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.