Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Removing overburden at the Athabasca Oil Sands operation.

Further to yesterday's post, there was some good news regarding the opposition to Canada's oil sands operation. As you may know, there is a large movement in Europe to declare this oil 'dirty' and encourage a Europe wide ban on its import. Our good friends in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Poland are supporting us because they recognize the hypocrisy for what it is. I get the feeling the powerful environmental lobby is trying to punish Canada for its stand on Kyoto. (see yesterday's post)


Apart from the misinformation out there about the oil sands, I see the whole situation in a different light.
Imagine for a moment, that there was a large oil tanker truck travelling the roads north of Edmonton, and it left the road, tipped over, split open and spewed its contents into the ditch. There would be a haz-mat team there in an instant and there would be no cost prohibition, nor stone unturned to make certain that every last drop of oil was mopped up and no damage done to the environment.

The photo above is natural bitumen oozing out of the bank on the Athabasca River. The ditches along the highways look very similar to this. There is oil oozing everywhere in that country.
So, let's look at the oil sands as the most ambitious reclamation, or oil cleanup in the history of mankind. They are taking dirty, oily, gooey sand and cleaning it up, removing all traces of oil, and returning it to nature as clean sand. This, to me, is something the environmentalists should be embracing.  

Down town Ft. McMurray Alberta

Why do I even care about this? Because I own property in Ft. McMurray (a chunk of the high rises on the right hand side of the above photo) and as an owner, I have been there. I have seen what goes on there, and I keep myself informed about the situation. I have what you call a vested interest. When I hear that the USA is bowing down to the environmentalists to delay building a pipeline, that would bring them a non-stop supply of oil, from a friendly neighbour, as opposed to some middle eastern quasi enemy, I get more than irritated.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's About Time

There is a climate conference in Durban next month and Canada will announce that it is pulling out of the very out-dated Kyoto Protocol. The previous governments never put a viable plan in place to meet emission goals so it is now impossible to meet the deadline on carbon emissions. There are other countries on-side with us. Our biggest objection will be that some very large 'developing' nations are not required to come on board and all the responsibility will fall on the richest nations of the world. These developing nations are China, India, and Brazil, three of the  largest power houses in the world economy today.
When the Kyoto agreement was first proposed it was said then that the author, Maurice Strong (sad to say a Canadian) had one goal in mind with the whole global warming movement, and that was to redistribute the wealth of the world. That, my friend, is called world socialism, the last thing we need. Apart from that, the idea of anthropogenic climate change is being seriously challenged these days. The media is slow to pick up on it, but the movement among scientists is growing. Why throw billions at a dubious theory when there are much more pressing issues in the world.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grey Cup Sunday

Yesterday was Grey Cup Sunday in Canada. I played some football as a youngster and learned the game at an early age. I saw my first CFL game when I moved to BC in 1964. The Lions played in the old Empire stadium at that time and it was a thrill for me, even though our last minute tickets were for seats behind a rather large supporting pillar. Today, our Lions, who started the season with 5 straight losses, dominated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and we are the champs. Both Wally Buono, the coach, and Travis Lulay, the quarterback and MVP for the game, are professing Christians, which for me, makes it even more satisfying. By all accounts, the newly refurbished and re-roofed BC Place Stadium was a huge hit.
As for the half time show, well, let's just say that had I been there, I would have wanted my Nickelback.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Composing a Photo

I came across this photo and loved it so much I had to post it. I have no idea who to give credit, but it is not mine for sure. We have all done this, assume weird postures while composing a shot. The point here is that composition is important to a good photograph and sometimes leaning back or to the side will help to eliminate a hydro pole, a garbage can, or Aunt Gertie's ugly hat. We do what we have to do.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I caught this image beside our driveway earlier in the summer and just now 'found' it. It is much prettier than the following story.

How much income did you earn last year, how much tax did you pay, and how long (pages) was your tax return?

I am just asking so you have a reference point from which to judge the General Electric numbers.
Profit generated: $US14 Billion
Taxes paid: $US 0 (Zero)
Length of tax return in pages: 57,000

To give a little more perspective, five years ago, the length of the return was less than half. It leads one to think that the more rules and regulations regarding tax law, the more loopholes and the more tax accountants it takes to avoid paying any taxes.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Old General Store

I have been working with gradients in Adobe Photoshop and I discovered how to make these cool B/W photos that look like they have been sitting in the attic for 100 years. This photo was taken only weeks ago.

The Clayburn Village General Store was built at the turn of the century and when you walk into this building, it looks and feels like it. Actually, it reminds me of my father's store in Lanigan, Saskatchewan that was built about the same time, but was only 1 1/2 stories tall. The ceilings are very high, the shelves very tall, and the floor crooked. The owners live above the store and I did some work for them a number of years ago, and it is just as old upstairs as down. It may be a sound structure, but it does not feel that way.  

It is a popular spot for a mid-morning bowl of their famous home-made soup or afternoon tea. The proprietors are friendly and personable and the place certainly does have atmosphere. When you are done in the small eating area, you can wander over to the amazing candy counters where you can purchase the most exotic candies and almost everything is imported from Britain. Candy canes, bubble gum of all sizes, jaw breakers, hard candy, and lolly pops are all available. It is an experience walking into this store.

And, of course, it is constructed of the obligatory red Clayburn brick. They still look good after all these years. The one thing I could never figure out about this village is that it is a long ways from the actual mine and brick factory. It is a long and winding road across the bottom of Sumas Mountain between the two locations.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Clayburn Village Living

I like this welcoming banner, but strangely enough, it can only be seen on a side street.

I have driven down this street countless times over the years, on my way to work in the Clayburn Hills subdivisions and at Cedar Springs, the premium townhouse development in town. I have always wanted to pause a moment and photograph some of these homes, but it is a very busy street and there is no shoulder on which to pull over and take a photo.

One day in October, I just decided to do it, but I think I caused a bit of road rage as I stopped at will.

Each home has a unique flare and the thing they all have in common is their age and the fact that each one is constructed of Clayburn Brick.

Some are pretty much original,

and others have been nicely renovated.

They show best in Autumn when the red leaves blend in with the reddish orange bricks.
Tomorrow, the store.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Local Attraction

Many people here think they have seen Clayburn Village because they have driven through on Clayburn Road, but off on the side streets, there a few little treasures. This is an historic little place, once the home of the employees of the Clayburn Brick Company.  

The old school house has been preserved, but not exactly refurbished. I was asked to quote on doing some extensive work here a few years ago, but my bid was rejected, as were the bids of several other contractors. The society had no idea of the costs involved and were probably just testing the waters. But it was my opportunity to see the interesting nooks and crannies of this old school house, not unlike the school of my boyhood years.

Across the street is a fine old church, constructed of Clayburn Brick, naturally.

It is still used as a church. I have not been inside this building,

But would love to see what is on the other side of those doors.
Tomorrow, some of the homes and the old country store of Clayburn village.  

Monday, November 21, 2011


Jesus loves me

This I know

For the Bible

Tells me so

Little ones to him belong

They are weak

But He is


Liam Michael W. Smith some day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Frosty Saturday Morning

It was a bright but very chilly morning yesterday. As I was watching the Chickadees pick the seeds out of our peanut butter and bird seed laden pine cones hanging above our deck, I noticed the sunlight glinting off of the frosty edges on the leaves. 

I temporarily abandoned by hot cup of coffee and thick slab of Starbuck's pumpkin loaf, slathered with butter, and ran for my Nikon. I'll let my shutter do the talking. Click on the photos to make them  larger.

There is so much beauty all around us if we only take the time to look for it.

And it looks like 'Old Man Winter' is getting a choke hold on Autumn, but not before he sprinkles everything with a dusting of icing sugar. Beware of those who tempt you with sweet things.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

WF Wrestling

Yesterday, we awoke to a blanket of snow covering everything, at least everything outside. Driving to work, I was pleased to see the coloured leaves covered with snow. It is quite early for our first snow fall as the leaves have not yet all turned and the ones that have are still clinging for dear life to the branches. It is like Winter and Fall, wrestling to see who will prevail. Historically, Fall does not win this battle.

There are other battles being waged this weekend. Tonight we find out how the water referendum was received (or not) by our city's citizens, as well as getting election results for Mayor, Councilors, and School Board members.
On the sport front, the western final is being played for a CFL (Canadian Football League) berth in the up-coming Grey Cup match being played next weekend in the newly refurbished BC Place Stadium. With all this early cold winter weather, I will be following both contests in the warm confines of my home.   

Friday, November 18, 2011

Questionable Fall Fruit

Fall harvest is done and gone, but in the forest there are still edible things growing. Or not. If even the birds do not eat those delicious look alike blueberries, maybe we should not either. On the other hand, if they are one of the 30 species of Elderberry, we could sample them without the resulting pain and stomach pumping that arises from ingesting the more poisonous berries. I am not one to experiment with things growing wild.
I have eaten wild mushrooms, but have made very certain they are of the edible variety. I think these were Shaggy Mane mushrooms in their early stage, and that would have made them quite delicious and safe, but there are several species and these did not look quite right on top. It may be the soil conditions, but again, I am not one to experiment. These may have been lovely on a burger, but may have been the last burger I ever ate.   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Saturday Vote

Blue berries come from Red bushes.

We are having an election here this Saturday to chose new local government officials. Funny how a local governing body effects us so much, and yet we seem to know so little about the candidates. I must admit that I know more about federal and provincial politics than I do about local government. I live here, drive here, work here, pay huge taxes here, and yet feel so powerless when it comes to choosing the people who make the important decisions. Over riding all other issues, is something called P3 water supply. P3 stands for Public Private Partnership. The present mayor and council are spending our tax dollars to convince us that we will run out of water by 2016 if we do not go along with the agenda of tapping the waters of Stave Lake, a fair distance away, but at huge cost. I will not get into all the issues but leave it to say that I am convinced that there is a rotten fish smelling up the water issue, so I will not be voting for it. Come 2016, I may regret that decision, but I highly doubt it. There are viable alternatives at fractions of the cost. What we really need is a new mayor who is not agenda driven at all costs. Too bad there are no serious contenders.  

We voted last night in the advance poll. We did not like the prospect of fighting the crowds on Sat. Turns out we fought the crowds tonight. I guess there were a lot of folks thinking like us. Then we get home and I am informed that there was cougar sighting in our neighbourhood yesterday. It was only a block or less from our house. We have no bush anywhere near us, so this is rather baffling. I hope he was after my neighbour's dog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fountain of Youth?

Reflections in Fish Trap Creek

By the time this post is published, I expect to be back at work. The last few days have been a drag and although I should feel rested and rejuvenated from a bit of time off, I am feeling rather punk. I do not know if it is psychological or physical, but I am finding it difficult to drum up any energy at all. I am trying out a new miracle herbal remedy that is supposed to make me feel energetic and allow me to sleep more soundly at night. I am giving it the recommended three month trial, but after reading various testimonials, I was expecting some results by now (one week).

I look in the mirror in the morning expecting to see a twenty year old, any day now. I want the sagging skin to tighten up a bit, the hair to darken, and the urine to flow like Niagara Falls. I was hoping that the aches and pains in the joints would disappear, and that my chest would rise up out of my drawers. I fully expect to toss the progressive lenses, and maybe even grow new teeth. (Take that, you dentists!) But, instead, what do I see? Actually, not much, because my eyes are failing. What's that you say? Speak up, I'm getting hard of hearing.   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Stream Bed

Wandering around, deep in a forest, the light is not great so the quest is to find something interesting. The bright glare of the early morning sun was blinding in the darkness of the canopy, as it found a path between the giant Cedars and Maples, and reflected like diamonds off the water. It could be any time of year, but for the dried Maple Leaf hung up on the rocks.

As I looked upward, I saw the shaft of light directed through what remained of the morning fog, like smoke from a camp fire.

I played with the light temperature settings and made it look like a warm sunny day, and not the cold November morning that it was. The solitude on this quiet little walk through the woods made me want to stay there longer, but my fingers were freezing. A photo can be deceiving.