Monday, December 31, 2012

The New Year's Eve that Changed My Life

      In my family the New Year's tradition was fairly standard. There was no celebration of New Year's Eve. On New Year's day there was a traditional family day. Mom's cousin and her family would come over and a big turkey dinner was eaten at noon. All afternoon we visited, played games and nibbled. Since we were farmers the men would leave to "do the chores" around five PM. In other words they went to tend their livestock. Then about 6:00 PM we had a rather lavish cold plate. More of the same until midnight when we had more lunch and the day ended. It was a complete day of feasting.

     Once I left the family so that I wasn't able to be home for festivities, I had to try something different. So I was introduced to the New Year's Eve party with dining and dancing and drinking lots of "pop."

    Now the New Year's Eve that changed my life happened rather innocently. There was nothing earth shattering. There was no epiphany. There were no great resolutions. I needed somebody to take to the New Year's Eve party. I tried to phone a certain nurse but I guess she was on shift and I couldn't reach her. My friend was in the same boat. We were moaning about this to a public health nurse who lived in our building. She said, "I'll see what I can do for you guys". Now Merle had a wicked sense of humor. she would set these up as blind dates. We didn't know who we were going to end up with. If it was somebody we really didn't want we were ready to run out the door. We you guessed it. Merle got the girl I had been trying to phone.

    Now the rest of the story is that the nurse I took to the party became my wife! So New Year's Eve 1964 was the first date I had with my wife. That certainly changed my life forever..

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Marking Milestones with Celebration.

       In just a few hours a very well celebrated milestone of the year is about to be recognized and celebrated. We emphasize New Years by celebrating the Eve and also the first day of the year. Some bloggers have already written a post on New Year's Eve or New Years Day. Most people are very aware of the new year even if they don't celebrate.

      For many it is a time to stop and take stock of their life. In the past year what are their achievements? What are their losses? What are they going to do in the New Year? Do they want to improve themselves in the New Year?  How will they change in the next year? There is much agonizing of resolutions to be made for the next year.

     There are other milestones that we like to recognize. Who would forget Thanksgiving? There are different dates for Thanksgiving and each culture has their own spin on what Thanksgiving means.

     We put tremendous importance on birthdays, anniversaries and deaths. The first two we like to celebrate.      New Years has a special significance to me as that's the first date I had with my wife. So Dec 31 of 1963 bis an important date for me. It is difficult to put our losses out of our mind when loved ones birthdays or day of death come around. These are all times when we have reason to stop and look at our present stage in life. Who hasn't made the birthday wish?

    We seem to need to recognize important dates to help us think back to what has happened in our life. We celebrate and mark our achievements. We also take stock and look to the future and how we can survive and prosper.

     So I am a few hours early for New Year's Eve, and I'm listening to classical music which is celebrating the new year. I had never thought that  there would be two hours of classical music.

      So celebrate the passing of 2012 and welcome the coming of 2013.

      Happy New Year to everybody and I wish everybody a prosperous 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What in the World?

     Did you ever get the gift where you said,"What in the world is this thing?" I got such a gift this year and the puzzling thing was that came from  someone who is and excellent gift giver.

    So the box said, "Stereo speaker and something about ipod."  Now I like my ipod and the ear buds with it. I get to hear music the way I like it. It's clear and I can hear all parts of the music. Why would I want a speaker for my ipod?
The mysterious box

    So today I got around to opening the box and going through the material with the stereo speaker. The directions were clear except that you need more than trifocals to see the print. They must really want to conserve forests these days when they make the print so small. 

    I did well until I was to connect the ipod to the device . I took my cord to hook the ipod to the computer to plug into the stereo. Something's wrong here. These don't match! They're two female ends. So I thought oops somebody has sent me something that I don't have all the parts for. I checked a little further and then said, "Oh Ya. I plug the ipod into this device not a cord." After that everything worked and it was simple.
The gizmo beside the box

     It wasn't until I turned the device on and listened for a few minutes that it hit me what the purpose of the stereo speaker was for. So it allows you to listen to your music without being attached to the ear plug! I like to sit at the computer and listen to music but when I want to get up and go to another place in the house it's a small inconvenience to take off the ear phones.

     So my, "What in the world is this thing?" turned out to make sense after all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Hush of Christmas Eve

     All my life I have sensed a certain hush, quietness and peace as Christmas Eve approaches and takes place.

      As a child we were busy before Christmas preparing for school  and Sunday school concerts. At home there were furious preparations in the baking department. Gifts were on display and our little attentions were drawn many times in great expectation. So the time leading up to Christmas was busy and terribly exciting for a little boy. It was magic.

     In that era and the location we lived in, life was much simpler. We had one small country store that didn't have electricity. No bright lights there. Our transportation was via two ancient farm horses. They may have attained the blinding speed of four or five miles per hour. There wasn't a traffic jamb or great amount of traffic noise.. only the harness squeaking and slapping and the horses hooves crunching in the snow. No clip clop of horse shoes or fancy rig... just a farm type bob sleigh and box. This form of transportation was slow and quiet. 

     Even though our life was very quiet there was still the hush and quietness of Christmas Eve. It was noticeable even for a little boy.

     After high school I've spent most of my life in an urban area. Yes, roads had been improved so that cars could be used for transportation although there wasn't a lot of traffic. Much brighter lighting came with the supply of electricity. Christmas was more commercialized. I would make my way home to the farm and sense the hush of Christmas Eve. 

    Later I had my own children and experienced their concerts and excitement of Christmas. I relived the same experiences of excited children. I became involved in preparing for Christmas. Stores were still not open in the evenings. Evenings were still quiet. We received our son by adoption three days before Christmas. We were not planning to go home for Christmas and my wife was booked for shifts over the holidays. We decided to surprise Mom and Dad and go home for Christmas with their new grandson. About three hours from our destination we ran out of milk. We thought there'd be no problem to pick up milk as we went through the city. Wrong. Everything was closed for Christmas Eve.. We finally got some milk in a restaurant that was open.

    Since I was a teacher the school time up to Christmas holidays was hectic concerts, exams excited kids. Christmas Eve really did seem peaceful.

    Now the stores are open evenings seven days a week. We seem to have to have many cars and drive them constantly. There's a constant roar from traffic. Brilliant lights are everywhere.

    I still sense the hush of Christmas Eve. 

   So this Christmas Eve I hope that everyone senses the hush and peace no matter how or if they celebrate Christmas. It would be my hope that we find peace in ourselves , person to person and with all other people on this earth.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

   Winter solstice is a magical day of the year. It's the day of the year when we have the least number of sunlight hours. For an outdoors person like me it's a notable day. For me the sun rose at 8:43 and set at 4:35. It will be a few days before the day light starts to increase. We had a clear sunny day with the temperature around minus 18 C(0 F).

    Many ancient cultures recognized the shortest day of the year and had it identified fairly accurately. There were numerous types of celebration depending on the culture. They recognized that the days were going to get longer and they celebrated even though in northern areas they knew that the worst of the winter season was ahead of them.

     So today I have some reason for a quiet celebration. Sadly we do not have any formal recognition of this day. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Birds and a Birder

     I have been a birder for most of my life. I have done the Christmas bird count for about 35 out of the last 43 years. I've also done many May species count quite often.

    Last Sunday was our bird count. I got 12 species and about 150 birds. They also had a potluck supper in the evening.
We did have a rich potluck supper.

We also had a contest with prizes.

     What I was thinking about as I counted were the changes that have taken place in the area I count in. The area is a deep heavily wooded ravine with some open spots. It ranges in width from 1 km (5/8 mi) t0 .5 km (5/16 mi). When I first went through this area it was extremely quiet and secluded. The city has grown from 25000 at that time to 100000 today. There are still very few people in the ravine but traffic noise has increased about 100 times.

     I find my birds first by listening so with all the traffic noise it's hard to hear birds.  Next I use motion. Since many of the  spruce are 25 M (80 ft. ) high it's hard to see in the tops of the trees. I'm sure that the other day there were kinglets and crossbills in the tree tops but I couldn't catch sight of them. I'm sure that there are black backed woodpeckers in the area because I see evidence of sawdust at the bottom of the trees which indicates black backs have been feeding.The overall number of birds has been decreasing. I still get a similar number of species each year.

     Then I suddenly thought , "What about the counter? Has the counter changed?" Then I had to admit that my hearing is about half what it was when I first counted in the area. Then I had to admit that my eyesight is maybe only 60% of what it was.

     So if I put all these things together I would suggest that they get another bird counter! However, I like birding and if I didn't count this area it wouldn't get counted. Besides that it keeps me young!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sometimes I Break the Rules

    Since it's naughty or nice time, I thought I might have a better shot at nice if I admitted something! Since it's the season for merry making , I could tell a story about parties. Some people may have guessed where I'm going.

    My whole teaching career was at the middle school level. Middle school kids just have to have dances. It's a very big deal with them.

    At the beginning I went reluctantly and did my hour shift of supervision. It wasn't fun.

    Later I became involved with organizing and running dances. This was different . It was fun. I realized how much fun kids had at dances and how much of a social learning experience it was when my kids were in middle school.

    My specialty at the dances was looking after the door. Principals were very concerned about everybody having to pay admission. Kids had to be in the dance by 7 PM . Anybody after 7 PM didn't get in and nobody was let out unless they were going home. Pretty clear instructions?

    I would get my crew of kids to do the door. They took the money and stamped hands. I watched to see that all of the kids belonged to our school. We had Most of the kids  in the gym in 15 or 20 minutes and then my little crew would want to leave and dance. Fair enough. I was left to supervise the door.

    Now there would always be a few kids hanging around the door and they were a nuisance. They would want to talk to somebody or some other lame excuse to hang around. The principal would tell them to leave but in one minute they were back.

    Now I thought that it would be less of a nuisance if these kids hanging around the door were inside. First, I knew some of them didn't have money. So I discreetly singled them out one by one and let them in the dance for free on one condition...don't tell anybody.  Next I picked  one or two more who had money but were going to make a poor choice by hanging around with no goodniks  so I got these guys in late. By this time there were only two or three kids from another school and they would disappear. 

    Now you might say, "Oh ya. These kids will always try to get in for nothing."  It never happened!

   So I broke the rules and let kids in late and for nothing. On the other hand we all got what we wanted. I didn't have a hassle at the door. The kids got in the dance. The nuisances outside disappeared. The principal thought I did a good job.

     So it was a Christmas dance for the kids. So now I'm not sure what the balance is. Was I bad guy for breaking rules or a good guy for allowing kids to have fun?

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Do Old Skaters Do at Christmas?

     Well, old skaters have a party at Christmas! I have posted often about my pleasure from skating. I have emphasized how supportive the group is. So in mid December we invite all former skaters and their spouses to the rink and we have a sumptuous lunch. with all kinds of home baked goodies. the Rec Department remembers us with donuts. But most of all we are very excited to see everybody and have a visit.

The tough job of getting skates on in the dressing room.

Some fancy skating!
Here they are again!
So many decisions!
A great table of goodies!

 Now I almost feel like I should rename my blog "Snow and Ice" but this group is a very warm one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Phantom Followers

      There are many things that intrigue me about blogging. Maybe too many things? I have written a few posts on blogging, the latest being on comments. Now I'm wondering about phantom followers? Everybody has them.

      There are people who follow my blog who are mysteries. They just appear. There's no blog with them, no contact, no indication that they read the blog and no comments. They must have some reason for following my blog or maybe they accidentally followed me! You start to wonder if they are real followers or just some digital code of some kind that got lost.

     Now some of these little mysteries have ulterior motives. They are pedaling something on their blog. Some wish to sell travel, pictures, art or any number of things. However, I make a very poor customer. I also will not give their blog any exposure. 

    Some people may think I'm a phantom follower too. Sometimes when I follow somebody it doesn't show that I have a blog. I've had people like that and some I have accidentally found commenting on some one's blog and then when I click on them I find they have a  blog. So that could be some of the mystery. 

    Another phantom is myself. I'm down twice as a follower of my blog. This happened when I knew very little about blogging. I'm going to have to find out how to delete myself. 

    Now I see nothing wrong with someone following me and not making any comments. Some people just like to look at the material and that's fine. Very few of my relatives make comments even though they are fairly active readers. They are not bloggers and that makes it a little more difficult to leave a comment.

   I guess I'm going to have to cool my intrigue with phantom followers and let them do their quiet thing.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snow Can Protect You

      Since I live in a snowy area and am a bit of an outdoors person I get to experience snow. 
As a little farm kid in the 40's and 50's, I played in the snow all winter long. I spent five years in the Arctic with long seasons of snow. I cross country ski every chance I get. I've learned how to live with snow. 

     What gets me to do a post on how snow can protect you,  is that I find many people think of snow as being cold. Well, it may be cold out when we have snow, but snow itself doesn't make you cold. In fact, you can use snow to keep warm!

     Igloos can give you shelter and keep the temperature just above freezing when it's minus 40 C(minus 40 F). I've been in igloos but never stayed overnight in one. Snow is an excellent insulating material, so when you have a little heat from a small stove  and a couple of humans, the heat is  kept inside. Snow is also very strong. You can stand on top of good igloo. I was very proud of my colleague who built an igloo and stood on it. All of his students cheered. As an aside, rabies sometimes spreads to the husky dogs from the foxes. Inuit know when a dog isn't behaving properly and might have contacted rabies. They build a small igloo and tie the dog inside. If the dog's still alive in the morning, it's okay. If it had rabies it's dead.

      Igloos are used on the tundra where there are no trees. The wind blows the snow into very hard drifts and solid snow building blocks can be cut. About half the igloo height is below snow level and half above. they are usually about 2 m (6 t.) high. In the bush they do not use igloos  because the snow is soft and powdery and will not make blocks. Canvas or skin tents are used. There's lots of wood around and they use a small wood stove for a little heat. The tent will be much colder than the snow house. I've tented in below freezing and find the ground the coldest. If you can put your tent on snow it's much warmer. 

     I taught some outdoor ed. and we showed the kids how to build a quinzee. A large pile of snow is made. The snow hardens over night. The next day you hollow out the pile of snow and you have a very snug snow house. 

    A third snow shelter is the snow cave. Snow caves are usually used in the mountains where there are huge drifts of snow. Just start shoveling out a cave and you will have yourself a snug shelter. Brian Keating from the Calgary zoo had a New Year's tradition of going into the back country, making a snow cave, and spending New Year's eve with his wife! Cool eh?

    Now I've explained, for all the people who worry about me getting cold in the snow, that snow is actually something that can keep you warm. You can quit worrying about me now.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sometimes I Don't Want to go to function

      There are certain things that I would rather not go to. They may be excellent events but I'm not interested in them and I don't need or want to attend the function. 

     One such incident happened yesterday. One of the local malls puts on a free senior's appreciation lunch . I didn't want to go to the  free lunch!

     Well, why wouldn't I like a free lunch and why did I go anyway?

     My manager is big on free stuff. If poison was free she'd be the first in line. So yesterday she wanted to be at the mall to line up for the free lunch. Now here's the catch. My manager doesn't drive. The transit service isn't the best here. We have buses every twenty minutes but which twenty minutes? Since we don't use the bus how do you get across the city on  a bus? It was really cold yesterday so old Red felt sorry and offered to take the manager to the mall. Since it's across town it didn't make much sense to drop her off and come back again.

     I had told the manager that I would drop her off but I wouldn't stand in line or eat anything. Well, I know that one doesn't work because my manager will be a softy and pick up two plates of stuff. I will thank her and eat the stuff.

     So what's the big deal? I happen to be somewhat wary of free stuff. It's usually junk! Now I know the people at the mall went to a great expense and effort. I appreciate that.  I don't like triangly sandwiches that have mayonnaise and margarine on them. I don't like Styrofoam plates and plastic forks. I don't like crowds and in particular lineups. At 10:30 there were about 200 people lined up for the 11:30 start. There was entertainment and I wasn't too keen on the performances.This was definitely not my type of event.

    Now seniors also get a free pictures with Santa. I'm a little past getting pictures with Santa...been there done that. But guess who had to get her picture taken with Santa?

     Now I am a senior. Being with 400 other seniors should be  a bonus. I didn't know anybody and it was not one of those functions were you had an opportunity to mix. Being alone in a crowd isn't my idea of fun.

    Now I admit that there are times when I don't want to go somewhere that I can invent some pretty lame excuses. For this function I would rather have been any place else.

    Now I know some people will say, "You're nuts. That sounds like a perfectly good event to go to." Other people may not be so kind as to just say , "You're nuts!" Other things could be said that are worse than nuts.

    So there I am ...whining again! I feel better now.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lighter Christmas Preparation

    In a previous post described how I worked so hard in preparing for Christmas by bringing lots of snow.

    Today I will show you some preparation that took much less work than bringing snow. I have put the lights on my house! I don't put many lights on the house. I get them up about the middle of November and try to pick a warm spell. Now it's early December and time to turn on the lights.

If you look hard there are lights on the house
The little birch got in the way
The birch is still in the way
Look hard and you will see the house lights
The house lights are really there
The lamp with a cap of snow

And after putting up lights I went to a lot of work and took pictures of the whole affair

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fresh New Snow

     Yesterday we got about 15 cm (6 in.) of fresh snow. We had a good snow cover before and this added to the accumulation. My ski trail is in excellent condition. I had to get busy with the snow shovel!

     Temperatures have been  from minus 15 ( 2 F) to minus 10(12 F) . The sun set this afternoon at 4:25 and will rise tomorrow morning at 8:27 AM so that means we have 7 hours and 58 minutes of sun. We lose another two minutes in the afternoon and then it stops. The sun sets at 4:23 for about 7 days and then we start gaining in the afternoon again. We still lose time in the morning. We do get long beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

My heavily loaded juniper.
A little snow on the roof!

Up the snowy street.

Further up the snowy street

Spruce full of snow

I'm enjoying my snow although many people disagree with me. I hope you enjoy  a look at the snow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bloggers Block

    I am suffering from blogger's block. In fact, I've been suffering blogger's block off and on for some time now. I may have suffered from blogger's block since I first stated blogging.

    We've all heard of writer's block. We've probably all suffered from that too. As I was thinking of this post I thought I should do some research and look up writer's block. Sure enough . There were many sites on writer's block and most of them had ten easy ways to overcome writer's block. Then I thought , maybe I should look up blogger's block. Sure enough ...dozens of site on blogger's block. Most of them were carbon copies of writer's block. Darn! I thought I'd invented a new term. Now I'll have to research and see how many years behind I am.

    Back to blogger's block. I sometimes have two or three topics for a post in my head. For some reason I may not be able to write the posts because I am waiting for something. I may need some pictures. A series of posts I never made was my trip to Chicago and my daughter's wedding. It was a fantastic trip and I had many pictures. What I needed first was one picture from one of my friends. I asked him two or three times and never got  the right pictures. After  while the fire was gone from my belly and I didn't make the posts. If I'm waiting  for some reason I can't seem to come up with new topics. I seem to be stuck until I unload the two or three topics in my head.

   So here I am with blogger's block so I'm writing about it until I get the next series of photos I need.

    Funny thing is that I don't seem to see any of you with blogger's block!

Monday, November 26, 2012

I've Done the Heavy Work for Christmas Preparation

A well worn ski trail
When it comes to Christmas I have been known to be somewhat absent from preparations. This year I've out done myself and done a big job and look how early it is. This year I have lots of snow for a very white Christmas. Now this took and awful lot of work. How many of you wish for a white Christmas?

A nice rock  covered with a white blanket

Bare poplar branches

The trail disappears in the distance

Another large poplar

Long afternoon shadows

Winding ski trail

Snow and long shadows

So you see I've done a great job and have lots of snow for a white Christmas

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Humiliation Has Some Limits

      I have had a computer in my house since 1997. I did not have the Internet at my house until 2009.  For the Internet I went to my daughter's house. This arrangement worked well as I could go to her house when she was at work and search the Internet or do my email. 
The messy desk is for a later post with more humiliation.

     This arrangement worked fine for me except that I did not learn much about looking after a computer or learn what possibilities were available. Since it was her computer I left the management to her. 

     According to my daughter the computer crashed and since she was in a hurry she bought another computer right away. There was warranty on the old computer. The agreement she made for settlement was to take a reconditioned computer and since she didn't need it she gave it to Dad. I guess she thought that Dad had done enough dog sitting and renovation assistance that he deserved a computer.She left a few months later so I had to get the Internet at my house.

   Now I could really explore things since I had my own computer that was connected to the Internet. It took a while until I discovered that there were things I could listen to on the Internet but I found that the sound was way off. I could only get some garbled sound. I learned an awful lot about computers but I couldn't get my sound to work. I asked people and was about to replace the sound card. Now I had lots to do so I never got around to replacing the sound card. 

     I wonder if somebody has figured out what my problem is by now?

    The other day I posted about my ipod problems and how my neighbor told me to push the jack in until I heard a distinct click. A few days later it clicked in my head that maybe the same solution applied to my computer sound. You guessed . I pushed the jack in until there was a click and tried the sound and there it was! So after three years I have sound on my computer. 

    Now this is embarrassing and humiliating. Two of the same problems and the solutions were extremely low tech. Since I bragged about some of my technical skills I am humiliated to admit that I was stumped by such a simple problem.

     Please don't laugh too hard!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Comments Rock

    More and more I appreciate comments that followers and readers leave after my posts. Comments can do many things. Comments can compliment, affirm, amuse, enlighten and sometimes disappoint.

    Comments that some people make will add to what I've written. I don't always say all that could be said because I am unaware or too impatient. 

      It's always pleasant when someone agrees with you. However, I am not upset when someone disagrees. I appreciate a good debate and I will never make personal slurs and can usually ignore personal attacks and stick to the argument.

     Some commenters have amazing wit. There are many types of humorous replies. The ones I really like are those that are very distant that if you're not careful you'll miss it.  You can guess that I like Far Side the cartoon. I also like Far Side one of my followers!

    Commenters usually have their own characteristics and their comments are predictable. In other words readers that are stable and thoughtful.

     Other commenters take a global view and are able to make a comment the applies to the whole post. Others will focus on one point in the post. I tend to reply to one small part of the post. I haven't missed the rest of the post . I just think that one part of the post is more important to me.

    It's gratifying to see how hard readers work to keep up with comments. Some days you find a reader will comment on three or four posts. I appreciate people who have been busy and go back and read older posts. I  find that sometimes I just have to miss comments for a day or two. I can read the posts but I don't have time to make comments.

    Now I've posted on comments before. Comments are very meaningful and positive for me. The comments keep me going. 

     Thanks to all readers who stop by Hiawatha House and leave a comment.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Better Communication Needed

      Now I ranted on my last post. This is going to be one of those little picky annoyances.

      We have blue box service which picks up material which can be recycled...tin cans, paper and some plastics. I am fully supportive of recycling. I think there should be more recycling as more things could be and should be recycled and reused. I applaud our city and all other cities that have set up a blue box service.

      We are requested to take off all labels. Most labels come of very easily. However about 10% of the labels are extremely difficult to remove. Soak them! Scrape them! Try as you like , the label comes off in tiny little pieces.

      So here's my pitch. Why can't the people at the beginning of the process communicate with the people at the end of the process and have glue on the labels that  makes it easy   to take off the label? 

      Has anybody else had this problem or am I just a whiner?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't Freak Around Me!

      I can completely get thrown off my game when someone around me loses it and melts down and in some way lays blame on me. I don't have much time for some one who gets bent out of shape for everyday events. I can accept somebody being greatly upset when the time calls for it. Accidents, frights, threats, extreme events. One I'll never forget is when we were called back from the lake because our basement had flooded. I remember my wife coming in the house and standing at the top of the stairs and being completely overwhelmed and devastated. She was inconsolable. For these things our normal instinct is to show some strong emotions.

     What bothers me most is when people  purposely lose control or are not in control of emotions as they should be. Exaggerated reactions are just not pleasant. Yes, I can listen all day to some one who has great stress. Yes, I will make an effort to assist someone who has been put in a stressful situation. How much of the melt down incident is to influence those in the area?

     I would expect that the proper and right thing to do is exert self control so that those around can respond appropriately. This is where I come in. I do not function well at all when scenes are made. They throw me right off my game and I am not at my best. I am able to recognize an extreme situation. Very rarely do I have to be told. In that situation I can be of some assistance. Now some of this may be explained as when I encounter my own stress, I'm more apt to withdraw. I've been known to go to sleep. I have also heard of other people following this routine. I find that if I take some quiet time and think about the stressful situation I am ready to come up with a more suitable solution for the cause of the stress.

    I found that as a teacher it was much easier for students to perform if they had a calm, quiet atmosphere to work in. I sometimes think of the horse or dog whisperer and how this could be used with children. I rarely yelled art kids. When I did yell, they would look at each other and say, "I guess we better smarten up because he never yells." When a child was upset it always worked much better if you could use a quiet approach.  Getting angry or excited did not help the kid when they were upset. I remember one boy becoming extremely upset one day so much so that he was going to leave the classroom. This was fine by me as he could go out and calm down and he wouldn't lose face in front of his classmates. He accidentally tripped on the overhead projector cord and it bounced up to the ceiling and broke one of the light bulbs. Then things changed to the safety mode for the  kids covered with glass.

     So if possible I would prefer that we deal with stress so that it allows people around us to respond in their best form. Maybe we''ll all have a better day when all of us have a better chance to solve a situation.

    What do you think? How do you deal with over the top situations? How do you deal with your own stress?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Part two: My Confession is Needed

     Well, yesterday I let it all hangout and bared my soul in a post. It was hard to admit that I wasn't half as smart as I thought I was.

    Thanks to the people who made comments and suggestions as to what was wrong. Some of you will see that you were right. I was hoping to find someone with and ipod nano and the same problem.

    So it was a very simple problem. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the ipod nano. The plugging in of the ear buds was the  problem. I was too gentle with pushing the connection together into the ipod.  It didn't look right or feel right and I didn't want to push too hard and break the fragile thing.

    So how did it get fixed? My neighbor Tracey across the street , the one with the two teenagers , gave me a hot tip. I meet Tracey once in a while when she's walking her dog. I noticed one time that she had the same ipod. So the other day I said to her, "I'm going to give you my ipod and see if you can get it to work." So she asked me what was wrong with it and I told here that it usually would only play for a minute. She told me that she had exactly the same problem with hers. She had read and reread the manual and decided that the problem was with the connection and one day pushed it until it clicked. Immediately , I knew that that was the problem with mine. I went home right away and pushed the cord much harder and sure enough it clicked and the ipod never cut out again.

     So my thanks to neighbor Tracey for giving me the hot tip. And I still didn't have to lower myself to get the teenagers to help me. No offense meant to the teenagers as they are great and wonder people to have for neighbors.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My confession is Needed

     About two years ago I made some posts on my great expertise with some electronic products. I proudly announced that I could set my digital watch. I could also set my bicycle speedometer. To top all this I could use my ipod nano!
Here I was two years ago smiling smugly about my accomplishment

     I did two posts on the ipod. I posted about how I would master the ipod and not go to the teenager across the street. Then I posted that I had successfully mastered the ipod. I had found out how to download music, tune in the radio, set the pedometer, load pictures and get pod casts.

    Now here's what really happened and I didn't tell you. The darn ipod would only run a minute or so. A couple of times it ran 20 minutes. I went through the manual several times to see what the problem might be.
I tried setting everything there was to set. I checked the timer. I asked my friend Tony to take it home and check it. Tony returned it a week later and said it works fine and by the way I took some of your music. I tried the ipod again and it was the same.

    I asked my daughter as she has an ipod. She had given me this one. She couldn't help me. I asked my son and he said he couldn't help me unless he could have it to work with.

    I was  confused, angry and frustrated. Here I thought I had mastered the tough things and now the thing only plays a minute.

    So there's my confession. I was not going to tell anybody this little secret.

   I finally found out what was wrong and I've enjoyed my ipod ever since.

    So can you tell me what was wrong with my ipod and how my problem was solved. The next post will have all the answers.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election? It's Over!

   Canadians take a healthy interest in American politics. American conditions affect us greatly. We are neighbors. Many of us have family on both sides of the border. ( My daughter lives in Chicago.) Our press covers U.S. politics and elections in great detail.

   I'm sure that many Americans feel as I do that I'm glad the election  over.

   Since we receive many U. S. television channels we are not spared election ads. For me ads become rather tedious. 

   It's our new services that are a little hard to take. We get a blow by blow account of the the whole affair. I have said many times in this blog that I appreciate a well reasoned logical opinion. Sadly, very little of the reasoned and logical were present in this campaign. It's sad to see that the advertising can be so negative.

    So the day after the election most people are saying that things have to change. Many good suggestions are being made as to what has to be done.  I hope that what the politicians are saying about working together gets done. Not only Americans depend on a successfully functioning government , but also your neighbors to the north...Canadians. 

    One thing following an American election gives me is a much better understanding of the U.S. government system and how it works. 

    In case you're wondering , our Canadian elections are full of attack  ads. Our Canadian politicians try to divide and conquer all in the name of winning an election and when elected do a very mediocre job. 

    Politicians in many countries could stand a tremendous improvement in their behavior and tactics. Politicians need to come up with realistic policies that can be put into effect and build our country so that we have a secure future. Promises and attack ads just for the purpose of wining an election don't bring about concrete actions.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Society's Challenge With Mental Illness.

     My direct experience with mental illness has always been from afar. However , I have never ignored the  subject of  mental health . Mental health has been a challenge for all societies from the beginning.

     My earliest memories are from the late 1940's. Mental health was not really talked about. The people around me knew very little about mental illness and for that matter the health professions knew very little as well. The public feared people who were mentally ill and shunned them.There were huge government institutions were people were locked away. Little treatment was available so these people were warehoused and kept away from the rest of society, sometimes for the rest of their life..

    As I was finishing high school one of the suggestions my father made for a career possibility was to be a psychiatric nurse. I thought about it but not seriously. 

     Now most of the big bad black institutions are gone. Medication and counselling help to keep people in as normal a situation as possible. Some space is available to treat those with very acute conditions. Many changes have taken place from the bad old days until now. In many ways the treatment now is much more humane but there's much more that has to be done.

    So another incident that got me thinking about mental health is a medication that I was given when I was diagnosed with seizures. I was reading through the information which came with the drug and was shocked to find out that it was the same medication used to treat two of the common mental health conditions : schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. With a little research I soon discovered why this is so. All three have to do with some type of brain dysfunction. In the case of seizures there's an area in the brain that has abnormally fast waves. Now I don't like taking this medication. It messes with my balance and  moods.

     So now back to how mental health is dealt with today. For those people lucky enough to come in contact with the health system there is a protocol. First, counselling and medication are tried. If things don't work out and deteriorate a number of different agencies begin work on the case. They make a joint recommendation for treatment. There is a mental health board that deals with the patient and explains the reasons why and what will take place. The patient and family also have input. If all things go well the patient agrees with the health board to follow a set   treatment . The mental heath board is a somewhat legal body that puts everybody on the same page and attempts to safeguard all from problems.

     Those who do not come in contact with the health system have a horrendous time and tend to get into serious consequences in the general society. Some refuse treatment. I can understand why they wouldn't want some of the medication because it has some nasty side effects. One of the saddest things I ever saw in my life was a man in the Washington subway yelling at a huge wall. As I listened to him it was just words pouring out of his sentences whatsoever. He  was obviously not in contact with a health system and left to fend for himself on the streets.  

    Is this the ticket for success? Far from it.  Much more  research has to be done in the health field to find more effective medication. Society's attitude and support for mental health could go a long way to help people min their community .

    Now this is a black post but sometimes there are things that have to be said. We can't ignore the black all the time. Some good has to come out of many places to bring about a better life for people suffering from mental health issues.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Just What is on the internet About Us?

  Some of your comments on my last post got me thinking about  more things as to what information is on the Internet about us. As you know from my last post I have been spending time looking for information on some class mates that I was with 54 years ago. For a few there was lots of detailed information. For some there was nothing. For some there was just the possibility of a phone number. 

   Some of the information about us is securely locked away in government or private business computers. My son works for a company that produces, sells, installs and services security systems. These systems are meant to keep your personal, government and private business very secure. Yes, there are hackers. They seem to get pretty high up the ladder in their search for information. Most business things can be done via the Internet. I can file my income tax return on the net. I can buy and sell things by using my credit card. I can do my banking right from home. My bank did inform me one time that a disk with some information on my business and many others had been lost. They of course had this backed up and no bad guy has been able to  use the information. the disk is probably still lost. 

    But most things out on the net are pretty basic. The first half dozen entries are phone numbers. I don't know why it takes a half dozen websites to distribute your phone number and say that you may be on face book or some other social net working site. Some things are sort of fly by entries. Yes, I seconded a motion at a library board meeting. Yes, I'm named in my Dad's obituary. Once I accidentally found my application to teach for the Canadian government overseas. I've tried to find this again but no luck. Sometimes other people say things about us. It seems that there are many genealogy sites that include a few things. 

     Bloggers leave a huge trail behind them. We usually start our blog with a profile. Each entry we make is out there as a separate piece of information. I also write on another blog and find that those posts are listed separately one after another. Much of our material is picked up in searches. Somebody googles something and our site is included and listed. If it's on the first page someone may take a look at our post.

    So yes,  there can be quite a bit of information about us out on the Internet. I can hardly wait for the comments to fill in all the things I've missed or don't know. My curiosity is killing me!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pleasure in Internet Search

      In 1957-58 I took a one year teacher training course. There were 400 in the class and the course was intense as we were expected to take over a class room and teach at the end of the year. So 400 young people met, worked and played for a year. Many good friends and acquaintances were made.

     I came from a small one teacher high school. For me to be thrown in with 400 other people was terrifying. My home village only had 235 people!  I survived and probably learned a thing or two. I got a job and could sort of teach. I was eighteen years old and if you think about an eighteen year old they are great but not very ready to teach.

    I left the teachers' college and began a career. I saw about six of my former classmates since that time. I left the area and at times lived far away So recently I became curious as to what happened to some of these people. Fifty five years have gone by. I wonder what has happened. 

    So off to the Internet to have a little look. One of the first names I Googled I found the person had died. I thought a bit and said well , since most of us are up in our seventies it might not be a bad idea to search obituaries. Fortunately, I found only one more obituary.

    I did find some interesting results. One guy became a school superintendent. Another a Lutheran minister. Another went back to the farm and farmed with his family. Another went back to his home town taught, farmed and wrote. He wrote columns for the CBC. He then put his columns in two books. So the results so far have been interesting and surprising.

     One challenge is that most of the women married so I don't have a name for them. The class was 75 % women. 

    So since I am curious and have some time I practise ( Bugs me that spell check doesn't know the difference between practice and practise) my Internet search skills.

Friday, October 26, 2012

All Old Guys should Walk

     All old guys should walk daily for exercise and good health.

     A few nights ago I did my walk and wrote on Face Book that I had just got in from a refreshing walk. One of my friends replied in a joking way "sick."  That got me thinking a little more seriously about walking.

    Once cycling season ends for me I start a nightly walking routine. Sometime in the evening I do a 30 minute walk. It's thirty minutes because that's what my route takes. I try to go out even when the weather is rather nasty. If I get a little soft then I tend to stay in so I keep on walking.

    Walking is always considered to be an excellent form of exercise. From walking you get some conditioning and strength building. Walking is very safe and has a low rate of injuries. After that you get fresh air and a whole lot of tension relief. 

    Walking can be suited to each individual. I walk by myself most of the time so I can set my own pace. I walked this afternoon because there's some ice on the sidewalk and you can't see it at night. I happened to notice an awful lot of sea gulls flying over. I stopped and watched . There were literally thousands of birds that flew over. It appeared that they were mostly young of this year or from last year. So my point is you can do different things on a walk. I also stop for geese, swans and chickadees! Once in a while I do walk with people and it is pleasant.

    Since I've lived in the same neighborhood for many years I like to stop and visit with people. Unfortunately, very few people walk. So I always say, "It's only me and the bad guys out there." I believe that if people are out on their streets it makes for a much safer community.
Not today's walk but I've included the birding part

    So I jokingly say "guys" but I would never forget the gals. The same thing goes for everybody. Walking is very beneficial.