Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pioneer Church

Yesterday I posted a picture of an old country church, the location of which, I had no idea. This one I do remember. There is a road that leads from Wakaw to Gabriel's Crossing Bridge on the way to Rosthern, Saskatchewan. I took a side road on this route to re-trace our steps from Lanigan to Rosthern to visit my grandparents when I was a young boy. Much to my surprise, this old log church was still there more than forty years later. The tall building in the background is where the priest lives. I knew it was Catholic by the sign on the road. It was a wet season and because there were no muddy tire tracks in the 'parking lot', I knew that this church too, was not used much, and probably dying. If I ever come the way of these old heritage buildings again, I will try to gain entry. They must be even more interesting on the inside.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Low Winter Sun

I was viewing some old slide scans the other day and found a few that defy recollection. This is one of them. I have no idea where and when I took this. It may have been in Northern Alberta in the early eighties as I used to travel up there in the winter. It typifies a cold winter's day with low, almost obscured light, that is flat and washes everything with gray. A church in the middle of nowhere signifies a rural community, possibly quite remote. I look at it and wonder if it is still there and if it is serving any purpose. At one time, it must have meant something, to have been built at all. These are not government projects and a group of farmers had to have pooled their efforts and finances to build it. Today, many of these fine old churches are abandoned, left to die like the pioneers who had the faith to build them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I have written a collection of stories, of lessons I have learned from my experiences in the workplace. I have posted a few of them over the last year, together with stories from my childhood. Here is a confession of misdeeds, all in the past, you know.
There is an assumption with most people, that painting is a messy business. It can be, but anyone who is organized, is neat and clean by nature, and takes a few basic precautions, should have no excuse for making a mess. There are many experienced and inexperienced painters who can paint in almost any circumstance and never spill a drop. When I hear about those homeowners who have paint running off their elbows by the end of the day, I have to scratch my head and wonder how they do that. With proper equipment, correct technique, and good quality paint, the need for drop sheets can even be eliminated, and as a rule, I seldom have use for them.
Having said all that, the odds of having an unfortunate accident rises, as the amount of time spent working with paint increases. Experience is also another key. A lack of experience is a detriment because one has not developed a technique that is conducive to safety. On the other hand, too much experience is also a drawback as it creates a sense of cockiness and carelessness and at that point an accident is just waiting to happen. I have had both kinds, and some in between. My paint spills have been minor, relatively speaking, but a great inconvenience and embarrassment nonetheless.
My very first experience with paint was as a young boy of ten and does not really count. I was staying on an Uncle’s farm in Saskatchewan and one of my projects for the two weeks I was there was to paint a granary. I was given a gallon of red paint and a big four inch paint brush and was simply instructed to paint the walls red. It was fun for a while, but being a hot day and running out of shade made finishing the job pure drudgery. Swinging the big heavy paint laden brush became a two handed job and at the end of the day my wrist was useless. I doubt the building was properly protected against the winter elements that year, but portions of the soil surrounding the granary were.
The next time I had a run in with paint was when I was in my late teen years and I was on a Saturday job with my dad, who was a builder at that time. He was building single family dwellings and would do a lot of the work himself, such as the painting. It was a warm spring day and it was time to paint the trim boards on the roofline of the house. On this particular day, it was decided that a solid colour stain would be used instead of paint as the colour was right and it would require only one coat, if applied properly. The viscosity of paint can be thick and often has a slightly coagulated texture to it, making it relatively drip less when rolling or brushing or pouring from one can into another, or from the can into a paint tray. A first time effort on this is a no brainer.
Stain is a different animal altogether. It is more liquidy than water and as a result, more volatile. My dad stood over me as I opened the can, stirred the stain with a paint paddle, and then informed me that if I poured too slowly, the stain would only run down the side of the can and dribble into the dirt. To prevent this, I was told to tilt the can in a quick surge and thus facilitate the pouring of the stain into the paint tray and no dribbling would occur. Being entirely unpractised, I did as I was told to the best of my ability and the stain surged full force into the sloped tray, with plenty of volume and momentum to slosh over the edge of the tray and gush right onto and into my dad’s shoe. It resulted in a 'multiple choice' trauma. Which is worse, spilling expensive Oxford Brown stain into the dirt, not being competent enough to even pour a little paint into a tray, a ruined pair of shoes, a father’s wrath, or the sheer embarrassment of having the homeowner just happening to be there to witness the incompetency of his builder and his son. Already having feelings of inadequacy, I chose all of the above.
My first real paint job, which is a story all in itself, was in newly constructed apartment buildings with unfinished floors and it did not matter how sloppy or not a painter was. It still bothered me to drip and spill so I made an effort to train myself to avoid bad habits. This paid off later when I specialized in repaints, or redecoration, working in finished homes, around people, pets, furniture, and over sometimes very expensive carpets and hardwood flooring. I concluded that it was easier to clean a drip here or there than to trip over a bulky drop sheet and clean up a big spill. It always made the customer very nervous to see me roll and brush without a drop sheet, but I always told them that they did not have to pay me for the job if they found even one drop of paint on any furniture or any floor. That made them look all the harder, but not one person ever called me on that guarantee. But that does not mean there was no spilling.
The first time it happened to me, my first thought was that all the profit from the job would be designated for a carpet replacement. I had bumped a pail of oil paint and just caught it before it spilled its complete contents. There was very little paint in the can to start with, but cleaning it up was tedious and time consuming. It was a different colour than the carpet and try as I might I could not get the stain completely out. There is a point in rubbing the nap of a carpet, where the strands of fibre begin to unravel and it gives the carpet a different texture and general appearance. I had reached that point and so I just left it alone. I put a chair over the spot and hoped when it was dry, it would not be as noticeable.
I was partly right in that it had improved by the next morning, and only looked bad from certain angles. What really saved my bacon was when the lady of the house decided to rearrange her furniture, and, wouldn’t you know it, she placed a lamp table right over the once exposed area, where the now almost invisible stain was. I never heard anything more about it.
Of the few spills that I have had, only one was witnessed by the customer. She was one of those who was nervous about me working without a drop cloth. She interrupted my work by asking me if I was sure I was using the right colour. I assured her I was, and to prove it, I put down my pail of paint and got my colour chips from my tool box. I selected her colour, showed her how the numbers on the can matched, and then held the chip to the wall where the paint had now dried. As I was telling her how the surrounding existing colour effects the appearance of the new colour, I backed into my pail and kicked it over. It was a pail I had been dipping my brush into and had very little in it, fortunately. It was latex, or water based paint and with copious amounts of water, I did get it all out. I was embarrassed. The incident apparently had no long term negative effect because to this day she remains my customer.
A more recent incident was probably my worst spill, not because of the amount of paint but because of the damage produced. I was rolling the walls in a bay window and as I stepped back from doing the small ceiling, the edge of my foot caught the corner of the paint tray. The tray flipped and I reached down to prevent the tray from going completely upside down. In so doing, I dropped my roller right onto the carpet. Why was it the worst? The carpet was white as the driven snow, and the paint was ‘Sundried Tomato’, a very deep rusty red, heavily pigmented colour. I knew I was in big trouble but went about trying to clean it up anyhow. Keeping the stain wet and flooding it with water is the only hope of ever getting it out and I did that for hours, alternately flooding and mopping up. The carpet slowly turned from dark red to a light bright pink. I went to the paint store to purchase a new product that was especially designed to take paint out of carpets, and tried, to no avail, to remove the stain. By this time the paint was all out, but the stain remained.
I kept it wet and the next morning when the customer came to the house, I confessed. I told her I would pay for a carpet cleaning specialist to tackle the problem, and a few hours later, he came. He tried several different chemicals and techniques, but the pink did not lessen in degree. I was given a lesson on carpet technology and discovered that nylon carpet fibres have microscopic pores that are designed to take in the dye at the factory. A white carpet has vacant pores and apparently I had filled them with red pigment. It was a done deal. I apologised profusely and offered to buy her a new carpet. She did not think that would be a good idea because then she would have to replace all the carpet in her townhouse to match the new one. Because the problem was only in the bay, I suggested we just replace the carpet in that area. No, old against new would not look good. She finally came up with the perfect solution. She had a bookshelf that fit perfectly in the space and perfectly covered the stain. She insisted that I not compensate her and being very gracious, suggested that I just forget about it, like she would. I have liked her very much ever since. *
The funniest incident, resulting from a spill, happened in a very expensive and fancy home. These people were new clients and we were recommended to them based on our neatness and cleanliness. My son, Andrew, had recently started working for me and we were sorting out our division of responsibilities and I was getting used to working with a partner. One thing we always do, when there are multiple cans of the same colour paint, is to open all of them and test the colour, to see if they are identical.
Andrew did this and declared everything ready to go. We worked out of the same can and when we were ready for the second one, I did what I always do. I grabbed the can to give it a quick shake before opening it and pouring from it. I did not know that he had not hammered the lid on tight, something I always do with full paint cans standing around. Fortunately it was on and over the kitchen countertop, where I executed this manoeuvre. Unfortunately, when I twisted the can to give it a shake, the lid flew off and half of the contents flew across the countertops and did its thing according to the laws of gravity and physics. There were cookie jars and canisters, cutlery and dishes, and a gorgeous silver tea service, complete with cream pitcher and sugar bowl, and fancy spoons with which to stir the paint,, tea. Had it been latex, we would simply have rinsed everything off in the sink, dried it off, and it would have been as if nothing had happened. But it was alkyd (oil) paint.
I jumped in my truck and ran for supplies. I had to drive twenty minutes to the nearest store and purchased several large rolls of paper towelling, garbage bags, and a bag of sugar, and then to the paint store for an extra gallon of solvent. It was a three hour job. After my initial reaction, which had been one of anger, I realised it was as much my fault for shaking a can with a loose lid. Andrew felt guilty because he had broken protocol, so between the two of us, we laughed as we hurriedly tried to get things in order before the owner came with her kids from school. I had just topped off the sugar bowl and had thrown my bag of sugar into my tool box, when she walked in the door. If she ever found out, she did not tell me. I often thought that if I had told her, she probably would have thought it a good explanation for the lingering odour of paint thinner at her tea parties.
I have learned from paint spills that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. But mistakes can also be corrected, with time, patience, and know how. When we get proud and over confidant, we are setting ourselves up for a bit of humbling, and that can happen very quickly.
* There is a footnote to this story. Since I wrote this, there has been a new development. A few days ago, we came home late and found a message on our answering machine. The person leaving the message took great pains to identify herself but I recognised her voice immediately. She started talking about the pink carpet and I was getting nervous. I had visions of replacing the carpet at my expense and began to feel foolish that I had thought I had seen the end of this incident. Then she mentioned that she had rented a carpet steamer and had been cleaning her carpets. She had found the container of special paint stain remover that I had purchased and tried and found wanting, and she had soaked the carpet with it prior to steam cleaning. At this point I was getting hopeful. And then a minor miracle happened. The stain came completely out, as she put it, 99% clean. She was thrilled and just had to phone and tell me. She was thrilled? As my heart rate returned to normal, I realised I could finally put this incident behind me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Odds and Ends

I only saw one of the Oscar contending movies so I did not have an opinion as to who would win, nor do I care, but it was nice to see that "Slum Dog Millionaire" won 'Best Picture'. It is different from your usual Hollywood fare and quite an engaging story. I did not watch the ceremony on Sunday night, but used the time much more productively. We got together with a couple from the distant past and had a great time 'catching up' and reminiscing. I guess that is what old folks do. It was such a success that I think we will continue to pursue the relationship.
I put my decrepit hip to a test on Sunday afternoon as we walked around Mill Lake, hoping to enjoy the sunshine which humoured us by hiding behind a big cloud until we were done walking. The hip survived, but who knows what the next week holds? Having the rest of the afternoon free, I went to a movie that I had been wanting to see for a while now. Two movies in two weeks for me is very rare. Not that I do not like movies, because I do quite enjoy escaping into a good story with no interruptions such as telephones and doorbells. "Taken" is a story about a father's very intense love for his daughter and how he goes to the ends of the earth to rescue her when she is kidnapped. Fortunately for him, as a former CIA 'preventer', (his job was to prevent certain things from happening) he had a unique skill set that aided him greatly in not only finding, but taking care of the nasty villains that took his daughter. I love efficiency and I love swift and effective justice so this was right up my ally. I witnessed, during the two hour movie, a myriad of solutions for our local gang problem. However, I am a little troubled at my joyful reaction to such brutality and violence. I suppose it is a reflection of the frustration I and many others feel when we see, all around us, continual perpetration of criminal activity and nothing really done about it.
The photograph was taken in the eighties on a family trip to Yellowstone. If I remember correctly, the scene is in Montana.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doom and Gloom

I took this photo quite a few years ago while driving through the prairie provinces. It exemplifies bareness, desolation, and abandonment, those things we are soon to experience if we believe a select group of environmentalists, who met in Cape Town South Africa over the weekend. We have not heard much about global warming due the overwhelming and overriding issue of global financial meltdown. But they are still at it, conjuring up horrific scenarios if we do not 'do something' in the next few years. The ice will melt, the sea levels will rise, there will be mass migrations, and the result will be unending war. I am not making this stuff up. What is even more strange is that we, as a society can prevent it! All we have to do is hop on our bicycles and insulate our homes. Yes, reduce your 'carbon footprint' you evil humans.
Global warming or cooling is easily measured and verified or disproven. What is not verifiable is whether these changes which occur are anthropogenic. The much larger body of science is now saying that it is not. It is no longer believed that carbon dioxide is a green house gas. It is no longer believed that the amount we humans put into the atmosphere is significant enough to make a difference in any event. The geologic record is proving that increased gases in the atmosphere follow the warming trend and do not precede it. The study of sunspots has revealed that spot activity is at a significant low right now and it is well known that there is a direct correlation between this activity and our weather. Years from now we will look back at this nonsense as one of man's more idiotic attempts at controlling something that is not in his control at all. So let us all do what we can to keep our environment clean, but leave the weather to God.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slipping into Madness

You recently lost your job, your house is going to be foreclosed on, your credit cards are maxed out, and you have $200.00 cash in your pocket, the last money to your name until the welfare cheques start or you find another job. We can solve this, says you, by going on a European vacation, and buying a new car when we get home. Let's celebrate by eating out tonight, you say, while sipping on a Star Bucks latte`. Insane? You are absolutely right, but, my friends, this is what our economists and politicians are pushing upon us to solve the woes of the world.
Those things that we would never consider spending money on during good, or even moderately tough times, now are getting a cheer as they are being seen as an economic stimulus. In Las Vegas there is $2 million on the table for ........ are you ready....... more neon lights. In Shreveport $6 million is going for a water slide park complete with 3 new water slides. Chula Vista Cal. voted down a dog run park in the last round of spending referendums because it was frivolous and unnecessary, but now it is going ahead. Not to be out done by the USA, Canada has announced that a new cafeteria will be built (renovated) in the parliament buildings in Ottawa. The cost? $26 million.
A depression (and that is what is officially going on now) is when the economy calls in debt. The only cure for a depression is a depression. We should be sucking it up, saving, try our best to not accumulate any more debt (because it is what got us here in the first place) and just ride it out. It will be brutal but brief. But, no. We are in madness mode and it will get even sillier as the days go by. The money printing presses are rolling as we speak because the official goal now of the US treasury is 3% inflation. Those pesky consumer prices just keep on dropping, but the printing presses will solve that. This is getting good!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Believe me when I tell you that the best scenery you will see in the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire" is a view of the Taj Mahal. The worst side of Bombay (Mumbai) is portrayed in almost every scene that takes place out of doors. But it is this portrayal of abject poverty that gives the story its magical appeal. How can anyone survive, let alone overcome the horrendous circumstances that are everyday life for millions in that country? As we are being repelled by the scenes of filth and degradation, we are slowly being taken in by the two brothers who are the central figures in the story. They are survivors as we see in the many flashbacks that slowly pull the story together before we get too confused. The premise and the mechanics of the story are unique and soon the viewer is caught up in the adventure that culminated in a chance for the hero to find love and riches. It seems improbable, and that is why the film worked for me. As much as I highly recommend it, I must tell you that I will not be travelling to India any time soon. A travel brochure it is not.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2010 Olympic Security

It was supposed to cost $150 million to provide security at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Compared to other security budgets at previous games, this did not seem like enough so for the last few years the price tag was disputed until finally the Vancouver Olympic Committee admitted that the cost would, indeed, be higher. The figure of one billion was bandied about but you knew that the outrage at that amount would be very great and so did the committee. I believe they reasoned that dropping the figure by $100 million would be acceptable after having thrown around the larger figure for so long. So now the official number is $900 million. Whew, we say, what a bargain.
This is an outrageous amount of money to spend to protect us all from something that "might' happen. Here is my idea, but don't spread it around or it will not work: We declare that we are spending $900 million on security and that it will mostly be on surveillance, hidden cameras, plain clothes police, un-marked security vehicles etc. Then we put out a few more uniformed police and security guards than normal, but forget about all that other stuff. Just knowing it is there will be a huge deterrent to the terrorists, right? We save all that money and nothing bad will happen, not that it would have happened regardless.
The ultimate weapon will be the threat of punishment for anyone causing any kind of problem during the games. It could be an un-supervised bob-sled ride or a downhill giant slalom race wearing only a pair of jockey shorts. There really are many ways a perpetrator can be punished in the cold winter of Whistler.
*Photo above is not mine but is a great shot of Whistler Village, the hub of the games in 2010.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gangs n' Guns

The gang violence continues unabated in Metro Vancouver and that includes our own little quiet city. It is estimated that there are about 100 gangs now operating in the area. 12 shootings in 16 days and everybody is getting nervous. There have already been innocents killed and it is a matter of time before it will happen again. Everyone is wringing their hands and wondering what to do. To date, there have been no innovative nor effective ideas put forth as to how to combat the gangs who are running wild in the streets and literally getting away with murder. So, I will offer a few suggestions.
Longer prison terms are unpopular because the prisons are already full. Also, I as a tax payer, do not relish the thought of putting a gangster in a luxury hotel (Canadian Prison) for the cost of $75,000.00 per year. So the solution will have to exclude jail time. There is no question that the root of the gang activity is the drug trade. The law has been become extremely lax toward drug production whether it be pot or crystal meth. So let us try something that has been used extremely successfully in another country, Singapore. It is called flogging. In that country, it is an extreme deterrent. A really good dose of pain usually is.
I propose that convicted growers and producers of drugs get flogged. A second conviction calls for double the strokes, etc. A crime committed with a firearm also gets the same treatment. Possession of an illegal firearm, same thing. Eventually these people will get the idea that the punishment will be extreme pain and they will probably avoid it. The incentives for a life of crime are very high, the deterrents very low. This must be reversed. It would be worth trying for a year or two and the follow-up statistics would determine if the policy should continue.
If protection of society and rehabilitation are paramount in the justice system, and those within it say that this is the case, here is one more idea. Build a penal colony, a reasonably comfortable and safe one, in some very remote part of the north or perhaps on an island. Drop ship supplies once a month. Let the inmates sort it out themselves. No guards. Rival gang members would be put into the same compound. They would either kill each other, or learn to get along in society like the rest of us have. This solution would be very cost effective also.
If this all sounds too redneck for you, what are your ideas? Obviously, what we are doing now is not working at all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


It was late summer and the light was right for a photo shoot. The rows of freshly cut alfalfa gave definition to the foreground as the trees were silhouetted in the afternoon haze of a hot muggy day. I set up the tripod and was wondering how I could give scale and perspective, together with a little interest to the photograph I was about to shoot. It just happened so quickly and the timing was perfect. A couple walking their dog, slightly separated from each other, came into view. Often, staging something like this does not work and can look unnatural, so I felt so fortunate to be at the right place at the right time.
And speaking of good timing, the UFO that settled in the neighbouring field was a real bonus too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My grandsons appreciate a good joke. As they get older, the jokes can get a little more sophisticated and it is such a pleasure to watch their faces as they suddenly 'catch on' and 'get it'.
We have covered all the categories. Elephant jokes, 'why did the little boy' jokes, and tons of 'pun' jokes. It is soon time to move to the big leagues, the 'blonde jokes'.

Here is one of my favourites. A blonde, a brunette and a redhead were raiding the apple orchard at night when they saw the farmer coming with a flashlight to investigate all the commotion. They dashed for the only hiding place they could find, an old storage shed. Inside, the place was bare, except for a huge pile of burlap gunny sacks. They each crawled into one just as the farmer came through the door. The farmer saw a bit of movement in the sacks and kicked one. It was the redhead and she said, with soft squeaky voice, "Meow."
The farmer moved to the next lumpy sack and kicked it. The brunette said quite convincingly, "Woof, woof."
The farmer then proceeded to the last sack, the one that held the blonde, and gave it a nudge. Out of the sack came small squeaky voice. "Potatoes".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Addicted to .... ?

I enjoy my time at the computer. Maybe too much. I find that especially during this time that I have been partially immobilized with this pesky hip problem, it is my window to the world. These are the things I do and enjoy with my PC.

Online banking and bill paying. Those who do this know the joys of banking at all hours and the many trips to the bank not needed.

Email. What a tremendous convenience to communicate with friends and relatives around the world, at no cost or time restrictions.

Business. Calculating for estimations, creating and printing contracts, creating business cards, communicating with clients, researching products, following investments, and doing book keeping are a few of the activities under this category.

Photography. Storing digital images, creating effects with Photo Shop, and sharing and viewing photos is a big deal for me and I spend a lot of creative hours doing this, my favourite hobby.

Education. I am always researching a topic, whether it be news, sports, financial, health, or faith, there is no shortage of information that can be gleaned, and I will do it. My education is continuing and will never cease.

Entertainment. As I have mentioned before, I watch very little TV. The televised hockey games on the nights I am available, and now that Survivor has started a new season, are the only TV I watch unless I catch some news if I am home for lunch. Those hours I used to spend watching 'the tube' are now used up by the computer. I enjoy games on the computer and lately have taken up Lexulous, a version of Scrabble, that I can play with anyone via email. This is so great because I can play a game while I am doing other things, and it is always at the convenience of both players. I currently have several games on the go with several people.

Family websites. I administer two family websites where extended family members can post news, stories and photos to share with the rest of their relatives. I have rekindled several relationships with long lost cousins as a result of this. It has been most rewarding.

Blogging. I do this as an outlet for my photography hobby and my penchant for writing. But, of course, you knew that or you would not be reading this. I also follow a few blogs and find it an interesting insight to others lives and points of view. In searching for blogs to follow, I have discovered that there is no end to the diversity and creativity in my fellow human beings and I believe we all have a need to create. We were, after all, made in God's image and he is the master creator.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Money to Burn

I receive a regular newsletter from an organisation called The National Citizen's Coalition. Every so often they send a small report on the latest examples of Government waste. This always greatly encourages me to send in the taxes I owe. I work hard for my money, it is disconcerting to know that someone is not bothered by getting rid of it in the most conspicuously inefficient way possible. A few examples:

Four years ago the Saskatchewan government spent $5,000,000 to renovate a nurses college classroom into offices. They just committed another $11,000,000 to turn the offices back into a nurses college classroom.

The Province of Ontario has paid some $23.4 million in legal fees for a fraud trial that has yielded $3.5 million in returns plus interest.

Shelia Fraser reported that Correctional Services of Canada does not obtain the best value at the lowest available cost. This would contribute to the $2.2 billion budget for Correctional Services annually for its 14,500 inmates. That works out to be over $150,000 per inmate per year.

An audit of the Canadian Revenue Agency revealed that at least $3,000,000 has been paid to employees who no longer work there.

There are more, but you get the picture. The next two months are tax preparation months for most of us and, keeping in mind that our government really needs your funds, this should encourage you to get your tax return in early this year.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear of more woes in the automotive industry. Even the Japanese auto makers are showing quarterly losses, some for the first time in 40 years. You can see by these photos, that because people are no longer buying cars, they are beginning to get stock piled.
This obviously means that there will soon be desperation to get rid of them. This is both good and bad. These cars must be sold soon, but because everyone knows that the really red hot sales are yet to come, they are not buying today, even though dealers are offering great rebates and zero % financing. This is what happens in a deflationary period. Why would anybody buy a new Toyota for $24,000.00 today when it will soon be offered for $20,000.00. Only when prices start to creep back up will folks begin to buy again. It is called inflation and it always follows a recession. I know, I am sounding like a broken record.

I'll take one of those little red ones and I will pay $18,000.00. That is my final offer. Oh, and I want a year's worth of free gas.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

For all those who still remember the first time they fell in love, here is little quote I came across the other day.
"When you are in love, you never want to fall asleep, because for the first time, reality is better that your dreams."
Today, give someone a squeezy hug, a peck on the cheek, and whisper a sweet nothing in their ear. You never know where it may lead.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth

Today is Friday the thirteenth and isn't that a good reason to throw a celebration? Last year I propped my ladder up against my house right over the sidewalk that was cracked. While coaxing my neighbours black cat to cross my path, I walked under the ladder and broke a mirror just as I stepped on the crack. As luck would have it, I stumbled on the crack, fell onto the cat and broke its tail, fell into the glass of the broken mirror and cut my hands. While trying to get back on my feet, I banged my head on the ladder and that made me swallow the four leafed clover I was holding in my lips for good luck. To top it off, the rabbit's foot in my pocket scratched my thigh and I ended up with a nasty blood infection that took a ton of medication to cure.
This year I am lying low.

Eggsciting News

Don't you just love those scientific studies? One day the egg is good, the next day the egg is bad. For an egg lover like myself, it drives me a little crazy, but I keep on eating eggs, trusting that if there is enough nutrition in there to nurture a chicken from embryo to chick, it must be good for me.
It seems that the controversy has been re-visited and it might explain my good cholesterol levels. I eat a lot of eggs and now, again, it is good for me.
The new study says that cholesterol rich foods do not raise cholesterol levels in the body. Saturated fats, trans fats, obesity, and smoking raise those bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. In fact, a person on a calorie reduced diet can actually lose weight eating eggs everyday, while reducing cholesterol! So bring on the eggs and enjoy them.
And here is another home grown theory ( a good justification for bad behavior) that may prove to be right some day. Fry the eggs in butter. Butter comes from milk. Milk is that white stuff that calves drink from the day of birth to whenever and all the nutrition they need is in there, sort of like the egg white and the egg yoke. So, combine the egg with the butter and you will be healthy, happy and guilt free. Then smear large amounts of the butter on your white toast (there is the white again, the pattern if you will .... white yolk, white milk, white bread) and remember that I said you were allowed. LOL.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Speak or Not to Speak

In case you had not noticed, I like to keep tabs on current events, I am political, and I get a little passionate at times and opinionated with a capital O. I sometimes wonder what the point is. Does simply knowing what is going on change anything? No. Does ranting about the injustices and railing about the stupidity cure any ills? No. Does informing others help at all? Maybe. I am often very surprised when I run into people who are ill informed about the issues that have a direct or indirect influence on their lives. I think to myself,"Do they not care? Do they not realise how important this is?" I firmly believe that we CAN make a difference if we channel an informed opinion in the right direction. I write letters, I comment on national blogs that deal with political issues, I write letters to the editor, I comment on news sites, and I have even written our Prime Minister a number of times. (I do not believe for one minute that he has read the letters, but the staff do keep tab of people's opinions and each voice represents many).
I truly realise what a privilege it is to live in a democracy and also realise that it does not work unless we speak out. By far the majority of folks will only do this via the ballot, but sadly there are many who do not even vote. Perhaps this is because there is not enough emphasis put on history in the education system.
I simply cannot keep my mouth shut and stay uninformed because when I do that, I become part of the problem. I do not know if I have ever made even a tiny difference, yet I will keep on voicing my opinion because as long as I do, I know for a certainty that at least I tried. Those who say and do nothing know for a certainty that any good changes that ever come about came without their help.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Talking Heads

I took this photo at the Sand Castle competition last summer and at the time did not know what it represented. Many sculptures were open to interpretation and after review, I think I know what is going on. It was prescient. The two larger figures are ordinary citizens, tax payers if you like. The voices (talking heads) around them are the supposed experts telling them what has happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen to the economy. The scepticism and bewilderment apparent on the main characters are truly representative of where the average person is today, in term of their understanding of, and confidence in the experts. We have now entered the dangerous ground and I quote a financial report: "The money being spent on the economic bailouts now totals more than the New Deal... the entire Iraq war... the lifetime budget of NASA... the 1980s Savings & Loan crisis... and all the dollars spent on the Korean War - combined!"
In spite of this insane spending, the market continues to correct the mistakes of the past as it inevitably always does. The world economy, like the sculpture, is doomed to crumble and end up as a pile of rubble and dust. All us little ants will scurry around, each with his little grain of sand, trying to rebuild, but we will have to wait for the master sculptor to come and create a new masterpiece.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tropical Dreams

The perfect day ends with a perfect display of God's palette splashed across the western skies. There is a warm glow on your skin from the tropical sun that bore down today as you lay by the pool. The slight gnawing in your stomach indicates that your appetite is ready for the sumptuous meal awaiting you in the beach side restaurant. Off in the distance are the sounds of merriment as glasses and cutlery tinkle and the Mariachi Band strums a Mexican rhythm. Thoughts of home and winter are distant and vague as the warm ocean breezes bring salt air mingled with fragrant florals and wisps of coconut oil to the nostrils. The distant clouds are receding so you can revel in the thought of tomorrow bringing more blue sky and warm sunshine. You take one last photograph as the colours, intensifying only minutes ago, now begin to slip into night. Your friends are calling as you shake the sand from your toes and slip back into your sandals. You anticipate the good food, good company, and the relaxed laughter that are moments away. You are in Mexico.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Storm Brewing

There has been a storm brewing in our community for a while now. We have a nation wide reputation as the crime capital of Canada and the statistics bear that out. We have another nation wide reputation that is in direct contradiction to the first one, and the statistics also bear it out. We are not only the Bible belt of Canada, but our community of 120,000 is known as the buckle of the Bible belt. How is it that these two contrasting lifestyles can live side by side? Ponder as I might, I cannot come up with a theory on that one. Obviously the faith community is not involved in the gang warfare, but neither is it having a positive influence on the situation. The tools in the arsenal of crime fighting are not sharp nor are they effective and that may be the biggest problem. We have a new Police Chief who is determined to do something about this terrible situation, but his efforts will only be effective insofar as the justice system is effective. But that is where the real problem lies. As long as known offenders are out on parole and are racking up the convictions without paying any penalty, the problem will only worsen. The legal industry is very good at feeding off the justice system and in so doing, justice is not done at all. There has to be a strong political will, brought about by a unified cry from ordinary citizens, before the system will change. That much bandied about term "zero tolerance" means nothing in our pluralistic, politically correct, over tolerant society who's main aim is to preserve the rights and freedoms of all to do anything they please and suffer no consequences. The result of this present day system is that we have well known gangsters roaming the malls and restaurants of our city wearing bullet proof vests and carrying automatic weapons while the police have their hands tied because they might infringe on some one's rights if they arrest them.
I can't believe I am about to say this, but because this whole crime scene is driven by the illegal drug trade, perhaps it is time to legalize the drugs and then undertake a massive education drive to get people to stay away from drugs. The criminals will be out of business and if the education system works for drugs like it does for smoking tobacco, we will have solved two problems. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is only an idea, and not an original one, so don't shoot me. I'm not wearing my bullet proof vest.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Funny and Not so Funny

A gynecologist had become fed up with malpractice insurance and hospital paperwork and was burned out.Hoping to try another career where skillful hands would be beneficial, he decided to become a mechanic.

He went to the local technical college, signed up for evening classes, attended diligently, and learned all he could.When the time for the practical exam approached, the gynecologist prepared carefully for weeks and completed the exam with tremendous skill.

When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had obtained a score of 150%.Fearing an error, he called the instructor, saying, "I don't want to appear ungrateful for such an outstanding result, but I wonder if there is an error in the grade."The instructor said, "During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was worth 50% of the total mark."You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also worth 50% of the mark."

After a pause, the instructor added, "I gave you an extra 50% because you did it all through the muffler, which I've never seen done in my entire career."

And, not so funny:

The National Post reported on January 15th, 2009 that the department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council of the Arts awarded $30,000 to an artist to build a machine that simulates the creation of and freeze-dries human waste … Ouch!

And this in a time of recession and 'belt tightening'.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I guess it is normal that as we age we tend to give special attention to the Obituary page in the local paper. I have been very surprised lately that almost every week there is a picture and name there of someone I knew quite well. And then occasionally it hits really close to home like this week when a friend's dad passed away very suddenly. Each time, it makes me 'sit up' and take notice that these people are mostly older than me, but not by that much. I have had several friends younger than me die of cancer in the last few years, and even as a kid I had friends die. Death is always near. Each occasion is an opportunity for several things. It is a wake-up call regarding our own mortality which draws a little closer with each passing day. But it is also a time when we can show love and support to those who lost a loved one. Death is not final, but it sometimes feels that way. Everyone handles it differently, but one thing we all hold in common is the sense of loss, which gradually gives way to adjusting to the new reality. What better way to do that than to be surrounded by friends. Today we will be supporting our friends Bill and Ella. I feel empathy as I too have lost a parent, as have all our current group of friends. Even though it is inevitable, it is not easy, no matter how you prepare yourself. But we are all people of faith, and that makes all the difference.

Friday, February 6, 2009


My post a few days ago elicited some sympathy, something it was not at all intended to do. My thoughts on pain were just an observation, and when blogging, one often tends to ramble on about whatever is most prevalent on one's mind at the time. Having said that, I do really appreciate the well wishes.

I have not stopped working, but have limited myself to that which I know I can handle without doing myself more harm. My day today (Feb. 4th) was an orchestra of frustration. I was close to walking away from it several times, but my son, with whom I work, is a steady rock and with his calming influence, I persevered and in the end it turned out alright. So, you see, there are more that one kind of pain. In the height of my frustration, I forgot all about the physical pain and the mental anguish sort of took over. But, I frustrate easily these days. I may be turning into the proverbial 'cranky old man'.

Tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't Mess With the Elderly

Being a bit of a red-neck myself, I like this story I found.

George Phillips of Meridian, Mississippi was going up to bed when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window. George opened the back door to go turn off the light but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.
He phoned the police, who asked "Is someone in your house?" and he said "no". Then they said that all patrols were busy, and that he should simply lock his door and an officer would be along when available. George said, "Okay," hung up, counted to 30, and phoned the police again. "Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I just shot them." Then he hung up.
Within five minutes six police cars, a SWAT Team, a helicopter, two fire trucks, a paramedic and an ambulance showed up at the Phillips' residence and caught the burglars red-handed. One of the Policemen said to George: "I thought you said that you'd shot them!" George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Pain is like a good pair of prescription glasses that are put on for the first time. Like the glasses, pain puts things in sharp focus. It can drive you to your knees or drive you to your senses. It can make you bitter or it can make you grateful. It can cause discouragement, or cause great resolve and determination. It has done all of these things for me over the years.
I have written about pain and injury before, as it related to my work. I am going through another episode right now. This is the injury of constant repetitious use, more commonly known as 'wear and tear'. Like an old carpet on the living room floor, I am worn out and ready to be replaced. At least, that is the way I feel right now.
I am a great one for researching the Internet and I have found the right name for my condition, but all the wonderful medical sites have the same attitude. Not one has stated, as a solution, to tackle the source of the pain or how to correct the condition that causes the pain. Every single one tells me how to manage the pain. Pain killers, anti-inflammatories, cortisone shots and on it goes. This does not make sense to me. So, I am spending a lot of money getting the original problem corrected and treating the pain with alternating cold and hot compresses. It is also costing me a lot of money because this week, I terminated a $10,000.00 contract that I was about to start. I do not have the physical capability to do it.
Oh, the joys of getting older! Interesting that the pain is not that far from where I keep my wallet. How appropriate.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Favourite Daughter

Last night we had a special dinner, celebrating a special event, my daughter's birthday. She is my favourite daughter, for sure. I do not know why it is, but often when we celebrate birthdays, we get out the old photos. We did not do it last night, but I am doing it now. We know time passes quickly, and none of us stays the same, but we are still looking for something in the old photos. In our case, it is not necessarily looking for better times in the past, because these present days are so very good, and maybe even better. I am not yearning for her youth to return, because she is still very young and more beautiful than ever. There are things I would have done differently, but that is not quite what I am looking for either. The resemblance of her boys to her as a young child is interesting, but that is not it either. But, I think I found it as I browsed through many old slides of her today.
By gazing at the baby photos, toddler photos, school days photos and more recent pictures, I am compressing all the feelings I have had for her over the years into a single experience. It is a warm feeling and one I would not trade for anything. We all change as we grow older, but in my favourite daughter's case, the change has all been good and keeps getting better. Know that your old dad loves you, Rachel. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

A Rose By Any Other Name

A Rose by any other name would be just as sweet. Inflation by any other name would be just as bitter. But hang onto your hats, it is coming.
You all remember that African country called Rhodesia. It was the bread basket of Africa and was renowned world wide for its prize beef cattle breeding stock. The ranches there, mostly owned and operated by people of Dutch descent, employed many locals and had schools, medical clinics, and general stores on the property for the employees. But, the natives got restless and after murdering many of these ranchers, chased the rest of them out and took over their ancestral lands. Today, the land sits wasted and unused, the magnificent ranches and their buildings burned to the ground and the people have no medical facilities and no schools for their children. Disease and poverty is rampant. President Mugabe and his finance minister Gono have ruined the country today called Zimbabwe. They had to stimulate their failing economy so they started printing money which caused inflation, which this year so far is running at 2 million % annualized. They printed a new $1 billion bank note last week and it is worth about US$3.00
Interesting that this Mr. Gono, who lives very comfortably in his 20 room mansion, was interviewed by the western press a few days ago and said, " I find it interesting that the G20 are now doing exactly what they told me I should not do. Print money."
Of course, the reason for creating inflation so is that you and I will spend our money because inflation will devalue it in a savings account. And when we are spending our money, we are stimulating the economy. How nice that we can be a part of the solution!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Waste Not Want Not

A federal court has awarded $6,000 to an inmate because Corrections Canada did not buy him a $125 pair of shoes. Instead of the $125 pair of shoes the inmate was given Brooks shoes due to budget cuts. The inmate insisted they did not fit and refused the new pair of shoes. The inmate then hurt his knee and took Corrections Canada to court ... Ouch!

The Canadian New Media Fund is a national program which supports the creation and the distribution of interactive digital cultural content products. Kenny v Spenny is a television show that features two best friends who compete against each other. Their competitions are “ridiculous, immature and totally intense.” One of the competitions was titled “who can keep a dump in their pants the longest”. This show received $328,000 from the Canadian New Media Fund from April 2007 to September 2008 … Ouch!

A vote to eliminate the distribution of alcohol to homeless people for a savings of $60,000 failed by a vote of 32-11 in Toronto … Ouch!

These are but three examples of government waste that were listed this week by a publication of the National Citizen's Coalition. I hope I didn't get your week off to a bad start with this. $85 billion more of this and our economy will be fixed for sure.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

28 Years Ago

I was going through some old files the other day, and I stopped at this photo, again. It was around 28 years ago in January that this was taken. Here is my little family in front of the Taj Mahal. Oh, you are right, this is the Grand Canyon. What luck that we were able to travel the rim of the canyon without snow that year. It was an unusually warm winter. We were on our way home from Scottsdale, Arizona where we had been swimming and basking in the sun only days before. We did a number of long road trips with our kids in those years and I have many fond memories and a few old slides.
How can it be that so many years have slipped by when the memories and the photos are so vivid? These things are supposed to fade and decompose with age, but I am right there, on the edge of nothingness, saying "Cheese!" I think I have been blessed with a good memory, especially for details of long ago. But I am not sure. It may just be an active imagination. I forget. Just don't ask me what my cell phone number is. (Unless I have my glasses on.)