Sunday, September 30, 2018


Image result for typewriter
Photo from the Internet

      Now I used to know what qwerty was. Today , I was reminded about what qwerty is. I didn't really need to know what it is again.

     Most of us have wondered about the arrangement of keys on a keyboard and why they are arranged in that order. I posted on it a long time ago. In the qwerty arrangement all the other keys are arranged around qwerty.

    Typewriters were invented in the 1870's. There were a variety of keyboard make ups tried. One inventor tried having the letters in alphabetical order.  The problem with most patterns was that keys that were often used were close to one another and so there was much jamming of keys. Somebody by the name of Mr Sholes spent about five years trying to develop a key board so that there would be a minimum of keys jamming.

     This pattern gradually became the pattern used on all keyboards,

     Well, the old typewriter has been obsolete for many years. My wife just sold her manual typewriter to an antique store this summer. With electronic key boards we don't have to worry about jamming keys. Will we get a new keyboard pattern? Somebody is probably working on a new pattern right now.

    Wait a minute. Don't they have voice "typing". Just say what you want and it's printed!

    Just think, you won't have to put up with all my typing mistakes. I make lots of mistakes and some of you are good at seeing them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


     Today and old pal of mine turns 81! Well, maybe I should say relative. Our mother's were cousins.

     As kids , we lived on adjacent farms. We went to the same school. We went to the same Sunday school. As little guys we often played together. Cal was creative so things were interesting.

      Cal is second on the right in the back row. I'm to the left of the teacher's head. Aren't we sweet little innocent guys?

     When we got to be teenagers things got very interesting. Being of a very rural background we learned to drive at an early age. I drove the '29 Chev before we got the '50 truck.

    So long before we had driver's licenses we would "tear around." In other words we took somebody's car and drove around all evening and night. Needless to say these adventures became wilder and wilder.

    I left the district in 1957 but came back for long weekends. Call was away from time to time on various jobs. In 1962 Cal left for California and has stayed there. Cal comes back to the farm from time to time but I've never been able to be there when he comes.

    We've kept in contact but usually from other people.

    Years go by quickly.

     Today I noticed he's 81? How could that be?   It's hard to realize that someone is 81 years old.  When we last saw each other in the early 60's  we were carefree and careless.

      So the best thing I can tell him is life begins at 80 so he's well on his way.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


      Yes, we had another good dump of snow last night. We got about 7 -8 cm ( 5 in). I got up several times in the night to see heavy snowfall. 

      The snow is quite wet so some large tree branches broke off trees.

       It's been about minus 2 C ( 28 F)  all day .

      So all in all it was a very dull day.

  Lilac leaves holding snow

Lilac bush loaded with snow

  Mountain ash

Car loaded with snow

The large poplar across the street

Friday, September 21, 2018


     I wrote my last post because I had just heard an explanation about something I'd been curious about for many years. As I said before, I had listened to a radio interview of Carolyn Anderson , head of African American studies at Emory . She gave information as to how the African American vote has been suppressed.

    Now I hope I didn't come across as a smart ass on the last post. The "mouse" Canada has a few tricks if it's own when it comes to voter suppression. The most common operation is gerrymandering. Our constituency boundaries have to be adjusted governed by terms of the elections act.  That's when the fun begins. Parties know the exact location of where their votes come from. So why not get the new constituency boundary to corral in these votes into one constituency.  The parties have in put into the redrawing of boundaries.

     People can be easily discouraged from voting. All of their reasons are wrong. Some people are convinced that their vote won't count. Well, having worked in elections I know that all votes are counted. People think their vote only counts if the party wins. It doesn't work that way. 2017 was the first time my candidate and party of choice won. I still feel that all my other votes mattered.

    In our last election many people were told to go to the wrong poll. Several of our politicians have done some jail time over this trick when they were caught.

    So the mouse is not innocent of dirty tricks. We just have to keep participating and make sure that elections are fair and just. With the electronic age it's become easier than every for outsiders to influence an election. I think we'll find that many elections have been tampered with by the Russians.

    So let's keep our noses in current affairs and remain well informed so that government will work like it's supposed to work.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018


     I live in Canada . You know who my neighbor is. We have a saying that we are like a mouse sleeping beside an elephant. If the elephant rolls the wrong way it's game over for the mouse.

     The U.S. has been a good neighbor since the war of 1812. President Trump has given us cause to worry about our relationship.

     But this isn't where this post was supposed to go. I have always been interested in the American people and their government. I have tried to understand how their system of government works.

    One thing has always puzzled me. Why is the African American vote so low? What exactly does voter suppression mean? Do the African Americans have nothing to gain by voting.? Would they not have some power if they voted as a block?

     Today I found out.

    I have heard all these terms used before but their meaning escaped me until I listened to an interview today.

    There are many laws that have been passed which very efficiently prevent African Americans from registering to vote.  I've heard the term poll tax but had no idea what it meant or what it did. Pay to vote? That was news to me. Of course, many people don't have the money to pay a poll tax and why should you have to pay money to vote ? So many African Americans did not vote. Now here's a kicker. If you didn't pay your poll tax it accumulated. So later on you ended up with a large tax bill because you didn't vote. Nuts!

    Various eligibility laws were passed. African Americans were neatly cut off at the pass because they had the poor schools and school systems so could not pass the eligibility test. 

    Another trick was to demand identification like a drivers licence. Many African Americans didn't have driver's licences. Well, get one you say. Problem? They had to drive 50 miles to a licensing bureau.

    So over the years there has always been roadblocks set up to limit African Americans from registering to vote.

    So today I came to understand why African Americans don't register to vote and then go out and vote. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018


    I've been watching the progress and madness  of hurricane Florence. There is a tremendous amount of fear and uncertainty. They're not sure where the storm is going and what it might do next.

    It must be terrifying to go through this ordeal knowing that you are completely out of control. 

    36 inches of rain in three days? Unimaginable! 3 inches of rain per hour? Where would it go? 

     If I make some comparisons of where I live you will understand why it's difficult for me to understand about that much rain.

     Here we have annual precipitation of 12 - 14 inches per year. With the type of crops we grow and the method of farming we use we are a very productive agricultural area. 

    Our subsoil is clay and it goes down a long way before we hit rock. You know that water doesn't go through clay. Very little of our precipitation goes into the subsoil. This area is flat. Water comes down and it can't really go anyplace. Very little drainage takes place and what does take place is very slow. 

     We have had years with more than 20 inches of rain. It gets incredibly wet and in some areas very little crop can be planted.

     So I realize that the people under Florence's grip are suffering and will suffer much hardship. We can only wish that the ordeal comes to an end and that people can then put their lives back together.

Behind the sign you see a lush crop of grain.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


     You can't say I wasn't warned. Snow has been in the forecast for a few days.  Last night it snowed and this morning we woke up to 3 -4 cm on the ground. Other places got more snow. It was minus 4 C (24 -25 F).

     It's not unusual for us to get a Sept. snowstorm. It can clear up nicely and we get pleasant fall weather.

     Our gardens and plants? They have been finished for a while . They are still green but are not functioning .  This will fix the green for this year.

          Now I worry about the people facing hurricane Florence. I wish them safety.   I will keep my snow anytime and not complain about it.

Monday, September 10, 2018


     For six months of the year I lead a Saturday morning bird watching group. We pick a spot in town or a short way out of town and spend two hours seeing what bird life is out there. I have 25 people who participate and from 10  to 15 attend each Saturday.

     The group is mixed with a few elderly and then most others are of working age. It's surprising when new people show up and say they've always birded but wanted to bird with a group. Most of the time they are excellent birders.

      Saturday , Sept 8 we went to a location called Nova Nature Trail.

     We have several large petrochemical plants here , one of them being Nova. Nova was built in the seventies and has expanded several times since. Now when large plants are made they buy a lot of land near them. They rent it back to the farmers.

     That's where the Nova Nature Trail comes in. The 255  acres was probably rented out for pasture. The company decided to make the land into a nature trail. They've done an excellent job. There are 10 to 15 km of trails The habitat varies from grass to brush to trees and  riparian.  There is a sleepy little stream the goes through the property. Beavers like this so the dams make some excellent wetlands.

     Saturday was cloudy, a bit windy and 14 C. Nine of us went out and had a great time. We found 24 bird species The garter snake that one of us nearly stepped on was and extra.

     The following photos were taken by Lynette Asselstine  Braun.
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Off we go

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   Look in there!
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The great blue heron surprised us and then came back to have a look at us.
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A grove of aspen
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 A general view of the area. The company has build great trails and walk ways near the wetlands.
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   With many sets of eyes and some very competent birders we can find quite a few species

Friday, September 7, 2018


     Fall bird migration can be a very active time for birders let alone the birds. We are at 52 degrees latitude so there's a lot of territory north of us. We have one of the largest boreal forests north of us. The Arctic tundra and islands are also north of us, so with our local birds and those passing through, fall migration can be interesting if you're watching.

     What this post is about is the migrating birds in my yard and those in the neighborhood.

      This morning was a busy morning. Robins are in rough flocks. They are crazy. They chase one another at break neck speed. Once in a while one hits my window. Most of these are birds of the year and the red breast is frosted as we say. The red is quite dull and and more gray.

      Also this morning the Brewer's blackbirds were around in abundance. There are large flocks of mixed Brewers, rustys and grackles. This morning they helped themselves to the feeder and bird bath. Blackbirds seem to spend only a few days and then they are gone.

      There were a few chipping sparrows.

      Now I was so busy I didn't notice crows. There are very large flocks of the 1000's.

      There were smaller birds flying higher...above tree tops and I couldn't recognize them. They may have been vesper sparrows.

      Just when all this activity ended a flock of 11 geese flew over. Migrating geese can go through until Christmas. They just keep coming from the north.

      Now there are resident birds in the yard too. Chickadees, nuthatches woodpeckers, flickers and blue jays also visited this morning. 

     Since I was in the house I didn't take any photos. To be honest, I was so busy I didn't even think of a camera. Here are some photos from other years.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


      As most of you know I was a teacher  for 37 years all at the middle school level. I retired in 1997...21 years ago.

      Today public schools opened for business and welcomed all the customers.

      Do I feel a pang of excitement or loss at this time? Not really. The first year it seemed funny to be not going back.

      However , I do have memories of school opening time. As a student the first day of school was always exciting. We got to go back and play with kids. I'm not sure where the education part came in. I don't remember my first day of school. I had been to the school many times as  preschoolers  were invited for different days. Church and Sunday School were held in the school.

    My kids on a school starting day

One of my new gr 7 classes.

      Now the first day of school was much different when you were a teacher. I went back to the school for the last ten days of August to get ready for the year. You know...get the room set up, find the text books, make up unit plans, make up a yearly plan plan with other staff. This took time out of my summer but I always thought it was well worth it to be ready at the first day of school opening.

 I told you getting textbooks sorted out

     Now the first day of school was always exciting as the kids came back and they were swinging from the lights. I don't think it was excitement about seeing me or getting an education. They were excited about seeing each other and comparing all the classes they were in to see who they were with. Then they started to scheme and go to the office to get classes changed so they could be with their friends.

      The complete home home.

     Well another school opening has come and gone and I'm not really missing it.

     We live on a street that leads directly to the school. Usually there is a lot of traffic in the morning and afternoon when kids go to school. This morning there wasn't much for traffic. I wondered why? Later it hit me. There's road construction and the parents had to take a detour so they couldn't drive down my street.

Saturday, September 1, 2018


       As many of you know I'm an avid cyclist. I've ridden about 45000 km since I started keeping track of the mileage.

      The crazy cyclist in 2008!

       When I first started riding, I put the pedal to the metal and rode as fast and far as I could. I did not stop on any of my rides. I didn't need to stop for a breather. I do remember one time when I had to stop. I ran over somebody's dog in an off leash park that the bike trail passed through.. I thought I'm in big trouble...angry dog owner and more. The dog owners just laughed and apologized  and said they had a very energetic untrained dog and that he got what he deserved.

      I have always said hi to people on the trail.

      The last few years I have slowed down and stopped at a bench for a breather. What I found is that some of the local residents stopped at the same bench so I got to know some people: a retired air force guy, retired RCMP, a lady who's had a major stroke and a lady with three dogs and a stroller for them. 

      This summer I met a woman who is going into a masters program. She worked for thirty years, retired and went back to school. She's an interesting character.

     Then there's my friend John. I taught with John and I knew he was an avid cyclist but when he retired he really surprised me. John has ridden to the tip of South America, through Greece and Italy, Israel, and India. He's done all these trips solo! 

      We have a young librarian who is super friendly and helps seniors with computers. She's taught me a lot. Yesterday she told me,"You know that I've known you all my life." She said , " My folks live in your subdivision and all the time I was growing up we saw this cyclist with the yellow helmet go by our house. We commented that the guy with the yellow helmet must be very dedicated. " She said , "The other day I discovered the dedicated cyclist with the yellow helmet was you!" As you can imagine we had a good laugh.

     So the social contact from cycling has been great and sometimes surprising.