Monday, January 31, 2005

Desmond the Kangaroo!

A friend of mine from Calgary (well, actually he's from Newcastle Australia, but I met him in Calgary) is in Canada at the moment. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you - Desmond the Kangaroo (and his associated human - Dan)

For the record, it's raining again in Fernie, and we hates that, yess we do, nasty fat stupid raindropssses. Gollum, gollum.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Money Money Money!

I just got selected for the m100 at

Basically this means that my investment prowess over the last year or two has been profitable enough for my imaginary fund that this company is willing to use my selections to help manage their real investment fund.

It's the second time I've made it into the top 100 (I made it in for a couple of months in Quarter Three last year). I also have three other funds that are beating the major indicies over the last three years (so I'm doing better than most real life mutual funds).

So, yeah, I'm pretty happy about that (they'll even send me a little check at the end of this quarter, so in some ways, I am a professional investment advisor). On the off chance that someone who works in the investment industry is reading this, I'm available to start immediately.

Actually, if anyone who is reading this can offer me any sort of job, I'd be quite happy.

Freshies! We got freshies!

The first snow in two weeks fell overnight! Hooray! Mind you, since we got perhaps as much as 5 millimetres overnight, it will take the rest of 2005, and much of 2006 to restore the mountain to its early January state.

Still, it's a sign the temperature is moving in the right direction. Or at least it would have been, if the weather network (aka the prophets of doom) are correct, we're in for ANOTHER spell of warm weather.


Remember how I said I while ago that the Armed Front for the Renaming of Saskatchewan had sent mooses (or unemployed Newfies, I can't remember) up to the Artic with giant fans? Well, this time I'm blaming the Americans.

No, not for refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol (although it is another reason that Dubya sucks), but for pointing the exhaust fans of their air conditioners North.

It's a conspiracy to steal all the ski business from BC and take it for California.


Tinme for Canada to invade (again) and burn down the White House (again). That'll teach them.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Rain stopped work

Well, I was just writing an email to my brother in which I said that next paycheck I should be on an even keel financially. Literally just after I finished typing that sentence, I got a phone call from my boss.

I just got laid off.

Yeah, that's great news. NOT.

Because Fernie has been getting rained on for the last week, tourists have been cancelling. The owner of the hotel I work at sent a fax from Calgary saying "lay everyone off and maybe rehire them in a couple of weeks if things improve" - Thanks Bill.

It's not as if I can just walk into another job either. The entire town is economically slow right now (I've been keeping an eye on the job postings, and there have been very few recently, and pretty much none that I'm qualified for). It's November all over again. For those of you who weren't reading my emails back then (in the long dark days pre-blog) there were hordes of unemployed people rioting in the streets. Well, OK, we were more of a disorganised throng than a horde (hordes are far too impolite to be allowed in Canada) and we were wandering around aimlessly rather than rioting, but the principle is the same.

You know, this is the first time I've ever been fired. I know being laid off in a slowdown is not quite the same as actually being fired, but it's not a good feeling. It's also not a good feeling to know that I'm pretty much broke.

I can survive for a while, but this definately throws a big spanner in the works. I need snow now more than ever.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

What ever happened to Richard?

Well, I haven't written for a while.

No, I haven't had my typing fingers (all two of them) amputated. Nor has it started dumping snow (quite the reverse in fact). Nor have I suddenly developed a social life (having no money, working till midnight, and generally being quite anti-social tend to work against me going bar hopping).

Basically, there just hasn't been much to write about ( and or I just haven't felt like writing). The rain keeps falling, and the snow conditions get worse and worse. I keep going to work, and it gets more and more routine.

Like I said earlier, or maybe I didn't, I'm just on my little hamster wheel, same as all the normal people, mine's just in a nicer place.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Great Expectations

Well, so much for the powder day that the entire town of Fernie was looking forward to. Sure, we had 20+ cm before I finished eating my burritos. Obviously, we didn't have Chinese last night - Chinese people who own restaurants in Fernie don't work Mondays. I told Kara (the token Canadian and token woman flatmate) that it was because Monday was the Confucian holy day. I'm not sure if she believed me or not. I'm pretty good at straight-facing statements like that but she has been living with Tim and I for a while.

Anyway, I woke up at 3am today. No, I wasn't making sure I got up to the hill early, my friend Dan was arriving from Calgary and I had to be awake to let him in (or at least dozing on the couch, rather than comatose downstairs). Or rather, Dan was supposed to be arriving from Calgary. Instead, the highway was closed between Elkford (the next town east of here) and Fernie, and he phoned at about 4:30am to let me know this.

That surely boded well for an epic powder day today, didn't it?

Well, no.

By the time Dan arrived at the Fernie "bus station", and the inhabitants of Chateaux Richard began to wake up, the nasty horrible evil rain had come and ruined all the snow.

It was like the Grinch stole Christmas, and didn't have a change of heart.

Today didn't totally suck, but it was definately not the best. The snow was super-heavy, and very sticky. Untouched snow was generally very slow indeed (at one point I stalled while my board was pointing straight down the hill). To make things more "interesting", the parts of the run without good snow coverage were relatively fast.

Still, I landed some 180s today - I've got frontside ones off small hits kind of dialed now. That's snowboarder talk meaning that I can go over a small bump and spin around in the air - bringing my back (right) leg forward so I spin half way round anti-clockwise and land with my right leg as the new front leg.

Meh, it sounds so much cooler to call it a frontside one.

So yeah, today didn't suck, it was even fun at times.

What did suck was dropping my board in at the repair shop. I took a core shot (that's when a rock or tree stump or something simmilar leaps out and takes a big chunk out out of the base of your board / skis and you can actually see the wooden "core" - hence the name) at Castle on Saturday. This has the potential to do serious damage to the board (moisture gets in and your board becomes an expensive gooey mess) as well as making for a rougher ride.

So anyway, the guy there convinces me to get a full base tune (it wasn't hard, since the base of my board looks like it went a couple rounds with a bad tempered cat armed with a knife). $45 later (sorry, $40 plus tax - stupid Canamerican system) and my battered board is accepted into the secret chamber of repair.

I don't think I've made any tax jokes on this blog, so I'll fire out a couple of my favourites.

One for flatmate Tim - "I'm not 30, I'm 29 plus tax"
One for Santa Claus - "I'm only 195 pounds... plus tax"

By the way, did anyone else see Bill Gates on Jeopardy tonight? It might have been a repeat, but I could swear that "Brandon" (or whatever his name was) owned a large chunk of Microsoft - he made it three wins in a row, so he's pretty smart. In Jeopardy, the contestants get a clue and have to provide the question - for example The clue is "The opening lines of this play are "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York"" the question/answer is "What is Richard III?"

So why do I say smart, rather than just knowledgeable? Well, after a certain base level of knowledge (admittedly quite high), it is more beneficial to be able to puzzle things out rather than know more random facts. I regularly puzzle out five or six answers (nearly 10% of the clues) that I have no real idea about.

Anyway, Jeopardy has something of a cult following in our house - basically I brutally crush Tim almost every time. Yes Tim, I do. Kara tolerates it, and uses the opportunity to tease Tim about losing to me (we're both trivia geeks) and Edouard feeds his virtual pig

Monday, January 17, 2005

Why can't we be friends?

It's a line from a song that got stuck in my head today, and was oddly appropriate when an idiot skier (excuse the tautology - ooh cheapshot) started tootling merrily across the slope at precisely the most inconvenient time for me.

It all happened just below a roller on the new side of Fernie. A roller is where the run suddenly gets steeper, creating a nice jump that you can either pop off for some decent size air, or just absorb with your legs for one of those stomach dropping sensations (like going over a humpback bridge, or something). The new side is where Resorts of the Canadian Rockies slapped in a couple of chairlifts when they took over a few years ago. The runs tend to flow less easily than on the old side, but have their own attractions. The run looked empty, so I was booting it and had taken a little air even though I tried to keep it on the ground - you go faster when your board is on the snow.

Anyway, I was just getting my heel edge back into the snow (so I was heading pretty much straight down the hill) when the skier stood up. She'd obviously been having a picnic, or something, in the middle of the run *and* where she couldn't be seen from above. She started tootling merrily across the run without looking up the hill to see if anyone was coming - this is somewhat akin to just randomly pulling out of your driveway.

Because the new side is less logical than the old side, which has been smoothed over numerous summers, we were both kind of heading downhill (although she was heading sort of downhill towards the trees, and I was heading downhill down the run).

Anyway, I yell loudly and try to go from warp-speed to something surviveable. Unfortunately, there isn't much space to do this in. I slam the board round until it is at 90 degrees to the hill and lean back and bend my legs to dig as much edge in as possible.

My "hockey stop" has the desired effect, I deccelerate very rapidly. Rapid changes of velocity are rather unpleasant (blah blah G force) in almost any situation, this is no exception. Basically, my board bounces into the snow a few times - jarring my ankles, my bottom bounces into the snow a few times, and I get a faceful of ice crystals.

What does the skier do during all of this? Well, as best as I could tell, she keeps coming straight towards me.

Anyway, long story short, I nearly crashed into an idiot skier today, and it got me thinking. Just why is there so much (or any) animosity between skiers and snowboarders?

Let's look at some of the ideas that have come up in my chairlift symposiums on this topic. In no particular order.

1) Snowboarders wear their pants too baggy and too low.
- Not true, I wear mine above the hips and cinch the belt up tight - it keeps snow out. Plus, our pants need to be baggy for all the flexion and extension that we do. Anyway, other people's fashion decisions / disasters

2A) Skiers create moguls.
- Possibly, I haven't seen them doing it. But so what? Moguls are just another feature of the ski hill. Some people like em, some people hate em, some people just ride somewhere else.

2B) Snowboarders create / destroy moguls
- Well it's probably not both, but either way, I haven't seem them doing it.

Well, I was going to go on, but it's snowing hard, and we're going out to the Chinese restaurant for all the slightly suspicious sweet and sour "pork" (and other dishes) we can shove into our (soon to be) distended bellies.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Well, it was minus thirty something again in Fernie this morning. For those of you who don't live in a deep-freeze (actually, most commercial freezers aren't usually that cold) that's so cold that your nostrils feel like they are being glued together.

Top secret documents obtained by the Lost in Transportation staff reveal the reason behind this recent cold spell. Although Prime Minister Jean Poutine ;) claims that it is because the provinces have not been paying their heating bills, it is in fact the work of the Armed Front the Renaming of Saskatchewan. This dastardly organisation has attached military-grade fans to thousands of Moose and released them into the Artic.

Yep, that's the truth behind the recent cold spell. More details as they emerge.

Um, anyway, when Tim got sent home from the ski hill becase they had just one ski lesson for the whole resort, we decided to go to Castle Mountain. It's just over an hour away in Alberta. Castle is old-school - only two chairs (a triple and a double), minimal grooming, no snowguns, just a lot of steep terrain and good snow (well mostly). We got about five runs in and apart from the patches where I struck dirt or tree stumps, the snow was fluffy pretty much everywhere and untracked in places.

D'oh, spilt oatmeal all over the floor - clean it up and it's time to go to work.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A new word

Brrrarrrg - the frustration I experience when it's minus 30, but I really want to go snowboarding. Unfortunately, I started to feel the first stingings of frostbite before I even got to the hill. In the 15 minutes that I braved the side of the road waiting for a ride, my ears got cold, even under a fleece balaclava and a fairly warm helmet.

You could call me a wuss, and you might be right- it does look like a lovely sunny day. But I'm really quite attached to my ears (duh) and it didn't snow any more overnight, so I'm not missing out on an epic day, just a good one.

Still, I might leave the house later on today for either a quick ride (with plenty of time in the warming hut) or a trip into town to print up a CV for the snow school here (since I've finally passed my instructor course).

Or I might not leave the house until it's time to go to work - I do not approve of this cold. You hear that Mister Artic Outflow - Richard does not approve. So please quit it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What makes a powder day even better?

Passing your Level One Instructors course.

Yep, I passed my riding retest, and am now officially allowed to teach snowboarding in Canada.

It's a relief, I had been paranoid I was going to just fail second time around.

But I didn't!

So yeah!

Richard is very happy right now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I'm bored so I'm going to get all political again.

The "Christian Right" (now that's an oxymoron in my book) or at least the part of it that stands firmly behind George Bush (no matter what country they are in) must be reading a different bible from me.

"Thou shalt not kill" (I like old school language for the ten commandments it sounds kind of official). I haven't seen the translation that reads "thou shalt not kill, unless you're pretty sure about weapons of mass destruction, or something"

But let's just say that the Old Testament (I'm sure my father will jump on this one and say it should be called something else, but anyway) version of God did really appear in a burning Bush (my vote is for burning the whole clan, but anyway) and demand that America smite the Iraqis. Israel had to kick a bit of ass back when it was God's chosen nation, so it probably makes sense that God's new (self-)chosen nation gets the call to war.

But I've set this argument up as something of a straw man You see, it only works if we forget about some guy called Jesus. Now, my amateur opinion is that he kind of updated the rules about acceptable behaviour by making rules about turning the other cheek.

This guy seems to believe that Jesus would own a 9mm (although most of his argument is based on the Old Testament). It's a decent read and has some plauaible parts.

Anyway, I always thought Christ was the most important teacher in Christianity (you know, like Bhudda is the man when it comes to Bhuddist stuff, Confucious kind of founded Confucianism, and so on) but I guess not. When Jesus doesn't pander to an extreme right wing agenda, he is conveniently forgotten by his "followers".

I had a lot of nice half-liners about "I-can't-believe-it's-not-Christianity", and "Jehovans vs Christians", but couldn't quite work them in, even on the edit. It is a shame we can't vote the lunatic fringe off the Church Island though - especially people who commit murder (even the gun-lover linked to above admits that the sixth comandment can't be translated much more permissively than "thou shalt not murder") to promote a "pro-life" agenda - the irony is beautiful.

But anyway, I'm not one of those political bloggers, not yet, anyway, and have no great desire to be. Politics, especially on the internet, is pretty much one giant screaming match - and the funniest thing is that both sides are screaming at people who already agree with them. The wonder of the internet is that nobody has to read anything they disagree with.

Well, nobody except our Anonymous friend in the comments. I strongly suspect he came in through blogexplosion (one of those traffic exchange programs - it's taken me to some rather good blogs actually). So during the 30 second minimum they impose, he read a couple of sentences and got riled up enough to leave a poorly thought out and anonymous comment.

Choosing not to get a "real" job (or didn't you read that bit?) makes me an idiot? OK, whatever, I work pretty hard for my $8 an hour, and far prefer the lifestyle it allows me. So I won't be buying a new SUV this year, I don't care.

Or is it my refusal to get a haircut that decreases my intelligence? The eminently sensible North Korean dictatorship seems to think so.

Anyway, Richard's lesson for the day - just because someone disagrees with you they are not automatically an idiot (although in this case, it's highly likely that Anonymous is an idiot - someone who wasn't an idiot would probably have had the courage / courtesy / desire for debate to leave a name, if not his own URL). A non idiot would have also recognised that anonymous comments are generally shunned in the blogging world and would have wanted the extra plausibility that a name gives.

But whatever, like the man said, there's no point arguing with an idiot. On the other hand, there is a lot of fun to be had in ridiculing an idiot. It might not achieve much, but as I found out while editing my response into this post, it's fun.

One final thought, I promise.

Jesus was a hippy.

Yes he was - long hair, sandals, preaching about love, didn't have many possessions, didn't have a real job during the important years of his life, and so on.

Stay in school, or not

Right now, I'm watching Doctor Phil. For those of you not familiar with American daytime TV, Doctor Phil was the tough love family counsellor (or something) on Oprah. For those of you who haven't heard of Oprah, I hope you get out of that cave in Afghanistan soon.

Anyway, Doctor Phil is doing a show on teenage boys who are failing at school because they are convinced that they are going all the way to the pros at their favourite sports. It's a tie in with the new Samuel L Jackson movie about a high school basketball coach who locked the gym because his players were failing.

So, anyway, the message being hammered at these kids is "study hard, go to college, and then maybe you'll get a shot at the pros". But going to university is continually presented as the secret to being a successful adult.

Doctor Phil even said "otherwise, he's going to turn around when he's 25 and working in some minimum wage job with no future and say why didn't you make me study when I was younger?"

Well, I'm 24 and a half, working in some minimum wage job, and I went to unversity. I was good at it too (anyone who has met my mother in the last year will know that I got first class honours so I don't feel as bad about bragging).

These kids are failing 8th Grade (13 or 14 year old) Social Studies. If you ask me (and nobody did, but that's the beauty of blogging) their problem isn't that they dream of football stardom, their problem is that they are plain DUMB.

But anyway, the point of this rant was that university is not the secret to having a succesful life. If you're in high school and want to get rich then become a builder's apprentice. By the time you're 30, you can be self-employed, and earning more than all but the very top lawyers.

Basically, university is just a white-collar version of the NFL dreams that these kids had. That sounds harsh, but it's true, especially for those of us who study less useful subjects (and or just spend all day hanging round the Quad). Someone should tell the Baby Boomers that a university degree isn't a ticket to the gravy train any more. Or we can just tell our children not to listen to their grandparents.

I'm not saying university is a bad thing - I spent ten semesters at university and got two bachelors degrees and half a masters. I loved it, almost all the time, and will probably go back to get a PhD (or a D.Phil, if I can persuade someone to pay for me to go to Oxford). University is like disneyland for smart people.

But you have to want to be at university for its own sake. Not for the parties, not for the promise of a lucrative career in 4 years time, not because mum and dad want you to, but because you want to think and stuff.

OK, hands up who amongst you has seen the big glaring flaw in my argument?

That's right, I have a future, in theory at least.

Well, those of you who spotted that probably went to university, so congratulations, have a gold star.

I won't go into details about how university should be free, limited to the top 25% of people after first year, and restricted to people 20 and older (did I mention that I also support compulsory community service for a year or two out of high-school?) so that's about all.

Kids, as long as you have a real plan (and going to the NFL is not a real plan), then university is not necessary. Unfortunately, university is kind of used as a holding pen for all the kids without real plans (and I'll admit to doing that).

OK, something I clearly didn't learn at university is how to structure a short opinion piece (or even write something short). Well, I did, but it didn't override my natural talent for lengthy, poorly structured rants (maybe I should write speeches for politicians).

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Daily Grind

Nope, this isn't a reference to some sort of fancy trick. Instead, it's the dirty little secret of the ski bum lifestyle. Unless you're rich enough to have a trust fund, lucky enough to have won the lottery, or otherwise have enough money to support yourself, you have to get a job.

Something that is true the world over is that a job is a job. So, although I am living in a rather beautiful place and am able to snowboard everyday (although when it's -26 and windy out there - brrrrrr), I still have to do all that normal stuff like turn up to work, go grocery shopping, and all that boring stuff.

Still, the daily grind serves a much higher purpose, it is not merely a matter of survivng to the next holiday - it is a matter of surviving the holiday. Actually, it's not a holiday at all, except that I have a "working holiday" visa. The emphasis is very much on "working", but it's a better kind of daily grind.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

J Unit

Well, I went up the hill yesterday as well (for all of a couple of hours). It was quite nice, but nothing special. It was a slightly strange experience though. I felt like I was riding quite well, and at times had moments of, well, at least satisfaction, if not exhilaration. At the same time though, I was feeling kind of ambivalent about being up the mountain.

That's the nice thing about having a season pass and an evening job. I can go up for a couple of hours and not feel guilty about wasting $60 for a lift ticket, or not making the most of a day off - since ALL my days are off.

Work was work. One of the desk clerks (the one who looks a little like Alanis Morisette) made a rather nice observation. Australians and New Zealanders are shoeless layabouts. Which is very true, even if I am paraphrasing slightly, and, in my view, it is a good thing. This is ironic, because she meant it as a complaint (oooh oooh - didja catch that funky pop-culture reference?).

I quite like being a shoeless layabout. Well, maybe not shoeless when it's -20 outside (bare feet do not have much traction), but the concept of being a shoeless layabout at least.

I don't like shoes. Maybe it's a reaction to having to wear shoes all the time when I was a child (or we'd get chiggers in our feet and have to have someone probe around in there with a needle). Or maybe it's just because I'm a shoeless layabout at heart.

As for the title?

Well, it's a fancy title for Janitor. I just made it up, and really can't be bothered explaining. It amused me through the long dark hours of 9pm to 11pm (when there wasn't that much to do before the pool closed.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Where's the snow?

I put another pleasant, if short, "day" up the mountain yesterday. I still feel like I'm riding much better, so that is very pleasing. Even some of the friendly blacks (that's black diamond runs that aren't scary not ambiable people of colour) are rideable, rather than just surviveble.

This is an epiphany (like the nice tie in to the calendar?) on the scale of first learning to turn. Yep, it's still that exciting. It is, because I haven't thrown a buzz -word around for a while, a paradigm shift in my snowboarding.

I think it's like when you're learning to swim and suddenly realise that the water isn't going to suck you under and kill you. Or maybe it isn't I've been able to swim for as long as I can remember. I can't even remember remembering not being able to swim .

It's a truly bizzare feeling. You get off the chairlift, and head over to the top of a run expecting one thing, and it's totally different. Does not compute.

Actually, I noticed a sense of the steepness creeping back yesterday. The runs didn't look as flat as they did last time. But, and this is the great thing, the steepness didn't look as scary. I guess the day the earth moved might just have been a trick of the light (or my brain, to explain why I suddenly found it much easier). I will probably go up later on today, for a quick ride.

It snowed a little yesterday, but nothing worth mentioning. The weather network is promising aboot five days of snow starting today, or at least they were. Maybe they are so embarassed by being wrong that they have taken their webpage offline.

Or maybe we're having problems with our internet connection because of the massive amounts of snow that are falling on the ski hill.

One can but hope

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I can drive! But Bill wants me dead!

I chickened out of going snowboarding again yesterday. It was nearly -30 again, and by the time I woke up, it was 11am so it wasn't going to get much warmer before I had to leave for work.

I'll snowboard today though, I promise.

Anyway I had my second "day" at work yesterday and it was much better than the first one. Sure, I'm still kinda slow and innefficient, but at least I got everything done (I think) and even got to go for a drive.

Sure, I haven't been behind the wheel of a car for about six years. And sure, I've never driven an automatic before (I kept looking for a clutch). And sure, I've never driven a column shift before (it's a weird system where the shifter is roughly where the headlight control would be on a normal car and there's a tiny thingee on the dash to show what gear you're in). And sure, I've never driven on the wrong / right side of the road before. And sure, I've never driven on ice / snow before.

I can hear you all running for cover now. But don't worry, it was all legal, and safe. I, and one of my co-workers, just took one of the work vans out for a drive round the carparks here to deliver a vast quantity of pillows and blankets to some punters. Except for one wrong side of the "road" incident and one wheel going off-road a little (it's really difficult to tell the difference between the kerb and the snow) it was fine. Either driving is a lot easier than I remember, or all those hours I've spent playing bumper karts or the parking game on the internet recently have been useful.

But why do I say that Bill (the owner and GM) wants me dead? Well, for the second shift in a row, I bled in the line of duty. This time I was cleaning up the hot tub area. It's close to -30 out there, and some geniuses leave wet towels outside. Rocket scientists the lot of them. What happens to wet towels (and wet cheap foam hot tub covers) in -30 conditions. Yep, they freeze into wierd shapes, and often attach themselves to the ground. I was trying to free one of these towelsicles when my foot slipped and I fell onto the concrete, skinning my left hand. Much less blood than yesterday, and I didn't do anything stupid like taking the tap home with me.

So, all up, things are getting better. The temperature is already at -18, so today should be tolerable up the hill (although rather icy) and snow is due for the next few days.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Someone shrank my mountain!

Well, I sucked it up and went for a snowboard. It wasn't as cold as I was fearing. The weather was definately milder than the last couple of days. Mind you, the only way that it could get any colder would be if they moved Fernie to just outside Winnipeg. That move would also suck, because, the whole province of Manitoba is flatter than the pool table we used to have at my house (it was the world's bumpiest pool table, but even so).

Anyway, I went up the hill, not expecting too much. I wasn't disappointed. The conditions were mostly decent. It was a little patchy in places and, of course, bitterly cold. My fingers started burning about ten seconds after getting on the chair. It's not their fault, they used to be Tim's gloves - that's my flatmate Tim, not my father, who also goes by the name of Tim, despite having two other names in front of Tim. Tim lent them to me when his brand new Burton Somethingorothers arrived but they are actually about 25% duct tape and rising. Now, while duct tape is a fine and wonderful product, it is not known for being a great insulator.

But in some sort of weird inversion of the laws of physics, it got warmer as I went up. Actually, this is totally understandable, as the Elk chair (check out the trail map on my rapidly growing links column) seems like it is permanently in shadow. Thankfully I only have to ride it once or twice a day to get up to the Bear chair.

So, once I got up to the top of the Bear, I went a short way down on a greenish trail just to check that my brain hadn't gone numb and I remembered how to snowboard. I did, so I cut back onto the Bear run itself. The Bear is a steep Blue run, almost a Black but it's nice and wide, so it's got a nice challenging edge to it in places.

At least, it had a challenging edge to it on Dec 27th (where it was the scene of several "why can't I just stop sucking?" moments). Somebody had obviously snuck up the mountain with earth moving equipment since then because the run I found myself on was about as tame as Paddington Bear.

I just couldn't understand it. This run seemed to be in the same place as Bear used to be, but it was kind of flat and boring. I'm not a Bear of Little Brain (I just play one on TV) but this was very confusing. I think that somehow, housekeeping for about five days in a row actually helped me to make a quantum leap in my snowboarding skills and / or confidence. This is a great feeling. I guess it's kind of like a hockey player who is "in the Zone" and seeing the goal twice as large as it usually is.

This metaphor is because there's a game on TV right now - Hooray! The absence of NHL hockey is an interesting experience. Even I'm feeling a (small) hockey shaped void in my life, and I'm definately not a hardcore fan. Hockey is only absent from TV really, since every other Canadian under the age of 60 (and some above that age) is still playing hockey. There are some rather amusing "bring back hockey" adverts, but it's not the same.

So, I'll add my voice to the multitudes:

Dear NHL and NHL Players Association,

Grow up and sort out your problems like adults. That or hold a winner takes all Rock-Paper-Scissors contest to decide whose salary proposal to adopt. Otherwise, I'l have to start watching baseball, and nobody wants that.


On a final hockey note - Go Canada GO! We (see how easily I have assimilated) are beating the Russians 5-1 halfway through the second period. That is the halfway point of the game since hockey has three periods for some bizzare reason (I think the zamboni driver's union has mafia connections).

Anyway, I love this snowboarding-zone feeling, and hope it never goes away. Of course it will, and then I'll have to work at my riding until black diamonds feel easy (instead of just feeling rideable like they do at the moment). It's a never ending journey (just like my life).

I get XML but it'still bitterly cold.

Apparantly, I have an XML feed for this blog. I got quite excited when I heard this, because I always like getting fed. Unfortunately, it's not something you can eat. Instead it's something to make my tech literate readers happy because they don't have to check the blog to see if it's been updated. Mind you, since one of my tech-savvy readers told me about it, that might leave as few as one or two who actually need the URL

It's officially bitterly cold here. The Weather Network (a whole TV channel devoted to well, duh, weather) says so. They are running stories about how December was above average temperatures, but we're getting payback now. I'm summoning up my courage to go out there but it's still -23 in Sparwood (which is generally a degree or two warmer than us I think). It's so cold in the Praries right now that the snowplows are breaking down.

Last night was my first "day" as janitor. The work itself was fine, although busy nights will be much worse, as I'm the hotel gopher as well. It was just all the things that went wrong that sucked.

Anyway, I'm just going to suck it up and go snowboarding - Canada isn't going to get any warmer in the near future and I'm tough.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

When Hell Freezes over

It's the logical follow up to a post entitled "when Heaven freezes over", a nice dichotomy or something.

Actually, today kind of deserved the title for a little while at least.

It was cold. Perhaps even colder than yesterday.

It definately felt colder when I was loading the vans for work. I didn't have any gloves, and my fingers pretty much started getting frostbite right away. Minus 25 (yep, about 50 degrees colder than the day I left New Zealand) in Fernie is seriously cold, windchill and being in the shade does not help. It was painfully cold. Seriously agonizingly bad.

The rest of the morning was pretty good - a lot of people didn't want any housekeeping, so we flew through our list. It was after lunch that things got bad. The first room we went into was a shambles, but whatever, I'm on an hourly rate.

The second room had a backed up toilet, which almost flooded the whole bathroom (and just stank). To top it all off, after I got the toilet partially unblocked, I discovered that someone had partied a little too hard on New Years Eve and decorated it in shades of carrot.

When we finished cleaning this disaster area, we discovered that our van had a very flat tire. Which meant standing in the cold again to transfer all our stuff into another van.

But whatever, we got our "Christmas Bonus" today. Basically, the supervisors had cleaned out most of the check outs of left-behind food and piled it up in the staff room. We got to pick it over in reverse order of how much our group had found during the day. I was in the last group, since Megan and I had a shopping bag full of food between us.

Amazingly, a half full bottle of Jagermeister (some sort of herb flavoured spirits that is cool at the moment) had not been taken. So I grabbed it as soon as we were given the go-ahead. Michelle (Megan's flatmate) had been eyeing it, so I gave it to her. It was mostly a reflex, grabbing the most valuable item on the table, I don't even like Jager.

I gave it to her, feeling a little silly that my reflex was to be a dog in the manger (blame my economics degree and playing too much diplomacy by email). My kindness was rewarded by a couple of bottles of a beer I do like, pretty much a kilo of nice chocolate truffles (made in France, and there goes my new years resolution of just eating healthy stuff, shattered in record time), and most of the shopping bag of groceries Megan and I found (they took some hot chocolate and maybe something else).

So really, today was pretty good - I staggered home carrying a heavy black rubbish sack about a quarter or a third full of food. I LOVE free stuff. Absolutely love it.

So really, today should have been titled "I love free stuff!" since that was the most important thing that happened to me, and pretty much made it a good day - we've still got all the recycling money (at 5 or 10 cents a bottle, our vast stash could be worth some decent money) to share out once the boss has visited the recycling place. - "Sponsored by Mum and Dad" stickers

Yep, in addition to the Google Ads (which I like just for way it separates my archives from my links), I'm starting to get merchandise to appeal readers (all 11 of them according to this year's sitestats. What can I say - I might be something of a socialist, but as long as there's money out there, I'll make my grab at it.

I think I'll buy a copy of the sticker for me as a tribute to my parents' willingness to loan me money and feed me and stuff. Unless I can get them to buy it for me - although if they are going to get me a christmas present, I'd prefer a pair of warm snowboarding gloves, the ones I am using at the moment are more duct tape than gloves almost (well, at least 25% duct tape).

Nothing like laying on a guilt trip to get stuff you want. Shame that they read this blog really.

Seriously though Mum, I've emailed you about this.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The day heaven froze over

The first day of the this year wasn't quite as cold as the last day of last year. But I wasn't stupid enough to go up the hill yesterday. Actually, I probably am that stupid, but I was working.

Anyway, I leave the house at 8am with Tim and Kara (they start work at 8:30 and have to get into their funky uniforms up in the "pro" room). It's cold out, but I've got my ninja mask (a fleecy balaclava thing) on, so walking to the day lodge doesn't feel too bad.

At about 9:02AM, I'm getting onto the fifth chair of the year, and it's quite cold.

At about 9:07AM, My right knee is shivering, and most of my extremities are stinging.

At about 9:10AM, My breath is freezing to the lenses of my goggles. Not just fogging up my goggles, but when I try to clean them, I'm rubbing at small chunks of ice.

I struggle though about an hour and a half of heliotropic riding before heading into the daylodge to warm up. After about 15 minutes, I decide to brave the elements again.

Minus Twenty Celcius plus windchill is about as brutal as it sounds. My eyebrows started feeling all crinkly, my fingers were burning, and the frostbite warnings on the lifts' noticeboards were definately needed.

I've decided there's another benefit to cat-skiing. It's not just the fresh powder and uncrowded slopes. Nope, on days like today, cat-skiing's big advantage is getting to sit in a heated, windproof, vehicle rather than a chair

I'm riding pretty well much of the time, except when I nearly take out this little kid. A three foot tall munchkin on skis just isn't very visible on a steep run when I'm concentrating on not taking a flyer off a mogul. We both spotted each other just before the last minute and I sat down to try and slow down and minimize the impact. He sat down too and I either just passed in front of him or clipped him a little bit. Either way, we both asked the other "are you OK?" pretty much simultaneously. A lucky escape - splattering a six year old is not a good way to start the year (although he was a skier).

But basically, Fernie Alpine Resort today was too cold and too crowded. Especially too cold. At times I felt that I was auditioning for a reality TV show set on the Russian Front.

So I came home not long after "lunch" to do a bit of tidying and net surfing. Still, it was quite a satisfying day, if definately one that involved being far colder than I like to be.

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