Saturday, January 31, 2015

Take This, Farside

      Farside at Far Side of Fifty is the creator of the Minnesota snow stick. The snow stick is a yardstick that Farside carefully sets up in her yard to measure the amount of snow received. It also works to show when the last snow melts at her place.

    Now Farside has persuaded some bloggers in snow areas to set up a snow stick. I have a snow stick. Last night we got 20cm (How's it goin' eh?) 8 in (ya'll)  of snow so I decided that it was a good time to report.

    Now Farside is a bit competitive so I get to brag that I have more snow, if that's something that is worth bragging about. Now we've had lots of thawing so this is not remotely close to the total snow of the winter.

    So without further adieu, here is my snow stick.

Centimeters. Next time I'll get the printing but it says 28 cm

Since the printing is larger you can see 11 in.

    Since I had snow, I had to do some shovelling. The micro manager was a good helper this morning and notice the great snow shovelling form.

Nice shovel job

Great style!

    Sunset tonight is at 5:18 and sunrise tomorrow is at 8:18 so that gives us 9 hours of sunlight.

My back lane

Snow across my street.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

System Failure

    Eleven days ago an RCMP officer, David Wynn, was brutally gunned down in St. Albert, Alberta. The officer and a partner were responding to a stolen vehicle report and had located the suspect in the nearby casino. As they were arresting him the suspect quickly shot the officer in the head. The suspect , Shawn Rehn, was later found dead of self inflicted wounds.

   My sympathy goes out the the officer's wife and family and the larger family of RCMP.

   These two officers had no idea of who they were arresting. The dispatcher had no idea who they were asking these officers to find.

   Who was the suspect? He was Shawn Rehn and his criminal record was horrendous.
     Shawn Rehn had a record of 57 convictions...assault, assault with a weapon, drug possession, possession of prohibited firearms, obstruction of a peace officer, escape lawful custody, drive while disqualified, break and enter, theft and possession of stolen property. At the time of Shawn Rehn's death he was facing 30 outstanding charges. I would also have to think about how many offenses he had committed and had not been charged.
    Shawn Rehn had served about 7 years at various times.

   My question is , "Why was Shawn Rehn allowed the be free on the street?"

    Shawn Rehn was given parole which he blatantly violated.

   The situation is that this creep was on the street and there were many reasons for him not to be free. The system completely failed to adequately look after such a criminal. Obviously the justice system failed along the way to cooperate and share information that would have kept Rehn incarcerated. Our laws give all kinds of support and guidance in looking after a such a career criminal. The whole system failed.

   As a result an RCMP lost his life. What a waste.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sometimes You Win When You Lose

     When it comes to being at a certain place at a certain time, there are two kinds of people...those who are early and those who are late. My wife and I are the perfect example of each. I will be sitting in the church 15 minutes before church starts. My wife will scurry in behind the choir. I would rather not go to something if we're going to be late. My wife is completely oblivious to the time. If something is at nine, she seems to think that nine is the time to leave the house.

     At school we had Dan, who was a character, with a terrible late problem. As you know schools don't take tardiness lightly. 

     Dan's lates started gradually. He filled in late slips and dutifully reported to study hall for his detention. Well, unfortunately schools up the ante as the lates continue. Schools even phone home about lates. After a phone call Dan would be on time for a few days or a week and then the whole scenario started over again. So then Dan's very supportive  parents were called in. There was improvement for a short time. The parents made sure that Dan left the house to be at school on time but he was still late. The parents drove Dan to school for a while to get him there on time. 

    One day the vice principal caught Dan sitting on a swing at an elementary school. The vice principal picked Dan up and brought him to school. By this time Dan and the vice principal were good friends even though the Vice principal had laid it on pretty heavy.

    It slowly began to sink into our thick skulls that there was something else at play here and not just tardiness. What could it be?

    The vice principal had his suspicions for a while. Dan was being harassed by kids on his way to school. By coming ten or fifteen minutes late Dan avoided his tormenters.  By having to stay after school he again missed his tormenters.

   So it was finally agreed that Dan would be excused for coming late. He was given some chores to do after school. Dan was satisfied with this arrangement and so were we. We lost the truancy battle but saved ourselves from failing over and over again.

    Are you someone who has to be somewhere 15 minutes before or are you somebody who crawls in just after something starts?

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Hooky Player Who Got a Big Surprise.

      A person I used to skate with reminded me of how I caught her daughter playing hooky and how I handled to situation. I'd forgotten all about this incident but Mom hadn't forgotten. Mom was still somewhat apologetic for her daughter's behavior even though her daughter now has two children who have finished high school.

      Patti was a very nice, quiet, well behaved little girl. She did her work conscientiously.  She was the kind of kid you liked to have in your class.

    One day I had suspicions that Patti and her friend might skip the afternoon. I forget if I overheard something or if kids told me or if I found a note. Sure enough after lunch , Patti and her friend were not there. 

    The usual thing was to immediately send a note to the office and they would take care of it.

    I didn't want this to go through the office as the kid had never been in trouble before. What should I do? Finally , I thought, "I'll phone her Mom and say that Patti wasn't in school and if she knew where Patti was. " Mom was sure Patti was to be in school and was very concerned when she knew Patti wasn't there. Now it was on Moms' shoulders to find her daughter and deal with the skipping of class. 

    I received a phone call later from Mom that she had found her daughter. Mom wanted to know what she should do as far as the school was concerned. Mom knew that there were consequences for skipping school. I knew that there would be consequences in Patti's home for her skipping class.

    Well, I said, "If Patti apologizes to me we'll call it settled." It was a deal and Patti saw me the next day and apologized.

    I'm sure Patti received the proper treatment at home and she never skipped again. I'm sure that this family now has this incident as one of their family stories. 

    So did you ever get caught and suffered an unusual conclusion?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hooky Playing Gone Wrong

      As most of my followers know I was a teacher for 37 years and it was all at the Middle School level. Needless to say, there were some very interesting occurrences.

      Now some of my former students are in their late fifties and early sixties. Many tales are told of old school days. We are far enough away from the time that everything is pretty funny.

     Bob was a great storyteller and I will never forget one of the stories he told.

     This took place back in the days when kids went home for lunch. Bob came back from lunch and decided he would play hooky (cut class)(skip) for the afternoon. His plan to leave the school was to go out the back door when the bell rang for kids to go the their home room for attendance. 

    As Bob was going down the hall all by himself , he noticed the Principal at the other end of the hall. He thought,"Oh, oh! I'm caught. He knows I'm skipping." But the principal didn't yell at Bob so Bob kept on going.

    Bob was on his way to spend an afternoon fishing. He thought that since the Principal had seen him that his mother would be phoned and when Bob got home he'd hear about it from his mother. When Bob came home for supper , his mother didn't say anything. Bob thought, "Maybe he was going to get away with skipping.

    So off to school in the morning and Bob was sure that the Principal would be waiting for him at the front door. Bob was not called over the intercom. "What was going on?" Everything was fine all morning. 

   Bob went home for lunch and everything was fine.

    Back to school and to home room for attendance. For some reason or other the home room teacher was not there and the Principal was taking attendance. Bob thought , "He knows I skipped. The attendance sheet shows I was absent yesterday afternoon."

    When the Principal got to Bob's name , he said,"Where were you yesterday afternoon?" Bob blurted out, "I skipped." All Bob's buddies thought he was a fool to admit that he skipped when obviously the Principal knew nothing about it. Bob's buddies knew the Principal knew nothing of Bob playing hooky. However, Bob's guilty conscience made him admit his sin.

    Without looking up the Principal calmly said, "Drop by my office after school."

    Bob said the punishment he got for skipping was insignificant compared to all the worrying he  did about getting caught.

   I've often thought about how much the Principal would laugh about this incident as he would have known nothing about the background to the story.

    Now there are just as many stories where  the students were unaware of what had gone on.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where Has Our Compromise Gone?

      With the events that took place in France last week, I have to ask myself , "Has compromise become obsolete?" Where was the face to face conversation that may have provided information? Where was the conversation that may have provided a small unit of understanding which may have prevented the murderous outburst?

      People may have widely opposing views, but they don't have to kill each other. It's not a black and white world. The winner takes all is a poor way to play the game.

      It seems that when two opposing views collide there's only room for one. Fight the opposing view until it is obliterated and then you get your way.

     In France it was an extremist group that insisted  that Mohammad should not be depicted in a graphical form. The other guys looked at it as a free speech issue. Somewhere there should have been a point where both sides could be accommodated  and everybody wins. Now that would take compromise.

     Some Muslim denominations want Sharia law. Fine for them, but it doesn't have to be forced on those who are a majority and do not support Sharia law 

    Compromise is missing in the Canadian Government. Prime Minister Harper wants to maintain power at any cost so he splits the opposition. He governs with 35% of the vote while 65% voted against him. Our election procedures allow him to use the system to gain power. Of course, he also cheated in the last election. Two of his members have lost their seats because of breaking election spending rules. Many other constituencies have reported robo calls but only one was charged and is now facing a jail term. He governs catering to his supporters but has no consideration for the good of the whole country.

    Christians show intolerance to each other. Ireland is a good example where Catholics and protestants slaughtered each other for many years. They had to be drawn kicking and screaming into an agreement that was a compromise.

    Why is it that groups with different views can not show some tolerance that would allow satisfaction for each. It's not win at all costs. It's not completely destroy the other guy and then you can do what you want. Doing things this way is a major failure. 

    There are many examples of cooperation and compromise to show us that compromise works. I think in Iceland the parliament members sit in a circle instead of facing each other in opposition. That's a simple idea but it works. They have to listen to each other and do not sit in an opposing way. 

     We have to concentrate on looking for examples of how compromise and cooperation work. We have to keep our eye on the positive and work hard to obtain the greatest good for all.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Snow Report

      I would think that a high percentage of my posts have been on snow. Sometimes I'm embarrassed that so many posts are on the same thing.

     Snow is a prominent part of our winter.

    This winter has been one of extremes. We'll get ten days of very cold. We'll get ten days of mild weather. Then to keep things interesting we'll get a good dump of snow. The two thaws we've had, have melted some of our snow. We've also had two rains which is rare for us.

Next time I there'll be brighter sun

    So I thought it was time to give a snow stick report. My stick location is on top of a work table I have in the yard. It's not a good place for a snow measurement but it's easy to get to. So as the snow stick shows , we have a little more than 9 in of snow. Now some of the snow has been blown off the table. Some has been blown on the table. And some has melted off the table so take your pick on how accurate this is.

    Today the sun rose at 8:36 and set at 16:53 for 8 hours and 17 min. of sunlight. We get about 45 min. more sun than on Dec. 21. We're on the way back.

My snow loaded table

My constant faithful friend

One of my favorite neighborhood trees.

The spruce at the end of my street

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oh How I Miss My Microwave...

      It's funny how much we miss something once it's gone.

      A few days ago someone wondered what it would be like if we suddenly didn't have the Internet. What would we miss? How would we handle it?

     Well, today I had to drop my microwave off for some repairs. I dropped it off in the morning and would be able to pick it up in the afternoon.

     Everything was fine until I went to start my lunch. How do I cook my soup? It took me a minute to think, "Oh ya! In a pot on the stove." I'm used to making one pot of coffee in the morning and when I want a cup of coffee I heat it in the micro wave. What happened before? Did I not drink coffee? Oh yes! We had instant coffee! Anytime you wanted coffee you boiled the kettle and made a cup of instant coffee. I even had instant coffee for breakfast. I had instant coffee at school!

    So today I suffered a little when I had to do without my micro wave. I missed it in so many ways.

    Now the repair turned into a nightmare. As soon as I saw the micro wave I could see marks on the glass part of the door. The marks wouldn't come off. The only thing they knew is that it wasn't scratched. Yes , they would replace the door. They sent me home with my micro wave to wait for a new door. Then I found the same marks on the side. I couldn't get them off either. 

   Now since I had a chance to take a close look at it, I don't think they replaced the door parts they were supposed to replace. But how do I know? I think they just greased the latches.

    So I got a double dose today as I couldn't use my micro wave and had a miserable experience with the repair.

    Wish me better luck tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Words That Should be Banned from the English Language

    Yesterday I listened to  phone in radio show on words that should be banned from the English language. I hear one or two of these shows a year and I find them fascinating. I'm quite low key when it comes to vigorous protest. There are words that I may not like but I don't go out beating a drum to have them banned.

    So what do people want banned? Some things are expressions that are meaningless and inaccurate. Example: "like." "Like" tell me! "Like" get a life! "Like" cool man! Another example"you know". "You know" I really like blues music. "You know" Fords are the best cars.

    Others phoned into the show were "going forward" "from the get go" "irregardless"

    Other examples were just grammar errors that are repeated. One I remember was "jet fighter" when it should be fighter jet" because what you're talking about is the kind of jet so the modifier should be before the noun.

    Others criticized words the have an er added to the end. I used one the other day when I said "littler " when I should have used smaller. I use funner quite often.

    We are a community of writers with our own styles. As writers we have some interest in expression and vocabulary. Many bloggers spend a tremendous amount of time editing to polish up their post. They care. 

    I find the styles used by bloggers interesting as they have found a successful way to tell their story. Many  bloggers write as they speak. They have an interesting and sequential way writing their post.

    So are there words you would like to see banned from the English language? What words or expressions really bug you? Is "bug" one of those words you want banned from the language?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Trouble at Hiawatha House

   I've had a few problems with my blog in the past. After lots of head scratching I found solutions.

   I'm still working on the present problem. so this is just to give you a heads up on what's not happening sometimes. I'm having problems getting to the comment window in some blogs. So some people will be missing comments from time to time. I will try my est to sort this out.

    Today was a very bad day on my computer all day. I could access only a few sites. the others said not available or some expression. I found that I had to adjust some of the advanced Internet settings. It's the first time I had to do such a thing.

   So when problems show up you usually have to learn something new.

    I think I may have used some of these in old posts. but I did get them from my ipad to my desk top!

Why do selfies exaggerate your nose?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bone Density Treadmill

     Today I had my bone density measured. That's the end of the story. The beginning of the story is a long time ago.

     The beginning of the story of bone density loss probably started in my mid twenties according to some study or other. Loss of bone density slowly went on in my body until a crisis occurred and then it was found that my bone density was almost in the osteoporosis category.

   Usually osteoporosis is considered a female condition. No doubt about it. Men have osteoporosis too. Males just have more bone density so more to lose. If osteoporosis affects men it's usually later on in life.

    There are a number of conditions that contribute to loss of bone density. One would be a poor diet. Another  is lack of weight bearing exercise. And a third common cause is smoking. There are more conditions that contribute to bone loss. 

    The crisis that brought my low bone density to light were two broken bones. I broke my right wrist in 1991. The bone was broken into 7 pieces. Magic and skill put the wrist together and I have full usage with no after effects. I 2002 I broke my right wrist again. This time it wasn't as serious a break. This time I said to my doc, "Should I have my bone density checked?"

    "Yes ," he said, "You should get it tested." His story was that women break hips and men break wrists???

    So my Doc put me on actonel and a bone density test every two years.  The first two tests showed some increase of bone density. Now there is little change. I have had some serious tumbles and have not broken anything. I had a nasty bike incident where I went head over heels and although I had injuries, I had no broken bones. I fell down stairs last year and lived to blog about it. 

   My point is that we get put on testing schedule and it goes on for years. My bone density has not changed. But, they keep saying they want to monitor it. I feel like telling them to go and find some wet paint to watch. 

    However, I will keep my mouth shut and keep getting tests when I'm told. I will go to the place where the hallway has little dressing rooms with littler curtains and change to get ready for my test. 

   I would suspect that many people are enjoying the same regime as I am. I hope that you are maintaining bone density.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How Much of the Story is Fact

    Our sense of reality is something that I've often thought about. On many occasions we hear people's versions of the same thing and they are quite different.

    As a child I loved listening to adults tell of their experiences. There are some people I loved to listen to even if they repeated the same story many times. A good story teller always told the same version.

    An exercise I did with my students, was to start a sentence at the front of the row and see what ended 5 seats later. All of this was oral and it was pretty wild what ended at the last of the row. Sometimes the exercise was sabotaged when they decided to deliberately twist things. Then they wanted another try to do the exercise correctly. 

   Many times we hear people giving an account of a common event and there are different versions. In fact there may be arguments about  the accuracy of the version .

   My brother and I have versions of the same event that are fairly similar. There are certain events he can not remember at all and certain things I do not recall.

   For my wife and I, quite often our version of events is quite different. Sometimes it seems that we are not even talking about the same event.

   So what makes for the differences of the perceptions we have of the same event?  Does space matter?  If I'm behind a certain event and you are ahead does that make for some difference in an account?  What influence does our life experience make in how we see an event.? What difference does experience after an event have on our account of an event? Does  being male or female make a difference in the version? Does age make a difference?

    Now I consider these issues, because like it or not, I have been labelled as a story teller on my blog. I appreciate comments which show appreciation for what I have written. 

   The stories I tell are of the experiences I've had. How close to reality are my accounts? I like to think my accounts are fairly accurate. My life has been adventurous and I've often experienced some interesting times. There are different ways to tell a good story.

   I think a combination of these things have to be in place to tell a story. The information and experience have to be present. Now the event can be fairly common place but if you have any idea of how to tell a story the event becomes interesting.

   So do you think the relation of events is always precise or is there variation.from the original?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

More Smart Stuff.

      About a year ago I bought a new car and posted about all the smart stuff in it. There are many sensors which tell you many things. It tells me when tire pressures are low and much more.

     I was talking to a friend the other day and his car has more stuff. The lights turn on when needed. When backing up there's a beeper which increases speeds the closer you get and a continuous beep when you are a foot away. The friend rented a car at an airport. He soon came to a 10 km long tunnel. He wondered why he had no lights. It took a sec before he realized that in the car he rented, you had to turn on the lights yourself. Then he had fun finding a light switch.

    So if that wasn't enough I bought a new camera and discovered it can do almost everything but talk. I did my homework in choosing a camera. I wanted some zoom and pixels. I wanted a camera with a handle as I find the little guys hard to hang on to. So I chose a nikon l 830 for about $200.00. I give you this information so that you can get some idea of what cameras do. My old camera was a photo smart M447 put out by Hewlett Packard.

The silver oldie

My challenge

    Now one thing I didn't check was the camera manual. I downloaded all 204 pages. I wish I'd looked at the manual before buying. I might have had a more exact idea of what I was buying. The little manual that comes with the camera is 43 pages. For both of them the diagrams are far too small and sometimes interfere with understanding.

    Now as I got reading and finding out how the camera works , I found more and more that it does many things automatically. Here comes the smart stuff again. There are various modes for shooting. Point the camera at something and it automatically changes to that mode. Point to a person and portrait is seen. Point to a outdoor scene and landscape comes up. Now it took me a little while to discover this feature. All this information comes up on your screen. You can set this camera to do things manually. I'll probably use easy auto most of the time.

    It's amazing what technology has devised. It's certainly a lot smarter than I am.

    I've had fun playing with this camera even though I haven't saved one picture. I want to know a few things before I get many miles away from the 204 page manual when I run into a problem..

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Birthday Remembered

     Yesterday would have been my sister's 73 birthday. She left us all too soon 61 years ago at the age of eleven. Most January firsts I think of her birthday and that it is remembered but not celebrated. 

     Most people remember the birthday of family members they have lost. It's another time when we take one more tiny step in coming to terms with the loss.

    Since my sister's birthday was January first, I do not remember any birthday celebrations as you would have for kids. I don't remember birthday cakes. Our New Years Day was marked with a major dinner and was like a second Christmas day. I wonder what happened to her birthday celebrations?

    My sister's death brought about major changes in the family. She was the only daughter so in her own right she was a favored child. For my parents this was a loss that was extremely hard to come to terms with. I think my Mom came to a place where she could carry on with her life. It was much more difficult for my Dad to come to terms with the loss. 

    Many things occurred as a result of this loss and I sometimes wonder what would have happened without the loss. Parenting certainly would have been different or parenting would have taken place. My brother and I were in our sixties before we ever talked to each other about the loss. Kids were not considered to grieve in those days so they were left on their own. 

   So now when there are fewer and fewer who actually knew my sister, I wonder how long her memory will be kept? For this day and others she will be remembered. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

1964: A New Year's Eve to Remember

    Now I'm sure that everybody can look back to some memorable New Year's Eve. Any variety of things can happen to make a memorable New Year's Eve compared to all the others.

    The New Year's Eve of 1964 is the most memorable for me. I'd been in the Arctic for a year and a half. There were many community social activities and lots of visiting to houses and individual families. In the 1960's New Years Eve was a big celebration. Fancy dinners and dances were very popular.

    Now it wasn't fun to go to an New Year's Eve party alone. I'd done that once. I wanted to go to the party and I wanted to take someone with me. I had met a girl a couple of times as she had just come in. I liked her and tried to contact her and see if she wanted to go to the New Year's Eve party with me. I phoned the nurses residence an number of times and couldn't contact her. My  friend was in the same boat and we both sort of gave up. 

   An older nurse was a good friend of ours. We visited her one day. Merle was a very with it gal. She soon found out that we had both tried to arrange dates. She said, "I'll look after it." She did look after it. In no time we were given instructions to phone these two girls and they would be waiting for our calls. The fix was in. All arrangements were made. We were going with a large group of friends.

   So 50 years ago last night was the first date I had with my wife. We always joke that we met on a blind date but that's not exactly true.

   We partied until about 2:00 AM and then walked about a mile back to the nurses residence. Many other couples were there and so visiting continued until about 4:00 AM. Some people had to work the next day! So things shut down.

   Anybody else out there with a special New Year's Eve?