Saturday, December 31, 2011

View From The Top

It was a sunny afternoon and the air was very clear. I was on the east end of town so decided to take a little detour and head up to Eagle Mountain.

The view is only as good as the air is pure. I noticed the air quality deteriorating the farther west I pointed my camera.

Mount Baker, as usual, was magnificent.

The late afternoon colours were warming up.

I always get a chuckle out of the fact that Mount Baker is on American soil, yet we Canadians get the best view of it, by far. It is not much to look at from the south, in Washington State.

And with the frosty roofs all lined up and the sun setting on the Sumas Prairie, I bid you adieu, 2011. You have been a good year but I am hoping your little offspring will outshine you.
And to all my readers, Happy New Year.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

I've Been Kindled

No, it's not anything to do with fire starting. It is an e reader for those of you who have been hiding under a rock during the unprecedented advancements in hand held electronic devices.
For the first time in many years, I could actually think of something other than a Corvette when my kids asked me if I wanted anything for Christmas. I am an avid reader and my eyesight is deteriorating so I thought one of these devices might kill two birds with one stone.
I have to say that it meets my expectations. The font is adjustable and the script is very clear and well defined. Because it is on a flat screen, my eyes are not doing the minute adjustment for distance like they do in a book with a curved surface as it sits in the hands. It is not back lit like a computer screen so there is no eye strain.
It can hold more books than I will read in the rest of my life and I can load them directly onto the Kindle because it is wi-fi. Imagine bringing a half dozen good books on a vacation all wrapped up in a wafer thin device with incredible re-chargeable battery life. I completed my first book, read from my Kindle, (The Hunger Games) and I am already convinced that I will not miss holding an actual book in my hands.
And the Corvette? They tell me I would have received one already had they been able to get it under the Christmas Tree. I believe them because I taught my children not to lie.    

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Couldn't Put it Down

Some things stay green for Christmas. The trick is finding a bit of sunlight to illuminate them.

My spare time in the last few days has been taken up with a book I had a difficult time putting down. It is a fictional novel written for teens but anyone will enjoy this read. It is about a totalitarian government in the far distant future who rules twelve districts in the land and holds annual games where two young people from each district are chosen by lottery to compete in the 'Hunger Games'. It is a battle fought in a contrived and very large outdoor arena, with huge rewards going to the victor. The game: survival. It does not take many days for the last person standing to be crowned.
This is a page turner for sure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Swimmin' in the Rain

Mr. Mallard

Mrs. Mallard

Ms. Mud Hen

Exactly one year ago, we were spending every evening in the hot tub in Palm Desert. Last night we re-lived that wonderful memory when Keith and Rachel invited us to have a soak in their hot tub. I remember very well helping them move the beast from their old house to their new one just this last spring. It was not a priority project for him, but he finally, just recently, got it placed and hooked up. The setup is great. It was raining, but being submerged under the hot bubbling water is all the better then. I thought of these ducks who go in the water no matter what the weather brings, and was glad I was not one of them when it was time to get out. I had a towel and warm dry clothes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We all have a space within which we are most comfortable. When someone 'gets in our face' we get uncomfortable, but for each one of us it is a bit different. Those who love crowds, for example, do not need much space. I like to keep a bit of distance.
My little trip to the Seven Oaks Mall on Boxing Day was a case in point. As I drove by the Alliance Church parking lot I was wondering what was going on there as the parking lot was full. Nothing, as it turned out, but it had become an overflow parking space for Boxing Day shoppers. The Mall parking lot holds thousands of cars so this was an indication of just how many people were there. I am not a mall shopper at the best of times. I found the masses of people were making me somewhat claustrophobic. It is the various smells of humanity that assault the senses that I find most delightful and most disturbing. As the sensual fragrance of a young ladies perfume makes me take a look around, I am suddenly brought back to reality with a whiff of curry and body odour, a bad combination even in the cold fresh air of a short December day. And there is the stale smell of tobacco on some one's breath, while his buddy counteracts that smell with the aroma of hot coffee wafting from the cup he is carrying. The overall atmosphere is humid and not really fresh as the air conditioning in the mall strains to keep up with all the exhaling. 
"Let me out!" It is the silent scream within me about to burst forth upon the surrounding ear drums. 
And then I remember my mission. I would not have come here without a purpose. I try to walk just a bit faster than the flow, but with there being no passing lane, all I accomplish is a harsh word from the weary shopper ahead of me as I step on his heel and his shoe comes right off. I mutter a not so Christian "Sorry" and rush on toward the avenue that will take me to "The Source", my destination. I notice on the way that some stores are letting customers in only a few at a time. These crowds encourage shop-lifting, probably a direct result of poor customer service and the confusion of too many bodies in a small space. 
"The Source" is full of people and I need to make an enquiry of someone knowledgeable. All staff are manning the cash registers ... except for one lone individual who looks like he taking a breather from irritated and demanding shoppers. I take a direct route to him, nearly knocking over a display of cell phone covers. I see another customer with equal determination, heading his way from the other direction. I pick up the pace and head the other guy off, just soon enough to avoid a tackle. Yes. He seems to know the technical answer to my question and reaches down inside a shelf and pulls out the $30.00 solution to my problem. I then pull out something similar from my pocket, something I thought to bring from home, and ask if this would work as well. Yes, it will work just fine, says he and with a heartfelt "thank you", I turn around and head back up stream feeling much like a salmon at spawning time. 
Mission accomplished. But at what price? I saved $30.00 and in the process endured my first ever Boxing Day at the mall. 
There are some things in life that you only need to do once, like getting married and going to the mall on Boxing Day. Why would anybody in their right mind do that again?     

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Fun

We always have a great time when we get together.
And, yes, we are a little bit crazy! Or, this is what too many chocolates and nuts will do.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Angels on My Tree

We have many angels of various shapes and sizes on our Christmas Tree. They are very significant in the Christmas story. It actually started when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her what was going to happen. Later, when the Christ Child was born, it was a host of Angels who announced to the shepherds in the surrounding hills that a very special child, a saviour, was born.

In both cases, the angels had to calm the fears of the mere mortals who were receiving a direct message from God. Today, we see the pretty and innocuos representations hanging on our trees or sitting on our mantles, and we forget that these are awesome beings, God's holy messengers. We do them a disservice by reducing them to crystal figurines, and plastic dolls with protruding lights. If we were to see one tonight, we too, like the shepherds, would be falling on our faces, frightened half to death, perhaps feeling for a certainty that we were about to die.

Our God, who is beyond words, created these beings, and so we must only imagine what he himself must be like. And, to think that He came as a helpless new born baby, lying in a bed of straw, should humble us to the core. By coming as a harmless baby at that point in time, He was telling us, like the angels told Mary and the shepherds, "Do not be afraid". It was not an act of intimidation, but one of pure love.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cold Duck

Click on this photo for some good detail.

We sleep under a goose down* duvet so I fully understand the insulating qualities of the feathers on this duck's body. The feathers  also repel water and when one is warm and dry, even the frigid waters of Mill Lake in December are not a problem. But here are two mysteries I do not understand. That leg dangling in the water has to be cold! He should be tucking it up under his body where it is warm and dry. But, the biggest mystery of all is why this bird has not flown south for the winter. Most of them do. Why would a healthy, sane duck stay here when he could be basking in the warm southern sun? It must have something to do with Homeland Security at the border.

* How do you get down off a horse? You don't. You get down off a goose.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Greek To Me

Our business this year was down substantially, but being the President and Chief Executive Officer of my company, I decided that the down turn would not prevent me from treating those near and dear to me to a company dinner. Being a democratic boss, I let the underlings decide the venue and "spare no cost", said I.
It was a local popular Greek restaurant that was thusly graced with our appearance last evening.
Surrounded by Greek ambiance and excellent culinary fare, we did due diligence in regards to the Income Tax Act that states that an entertainment tax write off must concern business. To meet the requirements, there was much talk of business matters, both past, present and future, and the guests at the table were treated to a few speeches, regarding business, of course.
I, as president and CEO, gave an annual report on trends, goals, and some motivational pep talk. The chief financial officer (me) then gave a report which amounted to an excuse why nobody was getting a raise and that they should be grateful they got lamb chops. The chief estimator (me) then gave a report as to why he was not able to wrestle more business in tough economic times, which amounted to telling the audience why he is not inclined to excessive aggressiveness. The chief purchasing agent (me) then gave a litany of price increases on supplies and urged the CEO to build these into his prices so they could be passed on to the customers, to which the CEO replied that he could not do that in order to stay competitive. "Suck it up and just be more efficient" was becoming a theme. The bookkeeper (me) gave a detailed breakdown on where the money was going, and it became evident that the government was getting most of it, leaving very little for such things as Tim Horton's coffee and utility bills.  
When the journeyman lead hand asked if he could procure a new paint brush, the Chief Financial officer handed him a roll of Duct Tape and told him to make it last one more year.
All in all, it was an exercise in 'belt tightening', until the President bought everyone a round of desert, whereupon we reached under our over sized bellies and actually loosened our belts. We left the restaurant feeling a little confused.     

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas

More forbidden berries, but they suit Christmas.

Phase two is completely finished as of 3pm yesterday. We are doing a complete home makeover and in spite of the fact that some of the subs were late in coming, we finished our end of things in time for Christmas. Next spring or summer we will be back to complete the the third and final stage. Finished business feels good at the end of the year. I do not like loose ends.
I came home to wonderful smells of baking and cooking. busylizzy has been busy preparing all sorts of goodies for the festive season ahead, in spite of the fact that three of her kitchen appliances broke down in one day. They were no match for her enthusiasm and energy levels. She is a tough boss in the kitchen. ("Take that, you 20 year old Kitchen Aid. What, you don't like a 20 pound lump of sticky dough all at once?" Followed by popping, banging, wheezing, grinding, moaning and sighing as the machine died of sheer exhaustion in a vain attempt to keep up with its task master's impossibe demands.)

We decided to take an evening walk to the town square where there is a lovely creche and where there was supposed to be a time of Christmas Carol singing. It was all beautiful except the singing. Oh, and guy trying to play the saxaphone sounded exactly like the expiring Kitchen Aid. In a word, it was lame, so we kept on walking, trying to stay warm in the cold night breezes. We did walk for an hour and got our metabolisms revved up. It was not a lost cause after all. It gave me a legitimate excuse to have another cookie when I walked in the door, all rosie cheeked and ravishingly hungry.     

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Much is too Much?

Forbidden berries.

With the world wide 'Occupy Movement' still showing signs of life, you would think the ultra wealthy would lie low to shift some of the negative attention away from themselves. A recent survey shows American CEOs enjoyed pay hikes of up to 40% this last year, with one chief executive earning (sic) $145m. This comes as the latest government figures show that wages for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.
Three of this year's top ten earners came from the American Health care system. And, losing your job in health is not too shabby either. Omnicare's Joel Gemunder retired last August and received cash severance of $16m, part of a final year pay package worth $98.28m.
I am a free enterpriser to the core, and absolutely believe that someone should be paid what they are worth, but nobody or their talents are worth that much money.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Is This The Way It Works?

Fish skeletons, feathers, or grass?

Our members of parliament were pressed for time and could no longer change their own light bulbs. After much debate in the House of Commons, it was decided to form a parliamentary committee to look into the matter. A report was written a few months later and as a result of a private member's bill, a person was hired to actually change the light bulbs in each of the offices of all of the MPs. This man's salary was determined by fair wage policies put forth in previous legislation and was set at $56,000.00 per annum. The time of the parliamentarians was now freed up to do the work of government. The LBC (light bulb changer) was required to join the Canadian Union of Public Employees and then was required to be protected from job hazards, yet to be determined.
A safety committee was struck to look into such things as ladder heights, the toxicity of various types of light bulbs and the danger of light glare in the eyes. A permanent position was created to oversee the LBC's tasks in terms of safety because every situation was different and the LBC was not technically qualified to assess each situation. Because there was now a payroll for this job, an accountant was hired as well as a supervisor to oversee the LBC, the safety technician, and the accountant. The LCB was allowed, under his contract, three weeks paid vacation so a replacement had to be hired, but had to be trained first. The LCB then received a salary bonus as a specialty trainer. Together with a newly acquired secretary, the LCB drew up a draft for a training manual, and had it published in both official languages, after having had it edited for political correctness and gender bias. Of course, it stated quite clearly that the assistant LBC had to be a female of colour to meet the requirements of equal opportunity. With this many employees in the newly created LBC department, an oversight committee was formed, who were directly responsible to the under secretary of  the assistant to the deputy minister in charge of maintenance of the Parliament Buildings. 
And then came the downturn in the economy.
Every ministry and every department was required to cut costs in order to meet new budget requirements. Each and every department was required to report on exactly what they had done to keep expenses down, and indeed actually cut costs. The deputy minister in charge of Parliamentary building maintenance was absolutely proud as he announced that they had reduced their direct expenses by $56,000.00 for the fiscal year. They had fired the LBC. 
The LBC department remained intact in order to lessen the impact on the job figures, but the MPs now change their own light bulbs. After all, they should suffer in a downturn like the rest of us Canadians.    

Sunday, December 18, 2011


This is what folks in New Zealand saw on a billboard recently. It is Mary, the future mother of Jesus, being aghast while holding a pregnancy tester in her hand. It has brought both controversy and condemnation, and praise. For those who are devout and venerate Mary, this would be blasphemous. For those who recognise that it is obviously meant to stir the pot on our attitudes towards unwed pregnancy, it is mildly amusing. I see it as misinformation, apart from the obvious fact that Mary did not have access to a pregnancy tester.
What it most certainly portrays, is that Mary was surprised, and that far away look in her eyes tells us that she is pondering her most uncertain future when she finds out she is with child. But, hold on just a moment. The fact that Mary was pregnant was no surprise to her.
An angel came to her and told her she was most honoured among women and that the Spirit of God would descend upon her and she would be with child. She knew in advance, and the Bible said that she pondered these things in her heart. When it was confirmed that she was pregnant, it was no surprise, but rather a confirmation that it was indeed as the Angel had said. She even knew that the baby's name would be Jesus and that he would be the son of the God most high!  
That is vastly different than a woman being surprised after the fact.
Are these people not reading their Bibles?

Friday, December 16, 2011


The glory days of Fall just before the heavy frosts hit.

I do a lot of reading and here are few choice quotes from the last few days.

1. In reading some great minds in the midst of their search for solutions for solving the world's economic woes, the word 'laissez-faire' comes up quite a bit these days. It originated in 1860 when then French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert asked a merchant named M.Le Gendre what the state could do to promote industry. His reply, and the translation: "let it be". Good advice, I think.     

2. "Bankrupt entities tend to go bankrupt. Greece will default, eventually"  Eric Fry

3. Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons addressing our Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, "You are a piece of s**t"
Apparently, the acorn has not fallen far from the tree. I recall his father, then Prime Minister of Canada, travelling through Salmon Arm BC in his luxury coach giving some protesters the middle finger salute. Family traditions die hard.*More on this if you like, below.

4. Bill Bonner of the Daily Reckoning has a good definition of government: "Government is just a way for the insiders to take advantage of the outsiders."

5. My Grandson Liam (3) after losing the guitar pick inside the guitar, "Just forget about it"   

*I'm not sure about you, but I have been amused watching the events unfold at the Durban climate change meetings - they are talking about global warming again, and what bad people we are as Canadians. The fallout from this reached into the House of Commons yesterday with an outburst from the Liberal's next great hope, Justin Trudeau, calling the federal Environment Minister a "piece of shit." You can read an article about that by clicking here.
To be clear, there is no doubt that Peter Kent could have been somewhat more eloquent in addressing this matter instead of sticking to talking points. Having said that, he is totally correct in my view to say that Kyoto is over and that Canada needs to move on.
I recently spoke to a group of University of Windsor law students. During the question and answer period, which lasted an hour (the future of this country will be very bright if all university students are this engaged with their thoughtful questions and rebuttals!), I was asked about Kyoto. When I responded that Canada emits 2% of the world's greenhouse gases they were surprised to hear that it is that low. When I told them that Alberta's oil sands contribute just 5% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions they were again surprised as they expected it would be a lot more.
Where is most of the media on this? Crickets. They want you to believe the sky is falling and that Canada's Conservative government are a bunch of red-neck dinosaurs when it comes to dealing with the environment. China gets a free pass even though they contribute over 20% of the world's greenhouse gases. The US never signed on to Kyoto and guess who was Vice President at that time - Al Gore, the 'do as I say, not as I do' hypocrite.
So, why are the Justin Trudeau's of the political left complaining so loudly when they did ZERO while they were in power? The Liberals know their own record on this file - they were all talk and no action as usual. They signed Kyoto and reaped the PR benefits of doing so without ever following through.
The federal Conservative party has rightly called their bluff, and have now said 'good riddance' to an expensive agreement that did nothing. That is the reality as to why the Liberals are so mad - they have been hoisted on their own petards and do not like the view.

Peter Coleman of the National Citizen's Coalition


Thursday, December 15, 2011


I love my customers! When I work for someone for the first time, there is a period of time where I feel they are testing me, or at least trying to get to know me. I was recommended to them by a friend or neighbour, but they have to verify what was told them according to the way they see things. I tread lightly too and slowly discover what they are about, what their expectations are, and just how friendly they want to be. 
One year ago, we did a large job for Dr. X and it went well. The previous painters had done an atrocious job so we knew they would be pleased with our work, but did not know if they would like us. This last week, we spent another three days in their home and it was like we were long lost friends. I love this about my job.
Today I went to get supplies for the next project and was told at the store that a customer of mine was in and wanting to know if I would be available in the New Year. The manager did not remember her name (he is my age, how can you tell?) but he did comment that she told him that we had become friends. I expect a call very soon from my "friend" whoever that may be.    

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snowman Humour, or Not

The missing snowman was eventually found. He was at Safeway in the produce department, picking his nose.

One snowman to another, "You are right, it does smell like carrots!"

When Mr. Snowman put his entire paycheck in the snow bank, Mrs. Snowman gave him the cold shoulder.

Enough already. I can hear your groans from here!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sinking Ship

I met this fellow at Mill Lake one day. His ship was sinking, literally, so he brought it back to shore (it was motorized with a remote control) and knew exactly what the problem was and how to fix it.
I thought of this as I listened to a fascinating interview a few days ago, with the President of Iceland. After the world economic crash in 2008, his country was more or less written off and it was predicted that it would be the first to default its national debt, even before Greece. It would become the Cuba of the north. After going to a referendum with his citizens, he undertook a plan that went against all current so called wisdom in the world of economy. He presented it to his debtors, England, the Netherlands and a handful of other EU countries. Under threat of having their international assets frozen, as well as other severe sanctions, he went ahead and let the three major Icelandic banks go bankrupt.
Since that time, there has been a rapid recovery of their economy, the IMF has pulled out, and they are projecting 3% growth for 2012!
Since "going to school" on the subject, I am convinced that this is exactly the route other nations should have taken at the time. "Too big to let fail" is an excuse that flies in the face of a true market economy. Look at where it has brought us.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Less, not More

There are still a few folks around who do not realise the grave state of affairs in the world economy. It is easy to spot them. What is really scary is that many of them are politicians. How do you recognise one of them? Listen to them. Do they use the word "more"? Or, are they one of the few who are understanding the causes of our woes. Listen for them. They will use words such as "less" or "value for the money" or "better efficiency".
When governments of any stripe are in debt, anything they spend beyond a balanced budget comes from borrowing. That is called debt and there is interest to be paid. When you keep on spending more than you take in, your debt gets larger and larger. And thus, the woes we are in.
Next time you hear an advocate for teacher's unions, or more funding for health care, or more money for reducing carbon emissions, you will know that those calling for more need to be educated. These people should be held to account, and we should not be demanding more from our politicians either. Would it not be refreshing to elect the political party that made the fewest and least expensive promises? The party that promised less spending and more efficiency, and then actually delivered? Only then will we begin to recover.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Upside Down

Through my many years of work, I have come to discover what normal is when it comes to availability of jobs. After some of the bills from Christmas are paid off and the excitement of New Year's parties has waned, my clients start to think about decorating once again. By spring, the wheels are turning and the phone is constantly ringing with people wanting to book our services. When summer comes, and the kids are out of school, holidays are on every one's minds and my work gets slow. Slow, but not halted. Then, in September, the kids go back to school and the homeowners start gearing up for the Fall makeover and making the home spiffy for Christmas. A week before Christmas, it dries up and there is little activity until the winter doldrums are once again over in late Jan. to early Feb.
This year was an aberration. Spring was the slowest, and beyond that, we were down 50% over the previous year. But now, we have jobs that will commit us to work right to Christmas Eve, between Christmas and New Year's, and well into January. I never complain about too much or too little work. If you do hear me complain about work, it will be about the timing. It is so out of our control, unless, of course, I turn down my loyal customers. I will do that when I deal with retirement.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Have You Said This?

If you enlarge this photo, you will see that this fellow is not too happy that I took his picture.

The cover story on the latest National Geographic magazine features the King James Bible. I was surprised to see this kind of subject matter in a publication devoted to Darwinian Evolution and deep environmentalism. It is an interesting look at the history and evolution of the Holy Scriptures and concentrates more on its cultural influence than anything else. Something I found interesting was the number of phrases, that have their origin in the King James language and in the Bible, that are alive and well in our everyday usage. There are 240 popular phrases and here are a few of the top ones in order of frequency of use:

From time to time: Ezekiel 10:10
The root of the matter: Job 19:28
Stand in awe: Psalms 4:4
Suffer the little children: Luke 18:16
Get thee behind me: Luke 4:8
A thorn in the flesh: 2 Corinthians 12:7
As a lamb to the slaughter: Isaiah53:7
How are the mighty fallen: 2 Samuel 1:19
East of Eden: Genesis 4:16
Turned the world upside down: Acts 17:6
Unto the pure are all things pure: Titus 1:15
A man after his own heart: 1 Samuel 13:14
Know for a certainty: Joshua 23:13
Beat their swords into plowshares: Isaiah 2:4
To everything there is a season: Ecclesiastes 3:1
No small stir; Acts 12:18
Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven: Matthew 6:20
Much study is a weariness of the flesh: Ecclesiastes 12:12
The skin of my teeth: Job 19:20
Fell flat on his face: Numbers 22:31
Set thine house in order: Isaiah 38:1
Be horribly afraid: Jeremiah 2:12
Pour out your heart: Psalms 62:8

The next time you catch yourself using one of these phrases in everyday usage, be aware that you are quoting scripture. Be careful lest you be labeled a 'Bible thumper'.  

Friday, December 9, 2011


I warned you. I am extending Autumn well into winter.

The annual giving statistics for Canada were released this week and for the ninth year in a row, our community has ranked #1 in giving. In fact we are triple the national average! There is probably a good explanation for this 'feather in our hat'. We are, on average, a wealthy community and most of us can afford to give. But what I think is the biggest factor is the that we are a christian community. By that, I mean that we have a very high ratio of churches and above average church attendance. Christians, who are following the Biblical mandate will give 10% of their income without question. Not all do, but you can imagine that even if a small percentage of them do, it will boost the averages.
This begs an important question. If this giving is in large part as a result of Biblical principles, another principle from the same Bible must be considered. The words in the 'Good Book' are clear that when we give, it will be given back, running over and in great abundance. The question then is: Do we give because we are wealthy, or are we wealthy because we give? Not that getting should influence our giving, but something for those who are 'cheaping out' to consider.   

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Too Stupid for Words

Is there any hope that we will one day arise out of the abyss of utter and abject stupidity? I keep thinking that we have hit bottom, like when the school buses in Ontario are ordered to remove all Christmas decorations from the bus. Or when the instructions on a curling iron caution the user that it may get hot. But the above photo may show that we have hit bottom. The seventeen year old girl pictured was not allowed on a US domestic airline flight because the metal applique on her purse was a replica handgun. OK, I get it that replica handguns can be dangerous, not because they are dangerous, but because they can cause panic among the paranoid, but calling this a replica handgun is beyond stupid. The whole idea behind TSA security is to protect, and to avoid any situation or potential situation where anyone would be put at risk. Well, good on the inpsector who saved all those on the flight from the dangers of a purse in the hands of a seventeen year old girl whose mother was panicking that she was not on the flight.  I am sure they will be forever grateful.   

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Same, But Not

Every year at this time I start getting that feeling that I want to escape. No, it is not the weather, the cold, damp, dark days that push me into thinking that 'south' is the place to be. That is a different kind of escape. I am talking about escaping from Christmas.
Fast forward just a bit and I am sure you can relate to the way I feel when Christmas Eve finally arrives. The shopping, planning, banquets and all the periphery stuff is finally out of the way. You take a deep breath and if you are in church, like I always am on Christmas Eve, you are suddenly hit by the significance of it all. It is a combination of relief that you survived the mall, or the Internet shopping, and hearing the carols with a listening ear for the first time, even though they have been blaring all of December. You are humbled by the fact, if by nothing else, that this story has endured for 2012 years and is going strong. You are confronted with what is the most significant thing in your life, and that is your connection with God, through Jesus, and here you are, remembering and celebrating with millions of others around the globe.   

These three 'same but not' photos, are like the Christmases that come, one after another through the years. The subject matter is identical year after year, but somehow we see them a little differently each year. Getting back to my desire to escape, I must clarify. It is not the heart of the matter that makes me cringe and want to hide, but the incessant frills, bells, and whistles that are a prelude to the significant moment, that hits me every year.

Now, as a grandfather, I see Christmas through my grandsons eyes. I try to remember what it was like for me at that age, and perhaps try to make it just a bit more significant for them. More rewarding than the food, the fun, the laughter, or the presents, is the one comment from a child-like heart, that shows me that one of them has made a connection to the Christ Child. I can easily escape all else, but would not miss a moment like that for all the world.   

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

History: The Great Teacher, or Not

Summit Point at the Lake

The following is a small excerpt from a recent article in the Vancouver Sun written by Frank Giustra, a Vancouver business executive involved in the mining and the film making industries and a noted philanthropist.

To get a proper understanding of the current situation, we should start by ignoring all the noise propagated by the experts, media and elected officials.

Our global financial system is based on the very simple and fragile concept of confidence. So you can’t really blame the policy-makers and politicians for not telling the public the “entire” truth; feeding us constant reassurances, peppered with a little mendacity. And to make things worse, it’s just human nature for us, the recipients of this information, to reject the idea that the worst can happen, hence our willingness to find reassurance in the misinformation we are fed. But folks, the worst CAN happen.

I doubt the citizens of Imperial Rome ever considered that their empire, which stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea, would eventually collapse on itself from the sheer weight of effort and resources needed to maintain it, or that 16th-century Spaniards ever thought their high standard of living, sustained by the plundered riches of the New World, would disintegrate once the supply of gold dwindled.

Or that the upper-class 19th-century Brits leading up to 1918 ever fathomed that the sun could cease to set on lands ruled by the British Empire. History has shown that when great nations mature and over-extend themselves, they revert to the paths of least resistance: borrow and/or print money. They all did it and they all failed; this time will be no different.

If Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — holds true, we should move to have all of America’s and European policy-makers locked up in padded cells.

This hubris — holding on to time-worn ideas about what made a nation great in the first place, but ignoring the hard sacrifice that went with it — has prevailed throughout history and is as relevant today as it was for every great nation that came before America and the European Union.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting Our Share of Fun

The Christmas busyness begins.
 Friday night was the "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" starring (well, sort of) my grandson Nathan.
Then, Saturday night was a dinner at our home for some extended family.
Sunday morning was the children's Christmas production at church, "The Christmas Spelling Bee" starring (well, sort of) my grandson Chad. His character was a contestant who misspelled a word and was eliminated from the competition and relegated to duty as a Wise Man in the Christmas pageant.

Chad, the Wise Man on the left, right in front of the Angel.

Prior to the musical, all the two and three year olds were trooped onto the stage. I knew my grandson Liam was up there but they had cleverly disguised him as a donkey and it took me forever to scan the rows of cherub faces and finally spot my Liam.
Donkey eared Liam is the 4th from the right, beside the sleeping boy.

He was 'into it', singing and doing the actions, when suddenly he just disappeared from view. He had taken a step backwards and vanished below the 18 in. riser he had been standing on. A 'helper' was right there, got him back on his feet, and he never missed a beat, as he just kept on singing and doing the actions. They tell stage performers to "break a leg" as they prepare for the production, so I guess Liam was just trying to do what he was told. Good thing he failed.
Then it was off to a wonderful lunch at a friend's home with our Care Group friends. Our sweet gals did a cookie exchange and we are now supplied with a wonderful variety of goodies for the next little while.
We went for a long walk in the late afternoon, in the pink glow of the sunset, and met some old friends on the hiking trail. We were having such a good time with them that we almost ended up walking home in the dark.
I ended the day on a bright note, not that the whole day was not bright, but my hockey team, with me cheering them on, defeated the Calgary Flames.
Back to work today.     

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Signs of Aging

The last winter rose.

Absent: not present. It follows that something lost is absent, because it is not present.

I only ponder this because I cannot determine if I am absent minded, or if I have lost my mind.
On Friday, I posted about "Glitches" but on that day, my mind glitched too.  It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was. You see, I got out of my daily routine, and that has its own set of dangers. I was off to the chiropractor's first thing in the morning, not to work. I rushed home, changed into work clothes, and raced off to my job, a 25 Km. commute that day. I no sooner got out of my vehicle, and I realised that I had not brought my special work glasses, glasses that are single vision for a close up focal point. Being late already, and having an agenda to keep, I decided the trip home was too time consuming, so I plugged away with my progressives. 
To say the least, I struggled all day, craning my neck into a position where I could see my work with some clarity, all the while tempted to drive home and back. Being the stubborn person that I am, I endured and got through the day, but not without paying a price. Having strained my neck in a backward position all day, my neck was so sore I developed a cracking headache. 
Conclusion: Is saving the time and gas to correct a vision problem worth more than wasting a chiropractor's fee and then having to go back to him for another correction? Of course, having lost my mind, I cannot even answer that question. 
I think I am ready for a "Man Purse", something that will store everything I might need every time I venture out of my house. I will have several of them, each one stocked with identical items, in case I lose one. Everything will be labeled and identified, with an explanation of why it is in the 'purse'. Covering the bases is becoming a survival skill.   

Saturday, December 3, 2011


This is the cast for the Abbotsford Children's Theater's winter production, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". We went to see it last night and it was excellent. The story is funny and even heart warming toward the end. It is about a church Christmas Pageant that gets hi-jacked by a family of bullies and disreputable kids who are mean and intimidating to everyone they come in contact with. Through sheer intimidation, they take over as the main characters of the pageant and things turns out quite differently than everyone expects. We were extremely proud of our Grandson, Nathan, who was one of the main characters. I am not sure how he came to love the stage, as it does not run in the family at all.  He is the good looking guy in the back row, in the burgundy shirt, second left from the center rail.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Looking north at the top of my street, there was a row of these beauties. They are now bare.

Yesterday the blogger spell check was not working. You may have noticed. Or not. I cannot believe how dependant I have become on spell check. I never was a great speller, but I have become lazy with all the help I get on the computer.
Spell check was not the only thing that went wrong. Two full days of work was down the drain when we discovered that we were using defective material on the job. It only became evident as time passed. We managed to get it all corrected today and the supplier has informed us that they will be good for the labour and materials that it took to rectify the situation. So far, those are just words. I suspect there will first be an investigation, then an inquiry, then an adjudication, a judgement, and then finally, after the required 90 day waiting period, a check. Maybe. Just in time for my ninetieth birthday. More than likely, I will simply get a credit for more product. That way, it costs them less than half of a cash payout.   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's Going On?

We shared this apple last week, the one and only apple we harvested from our two Red Delicious trees. Let's say it was anti-climactic.

Yesterday the markets shot upward dramatically. Do you know why? Do you care? You should because what is happening, with greater speed each and every day, will determine your immediate future.
We all know about the crisis in Euro country, and what happened yesterday, boosted the confidence of the markets because the perception is that a solution is afoot. The world's most stable currency and economy, that of the USA has intervened.* They are going to print a ton of money to help stabalize the Euro crisis. Of course, they do not call it what it is, printing money, the call it 'swapping', or 'easing', or 'recapitalizing' or 'saving us from the abyss' or 'bolstering financial markets'.

A bit of background is in order here. After the second world war, a prominent economist, John Maynard Keynes, proposed a global paper currency regulated by a central bank. Sound almost biblical, does it not? His plan did not fly, but out of the idea there arose the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank. These institutions became nothing more than administrators of welfare payments to impoverished nations. But, the dream did not die.

The economies of the nations have long been lead by Keynesians, those who believe that the market by itself cannot create stability in the economy, but things such as interest rates and money supply, and inflation and deflation, manipulated by government, bring about a sound economy. The goals and dream of Keynes lives on and the creation of the Euro and its central bank were a step in that direction. This 'dream' has not yet been instituted because there has not, to this point, been a financial crisis of great enough proprotion to warrant such a thing.

Ben Bernanke, the head of the US Fed, is a dyed in the wool Keynsian and has unlimited faith in the magical powers of the US paper currency. The US has been interventionist, militarily, throughout the world, and now they feel it is in everyone's best interest that they interfere monetarily. And Ben has no qualms about fighting a debt crisis with more debt. If this latest move creates rampant global inflation, there is your crisis that will push us to a world currency.

This whole scenario is playing out very rapidly. Only two days ago, the markets fell dramatically because it was widely known that credit was drying up in Europe. Now a huge turnaround with the influx of US dollars. Mr. Bernanke has become the loans manager for the entire world. This is scarey because he does not know what he is doing. Or does he?

*Actually, the USA is, in some ways, in much more serious trouble than its European counterparts. It is the blind leading the blind.