Sunday, February 28, 2016

Back into My Archives Again

     This post is not seasonal or on my usual variety of topics. 

     This post will be historical and biographical. And I can hear people saying , "Oh here goes for another story again!"

     I was a middle school teacher who taught 37 years between 1958 and 1997. For  a number of years I was assigned an outdoor education class. This meant teaching about weather, clothing, foods, safety, maps... Of course, we would do a couple of field trips to put things into practice.

     Now my teaching partner and I liked to find good places for a trip. We'd driven by Windy Point Ridge for a few years and always looked up at it. So one weekend we decided to go up Windy Point Ridge and check it out.  So these photos are from our first trip up the ridge to the peak. Now here's the history. These photos are from 1992. And yes, the area is still as beautiful as ever.

    Going up the side of the bare rock ridge is steep. 75% of the time you can walk but at other times it's scrambling. (using hands)

    The ridge is made up of three peaks and a couple of buckles joining the peaks.

     To gain the highest peak we had to go around the back of it and it was an easy walk to the top. The cliff face was about 500 ft.
Crossing a buckle

Keep on moving

The top of the cliff is the orange rock in the front of the photo

Will this guy ever get to the top?

Going behind the peak to get to the top

My turn to be on the peak

Down below is Windy point and the highway. 

My partner on the edge of the cliff we could see on the way up.

Scrambling Can you see the road beside the water?

There's a small cairn at the top

Well, after all that effort we decided that this was not a very good place to take middle school kids but we had a lot of fun climbing up the ridge..

Friday, February 26, 2016

This book Surprised Me

     I like to read a book that really surprises me by how good it turns out to be. A book was lent to me by a friend why highly recommended it. It was one of those local history biography stories with narrow interest and a small number that were published. I'm interested in local history but it has to have some relation to me or important  events in the history of the area.

      Jack Kates wrote the story of his life while growing up in a small Saskatchewan village during the thirties and forties. The setting makes this story fairly precise. Most people won't have heard of Saskatchewan.

      Well, Jack Kates pulled this off. He wrote a fascinating tale of growing up and the fun he had along the way. This experience shaped him to become a successful man in his field.

       In the early 1900's many Jewish people ran small general stores. Half of the villages had a business owned by Jewish people.

     Jack's family had a small general store in Sheho Saskatchewan. This was a miserable way to make a living. The business was small and credit was given to the customers. Payment of suppliers was difficult. They had a cow, some chickens and grew a vegetable garden. They also picked wild fruit. They survived the many hardships. Things improved for the family during the forties.

      Jack's childhood activities are many. His teenage years and worries are like any other teenager.

     Jack's Jewish faith played an important part in his life and that's what made the book for me. Jack describes his daily life following Jewish religious traditions. They ate kosher food. They celebrated all the Jewish holy times. He describes his bar mitzvah.  the family struggled to maintain contact with the few Jewish people scattered over a wide area.I was familiar with the Jewish faith as I'd read many other books which has Jewish characters. This description was a humorous and laid back and easy to understand..

     And there was a small connection to me in Jack's story. His cousin had a store next to my home town and directed a very competent community band. Jack had also been a friend of one of the best dentists I ever had.

     My wife also read this book. We read in bed and she has the annoying habit of laughing out loud at funny things in a story. She did a lot a of laughing when she read this story.

    Now I won't go out on a limb and recommend that everybody read this book. It's focus is just too narrow for many people to get a feeling of the setting and lifestyle. I just want you to know that this book surprised me and that I really liked it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Troubling Trump

       First of all a caveat. I'm a Canadian. I feel making comments on Trump is not really my business. But here goes.

       In Canada , we've just finished 10 years with Stephen Harper. It was ten years of mean, nasty, ignorant bumbling. Harper reduced taxes, cut the budget, laid off staff, cut programs. These things were not successful in improving the Canadian economy. We had large deficits for nine years until just before he lost the election.

     Harper insisted on meddling with justice. He wanted longer sentences and fuller jails. In fact, he overcrowded prisons which leads to more problems. Many of his laws were not upheld by the supreme court. Harper did not meet with premiers or any other group such as indigenous groups. Harper passed a law to retroactively protect the RCMP from being charged with a criminal offense. Many government staff and departments were barred from speaking about their work. Our scientists were muzzled and Harper did not believe in science based evidence.

     On foreign matters Harper was cheap and did not aid those who needed it. Harper liked to take his cap gun and stand with American forces somehow thinking that this would make him look big. Harper took us out of the Kyoto Accord...the only country in the world to do so. The world wondered what had happened to Canadians.

     Harper told the American President that the  pipeline decision was a no brainer. What a way to insult someone.

     These are all bozo moves. It was embarrassing.

     Now for Donald  S. Trump. Trump is a train wreck about to happen. If his ranting is any indication, the world is not going to like what he may do. Fences? Are there not a 100 different solutions to the problem of illegal migrants? Does a fence correct all the different problems with illegal migrants. 

     Trump's understanding of world religions is completely lacking except when it comes to going after voters. The guy claims to be a born again Christian and that's alright. It's his choice and conviction. With his understanding of world religions, I wonder if he understands Christianity? 

     With all the bombast of the campaign it seems that all countries will be treated with utter disrespect when the mood hits him. The guy's erratic. 

     The comment, "I could shoot people and they'd still vote for me" is scary. It sends a cold, threatening  message to Trump's neighbors.

     There seems to be very little offered about the nitty gritty daily operation of a country. Smart assed comments and instant reactionary rants don't get things done.

     We've just gone through 10 years of buffoonery. I wouldn't want anybody to go through what we've just finished with.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A New Breathalyzer Test

  Again I was listening to a radio interview on quirks and Quarks and heard about a new use for a breathalyzer. 

     The medical researchers have always tried to diagnose cancer as early as possible as there's a better chance for successful treatment. Much research has been done and there's lots more to do. Under certain conditions cancer is diagnosed earlier but there's a long way to go..

     This post fits in with a post I did on Jan. 13 , 2016,    about dogs being used to identify cancer. The researchers I heard about this morning are trying to develop a breathalyzer test to identify cancer. Yes, you blow in a breathalyzer and certain chemicals from different cancers can be identified. They can identify breast cancer with up to 99% accuracy. Dr. Charlene Bayer from Georgia Tech research institute is leading this research. That's much better than some of the invasive tests that are presently used. They still cannot identify a stage one cancer which is the goal for early detection..

     It's one of the technologies that is promising for early cancer identification. They also use a breathalyzer for diabetes. They also use a temporary tattoo to test blood sugar for diabetes instead of drawing blood to test the blood sugar. Moisture on the skin can be used to measure blood sugar. The tattoo is not presently approved for use but it works.

    I'm not sure what stage my mother's breast cancer was in when she was diagnosed in 1973, but she lived less than a year after diagnosis.

    I hope that this research does prove to be successful to identify cancers at a much earlier stage. 

the family home where Mom was boss

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How's You're Spring Equinox Coming?

      60 days ago we were in the gloomy time of winter solstice. It was dark, cold and dismal. It seemed like it would never brighten up. We kept telling ourselves that things would get better from the low point of the winter solstice but barely believing it.

     Today  I checked the length of day and it was a very nice surprise.

      On the winter solstice the sun rose at 8:43 and set at 4:23 for 7 hours and 39 minutes of sun.

      I checked on Jan. 21 and found sunrise at 8:32 and sunset at 4:59 for 8 hours and 27 minutes of sun.

      Today I checked and the sun rose at 7:42 and set at 5:55 for 10 hours and 13 min of sun.

       So our day has increased by 2 hours and 34 minutes since the winter solstice! Does this make me feel better? You better believe it. We not only get more light but light from a higher angle so there's more power from the sun. 

       I think I can make it to the spring equinox. 

       How about you? Has your spring arrived or are you still hoping for spring to arrive.

This photo is from Dec.20 and taken about 2:00PM

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Making a Connection

      I get a lot of satisfaction when I can make a connection with two different things and discover something about both. It doesn't happen very often but when it does it's cool. 

     Yesterday Teri at Coloring Outside the Lines  had a photo of an old beat up green door. Well it happens that I remember a good song from the 1950' the Green Door. I liked the music but didn't listen too closely to the lyrics. The blogger made reference to green door being code for a speak easy. That twigged something and I remembered more of the lyrics..."the old piano behind the green door". "What's that secret you're keepin?"

    So it all came back. The singer was not allowed behind the green door but wanted to get behind the green door and enjoy the fun.

     I think speakeasies were from the prohibition era so these were illegal establishments for selling booze.

    Now the song was a 1956 hit for Jim Lowe. (Anybody remember him?) (I don't either and I liked the song)       The song was written by Marvin Moore and the music was composed by Bob Davie. Many performers recorded the Green door and had some success, but   Jim Lowe had the most success. You still hear it sometimes.

      So how many of you golden oldies remember this song?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Not All BackPacking Trips are the Same.

      Since I've been digging through my archives I've found some evidence of my backpacking trips. Not all trips are the same.

     I backpacked out of Canada only once and that was to Montana which is the state just bordering Alberta on the south.

    My friend wanted to do a trip to the southeastern part of Montana. He wanted to climb Flinch mountain which is a 9200 ft pyramidal peak. Montana doesn't have much for foothills so you can stand on a mountain or ridge and look far out into the flatlands of Montana.  The ridge we walked was bare, arid and open. The return trip was about 10 km ( 6 mi)

    We arrived in the area about 2 PM which gave us time to do a hike to the edge of the mountain and look out over Montana. It was a very hot dry day so it was tough going and the water went down quickly. We reached our goal, took the mandatory photo, had a rest and returned. Were we dry when we returned!

    The next day we planned to climb Flinch Peak. It was a long walk with a gradual incline. The last couple of kms were steep and the last 15 m (50ft.) of elevation was cliff like.

    Long before we got close to the peak , we ran out of water. Why did we run out of water? Where we hiked there were streams rushing down the mountain every 500 meters( 1600ft) so we could replenish our water anytime. We made the decision to go back. We rested before starting back. A lone female hiker came by and she was on her way back and had lots of water. She kindly gave us lots of water so we were able to finish.

    Now from the photo you will see that the last part of the peak seems to be a cliff. There was no trail. There was a nice chimney so I shinnied up the 50 ft. I was going to step out of the chimney on top. When I stuck my head over the edge there was nothing but space. There was a 2 ft ridge and there was no way I was going to stand up on that thing. By the time I got down my friend had found a very simple way to walk to the  top! The top being less than  1/2 acre of flat ground.

     We celebrated our climb with some photos and a break. We signed the register on the mountain top and started back. The views from Flinch peak were breathtaking in all directions.

    The return is always a long tiring walk. We did meet a rather scary hiker who was going out. We met and passed and never spoke a word.

    The campsite was in a valley lined with a 1000 ft cliff face that was a couple of miles long. All night you could hear pebbles, rocks and once or twice huge boulders that dropped off the cliff face and rolled to the ground. It's a good thing the campsite was 500- 1000 m away from the cliff.

    So, it was a great trip but a little different than our  usual trips.

Beautiful Flinch peak

The top gets steep

Old Man Lake

A rest on the peak with background scenery
Looking out over Montana to the east.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Yesterday a Tear Came to my Eye

       Now there are certain things that can bring a tear to my eye. I don't look at it as a bother or a weakness. Sometimes a situation overwhelms me and a tear or two fall. Yesterday something happened that brought a tear.

      As you know I spent 5 years in the Arctic and I've often said it was a life changing experience. I left the Arctic in 1969 but it's always remained close to me so I've read widely and gained much more insight about the people and the land. Experiences that happened long ago suddenly take on more meaning or a different meaning.

     In all too many cases the Inuit were moved without their consent or awareness as to what was happening. The part I was involved in was moving children 1000's of miles away from their homes so that they could go to a residential school. Communities were moved to where the white man wanted to build a town. Families were moved to isolated areas because the white man thought there was better hunting and trapping in an area. Many Inuit were brought south for medical reasons and some died and were not returned to their loved ones . More than that it seemed that records of these people were lost. In my settlement a toddler was murdered and the body taken to the south for a coroner's inquest. A year later one of the leaders asked me where the baby's body was. I couldn't tell him. I did refer him to those responsible and I'm not sure what he found.

    Before the 1900's Inuit were taken on trading and exploring ships as workers or pilots. Sometimes these people were taken back to their homes and many times they were just dropped off before the vessel returned to Europe.

    Yesterday, I listened to a radio interview about Inuit who were taken to France and exhibited as if they were in a Zoo. People payed to see an Esquimaux. Inuit today remember these people and continue to feel the loss of family and ancestors. At one point in the interview the Inuk was unable to continue and tell the feelings of his loss. There was a TV documentary on this event on the Nature of T

    The interview continued and at the end the inuk said "nakuriik" Which is thankyou. That is when the tear dropped. To hear the language again from an inuktitut speaker brought back so much of what I had experienced.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Found My Archive

       A former student of mine (who reads this blog) has a long history of involvement with city archives. He started volunteering in the small archive dept. while he was in high school. So you can guess that his university degree was in history and he made his specialty local history.

      When his degree was finished he came back to his home town and guess what? He set up the archives dept in this town. He has been the city archivist since about 1976. What an archivist! He has set up a system that collects, catalogues and stores a wide variety of city material. Minutes from many local organizations are sent to the archives and kept. I taught at the same school for 28 years and had 24 or 25 school yearbooks. At this stage in my life I wanted to get rid of some of my treasures and I decided that I was finished with the yearbooks.. I didn't want to recycle my yearbooks so I asked the archivist if he could use them. Yes , he certainly would like them so off my yearbooks went to the archivist. 

     Now this guy is not just an archivist but an avid interest in local history. In fact, his interest is so keen that he has written books on our city's local history.  The local history books sell like hotcakes. He has  a weekly newspaper column on some aspect of our history.

    Now in the process of scanning photos I've found my  archives. Many photos remind me of events from many years ago in my life. I found photos to remind me of hiking and backpacking. There were many photos taken at school and somebody very carefully gave me any photos I happened to be in. There are many photos of those goofy   dress up days. Many candid shots were taken of me in the classroom or staffroom.

    I found very ancient photos of my childhood. I found things on my young adult life although those happened to be sporadic. And then the most precious photos were those of my kids when they were growing up. Today I got to the high school graduation photos.

    So I've found my archive and I wish they were as well organized as if our city archivist had cared for them.

This is something I was really good at!


Monday, February 8, 2016

I Had to Learn Something

     Recently I had to learn something and I found out I have much more to learn. 

     If you've been following me , you know that I have been mumbling about scanning photos for some time. So in January 2016 I was ready or so I thought. I have been looking at how things are done and what options there may be.  I wanted to be able to send all the photos to my kids as they are photos of them. So I have about 20 years of photos to scan and send. 

     So one of the first things I learned is that the photos I've been looking at for 40 years are not that great. The old cameras didn't take that great of photo. Sometimes they got lucky and everything was perfect. Photographers (me) didn't know much, so light was the last of things I considered. My wife always had some shake in the photo. Many photos we didn't take. Many photos were of high quality and reproduce well. School photos done be a professional turn out very well.

    I did not intend to scan all photos and I've found I've deleted many I scanned.

    I wanted to be able to put a caption on each photo. I wrote about this one before. 

    I had been given lots of advice. Make sure the photo surface is clean. I haven't learned that one yet. I can't see the dust so I go sailing on and guess what, the scanner picks up the dust. Keep your photos square. I'm pretty good at that one.

   I've had to do a lot of experimenting. You can set your scanner and then you can do more with the computer.  Some photos can be reproduced with a reasonable quality. Other photos, I can't do much with.

    So as I go along I learn more. What happens if I click on this? Oh, that's what happens! That makes a big difference. Today I clicked on a sun that's half shaded. I found it adjusted shadow and gave a much sharper image.

    Now there's also the issue of practice. Things improve as I move along. 

    I've sent some photos to the victims and they are very pleased with them. My son commented that they are "awesome."

   So guess what? With all I've learned, I've gone back and done many batches of photos over again
Must have been Hawaii Day at school!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Hissy Fit

      Hissy fit was a term originally applied to adults who had a tantrum. Today it is a more general term and applied to all ages. I hate to see hissy fits period. It doesn't matter what age has a tantrum it's a very sad performance. People become very irrational and don't listen to anyone or anything. 

     So the other day I had to deal with a hissy fit.

     I'm the administrator of a small face book page for the Red Deer River Naturalists. The page was set up as an exchange of information and photos on anything to do with natural history. There are now close to 2000 excellent photos on the page. It's a closed group so you have to be approved by the administrator. Wow! We don't want hookers any other sales people.  So keep it to the topic.

     Yesterday, an information piece  comparing the Alberta Tar Sands to Mordor was posted. Somebody got in a flap and claimed this post wasn't suitable for the face book page. Very quickly others piled on this person and defended the Tars Sands piece.

     The complainant reported the post to the!  What do I do? There's a big bar across the page saying that there was a complaint about a post. I didn't want this negative info on the front page.

     So I had to wade into the rhubarb which is dangerous. Everybody can sometimes end up piling on you.

     The big bad bar remained. How do I get rid of it? If you click on the bar you will be given three choices. One is to get rid of the bar.

     Most times when an inappropriate comment is made people will ignore it. I'm not sure why it wasn't ignored yesterday and why it blew up.

    Today it's all quiet on the Red Deer River Naturalist's face book page.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Eat Yer Heart Out DJan

       DJan has two very well written blogs: DJan-ity and Eye on the Edge.  DJan-ity tells about her physical activities to keep healthy and physically fit. Eye on the Edge deals with a heavier deeper  issue of where she came from, what she was and what she's going to be before she dies. Both blogs are interesting and well worth following. 

       DJan lives in the coastal mountains in the northwest corner of Washington state. It's a beautiful place to be outdoors. Each Thursday, without fail, Djan goes for a hike with 10-15 other seniors. Each Thursday there is a vivid account of the hike. I find out how long the hike was, how much altitude was involved , trail and weather conditions and social interactions along the way. Photographs are always included.

      Now I admit I get a tad envious of her hiking activity as at one time I was a hiker backpacker. I have lived every experience she has lived . I love the great outdoors.

     I live about 120 km(80mi) from the Canadian Rockies. The Rockies were my hiking and backpacking territory. I taught outdoor ed. and took many school classes to the Rockies where we backpacked, snow shoed or skied.

    I also went with friends on more strenuous trips.

     I've been scanning photos and found some of my backpacking activities. That's why this post is aimed at DJan. Most of my hiking was done well above the treeline which to me is the best area to be. The meadows are carpeted with flowers. Ground nesting birds are abundant

    The photos are from a four day trip over Jonas Pass in Jasper National Park , Alberta. The hike is about 72 km(45 mi). So off we go with 50 lb packs that carry food, clothing, tent and sleeping bags. It's back country and any facilities are primitive.

     Many people are familiar with the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park.  Jonas Pass takes you through the next valley east of gorgeous Athabaska pass(Columbia Glacier). The Icefield's Highway was built in the 30's. It wasn't built before that as the Columbia Glacier filled the whole valley and you couldn't put a road through a glacier. Horse traffic went through Jonas Pass. Nowadays 10 - 15 hikers a year go over Jonas pass following the old horse trails.

    The trip I took was in the first week of July. The 2 or 3 km over the Pass were completely snow covered. There were areas where snow had drifted and the snow bank was 10 m (30 ft) deep.

    Any backpack trip I've ever taken , I would do over in a heart beat. This was a great one.

I don't know where this creek was coming from but we had to wade across it.

That big deep snow bank

Watching a small herd of mountain caribou in the valley below.

There were many large boulder fields to cross.

The exact top of the pass

Moving toward the pass through the snow field
One of the 2 or 3 primitive bridges

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mr. Smarty Pants Gets Caught

     Now I make it well known that I am fairly active for my age...not super active but active. I think I am on the edge of bragging about it or outright bragging. I skate, ski and cycle. I do all my own maintenance.

     Well yesterday things came to a screeching halt. I fell and broke my collar bone! Yes me!

      I thought I go out and ski for half an hour yesterday afternoon. At the end of my driveway there was ice under a little new snow . I didn't see it so down I went.

     My ski boots are made of a hard plastic type material. I know they're slippery on ice so I'm always careful but I guess not careful enough.
     I got up quickly hoping that I wasn't seen...a little vanity. For  split second I thought I'd continue on my way skiing. Things really didn't hurt much. I went in the house to check and nothing seemed out of place but I decided not to ski.

     Between 5 and 6 the pain really set in. I could hardly change clothes to go to emergency. 

     I got to emergency at six PM and home by midnight. Then I still had to do dishes!

    I've been given a sling to wear for a month and exercises to do.

   I'm looking forward to this month! Well, not really! That's it for skating and skiing for me this year!

   So guys who show off get caught once in awhile!