A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Farmers Not Welcome

A CBC investigation exposed how some vendors at the Peterborough Farmers' Market were misleading consumers by claiming to grow fruits and vegetables that were actually purchased at a wholesale food terminal. The reaction from the Peterborough & District Farmers' Market Association (PDFMA) was to eject the FARMERS who brought this to their attention and NOT TAKE ANY ACTION regarding those that pretended to be actual growers of the produce they were selling.
What a sad reflection of the state of this 'farmers market' board!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rawls of Dorset = archived.

As noted in my previous post Rootsweb and the related Freepages have been 'down' since mid December, they now say they are working on reinstating those pages but that it could take weeks or months before they are fully restored (or perhaps never in some cases) .....

Hosted Web Sites: Soon we will begin bringing Hosted Web Sites back online. We will start with a few hundred and then add more over time, giving us a chance to scan the content.
Family Trees/WorldConnect: Family Trees or WorldConnect allows you to upload a GEDCOM file and publish it for others to see. It is currently being reviewed by our software engineers and security team and we plan on having a read-only, searchable version up in the next few weeks. The ability to upload new GEDCOM files will be available in the coming months.

Meanwhile users who fear they have lost their work or need to rescue it to a more reliable place (as in on a chip or hard drive stored somewhere safe) should check out the Wayback Machine at https://archive.org/web/ where you may be able to find an archived copy of your work. Simply enter the URL of the now unavailable site in the search box to see the copies available.

In my own case the Rawls of Dorset pages previously available 0n the Ancestry site can be found at
Rawls of Dorset - archived.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Rootsweb – Freepages = Ancestry.com

Thousands of folks who have uploaded their family tree data to Ancestry.com's Rootsweb pages or have shared further information on their Freepages may be unaware that these pages are currently “unavailable”. Since Ancestry.com has not directly notified most users of this problem and their site merely shows the following message with no further information this is just a heads up for users of those sites, follow the links below for a full explanation.

Rootsweb is currently unavailable. We have been in the process of improving the site throughout 2017, and as a result of an issue we recently became aware of, we have taken the site offline while we work to resolve it.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but protecting our users’ personal information is our top priority. During this down time, we are working to preserve all data saved to Rootsweb, and hope to have an update within a few weeks.
If you would like to learn more, please visit our blog post.

Where it says in part

We have temporarily taken RootsWeb offline, and are working to ensure that all data is saved and preserved to the best of our ability. As RootsWeb is a free and open community that has been largely built by its users, we may not be able to salvage everything as we work to resolve this issue and enhance the RootsWeb infrastructure.

Whilst all us who use Freepages / Rootsweb hope that this gets resolved and the pages get reinstated Ancestry.com does not seem to have a good track record on backing up or protecting the data on their freepages, something I am sure they do do on their highly advertised and user pay sites. Its hardly surprising that they pay less attention to these long standing non commercial sites that they inherited when purchasing Ancestry.com but given that the data posted by individuals on the feepages leads users to try the commercial Ancestry site it is almost certainly an asset to them. In the past several portions of the freepages have been discontinues, we can but hope that the personal databases and pages are reinstated soon and better protected in the future. Given the high volume of advertising they do on national TV they certainly have the assets to do so.

Bottom line here folks is to ALWAYS keep your files in more than one place, back up those files regularly and remember that no matter how secure you think your data is “Shit Happens” !

For a further discussion on this along with some realty good suggestions on these issues go to the recent post at https://lisalouisecooke.com/2017/12/30/rootsweb-is-down/

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Canadian Lifeboat

A recent reply to Owen over at Northern Reflections by one Steve go me thinking (always a dangerous undertaking) and my thoughts being far too extensive to reply to that post I will try and assemble my thoughts here. Nothing I say here in anyway reflects upon that conversation although it was fodder for this post and I hope that I can disagree with some of the opinions expressed with the same respect for each others views as these two individuals.

Firstly here are the responses from Steve that grabbed my attention.....

“Things have changed. We should be looking at our country as a lifeboat. If we want more displaced persons we have to be engineered to take more passengers without capsizing the boat.
Right now we have a housing crisis. Until this is solved why would we bring more people to live here?”

“I know its not popular but nation building IMHO is a better way. I propose we put our efforts into goverment in a box. This is a software package just like any ERP the leading companies used but designed for goverment. In the case of Hati being self sufficient in food is a easy task. For other places including our first nations, container food is the way forward. Third container housing with solar panels, composting toilets and rain collection.
If we have the capacity for these people, why dont we have the capacity for my children?”

First of all whilst there are many places on this planet of ours where the lifeboat is not only in danger of sinking but far too many where folks are already underwater and more drowning on a daily basis. Whilst it is impossible to save them all, and some that who are busy shoving the less buoyant under who should perhaps not be supported, we cannot IMHO not rescue as many as possible within our ability to sustain them however briefly. It is a difficult discussion as there are far more displaced persons than any one country can help, or indeed than 'civilized' (as opposed to warring) nations can succor!

As for 'capsizing OUR boat' we are a long way from that, the biggest problem I see is that far too many passengers both established and recent/ want to crowd into (mostly) one end of the boat, namely Toronto!! (or perhaps better expressed 'our larger urban centers'). This vast country of ours has lots of capacity to accommodate both our own growing population and many newcomers, the problem is that infrastructure, services, and employment opportunities are increasingly being 'centralized' in larger urban areas in the name of 'efficiency' which in my mind is part of the problem. This city-centric thinking by both industry and government is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Moving on, “In the case of Hati being self sufficient in food is a easy task. For other places including our first nations, container food is the way forward. “ OH lord Steve, where do I start? Whilst I have no first hand knowledge of the Haiti situation I do recognize that it is far from simple, they may well be in a climate where under normal circumstances they can be largely self sufficient so far as crops are concerned and from what I have read they hardly can be faulted for being 'wasteful' with their other resources. When ALL is destroyed returning to any measure of self sufficiency is hardly 'easy'!
“container food is the way forward.” Its hard to tell exactly what is meant by this particularly when linked to a particular community, is this referring to the method of getting the food TO the community or to a method of GROWING the food within the community, either way again its not that simple and if if the solution works for one segment of our nation it should work for all! I invite “Steve” to expand upon what he meant by this statement.

Finally “Third container housing with solar panels, composting toilets and rain collection.” I have no argument with this basic concept and so many folks are moving towards more 'self sufficient' systems within their own households as are a number of communities, particularly in rural or remote places. Whilst the 'up front' costs make it largely impossible for lower income individuals to move in this direction the ever reducing prices of equipment and the availability of 'contract' installations are having a positive impact upon the move away from less desirable systems. Prefabricated 'container' housing may be a way for some less affluent communities but such units are not affordable for many who are currently living in 'substandard' housing for by the time they are built to 'modern' standards the cost is prohibitive for far too many folks. I know somewhat all about this having lived for many years in a 'mobile home' which today would not be considered 'allowable' for a year round residence, not perhaps luxurious but better than the alternative when times are tight.

Steve, you said “If we have the capacity for these people, why dont we have the capacity for my children?” If you are having difficulty feeding your children or finding employment for the older ones then I very much feel for you having been in that situation many times in my life, however blaming others for 'taking away your job' or trying to do what they must to feed their family is non productive and futile. I wish you and all my readers a happy and prosperous new year and a stress free 2018.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

More beuracratic BS

Ontario wildlife rehabilitation centres are growing increasingly frustrated with the provincial ministry that governs their activities. In particular, the rehab workers are discouraged by the inability to appeal rulings made by the ministry.
Ontario Wildlife Rescue, an organization that represents Ontario's rehabilitation centres, says an increasing number of rehab centres in Ontario have shut down in the past 10 years because they can't work with what they believe are increasingly unrealistic requests from the government. There's growing tension between the rehab centres and the MNRF, which is responsible for wildlife management and public safety.
Sandy Donald, a spokesperson for Ontario Wildlife Rescue, said officials have also told rehab centres that they can't take pictures of wildlife. The MNRF said in a response that photography isn't completely banned, but should be limited because it could "counter" the rehabilitation process. As well, Mr. Donald said the MNRF refused to allow the use of surrogate parents to raise orphaned wildlife, saying that these orphaned animals should be released or euthanized instead.
Mr. Donald said that "almost all these centres are run by volunteers. If you're spending a chunk of your time fighting a rearguard action against the ministry, at a certain point, you go 'enough's enough.'" He said that there used to be 200 rehabilitation centres in Ontario, but there are now around 60. The decrease in centres comes despite a rise in demand for medical treatment for wildlife, which rehab workers said is caused by increasing urban development.
Among the growing number of rehabilitation centres throwing in the towel, Ms. Beechey (of Tillsonburg, Ont., wildlife rehab centre} said that she, too, is ready to close up shop if she can't get the right to appeal the ministry's decisions.
The above extracted from the full article here.....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Growth Beyond Cities

As I subscribe to the Rural Ontario Institute news feeds I get occational links to their recent reports on rural issues the moast recent being the Rural Ontario Foresight Papers which discusses a wide range of issues from rural growth to econimic issues to broadband infastructure.

I wont even atempt to sumerize the content of this 130 page “paper” which typicaly for acedemic reports goes on at great lenth to say what can be said in a much more readable lenth but non the less highlights a number of rural issues. That said here are a couple of extracts from the report which perhaps show the diffrent perspective rural and urban folks have on some important issues.

Renewable Energy and Rural Electricity
In recent years, Ontario has invested vast sums of money in renewable energy. At the same time, there has been a significant consolidation of power supply in the province, with most small municipal elect ricity systems being absorbed by Hydro One and electricity rates being harmonized across the province. In this process, electricity costs have sky -rocketed for many rural customers. This reflects much higher delivery charges, as well as higher cost generation. Ironically, renewable energy is far more likely to be generated in rural areas than was the case for coal or oil -fired power stations, which were sited close to cities. Now a rural household next to a large wind generation site may have an electricity bill much larger than an urban dweller for the same quantity of electricity because of large transmission and distribution charges, even though the urban household is hundreds of kilometers further away from the place the power was produced. Further, rural households have less scope for reducing their electricity bill. The existing rural housing stock is older, household incomes are lower, there is less op portunity for switching to gas and new, better -insulated homes are not being built. The result is a growing incidence of fuel poverty, especially in northern Ontario where more homes are heated with electricity and winters are long. Moreover, businesses in rural areas tend to be major electricity users, because the service sector is less important, and high electricity prices are affecting their ability to be competitive. The result is a provincial policy that has placed a disproportionate burden on rural citizens and regions.

I note that recent decisions by the current Ontario govenment have substantialy reduced rural home owner hydro costs however there may be a substantial price to pay later for these reductions acording to some observers.

Gasoline Taxes and Rural Households
Cars in rural areas are a more of a necessity than is the case in a city where public transit or taxi services are readily available. For a low - income rural household, operating a car is a major share of their household bud get. A major element of this cost is the price of gasoline. High provincial taxes on gasoline are justified, in part, as a way to fund public transit systems and encourage their use, and to reduce emissions associated with congested urban roads. Rural residents pay these taxes but do not have access to public transit and rarely experience congested highways. To be sure, rural residents tend to have relatively long distance commutes from their place of residence to work because in rural labour markets jobs are typically not available in close proximity to where they live. While they tend to drive more miles in a year than city residents, most of this travel is part of rural life where stores, schools, public services and jobs are dispersed. Gasoline taxes also fund roads and this use is clearly beneficial for rural residents, but perhaps some other form of tax might be a fairer way to address the problems of urban congestion

It must be pointed out that there is a substantial difference between 'in town' rural and 'out of town' rural on this issue, particularly for those for whom there are no alternatives to reliable vehicle ownership and such is a necessity not an option.

Access to Health Care by Rural Citizens
Dealing with rising healthcare costs and a growing number of older people are major challenges for the provincial government. In rural areas the problem is especially acute because aging is taking place at a faster rate and the population is widely dispersed making it more expensive to deliver health services. Moreover, the presence of a hospital in a commu nity, just like the presence of a high school, is a significant factor influencing economic attractiveness and quality of life. Places that lose these essential services become less desirable locations for firms and households. A big challenge is the trad e- off between ready access, which requires a large network of hospitals to allow proximity, and the lower cost of operating a smaller number of larger facilities that can capture economies of scale and that have higher utilization rates. Hospital consolidation, like school consolidation, imposes longer travel costs on users. Thus, part of the saving for the province from consolidation is offset by higher travel costs for citizens. In the case of health care , these costs can involve worse health outcomes, as well as additional monetary costs, if it takes too long to get to a treatment centre. For example, the large new regional hospital in St. Catharines offers more advanced care than was available previously at the old smaller hospitals in the Niagara Region . But, for the more remote part of the southern portion of the Region, the resulting loss of easy access to local hospitals has led to much greater travel distances, which makes it possible that access to health care is now worse than in the past. For people in the distant north, where roads are limited in number and distances are large, access to emergency health care is a particular challenge.

Health services are increasingly being 'consolidated' and 'centralized' and whilst basic services can in most cases be found 'locally' the specialization of many such services often necessitate a trip to distant urban 'heath centres'.

The ever increasing proportion of urban dwellers to rural residents will no doubt continue to increase the need for those rural residents to travel to or move to urban areas to receive services previously available localy. Are those who chose to avoid the big cities going to become second class citizens I wonder?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Grey Bruce Area Heath Care

This year has been a bit traumatic for both myself and some other family members health wise, non of us had previously not had much to do with hospitals and associated heath services till this year so it was mostly a learning experience. Being aware of horror stories detailing waits of many hours to get attended to I wish to tell the other side of the story that we have experienced in recent months.

In my own case, as briefly mentioned in a previous post back in May I had a stroke and it was touch and go there for a bit (or so I am told, I was out of it) and whilst there is little doubt that the emergency staff and doctors who treated me in those first few hours saved my life it is the nursing staff and other 'health professionals' I am going to highlight in this article. Whilst the Doctors no doubt have a large amount of input into ones care it is the nurses and other 'health professionals' that provide the hands on care and interact with us when we need care, my experience with these folks have, with very few exceptions, been outstanding! Not only was the actual nursing care in the ICU provided in a competent, caring and (most important and under rated quality) friendly manner and the same was true of the various heath advisors who visited during my recovery, the recovery assessors, dietary and lifestyle information specialists and so on. In hospital is not a place where any of us (particularity those previously healthy, or so I thought) wish to be but apart from being challenged by the food choices (I am a vegetarian which it turned out was a good thing as I lost several pounds which I actually needed to loose during the stay) it was not a bad experience considering the circumstances. I am howeverglad that I had a quick, almost miraculous recovery and was able to come directly home after leaving the ICU.

After this scare and having not seen a family doctor for many years we then went looking for someone to fill this role. Having 'regestered' with the Markdale South East Grey Community Health Centre a couple of years ago but never having gone any further (not having needed their services till now) we made an apointmet to see one of their 'Nurse Practitioners' and were pleasently surprised to learn that they held a 'clinic' at the nearby Chatsworth Township office two days a week. After recieving care and advice from the NP and Nurse at said clinic for severak months now I am pleased to report that we could not have found a better couple of proffesionals to attend to our medical needs. The friendly and accomidating staff have made an otherwise stressfull situation almost pleasant which given my record of avoiding doctors and check ups is quite something!

A cousin has had a similar experience with the VON nursing organization, receiving care and advice several times a week in her own home in Wiarton regarding problems arising from a past minor injury turned septic and poor circulation. Needing additional treatment she was referred to the Tobermoury Hyperbaric facility where she received intense but similar friendly and outstanding care over a number of weeks. Perhaps I was put off by stories of long waits and seemingly uncaring assessments told by others who attending a hospital emergency department but our experience with these particular heath professionals has been has been nothing but good. I do note here that unless one identifies an urgent situation or is already receiving ongoing care it is often hard to see a doctor or NP in a timely manner, typical appointments can be weeks or even months ahead, even longer if referred to a 'specialist', my thought has always been 'if I can wait for weeks to come see you then perhaps I do not need to see you at all!'. A little cynical perhaps and given recent history I SHOULD have made that move several years ago, a near death experience can result in a change in perspective eh!

Whilst I will not identify the particular individuals I have spoken about in this post I would like to give the following heath care professionals a hearty thanks and a 'well done and keep up the good work'. You know who you are........

Thanks to
The nursing and support staff at the Owen Sound ICU unit.
The South East Grey Community Health Centre Nurses and Nurse Practitioners and staff.
The Victorian Order of Nurses Grey Bruce Nurses and support staff
The Tobermoury Hyperbaric Facility Doctor and staff.

PS. Yes I am fully recovered and my cousin is making good progress.