Thursday, December 04, 2008

Prorogies and sausage

Convergence of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon from the other night made me giggle. What influence might this have on our parliamentary problems?
To find out, I searched "convergence" and came up with the following taken from the
Energy Activations website:

Fragmented off from the
GATHERING OF THE ONE, Our highest level of vibration, these two "chips off the old block" have been assigned the task of exploring every possible/probable manifestation of "somethingness" and "nothingness" which is, was, or ever could be. Although their explorations are infinite, the Oneself has stipulated it (as in a court of law)......unto completion, and has initiated the Reconnection to Oneness on our planet.

These two archetypal "Gods" (if you will) are programmed to stay separate, but intertwined from infinity past to infinity future. But in 1987, the "brothers" (who we shall call "Theos and Chaos") entered into each others' Being for the first time since the start of The Grand Game. They began to CONVERGE...each began infusing the other with all the power and wisdom they had gained in their explorations.

This Convergence began a chain-reaction in the entire universal structure--initiating a collapse of the polarity format and the creation of an entirely New Paradigm for living. Global Transmutation began, with all its shifts, changes, and inner challenges. Though great change has already occurred as a result of this collapse, we not completely lose our involvement with polarity. We are simply moving to a new and more exciting level of the Game!


I guess even a broken watch tells the correct time twice a day!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Anger Management

I've been more angry this week than usual. My usually benign liberal party has betrayed me and turned into a party of retards handing the keys of power over to separatists and ideologues. That's probably going to create some economic stability which was their reason for ousting the minority government?!

And so to combat my stress over the continued demise of reason in this country, I'm turning off the news and looking at fine art. One of my favorites, Dutch master, Vermeer: Ahhhhhhhhhhh.......

Friday, November 28, 2008

What does it take to get Fired? by Rick Wagoner

In his first 5 years as CEO of GM, Rick Wagoner earned 22 million dollars according to Forbes. From 2006 till the present he has earned only a couple million per year. Meanwhile his company decreased its market share by nearly half and investors over the same period lost confidence. GM's share price has fallen from $90 per share down to $2 a share. I guess 30 million doesn't buy very much CEO competence these days. One has to wonder what would constitute a performance failure? Did Wagoner pull the board of directors out of a burning Buick? What would a good CEO who increased market share and stock price be worth?
Wagoner had some nerve to complain before Congress that his industry was beset with problems stemming from the fact that customers cant get loans. Before the credit crisis, industry analysts were predicting GM bankruptcy and the performance of GM over the last 10 years speaks for itself.

I can only hope that the US car industry goes belly-up. I can only fantasize that this could turn into an opportunity for North America to evaluate the disproportionate resources it devotes to personal automobiles at the expense of collective transportation and shipping. Because even if America avoids a collapse of its auto manufacturing industry, it has a multi trillion dollar auto infrastructure to fix such as bridges and highways. The personal auto has butchered our countryside, choked our cities, poisoned our air, skewed our urban development, taxed our budgets, and constrained our livable spaces.

Let them go bankrupt and give the public's billions to public transportation. Let a crumbling auto industry usher in some new dialogue about the best way to move people around.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Winter Climbing 2008

Thanksgiving rolls around again which means its time for the 2nd annual Dave& Jim mountain expedition. This year we started at Spray Lake, 30 km south of Canmore. We shouldered our packs Saturday morning and headed up towards Buller pass with a healthy dose of snow under foot.

Pausing to drink in the view in the valley, Buller Mt in background.

With the heavy snowfall, we had to do quite a bit of route finding through rough terrain. Walking through boulder-strewn avalanche run-outs covered in snow is very difficult if you don't want to break your legs. At left we're pausing to discuss our bearing.

At left Jim nears the summit.

At the top of Buller, 8200 feet and perfect blue sky. In the distance at left is Mt Engadine and at right on the horizon is Mt Assiniboine. It was so nice we spent nearly a half hour on top, much longer than the weather usually permits.

looking up at Jim negotiating the couloir.

looking down with lumps of snow falling towards oblivion.

Down the other side we descended a series of rock bands until we reached a precipice that looked too technical so we traversed to the couloir pictured above. The camera takes some of the steepness out of this picture but it was really a controlled fall of about a thousand feet- sounds fun but hidden in the snow are rocks waiting to tear you to pieces.

After descending the elevator shaft we waded through knee deep snow through the next valley. Getting slightly off-course we ended up dropping down a half-frozen waterfall, not the best scenario when you're tired cold and hungry but we were too tired to backtrack uphill. By our less than perfect route, we found Ribbon Lake where we pitched the tent, made a fire and ate re-hydrated stew.

The next day I awoke and wondered if we would be able to get out of the tent as there was a heavy layer of ice on everything including the zipper. The temperature had gone down to -10 freezing my boots so solidly I could barely get my feet into them. We quickly got a fire going and thawed out enough to make the long trek back.

We climbed the opposite side of the valley to better plan a route back and after much discussion, we chose a rock ramp that was difficult to get to but showed promise as an easier ascent to our destination. A geologist would have been fascinated with the glacial formations we traversed but a blizzard settled in and we mostly concentrated on our footing.

At left Jim picks his footing up the "ramp"

The sense of scale is lost quickly in these conditions. With only rocks and snow in the visual field, it is easy to misjudge a good route from bad. At left, I'm picking my way up near the line we abandoned the day before. With the top so close, I recall being relieved. Earlier in the day I wasn't sure if we would make it past this obstacle before dark!

Once past, we merely had to keep our feet moving all the way down the valley, no small task when you are exhausted but the snow turned to rain as we lost elevation and finally the sun peeked out when we reached bottom. This trip was a fantastic adventure with breathtaking sights and a sense of accomplishment that will be a while in eclipsing.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I watched the Presidential debate last night. John McCain started and ended every sentence with "my friends." Sorry John, but I don't want to be your friend. To lighten the mood after my brush with the icy hand of death that is John McCain's grip on this mortal coil, I made a lolcat of him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


OECD PISA math scores 2006 (Programme for International Student Assessment)

Finland.........548...(+4) brackets indicate previous score 2003
New Zealand ...522...(-1)
Australia 520 (-4)
Denmark 513 (-1)
Czech Republic 510 (-7)
Iceland 506 (-10)
Austria 505 (+0)
Germany 504 (+1)
Sweden 502 (-7)
Ireland 501 (-1)
France 496 (-15)
United Kingdom 495 not tested in 2003
Poland 495 (+5)
Slovak Republic 492 (-6)
Hungary 491 (+1)
Luxembourg 490 (-3)
Norway 490 (-5)
Spain 480 (-5)
United States 474 (-9)

The American economy tanks when vast numbers of its citizens suddenly realize they are spending more on fixed expenses than they earn. Simultaneously, financial experts mistake return on investment with return of investment. We didn't really need the PISA test to tell us that US math ability is at the bottom of the industrial world.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout at 20,000 Feet

Its hard to no longer be surprised by what happens in the Caricatured States of America (thanks Vin!) This morning I watched the reality show that is the US Congress. After the 700 billion dollar bailout bill was defeated by a majority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats, the Republicans held a news conference blaming the bill's failure on... wait for it... a partisan speech by Nancy Pelosi! Only in Republican hypocrisy and right wing gorilla math could vast Republican nay votes be the fault of Democrats! They crowded the microphone at the news conference each one wetting their pants trying to pin Republican nay votes on Democrats! What really amazed me is that the crowd of reporters didn't fall down laughing as I did at home spilling a teaspoon of coffee in the bargain. So let me get this straight, these Republicans who received thousands of calls and email from their constituents urging them to vote no and who are up for re-election in a few weeks were going to vote yes at great political peril, until Nancy gave a partisan speech and then they voted no out of spite? A kindergarten child would laugh at this retort yet this is how republicans imagine they get to have every issue their way. "We're anti regulation until things are screwed and then when we vote against fixing them, blame the interventionist democrats." They bet on every horse and hope Americans forget when they're wrong and boast when they're right.

The Bailout
I've been trying hard this week to understand the fulcrum that the US economy sits on. On the one hand, the crisis seems to be created by cheap credit given to bad risks and therefore creating more credit (by making it more fluid) doesn't solve the problem. On the other hand say some, the credit market is so tight that companies that rely on short loans to make payrolls and purchase necessities can not get money and meet these demands or capitalize new projects. In most economic downturns, credit becomes cheap causing borrowing and spending on capital projects creating jobs and turning the economy upwards. If there is no credit this cannot happen and stagnation occurs. Cheap credit is bad, no credit is bad- so what should the Fed do to push the market to the middle?
Settling this argument would require a calculation that could quantify the losses to the economy related to credit illiquidity and pit them against the inefficiencies of evaporating wealth from letting these mortgage-backed securities fail. No one can calculate this because it's probably impossible (another word for impossible calculation is the Future.) Instead, people can only guess. So a trillion dollar decision comes down to guesswork which reinforces the vagueness of the rhetoric surrounding arguments from both sides. I would argue that when the bond market shows negative interest rates as it did this week, the markets are demonstrating that they are willing to lose part of their investment to be sure they don't lose all of it. When this is the state of your banking industry, a guess to create liquidity is starting to look pretty good!
Whatever happens, the US economy is in an adjustment period, doing nothing is certainly one way to get where its going to adjust to. A bailout will not "save the economy" as the rhetoric suggests, it will merely soften the journey to its ultimate destination of post credit crash America which will look pretty different than it does now.

post script
As I watched simulcasts of the floor of the house and the floor of the NYSE, I could actually watch the "markets react" as the votes hit the big board in Congress. It did make me appreciate Canada's election system of no fixed dates. Its true I find the spate of elections in the last 8 years bothersome and expensive, but when I watch an economic crisis overlap an election down south, I mourn for reason.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the Stability of thy Times

"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

-John McCain, last week

Excess is the operative word here. Excess hypocrisy, stupidity, ignorance, and perhaps reckless abandonment of truth. McCain wants this Fridays debate with Obama canceled because of the "financial crisis." Even though last week, he thought the nation's finances were fundamentally sound and banking deregulation was Martha Stewartarianly a "good thing." McCain knew full well that his voting record on deregulation would come into the forefront at the debate, and his clueless reckoning of economics would be paraded by a more intelligent opponent. From the man that has made a career out decorating every conversation with his POW sob stories, he's proving that he is a unmitigated coward to the core. The fact that the upcoming election is even close is a terrifying indictment of half the nation.

Watching Bush's address to the nation tonight, I wondered whether he realizes that after 8 years of misleading the American people and the Congress on Iraq, asking to be trusted to dole out a Trillion dollars right away is really just too much. A Trillion dollars! (700billion now plus several hundred already given out.) I write it and can barely believe it! I guess when you've falsified evidence to send the country to war, defied every notion of freedom by illegal trials and torture, by defying the constitution by illegally spying on your own citizens, suspending habeas corpus, after employing executive privilege to bypass any oversight, by corrupting the department of justice to fire political opponents around the country-
its pretty easy for Bush to say "C'mon whats a trillion dollars? don't you trust us?"

The inscription on Rockefeller center is right.
Art Deco why hath you forsaken us??!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Conan, what is best in life?"

Yesterday, all my troubles did not seem so far away. Loose shale and poor confidence forced me to give up on my attempt on Mt Cory, a climb considered easy by active climbers. But my mood picked up tenfold upon hiking up to Cory pass on the way to circumnavigating Mt Edith. At Mt Edith's base, breezy aspens dot grassy slopes. Leafy underbrush was turning colour and nature seemed more like a postcard than an obstacle. I actually couldn't stop grinning it was so beautiful. It was my periodic payment for all the times that someone looks down their nose at me for not having a permanent job. Having just spent two weeks with Suz's parents which was by all means a lovely time but I bore the brunt of an opinion that work is something noble and the only way to create meaning and security. Well today was one of those reminders that money and class and status can never buy time. As I ambled over the mountains on this picture perfect day in solitude, I was being screamed at in every direction that there is nothing meaningful to me about a life that is not enjoyed to the fullest.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

not too soon to see the ramparts of home

Upon arriving home and spending a relaxing evening with Suz, I was anxious to test myself in the mountains while I was still battle hardened from the summer. I First chose Mt Grotto which at 8881 feet seemed a good first choice. I solo climbed the ACC direct line here shown in yellow.

I was quite pleased to make the summit in 2 hours and 30 minutes which I will have difficulty besting in the future I think. Adding my own height to the mountain, and by standing on two stacked rocks, my eyes were perched at an even 8888 feet! A suitable companion task to the Quest walk in Saskatoon I thought.

After a rest day, Suz and I went to the foot of Mt Bogart for a very relaxing hike though with significant elevation gain.
Along the way I revisited my failed attempt on Mt Sparrowhawk seen behind me. The picture below shows me about 3 thousand vertical feet from Spray Lake, our starting point. Around this elevation(6000ft) the hoary marmot can often be found, and we discovered a small colony here with several of them sunny themselves and poking around uncaring of our invasion of their privacy. This one was pulling up rocks to eat the yummy grubs hidden underneath.

After another rest day, I made an attempt on the Middle Sister, part of the Three Sister group south of the Trans Canada by Canmore. Middle sister, shown above is not surprisingly, the block in the middle! My route climbs up Stewart Creek, a series of bolder-strewn dry waterfalls, then traverses the south face.

Its a pretty big undertaking and the way I felt getting out of the car in the morning was more suggestive of pure sloth than unbridled enthusiasm. But I soldiered on picking my way through the boulders till I was back in a good tempo. At one point, I was finding a route up a dry waterfall when I realized I was on very loose scree on slab with bad exposure on one side. Without care it would be easy to slide into the small canyon beside me. I quickly but carefully downclimbed and traversed over to a different line. When you're by yourself, even something remotely dangerous must be treated carefully and respectfully.

Here I am at the col connecting Big Sister from Middle sister. I wasted too much energy by choosing a straight ascent line rather than a wider and longer traverse and at this point, I was pretty tired. Off in the distance is the Trans Canada hi-way and the flat plains of the prairies extending to the horizon.

I think this picture also shows how tired I am! Perhaps I'll take 2 days off before I set out again. After a summer of hard work, I'll take this unpaid and harder work every time.

Back From the Beyond, a summery summary

Another summer in the woods blurs into my jumbled memories of bears and bugs, swamps and swearing. If there could be such thing as a good year, I would claim that I had it. The wasp population crashed this spring, the weather was wild but not extreme, the bugs were bad but not impossible. Thinking back it feels like I spent most of the summer folded into the front seat of an ASTAr helicopter with a map in my lap navigating to an endless series of clearcuts. I think I audited a couple hundred which means lots of time flying around trying to make the world match my maps and trying to do it as fast as possible since the helicopter costs $1500/ hour. The wood from the blocks is trucked out in winter over the frozen muskeg so summer travel, of any appreciable distance is by helicopter only

When I wasn't flying though I saw great quantities of the earth, hidden jewels secreted away from any signs of man. Places that I will be the first and last eyes to glance upon. I watched a pack of wolves take down and devour a deer. A chilling spectacle for both eyes and ears as the deer let loose a scream that I shall never forget. Bears in quantity this year but luckily for me, all healthy and well fed. I was stalked one morning by a black bear. It followed about 5M behind me for a disturbing amount of time but its demeanor was so non-aggressive that I was strangely calm until it finally left me alone. Another bear I caught sneaking up on me like a cat, a behavior I haven't seen before and a very alarming incident, but when I went into "bear scare" mode (screaming and banging sticks to the ground) it lumbered off. The other 120 bears I ran into this summer rambled off showing various degrees of concern towards me.

Suzanne came out from Calgary to visit when I was working in Kananaskis. She spent the day with me although she didn't really get a look at at what I usually do. But it broke up the summer nicely to have a short visit. Perhaps she was the good luck charm that held the usual disasters at bay!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The environment: Science not Politics

Well, next week I depart for the woods for a few months to audit clearcuts, a mostly peaceful and solitary endeavor, broken only by the daily hurricane of helicopter insertions and the odd bear encounter. I recently read Greenpeace's latest media release about the boreal forest. Its been my job to audit the transformation from clearcut back to forest so when their claims don't match my experience or data, it naturally leaves me jaded. Either they lie because they think its worth it or they're just not very smart and make lots of mistakes, I'm not sure. But when I see that their report has the sigs of some forestry profs from Toronto, I realize just how easily objective science gets hijacked and slaughtered in the name of ideology.
I do look forward to getting away from my civ. I can only endure so much of my fellow species before I really go off my tree. A welcome break from people wailing about climate change who don't understand basic chemistry. A break from robotic eco parrots whistling about carbon dioxide, ignorant that ice core data shows no correlate between carbon dioxide and rising temperatures. Appeals to truth by means of status: "look at all these scientists who believe this" the surest sign that an argument cannot be won on its merits. Yes, I'm really tired of listening to myself complain about how an essentially scientific question is argued by halfwits with and without Phds. Opinion is the raw material of politics, not science. Science is about testing, results, analysis and verification/falsification. So far in the debate over whether man is responsible for the recent warming, I see only the former and none of the later.

And so on Earth Day rather than make myself feel good by imagining that I'm saving the planet (by the way, the planet will be just fine what ever we do or don't do) I chose to do something of substantial effect. I donated money to handicapped kids (a cause with resonance to me as a healed cripple) and purchased some malaria prevention nets (another malady I am too familiar with) to be distributed in Africa. Small tokens it's true but I felt confident that this marginal effort was more than lip service to a cause which I fear the environmental movement suffers from in spades. When people aren't suffering and dying needlessly, I suppose I will contemplate hypothetical impeding disasters such as the environment.

Monday, February 11, 2008

toe hold

I read with interest in the current issue of Science that lo and behold, ethanol emits as much green house gases as petrol when all inputs are considered. I seem to remember last April blogging the same conclusion based improperly on logic and intuition. Vindication is sweeter than light crude.

For the curious, I present my frozen toe:
As you can see, the nail has turned a lovely blue shade and there is a minor fault or perhaps a subduction spread occurring at the base. Guesses as to when the entire facade lifts off can be made at this address.

Suzanne took me to the theater this weekend. We saw "The Gift of the Coat" by Sean Dixon. The story is of a philanthropist who gives a bum his expensive coat only for same bum to get killed for it by a thief. An iteration of the Law of Unexpected Consequences I suppose. It was technically superb but the lead was a little too affected.

This week we're off to spend the week in Banff. Its sort of a try it on for size experiment to see how it feels as we're contemplating a move out there. Mountain biking, climbing and skiing literally out the back door is the drawing card and amazingly, its slightly cheaper than Calgary and Canmore.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Price is Right

When I read the Saturday Globe and Mail I pretty much take exception to nearly everything which is why bothering to write about any of it is like the eye trying to resolve a star in a distant galaxy. As a very typical example though was an article discussing the merits of a government financial incentive to automakers to help them make more fuel efficient cars. The author was a complete idiot since there really is no difficulty at all making a fuel efficient car. The trouble is making the public drive a fuel efficient car. For heavens sake put a small engine in a small car and presto! A car that gets 90 MPG right now. Of course it wont rev loud and go faster than the speed limit but it will be efficient which everyone claims to want. Which leads me to the following conclusion verified on a daily basis: freedom can not co-exist with environmental stewardship. This program is a grant that allows car buyers to have their cake and eat it too. Any news article that fails to show this incentive program as anything other than a pandering to a greedy consumer via the automakers isn't worth the paper its printed on.

On a softer note though, my cynicism of America was lessened of late after watching the two Super Tuesday debates this week. The Republican debate was indistinguishable from parody. Mitt Romney, a guy who believes in con artist John Smith's wacky tale of "golden tablets" and talking white salamanders otherwise known as the Mormon faith, and John McCain argued over who supports the war more! And while Rome burned, Nero played the violin.
The following day Billary Clintama spoke most eloquently after clearly agreeing beforehand to have a public love in for the sake of the cameras. Really though, I would vote for either of those two for anything. They didn't talk down, they outlined their positions without sketching their opponents with misleading hyperbole. In short, they behaved like adults rather than children. I can't say I've seen that ever on any political stage. It was kind of a dream come true in fact, for a second, it almost seemed like they were behaving as though the electorate was educated and rational which is of course a long standing fantasy of mine. When I look to America jealously at their politicians, you know I've been in Alberta too long!

While standing on a snowy mountain top this week drinking in the view, I couldn't help think of the markets which roller coastered rather heavily this week. It occurred to me that since stock prices change constantly and some times drastically, the price is always wrong. Some would say that the price is always perfectly accurate since the price is always what someone wants to pay. Which is true but that price, since it always changes, was clearly the wrong price. Which makes the markets inherently irrational contrary to common thought. I say this because real value doesn't change that fast. which leads me to the price of Oil.
The amount of oil in the ground is more or less estimated yet the price wildly fluctuates. Is this real supply and demand? The supply isn't really going anywhere OPEC quotas notwithstanding. No, instead the price is based entirely on Fear. America saber rattles Iran and the price jumps not because there is suddenly less oil in the ground but because of Fear of supply problems. Since the major oil consumers have been using more and more oil every year, fear of supply is clearly just a myth. Like Romulus and Remus, supply and demand are bedtime stories.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

climb and ski

did some climb and ski today. Kept my promise to not avalanche

Perfect day in paradise though very exhausting. I shot this blurry and shaky Sasquatch style footage from the top

Monday, January 21, 2008


Perhaps it will be discovered someday that religion is just a Live Action Role Playing game. That would explain a lot. This week, University of Rome faculty protested the Pope's possible speaking engagement at said university. The punchline was a press release today by the vatican urging the scientists to be more "open to other people's opinion." However, one of the benefits of being a scientist is that you don't have to listen to any opinion - just facts. Tenured professors don't even need to listen. Curiously, when I feel I need to be punished, I read the opinions of others in the letters to the editor in my local paper. the opinions of others make a ready stand -in for a few lashes. Its not quite as punitive as soul-crushing christian guilt, its not as dehumanizing as christian theology, nor is it as disempowering as christian prescriptions, but it does make me feel as though the world is a hellish, wicked place.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ron Paul, Q Ray: together Doomed

Well, the legions of undecided American voters can heave a collective sigh of relief for today I am finally pointing my own golden compass at the correct choice: Its Ron Paul. Its true he's a border freak and a tad bit isolationist but that's probably a good thing. The ultimate nod of approval comes from "free and fair" Fox news which refused him in its candidate debate! The fact that FOX news is scared of what he has to say demonstrates Ron Paul's credentials. He's the only candidate who seems to understand why militant islamists hate America. As he explained on Leno last night, its not because "they hate freedom" as the White House boldly invents (Its a comment on the stupidity of America that so many buy this.)
I'm actually enjoying the rhetoric machine that is the primaries. On the one hand candidates talk about how awful things are but on the other hand they must be talking about how great America is. Ron Paul is also the candidate who does the least amount of "presenting" himself which I'm naturally distrustful of.

He will lose of course since America can run itself and half the world into the ground and most Americans will vote for anybody who coddles their religious insanity regardless of how much of a clueless charlatan they are.

I'm very resentful of America right now. American retards defaulting on loans bought by other retards creating a need to liquefy assets by other retards without the backbone to wait it out all adds up to this retard losing lots of money.

My consolation this week was the court ruling against the Q-Ray bracelet ( a favorite target of this blog) The court said Q-Ray's claims about how the bracelets worked through "enhancing the flow of bio-energy" were nonsense. Really? The best part was the judges comments:

"Defendants might as well have said: Beneficent creatures from the 17th dimension use this bracelet as a beacon to locate people who need pain relief and whisk them off to their home world every night to provide help in ways unknown to our science," he wrote in his decision.