IRG is a major reason why, though now retired, I ended up as the Research Leader of the Wood Protection Group at FPInnovations, Canada’s national forest products research institute.
I was born in Britain but discovered foreigners were surprisingly pleasant people on a school trip to the Netherlands at age 11. A camping trip in Norway at age 13 reinforced this impression and fostered my love of mountains lakes and forests. It was also in Norway that I learned backcountry skiing at age 16. A first degree in Botany at Imperial College, London University included a final year project on interactions among wood-inhabiting fungi supervised by Dr. Dave Dickinson. I went on to study biological control of decay in wood poles. Encouraged by Dave, I presented my PhD work at the IRG meeting in Sarajevo in 1983. Consequently, in 1985 when Forintek (now FPInnovations) needed a wood preservation mycologist, I was a known commodity to IRG members John Ruddick and Roger Smith. I was offered a job in Vancouver, BC; a location with more mountains lakes and forests than you could ever hope to explore. I dragged my wife Rae with me (no kids) and she was able to train as a dental hygienist and develop a career that had been blocked in England by “the system”. My career has allowed me to travel extensively for work, meet a lot of great people, and funded my travel for pleasure.
In my spare time I am a reader, dancer, hiker, shade gardener, home brewer, craft beer aficionado and writer (my pen name is J. Random). I have backpacked the West Coast Trail, Hope Pass, the Fools Gold Route, Superstition Mountains, Forbidden Plateau, Skyline Trail, Deadman’s Canyon, El Dorado Basin, Rainbow Mountain, the travertine falls of Havasupai Canyon and through the Gates of Shangri La to the Stein Divide. I have cruised the canals and sailed the Norfolk Broads of England, sailed a tall ship in New Zealand, whitewater rafted the Thompson River, jet-boated the Snake River, windsurfed Kennedy Lake, kayaked the Broken Islands and perfected an Eskimo Roll on my 40th birthday.
I have had close-enough encounters with dwarf deer and otters in the Broken Islands, marmot and black bear on the North Shore Mountains, grizzly bears in the Southern Chilcotin, mountain goats on Mount Baker, wolves in the Alberta Rockies, a bull moose in Algonquin park, bison in Montana, koala in Australia, albatross, iguanas, giant tortoises and baby sealions in the Galapagos, not to mention a flock of ruby-throated hummingbirds in Texas, the basilisk lizard and the resplendent quetzal in Costa Rica. I have snorkeled with manta rays on the Great Barrier Reef, dolphins in New Zealand, turtles in Hawaii, cuttlefish in Cozumel, lion fish in Grand Cayman, sharks, sea lions and penguins in the Galapagos.
I have experienced Niagara Falls, the Kartchner Caverns, Waitomo glowworm caves, Mount Rushmore and Old Faithful Geyser. I toured Stonehenge, the Coliseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Beijing’s Forbidden City, the temples of Kyoto and Chichen Itza, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, the CN Tower, the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eden Project. I have experienced Communism in Cuba, Buddhism in Bali and Capitalism in Las Vegas.
I flew, in a helicopter over Haleakala, a balloon over the frozen forests of Sweden (I once owned 1/6 of a hot air balloon), a float plane over the Gulf Islands, and a light aircraft over the Grand Canyon. I have parachuted solo out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft and nailed a stand up landing. I have eaten haggis and black pudding in England, chicken sashimi, flying fish still flapping and Hoya (a tunicate) in Japan, fried duck head and goodness knows what else in China. I am amazed I survived to retire at fortytwenty. There was other stuff I still wanted to do!
This bio was written for the June 2015 IRG newsletter.