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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

News release.....

Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health, Doctor Ian Arra is giving notice of intent to Order the mandatory wearing of face coverings in enclosed public places. The Order will be issued and coming into effect within the next 10 days as per consultation with stakeholders.

Population of Grey Bruce 160,000 plus
Total reported cases 114
Total active cases 2
Number of deaths 0

Number of identified cases in our area since the start of this pandemic as a percentage of population .07% or roughly 1 in every 1400 persons.

Whilst there is little doubt that the less restrictive travel criteria and the desire of many folks from more populous areas where there is a higher incidence of COVID to visit our area will see an slightly greater risk here this would seem to be la bit of an overkill.

That there has been no such order here or in most other places prior to this when there were many more active cases makes this order even more bizarre. Those folk that are in high risk situations can, and should, continue to take suitable precautions and I thank those that are doing so such as store clerks, food servers and of course our medical workers.

There is also little doubt that a proper mask worn and handled correctly will reduce the wearers chance of spreading any potential infection to others, the protection afforded to the wearer from general airborne contaminants is debatable. This is particularly true given that very few folks will indeed wear, handle, store and sanitize or dispose of their mask in the recommended manner and wash their hands after each use!.

If its so damned important why wait 10 day to implement this order?

Enough said!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Pain in the .....Nose?

Do vets care more about their pocket book than the heath and comfort of their patents? I always thought of Vets as caring folks who had turned their love of animals into a way to make a living, after a recent experience I am thinking that the latter item takes precedence. My doggie companion recently learned not to mess with a porcupine the hard way and returned from a woodland walk with a group of us viewing the spring flowers with a snout full of quills. Ouch!

There being more than just one or two we decided that it would be best to call a vet and take her in to get sedated to remove them, no big deal, whilst not one to take my buddy into the vet unless there is a pressing reason I thought this was one such occasion. Called up a vet we had dealt with some years ago to put down our previous long time companion who's time had come and was in pain, explained Nikki had quills that needed removing, first question “have you dealt with us before” Yes, can I bring her over to get looked at. “Sorry we are fully booked and cant help you”. Guess a dog with porky quills in her muzzle is not an 'emergency' much more important to keep those regular customers little poodles looking pretty I guess!

Ok, there's more than one vet listed, that they are all a good half hour drive from us so best call first to see if they are open, two more calls two more responses much the same the first question being whether we had been there before (what bearing does that have on looking after the dog) that last of whom kindly informed me that they could 'probably' fit us in tomorrow and the MINIMUM charge would be $500 to $700 or quite possibly more ….SAY WHAT!

Now I love my dog who is the 5th of a long line of friends 'rescued' from one bad situation or another but also try not to spend more than my old age supplement brings in and that kind of money to briefly sedate a dog and pull a few quills seemed to me to be excessive. No doubt they would want to give her a full check over and find some other excuses to up the income but even so it would have been a distinct possibility IF they could actually deal with it TODAY.

So here we are at home having managed to remove those in close proximity to her mouth with a little help from a couple of our visitors. She NOT a happy camper after that so we will let her rest for a bit and have another go later but my companion who normally barely leaves my side is keeping her distance now. Sorry Nikki but you are going to be even less fond of me before we are done with this trauma. Hope you learned the lesson about Porkies the first time around!

(I note that I never spoke to the actual 'Vet' so far as I know but who  ever answers the phone at those establishments!)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Rural Isolation a Challenge or Opportunity

With all of us asked to stay at home unless we absolutly HAVE to go out into the larger community internet access has become even more of a nessity rather than just a desired 'service'. I am sure many city folks will be saying 'duh, so what, just get hooked up' but for both those with low income and many rural folks its not that easy. One way such folks could work around such limitations was by going to their local library as the following clip from this TVO article outlines.

Research the Kitchener library conducted in 2018 shows that one quarter of its community didn’t have access to home internet, Bach says. A 2017 Toronto Public Library survey found that, of 1,561 respondents at eight different public libraries in Ontario, 56 per cent used technology at the library and 46 per cent accessed the internet there. Sixty-three per cent of respondents who identified as low income were “more likely to find that library services gave them access to technology that they would not otherwise have had access to”; further, 68 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older said the library was their sole source of access to technology.”

Now whilst its great that the library's offer this service it does not help much in the current 'lock down' circumstances or to those far distant from such a facility, unlike those who think it is universally available and affordable the reality is that it is not. I cannot speak to those in more remote areas where it may be even more of a challenge but here in rural SW Ontario not that far from several good size towns and less that a half hours drive from a small city access can be hard to get for some of us. We generally don't have cable service out here so thats off the table all other services except for cell, which is not only very spotty but very ricy for any large volumes of data, is a line of sight connection of some kind. Trees, buildings, hills in the way of the nearest transmitter and you are out of luck, in my own case a 70 tower at several thousand dollars finally got me a decent hook up, plus of course the monthy fee that we all pay which runs away with several hundreds of dollars a year for a very modest 4 Mbs connection.

As a retired old fellow who relies heavily on the internet for both information and connecting with the outside world, as with this blog, as well as web connected email to friends and family world wide. I simply cannot imagine what folks who do not have this ability available as they 'shelter in place' are going through. So if you know someone who, like many of us, are reduced to avoiding contact outside of family at home but has no internet availability pick up the phone and chat with them once in a while, particularly if they live alone, are older and less resilient or are normally very outgoing.

As others have said let us look at this not so much as a challenge but as an encouragement to reconnect. Stay safe folks.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Where Have All The Birds Gone?

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory reports that......

It has been a disappointing, slow-paced week for us at Cabot Head, straining our eyes and ears to detect the sparse birds, with very little success.” Their banding totals being but about a third of their normal volume, my own less definitive observations have be even more startling. They say that “It is not a deficiency in our senses, then, missing secretive and quiet birds, but a mere absence, objectively reflected in very few birds captured in the nets.”

Here somewhat south of the peninsular in the Chatsworth area my normal steady influx of various birds to our forested hideaway and window feeders the absence of birds is both remarkable and concerning. We all know that in certain weather conditions our visitors will go hide for a bit until things are more to their liking and there are seasonal changes to those we see at various times of the year but in 20 years of enjoying our daily visitors at this location I do not recall it ever being so devoid of our feather friends for so long. What is going on, is it climate change, local conditions, migration pattern changes or what?

Up until around a month or two ago the daily visitors to our feeder included a multitude of Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers (at least 6 or 8 individuals) many Chickadees (estimated more than 10) and several Grosbeaks and Cardinals with a selection of finches dropping by a little less often but seen quite often. The mixed bush that crowds the house nearly always had birds fluttering around making their presence know even if not seen when hiding in the leaves, the activity rarely diminished from early dawn to fading dusk.

Now all I see is ONE Downy and ONE Hairy woodpecker and possibly a couple of Chickadees, even the Doves that always sat in the apple tree occasionally coming to sit on the top of the feeder to see what all the fuss was about have disappeared. The one female Grosbeak who always attacked her reflection in the window glass and the car mirror seems to have found another attraction and left that 'other bird' in peace.

As I said before the difference from 'normal' is very obvious and rather concerning, I miss our feathered friends, they are so much more entertaining to watch than that bloody TV which seems to be the very poor alternative!

I hope they return soon........

 New data..... 
Not directly related to the local 'temporary?' loss of visitors but....
Over the past half-century, North America has lost more than a quarter of its entire bird population, or around 3 billion birds. "We saw this tremendous net loss across the entire bird community," it's a 30% loss in the total number of breeding birds." The results show that more than 90% of the loss can be attributed to just a dozen bird families, including sparrows, warblers, blackbirds and finches. https://www.npr.org/2019/09/19/762090471/north-america-has-lost-3-billion-birds-scientists-say

Friday, May 24, 2019

Cell Phone Hell

I am a senior, I have in fact been a senior for a number of years now, I am hardly ignorant of 'modern' technology having had a computer on my desk continually for some 45 or so years since the early days of the Commodore 64. I will admit to being slow to now embrace new gadgets and applications still having a 10 year old win 7 on said desk having made the big step up from win 95 / 98, thats not only slow by modern standards but going backwards but I do not for the most part need or want MORE bells n whistles that I will never use.

All that said our old simple cell phone was recently declared 'obsolete' and a new one was required to keep in touch so we duly went to the Bell store and got an 'upgrade' to about the most basic cell phone available. The Mrs being somewhat younger than I, and probably somewhat smarter as I work towards my dotage, quickly mastered most of those new bells n whistles and in fact has become quite proficient at the poke, swipe and navigate around the multiple choices even doing the internet thing on it (with data via bell turned OFF – don't need that big bill thank you). I however despite my mant years of computer use am still a poke at the keys kind of a fellow, it was a bit step when I learned to use a mouse and as for track balls and that wander finger thing I just aint there yet … and probably never will be.

To get to the point of this ramble through my slow learning curve, I recently decided that I needed a personal cell to keep in touch with the Mrs and the kids when away from the house, be it making one of my rare trips to town or working back in the 50 acres of bush that needs maintaining if we are to find our walking trails as the spring growth takes over. So into town to the Bell store “ I meed a simple phone, just basic phone and possibly text and NO finger scrolling screen” yep they did have one …. just ONE small flip phone which upon checking had very bad reviews on the 'net' (oh yes I do use that 'new' technology lol) and further checking with multiple other retailers only revealed about one or two other choices, mostly 'only available to be ordered unseen online'. Thats the other thing that got my hackles up at the start of this journey through cell hell, that Bell store that HAD a phone to show me could NOT show me it actually turned on so that I could see if the screen was readable by these old eyes in order to select who was calling or otherwise navigate the choices available, could not hear the sound quality that the old ears needed to have an intelligent conversation or generally 'test' drive the thing. Sorry looking at a phone the the sales persons hand dont tell me fk all, when was the last time you bought a car by walking around the outside and peering in the closed window?

And that my friends leaves me still searching and less than optimistic in finding a suitable lifeline, I did find a listing of one phone that looked promising but as always not available in store and certainly not in an operating state. Anyone using a Doro 824, any thoughts?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mothers Day Heroes....

On this special day when we think of the ladies in our lives my focus is not upon the uncaring political types that I usually write about (over at Democracy Under Fire) but on the girls at the Owen Sound Hospital who have been attending to my wife over the last week. As I visit each day I struck by the cheerful and compassionate demeanor of each and every one of them as they take care of multiple patients each with a different need and personality equally as competently at the end of their 12 hour shift as they do at the start.

My old legs ache just after making the trek from the back of the parking lot and return after fighting with the parking ticket machine that begs me with $5 each day before it will let me leave. How must theirs feel after the miles they walk back and forth from room to room all day only to face another day of the same tomorrow all this whilst cheerfully taking care of the sometimes complex needs of each individual in each room. The knowledge and careful attention to detail to correctly administer the prescribed care without error must be quite stressful in and of itself but it is always done with a smile.

A couple of years ago I observed the same competence and caring from a slightly different perspective as I was myself of the receiving end of the care, that time in the ICU where there may be a little less walking for the girls but a more intense need than up on the 6th floor where-my wife is now being cared for. How these girls there and elsewhere in similar departments maintain such a caring and cheerful attitude day after day, year after year for many of them, is beyond me.

Thank you ladies, during what is a stressful time for our family as we learn to deal with further challenges to come it is your care and caring that eases the transition. These few words simply cannot fully express my admiration and thanks for you commitment to this work.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Learning Online Not Easy for All

Readers of my Democracy Under Fire blog will know I am no great fan of Doug Frord and on that part of my public writings I try to focus on the theme of said blog, that being democracy. Its a very narrow line between that and general abuse of rural residents where this part of my blogging has a somewhat wider focus.

A post by a fellow blogger mirrored my response to Frords recent move to 'improve' education access by providing (actually forcing) students to get part of their education via 'on line courses'. Lets be clear my kids are long done with school and both are doing well thanks in part to some excellent support from a number of under appreciated RURAL teachers despite the greatly reduced support compared with major urban areas. No doubt my fellow blogger linked to above who was a teacher in rural Ontario can expand upon that but I can say that more recent experiences with our 'challenged' grandaughter has highlighted the differences between the 'services' and 'support' available in less populated areas. This from within or not to far from 'the golden triangle', lord knows what rural and remote areas in northern Ontario or for that matter elsewhere in Canada go through.

It seems that those supposedly 'running the show' from the 'big city' have no clue that the speed and connectivity to the internet that they take for granted is NOT available to many rural residents and their children. I some areas the only choice some kids may have is 56k (thats 56K NOT 56 mb) at best via dial up, possibly 2 or 3mb via line of sight link IF they can afford it. Hardly conducive to on line learning where no doubt the material will be 'heavy' content! For the benefit of those city folk who are saying 'what you cant get highspeed?' or ' cant the kids go to the library if they have to' or even 'stay after school and use their computers' I will address each of those issues.

  1. In rural areas unless you happen to live near a major artery where fiber optics has been installed internet connection is generally provided by line of sight technology from the nearest independent supplier IF no trees, buildings or hills come between you and them. In most cases IF you do get service the speed is dependent upon a number of factors including number of users, weather conditions and ability to pay big $$$.
  2. Use the local library? Apart from the fact that many of our rural libraries have limited resources available and high demand from kids to complete their mandated on line courses would result in having to 'book time', most rural kids take the bus to school up to an hour away by said school bus and the bus wont wait for late comers.
  3. If the kids are able to make arrangements to stay with an in town friend or have a parent drive into town to pick them up and thus access the school computers after hours will they be available. With the cuts to staffing coming from the Ford regime will the school even be available for the kids use after hours?

Just asking.......

Bottom line 'Ontario’s plan to impose four mandatory online credits is without equal' HOWEVER 'Not all students have equal access to the internet or the computer skills (and access) required to complete said credits.'

Coming soon?
SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology project, known as SWIFT will begin the first phase of developing a fibre optic network to serve the southwestern region in the spring. Phase one is expected to take four years and will introduce about one twelfth of the infrastructure needed for an area that spans 41,286 square kilometres and contains 3.5 million people....... The remaining majority of residents had best not hold their breath and those on some of the less populated side roads will be very lucky to see a hook up (if they can afford it) by 2050.