Sunday, May 21, 2017

THE LINDEN TREE

       There was a linden tree in my neighbor's yard for the past 45 years. Linden trees are rare here because they are not hardy enough for our  climate . The tree was planted when a long ago homeowner was given to tree and was to put it in to see how it would do. The original neighbor left a long time ago but the linden tree did well. It was the best of the few linden trees in town. Usually they don't reach maturity because they freeze before they ripen off in the fall. 



      Now the tree was taken down last week because the 5 main stems were starting to split and there was a danger of the tree falling and hitting the house.

     Now we have wood carvers and lathers who cruise the neighborhoods watching for trees that are being taken down. If it's an interesting type of wood they ask for the wood. 

    My friend David was first on the scene and he took a couple of big chunks. David told his friend Andrew and Andrew showed up on the scene and promptly informed the neighbor that this was basswood and the very best wood for carving as you can carve it against the grain. Andrew further told the neighbor that if you bought this wood it would be about $300.00 for a 4 foot length. 

    So the neighbor kicked himself and some quick deals were made which didn't include money. The neighbor also could not believe that his tree was a basswood as he had been told by the city that it was a linden tree. The neighbor checked on the web and sure enough the linden tree is a basswood. 

    Now I'm sure most of you know about these trees. 

    Now the neighbor wanted to keep the stump and make it into a planter. He did a very good job of it. The bottom was just too big to take off with the small chain saw.


       This one looks a bit like a person with mouth and eyes and legs(pants)




      So an attractive planter was made out of the stump.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

IT JUST DOESN'T ADD UP

     I've told you before that I do my own income tax. It's a pain and a lot of work. For the last 10 years or so I've been incredibly accurate as the micro Manager checks me. Before that I often made careless mistakes.

    Today I received my income tax assessment. That's the piece of paper that tells you if you did things correctly or if they found mistakes. So a mistake could cost you more money or get some back. 

    Well today's assessment had good news. The balance was nil. Now usually when I see nil I file the assessment and that's the end of things.

    Today one little note caught my eye. It said that I had a minute capital loss( less than $10.00) I had filed a small capital gain but no capital loss. So this gave me reason to look more closely at the assessment. I could not find out how they calculated a capital loss. 

     Then I noticed that they calculated my total income about $10.00 less than I had calculated. I checked net income . It was minutely less than what I calculated. Later on I found a line with a figure that was completely wrong. If I'd used their figures I would not have owed them one dime.

     So after all this , they said I didn't owe them anything. I really don't know how the income tax department does addition and subtraction.

    I'm not going to ask them about this situation. With friends like these who needs enemies. The next tax checker could use some voodoo math and want more money out of me.

   Have you ever found the tax dept. to be inept with their math?

Monday, May 15, 2017

...MORE THAN WE COULD CHEW

     A couple of months ago we saw a terrific deal for turkeys. It was one of those deals you couldn't pass up. There were three prices for the general weights of turkeys. The birds were completely enclosed with plastic and there was no weight on the label.

    I had always said never buy meat that you can't see.

     The Micro Manager thought we could have a couple of meals and what was left could be chopped up to use for casseroles. Good idea! We both like roast turkey. This way two of us enjoy a whole turkey. 

     So the plan was to have the turkey on Sunday. Saturday we didn't get the turkey out early enough  to ensure complete thawing. We had visions of a roast turkey dinner at midnight.  However, the old bird was thawed in time. With no weight on the label we had to weigh the bird. It turned out to be 14 lbs which was bigger than we had thought. 

    Somewhere along the line there was a miscalculation and the bird was overdone. Oh yes, the skin could not be eaten and some of the outside meat was too crispy for consumption. 

    However, the roast bird was more than edible except for being somewhat tasteless. 

    Then take all the meat off the carcass to go in those casseroles. What a job!

   So after we finished this job we said, "What were we thinking?" We hadn't roasted a whole turkey for thirty years when the kids were still at home.

    I think we learned a lesson. We bit off more than we could chew.

Friday, May 12, 2017

YA CAN'T BEAT CITY HALL

      I have heard this saying for  long time and didn't put much weight to it. I have always known half my councillors on a first name basis and the mayors for the last 20 years on a first name basis. Listening to mayors and councillors I always had the view that city council was positive and helpful. I have served on city boards and knew my way around city government.

     Well, things changed recently. I had the opportunity to fight City hall and I lost.

     A few weeks ago I attempted to pull into the bank parking lot which is at the back of the bank. There was one spot left and it was a tight one. Well, it was raining so I wanted a convenient parking place. In attempting to squeeze into the parking stall  I heard that dreaded scrape noise. I knew I had scratched the side of my car or more. 

    What I had scraped my car on was a huge garbage dumpster...in some places known as a garbage bin. Well after a major cussing session, I sadly went home.

    After thinking things over I thought, you know the dumpster is in the wrong place. Aha! I'll ding the city on this one and get them to pay for my damages. 

    You don't really know where to start your fight. We checked the Waste management dept. They would send out an inspector who promptly got everything wrong. Up the ladder a bit and the guy claimed that even if the the dumpster was in the wrong place it was my responsibility to not drive into it. This sounded nuts to me. I also noticed how each official covered the other guy's back. They did contradict each other from time to time. They were plain dumb at times. At times I thought they were not telling the truth.

    So I harassed some more people trying to see how far wrong the dumpster was out of place. I kept getting the line that it was my responsibility to not run into the dumpster even if it was in the wrong place. I thought the idea of hitting something in the wrong place was ridiculous. It didn't sound like common sense.

     I checked further and phoned the police. They confirmed that indeed a driver should not hit a stationary object even if it was in the wrong place.

    So Monday I'm going to have to concede to  City Hall that indeed, they are right.

    How about you? Have you had the opportunity to fight city hall. 

Image result for red deer city hall park

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

THE TIPPING POINT

     Now I read the first ten pages of The Tipping Point. I enjoyed it. So after 10 pages , I'm an expert on the little things in life that make a difference. Particularly something that puts things over the top.

     A tipping point occurred in the family recently.

     The Micro Manager puts a tremendous amount of research into grocery shopping. Most of the research is from the weekly fliers from the grocery stores. As a result the grocery list contains sale items and rarely anything at the regular price. Now items on sale price are sometimes purchased because it's a good price and might not go on sale again.

     As a result our storage room has gradually been getting fuller and fuller. We are buying more than we eat. We have two deep freezes. I'm not sure how long our supply would last. 

    I quite often tease the Micro Manager that she's some kind of survivalist who stacks up a year's worth of food.

    Now in the last couple of weeks I've been looking at best before dates. I found pickles that were best before...well there was no best before date on them so it's hard to tell how long they've been on the shelf. The micro manager got curious and checked some dates. She found products that had best before dates in 2015.

   Now I know that products are just fine after their best before dates. But when you look at a product that's past it's best before date and you have lots of the product it suddenly becomes a problem.

    So the Micro Manager made the realization that she has too much food in the store room!

    There was a tipping point. I hope it's worth something. Somehow, I think that she will continue the same shopping routine. We shopped today and some things were weekly items like milk, but there were still a few sale items.

     I think the point needs to tip some more!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A BIRD WATCHING MORNING

     As you know I lead a bird watching group every Saturday morning. This Saturday we were able to visit a private piece of property. The property has been in the family since about 1900. The family left lots of native habitat and there is about a 50 acre lake. Usually we tour public areas in and around the city.

     The last family inhabitant was a great granddaughter who retired on the farm. She was an excellent birder and had set up all kinds of devices to attract birds. So there were super feeders, bird baths, lots of nest boxes and of course, the native habitat was left.

     So the property is a birders paradise. We found 23 species in an hour and a half. I had 13 birders show up and they were suitably impressed by what they saw.

     I took my camera and managed only one bird picture and it was poor...too much light and a very wiggly elderly photographer. However, the birders gave me some opportunities for photos.

    Lots of birds on the water


    
  
       Anybody see  the swan. I just about took the guy's head off too.
  
       We begin and what do we find. There's a Yellow-bellied sapsucker in there someplace.
  
     Sometimes birders get tired.
        I wonder what this thing has to do with birds?

  
And what does this do for birds?
   
  Oh another machine that might be for birds?
  
       Some funny bird skulls here.

      Time for home.

     The home on the property was situated so they had a great view of the lake.

Friday, May 5, 2017

WHAT DAY IS IT?

     For those of you who follow me , you will know that from time to time I find a special day that is odd , weird or highly commercial. For some reason the day has been sanctioned as suitable for celebration.

    So a few days ago I saw a post on face book about National Susan Day. This really caught my attention so off I went to see what Mr google would say. Mr Google said nothing. I changed my search words. Nothing! I went back the the Face book post. 

     Then I thought well, is there a Keith Day. No such luck but you find all the "Keith Days" in the world.

   This puzzled me. 

   I looked at the Face book post again. It looked like a chain letter. If your name was Susan ,you were supposed to pass this on to someone named Susan. 

   Well, I suppose it was a neat idea for all the people named Susan to celebrate their name and have some fun..

   Now when I see my friend Susan, I'll have to ask her what's going on.

   

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MEDICAL TESTS

      Medical tests seem to be constantly changing. The tests themselves can change. The type of measurement changes. The stats for normal and so on change. The times the tests are needed changes.

     Al is scheduled for an annual check up. Tests are done before the check up. Al noticed that there was not a cholesterol test on the requisition form. He decided to check with his physician to see if he forgot to order cholesterol testing. Al was informed that for seniors the cholesterol test is done once every three years. They have found that senior's cholesterol levels change very little unless they gain lots of weight or develop diabetes. 

    Cholesterol scales have changed over the years. The list of foods containing high cholesterol has been changing. At one time eggs were a no no. Acceptable cholesterol levels have been changing. 

    Now what's going to happen to all the people who have been taking anti cholesterol medication?  Why were they taking it? 

    I think research has been discovering that cholesterol and foods high in cholesterol are not as crucial as once thought. 

    One test that I didn't like was the stool test for occult blood. The test has changed to be much simpler and easier. Again they do the  less occult blood tests  unless the   patient has  certain conditions.

    As a senior, I take very few concoctions. I wish they would further cut medications for seniors.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

THREE STRIKES

       I attended a Teachers' College in 1957-58. It was organized as a glorified elementary school. We were organized in classes and the whole class moved throughout the day. We were together for everything for the whole year. We even had coed phys. ed!

      75% of us were rural kids from farms or small rural towns. About 50% of us were right out of highschool and the others had done other things before attending the teachers' college. So most of us started the year and didn't know any other students. Since we were in the same class all year, we made some great friendships.

     At the end of the year all of us went our separate ways. About half of these students never taught. They decided they wanted to do something else. Many of the girls got married.

    I soon moved far and wide. I saw very few of these people after I finished teachers' college.

    So every once in  awhile I will google a name. You find some people that you know of.

    The other night I googled the names of three  guys that were my former colleagues.  I found obituaries for all three of these guys. I had not seen them from the day we left teachers' college. What a shock! We had been together for a year as 18-19 year olds. 59 years later they were gone. Two of these fellows made a career of teaching. One did not teach and went into business.

   I spent a year with 400 students and often wonder what happened to them.

    So I made three strikes and missed on each one. 

    How about you? Have you kept in contact with students from a long time ago?

Friday, April 28, 2017

BIRDERS

          I lead a group of birders every Saturday morning for a couple of hours. There are enough interesting areas in town to keep up our interests. We are fortunate to have many natural areas that were left by past residents who had a great  vision. Very little is being left today as it is being developed.

          So when we go out we generally  find the usual suspects and once in  while we see something very different and interesting.

          Last week we spent our time on a trail between the river and a golf course. We saw: Cormorant, Crow, Canada geese, Mallard, Song sparrow, Red-winged blackbird, Common goldeneye, Raven, Robin, Black-capped chickadee, Red-breasted nuthatch, Bald eagle, Downy woodpecker, Magpie, Boreal chickadee, Greater yellowlegs.

         Now the greater yellowlegs was an interesting find. The bird was on the trail and dead. Some predator had captured the bird and was probably sitting in a tree above the trail when it was disturbed and dropped its prey. Now no gory photos. The head had been pulled off the bird as some predators like to eat the head first.

       The other find was Bald eagles nesting. I knew the nest had been there for a few years but this was the first time I had been out when the birds were nesting. The nest was across the river but Jurgen got a great photo. You can just see  the female's head above the nest.

Image may contain: bird, tree, sky and outdoor

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

YOOHOOOO...

      You'll never guess! I had lots of snow on the ground again this morning! Yes, about 4 cm (1 1/2) .

      Calgary had lots more snow and Banff in the mountains had 20 cm (8 in ) of snow this morning.



   
        About 4 :00 PM the snow had melted.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

YOU'LL NEVER GUESS!

     I had snow again. My mind has been blank on good post topics lately so the snow came and gave me one of my easy topics.

     Fresh snow is fairly normal at  this time. We may be getting more than usual this spring.

     Our days become very long so plants develop rapidly and reach maturity before the fall. Right now the sun rises at 6:20 and sets at 8:48 for 14 hours and 28 minutes of daylight.

     New blades of grass poking out of the snow.  The types of grass we plant are able to withstand these conditions.

     
  
     The view on my street this morning.

     A rather peaceful looking dwelling.

  
     My blue bells are doing well at the side of my house . The snow didn't hit this area.


     I have seen times when these blue bells have been covered with snow but they are not harmed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

POST TOPICS

      Sometimes I have to work very hard to come up with post topics. Good topics? that's another thing.

      However, the post topic gods have been very good to me for the lat few days.

      It snowed again! That's right. Snow Sunday morning and now more snow on Tues morning. that's very lucky for post topics.

     So this morning at 7 AM it started to snow and snowed for about 2 hours and when finished we had 5 cm (2 in ) of snow.

     By 3:00 PM the snow was gone. we had a high of 5 C (40 F).

     It's quite common to get snow in April and not unknown to get snow in May.





Sunday, April 16, 2017

THE EASTER BUNNY CAME LAST NIGHT!

   Yes the Easter bunny visited last night. I looked out my window this morning and my yard was full of rabbit tracks. It doesn't hurt that we had fresh snow so the tracks were obvious. 





   So I went out quickly looking for treats! Well, after looking all through the yard I found nothing! Well, maybe I will go back to believing the Easter bunny is a fake. 

    All kidding aside , we had a nasty day weather wise yesterday. It was dull, windy, with a little snow and about minus 2 C (28 F) all day.

    It snowed overnight so footprints showed in detail.

    Now with all the tracks, I think I had more than one rabbit. I'm guessing three as I've seen three together this week.

    So footprints in the snow leave a story of what went on overnight.

    This morning was cold minus 7C (20F) and clear.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

NATIONAL SIBLING'S DAY

      April 10 was national sibling's Day. It's a day for us to recognize and acknowledge the relationship with siblings. 80% of us have siblings

      I quite often write about national days. Some of them are very frivolous such as National Cupcake day. I happen to think that there is some very well worthwhile value to National Sibling's Day. I wrote a post about it last year.

      The surprising thing about National Sibling's Day is that it's a very recently organized event.   The idea was originated in 1997 and in 1999 April 10 was put aside for National Sibling's Day. Some states have declared April 10 to be a holiday

     There is a similar day in India which has a much older origin.

     I took the opportunity to tell my three brothers that they are the best brothers I could have ever had. I told them that they are each very different and that they have supported me in their own way. I thanked them for being my brothers.

     It's also an opportunity to mend some fences. Not all siblings have a good relationship. Just maybe if the day is celebrated some siblings may be able to rekindle a relationship. 

     My two children have no relationship at all . They had a fight and since they are very good with words they said some hateful things to each other. With the Internet words can fly back and forth very rapidly and there isn't much time for reflection. . Since one lives in Chicago and one on the west coast, they have no trouble avoiding one another and the schism does not cause any awkward problems. However, as a family we would be much happier if we had a regular relationship. So today I emailed them requesting that the hatchet be buried.

    A belated Happy Sibling's day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

WHAT IS SPRING?

     Since spring is coming slowly to my world I thought of the question "What is Spring?"

     Spring is different where ever you may happen to be. If you are far south spring may not be very noticeable. The temperature doesn't change much. Leaves and grass are green all year. If you are where I live spring comes slowly over a long period of time. Warming is gradual with back slides to cold winter temperatures. We have to get well into spring before much plant activity takes place. Today, several plants right beside my house are showing green shoots. Some trees are in bud but it will be a long time before we see trees leafing out. The ice went out of the river last week but all the ponds and lakes are still covered with very solid ice.

     Then there's the Arctic spring. I've been through five of those. The light is bright...very bright. But there's no warmth in it. In late April there is some melting snow but it is in May that the snow disappears and the huge rivers lose their ice. It's a funny thing that the Canada geese arrive the end of April and sit on the ice of lakes. It's 3 or 4 weeks before they can begin nesting.

     Now for some people spring is the return of birds or just one species. For other people it may be the awakening of plants. I like to go out in the woods when the sap goes up and you have the invigorating odor of the trees coming to life. For some people it's when rabbits and weasels turn brown.

      Tomorrow morning the sun rises at 6:49 AM. I like to see mornings come earlier and earlier. Then I like to see the evenings get longer.

      So we have a whole lot of nice things happening for spring and then wham! Things suddenly turn to winter. Later on this week I have a three day forecast of snow. 

      No matter what I like spring. It's a general move to warmth.

     So what is spring for you? Do you have a barely noticeable spring or a long period of moderation? What particular part of spring do you like best?

    Now I must apologize as I posted this when I was only half finished the post.

     Mar. 24 2016. A late spring storm.


    

Saturday, April 8, 2017

THE BACKWARDS PILL

      I called my spunky 89 year old friend the other night and she was a little down. I wrote about Dorothy and how a Least weasel got in her house and how she finally got it out of the house.

     Right now Dorothy is facing some challenging problems. These are problems that come with aging. Her husband has been in care for three years with dementia. That's a big challenge by itself.

     Dorothy has decided to move into a senior's residence rather than continue living in her duplex. She will be in the same complex as her husband but he is in the closed section for dementia people.

     However, Dorothy wants to list her house on May 1 and has to clean it out. That's a challenge for most of us. Some people have stuff and then there's Dorothy. They had 4000 books! There are many very beautiful books.Her husband was a prof and Dorothy and environmentalist. Nothing was thrown away. Dorothy still has her ballet dance books.(half a shelf) Another full shelf contains her husband's journals.

     So I was called over to take some of her books. I was polite and took 8 books. The only thing I could do was suggest places she might take the books. 

     Her sense of humor...there's a new thrift shop that's opened up a block from her house.

     So downsizing and getting rid of personal effects is sad. Things that have all your memories are being disposed of. The final date is less than three weeks away. 

    So when I phoned Dorothy , I think she was a little overwhelmed by the situation. 

   Her comment was, "They're not making a backup pill yet so I'll just have to keep going." I like that term but I wouldn't take a back up pill.

   Most of us will have to go through this step in our lives. It's not pleasant but should and has to be done. So although I'd like some books and would like to help dorothy get rid of some books, I'm in the same boat as Dorothy. I have to get rid of stuff.
   

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DEMON INCOME TAX

      I've always filled out my own income tax returns. My income tax situation is very simple and straightforward. Yes, there are very poorly expressed sections that cause me problems. One is what they call split income pension. It's straightforward. I transfer some of my pension income to my wife. Now when the tax guys get in on writing the form it suddenly gets complicated. 
they don't use the best of terms. Pension transferee??? Who's that?  They do make a mess of the form. I fool them. I get it.

     This year they went one too far so I have to rant.

     I always have paid my income tax with a check. After I finished my tax form I noticed that I'm not allowed to pay by check anymore. They offer 4 options. I don't do online banking. Skip that one. I'm not setting up a debit account. I don't want somebody having access to my account. The only option left was to get a remittance voucher.

     Now you have to order a remittance voucher online or by phone. The Micro manager tried the phone and it didn't make sense. 

     If I set up an account I could order the vouchers online. So I set up an account and ordered. It would take two weeks.

   Now there was no notice about this change. I finished my return Mar. 27 so if the mail works I get the voucher before April 30 which is the deadline. Some people may finish their return April 25. How are they ever going to get a voucher?

    So I am very angry with the tax department for not advertising that checks could not be used this year.

    The micro manager called some officials and gave them the gears but they would not budge on the way things were set up.

     There's a saying don't argue with the taxman. It was impossible in this case.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

SPRING VARIATIONS

      Spring is a time of many variations that pull us up and down. There are nice times when our spirits soar and there wild times when we are saddened once again . We are looking for spring...actually summer. We are hoping. Setbacks drive us to nuts.

      So today our weather was very dull. We had heavy dark clouds but no rain or snow. Our temperature was around  5 C(40 F) all day. It was windy and looked very unpleasant. When I went out it felt much better than it looked.

     A few days ago we had clear skies and 10 C  (50 F). People brought out the shorts.

     So spring brings a wide variation in our daily weather. A cold front is coming in tonight and we may get some drizzle and snow.

     The snow has disappeared except for the dirty remains of snow banks that are in shaded areas.

     The grass is brown but if you look in sunny locations you can find some new grass shoots. Our grass slowly loses its color over the winter and in the spring is brown. It takes a while for things to turn green. I have bluebells along the east side of my house. Since bluebells are early they are about 2 -3 Cm (1 in) tall.

    Most days we have new birds that arrive from the south. We've seen Blue birds, Trumpeter swans, gulls and a few ducks. From now on there will be a steady stream of arrivals. I took my bird group out yesterday morning to  small area and we found 13 species of birds.

    I'm also running a little project called Bird Species 150 which to find 150 bird species  to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. So bird reports are coming in steadily Check RDRN.ca and see what species have been reported.

   And my bunny had a snooze in my back yard today and he/she is starting to turn brown. Richardson ground squirrels have come out of hibernation. The old males come out first and later on the young males and females. The old males return to hibernation in July again.


     So slowly but surely spring is coming to Hiawatha House.

     I've had some new visitors recently and some made comments. Thanks for visiting Hiawatha House and thanks for the comments. Maybe we'll have a conversation.
 

Friday, March 31, 2017

NATIONAL CRAYON DAY

     Today is National Crayon day! I sometimes have to comment on some of the national days that are observed from time to time. So I'll probably have half of my readers upset with me.

   Okay, I'll admit that I'm not arty at all and that colors don't play a big role in my life so when fusses are made over crayon colors I have to say ,"Give your head a shake." Every year my Mom bought me a standard 7 or 8 pack of new crayons for the start of each school year. Then one year some kid had a 12 pack of crayons. The standard pack today is 24. I think you can buy a 64 pack.

    Crayola makes a big fuss when any colors are changed. This year they are ditching, oops , retiring dandelion. Dandelion has been around for a long time and a new color is going to be added. As usual a big deal and process are made to name a new color. The new color hasn't been chosen yet.

    Now the adult colorers (I don't think this is a word) may have something to say about my making fun of naming crayons. Apparently coloring for adults is a great activity for adults and seniors these days. In fact, I am somewhat interested in adult coloring for a pass time.

    Maybe I could color inside the lines now that I'm a senior!

    However, I think this day is a very blatant advertisement for a brand of crayons. . Looking at some of the different websites it's a very smooth skillful advertising ploy.

   After all, they got me to look at it!

   What about you? Do crayon names impress you?

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A PACKAGE IN THE MAIL

    Rarely do I ever receive a package in the mail...a big fat bulky package that was coming from a real person, a relative. What could this be?

    I finished high school in 1957 and left home to further my education and then I was away teaching in other areas. For the first few years I came home to the farm regularly. Gradually the visits back home became fewer and fewer with longer periods between each visit. My contact with people was limited to my brothers who stayed in the area and a few very good friends.

    I married, had a family and raised them.

    1957 is 60 years ago. Someone who was born after I left could be 60 years old. That means that there are few people left who I know or who have ever heard of me.

    Well I ripped open the package as fast as I could . What was I receiving? My sister-in-law sent me 5 editions of the local paper. I haven't seen the local paper since 1973! She also had 4 memorial service bulletins.  

    Now of the 5 papers , there were 4 obituaries of people I knew. They were all in the upper 80's and 90's! I haven't found anything else in these 5 papers that I know anything about.

    Now the one lady ran our country store. I bought lots of pop and candy bars from her! Good memories.

    So the package reminds me of the passage of time. Two things go on. I change and my home town changes.  We've both got 60 years older. I have lived a life in other areas with new and different people. It's changed me. I love my old home town and still refer to it as home, but there's no place for me in that little village.

    So the package, although interesting, reminded me that our lives go on and we adapt to new people and places. These people and places are two of the many things that shape us as we pass through this world and become the people we are.


.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

THE END OF THE SPEEDING TICKET

      Some time ago I wrote in great detail about a speeding ticket I got and how I was going to fight it. You wanted to know how it ended. Well, the ticket was withdrawn because of the time taken to deliver the ticket to me.

     However , moving through the justice system was disappointing and challenging.

     I found the justice system to be a complete gong show. People didn't know what they were doing and were reluctant to do anything when they did know. First, the prosecutor's office wasn't going to take my letter of request for disclosure.  It is the prosecutors responsibility to get the disclosure organized. When I did get the disclosure package three weeks ago , I noticed there wasn't much there. When we checked 75% of what I asked for was not there. All of what the prosecutor needed was there. Was the guy inept? Did his staff not check? Did he set this up against me?

     On my first appearance the prosecutor said he would phone me. He never did call back. The Micro manager finally phoned him and his reply was not helpful. Finally, a good advisor phoned the prosecutor and explained that most of the disclosure was missing. Only then was he ticket withdrawn. The prosecutor fully intended to haul me into court. Only when an ex police officer called the prosecutor as the ticket withdrawn. I don't like seeing things done by people who have clout. The issue should stand on its own merit.

  If you're going to challenge a ticket, much research has to be done. It's a lot of work and very challenging.

   One thing that happened is that the city quickly got digital equipment which should cut the time in half and tickets will be delivered much sooner.

   I learned a few things and I think I might be on a crusade. We seem to shut our eyes and think that photo radar is infallible. It's not half as accurate as they claim. The position of the radar vehicle, distance into the speed zone, slopes, surroundings, equipment and operators all have a bearing on accuracy.

    Then I started looking at signage. I've requested the city's policy on signs. So far I haven't got the  policy. That makes me more suspicious and I'm going to find out how they place signs. I've seen places where there's a clutter of signs...seven in a 50 meter space. Who can read that many signs when you're driving?

    So I won what I wanted ,but I think I may have found some more work for myself.

Friday, March 24, 2017

FAMILY TRIVIA

      This week my daughter as in France ...working.

      This week my son was in Las Vegas...working.

      I thought this was pretty neat for my kids.

      My daughter is the manager of education and training for the company she works for. When her company buys other companies she goes out and trains the new company on changes they will have to make to their operation.

     My son works for a high tech company and he was in Las Vegas at a trade show showing the company's products. 

    At least one of them could have taken Dad with them for the week!



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SOMETIMES OUR LITTLE KIDS EMBARRASS US!

      I listen to a noon radio talk show most of the time. This week one of the topics was about how our kids have embarrassed us. I had an instant idea but didn't phone in. Instead ,I thought I'd tell my readers the story.

    I have to set things up for the story. Early 1970's. (Wow that seems like a long time ago.) We wore huge bell bottom pants that had large patterns and wild colors. Remember the leisure suits? My son was 3 1/2 years old.

     We were camping. I took him to the campground bathroom. My son pointed to a cubicle and said, "Dad, there's a clown in there." I tried to ignore him and distract his attention. He got more excited than ever and was jumping up and down because there was a clown in one of the cubicles. Since we were standing waiting for a cubicle to be available I couldn't hide. What my son saw was the bottom of a pair of trousers and big shoes. The pant cuffs were huge. The green plaid pattern was gigantic...something like what a clown would wear. 

    The guy emerged from the cubicle and my son was  jumping up and down saying, " There he is Dad. There's the clown." 

    Now I must admit the guy could have been taken for a clown. He was young and obese so the bell bottoms were larger than ever. I don't think the guy caught on that he was being called a clown. 

    When we got back to our camper my son told his Mom that he had seen a clown.

    It was embarrassing but fun once it was over.

Monday, March 20, 2017

SMART ASSED PRICE TAGS

     When I was grocery shopping last week I needed particular item. When I found it I was happy to see that is was on sale for $2.69. Ah ha I said ,  "I'm lucky! This is on sale."  The item was on the top shelf and although I'm not short the writing is hard to see. When I checked my receipt I found that I was charged the regular price of $2.99. What gives? I went back to look at the sale tag on the item. Well, if you bought three they were at $2.69! Now very few people would by 2 or 3 of this item because it's one of those that's on your shelf but not used very much. So pretty tricky. First they force people to buy three items or the suckers like me who miss the small print , pay the regular price.

     Now  I'm used to buy three for a sale price and over three they are regular price. As you see the sale tag above is almost opposite to this one.

     Another pet peeve is a price for assorted with a limit of six. So there are 8 varieties of soup. Does this mean I can only take six cans of the same variety or can I pick six different varieties of soup. Again if I make the wrong interpretation I lose out. 

     I buy almond milk. It comes in packs of 2 two liter containers or a two liter buy itself. So on the double pack it says 2 for a certain lower price. Does it mean I have to buy 4 liters or does it mean the two liter in the pack?

    Now to add more confusion to this mess, the prices are sometimes entered incorrectly and don't match what's on the shelf.

    Now every grocery store has a points system...customer loyalty. Each store you go to has a different plan on how points are collected and spent. Some you just collect points and redeem them. One store offers a sale price with the use of so many points. Good deal? I think not.

    Each store has a different set up at the cash register to see your groceries go through.

     I realize that all these strategies are clever marketing. There are strategies that most customers are unaware of.

    So do you think I'm not a happy grocery shopper? I want one good simple price and no gimmicks. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

ST. PATRICK'S DAY

    Well, a belated happy St. Patrick's day!

    As a child, in school,  every St Patrick's, we would dutifully make our shamrock in art class and have green decorations in the classroom. We were probably told an Irish story or maybe a bit about St. Patrick. Somehow, the excitement of St. Patrick's day never got to us. It didn't have any relevance for kids who lived out in the boonies and rarely got out of their local district.

    St. Patrick has a long history. It is thought he brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5 th century and for a bonus he scared all the snakes out of Ireland. So  St. Patrick is well known in Irish religious and cultural history.

   St. Patrick's celebration spread to many parts of the world as the Irish were great travellers.

   St. Patrick's day celebrations, as we know them today, were largely started in America. Some of the enthusiasm for parades went back to Ireland and now they have the best parades. So again religion and culture are celebrated. The Irish are inclusive as they keep saying everybody has a little Irish in them. So many people who are not Irish get caught up in St. Patrick's day celebrations.

   Much  of Europe had similar celebrations for St. Patrick and his bringing of Christianity.

    A  few bloggers posted on St. Patrick's Day.

   Now there are many other patron Saints. I'm not up on all the saints.

   One very interesting saint is St. Urho. He comes across as being the real McCoy but was a actually the creation of a Minnesotan in the 60's. He borrowed liberally from the St. Patrick  story and invented a saint for the Finnish people of Minnesota. A tradition has been built up around St Urho and Minnesotans of Finnish backgrounds have wacky parades and parties. St. Urho day was originally celebrated in the summer. Today it is celebrated on March 16! St. Urho has now spread to Finland.

   Only one blog I  follow posted on St. Urho's day.

   Now at age 77 I have never seen a st. Patrick's Day parade. We still don't have St. Patrick's day parades where I live.

   Am I missing something?