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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More Spring Arrivals

Recent arrivals include Rose Crested Grosbeak, Phoebe, White Crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, House Wren and Humming Bird. It looks like spring is here to stay now and the hard frosts seen this past week will not be repeated.

Spring arrivals at my daughters place a little further south include this little one who needed a little TLC and seems to have made itself right at home!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In the feeder this morning........

Cardinal, Hairy Woodpecker, Female Purple Finch, Tree Sparrow, White Breasted Nuthatch, Red Breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, several Juncos, up to 6 Goldfinch and a never ending supply of Chickadees......

Female Purple finch, Tree Sparrow and Goldfinches vie for a place in our window feeder 
Yes, window needs cleaning!

We were pleased to see our Red Bellied Woodpecker return  on Thursday, we are on the northern edge of his range which is gradually expanding and we think he raised a young one here last year'


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Teaching the Teachers

It appears that Elementary School Teachers in Ontario, who have graduated High School and gone on to further education and obtained their Teaching Certificate, need further education in order to teach BASIC math to elementary age kids. It also seems that schools need to be forced to teach this basic skill with any consistency with many schools spending less that an hour covering math skills.

Concerned about a troubling slip in elementary math scores, the Ontario government will require all students from Grades 1 to 8 to have at least 60 minutes of math instruction a day starting in September.
In a $60 million “renewed math strategy” unveiled Monday by Education Minister Liz Sandals, Ontario also will require each school to have at least one “math lead teacher” — in larger schools,

Are we saying that a teacher who has their certificate does NOT have the skills and knowledge necessary to teach basic math and we need more 'specialist' teachers? That we need to give said teachers up to five additional days of math professional development a year at a cost of $60 million in order that they can do so?

Some teachers questioned which subjects they will have to cut to find 60 minutes for math, but many already spend that much time on math, suggested Poleen Grewal, superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the Peel District School Board, which is in the second year of a big push on math improvement. You’d actually have to spend that much time if you’re engaging in problem-solving; a lot of schools actually spend two 40- to 50-minute periods on math, so I don’t think 60 minutes is a stretch.”

The president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario questioned the ongoing focus on literacy and numeracy......... whilst other subjects are no doubt also important perhaps he can explain how you can write reports or indeed understand other subjects like science or geography without these basic skills.

Let us ensure that our kids AND the teachers have a good grasp of the basic skills of Math and English before proceeding to other areas of interest.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Daughters Scrapbooking Place

My Daughter writes........
“After years of scrapping out of bins on my kitchen table, I asked my dad an amateur woodworker to create a workplace for all my goodies. I clipped pictures of all the little storage ideas I had seen over the years and along with a pamplet for the Scrapbox left him to it.”
Apparently I did OK as she thinks it good enough to submit an article about it to https://creativescrapbooker.ca/blogs/where-you-create-with-mary-jane-rawls/

Sorry its no use asking me for plans as all the drawings were stored in my head and those files are mostly lost to time!

Still a guy can be proud of his past achievements cant he?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

On Socks, Rakes, Old Bones & Spring Chores

My other brother would put this in rhyme but my brain, what little is left of it, does not work that way when I reach for a word that matches old or ache or garden cart, I just find nothing and have a brain fart! So I will just narrate yesterdays emergence from winter in words!

The hardest work I do all day is putting my socks on, how is it that my feet get further from the ends of my arms each time I get dressed. Used to be I looked at them “old farts” who shuffled down the halls of various nursing homes where I updated their electrical and 'call systems' with a little amusement, no longer is that funny. I now see why they wear no socks and slip on footwear and shuffle their feet rather than step out with confidence, you just cant trust those creaky knees and distant feet!

With spring now bringing a little light at the end of the winter tunnel here in the Klondike Hills of SW Ontario I find my self with the desire to get out and do something, anything other than sit on me arse and watch snow falling. Putting seeds to soil in the green house and sliding them into the hot bed certainly helps but sitting back in the following days watching them grow is no less frustrating than the previous occupation of doing nothing and resting after..

Given the above I decided that it was time to get out and rake the dead grass off the flower beds.....I know, I know, grass is not the preferred crop in a flower bed but in an effort to minimize the upkeep we decided upon mostly “perennial bed”, what we seem to have achieved is perennial grass and weed beds rather than flower beds. Our new regime is now potted plants set in holes that we can remove or replace as the need arises, So now at least all out 'failures' are in pots”

Anyway given the above sudden surge of ambition I foolishly decided that spring gardening clean up should not be done in slippers and that perhaps the tall 'slip on' insulated boots dedicated to traipsing through the snow out to the mail box in the winter months were, perhaps, not realty suitable for these tasks and thus dug out real 'work boots', you know with solid tread, ankle support and .....laces! All I am going to say that putting you socks on in the morning pales besides this task, particularly the first time in several months and on only two cups of tea!

Never the less after resting for some time after those exertions, and another cupa, I did spend some time with that lawn rake.....some of which I actually used it for raking rather than leaning on and contemplating how the crap on the top of the “flower” beds provide insulation for those thing that we planted that probably wont reemerge anyway! Thankfully after a couple of hours of this my wife arrived from picking up our granddaughter and dragged me fighting and screaming away from my gardening efforts, Then I was informed that our visitor has requested hot dogs for supper and it being probably the nicest day since sometime in September decided to fire up the BBQ.

Now we do not subscribe to those fancy thing that come on wheels with a tank full of heating juice but prefer our stone. wood fired. monolith. This takes a little time to get going and thus I was forced to leave the lawn rake rest and clear off all the accumulated junk, grills, and 'stuff' from around on and in the BBQ structure and actual put fire to wood. After a hard days raking dead crap from on top of half dead crap this understandably a tough job and required 'refreshments.' in order that one did not become dehydrated in the steaming +12c temperatures.

I am going to end my narration here with the notation that our first BBQ of the season was a small tease of better days to come even if shortly after the hot dogs went on the sun went AWOL. My old bones are aching and there is LOTS more to do out there but I just cannot wait to get at it.....in small doses. Now will someone design 'slip on work-boots and a way to put my feet closer to my hands!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Small Town Democracy

This week a number of observers have been focusing on the place and influence that the MSM, in particular print media, have upon our democracy. More particularly our 'need to know' what is happening in our various governmental institutions so that we the public can hold them to account and ensure that they are respecting our democracy and following the rules and keeping us informed regarding the decisions they are making on our behalf.

Much has been said of late on this subject and concern that the loss and/ or amalgamation of various print media is seriously impacting our ability to have accurate, in depth, knowledge of government policy’s, decisions and proposals. This week I first watched a discussion on this on “the West Block” with Samara's Jane Hilderman, I then read Lornes take on things at Politics and its Discontents and Kirbys follow up at kirbycairo . What more could one say?

Perhaps the best place to start is at the Municipal level, not my usual fodder here but how much closer to the electors can you get when looking at democratic issues? One of the problems I have with addressing this at the local level is that since the loss of local small town newspapers (or their assimilation by major corporate chains) there is almost no regular information available to the average citizen. Even IF one goes digging about a specific local issue the information is spotty at best. Sure most councils post their agendas (in some cases AFTER the meeting has taken place!), minutes (very basic, we discussed this and decided this) and if one digs deep enough perhaps some supporting documentation. Of public discussion (if indeed there was any), rebuttal and suggestions put forward by citizens (again if any) you will find NOTHING in the official minutes. There is nothing wrong with that, they are after all just minutes meant to reflect the decisions of council, however unless citizens were firstly aware of the issue and then took the time to actually attend said meeting these 'details' are lost and unavailable to interested parties.

The days when reporters attended EVERY council meeting and reported, even briefly, on such goings on are long gone (at least here in rural Ontario), sure when a highly contentious issue comes to the public’s (and thus the MSMs) attention it will be briefly reported, but beyond that our councils may as well be operating in a vacuum. This to me is just a forerunner of what may well happen in upper levels of governance if our MSM continues to struggle with how to fund their operations and pay their staff, particularly those 'investigative' reporters, The sad part for me is that I would fully support a small independent newspaper (on or off line) but in my area there is no such thing, there are a couple of small town weekly newspapers that belong to a major chain that print non local 'articles' gleaned from various contract writers and a few local 'headlines' but real LOCAL news is sparse. The corporate owned daily paper in the nearest (small) city on the few time I have read it was not worth the paper it was printed on, the total local content would perhaps fill a weekly!

Then there is the TV news that according to this report is where over 80% of the 60% who do in fact follow the news get their information. (Lorne has more to say on that here) If you live in Toronto or another city where a TV station is located you may well see a little local news but outside of those areas your community may as well not exist.....until a major disaster or some other 'newsworthy' thing happens to get their attention! Sure you will learn all about the latest bombing in Timbuktu but in depth news of small town Canada, not a chance. Our local radio stations are now rapidly becoming the only source of local news and generally speaking they do a fairly good job of that but even they rarely cover Municipal Council deliberations, in short if you want to know what your Councillors are doing you must either go digging on line (with in some cases very limited success) or attend every meeting to personally listen to the proceedings. Not an option for most folks.

Bottom line here whilst 'modern communications' have made it possible to have almost instantaneous news of events world wide, fewer and fewer folks are keeping an eye on and using those tools to report on what is happening at various levels of governance (and it would seem from the above report fewer even care) resulting in less accountability to those they serve. Will it become news by press release? Is this a taste of things to come in upper levels of government? In short I wonder if democracy will survive because of the internet or in spite of it!

Originality posted at Democracy Under Fire and reposted here to highlight the lost of independent rural community newspapers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Things that piss me off....!

Computers that go tilt just as you need them (which is just about all the time)
Multiple (unnecessary) trips into town to get it repaired.
New computers only available in local stores with Windows 10.
“We cannot install or step back to Windows 7 for you because it is no longer sold”
Microsoft Corporation.
“No you cannot pay cash at the store and have us ship you one from our online inventory”
The inability to transfer the OS (win 7), all additional software & personal files directly to a new computer. (Yes I have my personal stuff backed up)
Microsoft Corporation.
Computers that go tilt!

I should not get so wound up over the loss of a “tool” but it is not until you loose the use of said tool that you realize how much you depend on it. I see many hours of work ahead loading LINUX UBUNTU on my new computer (after yet another trip into town to buy one with friggin Win 10 on it) and installing all kinds of other software on it, restoring my personal files and learning my way around the new OS. (The wife has a little notebook with Linux on it but I have not used it much and its not the full fledged Ubuntu version)

Who knew that a little problem with video output on my laptop would give me days of tearing my hair out, high blood pressure and such an insight into how much Microsoft has everything tied up so far as computer sales.

This from a win 2000 desktop resurrected from the “we better keep that just in case” pile!

PS Have you noticed that MS no longer includes word processing software etc with their distributions but want you to pay extra for that. Open source software like Ubunto, firefox, thunderbird, foxit etc are much better anyway, may Microsoft Corp stick their OS & software where the sun don’t shine.

There......now I feel better!