Archive for the ‘Sports and Leisure’ Category

Yesterday was a big sports day

Monday, February 4th, 2008

The African Cup of Nations 2008 was on yesterday, so Gerard and Michel gave the TV a work-out.

Oh, and starting around supper-time I watched a couple of quarters of a different kind of football. I cheered for the Patriots because I think a Boston accent sounds cooler than a New York accent. I enjoyed Tom Petty’s halftime show. I’m told that I should have stuck around for the 4th quarter, when there was actually some scoring.

Fat boat

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Eco-boat powered by human fat attempts round the world speed record

The fastest eco boat on the planet will attempt to break the round the world speed record using fuel made from human fat….

Fat boat
… for the full article click on the headline above (my apologies for all the sidebar celebrity trash at this tabloid website).

When I first heard about this muscle-boat that was going to try setting a new round-the-globe speed record, the headline about it being fuelled with human fat caught my attention.

Then I realized it’s just an attention-getting gimmick. Actually the biodiesel from human fat will power them about 8 nautical miles (15 km). The remaining 23,991 nautical miles they’ll be running on biodiesel from more conventional sources.

The article states that the boat has a “net zero carbon footprint”, which I take with several large grains of salt. I’ve seen varying figures on the environmental cost of producing biodiesel, but this Wikipedia article states that biodiesel has net life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions of 60% that of petroleum-based diesel.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m totally anti-muscle-boat. In fact I’m sure that riding that monster would be a blast. It just seems to me that they’re over-playing the “eco” bit. If they really wanted to burn fat, kayaking would have been a more earth-friendly option.

A prophet among us

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Pastor Randall has clearly been given the gift of prophesy, having correctly predicted, from the pulpit, the outcomes of all four CFL post-season games thus far.

Read the prophetic word here.

I have faith that his greatest prophesy will also come to pass this Sunday.


Sunday, November 18th, 2007

The experts were calling the 2nd place Saskatchewan Roughriders the underdogs going into today’s Western Final against the 1st place B.C. Lions. I can’t say they won in convincing style, with a lot (most?) of their points coming from turn-overs. However the final score of 26-17 in favour of the ‘Riders is what matters.

The big one will be next Sunday, when the ‘Riders will play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the coveted Grey Cup. The ‘Riders had a slightly better regular season this year. Is the difference between a 12 win – 6 loss season versus a 10 win – 7 loss – 1 tie season enough to call the Bombers underdogs?

Flattened fauna

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Today while out walking I saw two dead muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus), victims of P.A.’s vehicular traffic. That makes four of the water-loving rodents that I’ve seen on city streets this this summer. In 19 years of living in Prince Albert, I don’t recall seeing a muskrat within city limits until this year. What would make the muskrats leave their natural habitat to go wandering the mean streets? From my rudimentary knowledge of the species, I would expect them to be on the move when their sloughs dry up. However we’ve had an unusually wet year locally, and the sloughs are at or above normal levelsl, so I doubt that’s the reason. Maybe the population is just unusually high this year and some members are being driven out of their communities? I suspect the fact that trapping is out of favour (and fur prices are low), combined with lack of natural predators, may have something to do with it. On the other hand, maybe there have been as many in previous years and I just haven’t noticed.

So many questions, and of such importance.

The above is a sample of the thoughts meandering through my mind on today’s walk. And what a glorious day for a walk it was, after all those cold, wet weeks..

It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t see any living wildlife.

Wine Juice

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Every September for the last several years, some friends and I have pooled an order for fresh grape juice for winemaking. This isn’t the “sterile must” that some stores sell, i.e. juice that can be kept on the shelf for several months. This is fresh juice that was crushed and pressed in California within the last few days, and transported to Amico’s Winemaking of Saskatoon in a refrigerated truck. Today I made the run into Saskatoon, and picked up 16 pails of juice. I have the following in my basement:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon (Specific Gravity is 1.098)
  • Syrah (SG 1.096)
  • Merlot (SG 1.098)
  • Chardonnay (SG 1.092)
  • Riesling (SG 1.092)

When last checked, the temperature of all pails had warmed up to 13 or 14 C. That’s still a bit chilly for yeast, I’ll wait until it’s around 15 C to avoid shocking the yeast.

I’ll use Lalvin RC212 yeast for the reds, and K1-V1116 yeast for the whites. Apparently a lot of winemakers using fresh refrigerated juice don’t add any yeast, since the naturally occurring yeasts from the grape skins will start a fermentation. However I prefer using the commercial yeasts to ensure a full fermentation with consistent results.

Winemaking with fresh juice is easier than making fruit wine from scratch, but there is more risk than using a “kit”. I have generally been pleased with the results in previous years.

Combatting NDD

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Seeking a cure for Nature Deficit Disorder along the Rotary Trail in Prince Albert.

Prince Albert's Rotary Trail 2007-08-26

Nature Deficit Disorder

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

I spent the first 14 years of my life on a small farm in Saskatchewan’s Boreal Transition Ecoregion. Our nearest neighbours lived more than a mile away, and we didn’t have a TV.  What we did have a lot of was nature, since more than half of our farm had never been cleared for agriculture.  A lot of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book, but I also spent a lot of time out in the “bush”.

It concerns me that my children haven’t had the same oppotunities to connect with Creation that I did as a child.

Given that concern, this news article caught my eye…

Kids face ‘nature deficit disorder’ given trend toward staying indoors: experts


TORONTO (CP) – The “vague and powerful fears” parents harbour about giving their children free reign to frolic outdoors means a whole generation of young ones are facing a “nature deficit disorder,” say experts and observers.

“The whole notion of free, unorganized play is going by the wayside,” said Joe Doiron, senior policy analyst with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s healthy living unit.

There is a “disturbing trend” that shows children are involved in mostly indoor organized activities, Doiron said. 

“What this trend suggests is that we’re ignoring opportunities for our kids to be involved in unorganized, free play,” he said.

Nathan Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the need for structure in people’s lives is making nature an increasingly “programmed experience.”


Read the entire article here.  I think it raises some very important issues about a generation of kids who are out of touch with Creation.

Riders game blackout lifted

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

There are people living in Prince Albert who buy season tickets and attend every home game of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. However most fans in P.A. consider the 4-hour drive to Regina and another 4 hours back, and settle instead for listening to Rider home games on the radio while grumbling about the blackout policy. According to a statement on the Edmonton Eskimos website:

The standard CFL blackout policy is as follows:
The blackout pattern for CFL games is 56 km radius from the stadium for cable television and 120 kms for conventional (CBC). There is one exception to this rule. The Province of Saskatchewan is subject to full provincial blackouts.

I guess I understand the exception for Saskatchewan, after all they aren’t the Regina Roughriders. However it is an annoyance for those of us living almost 400 km away.

Actually attending a game in person is a rare treat for me, the last time being in 2005 when some men from Gateway Covenant Church had a road trip.

With the B.C. Lions game last night ending in a tie, the Riders could pull into 1st place with a win against the Eskimos tonight. I was all set to watch the game online on, putting up with the poor video quality, so (finally getting to the point of this post) I was happy to read that the game has sold out, and the blackout has been lifted. Since CBC is televising this game, guess where I’ll be at 8:00 tonight.

UPDATE: Well what a roller-coaster that was.  The Riders now have sole possession of 1st  place in the CFL.

Winemaking for fun … and profit?

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

I made my first batch of homemade wine while living in Edmonton in 1986, when my former U of A forestry classmate and then workmate Don Edwards mentored me in the art and science of oenology (OK, that term is pretentious, so call me a winemaker, not an oenologist). Our Chokecherry 1986 wine was quite nice, enough to encourage me to stay with the hobby. Since then I have made various fruit wines, kit wines (from the cheap 4-week concentrates to the premium mostly-juice kits), and wine from pure fresh refrigerated grape juice, while never progressing to the pressing of my own grapes (or getting my kids to stomp them).

Although my tastes do lean toward the red wines made from pure juice, I still enjoy the challenge of making a fruit wine, despite the highly variable results. One of the wines that I am most proud of was a raspberry wine that I made several years ago.

Well last year my friend Will, who with his wife Genevieve recently started up a U-Pick operation, asked if I’d be interested in making a couple of batches of wine on a shared basis, i.e. he provides the fruit, I make the wine, and we split the product. I started his Raspberry 2006 late last summer, and bottled it late this spring. I also have a batch of a fruit I’d never heard of, a Japanese edible honeysuckle that he calls Hascap, aging in the carboy. The Raspberry 2006 must have passed inspection, because he’s asked me to make a couple more batches from this year’s fruit.

Now here’s the twist. Will has also floated the idea that he’d eventually like to get a licence to sell homemade wine from his U-Pick, but not having the time or interest for making wine, he’s interested in some form of partnership with me as his winemaker. I enjoy winemaking as a hobby, but the thought of making wine for sale has never crossed my mind. Besides having a full time job, I have a busy family, not to speak of a blog, so I’m going to have to think long and hard about this. Probably the biggest question for me is whether winemaking would be less enjoyable if it were no longer just a hobby. Another is the fact that although I’ve probably done more reading on the craft than most hobby winemakers do, I don’t have any formal training, and I don’t consider myself an expert.

Meanwhile, for this year I’ll enjoy making a couple of batches of raspberry (red and golden) wine on a shared basis with Will, and there’s lots of time to consider taking it to another level.