Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lunch Time Quickie #1

Well its time for a break with the tradition of infrequent long posts, I am going to try to bring out a few more short quick and dirty news reports more often. Also in a break with tradition I am going to swear.

Its Fucking Cold out. My computer told me Yellow Knife was at -45, which out here is -50 since we don't have Great Slave Lake to add extra heat. As a result, breakfast was reduce to toast and microwave oatmeal. Why was breakfast reduced to such basic food stuffs, from the usual eggs, pancakes and french toast. Because the Propane in the line feeding the kitchen had turned to jell. Let me replete that the Propane turned to JELL. Or at least a rather thick liquid. This falls under the heading of FUCKED.

This morning I was heading inside for my coffee break and a raven flew by, it was so cold that there was frost covering its head making it look like the bastard child of a raven and a bald Eagle.

I'll wrap things up with a Poem I got this morning in the email

a poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

" SHIT, It's Cold ! "

The End

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Crystalized 2, Ice Part IVa

This is an extension of yesterdays post. I went back to the portal and stuck my head under ground briefly and shot some more images. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crystalized, Ice Part IV

Long term readers might know I have a thing for ice. Not ice cubes which I hate in my drinks, or frozen lakes or hockey rinks but living ice. Ice is most interesting to me when not found in thick sheets but in open spaces where it can show its crystal form.

For the geeks out there ice belongs to the Hexagonal crystal system, it shares this classification with quartz. This means if given space and materials the crystal will grow up to be six sided and generally longer then wide. Every one has seen quartz for sale at new age fairs, novelty shops and science shops, but most people never see Ice in its full glory. Today I was introduced into some of the best ice crystals I have ever seen.

Mario, one of the general labourers at camp,a friendly tall young frenchman brought to my attention some truly beautiful ice crystals. He had brought it up during coffee brake and was regretting not having his own camera with him. So out of both my own interest and his desire for photos I went to take a look and was much impressed.

The ice was growing just underneath the rock over hang to the entrance to the mine. Here they were out of the wind. And like the crystalized trees last year, the cold temperatures cause water to condense on any solid surface, and given calm conditions it will condense onto it self.

So Here is our upside down Ice forest. A single cluster of ice crystals brings to mind one or two Star Trek episodes, but I do not feel like digging through the Lore to figure out which ones.

Enjoy, I will be back with news on the winter road soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yoshi' Sushi Episode 2

Readers It has been some time but it is time once again to return to the city of peace Jerusalem. And once again enter the life of the unlucky soldier Yoseph. To refresh your memory I direct your attention to Yoshi's Kosher Sushi Episode 1. Enjoy Part two.

..... in a coarse uneven script. It read:
Escape and Find Me,

Yoseph agreed whole-heartedly with the first part of the message and was uncertain if it made sense to follow through with the latter half. Yoseph rolled off the bunk on to the cement floor where with some painful twisting he was able to get his hands in front of him.

It took Yoseph hours to get unbound. He managed by slowly rubbing the zip ties against a sharp flange of metal, which was part of the mountings holding the bunk against the wall. He froze up whenever a shadow passed near his little window.
As he abraded his bindings Yoseph reviewed the day’s events. It was full of the stiff routine he was used in the military. Getting up at the crack of dawn, the morning run and basic drills. The day was as uneventful as they got in the army, until he was pulled out of his bunk for this midnight exercise. The officer at the briefing hand made it crystal clear.
“Pass the exercise and you move on to Special Forces, fail and you’re out the door.”

Yoseph had been waiting for this night for months, a chance to get out of infantry to be something other then a red shirt.

The drill had been going by the books right up to Samuel's death. After that he could not salvage the mission. Yoseph was beat and exhausted. He realized that getting out of here was the start of his problems. He would be looking for a new life but Yoseph did not know who he was outside of the forces. He had stayed on after his mandatory two-year tour. The army worked for him, it had structure and discipline and you got to have discipline.

It was luck that let him escape. If the guard had come in earlier with the bread and water he would have seen Yoseph working on breaking his bindings. As it was Yoseph was able to fake being bound on the bunk. Yoseph's IDF training kicked in and he was able to reverse positions with his jailer. Stealth got Yoseph out of the building.

The plan was to make in back to his base and to report the events to his CO. No doubt he would get six different types of shit for letting his team get taken out. Back at base Yoseph found a duffle bag packed with his civilian clothes and his discharge papers were waiting for him. When he lost control of the exercise he lost his career.

Yoseph spent a few days with is parents in small settlement near the Mediterranean coast. He returned to Jerusalem, both for work and out of a fondness for the living chaos of that old city. Work in the city as a security guard slipped into routine. Yoseph's new post IDF life started to feel normal. It lacked the edge and the discipline he had grown used to. This new life left him with time to spare for the first time in years, his mind to wander. Every so often it would drift back to the failed drill that completely threw his life off course.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Don't Touch the Glass

Don't Touch the Glass

Bars and beers, I am a fan of beers, but it is bars that fascinate me. Across all walks of life folks head out to relax and to take a load off. Sooner or later most people will end up spending some of there time sipping a brew trading BS with their friends or strangers at bar over a jug of the house special. The last year and a half has seen me spending more time in pubs then average. This is partially a function of money and partly a response to work. It is a function of money because now I can afford to go out when I can go out, and a response to the dry nature of my camp.

The semi-enforced sobriety at work has made going out for drinks part of my routine to separate work life from life back in civilization. A beer will never taste better then after 6 weeks dry. Ironically before working in the bush I could have gone six weeks with out a drink but the choice was never removed from me. A few drinks after I land back in civilization do wonders for unwinding the stress of weeks of continuous work. These drinks have to happen somewhere and alone in a hotel room is not my choice venue. Which after my abandoning nightclubs I have confined my substance consumption to domestic environments and pubs.

Pubs are not as mystifying as Nightclubs. For a start a person can be heard over the music or the TV, which is playing in the background not blasting the floor to shreds. This opens up normal channels of communication that are blocked in noise saturated environment of a Night club, where body language is king and you won’t make it if far without the latest bling. Though bars also collect there own species of patrons, the nature of pubs is more a function of geography then night clubs as clubs tend to cluster around the center of towns, pubs are more randomly distributed. To skip past a long winding paragraph, the size of smoking rooms in bars reflects on the demographics of neighborhood where the bar is situated. Smoking rooms decrease in size in pubs located near the center of cities and expand away from urban centers. This can be examined with a truly meaningless comparison of a few joints I have visited over the last year for one reason or other. I will start in the south and move north for no real reason.

At the Southern extreme of my range I frequent one or two places in Penticton, Of those two I can not recall the floor plan well enough to recall the presence or absence of smoking rooms, of the second it has one, tucked away in a corner, It also has a large balcony. It is located on the second floor in a down office block. I can not tell if its location or marketing that result in it having a base of regulars that fall either in to the student type or business professional type, but that appears to be who ends up there. Due to Penticton's gentle climate, for the majority of the year the absence of a smoking room is made up with its large balcony. Which was not in use on my last visit, which was in early January. This being Penticton any observation made during the winter will be negated by tourist influx during the summer.

Moving north some 60 odd Km lands me in Kelowna. Where on a more then a few Friday nights I have gone out for beers. Due to the friends choice of venue I have ended up repeatedly in one of the two western themed clubs/bars that have the city as their host. The older more established centrally located and marginally classier joint has less then a quarter of its floor space devoted to smokers. The small size of the smoking room made it one of the first places I observed the terrarium like qualities of smoking rooms. When the smoking room is small and confining like that the sense of us and them is strongly apparent. In fact some of the smoking rooms have the same proportions as a standard aquarium. The general flow of people is to hang out on or more likely around the dance floor and moving into the smoking room only when the craving takes over. This pattern differs from the bottom of the market. The red neck joins.

The second Western themed bar is in neighborhood with a poorer reputation and making a good effort to maintain it. The bar was built on the empty lot that once held a grocery store, and now hosts a sad attempt at a western bar. This is the second incarnation of that building as a bar/club, I never made there in its first incarnation but my loss is less then minor. It plays at being some kind of nightclub; it has a DJ and a dance floor. The dance floor is nearly always empty and the DJ is not the cocky young type seen at flashier joints but a scruffy nearly middle-aged dude who has not been hip in 15 years at least. In this sadness is a smoking room, half the place safely behind glass packed full when the dance floor is empty. Here every one hangs out on the smoking side, coming out to get drinks and some times dragged out by the rare man there with his girl friend who has an affinity for the song and has developed the urge to dance. My most northerly venue lacks a theme or pretense, which after the mail order western effects is a refreshing change.

So there I was in a bar a small working class pub in satellite community of Kelowna known as Winfield. Foul weather had caused me to delay my departure to Nakusp by a day, which did nothing to improve the driving conditions but that is a separate issue. My only reason for being in Winfield was a hotel close to the airport and away form the city traffic. It also has the advantage of being in walking distance to a pub. The working class nature of that joint was made transparent by the presence of the glass partition which enclosed close to half the floor space. That was where this essay was born.
Unlike other places with smoking rooms, it is not a place to go when you want to have a smoke but the place to be because you smoke. Since it is likely that your friends will smoke too every one gathers in the smoking room. I found my self in the position of being more part of them then of us. I was the minority. Me and handful of others were clustered around the windows looking into the smoking room, wanting to be part of the apparent fun but not wanting to take part in fumes.

It is a function of the one constant in human civilizations. There are two groups of people in the world, Us and Them. It does not mater which group you belong to every one out side that cohort falls under the listing of them. In the case of Public Houses south Western BC, Them can be a function of nicotine addiction. This separation is mechanically enforced with glass walls. Who then falls into the Us category is then a related to nature of the neighborhood where the watering hole resides. Smokers become Them closer to town centers as 21 century norms start to dominate, if you migrate far enough from centers of civilization values start to drift closer to mid to late 20th century, and non smokers start to fall into the Them listing.

None of this changes the fact that if I could I would take off the roof from a smoking room and through in a hand full of cigarettes and watch them fight over them like so many fish in a bowl.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh The Games We Play

Northern Lights Entertainment report.

This will be a departure from the traditional entertainment report for I will not be talking about media I have brought with me to work for my enjoyment. This rotation I tried to keep the media load light in the overly optimistic view that if I have less to distract me I will do more writing. That is failing so far as I picked up on my last day in town a new tech toy, the
iPod touch. It is more hand held computer then iPod, and if itunes would ever let me down load the new software update it would be even more of one.

Tech toys while fun and distracting are not my focus. Rather it is what was done on my time off. First the short summery: Some last minuet shopping in Kelowna a few days before Christmas, Madness. A good Friday night drunk to shut down from that madness, coffee with some of the old K town crowd. Kelowna was followed with a trip to Nakusp, which was framed with interesting drives over the mountains. Thankfully I have Serenity, which handled fine even at Deep Creak proving that Subaru are Suberb (Blame Aimee for that one).

Christmas was in Nakusp where I had to cut down a tree on Christmas Eve day because on one else in the family was in the mood for one. In a break with tradition the better part of the gifts under the tree were from me. All of which went over well, including and much to my surprise, socks. Which were accepted with all the appearance of joy. The latest news is that the socks are still being worn and have aided in the distracting of board mind.

The last gift was delivered late, on the 4th of the New Year unwrapped and unexpected. The package, the Settlers of Catan it is board game the goal of which is to build your civilization. Now civilization-building games are not new to me but tabletop forms are. This is a game type I have always played on a computer.

Catan proved to by addictive, which is ultimately why I picked it up I was already addicted from Christine's introduction over Christmas time and I know it would go over well with Risk playing crew in Penticton. I had underestimated the appeal. The first night there we played four games almost non-stop till nearly 2am. The second night was not as long but almost worse as we had started to add the expansion packs. By the end of the weekend our maps had grown to huge proportions and the game play was fast and chaotic. At times it felt more time was being spent setting up the map then playing it. The beauty of the Catan franchise is that every one is active even if it is not your turn you are still involved as trade between players can happen at nearly any time, you can improve you out come next turn with a good trade.

Oh the Games We Play.
It was my intent to deliver a fun present instead I spawned an addict, I am sorry, but I will join a game the next time I am in those parts.

So this year I learned trust the gut, give gifts that feel right even if they are a little silly and gaming is good for your mental health.