Monday, December 31, 2012

And Yet Another Year

Fireworks are a symbol. They are used primarily as a means to show celebration. There will be fireworks tonight, although not in my city where they are banned. Does that mean that we cannot celebrate an old year passing and new one arriving? Probably not.

For some, there will be cause for celebration. It may have been a banner year in any of the many areas of life, a year to remember. In my own history, there are only a few years that I remember specifically because of what happened in that year. Maybe there are a dozen at most.  

Will this be a year that you remember? Will 2013 be the best, or maybe the worst year ever? These banner years cannot entirely be planned by us. Often random events will make a year memorable or not. It is a bad year to be born according to the Chinese calendar. Does that play out only if you believe it? What will your year hold?

To the extent that you have any control at all, may you attempt to make 2013 a great year. In regards to those events that will randomly come your way, unexpectedly, both good and bad, all I can wish for you is that God would grant you the courage, the faith, and the grace to take it in stride and to make the most of it. I have discovered, in my experience, that everything that starts good, or bad, does not always remain so. Change is certain, and to realise that gives perspective to life.
And to those of you who are nervous about the Chinese Year of the Snake, it arrives on Feb. 4, 2013, but actually 2013 years have passed and we will be into the 2014th. Think about it.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Last Job of 2012

The house, by my best guess, is about 14,000 sq. ft. in size. We almost needed a GPS to find our way around. There were four areas and four different styles and designs of wallpaper to be hung. The difficulty ranged from very difficult to very easy, and we did manage to hang all 22 rolls in less than 8 hours. The above was the feature wall in the dining room, off the main grand entry. Very elegant and very difficult to work with. In the photo, you can see that I have just passed the thermostat, cutting out the paper and tucking the flaps in behind it. Moments later, the owner came and told us that it (the thermostat) was being moved. Not too bright to move it after the fact. When I go back to repair the gap in the middle of the wall, the splices will show just enough to make them want to hang a mirror or some art over that area.

This was an Anaglypta type of wall covering in the main bathroom (one of 12 in the house) that is designed to be painted over. Someone else was going to that .... an antiqued bronze finish.

The little girl's room got a pretty pink feature wall. We had much difficulty determining which was right side up with this pattern. I think we got it right.  
The fourth area was a large wall in the master suite but it was so plain and white it was not photo worthy.
It was all a pleasant diversion from eating turkey.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Big Head Wallpaper

I love the variety in my work. It will often involve a challenge, such as this mural-like wallpaper we hung a few weeks ago. There was enough material ordered if area by the sq. ft. was the only consideration, but this graphic had to be planned out and centered in both directions, meaning that there was not enough material. After considering different options, we finally did a bit of 'fudging' and this was the result. The customer was thrilled as ordering another roll would have involved possible discrepancy in dye lots and would have cost her a bundle. Besides, her Christmas party was the following day and order time on this wallpaper was six weeks.
Although this is not my taste, it is interesting and actually suited the modern style of the house as well as the client's eclectic tastes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homeless Dwarfs

The long awaited movie "The Hobbit" arrived a few weeks ago and true to my word, I went to see it. Being a 'prequel' to "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, it had big shoes to fill. I did not read the book before hand, like I did for the previous trilogy, so I had no expectations.
The dwarf nation, mighty in power and rich in gold, idolized the wealth and soon a usurper conquered them and is now hidden away inside the mountain that used to be the dwarf kingdom. There was a remnant of dwarf survivors, and among these arise a hand full of brave warriors whose goal is to restore the kingdom. Besides themselves, they have a wizard, Gandalf, and a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
They set off with a map that holds a secret, and a key to an unknown door. The adventure begins and soon there are all manner of evil trolls, orcs, and other mutants attacking them, either trying to eat them, or deter them from their quest. The special effects, costumes, and sets are breathtaking in their scope and their authenticity. It was indeed entertaining. The movie is, however, flawed.
Several of the scenes would have been much more effective had they been trimmed down a bit. The three trolls trying to roast dwarfs on a spit is great, but a bit long and gets tiresome. Same goes for the 'rock monsters' and the games that Baggins plays with Golam in the shallow waters of the underworld.
I also felt there was not enough character development. I could not identify with any of the characters, except perhaps for the Hobbit, who just wanted to go back home and live in peace. He shows some emotion about his situation and feels rejection by his comrades. The others, I just didn't care about. Had one of them been beheaded, I would not have missed him.
Three hour movies are the trend these days, and I read about an app for your device that lets you know when a boring part comes so you can sneak out to the bathroom to have a break. There would have been a few in this movie. I thought the studios all knew that a movie cannot do well on visuals alone. You need a story and great characters, just like a good book.
3 stars

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas at Our House

Our cherished hand-made nativity figurines given to me by a client who has since passed away.

This Angel belonged to my mother who passed away 11 years ago.

Another gift from a client whose job we finished two days before Christmas.

Another angel from our eclectic ornament collection.

The winter village set up on our hutch.

Winter Angel all bundled up.

Our tree.

Our dinner table before the banquet arrived.

Our kids and grandsons.

Did I mention that I googled 'dysfunctional' and found this image?

C'mon guys, Christmas is serious!

Chad loving the warm slippers from his Nana. You know they are growing up when they appreciate something they can wear.

Nathan loving his Lava Lamp.

Nana appreciates the fruity soaps and body scrubber from Nathan.

Liam is following in Chad's footsteps with his excitement over his box of Lego.
Our family tradition is to open gifts on Christmas Eve, after a wonderful dinner prepared by busylizzy. It was a fun evening, full of laughter, food, gifts, and lots of love. But, we are not yet done. There is Boxing Day with more excitement, and then Saturday when busylizzy's family gets together in Vancouver. And who knows what intrigue awaits us on New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day 2012

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I was looking for that defining moment and that it would probably come during the Christmas Eve Service. Anticipation, expectation, and revelation came together and at a most unexpected time. The service had not even begun, and to settle the crowd down, a very cute video made by our Sunday School dept. was played on the Power Point. It was a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's trek to Bethlehem and them finding no room in the Inn. As the birth occurred and the angels and shepherds gathered around the manger, with a real new born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, I noticed how excited the little actors were, none older than six or seven, but most younger. They were bouncing up and down, cheering, and tossing balloons in the air.
I was overwhelmed by the innocence and sense of joy being displayed and how it contrasts with my jaded attitude toward all the trappings of Christmas.
If the Angels were rejoicing at this God sanctioned event, how can we not also be joyful.
Thousands of years of prophesy was fulfilled that blessed night, God's plan was coming to fruition and in spite of Satan's most valiant attempt, through King Herod, it could not be stopped.
It is truly the defining moment in the history of mankind. A turning point.
Only those who will stand under God's judgement because they refuse to believe and accept, could not find joy in such an event.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

A few last minute errands, a trip to the old folk's home to visit with my dad and drop off a gift for some of the staff, a small lunch, and then the earliest of 4 Christmas Eve services at church, dinner here with my little family, and then our traditional gift opening, and I can call it a day.
December 25th was not the actual birth date of Jesus, but because this time has been chosen by tradition, and because the actual time and day does not really matter, I will still find time in the day to dwell on the event. It will probably happen during the service. It almost always does. Ours is a Christ centered and a biblical church, and the music, together with some words from our wise and articulate pastor, will draw me to contemplation, and away from the noise of the season. There is usually a defining moment each year that sets this time apart from the rest of the year. I look forward to it with anticipation, and expectation. I want it to change me.
I want it to change the world.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thinking Ahead

The snow is gone for now, and the sun actually came out late in the day on Friday. The surrounding mountains are dipped in icing sugar and against a deep blue backdrop are just stunning. We went for a late afternoon walk and had difficulty getting a grip on the black ice sidewalks. With my heaviest jacket and a warm felt hat, I was still cold and yearned to be in S. California .... or Mexico .... or Hawaii.
Work is done until after Boxing day, then another break, and as the New Year begins, it will find us in White Rock, back at it for a quick start to 2013. Mixed feelings again this year, about the way things panned out in '12, and what the New Year will hold. I am certainly grateful for most of what came down, but there were also some things I am not so thrilled about. "Give thanks in all circumstances" is easier said than done.
For now, we will enjoy the Christmas season as it rushes upon us in the next few days. It will be, as always, a wonderful time of family, food, memories, and celebrating what has become something it was never meant to be. Perhaps we will find a few special moments in the noise and excitement to reflect on Jesus, who left his home in Glory, became one like us, only to be beaten and cruelly murdered. We do not dwell on that, but rather we want to hear about mangers, angels, shepherds, and wise men. We want to hear about gifts and lights, and trees, and eggnog. We will leave the serious stuff for Easter. The world has corrupted Christmas in a hundred ways. It has become almost everything but the birth of our Saviour.  
They cannot do that to Easter. It will do us good to think of Easter this Christmas and realise just what a great gift God has really given us.   

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ladder of Success

In the spirit of a 'green' Christmas, and because a real tree is a living breathing thing that should be left for someone to hug, and because an artificial tree is not recyclable, and because I was not using my ladder during the holidays anyway, and because I can just fold it up and put it in the basement, ready for next year, and because it is easier to climb to the top to affix the star, and because I was in a hurry, and because I thought it was just plain tasteful as well as beautiful, and because I believe a Christmas tree should a conversation piece, I present my Christmas tree for 2012.
I expect a call from Martha Stewart shortly.
(I can't wait for busylizzy to get home from work and see it!)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gun Free

Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. The law, still intact after many challenges and rewrites, reads: "It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone."

"The government should do something", is the cry we hear in the wake of the atrocious murders of those innocent school children a few days ago. Well, they did, and it was 22 years ago that this bold law was put into effect. What has been the result you might ask.?
The law did not work, at least not as intended. On the contrary! A killer can be pretty much assured that when going into a gun free zone he will be the only one armed.
Think of this: Schools in particular have been singled out as a place without the ability to defend against violence. Have school shootings declined since this law as written? Most major shootings now occur in gun-free zones and nearly twice as many since the act was passed, than in the twenty years prior!

This is plain and simple logic that most media and most people will overlook simply because they deny reality. NOBODY wants guns in the school. NOBODY feels comfortable with teachers and principals 'packing', ready to shoot the next crazy "Lanza" that enters their school. But then neither does anyone want any more innocent grade one children murdered.
And here is a story that did not make the news in a big way, but should have. Just days after Sandy Hook, a shooter attempted to gun down people at the Mayan Palace Theater in San Antonio, Texas. (Yes, people have guns down there) An off duty deputy whipped out her own gun and blasted him before the killer could reenact the rampage at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The tragedy was averted. Who knows, it could have eclipsed the Sandy Hook shooting, but it was prevented, and yet it gets almost no coverage.

Until such time that there are virtually no more guns in society, (and that will never happen) at least let institutions and individuals protect themselves. Knowing that they can and will do that, will be a huge deterrant to gun toting 'crazies'.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reaching .... Again

This is not me, nor are these my hands or arms. But this is what I am now able to do.
As promised, though a day late, I am reporting in, regarding my recovery. On Monday I only worked a few hours to test the new found mobility I had in my right arm. It went well so I put in a full 8 hours yesterday. I reached, stretched, lifted, and did all the normal things I used to be able to do, and am pleased to report that I am again able to do what is required in my work to please my customers as well as stay off of disability pay. In fact, I have never taken disability pay. Ever. Nor Employment Insurance, accident insurance, nor any other type of social safety net income. Proud? Fortunate?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Once again I disappoint. This is not me. But it does demonstrate the range of motion I now have in my arm, the one that I could not lift higher than my waist just a few days ago. I am going back to work today, lifting, reaching, and all the other things I have to do with my arms. I will report back tomorrow.
Come to think of it, I actually do resemble the guy in the photo ... except maybe for the short hair and the tattoo.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I got the dreaded call on Saturday. We hear so much about identity theft and credit card scams so I guess it is my turn. Apparently someone in New York city made a $500.00 cash withdrawal from an ATM with my card. Well, not my card, but with my card information.
It is amazing that it was caught only moments before the bank called. I confirmed that I was not in New York and they promptly cancelled the card. The next time the thief tries to use it, he will be flagged as possessing a stolen card.
And how do the crooks do it? They 'skim' information from the card readers at the service counters where you pay for your purchases. It is a small sophisticated device that fits into the card slot. When it is retrieved later, it contains all the credit card info as well as the secure code, or P.I.N. number. They either sell the information or they press a new card and off they go.
And now the fun begins. I have numerous auto debits coming off my card every month as well as some Internet accounts for online purchases, such as Kindle Books. When I receive my new card in about 5 days, I have to go to each account and change the information.
At least it is only an inconvenience for me, not a $500.00 hole in my pocket.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Three

I have been home with a severe arm injury and have had lots of time to read. Anything else is too painful. I am now caught up to Judson Roberts and am waiting for him to complete book 4.
Our hero, Halfdan, the Viking who is coming of age, has begun to reek vengeance on the bad guys who murdered his family. He has a long way to go and that is what the 4th installment will likely cover. After 3 books, I have come to care about this young man who is full of strength and honour. He is showing himself to be better than his fellow Dane warriors in more ways than one. He now has connections and some loyal followers.
It is good to read three books of a series in quick succession as the story line is easy to follow, as well as the characters.
This is well written historical fiction.
4 stars

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Longbow Saga

Part 2 of the Longbow Series sees Halfdan, our young hero,  set out to seek his fame and fortune aboard a a Viking ship of war. It is no ordinary trip for plunder that is afoot, but an all out war against the Franks. (Danes vs. French) Being only 15 years of age, he is not readily accepted by his shipmates, and only got a position on the crew because of his remarkable ability as a bowman. He must not only prove his worth, but must endear himself to other warriors in order to become a man of worth and recognition. He is given a dangerous task in this latest installment, and the cliffhanger ending just might prove that he is well on his way.
I am already reading the third book. Can't wait.
Not quite as good as the first, but the story continues and now I simply have to know what happens, besides my loss of respect for Norsemen Vikings. Perhaps a bath once a year would help.
4 stars

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I know it is difficult to believe, but this is not a photo of  me. Only a likeness, and for illustrative purposes only. After you get over your disappointment, I will tell you what is going on with me. I know you care deeply.
How often have you heard that getting old sucks? Here is an example. When we are young, we pull or tear muscles when we are doing extreme sports or working very hard, physically. When we are old, we pull and tear muscles when we pick up our grandchildren and plop them onto our lap. That is the only thing I can imagine that is causing all this pain in my right arm.
I could hardly get dressed yesterday morning. I phoned two clients and cancelled my work for the day. Actually, indefinitely. I can barely move. Ice, and lots of Ibuprofen are only putting a dent in the discomfort. No sleep the night before as there was NO position that did not hurt.
I am lying low until I can lift my arm higher than my waist. Typing is almost impossible, so, goodbye.  Am thanking God that I am left handed.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Great Production

      On Saturday night we attended another Christmas event. The local theater group, Fraser Valley Stage put on another great musical performance . The producer is a friend of ours and usually contacts us when there is another production in the works. This was so worth the time and effort to attend.

      "Starlight Radio Theatre The Christmas Show" was about a small radio station that was fighting for its life as television was beginning to take over the entertainment industry in the late forties. The setting was the studio where the cast and crew of the Christmas production were interacting and performing.
       It never ceases to amaze me how how much talent there is in our community. The acting and singing were excellent, as were the costumes and production values in general.

       We have attended several events put on by this group and have never been disappointed. I highly recommend you keep an eye out for their next event and make an effort to attend. There is nothing like the live stage!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I am developing a love of historical fiction and I have found another really good author. Viking Warrior is the first of a three part series that depicts life as a Viking in the 9th century. Halfdan, our hero, is a thrall, or slave, but an interesting turn of events changes that in a hurry. There is a huge adjustment in becoming a freeman, but while a slave, he was taught some skills that come in handy for his new direction in life.
This is very interesting reading and quite frankly, almost impossible to put down. The societal structure and codes of conduct were somewhat unique to the Danes, and as I am learning about that aspect of history, I am also being vastly entertained by a great novel, full of adventure, suspense, love, hate, honour, revenge, and all the good and bad that make up the human condition, whether in the 9th century or today.
I immediately downloaded the next two installments in this saga and have started reading #2 already.
4 1/2 stars

Monday, December 10, 2012

Out of Touch

This is how 'out of touch' our civic politicians are with the people they serve.


Online Poll

Council has given approval in principle to a $17.5-million partnership with the YMCA. Do you support that decision?

Current Results
Total Votes: 205
                                                     Current High Answer: No

Sunday, December 9, 2012


           My grandson Nathan was in another Abbotsford Children's Theater production this weekend. "The Grinch Project" was written directed and performed all with local talent. Even the poster was home grown, really home grown, because Nathan's dad designed it.

           We took in the Friday night performance and as usual we were not disappointed. The enthusiasm of the young actors is apparent and the work that goes on behind the scenes is amazing. The costumes and sets are a feast for the eyes, a riot of bright and gaudy colours that look so amazing under the bright lights of the theater.

          Nathan was 'Proffesor Green', an environmentalist who is in opposition to the local big business person who is cutting down all the trees in the area for his saw mill. The Grinch is always blamed, but in the end the Grinch solves the problem which is the greediness of the villain, dressed in black, of course. It is all done in fun, with plenty of comedic moments.

        We have enjoyed watching Nathan over the years as he gets older, bigger, and more experienced on the stage. That experience has paid off as he just received word that he has been given a part in his High School's spring production of "The Sound of Music".
He assured us that it is not a singing part. It seems he can handle every aspect of the stage but the singing. Hey, nobody is perfect.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I'm not quite sure why, but I have never eaten a Pomelo until a few days ago. They originate from Southeast Asia and are about the size of a Cantaloupe, weigh close to two pounds, and are elongated on one end. They sort of look like a very large Grapefruit, and actually, the grapefruit is a product of a Pomelo and Orange cross. The ones we bought were labelled "Honey Pomelo" so at least, we thought, it would be sweet, even if it did not taste good.

Getting at the fruit is a challenge. 44% of the Pomelo is rind and pith and membrane so one has to cut quite deep to get the outer skin off. Cutting it in sections to begin with as in the photo above is the only way to do it. It is a tough job and one needs strong hands and fingernails. The sections, similar to the sections in a Grapefruit, are strong and do not crush and juice up easily so one can be rough when pulling the section apart.

After the sections are separated, the membrane has to also be removed as it is tough and bitter. When one gets practiced at it, one can peel the membrane without damaging the fruit, as in the photo above.

Ours looked very much like the one above. After a lot of tugging and pulling, I took my first bite and was more than pleasantly surprised. The taste is sweet and the flavour is like a grapefruit but without the acid and the bitterness. I ate way too much! I got good at it after a few sections and then noticed that even a small amount of membrane left on the fruit sections made it a bit bitter, and don't lick your finger after. BITTER! The small nodules of goodness inside the sections are juicy but they do not burst and get all over your hands as you work with it.
I highly recommend this fruit. 2 for $5 at Kin's Market and one will feed two to three people for a nice snack or dessert.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Stay Calm

Some things in life are just so ridiculous that one does not know to laugh or cry. Here is a recent example.
The Everyday Absurdities of the TSA
'Tis the season to be jolly. But then there's the TSA. No government agency inspires "Bah Humbug" like the Transportation Safety Administration. For those who travel, the agency is 65,000 employees dressed in blue to make airline travel as annoying as possible.

Last week the House Aviation Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss common sense improvements for the agency in charge of transportation security but TSA boss John Pistole thinks he has it all figured out and refused to testify. The committee has no jurisdiction over his kingdom, so why show up? Pistole didn't even send one of his minions to be grilled. This is the third time he's snubbed the committee.
Christopher Elliott reported on the hearing for The Huntington Post,
One by one, panelists took turns excoriating the agency charged with protecting America's transportation systems. It was plainly clear why Pistole was a no-show, and it had nothing to do with jurisdiction; it would have been an openly hostile crowd.
Charles Edwards, the Department of  Homeland Security's acting inspector general, descibed the TSA as bureaucratic and dysfunctional. Stephen Lord of the Government Accountability Office, suggested the agency was ignoring the thousands of complaints from air travellers. And Kenneth Dunlap, who represented the International Air Transport Association, criticized the current TSA as expensive, inconsistent, and reactive.


The TSA screening area is a logic-free zone as my wife and I were reminded over the Thanksgiving holiday. Grandmothers never like to arrive empty-handed when they visit grandbabies. A wooden flintlock toy cap pistol for a little boy in New Jersey was tucked away in our carry-on luggage.

The gun was not detected by the x-ray, but two bottles of hair product spurred the TSA agent to action.

His pawing through the luggage quickly uncovered the wooden flintlock and he gingerly pulled the toy out  from under some clothes. He nervously said he didn't know what to do and needed a supervisor's opinion.

We waited for a supervisor while the clock ticked closer to our departure time. A young woman finally appeared. She asked what the toy was. "What's it look like?" asked the exasperated grandmother. "I don't know what it is," the supervisor shot back, "and I won't touch it until you tell me."

"It's a piece of wood carved in the shape of gun." The young supervisor picked up the toy carefully and said she needed to consult her bosses. In the distance, I watched her hand the toy over to a group of TSA higher ups hanging around the central command post located behind the inspection lines.

Eventually the offending item was passed up to what looked to be a metro cop, who looked it over and passed it back with no conversation. The gathering of supervisors then inspected the wooden pistol again. Finally, without thought, one of them threw it (our property) in the trash.

While this pow-wow was taking place, a discussion ensued about us solving this problem by returning to the airline counter and checking the bag. The TSA screener supported that idea until the supervisor returned, with another supervisor in tow. "The gun can't be taken on an airplane."

We again make the mistake of believing that logic and reason are of some use with the TSA and calmly pointed out that the toy was not a gun. The supervisor countered that it was a replica of a weapon and TSA rules don't allow replicas to be carried on planes. "OK, return our replica and we'll go back and check our bag."

The supervisor thought quickly, knowing they had already thrown the toy away. "You can't store a replica of a weapon in luggage unless it's in a hard case that's locked."

At this point my fellow traveler, who makes her living arguing in court, threw up her hands. "You deal with these people," she fumed. "I can't do it anymore."

The supervisors then tried to convince me that they were really giving us a break. They should be writing us up for this offense and that we could be fined. I told them I didn't want to hear their nonsense, finally sticking my forefingers in my ears and chanting "lalalalala."

"Can I please just have my bag," I pleaded with an eye on the ticking clock. "No, this bag hasn't been cleared," the screener said. Back through the x-ray it went. Again another problem, this time it was plastic curlers.

Finally, after eyeballing the curlers the screener and supervisor together determined the beauty aids passed muster.

"Thanks, I feel so much safer," the aggravated grandmother told the supervisor as we finally left for our flight. Being trained or medicated not to react, the supervisor calmly replied, "have a nice day."

Sadly this story isn't unusual and pales in comparison to stories of molestation and theft by TSA employees. It was just an average day with the TSA.

"As this mushrooming agency has spun out of control," chairman, John Mica, concluded last week, "passengers have not been well served." He went on to say that the agency should be closed down or at least closed down as we know it.

If the political class were forced to fly commercial one wonders whether the TSA would exist at all. As it is, while every flyer complains and congress is well aware of the problem, the TSA's head man is not accountable to anyone. All the while, on the ground, unionized TSA employees make up rules as they go along to suit their own purposes.

"TSA has become the butt of countless jokes," Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance told the subcommittee. "TSA is set up like the Maginot Line, the poster child for generals fighting the last war."

It's no joke when government employees callously throw passengers' property away. This is how all of government works. While most people don't deal with government day-to-day, we get to enjoy the TSA up close and personal. For those who believe government has a role to play, remember the TSA is as effective, efficient and careful as any other government agency.

They are indeed fighting the last war. Safety isn't the issue. The war is on us.

Douglas French
This is the culprit!

Douglas French


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trombone Debut

My middle grandson Chad is now in Middle School and had the option to choose an instrument and join the band program. His dad still had his trombone from his school days so it was a bit of a no-brainer. Like father, like son. He has been practicing diligently and tonight was his debut as he played in the grade six band at his school's Christmas Concert.
Of course, he was the best looking kid of the whole bunch and he just might have been the best trombonist. It was difficult to tell though as there were many others playing instruments for the first time. With the exception of a few squeaking flutes and the odd grating clarinet, the kids did a great job. If I listened really closely, I could hear one trombone standing out above the rest, sounding like a young man with a musical future. Hmm. Could it have been Chad? I will have to get him to play me a solo so I will know for sure. I will get back to you on that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Extreme Doctoring

"Medicine Men: Extreme Appalachian Doctoring" is a series of recollections from doctors whose lives were spent practicing medicine in the rural areas of the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Each story is short and to the point and gives a glimpse into the lives of both the doctors and their patients, who, for the most part, were too poor to pay for services rendered. The recollections run the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime, but are told with heart and a good sense of humour.
There is a fascination in modern day America, that there can even be those that still live in isolation and poverty. The stories are from the 1940's to present day and it seems that some things never change. There are shotgun blasts to the head treated with great humour, delivering babies whilst fighting off pet groundhogs, moonshine used as medicine for children, amputated legs on dashboards, war heroes hiding out in the bush, miraculous healing, broken bones, ice picks in the head, and I could go on and on about the 'stranger than fiction' scenarios. The book was too short.
3 stars 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not a Corny Joke

Bureaucracy (Big Brother) has never been stopped by reason or common sense. Rules, regulations, agendas, dogma, and pig headedness are the guiding lights. Take the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the USA for example.
It is commonly known that the drought throughout most of the USA Midwest this summer has decimated the corn crop. The corn shortage has driven up prices for anything corn, including both animal and human food. One would think that would precipitate an action to reduce the Green driven agenda of using a designated amount of corn for ethanol, which is mixed with our gasoline to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of this initiative is a story by itself.
The mandated increase in corn consumption for ethanol for 2013 brings it to 40% of the total corn produced on US soil.
Why are we burning our food?
A few days after his election, President Obama declared 1.6 million acres of potential oil producing, government owned lands, off limits to oil extraction. Another agenda by the Greens.
Would not common sense dictate that in order to keep food prices down, that some of that ethanol could be foregone by extracting a little more oil from the ground? After all, the USA is declared to have become the country with the richest oil reserves in the entire world.
Don't you think some of it could be used for a rainy day*?
*I use "rainy day" as a euphemism for drought. Rather clever, don't you think?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wool Reboot

I recently reviewed the book "Wool"  here and again here. The seventh book of the series just came out and I could not wait to get my hands on it. Since I picked the series up in the Kindle book store as a cheap read, it has become a New York Times best seller and I know why. This is good stuff.
This last book is the best yet. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together and the plot thickens. Just when you have the slightest sense that things are bogging down, ZAP, there it is and you never saw that coming, but it makes sense now.
The interesting thing about Hugh Howey's writing is that he takes you on a most interesting journey but lets you discover and figure things out for yourself. You are getting these revelation moments and you think you are so clever. It is the author that is clever. The reader must pay attention and if he does, the rewards are there to discover.
I would not want to get into the plot here lest any one of my readers is interested in getting into this series of books. The scenario is in the future, post apocalyptic, and extreme measure have been taken to ensure the survival of the human race. The idea for this series of books is unique and the plot can turn on a dime as there are endless possibilities. Each episode reveals just a wee bit more of the history and characters, and the mechanisms used to keep the survivors alive and under control. Most fascinating and a great study in human nature.  
4 1/2 stars