- We are 95% done Christmas. The only big discussion that is tearing the family apart is which shaving system do Mark and I go to. I am tried of paying big money for Schick Hydro 5 blades (which work great but are expensive) which Mark wants an upgrade from his Gillette Sensor 3 razor and blades. I am not sure what I am going to do. Some of you have expressed strong opinions against Henry’s razors but Mark is considering the M5 Magnum. I may also consider the Costco alternative. Of course we don’t talk about this in front of Wendy who erupts and brings up how much more money and how much lower quality women’s razors are.
- Some of you read my tweets about a City of Saskatoon contractor tossing a handful of grass seed down on some dirt a week ago and thought I was mad. I am not. By them cheaping out and not doing the job right, let’s me plant a premium blend of seed on the boulevard and then let is fill out the grass in other areas. 18 years ago when we moved in, we had a huge path that cut it’s way through one part of the side boulevard. After a couple of years of planting and replanting, I found the right combination of grass seed and it took off through the entire boulevard. Part of the plan of seeding in half of the driveway with the same kind of seed is to see it take off and grow back into the back section of the boulevard and take over the crappy grass there (it’s fine if it is raining but the combination of weird seed and no top soil means that it goes yellow if not seeing water almost all of the time, even after 20 years of mulch and fertilizer.
- Mark’s jaw is back to normal which means he can eat real food.
- Oliver is taking karate at Mayfair School three times a week. After watching a Jackie Chan fight scene, he said, “I think I take that next year”.
- Wendy and Oliver took in the 2015 Santa Claus parade. Wendy took photos and posted them on her website.
- For the first time since the early 90s, I don’t have word processor on my computers. I am now writing my columns on Google Docs and I have loved the transition. Since no one has asked, here are the list of word processors I have loved. GeoWorks Writer (DOS), Varsity Scripsit (DOS) by Tandy, Microsoft Word 5.5 (DOS), WordPerfect 5.1 (DOS), Microsoft Word 2.0c (Windows), Microsoft Word 6, Microsoft Word 95, WordPerfect 7, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000, Open Office Writer, Libre Office Writer, Apple Pages and now Google Docs. Of all of them, Varsity Scripsit, Microsoft Word 2.0c, and AbiWord (depending on the version) are my favorites. Apple Pages and Open Office Writer were the worst. I may purchase Corel Office for times I need more complicated page layout options.
- Part of still doesn’t believe Donald Trump is serious about running for President. He isn’t spending any money on a field organization. No advertising, no nothing. I still wonder if it is a marketing stunt for his Trump Hotel that is opening in Washington this spring.
Since Mark was attacked on Wednesday, some of you have shared some incredible stories of your own. I have read them all, shared many with Mark, and will reply to most of them next week. I am stunned at the amount of violent attacks that people have suffered, most of them random over the years but as many of you have said, no one seemed to care unless you know someone. A friend of mind reminded me of the murder of Scott Asher who I went to school with. Another one reminded me of a friend who still suffers brain injuries. Random attacks with lasting consequences.
This isn’t the first time something random happened to Mark. He was sitting with some friends at A.H. Browne Park one early evening and a guy threw a container of urine at the group. Another day just a block away, a prostitute who was working the street at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon attacked him and Ollie demanding money. Luckily they were able to run away. Life in Mayfair.
I have been asked how Mark is recovering. His jaw still hurts but it is healing. His headaches are gone and he seems to be responding better. He will walk to and from school tomorrow. As he said today, he has to do it sometime and it may as well be on Monday. The worst thing happened today when a friend’s mother offered to bring him cookies to make him feel better. He can’t chew them. Rather than risk more injury, Oliver and the dog have offered to eat them.
He has been out of the house walking the dog. Tonight was his first time being out at night since the attack. When I asked him if there was any problems he said, “other than walking the dog, no.”
Most of the emails and people stopping by have been really helpful and kind. Some of them were really weird and some are just dangerous.
- A few people emailed me and suggested that Mark must be involved in drugs or gangs. It’s like random violence can’t ever happen. I understand the fear and the need to rationalize it but the need to blame victims isn’t helpful.
- Some wondered if race was a factor and that got dark quickly.
- One teacher, yes a teacher told me that she thinks the only way that teens will be safe from the police is if they join a gang. I really don’t know what to do with that one. It Donald Trump crazy on so many levels. I think she read the joke that Mark said to Darren Hill in which he said, “I don’t blame police unless I find out it was them that hit me with the Emergency Response Vehicle”. Of course he had just finished reading about the police that ran over the dog three times and claimed they thought it was a coyote. Anyways, it was bizarre to think that a teacher in Saskatoon thinks that “gangs are the answer”. I also think I have read comments on The StarPhoenix over the years by that teacher where he/she espouses the same thing.
- More than one person has asked if I would consider letting Mark carry a knife for his own protection. Again, that is getting crazy. Mark has a knife and he carries it in a backpack on hikes. That it is it. As I have told him, the only time to use this is for making a fire and if a Grizzly Bear challenges you straight up to a knife fight. I can’t envision a single instance where any kid pulling a knife in self defense ends well and a lot of cases where it ends tragically.
So yeah, appreciated the supportive comments, thought I would share some of the weirder ones. Mark got a kick out of the weird ones too. He’s going to pass on it, unless he find a gang of knife wielding grizzly bears, then he is in.
I have some more serious thoughts on it in The StarPhoenix tomorrow.
I have been married for 18 years today to Wendy. I was off all week from work so she was pretty much sick of me by the time today came around.
It was a long week. We had a deal with Mark that he had to work hard in school and hand in all of his homework on time if he wanted to play football. After backing down and giving him one more chance earlier in the year, he did it again and so I made the really hard choice to say, “no more football.” He was mad, hurt, and frustrated but on Thursday we had a long talk about it and on Friday we went for breakfast and he understood that football was hurting him academically.
Of course the reason we went for breakfast on Friday was he was out of school because of parent teacher interviews. His teachers love him, his marks are good but they would be amazing if he got his assignments done. It was good for him to hear both those messages.
Yesterday I was sick again. The infectious disease specialist warned me that I could have flare ups of the infection and yesterday was horrible. I had a fever, was in incredible pain, and even was struggling to breath. I slept for a lot of the day and then Wendy and I went out to The Odd Couple restaurant and had a wonderful time. We had plans to go out for a drink afterwards but I was exhausted so we cam home.
I gave Wendy a new lens for our anniversary. It’s a Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. Lens. She has some good lenses but nothing this fast and so she is excited about it. I had bought it a couple of months ago and she knew she was getting one. I gave it to her early for Nuit Blanche. She tested it out on this photo shoot with Marley.
I also got her a backpacking hammock. Wendy works hard and doesn’t always take the time to relax. My fear was with us in the mountains was that she was going to spend a lot of time making sure we were happy and not enough time chilling out. This way I can force her (or guilt her) into taking some time and spending it on herself. She liked it and I was happy with that.
She gave me a Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW camera bag. I had been looking for a camera bag that can carry all of my stuff, plus some of the stuff I want to buy. This bag basically is the bag to rule all of my bags. That and Mark is thrilled because he can have my old bag.
So now I basically look like a balding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. If you hear reports of middle age and balding mutant ninja turtles turned vigilante in the sewers of Saskatoon, I have an alibi.
She also got me an Altec Lansing Soundblade which will sound great in the living room.
The dream car of your childhood can now be the dream car of your adulthood. A giant street-legal version of Little Tikes’ red and yellow car is currently for sale on eBay. It’s a one of a kind, and there are some real perks to it. There are huge windows (although there’s no glass), an engine so that you don’t have to walk it around, and it should be easy to spot in a parking lot.
The car was built in 2013 by the custom vehicle shop Attitude Autos. You may have heard about it back then: after being featured on the BBC, video of the car went viral online. Since then, it’s been popping up at charity events around the UK — the shop behind it seems to hope that whoever buys it next will put it to the same use. "We have managed to raise a substantial amount of money for children’s charities with the Crazy Coupe, so it’s potential in the right hands could be quite phenomenal," it writes.
I was asked a few times today if I was going to run for Mayor in 2016. The answer is no. I have no political aspirations and have no desire to be a politician. That and I don’t like ties or suits. Even if I did, big boned and balding politicians generally don’t do that well… wait a minute, we do really well in politics.
I have very little respect for career politicians. There are many people I know (and we all have our lists) that desperately want to be elected to something and want to remain elected for financial, prestige, or even retirement reasons (I have heard of politicians whose entire retirement planning is based on getting elected and then government pension). They see politics as a career and as a path to greater political power. I don’t aspire to that. I have control of the both the TV remote and the Apple TV remote at home. I’m good.
I have a lot of respect for those that are public servants. Those are people who are drawn to the service of their city, province, and country and that is the main motivating factor for them. The problem is that most politicians start out that way but it’s a fine line until you transform into a politician where re-election comes before doing what is right. Some public servants can be elected for decades and serve only the public. I think of the Joe Clark’s, John Crosbie’s, or the countless MP, MLAs, and councillors that care far more about constituent issues and the big picture than party politics or personal gain. They avoid the meanness that defines many politicians and they genuinely love their jobs. I think they are great but I still wouldn’t want to be one. I simply lack the desire to compromise on things and in our system, it is based on compromise and doing things you hate.
Then you also have the campaign fight. That can’t be a lot of fun. I remember door knocking a couple of decades ago and a guy came to the door with a shot gun, I was bit by a stray dog, and some naked women answered her door. No wonder Atch stands on the streets and waves at cars. Who can blame him? If I was him I’d have a small portable fence with me at all times. If someone from the media questioned me, I’d have them stand outside the fence and deal with the dogs.
I was out with some candidates and councillors years ago and they were talking about lawn sign stake storage and what a pain that is. So let me get this straight, you win office and instead of celebrating, you have to clean out your shed and build extra storage for the stuff you need for the next campaign. Wendy would not be pleased with that. We have a small house, we don’t have a lot of storage. She’d be out campaigning for Atch or Charlie Clark on the provision that they took all of the lawn sign stakes when I lost.
I’d be going, “How does the other campaigns get all of these leaks from?” and Wendy and Mark would be avoiding making eye contact with me as they easily moved stuff in and out of our shed. Okay, that would be hilarious but still.
Also, the being recognized in public part is both good and bad. Bad when someone tells me how stupid I am in front of my kids. Good when they say nice things to me but I still find myself going, “please don’t punch me in the face” when someone goes, “Aren’t you Jordon Cooper?”. Of course I could just be like one councillor who makes me go, “I thought they quit council” the rare time they speak.
I guess I could run against Darren Hill but here is a list of his accomplishments in office and my position on them.
Darren Hill’s Record in Office
Jordon Cooper’s Position
Avenue B Diverter in Mayfair
Thought it was a good idea
Thought the Cosmo deal was a costly mistake
Disagrees with 33rd Street Bridge and says it would be built over his dead body.
We agree with that too although I hope no one has to die to stop it.
Wears colourful socks
Wears plain socks
Wears colourful ties
Has a tie just like Rob Ford’s NFL tie but has NHL logos on it. Wishes he had a tie like Rob Ford’s NFL tie. Would also wear a MLB tie. Now that I think about it, that is a solid three tie rotation.
Suggested that we wait a few years to buy a new city website when prices were lower.
Tweets at celebrities
Does that actually work? (update: Darren says it does.)
Tweets at City Council Meetings
Tweets about confidential in-camera meetings that he read about in The StarPhoenix.
Ran for the federal Liberal Party after two terms as councillor.
Criticized Hill, Paulsen, Olauson, and Donauer for doing the same thing and not resigning their seat.
Non committal about in Council Twitter Wall.
Totally in favour of Twitter wall. Really, really in favour of a Twitter wall. Have I mentioned how badly I want City Council to have a live twitter wall.
That would be a riveting debate. I can see the moderator saying, “So the only area where you truly disagree is men’s socks. Well let’s go back to that issue once more and Mr. Cooper, could you tell us where you got that NFL logo tie from?”
So after reading that chart over, I am not running in Ward 1 or anywhere else in the city since I live in Ward 1. Darren is doing a fine job… well there was the vote where he voted to “right size the bridge” that was waste of tens of millions of dollars. Nor do I ever aspire to being on Saskatoon City Council not now and not in the future. Here is why.
Outside of Wendy and the boys, not many people have seen how sick I have been this summer. It has scared Wendy and even made me wonder from time to time if I was going to make it. I have never been so sick in my life and it hasn’t been fun. Today my vital signs were so out of whack, the nurses freaked out and that happens all of the time. There is no way I am strong enough to make it through a campaign even if I did want to. I have never seriously considered it but I need get rid of the MRSA infection in my ankle and then get healthy again.
I have been married with 18 years this week to Wendy and for the first time since we have been married, her depression and mental health issues are under control. You have no idea how many times I have said, “next summer” will be better (well actually about 16 summers). To actually have a summer trip go well and her depression be managed was a huge thing in life but we have a lot of catching up to do.
Those lost summers have come with a price of me being there for Wendy and not having the time to spend with Mark and Oliver. It’s why next summer is being spent in the backcountry of Banff and Kootney National Parks. The only door knocking I plan to do is at the door of a mountain tea house at the end of a long hike (I hope I don’t get bit by anything)
I don’t know how politicians handle their commitments to the public and family. Is there a less family friendly job then being a politician at any level? For this I am not being sarcastic, I can’t imagine how hard it is to juggle all of that well. I enjoy being a dad.
So my plans are set for election night 2016, vote and watch Monday Night Football while writing about those that did decide to run. That is my goal for 2020, 2024, and 2028. It is also my goal for any and all provincial and federal campaigns. I have even a less of a desire to be told how to vote by a government or opposition whip who got the job because they are difficult to deal with in Question Period.
So yeah, I am never running for public office but thanks for suggesting it. Throw your support behind someone that wants the job, there are some good ones out there, support them.
When Mark lost his beloved Skullcandy headphones a few years ago, I asked for some opinions on what to get him on Twitter. Hilary (she’s the bot behind the @theotherhilary) tweeted that I should check out the reviews on The Wire Cutter. They tested hundreds of pairs of in-ear headphones and recommended a pair of Panasonic RP-HJE123 in ear headphones for having the second best sound under $50. They cost $15 since he doesn’t need the ones with a hands free mic on them. I was happy, he was less than happy since I think he wanted some Dre Beats but you can’t win them all.
This week, Marley chewed up my mediocre Monster headphones and then ate some other ones that I liked so it was back to the Wire Cutter. They again recommended the Panasonic RP-HJE123 In-Ear Headphones. I found the cheaper microphoneless version of the headphones at Winners for $10 and got a white pair.
The best headphones under $100 gave the House of Marley Smile headphones a good review and I saw those at Best Buy for only $25. I like the looks of them and I am quite happy with my House of Marley Chant. Plus if my dog Marley chews them up, the wood will be good for her.
I’ll let them burn in and then decide on a favorite but it is really hard to dislike either one of these choices.
One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten has been to check out The Wirecutter for audio reviews. I have saved a lot of money by not making bad purchases and have learned a lot on what to look for in audio. Oh yeah, those Dre Beats you want, they cost $14 to make and sound like crap.
We took a weekend to go to Ogema, Saskatchewan and experience the Southern Prairie Railway. The railway is a tourist one and offers different kinds of rides every weekend. It is the only tourist railway of it’s kind of the prairies. After getting to Ogema a little early and taking a look around a truly charming town, we headed to the train station and looked around. After boarding, we were off to the ghost town of Horizon, Saskatchewan.
Along the way, we were treated to entertaining local history and stories by the host of the trip who both shared a prepared presentation and interacted extensively with the audience. Once to Horizon we were able to go inside a historic Federal Grain elevator while the train turned around and we headed back. The entire tour takes about two hours in a restored Pullman carriage (the restoration of the carriage makes for a great story in itself).
Starting with lunch in the community, the entire afternoon was worth the time and the money. The boys, Wendy, and myself loved the trip and want to do it again in the future.
We did learn one thing on the train and that is the back of the railcar swings quite a bit. The difference in going to Horizon and then back was extremely noticeable. Not a distraction but another neat part of the trip.
You can find out more about the railway at www.southernprairierailway.com.
Brick manufactured at the plant graces the facades of many prestigious buildings across Saskatchewan as well as many other provinces. Face brick was produced until 1960’s, and adorns such prominent buildings as the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and the Delta Bessborough in Saskatoon. Among many others, the beautiful Gravelbourg Cathedral is faced entirely of Claybank brick as are a number of court houses and other public buildings.
The rare fire brick produced here lined the fire boxes of the CN and CP Rail line locomotives, and of warships in World War II. The fire brick was also used in the construction of the rocket launch pads at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Not only does the brick plant constitute one of the best preserved examples of early 20th century industrial activity in Canada, but is one of a small number of heritage attractions in Saskatchewan to have achieved formal National Historic Site designation status.
The self guided tour cost us $25 and about an hour to complete. There are also trails into the hills south of the site and I wish we had time to explore.
This was a lot of fun for both me but the entire family. We explored for a while together and alone and found all sorts of fascinating sites and facts while on the site. I think it is also a testament to the vision of the community which has worked very hard to raise the money and put in the elbow grease to slowly bring this site back and make it into a National Historic Site. They say they are $2 million into a $6 million project so make sure you visit and then donate. It’s a site that is worth preserving.
Just a quick note for when this post is buried in the archives. The weekend trip was made possible by Ford Canada who gave us a 2015 Ford Focus to use and review. They also paid for a big part of the weekend.
Despite my ankle and foot getting way worse, I decided to take the family on one last hike of the year. So I hopped up on pain killers, put on an ankle brace, grabbed a trekking pole and hoped for the best.
Mud Creek Trail is about a 10 minute drive outside of Waskesiu along the Narrows Road.
Here is Mark and Oliver getting ready with Marley in the parking lot. Oliver has already found a walking stick.
And we are on the trail with Oliver and Mark taking the lead.
I gave Wendy the camera because I was about to throw Marley in the lake. Safety first.
The smoke never seems to go away for Prince Albert National Park. First it was forest fires from the north and now this is from Washington State.
This is Marley after discovering a rather angry squirrel. The squirrel is barking at Marley from the trees while throwing down nuts at her and Mark.
This is a view of Mud Creek. During the spring it is visited by black bears who feed on the spawning trout. Other than three angry squirrels, we didn’t see any wildlife on our hike, in part because Mark and Oliver are only slightly quieter than a marching band on a hike and also because the wind was blowing off the lake and carrying our scent up the trail.
So despite being sick with a badly infected ankle all of 2015, we managed to hike The Narrows Trail, The Waskesiu River Trail, Mud Creek Trail, the Gift of Green Nature Trail, and the Johnston Canyon trail as a family. Mark and I also managed to tackle some trails at Wanuskewin in June. The Mud Creek Trail may have been my favorite.
Mark is trying out for Bedford Road’s senior football team this year. After playing every position on the defense last year, he decided to test himself against some older and stronger players. If he makes the team great, if not he will have tried and gotten some work in than if he had just played junior football.
Since practices start on Monday, it meant that we had to get him some gear this weekend. His cleats and gloves fit but we ran out after work to get him some shorts and some stay dry shirts. While we were at it, we picked up some cross trainers. All this so he can increase his chance of long term brain injury by playing football or developing cancer by playing football on the shredded toxic waste we call SMF Field.
Of course Oliver was in a bad mood over this. Despite only going into grade two, he can’t figure out why he can’t play tackle football yet. Apparently all other sports suck and aren’t worth his time. He has some time to wait until Grade 6 when Kinsmen Football starts. He isn’t impressed. He’ll be even less impressed when Mark takes off to play football.
As they say it, How the West was Once
We used to come to Cave & Basin National Historic site quite a bit when I was a kid. It wasn’t as big of deal back then and it was much more poorly lit as you entered the Cave part (which I loved). So having not been there since 1983, it was nice to head back and see what has changed. Of course taking the boys back here was great and they enjoyed it quite a bit.
After the crowds of Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon, a quieter venue was a great way to kill an hour or so while the boys learned about the history of the place and it’s roll in the founding of our National Parks.
The green roof of the Parks Canada gift shop which has an assortment of Parks Canada and Banff gear that you won’t see anywhere else in the town of Banff. It alone is worth checking out.
If for some reason you want to see some more photos of Cave and Basins National Historic site, check out my album on Flickr.
While in Banff National Park, Wendy and I took the boys up to Johnston Canyon which was insanely busy. The parking lot was packed and by the time we left, people were parking over a kilometre in both ways down the Bow Valley Parkway. We had plans to take the boys to the upper waterfalls.
So as the sign says, it is a 1 km hike to the first falls. Yet when I started the Map My Hike app on my iPhone, it said that it was 4k with a return hike.
I think I have met these three people before.
They enjoyed the walk. They weren’t tired but the progress was at a standstill because there was a group taking selfie’s up ahead.
This is my favorite shot from the hike.
A Parks Canada employee has what looks to be a long and wet day ahead of him.
This is the legendary lower falls of Johnston Canyon. We had planned to go to the upper falls but as the photos show, the crowds were brutal and the antibiotics I had to deal with the infection in my ankle hadn’t beaten the infection back very far. Combined it meant that it would be a long hike and since we are coming back next summer to hike to the inkpots, it wasn’t a big deal to call it a day and dodge the selfie sticks back to the car.
I think we can all agree that I nailed this picture of a chipmunk.
Did I mention that the trail was packed. This is the main reason why we didn’t go to the second falls. So many people (and my ankle was really hurting me). Also, most of the people we passed on the trail were looking at their phones. Apparently world class scenery and nature doesn’t compete well with Angry Birds.
If you want to see more photos from Johnston Canyon, check out the full set on Flickr.
Sawback is a small picnic area on the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Johnston Canyon. It used to be small and has gotten smaller since Parks Canada has moved the tables near to the roadside turn off and allowed the vegetation to take over old picnic areas.
Growing up, it was my favorite place in the world. We used to take a yearly trip from Calgary (and later Saskatoon) to Johnston Canyon and then picnic at Sawback. I was looking forward to taking the boys there and was quite disappointed when all there was left was some picnic tables near the parking lot.
It wasn’t the picnic areas that make it so great, it was the babbling brook of glacier runoff that make it so much fun to explore as a kid. I knew that didn’t go anywhere so I followed an overgrown trail into the bush and 50 feet into it I found the brook.
Mark and Oliver did exactly what I did year ago and this jump across it and get all wet.
This shot was right after I had scolded the boys about making faces every time I tried to take their photo.
So while the picnic tables placement kind of sucks, we will return in 2016 with a proper picnic blanket and food.
I told Mark that there is a sacred Cooper tradition of dunking one’s head into the glacier water that ran out of the Sawback mountain range. He put his hands in, screamed from the cold…
And dunked his head into it.
After he got out and was struggling with hypothermia did I tell him that he was the first of the Cooper’s to do such a thing. Yes, I am a horrible father.
All of the snapshots I took at Sawback can be found in their album on Flickr.
After two days of being up at 4:45 a.m., I feel like I am slacking and sleeping in today. It’s almost 7 a.m.
Today we are heading to Heritage Park. I haven’t been there since I was in Grade 4. Much as stayed the same but a lot has changed. That was so long ago that the school I attended for Grade 4 has closed.
Before we go to Heritage Park, I need to take Mark to Chinook Centre so we can hit up the Apple Store and he can get a new iPod Nano. His died and then I leant him my old iPod Touch which he then dropped. So here we go again. I wonder if he can get an Otter Box for it.
Oliver doesn’t know there is a Lego store in that mall but I can’t see us walking by it and not going in.
After that it is to the park where we will wander around aimlessly and eat homemade food, ride a steam engine, take a cruise on a paddle wheeler, and see how Calgary was once.