Friday, May 24, 2013

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: The Epitomy of Hypocrisy

    Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has a history of actions that are scrapes. He gets very close to the unacceptable, unethical and sleazy politics. In other words he goes from scandal to scandal. When he's nailed with these behaviors he stonewalls and shape shifts his and others performances for long enough that the controversy dies down and he's off the hook.

    There was skulduggery conducted by Harper's party in the last election where they used robo calls to tell people that their voting places had been changed so the other guys didn't get their votes out. Of course, Harper denies this even though a judge ruled yesterday that the list the robo caller used came from Harper's party. 

    Harper has used attack ads. He thinks nothing of taking words from different contexts and putting them together so that it makes the other guy look like something else. These ads have been incredibly mean and most inaccurate. 

    The latest incident involves expense accounts by some senators Harper appointed. The Senators have double charged for their living allowances. The one senator owned up and made a big show of paying the money back. Now we find out that the said senator got all the money from the Prime Minister's office. This doesn't smell right. It sounds like the Senator was paid by the govt. so he could pay off his expense account that was over billed to the tune of $90000 . Now nobody is talking. Questions are not being answered. Harper give has smile , smirk and walks away.

   Harper has made crime and punishment a big part of his platform. Harper is great on telling us how he cuts our taxes. I would hope that a hypocrite like Harper finds himself in some of his new jails. It's rather ironic that Harper's senators are paying themselves double out of out tax dollars. 

    So Harper has not done what he says. He has not kept his promises. He is not listening to the people just some of the people and then he doesn't hear very well at that.

    Now I'm ordinarily not a ranter. I'm a fairly mellow fellow. It takes quite a bit to upset me. So I hope that you will work with me on this rant. Harper has upset me by his unnecessary inappropriate behavior.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring Bird Count

    On May 18 I did my spring bird count in the area I was assigned. I was happy because I found 20 species and three other species I could not identify. It was  a warm, clear day with very little wind. 

   Now don't expect bird pictures. My point and shoot is not up to bird photos. I did get some decent shots of the area I counted in.

   The area I do is a heavily wooded ravine with old growth forest. Most of the trees are spruce. It's a beautiful area.

Forest entry. You've seen this when it was snowy.

Early blue violet

The bike trail through the forest.

The first Buffalo bean

An overview of the forest

Shale trail

Luckily I saw a reflection
     I see I didn't set the time on my camera so this is a few days from now. I don't know how that's going to work. 
   I hope you liked my bird counting trip. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mental Health

    Mental health has a long and sorry past. Some things are better today and some things are probably worse. We have some medications that work to some extent. We have better diagnoses. Much has been learned about mental health. Treatment centers have all but disappeared. There are few treatment facilities and little funding. There has been some improvement in public perception of mental illness but it still has a long way to go.

    Why am I on this topic? Today I met a man on the bike trail. I could hear loud talking from more than 200 m away. I couldn't even tell who was talking. Then I thought he must be talking on a cell phone. No. He was talking to himself in a very loud voice about a number of unrelated topics. He was raving about having to pay money for a book to find Jesus. I thought he would stop talking when he got to me. He kept on talking and went by me as if I wasn't there. It was a sad sight. I wondered why he was on his own. Obviously he was off his meds. I'm sure he would frighten some people while others may harass him. 

    I taught about 4000 students in this community. A young man who was easily in the top 100 brightest of all students I taught is unemployed and on disability. It's sad to think of how much this fellow could have achieved if schizophrenia had not disabled him.

    Many people do not want to take their medications. I take a mediation for  seizures. It is also used to treat schizophrenia and bi polar disorder. It's not a pleasant medication to take as it has side effects. I get depressed from time to time. I also have problems with balance. I also think that my thinking gets fuzzy at times. So I understand that people do not want to take medication. 

    There are some support groups for mental health but not enough.

   We are also far under diagnosed in the mental health field. We had kids who were lashing out at things around them. Many suffered anxiety but it was never diagnosed or treated. So parents teachers and other kids received abuse that was very unpleasant to deal with. For many of these kids , if they had been diagnosed and treated , they would have been much happier and more successful. Many adults suffer from depression and do not realize it or won't admit it. 

    There is treatment for most mental health issues. Community support is crucial in bringing about better mental health. 

     One of our readers and commenters is going through a few bumps in the road. He has recognized and admitted a problem. He has begun treatment to regain good mental health. It's not easy when you think that some of the world turns against you and that you had some responsibility for that problem. He's working to regain good mental health. I wish him success.  


Friday, May 17, 2013

A Fine Looking Bench

A bench surrounded by stylized elevators.
      When I was photographing one of the statues, I noticed this bench. It's in front of the local museum. since this area is agricultural area we have a lot of grain produced. At one time every little town had several grain elevators to handle the grain the farmers produced. Grain elevators were very tall structures so the the grain could be lifted to the top and then channeled into bins or box cars. Today all the grain elevators are gone except for a few that have been kept for historical purposes.

     This would be a good project for Far Side at Far Side of Fifty.

     This bench is surrounded by five stylized grain elevators. It's a nice place to sit and think about how things were done.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Fine Pile of Ceramic Tile


      This sculpture was placed on one of our main streets with a fair bit of fanfare. The newspaper had photos and a description of this piece. When I drove by it I could not see what the newspaper article had described. I walked by this statue a few times and it still didn't make sense. When I was photographing I could see what was represented but it wasn't until looking at my photo the it really jumped out at me. 

    Now I could ask you to say what the figure is but it's rather obvious. 

    So we have a large ceramic bunny on one of our streets supposedly to make little kids happy. I've never seen any little kids near this sculpture. Maybe it should have been placed in a park instead of a street corner. 

   This is a piece that the more I look at it the better I like it. 

He's got his eye right on me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wall Murals

    I like wall murals. They are like a theme with many details. So you have a painting that covers a vast amount of space or time. All of it is connected together. 

   Now I did a series on sculpture in my city. I like what we have in this city as far as sculpture is concerned.

   Unfortunately when it comes to murals we are lacking in number and quality. With the sculpture there must have been very careful guidelines. The murals seem to lack anything that stands out and jumps at you.

   I found three murals and I know there is a fourth. That's not many murals. I found the fourth mural the other day but I didn't get a photo.

This mural is about 50 ft. long and is ceramic.  This one really moves. It's on the north side of the swimming pool and I did not choose a good time to photograph it.

This is about 8 x 12 and was done on separate material and attached to a wall.

This one's kind of funky and put directly on to the brick wall.

This one is about 12 x 24 and also put on separate material and attached to a wall.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Frustration of Losing One Piece of the Puzzle

    I'm like many people in that, I took hundreds of slides through the 60' and 70's. That was the super technology at the time. So guess what? When I married, that meant two of us with slides. The 35 mm cameras took excellent photos.

    For some time now I have been thinking about changing my slides to digital. Many times I've done a post and had a great photo that could have been used but it was not changed to digital. I've been hoping to find someone who's finished with their  scanner and would sell it to me or maybe, even better, just let me use it. I have not been beating the bushes to find a scanner. I have looked on Kijiji. 

    One day my wife was talking with Melanie and they happened to get on the topic of slides and changing them to digital. Melanie said, "I have a scanner and you can try it."  But she said, "I bought the scanner and I have a Mac but the scanner is for a PC." But she said, "I can't find the disk that goes along with the scanner."  She thought that she had given the scanner to a friend and somewhere the disk had disappeared.

   So I offered to try and find a driver for her scanner on line. I searched and  searched. I could find drivers but I did not trust the sites. I asked my son to search. I asked my friend for hints. None of it worked. I was stumped. It was frustrating to miss an opportunity because one piece of the puzzle was missing. The only thing I achieved was to find a manual for Melanie's scanner. 

   Today Melanie said, "Guess what I found?" So she found the disk in the bag that the scanner came in. Now she said, "When I found the disk I had to quickly go back to the Thrift Store and get my scanner back!"

    So here I am six months later and I will try to scan my slides. So it was frustrating for Melanie and me that one piece of the scanner held up the whole process. 

   Now for using Melanie's scanner I have offered to scan her slides. I hope she doesn't have thousands of slides!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Naming Schools

    Since I spent 37 years as a public school teacher , I have more than a passing interest in school names. This blog is named after the school I went to from gr. 1 to 9. 

    Each school district has it's own policy about naming new schools that are being built. Sometimes the name is based on the local area and sometimes it's based on a person of note. Many schools were simply named after the town in which they were located. 

    Schools in my city have been named after the area they were built in or some prominent person. The school I taught in was called Eastview after the subdivision in which it was located . My kid's elementary school was G.W. Smith who was the first teacher in Red Deer . Most of the people who gave their names to schools had passed on before a school was named after them

    Many schools are named after famous national people. How many Winston Churchill schools are there? We have a few John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson schools. These two people were Prime Ministers. How many Jefferson or Lincoln schools are there?

   Why am I writing about this topic? We just picked a name for our next new school and it's after a friend of mine and he's not dead yet! So the next school in Red Deer will be the Barrie H. Wilson School. All the more cool, I worked with Barrie for many years. Barrie and I both came to Red Deer the same year and taught in the same school. Barrie was energetic,enthusiastic and well liked. Later he became an  administrator. I had the good fortune to have Barrie for my Principal for ten or more years. I grew professionally and personally under his watch.    Certainly some of my happiest years were when I was working with Barrie. Barrie was always tough and demanding. However, Barrie would always walk the talk.               

    So I'm happy that Barrie has a school named after him and it is a well deserved honor.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Oral Comments

    Most of you probably have local people who fare non bloggers and they follow your blog . Sometimes they will comment when they see you. It's a different kind of comment that can get very interesting.

    Buddy is one of my most faithful readers. He is a critical reader so he makes judgments and connections as he he reads. As a result some of his comments enlighten me if that is at all possible. Usually he will make a comment that is quite distant from my post and will wait to see if I catch on. Usually I don't catch on and it's a big joke. We were both teachers and teachers rib each other continuously. We also support each other like family. I hope I'm not giving away too many trade secrets.

    Yesterday Buddy phoned me and wanted to know if I was all right. He was worried about my condition. He was concerned that on my previous post all the names were messed up. Buddy knew all the people involved in my last post but the names didn't match. Was I all right? This is just the typical Buddy comment. Also one of the names had a period after it and it wasn't supposed to! So I get some fun oral comments.

    Yes I do change the names when I write about local people. I feel that if I write about people without their permission and knowledge I should change the names so that they would not be in danger of having their identities used. I don't show pictures of children anymore as I don't want to see a picture taken and used for some other purpose.

     Now this situation got me thinking about another topic...evaluation of student work. I insisted that I had to develop a criterion that gave the student credit for what they did on an assignment rather than taking marks off for something that is missing or wrong. I know some of this is semantics but I wanted my students to know that they would be rewarded for using the concepts that they understood. My emphasis was on giving positive feed back so that a student would feel that they were rewarded.

     So Buddy keeps me thinking that it is well worth while to blog.

      Thanks Buddy, for reading and caring enough to comment.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 Three

     There's a saying about bad things come in threes or some variation if this. Now I'm not at all superstitious but this was my Monday.

     My week has had a set of three challenges. On Monday I went to a memorial for a man I had never met. His mother is a friend of mine so I went to support Jan. Cam, her son, died at age 52. Cam became a paraplegic at age 20 as the result of a motor cycle accident. Cam was a moto cross racer fanatic. The remainder of his life is a tremendous example of courage and cheerfulness under a huge burden. Cam was full of life and very energetic. He was able to be independent for a few years. He finished and English degree and traveled widely. He had great friends who stuck by him. One adventure was his visit to his favorite race track in Las Vegas. He and a friend went up to the gate and people waved at them so they proceeded. They went by the ambulance and the EMTs waved so they kept on going.. They went further and passed the mechanics and they waved so Cam and his friend went further. Then they  found themselves at a gate...the starting gate. They looked around and nobody was there so Cam said let's hit er. So there was Cam in his hand equipped van tearing around a famous race track until the ambulance ended their fun. He lived a good life even if it was short. He influenced family and friends greatly and he will be truly missed.

    While I was at Cam's memorial, my neighbor who works at the funeral home, came and told me that Teresa had died this morning. Teresa had been my neighbor for 30 years. She had many health problems over the years and again faced all of it with strength.

    In the evening my friend Mitch phoned to tell me that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

    So that was my Monday. Mitch will survive as his cancer is operable. For the other two , I can only work at supporting them through a rough time.