Thursday, December 09, 2010


This post got lost. I've been trying to slip it in where it wouldn't look out of place, so it's been floating around with my scheduled posts. I'm just going to jam it in here, out-of-place and out-of-season. You can say it's jet-lagged. Tomorrow the Cambodia saga will start.

I'm in Moose Jaw, where the nice engineer and his apprentices are replacing the left engine turbo wastegate, and there's a part that has to come by FedEx, so I have a day of waiting. Fortunately I'm good at that. I just pretend that every place I'm in is somewhere I have come on purpose for a holiday. I've been to Moose Jaw before, so I've already seen the historical re-enactment in the underground tunnels and admired the almost movie-set ready historical main street, and the murals. But I wouldn't mind going back to the park, and maybe I'll go swimming in the mineral springs again.

One time I was here, my work partner was a casino gambler and an expert wheeler dealer who wrangled rooms in the Mineral Spa Resort & Casino at the same price as the hotel chain we normally stay in. Seeing as it's a holiday weekend, and I'm a negotiation pussycat, that didn't happen this time, but I can still pay the admission fee and go 'take in the waters.' I'm actually more in a swimming mood than a soaking mood, and the public pool feeds off the same mineral springs, so I head there. It's next to the park, anyway.

As I walk across the Boston Pizza parking lot (there's either a Boston Pizza or a Tim Horton's in every hotel parking lot in Western Canada), I spot something shiny on the pavement. When I'm airside, my FOD detection circuits compel me to pick any metal objects off the ramp in order to prevent them from being ingested by aircraft engines or taking chunks out of people's propellers. I pick up this one too. It's a brass shell casing ... ah no, it's an unused small calibre bullet. It probably rolled out of someone's truck or came out of their pocket as they got out of the truck. But now what do I do with it. I feel a responsibility not to chuck it back on the ground where kids might play with it. I don't want to put it in the garbage where it might be incinerated. And my normal approach of letting weird pieces of metal rattle around the bottom of my pocket or suitcase until they end up in the jar next to my washing machine isn't going to cut it with airport security. Plus hey, unexploded ordnance.

I wander down Main Street (isn't this sweet: it's actually called Main Street, not 50th Avenue) past an object in the grass by the railroad tracks that was there yesterday and that I'm 95% sure is a dead cat, but I'm not going to go closer and confirm. See I'm smart enough not to take on responsibility for ALL the awkward to dispose of objects on the streets of Moose Jaw. While I'm walking I make up a sentence that describes the town. The moose sat on real caribou hides and stood on fake hyena rugs. I'll leave it to you to figure out why, apart from the moose reference, it is useful and appropriate.

I have lunch in a little Thai restaurant and read a tourist brochure, which mentions a local business with the address "420 High Street." No prizes for guessing what kind of business it is. That's a few blocks away, and perhaps they sell hemp paper postcards along with their other wares. I walk down that way, but although their sign says they open at eleven, they're still closed at two. Typical stoners. I instead buy a postcard at, of all places, a windshield repair shop. They are a general everything glass shop, including figurines and other glass art, so they have arty cards.

On the way east towards the park there's a police car parked with its lights flashing, but no car pulled over near it. The officer is sitting inside doing paperwork. I come up to the window and he looks up suspiciously to ask what I want. For a moment I wonder how stupid this is going to sound, but I don't have to say any more than "I found a bullet ..." before he becomes friendly and says he'll take care of it for me. Done with less hassle than I was anticipating.

The park is not huge, but it's well laid out with hills and different levels and a river with happy ducks floating on it. It's good for people watching, and it's culturally acceptable to strike up conversations with strangers in front of ducks. You can also talk to strangers in used bookstores (but not new ones) and in health food stores, and in the line-up at a regular grocery store. You can talk to strangers on the street, too, but you have to be careful to pick someone of approximately matching age and apparent economic status. Real life is not like a social MMORPG where you can talk to anyone who crosses your path without alarming them.

The public pool is next to the park, and it's a hundred year old building with the word NATATORIUM graven in its stone façade. It's also closed with some scaffolding up and workers in hardhats. I can see that the outdoor pool is still empty. Just as well. Meanwhile I have received a text that they may have the airplane ready for me this afternoon, so I probably shouldn't be in a swimming pool. I wander up to the museum, which is in the park, but as I go down the stairs into the exhibit hall I lose cellphone signal, so that's off limits, too. Cellphones give you a limited sort of freedom when you're on call.

Walking up a back street towards the hotel, I pass an old funeral home. It's a current funeral home, too, but I see its history in the fact that the doors to the garage for the hearses are clearly carriage house doors. I'm sure hearses pulled by black horses came through them for years before they invested in a motor hearse. Also, and perhaps it's just the power of suggestion, but the adjacent "funeral parking only" lot doesn't have aisles and stalls like a conventional parking lot, but instead just aisles, running lengthwise down the lot, so the cars must park in nose to tail columns, as if they were waiting for a ferry or stopped in a California freeway traffic jam. I picture that being exactly the way you would park a large number of horses-drawn buggies. The lot is paved and there are no hitching posts, but I can imagine the parking routine staying unchanged for a hundred years.

The Europeans must be laughing at me, sitting in cafés that have been in the same place for three hundred years, but in western Canada things are so new that hundred year old stuff is of historical note.

I see a gopher poking out of a hole and try to take a picture, but it runs back down the hole, at which point a different gopher pokes out of a further off hole. I dart back and forth with my camera in a giant game of live whack-a-mole until one of the gophers takes pity and lets me snap a shot.

After all that, the airplane isn't ready before the shop quitting time, so I go back to the hotel and read my e-mail and other things on the Internet. There's an update from John, the person who got me into the KC-130 sim. He describes an interesting problem at a simulator facility in Texas: On two airfields you landed below the runway, on the third you landed about 30 feet up then ran into an invisible wall. Both problems were "mostly fixed."


Anonymous said...

The funeral home's parking arrangements have nothing to do with horses, but are the result of how funeral homes are used: at the conclusion of the business there, everyone tootles out in one line and follows the hearse to the cemetery.

Ed said...

unexploded ordinance That's a by-law that's never been invoked? Or do you mean ordnance? You're usually so good on that sort of thing that I thought it worth mentioning.

coreydotcom said...

does anyone know why those "drug paraphenilia" stores are allowed to even be open? I went into a high times in Montreal the other day out of sheer curiosity and was amazed at all the drug-related things they sell. I thought it would all be t-shirts, mugs, posters but no - bongs galore,pipes, vaporizers. I even had the guy explain to me the workings of a vaporizer. Sounds like a good investment for those who smoke a lot of weed. So the question being: how are these stores allowed to operate? They blatently sell drug-paraphenilia. Wouldn't I be in trouble if a cop found a HUGE $500 bong in my car even if there's no weed. I can understand why depanneurs sell zig zags because I have seen people roll their own cigarettes... but "Juicy watermelon"-flavored papers? I don't get it. But it's interesting I guess.

rw2 said...

In the US head shops are sometimes outlawed regionally. With the advent of medical marijuana they spring up with more shelter. I've never seen one that didn't state clearly that they were selling wares for tobacco use only.

IMHO, the idea of outlawing them is absurd. It's not like you can't build whatever you want out of an apple, beer can or parts from the nearest hardware store. But, at least in the US, rational thought doesn't always win the day.

Aviatrix said...

Ed: thanks for the correction. I pronounced it wrong, too. Fixed.

Coreydotcom: the prohibited substances are prohibited, and that's all. Maybe you're a bong collector, or you found the thing in your basement and think it's a weird lamp. The cops would probably search your car more thoroughly, same as if you were wearing a hat with a Québec flag where the fleur-de-lys was replaced with a marijuana leaf.

I know a guy who went out to BC to finish off an instrument rating and got a job in a hydroponic supply store. They sold everything required to start and manage your own grow-op, using the code word "tomatoes." Took my friend ages to figure out why the customers were so concerned about odour control. He'd never noticed that tomatoes were especially smelly. About that time he realized that the cops were following him home at night. But it's not illegal to sell hydroponic supplies.

In Canada I'm not sure, but I don't think it's even illegal to sell seeds, as the THC content of seeds isn't high enough to get high. That's why it's so unsettling that the RCMP allowed Marc Emery to be arrested in a foreign country for doing something that was legal in his own. The US wouldn't allow the RCMP to arrest one of their citizens for selling mail-order guns to Canadians.

coreydotcom said...

Thanks guys. Makes sense. Still funny to me though.

@rw2: I saw the apple trick in the "High Times Official Pot-Smoker Handbook" as I was leafing through the reading material available at the store. Maybe someone on my christmas list needs it.

I guess if these stores exist (and there a crapload in MTL believe me lol)... there's a need!

A Squared said...

The US wouldn't allow the RCMP to arrest one of their citizens for selling mail-order guns to Canadians.

I'm not so sure. If a US citizen was habitually selling and shipping guns to Canadians which were illegal in Canada, I suspect that the RCMP would get a fair amount of cooperation form the US state dept and the BATF. Personally, I'm against anti marijuana laws, for a variety of reasons which are beyond the scope of this discussion, but for better or worse, it's illegal under federal law to posses or import marijuana, including seeds (apparently unlike Canada) . If you're assisting a us citizen in violating these laws, you may get extradited to the US to face charges. Wouldn't be the first drug trafficker this has happened to.

Anonymous said...

"does anyone know why those "drug paraphenilia" stores are allowed to even be open?"

The drugs are illegal, the paraphernalia aren't.
If you start outlawing anything that can be used in a crime, you'd best outlaw pretty much everything.

E.g. over here there was a proposal several years ago to outlaw black clothing, tire irons, and crowbars because criminals tend to use those (the responsible minister was laughed out of parliament in one of the few shows of sensible thinking in a parliamentary democracy in the last 20 years or so).
That's the kind of idiotic situation you end up with if you start outlawing things just because they might be used in a crimt.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the paperwork was to cover a bullet he had lost himself hence the change in his demenour. :)
GA with L plates.