The Rants of Issachar

Friday, April 28, 2006

I love Grouse Mountain...

Well my day off has been pretty good. I went out to Grouse Mountain and did the Grind. It's technically closed, (who told me it was open?), but there's already a few people on it. There was actually a few people clearing snow from the trail close the top.

I didn't get a very good time, but that's what you get when you chat with people on the trail. I can't wait to go again.

It's always nice meeting people there too. I ended up chatting with a lady whose son was at the same UNIS conference I took my students to in New York last month. Small world.

Anyway, Grouse Mountain was lovely.

Gorgeous sky crossing the Second Narrows bridge on the way in.

Fortunately, they don't really mean it...


I saw a couple of motorcyclists racing on the way home. The one on the right, (not the one in the white shirt), jumped in front of me then stood up on his seat. He pulls it up on the back wheel and peels off. Smart move buddy...

:: posted by issachar, 4:18 PM | Permalink | 7 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The price of gas...

The average price at the pump in Canada was somewhere around $1.07 per litre last week, and I paid $1.17 yesterday.

So of course we have the usual complaints, and Prime Minister Harper says that aside from the cut to the GST, they won't be cutting taxes on gasoline.

Today, the Vancouver Sun reports that NDP leader Jack Layton is demanding lower gas prices.
"Working families are getting gouged at the pumps at the same time as the oil and gas companies have record profits"†

Granted, no one likes to pay more for anything, but does anyone else see the contradiction in Mr. Layton's, (and some other people's), objection to high gas prices?

Doesn't Mr. Layton want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Wasn't it the NDP that was attacking the Conservatives for not suporting the Kyoto protocol when that was on the table?

Burning gasoline releases greenhouse gases. If we want to reduce emissions, one of the things we're going to have to do is use less gasoline. Unfortunately, for Mr. Layton, lower prices means higher consumption. Higher prices mean lower consumption.

If you want lower gasoline consumption, I don't see how you can be in favour of lowering gas prices.

Update: Links added in the comments.

†Vancouver Sun, April 27, 2006, "Layton demands cheaper gas prices"
Photo Courtesy of

:: posted by issachar, 5:15 PM | Permalink | 9 comments | Links to this post

Evacuate the School !

One of our sprinklers went off in the school today. Right outside my lab actually. No the whole system didn't go off thank goodness.

But even with just one sprinkler going, the hallway was flooding inside a minute. And apparently there's oil inside sprinkler systems, (or something black and foul smelling anyway). Christian, have you got any idea what that is or why it's there?

At any rate we had to pull the firebell to evac the kids and send them all home. Went off without a hitch too. So now we've got some very expensive damage in the school, (the water went through the floor to the elementary school before we got it turned off), and an unexpected long weekend.

I felt way too much like a responsible adult taking kids out of the building. Time was when I'd have been the one yelling "RUN ! IT'S A FIRE !!"

Most of the visible mess got cleaned up before I got back into the building, (the cleanup crew arrived almost as quickly as the fire trucks did), but imagine that black liquid spraying all over the hall, (and onto the people trying to exit the rooms at the end of the hall), and flooding the hallway up to the yellow tape and the adjacent classrooms. And soaking through the floor to the ceiling times below...

Update: 9:40 PM Decided to add another photo.

:: posted by issachar, 4:11 PM | Permalink | 3 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Governor General's husband embarasses us again...

First it was the past sympathetic view of the FLQ and Quebec separatism, now it's promoting the anti-American conspiracy theorists of murderers living in Iran.

Mr. Lafond says that his separatists statements were taken out of context, and that may be true. It wouldn't be the first time something's been reported out of context.

So what's the excuse for his new documentary that gives an Islamist assassin a soapbox?

Mr. Lafond is not a private citizen. He is Michaëlle Jean's husband, and thus the Viceregal consort of Canada. The office of the Governor General carries certain responsibilities and restrictions with it, and those fall on the Viceregal Consort as well. Mr. Lafond is lending more credence to the opinion that Paul Martin made a poor choice in appointing Ms. Jean.

Still, there's nothing to be done about it. Let's hope our next Governor General doesn't come with a husband who carelessly embarasses us and that in the meantime Ms. Jeans' service to our country has no more embarrassments

:: posted by issachar, 7:54 AM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I did not know this...

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Yom haShoah Ve'Hagvura in Hebrew). The 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar.

:: posted by issachar, 4:54 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Honouring our fallen soldiers...

The government's currently taking flak for deciding that they will return to practice of lowering the flag on parliament hill only on Remembrance Day. The previous government had taken to lowering the flag "on most similar occasions" according to the CanWest News Service.

As unpopular as it might be, the government's decision is the right one. We honour our war dead together on a single day each year. Remembrance Day has been our tradition since the end of the first world war. We share this tradition with other commonwealth countries and that brings us closer to our allies.

There are a few problems with deviating from this tradition, but the most obvious is the fact that the former government lowered the flag on most similar occasions. Why one and not another? That's the problem when you start making these decisions based on the emotion of the moment.

I also think that by lowering our flag whenever a death occurs we cheapen those deaths. Seeing a flag at half mast makes one stop and think. The more often we see a flag at half mast, the less we stop and the less we think about it. It would be nice to believe that we can get out of this by not having any casualties, but that is the attitude of an ostrich. As long as our soldiers are out there putting their lives on the line to defend what's right we will have casualties. We need to honour their sacrifice without sullying their memory with maudlin sentiment.

Finally, we need to have common stories about our soldiers that aren't simply about their deaths. When we focus on a fallen soldier we quite rightly think more about that soldier's sacrifice than what our military is accomplishing. This is as it should be, but if we don't think about what the military is doing and why it is out in the field, that soldiers sacrifice loses something.

The Prime Minister's office has also declared that the media won't be allowed to take photos when the bodies of four fallen soldiers are returned to CFB Trenton. Again, this is as it should be. The return of a soldier's body is a personal matter for the Canadian Forces and the soldier's family. It is not a photo op for the Prime Minister, and I'm glad Mr. Harper understands that.

Photo courtesy of The Hill Cam. (Public Works and Government Services Canada).

:: posted by issachar, 12:45 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Monday, April 24, 2006

Silly BCTF...

What are they thinking?

Three teachers up in the Nicola Valley near Merrit chose not to participate in the illegal strike back in the fall and crossed the picket line. Their local decides to suspend them until they hand over their salary for that time to the union.

Excuse me? What are they thinking? It was an illegal strike! The BCTF would have no chance of winning the case if it ended up in front of the labour relations board. What would give them the idea that they could get away with punishing a teacher for actually obeying the law? And they do this when they're busy negotiating a contract for the fall. Given that their ultimate employer is the provincial government, (which answers only to the electorate), you'd think that they would avoid doing anything that would make them look bad...

(This is after the story the province ran detailing how the union worker salaries signficantly exceed the teachers salaries and include such benefits as unlimited massage therapy, naturopathy, acupuncture and a $500 per year allowance for "erectile disfunction" treatments.)

Do they have any idea who this looks?

Apparently not.

And it didn't last long anyway. That story was in Sunday's province that I read in the staff room before work today. CNews reports today that the union has reinstated the teachers "after being legally advised to do so". Perhaps BCTF President Jinny Sims might have checked with these legal advisors before sending a letter to Margaret Christopherson suggesting that she "donate" her salary for that week to the union and that she was disappointed Ms. Christopherson didn't support public education.

Silly rabbit...

:: posted by issachar, 7:39 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

Sometimes I think about how amazing it is that nearly 2000 years after it happened we're celebrating the resurection of Jesus Christ.

Separated from the event by so much time, we might forget just how amazing it was. Dying for us and coming back three days later... If it sounds unbelievable, it should.

Dr. Rikki Watts said it very well: I'm a Christian not because I believe in resurrections. I'm a Christian because I don't. I don't believe in resurrections, but this one happened; that's why I'm a Christian.

To say that the story must be a myth because resurections don't happen is to miss the point.

As the saying goes...

He is risen! He is risen indeed...


:: posted by issachar, 11:02 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Slow Saturday - Part 1

It's another slow saturday morning. I love these days. I'm sitting in my new kitchen with a nice cup of coffee reading the web and thinking about breakfast. Jill & Michelle are coming over at 10:30 and we're going to make a nice Saturday breakfast, so I may not get this post finished before lunch, but it's not like I have to be anywhere... :)

So what's in the news?

First of all, the very, very strange... If this is a hoax, they fooled me. The book that the woman refers to at the end of the interview is listed on Amazon, so it seems legit, but watch the video first).

A bi-pedal dog?!? That is one freaky looking animal, but I'm impressed.

How is it that I haven't heard of this before?

More tomorrow. I got sidetracked, and it's evening...

:: posted by issachar, 8:58 AM | Permalink | 7 comments | Links to this post

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Okay... Back...

I've been waiting for inspiration to hit me, but it's not going to happen and I want to put something up. So here it is.

I got back from Maui on the 23rd. It was great. Thanks again to Ryan, Steph & Jonah for having me stay with them. Special thanks to Jonah for giving up his room for a whole week. I miss you guys.

Unfortunately it turns out that I don't have any many good photos, but here's what I've got... (They're all along the same stretch of West Maui.

That's a view of the shoreline just west of Napili Bay. I walked that a few times. Love it! On the right is a photo of a humpback whale and her calf. I've never seen whales that close to shore. Amazing. Those rocks are the shoreline. I was hoping we'd see them when we went diving off Kapalua, (that would have been awesome!), but no luck.

Another photo of the same humpbacks and a photo of the Nakelele blowhole.

I took a few more photos of the Nakelele blowhole, but I picked the wrong camera settings. I thought this one looked pretty nice though. The one on the right is the view from the perch of rock just out of sight in the first photo.

That's Olivine pools on the left. Very nice swimming. Thank you Ryan for the tip. Maui Revealed had some nice things to say about the place too. (Try not to get that copy confiscated Ryan). Got a bit of a scrape from the waves when I got hit by one walking too close to the edge. I was too busy making sure I didn't get swept out to stop myself from getting swept in and scrapped on the rocks. (Not as impressive as it sounds).

The view from the to of Kahakuloa Head. Gorgeous. On the way down I met a local who figured I was one too because of the license plate on my car. I got questioned about what Maui was to me for some sort of survey for Maui Community College. (I did tell her I wasn't local).

Finally, for those of you who know Ryan. This is where he works. Yes, that's a school and as far as I can tell, that's a typical day. While I was there his teacher duties included going sailing, going sailing, and... well he did say they were occaisionally in class. :P

Well that's the Maui trip.

In other news, I've moved. Ryan Bentham sold his house, so we all had to move out. I'm really going to miss that place it was gorgeous.

But... We're all still living together. The four of us moved to a place in Walnut Grove. Jill and Michelle are still in the basement suite at the old place though, so we did lose two roommates. We miss you! :(

The place we're in now is nice, but I'm completely spoiled for kitchens now. Once you start using a natural gas stove, an electric one just seems like quest for fire night. (Ironically). Seriously. I'm spoiled, and I must have gas in my kitchen again. I'm in the tiny room, but it's no biggie as it's just for three months.

I'll try to post more regularly...

:: posted by issachar, 4:42 PM | Permalink | 4 comments | Links to this post