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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pointless Politicians.

    As one who has had a long interest in current events, I find the present behavior of our politicians to be extremely disappointing. First, I would like to point out that I am Canadian and the conditions I'm commenting on refer to Canadian politics. 

    The level of debate in our parliament seems to have dropped right off the edge of the earth. Speeches that are logical and well researched are completely lacking. Policies that are well developed and reasoned are not  in existence. Instead we get brief talking points which are responses given whether they are on the topic or not. These inane responses are repeated many times. So debate with someone else does not happen. Talking points limit the actions of the individual member of parliament to use his/her own ability to express their ideas and support their party's platform. Members do not get an opportunity to be leaders.

    The present government has to take most of the responsibility for such  low level of performance. The govt. is very loathe to give out any information. The public, press, opposition and any researchers are blocked many times from accessing public information. The govt. is fearful of releasing information for which they may receive negative publicity or criticism.

    Rules of procedure are treated as something which is made to be broken. For the last election robo calls were used to pass out false information to discourage voters from voting. One party compiled a list of opposition supporters and used the robo calls to tell these people misinformation so they would not vote. Some candidates overspent the limits of campaign spending set by law. In some cases the winning margin was small and spending extra money probably bought the election for them.
    Why have our politicians become such lunatics?  Parties want to win so badly that they employ tactics which are most despicable. Attack ads are crafted and used. Many of these ads are very remote from the truth. Tactics to divide citizens are used so that less votes are needed to form a majority. With these tactics solid policy and debate go out the window. 

    I for one, would very much like to see political parties concentrate on developing sound policies that they stand for and promote. Then the voters can evaluate policies and elect who they think will do the most good.  Why don't politicians think of the good of their country and be principled about it? 

    Most of all I would like to see some sanity return to our politicians! We are part of the process and have to come up with some strategies that require politicians to perform in a manner which follows rules and results in the success of the country.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Preoccupation With Records!

    Since Felix Baumgartner made his historic jump the other day, it  has got me wondering about our preoccupation with records... the biggest, the fastest, the heaviest, the tallest, the oldest. You get what I mean.

     Baumgartner went to tremendous planning and expense to set up his record breaking jump. He carefully picked the best place on the planet to make the jump. All kinds of technology was  used. How many cameras were set up to record the event? A balloon made of plastic close to saran wrap thickness carried him to the outer edges of the atmosphere. The balloon...15 stories high! The tiny capsule he traveled in? One small mistake and it was over for Mr. Baumgartner. A small rip in his suit would be automatic disaster. A small rip in the plastic balloon? There were many things where there was no backup. 

    I had not been paying attention to this stunt. On the day of the jump twitter was full of "Felix" and then I realized what they were talking about.

   So the Guinness book of records gets another entry. As an aside, when I taught I tried to have one period a week for reading. Some little guy always got the Guinness book of records and would be mesmerized for the whole period.

    So I have to question the value of setting so many different records. Yes, I know this one had a certain amount of scientific value, but many records are pointless. Example: 150 combines in one field, a hockey game which is played for 72 hours. Aren't we wasting time and making spectacles of ourselves? 

    I for one can do without such records and can get myself cranked up to live a fulfilling life without all the hype cluttering my head.


Friday, October 19, 2012

A Triggered Memory

    The other day a local newspaper photographer came to our skating group to take pictures. I have met this photographer many times and can say that he is and excellent photo journalist. 

    Talking to him the other day reminded me of the first time I met him. I was doing a Christmas bird count in Dec. of 91.  I slipped on an icy down slope piece of trail. I reached back to break my fall and my hand landed on dirt. I felt a sudden severe pain in my wrist and I knew something had broken. I sat up and just about passed out because of the pain. I took my glove off to see what things looked like. That gave me a tremendous jolt. I tried the old test to see if things moved to find out if a bone is broken. Things moved...sort of. I thought maybe if I move the wrist to another position it might not hurt so much and I could walk home. I got up. Things really went in circles. I grabbed the railing and tried to get back up the slope. Extreme pain. I was blacking out and thought I would fall. I leaned on the rail or over it. 

     At that point I saw a runner go by me. I hollered and the runner turned around to see what I wanted. The runner was the photographer who I saw the other day. Jeff helped me up a steep bank to a large apartment. Jeff had a great deal of first aid training so I appreciated his assistance.

     I phoned my daughter to come and get me. She took me to emergency and I sent her home as I knew I would be there for quite a while. I told her , "Don't tell Mom."  Xrays were taken and  an orthopaedic surgeon was called. was called. He decided that surgery was needed but he couldn't use anesthetic because I had eaten. Finally about 3 PM my wife came racing in just as I was being taken  for surgery. She became alarmed because I was at emergency for so long.

   The surgical process they used was called closed reduction. They have imaging technology which allows the orthopaedic surgeon to see the bone pieces and manipulate them into place without opening up the wrist. The ulna had four fractures and the  radius had three fractures . When I later saw an xray the whole thing looked like crushed ice. 

   I was amazed at how much pain I had. I was used to seeing kids come to school with a cast and it seemed like a lark.

   I was teased endlessly about breaking my wrist while "bird watching." People remarked that, they didn't know bird watching was a dangerous activity. The students teased me about being in a tree and watching birds. Bird jokes were flying around through the air continuously.. 

   So that Christmas I had the worst of memories and the best of humor. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oh the Flu Shot, the Flu Shot. Such a Terrible Thought!

    Yesterday I went for my annual flu shot. Now I'm not a wuss when it comes to needles or any other treatment, but I do have some reservations about flu shots.

    Here , Alberta Health Services provides and encourages all people to get a flu shot. At one time flu shots were only available for those over 65, 12 or under and people with a chronic condition such as asthma. Since we've had  a few scares about pandemics, they have decided to make a flu shot available to all citizens.

     I had always resisted getting a flu shot because I have excellent health and resistance. I also didn't want to put something in my body that may alter my immune system.( Just my opinion. Not a researched idea.) So I was dragged , kicking and screaming, for a flu shot a few years ago. Somebody threatened that if I got the flu "herself" wouldn't look after me. I have not had a flu for 15 years and I'm not sure if it was the result of a flu shot or my own resistance and good health.

     So yesterday off  I  obediently went for my flu shot. It was the first day flu shots were available. Now with new technology needles are so fine and sharp that you really have to be thinking about it when you get your shot to feel anything.

    Here large clinics are organized. A large building is set up with about 20 nurses. Volunteers man a reception area and processing of records. Then you sit and wait.. You are given numbers and when they call your number off you go. You have to wait 15 minutes after your shot so there is a large room with about 400 seats for people to wait. I said to the person next to me that I should get up and sing because I would not likely ever have an audience this large again!

    So I hope this is another year without a flu.

    I hope all readers and followers miss the flu this year too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Get Free Satellite TV !

      I have only had peasant TV until now. I don't watch even one minute of TV a year. My wife only watches two channels so we've never had any use for cable.

     In Canada recently, they have cut off analog television transmission. We only get digital television transmission now. That means that you can't get anything with rabbit ears anymore.

     So when the shift was made we were told that if we got some kind of converter box we could get the four channels we had. Well, not so. We were told to get a digital antenna and then we would get reception. Not so. Finally,  after a lot of research we found that there is a government program that sets up a satellite dish so that we can get the four channels we always had. Too good to be true we thought. Finally, someone explained to us that it was not a gimmick from a satellite company.  We signed up right away. They put up the satellite, run in the cable, give you a converter box and leave you with television. The good thing besides getting your four TV channels is that you don't have to pay anything for it. Yes, I have satellite TV and it's free.
My fancy dancy satellite dish

    Explanation? When the government abandoned the analog transmission , it left many TV viewers with nothing. Many people were rural and did not have cable. Many were seniors who could not afford satellite or cable . And then there are people like me who have no need for cable or satellite. Since the government received so many complaints, they came up with this program to help the people who would be caught with some unwelcome choices.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Killing Frost

     The killing frost is always a very defining time of the fall season for me. The killing frost kills all soft annuals and some perennials. You can cover your plants but they will still freeze. The time below zero is too long and the frost will penetrate through covers you may have on your plants.

    A week ago Thursday we had the killing frost. It went down to minus 6 (21 or 22 F). When I came out in the morning my tomato plants were black and all leaves were limp. They were toast! Impatience that were unprotected were frozen. One impatience right beside my house was fine. I had carrots, turnips and parsnips in the garden and they were fine as they can take lots of frost. If these plants have a god frost you find that they are sweeter and better tasting. 

     Once the killing frost is over with you can  stop worrying about this event. You can quit watering and begin cleaning up the yard. So out go the tomato plants and impatience. Pull the carrots and bring them into storage. A few days later bring in the turnips and freeze them. I cook and bag them so that they are ready to pull out of the freezer, microwave and your eating. In a few more days I will dig up he parsnips. I slice the parsnips and freeze them. I like to fry them and find they are very tasty.

     So once you're finished living in protecting mode you can get on with cleaning everything up. Sometimes we get many more pleasant fall days and have lots of time for fall jobs. Other years you have to pick your days and what gets done gets done and some of it will have to wait until next year.

     So I look forward to some more pleasant fall and then the next defining moment is when the deep freeze and snow settle in for a more permanent visit.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First New Snow

      We are receiving our first snow of the fall season. It's a cool, dull , wet , miserable day. 
The grass is just covered.

      The first day of snow is always a downer. Once we get past the first snow things don't seem so bad. We get quite  few of these false starts where the snow falls and melts. Now we know it's going to melt and we will get more nice weather and probably some very warm days. Golfing and cycling are not over. Towards the end of October and the beginning of November the snow will accumulate and even then we can get a Chinook or mild spell and lose the snow.

      Snow at this time of year is always wet and half melts as it hits the ground. The ground still  has heat so snow melts. The roads have more heat so the snow does not stay on the roads. 
The lilac leaves holding some snow.

    The foothills to the west are to get 10 cm (4 in.) of snow. The Rockies will get much more.

    So for now it's kind of a rest day where you can stay inside . In a couple of days we will be finishing some more fall gardening.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Make a Guy Feel Old (When he is Old Already)

     This morning I was listening to my favorite radio station, CBC,  when a little item came on that caught my attention. Yes, the Beatles released "Love Me Do" on this date in 1962! You could have knocked me over with a feather! The Beatles and fifty years ago! It just didn't sound right. But give my head a little shake and yes it would be fifty years ago. Hard to believe.

     I didn't listen to the Beatles that much when they first came out. I was still listening to country and western mostly.  I did listen to Elvis when he first came on the scene. I also listened to Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Buddy Holly, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan... I began listening to and appreciating the Beatles long after they had become well established.  I am the kind of music listener who doesn't listen to the new stuff immediately. I discover the music long after it was out and then listen to it. 

    I also find it interesting that I lived in the Arctic for five years and was cut off from all the current music. I had to discover that a few years later.

    So this morning it was quite a shock to have to stop and think how long ago the Beatles became established stars. To any eighteen year old, fifty years ago is something they cannot comprehend. I get fifty years easily because I've lived it. It's just that sometimes it takes a minute to rattle through my brain.

    Keep on enjoying good music.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

E coli Found in Beef Products

    The huge XL beef processing plant at Brooks Alberta is suspected of distributing   products contaminated with e coli. XL processes 1/3 of all beef in Canada and distributes to all provinces and states. They kill 2500 animals per day. The plant has been shut down since Sept. 28. Modern industrial meat processing is an amazing operation. Much is done mechanically. They have a huge water supply. There are labs that check meat and the plant. However , these plants seem to run into problems with E. coli contamination from time to time. What's going on?

     About a dozen people in Alberta and Saskatchewan have e coli and some has been traced back to the plant in Brooks. I have not heard of other people with E. coli. Young people and elderly people are more susceptible to the most harm from E. coli.

     About 1500 different products have been recalled because of possibilities of being contaminated with E. coli.

     The Canadian Food Inspection Agency(CFIA) is working on this problem and trying to find a solution.

     A few years ago meat inspectors were cut down to a very low level and the plants were expected to do their own testing.

    On the farm my Dad butchered a beef and hog each year. The beef was usually a cull in somewhat poor condition and the hog was a sow. Dad maybe had one pail of water and that was to wash bone sawdust from the cavity when the carcuss was halved. We never had a problem with E. coli and neither did our neighbors.

    I did some travelling with aboriginals. When a moose or caribou was taken it was butchered on location. First, the tongue was taken out and cut into strips. The strips were put on sticks beside the fire so that they could cook. Tongue done this way is absolutely delicious. Other butchering continued. By the time the tongue was cooked the heart was cut in strips and put on the fire. We ate and had tea. By the time the butchering was done so was the heart and we ate again. If they camped in the location they would put strips of meat over poles and dry it. Otherwise it was put in the canoe to take back to the settlement for processing. This type of processing did not run into E. coli problems.

      Inuit traditionally ate raw whale and seal. I tried the raw arctic char and it's just like candy. Again no problems with e coli. 

     So what gives in the large plants.? Are they relying too much on technology? Do they not know how to butcher? Are cattlemen using procedures that cause the animals to have higher e coli counts in their system?  In the above examples of farmers and aboriginals, they all knew to be extremely careful and not allow entrails to be opened and spill contents. 

     Since we depend on the large industrial plants for our beef, I am worried. Too many times these plants have problems with E. coli. People can become seriously ill with e coli and deaths can also take place.