Monday, July 30, 2012

Uranium: It's Frantic History

     I'm reading a very interesting book right now that  a geologist friend gave to me.  It's called  Uranium  : War energy, and the rock that shaped the world and it's by Tom Zoellner.

    I admit that my knowledge of uranium is somewhat limited. I've never read anything that's in any depth. My knowledge comes from news and that can be sketchy.

   When we were kids in school in the 40's and 50's we were told that if there was an atomic attack we were to go under our desks. I was not old enough to remember the Hiroshima attack. To put it bluntly as little kids during the cold war we were frightened as we didn't understand the situation and our governments were only too willing to feed the public fear of an atomic attack.

    So now to the book. This book tells the story of uranium from the time it was discovered to the present day. The first large uranium mines were in Africa. People did not know what this mysterious mineral was like. The Dutch mining company employed slave labor to get the uranium out of the ground. Another location was in eastern Europe were German prisoners were forced to mine the stuff. There was no concept of what danger there was in uranium. The ore was reduced to a more pure form and became more hazardous. The stuff was shipped around the world in barrels.

    Physicists discovered that the substance could be used to make a very powerful bomb. The United States wanted to use the bomb to end the Second World War but they did not have enough uranium to get the substance needed to produce a bomb. They were worried that the Germans would produce a bomb. What surprised me is that much uranium was found in New Mexico. The mining was primitive operation. There were small deposits and some was dug out by hand and trucked to a large processing plant. All of this was done without any idea that the product was hazardous.

    The first bombs made were tested and the developers were very impressed with the big bang. There was no idea of the dangers of radiation. People were very close to the detonation site. They were only concentrating on the power.

   Since the cold war there has been more emphasis on producing electrical power and trying to back away from the abbyss of total destruction.

  I think we are still at the beginning working with and controlling uranium. We have not discovered any way of safely disposing of the substance once it's been used.

   So for an interesting and understandable account I recommend that you take a look at  this book.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guess What: Part II

     I love tomatoes and so I baby my tomatoes. I've loved tomatoes since I was a little kid. I'd come home from school and stick three of four tomatoes in my pocket and eat them like apples. I water them with a watering can so that water doesn't get on the blooms. Fussy? I know I am. 

     Today I was watering about 1:00 P M and all of a sudden something moved under a tomato. After I recovered from the shock I saw that it was one of the baby rabbits. So there I was pouring water on a poor little baby rabbit. I'm not a very nice guy! He moved less than a meter and then froze. I ran in the house for my camera and got some poor shots of an awesome two day old rabbit . So this is Part II.
Little guy after a bit of  an unexpected shower.

I don't think anybody can see me!

Nice and shady in here.

Nobody will ever see me here.

    If you read my last post I pompously said that all the baby rabbits had left my yard!! You won't believe a word I say after this. I've completely blown my credibility. So now I will go out on a limb and say that the babies  are all probably in my yard somewhere. I did look around but didn't find anything. When I got back home this afternoon the little guy had disappeared.

    And here I thought I was finished with my baby rabbits?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guess What? New Babies at my Place.

      Okay! I'll end the suspense. Four little Jack rabbits were born in my back yard yesterday!

      I went out to my back yard yesterday about 9:30 AM. He/she was back by my utility trailer and looked as if he/she didn't want to move very badly.I shooed him/her whatever out of the yard because I thought it might be "son of a bitch" . Now "son of a bitch" is not welcome in my yard because he/she leveled a row of lettuce in my garden. A couple of other jack rabbits crossed my front yard in the morning and afternoon.

     About 4:30 PM I noticed a rabbit under my utility trailer and I thought, "Oh ya. I know what's going to happen." She was making a scrape which is a very shallow smoothed out piece of ground. I noticed a lot of antsy movements. Usually jack rabbits will doze in a safe place and are very still. I didn't want to disturb her so I stayed in my house. I tried to get a look with my field glasses but it was too dark under the trailer. 

     A few minutes later I noticed Ma rabbit about to enter my garden so I thought nothing doing. I've lost enough. I went out and she was adamant that she owned the garden and wasn't leaving. I only wanted her out of the garden and had no intention to chase her out of the yard but out of the yard she went. So this was my chance to take a peak. There they were. Four new born little bunnies who just laid there and did not move. I took some pictures but since I have a few things to learn about taking a picture of stuff that's in the dark when the camera is in the light the results are not good.
About 30 minutes after birth

And they didn't move from one picture to the next.

 A poorer view from the other side.

    I wanted to get a shot of them when they came out from under the trailer but because I'm not the most patient photographer I didn't get them. I checked at 8:30 PM and there were only two little guys under the trailer. This morning there were no babies under the trailer.

   So although I didn't  have the babies very long it was quite an exciting few hours.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Last Laugh

     My whole teaching career was with Middle School kids. They have their own perception of life and it doesn't  go much further than the next hour. If you get to understand a little bit about Middle School kids you can see their sense of humor and play along with them and have some fun.

     In my late twenties to early thirties I developed some pattern baldness. There was a noticeable part on the back of my head where the hair was thinning. Well, did the boys have fun. Almost every day somebody would say, "Mr. Kline , you're going bald!" Now this was a line that one could play with. There are many replies to this one. Also in my head was the idea that I was going bald. But many times I teased these little guys that some day they would be balder than I am. They could never get this one. Some of these guys gave me more static than others. And some didn't mention the topic.

    Now I still live in the community that I taught in. I taught in the same school for 28 years. By the end of my career about 20 % of my students were children of former students. I still live in the same district so from time to time I see former students like my optometrist.  Many of my former students are active in the community.

     Now what really got me writing this post was I saw a picture of John who was teaching kids to fish. I haven't seen John since he left gr. nine but I see his folks once in a while.Well guess what?  John is very hair challenged! 

    One kid Dan, pestered me more than any other. Dan was completely shiny before he turned thirty. 

    I don't know what the percentage is for pattern baldness but what ever it is my former students are in it. 

    As for me , I've stayed the same with the thin hair more no less. I remember all my great uncles and Grandpa had exactly the same place where their hair was thin. 

   So guys I guess I get the last laugh!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Odd House Keeping Routine

      Last week my manager asked me to do a number of house keeping tasks. Usually I do them as part of my share of keeping body and soul together. I have been known to whine from time to time about having to do some of these jobs.

     Last week though, I go to do some heavy duty housework. I was asked to wash a bed room floor, vacuum a bedroom, vacuum living room furniture, vacuum the TV room and vacuum the games room. Wow! Not much was left.
29 cushions to clean off!

    Now what caused me to do all these jobs was a polite request from the manager. What was the manager thinking? Well, the manager was going in for some medical tests this week. She had been increasingly worried about these tests. She knew the preparation was not fun. She became more and more uncomfortable about the tests themselves. She was worried what they would find. She even had her self convinced that she might not survive the test   The tests went by with flying colors. The report was that they were only 1/8 as difficult as she had thought. Nothing wrong was found.

    So going away to the hospital and worrying about not surviving brought on the odd house keeping habit. I've heard of it before. I've heard people try to explain it or give an excuse for it. I don't think any answer for its occurrence is near complete or accurate. For an odd reason some house keepers get the urge to have their house spotlessly clean before they go away.

     I would never be one of those house keepers!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Break in the Heat.

       Saturday we had a very welcome change in our weather when it slowly clouded over in the evening. There was just a little bit of rain. Sunday Afternoon we had a little more rain and Sunday night there was a lot of rain. We had a high of 24 C (78 F) on Sat. 16 C (62 F) Sun and 19C(69 F) on Mon. Tomorrow we are back to higher temperatures but nothing in the hot range.

      The rain was welcome Our grass was starting to show some heat stress. We weren't dry, just hot.. We probably had 250-350mm(1-1 1/2 in) of rain.

     A blogger I follow in Montana received some precipitation but they had been very dry.  Another blogger I follow in southern Alberta also cooled off and got wet. The weather radar showed a large system centered around Lethbridge , Alberta. It extended to both borders  of Alberta and down into Montana.

     So we have a welcome break in the hot weather.

     Today at 1  PM we had a thick layer of cloud  that gave complete overcast.

View to the west

View to the east

View to the south

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nick Names: Love'm or Hate'm

     Now I haven't taken a survey but I would guess that the percentage of people who have or have had nick names is pretty high. There are family , school , friends and sport nick names to name a few. My last post was on given names and then I got thinking about nick names.

     Now all of my family had family nick names. I was the first born and I was always called Grandpa or Grandfather by my Dad. I don't remember anybody else in the family calling me grandfather. My next brother was called Merce because some little guy, namely me, couldn't say Myrven. Other people in the community used this name. My sister was called Deen or Deeny because two little boys couldn't say Doreen. The fourth sibling was called Ditter because two little guys and one sister couldn't say Victor . My youngest brother was so much younger that he didn't suffer receiving a nick name caused by siblings who had problems pronouncing a name. Our mother did call him Dadid as his name was David. The Dadid probably comes from him not being able to say his own name when he was little.

    I have a neighbor who is in his mid fifties. His nick name is Dirt. He's a twin and guess what? His twin brother couldn't quite say Stewart. The closest he  came to it was Dirt.

    High schools are great places for nick names. My high school nick name was Pop, Pa or Paa. See any connections to another nick name I had? I don't know where this nick name came from and I was always too afraid to ask. The skinniest guy in the class was Tub. The guy with an early peach fuzz mustache was called Shnir ( don't think this is spelled right) and it means mustache in German. Other nick names were from name alterations. Bergy came from Bergen. Remp came from Rempel.

    As an adult I have had several names. The Eskimos called me Ehunga which means crooked mouth. It refers to my physical facial feature. When they got mad at me I was Ehungnaq. They would never tell me what this meant.

     As a teacher , I know that most classes have a nick name for you and it's usually not discovered by the teacher. One I did discover was Slime. Did I say anything? No. I did not let on that I knew their secret? No.

     As teachers we quite often played against school teams. I am not any kind of athlete, but I got the name killer in volley ball and it stuck for quite a few years. The sports world is full of nick names.

    Nick names probably come on a very incidental basis from very small happenings. But love or hate your nick name you're stuck with it. Somebody who tries to fight a nick name they don't like is asking for trouble.

  Fortunately most people have interesting  and descriptive nick names that end up being a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Naming Patterns

    A few posts ago Far Side of Fifty made some comments on how her grandchildren and some relatives were named. It was interesting post and got me thinking about patterns used by different cultural, ethnic and religious groups for naming children.

     Far Side got me thinking about naming children in my family. My ancestors came to Canada in the late 1800' to early 1900's. They came from Volhynia which is in the Ukraine. They had gone to the Ukraine in the late 1700's. So they were cut off from the main German culture. They remained as Germans from the late 1700's.

    So the German naming pattern usually went this way. The first grand son or son was given the paternal grandfather's name as his second name. The second grandson or son was given the maternal grandfather's name. They also had a pattern of giving a child a first name after a saint. The second name would be the name used every day. As with most groups these were general guidelines and variations occurred.  The same pattern applied to female names.

    Now it only took a few generations for these patterns to be forgotten or changed. Many did not learn the German language. Many Anglicized their names. My name was originally spelled Klein. My Dad changed it to Kline.  Some of his family were not very pleased with him.

    The Jewish religion has many fairly strict guidelines for naming children. My friend told me that the Rabbi had to approve the names he wanted to give his children.

    The English had a custom where a child was quite often given a surname for a second name. As a result you see many English names which include  surnames. My brother in law was named John after his father and Elliott after his mother's family. To my way of thinking many of these names had a rather elegant ring to them.

    Icelanders use a patronymic system of naming children. Jon Larson's son becomes Peter Jonsson. His daughter Anna becomes Anna Jonsson. Again they liked to use Saint's names.

    Naming by our aboriginals was interesting to say the least. Children were given names that had significance in a spiritual, animal or place origin. Names were changed when circumstances called for it.  Someone could be renamed if there had been a misfortune and they wanted to change their status to become more fortunate.

    I did not use any pattern in naming my children. I picked up my adopted son a couple of days before Christmas. It was a very unexpected placement and we hadn't thought of any name. Since we were going to my parent's place for Christmas, my wife said, "We need a name before we go for Christmas. I don't want your Dad to name him."

     So I've had a brief look at naming patterns and you don't have to look very far to learn a great deal. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Red Hot Heat Wave

     For the last four days we have been experiencing a heat wave in Central Alberta. For four days we have had temperatures in the 30 - 32 C (88 - 92 F) range. That is hot for this area. Now I know that some people would scoff at me saying this is hot and a heat wave! I've been watching heat waves in other parts of the continent and they are brutal. You have my sympathy. My daughter keeps me informed about the heat in Chicago.  

      Our usual summer day time highs are about 20 C ( 70 F). A few days each summer we may have a 26 C ( 80 F) temperature and once every five years or so we get what we're getting now. 

     Now very few houses here have air conditioning. It just wouldn't make economic sense to install air conditioning. Our houses have a high insulation value to keep heat in in the winter. Most commercial buildings will have air conditioning.

    However, life goes on here heat wave or no heat wave. Outdoor workers continue the regular routine. Plants, crops and wildlife suffer from the  heat . Farm crops suffer some damage as yields could be less. I remember when I lived on my Dad's farm and we had a heat wave how it would bother my Dad. He knew that he was losing income as long as the heat wave continued. 

    So I have fans running in my house hoping to keep the temperature down. I stay in my house from noon to 3:00 pm to try to stay out of the heat. 

    I hope that all heat waves end now and that we go back to normal temperatures. Then I can stop being grouchy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Today is International Kissing Day!

    That's right! International Kissing Day today! This day has gradually been declared in most countries.

    Now I'm sure that anyone expected this topic on Hiawatha House. Why I didn't think this topic would ever be on Hiawatha House. However, I heard a piece on CBC radio's The Current about National Kissing Day and it was interesting. 

     So there are pecks on the cheek, pecks on the forehead, kisses on the lips and probably many more that I'm not aware of. There are good kissers and bad kissers. There are favorite kisses. There are kisses that have big influences. Russian men give the big bear hug and kisses on both cheeks when they meet a man.Where did kissing come from? The experts aren't quite sure . Alexander the Great found kissing in India and brought it back. The Europeans are responsible for spreading kissing around the world. 

    Some cultures didn't have kissing but "smelling." We have small musk glands underneath the eye. That scent can be picked up, subconsiously I guess, and in so doing the person is recognized in some way. 

    My Grandma was like most other Grannies. She adored her grandchildren and would shower them with kisses. When my brother and I were little guys we didn't like Grandma's kisses. She would come on the train to visit us. We would be dancing up and down until the train stopped. Then we would run behind the station and hide so Grandma couldn't kiss us. However , sooner or later we had to face Grandma. 

    My most surprising kiss? I was in the staff room one day enjoying a coffee and going over some upcoming lessons. The office staff happened to be in the staff room and they were rather excited. One of them was applying a thick coating of lipstick. So she said she was going to kiss me. I treated it as a bluff. But it wasn't a bluff and too late for me I got the red lipstick kiss. Of course , all the office staff were in on it so that was the reason for their lively behavior and they found the incident hilarious.

    I come from a family of four boys. Once in a while our wives swap stories about their husband's kissing. Then they embarrass us by discussing our kissing habits. So their story is that we are all shy and some initiative has to be taken on their part. They all say we are getting better so that's a good thing.

    My friend's Dad died last year. They were together as a family and talking about what they would miss most about their Dad and husband. When it came mom's turn she said "the kisses." It was something none of them expected but something that spoke volumes about the couple's relationship.

    So to all people out there, "Happy kissing day" or whatever you're supposed to say on such a day. 

     Some bloggers quite often end posts or a comment "Hugs to all " and some "hugs and kisses to all."



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have a Great Fourth of July

    To all my American readers and followers: 

    Have a great Fourth of July.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Love of Thunderstorms

     I really love a good old thunder storm. I like the thunder lightning, wind and rain. I like Eddie Rabbit's "I Love a Rainy Night."

    Today my love of thunderstorms cooled off a bit. I had some damage as the result of a severe thunderstorm this afternoon.

     We had wind  and thunderstorm storm warnings today. You could see a build up starting around noon. About 2:30 PM the storm broke . There was lots of thunder, lightning, rain and wind. Rain , thunder and lightning weren't spectacular. However, the wind was spectacular. I don't know the wind speed but the trees really rocked.

     All at once I heard a good bang outside and I knew that something had been hit. I ran to my front window to see a large part of my birch tree had blown down on the car and the back window was smashed out. So a few fast scrambles to get the car under the car port and then the rest of the afternoon talking to insurance. By 5:00PM most of the business with insurance had been done and tomorrow action will take place.
A 6 or 7 m (20ft) chunk of birch tree.

Cleaned the back window out pretty neatly.

My birch that is in the process of its last days.

     Things like this are stressful but I have to stop and say, "Nobody was hurt. All people are safe." This storm was not nearly as severe as the one that took place in the mid west and eastern states. Our power didn't go off. 

    My daughter lives near Chicago and she had a large chunk of her maple tree come down. It missed, power line, fence, neighbor's house. It didn't even knock the bird bath over. Was she lucky!

     Now just for this afternoon my enjoyment of thunderstorms was cooled . Tomorrow I will look for thunderstorms again.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brenda Schultz: More Campaigning

        A couple of posts ago I told you about my friend and neighbor who had  serious spinal injury. Brenda is working to find more financial support for her physio therapy program.

       In Alberta as long as you are hospitalized you get physio therapy. As soon as you're out of the hospital you are on your own for physio therapy. Private plans usually cover $400.00 and that doesn't go very far. Brenda was in the hospital from Sept. 2011 to Dec 22 2011. The hospital therapy was good but of limited value in getting back the use of limbs. Brenda went to California for February for a special therapy. When she came back she had made very good progress. She could lift her legs and this made a big difference in her mobility in a wheel chair. Since February she has continued with therapy. As you saw in the picture she can now ride a tricycle.

      Brenda's family and friends have been supporting her in this therapy. They've gone a long way but are about exhausted in funds. I'm including a link for a fund raiser that Brenda is working with. If you feel comfortable posting this link on your blog please do. The more publicity Brenda gets the more success she may have.

     Thank you.