Reflections

Ski Economics

Even as a youth, long before I had a university degree in the subject, I was an economist.

Then, my task was simply to squeeze every last ounce of value for money from my daily ski pass: nagging parents to get me to the hill before the lifts opened,  skiing at breakneck speed to get to the bottom faster, then cutting the lift lines trying to beat the hordes to the top again. I skied long after my jeans had turned stiff with ice, my feet had gone numb and my legs had turned to jelly. The game was to pack as many runs as possible into a day, and winning was measured by an ever diminishing ‘cost per run’

A half-century later many things have changed. Very expensive but infinitely more comfortable gear has replaced frozen jeans and lace up leather boots, and ‘vertical feet skied ‘are now tracked with a smart phone app, but the boy inside me has not.

Skiing economics is still a shrewd calculus, and the game is still to squeeze the most vertical feet out of each lift pass dollar. So, each year at  this time there begins a grand game of chess between the boy inside me and the lift pass purveyors of Whistler Blackcomb. Which pass should I pre-order for next winter to ensure the ultimate bang for my bucks? It is a match which, sadly, I have lost for the past several years, ending the season with unused days on my multi- day pass. As they expire with the melting of the snow those days taunt me: Whistler won -I paid for more runs than I was able to ski!

Granted, there are reasons for my losses. I have been variously side-lined by accident and illness, and even by clients who unreasonably expected me to attend to their legal needs on perfect, bluebird, powder days. Truly, there is no justice!

With the sale of Whistler to Vail Resorts I face a new, and possibly craftier Chess Master this year, with Vail announcing an array of new options to tempt and bewilder.

At a quick glance, the best possible bargains are available to local students. I tried that one on for size, explaining to the sales rep that I was a Student of Life, so should be entitled to the best rate, but alas to no avail.

Next to catch my eye was the “Founder’s Pass”, a full season pass with extra perks, offering 50% tax deductibility as a charitable donation to the Whistler Foundation. Since skiing and dodging CRA are two of my favourite activities, the combo looked irresistible – until I clicked through to the price – a cool $6,000 ! One of the founder’s pass perks is lift tine priority for your first ride up the mountain each day, to avoid the plebeian scrum. Frankly, Mr. Vail, I would expect an honour guard of liveried lift attendants and my personal gondola for that price!

The new pass getting most of the press however is the “Epic Pass”. It’s lure is its portability, – you can ski practically anywhere on the planet with it. It fired my imagination immediately- perhaps I should buy one and create the ski bum winter  I never had as a youth, flitting from Whistler to  Kicking Horse to Vail, catching some Telluride powder, and exploring Park City and Arapahoe Basin before heading east to the famous glades of Stowe and  Mount St Anne, then on to Europe to sample Val D’Isere and  30 other famous resorts, and ending up with a week of spring skiing in Japan’s Habuba valley. An Epic ski pass indeed.

Thankfully my chiropractor brought me back to earth even before the family finance committee learned of my daydream, sagely pointing out that I practically lived in his office after just a regular day on the local slopes, so, the damage done by a ski bum holiday was sure to be epic, or worse. He, rather than I, was far more likely to enjoy a vacation as a result of my purchase of an Epic pass.

So, as I click the button to renew my boring, restricted, seniors 5 day pass I light a votive candle and mumble a prayer to the Ski Gods, asking for their indulgence next year.  Let it be the year I guessed right, and ended up ahead of the game. of ski economics.

 

 

Categories: Bucket list, humour, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Wither Emily Post?

Back in the 1950’s a fixture on my parents’ bookshelf was “Emily Post’s Etiquette”. It was the definitive guide to everything involving manners or decorum. If you needed to know which knife or fork to use at a state banquet, or how to properly address an ambassador or a bishop, Emily was your source.

I am told that the book is still around, now into its 18th edition, and updated for the digital world by Emily’ s descendants, but somehow it seems to me that the world has become so incredibly complex that propounding rules of etiquette may no longer be possible. At the very least, a new set of rules is sorely needed.

What triggered these musings was a spat of obituary announcements that have shown up recently in my Facebook feed, and my consternation as to how to deal with them.

The first was the easiest, as it announced, not unexpectedly, the death of a very dear family friend, at the venerable age of 101. The announcement, via Facebook was tasteful, and welcomed, since those of us affected by the passing are scattered across the continent. There was no question that I would post a comment, but I baulked at clicking the “like” button as well. Surely one should not “like“ the announcement of someone’s death?

The next was a bit more difficult, a guy I had paddled with on an extended trip two summers ago, and a last-minute no-show for this year’s expedition. He passed suddenly, a day after our last Facebook exchange, bantering about the missed trip.  He died with many friends and acquaintances, but little in the way of close family, certainly no-one that I knew. Not knowing the actual circumstances of his death I didn’t want to blunder in with an inappropriate comment, and certainly didn’t want to appear to be applauding his death with a big thumbs up. To whom was I paying my respects m and, would it be disrespectful to say nothing at all?

Then a business acquaintance posted an announcement of his father’s passing. I had met his father once, years ago, but didn’t feel that my tenuous connection to him made any type of comment appropriate, although I still wanted to reach out to the son. What to do? Barge in with a post, or simply “like” the announcement, or use a silly emoji to try to express myself.?  Again, I find myself resistant to the idea of using an emoji to recoqnize someone’s death.

The last was more difficult yet, It was a local politician, whom I scarcely know, except via social media, and the odd political event. She was announcing, in somewhat coded language, the sudden and devastating loss of her son, whom I had never met. My suspicion, from the language of the post (later confirmed) was that the child had perished as a result of a drug overdose. How to respond, in order to comfort a very nice lady, using the limited tools in Facebook’s toolbox ?

It is, I suggest, past time for a new tome on etiquette, to help those of us who struggle with using social media in a respectful and caring manner. Perhaps Facebook needs to expand its repertoire of available responses, to include  some which are a bit more  formal than a contorted happy face. Or perhaps, we should just eschew social media entirely in such circumstances, and dust off our copy of Emily Post. Emily, I’m sure, would counsel a kind word, a handwritten note, and a comforting hug.

 

 

Categories: death and dying, Etiquette & manners, Reflections | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Wind in the Willows kind of morning

Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting “

My early morning run took me through Rocky Point Park, a tranquil, empty space brimming with budding trees and tulips in full bloom, shared only by a dog walker, a strolling couple, and a fisherman launching his small boat.

nothing,- absolutely – nothing, is half so much worth doing, as simply messing about in boats” I mused as I turned at the end of the pier

Suddenly, the tyke came thundering towards me on his scooter, tiny leg pumping furiously to propel it at breakneck speed.

“As if in a dream, all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious consequences, seemed temporarily suspended. He increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country,” 

I smiled, then glanced around. The young speed demon was far too young to be out unattended, but the path behind him was empty. Had he made good an escape from his custodians?   I slowed my pace, partly to avoid the careening scooter, but mostly to ensure there was some passing adult oversight of his adventure.

“— the terror, the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night–“

A long minute passed, and I  turned to keep  the young Lord of the lone trail in sight. Then at last I spotted her- loping over the bridge, head on a swivel, body tense with worry. There was no doubt who she was frantically looking for. I waved  broadly to catch her attention, then pointed down the path towards the tiny retreating figure.

By the time she passed me she was laughing, the tension drained away,she had her quarry in plain sight and was closing the distance rapidly. We high fived, and I resumed my run, pausing again briefly  at the edge of the wood to watch the reunion, before slipping into the forest .

I couldn’t suppress a chuckle as a I thought to myself – ” well, aren’t you just  a poor man’s version of the Piper at the Gates of Dawn this morning !” . It was indeed a Wind in the Willows kind of morning, -a glorious spring day, full of life and promise.

“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.”

And as I ran on I could swear I heard the soft notes of a song wafting on the breeze:

                          “Lest the awe should dwell—And turn your frolic to fret—

                           You shall look on my power at the helping hour—But then you shall forget!

Lest limbs be reddened and rent—I spring the trap that is set

                         -As I loose the snare you may glimpse me there—For surely you shall forget!

                          Helper and healer, I cheer—Small waifs in the woodland wet—

                           Strays I find in it, wounds I bind in it—Bidding them all forget”

 

( excerpts from  The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame )

Categories: fiction, Parks, Port Moody, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Little Free Library

This spring marks the fifth anniversary of the arrival in Port Moody of our first Little Free Library. For the uninitiated, these mini- libraries are actually weatherproof boxes mounted on front lawns or in parks, capable of holding a couple of dozen books. The instructions for use are simple – “take one, leave one”

I think they are a charming addition to the local landscape, and I’ve been an occasional user ever since the first one popped up on San Remo drive, using the box to purge my bookshelf of any highbrow material I’m finished with ( I’m still too shy to share with my neighbors the trashy novels with high body counts that comprise most of my actual bedside reading!)

A couple of years ago another box popped up at Old Orchard Park, and five more in Port Coquitlam  and I’ve spotted several during  visits to Victoria. Curious to know how widespread the phenomena was, I took to Google, and quickly learned that there are upwards of 40,000 registered locations worldwide.

To my utter shock however, I  also discovered  via my google search that these benign little community affairs are actually the subject of controversy in many places. The boxes have attracted complaints about zoning and by-law compliance in a number of communities ( one municipality even deemed them to be “illegal detached structures” ) and some folks just plain don’t like ad hoc structures popping up on boulevards and front lawns

They have even prompted the ire of the Journal of Radical Librarianship (yes, they are for real!) who suggest that  these tiny book exchanges are elitist, often showing up in more affluent, better educated, and predominantly white neighbourhoods, and accuse the volunteers who build them of “self gratification” and “virtue signalling”.

I must say,  I find impugning the motives of those who go the extra mile to make our community a better place to be highly offensive, and I shake my head over petty bureaucrats trying to stomp out these friendly little, Thankfully as far as I know, our local boxes haven’t offended anyone.

So, when I ambled down to San Remo drive this weekend, I gave thanks : for a gorgeous spring day,  for a community that supports quirky endeavours such as the Little Free Library, and especially, for a neighbour who thoughtfully deposited a couple of dog-eared John Grisham novels that I haven’t read yet !

Categories: libraries, Port Moody, Reflections | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Credit where credit due

My introduction to the frontier lifestyle of the West Coast came shortly after I began my articling year in Nanaimo, when the herring fleet hit town.

Those were the glory days of the herring fishery, when high-balling crews of “Cold water Cowboys” exuberantly chased enormous schools of  herring around the Straits of Georgia, loading  their skiffs with fish until their gunwales were almost awash, then frantically signaling to the hovering packer boats displaying “Cash Buyer” signs, to sell their catch before they capsized. Herring roe is a delicacy in Japan, and the  Japanese were flush, paying huge prices for the roe. Continue reading

Categories: First Nations, Nature, Politics, Reflections | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.