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Archive for August, 2010


Children are unpredictable.  You never know what inconsistency they’re going to catch you in next………Franklin P. Jones

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absurdly wealthy people


I read a blurb the other day, about some Russian billionaire who just took posession of his $300 million yacht.  Yes, three hundred million dollars!  394 ft long.  Guest rooms panelled with white sting ray hides.  Silver custom faucets.  Three pools.  An interior boat house for three launches.  And on and on.  Now I’m a pretty right wing capitalist kind of guy, but this strikes me as being way over the top.  It is so 80’s “me” excessive that it makes one wonder how anybody, including the super rich can think this kind of excess will bring any respect at all.  I don’t respect this kind of ostentatious in your face money wasting.  I don’t begrudge this dude (38 yrs old by the way, talk about young uber rich) the right to spend his money, but surely 250 ft would have been quite adequate!

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Old age


Hope you never find yourself burdened by the melancholy invoked in the following description.  Not to worry, I’m nowhere close to even understanding the writer’s brooding sadness, nor can I foresee such loneliness.  But the well articulated sentence grasps a mood that has quite certainly been experienced by far too many parents.  Written by Susanna Moodie, a pioneer Canadian, in a letter to her niece; taken from “Sisters in the Wilderness” by Charlotte Gray.

Old age is selfish, it covets companionship, which the young too much immersed in the pleasures and hopes of their happy prime, have no time or inclination to give, and when your own nestlings are all flown, the lonely hours hang heavily on your hands and the shadows lengthen in the dark valley as you totter slowly and sadly on.

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I went for a paddle in my canoe yesterday.  It was the perfect evening, no wind, slightly cool to keep the bugs away, sun setting in a brilliant violet sky.  I did a power paddle to the middle of the lake and then diagonally to Willow Point.  A family of swans have set up their home there, but it was so well concealed I could not pinpoint it.  Reeds and bullrushes have taken hold along the shore, creating a marvellous wetland.  I lit a cigar and drifted along the shoreline, letting the slight wind move me along.  A couple of herons blasted off the uppermost branches of a willow and headed south across the lake.  The Antonov of birds, huge wings beating the air to gain elevation.  My dog Blue had faithfully tracked my progress and now picked his way along the shore, paralleling my track.  Makes you forget your problems and slows the pulse.  Natural therapy.

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So, we load up and head off.  Simon, Victor and the tractor driver’s son and me.  Driver’s wife and sister are along for the ride.  We go thru a huge petroleum oil refinery on the coast and then hit the beach for most of the trip.  It’s low tide when we hit the beach around 1:00 pm.  Lot’s of squatters along the way, living right on shore.  Kind of makes a mockery of the 50 meter exclusion zone.  Supposedly, the first 50 meters from high tide line are a public zone, for the use of all Ticos.  Building in this area is supposed to be prohibited.  As I will learn, nobody down here respects the rule of the law.  What governs here is the rule of force.  We have to tie a long cord onto the tractor and act as foot brakes as we slide down steep inclines.  It’s a trip worthy of the Discovery channel!  The tractor takes us to La Burica and can’t go any further.  The mud track basically disappears, and it’s either foot or horse from now on. 

We unload all the materials, driver gets his $ and off we go. So, what now?  As we sit there trying to figure out what to do, fortune strikes.  (One of the many times on this trip that luck is with us).  Two horses come by, Antonio Carbone, his wife and kids.  Simon asks him?  “Que tal”?  (what’s happening)  We don’t know it yet, but his house will become our command centre.  “Centro d’operaciones”.  Simon, Tito and I walk down the road to meet a farmer who has horses to rent, for transport of the materials.  This old man has been living here for 37 years, he’s 80 years old.  Quite a character.  Like all contacts, the first ten minutes is for shooting the breeze, getting to know each other.  I like this style.  Takes some getting used to, when most contacts in Canada are intended to accomplish some goal.  Too much business, not enough personal contact in the western capitalist democracies. 

So, he agrees to lend us horses, no price mentioned.  We return to pick up our personal stuff and food, store the wire and cement with the lady across the road; 500col for security, and trek into the wilderness to Antonio Carbone’s.  I am beat!  Totally exhausted.  Night is coming and my legs lose all will to move.  But there is no stopping.  It is extremely dangerous to stop moving at night.  Everyone has a snake story to tell, so we keep on going.  The moon is coming out, bird sounds abound, confronted by monkeys barking their territorial rights.  Just before all light disappears, Charlie shows up.  He sees my wretched condition and offers his horse.  Not much hesitation on my part.  I gladly and thankfully climb on.  My pocket light comes out after a while and that seems to help the horse.  There is no moon tonight, so progress is slow and deliberate.  After a two hour slog, Don Antonio (Don is a term of respect, kind of means sir) signals that we have arrived.  Cannot see much at night, and I’m exhausted.  But it appears this would be an excellent place to call our command centre.  I take one of the hammocks for the night, thinking it will provide peaceful sleep.  Bad choice!  Mosquitoes bite at my ass all night long.  I probably got two hours total sleep.  Not good.  I know my immune system can break down fast if I don’t get sufficient rest.

 Wednesday, March 2

Charlie heads into town early today to buy more provisions and return with the topographer.  He’s quite a sight, riding off into the jungle on his white steed!  Without a surveyor, the project cannot go anywhere, so his hiring is crucial.  We had met yesterday before leaving Puerto Armuelles, with a surveyor who seemed legit, and quoted $8/ha to survey the property.  We had agreed to use him and he was to return with Charlie.  We had not taken him along immediately, since there is a problem with the squatters.  They had greeted Simon with a revolver last time he was down, and threatened to not “allow” anyone on “their” property!  Fabio confirmed this yesterday, so our first objective was to meet with these people and explain the situation.  Some of these people hosted Lulu and I on the last trip!  Gun play already?!?  What next?

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Hockey tryouts start in a few days.  Rep hockey.  It does provide better competition and skill than house league, but I do wonder if the BS politics is worth it.  Going in, all the kids know that at least 7 spots are already filled.  The coach’s son, the trainer’s son, the treasurer’s son, the team sponsor’s son and so on.  As my kid found out a few years back, skill is hardly the determining factor on whether or not you make the team.  It’s who you know, kind of like interviewing for most jobs in “real life”.  Referrals are worth their weight in gold.  Your resume could be jam packed with all kinds of achievements, but if the next guy’s got a referral, or if his wife is in the local book club with the boss’s wife, who do you think will get the job?  At least my kid is going in with his eyes wide open this time, and any “cut” won’t be nearly as shocking as it was a couple years ago.  Then again, he is quite a skilled player, so perhaps the new coach will see the potential.  It’ll be an interesting spectacle from my point of view, watching the first day.  Crazy country this Canada.  Still several weeks of swimming weather left and the kids are already lugging their winter hockey gear to the rinks!

Other stuff.  Mom is hanging in there, eating less, but thankfully comfortable.  She’d surely rather be at home with Dad, but he had his opportunity last time to get more PSW to come and help.  Unfortunately he did not and there is no question that she won’t ever again spend a night in her house.  Go figure.  He shells out about $2,000 every month for a bed in a nursing home, and meals that Mom won’t swallow unless someone is there spoon feeding her.  Even then, she rejects much of the food.  Of course, there is another reason why Dad would not get more home workers to come around, one which I may yet share with you readers.  It involves a sibling who is not presently in the reality that you and I occupy.

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What a performance!  And what a theatre.  The Tempest is deserving of the accolades it has received.  This Stratford Festival theatre production of Shakespeare’s last play wowed the crowd with its slick presentation.  Christopher Plummer’s interpretation of the exiled duke Prospero and the intricate web of vengeance he weaves on his brother and those who robbed him of his dukedom is a prime example of stage acting at its best.  From the little shiver of his shoulders when he comments on the cold, to the exact enunciation of the bard’s marvellous script, Plummer reaches deep into his repertoire of acting talents and leads the audience deep inside the Tempest.  Bruce Dow’s comedic spin on court jester Trinculo’s character is hilarious, never quite reaching excessive but teetering on the edge of overkill.  Director Des McAnuff uses the thrust stage perfectly and the floating Ariel and other tricks such as a sword that magically dances around lord Adrian’s fingers would surely make Shakespeare proud.  This allegory of the nebulous region between fantasy and reality is one we will remembering for years to come.  It is indeed a “brave new world” and I highly recommend you see it before the production closes on September 12.

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Mecca time and xenophobia


In yet another example of the xenophobic arrogance displayed by some muslims (you’ll note I was careful to not blanket the entire muslim nation with this charge) there is now talk emanating from Saudi Arabia to replace Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) with Mecca Time as an alternate universal time standard!  A huge hotel tower is rising in Mecca, holiest muslim site in the world, and atop the tower sits the world’s largest clock.  Muslim clerics are touting this as the new time standard, arguing that GMT was imposed on the world by the “west”.  GMT has been working pretty well for 126 years.  Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if even a part of the world was to operate on a different time standard?  And we continue to practice tolerance and patience in the “west”, ever vigilant to not insult anybody, not step on any toes, never start an argument.  When the muslim world allows me to visit Mecca, then I’ll entertain the idea of Mecca Time.

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Wine fed cows


I just read an article about wine fed beef cattle.  I kid you not!  A farmer in BC feeds his cows a litre of wine every day because “wine-fed beef tastes sweet and fatty, has a long-lasting flavour and is hormone free”.  (Maclean’s Aug 16/10)    What a great way to get rid of shit wine!  Maybe some of the plonk that presently finds space on lcbo bottom shelves should instead be sent to beef farmers.  Makes sense to me.  This guy (Bill Freding of Kelowna) could be onto something.  Restaurants could incorporate super specialty beef onto their menus.  Can you imagine the food pairings that open up.  Cab-cow.  Merlot-moose.  Sauvignon-steak.  Burgundy-beef.  And start feeding white wine to chickens.  Rose to pigs.  How many times have we marinated meat in some kind of marinade that includes wine?  Why bother when you can now buy the beef already infused organically with the stuff!  I’m torn between ridiculing this and offering kudos.  Crazy world.

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For all you fair weather cyclists, try bicyling in the rain.  We (son and I) started our trek at Lake Ontario, heading north to Rice Lake.  It’s a nice change of pace from our usual cycles around the County.  There’s a nice mix of hills and flats, forces you to use all those gears.  Scenic horse and farm country along Division St. N as you link up with Race Track Rd.  All asphalt and in pretty good shape.  The young lad kept pace throughout and I can see the day very soon when he’ll be blasting by me, attacking on a hill.  Nice cold beer at the Victoria Inn and restocked our water bottles.  Proprietor even supplied ice cubes!  Then the return journey.  We headed south, criss crossing the landscape, ended at Hwy 18 in the middle so we had to ride that stretch for a bit.  Black clouds were brewing above, and as we crested the long uphill to the high point of #18, the heavbens opened up.  We sheltered under a tree for about 15 minutes, waiting for the rains to abate.  Munched an energy bar, waited, waited.  But still raining.  The tree was not providing any rain shelter by this time, so off we went.  And sure enough, a torrential burst hit us!  Squealing wet brakes as we descended, heading over to Governor’s Rd.  A couple of wet rats, completely soaked froom head to toe.  It’s an exercise in concentration and balance, trying not to skid as you’re flying down a hill that is running with rain water.  But with thunder crackling behind us, I didn’t want to stop and then be sitting duck for lightning.  We could see blue sky ahead of us, yet our ride was on the edge of  the storm, we a mere 10 minutes too late in beating it.  It actually felt pretty good after a while, being so wet and cool, this following the sweltering and windy conditions of the morning ride.  And then as if we had exited a nightmare, the road dried up just like that.  Sun beat down, no rain whatsoever.  It was like riding out of a wall of rain into the exact opposite.  So do go ride in the rain just once so you get an appreciation of how beautiful a dry ride is.  65km round trip today.

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