Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Time Calorie Burn

My daughter loved building this snowman and insisted I take her picture.

NOTE: This entry was published in the January 29, 2013 edition of the Kings County Record.  I really did do all this in one day, and as many calories as I burned, it probably paled in comparison to a few days prior when my father and I pulled the kids uphill to a nearby sliding spot and vista.  I hope you enjoy the read. BW 
I've heard people say "I always put weight on in the winter because I'm not as active."  While I used to agree, I'm not so sure now lately that it's true.  You might not think you're active in the winter time but even the simple things in winter time burn calories.  I got curious after an exceptional day out with the kids.  "How many calories did I burn today?"

Let me start by saying, it was a really exceptional day.  The weather was excellent, the company was enthusiastic.  The snow had fallen the night before and was fluffy and light, thank goodness.  My first task was shoveling the driveway and it took me a little more than half an hour.  Just on this task alone I burned approximately 200 calories.  At this juncture I should state that I can not guarantee the calculations on calories as I didn't make them but rather pulled them off of a website.

Shortly after shoveling I took the kids out and built a snow man in the backyard.  I couldn't believe it when I calculated (looked it up) the calories I burned here.  Think about it you're bending over and packing the snow, rolling the snow balls, and then lifting the snow balls to the top.  If it takes you an hour to build your snow man, first off you build quicker than I do, but secondly you'll burn 285 calories.  My total calorie burn so far this day, 485.

After a healthy lunch with soup and a sandwich, I got the kids dressed to go out again.  By the way, that might burn more calories than anything I did this day.  I won't count it though.  With our gear on we grabbed our sleds and went sliding.  Now everyone knows that sliding is half play and half work.  On the ride down you barely burn a calorie but on the way up you burn a bunch.  According to a couple of different web sources, a person can burn more than 470 calories during an hour of sliding.  Of course, I think the slope and length of the sliding hill might have a role to play in the number of calories you burn.

As we finished sliding we sat at the bottom of the hill giggling and making snow angels.  Hey, how many calories do you think you burn doing that?   I have no idea.  I heard it said though that you burn a calorie a minute when you laugh.   Being outside and playing gives you lots to laugh at and makes it easy to burn calories without event thinking about it.

If you are searching for things to do outside during the winter, February 8-9 is the Sussex Corner Winter Carnival.  This is a full day of family fun and calorie burning activities.  I'll be leading a snow shoe trek to the Bluff on the evening of the 8th and I guarantee lots of calorie burn.  If this interests you meet up at Sullivan Park at 7:30 that night and we'll make our way to the wonderful night time view from above Trout Creek.  If you think you can do it, you can do it. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Praise of the Wolfpack

Kids are amazing!!!  It is amazing how quickly they pick up new skills and how fast they grow.  I have been coaching the same bunch of kids in hockey for almost three years now.  They have been playing incredibly well and I don't really think it is the coaching.  I don't mind taking some credit but these kids, from this small town, are simply just getting it.  Every time I give them a new skill to practice they quickly added it to their already long list of skills.  Earlier this month we introduced "changing on the fly" to these 7 year olds, I'm not kidding, they do it better than most junior  teams after just one game.  Last practice, I introduced stick handling while skating backwards, a skill I still struggle with.  Today at practice I added the skill to a relay race and I was stunned that every kid completed the task.  I had to push a couple of them but they did it.  I'm not a professional scout but I'm pretty sure most 7 year olds struggle just to skate backwards so these guys are good.

I'm not bragging here, I'm simply praising these kids.  It isn't my coaching that makes them so good, they are natural athletes and are well parented.  As a Novice team, parental support is as important as coaching.  I lucked out and not only have great kids but great parents to coach for.  They step up and volunteer for the various needed tasks, they don't complain if I discipline there child, and they make exceptional efforts to be there for their kids.

The kids chose the name "Wolfpack" for the team and I think it is so appropriate.  Wolves are a family oriented species that push and sharpen each other and our boys are sharp.  I'm proud of everyone of them.

Just as another note, before finalizing this post the boys played a game with, arguably, two of our better players missing.  Despite that the kids who were there played hard and my son, who normally plays defence, scored his first goal as a centerman and had two assists to help the Wolfpack win 8-6.  Way to go guys.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hoping for More Blessings Like These

The following was a column I had published in the Kings County Record on Tuesday, January 15, 2013.  I hope you enjoy the read as much as my mother did, although that might be hard to do as she is a bit biased.  Enjoy 2013.
It happens without warning.  There is no evidence that that moment will be great.  You are looking across a landscape admiring it for what it is, beautiful.  The symmetrical lines of ice along each bank of the river are highlighted by the darkness of the cold water running down the valley.  There is white snow hanging heavy off the spruce while the same snow sits lightly on the farm field on the opposite shore. 

The winter scene can be taken in at almost any bridge crossing in New Brunswick this time of year.  What made this one special?  What blessed this day?  Suddenly it happened.  Two deer stepped down out of the tree line and onto the ice.  I was on the bridge over the Hammond River taking photos for work but since I was still on my holiday time off, I had my son with me.  This further elevated the whole blessing.  We both took photos and stood open jawed in awe of the scene that was put before us.  We couldn't believe the dumb luck we had to witness the scene before us.  We laughed when a truck simply roared by and didn't even slow down to notice. 

I can only count, maybe, a handful of times this type of thing has happened to me.  This time was different because I shared it with my son and it happened over the holidays.  It drove home the so many things that I have to be thankful for through 2012.  The fact that I am able to get out and enjoy the many natural gifts this area has to offer is a big one.  If you take the time to put yourself into those situations, you subsequently experience more of those "wow" situations.  Sometimes the problem is not that we are privileged enough to witness such moments but rather we just don't recognize them.

On a canoe trip down the Millstream River a few years ago I approached a beaver dam and suddenly, just below the dam, a large buck stepped out into the river.  It was another great scene and I was able to take it in and appreciate it.  The other day, my Dad, who was with me that day, asked if I remembered the day.  We both had the same outlook on the memorable day.  It was rare and special.  The more time I spend outdoors in the wilderness however, the more I think "Huh, maybe it isn't so rare?"  As I write this column and I think about which special moment to write about I realize how many I've had.  The beaver in Falls Brook, the cow and calf moose in Newfoundland, the pair of moose in Maine, the osprey on Trout Creek and many more.  It isn't just animal sightings that inspire these moments; there have been sunsets and sunrises, lightning strikes, and even insects that have inspired me.  Again though, the hardest part is recognizing those moments when faced with them and avoid racing by them like the truck on the bridge where my son and I stood.

For 2013 I am making a resolution to create more of those "Wow" moments.  Further I want to share those moments with more people.  So far I have shared a moment with my son and I'm hoping there will be plenty more in 2013.  I hope you have a memorable 2013 too and take the time to get out and wander the woods.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Fun Winter Afternoon

What a great afternoon!!!  I took my two kids, along with my father and the two dogs, for a walk up along the ridge that overlooks the Newline Road.  It is a great spot with a spectacular view.  I mean spectacular.  The grey clouds were broken from time to time with vibrant streaks of blue.  The foggy horizon would sometimes rise like a curtain in a theater and reveal other scenes from a spooky mystery.

My father and I pulled the kids up the hill in their sleds and it was a heck of a work out.  The kids had a great time laughing and encouraging us along.  Needless to say, we took many breaks before making the top of the hill.  I think if the kids were in a poor mood I would have never made the top.  Once at the top we enjoyed the view and took a couple of sliding runs down the other side.  While the kids enjoyed the sliding I put together a small fire and prepped a snack of hot chocolate, crackers, and cookies.

Before the snack we built what ended up being a faceless and severely bruised snow man.  My son has a hard time leaving a snow man upright and without the hot chocolate and cookies, I don't think our snow man would have survived his onslaught.  The snack was enough to get his attention though and after the snack we prepped for the long slide back down the hill.

The snow was wet and packed, not great for sliding.  We didn't break any speed records for sure but it was still easier than the walk up the hill.  Regardless the kids enjoyed the trip down and we shortly made our way home.  Everyone a bit tired and thankful for this great area we live in.

Here is a quick map of our little family adventure.

View A Fun Winter Day in a larger map

Friday, January 11, 2013

A short rant on spins

If you don't like ranting and opinion pieces then I suggest you read no further.  I don't normally use my blog for this kind of thing but today I'm in a bit of a mood.  Now I sit on a municipal council so I would, technically, be considered a politician.  I don't like it however when political parties use the media and research papers to put spins on various issues.  This mornings issue was the shrinking workforce in New Brunswick.  A UNB professor penned a report that stated that the aging workforce in NB is likely to cause more hardship than the current deficit.  SERIOUSLY??? It went on to say that the large number of retiring baby boomers will leave the province hurting.  SERIOUSLY???  Further it stated that our poor immigrant retention levels will further hurt us.  SERIOUSLY???  Lastly it stated that our youth out migration is costing us drastically.  SERIOUSLY???  I wonder if the opposition critic or the reporter who wrote the piece read the report.  If they did, then I apologize and my issue is then with the writer of the report.

For a number of years NBers have been stating there are no jobs and that, no doubt, has led to the youth out migration and the likely reason why immigrants don't stay here.  You can not state though that our aging population is going to hurt us.  As they retire then jobs become available and likely the youth will return and immigrants will have a reason to stay here.  With the return of the youth and new ideas more businesses are likely to start up and with them new jobs. 

Aging and the replacement of the aging is a life cycle that has been happening for many, many, many, generations.  While I'm not an economist, I do believe that the cost of health care for the many seniors may be difficult, but many seniors when the retire may choose to do so elsewhere, and many more will likely die peacefully, and suddenly, costing us little.  If the large number does create a problem then I think we owe it to them to insure they have their pension and not waste it on silly job creation and immigration programs that are in effective.  To me, the report in the paper was simply someone looking for more funds to be allocated to his file so he could pay himself and his buddies a bigger salary so they could create more spin and develop more issues for the seniors.

Just for the readers who stuck through this one....I could be way off on this but had to say something.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taking One Step at a Time

Age has a way of catching up to you and with it, aching joints, some extra weight, and odd memory loss.  I'm not that old but over the last year I was starting to put on more weight than I was comfortable with.  I attribute it to the fact that I'm spending more time on my computer writing reports, proposals, and columns, and less time wandering up river valleys and over ridges.

To make up for this I made my first venture into the PotashCorp Civic Center.  This is my first week of running during my lunch hours.  After the first day my legs were sore; so sore that stairs made me cringe the next morning.  Despite that pain I went to the track again and ran a few laps and walked a number of laps as well.  Now the evening of my fourth day my legs are actually starting to adjust and my muscles are remembering...."Oh yeah this is what we used to do during soccer practice and the 10k runs we did 25years ago."

I'm also remembering something else.  It makes me feel great when I run.  My blood pumps a smile to my face it seems.  The sore muscles remind me to live.  My afternoons at the office now don't seem quite so long.

So what is my impression of the Civic Center?  I much prefer to run outside rather than around a track.  If I have to run though then the PotashCorp Civic Center is good place to do it.  Sun splashing in through big windows, friendly staff, and clean facilities all make a guy feel ready to go and workout.

I'll be at it again tomorrow and if you think maybe you could stand to be a bit healthier than I encourage you to try it.  Simply take one step at a time.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Snowshoe to the Bluff

Bambi is one of my best hiking partners.
The holiday season is now over and it is back to work.  I apologize for being so long posting but, like everyone, I was extremely busy over my vacation time.  The last evening before going back to work was a great one though.

I responded to a Facebook friend looking to do an evening snowshoe along the Bluff in Sussex Corner.  I had been looking for an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy some wilderness so I responded and before you knew it we had 4 others joining us.

Mila was game the whole way.

Cole put it out on FB and led the way.

It was 8:30pm on a Sunday evening and four varied individuals headed off into the darkness to search their way to a familiar spot to all.  If you spend any time in this part of New Brunswick you likely have been to the Bluff.  If not you have at least gazed up at it from the Dutch Valley Road thinking "I bet there is a nice view from up there."  All those hiking have been around these parts for a good portion of our life and all had been to the Bluff through the summer months during the day time but only  a some of us have ventured there in the middle of the night during the winter.  I love the Bluff at any time of year and any time of day.

Rubin started late but finished strong.
Luke and Kody were a team.
There was a light snow falling as we ducked into the woods along the already beaten, narrow, trail.  Conversation was easy going and relaxed with maybe a slight hesitation as one hated to break the magical and natural silence of the night.  The lights towards the Village were dimmed by the falling snow and grayish skies.  Beyond us the snow muffled any noise and only the odd drone of a distant snow mobile or passing car on the roads far below could be heard.

It was a great night and one that has prompted me to investigate what might be done to create a linear park here to protect this sensitive ecosystem.

The view from the saddle towards the Village is my favorite spot.