Archive for July 2010

Things that Violate the Unofficial Guys’ Code

July 26, 2010

Yoga
Though if your girlfriend or wife did it, that wouldn’t be the end of the world.

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Smart Cars
Two words:    Ass-Hat.

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Three-Wheeled Motorcycles
Sorry, that is not a bike.  That is a TRICYCLE.

At this point, get a car, dude.

Just make sure it isn’t a Smart Car.

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Candles
Except when used for illumination purposes, when the power goes out.

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Mopeds
Like that old joke goes…they’re fun to have, until your friends see you with one.

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Napkins
Except the paper ones that come with your fast-food.   Those are reluctantly tolerated.

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Referring to tasty food as “yummy”
Unless you’re 7 years old, no guy should ever say this.

Instead, say the food is be “Awesome!”.

Or, even better,  say it’s “F#$%*ing awesome!”

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Meals served on large square plates
As soon as you see this, you know it’s gonna be Nouvelle Cuisine.   Meaning $75.00 for a sliver a meat, four carrots and three potato balls.

Sorry.  I don’t care how good it tastes.

For that kind of money, I expect to be fed several pounds of roast animal of some kind.   And be stuffed till I almost wanna hurl.

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Baked Chips
Baked ANYTHING, for that matter, when it could be deep-fried instead.

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Tai-Chi
Unless you speed it up several notches, and it becomes kung-fu.

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Toilet-Seat Covers
Obviously invented by annoyed women, as a means to force their partners to keep the seat down.

No self-respecting male would deliberately install one of these lethal dick-traps himself, though.

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Cats
The Broadway musical, I mean.

Though most of the real-life feline critters would also qualify for this list.

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Enya Music
I dunno.   To me, it sounds like it should be a soundtrack for a feminine hygiene product commercial.

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Yogurt
I forget which one.  But the one where the commercial goes “La-la-la-la-la-Laaah” and they show a belly dancer.

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Subway’s Orchard Chicken Sandwich
With apples, raisins and cranberries.

Sorry, that is not a sam-wich.  That is an ABOMINATION.

It’s not a sub unless it has bacon, cheese, or mystery-meat cold-cuts.

Preferably all three.

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Mimes
Who should all die.

Slowly and painfully. .

Come to think of it, Mimes violate everyone’s unofficial code, men and women included.

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If Large Corporations Were Run By Vikings

July 22, 2010

Meetings would not be allowed to drag on past their alloted time.

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Cafeterias would be heavily subsidized, with a heavy emphasis on roast animal.

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Profanity would not be tolerated..it would be encouraged.

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Grievances would get heard.

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Career advancement would be tough, but fair

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“Challenging” a co-worker would take on a whole new meaning.

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All staff would be required to speak the language of their forefathers.    Disobedience would be dealt with harshly.

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We would finally get a truly paperless office.

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The company’s year-end plunder would be shared fairly among the deserving employees…

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…while imcompetent management would be cast adrift in the North Sea.

Perfect-July Summer

July 18, 2010

It’s been stinking hot lately, but I don’t mind.    Mid-July is my favorite time of the year.

I love these hazy, muggy dog-days.    It’s the Peak of Summer.

This is the only time of the whole year that there aren’t any subtle reminders of WINTER.

Not that we dont’ have warm weather during May, June, August and September, but it’s just not quite the same.

In the beginning of May, the trees are still bare, and there are till patches of unmelted snow in the woods.   It’s not unthinkable to get a signficant dump of late-season snow, even when the tulips are blooming.

And when it does briefly get to 30C…dont’ even THINK about swimming in the lake, unless you enjoy hypothermia.

June is the officially the first month of summer, but the remnants of Old Man Winter haven’t left yet.  Snow flurries early in the month aren’t impossible.   Frost warnings are not uncommon, threatening the freshly-planted gardens.

Even towards the end of the month, many an late-evening soccer or softball game has been played with people shivering in their shorts.

It’s the time of year when you can run your air conditioner and furnace, both on the same day.    As for swimming, the water STARTS to become swimmable…just barely.

By mid-August, the nights get noticeably shorter, and cooler.  There’s a dampness in the air, and you might want to put on a sweater.  And some of the early leaves already started to change (I always hated that!)

Summers’ peak has passed, and things are already starting to wind down.

And September…blah.   It’s back-to-school, which I still find depressing, even though I’m in my mid 40’s now.

Most of the flowers have bloomed.  The berries are finished:  farmer’s markets only have starchy squash and pumpkins now.

And it gets dark quickly after supper.    There’s a chill in the evening air,  which makes you sad, because you know it will be over soon.

By the end of the month, the leaves are peaking, starting to fall, and there’s frost again at night.   By mid-October, the snow flurries have started again.

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But July….ahhh.

Sweet, sweet July.

July is hot days, and warm evening with lots of daylight.  Where you have 5-6 hours of outside play-time, even on weekdays after work.

July is being entertained by  intense thunderstorms that break up the heat waves.  Where it looks like all hell’s going to break loose,  and you wonder if there’s gonna be a funnel cloud.

July is the worst part of the bug season being over….the black flies are gone, and the mosquitoes have settled down.   You can actually walk in the woods without being eaten alive.

July is strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, ice cream, blue Slush-Puppies,  barbecued steak, and cold beer.

July is having to only wear a minimum of clothes (to cover your modesty).   No putting on jackets and hats and mitts and boots.

July is hot hazy days, where you can’t wait to just plunge into the lake.  And let the cool sweet water go between your toes, armpits and every nook and cranny, making you shiver, not with cold, but with delight.

July is cicadas humming early Saturday morning,  promising you it’s going to be a scorcher of a day.

July is largemouth bass…beligerent, aggressive, and fun as hell to catch.  And even more fun to throw back to catch again for next time.

July is the “Sweet Sweet Canada-Canada-Canada” cry of the white-throated sparrow sparrow, the plaintive cry of the loon, and the hot wind whooshing through pine trees.

July is camping out in the wilderness, by the water’s edge at night,  pondering the silver-gray band of the Milky Way, and feeling insignificant.

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Make hay while the sun shines, they say.

And the sun is shining right now, so I’m making hay.

I”m spending almost all my time outdoors, to capture this narrow. fleeting window, of perfect-July-summer.

My painting, personal projects, and housework are being neglected.    My place is a mess.

But that’s okay.

That will all still be there when it gets dark and cold again.

But July won’t.

(*Photo credit:   Raspberries by Friar’s Mom)

Another Northern Ontario Adventure with the Bear, Part II.

July 13, 2010

(Continued from Part I)

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Flying over the Algoma District via bush plane,  north of Superior, it amazes me how many lakes there are.

This is only one small corner of Ontario, but there are hundreds of lakes here, if not thousands.

If you ever looked at map of Ontario, and wondered what’s in those blank areas between the highways, this is what it looks like:

There is plenty of evidence of logging…the area is crisscrossed with logging roads.  This is a fact of life, pretty much anywhere you go up North.

But there are also large undisturbed areas of boreal forest.

Some of the bigger lakes might have a fishing or hunting lodge on them, only accessible by plane.    But there are countless smaller lakes, far from the main waterways, that are harder to get to.

I often wonder how months (or years) go by before these areas even see a human being.  Aside from the odd trapper checking their trap line by snow-mobile, I suspect a lot of these places don’t get that many visitors.

This is pretty serious wilderness.  There’s no cell phone coverage.    There’s no internet.  The  nearest McDonalds is 250 km  to the South.

If your plane crashed and you were stuck here,  it would be virtually impossible to get out by yourself.  The nearest paved road could be 20-30 km away, and you’d have to cross swamps and rivers.

And even in July, this place can get cool enough that you’d have to worry about hypothermia    A local told me that that people rarely survive more than 5 days after being lost in these woods.

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But if you’re a fisherman, this place is PARADISE!

All these unspoiled lakes, TEEMING with fish!  Very much like it used to be hundreds of years ago.

And that’s why people have built hunting camps and lodges in these areas….veritable oases carved out in the bush to cater to fishing fanatics like myself.

These fly-in camps provide you with your own motor boat, cabin with hot showers, fresh bed sheets, and breakfast and dinner cooked by certified chefs.

Now, people will probably ask:  “Friar, if you love the wilderness so much, why don’t you just camp out on your own, and do this?

Well, my answer is: been there, done that.

For years, I’ve driven and/or canoed for hours, only to find crowded campsites filled with yahoos,  on marginal lakes that have long since been fished out.   (Even 8 hours North of Toronto).

Not to mention dealing with the damp and cold, the heinous bugs, the lack of toilet facilities, keeping a fire going, cooking in the rain, and worrying about food and fish guts in bear country.

Don’t get me wrong…I have no problem with wilderness camping.    There are times I want to camp.  And times I want to seriously fish.  But it’s hard to do both at once.

Here, all I have to do is show up and fish.

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But you have to be careful out here.  The  lake can get choppy at times (one day there were 3-4 foot whitecaps with 30 mph winds!)   Every once in a while,  people die up here.

But other times, the water can be like glass.

And the fishing….OMG…THE FISHING!!   It’s like being a kid in candy store!

Down south, it’s considered a “good day” if you catch 1-2 walleye.

Up here,  if you find a good spot, you can catch 10-20 in an HOUR.    One one day, my guide and I estimated we got 50-60 between the two of us.

(Anyway, after the first few dozen, you just stop counting).

(This is PAY-BACK TIME for all those other crappy fishing trips where I got skunked!)

Of course,  we didn’t keep all those fish.  It was mostly catch-and-release.   (Besides, you’re only allowed to have four in your possession).

And I like to let the big guys go (like the ones above).  They’re the big breeders,  I want them to go back and make even MORE fish for me to catch later.

And there are plenty of smaller, frying-pan-sized ones for shore lunch.

And if there’s a better way eat freshly-caught walleye, I dont’ wanna know about it.

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There were tons of pike, too, but I didn’t’ catch any big ones.    My guide claims a 40-inch monster followed my lure, though.     A 9-year-old kid sitting next to my dinner table had caught a 36-inch “gator”.

Other highlights of the trip included getting caught in a wicked thunderstorm.

Precisely during lunch time, of course (that was FUN.)

There was the odd wildlife sighting, like moose:

Not to mention the bears at the garbage dump on the outskirts of the camp.

This is apparently an evening ritual:  the staff throws out the day’s garbage, and the bears patiently wait for the food to arrive.

Some people have commented to me that this is negligent.

But they have to understand that this isn’t a Provincial Park where a garbage truck takes everything away.   This is in the middle of nowhere..there’s no other place to throw away the trash.

And from what I’ve seen, the bears and the camp seem to have reached a mutual understanding.  The bears stay near the dump, dont’ come into the camp.

Both parties keep a safe distance from each other…and the staff does a lot of yelling and flailing their arms…to let the critters know we humans should be avoided.

Anyway, it seems to work.

What I also liked about the camp was one of the dogs:   a Duck-Toller obsessed with sticks.

She reminded me so much of my sister’s Duck-Toler, Tipper. (Except Tipper is obsessed wtih rubber balls).

So I had found a play-mate, another dog to corrupt.

I had my share of “Zen” moments, too.   Like sitting on a rock at 9:45 PM…catching walleye from shore (something unheard of down south)…

…and  watching the golden sunset reflect off the scraggy black spruce trees.

Or just sitting on a calm-glass lake,  and catching fish-after fish.  This rock produced about 12-15 walleye in an hour.

These happy memories are burned into my head, which I can now retrieve at my leisure, for years to come.

And isn’t this the whole point of these trips?

Another Northern Ontario Adventure with the Bear (Part I).

July 9, 2010

On my annual trek to the fishing lodge, I ended up spending the night in Blind River.   Here’s the Bear the next morning, on the north shore of Lake Huron.

Later that day, we were at the Soo locks.  This was July 1st, on Canada Day.

If you look closely at the bridge, you can see the bumper-t0-bumper traffic, from everyone wanting to cross the border to the Michigan side.

(If you ask me….what a crappy way to spend a holiday!)   I was so glad to be heading the other way!

We followed the Trans-Canada Highway on the way to Wawa, and stopped at Katherine’s Cove in Lake Superior Provincial Park.

It’s rare to see the lake this calm.    The water looked quite inviting, but I only managed to dunk my head for about 5 seconds.

After all, it’s still early in the season and Superior is still @#%*&ing  COLD!!!

I love how pristine and clear the water is, though.   It makes you want to just gulp it down and drink it.  (Giardia risk be damned!)

What a difference up of how clean everything is up here, compared to fecal Lake Ontario down south.

We arrived in Wawa around supper time, in time for their “big” Canada Day Celebration.

The street was blocked off and at least 50 people were drinking by the beer tent!  (Woo Hoo!!)

I always find it bittersweet visiting Wawa, though, because it’s a town that’s slowly dying.

At its peak, there were 7700 people living here.    But the mine shut down a few years ago, and so did the board mill.

There just aren’t any jobs, and people are leaving.   Businesses are failing.

You see signs of it everywhere, and it gets worse every year.

It reminds me of Bruce Springstein’s lyrics from My Home Town.

Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back”.

It’s a shame, because it’s a nice little town.

The motel manager and the waitress chatted with me, and remembered me from last year.   I’ve apparently become accepted as  a “regular”

I mean, any town that has a Viking Restaurant (compleat with a Battle Axe and Helmet sign) can’t be all that bad!

(Next time I’ll have to eat there!)

But I decided to forego the Beer Tent, and visit the Sandy Beach at Michipicoten, on the northeastern shore of the lake.

It was sunset….9:40 PM this time of year.  I just sat there, and let Superior talk to me.   Like an old friend visiting.   I had the place almost to myself.

This photo is facing towards Michigan, which is over the horizon about 100 miles to the south.

That still boggles my mind:  the other side is 100 miles to the south.   And that’s not even the biggest part of the lake

(Damn!  This is one BIG body of water!)

I’ve written about this before:   there’s something incredibly calming and soothing about being in Superior’s presence.   It’s almost a spiritual experience.

I don’t know what it is.  The vastness…the unspoiledness….whatever it is, it just gets to you, and makes you keep wanting to come back.

(But those are enough “Deep Thoughts” for now…)

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The next morning was the bush-plane flight from Wawa Lake to the fishing lodge.

But that will be for PART II.