Sunday, May 31, 2020


   Most of you know that I am a birder. I do Christmas and spring bird counts. I've done the Christmas count over 40 times and all in the same area.

    Yesterday was a very good count day for me. I saw more than 18 species. Well, how do you know that? At this time of year there are many warblers here. They are hard to spot among all the fresh green foliage. I can recognize one warbler species by sound. There were several warbler calls that I could not recognize nor find them. There were also some sparrows that fly up quickly from a patch of brush and just as quickly settle in another patch of brush. So there were probably 5 or 6 more species that I couldn't identify. So I consider that I had a very good count.

    The count started off well before I ever left my yard, I heard a flock of Canada geese. They were quite high up and flying directly north. So that was easy. 

    On my way home in the afternoon I stopped on my favorite walking bridge to rest and also watch for birds.

     Here I am on the bridge watching for birds , but the photo is at least 20 years ago.

    A woman came along with a very attractive spaniel. We got talking about dogs birds and other things. We had been talking about 15 minutes when in one part of the conversation she said she was brought up in one of the nearby houses. Since I've lived in the same area for 50 years I would probably know her family so I asked who her family was. Yes, I knew them well. So she told me she was J. Now , I said you know me. Do you know who I am? Of course, she didn't have a clue since she hadn't seen me for about 40 years. So I introduced myself. 

    I had taught J and her brother and sisters.

   So now the conversation really got started. It was great to meet J and recall old times.

   Did I also tell you that I like meeting old students.?

Friday, May 29, 2020


    Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Covid 19 isn't over yet and may never be over.

    But I can't help thinking about what people are going to say once this is over.

    They are still writing about the flu from 1919. Research is still being done on that epidemic. 

   After this catastrophe , if there is an after, what will people be saying?

   Will they ever come up with an answer as to where and why the virus started?Right now we are flooded with conspiracy theories that usually come with a fair amount of racism. Science will have its work cut out for many years and they may not come up with a precise answer. I hope they learn many other things as they're trying to chase down an answer.

   Commentators and writers will find work for themselves for a long, long time dealing with how the virus was handled.

    Was quarantine effective? Did quarantine start too late? Should there have been a much tighter shut down? Were masks effective? Was the two meter space effective? Did santitizers do any good? What simple routine did we miss that would have been very helpful? We will be reading books about this issue for a long time.

    How have our governments handled this as far as the economy is concerned? Was it the right thing to close down business?  Did the government propping up the economy help us to come out of the situation? Did economists get it right in forecasting the future? I'm sure comparisons will be made between the different approaches to support the economy. 

    Politics? Politicians? What will be said of their actions. 

   Blame? Who will be blamed for so many things.?

   So even though we're not there yet , I'm sure that some books are well under way and we will probably have some books to read before the end of the summer. Somebody will want to be the first with a book to come out. 

   Some of this will no doubt bring much benefit to the situation and other things will only muddy the waters. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


     The prominent  news lately is "opening up " concerning Covid 19. The opinions are sharply divided. Opening up means having to live by a strict set of rules. However, watching things on the weekend shows that many people are not willing to live by any guidelines. The news showed parks and beaches that were crowded on the weekend.

    I'm of the opinion that we should wait for  things to begin to open up. If we fail in opening up, I think the cost will be tremendous. We will have to close down for a long period of time again. Costs would be added to what we have already spent to fight the virus. 

   So here's my situation. I lead a bird watching group. Spring is an excellent time for birdwatchers with migration and breeding season. We've been missing this excellent time for bird watching.

    So what should I do? Our small city of 100000 has had 37 covid cases. One is still active and no one has died. It's easy to think that there is little risk out there. But we don't know how many cases are out there that we don't know about.
We are allowed groups up to 50 if spaced by 2 meters.

    We decided to not open up our bird watching season. We decided that we couldn't maintain a constant 2 meter distance. Also half of our birders are in the senior classification and one in the eighties (me) . Many times there are six heads close together looking at photos or bird apps. Try getting birders to not have their heads together. Good luck.

    It was a hard decision to make as the activity is outside . However , I would find it tough to take if one if the birders caught the virus from being out birding.

Time for a group photo
Where are all the other birders?
See , heads together

Chickadees come to the hand
Otis the owl who is used for educational purposes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


     I discovered YouTube three or four years ago. I still haven't really discovered how it works but I've found many very interesting things. Some of the things I've blundered into have been a complete surprise and I sometimes say, "How did Youtube know I liked or wanted that."

     Okay, here's what happened. I like to look for things in music that I haven't heard before. So I do some searching. Something comes up and that leads to something else and suddenly there's a whole lot of surprising sites just waiting for you.

    Some of the bands I've listened to lately have an accordion.  So I checked out accordion and found a few sites and listened to them.

    All of a sudden I was surrounded by music that I had seldom heard. The sites youtube gave me were Austrian folk music videos. So there were many videos featuring people doing Austrian folk music. The singers and dancers were in traditional costume. Settings were mostly in the Alps with some concert halls and street scenes. Bands were quite different but feature several instruments. So the most common instrument was the accordion. I didn't know that there were so many types of accordions. Then other instruments were guitar, violin, the odd percussion, harp, a few horns. There were a few instruments that I had never seen before. These were put together for many different sounds. It looked like a few people got together as friends. If there were three accordions well that's fine. Most of it included singing. It appeared that most of these performances were amateurs.

     Many of these groups were kids.

    It was all very lively and joyous.

    So I'm listening to music that I've rarely listened to and it's most enjoyable.

    Find some of these sites and give a listen.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


      This weekend is a long weekend in Canada, At one time it was called Victoria Day weekend where it was meant to celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday.  Now Queen Victoria died long before I was born so that makes it a long time ago. Now we simply call it the May long weekend. 

      It's the first long weekend in Canada when we can actually get outside and enjoy activities. So it's the first weekend of camping.

     At one time in my life, the May long weekend was one that we made sure we were out. Now many times there is very inclement weather for this weekend. When I was younger we tented. With my little kids we had a small holiday trailer. I have camped in the snow on a May long weekend...more than once! Camping became a little loonier than I wanted to experience...much alcohol and partying. So the May Long Weekend camping experience in campgrounds ended.

     We then latched on to a piece of recreational property and spent some pleasant  May weekends weekends in our patch of trees by the lake. There were some good times but when the kids grew up and left , we gave up the camping.

    Now there are two unforgettable May long weekends for me. First, I got married on May 21, 1966 which that year was a long weekend. Second, the next year, 1967,  May weekend , we had to go camping. So we took our tent and camping gear and headed to a northern lake and campground. We'd never been to Grieg  lake before. When we got there we were impressed by the beauty and quietness. In fact, it was so quiet that we were the only campers. The weather was perfect for a long weekend. The lake was about 2 mi long and half a mile wide. We rented a canoe and had a great time on the lake. For the whole weekend we were the only campers. 

   That was the best long May weekend camping that I ever had.


Thursday, May 14, 2020


      It's time to comment on Little Richard before much more time goes by.

      I was aware of Little Richard when he was very popular. I wasn't a fan but who could avoid Little Richard when he was at the top of his game. 

     I was always aware if the influence Little Richard had on music. He not only influenced rock but other genres like blues, folk , jazz...  Little Richard was very much outside the box and those people influence. They make you listen and see other ways of performing.

    What I didn't know was how unstable Little Richard's private life was. His home and family were somewhat bazare with inconsistencies. His father did not treat Little Richard nicely.

    Little Richard's life had its ups and downs and then some great changes.

    Little Richard liked singing in churches when he was young. He went back and forth in his life from church to church and at one time he was a minister. I'm sure you wouldn't have gone to sleep in his church. In between bouts of religion he found time to involve himself with too much booze and drugs. After about 10 years he was able to clean himself up. Oh yes , throw in a marriage and a few relationships.

    Little Richard lived a long and active life. He was influential. Love him or hate him he changed things.

Monday, May 11, 2020


    So "Don't You Hate it When" brought another product issue to my mind. So I thought let's get this one out in the open.

    Now , I'm 80 years old and I'm in good shape as far as the age is concerned. My eyes are not like they were when I was 18 but they're still good enough to get by. Small print is another rant but that will have to wait.

    What I really dislike is the pattern of putting the front of many products in black. They do it in cars. The dashboard is completely black! When I bought my car there was only one color that didn't have a black dashboard. So as well as having  a black dashboard , the writing is small and it seems like the dash is down by your feet.

     Now I have an Asus computer and the front of it is black. It is down at the level of my feet as that's where the shelf is on my computer desk. So I have to back my chair up a bit and bend down to find a USB port. At night , I have my handy flashlight to find things. I also use my flashlight in the car.

   So you can see that it's hard to see anything on my computer.

   Another one? Do they make stereos any color but black. Again the flashlight comes in handy to find stuff on the stereo. 

    So here's my old stereo..  all black.

    So other things that are black: toaster oven, radios, boom box!

    I'll bet none of you have thess problems!

Friday, May 8, 2020


    Don't you hate it when you have a container and you can't get all of the material out?

    I was reminded of that this morning. My nutella was just about gone. I took a scraper to get most of the nutella out. Well the bottom was such a funny shape that lots of nutella was left in the jar. I know that the nutella jar has a large flat side so that the name can be large and recognizable, but  why did the bottom have to have a weird shape.

Nutella Spread 1 kg, 2-count

   Another container that I really dislike is a jar of applesauce. The sides of the jar are ridged. No matter how hard you try, much applesauce is left in the container.

    Why can't somebody design a jar that would make it very easy to get all the material out?

   How about you. Is not being able to easily get out the last material a concern or does it just not matter?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


      About ten years ago I took over a bird watching group that had fallen apart. No one wanted to organize anymore. I spent much of my time wandering around the area bird watching or watching many other things. So I said to myself, " It's my time to lead a bird watching group." My first session brought out only one person. Things improved after that. I soon learned how to publicize things. We had bird watching activities on our web site.

     There are quite a few excellent birding areas within the city. We go out of town to visit half a dozen sites. One of them is the Ellis bird Farm.

    When I started the only thing people brought with them were binoculars. I carried a bird book in my backpack. We had fun but didn't find a lot of birds.

    Tony is checking on his bird app.

    As time went on a few people showed up with some high end cameras. They also turned out to be excellent photographers. Now we usually got a few excellent photos of the bird that was hard to see and just a quickly flew away. So there we were with a photo. We could look at the bird as long as we wanted. We had evidence and took as much time as needed to make an identification.

   Then people started showing up with an app on their phone which was better than a bird book. One could see several photos, watch the bird fly and listen to a call.

    So in ten years bird watching changed a great deal. Bird watching is still fun, maybe more fun, as we get to identify more birds.

    Now covid -19 has prevented us from going out as a group. Birders are bad for getting in a close group to look at pictures in order to identify what was seen. So what to do about bird watching. Well, one of our birders suggested that people go out on their own and report their sightings and photos to our facebook page. It was a roaring success. People went to different areas and reported many sightings. It's a good way to watch birds but since birders are such a social group we are just waiting to go back out as a group.

    Notice Ariane in the middle looking at photos . Then there's someone behind ariane with a humungous lens.


    This is one of my favorites. some wise guy said there's a bird. I wonder what it is. In about a minute Gary told us it's flight # and its going from Germany to LA. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020


      I have written about my experiences at being a reluctant handyman. I don't like mechanical things. I'm not good at mechanical things. I still don't know which way to turn the wrench and I never will. I just experiment and if the nut moves Ok it's going to come off . If the nut doesn't move well then I'm turning the wrong direction.

    Well, my latest experience  was to  change the motor on my central vacuum system.

    When the vacuum quits running the first thing to discover is why it won't run. I leave the diagnosis up to the micro manager. She found out that the motor had to be replaced. Then comes the shopping to get a motor.

    Now we're in business. Take the machine apart and instal the new motor. Well not so fast. Be careful when taking things apart so that you know how to put it back together. I took a couple of wires off that I didn't have to. There is a hood over the motor that has to be taken off so that you can get at the motor . Inside the hood are three wires that have to be taken off. I made sure that I labeled the wires and where they should be reconnected. Oh and don't forget to take the exhaust pipe off the motor. And don't forget to turn the power off. Oops that should have been done a few steps ago.

   Now I found out that I was missing two parts. I needed a gasket to go  on top of the motor and a clip to go on an electrical wire.

   The whole machine is very dirty as carbon comes off the motor so there was some cleaning , lots of cleaning. Those first two wires I took off? I had a tough time to get them back on. They were in behind and at eye level. You couldn't look on the top of them.

    Well after a few checks and lots of cleaning, the Micro Manager says, "Let's see if it works" Well what do you know. It was fixed.

    Why do I go through this torture? Tradesmen are so awful that we will do many things to avoid them. At one time I had an excellent plumber but my experience is not the same with other tradesmen.

    Also , today Buttons at Buttons Thoughts wrote about all the good things about being a handyman. I enjoyed her post.