Saturday, July 30, 2016

Territorial Squirrels

    This morning I was looking out my front window to check on  feeder. I got more than I bargained for.

    Two squirrels were chasing each other around and around the trunk of a large green ash. They continued this torrid pace for at least two minutes. I was expecting them to quit from exhaustion. I found out that they had a very high level of fitness.

    Now my interest in watching the chase was to see how it ended. Was there going to be  big squirrel dust up? Was one squirrel going to escape? Would it end up in a draw?

    Well it ended in a draw. One squirrel ran into the upper branches and the other squirrel did not pursue. 
     Red squirrels are very territorial. Usually they just chatter at one another. You hear the chattering going on and again you wonder when they will be out of breath. 

     So the territorial squirrels can get very physical in claiming their territory.

     I wish these characters would chase each other far away. They are a nuisance at my bird feeders.

    How about you? Have you seen squirrel fights? How do you control squirrels at you bird feeders?



     Today I noticed a quote that would have fit my previous post. In my last post I got on the topic of
unity rather than division. My example was that it's easy to ignore skateboarders but at what cost.

     I was doing the cryptoquote yesterday, and this was the quote. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. -Maya Angelou

    After Angelou's quote, I feel guilty. A friend has been very ill. He shares his facebook page with his wife. I was telling his wife to keep us posted on Willis's condition. Then I thought, Willis is reading this and I'm talking about him not to him. Embarrassing?

    I thought , why didn't I think of finding a quote to go along with my post?

    Now there are many excellent blogs that use quotes to great effect. One photography blog The Smitten Image, has a very suitable post with each photo. Some blogs, Button's Thoughts, Just another Day on the Prairie, start with a good quote.

   So now I've talked myself into thinking about quotes for my posts. That's going to be a challenge because some of my posts are so odd it may be hard to find a good quote.

    Do you use quotes? What blogs do you read that make excellent use of posts?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Talk to Skateboarders

    Whenever I get an opportunity to talk to skateboarders I take advantage of it. I know some people will say , " What does he think he's doing?" 

     I think most people think skateboarders have extreme attitude so stay away from them. Skateboarders are sometimes intimidating as they can be loud, rough and unruly. It's easy to see that an out of control skater or board may hit you. 

    By ignoring skaters we tend to isolate them
. Two groups of people ignore each other and do not know what the other is about. Without communication, misunderstandings can develop and then it's downhill from there.

   So anytime I have an opportunity to talk to skaters I jump at it. You can't just barge into a group of skaters. The opportunity has to be there. Not an invitation, but an opportunity.

   Last night I had an opportunity and used it. Three skaters were stopped on a small footbridge. A couple of little skaters cut me off and I had to stop. There I was with the three boarders. I made some comment about an awkward move and that got things going. Skaters love to talk if you show that you are the least bit interested in their activity. These three were very late teens and one maybe early twenties. They were well spoken and knew about their equipment and activity. 

    These three skaters had long boards and used them for travelling. In other words they went from place to place on skate boards. They think that skate boards would be great for commuting to work. They told me about the structure of the boards and how they were laminated with special glues to make them strong. Two of these guys weighed over 200 lbs. They talked about the smaller skateboards used for tricks. 

   Ages of skaters were talked about and what each age was interested in. Some of the long boards are used for going downhill at the highest speed you can get. These skaters continually look for different hills. 

   After 10 - 15 minutes these guys were ready to continue their trip and politely took their leave. 

   I've also talked to individuals who try various tricks. I met a young guy numerous times last year when I was riding. He explained some of his moves. Just by watching I couldn't tell how he did things. I met this kid a half dozen times when we would stop and talk.

   I think it pays dividends all around to talk to skaters. I'm passionate about not creating exclusive groups. Make people feel as if they belong in this world and they will contribute positively to life.

The old cyclist from 2009

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Love Lightning and Thunder.

     I love a good old thunderstorm.  Now I know some people are terrified of lightning and thunder. They have a good reason to be afraid. I know that lightning is dangerous and causes many deaths, injuries and damage.

     Last night I was wakened shortly after midnight by thunder. The thunder was distant but it rolled on forever. Well, not forever, but for 20 - 30 seconds. Lightning lit up my room. Then I would wait for the thunder. Would the thunder be closer or further away? This storm was gentle. It moved slowly toward me. so there was lots of lightning and thunder. A little breeze picked up and helped to make my room cooler. After 20 - 25 minutes rain began falling. Not hard driving rain, but steady rain. Now the disappointing thing is that I went to sleep before the show ended. The Micro Manager never woke up until morning.

   There's something about the power and energy contained in a lightning event that fascinates me. I know it's static electricity. I'm amazed that so much electrical energy can be formed by wind and cloud. When you think that the lightning travels for miles, that's a lot of energy. When it' rapid fire lightning that's a lot of energy forming in a very short time.

   I was terrified by one lightning storm. I was on a mountain peak. We were watching a small thunder cell move through the valley below. It's cool to look down on a thunderstorm and see the lightning in the cell. All of a sudden there was static electricity all around us. We could hear the crackle. We left the mountain top at mach 1. The thunder cell was 1000 ft below us. There must have been enough energy that it spread far and wide from the cell.

   Hiking in the mountains, it was common to see trees that were damaged by lightning. The tree sticks up and the lightning follows the tree into the ground.

  In the  old days in the country, it was quite common to see a telephone pole that had been damaged by lightning.

  Now there are quite a few songs about thunder. I like Eddie Rabbit's Rainy Night.

    How about you? do you like thunderstorms? Have you got music about thunder and lightning?

    There's also a CD called Natural Blues that has some good thunder in it.

    This panorama taken from the internet shows lightning ove Bucharest.



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Wish You Wouldn't Share Some Things on Facebook

     Some Facebook people find it easy to share things with you that you would rather not have. Most of it's just junk but some of it leaves me with smoke coming out of my ears. Most inappropriate things I can ignore but some leave me fuming for days.

    So somebody shared this graphic with me the other day. The heading is "Problem not guns". There are three very prominent pistols pointing at you. Then it goes on to say(1) hearts without God, (2) Homes without discipline, (3)Schools without prayer, (4) courts without justice.There's a very small bible on the left and very small Jesus figure on the right. It concludes and asks you to say "Amen" if you agree with this.

    Now the reasoning is faulty. They are making some statements that are opinions not facts. They present an all or nothing choice! 

   Now for starters with me guns are a problem. I know some people will disagree with me and leave. However, people can have their opinions. So I cannot say Amen to guns. On (2) I wonder who says what's discipline and what's not? After 37 years of teaching , schools are no place for public and compulsory prayer. And (4) Our courts do a good job. It's not perfect but day in and day out they do what they are supposed to. They dispense the law as it's written.

   Now what really gets me is that they have put all five things in one and ask you to agree. If you don't agree with all things then you are  a dirty rotten fink. 

    This is a poorly disguised
 visual that is promoting guns and that guns are somehow or other related to issues that have nothing to do with guns. 

   So now I've got this off my chest and I feel better.

   Have any of you received this share?

Monday, July 18, 2016

National Sour Candy Day

    Can you believe it? Today is national sour candy day! Yes there must be national days for almost anything.

    A little bit is explained about sour candy. We are told how it's made and why it's enjoyable.

   We are also told how to enjoy national sour candy day. Yes, go out and buy some sour candy and eat it!

   Now at one time I liked candy as well as the next guy. Today I rarely eat any candy. I may eat the odd mint. I can even pass up on chocolates.

   Now when it comes to sour candy, I've never liked it so national sour candy day is a nonstarter with me.

   July 18 is also claimed by a few other ideas. (1) national caviar day, (2) national get out of the doghouse day, (3) National Hamilton day. I could pass on these three and not bother with any celebrations. Yes they tell you how to celebrate these days too.

    So once in awhile I check to see what national day it is. It's usually like July 18 where some   pretty dull things are celebrated.

    How about you? Do you make a habit of celebrating some of these odd
ball days?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Yes, It Is! No, It Isn't

     Silly little disagreements, like in the title, can arise from very innocent situations.

     The micro Manager and I have been in one of these little disagreements for three days.

     The origin of this little bicker was simple. The micro Manager said that her laundry tub hot tap was dripping. Could I replace the washer and fix it. Well , of course. That's an easy job.

     So with close supervision by the micro manager I replaced the washer. Okay , now check! Guess what? it's still dripping like before. We let it sit for a couple of hours to see if the drip stops . No way.

    What now? Well, replace the washer. It might have been faulty! Second washer, same as the first. Now our puzzlers were in overdrive. Well the washers were old so maybe buy some new washers and that will do the trick.

     At the beginning I asked the Micro Manager if she was sure it was the hot side.

     So a quick trip to Crappy Tire and a nice fresh package of washers. This should fix things. Dang! It still drips like before.

    More puzzling. Maybe it's the seat? Yes that's it . It's gotta be the seat.

     We're now on the third day and I'm still saying we've gotta check the cold side. More reasoning from the Micro Manager that it couldn't be the cold side. More reasoning about water runs downhill!!! Sure, but what's that go to do about this situation.

     Well finally, the micro manager agreed to check the cold  even though she said it will never work.

     Well, you guessed it. When I turned off the water supply from the hot, the drip kept dripping.

     Okay, now change the washer on the cold!

    So silly little arguments can start from very simple misunderstandings.  Am
I the only one who gets into yes, no, disagreements?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Decision Time

     I have not been taking very many photos this summer and it worries me. I like to be able to take many photos come home and look at them and throw most of them away. There's also the issue of being outdoors.

    Now a couple of years ago I got a reasonable point and shoot. I wanted a nice grip for the elderly fingers which sometimes get stiff and clumsy. I also wanted some zoom so this had an astounding 34 x. I like the camera and it can do more than I can do. It tells me what I've done and tells me what to do if I would only observe the monitor.

    I also like to bike every spare minute I can get. My plan was to put the camera in my bike bag, but the bike bag proved to be too small and there was the possibility of damage. I have got a good scratch on my monitor and I don't want any more of that nonsense.

    So I thought I'll use my old point and shoot as it has a case and fits in the bike bag nicely. This should really work.

    The first night with the old camera I saw a blue heron at my favorite beaver pond. Now herons make it easy. They pose for you. They pose a long time for you. So I shot a few photos. The heron was down in the gully a bit and it was in an area of shadow.

Okay I'll give you a nickel if you find the blue heron!

I think there's a blue heron in this photo.
     Well , when I got home and looked at the photos, I was disappointed. Really disappointed. Disappointed enough to not use the old point and shoot again.

   So back to my original problem. I need to fix something so that I can take the larger camera on my bike.

I do have a nice beaver pond to visit

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Challenges of a Good Walk

       Yesterday was a cool cloudy drizzly day. Since I couldn't do much else I decided to go for a walk. I like walking in miserable weather as there aren't many bugs and other walkers and cyclists tend to stay home so you have the place to yourself.

     Now I wanted to see some brown eyed susans and tiger lilies. I have to see these two flowers to make my summer complete.

     Usually I go alone as I'm a bit of a loner. However , the micro manager said she'd like to get out of the house and wanted to go with me. This was strange but it was fine with me. The Micro Manager usually stays in if there's the threat of a breeze or heaven forbid, a little cloud. 

     So off we went. I had my camera and she was just concentrating on walking. So with this situation we don't walk together much. I'm off the trail taking photos. When I walk, I walk too fast for her. 

I like this photo of the Micro Manager walking through the forest by herself.

     Now I really had problems taking photos. I couldn't get any sharp focus and sometimes just plain nothing. I got lucky a couple of times.

     There were lot of brown eyed susans ,but I was too late for the tiger lilies. I found bog orchids , blue eyed grass, bluebells, daisies and as many more that I couldn't name.

    Now we enjoyed the walk and didn't get wet even though there was some drizzle. We also stopped to look at the horses at the end of the walk.

    Once I got home I had to find out what I was doing wrong. . I was worried that there was something wrong with the camera. It only took a second to discover I was pushing the focus lever the opposite way. I guess I haven't used the camera for a while.

    I'm going to have to get out of the house more often.

    And then there was a baddie...lots of toad flax which is an invasive species.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Delusion

      For the first part of my life I was sure that the place I lived was the best place in the world. Everything we had was the best. We produced the best and most wheat in the world. We had the best education system in the country. And on it went.

      Now all this came from a little boy who lived on an isolated farm. A weekly trip to the small village of 50, but sometimes the kids didn't go for weeks. A couple of times a year we went to a larger center (2000 people) for shopping and the odd dentist appointment. My world was on the little isolated farm. We went to  one room school. Our playground was around the land we lived on.

     Well,  you can see the reason for thinking I lived in the center of the world. We didn't go anyplace and were not exposed to anything outside of our local area. The convenient explanation was that we were the best.

     Now I did not stay on the little farm. I ventured away from the farm and village. I was completely unprepared to cope in a small urban area. I discovered that students had been to better schools. Other young people were much more socially prepared to cope in post secondary situations.

     So after one year I left the urban area and went back to the comforts of the rural setting. I still had some things in my head that we were best in. Wasn't our provincial football team the best?

     Now the final part of my delusion was destroyed when I first taught in a large school. We had 51 teachers. There were teachers from each province in Canada. We had many British teachers. There was the odd American. We also had a couple of Australians. This is one of the best experiences I ever had. Many great discussions were held with people who came from very different areas and backgrounds. I began to understand that the other guys had come from great systems. Once I got it through my head that I didn't come from the best place in the world, I could learn and understand how others thought and lived.

   Now this was a good eye opener and there's nothing wrong with an eye opener. The little farm and village were taken out of me and put in their perspective.

    How about you? Did you grow up thinking you were the center of the universe?

The old farmhouse

Grade three

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Little Morning Confusion

      About 9:30 this morning the Micro Manager frantically called me to the back of the house. Well, I was stretching and on my back so I don't get up very fast. By the time I got to the back of the house what she was anxious about had disappeared down the street.

     Now what the Micro Manager was in a tizz about, was some guy running in the alley and tight up against the fence. She thought this looked very suspicious and that it was some felon running from his recent job. We saw him again about seven houses down the close. Then he crossed the road into the center of the close and ran across. 

    Well, it didn't take me very many seconds to tell the Micro Manager that the RCMP were out training their dogs. She was very doubtful and far from satisfied with my explanation. Just then two officers came up the alley with a dog that was following close to the fence. I was saved by the action.

    The dog got  down to where the suspect crossed the road and went across the Close. The dog became confused and frustrated at that point and they stopped the session rather than stress the dog.

    Now 20 minutes later, when I left the house the officers were going through my neighbor's back yard with another dog. They crossed my front yard and went that-a-way. Usually when the dog finds the suspect they go nuts and attack. The guy being pursued has a large padding up his arm that  they let the dog attack. The dog is then rewarded for finding the suspect.

    We are about 30 km (18 m) from the main RCMP dog training facility. Quite often they come into the city to train the dogs in an urban setting. The dogs have to concentrate in the city as there are many other scents to sidetrack the dog. So once in awhile I see a truck with a special kennel built  on the back that holds six dogs. The game is to send a suspect out to set up a trail. Give the dog the scent and let the dog follow the scent. Most days the dog finds the suspect. This is the first time I saw a dog fail.

     Now with all this going on did I get a photo ? No. I should ask them to phone me the next time so I can be ready with my camera.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Goodbye Wendy

      A few days ago a friend, colleague and neighbor passed away very suddenly at home. What a shock!

      Wendy lived about seven houses away from me. I live on a corner and she drove around my cor
ner several times a day. I noticed her  many years ago because she took my corner like an Indy 500 driver.

      After a few years I found out she was a teacher. A few more years and I met her. Her sons attended my school. 

      Over the years we both were involved in professional development. That's when you really get to know who a  person is. 

    Since Wendy was in administration she worked on policy and regulations and putting those things into effect.

    Now here's where I really got to like Wendy. Like speeding around my corner, Wendy could cheerfully break or bend the rules. There are many situations with kids, that if you can be flexible things work much better. Wendy excelled at being flexible. With teachers Wendy could be flexible and make things work. She got much more mileage by bending a few rules.

    I will never meet a more cheerful person who had a knack of making things work. 

    Where ever you are Wendy, I hope you can still bend the rules.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Why Pride?

    One of my facebook friends posted a piece that advocates a straight pride day! The piece contained a statement "Apparently it is now intolerant and bigoted to be straight and proud in the upside down , politically correct society we live in." The proposition made me think for all of one second.

    He was directing his comment toward all the Pride parades at this time of year.

    So why Pride parades?

     I was a middle school teacher for 37 years. Some people think you have to be crazy to teach middle school kids. They are referred to as hormones at times.

     So where am I trying to go with this. Puberty kicks in. Boys develop an amazing interest in girls. I don't know about girls!!! Probably the same thing happens.

     But for a small group of kids puberty is an absolutely horrible nightmare. They know how things are supposed to work but it's not happening. Gay and lesbian kids cannot understand why they are attracted to the same sex. They become confused anxious and angry. This is something they cannot talk to others about. They are living a secret life. They feel lost . They see all kinds of  bashing those who are gay or lesbian. They are not comfortable in sharing this with family. They are cut off. They are scared.

    So with this situation support is needed . One way of support then is to have a huge parade.

    Straight people have the whole society set up to support them. The world is made for straight people.

    Now I retired 19 years ago. We were limited in what counselling could be done or people would accuse us of ,"making their kids gay." At that time gay and lesbian kids had no support from the school and definitely not from home..  Today it's different . The shoe is on the other foot and kids can be supported. Kids can be counselled. They get to understand their sexual orientation early and can make decisions based on what they know. Some of the problems they face are less severe.

     So in my teaching experience some of the most troubled kids were gay and lesbian kids who had nowhere to turn in their turmoil.

    One student wrote me that no matter what he did in school all the kids taunted him as gay. he said he date a girl and they'd still call him gay. He said at age five he knew something was different. Being a bright kid he knew what his situation was but still did not know how to handle things.
    One of the best books I read recently was "All Out: a father and son confront the hard truth" by Kevin Newman and Alex Newman. It's a very good read.

     So pride parades do have an important place in today's world.