Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Musings...

I can hear you all now as you read that title, "Oh good god, 3 days of having a blog and it's already gone to his head;he's already coming at us with his high-and-mighty 'opinions' and 'thoughts'......god help us, we've created a monster!" Well you know what? You're absolutely right! I'm positively drunk on the power that comes from the thought of being able to cram my opinions down the throats of my faithful devotees. That's right, all 3 of you! I have you right where I want you now! Muah ha ha ha haaaa!

Anyway, on to my Olympic musings......

Hey, Great Britain.....yeah you there on your tiny little island......EFF YOU YA BUNCH OF TEA-SWILLING CRUMPET MUNCHERS! Yeah, didn't expect such an impolite outburst from a Canadian did ya? Well you and your seething feelings of superiority have ticked off the wrong Canadian, and now you're gonna hear about it! Ok, so it isn't all you Brits really so much as it is your sensationalist media, in particular the Daily Mail and even more particularly, one Martin Samuel. He is the writer who came up with the most offensively anti-Canadian piece of work I've ever read, and his newspaper seems to be getting a real kick out of, as the Brits say, "taking the piss" on our Olympics.


With this diatribe he very openly lays the blame for the death of Georgian luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, sqaurely at the feet of all Canadians. Essentially, he says that in our desire to win, we knowingly built an unsafe sliding track and then goes on to accuse Canadian athletes of cheating. How, you might ask? According to him, by not allowing other athletes ample opportunity to practice on the track.

Wow, a nation of murderous cheaters. What has the Olympic spirit done to us?

However, there are a few interesting points about this article. This writer is, at worst, putting forth some outright lies, or at best, is very uninformed. Either way, you would think that 400,000 pounds, which is upwards of $656,000 Canadian dollars (and Mr. Samuel's reported salary) would get you some more factual and less biased pieces of writing. Samuel says that the athlete did not have sufficient access to train on the track, but admits that the fatal training run occurred on ONLY his 26TH run. That means he had seen that track and that turn 25 times already. He accuses Canada of cheating, by denying other teams and athletes access to train at the track. What he fails to mention is that not only did Canada allow all foreign teams the full amount of training as required by the IOC, but according to information I came across, offered athletes ranked lower than 30 in the world, extra training time above and beyond what regulations call for. This offer of extra training was apparently not taken advantage of by Nodar. What a convenient little tidbit of information to overlook in his article.

But Martin Samuel is not alone in the British media. There are other articles with all manner of outlandish and harsh criticisms. They compare the success of our women's hockey team, to "the slaughter of innocents." ( Wow. Who knew that not only did we win the game, but afterwards we took the opponents out back and shot them too. We'll show you for sucking at hockey! BLAM! Apparently, because we refuse to disrespect our opponents by treating them with kid gloves, we are bad for the sport. The fact that Hockey Canada regularly invites foreign teams and coaches to our country to observe our systems and learn how we go about developing the best hockey players in the world, was also overlooked.

There has even been criticism of Team Canada's slogan for these games: "Own the Podium." To us, it's a motivation tool to inspire our athletes to excel; to the British media, apparently it is just plain rude. Lawrence Donegan of the Guardian said that we are too concerned with winning and not concerned enough with being polite, like good Canadians should. Well gee whiz, you mean, that us Canadians, while the biggest sporting event in the universe is being hosted on our home soil, are displaying a sense of national pride and healthy competitiveness? Oh my! For shame Canada! For shame!

While the negative press does touch a bit of a nerve with me, really I just feel sorry for the dimwits who write this stuff. They're really just making themselves look bad. They've exposed themselves as members of that small segment of the human population who only find their existence bearable when they are "taking a piss" on everyone else's good time. Sure, there have been lots of problems associated with these Olympics, but 99% of them are beyond anyone's control. And besides, problems are to be expected in an operation of this size and scope. The opinions that really matter aren't those of the press anyway. They are those of the athletes and the people who are observing the Olympics, both at home and in person. Fortunately, those seem to be overwhelmingly positive. For proof of that, look no further than the bottom of Martin Samuel's article online. Scores of comments from all over England, Canada and the US, the vast majority of them strongly supporting Team Canada. I would imagine at this point that Mr. Samuel is really, really hoping that 2 years from now, the summer Olympics in London goes absolutely perfectly. But even if they don't, I'm sure most of us Canadians will be too polite to make him eat crow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Catching Up

Wow, first day at this and I already have serious writer's block. I guess I should start by getting everyone caught up, and for that I'll go back to October of last year. That's when I started the job I'm currently at now, with Wolverine Air.

Fortunately for me, this job is in the same town I've been living in for the past 2 and a half years (Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories) so I didn't have to pick up and move somewhere new, not that I don't enjoy that. The job also has me flying 5 different types of airplanes, 3 of which I already have significant experience with, and has me working with a great group of guys that I have gotten to know and become really good friends with since moving to Fort Simpson. All in all, it has been a very easy, seamless transition to the new circumstances. I do really miss flying the Beaver (airplane I was flying at my previous job); it is the most enjoyable airplane to fly, but for right now, this job is in my best interest.

Before I could take this job, however, I had to do some further flight training. Over my 10 years of flying (it doesn't really seem like it has been that long), I had only flown single engine airplanes prior to October. Wolverine Air operates 2 different types of multi-engine airplanes, and they were hiring me to fly every airplane they have in the fleet. So, I had to go back to school, so to speak, to learn how to handle a multi-engine airplane. Of course, it's really not all that different than a single engine airplane: pull back, go up; push forward, go down. Basically it just teaches you the proper way to handle an engine failure, as it could be a very dangerous situation if not handled correctly. So, after a few days of training in beautiful Vancouver, it was back to Fort Simpson to do yet more training, this time, specifically on the Piper Navajo. It was quite a change for me to switch to flying the Navajo, coming from flying a Beaver on floats. The Beaver is a simple, big, old rugged bush plane; the Navajo is a refined, fast and comparitively complicated airplane. To give you an idea of the difference, the speed at which the Navajo approaches to land is faster than the speed at which the Beaver cruises in straight and level flight!

Shortly after my Navajo training, I got re-acquainted with my old friend the Cessna 185. It is the airplane that I essentially started my bush flying career on, and it is the one aircraft that I have the more time on than any other. In November, I spent two weeks flying the 185 on a wildlife survey doing randomly computer selected survey grid blocks within about a 150 mile radius of here. Our primary objective was to count moose, of which we found nearly 100, and we also counted a couple small herds of woodland caribou totalling about 40, as well as about 25 wovles split between 3 separate packs. I must say, that is one of the types of flying I live for: flying around just a couple hundred feet off the ground, no worries about being on time, just enjoying nature. There is nothing like circling over a herd of caribou running through the snow on a crisp winter late afternoon, or watching a pack of huge wolves watching you, completely and totally fearless, just curiously observing this noisy little plane circling over them as they guard a fresh kill. I tried to get some pictures of the critters we saw, but unfortunately none of them turned out well. Apparently maneuvering an airplane around at treetop level and taking pictures at the same time, is too much multi-tasking for me to handle. One or the other is bound to be poor quality. But at least I can take a picture while not flying; this is a shot of the 185 in Nahanni Butte, a little Native community of about 90 people, one of the locations that we did surveying out of.

After the wildlife survey, things at work settled down to what I would call the "pre-ice-road" normal. The village of Fort Simpson is located on an island in the Mackenzie River, west of the confluence of the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers. While there is a highway into town, there is no bridge across the Liard River. In the summer, a small ferry boat shuttles cars and trucks across the river and in the winter, once the river freezes sufficiently, cars and trucks drive over the frozen river to reach the town or the highway, depending on whether they are headed into or out of town. Of course there is a period of time both in the spring and fall, when the ferry cannot operate because of the amount of ice on the river, but the river is unsafe to drive on. At that point, airplanes and helicopters are the only way in and out of town. The fall freeze-up period is our last big push before a slow winter. In addition to our ice bridge across the Liard river, all the surrounding communities that don't have regular road access usually have ice roads established by mid to late December. So, the locals who normally rely on air transportation for everything 8 or 9 months of the year, have a brief window of road access, and business gets pretty slow for us in aviation.

But, it's just in time for Christmas and New Years! And who wants to be working hard over the holidays anyway? During my first couple New Years in Simpson, there were big bashes held, but this year was pretty uneventful. Lots of people were out of town, leaving just a few of us to celebrate Fort Simpson style: a poker party instead of a new years party and firearms instead of fireworks.

Susie was the eventual winner but while Tim was dealing, I was busy trying to use my powers to get a good hand all while Morgan officially officiated. This was, of course, before Tim and Morgan led the New Years parade outside for the "fireworks." Talk about something you could never get away with in a more civilized place.

Well that brings us up to New Years, which is enough for me for one day. In the coming days I'll get some more pictures lined up and ready to go, and hopefully get a better handle on the formatting so I can get things to look and flow a little better.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Well, this is an idea I have been kicking around for some time now, this business of starting a blog. The fact of the matter is, while I have decided to go ahead with it, I am still very hesitant to commit to this. I shy away from it because, bottom line, I don't think I have anything all that interesting to say. I'm certainly not the silvery-tongued wordsmith that many bloggers are. I don't feel I have any profound or enlightening opinions that need to be shared with the world. I'm guess I'm really doing this for family, especially my dad, in order to fulfill his seemingly insatiable desire for pictures of the everyday trivialities of my life. I don't really think my life, at this particular juncture, is all that interesting anymore. It seems as though all my adventures are passed; all the interesting, exciting and funny stories that came with being a young semi-city kid turned green bush pilot left to sink or swim in a culture shock situation, have slowly dried up as greenness gave way to experience and culture shock turned to everyday life.

Perhaps, it is precisely that fact (that which used to seem exciting and interesting and new is now just orindary) that makes me feel my interesting days are passed, or perhaps they really are passed and I'm just getting old.

While I don't feel that my life is especially interesting or exciting, I will admit that, compared to how I grew up and how most of the average population lives, it isn't ordinary. I live in a small isolated northern community and work a job that takes me to places even more remote and allows me to see and do things that most people would have to spend alot of money to do for fun.

So, here goes. My boring (to me) blog. As I said, it's mostly for my family, because, let's face it, they are family so they pretty much have to care. Hopefully this will be an easy way to keep everyone who is interested, updated on, as the title says, the inconsequential details of my mundane life...complete with pictures! I'll try to keep it as up to date as possible, how often, I can't say for sure. These slow winter days I have alot of time on my hands at work, but that will change in a couple short months, so we shall see. Hopefully for all of us, my life still has some adventure left in it!