Autumn Is Showing It’s Hand

Looking out of my home office window this morning, I saw a sight that is totally representative of this time of year in Alberta.

The mid-morning sun removing the evidence of our first frost from the roof across the street, which in itself is the precursor of colder weather to come. Behind we can see two trees, one decked out in it’s autumn colours, and the other not yet ready to do so.

At my location, on the south side of Edmonton, this morning we awoke to a temperature of -2C, hence the frost on the roofs in the neighbourhood. You will note the clear blue sky, which, while nice, can in our climes can lead to lower temperatures during the cooler months of the year as clouds tend to hold any warm air down, particularly over cities.

Trees, like people, come in many different versions, where Alberta’s changing weather is concerned. Some people will grab a sweater at the slightest indication of cooler autumn weather, whereas some trees will seemingly instantly have their leaves change colour. Other people just carry on for much longer, perhaps even staying in shorts and t-shirt, not unlike the trees which retain their normal foliage for a while longer. Eventually, they as well will don their sweater, or change their leaves. And, like people’s sweaters, when the time comes, some trees will display a simple shade of leaves, whereas others will offer up a vivid potpourri of crimson, gold and brown.

Autumn is showing it’s hand, giving us a warning, and reminding us, that it’s time to consider any preparations we need to make prior to the inevitable arrival of autumn’s nastier relative, winter.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome. Thank you.

Put Down Your #&%#$ Phone!

The Blinky Thing

Whilst on the World Wide Web today I came across this image. I shared it as a bit of humour on a Canada veterans group to which I belong, applying the remark “This could really work if more drivers got their face out of their phones.”

I had typed that remark because many of my fellow veterans are, like myself, motorcycle riders, and vehicle driver phone use is a sore point with us. Not only us actually, but all bikers. As I posted the photo my mind said, “Hmm, there could be a blog post about this”, and sure enough, here we are.

Like many bikers, I started riding long before cellphones were a thing. In the ’40s and ’50s, what was perhaps the cell phone’s predecessor, existed for many of us in the form of Dick Tracy’s wrist radio.

As a person who rides a motorcycle, there are few things that upset me more than those who use their cellphones in anything other than hands-free mode. They are doing something that seriously takes their attention away from their driving and becomes a major danger to other vehicles on the road, particularly motorcycles as many drivers don’t notice us all that well at the best of times.

Unfortunately, I, like many in the motorcycle community, know fellow riders who have been killed or seriously injured as a result of improper cellphone use. These events cut very close to home, and I have narrowly avoided a very bad situation a couple of times myself.

If a text, or any other cellphone related activity, is so important to risk a person’s life, then bloody well pull off to the side of the road, stop, and stay there until you are done. Otherwise, as the title of this blog says, “Put Down Your #&%#$ Phone!”

Please don’t use your phone. The possible tragedy which can result is something that you will have to live with the rest of your life. Unfortunately we may not.

As always, comments and feedback are always welcome.

Thoughts About Family

Aging is an interesting process, and of course there is only one thing that can stop it, seeing as how nobody has discovered the Fountain of Youth, or if they have, they are certainly not sharing that information.

As I am continuing to age, I have become increasingly interested in knowing more about my family history. To this end I have been doing research using a number of genealogy and family history archive sites and have constructed a family tree using Ancestry, having been a member since 2014.

For me, delving into family history runs in spurts, at times on the front burner with the heat on high, and other times on the back burner with the heat turned off. One thing though, it’s always on a burner somewhere, not put away in storage and forgotten.

Yet, with all this interest in family history, I have had very little contact with my cousins or their families, either in real life or social media (which is only a shadow of real life). Not for any specific reason, just that life happens and we were all on different roads.

Recently however, my sister forwarded an email to my brother and I from our oldest cousin, that he had just become a grandfather. As I am a grandfather of seven, this struck a note with me, and I sent him an email of congratulations, along with a little blurb of happenings with me. In return he sent along a recent family update that he produces each year, and a blurb of happenings with him.

A few days later I received an email from another of my cousins. It seems that my email had been forwarded to all the cousins. Lo and behold, this particular cousin also had an interest in family history and soon we were exchanging information and we look forward to further collaboration.

Not long after that I heard from yet another cousin and we corresponded as well.

As I continue to age, I have been the family patriarch for a number of years, and am known by some family members as the Old Guy In Edmonton, or by some folks simply as the Old Fart (which is okay).

That being said however, I am excited and very happy to be connecting with my cousins and their families, yes, their families as well. I am reasonably active on social media and, since sending congratulations to my cousin, I am now connected with not only him, but a couple of his siblings, and several of their children. It is so interesting learning things about all of them, and sharing things from Kim and I as well as our children and grandchildren.

Maybe that is all part of what aging is about. Life, learning and family. Certainly much better than some of the other things we have to deal with in our daily lives.

Thoughts about family are important, because family is important.

In this world we are all different, and it would be most interesting to hear your thoughts about family.

Comments and thoughts are always welcome.

Podcast – Up And Running (It’s A Beginning)

This is just a short blog post to provide updated information on my fledgling podcast.

While working on my blog posts I had noticed that there was a podcast service associated with WordPress, Anchor, and after reading about it I figured this was perhaps something I could have a try at.

I had been told by various people during my life that I have a good voice for radio, and I did enjoy volunteering as a radio DJ during several tours at a far north military site. So, here we are.

Should you like to have a listen, here is my Anchor Podcast home page. My episodes are available on about a half dozen podcast platforms, and they are listed there.

As always comments are welcome, particularly as I embark on this new experience.

Let’s Talk About Dolichovespula Arenaria

For the vast majority of my readers the title of this blog post may well get a “say what?” type of reaction.

Today I will talk about the Dolichovespula Arenaria, or for those who don’t know Latin, the Common Aerial Yellowjacket Wasp, found throughout Alberta and beyond.

Recently, my wife and I were out for a motorcycle ride, and had a wee stop for a light snack. There we were joined by a few wasps, as they seem to have food radar.

Now most of us think of wasps as disliked pests, or, on occasion, as something to be even despised and eliminated at every opportunity.

It is true that wasps seem to have that type of reputation, however, they do play an important role in the entire circle of life. Wasps actually do way more good than harm. They capture, and consume, various insects such as flies, caterpillars and beetle larvae, hence playing a role in the protection of farm crops and gardens by helping to control the pest populations. As well, similar to bees, they are recognized as valuable pollinators, as they transfer pollen when drinking nectar from flowers.

Today’s subject, the Common Aerial Yellowjacket, are like a cleaning service, when they are out scavenging dead insects to feed their offspring. Often the problem comes when their scavenging habits are combined with their love of sugar, putting them in close proximity of us, humans with food. These situations usually end badly, primarily for the wasps.

For my wife and I, we actually had very interesting time with our lunch companions on this occasion, due to a small piece of candy which fell off an ice cream dessert we had acquired.

We were not only able to observe the wasp, but were able to video it as well. Those videos are shared with you in this blog post. I was most impressed with how they turned out and find them to be quite interesting. I hope you will as well.

I have included four videos for your viewing enjoyment. You will note from the final video that this particular wasp was not into sharing with his companion.

As always, I welcome any comments or feedback you may have. Thanks for reading.

Finds a nice piece of candy.

Sorry about the language of a man walking by with his wife and young daughter.

He really seems to be enjoying this.

Not into sharing it seems.

Coming Soon To A Streaming Service Near You

So… it is often said that one is never too old to learn new things, and I figure that now is a good time to put that axiom to the test.

As a certified (some would say certifiable) old fart, I have decided to get into the world of podcasting.

So you may ask, what will my podcast be about. Perhaps the podcast name will provide a clue. I have decided to call it “Whatever Comes To Mind”.

As far as the schedule for the podcast, it will be whenever that whatever comes to my senior mind (as long as I don’t forget it on the way to the computer).

I have registered with Anchor.fm to do my podcasts and the main objective is to learn some things, have some fun, meet more interesting people and, who knows, maybe even pick up a listener or two.

As always, any comments you may have are welcome.

A Little Back To The Future Fun

About 11 years ago I came across this item, posting it on Facebook at the time. Sometimes we may wonder how close we actually are to this. Let’s hear your thoughts.

Ordering Pizza in 2020

This is so close to what is probably going to be happening in 2020 that we’re not sure how funny this really is…

Operator: Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I have your national ID number?

Customer: Hi, I’d like to place an order.

Operator: I must have your NIDN first, sir.

Customer: My National ID Number, yeah, hold on, eh, it’s 6102049998-45-54610.

Operator: Thank you Mr. Sheehan. I see you live at 1742 Meadowland Drive, and the phone number is 494-2366.  Your office number over at Lincoln Insurance is 745-2302 and your cell number is 266-2566.  Email address is sheehan@home.net. Which number are you calling from sir?

Customer: Huh? I’m at home. Where’d you get all this information?

Operator: We’re wired into the HSS, sir.

Customer: The HSS, what is that?

Operator: We’re wired into the Homeland Security System, sir.  This will add only 15 seconds to your ordering time.

Customer: (sighs) Oh well, I’d like to order a couple of your All-Meat Special pizzas.

Operator: I don’t think that’s a good idea, sir.

Customer: Whaddya mean?

Operator: Sir, your medical records and commode sensors indicate that you’ve got very high blood pressure and extremely high cholesterol.  Your National Health Care provider won’t allow such an unhealthy choice.

Customer: What?!?! What do you recommend, then?

Operator: You might try our low-fat Soybean Pizza. I’m sure you’ll like it.

Customer: What makes you think I’d like something like that?

Operator: Well, you checked out ‘Gourmet Soybean Recipes’ from your local library last week, sir. That’s why I made the suggestion.

Customer: All right, all right. Give me two family-sized ones, then.

Operator: That should be plenty for you, your wife and your four kids. Your 2 dogs can finish the crusts, sir. Your total is $49.99.

Customer: Lemme give you my credit card number.

Operator: I’m sorry sir, but I’m afraid you’ll have to pay in cash. Your credit card balance is over its limit.

Customer: I’ll run over to the ATM and get some cash before your driver gets here.

Operator: That won’t work either, sir. Your checking account is overdrawn also.

Customer: Never mind! Just send the pizzas. I’ll have the cash ready. How long will it take?

Operator: We’re running a little behind, sir. It’ll be about 45 minutes, sir. If you’re in a hurry you might want to pick’em up while you’re out getting the cash, but then, carrying pizzas on a motorcycle can be a little awkward.

Customer: Wait! How do you know I ride a scooter?

Operator: It says here you’re in arrears on your car payments, so your car got repo’ed. But your Harley’s paid for and you just filled the tank yesterday.

Customer: Well, I’ll be a #%#^^&$%^$@#

Operator: I’d advise watching your language, sir. You’ve already got a July 4, 2003 conviction for cussing out a cop and another one I see here in September for contempt at your hearing for cussing at a judge. Oh yes, I see here that you just got out from a 90 day stay in the State Correctional Facility. Is this your first pizza since your return to society?

Customer: (speechless)

Operator: Will there be anything else, sir?

Customer: Yes, I have a coupon for a free 2 litre of Coke…

Operator: I’m sorry sir, but our ad’s exclusionary clause prevents us from offering free soda to diabetics. The New Constitution prohibits this.

Thank you for calling Pizza Hut.

A Good Lesson – The Mayonnaise Jar Story

I have no idea where, or when, this story originated, and I take no credit for anything other than sharing it. It is, however, well worth sharing, which I did on Facebook about a dozen or so years ago. The message is good, and is something we often seem to forget. So, for your enjoyment, I present the Mayonnaise Jar Story.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the Mayonnaise Jar… and the Coffee…

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. “Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ” I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

I’m Back?

It has been well over a year since I have even begun to create a new blog post.

I could likely be forgiven if I said that Covid has been the cause of this, however, in truth, I can only say it has been a contributing factor. There have been a number of other aspects, both mental and physical, that form the real rationale for my absence from my blog and the severe limitation of my participation in social media, or other online activities, as well.

These different aspects, which continue but will not be addressed, at least directly, in any of my dissertations, were certainly enhanced by Covid isolation. The ongoing love, support, and patience, of my wife Kim, is encouraging me to resume some of these online activities as I need to stimulate my mind and become more creative once again.

The knowledge that there are others who likely are going through stages in their lives which may bear some similarity to mine, is simply that, knowledge. It neither lessens, or heightens, the effects of anyone’s situation. When I see an individual moving past a dilemma, small or large, it gives me encouragement. There is a chance that, by moving forward myself, I may provide some form of encouragement to others. Regardless, it is something which I must do.

Hence the title of this blog post. I’m trying to be back and time will tell. I very much appreciate the support and good words I have received from a variety of different people.

There Is Here

Like so many others across Canada and beyond, I am doing as I should, and staying home during this COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-February we traveled to visit family in Malaysia and while gone, seeing as how the car would just sit in the garage, I put parked car insurance on it. When we returned to Edmonton, we did 16 days isolation and then, due to the situation, any travel for me was restricted to a limited number of places. So, being retired, I just stayed home, and my car insurance remained unchanged.

Don’t get the idea that I had no desire to get out once in a while. Of course I did. And also, in the garage, I had a way to make that happen. My motorcycle!

Now, seeing as how a motorcycle is not a car, I couldn’t get parked car insurance for it, therefore its insurance remained in full force. So I could get out and move around a bit – right?

There was, unfortunately, a bit of an issue however. Mother Nature. Seems that this year, she had decided that Spring would be delayed. And delayed. And delayed. The last two years, I was able to get out on my bike end of March, beginning of April. Not this year. First day out, when the roads and weather were fairly decent, was April 15. And more importantly, the #%&*@^ ice was finally gone from the laneway in front of the garage.

In the month since my first journey out this year, I have been out on the bike about twenty times. There were a few blank days due to low temperatures or rain, with a wee bit of snow thrown in as well. It is Alberta after all.

The question is, with all this COVID-19 stuff, where do I go. You may have heard an expression, “you can’t get there from here”. In my case, I can. Because, you see, there is here.

I would go out for a ride, sometimes 150 to 200 kilometres, and my destination was always my start, so, there is here. The only stop I might make on a ride was to fuel up, and that was seldom as my bike gets very good fuel mileage.

I know I am not alone in this type of endeavor. I have a number of retired military comrades who also ride, and for many of them the experience is the same.

Bottom line. It is really nice to get out, see different areas of surrounding countryside, receive “wind therapy” as we call the ride. However, until such time as we can actually go more places, this fact will remain accurate.

There is here!