s neuroblastoma has a high rate of cure in infants, so I felt great afterward. She started under going chemotherapy shortly after the diagnosis and the process of curing her was started.

We were going to Vancouver every week for two months or so. She would have chemo one week, then have to go back the week after for blood transfusions. Her blood cell counts would go so low. It was noticeable, her energy levels would drop and we could tell it was time to go. That usually happened on Thursdays and we were always leaving that night to go back across. We were so lucky to have family to stay with over in the city. Natalie's great grandmother lived in Richmond. We would stay with her most nights that we could. It was  easy to get to the hospital from there. We had so much support from friends and family during our ordeal. I feel especially grateful that we had Y.A.N.A. to help out. It is a charity organization in the Comox Valley that gives financial support to children's families who must leave town for medical reasons.

After two rounds of chemo and  numerous blood transfusions Natalie was ready to have the adrenal gland removed. The treatments had shrunken the gland small enough that it could safely be removed. The surgery went well and the doctors were happy with the way it went. She needed two more rounds of chemo to make sure the liver was cured and one more surgery to to take the central line out. It was about six months all together. Her prognosis was good. The oncologists were positive, and that she would have a full recovery and no long term effects from the chemo.

Since then she has had numerous follow up CT scans, and ultrasounds as well as blood test and yearly visits to Victoria General to see the oncologist on staff there. The have been no worry-some moments. She is perfect, just like I knew she was when she came into this world. She is beautiful, smart, talented and growing like a bad weed. My daughter is a cancer survivor and I am so proud of it. I love you Natalie.
(I am glad I didn't wreck my computer with the tears that have been streaming down as I wrote this)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bike thief hits world tourer

I saw this on the Global TV website. Some low life took a guys bike, who was doing an around the world tour for mental illness. He was almost done, wrapping the ride in Vancouver on November 12th. The incident took place out side of Kamloops near Savona. Just sick. I hope he gets his ride back and the thief gets a life of bad Karma. Good luck Michael Schratter in your commendable achievement.

Big reason to wear Merino Wool.

Studies have found that wearing and washing synthetic materials, such as fleece, polypro and other plastic based fabrics, contributes to plastic fibers ending up in the environment. The small filaments end up being unintentionally eaten by small creatures, and intern are eaten in great numbers by bigger creatures. The concentration of plastics may kill animals on the top of the food chain from these concentrated minuscule plastic filaments. I had never considered this before I read this article, but now it makes me feel even better about wearing wool. Natural is better. Biodegradable and renewable. It won't kill fishes and birdies. 

Read this article and have your eyes opened.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Post 64. My thoughts on Occupy

It seems as though the western world has become enamored with the Occupy movement with protests happening in many citys. The size varies from tens of thousands to under a hundred. All the protesters have the same m.o. They want the government to bring down the banks and the corporations, make economic equality for all and protect the environment. They are saying the 1 percent holds 99 percent of the wealth.

I am sympathetic to the plight of the protesters. I believe that there is too much wealth held by to few and in turn control the government by lobbying for what they want, and putting money towards the right, who's platform is based on capitalism. The rich end up paying almost no taxes, based on the argument that corporate taxes must be low to grow the economy, create jobs, invest in equipment, etc. On paper this makes sense, if the corporations actually do this. Instead many thousands of jobs have been lost because of cheap overseas labour and lax environmental laws. It is less expensive to ship raw materials overseas, manufacture without the watchdogs looking at the pollution, and ship it back to be sold. Often the items are of lower quality than ones domestically manufactured. I can't count how many things I have bought from a box store that have been broken or compromised in someway, that I have to return. If you ever notice most box stores will take an item back without any argument. Its because the items are so inexpensive for them to replace, its not worth losing a customer over. I know one instance where a pair of work boots that sold for over $100 dollars cost the company something in the neighborhood of less than $20. That is an incredible mark up. Shame on them.

On the other side, I have a hard time not being a little cynical towards some of the protesters. They are saying that they can't find a job. They have student loans they can't pay. They can't afford food. I have a hard time with people who want the government to fix everything, to feed them and house them. It gets to be to much like communism. Communism doesn't work. The idea is romantic, everyone gets the same, housing, wage, food, education. Human nature has a competitive streak in it. It is survival of the fittest. For the most part humans want to have than there neighbor. Communism also means having less. Governments can't pay everyone enough money to have a McMansion, three cars, an iPhone for everyone. The people of Cuba have very little, they seem happy, but how can it be good if they are constantly fleeing and risking their lives to go to Florida. They want more. More money, a bigger house, a new car.

I also wonder how many of these folks, who can't find a job and are saddled with student loan debt, did research into what was a good profession to work towards in college. I saw on the news the other day there were three thousand new teachers graduation from university in B.C., for a thousand jobs. Are you kidding me. Why? I would think that with a little fore sight this would have been obvious. How many have useless degrees? Are you employable? Whats your attitude about work? I feel like there are too many that forget that one may have to do shitty, hard, labor jobs to make a living. We can't all be teachers, marine biologists, and artists. It another romantic notion. I would love to be a full time writer or wood carver, but its a hobby. Pretty tough to make a living when so many others want the same thing. Get a trade. Get paid to go to school. Put off university for a few years until you can make enough money to pay for your post secondary with out debt.

I know that I am a little biased towards what is happening in B.C. and I have no personal experience with how things are down in the U.S. I feel like if you aren't afraid to get dirty, have a open mind, be creative and work your ass off, you can have a better job. There are only so many baristas needed in this world.

Good reading on the subject of capitalism: The Walmart Effect by Charles Fishman.

I had a thought the other day. I pondered the idea of making the box store corporations start paying for landfills. With the amount of packaging that comes with the smallest product is stomach churning. More plastic in the package that the product, and most of it isn't recyclable. It is another one of the true costs that isn't calculated in the price of a product, along with the carbon spewed in transportation and manufacture, and the pollution to land, air and water. What are your feelings on these issues?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On the Line, a film

I can't wait to see this flick. A documentary about two guys who cycle, hike and paddle the length of the proposed Enbridge pipeline from Fort McMurray, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. This film, from the trailer, looks like a split between an adventure film and an environmental documentary. Good on you Frank Wolf. I anxiously await being able to view this flick.

Frank Wolf- On the Line

Interesting photo

I think this is getting at the idea that we don't need all the dedicated paved areas for cars, let alone the huge parking lots that could be returned to a natural state or have building built on them.

My Review

Super sweater

By thecynicalcyclist from Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada on 10/15/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Warmth, Fit, Colour, Environmental footprint, Nomad Fleece

I love this sweater. I have been wearing Merino for a while, but never anything this heavy. The Nomad fleece is really nice and cozy. I bought an extra large and I am 6'1" and 230, and there is just enough room that I don't have to suck it in to wear in comfortably like some form fitting items. The sleeves are plenty long, which I like, and the thumb loops are big and easy to enter. The hood has a nice fit, not to tight, but not floppy, and in un-noticeable when not on my head. Thanks for a great piece Ibex, I have been more than satisfied with all your product so far.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Great Advertisement

I love this. In response to an ad that G.M. released that suggested that it was only the lame students that rode a bike to work. I love this ad. Good on Giant.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Wild Hobby

Young yellow chanterelle mushrooms

Fall is upon us. I love this time of the year. I get to light the wood stove and feel the deep warmth cast from its belly. After observing the neatly piled cord wood dry and check all summer it is tremendously satisfying to see the results of your hard labor. Harvesting from ones own garden or buying locally grown produce from area farmers and processing it into fresh ingredients to eat in the fall is also very fulfilling. I also enjoy the cooler days for working, and wearing cozy warmer clothes. The feeling of a soft merino sweater against your skin while you enjoy fresh pressed coffee and a book in a cool house is like no other. The contrasting colors of the season in all it beauty makes every glance a potential piece of mind art.

White Chanterelle

Yellow Chanterelle

All these elements in the previous paragraph come together in my most satisfying and exciting event. The time of the chanterelle. Wandering the woods looking for these beautiful, bright fruits of the forest floor is something that I do as often as possible. I find satisfaction in finding a large one hidden beneath the detritus and moss. It is a treasure hunt without the fear of pirates or booby traps. Rain or shine, the promise of another mushroom potentially around the next stump keeps me looking. I can get "lost" in the woods for hours hunting and picking.

Young Yellow Chanterelle

The chanterelle is, in my opinion, the easiest of the wild mushrooms to identify. It may also be the most prolific. I know in my local area it is. The distinguishing features of Cantharellus cibarius include a bright orange cap, that is slightly concave especially when more mature, the gills and stem match the same color as the cap, and the gill are large and continue down the stalk. The stalk is also fibrous and doesn't snap like chalk when broken. The mushroom can get quite large, sometimes the cap can be as large as your palm. Smaller ones can seem as though the cap, gill and stalk have no defining border. I often encounter the yellow chanterelles cousin, the white chanterelle. It has the same distinguishing features as the yellow aside from the mushroom being totally white.

Most often you will find tight little ones earlier before there is much moisture, usually near the middle to end of August. As the fall rains re-hydrate the forest the chanterelle will grow larger with a more defined cap, stalk and gill. They are available to picking until the first hard frost freezes them and makes them mushy. I have found chanterelles growing with snow around them. This is a rare event but it can happen.

I am asked questions about general areas and likely terrain to hunt for chanterelles, and I laugh. I find them in areas where I expect to find them, such as mature second growth fir forests with little understory. I see them in strange places such as growing out of the gravel under alder trees on the side of a road or on the edge of a clearing in the direct sun. I usually explain that they will be where you least expect and not where you would expect. That keeps searching for the chanterelle interesting and exciting.

A nice cauliflower mushroom

I aspire to learn more species of wild mushrooms. I also identify cauliflower mushrooms, oysters, angel wings and morels when I find them. The cauliflower is delicious and very beautiful. It grows most often on rotten stumps. They are bright white and stand out in the dark forest. Morels are a springtime mushroom which I have found sparingly and I don't often go out targeting them. They have a wonderful nutty flavor that I adore. I find oyster mushroom and angel wings not very exciting to eat so I generally don't pick them. I am hoping to learn the boletus family, many of which are very edible and sought after. I have never successfully picked pine mushrooms and one day I will do so. Lobsters mushrooms are a species that I will pick given the chance.

Lobster Mushroom

I have referenced a book by David Aurora called "All the rain promises and more". It along with its more in-depth cousin "Mushrooms Demystified" by the same author are probably the most inclusive guides for the Pacific Northwest and I would suggest purchasing "All the rain promises and more" if you are interesting in self learning this fantastic hobby. I am always willing to talk mushroom and would like to experience teaching newbie the skills of the chanterelle harvest. I have successfully taught my daughter how to identify and properly cut the mushroom, as I was taught by my grandfather when I was six or seven. If you have any questions or interest please comment or email me.

I love the exercise and the fresh air whilst mushrooming. Wearing warm comfortable clothing that keep me dry while out in a rain storm, sharing the bounty with friends and family, coming home to a warm house and getting to experience the change of the season first hand ties mushroom hunting in with all the things I love about fall.