Winter dos and don'ts 

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Winter is coming. Thanks to the Song of Ice and Fire epic ("Game of Thrones" for those who get their books by television) those three words sound grim in my head, so lets imagine them shouted out by someone who's insufferably happy, like Elmo if he wasn't tainted by a sex scandal, or Peewee Herman who, well, had his own "Elmo" problem once upon a time.

This column is for all the newcomers to Whistler. Cut it out and stick it on your minifridge with that magnet you got from that beer case, or pin into the ceiling of the sauna you sleep in between Jaeger bombs; a simple list of Dos and Don'ts to guide you through the season.

DO... take full advantage of everything that Whistler has to offer, including the mountains, the trails, the tours. Whistler is best experienced outside, or at the very least on a patio.

DON'T... Shoot your wad too quickly. One of the saddest things this time of year is all the crutches and arm slings on people who saw Red Bull's "The Art of Flight" or Sherpa Cinema's "All I Can" and said to themselves, "Hey, that doesn't look that hard..." Pace yourself: there's snow on the slopes until June.

DO... be polite to our guests, though they will sorely test your patience and, yes, your very sanity at times. Tourism is the lifeblood of this place. You may think you're here to ski or snowboard, but you're not; you're here to work. Tourism is why this place exists.

DON'T... spend a nickel more than you make. People dig themselves into some deep, sad holes in this town, but while the cost of living is high and the urge to party is strong, there are thousands of us that have found a way to make it here against all odds. Learn to budget. Say "no" sometimes and, if you do go out, then please, for the love of Ben Bernanke, take cash and leave your cards at home!

DO... make a lot of friends and be nice to people. The thing about Whistler is you never really know who is going to be here long-term, but if you're nice to everyone then chances are you'll have people to play with for a long, long time. We don't generally judge people for the way they look (unless it involves rear-entry snowboots) or how they dress or what they do for a living. I guarantee the guy who brings your pizza is more hardcore than you in every way.

DON'T... get caught in the April Trap (I coined the phrase, hence the caps), where you find yourself getting dragged to endless going-away parties at expensive restaurants for people you may never see again. Seriously, there's one of these every week at the end of the season, and it's the fastest way to blow all the cash you were so wisely saving for a mountain bike. Show up late or make a card or something. Ditto for birthdays.


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