Atlas Coal Mine

Ford Canada was cool enough to let us review a 2014 Ford Escape for a week.  Driving it around Saskatoon was cool enough but what better thing to do with a Ford Escape than take a road trip.  We decided to go to Drumheller and see the Atlas Coal Mine.  Below is the only remaining coal tipple in Canada.

 

The coal tipple at The Atlas Coal Mine

Before taking the tour of the facility, we walked around and found this 80 year old wooden truss bridge near the mine site.  As you can see, the bridge is rotting, condemned, dangerous, and actually has rattlesnakes living in it.  Of course we wandered across and took some photos.  None of us fell through or were bit.  There is always next time.Jordon Cooper taking a photo on the wooden truss bridge near East Coulee and Atlas Coal Mine

Back in the Atlas Coal Mine, I wandered in on this photo shoot.  I snapped a couple of photos myself.

A model shoot at the Atlas Coal Mine

This is called the walk from hell.  Each day the miners had to walk up 191 steep stairs in all kinds of weather conditions.  It is also where Jordon tore his left quad.  This group was able to climb down, our group had to walk up the steps.

The Walk from Hell at the Atlas Coal Mine

This is our guide.  Like all of the staff at the Atlas Coal Mine, she was funny, engaging, and knew her stuff.

Our guide at the Atlas Coal Mine

The photos were taken with my Olympus PEN camera but I had the amazing 45mm f1.8 lens on it.  This tiny prime lens was amazing in low light and inside the many buildings that make up the Atlas Coal Mine site.  If you are looking for a great travel camera, this is it.   Thanks to Don’s Photo in Saskatoon for letting me try out such an amazing lens for a day.

In case you are looking for more Atlas Coal Mine photos, my photoset is here.

David Feherty: The Golf Channel’s Wild Man

David Ferherty & Tiger Woods out on the golf course

David Feherty is a bipolar recovering alcoholic and former touring golf pro who also happens to be one of the best interviewers on TV.

When Feherty debuted on the Golf Channel, did you purposely decide to be vulnerable and talk so openly about yourself?

None of it is planned. Like when Jack Nicklaus was on. He was talking about his father. My father has Alzheimer’s now, and I don’t know what to do for my mother, or how to approach my father. So I asked Jack for advice. He said, “Just love him. Just be there for him.” And it was a powerful moment. I’m at an advantage – all of my skeletons are out of the closet. I’m as fucked up as they come. I have to take 13 pills a day to be this normal.

What did you learn from your years of alcoholism?

It didn’t work for me when I was drinking. Nobody knew I had a drinking problem, until I showed up one day and was sober. A good drunk is worse than a bad drunk, because it’s going to kill you and people aren’t even going to notice. When I wrote my first book, a novel, I was hammered. I wrote it in a whiskey-induced coma. At one point I set my swimming pool on fire. Shot a tree in half in the backyard. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to write once I sobered up – that that’s where creativity came from. But if I hadn’t gone through that, I don’t think I’d have the viewpoint I have today. Now nothing matters other than the time I have left. I don’t live one day at a time – I live 20 minutes at a time. It drives my wife Anita crazy because I can’t think of what I’m doing tomorrow.

What turned you around?

The feeling I was failing my wife and daughter. Eight years ago, when she was seven, my daughter climbed on top of me and put her forehead on mine. I was on a La-Z-Boy with a bottle of Bushmills on the table beside me. I was half-man, half-mattress. And she’s smiling and says, “Dad, you need another bottle.” And I sent her to get one. Because I wasn’t where I needed to be yet. I’ll never forget her saying that to me, and it was part of the turning point.

He speaks about his depression in a 2013 interview

There’s no mystery to Feherty’s behavior. Six years ago, in a widely read Golf Magazine profile, the retired tour pro admitted to years of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse — a dance with clinical depression that had him drinking more than two bottles of Irish whiskey per day. The underlying diagnosis is Bipolar I disorder, a form of manic-depressive illness. Hypomanic symptoms consistent with Bipolar I include “inflated self-esteem, flight of ideas, distractibility, and decreased need for sleep” — which pretty much describes Feherty’s forgetfulness, his rants, and his four-in-the-morning trips to the garage to cut rifle-barrel threads on a lathe.

“Everybody’s brain chemistry is different,” says Feherty, freely conceding that his resembles the formula for Sara Lee lemon-meringue pie. Along with a daily regimen of antidepressants and mood-stabilizers he takes “an enormous dose” of amphetamines. (“They make other people hyper, but they make me relaxed.”) He wears his pharmaceutical leash grudgingly, but it’s way better than the despondency that engulfs him if he doesn’t take his meds.

“And occasionally I don’t,” he admits. “I have the brilliant idea that I’m all right now, that I’m no longer depressed.”

Asked to describe his depressive episodes, he stares at his hands. “I feel a hollowness inside that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”

There’s no punch line. No kicker. That’s unusual for Feherty, who has been making people laugh since he assumed the “class jester” role at his school in Bangor, N.I., a Belfast exurb. Bangor is where he began, as he puts it, “playing the part of me.”

Here, for instance, is how Feherty, playing “Feherty,” talks about his alcoholism:

I would go for my annual physical once every three years [arched eyebrows] and my numbers were all right, until the last one. My doctor was looking at the chart, and he said, “How much are you drinking?” And I thought, Oh god [slumped shoulders], here we go. I said, “Well, you know, one and a half, two and a half bottles a day.” He said, “Of wine?” And I said, “No, Irish whiskey.” The doctor said, “My god [mouth agape], these numbers should be in Cooperstown! They’re Mickey Mantle’s! Have you ever thought about getting help?” And I said, “No! [bewildered look] I can drink it all by myself!”

You can’t help but laugh. But if you’re Feherty, you’re wondering what kind of damage the whiskey and pills did to your ruminative organ. And you’re asking Anita why, in a country where Debbie Does Dallas can be overnighted with a single click of the mouse, there’s a two-month wait to get a brain scan.

Make sure you watch this amazing interview with Tom Watson where Watson talks about his own addiction and the intervention that he held that saved David Feherty’s marriage and life.

Drug submarine is found in Guyana

So down in Guyana

Narcotics Submarine Seized in Guyana

Authorities in Guyana have discovered a submarine they believe was going to be used to ferry drugs across the Atlantic.

The submarine is 20 metres long and powered by a diesel engine, anti-narcotics unit director James Singh said Friday.

“It is the first time we have discovered a submarine on the Atlantic side and this is startling,” he said. “This seems to be a huge operation by groups which are setting up shop here.”
The submarine was found in Guyana’s northwest coastal Waini Region near the Venezuelan border. Singh said he believes it could have been headed to Europe or Africa. No one has been arrested.

Off to Winnipeg

Air Canada Jazz CRJ200 refueling

I got onto one of these today (an Air Canada Jazz CRJ-200) and flew to Winnipeg where I will be taking some training for Safeway as a part of their transition to being owned by Sobey’s.  The plane isn’t that large but the flight isn’t that long.

The last time I flew into Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, I was on a flight from Toronto with my family that was part our journey north from Georgetown, Guyana in 1975.  Of course that airport is long gone (although Bryan Scott has some great photos of it).

The only bad part of the trip is that while we are in a nice hotel near the airport, I won’t have time to get down to The Forks for some Dahl Puri.  That’s on my list for next time.

Animal Care at SeaWorld

Animal care at SeaWorld

The incredibly sad and bizarre tales that staff share from their experiences in animal care at SeaWorld

I was on night watch when Nootka had a stillborn. The supervisors determined that they had to take the baby immediately. I was told it was for Nootka’s health and safety. Nootka was in the back pool, which is long and rectangular. They dropped a net the width and depth of the pool, and I saw her push the baby over the top of the net after carrying it around for a while. As she pushed the baby around, they were trying to get it from her—not just one guy, a swarm. 

I asked, “Please, can’t she just have a minute?” She was vocalizing and distressed. There was a shallows on the perimeter of the pool. Most of the guys were in the shallows, using nets and poles to get the calf close enough so they could grab it. I remember Nootka did get the calf back a few times, and in the end it was a very fast heave to get it out of the pool. Nootka was panicked. It was gut-wrenching to watch. 

She about killed a couple of staff. She was mad. But they took the calf, and she did everything she could to get it back. There was no honor or care. There was nothing. They just pulled the calf and threw it in the back of a truck. And they put Nootka in the med pool [a small side pool with a floor that can be raised], and that’s where she stayed the entire night. I’ll never forget it. She cried and cried for her calf.