Friday, January 29, 2016

A Second Shot

      In my last post I covered my son's adoption. That event was not enough to derail the plan for two children. So off we go on another adoption event.

      We discussed adoption in great detail before we took any action. We decided we wanted two children. The micro manager brought up the topic of sexes of the children. I'd never given sexes a thought. I just was ready to take whatever came along. My wife asked what I wanted. My choice was to have both children of the same sex. I didn't care if it was two boys or two girls. My wife wanted a boy and a girl. So you see whose influence carried the weight.

     We also wanted a two year space between the kids. However, that was out of our hands. We made an application that we thought might give a two year space. A home visitation was not necessary and most of the information was exactly the same. So all the paperwork is done. Now you just sit and wait.

      Oh yes, we had a very bright little two year old to consider in this application. We tried to prepare him for the arrival of a baby sister. He listened, nodded his head, but the eyes told me he didn't grasp the reality. And what two year old would understand this situation.

     Well, you'd never guess this. The Dept. phoned Dec.  22 again! Come and pick up a baby tomorrow. This time we were ready. So pack up the car with a two year old and all the stuff for a newborn and off we go the next day.

     The routine in the office was the same. We were given all the information about the new baby. A big box of toys just happened to be in the office so a two year old was completely in his own world. 

     Again they brought the baby in and left us. We wanted our son to look at the new baby which he did for about two and a half seconds.

     Immediately we had some serious questions about this little girl. Her head was twisted to one side. When the worker came back we brought this up. Was there a health problem? Was this a permanent condition. The physician who did a medical on her two days before was phoned. He said she did not have anything wrong and thought that it was as a result of her moving in and out of houses, cars and offices. 

    We were reassured and decided to take the baby.

    Off the 100 miles to home with our two kids. 

    The twisted sore neck disappeared in a couple of days. 

    With two little kids we decided to stay home for Christmas. 

    The kids birthdays were four days apart so we got as close to a two year space a we could possibly get. 

    I was happy to have a boy and a girl.

    I've always told my kids that they are the two best kids I could ever have.

    Would I do it again? Yes, I'd do it over in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Good Surprise Relived

       I have been working very slowly to digitalize some of my photos. Along the way I am discarding poor photos and renewing memories of events many years ago.

    Yesterday I did photos of the first two years of my son's life.

       My son was adopted in 1969 and it was definitely a memorable experience. The whole experience was brought back by working with the photos.

      The adoption procedure at that time was handled by the government. We filled out a long detailed form. We had an interview and home inspection. We got references. Then we had to wait and see if our application was accepted. The Micro manager wanted to buy baby clothes, furniture etc. I persuaded her not to buy anything just in case our application was refused.The procedure was finished by early November. The micro manager asked precisely how long things would take. We were told that we would receive notification of our acceptance in about two months. After our acceptance it could be months or a year before there would be a placement. Fine.

     On Dec. 21 at 2:00 Pm my wife received a phone call telling us we had been accepted. Naturally she was excited. Fifteen minutes later at 2:15 PM she received a phone call asking us to travel 100 miles the next day to pick up a baby!!! By the time I got home the Micro manager was really hyper! Remember now that she had no baby materials whatsoever. Remember who was the cause of making no purchases for a new baby. My wife was able to persuade them to give her two extra days. She resigned her temporary nursing position and then shopped non stop for the next two days. All the necessities were purchased.

      Now this is a very exciting event. A major change was about to happen in our lives. Normally people have nine months to get their head around a new person in the family.

     At the agency we received about an hour's information. We were asked if we wanted to see this baby. The baby was brought in and we were left alone to make a decision if we wanted this child. After 15 min. they came back and asked us if we were sure that we wanted this child.

     One look at him and he was ours. So on Dec. 23 we were out of there with a brand new son. It was very exciting day. I think it was a scary day for him as he'd been taken from the foster home in the morning and was probably kept in some back office until we saw him in the afternoon.

    Now we had decided to stay home for Christmas as my wife had booked shifts over the Christmas holidays. We decided in a hurry to go to my parents for Christmas. We also decided not to tell them we were coming. We arrived late Christmas Eve. It was  a big surprise for them to find us   on their doorstep late Christmas Eve.. It was a bigger surprise for them when they found out they had a new grandson.

 Since were totally unprepared for this event we did not have a name picked out. We didn't know if we were getting a boy or a girl. We wanted to name him before we got to Dad's place where Dad would put in his suggestions and we didn't want to be in a position to where we might offend Dad by not taking his suggestion.. The naming took place on the 500 mile trip.

    So there were a series of eventful surprises in a few short days. Checking out the photos brought back the memories of a most important event in my life.

     I will never forget this and it will be the best surprise I ever had in my life.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ya Gotta Obey the Damn Law

       It has always bothered me when people or a group have issues of disagreement with the government and they twist , bend or outright falsify what they think the rules are which they can use to push their cause.

      Two different groups have recently reminded me of disgruntled people who attempt to take the law or part of it into their own hands.

     In my province, Alberta, Canada, we elected a very different government in May. We'd had the same party in Govt. for over forty years. They had become incompetent and tone deaf except for their own interest and that of their friends. Naturally there are some sore losers. Democracy has spoken and we have to live with it until the next election. We have all the usual ways to persuade the government to change it's policies. 

     A group here has decided to organize a coup d'etat which they spell "kudatah". Their plan is to get a petition and take it to the legislature and see the lieutenant governor . this petition would cause the governor to dismiss the current party which has 55 members and install the guy's small party with 23 members in government. It's loony but it's scary. They have a completely warped sense of how the world operates.

     The other incident is the group in Oregon which has taken over a wildlife refuge facility. They have some disagreements with their government which has gone on for some time. Two of the group are going to jail for a long time as they have broken laws. These two justify what they did as being the proper thing to do on land they lease from the government. 

     Now I look on marches, petitions, sit ins, letters, speeches as fair ways to urge a government to change policy. Then there are procedures that are set up that can be used in a more formal way. Hearings can be held in a number of ways that give the public a way to protest. Currently we are having hearings on building major oil pipelines. People who have issues about the environment, aboriginal or land can present evidence.

     When you take over a facility and prevent the government from using it that's going too far. When your main purpose is to overthrow a government rather than change specific policy differences, that goes too far.

    I once had a resolution that I put forward at our teachers' provincial annual general meeting. I knew I had very little support for my resolution but I wanted a chance to speak to the motion and get support for it. I used up every step in the process. For a last gasp I  challenged the chair. The house voted and supported the chairman and I was finished. Was I angry ? No. I was disappointed but I'd done all I could.

    Sometimes we have to accept loss in a democratic system. Sometimes we may even have to admit that we are wrong. Democracy can be very messy and slow but it gets the job done.

A scrappy little pine siskin

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thirty Days Out from Winter Solstice

      January 21 signals that the winter solstice was 30 days ago. The winter solstice meant that it was dark and dreary with short days. We could satisfy ourselves by saying that from Dec 21 on the days will lengthen and we can look forward to spring.

     So I have a little comparison of Dec. 21 and Jan 21.

    Date            sunrise         sunset       hours of daylight

      Dec. 21              8:43                    4:23                       7:39

     Jan 21                  8:32                    4:59                       8:27

     So the sun rises 11 minutes earlier...not much is it?

    The sunsets 36 minutes later...nice gain.

    We get 47 minutes more sun than 30 days ago. 

     Not bad eh?  From now on the days start to lengthen at a faster rate and we start to notice the difference.

     How has your winter been going when it comes to hours of sunlight?


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Never Let Old Guys on Computers

    When you read my sad story, you will understand why I say, "Never let old guys on computers."

     For some time I have been thinking about scanning photos.I want my children to have all my photos. After all, many of the photos are about the kids.

    First I had to sort out a few issues about equipment. Once I had that under control it was time to discover how everything would work.

   My plan was to scan the photos and send them. So first, I planned to use windows photo gallery. I wanted explanations on each photo. I worked and got info on the photo. Then I decided I better test this and emailed a photo to myself. Well, the info didn't go with the photo.

    Well, plan B, why not use Picasa? I hadn't used Picasa for 5 or 6 years. I couldn't find the Top line that gives you all the options. I thought I must be missing something so messed around for a few hours before deciding that part of the picasa program had gone missing.

     Okay. Download Picasa again. The download went smoothly. After that things went off the rails. I signed out of Picasa. When I went back I couldn't find Picasa 3. Worse than that the old Picasa came up. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't find Picasa 3. Then I made a blunder and uninstalled Picasa 3. By that time I'd had enough and went to bed.

    Thinking things over in the night, I thought I would go to my trusty son for advice

    When I opened my computer in the morning, I saw the Picasa 3 short cut on the desk top. 

    Ooh! That's where it was. Why didn't I see that? 

    So plan AA by now, download Picasa again. Fine. Okay, maybe I should test this out. I'll email a sample to myself. I wanted to use Hot mail. I was asked some questions I'd never heard of before. They wanted to know information about my email server. I was stumped so it was a good time to stop for lunch. During lunch the light bulb came on. Picasa wants you to use Gmail. So check this out after lunch and it works like magic. 

    So after days of stress and much swearing I finally have a system that works. I mailed my baby photo to my daughter. She thought I was really cute and then she said, "I still think you're cute!"

    Now any of you who have read this post to this point, have probably been saying,  "Why didn't he do this or that?" I hope that you include these asides in your comments. I might not be able to use your suggestions , but I will learn from them. It might also be that and old man stays on his computer!

     It's funny how when we do new things on the computer we learn much more than were looking for.

My graduation class 1957. I'm in the back row on the right... the really handsome one!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nature and Technology

     Nature and Technology is a very well written blog that a friend of mine writes. Naturally nature and technology are his main interests. So with a solid base in technology he uses excellent photos to illustrate his posts.

     Since he works full time his posts are infrequent.

     He's writing a series of posts now that anyone interested in the outdoors, backpacking or photos should read. This summer he went backpacking and crossed the Rockies 

     So go over and take a look at Nature and Technology.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Never Let Old Guys on Scanners

     Like a number of other bloggers I've been mumbling about digitalizing some of my old photos. My kids are 43 and 45 and they don't have photos of their childhood and growing up. 

     So  I have a plan. I'm starting with the Micro Manager's and my photos when we were growing up and before we had kids. You know, the photos your kids like to laugh at! I picked 25 of my photos that show the highlights of my life before children. 

    I have to gain some more experience in scanning. I know it can get better, but I'm not looking for professional stuff. I just want to pass things on to those for which it has meaning. 

    So yesterday was the first day. Of course, I found some classics and this is where I say, "Keep the old guys away from scanners."  

    So you know you're going to see a couple of momentous historical photos.

The adorable blogger in 1940

I always had to look after my brother
The blogger with bib overalls.

The obligatory first day of school photo. My brother is starting gr. one and I'm starting gr. two.

     You see why old guys should be kept off scanners.  I promise I'll improve.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rover Knows Twice as Much as You Think

      I usually listen to the Current from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM on CBC radio. Sometimes something really catches my attention so that I have to share it in blog land.

     Arlene Weintraub, a science author , has written a book about the contribution of dogs to cancer research. It surprised me what dogs contribute in cancer research.

    Dogs get similar cancers to humans. In some ways dogs receive the same cancer treatment as humans. With dogs some different drugs can be given to them to see what effect they have on the dog's cancer. The dogs have cancer so it's not like some tests where the animal is given a condition and then "Oh let's see what will this do." The dog already has cancer and new drug therapy can be tried. So many things can be learned about a drug therapy that has not been approved for human use.

   What real caught my attention was that they are training dogs to identify blood samples where the person has cancer. A number of blood samples are taken. Most samples are not from people having cancer and some blood samples come from people who do have cancer. Dogs can be very accurate in picking the blood sample where the person has cancer. Some cancers are very difficult to diagnose until it's too late. Ovarian cancer is one where it's difficult to identify early.  They are hoping that dogs can identify blood samples that will tell if the person has ovarian cancer. Dogs can be trained to pick other specific cancers. 

     The dog's sense of smell is adequate to pick up the correct scent. The dog has to concentrate and not get sidetracked to pick up the correct scent. The dog has to be on his game. The dog will pick the sample with cancer by stopping beside the sample and sitting down. The same process happens when dogs are used to search luggage for illicit drugs.

    I know that dogs have a very keen sense of smell but I didn't realize that it could be applied to a cancer diagnosis. It adds more meaning to the phrase a dog is man's best friend.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

     In the last year I've read many good books but none of them were fiction. Somebody in blog land must have recommended All the Light We Cannot See and it's a good story.

    The story is set during WW II. It features two children: one in France and the other in Germany.  The author tells their stories by alternating chapters. So one chapter describes what happens to Werner and the next one tells about Marie-Laure. The author makes their lives realistic as he describes the horrors of war children had to go through.

    I don't normally like war stories or stories with violence. This one was dark but I couldn't put it down. It's easy to read. There's lots of conflict and most of the predictions I made about what was coming next were wrong.

    For all stories a certain amount of research has to be done. Either Anthony Doerr did a lot of research or was extremely knowledgeable about science. Whether it was radio, physics, snails, biology or minerals and gems the details were there. Marie-Laure was blind and he had to know in great detail how blind people function.

    In the end we come away understanding much more about the horrors of war during the war and what people suffer years after the war.

    Now I haven't told you any part of the story. You'll have to get all the story yourself.

 I enjoyed the story and recommend it.

     After I finished reading this story I noticed that it won the Pulitzer prize.

     Don't check Wiki Pedia as it gives a story summary

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I'm a Fourth Generation Canadian!

     Well, you may be wondering "What's he talking about?" Well, you also know that he is going to tell you.

     In my last post I wrote a little about Ukrainian Christmas. What was also on my mind is that customs and traditions are slowly disappearing. 

     Let me use my family as an example. Western Canada opened up and was settled in the early 1900's.  My Great Grandpa, born in 1842 came to Canada  about 1900. He was about 60 and brought all his adult children and their families. Great Grandpa was looking for a place where he could have land, follow his Lutheran faith, speak the German language and not be conscripted into an army as they were pacifists. Western Canada looked like a place that would allow him freedom to follow his way of life. 

     Life was great for the family. They had free land. Life was hard but they happy compared to what they left in the Ukraine.

     Today 110 years later, probably none of great Grandpa's ancestors speak German. Very few of them are Lutherans. Some of his grandsons were in WW II. So most of the traditions and customs have been lost Gradually we mixed with other people. Children went to school and learned English. My Dad's first language was German. We don't eat  the same foods our grandparents made. 

     So when I described Ukrainian Christmas I wanted to tell how traditions have gradually been lost. Most Ukrainians came here after WWI and the Russian Revolution so some of their customs are still practiced. Ukrainians my age do not speak the language. When the language is lost the culture soon disappears.

  Now what in the world has "fourth generation " got to do with this? First of all, we are a very "new" area. 110 years ago there were few Europeans here and the aboriginals had been locked up of reserves. Much of North America has been settled for hundreds of years. Much Europe has been settled for 1500 -2000 years. 

     So by for generations much of the culture was lost.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ukrainian Christmas

       I always leave my outdoor Christmas decorations up until Ukrainian Christmas which is Jan.8. Why January 8, you say? The Orthodox church uses the Gregorian calendar so Christ's birth is celebrated Jan. 8.

       I'm not Ukrainian, but this area has a high population of Ukrainians. You can't help but have Ukrainian friends here. Today the celebration of Ukrainian Christmas is abbreviated as traditions are not held as strongly as the first emigrants.
 The celebration is full of symbolism and goes on for seven days.

      Now my knowledge of the celebration is limited but I hear about the well loved traditions. One meal consists of 12 courses.. one for each of the disciples.

      So to all Ukrainians who celebrate Christmas today, Merry Christmas. I wish I could write it in Ukrainian as I've heard it so  many times.

      So tomorrow my outdoor lights will go dark.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cross country Skiing

       I've had a good run of cross country skiing in 2016. Everything has been right...snow, temperature, wind. So I've been out in the afternoons and it's great. I have set up trails in the close so I just have to walk across the road, put the skis on and I'm away. I wish other things did not get in the way and I could ski everyday. 

      Now I did not ski tonight. I only took photos. It's minus 16 C (4 F ).

     Since I post on cross country skiing I have to explain that it's not sliding down hill on skis. This is walking or running on your skis. It takes effort...lots of effort. We can go down fairly steep slopes that are well groomed and trackset. We tuck ( bend the knees and stick the butt out ) and get a fast run down hill. Of course , we have to get up high in the first place. Usually the trail rises in another location that is longer but a lower slope.

      We have a Kananaskis Park which has many excellent trails. You actually gain a lot of altitude and then it's a nice run back down.

      Our city has an amazing number of cross country ski trails that are track set and well maintained. I have enjoyed the trail but no longer go on the trails. I like to ski by myself. At this age it's too risky to go on your own. If I fell in the snow I might not be able to get up!!!

     It's also light enough that I can ski in the evening so it's very convenient. Now I thought I'd show what the trails look like in the evening but I learned a little more about photography. With the level of light the camera is very slow so I wiggle and the photo is blurry. One day I'm going to have to get a tripod.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Don't You Hate it When...

....the computer and/or the Internet won't work?

     Yesterday was one of those days. The day  was long and frustrating. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. 

     The day started off with the computer taking a long time to load. Then I found out that Google Chrome would not load. So. what's the problem. Is it my goofy computer ? Is  it something wrong with Google chrome?  Is there a problem with my Internet provider?

      I tried another browser, Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer would load but it was freezing up all the time. It took a long time to read blogs and comment. Smoke was coming out of my ears. 

      To complicate these matters a long scan was running. The scan did not complete. 

      Computer problems here are not common so when they occur I'm not ready for them and don't know what's going on. 

    So my question is: Why don't they put a message on my screen that tells me what the problem is and then I can cool my jets? I would be happy if they said chrome is under repair and will be back on in 8 hours. If my Internet provider put a message on the screen to say they were doing repairs and would be back in half an hour I could live with that. I suspicion there are other problems that slow the operation down and I don't even know what's going on. My computer seems to keep looking for updates!

     Now I know that some people complain about poor Internet connections. I sympathize with them. I know I'm fortunate to have good service.

     What about you? Do you have Internet problems? Do you recognize problems right away? What do you do about problems when they