Saturday, August 23, 2008

My weekend at Camp Northland - Haliburton, Ontario

Last weekend I visited the summer camp where I spent some of my most memorable parts of my childhood. Camp Northland is situated in the Haliburton Highlands which is part of the Canadian Shield also known as the Precambrian Shield. The shield was the first part of the continent to be permanently raised above sea-level and covers about half of Canada. Subsequent rising and falling, folding, erosion and continental ice sheets have created its present topography. The reoccurring invasion and withdrawal of the ice sheets (1.6 million to 10,000 years ago) depressed the surface creating Hudson Bay, scraped out tens of thousands of lake basins, carried away much of the soil cover and redeposited glacial debris. Below you can see the hghway which has been blasted between rock.

The region is made up of forest and lakes. Below is a lake near Miners Bay which is a tiny community. The region is largely dependent of tourism.

On the way up I made a few stops including the famous Kawartha Dairy store outside of Minden. During the summer months there are constant long lines for ice cream out front. I remember dropping by in winter about 15 years ago while doing some skiing for ice cream. An employee wouldn't serve us inside and made us line up outside even though the place was deserted.

While up at camp you didn't want to get hurt. We did have a doctor at the camp but for more serious problems you were either sent home (2.5 hours trip) or sent to the hospital in the town. I had the misfortune of injuring an ankle one summer and had to take a bumpy and painful ride into town. They had to call in the radiologist in who was making dinner at home. Then they had to call in a doctor to read it. I remember waiting around for hours.

Hockey is an important form of recreation throughout Canada and every small town has an arena. The Haliburton region actually has sent a few players to the NHL and the town has painted portraits of them outside. I didn't poke my head inside but there likely plenty of banners and picture of Bernie Nichols and Ron Stackhouse. Nichols was a star in the NHL in the 80s and 90s and scored about 1200 points - mostly for the Los Angeles Kings. One of the seasons he played with Gtrezky he scored 70 goals and 150 points. Ron Stackhouse was a defenseman in the 70s who played most of his career with the Pittsburg Penguins. I know Stackhouse returned to Haliburton when he retired.

"McKeck's Place" is a Haliburton fixture for 30 years now. It's a family restaurant owned by a former NHLer Walt McKechnie. He was a journeyman who played for 9 team 1967 to 1982. He is not from the area and I have no idea why he settled here. Then there is Sharley's Sports which is owned by ex-NHLer Glen Sharpley who played 7 seasons before quitting because of an eye injury. There also used to be a family restaurant back even when I was a kid called Cosy Corner on the main street but I understand its been moved into the Sears store.

The Molou is the old movie theatre in town which looks no different than I remember it back even in the 1960s. It shows how small communities can be frozen over time. The big box movie houses will never come up here.

Highland Street is the main business section of Haliburton.

This old house as you can see is on the 45th Parallel, half way between the Equator and the North Pole.

A took a drive up to Skyline Park which had a tremondous view of the town below and the area. When I was staff at the camp we used to buy steaks in town and BBQ them up here on our day offs. Beat the camp food.

Finally made it to the camp which is on Haliburton Lake Road between Eagle Lake and Fort Irwin on Moose Lake.

I was a camper and staff at the camp from 1964 till 1976. When you walk through its remarkable how much has stayed the same and how disorienting anything new can be. The full name of the camp is Camp Northland (boys' side) - Binai Brith (girls' side).

The camp owns about 700 acres of beautiful forestland situated on Moose Lake. There are no cottagers on the lake so no boats buzzing around all summer. Along the lake are cookout spots for kids to canoe and sleep over night.

Moose Lake is fed in from a number of different lakes in the area include Eagle Lae, Redstone Lake and Haliburton Lake. You can do canoeing up the Oblong River to a set up rapids.

The dining hall has lots of glass and can seat about 300 as far as I can remember. A tornado touched down in the camp in the 1980s and did considerable damage. I know people who were in the camp at the time and it was a terrifying experience. All the windows in the dining hall were blown out as kids protected themselves under tables.

The cabins are identical to when I went to camp except now they have electricity.

They have new wash houses now that are considerably nicer than what I rememeber. Yes its true. This is an improvement.

Kids still scrawl the same raunchy messages today. Some things never change.

Many notable people went to the camp. In the 1970s Mike Clarfield worked on skiing. He went to be one of the first full time sports medicine doctors in Canada and was the Maple Leaf team doctor for quite a number of years.

I also noticed in the dining hall the name of Alicia Ross who was tragically murdered by her next door neighbour in 2005. A litle chilling to see.

There is always a serene fog that covers the lake in the morning which burns off by breakfast.

Here I am kayaking.

I took a hike along the lake to the cookout spots. I did not remember the trails being this rugged. It was quite a hike.

The cookout spots all had names like Goldsteins, Sandy Cove, Indian Village, Half Point, First Point, and Second Point. Below is Painted Post but I never remember a toilet being there when I was a camper.

Sunsets are just stunning. The colours are spectacular.

In the evenings we lit fires and sang songs...from the 70s of course.

On the evening before you left camp it was always a tradition to light a giant NBB (stand for the full camp name of Northland-B'nai Brith). The tradition lives on.

Mats Sundin Update

Mats traveled down to Barcelona for some deep sea fishing and beer for the weekend. Didn't get around to returning Cliff Fletcher's call.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nice to see how the Chinese have eased up on human rights

Two elderly Chinese women have been sentenced to a year of "re-education through labor" after they repeatedly sought a permit to demonstrate in one of the official Olympic protest areas, according to family members and human rights advocates.

The women, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, had made five visits to the police this month in an effort to get permission to protest what they contended was inadequate compensation for the demolition of their homes in Beijing.

During their final visit on Monday, public security officials informed them that they had been given administrative sentences for "disturbing the public order," according to Li Xuehui, Ms. Wu's son.

Do you want to know why they want to protest? Their grievance, receiving insufficient compensation when their homes were seized for redevelopment. Probably to make way for the Olympics.


One Hit Wonder

Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are made For Walking (1966)

Mug Shot of the Week

Busted for overdue library books. I kid you not. Click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beach Volleyball is done....

...they can cancel the rest of the Games.

Newlyweds Tasered

Another pair of newlyweds spend that first night of bliss in jail.

This time around Andy Somora and Anna Pastuszwska's July 19 wedding reception in tiny Lakeside, Mich. was swarmed by officers from 14 police departments to quell a melee. The groom's father, uncle, aunt and cousin -- also got arrested. Both bride and groom got shocked by a police Taser and arrested at their raucous reception.

Two nights later, the bride and groom were again arrested -- and again shocked by a stun gun -- after struggling with police investigating a noise complaint. The groom was charged with pushing his new wife down during that incident, but the charge was later dropped as part of a plea bargain.


Chinese gymnasts under age?

Caught me totally by surprise. I had no clue there was a controversy. Then I read this notice from the IOC.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed to The Epoch Times today that it has asked the International Gymnastics Federation to investigate the Chinese gymnastics underage fiasco, following new evidence that at least two gymnasts competed under the legal age in the Olympics. After the initial dismissal of the claims, the IOC said in an email that there have been "additional elements on this subject."

Olympic Memory: Eric the "Eel"

In 2000 a young man named Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea qualified for the Sydney Games through a "wild card." The wild card was designed to encourage developing countries without expensive training facilities to get more involved in Olympic sports.

"The Eel" learned to swim eight months prior to the Olympics. He was 22-years-old. He learned and sort-of-practiced in a hotel pool. One of only two pools in all of Equatorial Guinea. Before the Olympics, Moussambani had never even seen a 50 meter sized pool, let alone swim in one.

As "The Eel" was ready to swim his ceremonial heat, his two competitors false started. They were disqualified. So Moussambani swam the race alone. While his time was twice the Olympic standard, he displayed the true Olympic spirit. "The Eel" gave it everything he had.

85-Year-Old Granny Makes Burglar Call Police

Leda Smith of Lake Lynn, Pennsylvania, returned from church to find that her house was in the process of being burglarized. So what did the 85-year-old great-grandma do? She didn’t exactly cower in fear:

"I saw him move by my keyboard near the wall but I just walked right on past him to the bedroom and got my gun," Smith said, noting that she started keeping the .22-caliber revolver by her bed after a burglary at a neighboring home several weeks ago.

Smith said she then found the boy hiding and confronted him. "I said, ‘What are you doing in my house?’" Smith said during an interview Monday with WPXI-TV, Channel 11 in Pittsburgh, a news partner with the Herald-Standard. "He just kept saying he didn’t do it."

Smith ordered the teen to turn around and not to run and then had him pick up the telephone and dial 911. She then ordered the boy to give her the telephone after placing the call and she told dispatchers about the intruder.

Officials from 911 stayed on the telephone with Smith as she had the boy lay facedown and spread-eagled on the floor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You know it's true


Cubs fan makes the best catch of the week a cup of beer!

More thoughts on the Olympics

I'm not an Olympic junkie but hey I have an opinion or two nonetheless.

  • I hear the number of viewers is huge. I don't get it. People who never watch diving, track or swimming on TV are glued to their screens. And some sports are terrible to watch on TV - like sailing or the marathon. Nothing happens.
  • If next month NBC covered a swim meet that had Michael Phelps as a competitor or if ESPN had a track meet with Usain Bolt, honestly how many people would tune in?
  • Canada won more medals in trampoline (2) than in swimming (just 1). With all the talk about the improved swim team, they have a long way to go before returning to the glory of past Olympians like Alex Bauman, Victor Davis and Mark Tewksbury.
  • Canadian viewers don't even know who the athletes are. During the first week of competition Canadian moaned about not winning any medals. If they knew anything about the Olympic team they would know that the medal contenders were divers Emilie Heymans and Alexandre Despatie, kayaker Adam van Koeverden, Simon Whitfield and our rowers. All compete during the second half of the games.
  • Over the years Canadian competitors have finished in 4th place an awful lot of times. The public treats as some type of loss. What's wrong with being 4th best in the world. Twice I coached hockey teams to 4th place finishes at the Provincial Championships. Sure its tough to go home with no medals but I told them that they should be proud of what they accomplished.
  • Mind you some Canadian competitors missed a bronze by a whisker. Michael Browm missed the bronze in the 200M breaststroke by 0.09 seconds. Blythe Hartley missed the bronze in 3M springboard diving by a tiny margin.
  • Then there was Dylan Armstrong who missed the bronze in the shotput by a centimetre. There was some controversy when a YouTube video seemed to show an official possibly measuring from the wrong spot. (Sorry but those officials cheat as much as the athletes.) Armstrong showed a lot of class. After watching a replay in high-def he declared that the measurement was correct. Not every athlete would be so forthcoming. He was just happy to set a Canadian record.

I love photo finishes

There was 2/100th of a second between 2nd and 6th place with Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliepwinning the bronze in the 100M hurdles.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mats Sundin Update

Hey another golf day for Mats. He spoke to his North American agent P.J. Barry from the golf course to find out about the weather in Canada.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Trampoline competition may be lame but it can hurt too - Watch more free videos

My thoughts on the Olympics

I may have mentioned that I'm not watching the Olympics (except the opening ceremonies). Too many athletes cheat (and referees and judges too) and their sports federations just look the other way. It's just too much hypocrisy for me. Still I have some observations.

  • Most events are just too damn boring. If I have the choice of watching a water polo game or cleaning toilets it would be a tough choice.
  • Canadians whine about the poor performance of our athletes - during the Olympics. But the same people never whine about the the poor funding and support they get between Olympics.
  • Ian Millar today won a silver medal in the team equestrian event (yeah another captivating sport). Millar is 61 and participating in his ninth Olympics. I think I would have stopped picking him for the team at least a decade ago but hey 9th time lucky.
  • Canada also won a silver medal in trampoline which is a relatively new sport at the Olympics. I can't help but note that Canada seems to win medals in new events and then never wins again. We should be directing all our energy at creating new sports and getting them in to the Olympics.
  • Canada sent 330 athletes and so far reaped just 9 medals. China has 639 athletes competing and has won 67 medals. Of course there are 1.3 billion to choose from and we only have 33 million.
  • Cuba has won 11 medals so far with only 85 athletes and their population is just 12 million.
  • I read that Michael Phelps could earn $100 million in endorsements with his 8 gold medals. With all the cheating scandals you would think that corporations would learn that athletes don't make the best pitchmen.
  • Speaking of Michael Phelps, there is someone who actually may not be cheating. Genetics seems to have given him an advantage over swimmers - like those Kenyan runners. The guy is a freak, but a hell of a swimmer.
  • I can't see how spending $40 billion on the Olympics actually provides China with anything tangible.
  • Can't wait to see the closing ceremonies.

She's too sexy for...Malaysia?

Malaysia's Islamic opposition party has urged the government to cancel a concert by Avril Lavigne, saying the Canadian singer's on-stage moves are "too sexy," an official said Monday.

Lavigne plans to start her monthlong Asia tour with a performance in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 29.

The youth wing of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said Lavigne's concert would promote wrong values ahead of Malaysia's Aug. 31 independence day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cinderella, Snow White and Mickey Mouse arrested

This is quite shocking!

Mickey Mouse had his tail between his legs yesterday - after being arrested by police and led away in handcuffs.

Also taken into custody outside Disneyland in Anaheim, Los Angeles, were Cinderella, Snow White, and Tinkerbell.

t happened as workers at the theme park - dubbed the Happiest Place on Earth - staged a demonstration over pay and conditions.

The arrest of 32 costumed protesters came at the end of an hour-long march from one of three Disney-owned hotels.

Madonna turned 50 over the weekend

Fashion Disaster

Hasn't Helena Bonham Carter finshed filming Sweeney Todd yet?

Is beach volleyball a sport?

In article at Slate it says that Beach Volleyball is unworthy of the Olympics.

It will be apparent to all who have given the matter superficial consideration--the only kind of consideration the matter merits--that beach volleyball is unworthy of the Olympics. While it is clearly a healthful pastime, a fun athletic-ish endeavor, and a fine way for four friends to work off a case of canned beer, it is just as clearly not an actual sport.

That's just bullshit! If it's not a sport then why do I watch it?

Another sex scanal

Apparently, Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza from Venezuela might lose her crown because of sexy pictures of her which have just emerged. My God! How could she smear the hallowed name of beauty pageants with sexual objectification?

Most hated Maple Leaf players

OK, you had your chance to vote and here is the all-time despised Maple Leaf players.

At starting goalie is Andrew Raycroft with his cement trapper and the gapping five hole. Raycroft managed to set a team records in wins but lost his starting job the following season. Next season he will be breaking the hearts of Colorado fans.

Bryan Marchment makes the team on defense. Despite playing only one season on the Leafs just prior to the lockout, he obviously impressed Leafs fans with ability to take out players at the knees and his 13 league suspensions. After the Leafs he moved on to Calgary where he ended his career with an impressive 2307 penalty minutes and 40 goals.

The other starting defenseman is Finish great - Aki Berg. The slow footed Berg used to delight Leaf fans with his puck carrying skills and this laser passes to opposition players. Berg played just over 3 seasons with the Leafs before returning to Finland. He was drafted 3rd overall by the Kings and scored an impressive 15 goals in the NHL.

The starting centre is Dmitri Khristick who was best known for being released as a free agent in 1999 by the Bruins rather than pay the $2.8 million that an arbitrator set as his salary. The Leafs signed him to a four-year, $10.29-million contract. He was the invisible and manged only 15 goals over 80 games before he was shipped off to Washington.

On left wing is Swede Jonas Hogland who scored 29 goals in his first season with the Leafs. He was best remembered for expecting Mats Sundin to carry Hogland on his back for 4 seasons. Hogland was often seen disappearing whenever not playing with Sundin.

Finally on right wing is John Kordic who in a brief career with the Leafs managed 446 penalty minutes in just 104 games. Hard to believe you get into so many fights from the end of the Leaf bench. Kordic helped establish Gord Stellick as a big league manager when he came to the Leafs in 1988 for Russ Courtnall. He will be best remembered for the day in 1992, when several police officers were called in to restrain Kordic, who was trashing a room at the Motel Maxim in Quebec City. He died in the struggle.