Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Borer’s Creek Conservation Area

Borer’s Creek is one of the many water courses that tumbles over the Niagara Escarpment. Many dozens in the Hamilton city limits. Some of them are accessible by people in wheel chairs, with viewing platforms, others are only accessible after a strenuous hike. Borer’s Falls falls into the latter category.

It’s categorized as a “Plunge Ribbon Falls” and is 15 metres high, 5 metres wide.

Like most of them, Borer’s was exploited by early settlers to power industry. Also known as Rock Chapel Falls, the Falls powered a saw mill run by the Borer family for over a hundred years during the 19th century. Eventually as land was cleared, the creek’s flow was altered to such an extent that it was no longer a strong energy source, and the Borers switched to steam power for the mill.

For more info on Hamilton’s waterfalls, visit:

These photos were taken over the course of a few different hike’mups, some in the fall of 08 and some in the spring of 09.
(Some other photos of this area in summer can be found here.)
Heading towards Borer’s C.A..
Pivoting a little to the right. The dip where the telephone pole is, is where Borer’s Falls are.
And this is what I see when I turn 180°. Niagara Escarpment on the other side of the valley.
 This view is from atop the Escarpment, looking in the direction of Dundas.
Borer’s Falls in winter.
After going around to the other side of the gorge, this is the view out across Cootes Paradise, with Hamilton beyond that.
Some views of the forest.
No one was home.
I decided to explore up the gorge and check out the falls from the bottom. The creek was roiling with spring snow melt. Quite a long and technical hike to get to the falls, with some steep hill sides, scrubby brush, and big boulders to clamber over.
I love the fact that an hours walk from my house, in what I think technically qualifies as within the confines of a major metropolitan area, is this rugged, roaring river. And not only that, but it’s secluded and I suspect rarely accessed by people.
Almost stepped on him.
Waterfalls are amazing at any time, but it was particularly satisfying to get to this spot, after an ass kicker of a trek.
I had the thought of cutting away the brush behind the trillium to get an unobstructed view of it and the falls behind it, but that struck me as too obnoxious.
The trek back was no less technical, but I went back on the opposite side of the creek and this side was bursting forth with trilliums, the flower of Ontario.

S.o.t.D. – My Weakness – Moby

Really great track off a really great album.

Burlington Bay from 15 Floors Up

I had to pop by a friends office, who has a pretty sweet view from the 15th floor.
North Hamilton, Burlington Bay, Burlington and Mount Nemo.

Tom, a hawk!

I went for a walk to day and spotted a hawk behind my place.
Tried to sneak up on it so I could get some clearer photos...
....but it was having none of that.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sunday, 28 March 2010

My boss the counterfeiter

I was working at a small commercial print shop in the early 90’s. I liked the place a lot and learned a lot there.

The boss’ wife was from the Phillipines. I was reading a book with a large section on traditional tribal tattooing there. I showed it to, let’s call her, Mary, and asked her if there was still any evidence of that sort of tattooing in the area she was from.

“Really? Neat.”
“Yes. They are all bad.”
“Yes. In the Puh-hillipines, you have tattoo, you are creemeenal.”
“No, I’m not talking about criminals with tattoos, I’m talking about traditional tribal groups and their distinctive style of tattooing.”
“They are all creemeenal. You have tattoo, you are creemeenal. You have tattoos, you must be creemeenal,” she said, laughing.
“I am not a criminal! You can check with the police. I do not have a criminal record. I’ve never been arrested.”
“Sure, sure, just don’t go to the Puh-hillipines. They will arrest you and put you in prison. They see your tattoos, they say, that guy creemeenal, they arrest you.” She walked away, giggling.

A few months later, we were sitting around at lunch time discussing about a job action being carried out by the Toronto Police. I can’t even remember all the details of what it was about, but they refused to wear their regular hats, and wore ball caps instead as a form of protest.

My boss, let’s call him, Bob, very nice, unassuming, mild mannered guy, mentions how the cops in Toronto are total assholes, along with the cops in a few other cities in Ontario. The police in certain other jurisdictions weren’t too bad. And the police in some places were downright nice and friendly. He rattled off all these different places, and spoke on the subject with some knowledge.
“Uh Bob, how the hell do you know all this?”
Our head pressman, let’s call him, Jim, started laughing.
“Well, uhm, I uhm, *cough*, I’m a, uhm, I’m a convicted uhm, felon.”
I think more than few seconds of disbelieving silence passed. He was one of the last people I knew I would ever assume had ever been in trouble with the law.
“Wow, okay. So...uhm, dare I ask what you did?”
“Well I, uhm, counterfeited American twenty dollar bills.”

Bob proceeded to tell me quite a tale.

It was the mid seventies, and he and a partner John had a print shop. They were discussing American money, and how easy it is to counterfeit. So, and the claim was made that it was a purely academic exercise, they decided to give it a whirl.

After a lot of goofing around with a stat camera, they ended up with workable plates, experimented with paper, ran it though a press with scuzz on the rollers to make it look more aged, tried various inks, and ended up with a pile of US $20s.

After the bright idea of counterfeiting US currency, now that they had a stack of “money”, they got the even brighter idea to pass it. They set out on a tour of Ontario, “buying” a few things and “paying” for them with their “bills.” The two of them went all around the province and managed to accumulate a tidy sum of real money in exchange for their ersatz money.

Their luck ran out in Windsor. John went in to a Woolco and purchased an inflatable beach ball, some washers and a chocolate bar. The cashier that he went to was the wife of a private detective. She had also seen a report come through on the telex that morning about two guys passing fake US $20 bills.

“There has been a lot of fluctuation in the exchange rate today. Let me just go and check what the most current rate is.”
At that point John should have beat feet, but he stood there, and a moment later was surrounded by three security guards.
Bob was back in the car and saw police cars arrive.
Given how long it had taken John to get back to the car, he figured something was amiss. He opened the door of the car and saw that he was right beside a grate. He took all the counterfeit money and shoved it down the grate. As the police were escorting John out of the store in handcuffs, Bob went over.
“Gee officer, why are you arresting my friend.” I guess hoping he could somehow convince them that this was all some misunderstanding.
They immediately took an interest in him. When they searched him and looked through his wallet, what did they find but an American $20 bill, with the exact same serial number as the one John had just tried to pass in the department store. Now, with one counterfeit bill it’s entirely conceivable that you are an unfortunate dupe, that you were unwittingly given a counterfeit bill. It’s happened to me. I’ve unknowingly given a cashier a fake $5 bill. But when two schmucks have two identical phony bills, they’re guilty as sin.

Sitting together in the back of a police cruiser, John realized that he still had a rolled Bank of John & Bob illegal tender in his back pocket that hadn’t been found. Two fake bills was bad, three would have been really bad. Still handcuffed, he managed to fish it out, and I guess they must have been left unattended for a bit, because he somehow managed to twist himself into a position where he could stuff this bill down into where the window emerges from the door.

The reason Bob knew about the attitudes and personalities of police in various jurisdictions is that they were charged in every place they passed one of their bills. When they were released from jail in Windsor, there was a cop from Amherstburg waiting to arrest them. When they were released from that jail, there was a cop from Leamington waiting to put them in a jail there. And so on down the line. All. Around. Ontario.

They opted to plead guilty if all the charges were dealt with in one court. Initially they were each sentenced to eight years in prison. Their lawyer filed an appeal on the basis of something the trial judge had said. On appeal their sentences were reduced to 3 years in prison.

In prison Bob was offered courses that he could take. He already knew how to do everything else, except for machining. He took a two year course and completed it in six months. Released early for good behaviour, he got a job at GM and made more money in a year then he had in the previous five years. Then he took the money and started another print shop.

“Do the cops ever just walk in here to see what you’re up to?”

“Once you’ve done your time, they have to assume you’re back on the up and up, and until they have cause to suspect you, they have to leave you alone.”
“So, uhm, how to put this delicately, have you been clean all this time? I mean, the cops aren’t going to burst in here and grill me about shenanigans I know nothing about?”
“Don’t worry. I’m legit now.”
“Well, there was that one time....” Jim spoke up.
“Oh yeah, we did prints for this artist, and we had, a few, you know, extras. So we decided to take some with us to Grand Bend and see if we could sell them. Make a little extra money.”
“Yeah, and who do you suppose walks past? The artist! Oh shit, he was pissed!” Jim chimes in.
I choked I was laughing so hard.
I gather there was some more legal difficulty for Bob over that, but nothing that caused him any more jail time or to lose the print shop.

“You are not going to believe what I found out today,” I said to my girlfriend when I got home that night.”

“What?! Bob went to prison for counterfeiting money? Bob? You’re joking? That’s as freaky as finding out your uncle is an on the lam Nazi war criminal.”

The next day, I had to have a stern chat with Mary.
“So… A while back you said something about me being a criminal because I have tattoos. Hhhmmmmhhh. You remember that? Well… Your husband doesn’t have any tattoos, right? But it appears that despite not having any tattoos...”
“Oh crap. You know.”
“Yes Mary, I know, and now I don’t want to hear any more nonsense from you about how people with tattoos are criminals. Okay?”
She walked off, giggling.

S.o.t.D. – Gravity – Lusine

Until a day or two ago I had never heard of Lusine before. I love internet radio. No inane announcer prattling, no stupid commercials, and the ability to find out exactly what the song you like is, and who the artist is.

I like how this song seems to sort of hang on the edge, and has this simmering energy that feels like it’s about to burst its bounds, but never really does.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

S.o.t.D. – Baffle – Lusine

Just can’t get enough of that glitchy, funky goodness. Totally sleek and sexy. And I’m not just talking about the babe in the picture.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sarcofagus Flyer

A flyer for a weekly death metal night. Custom type. All black on dark French Paper card stock.

The guy putting it on kept offering to put me on the guest list. I kept turning it down. “Besides the fact that it would give me a headache, it would be a total sausage fest. Not many women are going to come out to listen to Swedish satanic speed metal played at ear pulverizing volumes.” He had to begrudgingly admit I was correct.

Hendrie Valley

Had to go out to Burlington a few weeks back and opted to walk home through an area that, for some unknown reason, I haven’t been through very much. A 50-hectare marsh lies in Hendrie Valley where the lower portion of Grindstone Creek drains an area of 90 square kilometres, most of it from above the Niagara Escarpment in Flamborough, into Lake Ontario. The area is a very productive, shallow wetland, and provides spawning, nursery and adult habitat for many native fish as well as food and shelter for a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians and insects. The slopes of the Valley are comprised of mixed deciduous forest. Its sheltered, southerly exposure provides a reasonably warm, dry microclimate, creating unique habitat that is home to several rare and uncommon plants and animals including many Carolinian species. The Hendrie Valley is managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens, and another portion of the trail, called the Hidden Valley is managed by the City of Burlington.

The first time I went it was an overcast day with snow on the ground. Partially hard and compacted and icy, but that had started to melt and was slushy. Made for a tiring walk.

Before I even got to the trail I walked past a minivan near Aldershot GO station with a geocaching sticker on it, and saw two people walking in a field. At the entrance to the Hendrie Valley I saw the same minivan, but never encountered anyone. As I left the actual Hendrie Valley and was crossing the Valley Inn Road bridge, I saw the same minivan again, but this time saw a couple obviously looking for something.
“You must be the geocachers.” I told them about encountering them in three spots. We chatted for a while and they asked me if I was into geocaching.
“I’ve been intrigued by it from the first time I heard about it years ago, but alas I don’t have a GPS yet. Too many interests, not enough money.”
The cache they were looking for was somewhere around the bridge, and I helped them look for it, but we all came to the conclusion that perhaps this was one that should be looked for when everything wasn’t covered in snow.
Grindstone Creek in the Hidden Valley.
The area covered in snow, overcast and with dusk an hour or so away...
...and the same area with all the snow gone, not a cloud in the sky and in the middle of the day.
Lots of chickadees flitting about.
Quite a few honkers about too.

I will be going here more often in future, and look forward to watching the area transform from drab brown to verdant green in the next few weeks.