Thursday, March 29, 2012

Somebody's Always "Gotta" Be The Bad Guy

      Somebody's always gotta be the bad guy. Somebody's always gotta rain on your party. Somebody's always gotta bring you the bad news. So here it is. I still have lots of snow! I was trying not to tell anybody as I thought it would go away. However, my snow is still here. So for all those people with flowers that are blooming and all those people who have green grass I hate to disappoint you with my news. For all the southerners who are experiencing hot weather I apologize. For my Australian readers who don't know snow, I'm sorry I have to tell you about snow.
My front yard
You've seen this before. My ski trail was here.
More of my ski trail.
    Now on a brighter note I saw a robin yesterday. This morning while I was doing snow pictures a robin gave it's warning. It was in a Mountain Ash right above my head. So you say "What are robins doing there with all that snow?" Robins are smarter than you think. They go on the ground and eat Mountain Ash berries that have fallen off the tree. 

     We had 12 hours and 47 minutes of sunlight today. With the coming of long days things develop very quickly here. We may have a late start but we catch up to everybody.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hiawatha Ground

       I went to a one room country school for nine years and left it in June of 1954. The next year in June of 1955 the school was closed. In 2006 a marker was placed on the original site of the school and a celebration was held. I was not able to attend the ceremony so I wrote a poem. This poem has been sitting around for six years as I was trying to find a picture of the building. 

This picture was taken in 1948 and shows an interior view of the school.  I am in the second row from the back , third from the left!
This shows a little bit of the weather beaten building and the class from 1947-48


Quiet earth lay covered by prairie grass and buckbrush ,
Meadowlarks,crows and hunting coyotes occasionally passed by,
Briefly visited by many spring blooms ,
And ancient quiet people who scanned the willows for big brown bulks ,
Of many life sustaining energies.
Dustyhorn, Bitternose, Whitefeather, Asqpace...

Suddenly, settlers appear to till the land
And put down roots of settlement
Which spawned wire fences , trails ,roads
And dwellings to house their families
And patient beasts of burden.
King, Clark, Minnings, Paul...

Then their children required an education
So a school house was  patiently planned
By careful applications to the powers of the land
Who controlled the many details of
Official school district formation.
Hawes, Weurfel, Winks, Rathwell...

So with patient effort acceptance was gained
To build a school with gifted labor
Borrowed money and volunteers who
Undertook the time consuming supervision
Which produced a shining building for the children.
Ingelton, Bushell, Taylor, Wildeman...

Years of care to run the school
Find and pay a teacher
Repair the roof and walls
Fill out the required forms and reports
For the privilege of keeping kids in school.
Barber, Johnson, Langille, Stevenson...

Quiet Christians gathered there
In the name of the Lord to sing
And pray and study God's word
Which supported their souls
And daily trials and tribulations.
Mehaffey, Ronald , Kline, Muir...

Years ground by with depression
Drought ,war and changes slowly
Came to settlers and their way of life
As some moved on to other grounds
To find an easier success.
Manke, Brust, Kabernick, Leggott...

The silent end quickly appeared
When only six lonely scholars filled the desks
And sad decisions were made
To close the Hiawatha learning center
Which had faithfully served quiet locals
Epp, Kreiger, Enns, Freisen...

Now, the ground sleeps deeply once again
Visited by passing hawks and goldfinch
Covered by annual snows
While the joyous shouts of children
And devoted settlers are no longer heard .
Red tailed hawks, ground squirrels, butterflies...

Ten former students and three former teachers.

The marker set up on the school site.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Do It Your Selfer Mentor.

     My daughter is a confirmed do it your selfer. I was surprised to find out that she was a do it your selfer as I hadn't included her with much of what I did in the home. I did show her how to take the wheel off her car in case she ever had a flat tire. I don't think I ever had her cut the grass.

    So how did she become such an avid do it your selfer? Before she bought her first condo she had been watching home improvement shows on HGTV. As soon as she got into the condo, the first thing she did was to paint the thing from top to bottom. Now she had been fairly artistic, so she could pick super colors. She lived in another city, so Dad couldn't just drop over to help or give advice.

    She moved again and bought a townhouse which was only 3 kms from me. According to her, the "Pepto Bismol" pink carpet had to go, along with the matching pink walls and counter tops. The carpet and other items were the popular rose color from the late eighties. Before she moved into the townhouse she pulled out the main floor carpet and painted the place from top to bottom. Again she had super taste when it came to color. She painted the plywood sub floor and kitchen vinyl floor because she didn't have enough money to cover it with anything. All of this she did on her own.

    The next summer she bought laminate flooring and Dad helped her install it. She had the mitre saw and Dad held the boards. This project worked out quite well. She then got the idea to cover up the pink marble on the fireplace, so framed it over with MDF and painted it. She replaced toilets. Then I accidentally showed her how to take out a light fixture and wire it back in. That sent her on a trip to Ikea where she bought new light fixtures and installed them herself. After that she had some rotten parts on the deck, so she bought the lumber and enlisted Dad to tear the deck apart and haul it to the dump. Then the new deck was put together.

    My daughter likes renovations and redecorating. She used to have a small business on the side where she consulted, giving people plans to redecorate a room, or a whole house. Sometimes she did part of the work. She liked it when people came to her house and complimented her on how nice it looked.

    When she bought her first detached house (this time with her husband) she again started up with the renovations, but contracted some of the major things out. Her mother warned the new husband that "Oh, it never ends!" when it comes to his bride's desire for fix-it and improvement projects, big or small.
Still creative with Lego!

    Now when I look back, the only sign of her being a DIY type was her continuously playing with Lego. I always thought Lego was more for boys, but my daughter certainly spent much of her play time with it. And ya, she still has Lego - her husband got her a set for Christmas!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Psst: You Can Speed in Alberta

    What's that you say? You can speed in Alberta? But you say,"You''ll get caught." You might get caught. But if you get a ticket, depending on how busy a road you're on, 200 or 1000 speeders go by while your ticket is being written. That's not very efficient policing. .5%  or .01 %. The Alberta government is so obsessed with not raising taxes that the number of policemen has declined while the population has increased. Very little traffic patrolling is done.

     So you say, "If you get caught you'll have to pay a fine." Never mind. Don't pay it. July first of every year a statistic is released. Last year on July first there was $110 000 000.00 in outstanding traffic fines! Very few people are paying traffic fines. Some how the government is unable or unwilling to collect traffic fines.

    So you say, " If I don't pay my traffic fine I'll lose my license." Not to worry. A large percentage of Albertans drive without a valid driver's license. 

    So you say, "If I don't have a license I won't be allowed to buy car insurance." Not to worry . A large percentage of Albertans drive without insurance.

    So I rest my case. You can speed in Alberta. 

    One of my extremely nice little old granny friends got a speeding ticket when she was less than 500 meters from a seniors picnic she was going to. Shirley was very upset. I told her she didn't have to pay the ticket. But I know that she was one of the few people who pay tickets here.

   A few years ago I met a young Nova Scotian who had come to Alberta to make his fortune in the oil patch. Sergio was a very nice twenty year old. Two weeks after he got here he got a speeding ticket. He didn't know he got a ticket because it was photo radar. The ticket was sent to his Mom in Nova Scotia. Since there were demerit points it put him in the situation where he lost his driver's license. I told him not to drive. I asked him what his mother told him. He said, "Mom told me not to drive." Two days later he accidentally told me he was driving. I'd done all I could. So the next thing I know he's got an impaired charge. He got more that an impaired because he didn't have a license or car insurance. On top of that they tried to play games with the police and he got an obstruction charge. He went to the first court date and it was put over. The second date he missed. The third date I dropped him off but didn't go in with him. He told me it was delayed again. A few weeks after that he came to the house and I knew he was saying good bye. So he left the area without notice. His charges were not settled and I'm sure the justice system would not find him. During a three month period he made $10 000.00 and was always broke.

    So I guess the moral of my story is that the justice system is so understaffed and weak that it can not enforce anything and if you want to be a scofflaw you can get away with almost anything.

    Now would I pay my fine? You bet I would.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bumbling Blogger? That's Me!

    When I started blogging I thought I had something important to say. I also thought that anything I put out on the Internet would be automatically seen and read by millions. Well, I was much more than naive. After a few months I discovered that few or none were reading my blog. What should I do?

     So I got the "Blogging for Dummies book."  That would do the trick. First , I got the impression that  I had to be on search engine lists, I tried to put my blog on search engines and couldn't tell whether I got my blog on search engines or not. Anyway there wasn't any noticeable increase in hits.

    So what's next? I discovered that I had to follow some blogs. How do you do that? After awhile I got the hang of it and was following half a dozen blogs. I also found out that I had to have followers so I told my friends and got a half dozen followers. However , my friends didn't have blogs so that wasn't going to go very far. Still no more traffic. Finally, an honest to goodness blogger showed up to follow me and even left comments. Until  that time I didn't have any comments. Of course, I hadn't left any comments. So Red, get busy and make comments on other blog posts. 

     So the "Blogging for Dummies " book was consulted many times. I then knew that I had to follow more blogs and make more comments before I would be noticed. Slowly this process has been succeeding.

     Now the seed for this post started in another place. In writing courses you are told to consider your audience. In other words who are you writing to. Obviously the audience thing didn't sink in. I did not have it in my head who my audience would be.

    It would go like this. I might want to write about music so my audience would be musicians  and  music listeners. I might expand this to the arts in general and I could include acting, dancing, writing and visual arts. I had no idea who I would write to.

     Gradually I gained some readers and followers. These people don't really know what to expect on my blog. I bounce around on a wide variety of topics. Lately, since I have regular followers , I'm influenced by  readers. Comments give me ideas for posts. Other bloggers give me good ideas for posts from what they write. I write mostly about experiences I have had. 

      So after three and a half years of bumbling around there are some things that are making sense and bringing about more blogging success. When I look back some of these things should have made sense a long time ago. A focus of my writing may have made it easier for readers to follow me. I'm sure people drop by my blog and wonder ,  "What's this guy all about?"

     So I am extremely happy with the people who have chosen to visit me on a regular basis and that you can put up with someone who bumbles from topic to topic.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Ultimate Insult to a Snorer

     Now I admit that I am a fairly capable competent snorer. I can raise quite few decibels.

     Am I concerned about snoring? Well, no. About 99% of adults snore. We all do it. So not to worry. Snoring is like respiration's automatic. 

    In 2007 my wife and I went on a trip with our daughter and we had arranged for one room. The first morning my daughter said, "I didn't sleep all night. One of you snores and the other one chokes." So the only thing you can say is sorry. She did get used to the noise after several days. On the other hand I had to get used to a schnauzer. Unfortunately my daughter was given a mat to sleep on rather than a cot. Shortly after turning out the lights I heard the dog quietly walking around the bed. Suddenly the dog jumped up on the bed. She stealthily made her way up the bed and then gently eased her way under the covers between my wife and I. What spoiled brat!
The spoiled schnauzer!

    We have a local writer who has a humor column in the Saturday paper. Today he was describing a similar situation as I had gone through. They went on a trip and parents and daughter shared the same room. Guess what? Dad snored and daughter objected. In this case daughter grabbed her cell phone and made a video of her dad snoring...not once but three times! Now that's a tremendous insult. You're not only harassed about your snoring but you are confronted with cold hard evidence.

     Now I'm lucky that my experience was before fancy cell phones were invented.

     It's almost enough to make a guy quite snoring but as I said before there is a certain amount of automation to snoring. So good luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Walking With Walter

      I have an  81 year old neighbor who is a retired college psychology instructor. Walter is very active and one thing he does a lot of in the winter is walking. Walter firmly believes that physical activity is very good for you. He always walked with his wife but this winter she said it was too icy so Walter walks by himself.

     I was out walking a few days ago and met Walter. Walter just said, "Come walk with me." Now you can't turn Walter down. He said, "We'll just go as far as the mall." Well, we got to the mall and Walter just continued walking. I didn't say anything because Walter is and interesting guy to listen to.

     Now Walter is a fairly passionate person. First, on his list are his wife and children. After that it's psychology, gardening and bees. Walter reads two newspapers a day and probably watches several news casts so he is intensely interested and knowledgeable about current affairs. Walter trims trees and shrubs. He knows how to trim and when and why. He trimmed his honey suckle hedge in January because that was the proper time to trim . So there he was in the deep snow and below zero temperatures of January. He has about 20 beehives and is a walking encyclopedia on bees. Walter spends a good part of the summer looking after bees. Walter has a large vegetable garden which is very successful. Walter is a thinking man. He thinks about how bees behave and how plants grow and why. 

     I've known Walter for a long time. So the other day when we walked we covered a wide range of topics. When Walter really gets interested in something, he stops walking. So the walk is not only long in distance but also in time. So we talked about Walter's walking, icy conditions, conditions in Greece, my children, gay and lesbian people and probably as many topics again that I have forgotten. On most things Walter and I are on the same page but he's very knowledgeable so I learn a lot by listening to him. The only things we disagree on is capital punishment and sentencing  for crime. Walter would execute all murderers and put people in jail and throw away the keys.

     So the moral of my story is that when you walk with an eighty one year old it is enjoyable and enlightening. Now I'm kind of advertising for myself because I'm coming up on the 81 sooner than I think. So in  a few years I will be a good person to walk with.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rigid Clock Resetting Regime

      Now I know the time change requires that time pieces be reset. If it was up to me the clocks wouldn't be reset in any punctual order. I could live quite awhile before resetting anything as I can allow for the hour difference in my head.

     However , around here,  my manager has completely different ideas about resetting clocks. On the Saturday evening a kitchen clock and bedroom clock must be reset. Then there's the oven timer! That requires a bit of background. Our oven is the original with the house so it is 49 years old. I have replaced this timer twice. The last time we were told that there were no more parts available. So you say, so what? Get a new oven. Not my manager. This is a wall oven and you can't buy another wall oven to go in the same hole. So you say, change the cabinets. Now these are the original cabinets and according to my manager they don't make  cabinets of this quality any more. So to protect the timer this procedure is used. You trip the breaker for the oven Sat. Evening and then reset the breaker when the actual time equals what's on the timer. You don't understand this? Neither do I but it works. So that's the complicated part of the regime.
That great old time oven
The best old cupboards you can't buy anymore.

     The next morning all the other time pieces are reset. I'm responsible for the stereo and thermostat. I am closely supervise until this is completed. Now my wrist watch always stays in the drawer. Guess what ? I don't reset it and my manager doesn't remember it. 

    So I have survived another stressful time change. I will recover by Nov. when we have to turn the clocks back. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Owl Web Cam Link

     I have just placed a link on my blog for an web cam on an owl's nest.

      This owl' nest has been occupied for quite a number of years. There was a web cam on this nest last year. The pair of owls were successful in raising their brood. The web cam placement was not good but this year they have a better camera and the placing is much better.

     The owls aren't nesting yet. Owls have been seen visiting the nest.

      So if you are curious and have the time check into the owl's nest and see how they are doing.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Remember Helpful Students

      As a teacher I was fortunate enough to have some students who always wanted to be helpful. They always wanted to do something. These kids were a treat because they had such a positive attitude and they were of great help.

      A class room teacher always has an amazing number of things to get done during a day. It was always nice to have the kid who wanted to do little jobs. Take something to the office(attendance forms), get something from the office, get the video, get the duplicated stuff, haul some books around: These kids saved a teacher many steps. It was interesting that there were two types of helpful kids. One kind of helpful kid was just plane helpful. The other kind of helpful kid was a little devious and wanted to get out of work or go for a stroll. These kids realized that they were helpful. They knew this message could go home and that would be a big plus for them.

     Then some kids were very helpful and they didn't intend to be helpful and didn't know they were being helpful. Sometimes there were shenanigans going on that I couldn't catch. If I watched carefully, there was always some kid who knew where the nonsense was taking place and was watching and enjoying the action. If you could catch that kids eye and follow it you could find out exactly where the monkey business was going on. Usually the culprit was caught completely off guard and wondered how he had been caught.

     One time I had someone in class who was either lighting matches or scratching caps for cap guns. Both were smelly and other kids would complain. They didn't know who was the culprit either. I really wanted to put a stop to this activity as it was dangerous. I had one sharp eyed observer who always knew where the action was. He was and extremely nice and well behaved boy. I watched him carefully. He was so interested in the goings on that he concentrated intently and I could see exactly who the bad guy was. I pounced on the culprit and that was the end of lighting matches until the next time.

     So students were helpful in several ways and I appreciated all of them.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Real Spring Snow Storm

      The other day when I posted on "Snow: Embrace it or Fight it" I might have known that I might spook the snow gods. Today we are getting heavy spring snow. It's just below freezing and the snow is coming down hour after hour. We've had about 20 cm (8 in.) of snow so far and are likely to get 20 cm more before it's done. I've had the pleasure of shoveling twice today and I'll go out again about 9:00 PM.

    So today I'm not sure if I'm embracing , fighting or just keeping my head above the snow. It is a quiet gentle time.   Roads are terrible and there have been some serious accidents.
I wish there wasn't so much snow.

Big hat for my lamp 
Lots more room for snow on the spruce tree.
A Juniper cover up.
One bird feeder closed for business

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 4th: National Grammar Day

     Now I'm sure that every one of you is just thrilled to know that Mar. 4 is National Grammar Day. I had never heard of it until yesterday. National Grammar Day was established in 2008 so it only took me four years to find out about it.

     Many bloggers from time to time make comments about their writing ability and specifically with relation to grammar. People know that there  is a grammar which is made up of rules for correct writing. People will say a remember taking grammar in school but I can't remember any of it. I remember taking a grammar quiz in teachers' college and it showed I didn't know the difference between a noun and a verb. I got sentenced to remedial grammar and couldn't get out until I passed the test. 

     Sadly, I think there are potentially many excellent bloggers out there who do not blog because they are concerned about the grammar thing.

     I applaud all bloggers I follow for their willingness to write! That is the key goal write. Some bloggers write as they talk and their posts have an interesting flavor. For these blogs if they changed their style I probably wouldn't follow them. Other bloggers are more aware of some rules but also like to use an informal style which will be more appealing to the reader. A few blogs are written quite accurately when it comes to grammar.

      I have two grammar police on my blog. It's been a long time since they've done anything with my writing. It was always surprising how much editing they did. So I thank Jock Mckenzie for supplying me with help. Jock has written a novel Dealing with Dymans. MK is my daughter and she's a real stickler. I can learn a lot form her. She is also an excellent writer. My third adviser is Brian T. Kline and he is an excellent writer. He has very tightly controlled and logical writing. One of his jobs was to turn engineering language to regular language so sales people could describe their products. But with all this help I still like to write in an informal style. 

   Basic grammar is very simple. It's right or wrong stuff. For people to get grammar it has to be applied. You have to apply grammar to your own writing as you write or look at it after you've written. Grammar is easy to teach but it's difficult to teach well. Sadly today grammar is rarely taught. I still wish I had a basic grammar text in the house. Wait a minute , couldn't I find all the grammar explained on the net

    So to all my followers "Happy Grammar Day" or whatever appropriate thing you're supposed to say. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Some Issues With: In Like a Lion ,Out like a Lamb

     On March 1, I can always remember people saying, "In like a lion, Out like a lamb." The adage is much older than my time. In fact, the earliest it can be traced back is to the 1200's. Nobody knows it's origin. It's one of those adages that has just come along with the language. 

     I wasn't very old when I became skeptical about the truth of the statement. I began to wonder about it's accuracy and if records had been kept. In my little head it seemed like one of those statements that are in the language but  do not have a lot of validity. There are many other statements to do with the weather. Red skies at night... Red skies in the morning...A moon phase where the moon is turned up enough to hold water...frost is more likely with a full moon. Now some of these have been proven to have some scientific validity . In others their source can be traced and the source offers some sense.

     Now what really bothers me about the March statement is : what defines a "lion " day and what defines a"lamb" day. Today at sunrise it was clear and calm. By 10:00 AM there was a brisk wind and some snow. By 5 :00 PM the wind had died down and the skies had cleared. I'm sure that there would be many arguments as to which kind of day this would be. Is it an average of the day? Is it the noon conditions? 

   Now another thing. To my dismay I have found that some people fervently believe in this adage. They are serious. The Farmer's Almanac  records and reports the event. And who's going to disagree with farmers and their almanac? Don't mess with them. They will have a melt down if you suggest it's hokey. I know I live with one of these. 

    Now I may be a bit of a spoil sport about March 1. I may be a trouble maker. But I am big enough to hope that everybody had a good Mar. 1 and that what ever the weather was, it turns out to be a good March and spring month.