Posted by: bkivey | 25 November 2015

Closing Doors

Some of the  work I do often requires a partner. My usual partner was unavailable this weekend, requiring a substitute. I expect that if someone can’t make it to work, they’ll make an effort to secure a substitute. I’ll be working my end, because jobs have to be covered, and the customer isn’t interested in failings on the part of the company they’ve hired to meet their needs.

The deadline for this exercise was 1600 of 25 November. I had to give Labor Ready time to find someone for the weekend if other efforts were unsuccessful. When the usual suspects failed, I reluctantly turned to Craigslist. My experience with hiring off Craigslist isn’t good. It may well be called ‘Flakelist’, as people who swear they’ll show up for a job often don’t. It’s also common for people looking for work to suddenly become very particular about the pay and work they’ll accept.

I found a guy who looked promising, and left a VM and texted them about the work. The response was that they were interested, but couldn’t talk at the moment because they were engaged in another job. That’s fine. I texted that they should call me at their earliest opportunity.

I’d set a deadline of 1600, but was willing to stretch that a bit as Labor Ready is open until 1800. While waiting on Craigslist Guy, I secured labor for the weekend. My text to Craigslist Guy informing him that I’d found someone was met by a return text of ‘Please take me off your list’.

On one level, I get this. A job was on offer, and was withdrawn. I understand that this person was planning on working the weekend, and then having that opportunity withdrawn. But I’d made explicitly clear when I needed to know their status. While I was willing to make time concessions, there are limits: I informed him of the change around 1700., a full hour after the stated deadline. As a manager, I have to get ducks lined up as soon as is practicable.

Here’s the deal. If you’re looking for work, and work comes along, it’s incumbent on you to make that happen. People looking to hire aren’t going to be waiting around for you to get around to making contact. They’re working to make the things that need to happen, happen. It really is a case of ‘You snooze; you lose’.

But there’s another dimension. By cutting off contact, this person has reduced their options. They’ve closed a door. It’s likely that I’ll need help at some point in the future, and given the business climate, sooner rather than later. I’m looking to grow the business significantly in 2016, but Craigslist Guy won’t be part of the effort.

Days Off

I took the day off prior to Thanksgiving, and of course Thanksgiving. I’ve never worked Thanksgiving or Christmas, and God willing, never will. In the Book of Blair, those holidays are sacrosanct.  I took 25 November off because I could. It’s an uncommon experience to have two consecutive days off. I’ve had jobs where I worked 8 – 5  with weekends off (and six paid holidays), but while self-employed, those opportunities don’t exist. It’s a common myth that the self-employed choose their work schedule, but the reality is that customers choose your schedule for you. This often means working 6,7,8 or more days consecutively.

Since working March and April straight through in 2013, I’ve made an effort to schedule days off the same as I would jobs. It’s an effort. You don’t want to give up work, but on the other hand recognize the need for time off. And when you’re running more than one company, days off from one effort don’t necessarily translate into days off from another.

I’m not complaining.

I choose to do the things I’m doing. I like it, it’s fun, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s (OK, maybe there are a few jobs). But it is oh-so-nice to have a couple of days off. The first day you sleep in, maybe get some work done. The second day you feel relaxed but with the spectre of work coming up. It’s not an imminent doom; you’ve got time to prepare.

You can relax. Get some work done: maybe. No pressure. It’s nice.

Weekends: what a concept.

Posted by: bkivey | 24 November 2015

Racism by Proxy

On 19 November Colin Binkley  wrote a story describing the alleged vandalism of portraits of Black professors at Harvard Law School. Apparently black tape had been placed over the images of some, but not all, Black professors. I don’t know that the action rises to the level of’vandalism’, but certainly ‘defaced’. Harvard police are investigating the action as a hate crime. Coming the day after demonstrations by students of color, people are understandably nervous.

The usual people are making the usual noises, but I (and likely the police) approach this with a degree of skepticism. It seems that every time a person alleges a racial incident, there’s usually no corroborating evidence. It’s nearly always a case of the victim relating something they saw or heard. In the cases where there is physical evidence, in every case I’m aware of, the ‘victim’ is also the perpetrator. This site details over 200 incidents of racism hoaxes dating back to at least 1980.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that most, if not all, race crimes are fabrications, the Progressive reaction never changes. Much denouncing of racism, much hand-wringing, many promises that society will do better. When the hoax is exposed, the reaction is . .  crickets. No apologies, no retractions, no shame at being duped yet again. But of course the reaction won’t change. Such incidents fulfill the Progressive worldview of a racist society that must be taken to task and punished. Progressives don’t learn from experience; if they could, they wouldn’t be Progressives, and any incident, no matter how false, that fits the Narrative is to be applauded. The circular reasoning is that even though the incidents are fake, they represent a larger truth, even though the only evidence for that larger truth is false.

The perpetration of racial hoaxes has much in common with the mental disorder Munchausen by Proxy,  a condition where a caregiver will induce symptoms in a child in order to draw attention to themselves. As disturbing as the condition is in the individual, it’s much more frightening when it affects society at large.

The acceptance of racism hoaxes, even the fact that someone would consider such an action, is the confluence of self-indulgent individuals with no moral compass and a lifetime of negative conditioning. Western society has simultaneously been telling people that they are deserving of reward without effort and  personal setbacks are the result of outside forces beyond the individuals control. This unholy combination creates weak, dependent, selfish individuals. No society where these folks are the majority, or even a significant minority, can long endure.

Successful, vibrant societies reward achievement and celebrate excellence. The bar for recognition is high. The Third Rule of Management is ‘People work to expectations’, and when expectations are high, people do amazing things and contribute. But when a society rewards victimhood and celebrates mediocrity, the bar for recognition is low enough to trip over.  People aren’t stupid, but as part of the natural world, most will look for the easiest way to accomplish a goal. If the goal is to get attention, a natural human desire, then why work hard for legitimate accomplishment and positive contributions when it’s so much easier to be a victim. When a society devolves to the point where there’s no shame and few consequences for deception, even deception that ruins lives, that society is in full-on decline headed rapidly for extinction.

Racism exists: it’s part of human nature and at one time a survival mechanism. The perpetration of racism hoaxes is a desperate attempt by Progressives to make the world fit the Narrative. The fact is that American society has made huge leaps in racial acceptance, and the overt, ugly racism of a half-century ago doesn’t exist. If you want that, you’ll have to go to Hawai’i.

Posted by: bkivey | 23 November 2015

New Leadership for the Race Industry

American university campuses are in turmoil over what demonstrator’s claim is racial insensitivity. But unlike the 1960’s when overt racism was very real, these protesters are upset over what they claim are casual, minor instances of perceived racism, or in the argot of the Progressives, ‘micro-aggression’ (my post on that is here). Associated Press reporter Collin Binkley, who seems to be drawn to these types of stories, wrote an article on 12 November 2015 detailing some of these alleged transgressions. From the article:

“Sheryce Holloway is tired of white people at Virginia Commonwealth University asking if they can touch her hair or if she knows the latest dance move.

“When Opokua-Achampong tells other students that she’s from New Jersey, some ask where she’s REALLY from. “When you’re not white, you can’t just be American,” she said. (She was born in the U.S. to parents from Ghana.)”

“Janay Williams, a senior at the University of California Los Angeles, said she is the only black person in her biology class and is routinely among the last picked for group assignments. “Students don’t want to be in the same group as you with a group project, because they’re afraid you’re not going to do your share,” she said.”

There’s an aphorism that states that when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. There are reasonable alternative explanations for these actions independent of race. If Ms. Holloway is a typical college student, she’s in the demographic that is more likely to go clubbing. It’s reasonable for people to assume she may know the latest dance moves. Ms. Opoku-Achamong may wear clothing representative of her parent’s birth nation, or she may provide other clues that her ancestors aren’t native Americans. The most likely response by a person of pallor when she says her home state is New Jersey is ‘What town?’ (or maybe ‘What exit?’). Being an ethnic minority in a college class isn’t the result of a conspiracy on the part of the institution, and it may be that Ms. Williams has a reputation for not doing her fair share on group projects. Such people do exist.

But the only tools these folks have been given for dealing with the world at large is racism and victimization, tools provided by Progressives. Black Progressives out of a desire for power, and White Progressives out of a misplaced sense of guilt. Progressivism as a political philosophy seeks control over others, and the easiest way to control people is to reinforce the natural human tendency to see anyone not like themselves as ‘other’, and therefore to be feared and mistrusted.

Ever since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, African-Americans have slowly and inexorably been pulled onto the Progressive reservation. They’re kept there by a very few people who see them not as folks needing a hand up to achieve success, but as people who need to be kept down in order to be used as a power base. And to perpetuate their power, the current leadership has to groom the next generation of leaders. Where better than the college ranks? Despite the fact that US college students are among the most privileged people on Earth, young African-Americans have to be constantly told they’re victims. For any given circumstance, they’re trained to choose the most toxic interpretation. Thus a new generation of wrongly disaffected young people become leaders in the race industry. It’s a criminal waste of human potential.

These students are being used, and used badly. The sad part is, they don’t realize it.


Posted by: bkivey | 18 November 2015

Earning and Deserving

‘Deserve’ is a word much in the public conversation. They (insert some group) deserve  this. They didn’t deserve that. Most dictionaries define the word as some variation of ‘to be worthy of’. Parsing further, worthy is in most cases defined as ‘deserving’. A bit of circular reasoning there.  Deconstructing the word, ‘serve’ usually means ‘to give to others’. ‘De’ is a prefix negating the suffix, so ‘deserve’ could be construed as ‘others give to me’. So what does it mean to ‘deserve’ something?

That depends on whether one is a child or an adult. Children do, in fact, deserve. They can’t do for themselves, and depend on others to do for them. It’s incumbent on society to provide for children. The first line of provision are the parents, but a functioning society should enable parents to meet their primary obligation of providing for their children. The assumption is that parents are interested in raising their children, rather than foisting that responsibility off on society at large.

The game changes once one reaches majority.

An adult is expected to contribute to their society. They’ve been carried for some number of years; now it’s time for them to contribute. The metric here is not about what others can do for them, it’s about what they can do for others. An adult earns their place in society. There are no participation trophies, no ‘good effort’ pats on the back. An adult is judged by their results, not their intentions. An adult deserves what they earn.

This should be a liberating concept. No longer tied to the shackles of childhood dependence, in a free society an adult is able to succeed or fail on their merits. And there will be failures as they find their place in society. There’s no shame in failure, but there is in giving up. Freedom is hard. A free person has to earn their place every day. No one can say they ‘deserve’ something if they haven’t earned it. By the same token, if someone flouts the societal rules, and suffers consequences, they can’t rightly complain. Albeit in a negative fashion, they’ve earned it. The universe by and large is value-neutral. Don’t complain if you’ve done wrong and get bit.

Why Uber is Succeeding

A few weeks ago I had to drop off the company vehicle at the mechanic’s shop, and needed a ride home. I called three taxi companies to secure that ride. I live in a city of 100,000, so it’s not like I’m out in the sticks. The first two companies didn’t answer their phone (?!), and the third didn’t have a cab available. I went on the Web, downloaded the Uber app, entered the info requested, and inside 15 minutes a driver showed up. On arrival, I was given a receipt for the trip. Fast, easy, and convenient. Cry me a river, cab companies. You all need to step up your game.

Word Watch

My work partner is half my age, and on occasion he’ll listen to top 40 radio. I don’t mind, as this gives me insight into the current culture. One radio station has a segment called ‘What’re you doing at the courthouse’ (or similar). I’ll refrain from commenting on that. On the segment I heard a gentleman remark that what he was saying was ‘straight from the jaw’. I like that.

Now you know my rap is raw

Because it be coming straight from the jaw.

Good stuff.





Posted by: bkivey | 7 November 2015


Fair: In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate

Oxford Dictionary


Fairness is a word Progressives toss around a lot, which is ironic, because they are the least likely to exercise it. Many people, and not just those on the Left, use the word without any real understanding of the concept or the definition. It’s one of those ideas that everyone grows up with, thinks they have an understanding of it, but never really think about. And unless you’re engaged in the legal profession, there usually isn’t any reason to think about it. To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, most people feel like they know it when they see it. But as has been famously observed “I do not think it means what you think it means”.

The human concept of ‘fairness’ is pretty much non-existent in the natural world. Ask a baby bird. Even among the higher mammals, individual actions aren’t motivated by the desire to do the ‘right’ thing. Some of the most intelligent species on Earth, elephants and great apes, exhibit what might be construed as altruistic behavior, but that’s more a group survival mechanism than recognition of an abstract concept. Nature is more in line with Tennyson than Rawls.

Savannah Times: Gazelles attacked by lions: oldest, weakest hardest hit. 

A pride of lions attacked a herd of gazelles late yesterday, killing two. A gazelle spokesanimal said: “It’s a tragedy. We were just minding our business, grazing peacefully. It’s not fair that only the fittest among us are able to survive. We’re pushing for tooth and claw control laws.”

As taught, the human concept of fairness evolves over time. For young children, fairness is synonymous with equality of results. Everyone must have the same size  slice of cake. Everyone gets a turn, regardless of ability. This is useful, because raising children is civilizing savages, and young children have a limited grasp of abstract concepts. Later, as children are exposed to organized sports, fairness is about following the rules. To be called a ‘cheater’ is a social ostracism of high order. At this point, fairness becomes an exercise in equality of opportunity. Not everyone can run fast, or hit the slider, or send a cross into the box. But the playing field is level, and the rules are the same for everyone. Children lacking athletic ability go on to do other things, and while they may suffer a bit of humiliation from their more physically gifted peers, they at least know they competed under the same rules as everyone else.

Adolescence seems to be where the concept of fairness becomes twisted. This is the time of life when children are experimenting with independence, but aren’t quite ready to give up the meal ticket of parental support. Somehow ‘fair’ comes to mean ‘getting what I want’. The average 14 year-old  is an expert on things that aren’t fair. This is a regression to early childhood, when nearly everything was provided by adults. By adolescence, most children are able to provide some things for themselves, but in many cases fail to make the distinction between equality of results (things provided by others), and equality of opportunity (things provided by themselves).

And that’s really the crux of the matter. If you’re dependent on others, you expect equality of results. If you do for yourself, all you ask is equality of opportunity.  This country was founded (in principle) on equality of opportunity. Sadly, we have devolved into a nation of dependents. No society can be great when the constituents expect reward without effort.

Word Watch

When I checked online dictionaries for the definition of ‘fair’, the first definition at Mirriam-Webster is “agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable”. The first definition at Oxford is ” In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate:”

I would say that Oxford is more on-point than Mirriam-Webster, which appears to have drunk deeply of the PC Kool-Aid. By comparison, my desk copy of Funk & Wagnalls (1980), doesn’t give the primary Oxford definition until the sixth iteration, and doesn’t list Mirriam-Websters interpretation at all.

Bond, James Bond

I saw the latest James Bond movie on opening night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie on it’s opening, but James Bond is a guilty pleasure, and Daniel Craig has been called the best Bond since Connery. That’s saying a lot, but I’ve seen Craig in prior films, and he personifies Bond well. Without spoiling the film, I’ll make some observations.

  • The recent incarnations of Q and Moneypenny are a delight. Q shows some moves in the field.
  • There are several ‘homages’ to Bond films, and one rather obvious one to Jaws.
  • James needs to talk to his tailor about his jackets. They all look too tight.
  • For the last five years or so, the film industry has been in love with the orange/blue palette. That’s very clear in this movie.
  • Bond once again re-purposes transport machinery.
  • Hardly any gadgets.
  • If you’ve wondered why people at MI6 go by letters rather than names, this film will show you.
  • I’ve noticed in the Daniel Craig era the movies explicitly show Bond tortured. This movie is no different. Purely a personal preference, but I’m no fan of horror movies (too much time in the ER). I don’t need to see Bond getting (blank) done to his (blank). This is James Bond, man. I want ass-kicking. I want hot women. This is a fantasy. I don’t want the Roger Moore-era fantasy, but, still.
  • The movie runs long. There aren’t really many scenes that could be cut, but at 2 1/2 hours, the movie drags in places. Tighter editing would have helped the film.

I didn’t read any reviews before I saw the film. I figured from the title that it was a bit of an origin story, and it is. This is a serviceable Bond movie, but there’s hardly a movie there. It’s more a collection of scenes. I realized this watching the closing credits. Without hyperbole, if you put the script on the screen, it would be shorter than the closing credits. I don’t go to movies a lot, but it seems that directors are relying more on visuals than dialogue. Even the older Bond movies had more exposition and less lingering camera shots. I know the film mantra is ‘show, don’t tell’, but there’s something to be said for telling if it moves the plot along.





Posted by: bkivey | 10 October 2015

Entry-Level Jobs Going Away

For everyone agitating for a $15/hr minimum wage, I give you this:


McDonalds self-serve terminals

Those are soon-to-be-activated self-serve terminals at a local McDonald’s. How many minimum-wage jobs do you think will be eliminated here? A machine can ask if you ‘want fries with that’ just as well as a person, and over time the unit cost is lower.

Progressives are Statists. They don’t understand that natural systems are dynamic. You can’t change just one thing. I expect that if people aren’t’ outright let go, this McDonald’s, and every other, will seriously slow down their hiring. There’s at least one person per shift who won’t be required anymore. Multiply that by every fast-food joint on the planet.

So once again, the Progressives have entered in to the ‘Unintended But Completely Predictable Consequence’ zone.  And again, the very people they outwardly champion will be the ones most negatively affected by their policies.

There’s nothing wrong or shameful about working fast-food, Hell, I did it in high school (although not McDonald’s): it’s honest work and can be fun. But the fact of the matter is that entry-level jobs are just that: entry-level. In the normal progression no one should work minimum-wage jobs for more than a few months. If you switch fields, yeah, you may have to start at the bottom again. But once you find your groove you’ll advance well beyond minimum-wage if you have any amount of talent or work ethic. If you can’t advance beyond what other people give you, then you’ll have to admit to yourself that you’re just not capable.

In a free society there needs to be an entry-level job market. It;s how people get a start at earning for themselves, and learn valuable lessons in social orientation. Progressives are working overtime to take that opportunity away in the name of kindergarten ‘fairness’. The $15/hr minimum wage is a disguised attempt at limiting social mobility and keeping people dependent on the beneficence of others. I find it difficult to believe that some proponents for an increased wage don’t understand the import of what they’re doing: perpetuating a permanent underclass; people they can use as a power base.

Progressives are once again shooting society in the foot through ill-conceived initiatives. American society was founded on the premise that each person would have the opportunity to find their own level. Mandating an unrealistic wage structure without regard to how business will respond undermines the concept, and creates unnecessary friction.

If you want to make $15/hr, I reckon you better learn how to maintain those machines.


Posted by: bkivey | 29 September 2015

Canada Vacation: Observations

Prior to my vacation, I’d never been to Canada, although I’ve met plenty of Canadians, and northwestern Montana appears to be Alberta South. I’ve seen a lot more Canadian flags in the US than I saw American flags in Canada. My expectation was that Canada would be a sort of parallel-universe US: mostly familiar, but just different enough to know I was in a foreign country, That’s pretty much what I experienced.

Considering that travel days are generally a wash, and I spent a solid day-and-a-half dealing with problems, I really only had 1 1/2 days in Vancouver, and a couple days in the Calgary-Banff area. Not very much time at all, but when I’m in a novel situation, I keep my eyes open and my mouth shut, and I try to put the new situations in context with my experience. Some observations from my all-too-brief time visiting our northern neighbor.

Canadians appear to have a stronger national identity than Americans. Considering the entire population of the fifth largest country is smaller than that of the DC – Boston corridor, this is perhaps not surprising. It’s a relatively small club, and the population density works out to about one square mile per person. I think that the fact Canada has a wilderness frontier also contributes to the mind-set. It’s a little mind-blowing to consider that nearly the entire population is in the southern quarter of the country, and beyond that, it’s nothing but wilderness to the North Pole. The US has vast swaths of undeveloped land, but next to Canada, we’re comparatively  built-out.

The ‘Canadian accent’ is overblown. I noticed some folks had stronger accents than others, the same as in any other large country, but couldn’t say which accent went with which region. Most of the folks I talked to sounded pretty mid-western American, with only the occasional ‘eh’ thrown in. I did notice that accents became more pronounced with emotion.

Also overblown is the idea that Canadians are ‘nicer’ than Americans. I had a gentleman bring this up, and I opined that the idea was generated in the northeastern US; full of, um, direct individuals. Compared to them, Canadians probably are nicer. My travels were confined to the western part of the country, and I’d say that the civility was on par with anyone in the upper western part of the US.

You seriously do not want to enter Canada without hotel reservations, or at least knowing a Canadian. I understand that it’s Canadian Customs job to protect the citizenry and national interests of Canada, but there’s a line between that and harassment. I was a middle-aged businessman on vacation to a place I wanted to see. All documentation was valid, including a paid-for return flight, and I had ready access to several thousand dollars. Hell, I even had business files with me showing jobs for the next six weeks. My biggest threat to Canada was dealing with Vancouver traffic. Why it took an hour-and-a-half to figure that out is mystery.

Vancouver is a nice enough place, but I realized that visiting a city on vacation isn’t really my cup of tea. I live in an urban area, and if I want shopping, or nightlife, or spectacular scenery, I have that at home. Unless a city has something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, I’ll pass.

Well, Stanley Park doesn’t exist anywhere else, so there’s that. A truly amazing place: it was an unexpected pleasure.

I like the consumer end of Canada’s monetary system. They’ve eliminated pennies, and the lowest denomination of currency is the five. Small change is similar to the US, and loonies and twonies are easy to get used to.

Canada does not want people to drink or smoke. The country overall is more expensive than the US, but when you get into sin items, you’re going to pay. A lot. There’s no popping into the convenience store for a beer; all alcohol is sold in liquor stores. Some US states have the same system. Granted, most liquor stores are open later than their US counterparts, but it’s still inconvenient. Bar prices for alcohol are similar to the US, maybe cheaper given the currency conversion, but you will pay at the store. I was told that the exorbitant prices for alcohol and tobacco were a funding mechanism for the health care system, and this makes sense. On the other hand, it appears the drinkers and smokers are subsidizing health care for the non-users. No system is perfect, but Canada hits the sin taxes hard.

I’m convinced that if they could, news outlets would run every story through a hockey filter. I’m sure that during the Second Coming, the questions from the Canadian reporter would revolve around hockey. I’d had an inkling of this, but hockey is more deeply ingrained in the Canadian psyche than baseball in the US. The US sporting scene has the Big Four of football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, in about that order. Canada has hockey. Sure, there was some interest in the Toronto Blue Jays, who are having a very good season, but it felt bandwagon. There was strong support for the CFL Calgary Stampeders in Calgary, but hockey was the clear ruler of the sporting scene.

Most of the people I met had been to the US, and a fair number had spent time there. I’d posit that a high percentage of folks in the upper tier of the US have been to Canada.

Canada doesn’t appear to do chain stores, unless it’s Tim Horton’s. I don’t mean they don’t exist, it’s that the franchises don’t appear to be allowed to sport the company standard signs and architecture. The chain franchises I saw in various towns weren’t distinguishable by color or appearance. They’d have a sign, and that would be about it. Fast food chains were mostly noticeable by their absence. Subway is around, and there are some McDonald’s, though fewer than you might expect. A&W is big.

A few folks wanted to talk about US politics: something I avoid even at home. One gentleman remarked that he hoped we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves. I replied that it was already too late.

Although the vacation was not really, I truly enjoyed my time in Canada. I didn’t get to see as much of the country as I would have wished, but the things I did see and the people I talked to were fascinating. I took French for three years in elementary school, and had the opportunity to dredge that up. I expect to be  back in the eastern provinces next year, so reason enough to brush up on the language.

Canadians: Chapeau







Posted by: bkivey | 27 September 2015

Canada Vacation Pt. 7

20 September 2015

Although I’d been in Calgary for three days, I hadn’t actually seen downtown save from the air. I’d entertained the idea of taking a couple hours Sunday and driving around the metro core, but my flight was scheduled for 1250, and I didn’t want to miss it. After packing and breakfast, I turned in the car, and walked in the terminal at 1000.

After filling out the US Customs form, I was directed to the security line. I don’t know if there is separate line for US citizens, but the line I was in was much shorter than the other one. There are stickers throughout the departure area announcing that the area is a US Security Zone. This may be to make people feel better, but I suspect they mark an area where people are subject to more severe penalties for infractions than in other areas. It feels oppressive.

Got a coffee at Tim Hortons, then looked for an out-of-the way area of the departure lounge with an electrical outlet. Found a corner and commandeered four seats (not many people), pulled out my computer and files, and set up an office.

Whatever else I may think about Air Canada, every flight left the gate on the dot. A good look at Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams; too much cloud cover to see Mt. St. Helens. I was on the wrong side of the plane to see Mt. Hood, but I know from experience it’s an impressive sight on the approach to Portland.

My bag made the flight this time.

Caught the MAX out to Hillsboro, where’d I’d arranged to be picked up at the station. I told my ride he was my favorite person of the week. Got home, threw the bag on the bed, went to my desk, and got to work. My 2015 vacation was in the books.


Posted by: bkivey | 27 September 2015

Canada Vacation Pt. 6

19 September 2015

Last full day of vacation, and the plan was to stooge about the town of  Banff for a while, then drive the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to the southern end of Jasper National Park. There weren’t any trials, tribulations, or other distractions the previous day, and I was hopeful that the run would continue. Breakfast at Denny’s. By the way, I did try the Canadian dish of poutine on a couple of occasions, and liked it. It tastes about the way you’d expect fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy to taste.

After the spectacular drive into Banff, I came across the road to Lake Minniewanka. The Lake:

Lake Minnewanka

There’s some information here:

Minnewanka Lake info

I could see that the weather had deteriorated from yesterday, and in fact the rest of the day would be an exercise in dodging rain. At times, there were full-on rain storms, but you can’t control the weather, and have to make do with what you have. Being from the Northwest, I don’t mind wet and grey, but the challenge was to view vertical landforms against horizontal cloud layers.

Back to Banff, there was the Bow Falls, which is really a big rapid:

Bow river falls

There’s a paved trail along the falls, and a kayak rental place below them. I really wanted to see some kayaks shoot the rapids. The rock forms on the left of the picture are very typical of rocks throughout the park. In the same area there’s Banff Springs Hotel:

Banff Springs hotel

Also in Banff is the Cave and Basin Historic site, the place where Parks Canada got its start. I went to the site, but decided not to enter. It was going to be a long day, and I wanted to save resources for other things.

Procured coffee at Starbucks (probably the first franchise in space), and headed north to the Icefields.

I mentioned previously that I didn’t see any access control on the day before, and wondered how Parks Canada could charge for access. I discovered on this day that the Park had set up roadblocks to various attractions, like Lake Minniewanka. Following instructions, I’d taped the park pass to the driver’s side passenger window (The actual instructions say ‘tape to drivers side’: some room for interpretation.), and breezed through. It appears that Parks Canada is to some extent relying on the innate responsibility of civilized people to follow the rules, and for Canada that may well work. Not so sure how that would work in the US.

Just north of Banff, and in the area of the spectacular mountains I’d seen the day prior, are the Vermilion Lakes:

Vermillion Lakes placard

The placard details the mountain building process, and there are signposts to tell you what you’re seeing:

Vermillion Lakes arrows

North of Lake Louise is the start of Icefields Parkway,  and there are, in fact, some ice fields and glaciers.

Crowfoot glacier:

Crowfoot glacier

Next is Bow Lake:

Bow Lake

Bow Lake placard

And Bow glacier:

Bow glacier

There’s a road to an observation point for Peyto Lake, and at 7000′ is the highest point on the Parkway. When I visited there was about 10 cm of snow on the ground. The observation point is about 300 meters off the parking lot, and you’re feeling the altitude. The trail opens onto an observation deck overlooking the valley and the lake, and isn’t recommended if you suffer from vertigo:

Bow Peak and the lake:

Bow Peak and Peyto Lake

The area on the left is a glacier bed. A look down the valley:

Peyto Lake

It’s a good 300 meters straight down to the lake, but the view is stunning. There’s a short 400 meter interpretive trail off the observation trail, so I took a walk. At this point you’re pretty much at the tree line, and even on this short trail the trees change dramatically. You can find out one way conifers reproduce:

Tree skirt info

And see the process in action:

Tree skirt saplings

There are several other signs with information on plant and animal life at the treeline. Back at the parking lot, there’s a view of Observation Peak, but I’ll have to take Parks Canada’s word for it:

Observation Peak (obscured)

Most of the drive the temperature was around 11C – 12C, but here it got to 6C. This wouldn’t be the coldest spot on the day, though.

Cruise Canada must be doing land-office business, because I saw their RV’s everywhere:

Cruise Canada RVs

Another glacier:

Galcier 1

This probably looks a lot better when you can actually see it.

Not far from Bow Peak is Waterfowl Lake:

Waterfowl Lake

Waterfowl Lake 2

The plant on the left had gone to seed, and had white puffs like cotton. I don’t know what kind of plant it is.

Another glacier:

Glacier 2 wide field

Glacier 2

The next attraction was Mistaya Canyon. I didn’t know what to expect here, but the canyon is about 500 meters off the road. It’s a pretty good grade downhill, and you know you’re going to be making the same hike uphill.

Mistaya Canyon info

On the way to the canyon, there’s a sign:

Mistaya Canyon info 2

And the canyon proper:

Mistaya Canyon 1

Mistaya Canyon 2

Mistaya Canyon 3

A bridge crosses the canyon, and there are a couple of trails. One goes up the side of the slope to an overlook. The warning signs make it sound like the trail clings to a cliff side, but it’s a normal trail, although steep, and you do want to stick close to the up-slope side of the path. The top of the trail doesn’t really give better views than you’ll get at the bridge.

Back on the road, there was some compensation for the rainy weather:

Rainbow 1

Saskatchewan Crossing is where Hwy. 11 intersects Hwy. 93, and there’s a store/restaurant/hotel/gas station complex here. There’s an installation in the parking lot with a compass rose and map showing the various attractions in the area. This is also home to the largest crows I’ve seen:

Large crow

I wouldn’t leave small dogs and children unattended. By the way, there’s essentially no phone service in Banff National Park. Outside of Canmore and Banff, your phone is useless. There isn’t even service at Saskatchewan Crossing. I didn’t mind, because I couldn’t be reached, but on the other hand, if you get in trouble, you can’t reach anyone.

It’s about 30k from this point to the Athabasca and Saskatchewan glaciers, and even though it was getting late in the afternoon, I was going to see those glaciers. About 2/3rds of the way there, the valley comes to an end, and the road makes a large bend to gain elevation and exit the valley. The view from the overlook just before the pass:

End of valley panorama

The mountain on the right is called Weeping Rock, and there’s Bridal Veil Falls on the left:

Bridal Veil Falls

This is the third Bridal Veil Falls I’ve seen (the others being in Yosemite and Columbia Gorge), and this one probably ranks between the other two.

Not far from here is the boundary between Banff and Jasper National Parks:

Jasper Park sign

There’s a monument here explaining where all that water is going. Some goes to the Atlantic ocean:

Sunwapta pass sign south side

And some goes to the Arctic ocean:

Sunwapta pass sign north side

You won’t see that in the lower 48.

Almost within sight of the park sign is Athabasca glacier. Along the access road to the parking lot, there are signs showing the extent of the glacier at various dates. The parking lot is built on the glacier bed, and you can hike up a short, steep trail to see the toe of the glacier. The glacier bed:

Athabasca glacier bed

Along the way, there is ample evidence of glacial activity, including scoured rock:

Glacier scoured rock

The toe of the glacier:

Athabasca glacier toe

It was cold and windy here. Air comes down the valley and is refrigerated as it moves along the surface of the ice. Wind was a good 70 km/hr,, and the temperature was likely in the low single digits; much lower with the wind chill. I had the hood on my hoodie up and drawn snug. Most folks were wearing parkas and wool hats. Very different conditions than in the parking lot. On the way back a Japanese gentleman asked where the glacier was, and when I showed him, he took a look and turned around. Can’t say I much blame him: he’d seen it. It was cold. I was looking for a souvenir rock, preferably one with glacial scarring. I couldn’t find any that would fit in my baggage, so took an example rock. Hey, it’s been in a glacier.

Back at the parking lot, a rainbow:

Rainbow Athabasca glacier

Another glacier in the same location:


Glacier 4

Saskatchewan glacier is adjacent to Athabasca:

Athabasca and Saskatchewan glaciers


Saskatchewan glacier

That’s as inviting as Canadian Customs.

Last year I took a picture of the chariot in front of a cargo plane, this year: scenery:


I’d had an idea to take Hwy 11 east to Red Deer, then south to Calgary so I could see more of Canada. When I got to Saskatchewan Crossing and made the turn, there was a sign giving the distance to Red Deer at 263 km. Um, no. That would be three hours, and then another four to Calgary. It was late enough in the day that most of the trip would be made after dark, and as with cats, all scenery looks grey in the dark. As it was, there was about 250 km to cover back to Calgary, but driving through Banff Park is no great hardship. Another glacier along the way:

Glacier 5

I got to Canmore around 8, and had to stop for gas (petrol). I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so found a diner and had dinner. Mediocre food and service, but I was too tired to quibble. Back on the Trans-Can to Calgary. A long day,but very enjoyable.


Posted by: bkivey | 24 September 2015

Canada Vacation Pt. 5

18 September 2015

Got up reasonably early because I wanted time to see Banff National Park, and there was laundry to be done. The hotel had a laundry, but both of the washers were broken. A quick search found a laundromat 3 km away, so I headed over. I’d bought a roll of quarters for laundry, but found that the machines only accepted dollars. No problem; I had enough. After the wash was done I went back to the hotel and put everything in the dryers, then headed to Denny’s a short distance away for breakfast.

Denny’s sends a bit of a mixed message. The menu cover proclaims that Denny’s is Canada’s diner, but when you open the menu, the very first breakfast dish is the All-America Slam. I ordered it.

I’ve mentioned that the home stadium for the CFL Calgary Stampeders was behind the hotel, and I saw from the paper there was a game that evening. I thought it would be cool to see a CFL game, and there were tickets left I could afford. Seeing a game was definitely on the nice-to-do list rather than the have-to-do list, so I refrained from buying a ticket. If I was back in time, fine, if not, no loss.

After recovering the laundry, I set the GPS for Banff National Park, and was informed it was a little over an hour away. On the way out of town, I was happy to find the ski jumps from the 1988 Olympics:

Olympic ski jump

Adjacent to this is the bobsled/luge track:

Olympic bobsled track sign

Bobsled track

I didn’t see any Jamaicans.

Although Alberta is one of the prairie provinces, the rolling hills reminded me more of central Oregon than Kansas, although Alberta gets more precipitation. I discovered that the Rockies in this part of Canada don’t really have foothills; they pretty much rise straight up out of the landscape. I also found that the Canadian tendency toward lower speed limits extends to limited-access roads. The speed limit on this part of the Trans-Canada Highway is 110 km/hr, or about 65 mph. Not exactly crawling, but Canada is 5000 miles across. Apparently the government wants you to enjoy the scenery.

The first town after entering the mountains is Canmore. When God was handing out scenery, Canmore camped in line:

Canmore panorama

The 360º panorama gives a hint of things to come.

Next is the Park entrance, where you can buy a pass.

Entrance to Banff National Park

Day passes for individuals were C$9.80, and I bought passes for Saturday and Sunday.  There’s a bypass to avoid the toll booths, and I never saw any access restrictions, or rangers patrolling. I wondered what was to keep people from accessing the park without paying. I’d find out on Saturday.

A little further up the road is the town of Banff:

Banff Alberta

It’s pretty much like every other town in a tourist attraction: lot’s of ways to separate people from their money.  Even the alleys in Banff offer views:

Banff alley

There’s a tourist information facility run by Parks Canada, and I picked up a brochure to plan my activities. Given the time constraints of the day, I figured I’d tour the Bow Valley Parkway, then see Lake Morraine and Lake Louise. The weather was problematical, but you take what Nature has to offer.

The scenery quickly turns from amazing to spectacular:

Fault-block mountains

The mountain in center-left is one of the finest examples of a fault-block mountain I’ve seen. The placards describe what you’re seeing; but it boils down to kilometers-thick sections of the Earth’s crust thrust up and then overlapped atop each other. Then the whole assembly was moved kilometers west from their original location. The forces involved are mind-boggling.

On to the Bow Valley Parkway:

Bow Valley Prkwy sign

That’s actually the sign at the northern end of the Parkway.

Scenery abounds around every turn. There’s the Castle Cliffs:

Castle Cliffs

Castle Cliffs sign

Directly across from Castle Cliffs is Storm Mt.:

Storm Mt panorama

The mountain itself:

Storm Mt

Storm Mt placard

A WWI internment camp:

Internment camp site

The American internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII is somewhat well known, and Canada did the same thing with European-Canadians during WWI. The statue in the background is of a Ukrainian entitled ‘Why?’. There were bouquets at the base.

While here I heard a train on the tracks that follow the Bow River through the valley, and thought ‘How cool would a photo of a train in this setting look?’ Answer: cool. I didn’t hurry; after all, this was another bonus. When I got to the road, I saw the train was moving right along: I paced it at 100 km/hr. The speed limit on the Parkway is 60 km/hr, and I’d obviously have to go faster than the train if I was going to get ahead. I pushed the car to 120 km/hr, which was as fast as I cared to drive on that road. I did get ahead, and found a likely spot, but I could hear the train when I stopped.  There were only a few seconds to set up the shot.

Canadian Pacific loco

There were better shots available, but not in the time I had to work with. Still, a bonus.

Back on the Parkway, and past the Village of Lake Louise and on to Lake Morraine. The lake is off the road and up the side of a mountain. Signs advise that parking is limited. You get an idea just how limited when you see cars parked on the side of the road half a klick from the lake.

Lake Morraine is in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. There’s an overlook at the lake shore, and an enormous pile of rocks called ‘The Rockpile’. A trail goes to the the top of the rockpile, and involves some serious grades and steps. At the top, there’s a view:

Lake Morrraine

At one time this view was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill.

A look down onto the trail:

Trail from top of rockpile

A placard details some of the wildlife making it’s home here:

Life on the rockpile placard

And there were a couple of Least Squirrels foraging about.

Least Squirrel

This area is heavily traveled, but the squirrels were busy. As far as they were concerned, it was Winter, and the humans were an intrusion on their efforts to lay by for the season.

Back down the mountain to Lake Louise. I saw a gentleman in Toyota’s version of the Land Rover. He had three spare wheelsets and two shovels strapped to the back, and an aluminum bridge strapped to to the top. If there was anywhere he couldn’t go, I didn’t want to know about it. He was French-Canadian, so I asked him in my abominable French if he was driving around the world: it ‘s the sort of rig you’d have to do that. He said he was just driving through Canada, but that Canada was big.

Lake Louise is well set-up for the tourist trade: there’s ample parking. And if you’ve ever seen a photo of Banff Park, you’ve probably seen some version of Lake Louise. It is impressive:


Lake Louise 2

And it’s the scene that captured me as a child, and motivated me to visit Banff Park. In a sense it’s sort of a gateway scene. It gets you interested in the Park, but is not the most impressive feature. There’s a hotel directly behind this scene on the lake:

Lake Louise Lodge

Mid-September is late in the tourist season, but the Japanese were out in force:

Tourists Lake Louise

The walkway was a minefield of family portraits and selfies.

And that was it for Banff on the day. I drove back to Calgary, arriving at 1900. I had to take care of some business, so wasn’t able to attend the game. I went to the Best Western bar, and discovered that unlike the NFL, the CFL televises games in the local market even if they don’t sell out. A bit weird watching a game on TV that was taking place only a few hundred meters away.

Hey, nothing went wrong today.!



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