Friday, December 31, 2004

It's the end of the year as we know it.

Wish I was here!

The snow is deeper than my head!


News first.

I've been given a night janitor job! It's 3:30 to midnight, 3 "days" a week, which is pretty much perfect as far as I am concerned. I'll still be available for a couple days a week housekeeping (at the same place) if I'm needed during busy weeks, so I think my job / money problems have been sorted. Plus, I get to ride up to 7 days a week if I want. BOO YAH!

Random comments about housekeeping

1) I now have a compulsion to fold the free end of our toilet paper into a nice triangle every time I'm in the bathroom.
2) My knuckles are so dry they are splitting - everywhere else is fine, just the knuckles (which recieve regular dribbles of cleaning fluid) are so dry that they were almost bleeding today. Other people have the same problem, so "cleaner's knuckles" can joins "vacuumer's elbow", "floor-scrubber's knees", and similar housekeeping ailments.

So, the last post of the year (in a couple hours I'm off the stand around a large fire in a field and wait for some clock somewhere to tick over to 00:00 01/01/05

How bout some New Year's Resolutions?

1) Snowboard at least five days a week.
2) Eat less instant noodles (I'll try and cut down to five packets a week).
3) Eat more vegetables (especially vegetables other than frozen corn)
4) Eat more chicken (my flatmates are cooking a chicken curry right now and it smells goood).
5) Write in my blog at least five days a week (and none of that communist garbage I started spouting yesterday - I've already been told by Edouard that yesterday's post was too long.
6) Solve the situation in the Middle East
7) Pay my parents back (I'm tempted to get some stickers made up saying "sponsored by Mum and Dad", since there are a lot of people out here who owe their lifestyle to their parents).

Seven is a good number for a list.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Militant Socialist Snowboarder Monthly

I'm thinking of renaming this blog something along the lines of "The Socialist Snowboarder". Why?

Well, you know what I spent most of today thinking about? Minimum wage. Not just how much it sucks to be on $8 an hour in an expensive town (and how glad I am not to be in Banff, where the minimum wage is $5.90 and things are more expensive). That's just whinging, and something I am culturally allowed to do since I hold both a New Zealand and an English passport - in fact, it's expected of me.

No, I spent large portions of the day thinking about minimum wage, and how I used to be able to argue that lowering the minimum wage (or even abolishing it entirely) would be good for the economy). Well, I guess I was right, as long as you define "the economy" as the rich, white-collar types who own and run companies.

Pretty much everything after this point can be ignored unless you want to hear what I think about politics:
See, back then, I was fairly sure I'd end up as one of those "successful" people who could become richer by paying people less (but GDP would go up). So I was just looking out for my own interests. Right there, that's the central point of the three or four years I spent studying economics. People look out for thier own interests.

Anyway, now that I have become part of the working class (albeit a very physically mobile, well-educated, and financially comfortable part), I'm starting to bring morals into my arguments.

But that's the problem right there. As soon as someone tries to justify something with "fair" or "right", anyone with half a brain or an economics degree (or both since the two often go together) can start shooting big holes in the argument. I should know, I've done it in the past.

So, what workaround did my innovative mind come up with while it wasn't thinking about my minimum wage job? Well, the quick and dirty solution is to use words like "socially responsible" or "ethical" or "triple bottom line". But really, these are all terms for "fair", and as any seven year old knows (especially one who grew up in my family "life isn't fair").

While we're on the topic of family, I think that my youthful belief in the free market, and especially the evils of regulation, stems from an incident in my childhood. I, the budding entrepeneur of the family, had bought a quantity of marbles wholesale (or at least in bulk from the charity shop down the road). Like any good merchant, I then sold part of my stock (to my brother) for more than the whole cost me. Unfortunately, the regulatory authorities (in this case Mum and Dad) tried to crush my attempts at free enterprise. Now, an experienced child psychologist like my mother should have known that forbidding something to a child like me is one of the surest ways of encouraging it.

So really, it's all mum's fault. Hehe.

Anyway, I have a new justification for wealth tax, minimum wage, and a more steeply progressive tax system (in non economic terms these can be explained as "eat the rich" policies). It's based on a combination of history and economics.

Announcing the Revolutionary Threshold of Inequality. Human societies will tolerate, in fact, they will even desire, a certain level of inequality (to reward innovation, effort, and all that good stuff). However, when that inequality becomes too entrenched (the example I thought of was France before their Revolution) or too pronounced (did president Mobutu really deserve to have more money than the bottom 95%, or whatever number it was, of the population he ruled over?) resentment reaches a critical mass, and society implodes in an attempt to destroy the privileged.

This is obviously a bad thing.

So basically, the rich (especially the super rich and those with well established wealth) should accept a little pain now to avoid being first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

I'm not going to make any bold / ridiculous predictions about how parts of the Western world (*cough*America*cough*) and the world as a whole are rapidly approaching the tipping point again. But it's worth a thought.

Obviously, inequality is not the only reason for the recent explosion of anti-American / anti-West sentiment amongst havenot societies. But, it's a major one. Religion, in my informed, non-expert opinion is little more than a convenient metaphor (or what's that thing where a part represents the whole?).

The "War on Terror" (try "war OF Terror") - is a war against the middle class and poor of the western world, trying to keep us on the side of the rich). Whoops, now I'm straying into 1984 arguments. The comparison has been made before, by others better informed and more eloquent than I, but it's worth making again, just because 1984 is one of my favourite books.

I'll try and be brief:

War is Peace - Duh. Hasn't the Western world been "at war" with something or someone called Terror for the last three years? It only took five years to beat Hitler, and the result was pretty obvious after 3 years.

Freedom is Slavery - or rather, Slavery is Freedom. People are submitted to more and more restrictions on their liberty and rights (explict rights in the US case, impicit traditional rights in the Commonwealth case) in return for freedom from danger.

Ignorance is Strength - I'll resist a cheap joke about people who think Osama bin Laden was the Vice-President of Iraq. But seriously, I think the population today is less informed about serious matters (since we just HAVE to find out what's happening in some grotty reality TV show) than at any time in the last 100 years (especially given how much more effective the media is nowadays).

You can pay attention again now

OK, I apologise for that lengthy, and poorly structured political rant. See what happens when I don't have something to think about during the day?

I promise some more snowboarding and Richard related content at some point.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Two things today:

1) Another full day at work today. Management have been breathing down our bosses neck about labour costs so Kate threatened to bring back the productivity board. Basically it's a whiteboard with some sort of number on it based on how quickly you can individually clean a unit. I think I was probably the only person there who wouldn't have minded. Not because I'm a great housekeeper (although I'm competant) but because there is a dirty little part of me that absolutely craves competition. I can't help it, I'm an addict.

2) The World Championships of Bartending were on TV last night. This is probably one of the odder championships out there. That said, it's one of the cooler ones. Well, the speed and accuracy rounds are not very exciting - Oooh look, some Argentinian guy has poured EXACTLY 8 ounces of liquid into a glass! Woooh! But, what is fun to watch are the flair rounds. This is when the competitors juggle bottles, balance glasses on their nose, and all sorts of wierd stuff like that while supposedly making a drink of some sort.

So, an old idea of mine returned to me - World Championship Dishwashing! Thrill at the sheer speed with which dirty plates are scraped and sprayed! Marvel at how shiny the glasses are! Cheer as the plongeur spins a plate on his fingers and balances the brush on his ear!

Well, maybe not.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Knock knock, who's there? Housekeeping.

A bad day snowboarding is better than a good day at work.

Sure, it's a horribly over-used tshirt-slogan, and I usually object to that sort of posturing because it's just not true (at least if you have a decent job). Plus it's so cliched. Today, I almost forgave this statement all its failings.


Well, because I was working, and even though yesterday wasn't great, it was certainly better than being at work. But haven't I said elsewhere that my job isn't that bad? Well, yes, but in Fernie , just having a job is a good thing.

So what do I have against professional housekeeping? Well, there is my genetic bias against being tidy (I think it's Dad's fault, and that at least two of my three siblings have also inherited it - the jury is still out on the married one). No, if you have to do something you don't like, getting paid for it is much better than doing it for free.

How about my socialist tendencies? Mark Twain (or someone, I'm too lazy to google the quote) said "if you're not a socialist at age 20 you haven't got a heart, and if you're not a conservative at age 30, you haven't got a brain". Like many things in my life, I'm being difficult, or perhaps just slow to mature, but I'm getting steadily "leftie-er" as I get older. So what's this got to do with housekeeping? Well, a little militant part of me objects to cleaning up behind the capitalists who think that it's OK to leave used tissues stuck to the walls of their bedrooms when they leave or that dropping stuff on the floor is more logical than in the bin that's right there.

Ahem, just imagine some incoherent rambling about "first up against the wall when the revolution comes" and we'll move on since it's not really an explanation.

Actually I now have no idea why I was complaining. I should really love my job:

1) No dealing with punters. Despite my "extensive customer service experience" (a quote from Richard's resume, a work of new-fiction available from employers all over Fernie) people bug me sometimes.

2) Work at more or less my own pace. Within reason, I can work like a maniac, or just cruise along.

3) Relatively undemanding work. Making beds, vacuuming, and all that fun stuff I don't ever do for free isn't too physically awkward (well, except a little bit of stretching) or mentally challenging.

4) Some degree of variety in my work. As long as you define variety as getting to choose between cleaning showers, cleaning kitchens, making beds, or dusting and vacuuming.

5) We get to plunder the empty rooms. Anything left behind, and not valuable enough to be lost property is ours by right of conqeust. Today's haul was a half-empty bottle of coke, and a pair of mens underwear - it didn't fit me, uh, not that I'm that desperate for clothing or anything ;) but we usually pick up some bottles and cans (worth refund money here in Canada) towards a staff dinner at some point in the future.

This is what I get for trying to write, play a rather addictive online timewaster and turn my CD collection into MP3s all at once while half watching TV.

So that's it for now from your distraction prone roving - oooh look, shiny things - reporter.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, but today I'm not half the man I used to be.

Or something like that.

Today was kind of rough for me. It wasn't the snow - there were still plenty of good places on the mountain (my first run was in knee deep and almost untracked leftover powder). It wasn't the crowds, although there did seem to be many more tourists out than yesterday.

It might have been that today was always going to pale in comparison to yesterday (when I was very happy with my riding, and successfully pushing my limits). It might have been that I was tired after yesterday when I was riding both steeper stuff than normal and a lot more actively than normal (flexing and extending my knees to absorb large bumps in the snow and variable conditions). But mostly I just sucked.

The problems with today were all my fault. It wasn't just that my riding was about as sharp as a butter knife, although that was frustrating. No, the big thing was that I just wasn't motivated to ride well. I just couldn't get my head into the game (or some sporting cliche like that).

I could try and blame it on being tired, or trying to adapt to a different stance, or on any number of things (the sun was in my eyes), but basically, I wasn't trying. For example, the board started to bounce around while I was on my heel edge and rather than trying to fix it by throwing a quick turn or getting properly balanced, I just let it slide out from under me and collapsed onto my bottom. This happened quite a few times. I also didn't feel right turning heel to toe.

I was riding fairly well a lot of the time, but as soon as anything went vaguely wrong I gave up. I tried riding switch on some easy runs (with my right leg at the front for a change) but that really didn't work, and I fell over hard. So I tried to work on my spins. I finally landed a couple of 180s (even if they were ugly, it's better than the 120 degrees I spun the first few times today) off small bumps (accidentally scaring a couple of beginners when I whooped in triumph at not horribly messing things up again). But I was struggling to even think through what I needed to do, and my hands were cold, so I gave it up and came home to do my washing.

All that snowboarding talk basically says that I wasn't riding well, and I didn't care enough to try and ride well. It wasn't a conscious decision to suck, a little goblin snuck into my room last night and stole my motivation.

Rather than struggle through a day of sucking, I went home after about four hours (and this after going up late. It's the advantage of being here all season. I don't feel like I have to spend all-day every-day snowboarding whether I want to or not to make the most of my holiday.

Anyway, I'm counting it as a day on the slopes, because I did snowboard for reasonable length of time (and despite my whining, it didn't all suck) so that makes ten for the season.

Plus, I did my washing, which I've been meaning to do for a couple days now (I was running out of "safety clothes", and actually had to wear my boarding gear while I was waiting for the machines to finish.

Yes, I used the tumble-drier. Hanging wet clothes out in -10 or colder just doesn't seem like a good idea (although clothes will, theoretically, get dry - some sciencey thing that came up in Trivial Pursuit once, and a bona-fide physicist confirmed it).

So, that's about it as far as I am concerned. It's good to know that people are actually reading this (although I'm not confident enough that I have an audience large enough to need a webcounter - rather than the fingers of one hand). So, please please comment, it's not like you need to have anything to say - I usually don't, and look how much I write.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Chateaux Richard

Well, technically it's Chateaux Tim, Kara, Edouard, et Richard - but this is my blog, so I'm just going to claim the whole house as Chateaux Richard.

This was our house at 8am today. Isn't it a pretty sight?

Tim took this photo but copyright is so 20th century and I'm taller than him, not to mention younger (and faster when we're not on snowboards) so I'm just going to post it and take my chances.

The face that launched a thousand ships.

By face, I mean experience, and by ships, I mean Boeing 747s from Sydney to Vancouver (via Auckland). Anyway, I would have loved to have the photo that I mentally associate with this title, but cameras, like jobs, friends, and scruples, are unnecessary baggage on powder days.

So you're stuck with a description.

From the top:

His silver helmet is lightly crusted with snowflakes and his eyes peer out through orange lensed goggles. His nose and cheeks are bright red from a constant exposure to the cold, wind, and snow. His nose has been running and is crusted like a three year old's. The important thing is that he has a grin that rivals the Chesire Cat's.

Trust me, much better with a photo.

Today was quite possibly the most fun I have had in a long time. Actually, today was quite possibly one of the ten funnest days of my life (and definately into the top three of my adult life).

So what is this "powder" I speak of? Simply put, it's deposits of snow with a relatively high air content (the bigger a snowflake is the more air space there is between it and its buddies - which makes the snow lighter and softer). But that's like saying that Shakespear is just a whole bunch of words.

So I'm going to get all poetical (readers with a low tolerance of purple prose should probably go do something else about now).

Have you ever looked out the windows of an airplane and wondered what it would be like to play in the clouds? Not from a scientific point of view (it would be wet, cold, and rather brief before you plummeted to the earth in a screaming heap) but just to be able to enjoy their fluffiness.

Well, today was kind of like that. Whenever somebody turned in a particularly soft patch, a great big puff of snow came flying up behind them. One of the busier runs looked like a Napoleonic battlefield with puffs of cannon smoke everywhere. It was like the clouds decided to pay a brief visit to earth to show us all what it is like up there. Friction and other inconvenient laws of physics were temporarily suspended. You kind of float mostly on top of the snow and push it around with your board.

Ok, that's probably enough. It's the kind of feeling that drives people to fly around the world, spend foolish amounts of money, and put up with being cold. I'm not going to make a comparison with cocaine (the "other white powder" jokes are overdone) since I quite happily have no idea what Colombia's most infamous export feels like. I do know that the world snowboard guide website reports "no resorts found" for Columbia

So yeah, I had a fabulous day, and people who don't snowboard will have little idea why. People who do snowboard will be jealous. That's about it.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Santa gave me fresh snow!

I worked it out on one of my long lonely chairlift rides today. Today is my eighth day of snowboarding this season. Not bad, especially given the lack of snow we've had until recently, but not exactly great.

Anyway, I woke up kind of late this morning, and was having a leisurely breakfast when I decided to look out the window. The fresh snow I saw meant my breakfast suddenly became a lot more hurried.

The first couple of runs were a little rough, but I got back in the swing of things fairly quickly and started to enjoy the conditions. Some of the more heavily trafficed runs were scraped a little bare, but you didn't have to get far from the maddening crowd to find some nice snow - for the record, my favourite run was Arrow (the first run in Lizard bowl from the Bear chair, not that anyone who hasn't been to Fernie will have any idea what I was talking about).

On a related note, this is the first time that the weather forecast has promised us snow, rather than light snow or flurries. Huzzah for Santa!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve.

Well, it's nearly Christmas Day here, and it's nearly boxing day at home. Actually, it's nearly December 25th, since Christmas is pretty much a non event as far as I am concerned. I've managed to avoid almost all of the Christmas insanity (even the muzak).

This year I didn't buy any presents for my family or friends. I didn't even get around to adopting a needy child through the Salvation Army and buying them presents. So I just dropped the cash I would have spent on presents into a collection bucket. Not exactly thoughtful, or particularly Christmas-like, but whatever.

You're never so poor you can't afford to help people.

Anyway, shortly after beginning this Christmas Eve waffle, Kara's [our house's token Canadian, and token woman (although Edouard does take lengthy showers)] sister's boyfriend (and yes, that did take about as long to explain on the phone as it did here - even allowing for the cheap shot) rang to talk to her because they were having a tape crisis. He passed on Kara's family's invitation to me to go round for the evening. Tim and Kara came home shortly later, and gave me another verbal copy of the invitation.

It was one of those invitations where there's that tiny bit of uncertainty in my head about whether it was merely pro-forma. I don't know if other people get that feeling or not, but politeness has a lot to answer for sometimes as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, because Kara is a nice person and her family seemed nice when I bumped into them at lunch on the hill one day (plus, they put up with Tim, so they must be fairly tolerant) I tagged along.

I'm glad I did - it was an hors d'ouevres evening (which is Canadian for finger food). The pickled herring and boiled egg on crackers (apparantly it's a Norwegian thing) were rather nice, even if Kara's mum saying "you only have to try a little bit" put us on guard.

One of the common jokes of the evening was that it will start snowing as soon as the family go home. It didn't wait that long, by the time I went to bed (just before Santa's cut off time of 11:59pm), little white splotches were falling from the sky.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

Actually, just about everyone in town is dreaming of a white christmas. Actually, a white Boxing day, or Christmas eve, or even a white St John of Kanty's Day. We're even willing to wait until St Sylvester's day (but not St Tweety's day, since that doesn't actually exist). Basically, we're not fussy, as long as it snows, and snows lots.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

On the upside, I'm finally getting some more work - 11 hours this week in two days, and I'm working tommorow and Christmas eve, barring a big dump of snow. I might finally be clawing myself back from the total poverty stage of being a ski bum. Or not.

But, there are more important things in life than money. Like just about everything else in life - except watching American / New Zealand / Papua New Guinea Idol and Star Trek, I just can't see the point of those shows.

Ahem, but anyway, it's kind of frustrating living here, especially since the TV continues to show news stories about how much snow Eastern Canada is getting. It's not even like I have a great job. I clean bathrooms, make beds, and vacuum at a hotel and vacation home complex just out of town. It's not a bad job, but it's not worth writing home about (except that I am because I have nothing else to write about right now).

The only interesting thing about housekeeping (besides the very slight prospect of two cleaning chemicals exploding when you "accidentally" mix them together) is that you get to see just how messy other people are when away from home. Well, that and the refunds available on all the bottles and cans we find. Anyway, all the people who have ever complained about my tidyness, should just see how messy some people can be in just one day.

Again, I don't have a lot to say, my brain is on holiday.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Foreshadowing Sucks.

In art, as in life, foreshadowing sucks.

I'm not about to get into a big narrative discussion here, my point is really that the "I might fail" prospect that my last post brought up has become an unfortunate reality. Yep, I failed my Level One Instructor course. What is really frustrating is that I failed it by the skin of my teeth. Actually, seat of my pants might be a better metaphor, since un-authorised contact between the seat of my pants and the "snow" (ice) during some of the riding sessions was pretty much why I failed.

Apparantly, I am something of a natural teacher (one of my pretend lessons was among the best two of the day) and I am very comfortable explaining things to a group. But my riding just isn't quite there. In the debrief, one of the evaluators said it might well have come up to standard in one more day.

Very frustrating.

Still, my riding has improved significantly, so in many ways I got my money's worth out of the course. That said, I think very frustrating is the best summary of the last few hours.

Ok, a far shorter than normal update (and I bet you're all glad about that). It was good to hear that I'm good at teaching, since ultimately, that's probably a more useful skill than being able to snowboard (and almost as enjoyable).

Happy Hogswatch Everyone! (my father may well be the only person to get this reference - the rest of you should read more Terry Pratchett)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Those who can't do... can't teach

Today was the first day of my wannabe snowboard instructor's course.

The first thing we did was watch a couple of funky videos (complete with some of the cheesiest electro-pop dance music I have ever heard). The first one was about how great the Canadian Association of Snowboarder Instructors is (oot here in BC, the Association Canadien du Moniteurs de Surf du Niege is pretty much ignored since they only teach Francophone riders). The second video was about the skier responsility code. Despite what it sounds like this does not mean that if you crash, immediately try to blame the nearest skier. Instead it's a bunch of rules about not doing all the stupid things that some people do.

After that, it was time to ride! At which point I found out that I've picked up a number of bad habits over the last couple of years (since my one and only official lesson).

Which brings me to the title of the post.

There is a minimum standard of riding for instructors, and I'm not quite there. Not all the time at least. I hope the problems aren't too big and I can sort them out tomorrow (again, since I nearly had CASI-authorised style just before lunch).

So, at the moment, I'm a little worried that I'll fail. But then I always get worried, even before exams that I rationally know I am likely to crush, so it's no surprise that I'm worried about something I'm not naturally good at.

Worst case, I get a weekend in a small group with two high level instructors. My riding has improved noticeably, even to me, over the course of today, and a full day group lesson costs as much as this course did, if not more.

So hopefully, the title of this post doesn't apply to me. But we shall see.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Third the one with the hairy chest

Back in the day, my brother(s) and I were quite competitive. No really, I know this comes as a shock to those of you who have ever played me at trivial pursuit, monopoly, table tennis or just about anything where there can be a winner and a loser.

Ahem, the point was that we used to chant "first the worst, second the best, third the one with the hairy chest" a lot when I was little, and it just came back to me. I could have done with a hairy chest today - it was a little chilly thanks to the wind.

I rode for about half the day with Rune, a friend of Edouard's (although since he's Danish, I've probably brutally misspelt his name because English just doesn't have enough squiggles on its letters). It was another day of sticking to the groomed runs, but still fun. Going fast is fun.

But, there's a limit to how much I can write about snowboarding and still keep the interest of my grandmother and other normal people. Let's just say that I like going fast, and conditions were perfect for that.

Today was pretty good. Why?

Well, the snowboarding (already mentioned) was good. The views were great too, right down the valley.

I got a ride back to my house from the ski hill in a BMW with leather seats.

I saw a raven, or was it a crow, or are they the same bird? Unlike my uncle, I'm quite bad at identifying birds. I like looking at them though, or at least the cool ones like hawks, ravens, and parrots. Ravens might be scavenging carrion eaters (or they might be door to door salesmen, my knowledge of how birds support themselves is pretty limited) but they look cool - black feathers, big black beak, and black predator eyes. Anyway, I was walking to town and saw it it sitting there for on a tree branch.

I went grocery shopping! I love grocery shopping. Unfortunately, like many things I love, I'm not very good at it. Now, this is definately not a reflection on my mother, who could possibly be the world champion grocery shopper. She did her best to teach me about stocking up on special offers, comparing unit prices, and that sort of thing.

I took most of that in, and score quite well on the savings front. It's just that I'm a hunter, not a gatherer. Send me into a supermarket unsupervised, especially if I haven't eaten since breakfast time, and it's like letting a three year old loose in a toy store. Still, I usually end up with a sensible shopping basket (if we ignore the jelly beans and cookies) even if frozen corn is a little over-represented in the vegetable category.

So yeah, I like grocery shopping, even if I am only a talented amateur. The ironic thing is that today is one day I really didn't need to go - we're having a fondue night at my house, so all my new food will just sit in the cupboard until tommorrow.

Yay fondue! To quote the episode of That Seventies Show which was on TV last night "It should be called FUNdue, because it sure is fun!"

And then it's judgement day tomorrow - my Snowboard Instructor course starts. Hopefully by monday I'll have a bit of paper that says I can teach people to snowboard.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Don't Think and Ride

Another day spent up the hill today. Depressingly, it's only my second day in the whole first week. But then, conditions haven't been that great, and I'm still trying to minimise the number of days my pass has been used before I get a job up the hill.

But today was pretty good. There was almost literally nobody else on the hill (for a while, I was the only person riding the White Pass chair). I think the longest I had to wait for any chair all day was aboot a minute.

There may not have been any fresh snow today (despite resort claims of 2cms of fresh) but the groomers had done a good job, so the riding was fun on trail. In fact, it was very enjoyable. The top layer of snow was smooth and had a bit of give, so it didn't feel like trying to snowboard on a hockey rink.

So, what's with the title of this post?

Well, when doing my best to race down Bear (a nice wide and steep run), I had the rather unoriginal thought that snowboarding is one of those things that must look rather pointless to the outside observer.

But the whole "sliding down the snow trying not to fall over doesn't look like fun" schtick has been done to death. I think "doesn't look like fun" observations reveal more about the observer than the activity.

Sure, I've made my share of "that just doesn't seem like a good idea" comments, and in the most part, I stick by them. But, I'm trying to keep more of an open mind about stuff I haven't tried.

The real point of the title is that while I was pre-occupied by my own brilliance, I lost my heel edge (that's snowboard talk for the metal side of the expensive plank I'm standing on deciding that it would much rather fly through the air than do its boring job of slowing me down as I go across the hill) and skidded down the hill on my bottom. It didn't hurt, because I was going quickly, so I sort of fell along the slope rather than into it, but it was rather embarrassing, since Edouard (my French flatmate) chose that exact moment to turn up behind me.

Whatever, it's not like I'm a great snowboarder (I might be in the to 50% of people at Fernie, on a tourist-prone day), but it's a little annoying that my first mistake is right in front of someone I know.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Opening Week

No, not opening week of my blog (although it is that), but something far more important - opening week at Fernie Alpine Resort. I've already written an email about waiting for opening day - basically it's a lot like Christmas eve.

So, how was the start of the season?

Well, the getting up at 7 AM part wasn't that great. It wasn't terrible - there's not a lot to do chez Richard in the evenings once the novelty of cable TV has worn off so I was in bed at a reasonable hour. Actually, I should clarify that. Getting up was great, just like Christmas (when a long awaited event is now imminent). It's just that 7am is dark, and quite a while before the lifts open. Still, my father thinks getting up at 7am is rather a decadent time to sleep in to, so I guess that there's a genetic reason why I don't mind getting up early when I have to (it's definately not a rational one, since it was still totally dark).

My snowboard breaking free of the rack and landing beside the road definately sucked. We were driving along the road and suddenly heard a horrible thump. Tim pulled over and confirmed that he'd seen my board fall (it it jump or was it pushed?)

Thankfully there was no serious damage. I think the trunk (that's a boot for my English-speaking readers) took the worst of it when my board bounced off it. The board landed beside the road, and upside down, so it took less damage than it would in a typical crowded lift line.

Talking of crowded lift lines, by the time the lifts opened, there were several hundred people waiting. Still, we were near the front of the queue - unlike the cheeky so and so who waltzed up at 8:45 am and tried to join his friends at the front of the line. He hopped the fence and that set off a chain of boo-ing all the way back. He and his friends tried indignantly to explain, but the crowd scented blood. Attracted by the noise, the liftee came over like the white hat in a cowboy movie and threw the claim jumper right to the back of the half hour plus line.

Score one for the good guys.

By the time the chairlift got to the top, I was pumped. The snow looked very good to me (although the local snow snobs didn't hesitate to complain about it) and I hadn't been riding in a while. It was a great moment, sliding down the ramp from the chairlift with a few gentle snowflakes drifting down.

And that's when it all went horribly wrong.

I had forgotten to adjust my rear binding (brand new gear - ooooh). So, not only was my first run for a couple of months in "elephant snot" (soft heavy wet snow, aka Ruapehu Powder), I could't use my back foot properly.

Now, I know this doesn't make any sense to those of you who haven't snowboarded, but trust me, it's not particularly fun. So I fell down a lot and got stuck in the snow a lot. This was mainly because I'd forgotten how to ride in soft snow (in other words, I sucked).

But it was fun, unlike reading this post - I'm sorry, but I seem to have forgotten how to write well (if I ever knew).

Long story short, it was a good day (even when I discovered the hard way in the rain that the crotch of my boarding trousers wasn't quite waterproofed properly).

Since then, the rain has washed away a lot of the snow, but Santa says he's bringing us some more for Christmas and the weather network (channel 21) - the best TV station when there's no hockey on TV - agrees.

I'm really broke though, which sucks, but things should pick up if / when the resort (and more particularly the hotel I work) gets busy.

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