Why Ride a Unicycle Anyway?

750_8617

Well to start, unicycles are just plain awesome.  Everyone rides a bike, so why not try something different?  Unicycles are cool, ’cause when people see you go by, positive thoughts come to mind, which lets them open up to you in a different way. Unicycles are often associated with circuses and clowns, so more often than not people will try and think of something clever to yell at you as you go by. Then you, as the unicyclist, have the fun job of trying to quickly think of something clever to say back. This happens innumerable times a day when riding around in town. I’ve had conversations with tons of people I would never have met had they not stopped me as I rode past to ask about the unicycle.

It’s also lots of fun when you start talking with someone and they realize that you’re just a regular guy, not some kind of super clown dude or something. That gives some people the courage to try the unicycle themselves.

Not only is it a fantastic tool for starting conversations and meeting people, but it’s also great exercise. Unicycling exercises much of your body, especially your core and legs, and it also teaches better balance skills as well.

My final point can be seen as either a disadvantage, or an advantage: while riding a unicycle, unlike a bike, you must be constantly ready for everything that comes your way. A bike can kind of just roll over stuff, while with a unicycle, one little bump can send you flying! Muscle memory helps a lot, but I still think unicycling requires a lot more conscious involvement. I have been riding before where I’m going super fast, unaware that a small change of terrain is coming up. I hit the bump or root or whatever, and since it’s too late to compensate for it, I go hurtling into the air, usually landing on my feet. But, as I said, this can be seen as good or bad. I like it ‘cause it makes for quite an interactive and exciting ride.

My goal is to try and get as many people as I can to shed a wheel or two and join the unicyclist movement.  #rideaunicycle!

Advertisements

Soaring

I recently had the chance to go flying in a glider.  A glider is an airplane without an engine, so it gets towed up by a powered plane.  The glider is released at the desired hight, and the glider pilot slowly descends back to the airport.  However, gliders actually are capable of climbing higher as well, using thermals and updrafts.  Thermals are pockets of rising hot air, which can carry a glider up.

Gliders are the sailboats of the sky, which is why they are sometimes referred to as sailplanes.  With no noise but the wind over the cockpit, it really is a beautiful experience.

The video above is some footage I took on my first glider flight.

 

Pancakes

Pancakes are for sure one of my favourite breakfast foods, especially when topped with fresh maple syrup! Pancakes are so good, but often leave us feeling sick afterwards because of all the sugar and flour. Here’s a recipe that will satisfy, and leaves us feeling good. I got the original idea from this recipe book, but have changed a few things around to fit my tastes.

You’ll need:

1 cup old fashioned or quick oats

1 cup (or about 4) eggs

1 cup cottage cheese

2-3 tsp baking powder

generous dash of vanilla

Using a blender, grind together the oats and baking powder until powdery. Dump that into a bowl, and the blend the cottage cheese. Use a spatula to scoop the cottage cheese into the bowl as well, then blend the eggs and vanilla. Mix all ingredients together well with a whisk, and you have your batter.

This pancake mix is quite thick, so you can mix in some milk to thin it out. Cook on a greased griddle or pan as you usually would.

This recipe makes enough pancakes for about 2-3 people, but I often multiply it up to 6 times depending on how many people are eating.  Start by making a regular batch to get a feel for how much you get, then go on to experiment around.

Enjoy, and feel good!

Water Boiling Over the Fire

Bottle Boiling

You’re lost in the middle of nowhere. You have a source of water but no suitable container with which to boil it in. You need to purify your water, but how? Here are a couple cool alternative water boiling techniques that actually work!

#1. Plastic Bottle Method:

If you’re in a situation where you have to boil water and don’t have a metal container to boil it in, this is a great option. Since plastic water bottles are common even as litter on the side of many trails, there’s a good chance you might be able to find one on the ground if you don’t have one with you. Simply fill the bottle with water, take the lid of, and suspend it above the fire. It’s crazy, but it does work. It won’t take long to boil, then let it simmer for about 10 minutes if you’re trying to purify it. As long as water is touching the plastic on the inside it won’t melt. Some plastics release chemicals faster when heated, so this method isn’t recommended for regular use unless you need to. Try it out at your next campfire, and have fun!

#2. Heated Rock Method:

Start by finding 10-20 dry stones that will fit in your water vessel. I say dry, because if you choose rocks from a riverbed or wet area, the rocks may have absorbed water, which, when heated could result in an explosion (which you don’t want). Put all the stones in the centre of your fire, and maintain the fire for about 30 minutes with the rocks inside it. After this time, take a couple of sticks to use as tongs, and very carefully take the rocks out of the fire, blow off the ashes, and place in your water. Do this with all your stones, and pretty soon your water should be boiling. KEEP YOUR TOES AND FINGERS AWAY FROM THE ROCKS! These rocks when heated like this can be over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (about 530 degrees Celsius)! Using this method you can boil water in many different types of containers that can’t be put over a fire, such as wood.  Here’s a great video on how to correctly do the heated rock technique.

Have fun trying out both of these out, but remember to be careful, because you’re dealing with very hot stuff!

Diorama

jungle stripWhat is a diorama? I didn’t know until a few weeks ago when we were visiting some friends and I had the opportunity to make my own. A diorama is basically a three dimensional model of a landscape, which can include trees, rocks, hills, sand, water, roads, people, cars, etc…

Our friends had recently learned how to make them, and while we were visiting they showed us how. I’ll give you a quick description of how I made mine, and then you can research more detailed instructions elsewhere.

I started by taking a thin sheet of plywood, and drawing out where the hills and elevations would be (a bit like the way a topo map looks). I then cut out different layers for the hills out of styrofoam, and used toothpicks and glue to fasten them on to the base to form mountains. You can get large quantities of hard foam inexpensively from a hardware store.

The next step was to tightly cover the whole landscape (except rocks and cliffs) in burlap. I used a glue gun and my fingers to press it into corners and attach it. When the hot glue was dry, I painted the whole thing in a generous coat of white glue.

Once that glue dried, I painted it. I did grey on rocky areas, and brown on the forest floor and ground. Then I sprinkled ‘grass’ dust on the areas where grass would grow. This powder gives the impression of grass or moss on a miniature landscape. I sprayed that with hairspray, which helps stick everything down to the burlap.

After that I took tree fluff and rocks and glued them to make a jungle/forest landscape, as I was making a missionary jungle airstrip, so I had mountains on either side, with a flattish grassy area running down the centre.

After all the finishing touches, I sprayed again with hairspray (which has many more uses other than just on hair, including making a mini compact flamethrower).

sideways
Note the painted burlap and hard foam visible in this shot from the side

That’s it! You can research more detailed instructions online, and search for pictures to inspire you. Remember, you can also save a lot of money by improvising cheap things instead of using the recommended modelling materials, for example using scent free kitty-litter instead of packaged rocks.

Here’s a few more pictures of my diorama.

Pilot
The view from the cockpit of an approaching bush plane.

We had fun making these together, and they all turned out pretty nice.  Below are some pictures of some of the dioramas that the others made.

 

The Legend of the Stuffy Box

Stuffy BoxFor my twelfth birthday several years ago, my Grandpa Ross (who was a scout with the 30th troop in Hamilton) gave me a small box full of many little treasures. When I opened the box I found inside a rolled up ‘scroll’ bound by a birthday ribbon tied in a bow. The Scroll

You could tell it was (supposed to look) old because of the (tea bag) stains and marks all over it ;) I opened up the scroll and inside I read the following:

The Legend Of The ‘Stuffy Box’

What is a ‘Stuffy Box?,’ more common folk might ask … it is the beginning of a long journey.

Every twelve year old boy should have a stuffy box.

What is the origin of the stuffy box? Well, it is a modern day legend, and let me tell you that legends are very difficult to begin. In fact, this may be the only labelled stuffy box known to mankind, so you are at the beginning, Dorian!

The term stuffy box comes from your Great Grandpa Lloyd. When your Grandpa, Ross, was a boy, he enjoyed rummaging through his Dad’s little boxes that could be found in our shed. They could contain almost anything …. Screws, bolts, springs, washers, pieces of electric cord, broken pieces of plastic from a curtain rod, or whatever.

The great thing about Great Grandpa Lloyd is that he had a lot of stuffy boxes … you could find several in the shed, a couple in his personal desk, some near his easel and paint, easily one in the washroom, and on and on it goes. He is the true founder of the stuffy box movement.

You are now ready to begin your stuffy box journey. Dorian. Do so with honour and pride!

There are things about a stuffy box you should know. First, it can never be made of new material. It must always come from a pre-existing purpose. In your case, this stuffy box was a pre-existing wine box. The lid had to be reversed and many coats of Varathane were applied by your Grandma. Special wood letters were applied to make ownership unmistakable.

Second, the wise care of a stuffy box includes having one place to keep it where it never moves.

Third, it’s preferred if it gets scuffed and chaffed a bit. You want it to look rough and rustic. It’s a working man’s treasure box … in it you can keep anything you want … a favourite screw driver, coins, stamps, nuts and bolts, candy, a pocket knife, whatever. Odd stuff.

It’s not really a secret box … that is the stuff of another legend. It is more a place to put stuff when you don’t know where to put stuff.

Every few years it’s a good idea to add another stuffy box to your collection. It doesn’t have to look the same, or even be labeled … it just needs to be a good container for stuff. Make the year ahead be full of good stuff, Dorian. Collect good stuff. Do good stuff.

Love,

Grandpa Ross.

I have shared this letter with you so that you can begin your own stuffy box journey.  Please ‘Do so, with honour and pride!’

Lost on a Mountain in Maine

mountain-in-maine.jpeg

Here are a couple reflections on the book Lost on a Mountain in Main.

Twelve year old Donn Fendler becomes lost on Maine’s highest peak, Mount Kathadin. Donn spends the next nine days trapped alone in a deadly, miserable wilderness with an abundance of cold, rain, bugs, sharp rocks, and lethal precipices.

Throughout the adventure, despite great pain, fatigue, fear, and hunger, Donn shows extraordinary courage and a will to live.

The reader joins Donn in his fight to survive the brutal wilderness as he spends more than a week alone, with no more than the clothes on his back.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which you can buy here:

“… I had come back to the same sign. For a second I was stunned. I just stood there looking at it. I knew now, for sure, that I was lost. I was running in a circle. I didn’t know what to do, so I stumbled around looking for other marks, on that same trail. I guess I went a long way over rocks and over pucker bush and sometimes under it too, searching and hunting for another trail marker. I didn’t find any, but I kept going down. I remember that. After a while, I came to a place where there was a lot of gravel, and boy, was it slippery! That place was dangerous, for a slip might mean a bad fall – maybe a hundred feet or more. I slowed down. I could imagine myself lying there, in the cold and dark, with a sprained ankle. Meanwhile the rocks were getting bigger and bigger…”