Friday, August 21, 2015


Normally I wouldn't go camera crazy with Grackles, much less blog about them.  They're fairly common here during the summer months and really, I've seen so many that I tend not to notice them, opting instead for my waxwings, a colourful warbler or a busy woodpecker.  They tend to blend in to the background.   What I have found impressive the past few days though, is the sheer number that are showing up in my yard lately.  At one point earlier this week there were perhaps 30 at any one time, which is by the most of any single species that have graced my yard.  

One of my feeders was knocked down during a feeding frenzy, scattering bird seed all over the place, but at least these guys cleaned it up well.  

The cat, who will usually sit at the window watching the smaller birds as they feed, was nowhere to be seen.  All in all, it was all a bit surreal.  Nature never ceases to fascinate me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Positive Words and a Retraction

After a recent "letter to the editor" hurled some misplaced criticisms toward our community, it was refreshing to sit after a long day's work and see some well-thought-out responses and that the original letter writer had retracted his original statements.  I won't go into all the responses in any great detail here as you can read them for yourself in the aforementioned link.  Ironically, while this gentleman was here bashing my community, his car, along with several others, was being bashed up in the airport parking lot back in his community.  Karma works in interesting ways.

I would like to thank the kind words from the Yukon residents who came here to enjoy the games.  Having coached and chaperoned at a few sporting tournaments in the North, I can certainly relate to the challenges of having good facilities for our young athletes there.  We're glad you've been enjoying the venues we have to offer here.  I have to admit that Yukon is one of two provinces/territories I haven't yet had an opportunity to experience.  I very much look forward to visiting sometime in the future (hopefully soon), particularly after reading such supportive letters.

The retraction letter was genuine and well-worded too, and greatly appreciated by many here I'm sure.  As I'm sure this gentleman now realizes, when you prejudge a place or a community you do yourself a disservice by missing out on the bigger picture and on new experiences.  It's pleasing to see that this gentleman has changed his mind and I sincerely do hope to count him as a visitor to our community in the future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Living A Sheltered Life

If someone were to tell me I'd be writing a rant in the coming weeks, I would have put money on it having something to do with the upcoming federal election.  I certainly wouldn't have thought it would be over a "Letter to the Editor" from our local newspaper.  But alas, that's the way its turned out.  Given the tone of the letter and this individual's obvious ignorance I really feel no need to hold back, so if I drop a "salty" word in here, I guess you've been forewarned.  My own comment to the letter was more measured, but given that this blog is my own little personal space......

Apparently, a rather charming individual here for the Western Canada Summer Games who penned this letter dumping on my community over some rather ridiculous sleights, has led a very sheltered life.  Paying more for a hotel during a special event, getting honked at in traffic and seeing someone arrested can happen anywhere.  That's reality.  Welcome to it.  I know that many people here have worked many hours and put a great deal of time and effort toward making sure these games are a success.  I know many people have done their level best to be good hosts.  It this letter writer chooses to be a dick by being a poor visitor....well, I'm afraid I can't help them with that.

Perhaps they aren't aware of the many websites they can access in this technological age that will help them find hotel room at a price they like.  It's not like that takes up a lot of their time.  Personally I prefer that's just me.  I actually used it for hotel bookings for both my BC trips this summer.  My second trip I decided to skimp on my hotel and chose a cheaper option.  For two days, the price was pretty good but I'm not sure I'd stay there again.  Sleeping in a closet-sized room over a local bar right next to the railway tracks with the 2:30 am train with its horn on bust wasn't conducive to a restful night.  Point is though, I took the time and made the effort to read some reviews and decided on this place anyway.  I had to live with my choice.  I certainly didn't let my choice of hotel room colour my perception of my stay.

In 2009, I spent 6 amazing weeks in Hungary, even staying at the same Budapest hotel I started out in after circling the country and returning to the capital.  My second stay was much more pricey due to that fact that this happened to coincide with the Hungarian Grand Prix race.  I don't recall exactly what I paid  but I know my second stay cost me about double what the first one did.  Rising hotel rates coinciding with major sporting events is like getting gouged at the pump on a summer long weekend (or any long weekend, really.)  As I said previously, that's reality.  Welcome to it.

While I was in Budapest, I even saw a couple guys get arrested (horror of horrors).  But I was strolling through a seedier part of the night.  Four very big Hungarian cops...and they weren't wearing the kid gloves  But last time I checked, people get arrested in many places.  That's just how it works.  Some people are just assholes and there people whose job it is to deal with said assholes.  Again, welcome to reality.  These two events certainly aren't what I remember most about the city or the country as a whole.  I've never been to the casino here myself and really have no plans to but I know that some folks do manage to get themselves arrested there.  Life works that way sometimes.

One of my fondest trip memories in fact happened during a short stay in Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic (try pronouncing that one) where I was given my own little private tour around the outside of the castle there by two sweet senior citizens.  My knowledge of Czech was shaky, but I ended up with some fantastic photos that are among my best of the entire trip.  Initially, I could have declined the invite and yes, at the time I recall wondering if I was going to be literally led up the garden path only to be met by some unforeseen doom.  But I took the opportunity and I am the richer for it.  I guess I raise the anecdote as a way of suggesting that had the letter writer had shown a bit more faith, the would have been richly rewarded as I was.  I guarantee this KW Halliday person that had I had even an hour of their obviously too-precious time, I could have shown them some great places around our community.  Well, your loss.

As for getting honked at....yikes!  I'm going to assume here that since this is the WESTERN Canada Summer Games you're from a western province and not, say, Toronto or even Montreal.  You may want to avoid a large city, or community of any size really, if you're THAT easily offended.  If you're going to act like Ned Flanders from the TV show The Simpsons watching tv and feverishly recorded any instance where you might even remotely be offended, well, you're probably going to have a rather sad paranoid life.  Don't do it.  Just some free advice.

Occasionally, I get honked at here.  Usually for jaywalking, a habit I picked up after many years of small town living.  Once I had words with a guy, but he was frustrated and yes, it was just one of those days and I was being a jerk.  Maybe the guy in the jacked up truck honked because you were being the ass.  I guess we won't really know but to turn around and take a moment of frustration to paint an entire community with the same broad brush?  Grow up.  Seriously.  My mom just got over a major cancer scare earlier this summer.  I really do think there are more important things in life to worry about.  In the   this "Letter to the Editor" only serves to show just show petty and utterly ridiculous its author truly is.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Game On

After a long wait with much anticipation, Western Canada Summer Games are here.  From now until August 16, our community will be hosting one of Canada's premier amateur sporting events.  Fortunately, last winter's changes to my work schedule mean I will be off for the first half of the games.  The cycling events are all happening in Thickwood, and within an easy walk of the house, so I'm hoping to catch some of the cycling events at least.  I'm also thinking that if I'm lucky I might even run into people I know from Nunavut.  While they will bring a small team covering a select few events, they surely make up for numbers in terms of enthusiasm.  I wish them, and all competing athletes the best of luck over the coming days.  Welcome to Fort McMurray!