Sometimes taking a life is the right thing, even if it feels wrong.

Yesterday was largely a fun day. I woke up, and headed off to train a client on Final Cut Pro X and media management. We have a great relationship – I can read what she’s trying to do, and teach her how to do it. One of the greatest rewards is seeing the light of understanding go off in someone’s eyes, and how excited they get. It’s one of the reasons I love teaching.

Yes. People get excited about media management. Deal with it.

After that, I headed off to training which I haven’t been to in… oh, two or three weeks due to cold-from-hell and a hard work deadline, but I had a really great time, even if I got punched in the face (my fault). It’s a good gang and I got to train with Sonya, who is the person who encouraged me return. Her patience with me is impressive.

I left class in a good mood, listened to some tunes (opening with In This Moment’s Adrenalize which set a tone of walking fast), then talked to a friend on the phone for a bit.

My long walks are a way of forcing me to disconnect and to look at the world around me.

I see wonder everywhere I look, especially in spring, as the world around us comes back to life.

About ninety minutes into the journey home, I was walking through a dark area and took the opportunity to look at the night sky while walking. There’s a bit of a trick to it – surveying the sidewalk for the next few metres, looking up, watching and then checking the sidewalk again. Sometimes I’ll come to a full stop to look more closely at the sky for a couple of minutes.

Like last night. I stepped off the sidewalk onto the grass to look at the sky a bit more steadily. The road was largely quiet, with the wind passing through the trees.

I’d noticed a squirrel leaping around off in the distance – curious (they’re largely diurnal), but I was distracted by the night sky.

In the distance behind me, I heard a car accelerating hard. Not too unusual – people seem to think long, straight roads are race courses.

What I didn’t see was the squirrel head to the street, but as the car passed by me, I heard an odd thunk and a piercing shriek I’ll not forget for some time.

I turned my night-adjusted eyes to the road – all I saw was a dark car heading accelerating down the road. There’s no way for me to describe it any more than that.

Many of you know me from my work in the world of technology. And while I love this work, I share an equal passion for nature. I venerate life. With few exceptions, I will go to great length to avoid killing something (which is how we ended up with a pet mouse for five months some years ago).

The shrieking continued, so I went to see the source, knowing what had happened – car vs squirrel. Usually such contests are instantly fatal, but tonight that wasn’t the case.

The black squirrel had been flung by the impact back onto the grass. I won’t describe the gore of the situation, but it was certainly fatal.

I studied the squirrel for a few seconds, and came to that obvious conclusion.

Somehow, it managed to turn enough for our eyes to meet.

We as humans anthropomorphize our interactions with animals, but I swear to you, it was begging me to end it’s suffering.

So I did the only thing I could; I apologized to the squirrel, then quickly and firmly crushed its skull with my shoe (if I hadn’t been wearing my steel-toed shoes, I’m not sure what I would have done).

The shrieking stopped.

Rationally, I know this was the right thing to do, but irrationally, emotionally, I feel guilty for it.

I *hate* that I had to do it, and I hate the person that made me have to do this.

A new desk with a wacky video

Freshly installed standing desk

Freshly installed standing desk

Since our move in August, I’d been using Tracey’s old desk, and since then I’ve been researching standing desk options. I looked at about ten different manufacturers over the months, and narrowed it down to my final choice:

An UpDesk Maple Series 3 medium standing desk.

The desk lists for $999USD on their site. Taking shipping (~$250USD) and the unfavourable exchange rate, the desk ended up costing me about $1,500 CND.  Not cheap by any stretch, but I’d been putting money aside for it for a while.

I’ve been using it daily since March 9th, and I have to say, I really like it – except that the digital readout is in inches and not metric (come on America, throw off one of the last shackles of British Imperialism), but UpDesk has been working with me to resolve that.

Once I stopped playing with the bubble wrap that covered everything (it’s free fun therapy!), I got the desk assembled pretty quickly.  Then I drilled a couple of extra holes and mounted a power bar underneath the desk to reduce the number of cables going up and down, and zip-strapped the bundle of cables to make it look cleaner.

I also took the opportunity to clean out my Mac Pro and change some things around before reconnecting everything.

Having a standing desk has had a profound effect on me – I love being able to stretch, stand on one leg, two, shift my weight around, and (somewhat alarmingly) has led to a dramatic increase in my dancing on the spot while working and listening to tunes.

I’ve noticed a productivity boost too – I seem to be getting more done, which is always awesome.

One other thing I’ve been trying is twice a day (morning and night) is to lower the desk about ten centimetres and doing horse stance for as long as I could and continue working. Initially, it was a touch over two minutes. As of today, I’m up to three minutes. I’m going to try lowering it another few centimetres to lower my stance, but I’m not that flexible, but I’m working on it.

I don’t stand all day – I still have my fancy-dancy chair which is currently stowed under my desk and I alternate, but I do largely stand most of the time.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s improved my posture considerably. If I catch myself slouching, I raise the desk a bit more, which forces me to stand up properly, with my back straight.

Okay, okay. I promised you a video. Enjoy!

I’m fortunate that my friend Chandra (who happens to be a local professional belly dancer) was here having a new dance costume worked on (for those of you who don’t know, my wife makes bridal wear, dance costumes, and other custom projects), and when I pitched the idea, she didn’t need any convincing that this would be funny.

Sprocket on the other hand wasn’t as keen on the concept, but with a bit of motivation thanks to some bacon bits, she got with the program too.

And of course, Tracey helped out because she’s awesome like that.

Lowertown snow clearing operations: A dance of machines.

Ever wonder what goes into clearing the snow off the streets of Ottawa? I got curious too, and took the opportunity one night to record the whole thing, then edited it down to a manageable two and a half minutes for you:

By the time everything was done, just shy of three in the morning, I was surprised by the number of vehicles required to do the job properly. A dance of machines.

How to rotate video with QuickTime X

This is something that I get asked reasonably often and thought I’d make a quick video to show just how easy it is.

The process is simple; open the video in question in QuickTime, go up to the Edit menu, go down to the Rotate Left or Rotate Right and select it. You’ll see there are also options to flip the video horizontally or vertically as well.

Once done, click to close the window, and save the video. All done!

Ninety seconds of Oh-My-Bear

Bear in area.You know me, I get to wondering about things. And sometimes it gets me into trouble.

While we were camping, I got to wondering how long of a walk it would be to walk past every single campsite in the Pog Lake / Whitefish lake campgrounds.

On one of the last days in Algonquin Park, I had time to do it. Tracey was content to chill at the campsite with Sprocket, listening to a book, so I walked up to the park gate just off highway 60, and headed into Whitefish.

At the far end of the Whitefish group campground, there’s a site that backs into forest, which has a path that connects up to the road that leads into the Pog Lake campground.

Shortcut! But not that day.

Normally, when I’m walking along I listen to audiobooks (in this case, Bitten: Women of the Otherworld), except in areas where I feel I should be paying extra attention to my surroundings, like when I’m entering an area with no one around me for a hundred plus metres.

I’d turned off the audiobook well before I’d gotten to that point as I approached the forest and headed in. About twenty metres in, I heard noise, so I stopped to see what it was.

Then I saw the source less than ten metres ahead of me as it came out of the bush.

An adorable black bear cub.

Then… another one.

Uh-oh.

At this point, I began looking around me to make sure that the mother wasn’t anywhere close to me – last place I wanted to be was be between the cubs and the mother.

Then, she came out of the bush behind the cubs.

Limping.

Injured.

Uh-oh.

At this point, my brain kicked in high gear. I’ve run into bears plenty of times in my years in the park, and know how to handle encounters with them.

But never an injured mother with cubs. Injured animals are notoriously difficult to predict, and throwing in that it was with its young, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

I opted to remain still, non-threatening, facing them, hands on my hips, and announced my presence when I cleared my throat.

They all stopped and looked at me for what was probably three seconds, but felt rather longer.

The cubs decided I was boring and continued goofing off in the bushes, but momma bear just kept looking at me. Seconds dragged past. She made a noise I’d best describe as an exasperated huff, then looked at her cubs.

I took that opportunity to take a single, quiet step backwards.

She looked back at me… More seconds crawling by, then back to her cubs.

And I took another step back.

This game continued for about ten steps, at which point mom decided I was no longer an item of concern, and joined her cubs.

The entire encounter lasted about ninety seconds.

Their path was basically perpendicular to mine, but I decided it was just as easy to head back the way I came.

On my way to the Pog Lake campground, I popped into the campground office to report that the bear sighting and (more importantly) that she was injured.

When done there, I fired off a quick text to Tracey to let her know what had happened and continued on my walk, playing the events over in my head.

All in all, it was pretty amazing. And I didn’t have to fight a bear.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the answer to the question that caused all this is twelve and a half kilometres.

Here’s a zoomed-in photo I took with my iPhone once I was far enough away.
Injured momma bear with two cubs