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Archive for December, 2010

A Bunch of Disconnected Thoughts from Canmore

Monday, December 27th, 2010

I managed to swing a trip to Canmore, Alberta, for Christmas with the family this year. While a full run-down of my adventures (read: a pile of skiing and not much else) is coming up shortly, for now you’re just going to have to be entertained with a few notes from the vacation.

Notes from Canmore

– Flying can either be horrible, or awesome. I was given a window seat (score!), found out it was next to a baby (not score), baby fell asleep before take-off and didn’t wake up for the entire flight (mega-score) and I watched the Bears destroy the Vikings in a one-sided extremely chilly battle (mega not-score).

– The skiing in Canmore – and particularly the Nordic Center – is awesome. While the snow coverage is still a little bit light in spots, collecting 6 hours of skiing in two beautiful sunny days at a fantastic venue was great.

– Back to back 3 hour classic skis are tough, even when you pick as nice terrain as we did.

– The Paintbox Lodge (owned by Sara Renner and her husband Thomas Grandi) is a flipping baller spot. My parents stayed there for a few days to kick off the vacation, and they really did so in style.

– Homemade pizza is way better than anything you’ll ever order, especially after a 3 hour ski.

– When your dad breaks out the kick wax in the middle of a classic ski and you chirp him about his “weight shift”, you better make sure you get grip for the rest of the ski, especially if he’s in better shape than you.

– Being a member of an active family sometimes sucks. Anytime you bring up ‘rest day’ or ‘work’ as something you have to do aside from skiing, you get laughed out of the room.

– Skate skiing is hard. About 15 minutes into one of my skate skis, my legs hurt, and I wished I had chosen to use my classic skis. Actual skating (as in on ice), on the other hand, has no uphills, and the glide is always fantastic.

– If you don’t already have one, buy a remote control helicopter.

– I’ve joined twitter, and I’m feeling self-conscious about my lack of followers. If you have it and want to know what I’ve eaten for dinner, and when I use the bathroom, look up joneskieran!

– While coaching at Ontario Cup races is a blast, there really isn’t much skiing involved. In three days I think I managed to ski for a total of an hour, most of that in the dark while testing in the morning.

– My sister is churning out the hats as her most recent arts and crafts project – it’s a bit of a cross-country skier cliché to make hats, but the wool bad boys she is making are really awesome, warm, and high quality.

– On Boxing Day, the Nordic Center is packed. The first 200 meters out of the stadium is a traffic jam, but as soon as you get further out, and find the less traveled routes (especially the ones with hairy downhills) the skiing gets less crowded.

I've skied in a lot worse conditions...

It’s 7 AM: Do You Know Where Your Bread Is?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

My beautiful yet slightly-angry toaster oven.

There are three things that really push my buttons in life – people who are consistently flaky, when I don’t get enough sleep, and burnt toast.

I have to admit, I am a bit of a sucker for toast. I have toasted a lot of bagels, breads, and various other bread-like substances in my day. Usually they are then paired with cream cheese, peanut butter, eggs, or whatever else I have on hand. I consider toast a pretty crucial part of my morning.

However, in the last month, I have moved into a new residence, and have left all of my old toasting appliances behind.

Soon after we moved in, my roommate came home with a sick toaster oven. It was a wicked deal, it had loads of fancy dials, numbers, and looked like it was ready to take over our kitchen. I was stoked! However, in the month or so since then, my attitude towards ‘Charcoal’, as I have now started calling our toaster oven, has changed.

Instead of loving it, I’ll be brutally honest – I hate the *&$%ing thing.

My most recent attempt at 'toast', only to get 'post-apocalyptic brown'

As you may have gathered from the new nickname name, as far as I can tell, he does one thing really, really well. And that’s to turn your valuable bagel, piece of bread, or breakfast pita into a charred mass of indigestible and un-salvageable morning humiliation.

Now, you could pin the blame straight on me – don’t pay enough attention, turn it on for too long, I have a complete lack of toasting ability, yada yada, I get the idea. But here’s the issue – not to brag or anything, but I have enough toast-making experience that no matter what, I should be able to create a wonderful piece of toast 99 times out of 100.

For the last three years since becoming a rabid World Cup cross country ski fan, I have had a pretty set routine. Wake up Saturday/Sunday morning during the winter (often at obscenely early times, damn you Europe). Wrestle with finding a way to watch a live feed. Hustle to the toaster the second some weird European commercial using a tiger, chopsticks and a 70-piece marching band to sell watches comes on, put in a few slices of bread, hustle back to my computer, watch a heat or two, hustle back to the toaster to find some not too raw, not too burnt slices of toast, and then back to watch the rest of the race. Easy!

Not any more. This new toaster oven seems out to get me. Charcoal has a ridiculous dial which, if you’re trying to toast your bread for less than 10 minutes, is impossible to set. Sometimes he dings to tell you your toast is ready – sometimes he doesn’t. Even when he does ding, you often open the door to find something that looks like it was assaulted with a flamethrower, rather than a nice golden-brown crust ready to be peanut-buttered.

It’s not the fact that Charcoal is a toaster oven rather than a slot-loading toaster. For 3 years of university, I had a toaster oven that functioned beautifully, despite being between 10 and 15 years old. I mean, eventually we had to get rid of it when all of the features finally broke, including the one which turned off the heating element, which resulted in a near disaster, but I know how to work a toaster oven.

Who needs to toast a piece of bread for more than 10 minutes??

It’s not like I’m far away and forget the toast either – my bedroom is half a dozen steps from the kitchen. I’m often scrambling into my ski clothes, or hastily composing an email during that time period, and I can’t just wander into the kitchen every 5 seconds, or stand over it. I like to give my toaster some responsibility to do its own thing.

However, Charcoal has abused that responsibility. At last count, he had taken from me half a dozen breakfast pitas, three bagels, and at least full loaf of bread. This is war, Charcoal. I live on the top story of a tri-plex. My kitchen has two large windows without screens which open easily. The pavement is hard. You know what I’m getting at. Just try it.

Favourite Workout of the Week: Two-hour classic ski with a couple of friends, who are also more on the washed up side of the ski racing business. We found some nice sections to do a cheaper version of stone-grinding on my 12 year old year rock skis, and avoided all intensity.

What I’m Watching These Days: Went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, which is an incredibly awesome movie. I consider a movie without a car chase or a gun fight a waste of my time – I was impressed Harry Potter delivered both of those factors, as well as some epic camping locations.

Is YouTube Really Worth My Time?: With Oeystein Pettersen creating movies, it sure is. Apparently the Sprintgutta has a good time in Davos, or at least they did last year.