Whispering pines, rustling palms

Pine trees whisper, palm trees rustle

Palm trees rustle, pine trees whisper

I was sitting with a woman I was “sort of” seeing at the time. There was a breeze blowing. The palm trees surrounding the oasis were making those sounds that they make when the wind blows.

“Whispering,” I said to her, thinking of an old motel that I was familiar with.

“Palm trees don’t whisper. They rustle,” she replied.

She was right, of course, and I didn’t argue with her. But, some weeks later, in the dark, while in bed, she tried to shove a knife into me. More than once. I didn’t take it personally, but I left town in a hurry and didn’t look back.

Who’d have thought that whispering pines and rustling palms would have had such an effect?

Or, perhaps it was the other woman I was seeing who worked in the same bar. They hated each other’s guts, but obviously they still talked.

Women — can’t live with ’em, and can’t live without ’em.

Men — stupid.

Anyway, that’s the motel I was thinking about when I blurted out the whispering palms in obvious error. It’s closed now, of course, and has been for a very long time.

Ghosts from a past life

You know you’re getting old when some of the equipment you used to fly in another life is being prepared for a permanent aviation museum display.

I’m actually quite thrilled to have played a small part in helping to mature helicopter aviation in Canada.

A Bell Helicopters model 47

An early Model 47 Bell Helicopter

During year two of my aviation career, I assisted in the overhaul and rebuild of this aircraft with two engineers, Gerry O. and John K. Upon completion of the overhaul, I did the test flights and associated engine break-in, and shortly thereafter I flew the helicopter to the east coast and onto a ferry to take her to Newfoundland.

I spent a grand three months touring the island on a forestry contract that never involved all that much flying for the forestry department. All the same, it was a marvellous adventure for a young man at the start of his aviation career, and one that I will never forget.

Stifling speed demons the easy way

Isnt there supposed to be more than five highway markers beyond this sign?

Isn't there supposed to be more than five equal distance markers beyond this sign?

(Updated below)

I’ve passed these signs a number of times now on the TransCanada highway in Northwestern Ontario. The first time, I was mildly impressed, since the sign was out in the middle of nowhere. At the time, I thought it a rather expensive way of controlling speeders, given the cost of aircraft flight time.

The second time I passed a similar sign, I counted the markers. There are only five — yes, that’s right, five! — daubs of orange paint that proceed beyond each one of these signs. Somehow, I find it hard to imagine that there will ever be an aircraft overhead.

Yes, I know, it only takes two marks, a stopwatch and a cruiser to catch a speeder via an aircraft, but still…

Ontario has this crazy “stunt driving” legislation, wherein all that’s required to seize a vehicle, take a driver’s license for seven days and haul the vehicle off to an impound lot is a police officer’s word that the driver was “driving stunted”.

Of course, one does get one’s day in court, but by then, guilty or innocent, the impound costs amount to several thousands of dollars, and the police are laughing up their collective sleeves at the innocent who still has to pay the costs.

Here’s a good one for you: a motorcyclist was proceeding down the curb lane past an extremely long lineup of vehicles. Obviously, motorcycles are capable of doing that to get around traffic jams. Even though the rider was proceeding safely well under the speed limit, police charged him with stunt driving. When it finally got to trial, the judge threw out the charge, but the driver was still out the thousands of dollars spent to re-claim his motorcycle from the impound lot.

It’s much easier to claim a speeder was “stunt driving” than to actually go out and do some speed enforcement with a cruiser and an actual police officer. After all, the stunt driving charge immediately nets a vehicle, a driver’s license, and a driver. A speeding ticket nets, at best, a couple of points and a fine that the speeder can mail in.

And if you’re not speeding, but rather driving sensibly to avoid delay, what better excuse for rounding up people than a trumped-up charge of stunt driving?

Update August 15, 2009: Here’s a link to a little justice that comes around every once in a while, just to bite police officers and others in the ass. What goes around, comes around, as they say.