Margy Boogy

Posted October 16, 2014 by Friar
Categories: Friar's Grab Bag

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Margy Boogy

This is the school I went to in Montreal from Grade 3 to Grade 6.  It was totally in French.  It was called “École Marguerite Bourgeois” but we all called it “Margy-Boogy”for short.

My teacher in Grade 3 was a miserable nun…this is where I learned my Catholic Guilt (but that’s a whole other story).

Half of Margy Boogy’s population were Special Ed kids, who stayed in one side of the school.  Us regular students occupied the other side.

The Special Ed kids were referred to as “Mentals” and you definitely didn’t want to be caught alone on the wrong side.   There was a definite border:  the “Mental Side” began once you crossed threshold and entered into the older wing of the school.

And the Mentals were terrifying.   They roamed around the schoolyard in groups.   At recess or at lunch, you had to make sure you stayed away from their territory,  or you might get beat up.

Sometimes they would zero in on a kid and pick on him at random. You never know when it might be you, or your friends.   You might just get shoved around and bullied, or you might get a black eye. This was  a constant threat you learned to live with.

The teachers had no control. I remember seeing a small kid lying on the ground screaming in terror while two bigger Mentals beat him up, right in front of two teachers.   I don’t’ know what was worse…watching the kid get beat up, or the fact that the teachers just stood there watching and did nothing.

Another time, I saw one of these kids (maybe 10 years old) ask a teacher for some cigarettes, who gave them to him.    I couldn’t believe it…I thought adults were supposed to be responsible. It’s like these teachers had given up and couldn’t be bothered any more.

Even in our part side of the school, the teachers had no control.  Our English teacher was having a hard time handling one of the bigger kids  (who was borderline Special Ed himself).    He was disrupting the class for the nth time and she lost it.  I remember her grabbing him by the arm, red-faced and screaming, with tears screaming down her face.   And the kid just stood there laughing in her face.

Soon after that, she was replaced and never came back.

Some of the male teachers had a better handle on things, if you want to call it that.    They came up with creative ways to torture the kids without actually having to touch them.

Like making a bad kid face a wall, stand a few feet away form it, and lean into it, with their forehead smooshed up against it.   The kid had to stand there with his hands behind his back, so that his forehead took all his body’s weight and he squirmed and moaned until he could take no more.   Meanwhile the teacher just sat at his desk like a prick and kept scolding the kid, while the rest of us had to watch.

The same type of crap happened on the bus:  our bus driver used to lose his temper all the time.    To be fair, though, I could hardly blame him because some of these kids were BAD.

Like one little shit,  who was so disruptive that one day,  the bus driver pulled over and stopped so that he could literally kick the kid off the bus.   Of course, the kid thought this was a game and he ran up and down the aisle, jumping over seats, dodging the red-face bus-driver who couldn’t catch him.  Poor man, I though he was gong to blow a gasket.

Which he actually did, one day.   After months of dealing with such demon-spawn,  one day the bus driver stopped the bus and lay back in his seat, all pale-looking and tired.   We were stuck there for an hour until one of the older kids Grade 6 kids found an adult to got help.

It turns out the bus driver was having a heart attack, right then and there, in the bus.     Eventually somebody else came by and drove us home.

As for our bus driver, he was replaced, and never came back.

I was 8 at the time.    This is what I learned school was like.

People often say they have fond memories of their school days, but to be honest, I don’t.

In fact, to this day, I still have anxiety dreams about Margy-Boogy, even though this all happened 40 years ago.

Even seeing this Google Map photo gives me the creeps.



Best Fall Colors of 2014

Posted October 15, 2014 by Friar
Categories: The Outdoor Friar

Tags: , , , , , ,

Autumn Close UP IMG_0204a



























IMG_0440 S









Getting There…

Posted September 24, 2014 by Friar
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

The fall colors aren’t peaking yet.

But they’re starting to get interesting. IMG_9955-C









One Evenings’ Berry Picking

Posted July 16, 2014 by Friar
Categories: Uncategorized

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It was quite productive.



My Random Excursions on Google Earth

Posted May 22, 2014 by Friar
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When I was a kid,  I loved looking at maps.

I still do, especially aerial photos, which are basically maps in real life.

Back in the 70’s,  satellite photos were rare.  It was a big deal to see a handful of them in a National Geographic issue.

Now Google Earth has super high resolution photos of  pretty much everywhere.

Now I’m like a kid in a  candy store.   Google Earth has been out for almost a decade, but it still fascinates me.

Here are some random things I found, in no particular order.

Take this golf course in Vegas, for example.

Google Map Vegas Golf Course.

If you zoom in on one of the greens, you can actually see the individual flag at the hole.    This is a resolution of ~ 6 inches.

Google Map Vegas Golf Flag

Here’s another photo  I randomly found, somewhere in Minnesota.    In this case, the lighting is at just the right angle where you can actually see the individual phone lines!

Google Map Phone Lines Capture

This is a resolution of literally 1-2 inches.

If this is what’s available to the general public,  I can just imagine what the government has access to.

You hear urban legends of militiary satellites being able to read a newspaper headline from orbit.

I almost believe it.


Another thing that fascinates me…is how humans have been EVERYWHERE.

Take northern tip of Quebec, around Ungava Bay.     This is about as remote as you can get in continental North America.

Yet each little icon represents a photograph where someone has been…either kayaking, or exploring, or part of a geological survey, etc.

Basically, there are very few unexplored places left on this planet.

Google Map Cemetery 1

Not only have people been there, but they’ve settled there.   Long enough to leave a cemetery, for example.

Google Map Cemetery Capture

Just think…for whatever reason,  someone had taken the trouble to drag heavy tombstones and build a cemetery on this God-forsaken coast.    What an effort that must have taken.

If you randomly follow the Arctic Coast,  sooner or later, after miles of nothingness, you’ll come across a village of some kind.

Google Map Chesterfield Inlet 2

Chesterfield Inlet, for example.  Originally a Hudson’s Bay post, according to Wikipedia, it has a population 322.

Google Map Chesterfield Inlet

With pre-fabricated houses and an airfield and everything.

Again, I can’t imagine the money and resources it took to ship all this infrastructure up here, in order to build a village for a few hundred people.

Google Map Chesterfield Inlet 3


Now heading further south.    When we think about Nevada, we tend to think about hot and dry desert, but not snow and ice.

Yet Nevada actually does have a glacier.

One:  on Wheeler Peak, at about 11,000 feet.

Google Map Wheeler Peak


One of the more famous glaciers in Alberta is the Athabasca Glacier.   It’s quite large: at least half a mile wide, and several miles along.

You can see it from the highway.  It’s commonly (though incorrectly) referred to as “The Columbia Ice fields”.

Google Map Columbia Icefield Ground Photo

But if you look at it from above, the Athabasca  Glacier forms only a tiny part of the actual Columbia Icefield.     Most people don’t realize this.

Google Map Columbia Icefield


Here’s the border of Yellowstone National Park.   You can literally see the Park boundary from space, where the clear cutting has stopped.

Google Map Yellowstone Boundary

More evidence of clear-cutting is around the Redwood National Park in Northern California, with the tree-line perfectly matching the Google Map version.

Google Earth Redwood Park

Google Map Redwood Park

The Great Plains fascinate me.    They’re all pretty flat…but I found the flattest table-top sections are in Iowa.

Google Map Iowa Gridsquare

It’s very rectilinear, with all the roads running East/West and North/South, and the towns as grey dots forming larger rectangles.  This is the only place on the continent where the roads are laid out in squares like this, over such a huge area.

If you zoom in, you can see each grid square more clearly.

Google Map Iowa Gridsquare M

Zooming in even further, it turns out one of these square is 1 mile across and contains one or two farms.

Google Map Grid Squares 2

Hard to imagine that not that long ago, this was virgin tallgrass prairie where buffalo roamed and Indians hunted.  Iowa didn’t’ start to get settled until around 1830.

But now, less than 200 years later, pretty much every squire mile of land has been parceled off.

What was once endless plains, has now been divided into thousands and thousands of farms, with basically NO wilderness left.

Which kinda makes me sad.

Southwestern Ontario isn’t much better.   It has its own grid square pattern of farm land, which also used to be forest.    The little green stripes are the remaining bit of trees left that each farmer left  on the “back forty”.

Google Map Deforested Ontaro

You do get some forests:  small islands of trees surrounded by farmland and towns, called “Conservation Areas”.

Southern Ontario Milton

Which you have to pay to go into.   Just for the privilege of walking in the woods.  (Used to drive me nuts when I lived in Hamilton).

The farms in Quebec are different.   They’re long and narrow.  This comes from the Seigneurial System, which is how they allocated land to settlers back in the 1600’s when this area was known as “New France”.

Google Earth Deforested Mountains e

This is just on the outskirts of Montreal.    The three green areas are mountains (extinct volcanoes, actually), which are the only areas left forested.

On the other hand, there are still lots of unspoiled places left.    Take Pukaskwa National Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior, for example.    There’s about 80 miles of shoreline with no road access.

Google Earth Superior Capture

Apparently this is this is the longest undeveloped freshwater shoreline in the world.

I think that’ pretty cool, for being within 1 days drive of Toronto or Detroit.

Heading into Nebraska, you can really see the how dry it is West of the Mississippi.

Google Earth Nebraska

Compared to Northern Ontario, which has a bazillion lakes and water is not a problem.

Google Map Northern Ontario Lakes.

One of the lake-iest regions I’ve found is the Mackenzie River Delta in the Northwest Territories.    Imagine crashing your plane here and trying to find your way out.

Google Map McKenzie River Delta


In the Southwest, they have a “reverse tree line”,  where it’s sand and desert, and the trees don’t start until you get up to higher altitude.

Here’s the Mount Lemon area near Tuscon Arizona.   The island of green starts as you head up the mountains.

Google Map Mt. Lemon Reverse Treeline. Capture


I’ve been there in real life.   You start driving through sand and cactus, but when you get to the top at about 8700 feet,  there’s a lush pine forest and it feels like British Columbia.

There’s even a ski hill.  Mt. Lemon is the most southern ski resort in the U.S. and is only 75 miles from the Mexican border as the crow flies.

Google Map Mt. Lemon


Another thing I’m amazed at with Google Earth, is how accurate the 3-D maps are.

Take Mount Washington in New Hampshire, for example.

Mount Washigont

If you rotate the map, you can put yourself on the top of Tuckerman’s Ravine,  overlooking Wildcat Ski Resort across the valley.

Tuckermans Ravine

This compares quite well to the real-life photo I took while hiking there a few years ago.



Pretty accurate !!!


Anyway, that’s about it for now.

I might have more map excursions later.









Stupid Burger

Posted May 7, 2014 by Friar
Categories: Friar's Grab Bag

Tags: , , ,

How desperate do you have to be,  that you’re willing to eat a microwave a burger?

Burger 1 IMG_7860
I mean…I’m one of the laziest cooks out there.

I HATE cooking.

But even a schmuck like me is willing to buy some ground beef, make patties and throw them onto the grill.

But let’s say you’re not even willing to cook even THAT much.

For the same price,  why wouldn’t you just go to the Drive-Thru?

I mean, it would still be junk food…but at least it would be made fresh.

So who would want eat a microwave burger?


I dunno.

But for the past 2 years, I’ve been seeing these abominations in the freezer section at the Jumbo Cat Grocery Store, and I’ve been ignoring them.

But curiosity had finally got the best of me.

So this week I had to check them out.

Burger 2 IMG_7861


Still frozen:

Burger 4IMG_7862

After 60 seconds on the microwave (as per the instructions)

Actually, it doesn’t’ look as bad as I had imagined.

Burger 5 IMG_7863

At least the bacon looks reasonable. 

Burger 6

Burger 7


Originally, I had no intention of eating it.     This was just a consumer experiment.

But after another 10 seconds in the microwave,  and adding some mustard and relish,  I was willing to give it a try.

Burger 8IMG_7866



Surprisingly adequate.

Don’t get me wrong.   They’re not great.   I don’t think I’d buy one again.

But they’re not horrible.

No better or worse than a re-heated cheap fast-food burger.


Regardless,  I got my $2.00 worth of amusement.

It was worth it.


Honest-to-Goodness True Fishing Stories.

Posted May 3, 2014 by Friar
Categories: The Outdoor Friar

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fishermen tend to be full of shit.

I can tell you this from first-hand experience.

We’ll talk about the one that got away.

Or we’ll only show you photos of the big ones we caught, while holding the fish in front of the camera lens to make it look huge.

We’ve all done that.

But what we don’t tell you,  are the countless times we’ve gone out for the entire day, and gotten skunked.

And what you don’t see, are the dozens and lame-ass minnows we get,  that we throw back and don’t talk about.

But I think it’s time to come clean.

To break precedent, I’ve decdided to showing of my less-than-spectacular catches.

And these photos are true.

Honest to God.


Trophy Pike.

Small Pike IMG_6741


Another trophy.    (And come to think about it, this wasn’t the smallest pike I got, either)

trophy pike DSCN7672



Trout fail.   This huge monster is the net result of driving 90 minutes each way, and paddling the entire day.

At least I didn’t’ get skunked, though.

Small Trout IMG_1680



Trophy Walleye



Small Walleye IMG_2844


Okay…I can’t lie.  My fishing guide caught this one.   He wins.

IMG_2851 Even Better Trophy


Anyone who’s gone after perch, knows how easy they are to catch.

And how sad it is…when you can’t even got one large enough for the frying pan…

Small Perch IMG_3053


This one’s the best.   I was casting for trout, and I got a clam.