Sunday, November 30, 2014


      We've had a very cold and snowy few days of weather. On Nov. 25 heavy snow began. The temperature dropped to minus 20 C (minus 4 F). On Nov. 26 we had more heavy snow. We had between 20 and 30 cm (8 - 12 in) of snow. As the snow moved out cold Arctic air was pulled down so we had minus 30 C( minus 21 F). Nov 27 and today have just been dam cold.

      I finally got out today to get a few photos. It was icy on the fingers. One has to keep the camera inside your coat so that batteries don't die in the camera.

My old friend with a snowy top

Long November shadow

Ruts in the snow

I like my spruce trees with snow on them

More shadow and ruts in the snow.

Some people have shoveled a lot of snow

And this car carries a heavy load of snow

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Something to Really Celebrate: A Ninetieth Birthday.

     Today I had the pleasure to attend a ninetieth birthday celebration. Ninety is an amazing age to reach. When body and mind are in good health it's a bonus.

     I first met Fred in 1969 when I came to teach at a school he taught in. Fred was forty five. I remember when I first met him, and in my 28 year old ignorance, I thought, "This guy's a real old fart." Little did I know  that it could get worse. Fred would have another forty five years and still going.

    Fred was one of those energetic gung ho kind of guys. Fred was forceful and expressive. He worked hard for kids attention and demanded that they work to their potential. He was always humorous and full of mischief.

   I guess Fred liked variety as he went from farm boy to teaching ,to business and back to teaching. Retirement was another thing. He was always active and spent many winters in the south.

    Many community organizations benefited from Fred's efforts and expertise.

   Fred never saw a party he couldn't like. One of Fred's specialties was to recite "the Cremation of Sam Magee." He was good at it. Today he still recited "The Cremation of Sam Magee" He was always humorous and full of mischief. In the days of smoking, he would rush to the staff room for a few puffs during class changes. One day he came back and stood beside me. I noticed smoke rising from some place. It was coming from his pocket where he had put the butt. His language was colorful and I can still remember an outburst. The only damage was a hole in the pocket.

    So today was something to really celebrate. Many more , Fred.

I wore the School hoody for old times sake.

Monday, November 24, 2014

So Many Questions!


The whole deal
      I was trying to find out how an old cheap scanner worked the other day and I managed to get a few photos. The one on the left is from 1975. The other two photos are from this month.

     When I look at the two different photos I'm reminded of Kris Kristoferson's "So many questions, So many answers." One can't help comparing the two photos. Is the first photo really me? Was I that person? What was I like in 1975? Was I better in 1975 or 2014? Which person do I like better? 

    Because there is such a world of difference one wonders. I have usually been a satisfied person. The first photo shows me when I was well into my career and family life. Times were busy and at times chaotic. Teaching was a busy career. It was go, go, go all day every day. It was the same at home with young kids. Somehow I had the energy to succeed in both worlds. There was little time for reflection. Much life experience was still to come.

    In 2014 the pace has slowed. I have time for reflection. I have time to look back on life and learn what was actually taking place. Sometimes I say I would like to start my teaching career over again with all the experience I had when I retired.

    When I look at these two photos. I'm happy about who I was but I'd much rather be the me of right now.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'm Tired of Summits

     It seems as if there is a summit a week on something or other. The G 20 was just held in Australia. These summits are very costly and of questionable value.

      The agendas for the G 20 summits are hammered out months before the event. Many hoops are jumped through in order to come up with an agenda. Some topics are off limits because for some countries the topic is untouchable. Some topics are pushed by a country to advance it's own agenda. So by the time an agenda is agreed upon it's pretty mild. The summit happens. Everybody dances around the issue. Another dance takes place to produce a statement as to what was agreed upon. So the end of the summit comes up with some very bland statements and everybody goes home and does nothing.

      Now the G 20 wasting their time, would be fine with me but a dump truck of money is spent to prepare, operate and close the summit. Many dump trucks of money are spent on security. Apparently some people don't like these guys and would do them harm. So G 20 guys, look at yourselves and see why some people don't like you.

     Canada hosted one of these events and an enormous amount of money was spent on security and fine decorations. Many projects were constructed and I suspicion that the contractors returned money to the governing party as the price of some simple projects was enormous.

   To compound matters there is a G 7 and a G 8. 

    It's also a little sickening to see that the summit is mostly about photo opportunities. There are group pictures and many other photos lined up with symbolic back grounds. The leaders go home and display many pictures of themselves.

     Usually I'm pretty open minded about what goes on with our politicians, but the summit thing goes past my open mindedness.

     Now I'm sure most of you don't give a hoot or follow all the G's. Some of you probably didn't read this far. That's okay. I don't blame you.

     So let's tell these guys to stay home and get some work done.

     So there's my rant for the month!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Air Miles Points! Are They Worth It?

     If you're like many people you will carry a folder of cards with you that are used to collect points.  Most grocery stores have a points system. They want you to build up points and stay with them. Many large box stores have points.. Like most of you I have an Air Miles point card.

     So many places I go I present my Air Miles card and get these wonderful points. I can redeem my points for flights or buy merchandise. Recently I discovered that there are very few places to spend your Air Miles points. Recently some businesses have stopped taking Air Miles points for the purchase of  merchandise.. They'll still give you points but you have to go some place else to spend them. Now as far as flying is concerned, I would not get to the end of  the runway on Air Miles points. And that's a short runway. It takes a lot of points to go any place and I'd rather drive to our nearest town.

     Now the Air Miles topic got going here yesterday when the Air Miles statement came. We bought a car in April and used the charge card for the maximum on the card. The micro manager said I don't think we got the Air Miles points for buying he car. I made a mathematical error when estimating the points. I calculated 2500 points. We phoned Air Miles and discovered it was 250 points instead of 2500. My mistake. However, the Air Miles statement doesn't tell you where the points came from. 

     There are now time limitations on your Air Miles points. You have to use them within five years or you lose them. How many people know that? How many people keep track of Air Miles.?

     I also suspicion that points are worth less but I can't prove it. At one time you may have got a point for every dollar spent. I saw something the other day where you get a point for every $20.00 spent. To make matters worse points are different values. So you have many cards and each card has different values.

     Now I was told to change my Sobies (grocery store) points to Air Miles. We found out the points were put into cloud instead of cash so we can't redeem them at the store.

    So what's a poor boy to do? Well, I'm going to tell you that Air Miles points are crap. I'm going to tell you we're wasting our time with the whole points thing. It's a scam. I would like to see just a competitive price rather than the razzle dazzle of points which are completely rigged against the consumer.

    I wonder if my mother getting cups, glasses or tea towels in products was a better system?

    So am I the only crab who doesn't like collecting points? Am I doing something wrong? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lost Items: What Has to be Done?

      Saturday afternoon I went for  15 minute walk in my neighborhood. We've had very cold weather so it was very pleasant to get out even though it was  still chilly.

     Since it was minus 12 C I was moving right along to keep myself warm. I had not warn my glasses because of the cold.

     All of a sudden I noticed cards in the snow in the gutter. Cards that you carry in your wallet. There was a driver's license, master card, health care card, and other various cards one would carry in a wallet. There was no sign of a wallet, just loose cards scattered in the snow. I couldn't read the name on the cards or I might have discovered they belonged to somebody in the block. 

    Now these cards were fairly obvious in the snow. I'm sure I wasn't the first person of the day to walk on the  side walk. Why hadn't these cards been picked up before.? Now what happened that these cards were left in the snow? Had they dropped out of someone's pocket or wallet? Had a wallet been stolen and the cards thrown away so the bad guys wouldn't be caught with the evidence? Should I pick the cards up? What if some one comes racing out of a house and says they are his cards? I didn't have glasses so I couldn't read names on the cards!

    All these questions race through your mind as you make a decision of what you should do.  There are some what ifs that run through your head. Of course, I carefully picked the cards out of the snow and looked to see if anything else was in the area.

    As soon as I got home I got my glasses to look at the name on the cards. It was somebody who was from out of town. I called  the RCMP. Now that's a challenge to get the RCMP these days. The RCMP uses  a call center so you have to wait for someone to answer and they're not RCMP. I finally did talk to someone who was not an officer. They passed the information on to an officer. An hour later an officer showed up at my house to collect the cards. He told me that these items had not been reported as stolen. So the plot thickens.

    When you find evidence many questions arise. Why were the credit cards still with these cards? It's a mystery!

    I have found wallets before and they are completely empty. That makes sense. I've found cards before but the good ones ( credit cards) have been taken.

    I hope the owner gets his cards back and anything else that went missing.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Matter of Perspective

      I have posted numerous times on my attempts to be a handyman. I am not mechanically inclined but with effort and digging for information I can repair a wide variety of things. I ask people and get excellent information which is very helpful and makes me look good. On the other hand if I can help others I'll do it.

   Last February I bought a new car and just recently had a tow hitch put on it. I have a rather ancient utility trailer but it allows me to haul things a half dozen times a year. This summer I wanted one 16 ' two by four to fix my fence. They wanted $45.00 to deliver it. This is where the utility trailer saves you money.

   Now I had to get a connector to hook up the trailer lights to the car so that brake lights and signal lights would operate. At first I thought the job would be easy. You know two wires come from the trailer light. Can that be difficult? Well, the longer I thought about it the more complicated it became. Finally, with a little advice from a few sources I thought I had it right.

    I didn't want to pull my trailer out because of the snow so I asked a mechanically inclined neighbor if he's look at it to see if I was right.

   He came over and of course wanted the trailer pulled out and attached to the car. Of course, the lights didn't work. He wanted me to haul the trailer to his garage. I didn't want to do this but he gave reasons as to how he could help to do the connections so finally I agreed . He said we would do it in the afternoon and it would take 15 or 20 minutes.

    He came later on and said tomorrow morning. He came again and said this afternoon. I went over in the afternoon and he had a long list of reasons why the system wouldn't work. He had a number of certainly upgraded plans. I only wanted the wires hooked up and no super dooper wire enclosers. He also said I had to buy different lights. Then wouldn't it be nice to replace the box. 

    Well, I was talking as fast as I could as I only wanted wires hooked up properly and the rest was just fine. Finally he agreed , but I had to leave the trailer in his garage as it was behind a car he didn't want to move. 

    I'm sure he meant well. I think he is a perfectionist and when he sees something he just has to repair it to first class condition. That's not what I needed.

    So it all boiled down to a matter of perspective. What kind of trailer did I want? It was certainly not the trailer he wanted. 

    So after much worry about leaving my trailer I retrieved it and I still don't have the lights connected. 

   So there will be another post in the spring about how I got the lights working. I know I can do it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Snow Brings Back a Memory

      I was looking out my window this morning and watching surly clouds flying by. It was dull. The wind was howling and snow drifting. It was minus 12 C(15 F).

     I was reminded of an activity from the mid forties when I was a child on a western Canadian farm.

     Now urban people will get little out of the rest of this post. Anybody under 65 will not relate to it either. However, I'm going to tell my story. It's not fiction.This was life growing up in the mid forties. Sometimes when I look at this it seems unreal.

     Western Canadian farmers faced tremendous odds of failure. In the thirties they couldn't sell their product. During the war they did not have gasoline so still worked their farms with horses. This was not a profitable venture. Many people stayed on their small farms as they could grow their own food and there were no jobs any where else.

     Now back to this cold day. It was always on a day like this that my Dad would go for a load of hay. He had about 4 cows and 8 or 9 "young stock". He "put up hay" in the summer. This means that he found a meadow with grass to cut or  dried up slough that had slough hay. As he was busy in the summer he stacked the hay where he cut it and would haul it home in the fall  when he wasn't quite so busy..

    When cold and snowy weather cut in he would start hauling hay. The cold snowy weather meant that his other outdoor work was finished. Snow meant that he could use his "bob sleigh". He put a hay rack on the sleigh and he was in business. The hay rack was about 6' by 10' and was suitable for hauling bulky hay and straw.

    So my brother and I thought it was great to go with Dad. We were four or five so were of no value as far as work was concerned but it was great fun. So on a nasty day like today we would go for a load of hay. We liked bouncing along on the empty hay rack that the team was pulling. Dad would work hard loading the hay. We played in the snow and hay pile. Like all little kids we rolled around in the soft snow and hay. The ride home was pleasant as the hay was soft and we could snuggle in out of the wind. We also threw hay at each other and stuck it down our necks! You had to see who could put more hay on the other guy. 

    When we got home there was more great snow to play in and we stayed outside. On toward dark we would go in the house. Only after taking off our coats did we realize we were cold. Suddenly Mother discovered hay all over the floor and asked us how it got in our clothing. Of course, we didn't know. Five year old brains just aren't developed far enough to get it that if you put hay down somebodies neck it will sooner or later fall out. We were given a broom and ordered to clean the mess up.

    So with childhood experience like this , It's no wonder I don't mind the cold. I think early child hood experiences influence our later life.

    So we were having many hayrides for free. Today kids have to pay lots of money for a hay ride and it doesn't have nice hay to snuggle in and push down your brother's neck.

    Now tell me honestly, how much could you relate to this type of life?

    I wish I had pictures from those happy days.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

I Can Make You Happy


     Yes, all I need to say is snow an a whole lot of people are happy for many different reasons. Some, like me, genuinely like snow. Those who don't get snow like it because of it's beauty. Others will say "Ha ,ha, He's got snow again."  

     It snowed overnight and we had light snow all day for a total of 4 in. (10 cm). It's been minus 9 C(7 F) all day.So I was out right after breakfast to clean up my driveway and walks. It's the first time I've had to shovel snow this winter.

     See my Nov. 6 post where I reported that we had a high of 17 C. I also predicted that my next day's picture might be very different. Well, it wasn't the next day but 4  days later.
     If I'd had time today I would have got the cross country skis out and set my ski tracks!

On my street

This nine year old has style in his shoveling even if my picture is fuzzy

Time for cleaning windshields

Power from the legs

Thursday, November 6, 2014

More on Time

      As a continuation of the recent time change post, there are some things I do notice because of the time change.

      When the time changes I seem to notice how short the days have become. Before the time change we still have a long afternoon and some evening. Right after the time change the evening sunlight has gone and the afternoon ends early. Today the sun set at at 4:56. It's dark by 6:00 PM. The sun rose this morning at 7:40 AM. It was dark before when I got up and it's still dark when I get up now after the time change. The shortest day of the year is on it's way.

   However, today was one of those awesome fall days. We had a high of 17 C (65 F). This is not a record but very nice to have. I couldn't find a record high for this day but the record high for November is 22.8 C ( 73 F). If you care to know the record low at Red Deer for November is minus 35 C ( -32 F).

    Now here's  poor excuse. I was busy today and didn't get a photo. Tomorrow is to be much cooler and I might get  snow photo.

    Our warm temperature today was caused by a chinook. Air rushes over the Rocky mountains and drops in altitude. As the air drops it warms up. Chinooks are always come with a high west wind, but I don't mind if I get warm weather. We also have cloud cover but if we look to the west we see blue sky.

     So a November 6 that is very warm is  pleasant bonus. It means one less day of cold winter weather.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Something I Won't Wear

     Now we all have closets full of clothes that we won't wear or haven't worn for a long time. I have a perfectly good leather winter coat that I don't wear. It was in style in the 70's and then went out of style. I don't wear ties anymore but I have many ties and I probably wouldn't wear any of them. I bought a new tie for my daughter's wedding. I have dress shoes that I never wear as I don't go to things that are formal. We also tend to dress down and don't wear more formal clothes. We don't wear shirts ties and jackets to memorials any more. 

    In a recent post I wrote about a favorite leather jacket that I really liked wearing but it is long past it's best before date. 

    Today I found something that I won't wear. I'm not wearing it because I don't like it or any other reason not to wear it (like it's too small). It's a tee shirt that has special meaning and I want to keep it. One year our art teacher did a caricature of all staff and silk screened it on to tee shirts. We were given the shirts at the end of the year. The artist is a great friend and I wanted some of his art. It was a great way to remember the staff of that year. So this tee shirt is too sentimental for me to wear.

A little tight around the middle!

I found it difficult to get these to show up on the shirt so that you could see the artist's work.

    So do you have clothes you don't wear?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Time Controls Us

     I read some posts and numerous comments on the change from Day Light Savings time to standard time last night. All posts and comments I read were not very favorable to the change. In other words there was a lot of moaning and groaning. I admit that the change in time sometimes bothers me.

     So I started to think about our control by time and I have some incidences and experience to go along with my idea.

    I come from a very rural background. I realize that an urban background has been tied to the clock for a long time. You can't go to work late.

     I am old enough to predate electric clocks. We had one wind up clock in the house. Sometimes the clock stopped because somebody forgot to wind it. Horror of horrors. What shall we do? We couldn't get time from the radio as time was rarely given and the radio batteries were dead half the time. So we just   phoned one of the neighbors to check the time.

    Grandma had a very ancient wind up clock that didn't keep time very well at the best of times. Her clock sometimes didn't run for days. In fact, she didn't know it wasn't running. Her life carried on and nobody missed eating or getting their work done. Since Grandma and Grandpa spent much of their lives out doors they were automatically aware of the time from the sun.

    I am retired. There is very little that requires me to be bound by clocks. I haven't worn a watch since the day I retired. I do use the clock in my car.

    So I think we're just tied a little too closely to time. We are slaves to time.

     Freedom is not knowing what time it is.

     And oh yes, you will adjust to the change in time.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Confusion: Aftermath of Shooting on Parliament Hill

    On October 22 there was a dreadful shooting in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. A lone gunman gunned down a reserve soldier standing at ceremonial guard at the remembrance. The gunman then hopped a fence and entered the parliament buildings 150 m (165 yds) away. No one is sure as to what happened. A tremendous amount of terror and confusion occurred and the gunman was dead in moments.

    The whole incident was a horror. A young reservist was dead and people in the parliament buildings were in complete shock. 

     The incident has not been fully described as it's difficult to piece together such a terrible chain of events.

    Much has been said about this incident. The government has jumped all over this and turning itself inside out to come up with laws that will protect us as they say from terrorists. They speak far too soon.

    First there is an alarming lack of coordinated security on Parliament Hill and what is there doesn't work. How in the world could a crazed gun man enter the Houses of Parliament? How could he kill somebody a 150 m away and still get into parliament with out somebody catching on? How could he walk down the street with a long gun and no one would raise any questions? People who had a duty and responsibility were not there. Three different police forces have responsibility for this small area...RCMP, Ottawa city police and a parliament security force. None of them can talk to each other as their radio systems do not operate on the same frequencies. How inept?
     The government has been quick to jump on this and label the guy as a terrorist. He was a confused sick loser. They have to know what animal shot the place up before they make new laws for our protection. This guy was well known to police. He had drug problems, mental health issues and had committed a number of crimes. Somebody should have been keeping their eye on this guy and treatment for mental health should have occurred.

    Only one thing needs to happen. The guys who are supposed to look after the place had better get their act together. This guy could have and should have been stopped long before he shot the soldier. Everybody was asleep at the switch. Now I know it's easy to criticize from this far away, but much has to asked about how security was doing their job.

    I do not like the confusion that our government is showing on the handling of this incident. They are barking up the wrong tree and trying to make themselves look good more than anything else.