I hope you enjoy my blog, a collection of articles and thoughts regarding my interests. I'm a married father of two that loves to write about gliding, hunting, fishing, camping and any outdoor passion. Oh yah, I'm a quadriplegic. I hope this is informative to some, entertaining to others, and interesting to all. Let me know what you think. If you'd like an article for your publication, I've got words I haven't even used yet!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Camping Bliss ... uhuh ...

Most of you that camp have experienced the peer pressure of parking a trailer in a busy campground, just thought I'd collect some data and report the findings. Feel free to make your own observations utilizing the following guidelines, it is a fun and educational way to spend an evening.


To truly observe and appreciate all of the particulars involved in parking a trailer, one must arrive at the campground, and have their own campsite completely set up by Friday noon directly across from a carefully chosen target campsite. Acquiring such a perfectly situated site for yourself is in itself an art, but key to the success of the investigations.

The target campsite should be a back-in site (pull-through sites will contaminate the data) designed by the latest engineering software. The site should be complete with large overhanging branches, a post to mark the campsite, metal-fire pit, and utility pillar. All of these are to be strategically placed so as to be completely hidden from the driver's view at all times, leaving the sole responsibility for their avoidance squarely on the shoulders of the person directing from behind. This encourages spousal interaction (many couples have worked out their own sign language, however a universally recognized signal apparently occasionally gets "flipped"). You can detect proper placement of these obstacles by the lovely colorful paint-scrape marks inscribed on them by multiple cheerful campers starting their vacation off on the right foot.

Next, one must unpack and set up all of the scientific observation equipment needed to examine campers parking, undisturbed in their natural habitat ... including but not limited to lawn chairs, umbrella, notebook, cooler full of Corona, video camera, etc. Next place your lawn chairs at the front of your site in full view of all goings-on. You may notice other folks in the campground doing the same for educational purposes or merely sheer entertainment value. In Quantum Physics the "Observer Effect" states that "There is no phenomenon until it is observed", so nobody really knows if a camper, without an observer present, has trouble parking or not. It's kinda like "If a tree falls with no observer present, does it make any sound"? I think that Observer Effect must be at play, because of the 396 campers that I polled, 89% stated that they have no difficulty parking their RV. Our observations revealed that 29% was more accurate (our poll is accurate 99 out of 100 times between beer #3 and #4 while balancing on a $3 lawn chair between 5pm and 9pm on a Friday night in a rib-stained blue shirt). Note: when observing, one should be careful not to skew the evidence by laughing, cheering, mooning, or engaging in any other type of interaction with the driver during his/her attempts at parking their rig.

As the time approaches five p.m. one will begin to detect a certain anxiety on the part of drivers as they frantically race to grab the last few sites. It is imperative that you have a fresh Corona before the “Low-Beer-Light' comes on as there may not be an opportunity for replenishment once the action begins.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Horse Therapy

Horse Hugs

I had a pretty neat experience yesterday.

First we collected lemons. My regular chair had experienced the melting of some very important wires, and hence was in the repair shop. So I was left without my wheels, which is a bit of an inconvenience to a quadriplegic (ya think???).

So I arrive home, sporting my 1983 p.o.s. backup unit. Now if you think us gimps look uncool before, ya gotta see me in my ill-fitting backup MacGyvered-so's-it-at-least-runs unit! Unloading from the van we notice the 4x4 off-road chair sitting in the garage minding its own business. It fits me well and is comfy, but you may have noted from previous posts that this thing is not carpet and linoleum (or marriage) friendly, and as such has been banned by the appropriate powers from the inside of the house.

"Do ya want to ride that?" Terry asks, pointing at the beast.

"Sure!" I reply, wanting like always to stay outside.

Terry laughs, "I guess I won't see you for the rest of the day!"  knowing that I will  roam all over Hell's 1/2 acre in this thing .

"Anything you want before you go?"

"Maybe my sunglasses, a hat, and a tea, and I'll see you later!" I reply.

One great thing about living out in the country is you can roam around and explore for a couple of hours no problem. Terry hands me my stuff and off I go. I spend the next hour or so exploring the fish in the ponds, animals and birds. When I get back to the yard the horses are standing in the corral.

"You want me to open the gate so you can go see them?" Terry asks.

"You bet!"

Years ago way back in my first life, I used to like to ride horses. I haven't had a lot to do with them ever since my accident, but when I am outside I always call to them and when they raise their heads to look at me I wave back. Sometimes they will walk up to the fence and lean over to look at me for a few seconds, but that is about all the contact I have had with them. This was going to be new being in the pen with them and it was pretty amazing.

As soon as they noticed me in the pen, they were curious. Total, the big old standardbred, walked right over immediately and stopped with his nose close to mine and stared at me from close range. He then leaned down to sniff my feet. Then he did something unexpected, he gently grabbed the toe of my boot and lifted my foot off of the foot pedal! Then he sniffed my legs, and came up to sniff my hands. He gently grabbed my hands one at a time, and lifted them. Then it dawned on me, he was wondering why I couldn't move my hands and feet, he had noticed that something was wrong!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Soaring May 2014

Elk Island Park From 9,500 ft

"All out!" Bob hollers into the microphone from the back seat.

The Pawnee accelerates, straining the rope and spraying us with dry grass and debris. We accelerate down the runway and are airborne before the tow plane, what a blast!

I don't know about the rest of you guys but this was one long winter! At about the five minute mark of the flight the winter blues are long gone, and the grin pulled out and installed for the day! We took a tow to 3000 feet, and then released.

Even though it was overcast there was quite a bit of lift to be found. The first one we hit was averaging between 2 and 4 knots of climb, I wasn't going to turn it down and rolled left into it. One of the attributes I seem to have developed is persistence, much to the chagrin of the pilot that gets to ride behind me in the glider. I got to practice the skills learned flying the Condor online simulator, and I'm not sure how long we circled left but think maybe Bob ( who has the patience of Job) was either really really bored or having a good snooze! As we reached about 7000 feet or so  the lift stabilized and we were still going up at a steady 4 kts! I decided that "don't fix it if it isn't broke"  applies here so  we kept circling even more and rode that one all the way up to our limit of 9500 feet!

"Chipman traffic, Mike Juliet Sierra is over the field at 9.4," Bob reports.

 A while later while circling to the left we notice below us there is another glider circling to the right in the same thermal. Bob identifies the other glider as the PW5 from the club. I roll the glider right and switch direction so we are both circling the same way. Was it ever a lot of fun to watch the other glider and circle with it! The smaller lighter PW5 was climbing faster than us, and as he started getting close I decided to move on and head south.

What a fantastic flight! After nearly an hour and a half we decide to come back down and share the fun with other pilots that are waiting for the glider. Thanks Bob and the Edmonton Soaring Club for all the fun! Here is a short video of the landing, not my smoothest one as I touched down tail first on the hard ground.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Jaco Robotic Arm Fun

     I recently had the opportunity of testing a robotic arm on loan from http://kinovarobotics.com/products/jaco-rehab-edition/. A couple of University of Alberta computer science fellows made the 1 1/2 hour drive down to our place with all of their equipment. They are developing an interface that allows the arm to detect objects and reach for them automatically under command. They allowed me to test the software they are developing to help determine how much faster their interface was than commanding the arm manually with the joystick. The arm did have a lot of knuckles and bends, so it did take some getting used to in manual mode, although some movements were already combined and simplified already. The interface that they built made most tasks automatic and a lot easier to perform. They are definitely on the right track.

     The testing involved moving and manipulating different objects on a table. First I would select them with a mouse on a computer screen and the arm would reach out and align itself to pick up the object automatically. Then the arm would be put back into its home position with the touch of a button, and I would repeat the action manually with the joystick. The times to complete the tasks were compared. I suppose that it was a little bit of work, but being able to play with such a technically advanced piece of machinery was absolutely amazing, I had a blast! To a gear-head like me, this was heaven! Thank you so much to Katelyn Loshny who made it possible, and Camilo and Oscar for coming all the way out here with their multitude of techno-stuff, what a great day!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Power of Intention

One thing about living life strapped to 4 wheels in a Northern climate (well relatively Northern, although there are lots of people living farther North),  there is time to plan and ponder. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on the thoughts bouncing around in your coconut. What works for some, doesn't work for others, and maybe our life's missions all differ.

By the time we have reached this age, say 40s or 50s, we have all experienced good and bad. I don't know if we can control this, but from my experience we certainly can influence it.

What do you desire? What rattles your chain? What makes you smile, or laugh? What gives you warm fuzzies inside? Think about it, identify it, think about it ... lots. What seems to happen after a while is ... stuff starts lining up to make your desires happen. Focus on what makes you happy, not what is in the way of your happiness, life seems to give us what we focus on.

I don't know how many times I've thought about a great memory with a close friend, and the phone suddenly rings with him on the other end, far more times than coincidence will allow. I've thought about soaring in the winter (a near-impossibility) and suddenly received an email inviting me to an online glider flight. I've thought about a fine salmon supper with my wife and she'll show up with ... you guessed it ... a fine piece of salmon to be whipped into one of her gourmet meals. It has gotten to where we joke about not wanting any secret thoughts, as the other one will know them!

Captain Tony's
I recall spending nearly a year in hospital, with lots of time listening to a Sony Walkman (1986) and Jimmy Buffett tapes generously donated by great friends. I would escape my reality in my hospital bed, and stroll Key West, visiting Captain Tony's Saloon, Sloppy Joe's, Caroline Street and all the other landmarks that were in those tunes. I never realized that by visualizing it so much, I was making it happen. We talked about going there 20yrs later, it felt right, we hooked onto our holiday trailer in -20C temps on January 1 and off we went. You know what? It was exactly as imagined! It felt like we were coming home! It still feels like home there.

What rattles my chain? Family love. Great friends. Things that fly. Outdoor fun like camping under palm trees, mountain trails, fishing, hunting, exploring, geocaching etc. I constantly try to remember to put my intentions out there to the world/universe/god, whatever you believe (I don't think it matters what you call it), and it seems to work.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that in my world I have been blessed with an abundance of all that I treasure. I probably get to enjoy as much life and fun as most able-bodied people, I believe it is because I want to.

Religious folks might say it's the "ask and you will receive", new age people might say that the universe provides, some would subscribe to the power of positive thinking or like-attracts-like. They all seem to be right.

The world is our playground, let's all have fun!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


At Home in the Keys

     Is it a little early for spring fever? Us cold-blooded gimps don't take to the cold as gracefully as you "up-rights", and hence get a little bit whiney about this time of year.

     I'm not sure about how some of the other people combat the cold, but I like to do it by writing.

The Wilderness Chef in our Condo
     Writing a story about something interesting that you did is a great way to escape the winter and roam around in your own head for a few hours, and some of us have more room than others to roam around. When I'm writing, I'm battling a large fish on a Florida beach, the aqua-blue water lapping on the shore with seagulls soaring by and my reel screaming. I could be with Super-Dave in our
Wilderness Condo, enjoying a glass of red and a medium-rare steak, guns safely tucked away, pretending to be hunting while a blizzard rages outside. I may be soaring high over the prairies with a high-performance glider on a perfect blue-sky-summer-day, the atmosphere dotted by lift-giving thermals identifiable by their fluffy-cotton-ball-cap. I roll the glider into a right turn under a cotton-ball-cloud, and am rewarded by that familiar kick-in-the-pants as we're rocketed skyward in our atmospheric-elevator-shaft. See how easy it is to escape?

     I've been fortunate enough to be writing a regular column called Outdoor Tracks for New Mobility Magazine. This last week I found out that they have extended my column for at least another year, what a great thing for me to do in the winter… Write stories!

     Another great thing about writing a column on outdoor adventures, is you have to think of more outdoor adventures to go do! The last few have been on soaring, fishing, camping and kite flying. I love this hobby, escapism is amazing!

     Have a great rest of the winter, time is short so I had better get typing again, got words I haven't used yet!

Here's a link to my column:  Outdoor Tracks

Monday, 20 January 2014

My 2 Cents on $25 Worth of Birdseed

Well, Jan 20 and we're still surviving this winter stuff. It appears that the unusually deep snow has our deer friends scrounging for whatever they can find. I think maybe they're in cahoots with those darn chickadees. Now I enjoy the birds around about as much as any other old fart in a lazyboy, but the wastage ... man ... a teenager with her parents' gas card is frugal compared to this! They seem to have to move approx. 587 seeds to find that one desirable one, only to find that the point is on the wrong end, and therefore it must be deemed sub-par and discarded also. The amount of wastage by these little half-submerged-mixer-beaters is in direct proportion to the price you pay for the seed. We purchased the finest pedigreed bird-seed that you must swear on affidavit to never plant and grow yourself, and now 2 of these 1.5 ounce chickadees spill enough of it to feed 3 full-grown 200lb+ mule deer bucks and one porcupine! I mean how can they sleep at night? The picture above is one of the deer that seems fascinated with me at my computer ... standing on the deck in mid-day! I hope to claim enough of the deck from the critters this spring to park my butt outside! It's hard to work with an audience ... but it is  nice to see the wild creatures so close!