Thanks Chris

20 05 2010

Andrew and I decided to bag a peak on Tuesday. Rather, Andrew wanted to bag a peak, and he just ended up convincing me to accompany him.

Our initial objective was Prairie Mountain, however as we neared the parking area, both of us noticed that the winter gate had been opened (they do this every year on May 16th, but each year I seem to forget). We both agreed Nihahi ridge, further to the west was in order, even if the thunderheads were building overhead and all the food we had between us was a tube of Pringles sour cream and onion chips.

We didn’t hit the trail head parking lot  until 2pm or so, and had a lengthy stroll through the Little Elbow campground before reaching the actual trail head. 2/3 of the way in, I spotted a dude with a hundred liter pack and a full beard approaching from the west.

Dumbfounded, as this gentleman had the appearance of someone who has been in the bush a while, I stopped and asked him if he had just forgotten something in the car, and simply neglected hygiene for a week or so (the winter gate some 15km east had JUST beent opened).

Chris then went on to elaborate about getting dropped off at the gate in mid February….how the whole area is vacant of humans until now, how he had been tracking cougars, and had stashes of supplies scattered throughout the wilderness. His pack held 50 lbs of library books that needed to be returned, hence the walk-out.

Since I’ve spent a lot of time back where Chris had been living, I asked a few rudimentary questions that quickly verified him as genuine, as opposed to “Crazy bush-man lunatic with an extremely accessible  axe”.

Andrew and I decided to offer sociables to this mountain-man, and found our trip extended another 40 minutes as we sat at one of the campground’s picnic tables and  had Chris blow our minds.

This guy has gotten to know all the local cats, including conservation officers. He shared stories of both unnecessary harassment and enlightened law enforcement practices.  He had been fairly mobile, moving from one place to the next and experimenting with local cuisine. Apparently, rice and certain insects (roasted) is a fine back-country dish.

As Chris described his travels and disclosed solid information on wild berry crops, I thought about my life – long aspiration to be “Bush Man”. This guy was the literal example of the kind of life I’ve dreamed about. Then I thought of my bed. And I realized that unlike Chris, I have 2 kids that I’m crazy about and no wealthy relatives to fund my chronic unemployment.

Inevitably, we exchanged numbers  and went on our way.

Andrew and I reached the summit ridge of Nihahi amid hurricane force winds, and on our way back down, I sincerely found myself appreciating everything that I have. Which at that point included a half full tube of Pringles.





Road Rage

13 05 2010

I recently gave my 14-year-old son his second driving lesson. It was so uneventful (except for a turn at an intersection that almost ended up in the ditch) that I think I’m soon going to have a chauffeur. What have I done?

The outing recalled our first driving lesson together on those same country roads.

It all started out so innocently. Little drive out to Chestemere, little treat from Tim’s. Maybe, just maybe launch some of the fireworks I just happened to have sitting in my trunk. Kids like fireworks. They like them so much in fact, they are willing to stand on a deserted country road and feed an entire extended family of mosquitoes while dear old dad struggles with a way to make the fireworks stand up straight. Not complaining I might add.

Country roads also happen to be rife with kids as young as ten powering high performance motor vehicles. We all remember the You tube video that got a Quebec dad busted as his 10-year-old son got the family SUV up to 75 KM per hour while said family sat in the backseat swilling maple syrup and listening to Celine Dion completely disregarding Quebec’s seat belt law. Not that they were doing anything wrong…ok, except maybe the Celine Dion.

I learned pretty quick during this little adventure is that my son has no aversion to speed but requires much more training regarding turning at intersections.  I also learned that my daughter will not be riding along on subsequent lessons. Even when Coleman was inching along at a paltry 20km/hr, she had to be restrained from bolting from the vehicle. Those kids are pretty close, but she doesn’t trust him one bit behind the wheel of even a go-cart.

Fortunately, we only had to almost hit the ditch once in order for the lesson to end, much to the relief of our back seat passenger who was seriously close to a total nervous breakdown.

The things we learn as parents.

I fully intend to get Coleman out again on those country roads for another lesson. First I have to call my insurance broker.





New study: “Deadbeat dad’s were unheard of among dinosaurs”

12 02 2010

Calgary, AB –  Top dinosaur researcher, Calgary Zoo Name-Tag Obscured Lady in Khakis Who Conducts Guided Interpretative Tours in Prehistoric Park spoke to an audience of Dino-centric schoolchildren and adults today on the merits of dinosaur parenting skills.

“Dinosaurs actually were very good parents, being very responsible and taking really good care of their babies.”  Dr. Czntolikwcgtipp said to the impressionable crowd who responded with a collective “Awwww”.

The Dinosaur and dino-related specialist then went on to describe how certain dinosaurs “…use their front claws to pull themselves along the ground…” and that certain species “..hunted prey in packs, just like wolves and lions…”.

The audience’s attention however was quickly taken over by the life-size animatronic Allosaurus which suddenly began moving and emitting dino-like sounds.

Yes, this actually happened.

And to be honest, a strangely familiar feeling crept up my spine and set off the BS detector with glaring clarity.

I have no issues whatsoever about suspiciously qualified park interpreters purporting  education to the mostly under 14 crowd at attractions like the zoo. I’ve followed along on several such tours, but the quality of information dissected has always been supported by observation and empirical evidence.

Does a bear shit in the woods? Yes, it has been observed and enough empirical evidence has been documented to support a positive response to this question (hate to be the field biologist whose specialized discipline is large omnivore scatology).

Does a bear use an available Leporidae, like an arctic hare or white tailed jackrabbit to wipe it’s ass? No. No amount of observation on any member of the Ursidae family has  supported the assumption of this said practice. Furthermore, no amount of empirical evidence has been documented to qualify a positive reply.

No matter how many times I heard that joke when I was 10, rabbits and hares around the world can breath a sigh of relief knowing they will not have to worry about cleaning bear shit off their fur.

Herein lies my issue. I have a problem with theories, guesses, assumptions, and beliefs being represented as facts to kids.

Kids are impressionable little sponges that readily soak up information. The weight of what they encounter often is influenced by the representation of “authority”. Parents, teachers, interpreters, television presenters, and the like.

A lot of what kids accept as fact at that early age, however they are influenced, forms the foundation of their beliefs. My sister still laughs about the methodology behind a certain elbow injury I sustained as a child immediately after watching Christopher Reeves as Superman.

My point is, you and I know that anyone can be an “expert”, in just about any discipline. All you need is 14.55 an hour, an official-looking uniform, and a name-tag. Our kids don’t know that, and maybe it is our jobs as parents to point that out.

It may just save some of us the confusion when our kids tell us they are going over to so & so’s house to play “dinosaur”.





Stealth Skiing

28 12 2009

I think I have discovered an exciting new activity – late night x – country skiing. It’s a pretty simple concept. Either get hopelessly lost while exploring a new area or overestimate one’s performance when getting a late start and by default x-country skiing in the dark is an inevitability.

I have a friend however who’s first date with his now long-term relationship girlfriend (not married but almost) was an intentional outing on skinny skis under a moon – lit night. Yes it sounded romantic but it also sounded pathological when I first heard of it.

My ski/scramble buddy Andrew and I found ourselves in the position of a return trip in West Bragg Creek recently after we had a late start. Our entire darkened  return was downhill…adding to the merriment. I bent a pole on a spectacular yard sale. The city of Calgary was a reddish/gold glow to the East, appearing warm and inviting from our heights in the foothills. At the end of the trail, I couldn’t stop smirking. We ran into someone looking for a group of skiers who, apparently, do this all the time and were just heading out. Madness begets even greater madness.

Andrew and I hit up Shaganappi golf course shortly after…and were getting our skis on just as the sun was setting. Enough ambient light illuminated the tracks for us to ski without serious injury.

We almost skied Hawkridge at night, but arrived too late (we searched for it over 90 minutes..Blackberry crash killed my mobile browser and Andrew has a heavy foot) as I had obligations not at all concerned with such foolishness.  We did return however the next morning…and had a wonderful time skiing in -25c temperatures.  As a side note – when we left Calgary, the temp was -18c. Hawkridge is only 5 minutes from Calgary’s deep south-west. Andrew’s truck thermometer AND the ski lodge thermometer registered -25c. We skied for 90 minutes, scraped the ice off our eyeballs, and saw the temperature hadn’t budged.  It warmed up just as we were getting back to town. The average temperature we noted while driving through town was – 18c. The highest temperature we observed was -15c. A ten degree temperature difference from city to just outside of town. Urban Heat Island Effect is not significant say those who also speak of “simple physics” when expounding on AGW theory ?

Anyway, tonight we went back to Shaganappi. We got there around 23:30 and skied till 1:15. This time I brought a headlamp. It was amazing…. a completely surreal experience and I have much more confidence skiing at night now that I can see the trail and any hazards. My pain allowance is now significantly increased.

However since going full-out at 1 AM means my body wont let me sleep immediately after…here I am at my computer. It’s now 4:21.





I need this washer

13 06 2009

washing machine

Old mid 80’s Fisher and Paykel top loader.
Goes like a rocket!

By ‘goes like a rocket’ I actually mean that literally.
It actually shakes the house.

It’s the loudest most violent sounding washing machine I have ever encountered.
It makes guests scared and children cry. I’ve lived with it like that for almost a year and it still scares me.

Once while washing a load of towells it got a bit out of balance and it got so out of control for a minute that I swear I actually saw a porthole to another dimension open above it just for a second, there were dinosaurs on the otherside and they looked scared too, it almost sucked me in but I held onto for my life to the deepfreeze. It sucked my shoes and pants off though and it got the iron as well which pissed me off because it was quite a good one. Luckily it sucked it’s own power cord out of the wall and stopped before the whole house went in.
I drew a picture of the dinosaurs i saw incase people didn’t believe me, they are partly red because my green felt ran out half way through.

I think it would be good to paint it matt black and put steel spikes all over it and draw demons on the front, however I have added an image of another possible customization option for people who like horses.

On heavy duty spin cycle it sort of sounds a bit like the tortured howls of 1000 undead writhing in the sulphury pits of hell mixed with a train with carriages full of scrap iron sliding down the road with no wheels, on fire, into a bell factory.

Thankfully it’s bite is not as bad as it’s bark. It washes fine, completes cycles, does everything it’s supposed to.
It leaks a bit when it’s running, always has.
Its a bit grubby, could do with a wipe down, I refuse to touch it because I’m still getting over the whole dinosaur scare thing.

If your in a fix and need a cheap washing machine and are either completely deaf or hate your neighbours this baby is for you.

$1 reserve, pick up only, Waterview Auckland.
Selling to pay for my counseling.

Please read the questions and answers for this auction.





Love

13 05 2009

The song says “Money makes the world go ’round”, but most people I talklove_earth-heart-in-space- to tell me love is what makes the world go ’round. And here I thought it had something to do with coalescence, the sun’s gravitational orbit and conversion of angular momentum.





Junior High School Musical

8 05 2009

As a parent, there are 3 things to look forward to. Bedtime, back – to – school, and the kids’ school’s spring concert/production/extravaganza. Yeah, I know…most parents would rather have scaling done by their frieimg069ndly dental hygienist, but seriously, my kids never disappoint. This year was no exception. The Band started with a few Star Wars tunes, and the production segued into a multi-media video – dance, song, bells, narration number. The concept was a student sitting in her room flipping channels between Discovery, the Weather Channel, and The History Channel. My kids attend a “Science School”. She was insistent on catching local weather, but growing impatient, kept changing channels and in essence learning more about the subjects she was interested in. The Band played great and Coleman had a saxophone solo during a song that played while video displayed a tornado forming. The student who had by far the cushiest gig was obviously the narrator who sat in bed on stage in her “bedroom” wearing pj’s with a microphone. None other than my amazing daughter. I’m thinkin’ she was channeling yours truly.