Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beach Front Property

OK - I don't mean to keep going on about the weather, but...

Our area of Saskatchewan, the South western corner, is normally semi arid.  Normal rainfall amounts for May and June are 2-3 inches per month.... not this year.  A thunderstorm dropped six inches on the town next to us in an hour last night.  Great fun!

This was on top of rainfall which has already been delivering record amounts for the last two months and resulting in flooding everywhere across the province.  The Trans-Canada highway was closed due to flooding 2 days ago.... as was  The Highway south of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

The parking is poor, but we might end up with beach front property - it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Make your own fun

Have I mentioned that its been a bit wet? But in a small town you find ways to make your own fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leap of Imagination

I am a huge fan of science fiction (especially the speculative type, which interpolates the future from trends which are happening presently) and of technological progress in general.  That being so, when I learn of a new discovery it sometimes captures my imagination and I try to think of how such technology might be put to use in the future.  Here's a leap of imagination... or sci-fi nearing reality, that that I find fascinating and somewhat disturbing.

I happened across a website describing a company that "prints" buildings and other structures using a technology similar (though on a much larger scale) to an ink jet printer.  The process is roboticized, allowing the designer to create a CADD (computer assisted design and drafting) model which directly controls the production of the structure. 

Ok - that's kind of cool.... however....

Combine that with the recent announcement of the creation of "artificial life" by Craig Venter, and its quite possible to make a number of leaps of imagination...  such as the speculation by Tom McKeag (who teaches bio-inspired design at Berkley) that living, self-regulating, self repairing buildings might be  "grown."

I'm not a Luddite, but I have this strange sense of foreboding....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rainfall - Oil Spill Link???

If you've read previous posts on my blog, you'll know that we've gotten a lot more rain this year than is usually the case.  So much so, that spring seeding of crops is only 64% complete as compared to the usual of 96% for this time of year and much of what has been seeded is lying underwater due to flooded fields.  This has caused a  number of municipalities (more than 30) to declare themselves as agricultural disaster areas.

A caller to a radio talk show that I listened to today made an interesting suggestion - wondering if the excessive rainfall is connected in someway to the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The caller's reasoning: "The spill creates a large area which is darker than surrounding water; dark patches absorb more sunlight causing more evaporation of ocean water...."

File:Controlled burn of oil on May 19th.JPG

In my fertile imagination I can see other factors - the huge plumes of smoke generated by controlled burns of the spilled oil....

.... and potentially the smoke and ash generated by the Icelandic volcano (Most went east, causing Europe and the UK problems, - but not all).... since dust, smoke or ash in the air is a necessary component for rain to form (rain clouds are often "seeded" in drought areas by spraying the clouds with particles onto which rain can form.)

As a theory, there's probably nothing to it.... but it does make you go, hmmmm!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I am a Time Traveler

I am a time traveler on a mission of exploration through the future.  My journey began almost exactly fifteen years after the beginning of the Earth's Nuclear War and I've had the privilege of  witnessing some noteworthy historical events - including but not limited too:

- The beginning of the Space Age.
- Flying Cars
- The age of Robotics
- Video Phones
- Instant Global Communications
- Instant Access to the sum total of humanity's accumulated knowledge.

The future isn't the way I expected it to be.  It has its problems - but then, so did the past!  (More on this later if you really want to hear it.)

The message, "It's pretty good here - Don't Bitch!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

View From My Neighbor's Window

The view from our living room window is spectacular.  The lot across the street from ours is a beautiful, park-like expanse with lush green grass and shade trees in abundance.  Gorgeous flower gardens line the drive way and the  sides of the house and there isn't a dandelion or weed in site.  

We lived in several communities in the first few years of our marriage; most of them quite small.  When you move to a small town, especially a small town where you have no family connections, you feel a bit like a fish in a bowl.  You feel like everyone is watching you - because they are -curious about who you are and why you're entering THEIR community.  

Not Elsie or Jock, the owners of the lot across the street:  Elsie was the first person to come over.they welcomed us; they made us feel welcome and treated us like family.  The feeling was mutual.  To us - a young couple with three small children - they were surrogates for our parents who were far away.

Our children grew up in this house in Eyebrow and in many ways so did my wife and I.  Many times, over those years we had the pleasure of looking across the street and admiring the beauty across from us.  Almost as often we wondered what they thought of the view from their front window - and were quite sure that, though they never once complained - we had the best of it.

Our house had sat vacant and untended for several years before we purchased it.  Both the house and the yard needed work.  We did what we could, but with three small children, a dog and full time jobs, we couldn't quite keep the dandelions and dog created bare patches of our lawn under control.

The beautiful yard across the street still looks better than ours, but this year, for the first time that I can remember, the bare patches are filled and green; and the dandelion's are gone.  Sadly, so are Jock and Elsie.  Jock passed away several years ago and Elsie lost her battle with Cancer in March this year.  I'd like to think that they're still looking at the view from their window - and maybe even that they've used some influence to help with the dandelions.

Jock and Elsie, you are missed!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thank God THAT'S Over!

I'm sure I'm breaking some Canadian guy thing code to say it, but say it I will, "Thank God THAT'S over!"  I'm referring, of course, to The Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the 2009-2010 NHL season in general.

Before any rabid hockey fans come after me with murder in your eyes, let me explain:  I am not anti-hockey.  Not at all.  I'm Canadian!  We invented the game! (as Sydney Crosby told you if you listened to the link - it might be a commercial but its very accurate - which is why its such a powerful commercial.)

Like many boys from small towns all across the country, I was taught to skate almost as soon as I could walk and grew up playing the game on frozen sloughs, dugouts, and small town rinks every winter.   It hasn't changed that much - at least here.  I don't have to go far (by Saskatchewan Standards, where we happily drive an hour to go to the theater or have dinner out) to see a live hockey game during the winter - Or for that matter to join in one, should I want to play.  Even in Eyebrow - small as it is.

Despite only having an outdoor ice surface, Eyebrow has a recreational hockey league, with regularly scheduled games and its own web site.  Everyone that wants to play, from six to sixty, can join and play - and everyone has a good time - all winter long!  Hockey is a great winter sport!  BUT... its a WINTER sport!  And this is June!

I suppose for fans in Anaheim, Dallas, or Miami - and other southern areas of the USA, where there isn't a real winter - it probably doesn't matter.  Hockey, for these fans might just be another sport and the longer the season the better -  BUT... Where I live, we can expect our first snowfall to arrive in mid-October or early November (and we've had it as early as August.)  By March, we're hoping desperately for Spring and by the May Long we're damn well ready for summer, even if the weather isn't (we occasionally have snow in June.)  Summer's too short and by this time of year I can truly give a rats..... behind... who wins Lord Stanley's Cup. (even if I did watch.)

I understand why the NHL season lasts so long (more than eight months.)  Professional hockey is big business and a multi-million dollar entertainment industry with teams paying out $50 million (average) in salaries. (Roughly $2 million per player.)  If I was a team owner, paying those kind of salaries, I'd want to maximize profits by having as many games as possible as well.  BUT... as a fan, I've lost interest in Hockey when the snow starts to melt.

So thank god the NHL season is over ... but I'll probably be back watching in the fall when the ice starts to form on the pond.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm Serious about the Boat! (Pictures)

I thought I should add some pictures to go with the last post.  These, like the conversations, are pictures that people have put up showing the soggy state of their fields.

The ground's like a saturated sponge right now.

The rain sits on top of the gravel road since the ground is too saturated to absorb anymore moisture.

The puddles grow into ponds....

.... then into larger ponds.

This picture more properly belongs with my post about the Riders - it was just too awesome not to include.  This is downtown Regina with the twin buildings sporting the Rider Logo for the team's 100th anniversary.

Thanks Drew, Phil and Barry for putting up the pictures.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm building a big boat....

It's been raining here..... a lot.  This being a small, farming community, the weather gets mentioned.

Quoted From Friends and Neighbors on Facebook 

·         Grey skies filled with grey clouds full of moisture have descended upon the farm. All outside activity has come to a halt. The much needed moisture is falling; over 1" so far. (April 30, 2010)

·         This rain is so wonderful!!! The rain barrel is full & overflowing. Lots of water for my plants!!! (May 1, 2010)

·         Could the rain & hail not have waited until we finished seeding the last 20 acres of a field????? (May 19,2010)

·         Doesn't like the forecast. Would just like to get done seeding before it rains for a week!!! (May 21,2010)

·         Cue music...There is a hole in my roof and it is leakin’ from the light to the floor and there is another place leakin’ above my bathroom door. Free showers...free showers. Alive, alive oh. My apologies to Molly Malone and others.

·         Is it wet enough out there for you??? (May 25, 2010)

·         What are you doing on facebook?!?! Get back in the field!! . Did you finish up seeding?? (May 25, 2010)

·         NO!!!! only 50% done.  (May 25, 2010)
·         Want some rice seed? (May 25, 2010)
·         Too much rain too fast and no place to go (May 28, 2010)
·         Heavy downpour of rain last night along with lightning and thunder that rattled the dishes; water coming in basement now that the water table is high; definetly no seeding for at least a week and that's with a lot of wind. (May 28, 2010)
·        Rain clouds have returned just when it was dry enough to get the air seeder uncovered and ready to start seeding. Now have to cover everything up and wait a few more days for ground to dry up again -our total for the last 2 weeks is 5 inches. (June 3, 2010)
·         Seeding at night with GPS is kinda like playing a video game - a slow boring one with sloughs (June 5, 2010)
·         Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. Don't rain. (June 5, 2010)
·         Nothing like parking your vehicle at the backend of a field, in a slough, at 10:30 at night, by yourself, having to walk all the way home in your flip flops wearing jammies and stinking like a swamp!! The first one to laugh dies!!!!!! (June 7, 2010)
·         I did the exact same thing last night but I was in my housecoat at 11:00. I love farming! (June 7, 2010)
·         NO Ball tonight too much rain :( (June 7, 2010)
·         Going 24 hours in shifts to finish seeding today (June 7, 2010)
·         Didn't get the seeding done or the 24 hours in. Rain...again. (June 7, 2010)
·         Dear Weather God. Why do you hate us so much? Just askin' (May 7, 2010)

·         Oh no, it's foggy again. Rain in 90 days; That should be right about when we are trying to combine. (June 8, 2010)

·         Raining! Again / Still!  I'm looking for deck plans for a really big boat..... and collecting animals.....  Who’s with me? (June 8, 2010)

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Blood Runs Green!

Less than ONE week to go!

If you’re from Saskatchewan, the title and first sentence most likely tells you all you need to know.  

For the rest of you – poor things -  I’m talking about the Saskatchewan Roughriders, their 100th anniversary as a team, and the count down to their first pre-season game.

I’ve possibly mentioned in previous posts that Eyebrow, Sk. is small (I think I might have.) and Saskatchewan itself, despite its land area, is a small close-knit community.  No wonder, really, when you realize that Saskatchewan’s ENTIRE population  would easily fit within the confines of the city of Calgary (1,079,310) or into a corner of Montreal (with a population of 3,635,571) or Toronto (4,657,000) and that even these large (to Canadians) cities are dwarfed by the giants such as Tokyo (28,025,000) or Mexico City (18,131,000.)

Small as it might be Saskatchewan loves its football team! Ask anyone from Saskatchewan!  Ask any Canadian football fan – anywhere in the country, “which team has the best fans?”  If they say anything other than Saskatchewan Roughrider Fans – You can call them a liar!  To their face!  From me!

Not Convinced?  Here's some fan chatter.  Still not convinced? How about this - a report from Reporter Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun, on a trip through Saskatchewan before the Western Final, last year, to gauge "The temperature of a province."  Date line: Eyebrow, Sk. (and there's MY connection - as if being a rider fan wasn't enough!)

 Well the season hasn't opened yet, nor even the first pre-season game and already two games are sold out: The "Banjo Bowl" on Labour Day of course! But also the July 17th game against the Edmonton Eskimos.  Now that's the kind of fan support that you can't get anywhere else!

Go Riders!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do Dogs Get 'Roid Rage??

I went to THE STORE, yesterday afternoon when I got home to see if our satellite receiver had arrived yet (it had and after another two hours on the phone with customer service, is working - sort of.  But that's a different story.)  Being a dog owner and a responsible one, and since I was walking, (Eyebrow IS very small remember) I took the dog along for a walk.... and she tries to kill me, or commit suicide... or something!

Some background information:

Taffy is a small dog, of uncertain breed, that we bought for $5.00 at a garage sale about 14 years ago. (And YES it WAS on GARAGE SALE DAY in Eyebrow)  Taffy has developed some health issues over the years - her eyesight's going, as is her hearing (though she seems to be able to hear the can-opener from anywhere in the house.)  She moves a little more stiffly than she used to and doesn't quite have the same pep that she used to. (Fair enough - in dog years she's somewhere around 98)

Of more concern to us was a skin allergy she seems to have developed to something.  For a while she was scratching herself raw and it hurt us to see her doing it as much as it must have her her.  The Veterinarian couldn't be sure what the allergy was from, but prescribed a course of medicine to help control it (Prednisone - a steroid) with the warning that "In the long term it had bad side effects," but, considering her age, we shouldn't worry to much about long term effects.  "Cut back the dosage if possible - but use the lowest dose that keeps her comfortable."

That's the background - on with the story:

Taffy and I leave the house headed for THE STORE and I've walked about 50 metres and almost to the highway before I look back (A highway runs through the middle of Eyebrow cutting it in half, North from South - don't imagine a huge, 12 lane superhighway; this is a small town.  The highway basically becomes a street through town and traffic is supposed to slow down while going through - if there's traffic.  Usually there isn't.  Also Taffy isn't on a leash as it isn't necessary - again small town, and she's normally a very well behaved, well trained dog that knows how to heel.  But not today....)

When I look back, I see that she is standing on the front steps.... just standing there, looking at me.

"OK," I think, "She's old and mostly blind - she's lost me." So, I call her (no response.)
"OK, well I know she's mostly deaf too."  I walk back to the house to let her see and hear me.  When I've gotten almost back to the house, she recognizes me and comes running; passes me wanting to take the lead and heads for the highway.

"With her eyesight, she may not be able to see traffic coming," I think to myself (on the rare chance that there might be traffic) and hurry to catch up with her.  No problem - she stops at the cross walk to sniff the grass, giving me time to catch up with her.  There is traffic, (amazingly)  but the closest vehicle is about 3 blocks away - lots of time.  I call her and start across, look back and realize that she apparently is done sniffing yet.

THE TRAFFIC is two blocks away and its not one, but two vehicles with a third appearing from the opposite direction.  I call her, but she is ignoring me determinately sniffing at something (deaf, remember?) Worried that she will decide to dart out into THE TRAFFIC and get hit, I reverse course, to go back and wait with her on that side, until THE TRAFFIC is past.

But as I approach, she ducks away like I was going to beat her, does a quick circle around me and heads straight across the highway - with me trying to catch her, almost under the tires of the first vehicle which had to slam on its brakes.  I wave apologetically to the driver and go onto the highway to retrieve Taffy, but she's having nothing to do with me.  The car which had nearly run her over didn't worry her but me walking toward her seemed to terrify her.

Scared, she - with me following - skittered away from it almost under the tires of the second vehicle approaching from the other direction which also had to slam on its brakes.  (To avoid hitting both of us) Meanwhile the third vehicle, (following the first) almost ran into the back of the stopped vehicle in front of it - not expecting to suddenly have a vehicle parked in the middle of the highway, in its path.

So my dog and I narrowly avoided getting run over, managed to nearly cause a two-car collision, and did create a three-car traffic jam.

I still can't account for my dog's strange behavior.  "Roid Rage?  Or maybe Paul has been paying her off in dog treats to take me out and make it look like an accident.  Ninjas' are like that.....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Might be From the Country If...

For the last few weeks our satellite dish has been acting up.  (For those of you who don’t know  rural life, we get TV via satellite, rather than by cable.  Just like our internet comes via a wireless broadcast beamed to us from the top of the local grain elevator – YES, I’m serious!)

Program information has been “unavailable” in the guide, so last week – Thursday or Friday I finally got around to calling Shaw Direct, our service provider.  I usually dread calls like this, because you often get put on hold for an hour with bad music and interruptions every 2 minutes, telling you, “We value our customers! Please stay on the line for the next available caller, etc, etc, etc” which I hate with a passion.

I was pleasantly surprised when the recording from Shaw offered to call me back when a customer service representative was available to take my call – and gave me a time line of 15 minutes! Points to Shaw for the consideration!  I wish other companies would do the same instead of keeping me hostage on hold for an hour while their one service person handles all the queued calls from half a continent.

But I rant… the call came as promised 15 minutes later and the problem was easily fixed.  “Just unplug the receiver; plug it back in and the guide will re-load properly in about 30 minutes.”  Customer-service-guy tells me.

OK – I feel some kinda foolish.  So when Customer- service-guy tells me that I’m going to keep having the problem since our receiver is ancient (which I knew) and asks if I’d be interested in upgrading, I was half-way hooked.  And when he added that, considering the age of my receiver, the upgrade would cost $50.00 instead of a $100.00 and that I wouldn’t have to bother shipping the old one back – SOLD!
“We’ll ship it out Monday, by courier,” Customer- service-guy assures me.

“Unh… throughout the day it’s going to be hard to catch me at home.” I tell him.

“Can one of your neighbours sign for it,” Customer- service-guy asks.

“Well… you know many people have jobs to go to and… Hey! Could the courier drop it off at the Post-Office? I ask.  (In the city, I’ve heard, mail comes by postman to your door – Have I mentioned that this is a small town?)

“No - can’t do that,” Customer- service-guy explains slowly, like I’m an imbecile.  “Canada Post and the courier company are competitors – they don’t like each other enough to co-operate like that.”

(It seemed pointless to explain that the lady that runs the post-office IS a friend and neighbour who’d almost certainly sign for the package no matter who was carrying it…)

“How about they drop it off at THE STORE?” I exclaim, the idea suddenly occurs to me.   Hohner’s General Store!  They can drop it off there.”

“Ok, that should work,” Customer- service-guy says dubiously.  “What’s the address?”

“Unh…  Main street.” I hesitatingly respond. (Eyebrow is small enough that we don’t pay much attention to street numbers.)  “Main Street IS only two blocks long and there’s a big sign in front – he’ll see it,” I try lamely to explain.

Customer- service-guy chuckles uncomfortably, then explains even more slowly, “I understand, but it’s kinda hard to write that on a form….”

“OK, ahh… call it #50 Main Street,” I tell Customer- service-guy  (Understanding the problem and figuring that this will get the driver close enough to see the sign.)

“OK, so we’ll send it out Monday then,” I’m told.

“Oh - could you make it Tuesday?  THE STORE is closed Monday.”

I can almost hear customer service guy crying on the other end of the phone line by now – but yes it will be shipped out Tuesday, Customer-service-guy promises.


I checked at THE STORE on my way home after work Tuesday – no delivery…. A simple delivery.  How could that have gotten messed up?