May 12

Hypocrites In Action – The Prostitution Of Jasper National Park

(editor’s note: This is the first of hopefully many articles from my Uncle Kevin. While he doesn’t share my passion for swearing and blasphemy, he does care a great deal about our planet and Jasper National Park in particular. He loves it so much that he has spent most of his life there, thoroughly enjoying all that it has to offer.

He is an accomplished photographer, guide, and steward of the land, and even though a lot of it falls on deaf ears, what he has to say is of great importance to the future of our national parks, and our country as a whole.

If you would like to contact him about possibly purchasing some of his superb photos, you can email him at kahass at live dot ca. I probably should have asked him if he is even selling them, but why wouldn’t he? ~Chris)

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It’s fascinating watching hypocrites in action. You just have to wonder if they realize their own hypocrisy, or if they are totally oblivious to it. I watched the Superintendent of Jasper National Park of Canada dance with First Nations peoples at an event held here in Jasper National Park. He wore a green Parks Canada baseball cap, but I think a cap that stated, “I’m a Brewster Toadie!” would have been more appropriate. A good hypocrite at least knows that they are one; a perfect hypocrite is oblivious.

Moon Over MtWooley

Mount Woolley

Being from Jasper himself, I now consider him a traitor to his home town and his home National Park, but hey, he’s just trying to keep his job and from being relocated to the arctic.

This was one of the most flagrant examples of arm-twisting, purposeful obfuscation, and lying that I have ever seen Parks Canada commit, and I don’t think it will be the last. It may be trumped soon! Now, Maligne Lake Tours wants to build an hotel on beautiful Maligne Lake, in Jasper National Park, and Parks Canada is seriously considering it! More to come on that later.

The Brewster’s Environmental Assessment report is a piece of self serving garbage and junk-science, all wrapped up in a pretty package with meaningless charts and tables. I take back that word, science, and will never use it again where the Brewsters Glacier Discovery Walk is concerned. Sorry, they’ve changed the name already, and it’s not even open. What is it now? Glacier Skywalk?

Woohoo. The nearest glacier is 6km away. What do you see when you walk out and look down through the transparent floor? A pile of rubble. That’s it. Would you pay money for that experience?

Mount Athabasca

Mount Athabasca

Now we have a new permanent scar on the stunning landscape of Jasper National Park of Canada. Why? For money, for greed, for lack of foresight, for not caring about the future of this Park and the ideals that Canadians and others, hold for the National Parks of this world.

How much money is Parks Canada getting, initially and long-term, from Brewster’s for allowing them to build the Glacier Skywalk? They won’t tell us.

I refuse to accept Parks Canada initial statement published in the Fitzhugh, Jasper’s local paper, that this amount won’t be disclosed as it was part of the “private” negotiations with Brewster’s. We all know that means “secret” and that is not acceptable at all.

Concerning the market survey done for Brewster’s by Salt Marketing, I quote;
“88% of Alberta residents say they would visit the site on a day trip”

Thank you so much to Brewster’s for actually including this so-called market survey at the back of your silly assessment. Here’s their summary, and again I quote;
“Distribution:
Survey was sent to 7,859 email addresses (combination of subscribers to Explore Rockies
and Brewster Vacations Canada) (( Note: Both are Brewster’s promotional websites!))

Response:
474 completed surveys
6% response rate”
They sent out 7,859 e-mails to their target market and only received 474 replies! A whopping 6% response rate (from those already on their own mailing list!) and they extrapolate this to include ALL ALBERTANS!

Hoodwink alert!

These are junk statistics at their worst and Mr. Greg Fenton, Park Superintendent of Jasper National Park of Canada, didn’t so much as raise a whimper. This had his complete approval and the approval of the Parks Canada Agency and the federal government. They must assume Canadians are stupid and that we can’t reason for ourselves.

Mount Kitchener

Mount Kitchener

There is absolutely no way on earth that you can extrapolate these pitiful numbers to confidently state that they represent the views of “Alberta residents”. Shame on all those involved.

At the end of this silly survey it also states,
“Two open ended questions were asked related to what the respondents liked
most and least about the GDW concept. These results have been attached and
may provide insights for the development of the GDW marketing strategy.”
They actually were NOT attached and I now ask Brewsters and Salt Marketing to please publish them. What are you hiding now?

Last thought for the day: Brewters is no longer owned by the Brewster family, nor Canadians. It is owned by Viad Corporation, USA. Thanks for ruining my National Park.

Uncle Kev

(another editor’s note: Uncle Kevin sent me this explanation with his article. It works better than anything I could write, so here it is. ~Chris

“I have been able to stop at this viewpoint, where I took these three photos, and so have all guests of Jasper National Park, ever since the Icefield Parkway was opened in 1940. This is the spectacular roadway that connects Jasper and Lake Louise, alongside some of the highest mountains of the Canadian Rockies.

But no longer.

Since Parks Canada has allowed Brewster Canada to build a glass-bottomed walkway here, they have also allowed Brewster Canada (VIAD Corporation USA, remember), to monopolize the entire length of the once public viewpoint; for no reason necessary to the actual construction project. It was only to allow Brewster a monopoly of the entire site, so that we all will have to pay Brewster for the damned privilege!”

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May 05

I’m Going Back To The Land

mindofbirdman

But not in a good way.

Yet.

I’m heading back out west in the morning, and I’m not looking forward to it. I know that I never am, but this time it seems harder. Like having to cut off your own leg kind of harder.

I guess everything is harder when I think about it. Life just seems to get tougher as you get older. Better, but tougher nonetheless. Take the internet for example. It’s here to make our lives better, and in some ways it does. I couldn’t imagine not being able to look up anything that I wondered about at the drop of a hat. The knowledge that I gain from having that privilege is immense.

Then there is the part of the internet that isn’t quite as helpful, but helps to pass the time. You know, for when you are bored, sitting on the toilet, or maybe don’t feel like going out on a Friday night.

Social Media.

Sure it lets you keep up to date with who and what your friends are doing, what coffee and supper looks like, and how cute cats are, but it doesn’t take much to get addicted to it. I know. It happened to me.

As most of you probably know, I quit Facebook recently. Strangely enough, I don’t miss it. I miss a lot of the people, but some of the important ones have joined G+, and the ones who didn’t probably don’t need to get a hold of me anyhow.

No_twitter

I watched this yesterday. Two days after telling Mrs. Birdman that Twitter was getting the axe next. They have been ticking me off lately, what with them sending me notifications about who all of my followers are following. Like I care that they’ve all decided to follow Visa back, or whatever the case may be. Oh, and I have just figured out that there is no value in it for me. Anyhow, this really hit home.

It got me thinking about a lot of things, and one was that I need to stop wasting time online. There’s life out there, and procrastinating with my face tanned from the glow of my phone screen isn’t helping anything. I like information, and I need to start using the internet for what it was made for, which I’m certain isn’t trading cat photos and masturbation.

I need to start using the few years that I have left to do things.

Big things.

Important things.

Things like growing food, creating, and enjoying my time with friends and loved ones, which I suppose are one in the same. I love my family, and shouldn’t be spending my time socking away as many hours as I can work, so that I can come home and be depressed about either having no money, or having to leave the love of my life to go back to work in an industry that I only partially agree with.

For twenty some odd years, I have been thinking, wishing, and dreaming about buying a piece of property for cash and building an earthship home on it. Granted, that would take a lot more money than we have, so I guess we’ll have to just keep on working and dreaming. Dreaming of the day where I can get up in the morning, collect the eggs, move the chicken house over to some fresh grass, and empty the compost toilet.

A lot of people don’t understand the appeal of it, but I know that there are a lot that do, so I know I’m not alone. As I was researching I came across this guy.

His videos were interesting, especially this one. I can relate to his feelings, but not to his past. I find it interesting that so many people from such different walks of life are interested in the shift to more simple living. There are doctors, lawyers, truckers, and probably any other occupation that you can think of that just want to get the hell out of the rat race and slow down to a snail’s pace. I think it’s got to be that people are stopping to think about what they’re doing and realizing that everything that they have been taught all of their life is a big load of BS.

If you get a chance, check out The Story of Stuff Project

If you get a chance, check out The Story of Stuff Project

Whatever the individual reasons are, I am very happy to see people figuring things out, even if it is such a tiny percentage. People can see that things need to change and they are effecting the change themselves. That makes my heart smile.

Anyhow, I should go crawl into bed with the most beautiful soul that a person could know, and see if I can get my feet warmed up. I’ve got a long day of travelling and feeding the corporate machines.

For now.

Birdman

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Apr 08

I Love That Boy

wpid-mindofbirdman.jpg

Relax, I’m talking about my dog Blue.

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, is how he occasionally gets this worried look on his adorable face when I approach him. It’s not a frightened look, per se, but more like a “I hope the beating doesn’t hurt too bad.” kind of look. Oh, and he just stands there, not looking at me.

Sometimes he thinks he's a real boy.

Sometimes he thinks he’s a real boy. This isn’t the look.

When the hugging, playing, or whatever we’re doing starts, he takes a moment to compose himself, and I wonder what happened to him in his earlier years to make him like that.

Does it have something to do with why he doesn’t like beer bottles, fireworks, or handguns? I would imagine it does.

He is from North Carolina, after all.

I know he trusts me, because he shows me that every day, but that look always makes me feel bad for him. It’s just one of those pity feelings, like the feeling you get when someone you know gets hurt and never fully recovers.

Yeah, you’re happy that they are alive, but you can’t help wishing that you could go back in time and stop something from happening.

Mrs. Birdman assures me that he has a great life now, and that he appreciates and loves how well he has it. I think it’s true. I do know that it’s better than the gas chamber he was headed for, but I still get those pangs of sadness for him. I still feel like even though he’s gained a life; somewhere, sometime, he’s lost one. I hope he gets it back.

Don't worry boy. I won't tell your mom that your stinky, slimy toy touched her pillow.

Don’t worry boy. I won’t tell your mom that your stinky, slimy toy touched her pillow.

So yeah, at some point he was mistreated, but he’s resilient, as dogs usually are, and he keeps on living his life of protecting his yard from vermin, or occasionally climbing the stepstool to lick the butter.

Only a couple of licks. He doesn’t want to get the squirts.

I can’t stress enough for people to rescue an animal instead of buying a from a puppy mill pet store, or backyard breeder. If you’re not sure how to tell, please do your research. Every time that you support one of these despicable markets, another abused animal is forced to breed and birth a handful of puppies. I’m not going to show the pictures, but believe me, they’re out there.

I can honestly say that I don’t know what I’d do without our boy, because he has helped me through a lot of my darkness. It’s like he can feel it when it’s time to stop playing and just get hugged. I don’t know how many times that I’ve been sitting at the computer and just had the urge to go in and lay down with him on the bed, but every single time, he snuggles right in and makes me smile.

Did I mention that he was a shedder?

Did I mention that he was a shedder?

Smiling is always good.

Anyhow, I guess it’s fight time, so I had better get what’s left of the squeaky toy and get in there. The fights can’t start without me.

Properly, I mean.

Inside the fire’s burnin me, in my mind you just keep turnin me, every which but loose,

Birdman

P.S. I was going to put the lyrics for that song in the horrible Sarah MacLachlan commercial, but decided that it wasn’t going to help me win the fight with the boy, so I went with something a little more scrappy.

The movie, not the song. Right turn, Clyde.

P.S.S. There are a lot of great pet rescues out there, so look one up in your area. Maybe you can’t take a dog right now, but most of them would probably love some help walking, feeding, and generally being there for the animals that are already in the shelter. Donations are always welcome as well, because these places aren’t cheap to run.

We got Blue from a lady named Miranda near Norwood, ON. You can find her at Save My Tail or on their Facebook page.

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Apr 04

Eeeek, I Shopped At Walmart

And you’ll never guess what I got there.

I know, I know. I’m never going to live it down, but hear me out. I lifted my boycott a couple of years ago when I found out that they were carrying more products that were made in Canada, so I decided to lighten up on them a bit. From what I understand, Walmart Canada is run differently than the US, but all of the profits still end up there, so it doesn’t get me all giddy or anything.

What does get me giddy is seeing my friend Steph. Actually, seeing anything is good, which is how I ended up at Walmart in Trenton, Ontario.

I forgot my glasses out west in the dump truck, and was left with these.

They're a 10 year old prescription on safety lenses.

They’re a 10 year old prescription on safety lenses.

I was thinking about getting someone to ship my glasses to me, when I thought about it. They are a couple of years old, I hate them, and the prescription was taken off of these decade old safety lenses by a drunk chick. It really isn’t worth the few bucks to get them shipped.

So I got an eye exam and then went to see Steph, who is an optician at the Walmart in Trenton, Ontario. When I looked at the situation, it didn’t really matter where I got my glasses. I checked all of the stores around, and online, but they are all made overseas. So I figured I would keep my friend working for at least another hour or two.

She helped me try on glasses like these.

Nerdy, but dead sexy professor.

Nerdy, but dead sexy professor.

And these,

I think that these came in second.

I think that these came in second.

And a whole bunch of other ones as well, but these were the ones we settled on.

Apparently they are nice. They're comfortable, so I like that.

Apparently they are nice. They’re comfortable, so I like that.

Steph picked these ones, but I wasn’t sold, so I put it to a vote on G+. Everyone must understand that the voting is just so I get to try things on, while the final decision is made by Mrs. Birdman, and she picked them too. Actually, almost everyone chose them, so I guess my sense of style sucks.

There was a two pair deal (shocker), so I took it, because I needed some decent sunglasses as well. This was also put to a vote, and these were the winners by Steph, Mrs. B, and almost all of the five voters.

These totally distract you from noticing my wattle.

These totally distract you from noticing my wattle. Doh!

In case you are now saying to yourself, “Birdman is whipped. Why would he blindly let his wife pick out his glasses? Be a man.”, think about this.

I rarely look in the mirror, as most people can tell by my hair, so I will rarely see the glasses.

and…

I like to cocoon, and nobody wants to cocoon with someone wearing these.

Not as creepy as Jon LaJoie, but that's just because of my grin.

Not as creepy as Jon LaJoie, but that’s just because of my grin.

All in, I got two pairs of good quality glasses; one with polarized tint, and both with all the coatings and such, for $340. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. I wear my glasses all day, every day when I’m working, and I want to know that my lenses are matched up with my eyes, because I know what it’s like to have a pair of specs that are a bit off. It can make for some pretty bad headaches, and can probably result in your eyes getting tired or something. (I’m looking for scientific confirmation here.)

Anyhow, if you find that you need glasses, and you aren’t sure who to see, I highly recommend that you head down to Trenton and look for this beautiful face in the Wallymart Vision Centre.

The one on the right. You'll have a hard time finding me there before my next pair.

The one on the right. You’ll have a hard time finding me there before my next pair.

If you don’t see her, just ask for Stephanie. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was six years old, and have been fitted for a lot of pairs. She knows what she’s doing, and takes her career very seriously.

There, now that’s probably the last time you will ever see me recommend Walmart for anything.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

Birdman

(I was in no way compensated for this post. I just like to pass on tales of great service. – CB)

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Mar 19

So You Want To Be Popular?

Birdman Living with a couple of pre-teen girls makes me privy to a lot of topics that I had completely forgotten about.

One of these things is the desire of young people to be popular.

Now, we all know that this isn’t a new thing*, but it does seem to be happening at a much younger age now. I would estimate a full two grades younger around here; maybe more in an urban setting.

* Remember these two?
Listen, I've got this whole high school thing psyched out.

Listen, I’ve got this whole high school thing psyched out.

 Needless to say, I have watched the whole series. Add that to my experience of wanting to be popular myself, and you get a chance to learn from my, and other’s, mistakes.
School is a tough racket, but I think I have a few tidbits of advice to help you kids make it to adulthood with your sense of self intact.

1. Be nice to people.

That’s it. Just be nice to people. Whether they can help you in any way or not, treat them with kindness and respect, until a time comes that they don’t deserve it. Don’t assume that because someone doesn’t “fit in” with the people that you consider cool, that those people aren’t worth your friendship. They usually are.

I say “usually”, because some people are mean, and it doesn’t matter what you do. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be kind to them too, I’m just saying that I don’t expect you to go out of your way. That doesn’t mean you can treat them poorly though. There is a reason that they are angry, and it’s probably because their life isn’t as charmed as yours is.

While you think you have it tough when you don’t get all of the things that your friends have, some kids only get to look forward to abuse and cruelty when they get home. Consider that before you take any actions toward them. They probably have enough crap to deal with after school.

2. Always stand up for what you think is right.

Throughout your life you will see injustice firsthand. Don’t be party to it, and don’t ignore it, just because it “isn’t your problem”. Remember: a fat lip or a bloody nose only hurts for a short while, but your memories can haunt you for a lifetime. If you see something that needs to be stopped; stop it. You will feel proud of yourself, and you might even get a cool scar to show your kids when they ask about the time you saved Suzanne’s* mom from a bunch of bullies.

* It will probably be something like Trinzy’s mom, but I keep dreaming of names staying quasi-normal for a few years.

3. Conduct yourself with honour and integrity.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

― Mark Twain

I bet Mark Twain would have been a great friend to have.

I bet Mark Twain would have been a great friend to have.

Take it from me, lying and being sneaky will bring you nothing but grief and poor sleep. When I was young, I used to lie all the time. I thought it worked out well for me.

It didn’t.

Sure, you might get away with it for a while, but in the end you’ll be in a confession booth or therapist’s chair, and you’ll probably melt someone’s mind with the fury in which you unleash your guilt. This isn’t healthy for anyone, so if you feel like being dishonest about something; choose your words wisely. They can come back to bite you twice as hard if they aren’t true.

4. Listen to others, but think for yourself.

Some of this stuff I practiced from an early age, but most of it I have adopted after seeing that it was much better than the way I was doing it. I really wish I had listened to my folks and my heart instead of people who weren’t going to matter in the end. Always consider the source when getting advice on anything. Your heart will tell you what to do, and as long as you aren’t evil, it is probably pretty close to correct.

I guess that’s about it for now. If you follow these, and a whole bunch of other rules, you will find that as you get older, you will never be without friends that are as true to as you are to them.

No matter where you go.

Someone I’ll always laugh with, even at my worst I’m best with you,

Birdman

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