Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ghost # 1

     I've found a few new blogs to follow lately. Some of these blogs have been showing some very fine statues in their cities. I like art, I like sculpture that decorates the  city landscape.

    Now I envied these people with the great sculpture in their cities. I thought my small city didn't have much.   I knew we had a series of statues called a ghost project. I have seen all of them but never taken a good look at them. I decided to photograph the ten ghost statues. This series was made to represent various figures which have been important in the history of our city.

    People in the community get an idea for a sculpture and they fund raise and get the piece produced. The city then finds a good place to locate the statue and also looks after it.

    Then I got the idea that they would make blog posts. So here I go. I will be including a ghost statue every once in a while. When I researched the ghosts I found much more art. Some of it I had forgotten about and some I had no idea that we had it. 

    The first statue that was produced was of the man who started our city. So Leonard Gaetz sits at the corner of Gaetz Avenue and Ross Street which is the center of the city.

Pitching a new idea to promote the city.


Think about it

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Was Zinged the Other Day

     A few days ago I met my 89 year old friend coming into the grocery store for his weekly supply of groceries. I meet him and his wife every couple of months doing their grocery shopping. Our wives love to chat like there's no tomorrow. In two minutes Howard and I have talked about all we know and we're ready to continue and pick up our groceries. So fifteen minutes, twenty minutes and their conversation seems to be not close to an end. Howard has a sense of humor so he says , "Watch this. I'll get them moving." and he snaps his fingers. Nothing happens. We are the only ones who get the joke.

    So the other day when Howard came into the store , he saw my wife had her back turned to them and Howard knew his wife didn't see my wife so he was going to hustle things right along before they saw each other. As Howard's wife was being guided away she said, over her shoulder to me, "Patience is a virtue, seldom found in women and never found in men."  It knocked my socks off! It was a very apropos quote for the moment.

    A day or two later Quoteflections had quotes on patience. I copied them out and sent them to Howard's wife as I know she loves quotes.

   So I was zinged a few days ago and had to honestly think about patience.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Personal Letter Writing.

     I am a regular listener to Vinyl Cafe which is a CBC radio program which I get every Sunday at noon. It consists of music and stories. They travel and do shows on the road. Usually they have a theme for the program and today's theme was letters. So all the music and stories were about letters. The story was about the host writing letters and then getting interested in stamp collecting. It's surprising all the music you can find about letters.

     This got me thinking about my personal letter writing. First of all, personal letter writing, where a letter is written by hand and sent through the mail is almost extinct. I started to think about the last time I wrote a personal letter and I couldn't remember the last time I wrote a letter.

   I do remember when I did write letters on a regular basis . I also received letters regularly. As a child I wrote letters to my friends and Grandma. My letter writing hey day was when I first left home. I usually wrote home once a week. I used a fountain pen and unlined writing paper...the kind you put lines under so you could write in a straight line. I think the postage was four cents. We don't even have a penny anymore! I would put dear Mom and Dad on the greeting but in my head I was writing to Mom. I thought of Mom because she was the one who always wrote back to me. 

    So I wrote letters home for nine years after I left home. Why did I stop? I got married and somebody else took over the letter writing. 

    Letter writing today has become quite rare. Long distance phoning has become much more comparable in price to sending a letter in the postal system. Phoning is much more immediate. Email is also super fast and efficient. Now texting has become almost continuous.

    Now I would say that I am an elder in the blogging world. I think I'm older at 73 than all my followers as well as the people I follow. So most of my readers will probably be pretty hazy about personal letter writing! Writing was an excellent form of communication at the time but modern technology has given us easier and faster more direct contact.

    Just out of curiosity, does anybody out there write personal letters?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My World is White.

   We are getting a super spring storm in Alberta today. We've had snow, blowing snow and it's about minus 5 C(plus 22 F). It's supposed to clear out tonight.

   There was a major traffic pile up just south of Edmonton with 20 vehicles ...many of them semis.

   Sunrise today was at 7:32 and sunset is at 7:51. That's about 12 hours and 19 minutes with the sun shining.

   At this time of year we can very quickly get warm temperatures to the high teens. That means that the snow can disappear rapidly. Most people are hoping that happens very soon.

I'm being a softy and I took this out the window

The air is full of snow

Dull and poor visibility

What you see driving down the street.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Have a Pulse

     This morning I went for my annual medical checkup which was a year late. I found a different Doc and was much impressed.

    This doc sent me for my lab work about six weeks before the checkup. So the first thing he did was to go over the lab results and tell me what they indicated. All test results were in the normal range. He set up a detailed chart by asking just about everything in my history. Then he started a very thorough methodical physical examination. I've never had a blood pressure cuff put on so carefully. He checked my skin for any spots which may indicate skin cancer. He checked my lungs and put the stethoscope on three positions on each side. So you get the drift. This guy did a super check up. I told him that I was pleased with his thoroughness and he told me that he liked to do a check up the way he would like to be checked.

   I've had annual check ups since my mid forties. Things were done today that had never been done before. There was communication with each action. My liver was checked! My abdomen well palpitated. My spleen was found and checked. Pulse was taken at my ankles as well as wrists! This never happened before. I appreciated the whole procedure and felt that this Doc really knew what was there and how it was.

    So after I was finished I began to think about conditions. I have my own knees, hips, liver, heart, lungs, kidneys. Some people do not have their own of these things. I'm missing some teeth and have some fake teeth. I have some loss of sight but I have my own eyes! I have some loss of hearing but I still have ears! 

   So I had a very good day. My tests were fine. The examination was well done. I went away happy. 

    I still have a pulse!

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Limited Perception of Future

    I finished high school in 1957. I'm planning to write a letter to my classmates(all five of them.) I wrote them in 2007 which was fifty years after we finished. I was impressed with the feed back I got from them and they were amazed to hear from me. Our teacher and one class mate have died as well as two spouses. It just feels like a good time to write them again.

   One of the parts in my letter will be about us being young and our perception of our future. How did we ever get so old?

   It got me thinking about my limited ability to see the future.

   In 1957 did we see computers? Modern technology? Modern transportation? 

    In 1957 I was 17 years old. I could not envision being 21 years old. In fact I had trouble seeing the next week in my mind. I had trouble seeing what I wanted to do with my life . I just accidentally fell into teaching. I had no concept of settling down, being married or having a family. I couldn't dream of being 30! In one teacher inservice the topic must have been pensions. I remember being told certain figures and calculated that I could retire in 1995?  This was in 1958 ! 1995 seemed like forever. 

    So I have to stop and think about our perception of the future. I'll admit that mine's not very good. I can't seem to remotely visualize what the future will look like.   Now I'm sitting here and trying to think about being 80 if I make it. What changes will occur in the world in the next few years? What changes will happen to me by the time I reach 80? 

    In my head I feel myself as no different from 1957 when I was 17. Life goes on. We have experiences. We change. ..sometimes more than we think. I am and have been happy. Maybe that's why I didn't think too much about the future.

    I think I'm going to have fun writing another letter to my classmates!

    At this age I don't think I will ever get the hang of seeing the future. I'd have made a very poor fortune teller!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

#*~`^\< Income Tax

   I'm a stubborn old coot and I insist on always doing my income tax on my own.

    My income tax is not complicated so it's doable. There are a couple of curves . I can split some things to gain some advantages. This is where the bus went in the ditch. If you split things you have to file a special form with all the details of the split. I have never found a more convoluted form than this one. There are five steps and they are weird.

   Now the routine around our place is that I fill out the tax forms and my manager checks them. Now I'm not perfect so I make the odd mistake. So when my manager got to the form to split things she thought it was wrong and began to change things. She got really frustrated and called me. Since I was looking at a form she was filling out I was  confused for a while. Then for the next 4 steps we stumbled and yes words flew and got louder. After two hours of reading and rereading, we found that my first attempt was the right one. Worse than that we then discovered that there was no need to split that part of income. Luckily it didn't matter if we did split or not split. That meant that we didn't have to do the whole process over again.

    So we sat down and wrote a letter to ourselves that next year it wouldn't be necessary to do the splitting. So next year we will find the letter in the file and it will tell us what to do.

   So once again the income tax is done without too much damage to the premises, bodies or minds. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I was Almost Overwhelmed.

    Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield is on the International Space Station now. I have been following him on twitter. He is very active on twitter and his comments and replies are most interesting. He has also shown many pictures of what he sees when he looks at the earth.

    Yesterday Hadfield talked to students in a high school in airdrie, Alberta.  I listened to an interview on this happening. A student and a teacher were interviewed. The student described them being in a theater and how it was extremely quiet as they were waiting for Hadfield to come on. When he did come on they were quieter yet, as they didn't want to miss a thing. A number of students got to ask questions and of course Hadfield is a guy who will give you far more information than what the question required. The teacher spoke next. She had applied for the school to be addressed by Hadfield. She was far more excited than the student. i'm sure she spent much time peparing the students for the event and probably had a couple of good science units to go along with Hadfield's visit.

     I couldn't help but think what a fantastic learning opportunity this was for the kids. Tears almost came to my eyes as I thought of what a momentous occasion this was for the high school kids in Airdrie, Alberta and that they would remember this for a life time. How many of these students will be influenced for the rest of their lives? I know I was influenced and I was not even there.

    Today Chris Hadfield took over as commander of the International Space sSation. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Exercise and Alzheimer's

     If you Google exercise and Alzheimer's you will find all kinds of sites discussing the topic. It has been long thought that exercise can delay the onset of Alzheimer's and bring about improvements once somebody has Alzheimer's. About 900  studies have been done on exercise and Alzheimer's. None of these studies had a clear idea as to what actually happened to bring about improvement. They just find that there is some evidence that improvement occurs.

    I had read something on the Internet the other day on this topic but did not finish the article. This morning there was a column in my paper that filled in what I missed. The memory part of our brain keeps on producing more cells. The trigger for growing the new cells is exercise. So this is one of the first times that they have been able to put together a more concrete cause and effect. 

    Now there are various forms of dementia. Loss of memory is one of the factors. If memory can be increased by growing new memory cells some dementia could be alleviated. There's still lots more tricks that dementia throws at us.

    In the "Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain" Barbara Strauch deals with the topic.

    The Ontario Brain Institute has just mined 55 different studies on the effects of exercising. Recommendations advise that we exercise over a lifetime for 150 minutes a week.

    So there we are again! More reminders of the value of exercise.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Food Baddies: Salt, Sugar and Fat

      On Thursday morning I listened to and interview on CBC with Michael Moss who has just written a book called "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. What  fascinating interview!

     Michael told how large food companies go to great lengths to put the right balance of salt,sugar and fat in their products so that we will literally become addicted to the product and there fore buy more of the item over and over again. 

    Salt enhances flavor so that we find the food pleasing to the taste and therefore eat more. Salt also causes high blood pressure, but do the large companies care? Nor one bit. 

    Sugar is used in an amazing number of products. Relish has sugar in it. He covers cereals which are pitched to kids and how the sugar content has steadily increased and why. Kids are growing. A sugar kick doesn't last long so the brain tells the kid you're growing, you have to eat some more. It's unbelievable how much sugar is loaded into cereals.   Sugar leads to diabetes and diabetes is a nasty that causes all kinds of other health problems.

     Fat also makes food more pleasant. Fat can lead to high cholesterol which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

    So people eat the three baddies and they first of all become obese and that leads to a very unhappy life style and huge health costs.

    What to do? Moss has all kinds of practical suggestions. However , the whole thing is a challenge. Just the other day a motion was made in the Canadian Parliament to require salt labeling to be more precise. Prime Minister Steven Harper voted against this motion as he thought it would cause companies difficulty. What rubbish!

    I am not innocent when it comes to salt, sugar and fat. I have been lucky. At school I developed a coke habit. Usually one a day but on a bad day maybe three. I also had a small bag of cheezies each day! When I retired I heard that sodas had 7 teaspoons of sugar in them. I stopped drinking pop immediately. I did eat a lot of chips. I loved chips. Now I rarely eat them. I don't have salt on the table and rarely put salt in things that I cook. 

    My wife was diagnosed with high cholesterol quite a while ago. We made an effort to change our diet and reduce fat. I benefited from that one.

    I still have some vices to face. I eat quite a bit of canned soup. It's loaded with salt. I can remember enjoying tomato soup and putting lots of salt and pepper on it. Yikes!

    I certainly enjoyed Moss's comments. They made me think again and I will try and cut down on these some more.

   It was interesting to see that Moss was interviewed by a number of programs. Papers covered him too. I guess that's what happens when you come out with a hot new book.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

For Me; A book I Should Have Read a Long time Ago

    I've just read Nonviolent Communication a Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg. This is a book I should have read many years ago but I couldn't because it just came out in 2003. There are many excellent books on good communication. Many cover the same territory as Rosenberg covers but Rosenberg has made the message more concise and practical. After you read this book you will have some practical things you can use.

    Rosenberg covers four areas: Giving form the heart, Compassion, observing without evaluating and identifying and expressing feelings.

    I was a teacher and every day I saw how important good communication was. The more accurate and particular you were the more successful things were.. 

    You had to watch your students for cues from them as to how they were feeling and how they were reacting. Sometimes missing a clue could make a big difference. I asked all my classes to watch what I did when I first came in the classroom. They really didn't know so after some prompting they saw what I was doing. I made sure that I looked at every student to see if there were any clues I should pick up from them. This made sense to the kids. I also suggested that they do the same for me. Check me out. Am I in a bad mood? 

   Sometimes dealing with parents  required care or you could end up in a nasty conversation. Looking back at some difficult interviews usually showed that I missed something.

    So Rosenberg's book puts things in a format the is practical. If you follow his ideas you can avoid some nasty communications problems and solve problems once you're in them. He gives examples with students, couples, staffs and street groups. 

    So if you like books on communication, this is a good one.

Monday, March 4, 2013

When You're Wrong, You're Wrong.

   I usually don't comment on Canadian current events because followers outside Canada aren't interested and don't know much about it. 

    A few days ago we had well known academic and  politically active mouth piece, Tom Flanagan, make a very unfortunate statement. He wondered out loud if people should be put in jail because of pictures they look at. He was referring to pornographic material and in particular pictures of children. He had made a similar statement three years ago but this time it was videoed and put on you tube. It went viral. He was dropped as a commentator from CBC. He was dropped by the Wild Rose Party from being an advisor. The Conservative party of Canada dropped him from any activity. At one time he was prime minister Harper's chief of staff.

    Now such a statement is just wrong in many ways. People should go to jail for looking at pornographic pictures involving children as children have to be harmed in order to get the pictures.

    Now some academics have jumped to Tom Flanagan's defence trying to say that  he was raising the topic to bring about discussion of the issue. Not on this one . It's just completely illogical. 

    Professors and teachers use the procedure of throwing  out challenging ideas to get their students to think about issues. This was the wrong topic to be used for discussion stimulation.

    What is really sad is that Tom Flanagan has written a very strong article defending himself

    I hope we've seen the last of Tom Flanagan and that others will think twice about opening their mouths with similar unthinkable ideas. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Snow Visits Me Again.

    Last night I knew the forecast was for snow. The wind blew from the east all night. I was up a couple of times but it wasn't snowing. When I got up this morning there was heavy snow falling. There was a strong north east wind and visibility was limited. It was one of those storms where you say, "I hope this doesn't last long!"  By about 11:30 AM the snow had stopped but it left lots for me to shovel. 

    We are approaching spring equinox. Days are lengthening. The sun rose at 7:16 this morning and set at 6:17 tonight so it's giving us about 11 hours of sunlight. Some of you have had your last snow of the winter. I will get lots more snows. Our snow should melt by April 1 but there will be snow fall after that.

Shoveling this kept me out of trouble for a while!

I took a quick peak around the neighborhood.