Monday, July 23, 2012

Warrior Dash Barrie 2012

I completed my second Warrior Dash. This one took place in Barrie, Ontario at the Horseshoe Valley Resort on both the Saturday and Sunday.

My buddies Chad and Pierre, who ran with me last year, joined me again.  All three of us brought the families, and the weekend up at the resort makes for some fun family times, with the kids enjoying the pool and the Adventure Playland at the resort.  This year, Chad's wife Tricia joined us, bringing our team up to four members.

Pierre and I, of course, wore the same costumes as the year before.  I dressed up as a barbarian (my old Conan costume) and Pierre dressed as a Spartan. After all, we don't take the race seriously (ie, looking to beat last year's time), but rather to enjoy the novelty run, the obstacles and the horsing around.

We ran in the 9 AM heat, which was the first one on Saturday July 21, 2012.

I didn't dive head-first into the mud this year, nor did I crawl on hands and knees through the mud (which is what had really messed up my knees last time -- last time there was gravel under the mud that chewed up my knees.  The barbed wire was real this year, so that was impressive (and motivating).

The race is over (just before 10 AM) - let the goofing around begin!

The course was slightly different than last year. The hills (ie, racing up and down the side of a ski-hill), was the worst obstacle, making running the whole time virtually impossible for us amateurs.  There didn't seem to be as many difficult long hills - it seems the big hill in the middle was broken down differently, making it easier than I remember it being last year.  And there were different fun obstacles this time around, which is always fun.

We enjoyed a turkey leg and beer (or two or three or four, ah you get the picture) after we had been washed down by the fire-hoses.

And I had ended up posing for a heck of a lot of pictures with people.  Would love to see some of them.  Below are a few shots taken of some of the other people in the race (though I didn't get a lot because, well, there wasn't a good place for me to store my camera with the costume I was wearing)

Alexander and I checking out the finish area before the race starts

Getting pumped up before the race starts

Us posing at the top of the cargo net obstacle
A close-up of the previous pose on top of the cargo net

A couple of friends we made (also from Hamilton) - a nice couple, wish I could remember their names

This gentleman was raising money for a cancer cure -  Check out:
I loved this guy's Silver Surfer costume (which held up even after he got hosed off at the end)
The Warrior team the night before the race

Another pic taken before the race started
Fire jumping 101
Posing in the hallway before the race
Pierre nodded off while we were waiting in the restaurant for our take-out. We made sure nobody made fun of him.

We were able to wake Pierre up for this pic

One of the fun teams I posed with:  The Dirty Old Birds.

Since I know that I posed for a lot of pictures with many different people, I'd love to see those shots -- so if you posed with a half-naked barbarian on the Saturday and you have a pic, I'd love to see it.  Fire it over to mark (at) markleslie (dot) ca or leave a link to the picture(s) in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kobo Writing Life

So yesterday, after 6 weeks of fantastic feedback and updates based on more than 50 beta users from around the globe, we launched Kobo Writing Life.

It's almost like the birth of a child; but certainly fun to dream up something cool with a fantastic team of people, and then work with some of the most brilliant people I've ever had the pleasure of interacting with, and launching Kobo Writing Life.  After months of soliciting author feedback, scoping, development and testing, it's great to see it finally out in the world.

Here's a video with one of our beta users, David H. Burton, (pictured above) talking about his writing and a bit about Kobo Writing Life.

Yes, my day job is getting to help authors get their work into Kobo's global catalog.

How cool is THAT?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Available Date

The "Available Date" for Haunted Hamilton: The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle & Other Steeltown Shivers has arrived.

The book's official publication date is August 6, 2012 -- available date means when it begins to be stocked and available to ship out to various bookstores that will carry it. So if you live in the Hamilton/Burlington area and are intrigued by this book, head over to your favourite local bookstore and make sure they're going to carry it.

It's funny to think that last year at this time, I was scrambling to gather research (which included going on various Haunted Hamilton Ghost Walks) and write the book.  That was a lot of fun.  A lot of sleep was lost as I wrote late into the night - but it was also a tremendously rewarding experience.

My author copies are being shipped out this week so I'll finally get to hold the book in my hands.

It will be a good feeling.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Impatient America

Here is some interesting info sent to me by a fellow named Tony Shin, who works with a small group of development researchers.  Tony and his group create intriguing informative graphical pieces like the following piece called INSTANT AMERICA.

INSTANT AMERICA focuses on the unprecedented modern limited attention spans and desire for SPEEDY INFO.  (Hmm, and I recall all those times, just a few decades ago when I would "press play on tape 1" and go do something else for 30 minutes while a program would load to my Commodore Pet computer from the audio cassette it was stored on)

In any case, I thought I'd share Tony's intriguing info-graphic here.

If you can take the time to digest all the info, that is . . .

 Instant America
Created by:

I wonder how many of you continued reading to this point?

Comment if you have made it this far (unless commenting takes too much of your time, because the pop-up window takes half a second to load, then you have to spend time entering text and stuff)

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Reinventing The Book World From The Bottom Up

I wrote a chapter for a recently released book ALTERNATIVE FUTURES FOR PUBLISHING entitled "Reinventing the Book World from the Bottom Up."  The book was put together via a very workshop sponsored by the Alberta Book Publisher's Association.  (I blogged about the 2 day workshop I attended back in March)

The book is available in PDF format and downloadable (but be patient, it's 6.3MB) and includes many links to videos, audio and other handy resources related to the articles.

My chapter focuses on experiments within the POD space using an Espresso Book Machine in a bookstore as well as my observations (from a bookseller perspective) regarding eBooks and the digitization of books.

Here's how my article opens....

I honestly can’t remember what bookish tech-style conference I had heard this.
It was either at one of the annual BookNet Canada Tech Forums or perhaps it
was the first BookCampTO event; but somewhere in the tweet-stream, during
a hearty discussion about the state of the book and publishing industry, the
forthcoming digital apocalypse and the advent of the ebook era, an audience
member from one of the sessions pushed out an intriguing tweet.

“The book isn’t dead; it just had babies.”
unattributed Twitter quote

I retweeted it, as did several others. It was a cute sentiment. It was simple, yet
it spoke volumes.

And, when you come to think about it, it’s a pretty accurate assessment for
what the publishing industry has been going through.

Though, unlike a typical labour (quick intense pain, and regardless of medical
or trained professionals or not, regardless of administration of painkilling
medication or not the baby is going to arrive within a limited period of time),
the publishing industry’s birthing experience has been extremely long and
painful. Something in the realm of 10 to 12 years.

Some would even suggest longer.


The article goes on in an extreme continuation of the analogy to illustrate a chaotic birthing room, my attempt to parallel the panicked reactions of various industry players to digitization. Then I discuss the concept of digital delivery and either digital consumption (eReading) or local printing (via POD).

You can read the entire article (and the entire book) for free by downloading it.  (The file is big, so be patient while it downloads)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Then You'll Be A Man, My Son

Yesterday, Alexander and I went to the Hamilton Public Library to register him for the summer reading program,called the TD Summer Reading Club.

To enter the program, a child needs their own library card.

In my mind, this is a significant moment in a child's life; one of the most important memberships a person can ever own.

A library card opens up an endless world of possibilities.

I think about all of the magic, all of the wonders, all of the learning, all of the entertainment, all of the hours of escape and delight that my own library cards have given me.  To be able to introduce my son to all those things is priceless.

Alexander did a great job.  When the librarian was asking questions in order to fill out his registration, he did all the talking, answered all her questions by himself.

I explained to him (in my ode to the mantra that Peter Parker/Spider-Man lives by) that with great power (his library card), comes great responsibility (making sure he returns all borrowed material).

In many ways, to this book nerd, getting a library card is one of the defining moments that turns a child into an adult, a boy into a man.  I know he's still just seven, but the learning of becoming a man -- an adult, begins early.

For some reason, I kept thinking about the wonderful poem "If---" by Rudyard Kipling, which I thought I'd share here as part of that sentiment. After all, learning the classics is all part of the wonder having a library card will endow him with.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

                    - Rudyard Kipling (1895)

Here's a great link to a typographic animation of the Kipling poem by George Horne (read by Des Lynam - music by Fauré)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Good Start To Vacation Week

It has become customary for me to book the first week of July off to spend with my son during his first week of summer vacation.

Yesterday, officially the first day of my vacation (but also a stat holiday in Canada, since Canada Day, July 1st, fell on Sunday), was a near-perfect day.

  • I woke up early and spent a couple of hours writing.  I knocked off 1300 words in a new writing project that has been on the back-burner for a couple of months now.
  • Then I spent some relaxing time sitting on the back deck with Francine, having some coffee and chatting while listening to the birds.
  • I got the pool vacuumed and back-washed, then completed some backyard maintenance work that was much needed.
  • Then I went to the Y, worked out and went for a quick 2.5 K run
  • Family fun on the back deck as we had a mid afternoon snack and played Junior Scrabble. Normally either Francine or Alexander win, but this game was a three-way tie. Have never seen that happen before.
  • Was able to knock off a couple of work-related tasks that needed to be attended to.
  •  Spent a few hours cleaning up a big mess of boxes in the furnace room and also showed Alexander my coveted comic book collection. He was particularly excited to check out The Avengers, Captain America and Spider-Man.
  • BBQ'd a wonderful dinner and then relaxed as a family to watch a movie
If the rest of my week is half as productive, fun and relaxing as yesterday (my idea of a good time typically involves all three), then I am going to be able to count this among one of the best weeks off ever.