Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here It Is!!


As promised, here are a couple of the pictures of my eagle friend. They're not great but you get the idea. When I was returning to the office I saw it again on another tree just a bit further down the road.
I have a couple of short videos too.
Tim
video
video

Truly Majestic!

I was just driving along Union Street in Fredericton beside the Saint John River and spotted a huge wonderful Bald Eagle!!
Wow, he was huge!
I was able to pull over and get some pictures and video.
I'll post them when I get to my PC.
What an incredible sight!
It was just sitting there watching the world go by. Didn't seem to have a care in the world.

Wow.

Tim
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wow, it's cold outside!


When it's really cold outside have you ever heard people comment "I wish this global warming thing would hurry up! Ha ha! I'm freezing!"
Usually I smirk or say "Yeah, really!"
It's really a stupid thing to say when you think about it.
Next time I hear it I'm going to say to "Be careful what you wish for. You are going to get it!"
The truth is that we are going to get it. Our entire planet is on a collision course with disaster.

We have all heard this topic and most of us have seen "An Inconvenient Truth".

Last spring I saw a apeaker who was trained by Al Gore himself to present the scary facts of the changing climate to folks like you and I.
What I truly admired was that even though he presented the full global situation he was from New Brunswick and was able to put the horror on a local level and into our neighbourhoods.

Yet we all continue as we have always done in the ways that we always have.
I'm guilty of this too and readily admit it.
Why is this? This is not right.
Do we all have a touch of sociopath inside us that comes out in the form of complacency?

I used to think that complacency was a traditionally Canadian trait and was not as bad in other places.
That attitude of letting the other guy do something about it, I'm too busy. Or I couldn't be bothered.
The biggest crisis comes from those who think "I'm just one person. What would I be able to do to make a difference?"
It's not so Canadian after all. Mr. Gore has recognized this and is pounding away to do what he can to save the world for his kids and all that follow them.

Isn't that what we all want to do? I know I do! The future is the reason that I do so much of what I do!

I didn't try so hard to get on Village Council for fun and glory. I'm certainly not in it for the money either. (We don't get paid enough for all of the time we put in really.)
Why did I join the Parent School Support Committee and Home and School Association at the kids' school?
I do these things because I want to do what I can in my little pixel of our world to make it the best it can be for the future.
This isn't an option. This is a requirement.
We don't have the right to do what we are doing to this planet.
We do NOT own it. We are just the current tenants. There is an unwritten lease agreement that we have to maintain the place while we are staying here.
The unfortunate thing is that we may not see how much the Damage Deposit is going to be.
Maybe our kids won't either.
I can tell you though that one of these generations will and they will be pretty ticked off at us.
The speaker that I saw pointed out that if things don't change immediately our future generations will one day shake their heads and wonder what we were thinking when we didn't do the small things to prevent the looming disaster they will be dealing with.

What a horrific thought. There are so many of us that want to leave our mark on this world and be remembered forever.

Think about this question. Who will be remembered more? Al Gore for his valiant battle for the planet? Or George W. Bush who did nothing to help the planet?
Bush beat Gore to become U. S. president in 2000 but Gore will be remembered as the great in my opinion.

Why don't we all do our tiny steps and be remembered as legends.
It may not be our names specifically that go down in history but it could be our entire generation that made the difference and saved the world.
How proud they would be of us!!
I would like that very much.

I have taken this information directly from http://www.climatecrisis.net/thescience/ , the official site of An Inconvenient Truth. I haven't changed a word.
It is shocking to me. I hope it is to you too.
Please read this.

Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and temperatures are rising.

The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it’s already happening and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence. The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.

We’re already seeing changes. Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitat, and the number of severe storms and droughts is increasing.

The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years.
Malaria has spread to higher altitudes in places like the Colombian Andes, 7,000 feet above sea level.
The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade.
At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles.

If the warming continues, we can expect catastrophic consequences.

Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years -- to 300,000 people a year.
Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal areas worldwide.
Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense.
Droughts and wildfires will occur more often.
The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050.
More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050.

There is no doubt we can solve this problem. In fact, we have a moral obligation to do so. Small changes to your daily routine can add up to big differences in helping to stop global warming. The time to come together to solve this problem is now – TAKE ACTION


These facts are real.
If we think that this is all happening far away from us and is not our concern, think again.
We are all going to pay a very dear price.

What I really admire about the web site is that it isn't only seeking to shock us with gloom and doom. They also offer possible solutions.

Read on,

The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year from personal transportation, home energy use and from the energy used to produce all of the products and services we consume. CALCULATE YOUR PERSONAL IMPACT http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/carboncalculator/ to see how much CO2 you produce each year.

JOIN THE GLOBAL WARMING VIRTUAL MARCH at www.stopglobalwarming.org http://www.stopglobalwarming.org

You have the power to make a difference. Small changes to your daily routine can add up to big changes in helping to stop global warming.
CALCULATE YOUR PERSONAL IMPACT http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/carboncalculator
JOIN THE GLOBAL WARMING VIRTUAL MARCH at www.stopglobalwarming.org. http://www.stopglobalwarming.org
Reduce your impact AT HOMEhttp://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/whatyoucando
Reduce your impact WHILE ON THE MOVEhttp://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/whatyoucando/index5.html
Help bring about change LOCALLY, NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/becomeactive
Download these 10 SIMPLE TIPS to take with you! http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/pdf/10things.pdf

After reducing your emissions you can do even more by going "carbon neutral." By supporting clean renewable energy, you can effectively neutralize your personal CO2 emissions. Your small investment will ensure that for every ton of carbon dioxide you are emitting, a ton of carbon dioxide will not be released into the atmosphere. Go NEUTRAL!



That doesn't seem too hard to do, does it?
What do you think?
Actually, it doesn't really matter what you think.
It's your responsibility and duty.

I want to finish this one off with one of the most powerful pieces ever written by one of my true heroes, the late Dr. Carl Sagan. He delivered it in a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996.
It refers to a picture taken by Voyager1 12 years after it left earth toward deep space. Dr. Sagan gives the distance from earth as 3.7 billion miles.
Al Gore used this passage in the movie.




Pale Blue Dot

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.


This probably won't be the last time I blog about this. It's been on my mind for a long time.

Let's get to work before it's too late.

Tim

Monday, January 19, 2009

Proof of Age

Forgive me for repeating myself but I would like to mention something that I have already blogged about. I was browsing through my older blogs and decided that my prior mention of the band Age of Daze didn't really do the lads justice.
They were mixed into my blog about the federal election.
This one is about them and nothing else. They certainly deserve it.
Before I forget, their website is
http://www.ageofdaze.com/

and their Myspace is http://www.myspace.com/ageofdaze.

Life has been very exciting for our Fredericton heroes since the boys and I saw them at the Playhouse as they were starting their big tour.
The lead singer/guitarist Tim Morrison and guitarist Jon Price are my Facebook friends and are kind enough to provide regular updates for those of us back in New Brunswick who can only watch in awe as they blast across the map taking it by storm.
There was amazing news last week as "Afflicted" broke into the American top 50.
For those of us not completely media savvy we should just know that this is huge news and means the boys are rapidly continuing their rise to greatness.
I am so darn proud of them I could burst.
This couldn't happen to a nicer, more hard working group of musicians.
Except for my good musician friends back in Ontario of course.
I wasn't quite sure how to take Tim Morrison's message this week that Age of Daze will be using the same lawyer as Metallica.
I'm assuming that a lawyer with extensive experience with a mega band like Metallica is ideal to handle any band's affairs.
I'm quite confident that this is a very good thing.
Wouldn't it be interesting if our hometown heroes brought their new buddies Metallica home with them the next time they're here in town?
Perhaps a little jam session at the Aitken Center would be in order?
If not I'll see what I can do to rent out the New Maryland Center for a quiet evening of soothing melodies.
Leave it with me.
What do you guys think?

Listen to this.
Cheryl's birthday was on December 12th.
I thought it would be pretty cool for her to get a "special message" from a celebrity.
I sent Tim a quick little note and crossed my fingers that he would get it in time.
Within the hour Cheryl received an extra special message from Age of Daze wishing her a very Happy Birthday.
How's that for fan appreciation?
Cheryl thought that it was pretty neat but I was impressed beyond words.

Before I forget I should mention the names of guys in the band.

Tim Morrison - Vocals/Guitar
Matt McLaughlin - Bass
Jamie Norrad - Guitar
Jon Price - Guitar
Pat Pelletier - Drums

Now you know.
Keep your eyes on this band.
2009 should be monstrous at the rate they are moving.

Just don't forget to visit us back home, okay guys?

Tim

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Canada's Sport

During certain months of the year, all across this country, thousands of families focus their lives on this sport.
After a long tiring work week the parents of these budding little athletes drag themselves out of bed on the weekends before some farmers get up to tend to their livestock.
The sun doesn't even want to wake up yet so it stays hidden.
Up and down streets kitchen lights pop on so that these poor souls can find some measure of help from the miracle of caffeine.
The kids rush down a bowl of cereal before they grab their gear and pile it into the freezing cold vehicle.
The streets of every city, town, and village spring to life with the convoys of mini vans, cars, pickup trucks and SUVs winding their way to the sports palaces.
Every parent wants their kids to have fun but there will be some kids who will stand out from the rest and rise to the top.
Most kids have their sports heros. The names of the heros find their way onto the equipment.
Some of these kids will one day have their names on equipment and become heroes to future kids.
We all know them.
They are on television promoting food, restaurants, cars, snacks, furniture, hair products, underwear, outerwear, deodorant, electronics, and anything else you could possibly think of.
We love the professionals.
We hate the professionals.
We wish we could have been them and are glad we never turned into people like them.
It is the sport which combines us all and unites almost every Canadian.
This sport defines us. It defines our country.
International supremacy is fought for using this sport but it is Canada which repeatedly shows the world that we are the best.
Yell it with me.
LACROSSE!! LACROSSE!! LACROSSE!!
What did you think I was talking about?
Lacrosse is Canada's national sport.
Many of us have heard this and I still find it unusual.
Actually I think that it may now share this honour with hockey.
But still, share?
Don't get me wrong. I love lacrosse. It was one of my favourite games that I ever played during my school years.
I really wish that more kids played it.
I remember many years ago in Toronto Cheryl and I went to see a Toronto Rock lacrosse game at Maple Leaf Gardens.
It was fantastic. There was so much energy in that place and the game was like trying to watch a lightning bolt.
It struck me how unfair it was that these outstanding young men who were more fit than any of us could ever hope to be had to go to their day jobs the next day after blowing away a crowd that size.
You would never see their names hanging from the rafters of the Gardens.

These are the types of people our kids should idolize. Not the spoiled multi millionaires in the NHL.

That's just my opinion.

By the way, our wonder lad scored 4 goals in yesterday's game and 1 goal in each of today's games.
It was something to see.
The other wonder boy played the blue line like a true master. He almost scored too!
Our team is the Bruins and he is #4. Just like Bobby Orr. The best hockey player of all time.

Just like my wonder boys.

Tim
video

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm still here

I really don't like it when I don't get a chance to do a blog for a while. At the end of the day it feels like I've missed something important.
Now that I see that more people read this than just close friends and family I have a slight sense of duty to them.
Only slight.
There are certain web sites that I like to visit as often as possible. Some of them every day.
A couple of these have funny and interesting movies to watch on my Blackberry.

Another has very interesting articles and news items relating to space and astronomy. This has been a passion of mine since childhood.
Quick tidbit of information for you. Many years ago I joined the Planetary Society.
This was founded by Carl Sagan who is one of my biggest heroes. Right up with Dr. Seuss.
Prior to the launching of the two Mars landers a web site was set up for anyone to go to and add their names to DVDs that were to be affixed to the rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
I am proud to say that my family's names are on Mars at this very moment on the DVDs.
Of course you'll need to get the disks and put them into a DVD drive to see the names. I'll be long gone when (if) that ever happens I'm afraid.
Still, we are there and I find that outstandingly cool.
So you see I like to see what's new or unfathomly old in space.

Cracked.com is a third site I visit faithfully every day.
I don't even recall how I discovered it.
Many will recall Cracked magazine from the 70's and 80's.
This was a vital part of my young days.
I was certainly a fan of Mad magazine but always enjoyed Cracked and Plop more. They just seemed edgier and sharper in their style of humour.
Well, Cracked magazine disappeared sometime. Actually I think it died twice.
But some noble individuals caught the torch from the failing hands and created Cracked.com from the remnants.
It's quite a bit different from the old magazine. They use bad words for one thing. The magazine did not.
I could do without that. It doesn't take away from the humour though like some things.
The style is totally different to me.
In fact, the only thing it shares with the old magazine is the name in my opinion.
But I absolutely love it.
Each day there is a list of the 6 worst or 8 best or 10 most horrendous or whatever. Every one is brilliant.
One of my favourite parts of the day is when I can stop and read the daily list.

However, Cracked.com and I must be in different time zones.
Sometimes I sit down and fire up the BlackBerry to get my Cracked fix only to find that the new day's list isn't there yet.
What a disappointment.
The good thing is that I don't have to wait for too long.

I am certainly not comparing myself to the big dogs like Space.com or Cracked.com but what if there were those who visited my blog every day looking for words of wisdom and deep thought from my brilliant mind? (okay easy, of course I'm kidding).

I would be letting them down if I go for days without a new blog wouldn't I?

Just in case, when I do have spare time I will make an extra effort to blog. I promise.

You're welcome. :)

Tim

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Reruns Already?!?

This isn't really a rerun but a toned down version of the post last week that I removed.
This will not happen regularly.
I believe that blogs are the place for anyone and everyone to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings on anything they want, even if I don't agree with them.

I have amended the post to reflect the time passed since the original.

Here you go.

I suppose I have too much time on my hands as I sit here browsing the internet on my BlackBerry.
I still don't know how many folks outside of my friends and family will see this so here I go again with another blast at the Village water issue.
Of special interest is the comments section that have been added online to the Gleaner story.
This portion of one comment amazes me; "his predecessor probably came into cold also. Maybe he shouldn't have run till he was prepared to take on a position of responsibility."

For the record, prior to the 2004 election and my being asked to sit as a public member on the Water and Wastewater Committee it had consisted entirely of the Mayor, all Councillors and Village staff. Councillor Bill O'Donnell was the chair but every Councillor was part of it and had to take responsibility for the decisions.
They all went in cold really.
I wonder why Mr. O'Donnell was not re-elected this year? It certainly was not because of a lack of hard work on his part.
Here is something else to think about.
The major complaint every one of us heard while campaigning was that the roads need to be repaired.
All members of Council agreed that this is a top priority.
Budgets from every part of the Village were shaved in order to push funds to Transportation and reduce the amount of borrowing that would be necessary to do repairs and reconstruction. Reductions came from Recreation, Human Resources. The Fire Department cut their wish list of purchases. Everyone sent money to the roads.
Everyone except Water and Wastewater.
Under the current Municipalities Act the Water and Wastewater have to stand alone.
Funds can't be taken out to go somewhere else and funds can't come in to help finance things.
Heck, we can't even use money taken in by the Wastewater to put to Water, or vice-versa.
So, Transportation has plenty of money for its projects and the residents will never feel an increase for it.
Another comment blasted me with this,
"I find this outburst by Councillor Scammell "laughable" at best. He sat on the Water & Wastewater Committee for 4 years...he knew these rate increases had been discussed at length and that they were going to be necessary. Of course he didn't want to Chair this Committee... everyone wants the committees with all the publicity and feel-good decision-making. It's VERY easy to sit back when you're not on Council and make lots of criticisms and talk about all the things you would do differently. It's a very different perspective once the economic realities hit home when you are a Councillor. Sorry Tim but you can't always just grab the "glory" and if the Village wants a $4.5M reservoir and distribution system, 1/3 of that money MUST be
paid by the Village and it has to come from the rate-payers. It's just the way it is and you knew that for the past four years as did ALL the councillors I might add."

If I could make a tiny correction to this.
I never criticized the Council when I was not on it.
When I was campaigning people would often express their displeasure at the current Council. I would always state that I was not comfortable commenting as I didn't know the discussions behind their decisions.
I did not say that I would do things differently but promised that I would always do my best if given the chance.
Mine was not a negative campaign. I don't like negative campaigns.
To say that I knew for the past 4 years that these rate increases were necessary is not true.
Why are we figuring them out now if we knew what rates were needed 4 years ago?
An $80 per year increase in the water rates to help finance the tower is acceptable. We asked our current public committee members their opinions and they felt this was fair.
However, to double the water rate and continue to provide the same service will raise eyebrows and tempers.
I don't have the full figures with me but Deputy Mayor Wilson-Shee calculated what the residents currently pay per quarter flat rate and what the data was predicting with the proposed meter rate.
She figured that a household was going to approximately double what they pay now.
When I reviewed it again I agreed with her.
It certainly does appear that the commenter has taken a shot at Deputy Mayor
Wilson-Shee by throwing in that last line of the comment.
The commenter has forgotten to mention that even though the Councillors and Mayor likely knew that 1/3 would have to come from the rate payers, they were not informed of how much and to what degree this would be charged to them.
I didn't realize this myself until the Village Treasurer attended the Committee meetings to provide us with the numbers.
When I heard the initial figures I rejected them outright and advised that I was not prepared to accept this proposal or bring it forth for consideration.
I felt that this was not fair or reasonable.
When the treasurer revisited this and came back with lower amounts for a loan taken over a longer term I was still uneasy but have gone along with it.
Councillor Paul LeBlanc was co-chair of the Committee when I was a public member and Bill O'Donnell was Chair. Wouldn't he have been a wiser choice for Water and Wastewater after sitting on that Committee since Day 1?
Councillor LeBlanc chairs the Transportation Committee which looks after the Village roads.
In case you aren't aware, I am a Professional Technologist in Civil Engineering.
For the entire time that I worked in Ontario following College graduation I worked in design, construction and management of roads.
At one time I managed a company that tested the materials being used to assure quality standards were being met.
The Mayor is aware of my background.
Wouldn't these be ideal qualifications to Chair a Transportation Committee?
I wasn't even asked to Co-Chair or even sit on the Committee.
I don't get it, do you?

Tim

Monday, January 5, 2009

Goodbye and Hello

Mom left us on the morning of December 31st, 2008.

On December 19th Mom's doctor called me on my cell phone while I was at work. She told me that there was nothing that they could do for Mom due to the nature and location of the lesion in her brain.
The doctor felt that Mom would have around 1 or 2 months remaining.
I called Mom about 10 minutes later to give her the bad news. She really didn't want to talk about it.
Between my brother in law and step sisters and I we found the Hill House hospice in Richmond Hill for Mom.
As I had mentioned in my last blogs that is where I was as I wrote them.
Cheryl and I decided that we would drive to Ontario to be with Mom for her last Christmas so we packed up the van with the kids and whatever else we could fit and hit the road on December 23rd.
Long ago we learned that it is an easier drive if we do it at night. Our kids have the gift of being able to sleep soundly in a moving vehicle.
I wish I had been able to do that for all of our family trips from Ontario to New Brunswick as I was growing up. A Gravol would make me sleep for a while but not long enough.

We arrived in Toronto half an hour after Mom arrived at the hospice. We went to see her right away to make sure she was settled in properly and then headed to her house to have something to eat and freshen up.
When we returned to the hospice Mom seemed in pretty good spirits.
It is our family tradition that we read "The Night Before Christmas" with everyone taking turns reading different pages.
When it was her turn Mom read hers perfectly even though it was difficult for her to catch her breath.
Another tradition is that we add another year to the inner front cover and sign our names. Mom wrote "Nana" before the rest of us put our names.
This Christmas Eve was like all others except that my sister Hayley wasn't with us and that Cheryl, the kids and I left Mom at the hospice and spent the night at her house in Beeton Ontario without her.
On Christmas day we returned to Mom. I was very happy when she ate some turkey and stuffing.
That night I had decided to stay with Mom in the extra bed in her room while Cheryl took the kids to her father's house for the night.

I'm afraid that Christmas night was not very good for Mom. She was very unsettled and seemed to be realizing what was coming. If I left her side for a second Mom became frightened and called me to return and hold her hand.
I admit that it was a very long night but there was no where else that I would have been but there with her.
I don't recall exactly when or how it happened but on Boxing Day morning Mom went to sleep. She made very few sounds after that.
I asked the nurses if they could please wake Mom up but was told that the only medication being administered was for pain and to reduce the chance of seizures as a result of the brain lesion. She was asleep because her body told her to sleep.

Mom never woke up. For the next 5 days she slept. Her breathing became more and more faint until New Year's Eve morning when it finally stopped.



Cheryl had flown back to New Brunswick on December 27th with the kids. When Mom passed away Cheryl took an overnight bus ride to be with me.

The funeral was on Friday January 2nd, 2009.
Later that evening we met up with my oldest and dearest friends at Tim Horton's in Markham Ontario.
This was very therapeutic.
I did not want to be in Ontario any longer though so after dropping in to see Cheryl's mother in Ajax we hit the road again.

So here we are.
It's 2009. A brand new year.

It has to be better than 2008, doesn't it? Could it possibly be worse?

In 2003 my step-father passed away from cancer. I remember at the end of the year Mom made a comment that 2004 HAD to be better than 2003. It couldn't be any worse.
I believe it wasn't too much later that my sister Hayley started her fight against the disease.
Not too much later Mom discovered that she had it.

I will say this quietly and with caution.

Hello 2009, please be nice to me.