Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Changing Life Roles…
October 22, 2017

I have just returned home from a wonderful afternoon with a friend who, a lifetime ago was my student. We were experimenting with tweaking the sound system in the church. He agreed to meet me and to put his considerable talents to the test to see how we might improve and make clearer the worship message. We ran wire and set up an amp and tested microphones and speakers and twisted dials and sliders for two to three hours. Overwhelmed by  rich, robust sound pulled from assorted electronic gadgetry spread out on the floor and on the table and desktop, we continued. I stand to learn much from him about the nuances of sound.

He was in my first class, Grade 5, when I began my teaching career in 1965. One of 37 young eager minds awaiting filling by me. A first year, fledgling teacher. I remember him fondly from that time because he reminded me of me at that same age. And, today I wonder about changing life roles. The student becomes the teacher! It is not just about him and me! I’ve thought about this before. At what point in our lives, do our children become our caregivers? Our teachers? It is a whammy! The realization that roles have reversed hits home and I delight in the knowledge that I have become the learner.

Today’s adventure into learning was about sound. It was about sound systems and making sound bend to our will. What I came home with is so much grander than just the mechanics of sound. As part of our finding stuff to use as test material, he introduced tome his favourite poet, Shane Koyczan. And I learned even more about the person he has become over all the intervening years since 1965. He has grown into a man of considerable depth and who finds peace and solace in the language of poetry. I rushed home to share my discovery, my learning with my wife.

Let me share it with you, too.

Affordable Care vs Canadian Universal Health Care
September 30, 2017

I grow weary of the news stories about Affordable Health Care (Obama Care and the repeal of…) featured in the news from the United States these past months. I just cannot understand why the US Federal Government cannot find a way to provide affordable universal health care for all of its citizens. Especially, when as of 2009 there are “…58 countries in the world with legislation mandating Universal Health Care, along with > 90% health insurance coverage…” upon which the US might use as models.

My guess is that none of the models is perfect. There will always be those in a society who attempt to take advantage of whatever system is put in place. And regardless of the coverage, for some it will never be enough. Yet, the good of the society’s health in these countries is the motivational factor. So, what is the problem with the leaders in the US Federal Government?

The Toronto Star recently reported, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence blasts ‘failings’ of Canadian health system. Comments made by the Vice President on the “failings” of the Canadian Health Care system were made to the listeners of a radio broadcast in Alaska. It reminded me of a recent conversation I had with some visitors from the US to northwestern Ontario, Canada this past summer. Our conversation turned to health care to which I responded with a comment about my sadness for the American people who cannot seem to convince their leaders that this is a basic need of all citizenry. I shared in our conversation that I cannot remember the last time I had a bill for any medical procedure including the birth of our children and all of the various medical attention required for the cuts, scrapes and broken bones that appear to follow active kids in judo, dance, acrobatics and foolish play. This would include the 12 hours we spent in Emergency at the hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec when my son was injured during the Ironman competition in Mont Tremblant.  Or, the number of times I have had to go to the nearest hospital while away from home and have always received exemplary and immediate care (and no bill for service).

It is easy to focus on the negative comments. It seems that those comments are always the loudest and the ones that ‘make the news’. I have no doubt that the stories we hear about the ‘failings’ of our system are true, yet I hasten to add that I believe they are in the minority. I live in a small, rural northern community, 3.5 hours drive from the nearest urban hospital. I see my family physician (in community) and my diabetes nurse at least twice a year. I receive notice of the need to get my flu shot each fall from Public Health and from my local Health Clinic. When I am not well, and believe I need to see a physician, I have always been seen in a reasonable length of time either at Emergency, or by appointment at the local Health Clinic. I have had few delays in getting appointments with specialists in what I deem reasonable time. Other than producing my current government health card and a list of current medications, I need nothing else to receive health care in Ontario.

In Canada, everyone pays into our Health Care through taxation. The pool of money, managed by Federal and Provincial Health Agencies, while not infinite is available to support the needs of the population. Money I pay is available for those in need at times when I don’t need the care. At those times when I need professional health care the funding is available to cover my needs. That we share in ensuring one another’s well-being on a national scale, speaks to our concern for one another and helps strengthen  what some like to call the Canadian identity.

So, Vice President Pence, with respect I ask, before you denigrate the Canadian model of  Universal Health care again to your citizens, I would appreciate you engaging in both sides of the Canadian picture of public universal health care instead of focusing only on the negative aspects. It is always easy to dwell on the negative!

Success isn’t just a seven letter word…
April 13, 2016

Recently, I posted a rant about the problem associated with living in a community that does not have home delivery of mail. I fairness I need to share with you a success story.

I found I was a bit low on necessary spices while preparing stock for Vietnamese Rare Beef Pho. This recipe requires spices that aPho-Beef-Noodles-2008re difficult to find in the rural community in which I live nor was I successful in finding them is the nearest city to me (some 3.5 hours drive away). The obvious solution was to see what was available on the web.

I found a Canadian company named The Silk Road – Spice Merchant in Alberta, Canada (http://www.silkroadspices.ca/). To my delight, they have all of the spices I required immediately and more. I placed an order. My order arrived today, in less than a week and unpacking it convinced me that this was a company who wanted my business and worked at meeting my needs. They also took the time to ensure that I would return and that I would likely tell my friends about the experience. I have many friends who share my passion for good food and the joy of spicing beyond salt, pepper and garlic. AND! They shipped to my Canadian Post Box Address! Hurrah! I immediately wrote a note of thanks.

Here are my thought shared with The Silk Road – Spice Merchant:

Thank you very much for this order. It is my first-time purchase from your company but certainly not my last. Let me tell you why.
  • Your web presence is delightful, well laid out and easy to manoeuvre around. I particularly appreciate the explanation and the suggestions that you have for each of the spices/blends.
  • Your service is prompt. Living in a rural/remote northern community, this is especially important.
  • Your pricing is fair. By that I simply mean that I truly feel I received value for my dollar.
  • The gift of Panch Poran you added to my package is a welcome treat. Thank you. I’ll be certain to try this with hash browns the next time I make them.
  • The crowning touch is the personal note written on my receipt thanking me for my order.
Your business is bound to success if this is how you treat all of your customers. Ten stars from me along with my gratitude. I will pass your web site on to all of my friends who share my passion for food preparation and the use of great spices. Feel free to share these comments in any way you wish if they serve to promote your business. Regarding the companies who were the subject of my rant about not delivering to Post Box addresses, take note. You could learn much from this on-line company and improve your opportunity for S-U-C-C-E-S-S.        GRB

How Would You Like That Delivered?
April 13, 2016

Canada Post, in its wisdom, has chosen to phase out home delivery of snail-mail and mailbox-messreplace that system with curb-side Post Office boxes. While I believe it is an ill-advised change it will have little effect on me. I live in a community in Canada that has never had home delivery of mail. It is a comfortable walk (wasteful to drive) to the Post Office to check the mail each day. That’s what I’ve done each day for the fifty plus years I have lived here. Other than the obvious, what’s the problem?

As with many people these days, I have become an on-line shopper. This came about because at the best of times I dislike wasting the time to go in and out of stores. I recognize in today’s ‘consume more’ society I might be seen as some form of throwback; a consumer Neanderthal. Yesterday, I placed an order for coffee through a Canadian on-line company that I have purchased from frequently in the past. I processed everything in the same manner as before. The difference this time was that an error message came up indicating that they could not deliver to a Post Office box. Yet, they use Canada Post to deliver their products and my “correct” mail address is a Post Office box. As has happened in the past when companies do not include my correct mailing address I receive notification from the post office to update my personal details with the company from whom I make purchases. At issue is the Post Office could refuse delivery without the proper address on the package.

I called the company to let them know that there was a problem with their software not accepting postal box numbers as legitimate addresses. The response was that they knew about this and that they just could not ship to a post office box.

Does this make any sense in a country that is moving away from home mail delivery and forcing everyone to use a post office box for mail? Canadian business get with the program. Especially if you expect to do mail order business or Internet business and ship by postal service.

My second call yesterday was to an on-line company based in New York from which I recently did business and they shipped to my mailing address. As before, I placed my order only and again was told that they were shipping by US Postal service and couldn’t deliver to a post office box. I called the store’s  help line to explain that my mailing address was a box number; they accepted it on my previous order; where is the problem?

For some strange reason their on-line software no longer will allow delivery to Postal Boxes. What a dilemma! In Canada, many of us have two legal addresses–our street address and a mailing address. They are not necessarily the same. Perhaps the solution is to go back to wandering in and out of stores as I used to do when I wanted to buy an item. If that’s the case, I’ll save a lot of money by not shopping unless necessary. Problem solved!

 

 

Farewell Mr. Mayor…
March 30, 2016

Two stories have been dominating Canadian news of late; the run-up to the Presidential nominations in the States and the death of Rob Ford, ex-Mayor and Councillor of the city of Toronto. Both stories have all the elements required to be main features in the likes of the National Enquirer. Most significant to me at this moment is the Rob Ford story.

It is indeed sad that one so young as Rob Ford has died at the young age of 46! No question! But please, please Canada quit making him greater that who he was in life–at best a scoundrel. That is probably the kindest thought I’ve had about Mr. Ford since his rise to fame through municipal politics and his fall from grace at the same time because of his addictions and the antics in council. But please stop with the glorify stuff that is now creating a new-age hero.

I have been taught to respect those who serve in public office. And that Rob Ford presented himself to the people of Toronto as a candidate for council and later as mayor is commendable. And, I respect Mr. Ford for taking on that mantle. Public office is never an easy chioce for anyone to make. But once in office I believe it reasonable to expect our elected officials to behave with some element of decorum. We elect our representatives to represent us in what ever court they are seeking to serve.

That is where Mr. Ford failed.  All the good deeds attributed to him don’t make up for the absolue abysmal behaviour he displayed in council chambers, in the media, and in his private/public life. I was especially dismayed the day he made inappropriate sexual comments about his wife during a media scrum. The media have come 360 degrees in their comments about Rob Ford now that he has died; quite a shift from their villification of him while he as alive.

Mostly I am saddened that such a fuss is being made of a man whose contributions to society are questionalble at best yet we take so little notice of the quiet heros who embed themselves in our lives and leave us without fanfare; often without thanks or any kind of recognition.

Help! I’m Drowning in Ads…
January 5, 2016

We went to the movies this week to see the newest release of Star Wars. As movies go it was OK but really was an old story with a new cover and enhanced graphics. I was more affected by the blatent adversiting that occupied the first 20 minutes following the start of the show.

No, I’m not referring to the usual promotional stuff about buying snacks and popcorn or the game to get me to turn off my cell phone or stuff about upcoming movies (previews). Those I expect. They are the enticements to return at some time in the future to see another thriller. I’m referring to the ads for Lexus, and Bell Canada, travel to sunnier locals and the list goes on.

Let me see; 2 seniors, 1 adult and 1 youth went to the theatre that night. With the cost of entrance and snacks we spent $90.00 (huzzah, we didn’t have to pay a babysitter). For that price we paid for the privilege of watching  20 minutes of commercials cleverly hidden amongst previews of upcomng movies prior to the main feature.

Had I wanted the commercials, I might have waited until the movie came out on DVD. Oh, wait! That dosen’t work any longer–DVDs now have advertising at the beginning.

So back to books. So far they don’t have any embedded ads…do they?

GRB

Travelling Man
January 5, 2016

It wasn’t until I glanced at to odometer on my new 2015 Ford Edge that I realized  2015 has been a travel year in my life. The car is now just 7 months old and it has already logged 31,000 Km. How can that be? And I know I traveled between January and April as well.

Suffice to say we normally average one trip a month to Thunder Bay (600 Km return) but I’m guessing between January and June the count went up. Cloud chose to finish her last semester of high school in Thunder Bay. That necessitated an occasional trip so Papa could do some special cooking just for her.

We normally average one trip a month to Thunder Bay but January to June saw that number up visiting with churches in the region that were closing or searching for a change of pastoral charge, or for Presbytery committee responsibilities or because I am a pastoral charge supervisor. Church work took us from Hornepayne on the east to Winnipeg (1968 Km round trip) in the west. I think I can name them all: Hornepayne, White River, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Fort Frances, Ignace, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Kenora and Winnipeg. In fact four or five trips to Winnipeg made this year almost like 2006 while I served as Conference President. Winnipeg became my second home. Like the circuit riders of another time we plied our worship services from town to town.

Sault Ste. Marie, ON (820 Km round trip) usually sees us two or three times a year. That is time to reconnect with family.  The Sault is where my sister and her family reside. We are closely bonded even though we only see one another a few times a year. This year we made that trip 4 times. Most recently it was to help the Cloud with cleaning up the insurance issues following her car being rear-ended in a traffic incident. That was the car that carried us through the first four months of 2015. It was a magnificent steed and I hoped it would serve our granddaughter at least until after graduation from college. Usually, this trip is to hunker down with Barb and Dave and her children to stay connected. But this year was different!

In March we connected with family in southern Texas instead of the Sault. A business trip with stops along the way to Winnipeg turned into a holiday to New Braunfels (7000 Km round trip). What a wonderful break in the winter. We left deep snows at home and traded winter boots for running shoes at the Manitoba, North Dakota border. Each day was a delight; drive for a few hours then stop and walk for 45 minutes until we reached our destination. I never missed a day in Texas getting my minimum 10 Km walk completed.

At the end of April we bought a new car and broke it in traveling into May and June back in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay a few times. And that was just the first half of the year

(more…)

Baffled by Social Media
December 29, 2015

I checked my Facebook page this morning as is my habit every week or so and spent more time attempting to let its creators know that they are way off the mark  meeting my interests. I live in Canada. I estimate that 90% to 95% of the stuff down the right side of my Facebook page has to do with items/issues/sports/news from the United States. Please don’t label me as anti-American because of my thoughts on this, but, most, if not all of the items I see as trending are of little or no interest to me because they are from the US. Were those same stories directly related to me as a Canadian, perhaps I might find them marginally interesting. Mostly, the stuff down the right side of my Facebook page is visual trash that I am unable to lose.

Let’s see. In that right-most column is stuff that is trending (blah!), Pages I might like to follow, People I might like to Friend, Pages I might like to Like, and Games that I might want to play. To date I have found nothing in any of those elements I care to use. The trending stories are ones that I might already run across when I choose to go and read the news on my choice of news providers. I would never choose to link to someone from the friends lists, rather, if I am looking for someone specific, I’ll take the time to search them out at a time to my choosing not because Facebook thinks I need to do it now in order to have a fulfilling life. I don’t like any pages regardless whose they are, what the contents is,  or who has created them. If ever you see my name beside a Like it is probably because I have been careless handling my mouse and has no bearing on whether or not I like what I see. I never–NEVER–play games and I think I have finally done something to block invitations to play games.  In order to be clear, let me repeat, I really NEVER play games on Facebook

Then there is all that stuff down the left-most column that has no apparent relevance to me and cannot be removed. Suffice to say, most of what I experience each time I log into Facebook is visual noise. I think I really have to give some thought to whether I need to even bother with it at all. I suspect I am one of the dinosaurs who still appreciates being in conversation with a warm body immediately adjacent to me in real-time and space that doesn’t involve a keyboard or Siri or Cortana or, …

GRB

Societal Madness #1…
January 13, 2015

I was listening to CBC radio, while driving home the other day. The banning of toboggans and toboggan hills in Hamilton, ON was one of the lead stories. To say my jaw dropped would be understatement. We are becoming, if not have become, a society ruled by insurance companies and asinine court rulings. It strikes me that common sense has gone the way of the Dodo bird. At what point did individuals abdicate their responsibility for their own actions?

Tobogganing is a case in point. Sliding down hills at breakneck speeds is not a  recent phenomena. Courier and Ives illustrations have depicted these themes since 1813 (mq-zGHitf–zn1Mt4xNmH9w.jpg). The thrill of the wind and snow in one’s face while careening downhill toward trees, and hillocks and God knows what has been a part of the challenge since time immemorial. No one makes anyone go down the hill other than the innate challenge to feel the thrill. We, regardless of age, make the decision.–slide of not to slide; toboggan or jet ski; snow suit or cardboard box.

And down we go!

I don’t ever remember saying to my parents may I slide down the Chapple’s Hill at breakneck speeds and possibly hit the building and maim myself, or, slide into on-coming traffic on Steven’s Avenue or on to Woodson Street. As kids we just did it because a. the hill was there; b. it was winter; c. the thrill was there; law? What law?

Sure some of my friends were injured in the activity. Fortunately, I don’t recall anything more serious than some of the guys straddling trees and coming too wondering who it was that kicked them in the groin and why!

At issue here is, as I see it, WE CHOSE! I don’t ever recall thinking it was someone’s fault other than my own. I saw the tree at the bottom and CHOSE to challenge it. The town wasn’t responsible for my stupidity; I was! And I accept it fully!

Madness rules! A court rules that an adult male slides down a hill ignoring the signs that there are dangers present and the municipality is fined  a large sum because they were negligent because there were not sufficient signs. What about the responsibility of the individual to explore and examine the terrain prior to going down the hill? Does the same rule apply to a military person crossing a minefield? Whose fault is it that the soldier is blown up? Does the same rule apply when one steps off the curb to cross the road at a legal intersection? How does this explain the deaths that have occurred in Toronto this year at legal crossings. Who’s fault is it? Ultimately it is our own. It is a reasonable expectation that we will look all directions to cross the street before taking the step from the curb. Likewise, it is reasonable to expect that we will, regardless of age, determine the risk associated with the sliding down a hill.

Living is a risk and no one is more responsible for the decisions we make than ourselves.

GRB

Super Senior…
August 9, 2013

This is one of those milestone years in my life (I suppose that should read kilometrestone since I’m in Canada). I am officially into my 70th year.

My wife went to the local Recreation facility this week to buy new passes for the swimming pool and the attendant told her that I was now a “Super Senior”.

On the surface, that is a good thing, I think. I like the sound of the words “Super Senior”. At least, as it applies to me. It meant that I purchased my pass for significantly less than did my wife. She is younger than I. Her lament is that it isn’t fair that I should pay so little when I use much more water than she. It is a fact that I am larger and take up more space in the pool. And, she noted that I swim farther than does she. There must be more to it than this. I feel like I’m missing something–my own personal parking space near the entry to the pool perhaps.

Super Senior! The connotation  suggests that I can do more than the average senior. I’ve given that considerable thought. Should I now be able to leap tall footstools in a single bound–in my rush to make it to the bathroom in time? Faster than a speeding bullet! Ha! That’s after I pry myself from the confines of the napping chair. Am I now eligible for a prescription for afternoon naps? I’ll be sure to put that on my list of questions for my doctor.

I think I’ll get out the sewing machine and make myself a cape and …

GRB