Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bring Me a Present.

       In the 80's and 90's people began taking their children out of school for a week or more to go on a holiday. They could get great prices on tour packages and the travel agents didn't consider school attendance.

       I'll admit that this practice bothered me a bit. I resented kids being absent from class. Yes, parents asked for work ahead, which I didn't have ready. But parents were apologetic and I was understanding.

       One day one of the kids was talking about going away so I said, "You've got to bring me back a present." The kid was uneasy and didn't know what to say. So to ease the anxiety I quickly said , "Bring me back a newspaper." I got a funny look and the kid said "Sure!"

      Sure enough when the kid came back he proudly delivered my present

      Now it so happened that I did a newspaper unit with my students. We looked a newspapers and I had them find parts like "national news, humor. classified ads, editorials etc. Some days we were knee deep in paper. They were also given a choice of many different writing exercises. Then there was always the tour of a newspaper to see how the real thing was put together.

     So accidentally I knew what I was doing when I asked the kid for a newspaper.

     I asked the next few kids for a present. They'd bring the paper and we'd pull it apart to see how it was put together. The kid always got his time to tell about his newspaper or his trip.

     Then I got, "My Dad's going to Russia. Would you like a paper?" Sure!  I got a few Russian Pravda's. Now we couldn't do much with them. It was just fun to see one.

     So over the years I amassed a great collection of newspapers in the bottom of the closet.

      When I retired I hated to put them in recycling.

     I'm not sure who had more fun with this or learned the most. "Me or the kids!

      It was one of those offhand moments where it turned out profitable.

My gr sevens from a long time ago.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Does Spelling Count?

     One of the comments on my post about cursive writing was on spelling. The comment was on her poor spelling.

     Now before I start off there's a caveat. I'm not a good speller.

    The comment was in reference to the use of spell check and that there was too much reliance on spell check.

    Spelling has become something very different since I taught language arts in middle school. Texting (Texting isn't on spell check) has brought about all kinds of weird inventions and shortcuts. I have trouble reading most text messages.

    Now I was one of the last to teach spelling. I thought spelling was important so I used spelling texts, rules and bribery. I had the usual test on a word list each week. If you had all words correct you got 110% . If you got three 100's in a row you could skip the next  lesson. I always had people who wanted to use the system. I was asked if they could get over 100% on their report card if the bonuses pushed up the average. I was the last teacher teaching spelling and I think it was important to give people spelling rules and skills. Many times people are baffled by spelling. For most things there is a rule.

     Now when it comes to blogs,
spelling errors are allowed. We are blogging for pleasure, not for marks! When we're using the computer , by all means use spell check. Keep on trying the choices until you find the correct spelling. 

      Some people write the way they speak which makes for an interesting realistic blog. They tell their stories from their own point of view and expression.

    Mostly , enjoy your writing. Have fun telling your story. Use the type of language and expression that gets your story across.

    Now when I gave assignments, I was often asked,"Does spelling Count?"  I had to say yes and no. You're not getting marked for spelling but good spelling goes a long way to a better assignment.

     Where do you stand on the spelling issue?

     Find any spelling errors in this post?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Strenuous Backpack Trip

     I went along as a supervisor on many backpack expeditions. I got to go on a trip and people who needed and I provided an extra supervisor where needed.

     The longest trip I ever went on was in to Mt. Assiniboine in Mt. Assiniboine Park. Mt. Assiniboine is much higher than all peaks in the area and is a typical alpine shape. Mt. Assiniboine is 3618 m(11870 ft)  in altitude. No,we didn't climb it.

     A Venturer scout group ages 16 -17, wanted to do a five day backpack trip for one of their activities. We had nine Ventures and five supervisors...three man and two women. So off we went to Mt Assiniboine. Now these kids didn't need supervisors. They were super good kids. They were also in great shape.

     We started at the Sunshine Ski Resort which is a few miles west of Banff, Alberta. We found a pickup truck that was driving to the top and threw our big packs in and he took them to the top of the ski area. We walked up the 9 Km with our day packs. We found our packs at the ski lodge on top. By this time it was 5:00 PM  . We hiked three more kms and camped for the night. 

     The next day was a long hike over rough terrain. When they said Boulder Pass they really meant it. Boulders were the size of houses. We camped for the night and the next morning there was frost on the tent.

     The next day was a short walk to Mt. Assiniboine. We camped there two nights and enjoyed the area. We were at an elevation of 7000 ft. We were across from the mountain and in the late afternoon large chunks of ice would break off the glaciers and fall into the lake below. Some of these chunks would start off the size of houses and end up completely crushed by the time they hit the lake. the peak was about 5000 ft above us.

     Mt Assiniboine is one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the southern Rockies.

   On the way out we went over Wonder Pass which is a very good name for it. One more camp over and then a short walk out to where we were picked up.

    It was one of the most strenuous trips I was on but very well worth while. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    The photos were taken by my friend Mike.

These kids would sing as they walked along.

MT Assiniboine is the peak on the right

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I Can't Recognize Myself!

     You might have guessed this would happen. I spent a good part of my winter scanning photos. I found many photos of myself and I couldn't resist putting them out there to show my aging.

     Since I was a teacher I have a school photo for almost every year. That takes me to age 57. I've been retired for 19 years.




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hey! It's Spring

     Yes, today is the first day of spring. It's not a day where things suddenly change from black to white...where winter suddenly disappears and we have this pleasant time called spring. No , it's just one more day of slow change in each day. Sometimes the changes are warm and pleasant and on the other end we have cold and unpleasant times coming.

    The first day of spring does give me a lift. It does give me more energy. 

    On Dec 21 , we had 7 hours and 39 minutes of sunshine. Today we have 12 hours and ten minutes of sunshine. So we've gained 4 hours and 32 minutes of sunlight since Dec. 21 2015. It just feels better to look at these numbers.

     Where ever  you are I hope you enjoy spring weather for your area.

     Now for those people on the other side of the equator you are not left out. You will also have changes to look forward to and make proper preparations for the time.

                     These photos were taken Mar 21 , 2012

                     This photo was taken Mar 28 2012. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Outdoor Education

      From time to time in my posts I have mumbled about being involved in Outdoor Education. Three of us taught the program and Mike was the guy who had the passion for outdoors and developed the program.

      We covered things like food, clothing, shelter, safety, first aid, map reading,orienteering, cooperation and a few other good things to know when you're enjoying the great outdoors. The highlight of the course were the two field trips each class took. We would take one trip that involved backpacking and a second that involved cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Usually we overnighted in a rustic hostel or tented.  For November tenting we didn't go too far away from home.

     We usually had about 35 students with two teachers and a couple of parents for supervision. 

     The photos are from the top of Coliseum Mountain. The leader would start the hike and make numerous stops for rest and water. My favorite spot was to be the last. Of course , I had the little guys who were incredibly slow and out of shape. I got most of these little guys to the top. Going down was the same except worse. By this time the little guys were more fatigued and became fairly weak. Sometimes the feet had started to blister.They were slower downhill than uphill. Sometimes the other kids had been waiting on the bus for a long time before I got there.  

    I've talked to former students about this course. They enjoyed it but one stands out in my mind. One of these people became a lawyer and was on the library board with me. One day he told me that Outdoor Ed was the "funnest " course he ever took. His Mom and Dad never took him camping. He found it hard as he said I was a little short, fat kid with a big pack and it was hard but fun!"

    I think I was up Coliseum Mountain 17 times and the sister peak 12 times.

On top of coliseum before going down one of the teachers would tell the kids that they did a very challenging activity that day and to be very proud of what they did. We then asked kids to go to a separate spot and meditate on the activity for two minutes and then we started down.

We always carried the school flag and had the mandatory photo.

A happy group.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hand Written Letters

       A columnist in my local paper had as a topic writing letters by hand.  It started me thinking.

       When was the last time I wrote a letter by hand? I can't remember. I've had a computer in the house since 1997. Before that, I can't remember who I would have written to. When I first left home in 1957, my Mom wrote me every week and I replied. My Mom and Grandma exchanged letters every week. There were many friendly letters in our local rural mailbox. The letters were newsy and always exciting to receive. Mom would read the letters to us many times. Am I about to sit down and write someone a friendly letter? No!  

      Now I know I receive at least one written letter per year. My sister-in-law hand writes every Christmas. She writes a very good letter.

     Because of the absence of personal letters in my mailbox. I'm not the only one who's quit writing letters.

    In a slower time it was pleasant to sit down and write a  letter to tell people what was going on in my life and to inquire what was happening to another person.

     So why don't I write? Well you can guess. Email has made it easier for us to make contact quickly  and easily. Why we can phone all over the place in an instant. In the 1940's, to phone Grandma long distance would have been very expensive and I can't remember if Grandma and Grandpa had a phone.

    Now I also have to admit that my cursive writing skills have disappeared. I could probably write in cursive form but I would really have to think about it. I've printed for more than twenty years and the printing is also getting rather rough. I've been through some old mementos here and found a couple of letters I had written. It gave me a rather strange feeling to see the evidence from my hand. So the keyboard has limited my cursive writing and printing.

    Now all this comes from a retired teacher. We taught cursive writing to the kids in the 1950's and 60's. I know these kids don't use cursive writing any more. 

    So have we lost something that is a necessary skill? Do we have something that will adequately make up for our lack of cursive writing? What's next? How will technology influence our handwriting or printing? How will our letter writing be influenced?

    There's been  an unbelievable change in the last twenty five years. 

Now I have to admit that my talented daughter wrote my poem beautiful lettering

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hundredth Anniversary of Daylight Saving Time

         This year marks the hundredth anniversary of daylight saving time being first implemented in a country. Germany and Austria put daylight saving time into effect on April 30, 1919. The modern version of daylight saving time had been developed in 1895.

       Now many parts of the world have tried daylight saving time. People have discussed the topic forever. There are pros and cons. Farmers are going to make their own decision as to when to get up and start their work. Other people will get up an hour earlier so that they have a longer evening for their activities.

      I don't care one way or the other if we have daylight saving time. Here on daylight saving time, on the longest day, the sun sets just before 10:00PM . It doesn't get dark until 11:00 PM and then we still see a glow in the western sky.

    Many people complain about the change and find it hard to adjust for the first few days. Usually the change doesn't bother me. 

     Today's change tricked me and I was confused. I usually get up at 7:00 AM. I don't use an alarm clock. Today I was awake at 6:11 and then dozed off again. When I woke up again I thought it was 7:00 Am and got up . When I'd finished my breakfast I wondered why it was 8:40. My breakfast takes about 20-25 minutes. What's going on? Did we make a mistake in setting the clock. Then it hit me. I didn't get up at 7:00AM. I'd slept longer than I thought and woke at 8:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM.

     So tonight after dinner, I was able to go for a 3473 step,
31 minute walk in bright sunshine!

10:40 PM on the north side of a house

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gross National Happiness

     This afternoon I read an article in my retiree magazine. A trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan was described.

     The Bhutanese government is based on the understanding "that each individual's well being must take precedence over the economic and political practice of materialism." Gross National Happiness, which measures the country's prosperity not by monetary value, but by the
 physical, spiritual social and environmental well being of the population.

     Each person is part of a larger whole. All people are dependent on the other.

    The article went on to say that the Bhutanese realize a certain amount of financial security is needed. They reject greed and accumulation of wealth.

    The Bhutanese have four underlying principles of Gross National Happiness: generosity, ethics, tolerance and perseverance.

     Generosity is considered very highly. We know that generosity gives one a great feeling of pride and satisfaction.

     Ethics means how we behave towards each other. Ethics means that we behave decently toward others. Just think how we would have to treat those who are different than we are.

   Tolerance is difficult for us as we have our own personal bias's .We are all equal concerning our fundamental humanity. After that, all bets are off for many of us. We find differences in each other as far as religion, language, gender, wealth and many other aspects of ordinary everyday life. We keep pushing these differences for selfish reasons.

    Perseverance means facing life's challenges and continuing in spite of challenging circumstances.

    Since we've just had an election where division was promoted so that one party could win, I thought this was an appropriate idea to consider. One party wanted only Christian refugees brought to this country. One party did all it could to stall funding to indigenous projects and education.

   I prefer politicians who promote unity. I think generosity, ethics, tolerance and perseverance would go a long way to bringing happiness to our population.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Each Peak Has Its Story

     Think of the lake and highway in my Windy Point post.  A few km down the road is Whirlpool Point. Up behind the point it looks like there is a peak.

     My friend and I had been down this road many times and always looked up at the peak and wondered if we could get up to the peak. 

     One Saturday morning we set out to see what this area was like. There's a good stopping place  on both sides of the ridge. We stopped at the first parking lot all ready to go. A large bald eagle rose from it's perch and disappeared.

    We had looked on maps and couldn't see the peak on any map. We could not find a trail so started to bushwhack. We found it hard going for 300 m and then came out on a  ridge. The ridge was a pleasant walk as it was even and a gentle rise for 3 km. This was great. Clarke's nutcrackers soared up to the top of the ridge on wind currents.

    The peak became very visible when we had a km left to go. we also found that the last 300m in elevation was steep and covered in large boulders. It was scrambling time. It was each man for himself to find a route to the top. My friend
who is much younger and more experienced got the top about 10 min before I did. I did not choose a very good route.

    Many of the peaks out here have a cairn of some sort. This peak had a rather large cairn. As my friend was making his last step to the top a huge bald eagle came up the other side at the very same time. My friend was shocked and ducked. The eagle was just as shocked and took evasive action to miss my friend. 

This is the cairn from windy point Ridge

    So the eagle had been using the cairn for his perch and just happened to be coming up the opposite side so the two were unaware of each other and shocked.

   So we met the bald eagle from the beginning again.

    Now the bald eagle encounter moved me to a poetic mood.

    We also made another discovery. What we thought was a peak was really just the end of a ridge. The ridge kept going for another three km. We kept walking on the ridge . In places it was on 1.5 m wide. There was exposure on both sides. At one point I tossed an old tin can over the edge. It was quite a while before I heard the tin can hit rocks below.

    On the way back we found a very nice trail from the ditch right up to the ridge. 

    Now we took kids up this ridge 5 or 6 times. We only got kids to the top twice as it always seemed to be very windy.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Security Card

     Canada had a general election on Oct. 19, 2015. It was a very long campaign and over  the time a number of issues had an influence. The niqab was one  major issue and had an influence of the election outcome.

     The Conservative Party of Canada's (CPC) strategy was to divide the people so that CPC and Steven Harper would win the election with very few votes. One wedge issue was security. Security is an easy card to play. You don't have to be too careful with facts or statistics. People are vulnerable when it comes to crime and security. Canada's crime rate has been slowly going down since 1980. However CPC still claimed crime and terrorism were a problem. Solution: We'll make more jails and throw the bums in jail. They came up with one "fact" that "the rate of unreported crime had gone up." How does the rate go up when it's unreported? When it comes to crime there's only so much that can be done. We'll never be without crime.

     Criticize the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the referee when it comes to the legality of certain legislation. Bashing the court works to divide people. 

    Stoking up insecurity and tensions is an extremely negative thing to do. People are set against one another.  People separate from one another. Communication doesn't take place and they are easier prey for security fears. Energy is wasted by conflict. Groups of people begin to dislike each other and fear others. Take any group: refugees, Muslims, colors, languages. They're fair game for the security card.

    Thinking leaders should attempt to gain power from a unity standpoint. There is power in uniting. There is positivity in unity. Once elected these parties have a better chance of governing rather than continuing to stoke the security fires. Groups have to be brought together. 

    We have to learn that we must compromise. It's impossible for the complete accommodation of all points of view. The government has to work at communication to help put policies into effect that will be best for the society

    The Government elected in Canada is far from perfect. They will not solve all our problems. They will make mistakes. We have to pick the best of the bunch and run with it.

    I dislike conflict. I dislike fighting. I'm ok with good discussion.

    So let's look for politicians who will try their best to work for all of us.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Ride Began In 1958

     I finished high school in June of 1957. Now I know many of you weren't born then but I'll tell my story anyway.

     I enrolled in a one year teacher training program right after high school. In June of 1958 at the age of 18 I had a teacher certificate which of course, allowed me to teach and get paid $2400 per year.

    Well, in no time I had a teaching position. There was a great shortage of teachers so jobs were a dime a dozen. I was hired to teach in  one room country school with and enrolment of ten students. There I was at 18 years old where I was the teacher and completely independent. I turned 19 in October. Now think about it . I was a teenager not unlike any other teenager. But I was a teacher responsible for ten students and the school itself. I had 3 grade ones, 2 grade twos, a grade three, a grade four, a grade five, a grade seven and a grade nine.

     Well, I went to work with great energy as I was going to teach those kids for all I was worth.  These kids  previously had a series of very ineffective teachers. Their background was a little weak but they worked hard. I really enjoyed teaching the grade ones. You could see how much they progressed in one year.

     The year ended quickly. I wanted to find out if I would like teaching. I found out what I wanted to know. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and decided to enter a Bachelor of Education program. the district wanted me to stay another year. The community was very supportive and really encouraged a very insecure 19 year old. The whole community supported me. I had never experienced this before but I recognized what they thought of me.

    Now when I was doing pictures this winter. I found photos of my students from Louisville school. I hadn't looked at them for years. I can hardly believe that the grade ones are turning 65 this year!

     The ride finished in 1997 when I retired. From 1958 to 1997 I managed to teach for 37.1119 years. I was very fortunate to be involved in a very rewarding occupation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 1: Lion or Lamb

       Well, my March definitely came in like a lamb. I was up at 1:00 AM and it was clear, calm and minus 11 C (14 F). You have to check this as close to midnight as possible to be accurate. So I guess I can look for some nasty weather at the end of March which wouldn't be a surprise.

     Now I'm always interested in the origin of proverbs like In like a lamb out like a lion. It seems you have lots to chose from when it comes to origins of the proverb. I found a couple of explanations today which are interesting.

    One example is from a time when people believed in spirits and they didn't want to offend the spirits because the spirits could change the weather. They wanted the weather to be balanced. They wanted pleasant weather. Another uses the stars for an explanation. Leo is a rising sign of the horoscope in March. Aries (goat or kid) is rising in April. Kid didn't sound so good so they used lamb. So that's where lion and lamb come from.

     So take your pick. If you don't like these , check the internet and you'll find lots of explanations.

     Now the reason I was up at 1:00AM is that I was awakened by bright flashing lights. No I wasn't sick. When I looked out there were three police cars in my intersection! That got my attention. They had the dog unit and were obviously looking for someone. Now I rarely see a police car in my neighborhood. They don't even drive through to take a look. Crime is rare.

    So I did what I usually do...go right back to bed. Now the Micro Manager just had to watch what was going on. After half an hour she came back to bed and was none the wiser.

    So maybe my March didn't come in like a lamb because of all the police action.