Thursday, February 10, 2011


I appear to have been remiss in posting lately. I've been off freezing my brain, literally. -31C plus windchill on Tuesday morning was a rude surprise, especially as I had to work in it. Yikes.

Here's my self-portrait under a highway bridge.

Mrs. Spit would like you to know that it is I, not she, who is the big fan of chocolate in our relationship. While she appreciates and consumes chocolate... it would appear that I am a far bigger fan of the confection.

To this end, I was rather pleased to read that, not only is chocolate a slice of bliss across the tastebuds, it is... wait for it... a superfood! Acai berries? Who needs them - pass the Hershey's Kisses!

Think I'm joking? Here's the link...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Star Wars?

Yes, it's Star Wars. And thanks to this handy site with links to the videos, you can enjoy a fan made documentary about Star Wars that fans will enjoy.

Here's the link to the story, and all 14 youtube vids.

And here's the synopsis from the above story, to get you interested:

Star Wars Begins is an unofficial commentary to Star Wars, offering an insight into the development and creation of film. The documentary combines video from the movie itself with seen and unseen behind the scenes footage, rare audio from the cast and crew, alternate angles, bloopers, reconstructed scenes, text facts and more to give an in-depth look at the process which brought the film to the big screen.
Now Mrs. Spit will have something to keep her busy the next time she's stuck in a hotel with work again!

Friday, February 4, 2011

What's in a name?

A friend sent me to this map. If you're interested in the origins of country names, it's pretty cool!

Map link

Thanks to the Canadian Government's commercials of years past, I already knew that we're named for an Aboriginal name for "village".

For me, I'd like to go back to the land of wood and water, it's awesome! (i.e. Jamaica)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog day?

Driving down the highway this morning, I heard several times about how this or that or this other rodent is predicting an early spring - with the exception of the mouse (or whatever) from Balzac who saw clear skies and calls for another 6 weeks of winter.

Seriously? Let me check my calendar... right, we're in the year 2011. I know this is all in good fun, but seriously, are we really attributing the weather to the randomness of clouds around when a rodent is pulled into the open? Talk about the futility of science education.

The truly annoying part is that for the majority of my life, I've not lived anywhere that has had a winter of less than 5 solid months of cold and snow. And mid-march as the end of winter? That's an early winter almost EVERY winter for me.

Monday, January 31, 2011


It's the last day of January, and coincidentally it's also Monday.

My day started off slowly, back to work, into the office, etc... get my cup of tea and start my morning work. Mostly going through what I did last week so I could submit the inspections.

Then I heard the first surprising news - my office laid off a couple of my co-workers. That was really enough to take the shine off my shoes, as one of them was a guy I've worked with lately. Personable guy. I talked to my supervisor, who was apologetic about not letting me know last week. Um... the layoffs were Tuesday, and I'm finding out Monday after? That's letting just a little time lapse, don't you think? I had my cell on me all week while out of the office... but anyways.

The good news is that, even though I am not swamped with work, the people I work for are looking for work to keep me busy in spite of the lag. Apparently that wasn't the case for my co-workers who were rather light on work (as winter is so light on construction - their area of operations - who knew?) and who were cut loose.

Then I had the other shoe drop. A friend of mine informed me that a co-worker of hers was involved in an industrial accident at the workplace. He was alive, not sure if he'd have all his limbs once they got him out of the machine he was trapped in.

All of a sudden, my life is looking so much better. Really, counting my blessings is suddenly easier to do. Not only do I have the ability to refuse unsafe work, but my company actually makes me be safe in my job. You know, if I had to do maintenance on a major machine, I'd have a lock-out padlock so someone couldn't turn it on, by accident, when I was inside of it. Although not actually part of my job description, at least I know that it would be part of the equation if it were. Not so for my friend's co-worker.

So while I might have had some disturbing news from a couple different directions this chilly Monday in January - holy cow, it could have been a lot worse. My thoughts are, somewhat understandably, on Victor in the hospital with an unknown prognosis for tomorrow, and Garry at home with his wife and toddler with no income for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Facebook game - worth playing?

Ok, so as a young boy, I played a lot of computer games. Small surprise that, really - except that I was doing it in the early 80s. This game was apparently first started in 1971... and believe it or not, Oregon Trail is coming to Facebook on Groundhog Day.

Yes, more time wasted on Facebook - coming your way...

Except, this one might actually be a game that involves more than clicking away - and it might even involved, scary thought, learning.

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's been 25 years... where has the time gone?

It seems to me that this day is the Kennedy Assassination of my generation.

Where were you, when you heard that the Challenger blew up? For me, I had just gotten into my first class of the day at high school, English. My teacher told a completely incredulous classroom that the Challenger had blown up. We thought he was making a bad joke. Until he reiterated it, that he had seen the news before coming to school that day, 25 years ago, today.

I remember going home and gluing myself to the TV, switching through the different coverage, looking for news. It was my first real exposure to a shock such as that, at an age when I was able to start to comprehend the horrific nature of 7 people being blown into a fireball.

Today, the shuttle is on its last legs. Only a few more flights into orbit and NASA hangs up the whole programme, with no replacement in the wings. Sad, really.

Here's a photo piece on the Challenger, with a focus on the teacher in space, who didn't quite make it there, Christa McAuliffe. It truly puts a human face on the events of that day.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Home for a rest

It's another week that has me getting my natural SAD (seasonal affective disorder) prevention dosage. I'm out and about inspecting culverts and bridges in the fine, and very snow-white province of Alberta.

Simultaneous with this, I've been suffering from what is probably Mrs. Spit's cold as well. She got it first. I thought I was home free as, after two weeks of her being sick, I was fine. Yeah, that was fun while it lasted. Now I'm chugging Benylin in my hotel room...

So while the trip is really good for me - it gets me lots of sunshine in the middle of winter - it's also been really tiring. I was falling asleep while reading tonight. It was only 8:30! Ack. This cold is really wearing me out fast.

So I'm off to my bed for the week to catch some zeds. Hopefully tomorrow is better.

I really do need home for a rest.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Head out on the highway...

Looking for adventure.

Sounds like good song lyrics. Any takers?

I was surfing through a chat area on a biker forum and saw that several people that live in this city, who have the same motorbike as I am getting, were planning on taking trips along the Pacific Coast down to California, and then circle back here. Rather eerie really, as I am having simliar thoughts and plans to do the same sort of trip later in the summer.

We shall see what we shall see, but I can see myself making new friends with this whole riding a motorcycle thing. And really, that's a good thing!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Poor Kermie


Those who come after

As I sit here, pondering posts that Mrs. Spit has shared with me and which she has yet to post, I came across this poem completely at random. Or not, depending on your outlook of the world and the cosmos.

You see, an Atheist would say that I came across this poem, as stated above, completely at random, with no connection to the poignant words of my dear wife An Agnostic might tell you that they don't know if I stumbled across it due to the vagaries of chance, or whether someone laid it in my path. A Christian, believing in Divine Providence, might say that indeed, this poem was a treasure waiting to be found at the exact time I needed it, and how I needed it, for it is part of a greater plan.

Times like these, we think outside ourselves, to see where the world will be when we're gone. What is the legacy of what we have done for those who come after us? You think big, powerful, scary questions when you sit with the ashes of your dead son resting on a shelf three feet away. And so, as someone who has built bridges to cross rivers in reality, this poem resonates with me. I find myself blessed for having come to this poem, when and as I did tonight. For, unlike the Atheist, or the Agnostic, I know that my redeemer lives.

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.

By Will Allen Dromgoole

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seeing Red

I'm not talking about this as a metaphor regarding bulls in the bull fighting ring. Rather, it's about the movie, Red.

About the closest I've seen to a comic book made into a live action movie, without looking like a comic book. At least, there were scenes. I understand why Marvel stamped its name at the opening credits.

Never since the A-Team have so many rounds been fired with so few visible wounds / casualties. Come to think of it, it makes the A-Team movie sit up and watch the adults play! Lots of funny bits, mostly due to implausible action scenes.

Mrs. Spit and I both enjoyed it as pure, utter, complete escapist nonsense.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mappily amused

I will freely admit, I'm an addict.

I love maps. I know, of all the things, I pick inanimate depictions of the world. But it's true, I just really love to sit with a map and explore in my mind. It's interesting for areas that I don't know. It's a trip down memory lane for areas that I have travelled through.

Google Earth. It's a terrible, terrible program. For me it's like placing a 40 pounder in front of an alcoholic and saying "Have all you want, there's more in the back." I was using it to map out the locations of a bunch of bridges that I have to inspect later this year. Once that was accomplished, I zoomed in and looked at all of the bridges, where the resolution allowed that of course. And then the bender started. I spent altogether far too much time wandering around the two provinces that I've lived in - British Columbia and Alberta - just exploring, following roads to their destination, recalling driving through scenery, seeing a glacier and going "Aha! Source for the Athabasca River!"

I had to close the software, just to keep from being tempted. Sure, it was helpful to visualize my work plan for about 4 weeks of work this summer. Gallivanting around central and southern Alberta, coming within 10 km of Montana (note to self, get a photo of Mount Poe), going to a several bridges I've inspected before, only this time in depth. Yeah, I had a great trip in my own mind.

It doesn't even have to be topo maps or road maps. Give me maps with demographic information and I'll peruse that, mentally correlating information with locations and seeing interesting... stuff. I even went cruising around the Cayman Trench earlier today... underwater, it was kind of different. I can point to where my enjoyment of maps started. It was those nefarious people in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets teaching me how to read topographic maps. Yeah, yet another part of my life interests that is influenced by Cadets :-)

Have I mentioned that maps are entertaining? And in that sense, I'll finish off with a fun map for the rest of you, who aren't as mappily amused as me. The evil geniuses at XKCD have done another one of their comics, this time showing the world... well, I'll let the comic explain it better than I can.

Click-through to view the page, and of course, as with ALL XKCD comics, check out the mouse-over text! (on their page, not this one). I do enjoy the Boxing Day quip...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

To dream...

It's a wonderful thing.

Watching the Speed TV live coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car auction for a bit tonight while Mrs. Spit is off having coffee and conversation with a friend. And wistfully thinking about how much fun it would be to go down there after winning a large lottery prize.

Then reality strikes, and I realize I live in an early 1900s house, with a tiny garage, in an area of the country that gets far too much winter every year - not to mention my bank account is rather small.

But it's still fun to dream about being the guy who shows up on tv for having the winning bid on a really cool classic car.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bond... James Bond

In case you missed it in the news jungle, this news has come out:

James Bond, in the yet unnamed 23rd film, is set for a release date of November 9, 2012.

Commence the fandom love.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pak'd it in

We arrived home tonight, after fighting some epic traffic snarl in the downtown that left us pulled into a parkade and enjoying Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory instead of driving home. Once again, the wee dogs left us a surprise.

Yes, It was silly of me to leave a pair of shoes in their area of operations. Ask Mrs. Spit just how many pairs of her footwear have been sacrificed to the altar of doggie chew toys. Should have known better, but didn't.

I can't say that these particular feltpaks owed me anything though. I bought them something around 14 years ago to wear with snowshoes while I was trudging around the northern B.C. wilderness doing surveying in the depths of winter. They've been a trusty pair of winter boots since then. Of late, they've been most useful in helping to dispose of this inordinate amount of snowfall we've been having, keeping my feet cozy and dry while I pitched shovel after shovel over the neighbour's fence.

Maybe tomorrow a visit to Mark's is in order?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

So much for parity

The last I saw, our dollar is right around par with the American dollar.

So why is it that I can buy a helmet online from a US source for $315 that retails around here for over $500?

Somebody is making some good profit I think.

That is all.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's too early for this

The dogs called. They want me to go back to sleep!

The problem is that we are taking care of our friend's wee ones, including a sleep-over last night. And there's the rub. Into bed early means, go figure, out of bed early.

Delta is lying on her bed, cracking some pretty big yawns. She is just as used to getting up at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. She's monitoring play-time now.

At least the older sister was adamant about doing her homework immediately. Let's see if that habit is still in place in 10 years! :-)

Their mom was able to have a quiet night, which is a good thing for a woman wading through the 'stuff' she's had lately. We're glad to help out. Even if it means I'm up far too early for a weekend off!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two of my favourite things

Tolkien and Astronomy

Don't you just love XKCD?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Would that people knew

A Man in Grief
by Eileen Knight Hagemeister

It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief,

Since "men don't cry" and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.

They always ask if she's all right
And what she's going through.

But seldom take his hand and ask,

"My friend, but how are you?"

He hears her crying in the night

And thinks his heart will break.

He dries her tears and comforts her,

But "stays strong" for her sake.

It must be very difficult

To start each day anew.

And try to be so very brave-

He lost his baby too.

Thanks to Tim Nelson for posting this poem. Thanks to Lisette, for commenting and posting the following information about Eileen:
Lisette said... This poem was written by a compassionate woman, Eileen Knight Hagemeister, who saw the difficult issues regarding men and grief. She wrote this poem to her son‐in‐law after his baby girl was stillborn.
This poem transported me, with tears in my eyes, instantly backwards in time three years to when we were still heavily mourning the lost of Gabriel. I've lived this poem, which is sadly very true. Notwithstanding my baby-loss support group, I can count on one hand the number of people who asked me how I was doing after Gabriel died, as opposed to the numerous others who were only concerned for Mrs. Spit.

If you want to help a grieving father feel even more isolated and marginalized, please, continue to ignore that they too lost their precious child at the same time as their beloved.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What cat?

Mrs. Spit and I have two very friendly cats. Brothers, but you'd never know it to look at them. The little guy is a 10 pound basement cat - i.e. all black - while the bruiser is 20 pounds of tabbyness. Honest, he's only 20, though we thought he was pushing 30 until we weighed him the other day.

Today I ran across a rather fascinating image, showing a break-down of cat colouration pretty much from A-Z, and then some.

(Click on the image to embiggenate)

All I can say is the following:
1. I had no idea of the variety in cat colouration.
2. I have no idea where our tabby falls in that mix!

Clearly someone had some time to figure this out.

"We just let a random stranger into our house!"

Last night we went shopping at Costco.

Let me rephrase that slightly. In the unwavering conviction that we didn't want to get burned by the often experienced "Costco Conundrum", we went back to Costco last night, a scant four nights since we had first seen a nice looking bathroom vanity in the aisle at Costco last Friday night. The "Costco Conundrum" is, of course, that experience by which you see something you want at Costco, but can't afford it at that time; some time later, you return to purchase the item, only to find that it is no longer carried.

Mrs. Spit wanted, I think in a fit of madness, to go back on Saturday to pick it up.


On a Saturday.

Surely I'm not the only one who sees the folly in this statement. Heck, we make a point of NOT going to Costco on a weekend because it's always a somewhat frenzied hive of activity, with the crush of humanity who has driven into town from afar for the sole purpose of loaded up three carts and a flatbed with supplies for their corner store in Outer Armpit, Alberta - or worse, Beyond Nowhere, Northwest Territories. Would that I was making this up, I'm not.

Reason and sanity prevailed, and we returned with our mostly great little Jetta station wagon to pick up the vanity. This is, almost, the last piece we need before we can do our little bathroom renovation this winter. It would have been the last, but the faucet we bought a few years ago is, I believe, a single unit with supply pipes at 4 inches on centre. The vanity we picked up is made for a faucet with holes 8 inches on centre. Signature Hardware, here we come again. But then, they are an absolutely amazing online retailer that I will continue to frequent as long as I need hardware. Sure, they're not free, but the service? Excellent all around.

After paying for our new acquisition (a box weighing 165 pounds counts as more than a mere purchase, don't you think?) we were asked if we wanted some help loading it. After a short pause, we nodded our heads thankfully. We were directed where to pull up with our car and we were off. When we pulled up to the loading area, there was a questioning look to the Costco employee's face when I started rearranging the car seats. I think it was the "trunk" aka retractable cargo cover behind the back seats. He didn't think that the huge box would fit in the small car - being that we live in the province o'pickup trucks and all. Once that obstacle was surmounted, we were in business.

Tipping the box up and sliding it into the car, with some shuffling around of sundry items, we were loaded and ready to take off for home. Our wagon was mostly full, but it swallowed it. I don't know how people manage with sedans, no cargo capacity! On getting home, it stayed in the car as Mrs. Spit was a touch under the weather.

This evening, Mrs. Spit was to go meet up with her mother for some shopping. And could we unload the wee box? Grudgingly, we got dressed for the weather and proceeded to unload the box. I was trying to get one end of the box arranged so she could lift one side. A bit of a hiccup almost left the box - marked fragile in several places - tumbling to the snow-covered pavement. At that time, a random guy walking down the sidewalk asked us if we wanted a hand. Gladly!

The dogs were quite put out when the saw a stranger walking backwards up our front steps, carrying the rather large box. After Mrs. Spit opened the front door and corralled the dogs, who were barking furiously, away from the front entrance, we got it inside and into the front room. We thanked the stranger, who managed to avoid getting nibbled on by the English Mastiff, and saw him off.

Which is how we ended up, standing in the front entrance, with Mrs. Spit commenting to me in some minor discomfort that "We just let a random stranger into our house!" After consideration that there was nothing visible worth stealing, and that we very obviously had two dogs who would delight in greeting an intruder, the moment of distress passed and we were able to continue with our evening.

Another airline pilot needing Kudos!

A Southwest Airlines pilot held the plane back so that the grandfather of a boy who was murdered could make his flight. 12 minutes it was delayed, so that the poor man could get his harried and grief-stricken soul through the soul-sucking morass that is modern airport security.

The epic line of the story is at the end of this little quote:

The pilot held the plane that was supposed to take off at 11:50 until 12:02 when my husband got there.

As my husband walked down the Jetway with the pilot, he said, “I can’t thank you enough for this.”

The pilot responded with, “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”

Read the article here: Story link.

If only more people would understand that the grief of losing a child, or grandchild in this case, is beyond comprehension. This pilot deserves all the praise that we can send.

A year later... Haiti

It hardly seems to seem real, that a year ago Haiti was rocked by a massive earthquake. I know, it's all over the news right now, as the media only seems to care about sensationalist new stories, or remembering great tragedies on the anniversaries of their occurance.

One of these remembrances is a photo slideshow from the Wall Street Journal. Pretty sad that a year on, so much still remains to be done in that beleagured country. Yet, the photos show people going about their regular lives despite the event's scars.

It's a sobering reminder that, even when events slip off the headline news, people are the ones who live and deal with the results.

Note to self

The next time I go to visit Big Brother to the South (aka the United States), do not, even if sorely tempted because they would make really neat gifts for little people, go to Costco and buy that box of Kinder Surprise chocolate covered eggs with a prize inside.

Seriously, this could lead to a $300 fine and lots of beaurocractic hoop-jumping.

I wish I was kidding, but thanks to the fine folks of CBC breaking this case open to public scrutiny, I am now informed.

Seriously? That's what the Customs and Border Patrol are worried about? Seizing 25 thousand Kinder surprise eggs is somehow making the nation a safer place for kids.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's about the coat

Two winters ago, I saw this great deal on a new coat through an online retailer. I was in the market for a new winter coat that didn't come with a big corporate logo on it - i.e. that came from the company I worked for. Instead of paying the 'listed' price of $300 USD for it, I had a great e-coupon that let me purchase it for about $130. Score!

Thus began my enjoyment of what Mrs. Spit smilingly calls my "Paddington Bear Coat". Yes, it's true, I'm being compared to a character famous for his appearance in children's literature.

The coat in question is an English Duffle Coat, authentically made by the fine folks at Gloverall of England. It's made of thick wool, with buffalo horn toggles, covers me to my knees, and truly makes for an excellent winter jacket. I can wear it with jeans or with a suit with equal comfort and suitability.

Today I was thinking about my coat, as I had worn it to work for the first time this winter. Mrs. Spit was home feeling under the weather (she's much better now, she's not dead yet!) and I needed to take the light rail to work. As winter has returned with force and it was a balmy -23C this morning, it was going to be a bit of a brisk walk to the station. With no more layering than wearing a light fleece shirt, I was comfortable.

According to the all-knowing folks at Wikipedia, the duffle coat was first brought about in 1890. That would explain why it has two pockets, and the fleece jacket by Scott eVest of modern design has about 24 pockets, including pockets for my iPhone. Sadly, no such ammenities in the duffle coat. However, given the choice, I'll take warmth over convenience and pocket storage.

I can certainly see how, given some thick sweaters and such, the duffle coat was the standard issue for the Royal Navy during both World Wars. It's a warm piece of kit!

While my coat might lack modern fabrics, might be heavy, might not be completely wind proof at the opening - I'll take it over the modern winter coat any day. It's got panache. And more to the point, it's warm, which is a quality much regarded in the dark, cold winter that we're soldiering through at the moment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rush Hour... on pause

This afternoon I left work, elevator down to the main floor and out the door. Short walk to the light rail station (one of the reasons I like working downtown) to catch a ride home.

Mrs. Spit was working from home today, so I offered to not make her drive into the downtown core to pick me up. It's different when she's at work about 15 blocks from my office, but it's less enjoyable for her to drive into the core in rush hour to pick me up. We texted back and forth and she left home to be at the nearby station waiting for me to arrive.

I walked into the station to see a train just leaving. No worries, right? It's rush hour, they come along at least every 5 minutes. So I set about listening to my iPhone (Bon Jovi, memories of last summer's concert dancing in my brain). A couple of songs later, I've noticed that two trains have headed through the station southbound, yet nothing northbound.

Commence confusion.

Another train goes through the station, southbound. By now the traffic is starting to get backed up on the platform. People keep coming down the stairs... and coming... and coming... and the music played on.

By now Mrs. Spit is starting to wonder where I am, as she's been waiting at the station for a while. I'm starting to wonder if I need to leave to call her to come pick me up.

After the sixth train went through soundbound, with no northbound, you could see the frustration waves running through the crowd.

And then came the PA announcing a northbound train. I didn't hear it, but all of a sudden people moved past me towards the platform edge. Here comes the train! Much general excitement as people who are far outside their comfort zone are yearning to get home.

The train pulls in. My first though? Yeah, I'm taking a miss on this one! Packed. About 30 people offloaded, and 60 crammed into it. I'll wait, thanks. People running for the door - only to realize that they and 100 other people are not going to fit.

The second train arrives, and there are not only empty isles, but empty seats! So I get in and have lots of room. Until the next station, which is still packed with sardines... erm... people that is. My train car is now full, with everyone getting really familiar with their neighbours.

When the train cleared onto the above ground tracks, I get a text from Mrs. Spit: "Where are you?!?" She's now been sitting in the car for about 30 minutes longer than she expected.

Today was really all about being reminded of just how dependant we are on routine, schedules, and on our modern contrivances working as they were supposed to when designed. Funny, really, how quickly we get thrown off-track when things don't work as they should.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A great place to live

When Mrs. Spit and I moved into our house, we didn't know much about our neighbourhood. Sure, we knew we could afford the mortgage payments - a rather important feature if you ask me! But the neighbourhood? We only knew that it wasn't the high-rent district. Heck, it wasn't the middling-rent district.

We've been here for almost six full years now. While our old house drives us batty whenever it's time to do a renovation, and frustrates us in countless ways due to the fact that it's well-nigh on a hundred years old, it's a decent house that keeps us sheltered and comfortable.

Today we donned warm socks, snow pants, warm jackets / sweaters, toques and gloves and walked six blocks to the winter festival being held. The city shut down the street for the weekend - no small feat as it's a major traffic route - and the action was on all weekend at the community center. People came in from all over the city to celebrate winter. I even heard it advertised on a local radio station as I was braving the blizzard on Saturday to buy dog and cat food. Yeah, maybe we're nuts, celebrating being in the depths of winter, but there you go.

There was ball hockey in the street, free skate rentals on the outdoor skating rink, outdoor curling, artists carving in ice, horse-drawn sled rides, artists displaying their wares, and even a mummers group giving an outdoor play for those hearty enough to attend. And the cost for all this? Gratis, zip, zilch - free for those souls who came out. Food was, for apparent reasons, not free - but today was French Canadian day, so we ate Poutine for lunch, with a Maple Syrup sugar-stick chaser!

{Mrs. Spit rides the ice-slide - it was rather slippery for some reason.}

{A carver works on his T-Rex carving - most excellent work!}

{Mrs. Spit starts to spin her sugar stick.}

The great thing about my neighbourhood is not that it's affordable (though it is more affordable than most areas of town), not that there are great restaurants (there are, and not a single chain to be found), not that it's rife with artists (but you might hit a couple if you start throwing bricks at random), and not that there are multiple festivals held here through the year (but there are, and they're all free). It's not any one of these things. Rather, it's all of them and more.

When we bought our first and only house after living in rental properties for the first four years of our marriage, we were totally rolling the dice on where we landed. Some thought we came up snake-eyes. Mrs. Spit and I? We think we came up sixes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

White stuff

I had my initial lessons in snowboarding in November 2009. Wow, what a great deal of fun it is! I was delighted that, finally, I have a winter activity to look forward to instead of fighting my way through every winter, hoping for warmth again.

What's truly disappointing to me is that, when I was growing up, I was a 2 1/2 hour drive from one of the best powder ski hills in northern British Columbia: Powder King (seriously? 199 cm at the top right now?). There were high school ski trips that I never took part it - I think because I didn't grow up with a family involved in sports, let along winter sports.

Fast forward to today, or rather, last night. Environment Canada says that at midnight, the visibility was 0.3 km. That's a lot of blowing snow. I still have a hard time with the blowing snow. I've now lived in Alberta 10 years, and the fact that we get so much wind still drives me slightly batty. Woke up this morning to see the lower panels of my car in front of the house. The rest of it was a lovely shade of white, in a sea of white, with more white falling and blowing on the wind.

I spent about an hour shovelling the front steps, walk, and sidewalk. The back of the house? MaƱana...

As I was moving frozen water about, in a somewhat fruitless attempt to forestall nature, I was reminded of just how amazing it was to sit on the white sand beach at the resort in Jamaica last week. Which left me wishing I was back there. Today.

This is an old piece of humour for which I don't know the source, but I was sure in this mindset today. As I look out the front windows and see another inch of snow covering the walk, I'm really done with winter in the city. Snow on the skihill = awesome. On my car = not awesome.

Our first winter snow:

Dec 8: 5pm: it started to snow…our first of the season and the whole family took a bowl of popcorn and drinks and gathered around the window…watching the soft flakes drift down all over the ground…so beautiful!

Dec 9: We awoke to a big beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering the ground as far as the eyes could see. What a fantastic sight! Out the door raced the kids! Every tree and shrub covered with a lovely white mantle. I shoveled snow for the first time in years and I loved it! I did both driveways and the sidewalk.

Later, the snowplow came along and covered up our sidewalk with compacted snow from the street so I bundled up and went out and shoveled it again.

Dec 12: The sun is out and has melted our lovely snow. Oh, well…I’m sure we’ll get some more before the beautiful season is over.

Dec 14: it snowed 8 inches last night and the temperature dropped to 20 degrees below zero. Shoveled the driveways and the sidewalk and the snowplow came by and covered it all up with snow…again.

Dec 15: sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer so I can drive in the snow. Bought snow tires for my wife’s car.

Dec 16: Fell on my rear on the ice in the driveway..while I was shoveling all that lovely white…stuff. All it really hurt was my feelings.

Dec 17: Still cold…below zero in the a.m., and the icy roads make for very tough driving. The hill our home sits on didn’t seem that steep when the road was dry.

Dec 20: Had another 4 inches of that white ….stuff…again last night. More shoveling today. That #@$% snowplow came by twice…it hadn’t even snowed after the first time!

Dec 22: A White Christmas is pretty much a sure thing at this point; we had 3 more inches of that white stuff today and with this freezing weather it won’t melt ‘til August!

Got all dressed to go out and …yes, to shovel – boots, jump suit, heavy jacket, scarf, ear muffs, gloves – and then had the urge to pee!!

Dec 23: was going to go ice fishing today, but my worms froze …

Dec 24: if I ever see that ….guy….that drives that @#$% snowplow…….he waits…I swear, he waits …he hides around the corner and waits until I finish shoveling and then he comes barreling down the street throwing snow all over what used to be my yard!

Dec 25: Merry Christmas. They predict 8 more inches of this %$&^ white stuff tonight. Do they know how many shovel fulls of snow 8 inches is?! My gift to the snowplow driver is I’m letting him live.

Dec 26: We got 8 inches and then some. We wear sunglasses all day because the sun is shining bright but it’s beaming down on about EIGHTEEN INCHES OF THIS #$%WHITE ….stuff! The kids make snowmen on the roof.

Dec 27: The toilet froze. I’ve stopped shoveling….not out of protest…but, because I left the shovel out and it snowed…so it’s buried….and we can’t get the car out of the driveway because, yes, the snowplow has buried our driveway.

Dec 28: I’ve threatened to burn the house down so that white @#$% stuff can’t cling to the roof…but the kids’ snow people are almost as high as the pine tree next to the house and so now it’s a neighborhood contest…

Dec 31: My New Year’s Resolution is…that’s right…I’m going to let the snowplow driver live!

Friday, January 7, 2011

On accents

A friend sent me this link tonight. It's really fascinating.

What would you do if you were a linguist and wanted to show a map of the dialects of North American English? Well, sorry, that question has been answered at the link above.

I really don't get the "Canadian Raising" bit... but then, I'm from Western Canada, where we do things differently in most things anyways, so what's a bit more? :-)

Turning a leaf over

It was mentioned to me, long ago and far away, by the very wise and astute Mrs. Spit, that it's a good thing if your blog actually gets added to on a regular basis.

As my last post was close to 14 months ago, I see I have fallen down on my end of the agreement. That is to say, it's hard for people to read my blog, if I never post to it.

In that respect, if you're surprised to see a post from me - I'm back and will be attempting to post on a much more frequent basis. Thanks for hanging in there.