Squishy Aversion


Crap, we are into the winter rain season and the running gets wet. I didn’t even check closely enough peering out into the pre dawn, I missed the drops pouring down. Only when I stepped out the exit door did I finally realize the wet stuff was descending. By that time it was too late to back out; so forward I slogged to the my starting line. It wasn’t all too bad. As usual, once you get wet you tend to ignore the problem. Glasses fogging up and covered with drops are  impediments that you learn to deal with by moving meditation. Watching at corners for cars becomes a higher priority. Fog appears to impede their operators and cause some mild brain freeze or unfocuses their seeing apparati.

Dealing with puddles remains an ongoing problem. Strickly for my feet. As the rain slowly soaks straight through to skin everywhere else, it retreats to being a minor annoyance unless it’s a severely cold rain. Lucky me today, we are being targeted by the pineapple express from the vicinity of Hawaii, so the water tends to be up in the 5 degree celsius range – brisk shower temperature. Back to my feet. I have an aversion to squishy toes. Not only does it become uncomfortable, but it often leads to crinkly skin and on rare occasions – a nasty blister. Starting out, all I can spot are huge puddles of water everywhere which I treat like quicksand or dog poop – avoidance at all cost. Works for awhile as I literally dance my way down the sidewalks and tiptoe at the corners.

Alas. In time my runners fail me. Despite my fancy running technique the water seeps through each gap, breathing mesh and stitch until I feel the dreaded initial squish. Then I simply give up, pick a straight line and go for it. Sooner I get home, the quicker I can free my poor tootsies from the insipid moisture, towel them dry and encase them in warm, toasty socks.


Yogi Bird

Yogi Bird

Eyeball to Eyeball

Gulls hanging out along White Rock beach tend to be laidback and almost dismissive of the hominoids invading their territory.  Even with a camera stuck three feet away from his beak all I got was a haughty stare back. Neither I or the shutter noise phased him in the least.  Different behaviour from his uptown cousins who shriek and squawk at any violation of their twelve foot personal space. Of course, they eke out an existence on garbage while the beach brethren dine on a tasty seafood diet. Like the real estate people say: location, location, location.  Guess the oceanfront crowd has been born to the manor.

Back to my friend. I often wondered why some birds stand around on one leg, as I also noticed the same habit with the blue herons living around the corner at Blackie’s Spit.  A while back, I did some research which never conclusively answered my question.  Some suggested they pulled up the leg to keep it warm due to lack of feathers or covering. Never occurred to me to think about blood vessels and flesh exposed to the cold weather, since their appendages just look like attached sticks. Must have been absent for a biology class explaining avian anatomy. If it was the middle of winter, I might have been satisfied with the answer, but on a warm day in March or during the heat of the summer, it hardly makes sense. Reason number two proffered online was to rest the legs. Not sure how shifting from leg to leg helps. I tried it and not only doesn’t it help, my legs tired out even quicker.

Then it dawned on me. I happened along in the middle of a yoga class. Here was my feathered friend – we actually have never been introduced – performing a classic beginner’s pose:  vrikshasana or the tree pose. Told you these guys were laid back. Perhaps one day I’ll invite him for an after class latte or mocha and we can hang out telling each other sea tales.


Yogi Bird 2


Where’s the Gold?

Last Swirl

Last Swirl

Either from watching ‘Yukon Gold‘ or plain boredom we decided to head out to Hope to try our hand at gold panning.  Lucky for us our our now, antique goldpan was still safely stored with some camping gear and had not been thrown on the scrap heap. The only other equipment required was a small garden trowel for digging plus pack a lunch. The British Columbia government has kindly set aside a kilometre and a half stretch of the Fraser River in Hope for recreational gold panning, which means you get to keep all the gold you find but are restricted to a pan and shovel as your only tools. No backhoes or giant sluice boxes allowed.  With the spring high water there was a limited shore area and being on the south side of the river out of the sun, it was still rather cool so we packed up and headed for Yale, a further 24 kilometres upstream.

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Perfect. Another recreational panning reserve on the north side fully bathed in sun and a 50 foot wide beach of sand, gravel and boulders to find paydirt. Then just a simple matter of digging up some material from behind a boulder, chucking it in the pan, heading down to the water and trying to remember how to properly swirl everything around to find the good stuff. And there we remained for four hours, happily taking turns trying our luck with about fourteen pan fulls, enjoying the sun, the warm weather and the sound of the rushing water.

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Alas, the pickings were slim. No shrieks of joy pulling out shiny nuggets. We did get black sand concentrate in every pan with a few flecks of flour gold – not worth picking out – plus a lot of millimetre sized garnets.  While we were there a couple of tourists with a brand spanking  new goldpan came over to ask if they could watch and learn. So Jan gave them some quick pointers and they busily spent a couple of hours using their pristine pan.

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Not that I’ve caught gold fever but back at home I did read up on methods to recover fine gold from concentrate. Who knows?

Did You Read The Sign?

Dog walker

Out of Bounds

Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. Okay, maybe not all dogs. Not overly fond of those little rat sized ones who bark incessantly in a ear piercing, high-pitched squeal while lunging to nip at your toes. Also not much of a fan of overly big pooches who can silently glare without blinking, all the while making you feel like their next meal. Usually give crotch sniffers a wide path too. Dogs with sissified names like ‘Fluffy’ or ‘Babykins’ who are ranked higher in the family than the two legged offspring leave me cold. But I really enjoy border collies and their closet relatives. Their go-go attitude can be inspiring.

However, I do wish owners – or the two legged Moms and Dads trailing behind on the leash – would respect areas where bylaws prohibit dogs entirely. Both east and west beach, along the White Rock waterfront, plus the walkway are plastered with signs restricting dogs even when on a leash. This restriction only covers about 2 kilometres. Further west another 3 kilometres of oceanfront is a virtual off leash dog heaven. Why the prohibited stretch. Mostly because dog owners tend to follow Pareto’s Law – the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent faithfully pick doggie droppings while twenty percent smirk at anyone watching and walk away from the steaming pile. So one, it comes down to a health matter with so many kids playing at the beach and on the grass. And two, most people are so busy looking out at the ocean they fail to watch where their stepping. Trying to clean the bottom of your footwear definitely detracts from the enjoyment of an ocean side walk.

I put the question to the passing border collie and he agreed, but the dense humans with him believed themselves special and above the law.

Where’s Winter

The North Shore mountains are home to three ski hills…none of which are operating and February still has a week to go. Although they managed to open for a few short weeks, rain and warm weather has left nothing on the runs but dust and dried up grass, like Mount Seymour pictured here at the base of the lift (1000 metres elevation).

Base of Ski Hill

Base of Ski Hill

The majority of the trail is sub alpine, so there are nearly always views of Vancouver to the south and mountains every other direction. The yellow in the middle of the Vancouver photo are huge piles of sulfur awaiting shipment from Neptune Terminals.



The hike up to the summit is 455 metres higher and out of the ski area to the west. It’s a nice early season training jaunt – usually late April – that whets the appetite for summer scrambles. To be on the safe side I packed along instep crampons and an ice axe along with a snack. Needn’t have bothered. On a round trip of 7.5 K, there might have been 300 metres of snow to contend with and the odd slippery section. Basically, the hike was little different from mid summer when there isn’t a speck of white stuff hanging about. Only a short stretch of 40 metres could be considered a problem as the trail narrows down to half metre ledge but with some snow still there, it is now only two boot widths wide.

Ledge Trail

Ledge Trail

Not once on my journey today did I wonder whether climate change or global warming has managed to play havoc with this winters conditions. It often happens there are very poor snow years, although this one may be close to a record. Since Vancouver and parts of the Lower Mainland depend on the snow pack for water, it may raise a critical shortage during late summer. However, for the moment I’m happy with the early appearance of hiking season.  🙂







Scumbags Are Us

No Adobe

Lots of high praise out in photography land for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and their other software programs for manipulating images – probably well justified. For me, using Paint.net and occasionally Gimp provides more than enough trickery to brush up any photos I post to my blogs. My only real experience with Adobe was using their PDF reader quite a few years back when most users were less than enthralled with the product. The main complaints were the constant freezing requiring computer reboots and its tendency to slowly use up all the ram even when not in use. Since I never needed to produce PDF documents, I simply hit the delete button to rid myself of Reader and downloaded Foxit which I’ve used without problems for years.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. This afternoon my wife asked me to download Paint.net onto her laptop so she could work on photos herself. No problem or so I thought. Brought up the webpage, found the download button and presto all the little wheels started whirring until the indicator showed complete. Using Chrome, so just double clicked and waited for the wizard to pop up to begin installation, only Windows pops up with the message – unable to open the Adobe program. HUH! That’s when I noticed the Adobe icon instead of the Paint icon attached to the execute file. Not being immediately paranoid, I disabled the few extensions thinking they might have affected the download – wouldn`t be the first time – and went through the download process again with the same end result. Still under the illusion it was a computer glitch, I downloaded the Paint program from my own computer – sans any Adobe programs – onto a flash drive, checked for the Paint icon and figured I had the problem solved. Not so fast, as soon as the drive was plugged into the laptop, the icon was immediately replaced by an Adobe one and once again no installation. Now I’m frustrated but not without resources. Opened up the control panel, found `Programs and Features` and cleverly uninstalled Adobe Reader on the laptop, after which I went through the whole procedure once again, this time with an entirely successful outcome. Paint.net up and running on Jan`s laptop with nary a glitch.

As of late both Apple and Amazon have been caught reaching into private computers removing items or programs at will claiming ownership resides with them and customers really only rent songs or books or files. In this case Adobe cannot in any claim ownership. So somewhere along the way when an update for Adobe Reader was downloaded to the laptop – same goes for millions of users out there – Adobe sneakily attached a small file to prevent the download of any software they felt was a competitor to their own programs, in this instance: Photoshop and Lightroom. So beware out there folks – Big Brother Software is watching you.

Oh, by the way did I mention Gimp and Paint.net are free!

Bye Bye Adobe

Bye Bye Adobe


Race Oval

Years ago, I must have run across this word during a psychology credit but forgot to retain it in long term memory. That’s why you should always repeat a word three times to etch it in your brain; then again, it may only help you to summon Beetlejuice. Still, you have to hand it to the Germans for finding ways to collapse a long, involved English sentence into one hard to pronounce word. So here goes the definition: “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.”

The Water Jar Problem – Luchins 1942
Start with problem #1 and see if you can solve all 9.

Water Jar Experiment


Problems 2 through 6 can all be solved by filling Jar B, then subtracting Jar A once, then subtracting Jar C twice. This creates a “set” for solving the problems this way.

Problems 7 and 8 can be solved using the same method as the previous problems, but they could be solved more efficiently by starting with Jar A instead. The “set” for starting with Jar B often prevents people from seeing the simpler solutions.

Problem 9 can not be solved in the same way as problems 2 thru 6. You must break out of the set to find a solution.

In other words – people tend to rely on problem solving methods which helped in the past and brought solutions – but when faced with new problems tend to either ignore simpler solutions or get bogged down. Thus, you find yourself running in circles and always ending up back at the start line.

Once you understand the effect and can pronounce ‘Einstellung’, you’re ready to think Outside the Box