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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Busy Beavers

They’re the Donald Trumps of Beaver world; as in real estate development- they don’t yet have their own celebrity apprentice shows. Several beaver families have built one of the largest beaver dams ever, in northern Canada, large enough to be visible from space.

Here’s your average, small beaver dam:

Here’s the massively huge beaver dam, photo courtesy of Wood Buffalo National Park:

Here’s the website that started it all using Google Earth to locate the Beaver dam some three years ago, along with some graphics that show the lay-out of the place:

Interesting Beaver Dam-Building Facts

– This dam, located on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, Canada is 850 meters long or 2,788 feet- more than nine football fields in length. Large beaver dams usually reach about 1,200 feet, so this really is a colossus.

– Biologists think this beaver dam is so large that construction probably began as long as 20 years ago.

– Beavers are quite swift in the water but not so agile on land and they build these dams so that they are sort of surrounded by moats. This way they can maneuver really well near their homes to escape nasty predators (coyotes and bears)- plus –the water makes it easier for them to literally transport the trees they’re cutting down, floating them in the water instead of having to drag them around on land.

– This particular beaver dam, as you can see from the illustration above contains not one, but two lodges- the actual domiciles for the furry little guys.

– Unlike Donald Trump’s high-rises on the West Side of Manhattan, Beaver dams are actually good for the environment. They slow the flow of water which leads to less drought and flooding.

– When plant matter dies in water it creates peat which is a great way of storing carbon dioxide.

Fictional Interview with the Head Beaver

Despite the fact this massive beaver dam is in a remote and largely inaccessible area, Garciamedialife was able to contact them via satellite phone earlier today. We talked with the leader of one of the three families that have built this structure, Alfonso Ouelette.

Q: So do you have, like, amenities in your lodges?

A: You mean, besides satellite phones? Heh heh. Well, yes, we have flat screen TV’s. No cable, of course, so we use the DISH network.

Q: What do beavers watch? Sports? Movies?

A: We like Katie Couric a lot. And Animal Planet, of course.

Q: Why Katie Couric?

A: Well, she looks a little like us, certainly more than Diane Sawyer or Brian Williams.

Q: How did this thing get so large?

A: It’s less complicated than you think. We’re way up here in northern Canada and, frankly, there’s not a lot to do.

Q: Do you know your home can be seen from space?

A: Oh, yeah, we wave at the satellites all the time.

Q: With your tails?

At this point, we were cut off, hopefully not because he thought I asked a condescending question. Beavers are very sensitive about their tails.

My First Brush With Curling

February 25, 2010 1 comment

(Courtesy MCT)

I am really quite late to the curling frenzy that is sweeping the world right now. But seeking to catch up as quickly as possible, I watched my first match just minutes ago. It was a very tight contest between Sweden and Great Britain that went to 11 ends. Sweden was the eventual victor, delaying Keith Olbermann by 16 minutes for his 8pm start time on MSNBC.

I am sure Keith didn’t mind one bit because it was an absolute nail-biter. The arena was thick with tension as the Swedish skip pushed off confidently from the hack. The stone seemed to glide hesitantly at first but the sweeping work of the Swedish lead and second was simply superb. You could see by the looks on the faces of the British team that they would, regrettably, be on the receiving end of a rousing broom stacking later that night. As everyone knows, though the beer is free, it is only gratis because you lost the contest.

But I digress. The yellow stone was guided smartly toward the house and just when it seemed it would stop short, slipped ever so gingerly right to the edge of the button. Then just like that, Sweden had completed its stirring come-from-behind effort after having tied up the contest in the 10th end using a clever tick and emerged with their dramatic victory over the Brits to head to the semi-finals of the Olympic bonspiel.

I was so moved by my first extended curling-viewing experience that I immediately turned to the World Wide Web, hungry for more information. I found out curling originated in Scotland in the early 1600’s, the best stones are made of Ailsite granite and they go for $1,500.

I also found out that curling humor is, well, puckish. Here are two curling jokes, courtesy of Sportsjokecafe.com:

Manager phones the home of an employee and gets one of the children on the phone.

“Could I speak to your dad, please”

“My mom and dad are away at a curling bonspiel”

“Well when your dad gets home ask him to phone his boss at work, I need to know how long he’ll be away with his broken leg”

But, wait, there’s more (with apologies to my religious friends):

Is curling a biblical sport? Yes, replied Jesus: “Let he who is without spin cast the first stone.”

There are some things I already knew about curling. For some odd reason I have visited nearly every major city in Canada and have many Canadian friends. So what I know is certain about curling, is that going to a bonspiel (a tournament) is actually an excuse to get completely shit-faced. This totally explains why anyone would think the two jokes above come anywhere close to resembling humor, as it is traditionally defined.

The only other observation I would make after my intimate brush (get it, get it?) with curling is that, every now and again, it is fun to visit another planet.

Categories: Culture, Sports Tags: , , , ,

Olympic Fever Resulting in Headaches

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I like Vancouver. It’s a lovely place. I love Canadians. They are the nicest people ever. But I’m not sure they’re feeling like the Olympics are the best thing that’s happened to the city about now.

Having been in Atlanta for the 1996 summer games, I can attest to what a nightmare these things can become. I remember watching Jim Lampley at about 1:15 am, reporting that a bomb had just gone off at the Olympic Plaza next to the CNN Center and doing my duty as a journalist and head of CNNRadio at the time, getting in my car and driving literally 90 mph down the interstate and getting passed by cop cars rushing to the scene. I recall the eerie scene in downtown Atlanta that night as police helicopters hovered over the city with their floodlights while homeless people slept in the streets and bomb squads searched for more explosives.

Nothing that bad has happened in Vancouver but it certainly hasn’t been smooth going either. The nightmares began with the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili on the eve of the opening ceremonies during a practice run on a course the Canadians had bragged was the fastest ever built. An investigation found it was the luger’s fault and had nothing to do with the track. That led the Georgian President to make the point that he was pretty sure an athlete’s “mistake” is not supposed to result in death.

Less tragic but embarrassing events have since become commonplace in Vancouver. Here’s a list:

1) During the opening ceremonies, one of the four pillars supporting the Olympic torch failed to rise from the floor leaving a Canadian athlete with nothing to light.

2) Then there was the imprisonment of the torch as organizers put it behind an ugly wire fence in downtown Vancouver. They’ve since taken some steps to improve the view and make it a little more accessible to the public.

3) Bus drivers taking people to the venues have quit, complaining of long hours and lousy working conditions. Others have gotten lost and many of the buses have just broken down.

4) The speedskating finals were delayed Sunday and Monday due to malfunctioning Zamboni’s that left uneven ice surfaces. They finally had to truck one in from Calgary. Apparently, more delays at the skating venue today as well.

5) Cypress Mountain turned into a quagmire as warm weather first forced organizers to truck in snow and then when it rained, had to cancel 28,000 tickets when the spectator area became unsafe from the flooding slush.

There have been some nice moments in these Olympics. The Chinese couple that returned from retirement to win the Olympic gold that had eluded them in their long skating careers. Seth Wescott winning a dramatic victory in Snowboard Cross. Hannah Kearney winning the Mogul gold. Apolo Ohno with his silver in short-track speed skating as two Koreans took each other out at the last second. Lindsey Vonn winning the Alpine Skiing event on her bum leg after a two-week lay-off. As I write this, no one has actually seen her winning the gold but I read about it. Maybe I’ll watch it, though it’s kind of a bummer to know in advance what the result is going to be.

I must say, America does not seem exactly mesmerized. American Idol cleaned up last night. As for our Canadian friends- they’re learning that old lesson about being careful what you wish for.

Categories: Sports Tags: , , ,