Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This story is just that. A story. Read into it what you wish.
You may recall that Shep is the current president of a company which is supposed to be looking after maintenance and repairs of things in a very large area.
For argument's sake we'll call the area New Brouhaha. Within New Brouhaha are a whole bunch of smaller sections with "neighbourhoods" in each section.
Shep's company is in charge but will have to reapply to the shareholders in the neighbourhoods when the contract is up. The contracts are a few years in duration.
Since the beginning of New Brouhaha there have different companies chosen to the look after the area. Some have done pretty well at it and others not so well. Thank goodness the contracts expire and the shareholders are able to choose every couple of years.
It sounds like an awfully difficult and large task, doesn't it?
Very true but I should mention that the sections each have a bunch of folks that help run the sectorial things. These folks make up committees that try to do what they can to help with things in the neighbourhoods.
Okay here is today's story.
Many years ago, before the neighbourhood committees were in place, the big company was trying to stay on top of everything in the neighbourhoods and keep things going nicely.
However, so many things were breaking down and getting old that the company was having a hard time merely keeping up.
I'll mention that Shep wasn't president of his company yet.
In fact, Shep's company may or may not have had the contract for the neighbourhoods at this point in time. This doesn't matter though as you'll see it boils down to Shep's term.
Eventually someone decided that creating the section committees was a good idea. I suppose that the shareholders themselves likely had a say in this.
You can imagine the huge burden it took off of the company when the committees were formed. Most of the day to day stuff could now be dealt with at the committees.
In one section the company made a deal with the committee of that section.
There was a long list of things in the section that had broken down or needed to be upgraded in order to work properly. These things HAD to be done and the company knew it.
The deal was that the committee would complete all of the listed work using money in its own bank account (made up of membership dues from the shareholders) and the company would reimburse the committee.
What a great deal for the company! The work would get done by someone else and all they had to do was issue payments that would have needed to be made anyway.
This deal was so amazing that the committee and the company wrote it down on paper and both signed it to show how happy they were with it. This amazing piece of paper was always to be admired by the committee and whatever company happened to be in charge at the time, whether it be Shep's company or any other. It would apply until all of the work on that long list was finished.
Things clicked along pretty well for many years.
The committee had the work done, sent in the required paperwork and the company sent cheques paying the committee back.
Then one day the company cheques slowed down and weren't quite so smooth coming along. The committee would sent in bills expecting the cheques but the cheques didn't come.
A few times the committee would ask the company about this. The company would then send the cheque after numerous reminders.
Suddenly the payments completely stopped coming!
By this time Shep and his company were in charge of New Brouhaha.
The committee sent several letters and made a bunch of phone calls pleading for the money owed to them. The work was still being done. The committee was doing everything that it promised the company they would do for them.
There were many things which still needed to be finished on the list too!
The company responded to the committee saying, "Well gee, we really do appreciate you taking care of things for us but we just don't seem to have enough money in that account to pay you right now. Maybe we will later. We'll see okay?"
You can imagine how the committee felt hearing this year after year from the company. What were they to do?
The committee really liked that piece of paper signed many years ago but it seemed that the company was using their copy to line the cage of the company parakeet in Shep's office.
After much thought the committee came up with an idea. It was a very good one and would make life so much easier for the company. The company would never have to worry about that long list of work ever again.
So the committee asked for a meeting with Shep and his staff to offer the solution.
The committee proposed that instead of the company paying for the rest of the work on the list as it was being completed, that the company just cut the committee a cheque for a fraction of the total amount of the work and everyone would call it square.
The committee would continue doing the repair and upgrade work but the company would never owe another cent to the committee for it. Everyone could rip up their amazing papers if they chose.
The company thought this was a great idea! Wow, it would certainly take the pressure off of them for this whole thing. At a fraction of the cost too!
The company thanked the committee and said that they would get on it right away. The cheque would be in the mail.
The committee were so happy that they sent a letter to the company telling them of their joy.
Could the company please send a letter back to the committee showing them how happy they were?
Uh, no. The company didn't want to send a letter back. That wasn't their style.
No problem, the committee thought. Shep is a nice guy and we know that he's happy with the proposal.
So the committee waited. And waited. And waited.
Over time the committee members changed a little bit but the proposal was never forgotten.
In fact, when new committee members heard of the marvellous proposal they loved it. The cheque was in the mail! Great!
One newer dude on the committee had a very difficult time understanding why the company had not sent any payment yet.
Everyone had agreed since the beginning and the committee was faithfully doing as it had promised it would do.
Was it possible that the company was not acting on good faith as the committee was doing? The dude couldn't imagine that being the case.
The committee asked for ANOTHER meeting with Shep. This time the dude wanted to tag along and see if he could make any sense of this whole situation.
Shep certainly seems like a great guy and sure seemed to be up front and honest.
Shep listened intently again as the committee chair recapped the story to date. The chair reminded Shep that everyone loved the amazing proposal when the committee presented it a couple of years ago.
Then Shep said something that the dude couldn't fathom at all.
"If we give your section a cheque now all of the other sections will be upset that they aren't getting one."
"Pardon me??" the dude thought to himself.
If the other sections have a problem with it just explain the situation and show them that nice piece of paper!
How could they not agree that the proposal was fantastic and would save the company money? Then the money saved could be used to help get things done in the other sections.
It seemed so obvious to the dude.
Then Shep told the committee folks not to worry. The company would find a way to issue that cheque under another one of their divisions. (Then the other sections wouldn't know about it and wouldn't get upset.)
The committee didn't say anything. What could they say? No sense asking for a letter or paper from Shep about this. That wouldn't happen.
The dude and the committee members left Shep's headquarters shaking their heads with the realization that the hopes for ever seeing their money were very very slim.
There was still a chance but very small.
What would you do if you were the dude or the committee members? What could you possibly do in this situation?
Oh, I should mention one more thing which may affect what you think.
Shep and his staff told the committee that if they ever utter a word about this whole situation to ANYONE, especially the company's competition, that the committee would never see a single cent as long as Shep was in charge.
Friday, December 18, 2009
As some of you know the Village Council of New Maryland presented our annual budget Wednesday night in our regular Council meeting at the Village Council chambers.
It was read by Councillor Scott Sparks who chairs the Finance Committee who did a great job. Scott usually does.
The gist of the budgets is to officially provide details publicly of the municipality's capital and operating costs as well the tax rate that will be charged to the residents. Information of the New Maryland budgets is available here http://www.vonm.ca/mayorandcouncil/budget/ . The new budget hasn't been posted yet but will be shortly.
Also included in the budget, which I am directing this blog at, is the rates which will be charged to the Village residents that are connected to the Village water and sanitary sewage system.
This falls under my care as I am the Chair of the Water and Wastewater Committee.
Our committee is charged with the task of beating about figures in order to come up with rates that are fair to the users and are sufficient to cover all operating costs associated with these systems. We are not allowed to operate under a deficit situation.
New Maryland is unique in that not all residents are connected to the municipal water supply.
It's slightly higher than one third of the Village's households that are.
The difficulty that this presents is that any and all costs associated with the water system must be paid by those that are on it and not by the other residents who are still on their own wells. (I am on my own well.)
Over the last couple of years the Village has undertaken the task of installing water meters on the properties connected to the system.
There were a few reasons for doing this but the two major reasons were
1. to provide an incentive for the municipal system users to reduce water consumption and conserve where possible and not be wasteful and
2. to make those users that choose to use excess water pay for doing this.
It's not very fair that a household with one or two people should pay the same amount for their water as a household with ten people in it, is it?
At the end of 2008 the majority of the homes getting meters had them installed.
The Water and Wastewater Committee, Council and Village staff then needed to figure out what amount per cubic metre to charge in order to cover the operating costs of the system and allow those reducing water consumption to realize a savings.
In order to do this we needed to gather historical data of the water consumption and calculate from there.
Unfortunately there was not very much historical data available at the end of 2008 to work with. Even so, we did our best and came up with what we believed would work.
I'm not going to rehash the fun of last year when there were differing opinions of what the rates should be. It was done and we did as well as could be expected.
One would think that by the end of 2009 it would be pretty easy to work out the rate for 2010 with a whole year of data available to us.
A couple of things arose which we felt needed to be taken into consideration.
What about a household which uses absolutely no water over a certain period of time? An example of this would be residents that travel south during winter months.
Currently the only thing they would be required to pay would be the $5 per quarter fee for the actual meter. (This amount is to reserve funds for replacement of the meter at the end of its lifecycle.) Everyone pays that who has a Village meter.
But what about the costs of the system itself? Even though one household may not use water in a given period the costs to operate the system continue in order for the system to still be there for when this household does use it again.
You have no idea how tricky this process was! There were many things to consider and we knew that whatever we came up with had to be totally fair for those who chose to do their civic duty and conserve water.
I'll make this long story shorter here.
My committee with help from Village staff worked tirelessly through several meetings and worked out an amount to recommend to Council for the 2010 water rate.
There was a little back and forth corresponding between Council and the committee but in the end we did it.
I felt pretty darn good about it too. In my mind I am convinced that the new rate is completely fair and will enable the system to operate soundly.
Those who choose to conserve and reduce water consumption will be rewarded accordingly by realizing a savings in their water bill.
The 2010 water rate was set and announced on Wednesday night as part of the budget. This was followed by a motion presented by me to amend By-law No. 40-01-2009 Water Rates and Sewer Rentals By-law to reflect the new rate. This rate is to take effect on January 1, 2010.
I'd like to detail this just a little.
Prior to the new rate taking effect, users of the municipal water system in New Maryland are being charged $1.60 per cubic metre of water metered. In addition there is a charge of $5 per quarter for the meter itself as I mentioned above.
As of January 1, 2010 the water rate will become $1.30 per cubic metre of water as well as a flat fee of $35 per quarter (to allow for all users to contribute to the system's operating costs).
The charge of $5 per quarter for the meter remains in place.
In reality the new water rate is less than the current one.
I would like to use a scenario to illustrate.
Let's take an example of a household which which uses 250 cubic metres of water in a quarter (three month period).
At the present rate of $1.60 this household will pay:
250 cubic metres @ $1.60 equals $400. Adding the $5 meter fee and their charge in this quarter is $405.
The same household at the new rate of $1.30 and $35 per quarter flat fee will pay:
250 cubic metres @ $1.30 is $325. Adding the $35 flat fee and $5 meter fee this works out to a total of $365 in this quarter.
To summarize, $405 based on the current rate and $325 at the new rate as of January 1, 2010.
I am very happy with this. I was very happy with this on Wednesday night.
In my entire time as a Councillor I have never come out of a Council meeting feeling so positive and convinced that we had done a top notch job for the residents.
I truly felt great.
I'm thinking that perhaps it also had something to do with the fact that I had decided to dress nicely in my suit and festive Christmas tie for the meeting. Perhaps by dressing nicely I subconsciously created a positive vibe within me?
It was a good night.
Yesterday morning I read the Daily Gleaner article by Shawn Berry covering our budget. It's at http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/search/article/892787 and as you'll see Mr. Berry has done the professional job I have come to expect from him.
He interviewed Councillor Sparks immediately after the budget was presented and gathered additional facts and opinions right away to complement the details he already had.
This is why I have come to really admire Shawn and the work he does.
As I drove to work I listened to the news on the radio. The report spoke of the Village's new tax rate and several other details.
Then he said "residents of the Village will be paying more for water."
For crying out loud...
That's all I'll say about that.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I have another Shep story that I want to get out there.
For now though, I want to post these links for readers of the blog who aren't on Facebook or Twitter.
These are photos that I took yesterday and over the last couple of weeks of the York Street Station work's progress.
As you'll see it's getting difficult to recognize the place.
Have no fear though. I have had lengthy conversations with the contractor and I am convinced that he knows his stuff and will do a good job.
I was very surprised today to see a technician on site with a nuclear densometer checking the compaction of the soil that the contractor has tamped inside the building.
To me this is a very good sign that J. D. Irving takes this work very seriously and wants it done properly.
Take a look.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Let's just say that you and two other parties are contributing
financially toward a project.
Each portion is exactly the same as the other two.
To illustrate let's say that the project is a playground in the middle
of your street. Just for an example okay?
This playground will be used by the kids on your street. It's clear
that it will be more for your benefit but your other two parties will
look pretty darn good in the process and will let it be known far an
wide that they kicked in equally for the playground to be built.
In my mind they'll look like heroes really. The kids will always know
that Shep and Keester (I just made these names up) paid as much as you
did for the playground.
Shep and Keester live nearby but not exactly on your street. They are
very well known to all though.
Keester is pretty cool. He doesn't ask for much and is satisfied just
knowing that the playground is being built.
Shep on the other hand is a pretty demanding little jerk.
In fact, he insists that because he is paying money into the project
then the playground has to be built by a pal of his.
Nobody else will have a chance to price the job and you have to pay
Shep's pal whatever he asks to be paid.
If you don't do what Shep says he just won't pay his share of what he
has already agreed to pay for the playground.
What do you think about this situation?
Of course I have created this scenario to resemble a real-life
I may or may not tell you about one day.
Regardless, this Shep character is pretty shady and one who acts this
way quite often.
I have another Shep story to tell sometime soon.
Another fictional scenario to resemble real-life.
Tim Scammell, PTech
Thursday, November 26, 2009
First that I'm getting much better at typing on this thing (new
iPhone) and this quick little blog may take me less than an hour to
More importantly is that the work on the York Street Train Station has
If you're a Facebook or Twitter friend of mine you'll know that I have
been putting up pictures of the work progress every time I happen to
Which is every day. More than once.
I was actually away in Saint John all last week for a course on the
National Building Code. Oh man, it was very hard to get into that.
Especially with my attention span of a fruit fly.
At least that week is over.
But while I was there Cheryl sent me a message to call CBC television
who wanted to interview me.
So before I left Saint John for home last Friday I sent a note out to
my friends on Facebook and Twitter asking what the heck I had missed.
I was happy to find out that work had begun and there had been a cover
story in the Daily Gleaner with a photo of that old luggage cart still
there. That thing was there when I went in the station over 6 years
ago. It's qctually held up quite well and will make a great piece of
When I was coming back home from Saint John I made a quick detour into
Fredericton to the station to see.
A firm by the name of The Urban Farmer has been hired to repair the
roof. The co-owner Dana filled me in on what had been done and where
the work was headed on their part.
They are just doing the roof work for now.
When I asked how long he thought it would take them he replied
I doubt that he was joking.
By the way, the CBC didn't need to interview me after all. I was too
late getting back to them. They had already been to the site and
toured the building from the outside. It's not very safe for anyone
but workers with hard hats and workboots to go in there.
Even then it's touch and go with the severe rotting of the wood. What
One cool thing is that earlier this week Rogers Television met me for
an interview at the station. While we were there a truck came and
dropped off a load of brand new roof trusses.
How cool was that??
I noted aloud that I wonder when the last time was that new
construction materials were on that site? Think about that. A very
long time ago.
As I said I have been going by and clicking pictures like mad.
The problem I'm having is that I don't know how (or even if I can) to
attach a picture to a blog that I compose and email from this thing. I
could do it with the old Blackberry.
I'll try and figure that out.
Until then all I can ask is that you see my station pictures on
Facebook or follow me on Twitter. I am @timrs2001 there.
You'll forgive me for making this a short one but we have to get up
far too early for a 6:00 a.m. hockey practice for the boys.
I'm serious! On a school/work day too!
Ah well, it keeps us out of trouble. Hehe.
Tim Scammell, PTech
Friday, November 13, 2009
I'm talking about my shiny brand new IPhone. It's an amazing little device and I am in awe of the great things it can do. That's it in the picture above.
I've heard that there are over 100,000 applications available for it and I have already downloaded a bunch of them which are free.
I've discovered that I don't even need my GPS with me to go hunting for geocaches when I have my IPhone! I did pay $10 for the application from geocaching.com and this thing has become my GPS complete with access to the cache web pages.
BUT, I am having a very hard time getting used to typing on it. In fact, I am writing this from my desktop PC rather than the IPhone.
I'm not sure if anyone reading these blogs realizes this but almost all of them were done from my Blackberry Pearl. Here's a picture of it.
Many have a hard time believing this but I was able to blast out a blog, including attaching photos, so easily on my little Pearl.
I guess it was that I was used to Blackberry keys but I was faster with my thumbs than I am on this computer keyboard! I'm not kidding.
The biggest thing was that as long as I could feel the keys it usually worked out well. Usually.
The Pearl has two letters assigned to the keys which saved on space but was a pain in the butt at times. It has a feature where it looks at the keys you are typing and determines what letters you are typing and forms the word for you.
Usually that was just peachy except on the rare occasion that more than one word shares the same keys.
I can't count the times that I was typing "guys" and the screen came up with "hits". If I didn't catch it the sentence was ruined. (And perhaps people figured that I am quite physical at times?)
One place that words are typed quickly and the send button is pushed without proofreading is when I am Twittering. I'm certain that I "hit" the "guy" many times on Twitter.
Another interesting little blip was when I typed "lol" for "laugh out loud" the Blackberry took that to be the first three letters of "lollipop" and plopped that into the entry.
Hey, that's funny! Lollipop! Doesn't work.
Aside from that stuff though is the fact that I could compose volumes on those silly little keys. Because I could feel them.
In that IPhone picture up there do you see a keyboard? No, because it's not a physical keyboard but one that comes up on the screen when you need to type.
I have been told that I will get used to this as I did with the tiny Pearl keys.
I sure hope so. It's been a week already since I got this from Rogers (I left Telus. I'll tell that story another time.) and I haven't felt good enough with it to do a whole blog like this one.
I have noticed that the IPhone is far smarter with decided my words for me. If I flub around and mess up letters in a word it thinks about the word that I must have intended and saves the day. That's cool.
Time will tell. I Hope that I just need more practice and one day I'll look back and wonder what I was worried about.
Until then my blogs may be here and there. But I'm still here.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
not describe it.
I won't even try.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I seem a little surly in sections but I can see why I wasn't really in a good mood when I wrote them.
What's really interesting is that in the March 11, 2007 post I talk about flu shots and how they affect me.
Years ago I was convinced that flu shots absolutely worked for me. Then for a while I felt that the shots were hokey and didn't bother getting them. I usually get sick anyway a few times over the course of a year. Although I can't tell you if it's flu or just a cold.
To tell you the truth I honestly don't remember if the shots work for me or not. I really should keep track of these things.
Last year I had my flu shot at the Village office along with the other members of Council and the Village staff.
It was mentioned that in the event of a pandemic the Village office becomes an emergency center and the staff and Council are called upon to man and co-ordinate.
I guess it's sort of mandatory that we get shots. That's fine with me.
Of course recently the big news is the H1N1 strain which could potentially immobilize millions of people worldwide.
I'm getting my shot next Thursday at my workplace so I don't need to get it at the Village office this year.
The boys have never had flu shots in their lives but we are pretty certain that we want them to have them this year. Just in case.
Their new school is pretty darn big and there are far more germs flying around than there were at little New Maryland Elementary School.
I think most families are having shots this year as a precaution.
We shall see how it goes.
Anyway, enough of this jibber jabber. Let's have a look at my vintage jibber jabber shall we?
March 7, 2007
Try Honeywell, heater, fire hazard, melt
I was wondering how to get other people who have almost had fires due to a obviously faulty electric Honeywell heater to find me to relate their similar incidents?
Perhaps if they Google words like: Honeywell, fire hazard, faulty, melt, melted, melting, plastic, burning smell, kaz, surround, recall, smoke, hot, electrical, flame, flames, detector, wiring, company, customer service, feedback, emergency, they will find this page and know to add a comment.
I will reply.
I'll put these words in the tags.
Honeywell has not replied to my e-mail with photos of my melted heater yet.
I hope they do soon. I'm not too happy about this.
Good thing I was here before it went up in flames and took the house with it.
Hmm. I remember that fun very well.
In case you couldn't tell we had a Honeywell electric space heater that decided to commit suicide and melt into itself.
Fortunately we were home and in the same room at the time. It could have been catastrophic for us if we were out.
I remember that Honeywell DID get back to me eventually. I sent them back the charred husk of the fried heater and they sent me a sparkly new heater which turned out to be a newer model.
I never heard anything further from them so I hope that their extensive testing didn’t reveal a major technical flaw in the heaters. (Extensive testing… Did you like that part?)
So far the new heater has worked well. So far. (I am knocking on wood in between key strokes.)
Here is the last of my inaugural blogs:
March 11, 2007
I am so smart, S M R T!
The first step in solving a problem is admitting that I have it. Hello there, my name is Tim and I am a dope.
Welcome Tim, all the rest of us are too.
The "rest" that I refer to are all of these other dopes here on a Sunday afternoon waiting to see a doctor at the after-hours clinic on Regent Street in Fredericton.
There's about 50 or 60 of us and we range in age from 1 to 75. Different colours and shapes and sizes from different backgrounds and walks of life.
What we all have in common is that we are coughing and sneezing from what I will bet is the same damn flu virus.
I will exclude the babies and children from the "dope" category and slap it on their parents instead. This isn't the kid's fault that their parents didn't take them for a flu shot.
I have personally known for years that the flu shots work for me and if I get sick it's usually just a cold. Did I get a flu shot this year? Nope, and I'm a dope.
My dopiness runs deeper though. Lemme tell you why.
This started last weekend when the family went to Saint John to see a hockey game. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express. I went into the hot tub for a few minutes.
I was still feeling cruddy on Wednesday when the kids went to a movie with a friend. Did I go home and rest? No way. I went for a 4 km. walk in the UNB woodlot for over an hour. It was minus 13 Celsius out there!
For some reason this dope thought that the icy blasting air would help me feel better. I was sweating like crazy too!
Then, to wrap up a brilliant week I took the boys on Friday to the public cesspool, sorry, I meant swimming pool.
It was packed with thousands of drooling, germ ridden, urinating, kids. I was in there for an hour and a half.
I should have figured when the chills started that something was going wrong and my body really didn't want to swim in the germ broth anymore.
Late at night I was awakened by the comforting sensation of an inability to breathe without convulsive coughing.
The debilitating pain in my head was lovely too!
Yessiree. I felt like I was going to die there.
I almost asked Cheryl to call 911 but decided not to.
How embarassing would it be if this is just a silly sinus infection and I went by ambulance?
I rolled around in pain all night. It would have helped to get some Advil but moving around was agony.
In the morning I chucked down some Ibruprofen and ended up sleeping a while.
Probably a good idea to get checked out at the clinic today, right?
Naw, it's not so bad now. Won't bother.
I'll be right as rain tomorrow I'm sure.
Now is that tomorrow.
Last night was another voyage into the bowels of hell. Today Cheryl told me to go to the walk in clinic.
I AM a dope but I'm getting better. I did listen to Sweety after all and here I am.
Number 25 in the line. I can't say for certain that all these other folks are as dopey as me but they sound like me so I'm betting dollars to donuts that many of them are.
We are so smart! S M R T!
**Added 8:40 p.m. same day. I waited 2 hours and 45 minutes and found out that I don't have the flu. I don't have an infection. No antibiotics prescribed. I DO have a problem with my breathing. (REALLY?!) I was prescribed a puffer like almost everyone else there today. Now, I sleep!
Wow. Not much I can say about that blog except that the boys and I haven’t been to that public pool in a very long time. Just a coincidence.
And, knocking on wood again, I haven’t had one of those sinus infections in a while.
They’re nasty so I’m not going to talk about that anymore. It could curse me.
Another thing I should mention is that I was going through my Blackberry emails the other day to see the treasures buried in there before I get rid of the thing very soon.
I can’t believe how many blogs I started composing and didn’t finish! Some of them aren’t even relevant anymore but I think I’ll look for some that are and post them.
That’s not really laziness since it is so much work.
I had better get on it.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Obviously I forgot about it and didn't feel up to really getting into blogging further.
There are four blogs on there dated January 18, 2007, January 29, 2007, March 7, 2009 and March 11, 2007 and I'm going to post them here just for fun.
I guess that the January 18th blog is officially my very first blog ever. I don't THINK that I have any other orphan blogs out there but I'm not positive.
I mentioned cheating in the title since I don't really have to get creative for this. I just have to repost some ramblings from back then.
Forgive me for adding ramblings between them. I guess it's just trying to explain myself. :)
Let's do this.
January 18, 2007
Wow, my first blog entry ever
I apologize for not making this a sizzler of excitement and social commentary but it's the end of the day and frankly I'm tired. I didn't want to leave this blank today.
I'm in bed typing this on my Blackberry.
I'll finish it and watch more of "What Happened on the Moon pt 1" on my mp4 player until I can't keep my eyes open. It's a bunch of folks with some very interesting points who are claiming that the Apollo space program was not all we believe it was. Not sure how precise it all is but they make it sound convincing.
Why are the main folks in this thing British? Are they all jealous of the U.S.?
Why do people even look for all these things to shoot great achievements down? It was a great point in human history that we should all be proud of as humans, not Americans or Britons or Canadians. Leave it alone!
Maggie our little old girl cat is in her spot between my legs so that I can't roll over or even move while I type this.
Oh, I finally found that dang "Triple Play" multicache today after starting months ago. The lid was frozen shut.
Dang cold today but at least there was no wind. Only about -10 or so. It was much colder yesterday.
Boo has his first drum lesson finally tomorrow with the drummer with one arm. Should be interesting indeed. I'll be there.
Tiny had his first piano lesson the other night. So far so good.
Goodnight for now.
Wow. The guys were just beginning their music lessons back then.
How far they've come since then.
It was nice to read the part about Maggie the cat. I miss that little lady...
Here's the next one:
January 29, 2007
Too long between posts
It's amazing how easy it is for time to go zipping by as we get older.
I really had intentions of doing this more often but we get busy. Before you know it a week goes by.
The lads are both doing very well in their music lessons now.
Drummer lad surprised the instructor with how good he is. We already knew he can solo with ease but how is he with tempo?
Last Wednesday the teacher dude started into the whole 4 beats to a measure, 1/4 notes, 1/2 notes, 1/8 notes etc. and stressed the drummer is the band's clock and keeps time.
The lad got it and now solos with a rhythm. Amazing.
The piano man lad is also doing great. I've watched his hand and finger styles and it looks pretty darn good to me.
He is playing tunes and has a very good ear for it.
If a note is off he corrects it immediately.
I was sitting in the living room listening to him play in his room the other day and he was just playing around making up cool little tunes of his own.
A lot of talent in these guys.
It must have something to do with the headphones on mommy's tummy when she was pregnant and the classical music all night in their room when they were babies.
And also the constant Rush and Johnny Cash in the car with me.
Anyhoo, this weekend - Feb 2, is the launch of all the new geocaches planted for the 2007 Maritime Challenge.
We did really well around here but it looks like Nova Scotia has also gone nuts so we may get beaten again. Maybe. We'll see.
Sportsman has offered to take me out Saturday at 7:00 a.m. on his snowmobile to be first to find on his new series between here and Hanwell Road.
He knew I wouldn't be able to do them myself without a sled. What a guy.
His new hides are the only ones I don't know in advance. Almost every other local cacher was sending me their hide info so I could warn them of possible conflicts.
I took myself out of the FTF running for all of those.
However, I didn't get Sporty's cache info and his are fair game. Saturday should be good.
I have to tell you about that drumming teacher I mentioned in there, Boo's first teacher.
I felt bad for the guy because Boo continually practices and learns things on his own. He always has. He has a natural talent for that. The teacher had to stop teaching Boo. He said that Boo was developing faster than he could really teach him.
That teacher used to come to our home for the lessons. I think it was last lesson he did that he came down the stairs as Boo was grooving and said to us "Oh wow man, I was going to teach him that." He had already taught himself!
Occasionally I hear the TV in the basement with a DVD with Rush and the drummer Neil Peart or another drum related DVD playing.
I hear the TV play, then nothing as he walks to the drum room, then I hear Boo playing away on his drum kit trying to play what he's just watched.
Then back to the TV to watch again. And on he goes.
He does that with Youtube videos as well.
It's very cool to listen to.
Tiny has a knack for making little tunes up. He amazes me. Not all are instant classics but some are really good!
One thing that I love is how he changes the sound of the piano to suit the song he is playing.
For example, he knows to use a harpsichord sound for a medieval piece. Or a tinnier sound for something Spanish sounding. Do you know what I mean?
Both guys still go for lessons and they are doing very well.
Both have incredible teachers.
We can talk more about that another time.
There is also a lot of my jabbering about geocaching in there. Someone who doesn't follow or care about it would really have a boring time. Sorry about that.
I see that I intended that blog to be more of a personal diary than a column style as this one often is.
Are you still with me?
I know that if Charles has made it this far he's going nuts!
He hates when I carry on. Actually I could probably say all kinds of stuff about him right here and he'll never even know about it! :)
I think I'll do another blog post for the last two posts of that old blog.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I'm feeling a little out of sorts really. Perhaps the change in the weather has something to do with it.
Maybe I haven't recovered from all the driving on the weekend yet?
Not to worry. I'll be okay.
I do want to tell that I drove by the York Street station today and there were a bunch of guys about. A couple were dressed in work clothes.
I was on my way somewhere and didn't have time to stop and research what they were doing.
So I blasted a quick email off to Charles telling him about it. He replied that he was going over so I expect he will have it blogged soon.
I did however get back down there around lunchtime.
Everyone was gone and I noticed to my surprise that all of the little trees and weeds that had grown madly all around the building were also gone!
I took this picture with my Blackberry so I'm sorry about the poor quality.
I did get some real pictures too which I will try to post on my Facebook soon.
Oh, I had a message from Mary Keith at J. D. Irving the other day pointing out that the Friends of the Railway Geocities website was very outdated.
I was on my way to Ontario but send Steve Boyko a note asking if he could go in and change things around and put the new picture of the proposed building up.
Steve tried to do it but was unable to make any changes.
He reminded me that geocities is closing down forever and we can't do anything with the page anymore.
So after all these years we're losing that old thing.
I think we are going to get a new site up and running to keep folks updated as frequently as possible.
That's all for now.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tonight we head to Ontario for what will likely be the last time for quite a while. For me anyway.
It's going to be a very long night. I have a Council meeting beforehand which I can't miss then we start driving right after that and don't stop until we get there.
I mentioned previously that my mother's house has been sold.
The closing date is in November but we decided to take advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend to head out and pick up the last of any items that are mine or that we would like to have.
The remainder of Mom's things will go to charity or to auction and the proceeds distributed accordingly.
I'm feeling a lot of anxiety over this trip. It will not be enjoyable in the slightest.
The good thing is that I won't be alone this time as I was in May. That was very difficult and in hindsight a bad idea.
We have a trailer reserved at UHaul in Ontario. The truck had a trailer hitch and the wiring installed 2 days ago.
We will visit with one or two friends but otherwise are just on a mission to get in and get out.
Just as well I don't see too many friends while we are there since I really don't think I will be very good company anyway.
This will be the last time I go to the house. I'm positive of that.
I have no desire to go near it after this trip.
It usually doesn't take long for new owners of a home to begin modifying and changing a house to suit their personal tastes. I think it would be pretty painful to go by there and see things changed from what Mom and Tom had spent so long doing to make the house their home.
Maybe 20 years from now if I happen to be in the area I may pass by out of curiousity but I will steer clear for many years.
I actually questioned even doing this trip but there is an old wooden desk that used to be my grandfather's that Mom had designated to go to me. It was far too costly to have it shipped so this turned out to be the way we decided to do it.
I know that there are other things of mine that we will bring back as well but truthfully I was ready to just leave them and not even bother.
One thing I realize is that what we bring back has to actually go somewhere in our home, which won't be easy! We're pretty full as it is!
Just get this done and move on. That's what I will focus on for the next few days.
It's kind of funny but I used to love any opportunity to go back to Ontario.
I'm afraid I am just looking forward to seeing it in the rear-view mirror right now.
I really hate to say that since most of my dearest and oldest friends are there.
But they'll understand. That's why they are my oldest and dearest friends.
Don't worry, I'll be back.
Just not for a little while.
Stay well, and I mean that.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The truth is that when I was by last weekend nothing has happened yet.
Has anything happened inside?
I don't know. I can't see in there.
I'm not complaining and certainly don't see a problem with waiting another extra week or so.
Heck, it's been years already!
I'll make a point to drive by in the next day or so and let you know if anything is going on.
Oh, remember the blog I did about the sale of my mom's house?
It got worse.
That offer we reluctantly accepted was thrown away by the buyers who realized that they would have problems.
So it went back on the market and very quickly another of the vultures swooped in and threw an offer that was even worse.
But we accepted it.
Screw it. I just want it over with.
The deal closes in November and so will that chapter.
We're trying to head to Ontario next week to pick up my items.
We will have to rent a trailer but first have to pay to have a trailer hitch installed onto the truck.
I hope I don't have problems with the trailer like Steve did when he left for Winnipeg.
We'll get it done and drive away from Ontario with no plan to go back again for a while.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Saturday, September 19, 2009
There is a better photo of the artist's rendition as well.
My wife found this article on metronews.ca too which is in Toronto. I thought that was pretty cool.
It's just a little one
I just took the attached photo a minute ago as I am on my way downtown. I'm helping at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival this weekend.
This will be one of the last times we have to see a picture like this of our little station.
About time, isn't it?
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Friday, September 18, 2009
This may get a little wild but bear with me and I'll try to be as organized as possible.
In case you haven't guessed I'm talking about this morning's press conference about the York Street Station in Fredericton.
I'll try to keep these blogs to the point but I doubt I'll be able to keep them short.
First, here is a link to an article in today's Daily Gleaner. Shawn Berry interviewed me late yesterday afternoon in anticipation of today's news.
Secondly, I'm pasting the official release that was given to everyone at the Centennial Building today.
(You won't have to be of legal drinking age to go into the station. Or to read this article.)
Sept 18, 2009
Details of York Street train station liquor outlet announced
Details of the plan to refurbish Fredericton's York Street train station into an Alcool NB Liquor retail outlet were announced today by Alcool NB Liquor.
Greg Byrne, minister of finance and minister responsible for the New Brunswick Liquor Corp., said that he is very pleased that such a positive solution has been found to the issue surrounding renovations of the former CP Railway station.
"This is great news for Fredericton, and the newly refurbished station will assure that the station is restored to its former prominence in the city centre area," said Byrne. "The new building will enhance the capital city and be enjoyed for many, many years.
"The new liquor outlet will be about 1,247 sq. metres (about 13,425 sq. ft.), and will incorporate the existing 318-sq.-metre (3,425-sq.-ft) train station, as well as a new, 929-sq.-metre (10,000 sq. ft.) structure at the rear.
The outlet is scheduled to open in August 2010.
"The train station area will house a wine boutique and product sampling counter, with a food preparation area and room for specialty product displays," said Dana Clendenning, president and CEO of Alcool NB Liquor. The products, checkouts, cold room, warehouse and offices will be located in the new structure, and each will be open to the other.
"The exterior of the station will be restored by J.D. Irving Ltd., as per the federal Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act.
The interior brick walls will remain intact, and the historical detail will be incorporated in the interior décor. The new store will be a unique concept for Alcool NB Liquor.
"This is such a good-news story for residents of Fredericton and the supporters of local heritage," said Environment Minister Rick Miles. "I believe that this project will stimulate enhancements to the downtown area of the city."
Alcool NB Liquor will lease the refurbished building and new structure under a 20-year lease. The location meets all of the corporation's key criteria, including a central and visible location, ample customer parking, easy access, and improved service to the downtown core.
"During the past 15 years we have worked continuously to realize a viable development that would enable the restoration of the train station," said Stew Valcour, vice-president, J.D. Irving Ltd. "We are very pleased to be working with Alcool NB Liquor. We appreciate the support that many in the community have given to these efforts. As part of our commitment we will be ensuring a trail access as part of the Sentier NB Trails network. During the next three weeks we will begin the replacement of the roof, which will secure the train station for the winter."
"I would like to congratulate everyone at Alcool NB Liquor and J.D. Irving Ltd. who were involved in bringing this matter to a resolution," said Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside. "I think it is wonderful news for Fredericton."
MEDIA CONTACTS: Nora Lacey, communications, Alcool NB Liquor, 506-452-6453; Mary Keith, communications J.D.Irving Ltd., 506-632-5122; Marc Belliveau, communications, Department of Finance, 506-453-4138
All stakeholders involved have been told that they have the full support of myself and the membership of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc.
I am very happy about this.
Thankfully I was not required to be at the head table for the announcement.
MLAs Rick Miles and Greg Byrne, Stew Valcour - Vice-President of J.D. Irving, Fredericton Mayor and good pal of mine Brad Woodside and President and CEO of Alcool NB Liquor were seated at the front.
I was introduced by Rick Miles as well as representatives of other groups that were in attendance.
Absolutely every media outlet in the province was there and I was interviewed by pretty well all of them!
It's going to be difficult to link to them all but I will try.
All I can say is to watch the news if you are here in New Brunswick.
It's funny but the most extensive coverage will be at Charle's blog! http://charlesotherpersonality.blogspot.com/
I'm serious! He was right there for everything!
He interviewed me on video and recorded me being interviewed by the television stations.
Just go there. He already has a picture up of the artist's rendering of how the station will look.
Much more to come.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
We sold mom's house today after it being on the market for about a month.
It's a bit of a relief to have that part of the story coming to an end. I just wish that these things weren't so adversarial though.
You see, we had our realtor evaluate the house and recommend a value to ask for.
I remember what my mom and stepfather paid for it and was a little stunned by how much less we were putting on it.
I decided that was the way it is. The markets have been improving but are still working their way back up after the latest nasty recession.
What I was not happy about was that a few weeks later our agent threw it at us that we needed to reduce the price.
What?? Why?? I asked.
But, I'm out here in New Brunswick and the agent and my step-sisters are in Ontario, closer to the action and getting a better feel of the market mood.
So we reduced the price.
We were having quite a few showings but no offers.
I was still convinced that our price was more than fair.
Then a couple of days ago we were presented with an offer that stunned me.
It was an insult really. If mom and Tom were alive they would throw it back at them and tell them to screw off!
At least that's what I was thinking.
Two of my step-sisters, my brother in law and the agent were pretty convinced that we could not do better than this.
One of the problems was that the word was out that the house has no-one living in it and it is part of an "estate sale".
So the vultures circled and lowballed us. We didn't stand a chance and accepted their offer.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that we have gotten this over with and can finally get the estate settled.
It's all part of the closure, isn't it?
Now I have to figure out when and how to get back there to get my grandfather's desk and other items to be brought back to New Brunswick.
I guess another road trip is in our future.
Tonight at open Council it was confirmed that I am Chair of the Water and Wastewater Committee again.
I actually knew this a couple of weeks ago after meeting and talking with the Mayor.
He felt that I am ready to resume my duties as Chair again.
We told the other Councillors in the closed meeting the other day.
Today it was there for the public to know. Right in the agenda it had my name as Chair.
For all one of the members of the public in attendance.
Actually she was there from the radio station.
Before I was elected onto Council I was usually the lone member of the public in attendance apart from the media.
My first meeting back as chair is next week.
I'm actually looking forward to it. We have 2 new committee members joining us.
One is Bill O'Donnell who used to chair the Committee before the last election when he was not re-elected.
I have always liked and admired Bill a lot. He was one of the hardest working Councillors I ever knew.
It was a shame that he was not re-elected but there were two of us seeking positions that were not incumbents.
One Councillor did not seek re-election but someone else had to go if myself and Gisele were to get in.
Unfortunately Bill was the one.
During campaigning I continually spoke of my support for Bill.
I believe the Mayor had spoken to Bill in the past about coming back to the committee as a public member. I know that I mentioned it to him a time or two.
I'm glad he's joining us.
Lastly, today I received an emailed invitation for Friday morning's press conference. I had already told them that I will be there but replied in the affirmative regardless.
It was pointed out to me that I am to be there 1/2 hour earlier to get an advanced briefing of the details of the plan.
Not bad. This should be very interesting.
Okay, I'll say goodnight now.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It will be at the Centennial Building downtown.
As you may have guessed the topic is the proposed future of the York Street Station.
MLAs Rick Miles and Greg Byrne will be there along with representatives of J. D. Irving Ltd.
She didn't say but I'm hoping Mayor Brad Woodside will also be there.
He's been fighting this battle as hard as anyone.
I'm not sure if Premiere Graham will be there or not.
Looks like I have to put the suit on and look presentable again.
I will report fully after the conference.
Wish me luck!
Hopefully they won't ask me to speak. :)
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Monday, September 14, 2009
Another loss of great talent to that horrible disease.
Such a shame.
I actually saw it mentioned in Twitter first and quickly confirmed it looking in Google news.
Information travels so fast now doesn't it?
Immediately we hear sad, horrific, happy news from around the world.
I had mentioned in my Facebook that Dirty Dancing was a great movie but my favourite Patrick Swayze movie was "Red Dawn".
Then one friend mentioned "Ghost". Of course, how could I have forgotten that amazing movie?
Then another friend mentioned "Point Break". I also loved that. It made me wish I was a skydiving surfer.
"Road House" was pretty good and included an outstanding Canadian Jeff Healy, who we also lost to that disease not long ago.
So many wonderful memories of so many great movies.
Why did it take losing him to make me remember how awesome he was?
Please give Farrah and Bea big hugs for me.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Friday, September 11, 2009
This is on the front page of today's Daily Gleaner.
I did speak to Mr. Berry yesterday and gave him my comment for him to use when he ran this piece.
Plus, it's been on every radio station this morning.
Geez, even Premier Graham couldn't wait until it was official before saying something!
I'm just passing along the message.
That's not really telling is it?
NB Liquor makes tracks to station
Published Friday September 11th, 2009
Deal | Crown corp. says new store to be twice the size of old one on King Street A1 By SHAWN BERRY
Fredericton's historic train station is getting a new lease on life.
Better days ahead: NB Liquor is taking over the York Street Train Station, where it plans to build a liquor store.
The provincial government has given NB Liquor the OK to rent the Fredericton landmark owned by J.D. Irving Ltd."
A deal has been negotiated with JDI for NB Liquor to lease the refurbished York Street Train Station," said Fredericton-Silverwood MLA Rick Miles on Thursday.
The York Street Train Station has been a focal point of debate over heritage properties in the city. In recent years, residents have grown concerned that the roof would collapse in winter under the weight of heavy snow.
Details of the lease deal weren't available Thursday.
While a media conference is expected next week, Premier Shawn Graham let out word of the deal during a funding announcement Thursday for the Fredericton YMCA.
"We're going to be back here soon for another important announcement for a little railway station down at the bottom of the hill," he said.
Officials from J.D. Irving said they continue to pursue a development on the site that will facilitate the restoration of the train station.
"We are hopeful of good news in the near future. We are unable to comment further," said company spokesman Geoff Britt.
NB Liquor CEO Dana Clendenning confirmed there's an agreement, but he wouldn't discuss specifics, such as the price.
"The terms and conditions are still being kept confidential,'' he said. "They're not finalized. We will have a press conference next week.''
Clendenning did say the location will be run as a corporate store that will have a unique design and unique services.
He said the Crown corporation likes the location given the easy access, ample parking and the store's proximity to the downtown, residential areas and university campuses.
NB Liquor was criticized for its decision to abandon the downtown when it closed its store on King Street last year.
The new store, he said, will be about twice the size of the King Street one.
The liquor store deal, which will see the property rejuvenated, is expected to help spur commercial development on about eight acres of surrounding land, Miles said.
"It's hoped that this project will stimulate redevelopment in that area of the city," he said. "It's been eyesore for too long."With the cost of restoring the train station pegged at $2 million, J.D. Irving said it would need to redevelop the property in the context of a larger business venture.
Mayor Brad Woodside said it was time for something to get done.
"I think this is as good as it gets in terms of news for Frederictonians. I say that because we have been subjected to this eyesore for so long," Woodside said from Collingwood, Ont., where he's attending meetings of the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Woodside has been vocal about the need to do something to the property.
"I meant what I said ... People have been upset with me every time I stood up and made it an issue, but I was determined to see a resolution."
Under the Heritage Railways Stations Protection Act, the owner of a historic train station isn't obliged to fix it up, but must get a ministerial order from the federal Environment Department to alter the structure or demolish it.
The nature of the federal legislation left the city powerless to intervene, Woodside said.
"There was absolutely nothing that I could have done. If there was, I felt seriously enough that I would have taken someone to court."
Tim Scammell, president of Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc., a community group that has pressed decision-makers to keep the station from crumbling, welcomed the news.
"I think that's absolutely wonderful. We've been waiting six long years for this," he said Thursday.
"I always said I don't care who goes in and takes care of it, as long as it's fixed. I'm glad it's going to be saved because otherwise we were heading down that track of being lost forever."
Members of Branch 4 of the Royal Canadian Legion were reportedly working on a proposal to buy the station.
The choice was logical, members said, given that the last glimpse of home for many local servicemen who served in the two world wars was the train station.
Clendenning said NB Liquor acknowledges that the station played a pivotal role in the lives of many New Brunswickers and especially those who headed off to war.
"We are discussing ways of recognizing the role that the station played in the transportation of veterans to and from the Second World War."
For the record, I am totally on side with what is being discussed here and have advised all stakeholders that I am willing to be there and assist every step of the way.
A few years ago I did criticize Brad Woodside for what was (was not) going on to preserve the station but we have long since pitched tents in the same camp and gave joined forces.
But this isn't anything official!
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Thursday, September 10, 2009
But I will say that I'm happy about this.
I'll leave this alone until an official announcement next week but this is the message that I just sent out to the members and supporters of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc.
In case you don't recall, this is the group dedicated to saving the York Street Station in Fredericton.
After 6 years I'm looking forward to some good news.
Hello everyone. This is Tim Scammell.
I am very sorry that nothing has been sent out in such a long time but there was really nothing to tell.
First off I want to say that I am again the President of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway.
Steve Boyko did a great job while he took over the position but sadly we lost him to the west.
He moved to Winnipeg a short while ago but is still in contact whenever he is needed.
Now, the worst kept secret in Fredericton today over Twitter and Facebook is that there is some big news to be officially released next week about the York Street Station.
You are not going to hear it from me before the official announcement because I gave my word that I would not say until then.
But I WILL say that I am VERY happy about it. If the MLA's and City Councillors wish to leak it before next week that's their choice but I promised that I am waiting.
(I HATE keeping secrets!)
Now, for those that wish to follow what is about to happen please make note of this address http://tim4nm.blogspot.com/.
This is my personal blog.
Up to now it has been sometimes political (as I am a Councillor in New Maryland), and often very personal and somewhat emotional blog.
In the next week or so I think that it's going to take a drastic turn as it follows what is about to transpire.
Please start to follow the blog and feel free to contact me anytime. It would be nice to know that you are still out there and that your voices have been heard.
I'm also on Twitter under @timrs2001 and plan on Tweeting things as they happen.
I may not send out these emails very often so the blog and Twitter will be best for following. I'll leave you with that.
It's good to be back and I really look forward to bringing good news soon.
Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
This is my second blog for today.
I started it a while ago and it could have waited but something arrived in the mail today that is tied to this.
I don't mean to carry on about any topics too much but I'm not done with "A Letter From the Western Front" quite yet.
I had sent a message to the creator Daniel Kanemoto saying how glad I was to see the video back up after being gone for so long. I also linked him to my last blog about it.
I received this email from Dan a few days later.
Hi Tim -
Thanks for the kind words, and for helping to promote my work. I really appreciate it. I'd be happy to send you a copy of my new movie, ARTICLES OF WAR - what's your address?
Also, I recently updated my website and put up a remastered HD version of WESTERN FRONT - you can check it out at:
(Be patient - it takes a while to load!)
Hope all is well,
Isn't that nice of him? Remember my blog a short while ago about people who have a sincere appreciation for their fans?
There you have it. A wonderfully talented person who takes a couple of minutes to thank a fan.
It made my day.
I should also point out that Daniel's talents have not gone unnoticed by others who know a thing or two about talent.
In 1999 Daniel won the Gold Medal in Animation at the Student Academy Awards for "Letter from the Western Front" while at New York University.
This award is presented every year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
That very same Academy that hands out that little golden guy Oscar every year.
I was thrilled when I read that.
I received the "Articles of War" DVD in the mail today. I haven't watched it yet but from the trailer (also on the website) I can tell that it's another emotional one.
I went to Dan's site and downloaded the remastered HD version of Letter from the Western Front.
While it was downloading my son Boo came into the room and asked what I was doing.
I told him that I was downloading a very special movie. I asked if he would like to see the Youtube version while we waited. He said that he did.
When I got to the Youtube page Boo saw my comment in the comments section on the page and asked "This makes you cry?"
"Every time." I replied.
He looked thoughtful after I said that.
Coincidentally, he had just finished watching "Saving Private Ryan" a short while before this.
I'm not sure how I feel about my 11 year old son watching a movie like that but my initial feeling is that it is a good thing that our kids realize the true horrors of war and how lives are really lost and affected forever.
I was about to find out that my initial feeling was pretty good.
I started the Western Front video playing on Youtube.
Boo and I watched it.
As it was starting he asked me if it is a true story.
My answer was that this particular story was not but the situation itself has been happening thousands and thousands of times for centuries and centuries all over the world.
When it was over and the end music was playing I looked at Boo.
I'm proud to say that he had tears in his eyes.
He made no attempt to hide them from me either.
He has seen me cry far too often, especially over the past year or so, and knows that there is no shame in crying.
To see that the horrors of war had this effect on him struck a chord in me that my wife and I are doing something right and are on the right track.
Back to the story...
A couple of minutes later the download of the HD version finished.
I had honestly not intended on watching it at that moment since it was bedtime.
What the heck, I thought. I wanted to see how the quality was.
Boo sat down to watch it with me.
Oh my. What a difference!
I expanded the display to cover my entire computer monitor and the image was crystal clear.
I saw images in there that I could never have noticed before. Little things that Dan and his associates must have laboured to include and assemble when creating the film but I had never noticed before.
I wanted you to see this film before. Now I insist that you see it in HD!
Boo and I didn't say a word for a while when it was done. But the lumps were in our throats and tears in the corners of our eyes.
One more thing of note.
I'm sure that everyone realizes the impact that music has on the emotion and intensity of things that we watch.
The music for "Letter From The Western Front" was composed by an outstandingly talented chap named Ryan Shore.
Have a look at his web site here.
A really great thing about his site is that there are .mp3's of his music which you can download.
In fact, this BlackBerry I am writing this blog has several of Ryan Shore's pieces on it.
I was happy to see that Ryan also composed the score for "Articles of War".
I know what type of emotion to expect.
I'm not going to rush into watching it but wait until I have a few minutes to sit down and watch it all, and then sit and think about it afterwards.
I want Tiny and Boo to watch it with me.
Daniel, thank you so much for sending the DVD. It will be watched many many times. I guarantee it.
And again thanks for everything that you do.
You keep making them and we'll keep watching them.
I'm going to do something rare and post 2 blogs today.
I could do them together but I don't want one to take away from the other so separate they shall be.
A couple of things to mention.
First of all, are the boys really tired today, as I expected.
After a summer of running around outside and excitement they had to spend a full day inside a school.
I was right about them being somewhat bewildered and confused but it will all work out fine.
Heck, they figured out how to work their combination locks on the first day!
I think it took me several years to get that down smoothly.
One things that ticks me off a little is that the boys have been put into separate classes.
That isn't so bad but I think that we should have been consulted about it.
Twins are a different dynamic than regular siblings and needs a bit more thought.
In elementary school that choice was left up to us.
We started them together for the first couple of years.
Then we decided to separate them to avoid the chance of one doing better than the other and inferiority feelings arising.
That didn't really work out so well so they were put back together and all was well again.
I'm trying to figure out what they want to do.
Trying to get a straight answer is proving to be impossible.
I'm thinking that after spending so much time together this summer that they're looking forward to a but of space apart.
But I'm also thinking that as the year goes on they will want to be closer again.
Maybe I'm wrong. We'll see.
For now we may just keep it as it is and see how it unfolds.
It was a wild scene this morning I'll tell you.
I think almost every single parent decided to drive their kids. Traffic was crazy.
The location of the new school used to be a neighbourhood park.
In fact, part of the schoolyard used to be a baseball diamond. My friend had a geocache hidden behind it. It's gone now.
I'm sure the local residents were thrilled with the way this all worked out.
They lost a peaceful park and gained a yard full of wild energy.
It sure is a nice school though.
Although I can't help but notice that whenever a new school is built the exterior always resembles a prison.
Blog number 2 to follow.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Another Labour Day is over. Another summer has wrapped up.
And another milestone comes along tomorrow morning.
Our two little monkeys begin a brand new school tomorrow. Off to grade 6.
When I was their age grade 6 was still part of elementary school, or public school as I had always known it.
Now, at least here in New Brunswick, middle school starts at grade 6. In my day it was known as junior high school.
I remember when I started junior high it was a brand new school. Just finished construction in time for the new school year.
I can still remember the smell of Highland Junior High on the very first day.
The place was huge! At least it felt like it.
It was compared to McNicoll Public School.
The whole thing was overwhelming and very intimidating to me. I wondered how I would ever figure out where everything was and what rooms were which.
Of course after a few months the place was as familiar as my house. Piece of cake.
What was I worrying about?
That was grade 7.
Our little dudes are only heading into grade 6. That's a heck of a difference in a year of a little guy!
I would be terrified.
But I'll tell you. Our guys aren't nervous at all. They are really looking forward to it.
We just put them to bed about 1/2 hour ago but they're not even close to being sleepy.
What a feeling that must be to them.
I'm thinking back to how small they were starting at New Maryland Elementary School. I remember that first day we walked them to school and stood with them as they lined up to go into their proper room.
They wanted us there with them as much as we wanted to be there with them. That was an awful lot.
Then they walked through the door and into the start of the first stage of their educational ship.
Seems like it was just yesterday but like a thousand years ago at the same time. Man, time is weird that way.
We were all set and figured out where they had to be tomorrow morning to catch the bus.
I was thinking how sad it was that we would not be there to see them head into the school for the first time.
They've grown up an awful lot since public school.
Now they wear size 11 shoes like I do and they are almost 5 and a half feet tall.
At 11 years old...
I can't believe it.
I was thinking that it would have been nice to be there. But things have changed for them. They don't need us there any more.
Then this evening I was outside barbecuing dinner and the back door opened and Tiny came out.
He said "Dad, would it be okay if you and mom drove us to school tomorrow? Just for the first day?"
I acted like I was thinking about it and said "Sure, that should be okay."
How did I possibly hide how thrilled I was that he asked me that?
I'll have to be really casual if I want to get a picture of them walking in.
If I'm lucky I'll still get a kiss goodbye when we drop them off. If nobody is looking of course.
Am I worried about them?
You're darn right I am.
That's what parents do.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
August 29th to be exact.
Anyone who knows me and has read this blog knows the details so I don't need to go back into them again.
Thank you for that.
I had a note from a longtime friend of the family the other day.
In it she mentioned that she was thinking of me as the one year mark of Hayley's passing approaches.
She also mentioned that she had been in touch with my aunt who also lives in England.
This aunt is my mother's sister and the friend was mom's close friend since childhood.
She mentioned that the two of them had called my brother in law's house recently and left messages that they were thinking of him at this time.
They had not heard back from him.
I'm not sure if they are surprised about this or not.
Right off the start I want it clear that I love them very very much and their hearts are absolutely in the right place.
As are the hearts of everyone who sends me messages of love in what they know will be a tough time for us.
But I'm pretty sure that they will not be getting a call back from my brother in law. I say this because I think I know how he feels.
I feel the same way.
Maybe I'm wrong and maybe I am different from some people but I am doing everything I can to ignore the day.
I want to be so damn busy that I don't even know what month I'm in.
Then I'll wake up the next day and it will be the 30th. Just another day on the calendar.
This isn't going to be easy and I know it will be impossible to avoid some days.
Mom died on New Years Eve last year.
The only way to get past the first anniversary of mom's passing will be to totally focus on the fact that New Years Eve is the gateway into another fresh year.
I'll do my best.
As I know the rest of my family and friends are. Just get through another day and before you know it another week has passed. Then a month.
And then a year.
I'm convinced that the year is the hardest since it is what birthdays are based on.
When it's turned around to a death day it is so much stronger emotionally. To me anyway.
So, I have plenty going on these days. I think I'll be okay.
For those who are thinking about my family and I, thank you. We love you for it.
For those who send messages I thank you too and love you just as much.
I'm not going to end this one with a witty phrase or clever line.
I just want to say thank you to everyone for being there and for caring as you do.
One year at a time, right?
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I'm blogging it again because it was posted on Youtube yesterday by its creator Daniel M. Kanemoto for all to finally see again.
It hasn't been available for a little while.
I don't know why I do this to myself but I watched it again as soon as I found out.
And it made me cry again as it does every time I watch it.
So emotional. Wow.
The first time I saw it was when a friend sent me the link to it a few years ago.
That Remembrance Day I forwarded the link to everyone I know. I'm certain many tears flowed among my friends.
What talent it takes to make a grown man cry over an animated film...
Have a look.
A Letter from the Western Front
You can read about it here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0209097/ and Daniel here http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0437548/bio .
Please share your comments with Daniel to show your appreciation of his work and tell others to watch it too.
Thank you for sharing it with us again Daniel.
But stop making me cry! :)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This is something that many people have to live with every single day.
It's about hearing loss.
I have been totally deaf in my left ear since childhood.
What got me thinking about this was when we were driving to Moncton the other day and I had my earphone in to listen to music on my BlackBerry while the boys watched a DVD and Cheryl rested.
Most already know this but in headphones stereo sound is split up between each ear. When I listen to music I only get half of it.
I can often very faintly hear the other half in the background but it sounds lousy.
If I want to hear what I'm missing I can switch the earpiece to hear but have to switch back.
For whatever reason there does not seem to exist anything to push all of the music out of both earpieces.
I haven't heard true stereo since before I lost my hearing as a child.(If it existed.) Although I doubt that I paid much attention to things like that back then.
From what I understand when I was 9 or so I had a bad ear infection or similar ailment. I think that we flew in a jet and the air pressure change made my ear pop much more than usual and my nerve was damaged beyond repair.
I don't recall any pain or even when it happened but when I lay in bed I noticed that outside sounds were eliminated when I lay on my right side.
I remember being in a booth at Sunnybrook Hospital with lights and buttons but only being allowed to push one of 2 buttons when I heard a sound in the earphones.
It's funny but about 30 years later I thought one day that with medical advancement and technology as it was a cure must have been found.
I booked an appointment to go back to Sunnybrook to see what was new.
I went back in that same booth with the buttons.
Then I was told there is nothing to fix my ear.
For those who have lost all of their hearing this way there is cochleal transplants which dramatically improve their hearing.
In fact, someone I work with had this procedure quite recently and he seems very happy with the result.
Unfortunately for only 1 ear this would not provide any benefit so it's not an option for me.
Hearing aids don't work for me. Not for total nerve loss.
Years ago there was a rumour that acupuncture may cure nerve deafness.
My mother bought me several treatments.
Not surprisingly, the acupuncture did absolutely nothing to affect my hearing.
This may sound strange but I consider myself lucky when compared to those who have completely lost or have never had the hearing in both ears.
I'm luckier but the problem is very real and very serious with me too.
When I was 16 years old I applied and was interviewed for a part time job in a grocery store in Toronto.
It was the Dominion store at Bayview and Cummer.
However, the head office was at the other end of the city on Rogers Road where the interviews were done.
I remember it took ages to get there by bus and subway but I wanted that job badly so I spent my entire afternoon for this process.
I completed the written tests without a problem.
Everything was going very well in the interview until I mentioned that I was deaf in my left ear.
I'm not certain exactly how they phrased it but they used a scenario of a falling box to tell me that they would not be hiring me due to my hearing loss.
They felt that if something was to fall and another tried to warn me I would be unable to hear and react in time to avoid being hurt.
Wow, that hurt. I was so sad as I returned home.
When I told my mother she immediately contacted a friend of ours who was in management at Dominion.
After some discussions and help from our friend it was eventually agreed that I would be perfect for the job despite my deafness.
And I was.
Nothing ever fell on me and the job was fine.
I wasn't so fortunate though when I applied to try and become a police officer with the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
I was flat out refused. No discussions.
Again the danger of my deafness was thrown at me.
This one made more sense.
If a bad dude tried to get the drop on me in a situation and approached from my left I would be unaware of his approach and would be at risk.
So I never pursued my dream of being a police officer.
One thing that many don't realize is that without hearing in both ears I have absolutely no sense of what direction sound comes from.
You could yell like mad at me but if I can't locate you visually I don't know what direction I am being called from.
This scares me very much.
What if someone is in serious trouble? Perhaps my kids need me and are calling for me to help?
That fear has kept me awake at night.
Just imagine being totally deaf and never hearing anything at all if you are being called for help.
From ANY direction.
How's that for a scary thought?
Can you hear me now?
I'm afraid not...
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Saturday, August 1, 2009
For half a century Charles LeBlanc has been driving people crazy. :)
For those that don't know him (I can't imagine how anyone could not by this time), he wanders around Fredericton every single day in all weather taking pictures and video clips of everything.
He has a knack for being on the scene as news happens and scooping the traditional news outlets to so many stories.
They hate him for that but quote him and use his information anyway.
You just know that every reporter and journalist around wishes that they could take off their ties and cut loose like Charles does to get the "real" story. But they can't so they watch him and see what he has to say.
Charles is one of the few people in this world that I would trust with my life.
I know that if anything ever happens to me he is out there watching my back.
Those of us who consider Charles a friend know how fiercely loyal he is to those he loves and to those who love him.
Charles taught me how much fun having a blog can be. And how much of a difference one can make in their surroundings by blogging the truth and saying what's on your mind without pulling any punches.
He's the type of guy that most people try to hold at an arm's length but he gets right past that at gets into you anyway.
And that's a good thing.
It's hard to imagine a world 50 years ago before baby Charlie came into it but I'll bet it was much quieter than it's been since that day.
What about the next 50 or so?
Maybe he won't be here for all of them. I know that I won't.
But the ones he is here for should be fun.
Have a great birthday my friend.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry
Friday, July 31, 2009
In fact, I started this one back on July 19th or 20th but I'm only getting back to it now.
The story is still relevant though.
Do you like the "Wizard of Oz" reference in the title? You'll see how well it fits when you read this.
This story is amusing.
Before you read the newspaper article below let me tell you what happened.
It involves the Village's ongoing search for good capacity wells to maintain the supply for the residents currently on the Village system and possibly consider new development.
We are also reviewing the possibility of adding more of the existing homes in New Maryland onto the system who presently have their own wells.
Last year the Village purchased a piece of property known by many folks as the "Forbes property" on account of the name of the previous owners.
There is a well sitting on the property which was drilled years ago but not brought on-line since it is not potable without proper treatment.
We haven't ruled out the possibility of treating it as needed and using it.
However, Council (on the recommendation of the Water and Wastewater Committee, which I am still a member of) decided to drill to seek other wells on the Forbes property.
The Village has a consulting company who are experts in water exploration.
They examine and review land features and available data to determine where they believe the best spot to hit a gusher will be.
This can't be an easy job. If they had x-ray vision I'm sure they could nail it every time but they don't.
In all honesty no-one knows exactly what's down there and exactly where the water is.
We're talking about millions of years of rock formation and water aquifers forcing their way through the path of least resistance making their winding way through thousands of miles of weaving trails underground.
In my opinion this is not an exact science. It's as close as it can be with what we can determine.
Anyhow, a little while ago this company reviewed the Forbes property and looked at all that they could and told the drilling company where to do their thing.
The result was disappointing and we were not successful in finding a decent flowing spot.
The Village Public Works Supervisor reported the result to the members of the Water and Wastewater committee at our last meeting.
This is where I come into this and it gets interesting.
A long while back I was having a chat with a local guy about the water situation in New Maryland.
He casually mentioned to me that he has a slight knack for being able to get the lay of the land and having pretty good feelings where water may be.
I found that interesting and remarked that we may call him up to have a look at the Forbes property one day.
I mentioned this to the Committee and said that we should buy him a coffee and take him out for a stroll and ask his thoughts.
No pressure, just a stroll to compare his feelings with those of the consultant.
It couldn't hurt could it?
It would most certainly be cheaper.
From what I understand the Public Works Supervisor met our lad out there and walked around the property.
I don't believe the Public Works Supervisor had much faith in what he was told.
I'm not sure why that is.
Oh well, at least he went out there and told us his thoughts and it didn't cost us anything. Right?
No harm, no foul as they say.
Well, this stuff was brought up at the next Council meeting during discussions.
The next thing I know people were asking why we used that guy when there are other guys around who are known for their divining at "witching stick" abilities.
Then it was decided that the Village is going to contact one of these guys and have them look around for water.
I'll let you read the rest of the story here as it appeared in the Gleaner under the heading:
Village turns to water witchery
Published Saturday July 18th, 2009
New Maryland has no luck using conventional methods to find water source for development.
By JENNIFER DUNVILLE
Canadaeast News Service
NEW MARYLAND - The village of New Maryland may try witchery to find a water source on one of its properties.
Mayor Frank Dunn said it might sound silly, but dowsing to find water has been in practice since ancient times and some people put a lot of faith in it. "This all started after we dug for water and were unsuccessful on the old Forbes property we own right on Highway 101," Dunn said.
"A council member made the suggestion that we hire a dowser. It was said in jest, but we figured it might be worth a try. "Dowsing, which is also known as water witchery or divining, is used to locate something underground, including oil, metals or water. A dowser walks with a Y-shaped stick or rod, which points down abruptly when over the right spot.
Some dowsers also use a pendulum or two rods, which cross when over water. There are many skeptics of dowsing because there is no scientific evidence the process works, and Dunn admits he has no idea if it will help, but he said the village has nothing to lose by trying it.
"We have a guy in mind who does dowsing, so we figured we'll contact him and at least give it a chance if he's willing to do it," Dunn said. "In order to continue development in New Maryland in the future, we'll need to find more wells, and so far on this particular property, we haven't been successful in more conventional ways of searching for a water source. "The village is in the process of building a new water tower to improve water distribution, water storage capacity, system operating reliability and firefighting capabilities. Tenders for the elevated reservoir system are expected to be awarded this month, with construction beginning in the fall.
One-third of the village's residents are hooked to the municipal water system, while the rest have wells, and Dunn said the point of finding additional water sources is to have the option of hooking more people to the new system in the future.
"We've been searching for water sources for two years and have been successful in finding three wells, which are currently capped. When we have the funding, those wells will be tied into the new tower in the future," Dunn said.
"We have sufficient water for now. We're just planning ahead for future development." Dunn said a core sample has already been extracted from one area on the property, but it didn't turn up any water. He said two more digs are planned.
"That's the way it is; every time you do a core sample you take a risk that it'll be unsuccessful," Dunn said. "We'll probably drill in two more areas at least, but in the meantime may try contacting a dowser that we have in mind, and give that a try."
Dunn said he won't disclose the name of the dowser the village may use until he's had a chance to talk to him about it.
"Village turns to water witchery"??? What???
Come on. Really...
There's a story about the topic of witchery which I will have to tell you one day.
Let's just say that it isn't a very good word to throw around lightly.
As for the article content it's me that he refers to in the beginning of the article.
But for the record, I did NOT make the suggestion to hire a dowser. I mentioned my pal going for a stroll. That's all.
Nor did I make the suggestion in jest.
I was very serious about getting an opinion, at no cost, to compare with that of the "experts".
Now you know.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry