Friday, May 29, 2015

Would a Little Standardization Help? Me?

      I drive a 2014 Honda CRV. It's got lots of bells and whistles. I'll never discover or use half of them. The car gets me where I want to go and that's all I need.

     A few weeks ago I got another ding in the parking lot so this week the CRV was in the body shop to get repaired. Insurance gives me a rental while my vehicle is getting repaired.

    The rental agency really messed things up.  My insurance made arrangements for the rental car. The rental agency was to pick me up at the body shop. They weren't there. The body shop phoned the rental agency and they said they would be there right away. The rental agency phoned a few minutes later to say they were running behind so the body shop took me to the car rental agency. 

     Well the car agency acted as if they'd never heard of me and didn't have a vehicle close to what I wanted.

      The only thing they had was a large pick up. They said we'll phone you as soon as we get something. Of course, they phoned a couple of hours later. 

     I went out to start the truck and go back to the rental agency. I looked at the key! There was no metal part sticking out! How was a supposed to start the truck if there was no metal piece on the key. I puzzled. Finally, I said ah ha. The blunt plastic end is what fits into the slot. Voila! The truck started. I didn't have to embarrass myself and phone the rental agency.

    Now at the agency the truck had been started. When I got home somebody was on my yard. I quickly stopped the truck and got out to talk to the people on the yard. I did not have a chance to notice that this key was different until I got back in to start it..

     Now the next vehicle had just a plastic oval with lock, unlock on it. No key again. This time you had to have the oval plastic thing in the vehicle and put your foot on the brake and push a button to start!

     Now you'd think there could be a little harmonization in this world when it comes to starting vehicles. 

    So is it just me or is there a problem? Should I know how to start every dang vehicle that's out there? Should car companies puzzle their brains to come up with different ways to start vehicles?

    There has to be an easier way. After all, it's not too long before we have cars that drive themselves. Now how will I start the car that drives by itself?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dull Images

      In Alberta we have a mix of atmospheric conditions right now. We've had a mix of shower and thunder clouds through the afternoon and evening. We have about 70 forest fires burning at this time. Then we  have our regular brown atmosphere from the oil industry.

      I looked at the skies and saw some possibilities for photos. It was very dull and cloud formations were not sharp. So I decided to take some photos and see what I got. When I first looked at them I was disappointed. Then I saw that I got exactly what was out there. It was just plain dull.

    I took these a few minutes before 7:00 Pm. Today our sun sets at 21:38 or 9:38 PM. The second photo faces west and there should be some brightness. 

    So for some just "try it" shots I learned a couple of things. I am satisfied that I got what was there.

To the west

Monday, May 25, 2015

An Epiphany!

       A few weeks ago I posted "We Threw the Bums Out" . We had an election and a party that had been in power for 44 years lost the election.  Election results were shocking. A party that held only four seats in the last session won 54  seats. It was a major change.

      Yesterday, our new premier, Rachel Notley and her cabinet were sworn in. 

      This ceremony was like no other. It was held outdoors. The weather was perfect for the day. 10000 people came to the event! There were families with young children, young people ... a wide variety of people. There was no dress code so tee shirts and shorts and many other variations were seen. The ceremony was brief and not too quiet or solemn. After the swearing in the new Premier and her cabinet immediately went out in the crowd and mingled with the people. People were not expecting this and were surprised. Many people had photos taken with the new premier and lots of photos were selfies. What a sport! There were several bands that played . There was free ice cream! People had a great time.

     Now before this we had old , rich white men in suits who were sworn in. Not that there's much wrong with old white men. I'm one of them. The ceremony would take place in the Lieutenant Governor's mansion. The premier and his new cabinet would move to a swanky hall where a sumptuous feast took place. Only the bigwigs attended.  Ordinary people were completely excluded  from this government event.

     Yesterday's event got me thinking. We are always complaining about so many people who don't vote. We know few young people vote. 

    So my epiphany is that if we involve citizens in political events instead of excluding them , we may increase voter turnout. 

     I think yesterday's event should have some influence on increasing voter turnout. Young people were exposed to a government function. It was fun!  

     I hope that many of these people will become voters because of a positive experience with an important political event.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I Part With Another Treasure!

     As most of you know I am a senior who's trying to downsize so that I don't find myself in a pickle later on. I have posted about various things that I have parted with...canoes, cars, scythes, pianos. It's a long list. I've been at this for years. I didn't know I had so many possessions(junk). I've also written about how I hate garage sales.

     Once in a while I part with something that has some history to it. Today I sold my Ti plant. I got my Ti plant 45 years ago in the same month my son appeared. Ti plants were popular little things as giveaways at various events. You were given a two in. piece of log and told to put it firmly in soil and leave half uncovered. A month or two later a nice green shoot appeared. It wasn't long before I had to repot it.

     After about five years it would reach a height of about three feet and the top would get pretty ratty. That was time to repot it. I'd cut the top off about 2 in below the bottom leaves. I'd put it in a jar of water and in about two months roots would be growing and you could put it back in the pot. Meanwhile I had cut a couple of logs off the bottom stem and rooted them. I had plants at school and I don't know how many kids got Ti plants.

    So the other day we decided to part with the Ti plant and advertised it on Kijiji. It went to a nice home!

    Ti plants are supposed to be good luck. Put a Ti plant at your door and it will bring you luck. Kaye at Musings will correct me if I'm wrong!

    So today, my 45 year old Ti plant wen
to a new home.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pleasant Blog Conversations

      Blogging intrigues me. I do a post once in a while on some aspect of blogging. I think the last  post I did on blogging was about bloggers who just disappear. Poof! They're gone. No goodbye! I've done a post on blog comments. Today is another post on comments.

      The blog post together with comments becomes a genuine conversation. We write a post which says something or shows something. The topic can be a standard for a particular blogger or like me, I post about anything that happens to be rolling around in my head.

      I like to make comments on other bloggers's posts. People write very interesting things which promotes a reaction. As in a conversation, we reply and add to a comment or question for more information or validation. I follow some very excellent photo blogs. They are the kinds of things that catch your eye. Some photo blogs cleverly mix photos with prose or poetry.

    On my blog I reply to comments that are made the first day after the post. My conversation can say thanks, add to my post, widen the scope of what I said or just plain kibitz. Kibitz comes from teaching days where I had to carry on several conversations at once.

    I really have to be happy about the type of comment I get. I feel that someone has read the post and can make an honest and respectful comment. Some people have a great sense of humor and it comes through in the comment. Some people will always expand my thoughts and I will say , "Why didn't I write that?" Sometimes I'm just plane wrong. I like someone to tell me when I'm wrong. I get about 10 to 20 comments per post. I couldn't respond to any more. I only have so much time for blogging.

    I'm not sure how many active blogs I follow, but there is a limit to how many blogs I can comment on per day. I get frustrated on days when I'm busy and can't take time to think about my comment.

     Each blog and blogger is different. Each blog you open has something new and different.

    So with all the back and forth of posts and comments a very pleasant conversation takes place. Non bloggers don't know what they're missing.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Rookie

      I've been including odd photos at the end of my posts or else blogger sees fit to pick photos and I don't want them. So if I put my own photos in and blogger leaves me alone.

     Okay, the last photo happened to be me in my first year of teaching. You see it's the only school photo I have that's scanned! Because of comments on the last post, a post topic came into my head. The photo was a very poor scan of a picture.

     So I was reminded of my start in teaching. It was as many of the things that happen to me. I bumbled into teaching without any clear goals.

     I surprised myself by finishing high school in 1957. I never had a goal of finishing high school. I bumbled along from year to year and finally it was over. Many boys at that time dropped out of school in gr. 8 and stayed on the farm.

     When high school was done I had to think fast. I really didn't want to stay on the farm with my Dad. What could I do after high school. I decided to try teaching and if I liked it, that was it. If I didn't like teaching, I hadn't lost much.

     At that time you could take a one year program and then teach. I entered the program at age 17. The year was fun and very different for me. My high school class had eight students. There were 400 students at Teachers' College. The program included some basic methods classes. We had a very good class on teaching primary reading. There were some academic classes and a few fine arts classes. At  the end of the year we were given an interim standard teaching certificate. We could teach for three years and then we had to take more classes. 

     I found myself finished Teachers' college and looking for a job. As I'd gone to a one room country school this is a job I applied for. At 18 I was a teacher in a  one room country school house . Pretty scary! EH?Most country schools were being closed at that time.The school I taught at was on its way out. As some of you  noticed there were only 10 students. A school with just ten students was not economical to keep open. There were 3 grade ones, 2 grade two's and one each in grades three, four, five, seven and nine. I really liked teaching the grade ones.

     I had a very enjoyable year so much so that I decided right then that I would stay in teaching. The Superintendent was most supportive. Harry would quietly show up and stand in the doorway until I saw him. He'd give me the nod and I would go out on the steps and talk to him. He was checking that I was not having problems and give me a few pointers and a pat on the back. Sometimes he'd come and dismiss the kids for an hour and talk to me.

   My first year teaching is one that stands out over all the others. I often wonder how an 18 year old was able to give instructions for a year. The community were most supportive and good to me. They wanted me to stay another year but I had decided to enter university.

     Nine years earlier when I was in grade three in a country School. That country school just happened to be named Hiawatha!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

After Twenty-five Years, I Won the Argument

     In the 1980's our schools in Alberta got into fund raising in a serious way. Many schools had bought their own buses. This opened things up so that many field trips were available. At the same time the government was reducing funds to education so if schools wanted such things as bands it came out of student's pockets and fund raising.

   Methods of fundraising were the usual activities...bake sales, raffles you name it. About that time bingos offered the opportunity for organizations to act as volunteers to run a bingo. The school had 12 bingos a year and I worked two.

   Another fundraising opportunity came up when Coca Cola and Pepsi would put vending machines in the schools and schools shared some of the profits. Our Principal brought this idea up at a staff meeting. It was more or less a report as we didn't have votes on any issues. I expressed my disagreement on having pop machines in the school. This is ancient history you know the arguments against pop machines. Other teachers had that bored look on their faces which said, "Shut up so we can get out of here." We were also getting vending machines for candy bars and chips. 

    I didn't get very far expressing my opinion at the staff meeting. Since the Principal was a good friend, I paid him a visit in his office. I pushed my ideas. I wasn't going to give up without a good effort. It was the principle of the thing. Using vending machines to get kids to part with their money seemed somewhat unethical. Finally, my Principal said, "You and I will have to agree to disagree." And that was it. I know when it's over.

    Vending machines were installed. Coke was the choice. Buckets of money were made for the school. They even sold me a coke a day. 

   Well now, twenty-five years later, what has happened? Vending machines have been taken out of schools. Many principals fought long and hard to keep the  vending machines. Vending machines were finally removed from schools after a lengthy debate.

    So I take note that it took twenty-five years but I was right all the time.

     No vending machines in this school. This was my first year of teaching in a one room country school.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Mother's Day

     In this post I want to cover two things related to  Mother's Day. 

     I wanted to ask a question about Mother's Day instead of posting about Mothers. I thought it wouldn't be cool to get off topic so I omitted this idea. So here it comes. When I was a child in the 1940's and 50's, I don't remember a major observance of Mother's Day. I knew about Mother's Day but we did nothing about it. I think we made cards in school for our mothers but that's all. So am I right that we put much more stress on Mother's Day today?

     Now some comments in my previous post require some response. Some people commented that I am nice (thanks) and my mothers have been an influence. This is very true. My mother worked under extenuating circumstances to get some sense into our heads.  I  must admit that it took a long time for my mother's influence to emerge in my life. I was a little square peg. I didn't fit well. Sometimes I was very frustrated. The world of the 40's and 50's was very black and white. I didn't see a black and white world. I envisioned a society where all worked together. Again , frustration was added to my life. 

     I was rebellious , but I hope not in an offensive way. When I finished I high school I left home. I still didn't like to see extreme views that excluded others but I didn't know what to do about it..

     It wasn't until my 40's that I got things together and realized that the square peg could lead a very satisfactory and successful life without bending to the extremes. My life changed.

     In teaching, there were many little people with tears and the least I could do would be to not offend any more. So showing some empathy to those hurting got lots of practice. I learned that you couldn't ignore those who need comfort and support. Empathizing and supporting people carried over to my adult life. Personal growth took place. I was rewarded with the satisfaction of helping others. I was open to listening to people in a nonjudgmental way. 

     So I learned things from my Mom but it took a long time to sink in and practise in my daily life.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Time of Remembrance: Mothers' Day

      I'm one of those people who had two Moms , my Mom and my step Mom. My Mom passed away at age 59. I had my Mom for about 35 years. My step Mom passed away in 2005. I had her for 30 years. 

      Although both women were very different when it came to personality, they were both good Moms for the times they had us. My Mom was an influence, guide and support for my younger life. My step Mom was a very astute lady when it came to dealing with adult children.

      So it's a time of remembrance when I look back and take time to appreciate what was done for me and how I was influenced to be what I am today. 

      Tomorrow, I will be celebrating with my wife and remembering the huge contribution she made to our children's lives.

     I also thank and remember my grand children's mother.

     So Happy Mother's Day to the active Mom's in my family and thanks for the good times and memories of my Mom and step Mom.

     My Mom in 1964 with her first grandchild.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

We Threw the Bums Out

     On Tuesday , May 5 the province of Alberta , Canada had a provincial election.

     We have four major parties that come into play during an election and three fringe parties. The four major parties are Progressive Conservative(PC),  Liberal, Wild Rose and NDP.

      The Progressive Conservatives were the incumbents. They had been in government for forty-four years. They also had 73 out of 87 seats when the election was called. They looked too powerful to put out of office.

    However, there were issues that made the voters very unhappy with the PCs
. The party seemed to think that they had the right to govern. As a result there were advantages taken of taxpayer money. Government airplanes were used for party business. 

    Alberta is an oil rich province . We have the ugly tar sands. We have all kinds of revenue from oil resources. However, the keep taxes down lobby has influenced the government. Resource revenues have been used for yearly operations. Taxes have been kept low. So when resource revenues dry up we don't have money to pay for operating the government.

   Alberta has a cycle of boom and busts. These are deep lows and very high ups. These are frustrating patterns for taxpayers and businesses. So as a result, for the present year we have a deficit of 7 billion dollars. 

    So on Tuesday the wildest thing happened. The PCs with 73 seats were reduced to ten seats and the NDP which had 4 sets was elected with 53 seats. 

    I was happy to see the bums thrown out. People were unhappy with the bums and voted with their anger.

   I know that this is a local story and that people who do not live in Canada will not be able to understand some of the issues.

    But I just had to tell somebody. When we're unhappy with politicians we can do something about it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I could be Driving Well Past My Prime!

    I am already in the loop for elderly drivers. When I turned 75 I had to pass a medical before I could renew my license. The medical was fairly superficial and easy to pass. Eyes were checked. Blood pressure taken. A few questions were asked and check marks placed where applicable. I have epilepsy and it is controlled by medication so I can drive. With that I was given a driver's license until I turn 80.

    When I turn 80 I will only get a one year license and have to pass a medical each year to get it.

    Okay that's the ticket to keep a license when your elderly. I would like regulations  to be more stringent and have a driver's road test. In fact, I think drivers of all ages should have a road test.

    So I can see down the road that someday I may lose my driving privileges.

     But wait a minute! Technology may be riding to my rescue.

     The technology is here to have cars move in traffic without a human driver. They've been tested. 

     When computer technology can successfully be applied to drive cars, the blind will be able to drive their own cars. We know that GPS is highly accurate. The GPS could easily be voice activated and controlled. Now GPS can give you voice instructions.Cars nowadays are really just one big sensor. What's the problem with a few more sensors which will steer the car  in the right direction, read and obey all traffic signs? These cars would stay in the right lanes and sense all objects around them. These cars could even be programmed not to go over the speed limit. Drunks could get home as they wouldn't be driving the car. 

   .. and little old guys could still drive their cars long after they've lost their licenses. So once I lose my license the computer can take over for me and take me from place to place. Hey, I could even go on a long road trip. Come to think about it , they should include a sensor that indicates that the driver is still living!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Second World War Ended Seventy Years Ago

    Readers will be thinking that I'm on a roll as far as posts on war is concerned.

     A  number of things have come together at the same time to make this post more meaningful.   I was born in October of 1939 so it was a few days after the war started. I remember small bits of the war from the experience of a young child. We saw many soldiers. Our farm was near a training airport so planes flew over all day. As  a child I was very interested in planes so I stopped to watch each plane. Some of our uncles were overseas so Mom sent many parcels and I remember watching the packing of the parcels. I remember news reports and it seemed like all they said was German, German, German. We did not get what the message was. 

    After the war many people came back and the war was a common topic. Some things about the war were taught in school. There were ceremonies to mark some of the points of the war.

    As an adult I've read a few books on the Second World War. I've read a couple of biographies about Hitler. 

    Right now I'm reading a biography of Matthew Halton, who was a major war correspondent. He was also carried by the United States news. This biography covers the period before the war and some of the things that lead to the war. The major battles were covered. Halton moved across North Africa and then up Italy. Later he was there for the liberation of Paris and Holland. This has brought back many parts of the war.

    So when remembrances are made on the end of the war I  just happened to be reading about it's history. Major remembrances were made in Holland as Canadian forces were key in liberating Holland. Canadian veterans always remember the kindness of the Dutch people. 

    So I had to take a few moments and post about a major historical event as I was reading about it when the remembrances took place.

     Dispatches from the Front is a very good read. It's written by David Halton, who is the son of Matthew Halton.