Basic Search and Rescue Training

I did my BSAR course on the weekend. It was kind of cold and wet, but good training. We focused a lot on navigation, (it would be bad if a search and rescue person got lost), search techniques and clue awareness.

The focus of a search is on finding clues. There is (usually) only one missing person, but multiple clues that will direct your search and increase your chances of finding the person quickly. So, when you go out on a search your focus is to look for clues, which then direct you to the location of the missing person.

Another thing we covered in the course was some basic survival skills, including starting fires. A really neat thing was cotton balls and vaseline. One spark on that and it will ignite instantly creating a little fire that will burn on it's own for a couple minutes - great for getting tinder going for a fire. Carry a few of these mixtures in film canisters and a Kershaw or Primus magnesium fire starter and you're all set to get a fire going when you need one.

I do my CPR in November, then my First Aid in January. Once I have those I'll be call-out qualified and trained to go on a search.

I will also be doing wilderness survival and first aid training sometime next year.


If I had a Million Dollars

In addition to doggate, the latest scandal is now that lotto retailers are ripping people off. If they are it's because people are letting them.

The screen tells you exactly what you've won. Just look at it. And there are a number of places to check your ticket before you hand it to the retailer to check - toll free numbers, newspapers, Internet, . . . so, you should know before you hand the guy the ticket how much you've won.

And simply sign the back of your ticket as soon as you've bought it. Then if you lose the million dollar ticket at least if someone finds it they won't be able to claim your winnings. (Nothing's going to stop them from asking for (demanding) a finders fee, but at least you get your ticket back.)

Common sense people.


Names will never hurt me

There has been a lot in the news lately about Peter MacKay's comments about a dog and whether or not he was referring to ex-girlfriend Belinda Stronach and whether an apology is due.

Whether he did or not, I'm sure Stronach would get a boost to her political career if she was the bigger person and told everyone to drop it.

There is enough sticks and stones, and bullets, and nuclear missiles being thrown around at people in the world that whether someone did or did not call someone a name in a heated debate shouldn't be getting as much coverage as it is.


Thoughts from Pamela Wallin

I attended the Brescia Breakfast for Bursaries this morning where Pamela Wallin was the guest speaker.

Kate Young was one of the attendees and stood up at the end during questions and commented how early in her career as anchor of London's local news she interviewed the then prime minister. Kate mentioned that Pamela was in the room during the interview and that she was more nervous about Pamela being there than she was about interviewing the prime minister.

Pamela's focus this morning was on the Canada/US relations and stated a few facts, one was that Canada does more trade with the US in one week than it does with China in the whole year. She commented on how both Canadians and Americans have many stereotypes and don't fully understand one another. Pamela related an analogy that if you owned a corner store and The Joneses were your biggest customer, buying 80% of your merchandise, you would know the Joneses anniversary, birthdays, and as much as you could of them. Americans are our Joneses, and we're there's, yet we don't understand them, and we call them morons. And Americans come up to Canada in the middle of Summer with their skis on their roof racks.

Pamela had many other good points and I can't state them all or even remember everything, but a few things did stand out from her talk.

One was that when someone comes to you with an opportunity, even if it's something you hadn't thought of or don't think you're qualified for, you should jump at the chance to do something new and to learn. Pamela mentioned that she interviewed someone once who said he wants to stay stupid for the rest of his life. Pamela mentioned that he wasn't a stupid man and his reply was that he knew that, but there would always be something he didn't know, so he would always be studying and learning.

Someone got up at the end to ask Pamela who were some people that have been a big influence to her or who she admires. Pamela had two stories to relate, one was of a couple she interviewed from Nova Scotia who had been in a car accident years before.

The wife was seriously injured and had brain damage. The doctors told the husband that he should think of putting his wife in an institution and get on with his life because she's never going to be the same. The couple had been avid boaters prior to the accident. So, the husband made up their bedroom to be like the berth of their boat and brought his wife home. Pamela interview them 7 or 8 years after the accident and the couple were both conversing intelligently in the interview and the wife had been back to work for a few years.

The husband commented that we celebrate beginnings and ends; births, weddings . . . divorces, we gather for funerals, but he said it's the middle that we should celebrate.

Pamela mentioned how it's those times when someone mentions something so obvious and yet something most people have never thought of that are so memorable for her.

Another story that Pamela related was of a time soon after she had moved to New York. She was at a dinner party and commented how she was always looking up at the buildings, admiring the architecture, etc. A woman sitting at the table said, "I used to do that, but not anymore." Pamela was about to ask why, but received a kick under the table from a friend sitting beside her so never said anything more about it. Pamela later learned that the woman had witnessed the people jumping from the towers on September 11. As a result the woman can no longer look up at the buildings without thinking of that event.

When Pamela mentioned this story at the breakfast this morning it brought tears to her eyes and to many others in the audience. Pamela mentioned that it was those personal stories that have the most profound affect and impact her life so much.


Great bio line

A writer for Wired has this line after his articles:

Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg eventually overcame these handicaps to become a commander, a commando and a commandant.


Storm blamed for multiple accidents

A Free Press article today covering yesterday's storm attributes it as the cause of a number of accidents in the area: "Accidents occurred throughout the day, including one at Adelaide and Oxford streets, where a vehicle crashed into a former bank building."

However, I have firsthand knowledge of this particular accident at Adelaide and Oxford and the weather wasn't a factor in this case. The vehicle in question bounced off my vehicle while my wife was driving home from work yesterday. She's OK, haven't heard yet how our car is fairing. And the decision is still out on who's to blame. We receive the police report later today. We're pretty sure that she won't be found to blame. I'll post an update on the report and the status of the car when I know more.

In the meantime, we have a Ford Explorer to replace ours.

(Photo: Dave Chidley, The London Free Press)
  • Update (16/10/06): My wife thought the Ford Explorer was too big, so we've exchanged it for a Hyundai Tucson. Doesn't have the intimidating factor, but a sporty ride. Haven't received the police report yet. And they haven't surveyed the damage to our vehicle yet, so no update there either.
  • Update (19/10/06): Just heard from the dealership on the assessment of the car - $11,953 damage.

    Also, my wife talked to the officer last night. The other driver, 86 years old, was coming from an eye appointment. So, he hasn't been charged yet as the officer is waiting to talk to the eye doctor. However, the officer told my wife that someone has to be charged, and because he hasn't been able to determine the charge for the other guy yet, he charged my wife with "left turn fail to afford reasonable opportunity to avoid collision." Yeah, like my wife purposely hit the guy. She waited until the light was about to turn red, if it hadn't already. I think that gave the guy reasonable opportunity to stop.


Self-professed TV junkie

OK, I've sunk to writing about TV again. And I admit that I'm addicted to it, though I am trying not to watch any new shows so I don't get hooked and watch even more TV.

I am getting hooked on Heroes though. It's just my kind of show - a cross between Lost and X-men.

Other shows that I can't miss are:
And Stargate: Atlantis. I know Atlantis is into its third season, but the episodes up here haven't caught up yet. It's still in continuous reruns of season one. Season two is running on Fox, but not prime time. I think it's on a couple times through the day on the weekends. I record it Sundays at 2 am, however they keep flipping the schedule back and forth between 1:30 and 2 am, so I need to constantly check and adjust the recording times. Frustrating to say the least, I only got the first half hour of the episode this past weekend.

Other shows I watch when hanging out in front of the TV are the crime dramas: NCIS, CSI (though I'm not so into Miami as I am the original or NY), Bones, Numbers, Crossing Jordan and Criminal Minds. I've also watched a new show, Psych. And The Unit isn't bad either.

So, although I try not to waste my life away in front of the TV, I usually manage to get in two hours a night. Except Tuesdays when there's nothing on at 10 pm - though I've watched Smith a couple times then, but I don't think it's going to make it. It was replaced with a repeat of CSI last night.

I don't think it's bad to watch TV in moderation. I find the hour or two watching TV before going to bed helps me relax. If I don't get that down time I'm restless and anxious about going to bed. And media and TV are a big part of our society, so watching TV, movies, reading magazines keeps us connected.

It would be cool to get a job in the TV/movie industry.


In honour of Corporal Robert Mitchell

Corporal Robert Thomas James Mitchell was proud to help rebuild war-torn Afghanistan and felt he was working towards the greater good. The father-of-three was killed in an ambush in the Panjwai region on Oct. 3, 2006.

Sgt. Craig Gillam, also of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, based in Petawawa, Ont., was also killed in the series of mortar and rocket attacks just west of Kandahar city.

I didn't know Rob personally, but I know his parents. They're good friends of my parents. It's really tragic. And to add to the tragedy, his younger brother, Rob's only sibling, has been diagnosed with brain cancer, so he's fighting his own battle back here. My thoughts go out to their parents and to Rob's wife and children. And to all the families who are having their own quite vigils at home hoping that the next soldier to die fighting for freedom isn't the soldier whose safe return they're praying for.


Google's taking over the world

Google already has its own video section. But they want to rule the world and buy the number one online video site, YouTube, for $1.6-billion (U.S.).

And not only do they want to rule the world through the Internet, they're also trying to hone in on the other computer company that has ambitions of world domination, Microsoft.

Google has an online document editing tool, Writely, to compete with Microsoft Word. And not just stopping at Word, Google's Office-style Web suite includes Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendar and Google Mail.


Lost season premiere preview

Here's some vids of season three and tonight's premiere.

Russian spy wants to defect?

Elena Miller, a Russian spy who came to Canada in the early '90s and assumed a fake identity, was subsequently found out and deported in June 1996. She's now suing Canada's immigration department for refusing to allow her to return here as a landed immigrant.

Hhmm... I wonder why she hasn't been allowed back? Duh, maybe because she was a spy and who's entire identity in Canada was based on a lie.

While in Canada she met Dr. Miller and they were married in December 2006. Dr. Miller then applied to sponsor his new wife to become a Canadian citizen. So, it's not like it's been eight years and she wants to get back in. She tried to get back in the country not even a year after being found to be a spy and deported. How naive is that?

Yeah, Canadians are nice people and all, but we're not stupid. Are we supposed to take her word that she's turned her back on a life of espionage, a life of lying and deceiving, and let her right back in the country?

Here's hoping the courts see the idiocy of this and laugh her naive, red little tushie out of court.


Why is the left so unlucky?

Apparently I'm in good company. My left middle finger has been cut down to size, so whenever I flip you the bird with my left hand it's in metric (metric unit measurements are shorter than imperial units).

However, there are many famous people who are short a digit or two. I guess because the majority of people are right-handed if they happen to be chopping vegetables or playing with a hand gun the weapon of choice will most likely be in their right hand hence making their left hand vulnerable to the chopping block or stray bullet. Hence the majority of missing digits are from the left hand.

I don't have any good story about cleaning a pistol or catching a grenade though. Mine is an unfortunate meeting between my hand and the rapidly spinning wheel of an exercise bike. I was one or two at the time and my brother was riding the bike.

It hasn't held me back, except for shattering any dreams of playing the guitar like Jimmy Hendrix. I do have some interesting party tricks and things I can do to fascinate the kids though.