Friday, February 27, 2009

A positive Friday...


Okay... lately there has been an overrun of negativity on the ol' blog here. Granted, it is merely the reporting of what goes on around me on a quasi-daily basis, but today I want to keep any negativity out of this. It is after all, Friday. It's the end of the week, the cusp of the weekend. A time for at once rejoicing that the weekend is at hand and remembering our men and women who are serving abroad as I write this. Whether it be in 'The Stan' or elsewhere. So hey... Today: positive thoughts all around!

So last night I went online with my son-in-law (XBOX 360 Live) and three of his mates. We were playing the growing favorite: Call of Duty - World At War (or simply CoD-WaW) and it was my first exposure to this game online. Predictably, I had my ass handed to me on several occasions and I died many, many grotesque and military deaths. Unfamiliarity with the maps, respawning directly under enemy guns, improper use of cover, running through the open, initial disorientation upon re-spawning, not crouching when I really should have and simply being outplayed... all of these factors had a hand in many of my demises.

And of course there were the dogs... Yes, you have packs of fucking dogs, German Shepherds to be precise, loosed on you. So besides being wary of your human foes armed with guns, you have the added joy of being like totally unnerved by the fact that you're also being hunted down by packs of baying, snarling dogs at the same time. There is something just wrong about being shot while a dog is simultaneously ripping your throat out. It does kind of get your blood racing, even though you know full well that all this is only a game. But, as with any other new scenario, I slowly improved, game by game and subsequently ranked up several positions before we called it quits. Those players in the 'Prestige' levels have nothing to fear from me yet though... Not for some time...

I did not find WaW as satisfying a Battlefield: Bad Company, although we all had a good time playing at it. This may be due to the fact that the maps were quite a bit smaller than what I had become accustomed to with BC. On the BC front, I have already established myself as a force to be reckoned with, although I am still miles away from ranking with the higher echelon of World-Ranked players. I have been able to unlock some serious weaponry and develop sound attack and defense strategies which serve me well. The large maps with their rolling fields, wooded areas, farm houses, and watercourses, are far better suited to my free-ranging style.

Even the desert locales with the mud and wood houses, flat rooftops, fuel refineries, wadis and oasis, are conductive to some serious play. Tackling a pesky attack helicopter is made easier when you can hop into an Abrahams tank or a Russian BMP. I have yet to play a round of CoD4 online... I'm thinking that could be pretty bold. "SAS Spec. 'Soap' McTavish reporting for duty, Sir!" Awesome... I will have to investigate this one soon... perhaps on my own. It really is too much fun...

There is an endless array of games out there which have online capability. For the mere pittance of $50.00 or so, I have year-round access to XBOX 360 online play. It's pretty amazing when you think of it. You're playing against other gamers from around the globe, literally. This kind of gives me pause, just like the advent of the now ubiquitous e-mail. I can remember being fascinated by the concept of sitting in one spot in the world and being able to communicate practically instantaneously with someone else in any other country. I guess I'm just not jaded enough, to not be impressed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The TRUTH about "animal rights" groups...


Since my last post on here, we've been busy dealing with the dribs and drabs of the last "emergencies". We're still receiving the odd e-mail from folks who dispute the outcome of the Seal Cove fiasco and of course continue to insist that Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are or should be, an animal rescue organization. Truly, ignorance IS bliss as far as these morons go. They'd also rather believe that all the dolphins were saved, just to prove the actual experts in this matter wrong. The media of course continues to report it's disinformation, as to admit that their initial story was a total fabrication, would not sit well with their editors. Whatever... it's not like they have any kind of grip on reality, or are threatened with developing one anytime soon.

From the other side of the intellect spectrum, we've heard from a rather bright fellow about how shocked he was, when he discovered the IFAW's annual income figure: $111,065,000.00. Yes, that's one hundred and eleven MILLION, sixty-five thousand US dollars! He is finally waking up to the realization that these various "animal rights" group are in the business for one reason only: it's all about the money, honey!

Here's some information posted on an Ohio website called "Our Ohio". This is a piece written by John C. (Jack) Fisher.

The title is "A wolf in sheep's clothing" and is a none-too-flattering description of not only the HSUS, but all other so-called animal rights group.

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.

http://ourohio.org/index.php?page=a-wolf-in-sheep-s-clothing

“The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.” — Michael Fox, former Humane Society of the United States vice president.

"I find it hard to believe many of us agree with that kind of extreme thinking, but if you are a donor to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), you are buying into it. Literally.


Well-intentioned folks who send five or ten bucks to HSUS to protect animals in their local community are being hoodwinked. HSUS acknowledges, albeit quietly, that it is “not affiliated with, nor a parent organization of local humane societies.” So be very clear about this: A donation to HSUS does not support the volunteers and staff who are sheltering and protecting animals in your community. It supports HSUS’ Washington/Hollywood fund-raising machine.

HSUS’ 2006 tax return shows annual income of more than $100 million and assets in excess of $225 million. Some of that windfall comes from average citizens who are tricked into giving by images of sad-eyed puppies. Ironically, another way HSUS brings in money is by charging local nonprofit groups for advice on how to run animal shelters.

So if all that cash isn’t being used for local humane efforts, where’s it going? Mr. Fox gives us a pretty clear indication. The HSUS agenda is to convince the world that animals have the same rights as humans. They want no pet ownership, no circus acts, no biomedical research. And no meat, milk or eggs. HSUS Grassroots Coordinator J.P. Goodwin proclaimed, “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.”

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle has enforced a “no animal products” policy in the office; he’s hired lawyers and activists from multiple anti-animal agriculture groups including one staffer who said “nothing is more important than promoting veganism.” Mr. Pacelle is certainly ambitious; his stated political goal is to build “a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement.”

Clearly, I couldn’t disagree more with the HSUS agenda. But neither would I argue against their right to believe as they choose. My complaint is with how their beliefs are marketed. Donors are sold a pretty package that says “help animals,” but under that wrapping is a product that few expect, and even fewer would ever buy.

Kathie Gray agrees. As president of the Wayne County Humane Society in northeast Ohio, she said it’s best to look at HSUS and other national organizations with a “skeptical eye.” Said Gray, “If I send $10 to HSUS, it may go into a political arena I don’t agree with.”

Conversely, money given locally is “very visible; we have to account to this community.” Gray and the rest of the Wayne County Humane Society are so disenchanted that they have removed links from their Web site to many national groups who have been “infiltrated by HSUS.”

Comparing HSUS to her agency, she added, “They send out glossy brochures. We take care of companion animals.” It’s my sense that as pet owners, livestock farmers or zoo visitors, we pretty well agree on our responsibility to provide for an animal’s best welfare. But assigning rights to animals — considering them somehow equal to humans — is a concept few of us accept.

Recognize there are enormous differences between animal welfare groups and animal rights activists. Support the welfare work done by your local humane society. And think twice before mailing a check to HSUS."

Truly, I couldn't have said this any better myself. This falls into the very same vein as those old folks who are bilked out of their life savings by some evangelical charlatan, who promises them a clear path straight to the promised land, if only they will donate to his particular "church". People outside these types of schemes can only look on in disbelief while the converts throw their money at these frauds. Same scenario with these mindless yobbos who fill the coffers of these not-so-well-intentioned 'special interest' groups.

P. T. Barnum is most often associated with the circus sideshow and the display of freaks. While this is true, he is also the founding force behind one of America's most famous circuses: Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum is also affiliated with the famous quote "There's a sucker born every minute." History, unfortunately, has misdirected this quotation. Barnum never did say it. Actually, it was said by a banker competitor of his, David Hannum from Syracuse, New York.

But that's another story: The Story of the Cardiff Giant. One of the more popular hoaxes pulled off by numerous 'showmen' during that era. Still... it's nice to know that such grandstanding bullshitters remain amongst us.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Ah yes, it's Seal Season again...


Here is a pretty standard format anti-sealing e-mail, which I received today. Just for the heck of it, I've decided to have a little fun and add my rebuttal to each and every bullshit HSUS statement this person has decided to adopt as being the gospel truth:

"To whom it may concern:

I will I will no longer be visting Canada until a ban is put on the seal hunt for the following reasons:

(That's funny! Not only have you never been here in your life, you never had any intention of visiting here anyway!! If truth were known, you probably couldn't even find us on a map, even though we are the second largest country in the World! Do us a favor, we have enough idiots as it is here in Canada. Stay home and don't add to their numbers...)

The hunt is cruel.

(You say this on because you find seals "cute". It's not cruel for a child to die due to war, disease or starvation, because they're not what you would consider "cute"... I see where you're coming from...)

The seal pups are beaten or shot, both of which cause great pain.

(The pain is yours alone...it is no different with a bolt gun used in the beef industry. Pigs have their throats slit and are hung upside down to exsanguinate or bleed out, did you know that?)

Observers report that Canada's animal welfare regulations are not being followed or enforced.

(That is not what qualified observers report. That's what 'activists' report, because to report anything else would be treason towards the big money machine that is the HSUS, right?)

Sealers have been observed skinning many seals while the pups are still alive and conscious.

(Bullshit! There's another favorite horror story propagated by the HSUS faithful...)

The number of seals killed is unsustainable and growing.

(Seal herds in this area of Canada have never been healthier. It is their sheer weight of numbers that guarantee the viability and sustainability of this hunt...)

The Canadian government has provided no scientific evidence that the seal populations of Labrador and Newfoundland can withstand the new quota, which allows hunters to kill nearly a million seals over three years.

(The harp seal is estimated at 5.5 million. The TAC or Total Allowable Catch for 2009 is 275,000 seals. "Nearly a million" is not quite accurate...)

The government does not control the hunt adequately.

(There are Fisheries Officers as well as qualified observers on the ice itself, as well as aerial surveillance and active boat patrols...)

The Canadian Department of Fisheries, which is charged with overseeing the hunt, doesn't punish hunters who kill the seals inhumanely or who exceed the quota. It ignores the abuse of animals and rewards overkilling with higher quotas.

(Horseshit! Sealers who are found breaching the Fisheries Act are fined, their catch forfeited and have their licenses suspended and/or revoked. These items are routinely published on many DFO websites. The quotas are based on herd counts and reproduction rates. They will be amended should the loss of ice in Northern Regions begin affecting herd population statistics...)

The government should not subsidize this barbaric hunt. The subsidies that the government has poured into the seal hunt since 1995, reportedly more than $20 million, is an investment in cruelty.

(This is a favorite line of theirs. The "government" DOES NOT subsidize the seal hunt. They haven't since the 80's. Why? Because the hunt is viable and sustainable... It is capable of sustaining itself...D'Uh!)

The seal hunt is misrepresented to the public.

(The seal hunt IS misrepresented to the public... By the assholes at PETA and the HSUS, to name but a few lying entities who seek only to line their own pockets with the money of the gullible and feeble-minded...)

Claims that the hunt is part of the indigenous cultures of Labrador and Newfoundland are a cloak for this commercial industry. With 11,185 commercial sealing licenses issued in 2001, this cannot be considered a local cultural event. It's commerce, just like any other industry.

(Are these people fucking retarded? No one has ever stated that this is simply 'cultural' or 'traditional'. It is of course a commercial fishery, the same as any other. For the Innus and Eskimos, it is their subsistence we're talking about here. As far as the hunt off Newfoundland, Quebec, PEI and other fronts, it absolutely is commercial. Just like the beef and poultry industries are 'commercial'...)

The Canadian government also misrepresents the threat seals pose to the North Atlantic cod industry.

(The North Atlantic cod industry, as these lamebrains laughingly refer to it, is long gone. It's pretty hard to threaten something which doesn't exist. Whatever remains of the stocks are themselves being depleted by the seal populations, yes. Where do they think these seals eat? Wendy's? Seals also transmit worms to various other fish species, throughout the food chain. To remove any chance these stocks might have of bettering their numbers in the future, would just be foolish...)

Scientific evidence doesn't back up the government's claim that seals are eating too many cod. Even the government's own scientists have pointed to over-fishing as the actual culprit in the crash of the cod industry.

(The government has never pointed to the seals as a means of explaining the collpase of the East Coast fisheries. This is another retarded byline produced by the animal groups. Of course it was overfishing that led to their collapse... Illegal overfishing by fleets of foreign vessels, over many decades...)

There's also reason to believe that killing off seals might even worsen the cod stock's condition.

(That particular theory is also pure bullshit. There is reason for them to believe this, as it suits their zany take on the interaction of all living things. The seal population does nothing for whatever remains of the cod stocks, except consume and spread disease to them...)

Citizens of Canada and other countries should tell the Canadian government to outlaw the seal hunt.

(As far as foreigners are concerned, it's none of their fucking business how Canada manages it's economy, it's assets or it's natural rersources. Canada would be a far lesser country if it bowed to the ill-educated wishes of others...As far as Canadians are concerned, well over half the country understands and supports the need for the seal hunt, a fact that remains irrelevant to the hunt itself).

Instead of subsidizing the cruelty and waste of life, the government must stop it.

(Again, jackass...we don't subsidize it... It stands on it's own...)

Non-Canadian citizens should signal their disapproval of the seal hunt by telling the Canadian Tourism Commission that they won't be visiting Canada until the government bans the hunt.

(Again... you people don't come here anyway. If you did, you just might have a better understanding of what you're talking about...)

Sincerely,"

*Sigh!* These people just don't know enough to quit...


A "normal" Monday, perhaps...?


Okay... so the weekend is over, the calamity in Seal Cove came to some sort of resolution whereby one of the trapped dolphins was freed by a couple of local lads, while the other three perished in a failed rescue bid. At least according to the local Sunday paper (The Telegram - St.John's, NL):

Dolphins die in failed rescue attempt.
Three die of asphyxiation, one survives after locals use boat to cut channel in ice
EVERTON MCLEAN AND JAMES MCLEOD
The Telegram

"A failed attempt to rescue four dolphins trapped by ice in Seal Cove ended with the death of three of the animals Thursday evening.

Wayne Ledwell, head of the Whale Release and Strandings group, said he travelled to the community Thursday to assess the situation. However, when he arrived, he learned that some of the animals had already died after some locals tried to lead the mammals to freedom.

"When I got down there where the dolphins were, some local people had put out a boat and were trying to open up the area to where the dolphins were ... but White Bay is chock-blocked with ice," he said. "When they went close to the hole where the animals had been, the animals scattered under the ice. Three of them eventually died of asphyxiation and the stress of trying to get out."

The other animal has been led to another larger hole, where it remained Thursday evening. Seal Cove Mayor Winston May said that after days of hoping the Coast Guard would send an icebreaker, locals got impatient and decided to take matters into their own hands.

"It's been four days now, and it took this long for everything to get worked through the channels for DFO to approve for somebody to come in and try to clear them," May said. "It's time for somebody to take some action. ... People looked at it and said, 'We've got to try to do something.'"The mayor said people in the community have become attached to the dolphins and their deaths will hit the community hard.

"Everybody got attached," May said. "I think they're really disappointed that it took so long for DFO to act and try to do something." The coast guard - and by extension the Department of Fisheries and Oceans - was approached about sending an icebreaker to save the dolphins, but declined to do so. While Ledwell said the incident was unfortunate, he added there was little anyone could do to save the dolphins.

"The only hope for these animals was if the wind turned to the southwest, which it was hoped it would do over the next couple of days," he said. That could have opened up the ice and let the dolphins escape.

"The weather that brought them in there was the only thing that could have let them out," he said. While the stranded dolphins have drawn considerable media attention across Canada, Ledwell said it's not unusual for the animals to get stranded in Newfoundland harbours. "This is nature and it happens all the time in Newfoundland waters," he said.

In fact, about 300 died in several similar incidents in 1983. Meanwhile, Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, who is a former marine biologist, said earlier Thursday he felt the dolphins could have been rescued if a coast guard vessel had been deployed to the area. He said if an ice breaker was backed into the harbour, as is done when a fishing vessel is freed, it would have pushed ice away from the mammals. That would have opened a lane for them to escape, but lessened the risk of crushing them with ice.

He acknowledged, however, that many experts believed using an ice breaker would have ended up killing the animals. But he said the coast guard should have been on hand at "the 11th hour" when it became obvious the dolphins would otherwise die."

So there you have it... it is acknowledged by those who actually know anything about this situation, that very little could have been done to avert the eventual outcome, which happens by the way on a yearly basis in Newfoundland. However due largely to the unschooled individuals in the media making this into a "natural disaster" which in fact wasn't, even less-educated people around North America once more lost their fucking minds and started making preposterously stupid demands on those with far more pressing matters to tend to.

In other news that you certainly won't hear about from the media or their brainless followers, our Coast Guard rescued 22 Spanish sailors on Saturday, from the fishing trawler Monte Galineiro which sank some 400nm off the coast of Newfoundland. Now that is the purpose of our Coast Guard assets! That and keeping vital passenger ferry routes open off the North Coast of Newfoundland, freeing vessels trapped in ice, the list goes on...

How easily people are led by the media. How truly mindless they are... A herd of drooling, Pavlovian dogs, set to erupt into a frenzy of baying, snarling and gnashing of teeth, at the drop of one ill-worded news item...

Still, with this foolishness now out of the way, perhaps we can aspire to some sort of a "normal" Monday? Oh sure... There will still be those idiots who will continue to e-mail or phone in for the next few days, charging either DFO or the Coast Guard with the "murder" of these "poor, defenseless members of God's family...". I love these people with their make-believe and highly morally-selective deities. They'll be the first to tell you that 'God' created the dolphins, but that he had nothing to do with creating the ice, wind and ocean currents that led to their demise in a truly classic, Darwinian fashion... That was all the Coast Guard's doing, clearly... We're still contending with e-mails that came in at the end of last week, as every one must be answered. They came in from all over North American. From Canada yes, but also from Texas, California, Tennessee, Washingtom, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, the list goes on...

Morons! People with no lives of their own and very little understanding of the world around them...

And what of these lads from Seal Cove? What kind of judgement would you render on them? Sure you could say that their attempted intervention actually caused the death of three of the dolphins, but hey... that was pretty much a foregone conclusion. I myself do not consider them to be brave, or noble for what they attempted to do. I will say that they were unwise and foolish to put their lives on the line, to say nothing about taking along a 16 year-old boy. I know a lot of self-proclaimed 'animal lovers' will roundly applaud their actions, but this is because they routinely allow their emotions to take over their limited powers of reasoning. I wonder what kind of slant they would try to put on it if one of these would-be rescuers had died? Oh, wait... I know. It would have been the Coast Guard's fault, right? Just one more case of people being absolved of any responsibility for their own actions...

Hard to believe (when you have some type of basic intelligence...) that people really are that stupid, isn't it?


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

*Sigh!* Now it's dolphins...


Today being my first day back after a couple of unplanned days off (cold, flu, whatever you want to call it...), I find I'm being greeted by a brand new eco-tragedy. Several callers have got in touch with us from Newfoundland about some dolphins which have been trapped by the ice in Seal Pond, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Apparently their alarmed squeals have local women in an uproar and they've been phoning our service here to find out: "just what DFO is going to do about it". As is that wasn't enough, I had a female caller from Virginia, who claimed to represent PETA, asking me the very same thing. She alleged that she had received calls from "some of their members in Newfoundland", who had voiced their concerns.
Basically, I told her the exact same thing I had previously told the other callers. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is part of the federal government. We're not an animal rescue society and it is not our responsibility to do so. Animal rescue associations are private entities and must operate within the Marine Mammal Regulations whenever they consider interceding/interfering with a marine mammal. Guidance in this case is provided by DFO, who will often work alongside these groups. I provided them with the contacts for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St.John's, NL but the city is in the grip of a wicked Nor'Easter today. Therer are no bodies in those offices, today. Nobody to answer the phone. Elsewise, they would have told them the same thing as I did and also offer further information on the restrictions concerning interfering with marine mammals and what DFO's role would actually be in all of this.

These are also the same type of people who phone us all alarmed because there is a seal sitting on an ice floe near their house. "He's been there for over 2 hours now...". No kidding? Seals sometimes do that, ya know... They don't spend every waking moment of their life submerged. They do need to breathe air, you know... I remember one caller advising us that we had better do something "because the kids were throwing rocks at it...". Asking the obvious question, I queried as to whether these children actually had parents or not. The caller actually seemed taken aback that the children's parents should be involved in any of this...

I just received another call from some fellow from Ottawa here. He's wanting to know why DFO hasn't sent an icebreaker yet to save the little darlings. "When you think of all the stories", he said, "where dolphins have saved sailors and rescued people from sharks... if the roles were reversed, they would save people". Yeah? You really think so? Those are some pretty tall stories you're quoting from there, boy. You tell your stories to the men of the USS Indianapolis and see what kind of reaction you get. All the tall tales this young lad is spouting, have no validity whatsoever. He's obviously been watching too many re-runs of Flipper or The Little Mermaid... Besides, there are some very good reasons for not sending in an icebreaker.

Not to be outdone, I get an e-mail from this woman from Welland, ON asking the inevitable:

"Why has this dept. not yet ordered an ice breaker to rescue the 5 porpoises that are trapped and facing certain death if a rescue is not implemented?

It is the responsibility of our gov't to assist in such matters and to not do so is unconscionable."


Nice to know that such out-of-touch-with-reality folks are the ones who dictate what the 'responsibilities' of various government entities are... Christ on a stick! Are you kiddin' me here???

Don't get me wrong... I love dolphins. They are incredibly intelligent and sensitive creatures, besides being a pure delight to observe in the wild. They do have a standing enmity with sharks, simply because sharks are known to follow dolphin pods and predate on their newly-born. They DO NOT have a habit of saving either sailors from drowning, or of protecting anyone from sharks. Nowhere will you find any evidence to support either one of these preposterous claims. Clearly this 'fantasy world of the secret lives of animals', is more prevalent than I actually believed. Like I say, we're raising a new generation of morons...

So no, I don't think an icebreaker is going to be dispatched any time soon. If one was, it's arrival would almost surely spell the dooom of these dolphins, as it would displace thousands of tons of ice ahead of it, effectively closing off whatever air hole these dolphins have at the moment. What these yokels are witnessing is, as I informed them, a natural event. It happens on a yearly basis in the Newfoundland region. It does not fit within the mandate of DFO to interfere with Mother Nature's way. Fortunately saner minds prevail over the impulse that 'nothing living must die!'. Even if so many other mindless individuals happen to embrace this particular doctrine.

Greenpeace Canada just called from Toronto. Same deal, same info. And by the way, for the umpteenth time, your failure to accept reality does not alter what that reality is!

You're welcome... call again real soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

On totally random calls...


Every now and then, actually more often than I'd probably like to admit, we get these random calls that come totally out of left field. These are the kind of calls where the person on the other end asks us for information or a service which could not be further from what we do here. I'm never quite sure whether these types of calls are prompted by a full moon, piss-poor genetics or simply laziness on the caller's part.

Case in point, my winger The D-Man just got off the phone (TC - Office of Boating Safety line) with a caller that was looking for information on Employment Insurance benefits. Now, think about that for just a second. What is the gap between information on 'boating safety' and 'employment insurance'? Why, in the Blue Section of the phone book, under federal government numbers alone, there is the entire C, D and 2/3 of the E section, at least.

Boating Safety is under Transport Canada. Employment Insurance is under HRSDC (Human Resources and Social Development Canada). Again, large stretch between the two. I mean, the caller can't even be trying to dial the right number. It's like they stand in front of their phone, close their eyes and just start punching keys at random. That's the only explanation for it that I can come up with... I mean, that's like calling up the meat department in your local Sobey's store and asking them for a rundown on the theory of quantum physics. Then act as though you're all put off when they can't give you what you've asked for...

Seriously... what is wrong with people? "Well it's not my fault... you guys make these phone books too hard to use anyway... You can't find anything in them!" Rather than to ask them to explain the logic underlying such a conclusion, I will simply comment that "us guys" have nothing to do with the layout of goddamn phone books, either in their province or others. And in truth, it is in fact such retarded thought processes which seem to justify their calling "any bloody number in the book", to find whatever information they might be looking for.

We are breeding a nation of morons. If we keep on at this rate, pretty soon the average American will look positively intelligent by comparison.

Now that is one scary thought...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yeah, but I have a cell phone...


So I'm having a conversation with this West Coast gentleman the other day. He had recently bought a boat down in Washington State and was looking for information on licensing it and rendering it legal to operate in Canadian waters. The boat itself was around 30 feet, if I recall correctly.

We chatted about how he would have to clear customs and have the boat here in Canada, before Service Canada would license it. Then we discussed the navigational gear on the boat, as I have a habit of doing if the boat is 20 feet long or over. The reason for this of course, has to do with discovering whether the boat has a marine VHF radio or not. If so, then we can provide them with info on the requirement to have a Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime), in order to operate that radio in Canadian waters.

Turns out the boat had a radio fitted to it, but he was going to remove it. "Besides", he confided to me, "with the availability of cell phones these days, I suspect marine VHF radios are going to be on their way out pretty soon, right?"

Well... you could have knocked me over with a feather. So, we went over the approved procedures for distress signals on the water, which are as follows:

Distress Call:

Use:

- 2182 kHz (MF) or channel 16

- 156.8 MHz (VHF) DSC alert

- channel 70 (only for digital selective call system (DSC) type radios and where the service is offered)
Calling Procedures:

- "Mayday, mayday, mayday" signals immediate danger to persons or ships.

- "Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan" signals an urgent message concerning the safety of persons or ships.

In these situations, please give the vessel's name and call sign, state the position of the vessel and describe the nature of the emergency.

Cellular Phones:

With a cellular phone, contact a Joint Rescue Coordination Centre directly or dial *16 for the Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres.

NOTE: not all cellular providers offer the *16 service.

Contact your cellular provider to find out if the *16 service is accessible from your phone.

Remember that a cellular phone is not a substitute for a marine radio and is not an approved means of issuing a distress call.

Using a cellular phone does not alert other boats close to you that you are in distress.

Unlike VHF transmissions, some cellular phone signals cannot be followed back to your location by rescuers.

I spent a little time elaborating on the section dealing with cellular phones and how they are absolutely NOT RECOMMENDED for making emergency or distress calls. I then advised him that cell phones were not in any danger of supplanting VHF radios anytime soon. One of the main reasons is that cell phones on the water operate pretty much on a line-of-sight (LOS) range. Cell phone towers on land are placed for terrestrial cell phone usage, not waterborne activities. They operate in the UHF frequency range, which means an even higher frequency than a VHF radio.

As we ought to know by now, the higher the frequency, the shorter the range. So even under optimum conditions, cell phones have a shorter range. On the water their reception is spotty and unreliable at best. Not the type of system an intelligent being would want to entrust their very survival to.

After underlining their shortcomings, my caller kind of saw the error of his ways. I have to say "kind of" here, as I'm pretty sure he had no intentions of either hooking up his VHF radio or learning how to use it.

Left Coasters, boy...

They're a hard breed to reason with.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On musical preferences...


I have been approached to make some of my musical preferences known. My musical tastes run the gammut between the classics, rock, country, folk, Celtic, blues, jazz, fusion, and a host of other genres. One might say I have a very catholic taste, when it comes to music. By this I do not imply the religion, but rather the term "catholic", as an adjective derived from the Greek adjective 'καθολικός' or (katholikos), meaning "whole" or "complete".

Like just about any other human on the planet, what I listen to normally has a lot to do with the mood I'm in. I will go on record as saying that there is not much new music out there nowadays, that actually appeals to me. I really did like the Crash Test Dummies, though I simply couldn't get into the so-called Metal Bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Metallica, Def Leppard, or even Guns and Roses. There are the odd releases which will get my attention, but in the main, a lot of it is pure crap, churned out by talentless people whom the record industry and the media more specifically, would have us believe are 'stars'. Yeah, right...

I grew up in an era where musically, we were totally spoiled. More importantly, it was the listeners who decided who was good and who wasn't. We didn't have folks telling us who to listen to. The music spoke for itself. My music was that of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Even so, I also had a good exposure to my folks' music from the War Years and the Big Band era such as the 30s and 40s. Count Basie, Artie Shaw (and his fabulous vocalist, Billie Holiday), the Cotton Club's Duke Ellington, Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Fats Waller and Gene Krupa.

Even to this day, I still get a little sentimental/nostalgic when I hear Glenn Miller's 'Moonlight Serenade' or 'String of Pearls', Artie Shaw's 'Stardust' or Satchmo's 'Ain't Misbehavin'. This is truly 'old school' music which still retains it's appeal to anyone with a musical bone in their body. I think about my late step-Dad and how dashing he must have looked back in the day with his RAF uniform, as he sprinted towards his AVRO Lancaster bomber. I think about how much my Mom misses him nowadays...

Music can be a fiercely personal affair, I guess. I think what we end up preferring says something about ourselves, or we'd like to believe that it does. We want it to speak of where we've been, what we believe in. I never ask someone if they like a certain tune. I can remember a period in my life when it was important that you know what music you were supposed to like, if you wanted to 'fit in'. Fortunately, most if not all of the music which was "in" was pretty freakin' great by it's own merit. Over the years though, I have developed an appreciation for most genres which are played well.

I like music which conveys a message. Or which tells a story that I personally can identify with. I like songs which have a melancholy air to them, which speak of love and loss and redemption. I love inspirational songs, which tell a tale of hardship and overcoming it. Stan Rogers' 'The Mary Ellen Carter' comes readily to mind to mind. I suppose in the end, I show a marked preference for songs that manage to convey emotions, on one level or another. When listening to any song though, I have to be able to hear and understand the lyrics. Enunciation is critical to any decently produced song. And that is one reason why most new-age, recently released music leaves me cold.

I know... some wise-ass out there is going to say: "Yeah? Well what about the Kingsmen? What about Louie Louie, which was written by Martin Berry (no relation to Chuck Berry...)? To this day, nobody knows what the Hell the lyrics were to that song! It didn't make any sense!!"

Okay...here ya go. Straight from 1963, the transcript for the original lyrics to "Louie Louie". Enjoy!

A-Louie Lou-ay,
oh no
saying we gotta go,
yi, yi, yi, yi, yi
Said a-Louie Lou-ay,
oh baby,
said a-we gotta go

A fine little girl she waits for me,
Me catch a ship a-cross the sea,
Me sail that ship ah all alone,
Me never think how I'll make it home

A-Louie Lou-ay,
nah, nah, nah, nah,
saying we gotta go,
oh no
Said a-Louie Lou-ay,
oh baby,
said a-we gotta go (Shout)

Three nights and days I sail the sea,
I think of girl oh constantly,
A-on that ship I dream she there,
I smelt her rose, ah in her hair

A-Louie Lou-ay,
oh no
saying we gotta go,
yi, yi, yi, yi, yi
Said a-Louie Lou-ay,
oh baby, said a-we gotta go
(Okay, let's give it to 'em right now !)

(See) Me see Jamaica, the moon above,
It won't be long me see me love,
Me take her in my arms again,
I’ll tell her I’ll never leave again

A-Louie Lou-ay,
oh no
saying we gotta go,
yi, yi, yi, yi, yi
Said a-Louie Lou-ay,
woh baby,
said a-we gotta go
I said we gotta go now
The first one outta here Let’s go!

The song by the way, was actually done in the form of a Jamaican ballad...


There is too much 'music' out there nowadays which speaks only to hopelessness, rage, contempt, disrespect and basically can be rendered down into one big, incessant whine about how 'bad' people should think I am, how hard done I've been by life due to my roots or how the world owes me a living because: "I'm so special". If you gotta ask or beg for respect, you don't deserve any. Respect, just like love and hate, has to be earned. I imagine by now, those OC Transpo employees are finding that out firsthand...

That is also why rap music doesn't even register on my musical radar... Let's face it, if you have to try to convince the world that you're bad... you're NOT! Just like young thangs on the streets wearing t-shirts proclaiming they're 'sexy' or 'hot'. Again, if you gotta wear a shirt to tell people you are... you're so-ooo NOT!

I love music that celebrates life, love, music and dance. Leahy's "Call to Dance", was a phenomenally successful tune, which conveyed just that. Leahy (pronounced LAY-he) are an incredibly talented group of brothers and sisters, for those who like their music on the traditional-Celtic side. Their life story reads like a Hollywood movie; a large family raised without a television on a farm in the small town of Lakefield, Ontario. In fact, their life story was so compelling that it became the subject of an Oscar winning documentary—The Leahys: Music Most of All. The film foretold the success that would follow.

http://www.leahymusic.com/

Another fabulous Celtic group, this one from Cape Breton, are The Cottars. Though very young, their style is pure, lilting and unblemished. My very favorite tune of theirs is a piece written by Scottish songwriter Dougie MacLean. 'Ready For The Storm' will have the hair standing up on the nape of your neck.

http://www.thecottars.ca/

The late Stan Rogers is of course, one of my very favorite male vocalists. He grew up in Ontario but made his home in the Highlands of Cape Breton, NS. He became the self-styled voice for the beleaguered fishermen of Atlantic Canada, with such tunes as 'Make and Break Harbour' and 'Fogarty's Cove'. He is loved and venerated by all those who have ever been so fortunate as to hear his voice. There are two 'a cappella' songs which Stan performed with his band, which became signature pieces and can be heard recited word for word, in just about any pub in the Maritimes. These are 'Barrett's Privateers' and 'The Northwest Passage'. Both fabulous... both classic Stan Rogers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Rogers

Along the same Celtic vein, The Rankins during their relativelty short life span as a group, produced a marvellous body of work. Hailing from the tiny fishing village of Mabou in Cape Breton's Inverness County, they were among the very first (pre-dating Leahy...) to electrify Canada with the new Celtic sound.

http://www.therankinfamily.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rankins

I have come to embrace Celtic and Maritime music as my own. Not through accident by having been born there, but by choice. There are Acadian as well as English and Scottish roots in my family tree. No surprise then that Loreena McKennitt should also be one of my very favorite Canadian talents. She is a storyteller from another age, with a voice like gossamer. Ms. McKennitt is in a class all of her own.

http://www.quinlanroad.com/

I have lived in the Maritimes longer than anywhere else, so far in my life. I chose to move there, to become one of them, to adopt their culture. The Maritimes (indeed all of Atlantic Canada...) are important to me. Not only for the wild beauty of it's coasts, but for the colour and character of those who call it home. Groups such as Great Big Sea, Rawlins Cross and others have done much to champion the Atlantic provinces' culture, philosophy, joy of life and creativity.

http://www.rawlinscross.ca/community/forums/reel-n-roll

http://www.greatbigsea.com/

Far from being Celtic but also one of my favorite male talents, Jesse Cooke makes my list of "most talented guitarists in the known Universe". Tall, lanky and soft-spoken, his style defies classification, although you will find a strong flamenco influence to it. If any person can wear the mantle of 'virtuoso' with apparent ease, it is Jesse. I have had the unrivaled pleasure of playing onstage at Ottawa's NAC with Jesse on three separate occasions, while a member of Samba Ottawa.

http://www.jessecook.com/

Sure, I listen to many other genres of music. From AC/DC to Alice Cooper, from Patty Loveless to Martina McBride, Aaron Tippin to Travis Tritt, Ricky Scaggs to ZZ Top, Lee Roy Parnell to Loverboy, Bob Marley to Bocephus, REO Speedwagon to Ashley MacIsaac, The Judds to Journey... But it will always be a song or a tune that has soul, that has emotion to it... a song that actually says something.



The truth about Old Boaters...


We receive a lot of calls from older boaters, who have a tendency of starting the call by informing us of either how old they are, or how many years they've been boating for. I suppose in their mind they reckon that upon hearing this, we will inform them that any obligation for them to know what they're doing on the water, will magically be waived, simply because other boaters have managed to avoid hitting them so far.

No, there is no 'grandfather clause' when it comes to boaters knowing the Canada Shipping Act. For that matter, there is no 'great-grandfather clause' either. Just because you've managed to survive thus far, should not be construed as you having a clue about what you're doing out there on the water. I will enquire of most of these callers: "And so I gather you must have a fairly extensive knowledge of the Canada Shipping Act by now?" They of course invariably reply: "The what!!???!?"
Point proven...

Many will retort derisively that the CSA pertains only to large commercial ships. Others will advise me that they are not navigating in the Great Lakes or anything like that, or that they don't intend on sailing in ocean waters. That's all well and good, but the same rules and regulations apply whether you're on a small inland lake or in the middle of the ocean. You either know them, or you don't. If you don't know them, you are required to learn them. Period. Full stop. End of story...

For folks who might believe that there should be some sort of amnesty for older boaters, let me ask you this:

If your grandfather has diminished capabilities brought on by age, are you going to support the notion that he no longer requires a driver's license to operate an automobile? Are you going to back the belief that it's now up to other drivers to steer clear of him, just because he's managed to survive this long? That the rules and regulations that all other drivers must comply with, no longer apply to him because he's made it this far without killing himself of others?

Before you reply that boating is not as dangerous as driving a car, let me assure you that it absolutely is and even more so. If something happens to your car, you can get out and leave it on the side of the road. If you have problems with your boat, you don't have that option. And if you're taking on water for any reason and are unprepared for this event, you are pretty much done for unless you're a good swimmer or there are other boaters in your immediate vicinity who are more on the ball than you were.

Boating is a lot of fun and is a very enjoyable passtime or lifestyle, for those who choose to immerse themselves into it. But the very environment it is conducted in is extremely unforgiving and can put a boater in peril in no time at all. This is why it is imperative that boaters be aware and prepared for any and all eventualities they may face on the water. It would stand to reason that the older the boater, the more prepared he/she should be. You can't be prepared if you don't know what you're doing in the first place...


Monday, February 9, 2009

On the world of XBOX 360 LIVE...


So, recently I have been introduced to the world of online gaming. Clearly in retrospect, buying an XBOX 360 console without the intention of gaming live, is kind of like buying a Cessna to park in your driveway, with no intentions of learning to fly. It simply wouldn't make sense.

I will grant you that initially, it can seem a bit daunting. After all, it's not like you're simply going to be playing against a few lads from your neighborhood. You're playing against the World... People from the US, Europe, you just never know who is going to be showing up on your squad or in the enemy camp. I've been cutting my teeth on Battlefield: Bad Company, along with my son-in-law. Most of us enter this etherworld knowing full well that there are legions of players who have been honing their skills for a long time.

They are intricately familiar with the maps that we initially stumble around almost blindly in. They know all the hidey holes, the great sniper vantage points, sites that offer optimum cover. They even know where the re-spawn zones are... But that's okay. I didn't want to go online with any artificially-inflated numbers, any outrageous list of accomplishments. I wanted them all to see me as a weak, little newbie, unschooled in the ways of cyber-warfare. I didn't want them to take me seriously at all...

They are skilled in wielding the engines of war: helicopter gunships, tanks, BMPs and are merciless in their cunning, stealth and lethality. Let's be completely honest here, the first few games are abject lessons in humility. You will, in no uncertain terms, have your ass handed to you on a silver plate. Again and again. But bit by bit, you learn the maps. The layout... the bases and structures, the guardhouses and towers. You learn your opponents' strategies, their habits and their weaknesses.

You learn which routes offer the best covert passages, the best cover and vegetation. Which maps are a nightmare for employing armour and which are best travelled on foot. You will learn where your habitual nemesis' set up camp, where their favorite ambush spots are, which ones double back to your camp in order to pick off your teammates as they re-spawn into the game after being killed. You will learn which ones loiter around the artillery pieces and which ones take to the hills.

You will learn which ones have become proficient in using a knife to dispatch their quarry. I don't care who you are, even in a make-believe game, there is something unnerving about hearing that a knife wielding attacker has just taken out a roomful of your mates. It kind of puts your teeth on edge. That's when you find an isolated room, put your back to the corner and wait for him to come stealing into your space. After all... only an idiot brings a knife to a gunfight. A dead idiot, that is.

You will become proficient in selecting your weapon suite, depending on whether you are an attacker or a defender. You will become skilled at swapping out magazines and knowing the best time to do so. You will come to appreciate and use cover to the fullest extent. You will learn to refrain from charging across an open field, as you will have by then already experienced being a bullet-magnet for some twenty or thirty itchy trigger fingers.

You will learn not to peek over cover to see if that really was a sniper that you thought you saw. Trust your eyes... IT WAS!! Handing him your head as a practice target will not get you far in the game. You will develop your stealth and your patience. You will learn that a couple of well-placed shots are far more effective than spraying a full mag in the frenzy of battle. Be aware though that as you become proficient, you will earn the rancor of your enemies. Some will take their demise at your hands very personally and will make it their newfound mission in life to exact their revenge on you. You may fully expect to have gunship helicopters, tanks, armored carriers, snipers as well as artillery and mortar barrages hurled at you, just you, in an effort to end your miserable existence. Yet by remaining calm and resolved, you will once more outwit and outmanoeuvre your foe, leaving his twitching carcass in your wake as you forge ahead to wreak further mayhem.

I myself had some degree of real-world knowledge to bring to the fray. However that is something I keep from my opponents. Not that any of them would have known at any rate. This makes their recurring defeat at the hand of this 'unschooled newbie' even more stinging. Even more ignominious... This leads them into foolish mistakes, where their ego takes the place of their sense of caution, making them even easier targets. I seek only to complete the mission in the most expedient manner possible, while exacting the heaviest toll imaginable on the enemy forces.

It's probably more fun than any of us should be permitted to have... I'm hooked!

On the film 'Sharkwater'...


I have been meaning to see the movie 'Sharkwater', since I learned of it's release. I finally had the chance to view it over the weekend, along with my better half. The photography was absolutely marvellous, particularily the underwater shots. I feel the movie succeeded in what it meant to accomplish, which is sounding an alarm concerning the unchecked depletion of the world's shark populations.

Although there is no way to possibly verify the figures, shark populations are being decimated throughout the world's oceans. There is virtually no safe haven. Governments are being coerced and bought out by those running the largely black market in shark fins. The Taiwanese mafia and mainland China, among others. 16 countries have banned shark finning. 16 out of 195 countries. It has been reckoned that the only other illegal business in the world that rivals the shark finning market for profits, is that of illegal drugs.

Longlining itself certainly ought to be banned outright. It is an unconscienable way to fish and results in the death and wanton destruction of millions of marine creatures per year. For those of you who want to learn more on this reprehensible practise, visit the link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-line_fishing

The main problem in all of this, as witnessed by the article on Wikipedia itself, is that nobody really cares about the sharks. THE main fish populations being decimated by longlining, are indeed sharks. This Wiki article does not even make mention sharks, let alone that they are the species most often targeted by this type of fishing, never mind by-catch species. Sharks are considered by most people as disposable, they frighten us, yet their place in our oceans' ecosystems is only just being defined. The repercussions of ridding the oceans of it's apex predator species, would have far ranging and deadly implications for all of us. At least 80% of the world's oxygen supply comes from the oceans. It is generated not by the waters themselves, but by the ecosystem that these waters support.

By killing off the world's shark populations, we are throwing the oceans' ecosystem out of balance, threatening our very own supply of oxygen. What is the most infuriating aspect of this, is that we all know what we're doing. We all know what's going on!! The governments know, the criminals who indulge in these illegal fisheries know, the people who buy the shark fins know. Everybody knows... but nobody wants to stop it. For the sake of human greed, we are willing to gleefully, stupidly, insanely assist in our own demise.

You'll find more information on the site below. I'm not asking anyone to contribute any money to this, but you may want to check out some of the other sites listed at the bottom of this site:

http://www.savingsharks.com/

I will have to begrudgingly extend kudos to Paul Watson for his part in trying to dissuade illegal shark finners in Guatamalan waters. According to the narrative, the Guatamalan government 'asked' Paul Watson to step in and detain these illegal shark fisherman. Why a foreign government would 'ask' a Canadian-registered vessel (the Sea Shepherd Society vessel he was captaining was Canadian...) to detain illegal fishermen in their territorial waters, is beyond me. It's not like Watson or his vessel, or the group they represented, had any legal authority in Guatamalan or international waters. I would take this explanation for their being there with more than a grain of salt. Paul Watson and his ilk have long been known for inventing their own press. The concept that any legitimate government authority, Guatamalan or otherwise, would actually ask a known criminal for assistance in enforcing the law, is as ludicrous as it gets.

Then again, young producer/director Rob Stewart who hails from Toronto, no less... is a very impressionable lad, no doubt. Regardless of what he puts forth as his academic pedigree. He may have been obliged to reiterate Mr.Watson's hand-cobbled excuse for intervening in this illegal fishery, or may simply have been star-struck at being able to work alongside such a Greenpeace-approved 'heavy'. At one point in the film, he is seen in a hospital where he tells his viewers that he has contracted the 'flesh eating disease'. No doubt he has picked up an infection from somewhere, assumedly through small cuts on his feet. I seriously doubt however that it was in fact 'Necrotizing Fasciitis'. His leg would have been lopped off so fast it would have made his head spin...

Nevertheless, he attempted to disrupt their shark finning operations, even ramming their boat. (The contact was side to side, so no major damage was either intended or done...). In the end, they agreed to be towed back in by Watson and his crew. In the interim, the skipper of the illegal fishing vessel was on the phone and obviously had friends in high places. As they entered Guatamalan waters, they were accosted by a Guatamalan gunboat and placed under arrest. No, not the fishermen who had been fishing illegally, but Watson and his crew.

Apparently they had stumbled upon a business funded by the Taiwanese mafia, who was buying off the Guatamalan government to look the other way. Shark finning is supposedly banned in Guatamala. Yet there were scores of illegal shark finning companies operating all along the waterfront, the roofs of their tin-covered buildings covered with thousands of fins as they dried in the sun.

The movie was an eye-opener. I knew this was being conducted here and there around the world, but if the facts presented in the movie are legitimate, I had far underestimated the scope of this illegal trade and the degree of world government duplicity in allowing it to flourish. Even the Galapagos, a heretofore pristine ecological site, had been blackmailed to agree to a commercial shark fishery, after the locals had threatened to kill off all of the giant Galapagos tortoises. Up until then, this had been one of the very few places in the world where sharks had actually been protected.

Greed... dollar signs dancing in their heads... that is all the motivation it takes for the uneducated to drive species after species to the very brink of extinction and beyond. It's simply shameful. I feel no conflict whatsoever between condemning this shark fishery, while still fully endorsing the Atlantic seal hunt. I do not, cannot logically draw any parallels between this and the seal hunt. There is no comparison between the two events.

One is localized, strictly regulated and overseen, used to regulate a burgeoning species which has virtually no natural predators. The other is conducted on a global scale, virtually in secret, with no regulation, no supervision and no accountability. And that I feel is the difference between being ecologically aware and simply embracing a cause because it's trendy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A nice (iPod) surprise...


So last Wednesday evening as I prepared to get horizontal, I noticed a small plastic bag in my spot in bed. Intrigued, I looked over at my spouse. She did her best 'deadpan' face routine, so I opened the bag and had a gander inside.

Well, nestled in the bag... was a brand new iPod Nano. You can't imagine my surprise! I mean, I had talked about getting something like that eventually, at some point, but this was right out of left field. She had even thought to include a leather case for it. Very nice!! Now I only found out afterwards that my better half had already gotten herself one, but still... I found it incredibly sweet that she would have picked me one up too. It's not like she should or would have felt obliged to.

So I started thinking about the advances in sound reproduction systems in the last few years. I can clearly remember strolling around Montreal or Halifax/Dartmouth in the '70s and '80s, with a cassette tape player clipped on my belt. Even the smallest ones were pretty dense and were guaranteed to leave a mark on you. And you'd always be clanging them against objects...

Then came the advent of CDs. Again, you were forced to walk or jog around with a device strapped to your body or clipped to your belt. They contained megabytes of data and could keep you in tunes for quite a while. These however were remarkably lighter and slimmer than their tape-playing counterparts and the quality of the sound was markedly improved. Then again, you still had to carry a supply of CDs, unless you really, really liked the one you had loaded in your CD player.

Now we're into the age of MP3 players and iPods. These units are so small and portable, you don't even realize you have them on you. And the data they can hold? We're talking gigabytes here! Unbelievable! Kind of makes you wonder what's waiting another 10 years down the road, don't it? This little gizmo might help break the tedium of the bus rides, once they start rolling again. But I'll keep it on low. You can't drown out your surroundings and still expect to maintain your situational awareness...


Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Newfie joke for ya...


Three construction workers were working on a newly-commissioned high-rise condo building on the outskirts of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Two of the lads were locals from Fort McMurray, while the third was from Botwood, Newfoundland.

For some days now, the three had been comparing and complaining about the lunches they had been bringing to work with them.


The first Albertan spoke up: "Jesus… would you look at this? Another roast beef sandwich! Day after friggin' day, my wife makes me roast beef sandwiches. I'm sick of 'em!!! I swear if I see another roast beef sandwich tomorrow, I'm gonna jump off this building!"

The other two nodded in assent, with the second Albertan chiming in: "Lookit this!! Another goddamn pastrami sandwich! I'll bet I've eaten a pastrami sandwich every blessed day since we started working on this site and that was over three months ago now!! Well I've had it too… If I see another pastrami sandwich tomorrow, I'm gonna end it all as well!!"

It was G'arge the Newf's turn to speak up: "Yiss by da Jeezus, B'yes… Lookit dis 'ere baloney sandwich! Baloney, mind you!! Not even roast beef or pastrami! I'm some sick of dese too, me lads. If I sees anudder baloney sandwich tomorrow, by da Lord liftin', t'underin', lamplightin' Jeezus I'm after killin' meself too!!"

The following day, the three met up on the highest completed point of the building and sat down on the girders to begin their lunch.

Sure enough, when the first Albertan unwrapped his lunch… there sat a roast beef sandwich. With a last disgusted look towards his friends, he rose and stepped off the building, falling to his death.

The two remaining friends looked at one another with a creeping sense of dread…

"I'll go next…", said the second Albertan. He unwrapped his lunch and sure enough, staring back at him was yet another pastrami sandwich. "Screw this", he said. With a final wave, he too stepped off the roof and plunged to his death.

Well, ol' G'arge is pretty spooked but being a native son from The Rock, a man's word is his bond. He fishes into his lunchbag and pulls out… another baloney sandwich.

"Well... I"ll be dipped…", he says.

Without hesitation, he leaps off the roof and joins his friends lifeless bodies 17 floors below.

At the wake which was held later on in the week, the three grieving widows were sharing their thoughts on these recent tragic events.

"My God", wailed the first wife. "If I had only known my Robert was so fed up with roast beef sandwiches, I surely would have made him something different for lunch!!"

The second wife was equally remorseful. "If only Randy had let me know how much he disliked pastrami, I swear I would have made him anything he wanted", she sobbed.

The two looked towards G'arge's wife, who commented tersely: "I don't know what the Hell G'arge's problem was, me luvs… The fool always made 'is own jeezus lunch!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On singing pigs...


“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” - Robert Heinlein, American science-fiction writer,1907-1988.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On Leadership...


"Leadership is the art of being able to motivate people to follow you into Hell... and doing so in a manner that will actually have them looking forward to the trip." - Crypt.

Monday, February 2, 2009

You do NOT belong at sea...


If the email waiting for me this morning is any indication, this is going to be a good week... There is a chap out on the Left Coast with whom we have been doing a back-and-forth with. His first enquiry to us was as follows:

"To whom it may concern:

I am intersted in possibly buying a Commecial prawn boat and I have reveiwed the information I could find on-line (management plan for 2008 - 2009) season. I was wondering if I could get updated information on the 2008 catch. The total pounds caught? Average price and estimated total vaule of catch. The management plan has these for the past few years up to 2007. I would like 2008 if it is availible. I am also wondering if there are certain quification one needs for operating a commercial boat? I would be interested in running a smaller prawn boat under 30 feet in length, aluminum boat. Are there courses a captain needs for such a small boat?

Thank you"

A simple enough request, right? So we answered him with the following:

"Dear Mr.---- ,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 28 January 2009, requesting information on a prawn fishery somewhere in Canada, as well as qualifications required to operate a small commercial fishing vessel. Unfortunately, you have not provided us with enough information to assist you. From which town/city and province in Canada are you writing us? Do you currently hold a commercial fishing license?

Please send us more detailed information in order to help us better identify your needs.

Sincerely,

Us."

This prompted him to provide us with the following answer:

" I live in Victoria BC. And i do not currently have a Commercial licence."

Armed with this vital information we were then able to provide him with the following detailed reply:

"Dear Mr.----,

Thank you for your email dated 29 January 2009, requesting information on commercial fishing in the Pacific Region and the requirements for operating a commercial vessel.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Commercial Fishing - Pacific Region program carries out the following activities:
- issues and renews commercial fishing licences and vessel registration numbers
- issues and renews fishers' registration cards and deckhand licences
- sets quotas for certain licences

The program also provides information on the following topics:
- fishery management plans
- selective fishing
- test fishing
- fishing seasons
- fishery notices, such as the openings of commercial fishing zones as well as closures due to red tide and paralytic shellfish poisoning

Please contact your regional office directly for any additional information.

Commercial Fishing - Pacific Region
60 Front Street, Room 304
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5H7

Tel.: 250-754-0400 (Nanaimo) 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Closed 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Fax: 250-754-0403 (Nanaimo)

Information on commercial fishing in the Pacific Region is available at the following URL:
www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/ops/fm/Commercial/index_e.htm

Information on what qualifications you would require to operate a commercial vessel are available through Transport Canada's Personnel Standards and Pilotage Branch.

Transport Canada's Marine Personnel Standards and Pilotage Branch develops policies, standards and regulations related to marine crews, on behalf of the minister of Transport. The Branch also carries out the following activities:
- oversees all marine pilotage regulations
- enforces training standards and approves training courses as well as training course providers (marine schools)
- issues certificates of competency to seafarers and oversees their examination
- issues seafarers identification documents, discharge books and statements of sea service
- keeps a registry of merchant seafarers who served in the Canadian Merchant Navy between 1948 and 1950, and between 1954 and the present
- manages the Marine Emergency Duties (MED) Training Program and its facilities
- provides funding for the purchase of equipment and vehicles as well as for the maintenance of theses items for marine schools

The Branch provides expert advice and technical guidance on the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the Competency of Pleasure Craft Operators program and programs relating to Marine Occupational Safety and Health Regulations.

Please contact their office for any additional information.

Marine Personnel Standards and Pilotage Branch
Place de Ville, Tower B, 4th Floor, Suite 450
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N5

Tel.: 613-991-3120 (Ottawa) 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fax: 613-990-1538 (Ottawa)

Information on the Marine Personnel Standards and Pilotage Branch is available at the following URL: www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/mpsp/menu.htm

A small commercial vessel must be inspected and approved before being pressed into service.

Transport Canada's Small Vessel Monitoring and Inspection Program promotes the safety of small commercial vessels through the following activities:
- inspecting small commercial vessels, including vessel construction and safety equipment
- randomly checking vessels to confirm compliance with safety requirements
- encouraging operators to regularly inspect their vessels
- developing marine safety information and awareness programs
- providing decals for vessels that have been inspected
- providing information on procedures for initial inspections and inspections by the operators

Please contact your regional office for any additional information.

Small Vessel Monitoring and Inspection Program
Marine Safety
1230 Government Street, Suite 501
Victoria, BC V8W 3M4

Tel.: 250-363-0394 (Victoria) 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fax: 250-363-0330 (Victoria)

E-mail: mailto:shipshape@tc.gc.ca

Information on the Small Vessel Monitoring and Inspection Program is available at the following URL: www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/debs/small-vessels/SVMIP-upto15.htm

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require additional information.

Sincerely,

Us."

So... we provided him not only with his regional offices which could provide him with any and all information he might need to know about the commercial prawn fishery in his area of the West Coast (Pacific Region), they would also be able to issue him a license, which of course he will absolutely need.

We provided him with the contracts for Transport Canada, for not only what qualifications he would need to operate a small commercial vessel, but for the local offices who would inspect and certify the vessel, prior to him actually putting it into service.

Briefly, everything he had asked us for and more. A sterling answer if ever we provided one.

What was his reply this morning...?

How about this...

"This email did not answer even one of my questions. Did you forward my email to some one that will answer them?"

Clearly, this lad is a simpleton. And he wants to go and try to earn a living out on the ocean waters? One of the most unforgiving places in the universe, for the slow-witted...??? I have this feeling he has absolutely no idea what he is in for.

I will have to try my damndest to craft an answer which will not point out what a mindless waste of skin this individual is...