Friday, October 30, 2015

You Be the Judge

      Last night we decided to go out for a burger instead of making dinner at home. I know, I know, fast food is blah, blah , blah. And I don't really like fast food.

    We went to A&W. We haven't been there for a while because the last two times we were not satisfied with the food and the place was cold.

    The Micro Manager had seen a chicken sandwich for $3.00 and was going to have it with the combo. Her bill came to about $3.50 more than she thought. She was told that the sandwich was a special and could not be used with a combo so the regular chicken sandwich price was charged. The micro manager also wanted to know if the senior discount had been applied. NO!

    So the challenge was on. The Micro Manager loves to rise for the bait on these situations. First of all coupons directly state that the special can not be combined with another special. This was not a coupon and nothing was stated in the store as to the chicken burger not being combined with another special. The place was freakin cold. It was 9 C outside and they had the air conditioner on.

   So the argument was on.  The micro Manager lost, but only for a little while.   The Micro Manager just had to phone the A&W head office. Of course, they completely agreed with all of her points. They phoned back to the local franchise operator and we heard from her and things were resolved.

    This particular A&W had been going down hill. Why does it take some customer to blow their stack before they improve things? How many customers don't notice that their bills are wrong?

    I think we have to keep thee businesses on their toes or else they rip us off. 

    Do you take these businesses to task when they play fast and loose with sales gimmicks?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Chickadees Got in the Way

      On Sunday I led a small group on a field trip on what we call the River Bend Golf Course Perimeter Trail. The main objective was birding , but anything of an interesting nature  would be fine. The trail passes through heavy old growth forest of mixed aspen and spruce. There's also a tremendous amount of brush. Although most of the time we are about 20 m ( 22 yd) we seldom see the river. So as you can guess this is excellent habitat for birds and other critters. There were very fresh moose tracks but we didn't see a moose.

     I had heard that someone had been feeding chickadees on the trail and that chickadees would come to your hand. I took some sunflower seeds in my pocket just in case. The first chickadees we found became very excited when we showed up. So I reached in my pocket for seeds and right away I had a chickadee in my hand. I had seeds in my left hand and my camera in my right hand. I'll have to get better with this technique as heads and tails were chopped off in most of my shots.

Caught in the act!

Estelle with a visitor

A good example of the brush, spruce and aspen  in the area

This old guy looks pretty excited

     So 99% of the afternoon was about chickadees.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beaver Art

    I am not the least bit artistic. Art class for me was continuous failure and I got into more trouble in Art class that all others put together. However, I like art and appreciate it. Many blogs I follow have an artistic side to them.

   We have a high population of beavers here. They take down many aspens for their winter supply of food. I've looked at the stumps that are left. I look at them as sculpture. There are many types of bite patterns on the stump. Some beavers gnaw off very large chunks. Others bite deep into the wood. Some seem to have a variety of different bites. Maybe it's more than one beaver gnawing at the tree.

    Now I've always had the idea to take one of the beaver stumps and make it into an art project. I would cut the stump off and then carefully color in each bite mark. Some would be random colors. I could make patterns. I could use the bite marks to make figures in the wood. I've thought of this for a long time but haven't done anything.

    Maybe my old friend Bobby will read this and help me with the project? More than likely he'll just do it for me.

    So the other day when I was out I found some fresh beaver activity and I had to take some photos.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Doctor Speak

  Did you ever have trouble understanding what your doctor was telling you?  It gets worse than that.

    I just finished reading "the Secret Language of Doctors" cracking the code of hospital slang.

    Dr. Brian Goldman tells all in his book about how doctors talk to each other about patients. Doctor Goldman is critical of the medical profession and claims that patients suffer from doctor slang.

    One chapter is called Status Dramaticus. This term is used to label those people who come to emergencies and are over the moon with their symptoms which may be a good part imaginary. Doctors have to decipher what's real and deal with it.

     People are labeled as cockroaches, frequent fliers and gomers. None of these terms can be helpful for patient care. Usually slang is used behind the doors of the doctor's lounge but there are times it's used in the presence of the patient.

    Another chapter is called Harpooning the whale and it deals with obese patients. Doctors don't like treating obese patients as they are very difficult to handle. He gives all kinds of examples of the difficulties obese patients present.

    Along the way there is good humor but Goldman makes it clear that slang used is definitely detrimental to patient care. Doctors have tried to find methods to curb use of slang but it's a major challenge

    Another chapter is called blocking and turfing. Sometimes a doctor doesn't want to treat a patient so finds another unsuspecting Doc to take the patient. This is turfing. Other times they are very skillful at blocking moves other doctors are trying to make. All of this has a detriment to the patient.

   Doctors have a challenge with empathy and remaining focused on the patient's symptoms and thinking of treatment. Sometimes the empathy is completely forgotten when it should be number one.

     I enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend that you read it. 

     I also like Brian Goldman's radio program White Coat, Black Art.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Wretched Election is Over

       Canada had it's federal election on Monday, Oct. 19. The campaign lasted for 79 days. Usually election campaigns run for about 35 days and that's enough..

      Now I'm quite interested in current affairs. I think I have a good knowledge and understanding of the system and how it works. I think it's most important that we have a government that serves the people well. The government should be interested in the country as a whole. Policies should be just and fair for as many people as possible.

     Prime Minister Harper's government was none of these things. Harper cheated in the last election by overspending and phoning people to tell them the wrong address for where they were to vote. Dishonest things continued. Harper continually appointed pathetically dishonest people like Senator Duffy.

    This blog has been visited by the Harper's office. I suppose they were looking for what awful things a little old man might do.

    The litany goes on. I don't want to bore you. The campaign was full of dirty tricks and lies. Harper claimed that the Liberal party would sell pot to kids and set up a brothel on every street corner. What utter lunacy!

    Harper has made himself out to be a hardliner on illegal drugs. In desperation during the last few days of the campaign he had Canada's most infamous crack addict, Rob Ford, campaigning for him. Rob Ford was the past mayor of Toronto.

    I'm happy to report that Stephen Harper was defeated in the election on Monday. Harper campaigned to divide people so that he could get a majority. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won a majority on Monday. Trudeau campaigned to have all Canadians come together as a country.

    I'm also hopeful that the rest of the world will look at us with the respect we had before Harper's mean spirited rule. Harper left the Kyoto Accord on climate change and has done nothing in this country to reduce carbon emissions.

    I can now read the paper and follow twitter and not have to see all the ridiculous claims the parties would make about each other.

    I'm hopeful that Canada will go back to being a decent country at home and abroad.

Monday, October 19, 2015


  1.      At age 75 I have much time and a lifetime of experiences to reflect upon. I have done many posts that are reflections. Many posts are a reflection on my teaching career. However, there are many other aspects of my life that I reflect upon. Try childhood, education, mistakes, youth, friends, colleagues, family. All of this is about the life I've lived.
     In my last post I referred to my Arctic experience. It's an experience that changed my life forever and I'm happy for that.

    So I was out for a walk yesterday afternoon with a few other birders and found some unexpected photo opportunities...reflections.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Taste of Meat

    Since I've recently done two posts on food , I thought I would live dangerously and do a third post on food. Now I'm not a cook. Oh yes, I can make a meals. I do breakfast and lunch every day but they are not a big challenge. I can also do dinners. Now for dinners my cooking is very ordinary...meat, potatoes and veggies and throw in a salad.

     Now the other day I was talking to my son-in-law and he asked what I was having for Thanksgiving. Now when two curious teachers are talking the subject can quickly take different directions. So Robert asked if I'd ever had duck. Well yes , but I'm not that fussy about it. How about goose he asks. Well goose is pretty greasy. So we decided duck and goose was only so so. But I know the Micro Manager's favorite meal of all time is duck in orange sauce. 

    Now that shifted the topic again. I think meat should mostly stand on it's own as far as flavor is concerned. So the orange sauce completely overwhelms the taste of duck. The duck might as well not be there and you would enjoy a nice orange sauce. Some steak is marinated to death. All you can taste is marinade and there's no meat taste.

    Now what I'm trying to say, with my limited knowledge, is that I don't like meat cooked so that the meat taste is lost or overpowered by sauces. Now I'm sure people who have much more knowledge and experience will beg to differ with my biased opinion.

   I have two meals that I won't ever forget. When we butchered on the farm we always had liver for lunch. The butchering started in the morning so by noon the liver was ready to cook. There was a little salt and pepper and it was rolled in flour. The liver was absolutely delicious. 

   When I was in the north, the Eskimo kids would bring seal liver to the house. I would always take the liver and give the kids money. The seal had been killed a few hours ago and the liver was delicious. I hate old liver that you buy in the store.

   My Mom made great jellied tongue. However, I had one meal of tongue that beat Mom's. I was hunting with an aboriginal when we killed a caribou. We started butchering right away. He took the tongue out and cut it into thin strips. He used sticks to hold the meat beside the fire and we continued butchering. When the tongue was ready, we stopped and ate it.. Was it delicious! No salt or pepper. Just meat. 

   The next thing he put on the fire was strips of heart. The same thing happened. It was delicious.

   These are two foods I will never forget. I will never forget the taste.

    Oh I forgot about the frozen fish. The Eskimo eat fro
zen uncooked fish. The fish is cut in small cubes. It's delicious..just like candy!

   So my point is that we should enjoy the flavor of the meat rather than the flavor of the sauce. Can you taste the meat in chili? Sorry to all those people who have super chili recipes.

   Okay, what's your preference in how meat is done? What things do you really like?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Daughter Gets Her American Citizenship

     My daughter moved to Chicago in 2008. She obtained a green card as she had a position with a large company. She was working in human resources where they produced training programs for just about anything the large company needed. You get a green card for one year and then it has to be renewed. If the company wants you and you have special skills your green card is renewed. At some point in time the green card becomes permanent. 

    So after gaining permanent residence and putting in a few more years you can apply for citizenship. More hoops. There's a test. You have to demonstrate your competency in English. The English is a joke for my daughter as English was her best subject and she's an avid reader. They didn't complete the English test or they may have been tested. Oh yes, she also speaks French.

    The final day comes and you are told where to meet. They take your green card away and you enter the auditorium and the procedure takes place and in a short time it's all over and there are 141 more Americans.

     There were 141 people becoming citizens at this event. Three of them were Canadians. 

     She was very happy to receive citizenship as it simplifies many things in her life.

     Oh yes, she married an American during this time.

The important piece of paper!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Meal

    We are used to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We still have a traditional meal. We don't have a turkey as it's about 5 times too much for us. We've found that turkey breasts are marketed and are about the right size. So I'll show you my plate and you can see what we had for the Thanksgiving feast.

     Now I know I wouldn't get much for presentation on this plate, but it was really tasty! I didn't go back for seconds because at this age I don't have that kind of appetite anymore.

    I know that many people do not have a special dinner and if they do have a dinner it's far from the traditional. If it's still nice,  many people will barbecue. I've had alternate dinners and although they are good, I prefer the traditional foods.

   How about you? Do you skip the traditional dinner? Do you have your dinner at a restaurant? Do you have an alternative kind of dinner or do you have the standard dinner? 

    I hope all Canadians have had a very good Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

     I wish to say Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadian followers, but I also want to say more than that.

    So , not wanting to show my tremendous ignorance about Thanksgiving, I decided to do some research. Wow! Did I learn a few things.

    Thanksgiving has a very long history. It's gone through many changes, but the basic sentiments are still there.

    Our Thanksgiving originates from European harvest festivals. Since most of the population at that time were farmers, they were very thankful for a good crop and once it was harvested they celebrated. I would guess that the harvest festival goes much further than Europeans.

     The first North American Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Arctic explorer, Martin Frobisher somewhere around Baffin Island.

     Canadians drew upon their European roots for Thanksgiving celebrations. Dates of celebration were different in each region. The dates also change. In 1957 the Canadian government set Thanksgiving to be noted on the second Monday of October. Since that time Thanksgiving has become commercialized and has very little to do with being thankful for a good crop. We are making an effort to stop and note what we are thankful for. Churches do celebrate Thanksgiving.

     Why the difference in dates between Canadian and American dates?  Probably our harvest is complete before the American harvest. Our weather deteriorates earlier so we set the date earlier so that we have better weather for activities.

     Today we had a high of 20 C (69 F) so it's very pleasant. So yes, I'm thankful for very pleasant weather. Many times it can be very unpleasant with cold and snow.

    I am thankful for many things on a personal level. However, I would like to be thankful for many changes around the world but that doesn't seem to be happening. We have a major refugee problem which only seems to be getting worse.

    So folks, have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Birds:Michael Obrien Wetland

    Well, somebody asked if I saw any birds at the Michael Obrien Wetland. Some readers realized that this was a birding trip. So here's the report.

    Now we did the walk from 2:00PM to 4:00 Pm. Now that's not a very good time of day to find birds. Birds are quite inactive in the afternoon. But that's the time people wanted to go so off we went. 

    I'm getting you prepared for this one!

    Now I got photos of ducks ...shovellers and blue winged teal. The were only three ducks in the whole wetlands. Ducks have not begun their  flocking and preparation for migration. I didn't get any other bird photos.

   After that I saw, crows, magpies, blue jays, eastern king bird, black capped chickadees and a marsh wren. The marsh wren is a lifer for me. I'd never seen a marsh wren before. The marsh wren gave us a challenge as it kept under cover of riparian vegetation. The eastern king bird gave us two looks of about 7 seconds total. So there were challenges but that's what we go out for.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Reflections

     On Sunday I not only got some brilliant colors but some reflections. Some of the reflections are a little fuzzy. 

     As I was leaving a little breeze tarted and put a ripple on the water. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

...and I Still Have Great Fall Colors

    Yesterday I took some people to a local wetlands for two hours of birding. I was surprised  to still find brilliant fall colors. Usually our leaves do not hang on for long. This fall the leaves turned color and have stayed on the tree. This morning was our first hard frost... minus 5 C ( 24 F). The leaves were rapidly falling this morning. It's a good thing I was out yesterday afternoon.
The Michael Obrien Wetland is a man made wetland. Riparian plants have been planted on the edges of the series of ponds. Other trees have been planted on the area so it makes a first class park area right in town. The objective of this wetland is to treat some of the street run off so that the water is in better condition when it is returned to the river.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

On American Robins

    This morning I watched hundreds of robins whirling through my district. It was plus 2 C (36 F) and very windy. They were not flying south but spending time eating berries left on trees. 

    Last Sunday afternoon when I was at Heritage Ranch there were again hundreds of robins in the area. They were flying with abandon and eating saskatoons, chokecherries and whatever else they could find. It was at this time that we found the pileated woodpeckers. I also took photos of robins at that time but they were so poor I deleted them.
Pileated woodpecker

   I have noticed some time ago that some people are reporting that their robins had flown south. That got me thinking. Robins nest into the Arctic. It will take them a long time to get to me in Central Alberta. In the high country, mountain meadows above the treeline, the robin is a common nester. The Arctic and mountain robins nest nest on the ground. 

    I'm wondering if the mountain robins come down from the mountains and visit me for a few weeks? I wonder how many of these birds are Arctic robins?

   These birds have frosty breasts with just a hint of color showing through. The black is also much duller.

    I've also said many times that I've seen robins in every month of the year in Central Alberta. 

   So there must be tough robins and wimpy robins. There seems to be a wide pattern in their fall migration. I don't notice this in the spring.

   No matter what , I'm enjoying these joyful robins who are passing through in this October.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More Blogger Mumblings

     I recently did a post on blogging that got away on me. I was interested in two bloggers who were making some serious attempts to change their blogs. Sometimes we need to change to rejuvenate and get out of a rut.

    I have some things that I would like to change on my blog and named them and why I would change them. I also went out on the limb to ask people what they liked and what suggestions they would make about my blog. There were no great surprises and it's always nice to reaffirm what is going on. There were many suggestions. I now know how to live dangerously when I want to change my blog. I have to set up another blog and use it for experimenting.

   Now when you ask for opinions you risk hearing some things you might not want to hear and some things that are just plane wrong. All of your comments were great.

   I then reflected on being able to ask for judgements.

   As a teacher , I went through many evaluations. In the 50's and 60's we had one visit a year from the superintendent. It was a terrifying visit. We didn't know what he was looking for and I don't think he did either. I had one superintendent who was most helpful.

   As time went on teacher evaluation changes. Specific skills were looked for. We were trained to use these skills and when an evaluator came to your classroom you knew exactly what he was looking for.

   Evaluation expanded. Principals and vice principals visited the classroom so we had 4 or more visits per year. Not all of these visits were formal.

  I was a department head and I also did classroom visits.

   I also had many student teachers and had to evaluate them. This evaluation was a pain because of the way the evaluation form was set up. Having student teachers was always a good experience.

   So it wasn't hard for me to ask for opinions and I'm glad I asked as I learned some things and certainly had things reaffirmed.