Posted by Wizard
Jul 13, 2011

Spindle Hunting in Victoria

In my walking and running about Victoria, British Columbia, I noticed sculptures of spindles in various places around the city. At first glance I thought they were sundials. Eventually I became curious about what the things were and finally read a sign posted by one of them. It indicated there were seven of them scattered about the harbor area. Judging by the map, I had already seen six of them. My last evening in Victoria I devised an idea to try to visit all seven of them in my morning jog, before I had to catch the ferry back to Seattle.

At about 5:30 AM on July 12, 2011, I bought along my camera and a little tripod to capture the experience of my spindle quest. Click on any image for a larger version.

Spindle 1

This one is the northern most spindle, located on the north side of the harbor, along a scenic and fairly quiet walking path.

Spindle 2

This one was hard to find because the location of it on the map was deceptive. The sign said it was on the site of the Hudson Bay company fort. There is a Hudson Bay store close to the location on the map, and I searched all around it in vain. Then I searched all around the harbor area based on the pictures of the buildings on the map, but that didn't work either. Eventually I found along the harbor on Wharf Street, about where it intersects Fort Street.

Spindle 3

This is the only spindle not within plain view of water, but set aside a couple blocks from the harbor. It is next to the City Hall building on Pandora Street, very close to the condo where I stayed.

Spindle 4

This one is right in the heart of the harbor area where tourists can buy trinkets and take a ride on water taxis. Probably the most seen of all the spindles.

Spindle 5

This is the most remote spindle and the hardest to find. I just knew it was "beside the overlook on Beacon Hill." However, Beacon Hill is a pretty big park, and I ran all over the place looking for said "overlook." The overlook is quite obvious if you looked at park from the east side, as there is clearly a hill with a tall flag on top. You can't see it at all approaching from the west, as I did, until you actually get there. As I departed Victoria on the ferry I felt rather stupid because you can see the flag, which is very close to the spindle, from miles away in the water.

Spindle 6

This one is by the Royal Museum, and easy to find.

Spindle 7

This one is directly across the bay from spindle number 1. You can easily see number 1 from number 7, and vise versa.

Overall that was a fun challenge. It took about 2.5 hours, about one hour of which was spent being lost.

For more information, please visit Signs of Lekwungen, at the city of Victoria web site. The web site gave me more of an appreciation of the artwork and history behind the spindles.

If you do visit Victoria I would encourage you to try to find as many as you can. They are all in very scenic locations. Best of all, the quest to find them is free.


odiousgambit Jul 13, 2011

I don't want to give away what the spindles are representing by discussing it here, but it was quite a puzzle. I didn't even have a guess.

Wizard Jul 13, 2011

Go ahead and give it away. There is a good PDF document that explains why each location was chosen. Each has a unique design of significance to the tribe of that area. In retrospect, I should have taken a picture of the face of each one, but I was getting fatigued with seeing totem poles and Indian art everywhere at the time.

rdw4potus Jul 13, 2011

Am I reading correctly that your morning run took 2.5 hours? Did you run 15 miles?

Wizard Jul 13, 2011

Q: Am I reading correctly that your morning run took 2.5 hours? Did you run 15 miles?

A: I try to do a half marathon (13 miles) on a weekly basis. This would have been about that long. I probably ran about 11 miles that day, including a run to the end of the jetty. The rest of the time was spent fussing with my camera, waiting at red lights, and not running as fast as I usually do, due to not being familiar with the area.

thecesspit Jul 13, 2011

This is awesome, seeing Victoria through someone else's eyes. Did you also see the world's tallest totem pole at Beacon Hill park? There's a whole bunch at Songhees as well (Spindle #1).

I was looking at these at work and someone swore blind that they were new for this year.... he's lived in Vic for the last 20 years...

11 miles is a bit long for me to try and run between them just yet...

rdw4potus Jul 13, 2011

I'm not sure that I've run 13 miles in my life (not counting running as a part of another sport). I salute you, sir:-)

thecesspit Jul 13, 2011

Hmm, just checking the route, if you know where you are going, it's about 6.5k end to end. If you don't know, that's a different deal. Would be a quite a nice little challenge. Thanks!

The Times Colonist 10k race actually goes within 50 yards of all of these except for the first one.

Wizard Jul 13, 2011


...it's about 6.5k end to end

Dang, I must have spent more time and mileage looking for them than I thought. However, that was part of the fun, to be honest with you. Nothing like running around in circles for half an hour and then finally finding one.

Does anyone know of anything similar to this concept anywhere else? The scattered cows/pigs don't count. I'm interesting in unique ideas. For example, in Australia there are scattered "big things" all over the country.

thecesspit Jul 13, 2011

Vancouver had a long sculpture route back in 2006/07... some of those parts might still be there.

DJTeddyBear Jul 14, 2011

Never been there, don't know if I ever will, but it's still fascinating to "visit" via the internet.

Keep posting your vacation stuff!


I was looking at these at work and someone swore blind that they were new for this year....

The website mentioned that discussions started in 2004, and check the bottom of the back of that PDF. There's a logo with a date: 2005.

crazyiam Jul 15, 2011

If you are ever on the UCDavis campus try and find all the eggheads. Its probably a mile (one way) to get them all if you can find them on your first try. You can combine that with the toad tunnel to add some more milage.

hook3670 Jul 15, 2011

Did you go to the Butchart Gardens while you were there? They are amazing.

Wizard Jul 16, 2011

Quote: crazyiam

If you are ever on the UCDavis campus try and find all the eggheads...

Thanks, I will.

Quote: hook3670

Did you go to the Butchart Gardens while you were there? They are amazing.

Yes. What trip to Victoria would be complete without that. The best garden I've ever seen. Very crowded though.

Posted by Wizard
Jun 28, 2011

Mount Shasta

I mentioned in my last blog entry I would have a separate entry about climbing Mount Shasta on my Odds site. So please check out my entry titled Mount Shasta. I hope you enjoy it.


Ayecarumba Jun 28, 2011

Thanks Wizard, that was great. I really enjoyed the videos too. It seems like a lot of fun to glissade the descent. Are you sitting on anything? or just sliding on your bottom using your ice axe as a brake?

Wizard Jun 28, 2011


Thanks Wizard, that was great. I really enjoyed the videos too. It seems like a lot of fun to glissade the descent. Are you sitting on anything? or just sliding on your bottom using your ice axe as a brake?

Thanks. Glad you liked the videos. Those are officially my first on YouTube. Exactly, I slid down on my bottom and used my ice ax as a brake. The scraping sound is me digging the ice ax into the ice to avoid going too fast.

TIMSPEED Jun 28, 2011

Wizard, I wished I'd of read you were coming into Reno..as I'm in Reno every weekend.

teddys Jun 28, 2011

Fantastic! It makes me want to climb a mountain of sizable height.

Posted by Wizard
Jun 24, 2011

Adventures Mountain Climbing in Northern California and Oregon

I'm back from a four-day mountain climbing trip. I was joined by four others from Las Vegas, members of the Las Vegas Mountaineering Club. Here is the executive summary.

June 18

The first stop on the trip is Mount Shasta, in northern California. My ride was going to go right through Reno on the way. To cut down on the drive, and to see what was new up there, I flew to Reno a day before going onto Shasta. NicksGamingStuff was kind enough to drive up from San Francisco to join me.

It had been about 15 months since my last visit to Reno, and let me say, everything looks pretty much the same as the last time. I would like to note that the Sienna, one of my favorite Reno hotel/casinos, did a great job remodeling, and based on about one hour of blackjack play, the staff were very friendly. Good blackjack rules too, allowing double on any two cards in their 3-2 single-deck game. The most memorable moment was getting into a debate with another player over whether the "Great Pumpkin" exists.

I stayed at the Atlantis, where the attendant at the front desk said I was RF&B. For those who aren't familiar with the expression, it means that room, food, and beverages would be comped. This would have been based on my play my last visit, I'm sure. This particular visit I didn't play as hard and my host took away my points to pay for the room and food charges. When I protested she reluctantly gave me a comp to the gift shop I would have spent the points on, but she clearly wasn't happy about it. Despite the good video poker at the Atlantis, I'll probably stay elsewhere my next visit. Probably the Sienna.

June 19

My buddy Joel picked me up in downtown Reno and we spent about five hours driving to the base of Mount Shasta. I'd like to put in a good word for the Happy Garden Chinese restaurant in Susanville California, where we enjoyed lunch. It was father's day that day, which they celebrated with some miscellaneous balloons. None of them mentioned anything about fathers' day, but one said "Happy Mother's day." When I brought this to the attention of the manager she said that the balloon store had no father's day balloons, so they had to settle on a mothers' day one. She also remarked that fathers' day was one of the slowest Sundays for their restaurant. Meanwhile, every restaurant is always packed on mother's day. Why is it that father's day does not get one-tenth the attention and respect of mother's day?

After arriving at the base of Mt. Shasta we tried to get to sleep early, for a planned 12:30 AM start the next morning. It is necessary to leave about this time to minimize avalanche danger and the snow is easier to walk on when it is cold. In the afternoon the snow gets mushy after heating up in the sun, which requires a lot more energy to walk through. I got about two hours of sleep only, due to somebody revving a snowmobile very loudly for a long time in the parking lot.

June 20

This was the big day. I plan to write about it in more detail in another blog entry. Suffice it to say that it was a very long and strenuous day, but I did make it to the summit. This despite getting lost at first, which wasted an hour, and not adjusting well after 7000 feet of sudden elevation gain. The summit is over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Click on image for larger version.

June 20

The night after Shasta we descended to a quieter spot and camped near the road. After climbing all day, preceded by two hours of sleep the previous night, I never slept better. There was some discussion of climbing nearby Mount Eddy, but between being tired and the access road being closed due to snow, we blew it off. Instead we had a delicious breakfast at the original Hungry Bear restaurant in the city of Mount Shasta.

After that we drove to the base of Mary's Peak near Corvalis, Oregon. On the way I played some video poker on an Oregon Lottery game, which I plan to write about later. Camp was set up at a picnic spot near Mary's Peak.

June 21

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marys_Peak ' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>Mary's Peak is the highest point in the Oregon Coastal Range. It really is no big deal to climb but many in my group are avid "peak baggers" and have to climb as many mountains as they can, both easy and hard. Normally one can theoretically drive to the peak, although I think that at some point a locked gate would impede access. Still there is a trailhead about a mile from the summit.

However, at this time they blocked the access road just past our picnic spot at the base. I would later learn this was due to an avalanche on the access road. The rest of the group walked up the road about half way, and climbed about a five-mile trail the rest of the way. Instead I jogged up and down the road. This was about 18 miles in total, most of it running.

It will likely take months to repair the road, but once they do, I highly recommend the East Rim trail, which I took going down. It starts about five miles from the bottom of Marys Peak Road. The landslide is actually after this trailhead, so I don't know why they have to lock the gate at the bottom. As we camped at the picnic area by the locked gate we noticed many unhappy hikers who had no choice but to turn back.

After that we drove to the Timberline' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>http://www.timberlinelodge.com]Timberline Lodge at the base of Mount Hood. This is the hotel featured in the outside shots of the movie the Shining. Contrary to popular belief, the hotel you see in the exterior movie scenes is not in Colorado, Yosemite, or Wyoming. I've had almost as many arguments about this as I have over the two Darrens of Bewitched and who is the "fifth Beatle." By the way, no, they don't have a maze. It is my understanding the maze was a movie prop. It was quite a rustic yet nice hotel, build in the 1930s of wood, rock, and iron.

To make a long story short, we left at 12:15 AM, for the same reasons as the early departure at Mount Shasta. About two hours later our fearless leader Dan turned back due to ankle pain. Another hour after that the rest of us decided that due to that, overdoing it on Mary's Peak the day before, but mostly due to lousy weather, we turned back as well. We made it about half way up, to the point some climbers take a Snow Cat rides to. By the way, I think such rides are cheating, and you don't get full credit for climbing Hood if you avail yourself of that service. However, when I go back someday, and I shall, I will feel justified to accept the ride, because I already made it up to the drop-off point under my own effort.

June 22

Of our group, three went onto Mount Rainier, one planned to do some easier points in northern Oregon before driving home, and I got dropped off at the Portland airport to head back to Vegas. The cheapest ticket I could find was $330 on Southwest (ouch!) and I had to wait six hours for my flight. So I took the very convenient light-rail from the airport to downtown Portland, which I have never seen before, except maybe as a child. I'll just say that Portland was one of the nicest and cleanest downtown cities I have ever seen in the US.

Other than being expensive, my flight back was uneventful. I was a confused trying to get my luggage at the Vegas airport. I only stopped for a few minutes to buy a coffee on the way to the baggage claim. When I got there I found only one of my two items. The screens said the Portland luggage was supposed to come to carrousel 2. I waited for about half an hour for the other piece but all I saw was luggage from other Southwest flights. Finally I asked about it in the luggage office. There is was in the rows of unclaimed luggage. For once my luggage made it to baggage claim before I did. Evidently, when I didn't immediately get it somebody swooped it up and set it aside. I probably would have realized that earlier on a normal day, but I was tired and exhausted. The lesson to be learned here is that Southwest can be pretty fast unloading luggage from the planes.

So, that is it for now. Stay tuned for my full Shasta report on my other blog at WizardOfOdds.


teddys Jun 24, 2011

That is some serious mountaineering! Looks beautiful, too.

Doc Jun 24, 2011

Quote: Wizard

We made it about half way up, to the point some climbers take a Snow Cat rides to. By the way, I think such rides are cheating, and you don't get full credit for climbing Hood if you avail yourself of that service. However, when I go back someday, and I shall, I will feel justified to accept the ride, because I already made it up to the drop-off point under my own effort.

I remember hearing a claim that one hasn't really climbed Mt. Everest unless the trip was by foot from sea level. I watched a TV show, which you might have seen, that followed a hiker/climber who did just that. I'll leave that to the more dedicated.

Nareed Jun 24, 2011

Very interesting post. I look forward to the full account.

However, I couldn't help but notice the irony in the question about the lack of celebration for father's day, when you were not celebrating father's day (at least not that day).

Wizard Jun 24, 2011

Quote: Doc

I remember hearing a claim that one hasn't really climbed Mt. Everest unless the trip was by foot from sea level. I watched a TV show, which you might have seen, that followed a hiker/climber who did just that. I'll leave that to the more dedicated.

I wouldn't go that far,but it brings up a valid point. To get credit for Everest I would say one has to start at the traditional base camp on the south col route, which is the normal way. In general, wherever it starts to get steep. Yes, there could be debates about how "steep" is defined, but in most cases there is a traditional start of the route.

Recently I reached the top of San Jacinto peak, along with the guy who drove me on this trip, Joel. I commented that we can't really say we "did" San Jacinto, because we took a tram up much of the way. However he disagreed, saying we still hiked for about 12 miles and gained about 2500 feet of elevation. Yes, it took some effort, but I still feel that getting a ride to near the top doesn't seem right. What if a helicopter just dropped you at the summit? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I say that you have to get up the whole way on your own effort to get full credit. If you hire people to carry your stuff then you lose points. In such a case I think you could say you climbed a mountain, but not that you "did" the mountain.

Years ago I read a book titled "The Seven Summits" about a couple of mutli-millionaires who attempted to climb the highest point on each mountain. What they brush over in the book is that they hired guides and porters to lug all their food, gear, and in some cases, oxygen, up. One of the two, the former president of Disney, was a real ass whenever asked to help in any way, reminding them how much money he was paying the crew getting him to the summits.

thegov2k2 Jun 24, 2011

I speculate that SW is so quick at unloading baggage because they're in the main terminal, rather than the satellite terminal most of the other airlines (Continental, Delta, etc.) have to utilize. Baggage travels less distance to get to you.

Posted by Wizard
May 23, 2011

Friday Night Lights

As a birthday present for myself I recently purchased a couple of mementos on Ebay from one of my favorite TV shows, Friday Night Lights. Now that the series is over NBC is selling off lots of props. As a collector of both license plates and identification cards, I was happy to add to both collections.

Above is the driver's license for the main character, coach Eric Taylor. Check out the look his face. As far as I call recall, he never once looked so disheveled on the show. I wonder if this is just an accidental bad picture, or if actor Kyle' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0151419/]Kyle Chander was acting when they took it, as sort of a joke about the typical bad drivers license picture. I'd like to think the latter. By the way, in my own current driver's license picture the camera caught me half-way blinking, so I look very dopey, but I digress.

By the way, I looked up zip code 78744, which is assigned to Austin, Texas. The show takes places in the fictional small town of Dillon. Based on context, it would seem somewhere in west Texas. Austin was often mentioned on the show as the closest big city, and is where they made the show. Another item of interest is that the date of birth would put coach Taylor as 20 days younger than me.

The prop department did a good job on these fake license plates, which were seen on coach Taylor's car many times on the show. For comparison purposes, here is a page on actual Texas license plates. It looks like they forgot to color in the "Texas" and map of the state in red on one of them.


progrocker May 23, 2011

The driver's license is pretty close, but there are some small things that are not exactly right (probably by design, for legal reasons). I'd give specifics but I had to get a temporary badge at work today so I left my license with security. You definitely cannot get a 29 year cycle for expiration though! The top will also say 'Department of Public Safety', which is what we have as opposed to a DMV. In any case, the DLs have been completely redesigned in the last couple of years. What is above was the first style they had after they got rid of the old laminated paper+photo licenses. The new ones are much harder to fake apparently (although when I was a bouncer it was pretty easy to spot fakes anyways).

Are your plates metal? The newest ones are a plastic composite type of material.

benbakdoff May 23, 2011

Buddy Garrity is my favorite character on the show. Texas native Brad Leland played a Buddy-like character in the Friday Night Lights film as well as playing Buddy in the TV series.

Wizard May 23, 2011

The fake plates are all the way plastic. Not the sturdy thin kind many states use today, including Nevada, but a light bendable plastic. Personally, as a collector, I like the embossed mental ones much more.

Yes, Brad' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0500894/]Brad Leland played essentially the same character in both the movie and TV series. For the TV show they made him much more likeable. I liked the development of his character as the show went on. At first I felt he was a sleezy car salesman, but by the end of the show he was quite the dependable, yet unassuming, hero.

Really a solid show from beginning to end. An easy trivia question would be what other actor was in both the movie and TV show?

AZDuffman May 23, 2011

On the pic, be glad you do not live in AZ as you would be stuck with it until age 65. I'd still have mine if not for the fact you need a PA license to own a car here. Why pay to renew if no need?

DJTeddyBear May 24, 2011

Cool, but a license that was issued when he was 16, and doesn't expire for 29 years? 29 year expiration aside, he looks a LOT older than 16 in the photo!


It looks like they forgot to color in the "Texas" and map of the state in red on one of them.

What kind of car did he drive?

It's not uncommon for red ink to fade in the sunlight much faster than other colors. Maybe the car has a recessed plate area or it otherwise keeps one in shadow. Certainly, Texas would use a better quality ink on real plates, but...

Posted by Wizard
May 21, 2011

Grey Poupon

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have some Grey Poupon.


Wavy70 May 21, 2011

Hey you're supposed to be in the back seat.

Nice little car to pick up milk and sundries with.

odiousgambit May 21, 2011

Actually a Rolls dealer told me once they had a problem with all kinds of people asking for "test drives" etc.

But something tells me this is a car show?

Wizard May 21, 2011

Yes, this was at a car show at the Suncoast. The owner was very nice to let me sit in his car for the pictures. Note the steering wheel on the right side.

HotBlonde May 21, 2011

Ahahaha! This is so funny! You should've just shown the top picture since it looked like the car was actually being driven on the street.

Super funny! :-D

Wizard May 21, 2011

Thanks HB. I thought the reader might not understand I was in a Rolls Royce without the second shot.

HotBlonde May 21, 2011

So, I'm curious... you're at a car show and you "just happen" to be carrying a jar of Grey Poupon?? Lol.

rayrayntn May 21, 2011

Not sure how to ask the wizard a question on this site but I'll post here and hope for the best. I live about an hour from the Harrahs Casino in Cherokee,NC. They are not permitted to have live cards but they have digital blackjack. They use a real dealer who pushes the buttons and pays you your chips and everything like a live game. The rules for this digital 21 are as follows...






They use a 6 deck shoe but with only 50% penetration. It seems that every other hand the dealer is turning over 20 and getting blackjacks left and right. What would the house advantage be in a game like this... and are the machines that deal these cards checked/regulated? They do give you the option to cut the cards you tap the table when you want it to cut as you can see the line going through the cards. When you elect to cut the cards the dealer hits the button and it cuts them where you said to cut. Also they have a game called High-Tie 21 that gives you the sidebet option. Is it better to play regular blackjack or play this paticular side bet version of blackjack.

Wizard May 21, 2011

"So, I'm curious... you're at a car show and you "just happen" to be carrying a jar of Grey Poupon?? Lol."

No, I don't routinely carry Grey Poupon around with me. I really liked the car and the owner overheard me praising it to my son and asked if I wanted to sit inside. So I said, sure! Then I noticed the Grey Poupon by steering wheel and started laughing and had the idea for the photos above. Really nice guy who owned it! I meant to come back the next day and give him a copy of my book, but just didn't have the chance.

By the way, for you youngsters, or non-Americans, here is the original Grey Poupon commercial. Boy, that brings back memories from the 80s.

About the gambling question about, ask it in the forum. Geez!

HotBlonde May 21, 2011

#1 I remember that commercial (didn't Mike Meyers do a parody on it?)

#2 You wrote a book?

#3 Is the owner of this car single???

rayrayntn May 21, 2011

Sorry was new to the site and when I found the forum I had posted this here and couldn't figure out how to delete it. Again sorry. :[

JB May 22, 2011

Love it!