Monthly Archives: November 2015

Summit; the movie.

A few weeks ago I saw a movie called Summit. The movie describes two teams of climbers trying to climb the K2 mountain at the same time. When this happened, many people died in one of the worse tragedies that ever happened in the climbing world.

I liked the movie as I probably understood it better than most people, having read many such accounts over the years. I felt that at times it was too technical and that often it was hard to recognize the major actors. I still felt that the acting was very good.

The big difference was the philosophy of each team; one team emphasized that if one was not well prepared then they would not be accommodated while the other would go beyond what was possible to have their customers reach the summit, even if they lacked experience and training. One team went with little oxygen while the other had it in spades. In the end, it came down to luck or lack of it. Some survived the storm out of luck and perhaps grit while others had less luck and perhaps less grit. It does not help of course if the guy who is above you slides down and plows through the rest of the climbers.

In then end, despite paying a lot of money, many died simply because they were in the wrong area at the wrong time. Sure, some were not as well prepared but both leaders of the expeditions died. Both had plenty of experience. But when the Gods are against you, you lose.
Sometimes in life your luck will run out, and despite being well prepared, you will have to swallow the bitter pill. In other words, if your time is up, it is up. Neither money nor experience can save you. Experience and good preparation can only go so far.

In life, a lot of people who think that they are good are probably merely lucky, the happy recipient of the Gods smiling down on them. Conversely, some people who fail are merely unlucky, not being there at the right time or the right moment. In the memorable phrase of one of my ex co-workers, “Life’s a bitch!”.

I want to end with this;

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.

From Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville.


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How do you define success?

What is success to you? That is an important question. Not knowing the answer to this question could mean that you could be a success and yet feel like a failure. Often people expect so much that in the end they cannot be a success according to these artificially high standards that are self-imposed.

Of course, we are all different and how we define success is very much influenced by how we live our lives and the decisions that we make. Still, too many people define success in a very rigid way and simply incur failure for no good reason. I am not suggesting that one should put the bar so low that just being alive would be considered a success. No, I am suggesting that we should be realists in pursuit of that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes we must be satisfied with what has been achieved, noting that if others have been more successful than us, others have fallen short.

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The inhumanity of Man.

Once again Man’s thuggish instincts have reared their ugly head. In the middle of a civilized country a group of terrorists inflicted maximum pain on innocent civilians. Paris is reeling from the shock, and so are all civilized people all over the world.

The details of the attack are still sketchy, but we know that at least 7 or 8
terrorists struck several Parisian targets. At least some of the terrorists had the good sense of killing themselves. That is several less of them. At last count more than 129 people have been killed, and more than 300 have been injured. Words fail to express the sorrow and pain that ordinary citizens feel all over the world. Make no mistake, one day it could be us, in any city of this planet.

Of course there was a failure of intelligence, and that is the scary part. If we
did not know it, we know it now; it is impossible to be secure in one’s country at 100%. Because we live in a liberal democracy, at least in Canada, one must expect that opponents of freedom and democracy can and will find loopholes. That is unavoidable. The right balance between freedom and a police state must be found. I prefer to err on the side of freedom, and accept more risk in my day to day living.

Vive la France!


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No to dirty oil.

The president has finally decided; no to the Keystone XL pipeline that was supposed to bring the oil from the tar sands to the United States. It was a predictable decision on the part of the president. Oil has been cheap and plentiful for several years now. The United States is now a net exporter of oil, a reversal from several years back. The necessity for this pipeline was simply not there. The real nail in the coffin was the approaching climate change conference coming up in December in Paris, France. How could an American president go to that conference and say with a straight face that he intends to combat climate change and yet say yes to a pipeline that would bring dirty oil from Alberta. It simply would not make sense.

For Canada and the new government, this decision was a foregone conclusion. The new government knew that. What hurts Canada is the label “dirty oil” that the President stuck on the tar sands. It was a needless prick in the soft underbelly of the oil industry which is right now suffering from very low prices. In Alberta thousands of workers have been laid off due to this glut in oil on the market as well as weak demand. To be labelled as well as “dirty oil” is compounding the problem.

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The meat and cancer scare.

The big news this week that struck my imagination was of course the meat and cancer association. As usual, the media jumped on this as if this was a slam dunk, that we must stop eating all meats or face getting cancer. Of course it is not as simple as this.

First, the risk of getting cancer from eating meat is still low, even for a strong meat eater. Smoking and lack of exercise are all much more serious cancer causing agents than eating 50 grams of meat everyday. However, if one adds all of them together, than eating meats on a regular basis could be the tipping point.

Full disclosure from me here; I rarely eat meat, and usually it would be chicken. If I go to the big yellow arches I usually eat the fish sandwiches. As I grew older I ate less and less meat, and I suspect that something like that probably occurs to a lot of people who want to lead a healthy lifestyle. This report about meat will simply comfort those who for years have shied away from meats, and will no doubt give more urgency to those sitting on the fence. For the others, the real carnivores, this report will not change their eating habits. I suspect that these people are the same that smoke and drink to excess. It is probably the same crowd that does not exercise and probably does not even believe in putting their seat-belts on. In short, some people will never change their destructive habits. We reap what we sow.

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