Monday, December 28, 2009

Eek! New Years Resolutions are Coming

       It's the silly time of year when we fall all over ourselves to make "New Years Resolutions". What's wrong with a good old resolution you say? Well, nothing's wrong with a resolution. It just seems that with all the hype at the New Year something is lost in the resolution and that's a shame.
       Call me a "sad sack" or whatever, but in order for resolutions to be of any value they have to be made with a few guidelines. Resolutions need to be reasonable and realistic. Can one possibly achieve the resolution? If I say I'm going to save $10 000.00 this year and I only make $20 000.00 that isn't possible and it isn't going to happen no matter how many guidelines we have. The end of a resolution has to be measureable. I'm going to lose 5 pounds in 6 months. That has two measureable aspects. A resolution chart should be kept so that we can check and update our resolutions evry 30 days or whatever time frame makes sense for the individual.

      Resolutions are valuable for one to attempt to improve various aspects of his/her  life. I believe that we should always be looking for personal improvement. This can bring about long term satisfaction, success and happiness. Life is a journey and it lasts all year so make resolutions throughout the year.

     So resolutions only made at one special time of year and in a party atmosphere are not my style. I'd prefer to see something a little less flashy and a little more obtainable.

     Am I making New Years resolutions? Not on a bet! Not that I don't need to make some resolutions. There's lots to improve on old Red.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Scoop on Boxing Day

     I was asked today to write a little something about Boxing Day...apparently, having something of a background and interest in history (7 years teaching Social Studies can do that to a person), meant I had the kind of expertise on the subject that would lend credibility to a posting.
     Actually, my only real expertise on Boxing Day was shopping.
     However, the tradition for the day was as follows. Boxing Day was the day when the British Empire's gentry would distribute gifts to their servants, hired help and whatnot. Naturally, I'm assuming those fine folk were working on Christmas Day to serve their masters' families, and were clearly not of any stature to partake in gift exchanges on Christmas Day with those whom they served. So, gifts and tokens would be boxed and set aside to be given the day after Christmas.
     These days, of course, we mainly think of Boxing Day as the day for sales, and lining up at ungodly hours in the hopes of getting that one, precious, and severely marked-down piece of electronics they've been advertising on TV for 3 weeks prior. To me, it's a scam. Lure you in with rock-bottom sale pricing for an item they'll inevitably only have 1-2 of anyway. But hey, since you're here (and have been waiting/freezing since 4am), why not upgrade to that other item, which frankly, is better anyway, and still a great deal at $100 more than you'd budgeted.
   Has my cynicism crept in? Oops!
   I have to hand it to Americans...they have "Black Friday", which is THE shopping day for the holidays. It takes place on the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving (late November), which means you can actually buy gifts for Christmas on sale....before Christmas. The "black" label comes from the (traditional) notion that this is the day that pulls retailers into the black on finances. Not sure that's the case this year or last, but there you have it.
     I just remember on Boxing Day, heading to the mall with Mum to pick through what was left of holiday items, hoping to stock up for next year's holidays (cheap cards! wrap! bows! lights!) on the cheap. The more I think about it, Boxing Day - a British tradition - works out best for Orthodox Ukrainians, who are smart enough to wait 'til January for their Christmas celebrations.
     I can't say I entirely miss Boxing Day now that I live in the US, but I do have a sympathetic ear for my American colleagues who whine (jealously) about all the additional holidays Canadians get.
    Happy Holidays and good luck with the shopping!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Season's Greetings

         Season's greetings to all my valued readers from Hiawatha House. Readers are highly valued by writers as when we write we hope someone will read and have some type of response to what we say. You may agree or disagree with the ideas. You may like or dislike the humor or point of view taken. You may understand or be baffled by what is said. You may learn something knew or think about something in a different way.

         Writers need  responses as it tells them so many things. I get new ideas to write about. I find out if I'm making sense or not. Many comments support what I am doing and as such encourage me to explore new ideas. A blog is really a community.

        Many of my readers are somewhat shy as few comments are made. I know enough of my readers personally as they are friends and relatives. I get feed back when I see them or communicate in some way. It's always interesting to welcome someone who is searching the net and they find my blog. Some people take a good look at the blog and then  go on and disappear. Whatever your visit, it is most appreciated.

      My fellow author Jock, has his own blog. He has written a very good Christmas story which is very worthwhile for you to read so click on the link and read an original Christmas story.

     So from Hiawatha House have a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unfinished Logic

       A few days ago I wrote a post called Logic Hiawatha House Style. I was trying to make the point that around winter solstice time the sun would begin  to set later in the afternoon before the solstice. I further tried to point out that the sun would continue to rise later each mornining until well after the solstice.

      Today I will include a little chart with sunrises and sunsets. Maybe my logic will make some sense. Let me know if it makes sense or not.

                                                   sunrise               sunset

        Dec. 18                                                       4:23
        Dec. 19                               8:42                4:23
        Dec. 20                               8:42
        Dec. 21                                                       4:24
        Dec. 22                               8:43               4:25
        Dec. 23                               8: 44              4:26
        Dec. 24                               8:44
        Dec. 26                                                      4:28
        Dec. 27                                8:45

                I will continue to add to this chart over the next few days.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Red's Christmas Bird Count a Bummer

       The Christmas bird count for me this year was rather disappointing. I had written a previous post "Christmas Bird Count is a Comin" where I described  my enjoyment of the count. So what happened?
      Well, this year my agenda was stolen so I didn't have much time. I did manage to get out for an hour from 9:15 to 10:15AM. Our weather conditions were heavy overcast so it was very dull. Birds weren't moving at all . One has to be patient to count birds and I admit I wasn't patient. So I only saw 4 species and 15 birds.

     Usually I spend about 5 hours and walk about 5 kms. I usually see 8 species and 60 to 80 individual birds.
    Next year I will see that nothing interferes with count day and hope that I find my usual birds.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


    I do like listening to a wide variety of music even though I am not in anyway musical. As I have said before I enjoy radio rather than TV. I quite often find informative programs about music on the CBC and CKUA.

      One show I really like is Randy's Vinyl Tap with host Randy Bachman on CBC at 7:00 Sat evenings . Randy keeps the topic to any rock music produced on vinyl . Well, many times it's expanded to blues , country and classical because he likes to show how the music was influenced by other genres. The rest of it is spin . Randy gives a tremendous amount of information about the music and artist . His shows are based on themes such as girl bands, bass guitar and songs which only made it to No. 2 . Tonight I am listening to his Christmas show. He has music done with his kids at Christmas.You get the drift . Many times he plays tapes of music which was never produced commercially .Things like that make it interesting . Along with all the banter he plays music to illustrate his point . Many times he gives information which is background and you suddenly understand much more about the music and the song.

      Many times Randy will explain in basic terms how certain sounds are produced . He has a tremendous interest in instruments and has two whole shows on the two main types of guitars and how they developed over time .

So I highly recommend that you take a listen to Randy's Vinyls.

Driver's License Renewal Blues

          I thought that I had witten a previous post on problems I had renewing my driver's license. I looked for it but could not find it. So guess what ? It's a post I thought I had written but didn't.
          To make a long story short when I went to renew my license this year, they asked if I had any health problems which would prevent me from driving. I replied, "Yes, as I had a TIA in 2008 which I described in a previous post Stroke of Luck. They put a "C" on my file which means that I would always have to have a medical to renew my license. I thought that this was extremely unfair and appealed the ruling and won. My point on the blog that didn't get written was that the Registries were inconsistant in applying the rules.
          This brings me to today's post.
          A friend of mine broke his hip in June. He had a number of setbacks in his recovery and returned to the hospital. Time passed and his driver's license came up for renewal. He went to another registry and stood in line in his walker. One of the clerks came over and took him out of the line up and to her desk. She asked him what he wanted. He stated he wanted to renew his driver's license She asked the standard question. Have you had any health problems which would prevent you from driving? His response was , "Not really." He was then issued a renewal for his license.
       They then asked where he was  parked . He told them he was in the handicapped parking stall. They then opened a back door so that he could have an easier time to get to his vehicle.
        So the point of my post is that the system is very inconsistant and so some people are unfairly treated.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Logic Hiawatha House Style

       Okay, the logic part will come later.

        First some background. I was raised on an isolated Saskatchewan farm so I was really a free range kid. See "Isolated Farm Life" From a very early age we played all over the farm yard. When I was a little or eight ...I wandered over the whole farm and much further afield. Getting permission to ramble from my Mom never came to my mind. If I was needed a large bell was rung and that was my signal to get home right now. Being outdoors most of the time exposed me to the elements and made me keenly aware of my natural surroundings. A love and knowledge of natural areas was learned over the years.

      Sunrises , sunsets and seasons became part of me. Beautiful skies will always be a part of me. I loved the fantastic sky colors in the Arctic when the sun didn't rise. I  will also never froget the enerizing feeling of Artic summers when we had 24 hour daylight. Since I live the small city of Red Deer I have discovered the best vantage points to watch sunrises and sunsets.

      At this time of year with decreasing daylight sunrises and sunsets become much more crucial. I don't know when or how I discovered that there is an imblance between morning and evening when it comes to decreasing daylight at this time of year. Now from Dec. 8 , the sun does not set any later. The sun sets at the same time until Dec. 21or so. Then the sun begins to set  later each day. Now you say how come? Isn't  this supposed to be shortest day of the year time? In the morning the sun is coming up later each morning. It does this until about Dec. 31. By Jan. 7 the sun starts to rise earlier each morning. It's one of the ways I have of surviving the dark period of the year when I know that at one end(sunset) the day starts to get longer.

     So that's my logic. I hope you can follow it. If you can't follow it contact me by leaving a comment.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hiawatha House Cold and Snowy

      You better believe Hiawatha House is cold and snowy! Early Friday morning gusty northwest winds hit and shortly after that snow began to fall. By noon Friday we were walking through 5 cm of snow. This weather stayed with us all Friday and really got going Friday night with lots more snow. The snow drifted which it rarely does here.

     Saturday morning  my papers must be delivered by 9:00 AM. It's still very dark here at 8:00AM. With the limited light it was difficult to see were the snow was shallow or deep. At many residences there was a 1 m drift blocking their front entrance or across the drive way. At some residences I just picked a route through the yard where the snow was shallower.

      I shovelled my driveway and sidewalks twice on Friday. Saturday there were drifts which were packed. Trails through the yard had to be opened so that I could reach various areas of the yard. So you see I have had lots of exercise in the fresh air.

     For followers of Hiawatha House who live in England , Asia or the southern United States this weather is hard to imagine. I get used to it and enjoy being out and active. With all the new snow we will be able to groom cross country ski trails and have some excellent sking.

     My snow bird friends delight in telling me how nice the weather is in the sunny south. That's okay!  Enjoy your balmy weather. When spring arrives hear, I will appreciate it much more.