Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tears Tonight for a Great Canadian Humourist
February 15, 2017

In late 1980 through the mid 1990s, I worked as an Education Officer for the Ministry of Education of Ontario out of Thunder Bay. My territory covered a large portion of that part of Ontario-about the same size as all of southern Ontario. It meant many long lonely hours on the road.

neys-lookout-001-a

Neys Lookout at the mouth of the Pic River

Just me and my truck and trees and rocks and breathtaking vistas along Hwy 17 along the north shore of Lake Superior. And, marvelling at the difference of the land on the northern run along Hwy 11 alongside the Palisades through Beardmore and Geraldton to Hearst and Iroquois Falls. It was quiet. Just the sound of the  tires on the road and the and the thrum of the powerful 7.3 Litre diesel engine for company. I learned to enjoy the solitude and the time to ponder all of the amazing things that were and are my life.

I wrote many papers in my head on those long journeys and as the technology improved dictated them to my computer as I drove. A dinner theatre script here, a manual to do something or other there, a script for a video. When that wore thin, I turned to my radio, dialed in CBC Radio One to listen to Stuart McLean on the Vinyl Cafe.

Stuart McLean was a master story teller; a person I aspired to be like. Stuart caused many kilometres to vanish beneath the tires of my ride and I spent five wonderful years of my life relishing his every word in the newest of his stories about Dave and Morley and their kids Sam and Stephanie. His skill with language and rhythm of the story forced me off the road frequently in gales of laughter about Dave’s misadventures. It was safer for both myself and the on-coming traffic that I made this choice. He was Canada’s Garrison Keillor.

Today, it was announced that Stuart McLean died and I felt a lament rise in my heart. My prayers are with you this night as I reminisce our times together on the long and wondrous journey of the highway of my life. Thank you for the lessons in Dave Cooks the Turkey. May God’s Spirit raise you up and release you from the agony of your illness dear friend of the road. The world is a much emptier place because of your absence in it.

 

I am coming to HATE computing and Windows 10…
July 25, 2016

I cannot find sufficient words to express how much I dislike Windows 10. I am weary from attempting to customise this operating system so that it does not track my movements or feed me ads. I am tired of algorithms that attempt to anticipate my needs and feed me suggestions that it thinks I really want.I am weary of having to wait for updates to be installed when I least expect it. I am weary of having programs (not apps)that need to always know my location, contacts, access to my photos, my e-mail, my camera, my microphone, my storage devices when all I wanted to know is the weather, or that name of a book, or the depth of an ocean.

What I really want is an operating system that responds to my needs directly. When I do a search I want all of the possibilities that are possible answers to the original query. I am fully capable of deciding which I want to follow or read in depth.

Mostly I am tired of ads. I am tired of ads that tell me to play games that are of no interest to me; ads that constantly direct me to buy something that the system thinks I need to consume; ads that direct me to connect to persons that I don’t know, don’t want to know or that the system thinks I should be connected to in order to have a more complete life.

I know this will get some responses from the Mac users suggesting that I switch. The reality is that Macs are no better. Apple is forcing us into the same places as Microsoft. We need to be always connected, always buying, always commenting, always…

GRB

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

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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

Snow Daze…
January 3, 2015

I wakened this morning and sat with my first coffee of the day eying the amount of snow that fell overnight and filled my driveway. Stormy thoughts of being related to Joe Btfsplk (look it up) fed my misfortune. Drat! The meteorologists were correct; my driveway could expect 15 – 20 cm of snow overnight. Yup! It was there! Sitting in my driveway.

Coffee done, snow shovel in hand I began the ritual removal of the offending material. I still have difficulty with the “s” word. Two hours of shovelling and the driveway was pristine. I could even see bare pavement in some places. The snowfall had lessened. It was only -10C and quite delightful outside. I had a great workout. Thank you great snow creature in the sky.

I’m inside sitting with my second coffee of the day watching as the snowfall becomes heavier. The drifts around the wheels of my car are a measure to the rate of accumulation. If I sip my coffee slowly enough chances are good that the car will by then have disappeared to be replaced by a small practice ski hill or beginners toboggan run. If I sip my coffee slowly enough, Spring may arrive and I’ll once again have my car sitting in the driveway awaiting my attention. If I sip my coffee slowly enough…

GRB

Shaping Up…2015
January 3, 2015

Last June I weighted in at 96.2 kg and realized that not only was I feeling like a slug, I was becoming one in appearance and attitude. I don’t mean that I was all slimy and slippery, just loaded with lethargy, sloth-like in my movements and more comfortable sitting than doing anything else. the decision to change was easy. Follow-through not so easy.

It was the visit to my doctor and diabetes caregiver that set the tone. “It’s time,” they said, “that we consider options other than diet control and exercise to keep your diabetes in check.” That’s akin to having my head smacked into a brick wall. Wake up! Smell the roses! Life-style change time!

The good news is that that wake-up call was the inspiration I needed to set a path to becoming healthier. As of January 1, 2015 I have lost 17.2 kg. Walking daily and swimming 5 days a week along with a more sensible diet has had the desired effect. The challenge is to maintain the momentum and to achieve my desired goal – only 7.6 kg to go.

2015 is shaping up to be a worthwhile year.

GB

Empty Thoughts…
July 13, 2012

Apparently, I haven’t had much in the way of creative thought–or any thoughts–since January of 2012. While that is not entirely true I find it difficult to commit to writing daily. I  have yet to find that quiet time in my life when I am comfortable and able to let myself go and just write. My original goal of writing every day has not been achievable. I’ll try to adjust to writing at least once a month.

Rubbing shoulders with talent
August 23, 2008

I began writing this in July while visiting my sister and brother-in-law. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it at the time but there are some thoughts that are worth being journaled and read over in the future. Mostly I want to have all who are interested experience the talents of two young photographers with whom I am acquainted.

Being with family, even after lengthy absence, is like putting on comfortable clothing; everything fits. It just feels right! It was meant to be! I’ve been at my sister’s home in Sault Ste. Marie and having dinner on the deck. Dave informed me that we were going to have the old Saturday night traditional dinner for Wednesday night’s meal–barbecued hamburgers. And they were good, with all of the required condiments and salads and roasted potato thingys to satisfy the greatest of hungers. We washed it down with some good red wine.

Errup! Burp! Excuse me!

More important was the company. Family and friends and conversation and story and good food. It was a perfect evening. G. an dher son Chris came for dinner as well. Chris is here visiting his mom. He is a young Canadian photographer with considerable talent. He and his partner have spent considerable time in the Canadian north and most recently in the Queen Charlotte Islands and his photographs are truly amazing. One can sample Chris’ talent at http://www.chrissiddall.com/. What a wonder it would be to travel with Chris on one of his adventures and learn to record what one sees with such artistry. He has the potential to be a great photographer.

Some of Chris’ images remind me of another young talent. (I’ve noted that I use the term ‘young’ frequently when I write. I’ve just hit my senior birthday and I see anyone under 65 as young.) Kevin Palmer currently of Winnipeg, MB has been making pictures and music as long as I can remember. Kevin and I have spent considerable time working in darkrooms and toasting successes with a good single malt scotch. He has continued to invest in his photographic skills. Check out Kevin’s talent at http://www.superiorimagephotography.ca/gallery_01.htm. Both of these photographer’s deserve notice.

But back to the warm clothing of family…

Whenever I visit my sister we manage to sit up into the we hours of the night catching up on all of the things we each consider really important in our lives. We talk of our children and the woes and successes of their lives. That includes, too, the frustrations we feel as parents when our grown children display behaviours that are more akin to childhood. Mostly, though, Barb and I rekindle our relationship as brother and sister and friends. There is always a sense of nostalgia to our gathering. We were best of friends while growing up. That’s not to say we didn’t have the usual brother and sister fights and squabbles–mostly attributed to me as the younger doing what little brothers do best to maturing sisters–pester. And I was good at it! I could probably still give lessons to brother-in-training.

In the morning we always moan and groan about how foolish we were to stay up so late and vow not to do that again all the while knowing that the next time we are together our respective spouses will retire long before us and we will continue our ritual dance of renewal of family and friendship.          GRB