Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bear on Patrol - "The Incidents" while Racing

Sproing!  Spring Already?

Ahhh Spring - When a certain bear's thoughts (mine, silly) turn to thoughts of skiing while basking in sunlit afternoons, watching the snow melt and dreaming of the fresh berry parfaits to come.

Speaking of snow melting, my wrangler was once asked by this British lady who was visiting Canada to ski:  "What do they do with the man-made snow in the Spring?"

His answer?  "Well, we actually pack it all up in labeled containers that go into storage so that we can put it back on the hill next winter!" (I wish I thought of that)

She seemed happy with the answer until I screamed "NOT!" and started giggling.

"actually....It melts like real snow." my now embarrassed wrangler said.

Oh well. Now where were we?

Olympics - Schmolympics!

So this Spring I caught a little Olympic Fever....

Now make no mistake, I have all kinds of respect for all kinds of people.  I think that it takes a certain amount of courage to be strapped into a portable cave with no real control of where I go or how fast I go because my wrangler likes to hurtle down the hill at astonishing speeds apparently trying to approach the speed of light to slow down aging or something.  WHEEEEEE!

I mean that's all good and stuff, but where is the control, I mean how do I get any say in what happens during all this excitement?

and now they tell me that this is a sport?  I don't think so!

How hard can it be to stand on two feet stuck on long plastic-y slippy things and go down a hill?  I figure with 4 legs it should be a snap!  A SNAP!  I tell you!  The only thing I would be worried about is stopping, but after careful observations, I have concluded that stopping happens naturally because people and bears have bums.

Well, after months and months of begging and pleading my wrangler (Okay 10 minutes, but man did I put the pressure on), I was ready to make my skiing debut!

Being new at skiing and laughing at Danger (HAH! Take That Danger!), I borrowed some of my wrangler's ski gear.  No helmet required because I know what I'm doing!  So I grabbed his skis and headed down the hill for a run.

His last words were:  "Oh my Goodness!  You look killer on my skis!" or something like that.....

Trial Run - Can I get a Do-Over?

So with skiing being so easy, I figure for my first run I'll go down the really steep expert run with some of my friends.  Here they are waiting for me.  There's Don on the left, Courtney in the middle and Céline on the right!

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Now I was strapped into the skis, and ready for my first run!  YAY!  Now to join the others....Who put that sign there?  All I need to do is get on the other side of that stupid sign!

The sign says D-A-N-G-E Oh dear....

My Sunglasses fell off! Man is it bright. I'll read the sign later...

Man are these ski things slippy!


I mean like, totally WHOA!


Hey Guys!

I'll be right over!  Just give me a secon.... whooooops!


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I think I deviated my solarplexus!

I don't remember much after that except that I probably peed a little bit and felt really really woozy!  The next thing I DO remember is Céline running up to me and asking if she could help me!

What?  Why would I need help?  I was perfectly fine!  Nothing to see here!  Move along people!  Sheesh!

She wouldn't have any of that, and started to examine me like we learned in our Ski Patrol training course.

1.  Check to make sure the bear is breathing and has a pulse.  Check!  This might be important because I might be dreaming all this...

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2.  She held my head and asked what was wrong.  I was good and told her exactly what was wrong with me.  "I've double-parked my solar-powered Lexus" I said.  She looked at me, smiled and said "I think you've hit your head!"

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3.  So Céline checked me out from head to toe to make sure that nothing was really wrong with me, being careful not to move my head. She said I was probably just fine but that I should get everything checked out by a doctor "in case".

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and before I knew it, I was being given a ride down the hill in a rescue toboggan with someone holding me in so that they could bring me down the hill safe and sound.  I still felt sore, but the toboggan ride was fun and I didn't throw up!

I was not very impressed with the clinic.  Yeah the blankets were all snuggy warm and the pillows were comfy, but is this any way to treat a patient?  I mean, REALLY?  I was pretty sure that my insurance had extra coverage for a Private Room and Clinic complete with spa treatments and hot-and-cold running cocoa.  Sorry guys but this wasn't gonna cut it!

While I was in the clinic, I got a pretty good view of a race course they had set up on the hill:

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and I got to thinking:

Racing - Why Not?

Well after that first run I wasn't gonna let a head bump and a little wooziness stand in the way of my Ski Glory!  No way!

So, I decided to try again, and let's make it interesting!

I rode the chairlift to the top of the hill and managed to sit next to a ski racing coach.  He gave me everything I needed to know.

Here is a picture of someone who is racing (they are just to the right of the red fence-y thingy)

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Racing Secrets I learned from a coach:

  • Go around the red and the blue stick things.
  • When you go around the red and blue stick things, just follow the other tracks to make sure you go around the right way.
  • If you fall and you are headed for one of the red fence-y things, they tangle you up and stop you if your bum doesn't work properly to do this.
  • The red and blue stick things are bendy and snap back really hard!
  • The reason people who are racing go so fast is so that the red and blue stick thingies don't have time to snap back and bop you on the nose!
  • If you are bopped on the nose, try not to cry or swear or go into the red fence-y things..
  • If you manage to avoid getting bopped on the nose, or do not get caught in the red fence-y things, and you manage to go through all the red and the blue stick things in the right order, you have "finished" and are given a series of random numbers called a "time".
  • You have two tries to get a "time"
  • The lowest random "time" wins.

I was ready! and I was wearing my lucky sunglasses for well, for.... luck.  Not that I needed it!

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....but first, because I figured I would be going super-duper pretty fast, I would check out the fence-y things because I was pretty sure they wouldn't be able to stop me.

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I then asked my wrangler to throw me at the fence-y stuff really hard! 

He's a good listener!

I was going so fast everything was just a blur and then I felt like someone was trying to put me through a strainer... and then Sproing!  The fence-y stuff stopped me!

I was going to be fine.

Now for that race.


Well, I was ready!  I was growling, I was INTENSE!  I was all over the hill screaming my head off to get people out of the way!

Those red and blue stick things kept bopping me on the nose faster and faster and faster!  Holeeee!  I didn't have time to think or react!  I just went for it.

I was about to cry or swear or both!  I couldn't take it any more!  So fast... so much nose-bopping pain!

...I think I almost made it past the third stick thingy when...


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Oh dear.....

Unfortunately my second try was just too dangerous to show anyone on the internet. I don't even want to talk about it!

So after the second try,

...I was being given a ride down the hill in a rescue toboggan with someone holding me in so that they could bring me down the hill safe and sound.  I now felt terribly sore, I was sure I left my solarplexus behind in that fence-y stuff but the toboggan ride was fun and I only threw up a little!

It was a good thing the blankets were all snuggly warm and the pillows were comfy, because I had a rough day! I also decided that I would leave racing to the people who were good at going down the hill on two feet on skis. My wrangler also ordered safety gear for me for next time but perhaps being carried around in the Safety Cave going near the speed of light wasn't so had after all!

I think my solarplexus made a complete recovery.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bear on Patrol - "Typical Day"?

In the Beginning....

*yawn* Good Morning!

OMG Would you look at the time?  I'm scared to.

What do you mean it's six in the morning?


Who gets up then?  ^SNORE^

Wha?  Huh?, tooearly.  Mustsleep. *mumble*

Okay, whosgonnamakecoffeeanitbetternotbeme! GRarrrrrr!  Grumpy Bear!  Outta my way!

Yeah, mornings are so not pretty.  Not where I live anyhow.  I never was much of a morning bear.  In fact, if you would kindly remove mornings from the day, I would be much happier.

After Coffee, Shower, Breakfast and a 20 minute drive

I am not even sure how I got here, but apparently I get to ski today.  My first day as a Bear on Patrol!  It's still morning, and the chairlift hasn't even started yet.  As my wrangler was one of the first in the door, it's up to him to make the coffee for everyone else!

Now I'm not faulting him for poor coffee skills, but some things are sacred and should never be trusted to amateurs.  I know, because while I was mostly asleep this morning, HE made the coffee.  I am still trying to figure out how something that is normally so good can taste like it was filtered through moldy socks! *shudder*

Note how I keep the chocolate nearby too. The mark of a true coffee artiste!  That's a tin of hot chocolate! OH BOY! I usually put a bit in my coffee to help mornings along! 

Ahhhh, that's better! Nothing like a cup of coffee while you put your jammies back on an relax to enjoy the morni..... WHAT? There's more to do? You're killing me! I just made coffee. What do you mean I have to share the coffee with everyone? Good Grief!

And now I have to go where? OUTSIDE? But it's cold out there! They are making snow! It's so cold.... I don't want to go outside! I'm going to radio for help if you keep threatening me!

*sigh*  Well, next thing you know I'm riding the chairlift up to the top of the mountain.  I was right, it was freezing up there!  January and it's sooo cold.  When it's this cold, they can spray water into the air and it falls down frozen, sort of like snow.  My friends around the world laugh because they think it's silly that we have to make snow in Canada.  I laugh back at them and say we have to make so much snow because all of their hot air keeps melting it.

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The only problem with making snow this way is that sometimes it makes it really really really foggy!  So foggy that I get lost at the top of the hill, and being a small bear, that can be a big problem.

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After a few minutes of shouting as my wrangler left me up there lost and alone while he took a run down the mountain and left me behind  (Me?  Complain? Hardly.), I was picked up and put back into my portable cave where I pretty much stayed until it was coffee break time.  I had the portable cave heater turned up to Full-Blast and it was still pretty chilly (except for my bum which was toasty)!

At coffee break time I got to meet a very nice, tall man who sort of looks like a skinny Santa Claus, which is funny because his name is Nick!  Nick is the Patrol Leader.  I think he got that job because he is so tall, that people can always see where he's leading.

He put me on his head and I almost hit the ceiling!

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Nick told me it was time to start toboggan training.  I know --you would figure that since I went to the hill and did some skiing that I would know everything (which I do - just no one believes me).  Apparently not.

Down to Business

First, there is no pretending here. Tobogan training is really hard for a small bear. The toboggan weighs about 100 lbs. That's well.... that's like well, 170 times more than I weigh!  If I got run over by that it would HURT!

The instructors would have none of that, so they strapped me into the handlebars of the big blue toboggan and told me to bring it down the hill. Only there was a small problem, well more like a big problem!

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So I asked if there was something I could do that was less tricky and more suited to someone my size. They quickly came up with something much better. They said I could be an injured skier (I only had to pretend I was hurt --which I am really good at from all of the training I took in the Fall). What better thing for me than an acting job!

Because I am so small though, I needed an actual person holding me. "Extra weight" they called him. I was brilliant though. I was all groaning and acting sore all over, and "don't touch me that hurts"... I was especially convincing when I was acting scared because the hill was so steep and scary. Here are the highlights of my performance:

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...and I didn't even need to call in the stunt double!

Toboggan training went so well that I passed no problem.  In fact I was told that I had a unique acting talent that the world wasn't really ready for.  Unique talent!  Imagine that!

And so we come to this....

Well, it was now 4:30 p.m., and time to hand over everything to the night crew.  So we all headed back over to the Ski Patrol room after we made sure that no one who was really hurt was left stuck on the hill.  They call this part Evening Sweep although I didn't see any brooms and we left the snow sort of messy.

The end of the day also means handing in your radio.  Here I am at the sign-in book handing back my radio.

I loved having a radio.  It was pretty much the saddest part of my day to have to hand in that radio.  Oh the conversations we had and the secrets we shared!  I did find it a little strange that the Patrol Leader Nick and pretty much everyone else looked relieved when I handed in my radio.  Maybe they didn't like all of the times I used my radio to ask if the coffee in the Patrol room was fresh?  One day I'll ask them.

Now for the last order of business, we have a sign to remind people that they should be skiing - all day which is a lot, and that they should have a lunch too (although I didn't need reminding about lunch),  like so:

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I didn't have the heart to tell them that it looks like a traffic light.

After a long day of skiing, we all wait in the Ski Patrol room while we make sure everyone that signed in is back safe and sound.  Then a few quick announcements, and then the moment we are all waiting for.  You see, as Ski Patrollers we spend all day in out ski boots, even at lunch.  We do this so that if there is an accident on the hill that needs lots of people to help we can get there fast!  I got a ski boot exemption because my wrangler pretty much carries me, and a bear in ski boots would be silly! Everyone else is waiting to see this:

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and then we tell stories about how great we were while drinking sodas, and then go home and eat pizza!

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.....Next time I'll talk about "The Race"....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bear on Patrol - Introduction

I Love Skiing!

Bears and mountains have a long history.  Just think about the song "The Bear Went Over the Mountain".  That song is old, and has to do with a bear going over the mountain repeatedly, and only seeing the other side of the mountain, which is fine by me, if the mountain is Gros Morne... 

Gros Morne Summit

but the issue is really all of that climbing!  Rather than climbing all over a mountain which can take a very long time and hard work, why not wait until Winter and ride to the top in a chair or a Gondola and ski down it instead?  Much easier and more fun!

There, I've said it!  There's no going back now.  I, Biff the Bear, love skiing -- almost as much as I love coffee, cocoa, chocolate,any combination of the above, pizza, beer, and lots of other yummy things including cookies, cake, pie, candy, and well, compared to all that, well.....skiing is a close second.

Many people (at least 2) have asked if I hibernate during the long Canadian Winters.  I tried that but my wrangler is always up making noise, and to be honest I an probably too full of coffee to ever get to sleep!  I love staying awake in Winter though to fully enjoy the following benefits:

  1. Hot Cocoa and sugary foods - and lots of them are required to keep you warm and keep you going while doing Winter Sports.  Here I am enjoying some snacks and cocoa which were part of my Winter Emergency Survival Pack!

    Snack time!
  2. Why would I want to miss any of the splendid Canadian Winter while being carried around in a climate-controlled portable cave?  In fact my wrangler just started carrying me around in a new safety cave! (although the mini-bar was full of Dora the Explorer band-aids, it was still a sweet ride!) 

    Cascades - Bear on Patrol _070
  3. I will will also let you in on a little secret.  I have learned that there is something about Canadian Winters that make female people all cuddly, which is way cool!  Who would want to be sleeping??

    Cascades - Bear on Patrol_002

    Good Morning!

So for those obvious reasons (and the fact that my wrangler is a member too) I thought that joining the Ski Patrol would be a good thing to do!

For those of you who follow my posts, you will be relieved to know that I passed my ski patrol exams from the Fall!  

Stay tuned for a few more posts about my ski season on the patrol.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Back from the Holidays!

 I'm Very Very Busy!  

We've all been there, that Very Very Busy Time leading up to the Holidays.  Those 10 minutes you've left yourself to organize everything, buy all your gifts online and get everything ready for the Perfect Holiday?

Did last year's solidly determined "This will NEVER happen again.  This year I'm going to be WAYS more organized and get everything done in August" elude you too?

How to Be "Busy" at Work Right Before the Holidays in 5 easy Steps:

  1. This one is EASY!  DO NOTHING!  STOP IT!  You're doing Stuff, I can tell!  Stop right now, just sit back and relax, and do nothing.  Just sit there and read, or Facebook, just hang out, make and drink lots of coffee.  That's it!  Make and drink lots of coffee!  Isn't this Easy?Coffee break!
  2. Tell everyone that you are very very busy! 

    This one sounds funny but bear with me.  People tend to believe everything they hear.  What better way to have them believe that you are very very busy than to just tell them that!  Here, with the benefit of modern office technology, I can tell thousands of people that I am very very busy in a single day! 
  3. Write your Holiday Gift List.  This is especially well-suited to using up a day at the office!  Here you can get very very busy indeed!  I asked for pretty much everything in the Toy Section of the Sears Catalog.  This had to be typed, and then printed.  For this job I found the biggest, fastest, laser printer in the building and then told everyone that I needed it because I had a "Special Report" to do.  Letter to Santa.... check!Make sure to send a copy to that gift-giving guy Santa, and send it Priority Post because there isn't much time!
  4. Sign up for "Various Other Duties" that you think will be a good chance to show off your people, organizational, or management skills. 
    More coffee please!
    Make sure once you have signed up for the "Various Other Duty" that you form a committee, and have many coffee meetings!    In my case I signed up for the Fridge Cleaning for the week.  We had a great committee meeting, and then it was time to clean the fridge! 
    What a wonderful job!  All that food in there.  So much food, and all kinds of different food.  There was something for everyone!  I did get a tummy ache in the afternoon though.  Who knew Yogurt could go bad? 
  5. Wait around for that "Very Important Report" that Someone else is working on that is mission-critical for you to move forward with your own show-stopping project.  In this case, it was waiting for Santa to reply to my 300 page letter!  Waiting for Santa's reply