Friday, September 30, 2016

LET'S WAIT A BIT ON THE WINTER WEATHER PREDICTIONS...SHALL WE.


            It was only a short two weeks ago when Deb and I flew into Calgary on our way out to Emily’s graduation ceremony from the Centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna, BC. As the plane circled over the Stampede City I commented on how many trees had already turned colour compared to the mostly green trees we had flown away from in Kipling and area. By the time we arrived back in Regina, just over a week later, we couldn’t believe how quickly the leaves changed colour here in the short time that we were gone. Just like clockwork…autumn began on September 22nd… then, bing-bang-boom…fall is here! It went from summer to instant autumn in a matter of minutes. Or so it seems.

            We’re barely into fall and the Winter Weather Prognosticators are out there already spreading their long-term predictions as to the severity of the 2016-17 winter season. Apparently our prairie winters are measured in severity. Hmmm. Seems there was no doubt that the winter weather was going to be severe it’s just a matter of degree determination then, I guess. Severe is the best that we can hope for? That’s where we start? Severe then everything after that is more severe to severest? Yikes!

            Winter is winter and I will admit that I’m not its biggest fan but sometimes when I’m out there snowshoeing around the golf course in the middle of winter and it’s about

-10C with no wind and the sun shining brighter than bright I would not call that kind of Canadian winter weather “severe”. Just sayin’.

            Anyway, the good Old Farmer’s Almanac says we’re in for a doozy of a winter this time around. Here’s what they say, “Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in early and mid-December and early and mid-January, from late January into early February, and in mid-and late February.” Re-read that please. That’s straight from their pages! Really? So, I guess what they’re trying to say is it’s going to be freakin’ cold from the beginning of December until the end of February or as we locals refer to it…WIN TER!

On the other hand, Environment Canada, like all government agencies, makes things trickier. They throw different language at us like, “probabilistic” and “deterministic” and phrases like “climatology of temperature and precipitation” and “verification of previous forecasts” so only meteorologists, or the like, can understand what the deuce they’re talking about.

Go onto the Environment Canada website and try to look up “long-term forecasts” and you go from link to link to link with some degree of success but you end up looking at so much gobbledygook with charts and graphs and whatnot you don’t have a clue what they’re going on about. That’s because I don’t think they do, either. It’ll all a ruse to distract you so you forget why you went to site in the first place. My best guess from the stuff that I looked at was that it might be warmer than normal until the end of November and then it’s a crapshoot after that. Something along those lines, anyway, have a look for yourself to see if you can make any sense out of it all.

But isn’t it a little bit early to be worrying about winter? Hm? In the end, it doesn’t really matter what they say might happen, does it? We’ll get what we get and we should do like all good Canadians do and that’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst and remember…there is no bad weather…only bad clothing.

“I figure lots of predictions is best. People will forget the ones I get wrong and marvel over the rest.” Alan Cox (1968-).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

WORDS TO LIVE BY.

            When our firstborn child, Meghan, graduated high school her graduating class asked Deb and I to present the Parent’s Address to the grads. We worded our speech around the classic Robert Fulghum poem “All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten”. This past weekend our youngest child, Emily, graduated from Kelowna’s Centre for Arts and Technology’s Event & Promotions Management Program and one of her instructors gave an address to the graduates which delivered a similar theme and tone.
            I won’t recite the complete Fulghum poem but the gist of the message can be described in the opening lines “All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at primary school.”
            In the poem the writer states the things that he learned such as- “share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, say you’re sorry if you hurt someone, don’t take things that aren’t yours and wash your hands before you eat” are rules every person should strive to live by. In the poem Fulghum writes that “Everything you need to know about life is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation and ecology and politics and equality and sane living.” In other words, the world would be a far better and more peaceful place if everyone were to adhere to these basic human principles throughout their entire lifetime.
            The instructor’s address from Emily’s grad exercises quoted more wise words from another wise man but this time it was a fictional character not the writer whose words were quoted when the words of the great wizard from J.R.R. Tolkein’s novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”, Gandalf the Grey, stated, “I found it is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.”
            The instructor followed Gandalf’s wise words with more of his own by telling the graduates that it is his “deepest belief that all of us were put on this earth to do something greater than simply take care of ourselves.” And he feels that, “there is a lot of evidence that things get pretty bleak when we disregard others.” Listen to any 24 hour news station and we can see how our mixed up world got so mixed up. Greed and intolerance and envy and selfishness have pushed mankind to the scary place we find ourselves in today.
            With so many on the planet pushing their own agendas we find ourselves in a world threatened by Radical Fundamentalism, an exploding world population, Global Warming, continuous economic uncertainty, a nuclear North Korea and Donald bloody Trump. What can ordinary folk like us to do at times like these?
            It may seem completely unrealistic and naive but the only way out of this mess is through each and every human act of kindness. One good deed at a time and pay it forward. Or as Emily’s instructor stated, “Smile. Say thanks. Compliment someone. Donate blood. Teach something. Be gentle with your words. Save water. Shop local. Recycle. Buy someone else’s coffee. Vote. Laugh at yourself. Be grateful. Be gracious. Offer a hug. Turn off the lights. Give stuff away. Practice patience. Listen fully. Share fully. And choose to be peaceful.” In other words, or to quote another famous human, Ghandi, who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Everyone can have an impact on their world and every small deed will affect change. The world will only truly change when we do.


“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon (1940-1980). 

Monday, September 5, 2016

REMEMBERING "THE BIGGEST HOUSE WARMING IN SASKATCHEWAN, EVER!"

            As summer winds down and we enter the Labour Day Long Weekend I am reminded of that wild summer of a decade ago when the world was invited to Saskatchewan’s Biggest House Warming Party to celebrate the final stage in Kyle MacDonald’s fourteen trades from one red paperclip on his desk at home to a house in Kipling. Can you believe ten whole years have passed since that eventful summer? Ten years? Neither can I.
            That particular weekend was going to be a big weekend for our family anyway as Deb and I would be celebrating our Silver Anniversary on September 5th and my Mom was celebrating her 85th birthday on August 30th so we had our own party planned for that Labour Day Long Weekend long before Kyle had traded a role in an upcoming Corbin Bersen movie for the house at 503 Main St. in Kipling.
By the time the whole “One Red Paperclip” phenomenon had gathered its full momentum, as well as the attention of the entire world, we were torn between switching our party to another weekend or stay the course and go with our initial plans and celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and Mom’s birthday with everyone else coming to Kipling for the Housewarming Party. We stuck to our plans and as it turned out it was the best decision we could have made.
            Our invited guests arrived with the hundreds and hundreds of others who were coming to town for the weekend and the excitement in the air was palpable. It was an electric atmosphere to say the least. Magical was a word that was often repeated in the days to follow.
            On Saturday we hosted Mom’s 85th Birthday Tea in the Legion followed by our 25th Anniversary celebration and then many of us moved over to the bursting at the seams Rec Centre for the final auditions for a role in Corbin Bersen’s upcoming movie, Donna on Demand.
Turns out our boy Nolan aced his audition and blew the audience away, if I may be so bold to say, and, although the announcement wasn’t made until the following day, we were pretty convinced he would be the winner. And he was. And a number of our family members witnessed his performance making it all the more special. Those few “Saskatchewan’s Biggest House Warming Party, Ever” days were so surreal.
            The next morning, fuzzy as we were, Deb and I rode up in the SaskTel Hot Air Balloon and got a bird’s eye view of the entire town at the height of the madness. After the events of the previous night we barely needed assistance to float around.
What an amazing site…the town crawling with people, events happening everywhere, music coming from all directions amid conversation and lots and lots of laughter. Apparently, Kipling knows how to throw a big ol’ party.
That was a once-in-a-lifetime event, that’s for sure. You won’t replicate that. Ten years past and there are still people stopping by the Paperclip Cottage and getting their photos taken with the Big Red Paperclip at Bell Park. It’s been quite a ride.
Now Deb and I will be quietly celebrating our 35th Anniversary as nobody has bothered throwing a massive town-wide party this time around. But that’s okay, too, we’re a decade older and almost a little wiser. We’ll still celebrate our anniversary and summer’s last gasp knowing we could still party like it was 2006 but safe in the knowledge that we really don’t have to.  Happy Labour Day!

“Nobody looks back on their lives and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep,”-Author Unknown.