Monday, February 28, 2011

Our "signy" Canadian culture

The words don't overmuch match the image..

"Welcome to Canada" is a sign one sees upon entering our country. It is a sign that makes sense. Hello! Bienvenue! Then the signs don't stop. We have signs all over the place here. Signs advising you of a multitude of potential dangers. Signs that sometimes seem overly protective, sometimes rather baffling, and to me, often amusing.

Don't mock Zeus

So welcome to Canada! Please enjoy your visit. And please don't hesitate to laugh at our plentiful amount of signs with a variety of amusing interpretations. I'll laugh with you :)

Musing upon the origins of "Mantracker"

Paths of humans, machines, and coyotes

A friend was pondering why Mantracker is such a gruff and driven fellow. (Ok she didn't use those exact words.. more along the lines of "he pisses me off with his superior, tough guy, tendencies". Here is my response.

Maybe it's a gruff exterior shield to protect the vulnerable frightened child inside....
perhaps this eternal quest to track and find things stems from the time he accidentally left "Mr.Squeezeums", his favorite childhood toy, in the park. Little Mantracker came back the next day. He put up signs.. he shouted and called. He even KNEW the place he'd set down Mr.Squeezeums. It was in a small grassy area next to the teeter totter. Oh how Little Mantracker used to love riding that teeter totter. Up and down. Like a majestic steed. But now that childhood whimsy had been replaced with a furious purpose. The grass was trampled around Mr.Squeezeums' last known location.. but what did it mean!?!?! The signs were there but he didn't know how to read them!
From that moment on.. he swore a vow..

To never again be unprepared.
To never again be helpless in the face of such tragedy.
To never again be weak.

He went to the park that day as a child.. he left as Mantracker.

The beard grew instantly on his 5 year old face.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Of Family Trees

Some of my earliest memories are the times we'd get together with our cousins and play around our Grandparents' yard. That half-acre piece of land seemed like a vast region of opportunity. We could go forage around the veggie garden, throw rotten mushroom puffballs at each other, jam crushed up grapes into the gas tank of the old broken ride-em lawnmower, or hit tennis balls around with golf clubs. We'd swing at the Maple tree, trade pine needles from the Ponderosa pine for wheelbarrow rides, and collect Huckleberries (mostly in our stomachs, some in the ice cream pails) for Grandma to make pies. But there is always one thing I remember most about one of my cousins: the vicious air/gas cycle.

If he or someone else broke wind, he'd laugh. Heck, we'd all laugh. We were between the ages of birth and death which, for most guys, means that they find such things highly amusing. With this cousin though, it would create a form of perpetual humour.

The more he laughed; the more he'd fart. Once started he would go on and on and on.

Perhaps it is all of these early breathing exercises that formed a strong core foundation on his journey to become a yoga instructor. I'd like to think so at least ;)

Why this recollection of cousins? Well one of them visited Grandpa and I this past week with his fiancée. We had lots of fun hiking about the coast (I took the photo above in Skookumchuck Provincial Park up near Egmont BC) and reminiscing about old times.

And I was there for his first driving lesson...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nearer Still the Moon

Nearer Still the Moon

The evening approaches again
I'll put on my jacket
pick up my thermos
and closing the door walk home

a road walked before but never before
to have a conversation had before but brand new
to taste a recipe old tried and true
cooked once more but different as well

This has all happened before
but it hasn't

that's the secret.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Traditional vs Modern

Whilst out on the wandersome journey of my daily musings I happened to peruse a Wikipedia entry on Fermentation.
(I was checking to see if sauerkraut is fermented)
(My brain takes me neat/odd/curious places)

Risks of consuming fermented foods

Alaska has witnessed a steady increase of cases of botulism since 1985. Despite its small population, it has more cases of botulism than any other state in the United States of America.[12] This is caused by the traditional Eskimo practice of allowing animal products such as whole fish, fish heads, walrus, sea lion and whale flippers, beaver tails, seal oil, birds, etc., to ferment for an extended period of time before being consumed. The risk is exacerbated when a plastic container is used for this purpose instead of the old-fashioned method, a grass-lined hole, as the botulinum bacteria thrive in the anaerobic conditions created by the air-tight enclosure in plastic.[12]

So there you have it... sometimes it's better to store things in a grassy hole in the ground than in a plastic airtight container.

Old ways are not necessarily bad ways, and traditional methods evolved over time can have many merits. ;)

ps the indigenous peoples of the Canadian North prefer the term Inuit.
pps In Alaska the term Eskimo is not seen as perjorative (as it is in Canada) because it includes both the Inuit and the Yupik peoples. Wiki link on Eskimos

Oh heck I'll also include a silly tongue-in-cheek drawing that I made awhile back :)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Shortest Job Interview Ever

Rain on Vancouver Island

It's that time again.
I have to freshen up my resume to forward to a person, so I was searching Gmail for past resumes I'd written. Gmail's ancient archives can reveal many emails and events lost and forgotten to the past and I've had a lot of different and odd jobs over the years. Friend's often contact me with various opportunities and it's frequently a source of humour for those that know me.

Where is he now? What's he doing these days? What's he doing this week?

The following piece of email correspondence received from a friend/co-worker, while not illuminating my process (which I don't understand anyways), shows a glimpse of the situations I find myself in.

David, meet Jordan ... (email address removed)
Jordan, meet David - your new boss (email address removed)

And PS. (Jordan, it would be a good idea to send David a copy of your resume)

PPS (Jordan- it would be an even better idea to tell David where and when you'll be in town on Friday so he can pick you up!)


For those wondering about the job? During a couple weeks break between semesters I took a job guiding school groups around Newcastle Island. I taught about nature studies, lead some inter-tidal zone exploration, helped run some group games, and also spoke about the regions quite interesting history. You can read more about it's fascinating history by clicking on the link above, ok ok or click here. It's a great park and you can take trips there throughout the summer from little boat launches in Nanaimo. Or you can kayak.

It was a short, fun, wild job and I made a few more good friends, and great memories..

Memories like:

Sleeping in the ancient dilapidated boathouse with a fellow interpreter because we gave up our tent for kids who's tent had collapsed.

Getting hungry in the night and only having horrible horrible dry old cookies to eat.

Realizing that after eating a bunch of packages of the cookies they kind of didn't taste that bad, maybe.

Still getting cravings for those evil evil cookies.

Capt. Dave teaching us from his "island lore and nature knowledge"

Capt.Dave: Look at this!! This is a shell from an oak nut! Isn't it amazing?
Me: Capt.Dave, that's a pistachio shell.
Capt. Dave: You do know your stuff!! Just make it exciting.

Me: I love finding the few pacific yew trees around the island. They're rather rare and always so beautiful. It's great that there are 3 along the path in a couple spots.
Capt.Dave: Yew trees?

Ok so maybe he was more in his element as the skipper of his schooner. ;)

Capt. Dave told great stories. He'd traveled all over the world and could spin a yarn like nobody else.

Capt.Dave had a great spirit and loved to make the trip memorable for all the kids. He'd navigate the Chebucto (a sweet 62 foot schooner I got to bunk on the first few nights before the kids arrived) out and around the local islands showing the kids seals and telling them ghost stories about Peter Kakua the Kanaka who was hung, back in 1869, on nearby Protection Island for killing his wife, child, and in-laws in a drunken rage. The body was then buried on the backside of Newcastle Island. Capt. Dave would then tell the kids that the body was discovered with it's face chewed off by raccoons and that his demon spirit still lived inside the local raccoon population (which shared a genetic anomaly that caused many of them to lack pigmentation in their fur which was considered to look ghostly, or "champagne", in colour). He said that not all raccoons were haunted though... and if, while you were sleeping in the tents, you were awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of creatures outside, you could tell the possessed raccoons by the fact that their eyes would reflect back red in your flashlights.

Of course all raccoon eyes do that.

Like I said, the island has a fascinating history spanning the first active coal mine for the British Empire on the West Coast, to shipping quarried stone for pulp mills and buildings ranging from Christchurch Cathedral in Victoria to the "Old Mint" aka "The Granite Lady" in San Francisco. It has survived two major earthquakes, become a US National landmark, and is being turned into the permanent location for the Museum of the City of San Francisco.

It was a very fun job that I look back on fondly. I'm thankful for the opportunity to spend a few weeks sharing my fascination and love for local nature and local history here on the West Coast of Canada.

Too bad the Chebucto blew up.

and I better get back to refreshing that resume...