Thursday, December 31, 2009

Settling In

The photo was taken on Christmas Day. We had my Dad in for the day and here he is modeling the new sweater he got, only one of many gifts. He told me later that he really enjoyed the day and he was very appreciative. He also told me something I was wanting to hear, and that is that he was ready to go 'home', meaning his new home, the care facility. I was greatly relieved to hear that as it could have been not so.
Today (Tues.) one of my sisters and I had our first evaluation meeting with representatives of the various staff that are involved with his care. It was a congenial meeting where all the issues and various aspects of his care were put on the table. The long and short of it was that all is going very well and the few minor concerns we have will be addressed. He is displaying a deterioration in his memory and we are more convinced than ever that he is where he should be. We are all so very grateful for the kind and considerate care he is receiving. He is content and our minds are at ease. He is actually doing better now than several years ago, except for his dementia. The transition from independent living, to hospital, to care home, has been a bit stressful, but is now behind us and in retrospect, we can see God's hand in it. He knew what we needed and he delivered. We are truly grateful!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Working for 'The Man'

If you were a Vancouver City Councilor, you gave yourself a raise on Christmas Eve. How nice, when you have the power to take other people's money and give it to yourself, legally, without asking permission.
I can remember a time when working for the government was not the highest paying job in town and there was a bit more reality in the name "Civil Servant". But let's take a look at how well the servants are doing these days.

Joel Bowman writes: "Data from Cato Institute of Federal Pay Vs Private (i.e. taxpayers) shows federal pay and benefits in 2008 of $119,982 vs. $59,909 private industry. Twice as high! And, the gap is growing fast. A decade ago, the average federal civilian employee earned 66% more in wages and benefits than the average private taxpayer. Today, it is double. In 2009 Federal Government budget for wages is up 3%, while private employees are losing their jobs and pay is being reduced. And, state and local town employees are paid about 35% more than private taxpayers."Is that fair for taxpayers to be supporting Federal pay double their own?" the reader goes on to ask. "The federal employees are now the elite, upper class - like in Russia. It is the reason why Washington and suburbs are the highest priced housing in the country. Right now most people in USA do not know about the high government pay. But, they need to be told!"

And, according to a USA Today article, this: "Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months - and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted."Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time - in pay and hiring - during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector."The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available."When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000."

You might ask how on the earth the government is intending to pay down its escalating debt when they not only pay their people so extravagantly, but keep adding more of them to the payroll? The answer is that they do not. Rampant socialism needs government to be big and then bigger. How else will they control every aspect of your life? This money has to come from some where. This debt has to be paid. It will come in the form of more printed money and escalating inflation. I remember the raging inflation of the early eighties when a mortgage was going for 21% interest. Can you see our younger generation making their mortgage payments with rates like that? That is when people walk away from their homes like so many folks in the US are doing now, but for much different reasons.

Debt is a useful tool, at times, but one must never wallow in it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Like Being There

I do not go to as many movies as I once did, but the friends we were with the other day suggested we go see "Avatar". They were quite excited about it, could not stop talking about it, and were definitely going to see it again. So I saw it last night, on a big screen and in 3D. After sitting through 1/2 hour of commercials, and 15 minute of 'Coming Attractions', the main event finally started. A big graphic comes on the screen telling the viewer that now is the time to put on the 3D glasses. From the opening scene I was completely hooked and was magically transported to another world, another planet, and to the purest form of virtual reality and escapism I had ever experienced.
Apparently the producer, Cameron, the same guy who made the movie "Titanic" invented a new 3D technology just for this movie and I must say that there were many a time when I was swatting flies from right in front of my face or ducking the arrows that were coming straight for me.
This movie gets you three ways. The 3D effect is stunning and puts you right into the scene. The story line is quite good and has all the elements of a well told tale. And finally, the artistic imagination and renderings are out of this world and in a word, spectacular. The planet on which the story takes place is the most beautiful and imaginative place man could conceive. It is not cartoonish in the least as everything is 100% realistic. The animals, trees, insects, and strange plants are all out of some one's vivid imagination, but you feel you could reach out and touch them.
The only downside is that like so many movies, there are subtle political and quasi religious undertones that relate to the here and now, even though the movie takes place on another planet way in the future. But everyone seems to have an axe to grind and a movie producer will do it through his art.
Ignore that and sit back and enjoy a true spectacle.
And do not forget to re-mortgage your house if you want popcorn and a drink with that.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Boxing Day

We had two of my sisters and their gangs in on Boxing day for dinner and games, in the evening. Here is Ron, my brother-in-law, letting all those cabbage roles settle.
Clinton, a friend staying at my sister's, over ate like the rest of us and is feeling the effects.

Bruce, Jamie's husband, is showing off his prize that he won in the 'White Elephant' game.

My niece, Jamie, is going to be a mommy for the first time, in March.

Andrew, niece Kristin, and sister Carla, taking a break from the game called "Things". Now that was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, not all photos turn out well. It is not my fault nor my camera's fault. When the subject has a goofy look on their face, or food in their mouth, or eyes half shut, out of respect for their dignity, and out of a sense of self preservation, I do not post them. As a result, there are some people missing who were actually there. There were other cameras there so I may be able to fill in the blanks at a later date.

Christmas Round Four/Birthday

It was a beautiful clear day as we drove to Vancouver. We went in Opa's Rav 4 but Andrew drove. It was a tight fit, but we stayed warm that way.
The basement of the church that was rented was just the right size and had all the amenities we needed including a place to lock up all the ankle biters. :) Here, Lis and sister-in-law Margaret are helping with the lighting of the big beautiful birthday cake. We nixed the idea of having eighty candles even though there was a fire fighter in the crowd. The cake was deeelicious!

Here the birthday girl is mustering up enough wind to blow out the candles. I wonder what her wish was.

This is not a ladies quartet. These gals represented four different Omas. A question was asked and each one would give a different answer. Then we were supposed to guess which one was the real Oma. In spite of several trick questions, we all guessed the right one, but learned a few things in the process.

Almost all siblings, spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren were there, but there was also this couple who were special guests. Gerhard ( giving a tribute with his wife Louise at his side) is a nephew of Oma's, her favourite nephew. And, he claims she is his favourite aunt. This is a convenient arrangement that guarantees they get to go to each others parties.
The food was great, and it is always wonderful getting to see everyone in the extended family. Not only have all the little kids grown a few inches from last year, but there was a batch of new ones, including a set of twins! After a few fun games, each of the six children of Oma gave a tribute to their mom. There were many kind words of love and respect, and many funny memories. Oma is not one to draw attention to herself so it was so good to see her graciously accepting the fact that she was in the limelight this time. She was presented with a book in which each and every person in the family had created a special page of photos and words to honour her. I am sure she will spend many hours studying it.
She is still energetic and very sharp at eighty. I think there will be many more birthday parties for her.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Door Issues

We were fully confident that the window and door project would be behind us by now. The first day saw smooth sailing as the guys removed and installed 15 windows. The next day, they finished the windows and installed the kitchen and basement entry doors. They brought along, but did not install the rather large patio sliding door. It was the wrong size and the wrong type. Then, as I emerged from the remaining warm spot in the house, I noticed that the newly installed kitchen door was two inches short. Yes, they knew as they were installing it, but thought they could doctor it. They couldn't, and besides, I insisted they remove it and put in a correctly fitting door. They re-ordered the door but left the shorty in place so our house would be secure and somewhat weather proof.
On the third day, they brought and installed the massive front door with its beveled glass window and sidelights. I was looking at it and observing how different it looked in construction from the other two. I checked my contract and confirmed that I had ordered and paid extra for fibreglass doors, not steel doors. There was no question that the front door was fibreglass, but the other two were steel. How does one prove this besides whacking it with a hammer to see if it will dent? Easy. Get a magnet. The little fridge magnet stuck to the two smaller doors but not the main entry door. I pointed this out to the foreman, who looked perplexed. He called his boss and relayed the information that the fibreglass doors are steel with a fibreglass skin. I did not say anything but wondered why the magnet did not stick to the front door. My plan is to go to the local building supply store where they sell Masonite doors and make some inquiries.
This story will continue.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Round Three

What would our Christmas Eve be like without these three guys? Dull and boring come to mind. Of course, we would make the best of it and claim to have had a wonderful time, not knowing what might have been had these guys been in our lives.

It does not get more entertaining than watching 15 month old Liam opening his first Christmas gift. Actually, he was at the fire hall a few days ago and got to open a gift there so he had a general idea of what to do. His mom commented that she might finally have a son who would keep his room clean and tidy, when we observed him putting every little piece of wrapping paper in a garbage bag before revelling in what was under the wrapping. The excitement, curiosity, wonderment, and exuberance was a pure joy to watch. He catches on very quickly to the various knobs, buttons and levers, and very quickly determines which ones enable his favourite noise, music, or action.
We are truly grateful to have such a wonderful family and to have them close enough so sharing birthdays, Christmas, and any other excuse to get together, is very easy.
We were all together both Christmas Eve and later on Christmas Day. We also had my aging father for dinner and the evening on the 25th. Everything went well and now we are gearing up for round three. Busylizzy has the gift of hospitality and she is not happy unless she is entertaining and cooking for gangs of people on a regular basis, so, today my two sisters and the whole family of one of them will be the beneficiaries of all the efforts.
Then, tomorrow, it is round four. More on that later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Depending who you are and where you are at in life, 'Christmas Eve' can mean very different things.
A child living in a stable and well to do family: Excitement and anticipation.
A child living in poverty and a broken home: Shame and disappointment.
A homeless person: Alienation and depression
A Pastor: Nervousness and joy.
Successful Mom and Dad: Generosity and pride.
Mom and Dad down on their luck: Embarrassment and dread.
The party goer: Exuberance and frivolity.
The deadbeat parent: Remorse and regret.
The retail businessman: Fatigue and anxiousness.
You? Fill in the blank.
"Light of the world, He came down into darkness" In all circumstances, for all people, for all times. May you keep your eyes on the 'Light' this Christmas and always.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Here We Go Again

Can "spin" create a new reality, or will the "spin" prove to be a cruel joke? I am talking about all the news these days that the economic recession/depression is over and the recovery, although shaky, is underway.
I am borrowing the above chart to help point out what I have been saying all along, and that is that we are still 'in for it'. Although Canada is somewhat immune from the above scenario, the USA and its economy influence our own economy more than we would like.
It is estimated that 80% of these mortgages are negatively amortizing, which means that the option that was chosen for the re-set date was the option of paying a token amount on the mortgage and the remaining balance of the mortgage is amortized. With house prices still falling because of continuing foreclosures and a mortgage rate increase a certainty due to coming inflation, these mortgage holders will soon see payments way beyond what they can afford. It seems too, that losing one's job in the USA today is almost a certainty that there is a foreclosure in the immediate future. The credit bubble has not yet finished bursting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Windows at Last

I like my new windows but this one has a slight defect.
I am sitting at my desk with my monitor off to one side, a rat's nest of cables in front of me, and a mouse cord interfering with my typing. That is because I cannot organise my desk back to its former condition until 'the boys' return tomorrow to trim and caulk the inside of my new window in my office, and of course clean it. I was amazed that three men were able to replace 17 old aluminum single glazed windows with new vinyl, double glazed, energy star rated windows in only 6 hours! What is left is a rather large living room window, a sliding patio door, a main front entry door with side lights, a rear basement door, and the back kitchen door that leads to the patio. Their scheduler gave them 4 days to do the task. Do you not think I should be getting a discount?
Regardless, the windows are a vast improvement in efficiency, appearance, and sound proofing and so far, we are very happy with them.
This morning the house was cold, to say the least, with gaping holes letting in the cold December air. I ran out to do an errand and while I was out I happened to be near a travel agency, so I wandered in, looking for trouble. I found it and ten minutes later I had a nice warm vacation booked. What? Did you think that now because our house will be nice and warm that we are going to hang around here all winter? Funny thing was, I phoned a friend as the trip was being booked and a few seconds later, he gave the agent his credit card number and now it seems we have company!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Bit of Heat in the Midst of Winter

Our little town is all grown up now that we have an arena that can accommodate an AHL (American Hockey League) franchise. This is the league that is comprised of 'farm teams' for the NHL. Our own "Heat" is the training ground for the Calgary Flames. The players are one step away from the big leagues and the fat paychecks so they are motivated to work hard and put out their best effort every time they play.
We took in a game tonight (Sunday) for the first time. It was an early Christmas present from me to all my sons and grandsons. I was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of hockey. It was fast-paced, highly skilled, and a bit rough and chippy which always makes the game more competitive. We were at ice level and it was in our faces. No binoculars required here! And, the icing on the cake was the win.
A good pizza feed and a good hockey game. What more could a bunch of guys ask for?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The climate change conference in Copenhagen has been in the news almost everyday and perhaps now we can move on to other things. But first, one last kick at the cat, so to speak.
My news email notification this morning (Saturday) read: " A new global climate deal has been approved at the UN climate summit in Denmark.The so-called Copenhagen Accord offers money to developing nations to help them fight global warming. However, the deal is not binding, and does not set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
It is a very telling statement. The majority of the delegates at this conference were socialist left leaning folks and they have seen this new industry as an ideal platform for destabilizing capitalism, giving government more control, and re-distributing the wealth of the world. Can you believe for one minute that a carbon reduction grant to the Prime Minister of Uganda is going to help reduce green house gases?
The sad part is that our youth are being brainwashed in school, the media is almost 100% on board, and dissenters are not being allowed to voice their opinions. Don't be fooled by this. There has never been consensus on the fundamental issues, not even within the IPCC. There is still much disagreement among the leading scientists of the world about 1. The data regarding the premise that the world is warming ("Climategate" showed us that there is a concerted attempt to cook the books on this most basic of tenets of climate change) 2. The big question of whether or not man plays any roll in the changes the climate goes through. 3. If we do effect the climate, to what extent? 4. What really is a greenhouse gas? 5. The end result of warming. 6. What are the solutions, if man is really responsible.
Dialogue in all 6 of these areas is discouraged! Can you believe that the potentially greatest threat to mankind of all time is not allowed to be discussed?
My thinking is that it is an elaborate hoax that is working beyond Maurice Strong's, Al Gore's and David Suzuki's wildest imaginations. My prediction is that in 5 to 10 years, it will fall apart and be seen as the one of the greatest lies ever perpetrated on mankind. Because the motivations are so varied, there have been many special interest groups jumping on the band wagon, hoping that their agenda will be fulfilled. (Greens, socialists, greedy entrepreneurs, and even anarchists)
And finally, oh the sweet irony again! Yesterday, as Obama was returning to Washington from the conference, there was a severe snowstorm hitting the capital. He could not take his gas guzzling helicopter to the White House, but had to use the slippery icy roads. I sincerely hope it gave him pause for some thought and some common sense, but I doubt it. He is "one of the above".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hundreds Gather to Protest Global Warming

Dontcha' Love It?

Didn't we just have a conference on how to save ourselves from a planet that is overheating??

This, on this morning's news.

Meanwhile, subzero temperatures shut down the Eurostar train service between Britain and France, overnight, stranding 2,000 travellers in the tunnel under the English Channel.
Passengers finally arrived in London 10 hours late after being stuck on board trains overnight with no heat or electricity and dwindling supplies of food and water. Many of them were evacuated on foot through tunnels, while diesel trains pushed the Eurostar trains back into stations. Train service is suspended and the service isn't expected to resume for a few days.
Hundreds of flights for Saturday and Sunday have been cancelled across Europe due to expected overnight snowstorms.
Up to 30 per cent of flights scheduled to depart from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris have been cancelled, and Montenegro's main airport near Podgorica was completely closed due to snow and reduced visibility.
Britons were cleaning up from a rare snowfall which left up to 15 cm of snow on the ground Friday. England usually sees wet winters, and rarely gets snow.

Oh The Irony!

A climate agreement in Copenhagen is not an easy thing to achieve. Months of talks and negotiations have preceded the conference on climate change, and now the leaders of the most important countries in the world are weighing in, and still, there is no agreement in sight. Hilary Clinton is putting $1 Trillion on the table to influence the weather. Government can achieve great things, but can they really bring us better weather? "Today's moderately warm and dry day brought to you by the US government" is not a headline you will ever read.
The 16,000 attendees at the conference were not able to generate enough hot air to prevent 4 inches of snow and below freezing temperatures in Copenhagen, which, by the way, has not had a white Christmas in 14 years. My friend Michael, in England sent me a photo of the snow they had yesterday, extremely rare for this time of year. It is snowing in Paris today, and I can't help but think that God is snubbing his nose at all these brilliant people who think they can control his creation.
But, I am sure that Al Gore would tell you that cooling is part of warming.

Update: Late today an agreement was arrived at. Basically, it is an agreement to re-distribute the wealth of the world. It has little to do with climate change. Will China, for example, be transparent in its attempts to cut carbon emissions? Highly doubtful. There will be cap and trade and carbon credits so in effect there will not only be a re-distribution of the wealth of the world, but also a re-distribution of the carbon of the world, not a reduction. These people need to read some of the literature on the facts and fallacy of what a green house gas really is and whether carbon dioxide fits the description. It is picked on because it is something that involves every one's life and can be controlled through price. Ultimately, we will lose our freedom over it. And the climate will continue to change.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Never Too Late?

A final post about the glasses.
It was our last job of the year. No more need for the new glasses until 2010. My eyes again were crossed and the makeshift glasses were falling off of my face. I was getting used to the strange stares at what I was calling my Christmas Glasses, all held together and around my neck with bright red and green string. It was a dark day and there was little light in the house in spite of our more than 1000 watts of lighting power. I felt I was going blind and had no motivation to continue working into the New Year. 'Retirement' was all I could think about.
And then the cell phone rang.
The new glasses were in. I had already put the old ones in my pocket and was wearing my progressives in preparation for the drive home. Did they put a rush on them? My complaining was not that bitter!
On the way home, I got to Abbey Eye Care just before closing. The new glasses were fitted and I tried them out for the right focal distance. They were light, nice fitting, and the vision I had. Oh, the clarity and the sharp focus! I was ecstatic. They needed no adjusting and just before I left, I asked the 'fitter' if he wanted to see what I was wearing the last few days. I pulled the tangled mess of crooked arms, paint spattered lenses and red and green string from my shirt pocket and lay them down on the table. He burst out laughing.
I was happy to make his day, because he made mine. Now I can put the new work glasses away until the New Year.
Oh, and the old work glasses? Straight in the garbage where they should have gone months ago.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cross and Cross Eyed

I told you about my glasses. The pair for work got taped up with electrical tape first, and when that did not work, masking tape. Because they would not fold for placement in my pocket, I needed a string to hang them around my neck. We found a fluorescent red cord meant for just such a thing, but the plastic loops were too loose so we cinched up the loops with green thread. I call them my Christmas Glasses but they were to last only for today.
Good thing too because one arm had no tension in it so the glasses sat lop-sided on my head and I felt cross eyed all day. Whenever I took them off, the room got blurry and started spinning. And I am working like this?
The Optical Center did not call like they said they would, so I called them. Apparently somebody lied to me because there is no way they could arrive by today, or even tomorrow. In fact, they will not be here until next week. I have never lied to a customer to get their business so no I am both cross and cross eyed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On The Edge

I have blogged in the past about my former self, specifically in regards to my temper. Today I was on the edge of having that old behaviour bubble through the veneer of calm and control I was trying hard to maintain.
It started in August when I was asked to do a small job for a prestigious construction company. I had worked for them several times in the past and had no doubt that it would work out fine this time too. They build high end homes in the finest area of town and this was a custom house for a 'very particular' customer. Between then and now, I have made eleven trips to the job site. It should have been done in two. Each trip is 40 minutes and 28 kilometers there and back. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Not a single trouble was my fault, in fact the customer gave me a very nice compliment today regarding my workmanship. The blunders by others, and in particular, the paranoia of the customer, conspired against me and today I almost 'lost it'.
I take pride in the customer service and friendly demeanor that I go out of my way to provide. But, on my tenth trip this afternoon, just pulling off the freeway on my way home, my cell phone rang and it was HER. I promptly turned around and drove straight back up the mountain. I was seething and I was planning words to the effect that she will not take her house with her when she dies (and I could help her do that right now) and that she should get a life beyond her obsession with her house. Even as I rang the perfect doorbell beside the perfect door with the perfect Christmas wreath, I was tempted to turn around, get back in my truck and just leave before I did or said something I would be forever sorry for.
And then I remembered a short conversation that took place a while ago. She asked me if I went to church and where. She did not, but we did know someone in common who had attended there, so she was familiar with my church. I immediately got hold of myself and realised that I was being an ambassador for any Christian that she might meet in the future.
And when she came to the door, I had a smile on my face, and it was not entirely fake. I was now in a competition to see who would break first. And it was not going to be me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What's The Score?

I read a statistical report the other day put out by Cybercast News Services. I will not editorialize but merely state the numbers. Draw you own conclusions.

Since April of 2009, 114 children have died from H1N1. During that same period of time 700,000 children have died from abortion.

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Jail But Not

When I was 15 years old, I went to an evangelistic meeting in my home town of Lanigan Saskatchewan. It was held in the largest venue for miles around, the town hall, which was a block away from the house in which I grew up. The hall was full of people every night for a week and the preacher was very persuasive. I felt convicted and went 'forward' one evening, during the 'altar call'. There was a councilor waiting there for each one who came to the front and we were then taken to a quiet place somewhere in the hall, where we could be counseled in the decision we had just made. I was led to the basement, toward the back, where there was a jail cell. It was the town jail where the drunks were thrown to sober up. I knew it was there but had never seen it before and it left an indelible impression on me, as I sat right in front of it, and I can see it in my mind's eye even today.
Flash forward.
Sunday night we were helping with serving of refreshments at our evangelistic Christmas outreach at our church. An elderly man approached my coffee station and wanted to chat. He was from Saskatchewan, visiting a daughter. I asked where he lived and told him I knew his town because I also came from Saskatchewan. He asked where, and when I said Lanigan, he lit up. Then he told me how he and his dad were trucking and their rig broke down in Lanigan. They had no money for a hotel, so went to the Town Office and asked if there was a bed somewhere they could sleep on. They were led to the jail cell, the very one I sat a few feet from, on that fateful night. He told me it was the only time he had ever been in jail. He was astounded to know that I had sat only a few feet from the very cot he slept on, those many years ago.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Key Issues

Over the years, I have amassed a rather large collection of keys. No, I do not collect keys, but rather they are attracted to me and often I cannot find their owners or I have forgotten who they belong to. My customers are very trusting and often will give me a key to their home so we can come and go as the need requires without bothering them. For a variety of reasons, these keys do not always find their way back and end up in my collection. Friday was a case in point.
We were working three different jobs in one day and I had keys to two of them. One of these jobs was a good long drive out of town and instead of delivering the key and invoice on a separate trip, I left the invoice on the kitchen counter top together with the key for the front door. Then I let myself out via the automated garage door, hitting the 'close' button and running under the door before it crushed me on the way down. The house was then secure and I went my merry way. As we were heading for the next job, I suddenly realized that I had left the wrong key on the counter top. Now another trip back was required and my cleverness was for naught. The customer may have told me to simply throw the key away and she would send me a cheque, but I was not satisfied with that solution this time so I made the trip back. Actually I sent my partner back.
I also sent him to finish off the next job, this time with proper key in hand, and I went to the Abby Eye Center to order the new glasses. (see post below) After trying to work with my progressives for a part day, I knew I was going to get new work glasses sooner or later so I opted for sooner. It was either new glasses for hundreds of $ or a piece of black electrical tape on the old ones and no way to fold them. Trying to look reasonably professional was my choice, but the taped glasses will have to do until Wednesday as that is when the new glasses arrive. These things never happen at a convenient time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Somebody is up to tricks to help out the beleaguered Climate conference in Copenhagen. Glaciologist Neil Young had discovered a massive iceberg 1700 kilometers off the coast of Australia. Using satellite photos, he has determined the size to be 19 kilometers long and 8 kilometers wide. This is scary and must be the result of Global warming, no? But hang on for just a minute. Upon closer inspection, this massive iceberg has been around for a while, a long while. It was the year 2000 when it was first seen to break off, or calve, from the Antarctic ice shelf. It poses no threat and is indeed one of many such icebergs that break off every thirty years or so. These Global warming people are getting desperate for stunts that will scare us all into believing that we humans are causing changes to our climate, which, by the way, has been changing since it was created. This is just business as usual.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Outa' Sight

I mentioned yesterday that I was looking forward to getting some new glasses. There was another reason (other that better vision) and that is that I need new work glasses and I usually have single vision lenses put into my old frames specifically for work. They give me perfect vision at arms length where all my work takes place. The old work glasses are bent and have been crazy glued a few times and not really tough, like a work tool should be. I should have just ordered a pair anyways, but was in a hurry and thought it could wait.
Late this afternoon, my work glasses snapped. They are done. Finished. Kaput. Irreparable. I now have no choice but to take time off work and go get re-tested and order a pair. Meanwhile, I will have to wear my progressives. For those of you own a pair of these, you know that you cannot look up and get a clear view of anything close up, unless you put your head right back on your butt, something I am not allowed to do since all my neck adjustments. How will I get through the next week? Good question. If I had a third hand, I could simply hold a huge magnifying glass in front of my face.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eye Check

I finally had an afternoon to follow up on my eye appointment which usually happens every two years. I have been looking forward to this as I think I need new glasses. My distance vision is quite good but I have been finding it increasingly difficult to read, needing better light and perhaps better magnification.
After a thorough test, it was determined that the glasses I now have, and the prescription under which they were made, are perfect for my eyes. My vision is fairly good and has not changed in four years.
However, after my pupils were dilated and the bright lights shone into them, it was discovered that I have trace cataracts. My first thought was that this only happens to old people. Duh! The cornea in both eyes is just starting to cloud over and discolour. Although it is far too soon to do anything about it, it means that down the road there will be cataract surgery. I am grateful that in my generation, there has evolved such surgery and poor eyesight from this common problem can be rectified.
However, it makes me think that knee and hip replacement cannot be far behind for this old worn out body of mine.
Off to the chiropractor this morning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Warmer Weather Coming

This climate conference in Copenhagen is fun to watch. The statement today is that this coming decade will be one of the warmest 5 decades in the last 160 years. This means that there were 4 other decades that were either just as warm, warmer, or slightly cooler. We do not know where the coming decade fits in because it is, so far, just a prediction. If they had to go back 160 years to get a top 5 decade, that would mean that one of the decades was 160 years ago. Now, tell me. Was there man made green house gases causing that warm decade? There were no internal combustion engines and a much smaller population, and yet it was global warming under the definition. Why are we causing it now, but did not cause it then? Just asking.
You will also note that the 'Climate Gate' leaked documents concerning the hi-jacked emails that make the science look manipulated, is now focused on as a smear campaign. The real issue is the contents of the emails and this is not being addressed. They do not know how to handle this. They are like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar and they all know it. This hoax has gone far enough.

Are You Afraid Yet?

The climate people in Copenhagen are bandying about all sorts of weather statistics today in an attempt to put fear into the world leaders that if something is not done, we will all surely perish. It is interesting that they have temperature records that date back to 1850, however, when they want to come up with hard evidence of global temperature increases, they resort to only records from 1900 to present day. And are you ready for this? The increase since then is .7 degrees Celsius. What would the figure had been if the records were included from 1850 to 1900? And while this talk of trends is going on, there is no talk of what is actually causing this other than an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, of course, only the CO2 that man has put there. There needs to be a dialogue on various theories of climate change, not just one mantra that talks about carbon dioxide. Oh, there is concern alright, mainly about the rising sea levels when all the ice melts. They talk of this being a possibility and that being a likelihood but if you check out the sea levels, there have been no changes at all since this very 'significant' increase in temperature. Don't cancel your trip to the Maldives just yet. (The country with the lowest elevation that is surrounded by water.)
And try this little experiment. Fill a glass with ice cubes and then top it off with water, right to the brim. Now just let it sit and melt at room temperature. Does the water run over the top of the glass as the ice melts? 'Nuff said.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate Conference

How embarrassing it must be for all those important delegates at today's Climate Conference in Copenhagen. They burned up all that fuel to get from the far corners of the earth to the conference. They are spending a lot of time doing damage control over the "climate gate" affair which saw some nasty emails discovered last week that implicated some university climatologists in manipulating data to fit the theory of anthropogenic global warming. And as I shiver in the -6C temperatures of this night, I am reading about the temperature trends for the last six years which are actually cooling. Funny how when important people get an idea in their heads, they can't seem to let go. Kind of like Darwinists.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Does it Get Better?

I like to wake up to radio as opposed to an alarm clock. The transition from sleep to awareness is more gentle and gets my day off to a better start. The question then becomes, what do I wake to? Music is the best, however, it tends to lull me back to sleep or encourages me to stay in bed until the song is over, by which time I am too sleepy and unmotivated to vacate the warmth of the covers. What seems to work best for me is a newscast at the top of the hour, such as CKNW news talk radio's major news to 7 am. I become alert immediately because I do not want to miss the lead story. This forces my mind out of its groggy state and I am then ready to get 'up and at it'.
There is one problem and it is getting worse with time. Local radio reception is deteriorating. I do not know the cause for this, but I do know that often my choice of stations makes for something worse than a harsh alarm at 7 am, and that is static. I then wake up grouchy.
The easy solution came to me one day as I as perusing the latest MasterCard Awards Points merchandise catalogue. They were offering an Internet radio for only around 30,000 points. I had that and some to spare so I ordered it and it arrived yesterday.
It works on WiFi, which we already have because we have 3 computers in our house all working off one router. This Radio picks up that same signal and gives me access to literally thousands of streaming stations from around the world.
There is a bit of a learning curve but I think I have it now and the big challenge is to find 8 favourite stations to put into the 8 preset buttons. Now I can wake or fall asleep to Afghan 103.1 or Clear Jazz from Paris. It would take me a month to scroll through every station and they are adding new ones everyday. In fact, I can go to the website and request one that I like, that is not on the scroll list.
Static is a thing of the past as of today. Funny, but I already do not miss it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wedding at City Hall

I walked to the park surrounding City Hall a few months ago and came across this scene. No, this is not a gay marriage. The smiling groom is just behind the photographer. It was a warm sunny Saturday with few people around to interrupt the photo session. I was a good ways off and took this with a telephoto lens, making sure not to be seen as competition to the photographer.
Our city is in dire need of money. The infrastructure is deteriorating and the cost of services such as policing and fire protection keep escalating. The mega projects of last year are being paid for in installments and are running deficits. There is talk of raising municipal property taxes. Of course, the taxes increase every year, but almost always by more than the rate of inflation. There is also talk of a 2 cent a litre gasoline tax. The list of taxes intruding into our personal budgets continues to grow, and yet the average person has not seen an increase in his pay. This amounts to a decrease in the standard of living.
When we, in our household budget overspend, we have to compensate. When the price of utilities or staples increases, we have to sacrifice the unnecessary for the necessary. We have no choice. But, the city, or any level of government for that matter, does not have to do this. They simply add more taxes. Something will eventually give. Tax revolt, decrease in services, a new mayor and council, or perhaps taxing wedding photographers in the park.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Only Human

I am a very part time golfer and an avid follower of the sport. I have watched the career of Tiger Woods and seen how his rise to success and fame has been of tremendous value to the PGA tour. I have been a fan and have enjoyed watching him play as he brings an element of humanity to the game by displaying some emotion on the golf course, like most of us do when we play. Some golfers are machines whose stoic demeanor on the course make them less than personable.
Now Tiger is in hot water. Allegations are that he has a problem staying faithful to his wife. The media is on a rampage and it seems that every commentator is saying things like "He is only human", as if this is some sort of excuse for reprehensible behaviour. Yes, we are all human, but should we be feeling sorry for a person who is reaping what he has sowed?
Fame and fortune carry a very large price tag and that is a loss of privacy and constant scrutiny by the media and the public. Who you are and what you do are put under a magnifying glass and it goes with the territory. If you don't like it, then don't go there. Should he be left alone? I say "no". He has been put on a pedestal. He has been a roll model especially for young black kids who see in him the ability to rise above one's circumstances and achieve great things. But this latest display of immorality should be magnified as a lesson to all who elevate certain people to god status.
Those who are put in the position of being a role model have a tremendous responsibility to fulfill that role. When they fail, they should be pulled off the pedestal. It is a lesson to all that we are all sinners, and that there are dire consequences to sin. Nobody will ever see Tiger through the same eyes again. His behaviour in his private life will forever taint his image. He will never really ever live it down. If he is suffering now, good. He deserves to. He could not keep his animal instincts at bay and should be paying the price. What is the most tragic of all is the legacy he has just left his kids.
What he has become is not what Tiger's father raised him to be.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For Sale

No, you have not accidentally logged on to Craig's List or EBay. This is a beautiful painting that we are offering to the right home. It is an original 'Bucholtz' measuring approx. 3 ft. by 5 ft. It is at least 30 years old but in excellent shape. Any offers?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Golf Story

First, this is not my photo. It represents a golf story which is rather curious and catching the attention of many sports fans. It seems that the most famous golfer in the world has had a curious incident and he is not very willing to discuss it with the public, nor the police who want a statement from him.
I am sure you are familiar with the details. TW drives out of his gated community in the wee hours of the morning, hits a fire hydrant and a tree, and someone calls 911. They find TW on the ground with his wife hovering over him, beside the Cadillac Escalade, claiming to have just smashed the rear window of the SUV to get him out. Concerned and heroic wife, no?
But things are not always what they seem.
How often does a married family man come tearing out of his driveway at 2 in the morning and drive erratically enough to hit a tree and a fire hydrant. Curious.
How is it that his wife was right there, golf club in hand, to rescue him? How is it that she was aware that he was in an accident so quickly?
How is it that it was such a minor accident, yet TW has cuts to his face and mouth and is dazed and incoherent on the ground?
How is it that a minor fender bender requires the rear window of the vehicle to be smashed and the driver rescued? It was not a roll over or even a bad enough impact to deploy the air bag.
Here is an idea that makes sense.
They have a fight. (There are rumours that TW was seeing another woman while in Australia last week at a tournament) It gets physical. The little woman comes after him with a golf club and inflicts damage to his face. While trying to escape her, he flees in his Escalade with her in hot pursuit, slamming the club into the back window. He corners too hard, miscalculates, is dizzy from the blow from the golf club, and hits the tree. The neighbour is there right away, as are the police and ambulance. It looks bad so wifey makes up the story about the rescue attempt. A domestic dispute gone bad.
Everyone deserves their privacy, but TW is a very public figure and is adulated by millions of aspiring golfers around the world. As much as he would like this whole thing to go away, it will not until honesty and disclosure is assured. This will be much tougher for TW that making an Eagle putt.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Balancing Act

After a very long and tiring week, I promised myself some downtime today. It took the form of vegetating in front of the TV and it was a day for sports lovers, on the 'tube'. After church and a very nice lunch out with friends, it was time for the finale of the CFL football seasons. Although my team, the BC Lions were eliminated from the final just last week, my next favourite team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders represented the west in this annual classic. I have always loved Canadian Football as opposed to NFL or American Football because it is a more wide open and exciting game. Today's match was no exception. My team was the underdog and they were leading the whole game until the most dramatic play of the game, which happened to be the last play of the game. The Montreal team scored a field goal and suddenly it was over. I had a good friend over to help share what going to be a celebration of a western victory, but alas, the only joy to be had was helping ourselves to more junk food while the Grey Cup was being awarded to the 'bad guys'.
But, there was still hope because while the jubilant players were hoisting the cup, there was a hockey game just starting on the other sports channel. After my Canucks beat Edmonton handily on Saturday night (7-3) I was fully expecting a repeat performance against the San Jose Sharks. More disappointment!
The result of all this is a bit of indigestion from an improper diet, disappointment that both my teams lost, and regret that I didn't opt for a good long walk instead of the punishment of watching the underachievement of the day. Did I mention that my eyes are now square after almost 7 hours straight of TV watching? Unlike the goose in my photo, I did not have balance in my day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Refusing to Let Go of Autumn

The bug I picked up last week has finally left me and now the only complaint I have is that I am tired, but not from fighting the flu, just from plain old work. We have been on a long nonstop streak of jobs and the end is not yet in sight. The calls still keep coming in and I am turning a lot of work away or toward friends in the business. I have several contracts for January also which means that I will have to schedule in that holiday instead of waiting until work runs dry like it sometimes does in the New Year.

December is around the corner and the busy social season is upon us. Once again we have volunteered to help in our church's big production as well as purchase tickets so we can bring guests. It means attending 5 performances and squeezing in other functions and some shopping, all revolving around long work hours to make sure things get done according to the clients schedule. Another bout of flu would not do at all. Add to this, in early December a crew is coming to our house to replace all our windows and doors. We have to be ready for them by moving furniture and taking down all the existing window treatments. One of us will have to be home while this happens. It will be a cool, breezy few days, but in the end, when we crank on the new furnace again, we will be heating our house for practically free! I will get back to you on that but so far with the new energy efficient furnace we installed last August, we are using 40% less energy to heat our house and we are not actually turning down the temperature during the day.
Why, do you say? We also installed a 24/7 programmable thermostat and we are at a loss as to how to program for our schedules which fluctuate from day to day, hour to hour. We have it programmed to turn down at night, but during the day, unless the last person out of the house turns it down manually as 'temporary setting for that time period' it just calls for heat all day. I am wanting my ancient 'low tech' thermostat back.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flaming Sumac, Flaming Pain

I had a scratchy throat coming home from work on Wednesday. I immediately took my doses of home remedy to nip 'it' in the bud, whatever 'it' was. A very large clove of garlic, gargle with very salty water, and suck Vitamin C until my tongue was ready to fall off. By bedtime, I noticed between garlicky burps that the soreness was somewhat subsiding. Then at 3 am I awoke with a fire in my throat, a searing pain that prevented me from swallowing. Though greatly disappointed that the cures were not working, I got up to take another dose of salty gargle. It immediately felt a bit better and as I sat on the edge of the bed, ready to swing my legs up and under the cozy warm blanket, my body said, no screamed something to me. "If you think that throat was pain, how about a dose of this?" My inner thigh, just above the knee, convulsed into a cramp that took my breath away. I jumped straight up in the hope that it would stretch out and settle down, but it was a stubborn cramp and would not subside. I could only sit on the edge of the bed, moaning, and massage the rock hard lump with the heel of my palm. As it came, so it went, until I tried to lie down. I could feel the twitching and crawling feeling and then it would start again. What's with this? I take a fist full of food supplements everyday, including the horse pill sized calcium and magnesium tablets. They certainly helped with the calf muscle cramps I often got but you would think a muscle is a muscle.
So, I lay on the edge of the bed for the next half hour, afraid to crawl back under the blanket. I must say though, that I forgot completely about the sore throat.
I eventually got to sleep with only the throat pain bothering me. Today (Thursday) I did not get up for work but stayed in bed. I actually slept until 10:30, something I have not been able to do in many years. I think my body was run down and exhausted and it was getting even with me for letting it get that way. We are going to have a heart to heart talk and discuss a holiday. Meanwhile, I am getting behind in my schedule, but the throat is feeling better right now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Today, we discover that "1 in 6 hungry in America last year." That is the headline in the USA Today. If you believe the report, 49 million people went hungry at some point in 2008, the highest number since the government began keeping track in 1995. Meanwhile, we learn - in the same paper - that "Rising obesity will cost the USA $344 billion." That's what fat people cost the nation annually, equal to 21% of health-care spending.The two problems should cancel each other out, shouldn't they? Oddly, the states with the greatest girths are also the poorest. Mississippi is number one in fat. It's also the poorest state. Could it be that fat people are going hungry? Is this a good thing; or a bad thing?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Autumn Sports

I am a big hockey fan and after 22 games into the season, I have only had time to watch two or three games in their entirety. Saturday night was one of those occasions and it was a good one. My Vancouver Canucks dominated a good team, Colorado, and came out on top with a score of 8-2. It was a real pleasure having the evening free, watching my favourite sport, and having the win as a bonus.
I am also a big CFL football fan and I was sorry to miss the semi-final match between my BC Lions and Hamilton, this morning. At least I thought I was going to miss it. We were doing coffee duty at church this morning with our crew and I thought that the game would over by the time we got home. As it turned out, we all went out for lunch and someone in our team suggested Boston Pizza. It did not occur to me until we got there that there are about 8 big screen TVs in the restaurant and they were all playing the 'Big Game'. So as I was munching away on my personal sized pizza, I got to watch the final 5 minutes of the game. My team was ahead but let the opposition catch them in a tie right at the end of the game. It went to overtime and miracle of miracles, my team won.
For the last 20 hours I have been able to forget about work, my father, and anything else that brings stress right now and just enjoy a few little pleasures in life for a change. And the bonus here is that there is NO pain in my hip today. I am almost ready to declare myself healed and that in itself would have been good enough to make my weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog Anniversary

Today it is two years since I decided to start my own blog (Web Log). I have not regretted one minute of my experience and indeed have found it quite useful as a creative outlet. I have been able to get a lot of things off my chest, share my passion for photography, and let my readers know a bit about me. It has helped me to be disciplined, think outside the box, and be accountable for some of my ideas. I have a stat counter application attached to my blog site and it gives me such things as numbers of unique visitors, page loads, locations of readers, and how long a reader stays on the blog. It does not tell me who the reader is. It has been interesting to say the least. I am continually bumping into folks who read my blog and sometimes I gulp and just smile. It makes me aware that I should be careful what I say because it is in the public domain. I am surprised that I have regular readers. As a blog follower myself, I have an idea what it requires to grab and hold a reader's attention. The last few months I have not been able to post everyday and I do not know what the future holds as far as time commitment on my part. Work continues to be hectic, my father and his affairs continue to take a lot of my discretionary time, but I have not run out of ideas or photos.
A great big THANK YOU to all my readers for your encouragement, if by no other means than simply logging on. I hope the best is yet to come.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Atechtwooh (H20)

Well, get your flu shot and pack your bags as it is now possible to go to the moon because you will not get thirsty there. Yes, there is water on the moon, at least 100 litres of the liquid stuff in a crater where a deliberate crash was made to determine just this thing. Where it came from is not yet clear, so it will have to be tested before it is deemed fit for human consumption. The future flights to the moon will not have to be burdened with liquids as the only food required will be the ones where you "just add water". The future tourist will be able to have Cup 'a Soup, Mr. Noodle, Kool-Aid, and hot chocolate (providing the water is on the sunny side of the lunar surface). This proves once and for all that the moon is not made of green cheese because if it was, what would have been discovered would not be water, but milk!