Thursday, 11 November 2010

Rememberance Day -2010

It is Rememberance day - this is the first one Beth and I have not attended in person since we got married. We went out for a little walk in the Water Shed park and have just got home and are watching the service from Ottawa on the TV. I was reading my Uncle Wilfred's letters from his hospital bed in England to his Mother, last night. So sad, he was so full of hope to be home for Christmas. But the doctors knew that would not happen. In fact as we learned later from Wilfred's Doctor (who just happened to also be a Canadian, and amazingly also from Saskatoon) Wilfred had a piece of shrapnel in his heart and and it was a miracle he lived at all.

Well, since I received the shots in both knees last march, they have so much better.

I decided to give hockey (or at least skating) another try. Went down to a little rink in Delta called Tillsbury (close to where Sandra works). The manager let me go out on his newly flooded rink by myself for a few minutes - he insisted I must wear total hockey gear - which when you havent skated for a few years and are old and have peripheral nuropathy in your feet is a rather good idea.
I did notice as I was getting dressed I could lace -up my skates much easier than the last time I tried it when I was still getting the hormone shots (and the little girl offered me her mittened hand for support) - I have lost about twelve pounds since then. The skates were very cold and hard, not flexable and looked like a bit of rust on the bottom, but I eventually got all my stuff on.

So holding my brand new Super Store 8$ hockey stick firmly with my new Hockey gloves I gingerly stepped out on the beautiful glistening fresh ice- I have always loved that feeling getting out on fresh ice. The first thing that happened was my skates seemed to stick to the ice and I almost fell on my face - luckily I had the hockey stick. Then as I moved a few feet I almost fell over backword, then almost on my face again. I shuffled out to the middle of the rink and slowly tried turning, each time I almost fell, but as my muscle memory and I guess balance memory slowly kicked in I felt more confident and after about ten minutes I was actually skating and turning, albeit more like a 4 year old than a NHLer. So I packed it in for the day, but felt pretty good with the progress.

As I was leaving the manager mentioned there was drop-in hockey the next morning.

I gave it some thought the next morning, (yesterday) I had been planning to attend the church men's coffee morning. But I figured if i didnt go out with a few guys and at least pass the puck around I might put it off and not see if I could improve.

So I did go and did skate with several teenagers, I continued to improve and after about 20 minutes I was skating and shooting the puck resonably well - all in all I am thrilled - I figure a couple of more times and I may be able to go back and play with john and my old timers group.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I WAS YOUNG AND STRONG ONCE

A VW VAN SIMILAR TO THE ONE I TOOK THE ENGINE FROM -- IT IS IN THAT LITTLE OPENING UNDER THE TRUNK.

THIS IS JUST LIKE THE BUG (BUT MUCH BETTER LOOKING) THAT I REMOVED ITS ENGINE AND REPLACED IT WITH ONE FROM A VW VAN.




BETH & FAMILY AT QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK - 1960
QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK 1961
ME IN 1968
WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG

I am, at the present time, seventy-five years old. I guess I should be thankful to have arrived at this relatively ripe age with most of my faculties intact. These days my Granddaughters often lift heavy objects, carry in the groceries, tell me to take it easy- “don’t hurt your back Grampa”- and generally show me such love it makes me feel rather embarrassed, but so thankful for my many blessings.

It does though make you remember when you were young, strong, and yes even moderately bright and intelligent.

When I was a young married man in my late twenties I never got tired, could go with limited sleep, was very strong (two chin-ups with one hand) and I felt I could accomplish anything I put my mind too.

It was November 1964, I was a twenty-nine year old Air traffic Controller, and married to Beth. Beth and I had been Teenage Sweethearts and got married on Sept29 1956 in Regina. I was passing through after graduating from the Air Traffic Control College in Winnipeg. We had four young children from seven to two years old. We had built a new home in Tsawwassen in 1960 and had a 1955 Volkswagen Beatle car that the kids loved, especially the bunny seat - the open area between the back seat and the window. Beth had her hands full looking after our little brood, and as all mothers know, it can be exhausting. She had been feeling poorly for a few years, but never complained. It wasn’t for another seven years before she was diagnosed with Celiac disease. During this time her weight had dropped from about one hundred and thirty- five pounds, to ninety-seven pounds.

We had been having engine trouble with the car lately - blue smoke – fouled plugs – stalling, etc. We also had a Volkswagen Van taking up space in the carport with the brake lines corroded out – one of my less than brilliant car deals.

I was the Regional Councilor for the BC region of The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA), and was at this time deeply involved in The Judge Hutcheon Inquiry into the Vancouver Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC). This inquiry was the result of a strike I as the senior executive of our association had called a few months earlier. We were told by numerous ‘experts’, including the head office of CATCA that it was illegal for Federal Civil Servants to take strike action. I went down to the Vancouver library and to the BC Law Library but could find nothing that said it was illegal. And as I often said, we were not very civil, and we certainly were not servants! I believe this was the first Canadian civil service strike called in Canada. We though did not actually go out, due to the Canadian Government agreeing to our terms.

Subsequently the “Hutcheon Inquiry into conditions at the Vancouver Air Traffic Control Centre” was struck. At this time the Area Control Centre in Vancouver was undoubtedly one of the worst in the world. We, without the approval of the CATCA National executive, in fact before the dust had settled the Vancouver branch of CATCA had been officially disbarred from the Association. The Vancouver membership had called the strike, to draw public attention to the under staffing and more proposed cuts to manpower. The dismal state of our aged equipment, poor equipment maintenance, and squalid working conditions, would be more than enough reason to go on strike. However without a doubt our greatest problem was poor management. At this particular juncture of our management problems we the Controllers had basically taken over control of the Centre and were staffing most of the management positions as well as the control positions until the inquiry was complete.

I was the official Controllers Representative at the inquiry and of course this meant I definitely had to be at every meeting – and on time. I also tried to drop in at the Area Control Centre on my way to the inquiry to see how things were going. Driving an unreliable car was one more worry I really didn’t need.

At this time I was also the Owner/Operator of Van-Cal Building Maintenance Ltd. We had our office on Hastings Street just off Main in the downtown Vancouver East Side. and had about 25 employees. When I bought the business a year earlier, I had the very good fortune to have Jack Gilchrist stay with the business as office manager. Jack had just turned 82 but despite his age he could outwork most 20 year olds. Jack definitely was the brains and all-round everything (except being able to drive) for our Company. I would go into the office every day. Either after day shift at the ACC or before evening shift. Since we did the majority of our actual work in the evening I often would work with the crew into the early morning hours, and get home at two or three in the morning, and get up at five in time to get to the ACC by six.

At this time I played hockey for the Tsawwassen O’Keeffe’s hockey team in the Delta Senior Hockey League, and was a standby Referee for the League. I was also the Coach of the Tsawwassen Midget hockey team. I know it is hard to believe but I was also the Group Chairman of the newly formed Tsawwassen Boy Scouts – as I am writing this in my relatively decrepit state, even I am having trouble believing the words – so all in all I was a pretty busy person.

It was a Sunday, I had worked dayshift at the ACC from five-thirty am until two-thirty pm. I then went down to the Van Cal office and helped Jack get the crews out and sign a few checks.
“So Larry, how’s the big inquiry going?” Said Jack.
“Well, we start the second week tomorrow morning at ten, so far we have entered about forty exhibits and I reckon we should have about another forty to go.
“That seems like a lot of exhibits, what kind of things are you putting into the inquiry?”
“Oh, you know things like stupid memos, outage reports for the Radar, Radio failure reports, staffing reports, and on and on it goes. Speaking of that I must get going, have to prepare a few more papers.”
“You not going to stop by and see how the new guys are working out?”
“No not today Jack, have to get home, think I’ll clean the spark plugs again when I get home, it would hardly start when I left the Centre this afternoon.”

With that I got into my Beatle and ground the starter until the battery almost died, but it did start. I drove through the entire city, onto highway 99, and south to the Massey Tunnel, all the while with a light blue haze trailing behind, sort of like leaving crumbs. As I got to the Tunnel the traffic for some reason came to a complete standstill. I sat there in neutral watching in the rear view mirror the blue smoke gently rising over the hood of a very large car behind. The expression on the face of the fellow driving that car was not cheerful. The line started to move so I gave it some gas and an enormous blue cloud seemed to totally envelope the guy behind. Unfortunately we only went a few feet and stopped again. I had just come to a stop when my driver door was yanked open and a very angry, very large guy, screamed several obscenities relating to me, my car, my ancestors and a few other remarks I didn’t quite catch. Fortunately the traffic was starting again and the fellow behind my friend started honking, so he slammed my door, and with a few parting screams, got into his car.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful, but as I drove a wee plan started hatching in my little brain. When I got home I would take all the spark plugs out of the Beatle and exchange them for the new ones that were in the useless VW Van.

I got home about five PM, had a quick bite to eat and changed into my overalls. I guess here I should describe the layout of the house and Carport. We had a typical 1960 CMHC two level home – 1100 sq ft on each level – upstairs completed, ground level in the process of being done. We had a single car Carport on the south side (that could almost hold two cars end to end) with a large sundeck above.

I had parked the Beatle behind the Van which meant about two feet of the Beatle was sticking out from under the deck, the end I would be working on. As it was November, it was very dark with a very light misty rain falling, and a temperature of about eight degrees and dropping. I plugged in my trouble light got my toolbox and opened the rear engine compartment of the Beatle. As I pulled the wires off the four spark plugs I had this feeling that I was sort of beating a dead horse (or in this case stomping on a dead Beatle). Anyway I got the four fouled plugs out and went over to the Van dragging my light behind. I opened the engine compartment and stood for some time looking at this relatively shiny engine that I knew ran like a gem. I at times do have this habit of talking and indeed at times, arguing with myself.


You know little beauty, I bet you would fit into the Beatle. Next time I’m in the shop I’ll ask one of the mechanics if it could be done.


As I started to take the first plug out of the Van I had this overwhelming urge to go have a look at the Beatle to see how close of a fit the Van’s engine would be. So over the next ten minutes or so I dragged the light back and forth between the two vehicles until I made a decision.

Well I may be crazy but to me it looks like the two engines are identical. I know, I know it won’t be until I have the one engine out and the other part way installed until I will know for sure if it will fit. In any event I’m not sure if I can even get the engine out of the Beatle.

So now it took another half hour or so to find my two jacks – one a Two-Ton hydraulic bottle jack and the other an old fashioned large bumper jack. I also rummaged around and found several hard cover books that I thought I could use to adjust the heights of the jacks etc.

By now it was after 7PM and getting colder but the rain had completely stopped leaving a little fog just above the ground. I stood looking at the Beatle’s engine.


Well you little monster I have absolutely no Idea just how to get you out, but I think I have enough tools and energy, not so sure about time, but here goes.


With that I got started. Had to find the proper wrench to disconnect the gas line, and then had to find something to clean up the spilt gas. Next after reconnecting the line I had to find a plug to keep the gas from running all over, and start again. Then disconnect the throttle linkages and the wiring (being careful to label everything) running in and out of house finding paper, tape, pen and pencil, spare flashlight etc. It is amazing how many times one runs up or down, or in or out, or around the car, or around the car the other way – it’s amazing. How many times does one crawl on stomach stretching to reach a book or screw driver. The time wasted untangling the light cord every time I went from one vehicle to the other. It is amazing how often knuckles get skinned. Amazing the time wasted waiting for the eyes to adjust from bright light to pitch blackness just feet away.

Everything one does takes time.

By the time I had disconnected everything from the engine I was covered in black grimy grease, knuckles were bleeding, my back was sore from leaning over like a pretzel, and on top of that I was freezing.

I couldn’t believe it – it was almost 10PM and it looked like I had hardly begun. I’m sure all of you out there who have done any work at all on cars (I guess this only applies to the older crowd since there isn’t much a person can do with the newer vehicles) know nothing ever goes right, and everything takes longer than expected. Imagine it is late at night; you have basically destroyed your car. Add to this you are in a hurry, you don’t really know what you are doing, have no one to ask for help, but you realize there is only one thing to do – keep working.

Now I am not going to bore you with all the sordid details of this evening from hell, but more than once I sat down and decided to cry and give up. More than once I swore at that stupid Beatle. I swore at the Van. I swore at the stupid Inquiry. I swore at the books that kept falling down just as the engine was about level. I swore at my tools, or more accurately lack of tools. But as nighttime turned to early morning I cursed myself for being an idiot!

So by about 4; 30 am believe it or not, I had dragged the engine from the Beatle onto the grass. I had removed the engine from the Van. I had dragged it to the back of the Beatle. I had somehow got it up and into the engine compartment [after having it drop several times when the books toppled] and eventually had everything connected. I had even lined up the engine with the transmission properly – this was I found out a few days later was just plain dumb luck.

And it even started. And it moved back and forth a few feet.

I was quite tired!

I went in and had a long hot shower, and almost got clean.
I was asleep by 5; 30 and had a nice long sleep till about 7; 30.

Before this I was always grumbling to Beth about the spoilt brat syndrome these judges and lawyers had about working anything like a full day. They felt that beginning at ten AM, have a fifteen minute break and quit by twelve-thirty, at the latest, was a very hectic pace. After having a two hour lunch break they would put in another two hours or so and call it quits.

However this day I did appreciate these hours as I also had to stop into the Centre for a meeting with the - Controllers Advisory Committee - as to our strategy re some management papers we were given access to the previous Friday. I arrived (driving my purring Beatle) about eight-thirty, listened intently to the briefing, was away by nine-thirty and arrived at the meeting room in the Federal Building at ten AM sharp.

As I entered the room I was met by Eric Winsor who was the Assistant Deputy Minister of Transport (ADMA).He was the Federal Governments official representative at the hearing, I guess he was my official opposition. The word out of Ottawa was that his position was where all the decisions were actually made, in other words it was the ADMA with all the brains.

“Good morning Larry, you’re looking bright and cheery this morning.”

“Morning Eric, thanks you’re looking pretty busy-tailed yourself.

“So Larry, how many more exhibits do you figure to add to the stack we have now?

“Oh I’m not sure but I would guess about double what we have introduced so far.”

“Man oh man, I really can’t figure out where you get all the stuff, I mean all those old memos from years ago- how did you get hold of them?”

“It was really quite simple, I make photo copies of all Memos and Directives, have been doing it for several years. At first it was just for fun – many of them were really quite funny, at least to an active Controller. Then as things in the workplace went from bad to worse it dawned on me these ridiculous instructions may become useful some day so I kept them at home .As I have often stated: if we were to actually operate by following all the various written instructions we would never move any aircraft. It is so very obvious that management only put out these directives to cover their collective asses. Consequently the Controllers were continually violating scores of directives day in and day out, which of course added considerable stress to a job that already had more than enough. Oh, Oh, see you got me going, sorry about that – it will all become clear before we wind up – I hope.”

“I’m sure it will Larry. Here comes Hutcheon, guess we better grab our seats and get to work.”

As the day ground on it became very clear that Mr. Winsor was not the kind of manager we in Vancouver were accustomed to dealing with. He was very attentive, and asked intelligent questions of the witnesses. At about three o’clock a young woman entered the meeting room and asked to speak to me.

“Mr. Bennett we just received a call from the ATC Centre, they asked me to remind you of your meeting with the people from Carlton University, it’s at five PM over in the Federal building.”

“Oh right, thank you very much, I had totally forgot about that meeting.”

About six months ago we had received a note from Ottawa advising that the Federal Government would pay all expenses toward an accounting degree at Carlton University. Interviews would be held in Vancouver sometime in November. I had applied for an interview.

So as luck would have it, the meeting lasted a bit longer than usual, so it was about four-thirty when I was collecting my papers and about to run off down the street for my meeting with the Carlton University group when Eric tapped me on the shoulder.

“What say I take you out for dinner tonight, don’t know about you but I’m starved.”

“Well that is very kind of you Eric, I would love to join you, but I have a meeting in about 20 minutes to attend, and then I must get down to my company to make sure we have everything set for this evening.” I really could use a nice meal but just can’t fit it in, thanks anyway.”

“Ok Larry that’s fine I just thought you were looking a little peeked as the meeting progressed.”

Now that he mentioned it I was suddenly getting a little tired, and I still had at least another couple of hours before I started for home, which if I haven’t mentioned it, is just a little over thirty kilometers from downtown Vancouver.

Anyway after apologizing again I started off to walk the two blocks to the Federal Building for my interview. As I entered the street two things hit me simultaneously – I had forgotten my coat, and a brisk wind was slanting rain across the streetlights at about forty-five degrees. I guess one doesn’t have to have much of an imagination to realize by the time I arrived at the Federal Building I was soaked to the skin.
By the time I found the right room I was shivering and just a tad out of sorts.

“Mr. Bennett you have kept us waiting over two minutes, do you realize how busy we are?”

This friendly greeting emitted from the mouth of a skinny little guy with greasy black hair wearing a puke colored suit about three sizes too big for him. Sitting beside him was a young harried looking woman with red hair and very large glasses that seemed to highlight the disgust she had for the scruffy bit of humanity that had encroached upon her turf.
“Well I’m very glad to meet you as well.” I said as I held out my hand.

Mr. Puke suit seemed totally taken aback but reluctantly held out his hand.

One of my little eccentricities is that I have always had a very firm handshake. To say his handshake was like a dead fish would definitely be insulting the fish. As I let go of his hand he immediately pulled it back as if he had been stung by a large wasp, and while shaking his hand said.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, don’t you know who I am?”

“Well as a matter of fact, I don’t. I must have missed your name with your warm welcome.”

“Listen here Mr. Bennett, don’t try being smart. Do you really think you could stand the pressure and hard work required to attend Carlton University?” Interjected Ms. Big Glasses.

I looked intently into the eyes of these little self-centered folks, and was struck by an intense desire to scream loudly, or maybe reach up and grab a scrawny neck - or leave.
I guess I should mention here the master interviewers were sitting in two rather large, padded chairs, on a slightly elevated stage. I was in small wooden chair looking up at them. So I got up from my little chair, pushed it back gently, turned and walked out.

I guess becoming a graduate of Carlton was not in the cards.

The rain was still coming down and I was in even worse shape when I got into my car and started down Hasting Street toward the Van-Cal office. As it turned out one of our employees did not turn up for work that evening. I cleaned her two office buildings, and eventually got home about midnight. After a shower I fell into bed, trying not to think about starting everything all over again in five hours.

Friday, 20 August 2010

SO PROUD TO BE A CANADIAN

It makes me so proud to be a Canadian.

Omar Khadr Not Tortured, Gitmo Judge Finds

The land of the free and the brave Military have held a Canadian child in a questionably legal prison for eight years. Now I am no international legal expert or lawyer, but this is how I perceive the situation. This Canadian child (possibly a brainwashed mixed-up child) was legally visiting a country with the blessings of the legal government at the time. The USA led NATO forces invaded this country. NATO forces as far as I understand did not declare war on Afghanistan. I guess this eliminates those picky little rules of war. It appears he was in the wrong place at the wrong time; in any event he was very seriously injured by the invaders fire.

He was captured.

He allegedly threw a hand grenade or some such device, which in most cases taken at face value would be considered some form of self defence. He allegedly killed a US Medic. The killing of this Medic is very unfortunate and sad, I'm sure all Canadians share the grief and sorrow of this Soldiers family. The Canadian youth - now I believe twenty-three years old - is being tried by the United States Military. It seems strange to this Canadian, that we as a Sovereign Nation, respected member of NATO and closest neighbour to the USA do not see it as our duty to try the accused based upon Canadian (or possibly international) law.

We must have no Justice system. I guess we have no Lawyers. It must be we have no Judges. We have no pride in our Justice system. No able Prosecutors. No Defence lawyers to act for the accused. No concept of Justice or pride of Country.

I am so proud to be a Canadian

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Beth - studying map - Then Lost again


 
Posted by Picasa




We have been taking walk's in the Watershed park lately - there are a lot of trails
going all which way - this means most of the time we are lost. It is a beautifull, peacefull refruge from the busy world only meters away. Although the park is probably only about forty acres all told, we manage to find a new way to get lost every time we enter.Now I must admit the term LOST is a relative term, we are lost in the sense we don't know where we are for the moment, but we are only a 15 minute walk home once we find our way out! For example - within five minutes of taking this picture we were lost again and found a very deap revine we did not know existed, so we stopped and had our Root Beers and took some pictures of Beth's left over drink running down the trail- an exciting day for the old folks. Which in itself is a rather interesting subject - getting old that is. We don't actually think we are getting older until something comes up (like jumping over a log) and you fall or even worse don't event try to jump over it - sigh - it is all too depressing. That is until you accept where you are within the great scheme of things and enjoy each others company.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

THE DELTA QUEEN


THIS IS A GOOGLE EARTH SHOT OF LOW TIDE AND THE EXACT LOCATION OF THE ADVENTURE
OF THE DELTA QUEEN

I was going to have a first class hissy fit about The top two Canadian banks
and their unmitigated gread,audasity,stupidity, and I will come up with several more adjectives to describe both of them and their letters to pretty much any canadian reading this about there dire needs and how they must raise rates and charges. This at a time when they recieve money at the lowest rates in generations. When they both have made record obscene profits and when they both are giving a whopping one half of one percent interest to their customers. These charges on a host of services go up in many instances by one hundred percent - yes that is 100% - other rate changes for credit card interest go from a low 19% to somthing like 26% if you miss a payment. Gee looks like I have started my rant, but I will relax for a day or two and then return and do it properly.
So as I was beginning to say I decided to post the following little story that has been bouncing around in my little brain for quite a while.

THE DELTA QUEEN

George was a prairie boy. Like many boys born in Saskatchewan during the dust filled 1930s, he had always had a longing for the ocean. More to the point he had a suppressed obsession with owning a grand ocean going boat.

George and Mary married in the mid 50s and moved to B.C. all on the same day, a few years later they moved to Delta. As the reader may know, Delta is a Municipality located on the ocean at the furthest South Western tip of mainland Canada. It took a few years and a few children later, but finally George made the plunge and bought what was to his eye, a jewel of a ship. To more knowledgeable seafaring blokes it may have appeared to be more of a lemon.

To be sure George did have a few problems at first. He now owned a beautiful 21ft Cabin cruiser with a 110-horse power Volvo inboard/outboard that positively gleamed. It was with great excitement and expectation he for the first time pressed the start button.
Nothing.

Well not quite nothing, there was a little click.

Eventually after several ‘experts’ giving their opinions with no results, the motor was shipped to the Volvo repair shop where it was determined the pistons were rusted solid to the cylinder walls. Several hundred dollars later the engine was returned and put into the boat, but not until a foot of water was pumped out of the wooden hulled beauty. This craft looked like a fiberglass boat, but in fact it was plywood, covered with fiberglass, this made it (at least for prairie boy) most difficult to find any leaks.

In any event George spent many a happy hour tinkering and fooling around with his beauty. It was on one of these tinkering days (tinkering at the dock was much safer than getting out on the big ocean) on a spring afternoon that George had what was to be remembered for many years by his fellow Air Traffic Controllers as the “Adventure of the Delta Queen”

George was on his way to work at the Vancouver Airport on the afternoon shift and as he often did, left early so he could work on his boat. He took his good clothes to change into after working on the boat; no dummy was our friend George. So after an hour or so of basically wasting time, a brilliant thought stuck George, why not go to work with his boat. It is important here to visualize the terrain in this part of the world. The municipality of Delta is south of Vancouver BC, the South Arm of the Fraser River is the northern boundary between Richmond and delta. The Fraser River as it flows into the Straight of Georgia divides into three arms, The North Arm (which separates Richmond from Vancouver) the Middle Arm (which has the seaplane dock for Vancouver International Airport and The Air Traffic Control Centre) and the South Arm.


He threw his good clothes into the boat, pushed the starter, put it into reverse looked behind him, gave it a bit of throttle and immediately fell to the floor as the bow rope tightened to the dock.

As he slowly chugged past the men working on their nets (AT THE PERFECT SPEED TO MAKE THE GREATEST BOW WAVE) he felt like the proud and brave seafarer he was rapidly becoming. He realized this was true as the men all waved to him in what he took to be a nautical one fingered salute as he passed.

It was so peaceful sitting on his high stool on the bridge looking at this new and wonderful world, starting out on his first little adventure with his ship going down to the sea. As he chugged along he only had one more friendly one finger wave, it was from a very large fellow, who it seemed to George was maybe chocking, since his face was quite red.
No time to worry about strangers health, must keep alert to find where this famous Ladner Reach met the large South Arm of the mighty Fraser. He really need not have worried, as it ran straight (well it did after the bridge opener guy at the Westham Island bridge told him to turn around) into this large rather scary body of water, complete with large ocean going freighters and local fishing vessels.

Reaching the South Arm was quite a thrill. George as was his wont spoke to himself out loud. ‘Well George boy, you did it. All we do now is follow the river to the Strait of Georgia make a right, another right at the Middle Arm and there you are at the Air Traffic Control Centre, piece of cake.’ Once again George marveled at the beautiful blue sky and the feel of the sun on his face, although he did notice that as he proceeded west toward the ocean there seemed to be a little mist forming. Now was the time to see what this baby would do, he opened the throttle almost full and the feeling of power and joy thrilled his little heart. However he was a bit reluctant to open it all the way up as there was quite a bit of chop around from all the boats around. So George just left it so the hull was not planning properly, just at that in between speed (maybe 15 knots) to use the most fuel.
After about what seemed a very long time heading away from land he passed the lightship, (a Light-House at the end of a spit of land about two miles off shore) and almost immediately lost sight of land. What a feeling, alone, just water, sun and mist, or was that fog on the water? It really didn’t matter as the sun was shining through, and it was now smooth as glass. George being an Air traffic Controller knew he wasn’t out of the shallows yet, and depending on the tide you had to go further out. Unfortunately George had not checked the tide tables, but like he figured they wouldn’t mean much to him anyway since this was his first time on the ocean. So he just decided to go a good ways out to make sure. The feeling of the water thumping the hull, and the exhilarating cool fresh damp air against his face was beyond joy. Suddenly it dawned on George; he had been steaming away from land for quite some time. So he made a ninety-degree right turn, pushed the throttle to the firewall and almost instantly his beautiful craft leveled out on the step and he was literally flying at about 30 knots.

As he cruised along with no cares in the world, with the sun shining weakly through the thin fog, he kept a sharp eye out for water traffic and was just a little nervously scanning to his right for any sight of land. He figured he was getting close to the Middle Arm as he could see aircraft climbing off runway 26 at Vancouver International. As he strained his eyes to find sight of land he glanced to the stern, to admire his Volvo humming away. To say the sight he saw was shocking is an understatement of enormous proportions.
George had heard the saying ‘Rooster Tail” when referring to those monster Speed Boats that raced down in Seattle. It never crossed his mind his cruiser could ever go fast enough to make a rooster tail. So one can imagine, or maybe not, the joy and fascination George felt as he saw this plume of water rising at least ten feet into the sky behind his speeding craft. At virtually the same instant George noticed something else: the plume behind him was brown, sort of the color of sand. Now George was a very quick thinking individual, his thought process went something like this – brown – sand – expensive Volvo engine – sand going through engine – very bad – cut throttle. George instantly cut the power.

A very big mistake.

The craft went from 30 knots to zero in about two seconds. When George picked himself of the deck it was eerily quiet, no slapping hull sound, no wind sound, no motor sound, silence. He stood up (as best he could on the twenty degree angle of the deck) and looked around. All he could see in any direction was water and thin fog. It was as if he had been dropped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a life raft, granted a rather large life raft. His first thought when he chopped the power was he had hit a small submerged sand bar. As he took stock of the situation he noticed the water was about four inches deep. This really didn’t worry George that much, he could just get out of the boat and drag it off the little sand bar and away he would go. So with this in mind he took off his shoes and socks, and jumped over the side into the water. George was surprised to find the water rather warm. He went around to the bow to unravel a bit of anchor rope and get this adventure back on track.
It turned out dragging a twenty-foot boat grounded into sand was not going to be the piece of cake George thought. He uncoiled about ten feet of rope from the bow and pulled the rope that was at about a forty-five degree angle. All this tugging accomplished it appeared, was to dig the hull deeper into the sand. In fact he couldn’t make it budge. As he stood in the warm water in the glorious sunshine he wasn’t really too worried since he still had a few hours to get to work. George took off his shirt and pants, threw them into the boat, and in his underwear surveyed the situation from outside the boat. He decided to try and find out how large this sandbar really was, so he started walking away from the boat. After splashing merrily along for a few minutes, two things struck him simultaneously, this was a very large sandbar, and the boat was getting hard to see through the mist. The thought of losing sight of the boat made his heart sort of skip a beat and he hurriedly returned to the safety of his boat.
George now realized he was going to be here for bit of time, so he decided to lie on the deck and get some sunshine while he tried to figure out his next move. His reasoning went like this; if the tide was coming in, he would be afloat before too long. If the tide was going out, even to him that would be self-evident. In any event he wasn’t going to dwell on any negative thoughts.
As he lay there with his eyes closed every now and then George thought the craft would move a bit, he would look over the side but everything appeared the same. After enjoying the quiet and sunshine for about a half hour, a disturbing thought struck George. What if the tide was coming in, but just keeping the boat at the same level as it moved them closer to shore, wherever that was.
With this disturbing thought going through his mind George decided to use the whole hundred feet of rope do try and drag the boat out to deeper water. Being further out would lessen the angle from the bow to the water, and hopefully let him get out to deeper water. Before he entered the water he decided to take off his shorts, as he didn’t want them wet when he got to work. So now naked he began uncoiling the rope to its entire length. While he worked away he noticed little waves pushing the craft to the east, he now figured the tide was rising, so he was on the right track. When he had finished uncoiling the entire one hundred feet, the boat looked a long way back as he strained with all his might to get it moving. He was leaning forward at about a forty degree angle, looking straight down at the water, concentrating on one thing, get the stupid boat moving. For a few moments it looked hopeless, but then he felt the slightest movement, and with his head almost touching the water, he strained even harder. George kept the pressure on the rope, and the ship slowly followed him, like a dog on a leash.
George realized this might be a rather long trek, so with head down and back straining he staggered along, but at least he was encouraged as he heard the departing aircraft going over head, meaning he was close to his destination.

He went along for some time like this, head down, straining back, and imperceptibly at first, but then he realized the strain was getting noticeably less. At the same instant he noticed the water was almost to his knees. As the depth of the water increased the fog simply melted away, and George full of hope decided to take a quick glance ahead at the endless expanse of water.
As George looked up he was dumfounded to see a very large Japanese cargo ship steaming along not more than three hundred yards from him.
It was probably a tossup as to who was shocked the most, George, or the crewmembers leaning against the railings of their ship. Imagine their shock beginning a long journey, out of sight of land, suddenly out of the mist, a very white, naked man, walking on or in the water, pulling a boat behind? It was at this time he noticed the Pacific Western Airlines, Convair 540, banking rather steeply right overhead, he could almost make out the faces of the crew and passengers, as it flew by.

So he waved.

And he waved to the men on the Cargo Ship.

And they waved back

At this time at the Vancouver ACC the following dialog was taking place.
“Departure, PW 323 is with you.”
“Pacific western 323 Departure, radar identified, climb runway heading to twenty-five hundred, then left direct the VOR, climb on course”
“Roger, twenty-five hundred, left on course, PW 323.”
“Roger”
About one minute goes by.
“Uh, Departure PW 323.”
“323 Go”
“Yeah, Departure we’re going to level off here for a moment, something strange on the water.”
“That’s approved 323, let me know the situation.”
“Will Do.”
About another minute goes by.
“Departure 323.”
“Go, 323.”
Laughing “You won’t believe it Departure, there is a real life African Queen drama going on down there. Some guy, miles from shore, is walking in shallow water pulling a cabin cruiser behind him. And you won’t believe this; there is a very large freighter that looks like it is about to run him over. Oh, and now he is waving at us – he looks happy, and the crew on the freighter appear to be waving at him – oh and by the way he is starker’s. We are now continuing the climb on course.”

Dave the Departure controller turned to the Arrival controller Al, and told him the story.
They both laughed then Al said “Sounds like it might be that idiot George trying out his new lemon.” They both laughed and continued working.

Epilogue:
The rest of George’s day went relatively smooth. He went over his head in the water as he was waving to his friends. He finally got back to the dock after making bigger waves on the way into his berth. The friendly fishermen did not wave. No they did one better, several of them met him, and helped him tie up as he bumped into the dock.
They actually were not very pleased with him as it turned out. With clenched fists these very healthy fellows explained in very plain language the trouble he had caused them. As George was apologizing and explaining his predicament one of the biggest fellows cut off his explanation.
“Aren’t you number nine who plays for the North Delta hockey team?”
“Well yes, why do you ask?”
“I’m from North Delta and go to all the Games at the Army Base in Ladner, you are my favorite player.”
So things went swimmingly from there on.
Except for being an hour late for work.

And trying to explain it wasn’t him out there pulling that Boat.

THE PHOTO AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS BLOG WILL MAKE MORE SENSE NOW ( I HOPE)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

HAITI - A TEST OF HUMANITY

I have been following the Haiti earthquake closely on the TV and Internet at home since am retired and have lots of time.
When President Barak Obama was elected there was a great deal of promises, at the time I remember saying “If he carries out one in five we should be happy”

As you can see I was not expecting him to be a superman. But I was expecting a change for the better in the administration.

However when the earthquake hit Haiti on Jan 12th 2010 and I heard his speech I was very encouraged and was positive this would not be another Katrina.




Jan 12 Port-au-Prince, Haiti Category 7 earthquake. Not too much information coming in but since the USA is only one hour away or less if from their base in Cuba. I am sure the American administration will have help arriving first thing in the morning.

Jan 13th CNN news arrives and starts reporting and showing the devastation, showing many Haitian men and women working frantically to dig victims from the rubble. The first few aircraft arrive with help. No US government presence. Evidently Cuba sent several doctors. The population is desperate for water and food

Jan 14th many nations now sent help and rescue workers – Spain – China- Canada etc.
No sign of American government assistance – believe at least one disaster crew from an American city arrived. Population desperate for water and food.
I cannot believe the USA is not on the ground in any meaningful way.

IT APPEARS I MAY HAVE BEEN TOTALLY IN ERROR ABOUT THIS NOT BEING ANOTHER KATRINA !

Jan 15th Pictures of aircraft at airport show planes from allover the world unloading supplies – Holland – France The USA not represented in any of the shots I personally observed. A Red cross official states if real help does not arrive desperate people will start taking the law into their own hands and violence will erupt.

I am now stating to think this has to be a deliberate American policy, I know it may sound ridiculous but maybe they are waiting until rioting breaks out, then they can in effect invade and do what they do best, use military force against the population.

Jan 17 Still no real American Presence. Many nations are on ground helping as best they can. The CNN crew it looks like are having great difficulty in finding many American rescue personal. Italian rescuers on the ground.




Jan 18 – Nations from all parts of the world are on the ground – including The United Arab Emirates, Israel, Brazil, and Norway.
No real USA presence!
"We do not have the capacity to fix this situation. Haiti needs help ... the Americans are welcome here. But where are they? We need them here on the street with us," said policeman Dorsainvil Robenson, deployed to chase looters in the capital.



Jan 19th Small (5.8) earthquake has hit Grand Caman Island – phoned Kimberly she felt it but it was no big deal she says.
Some media are starting to make a big deal about looting in Haiti – starving people are having the audacity to take canned food from destroyed buildings instead of just leaving it to be ultimately destroyed. The Haitian police have been firing on some of them.

There are now hundreds of American personal on the airfield. They evidently are making short sorties to delivers some water and food to the starving.

QUOTE FROM TOM LEONARD THE DAILY TELEGRAPH in the Vancouver Sun Jan 19tth 2010.

FROM AN AMERICAN LIEUT. “ We understand the Haitians are desperate for food, water and work. We’ve done a few food and water runs with the Brazilians- UN troops-it went well.” He said. “Even when we ran out of water, there were was no trouble.”

Just think this is a week since the quake – this is what the worlds superpower can do for one of it closest neighbors – I do not have the words to express my sadness and disappointment