Mildly Amusing Missives #2

Robert Fulghum – Questions and Answers

Question: If you could live your life over, what changes would you make?
Answer: None. Well, maybe I wouldn’t have eaten some bad oysters, and would forgo the times I had too much wine and was miserably hung over. But otherwise, I’d live it all over again – knowing that the hard and troublesome events almost always led to something good in the long run. Every difficulty contained possibilities for something that proved better.

While Canadians wrestle with Environmentalists meddling in Canadian politics and policy…

Democrats dig for Russian connection and uncover environmentalists.
– Headline in ‘The Hill’, Merrill Matthews –

The ‘out of touch bubble’ called Hollywood

David O. Selznik, producer of Gone With The Wind, once observed that “It’s somehow symbolic of Hollywood that Tara was just a façade, with no rooms inside.”

A Comment About Bitcoin

I must say its entertaining watching greens who believe in the imaginary climate crisis condemn the enthusiasm of people who believe in an imaginary currency.
– Eric Worrall-

Confirmation bias (myside bias) – when you only believe things that confirm what you already believe in and doubt anything that doesn’t agree with that.

Confirmation bias isn’t an occasional bug in our human operating system. It is the operating system. – Scott Adams –

The Queen of Climate Change in Canada – stuffing gender into everything.

We need to consider the gendered impacts of climate change on women, girls and children…
– Twitter comment from Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna March 9, 2018 –

A tweeter responded: “My sister’s first job was babysitting. Mine was shoveling snowy driveways. Is that what you mean?”

Schlock Mercenary – I just found this online comic strip. I’ve put it on my ‘morning chuckle’ reading list.

Maxim 18: If the officers are leading from in front, watch for an attack from the rear.
The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

A quote my daughter sent me sums up the winter that won’t leave: “It’s like winter is really mad and keeps storming out of the room and then coming back in to yell ‘And another thing!'”

More snow is in the forecast, the Rockies have not reached the maximum snow-pack yet, and Edmonton Alberta has had 167 consecutive nights where temperatures were below freezing.

I can’t find the author of this, but I admire anyone who can write in rhyme.

A magazine writer named Bing
Could make copy from most anything;
But the copy he wrote
Of a ten-dollar note
Was so good he now lives in Sing Sing.

The UK explained sexual consent in the most British way possible

If you have experienced Alberta in the winter and Saskatchewan in the summer, then you’ll appreciate this joke about the City of Lloydminster, which straddles the border between the two Provinces.

Person #1: “Did you know Mercury does not rotate on its axis as it orbits the sun?”
Person #2 pauses: “That can only mean one side is a barren ball of ice while the other side is a flaming fire pit of Hell!”
Person #3: “Presumably if you built a house on the border between the two it could be livable — in theory.”
Person #4: “Like Lloydminster!”
– Blacklock’s Reporter –

If you are tired of knitting sweaters and hats, try out some of these!
Jewellery and Moths at Max’s World
Knittin’ kittens and intra-abdominal viscera at Masculiknity

What did you find that was Mildly Amusing this week!

Not Fueled by Chocolate

As I
slide
towards
another birthday,
I am reminded that
increasing age diminishes
my ability to shed those
extra pounds that cluster
around the part of my body
that makes me look like
a pear.

An unfortunate side effect of getting older is that it is getting harder to maintain anything remotely resembling an hour glass figure.

A brisk thirty minute walk in the morning and forty-five minutes at the gym after lunch just isn’t enough exercise to make my clothes feel ‘less snug’. I’ve been forced to cut calories too, starting with the ultimate sacrifice – no dark chocolate snacks until the pudginess is brought into submission again. For some indefinite amount of time, my blog writing will Not Be Fueled by Chocolate.’

There are any number of articles and advertisements that suggest how to lose weight (many are for bogus diets or are designed to drain your bank account), but it is only in the last few years that researchers have identified how our body fat makes us fat. With the rise in obesity and diabetes, researchers have had increased incentive to investigate how fat cells work.

It has now been suggested that the number of fat cells in our bodies increases from infancy into our early twenties. After that age, we keep the same number of fat cells throughout our lives. Gaining or losing weight does not affect the number of fat cells.

Fat cells do many good, important jobs besides being able to store a lot of energy in a small space. Unfortunately, when we take in more calories than we burn by exercise, the extra calories make the fat cells larger.

Scientists now say that our bodies have THREE kinds of fat cells: white ones, brown ones and beige ones. White fat stores extra energy. Brown and beige fat cells burn chemical energy to create heat.

Brown fat is present in most adults, but adults with more brown fat are generally slimmer than those without. (That explains that skinny friend who doesn’t exercise and can eat whatever they like.) Unfortunately, as we age, the heat production ability of brown fat cells decreases. This causes a natural increase in weight.

Beige and brown fat activation are both triggered by exercise. Combined with a decrease in calories, this is still the best way to shrink fat cells.

Scientists are hopeful, though, that they can find other ways to enhance the function of brown and beige fat cells or cause white fat to turn into brown fat. They have evidence that exposure to cold temperatures (16 degrees C) triggers beige and brown fat activation, but they continue to search for the ‘silver bullet’ that could be the game changing treatment for diabetes and obesity.

Other interesting facts about fat and weight:
– a single study published in the journal ‘Obesity’ showed that a year after liposuction removed fat, the fat came back, but not in the areas it was removed from. An increased fat appearance was observed in the upper abdomen, shoulders and the back of the arms.
– about 10 percent of your fat cells die and are replaced each year.
don’t diet – think instead about how to satisfy your hunger for fewer calories. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. (Eat less chocolate…)
exercise (aerobic and strength training) – the more you do, the more calories are burned. The largest muscles (and therefore the largest calorie burners) are in the thighs, abdomen, chest, and arms.
one size does not fit all, so to speak. Researchers are trying to understand why one person may lose weight faster or slower than another, even when they eat the same diet and do the same exercise.
– the set-point theory of metabolism may be a myth. Studies suggest that if we lose weight, our metabolism shifts to a normal rate for that new weight.
walking for 30 minutes most days of the week, is as effective as a structured exercise done three to five days a week.
“low-fat” or “fat-free” food is not necessarily low calorie food. A bunch of low-fat cookies might have more calories than one or two regular cookies.

With that, I’ll go have a carrot…

Do share – are you an hour-glass, a banana, a strawberry, an apple or a pear shaped person?

I’ve posted Weight and Diet Quotations on this page at The Quippery.

Recipe for a Dramatic Sunrise or Sunset

Are the sunrises and sunsets in your part of the world ho-hum?
If they are, then you could follow this recipe to make them spectacular!
– start with clean air, preferably in the fall or winter season. (You might have to travel somewhere to find these conditions.)
– marvel at the blue of the daytime sky, which is caused by the selective scattering of sunlight by air molecules. This scattering favours the shorter wavelengths of violet to blue.
– consider the much longer path through the atmosphere that sunlight has to travel in the morning and evening. It scatters more violet and blue, which creates the opportunity for reds and oranges to reach our eyes.
– finally, add some clouds to catch the red-orange rays and reflect this light to the ground.

It wasn’t until I investigated the science of the colour of sunrises that I realized that not everyone gets to see such a thing regularly! Now I know how fortunate I am to live in two parts of the world where this frequently occurs.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Rise/Set

For a good explanation of scattering, see The Colors of Sunset and Twilight.

Question of the day – do you have dramatic sunrises and sunsets where you live? If so, how much thousands of photos have you taken of them?

Rosemary, Rabbits and Rattlers

Clump of Rosemary at our Arizona house

This story starts with a large clump of Rosemary. It has apparently become the home of an Arizona Cottontail Rabbit – or I think that is so, since I have seen it (the rabbit) bolt from there on a number of occasions.

Arizona

A Cottontail Rabbit

It is a very handsome rabbit and except for it’s fondness for the leaves of my Torch Glow Bougainvillea, it isn’t what I’d call a pest.

Rosemary leaves

I would have thought the Rabbit would eat the rosemary leaves too, but if it is so inclined, it isn’t making much of dent in the rapidly spreading foliage!

Yesterday, a new dessert occupant appeared on our patio. At first, I thought it was another non-venomous gopher snake. We see them relatively frequently in our yard. However, when the snake finally decided to slither away, I realized that the pointed end of its 3 foot body was suspiciously rattler-like.

I have to admit that I was startled when The Car Guy pointed out that the snake had chosen to come within 15 feet of where I was quietly sitting and reading. It was only 8 feet away from where The Car Guy had been walking back and forth as he worked on a construction project.

The Rattlesnake (probably a Diamond Back) eventually headed into the clump of Rosemary. I don’t wish to think about whether a rattlesnake and a rabbit can enter into a relationship where the rabbit doesn’t become dinner.

The curious thing is, seeing a Rattlesnake on my patio made me want to pack up and head back to Alberta. It’s highly unlikely that there has never been a Rattlesnake on my patio before – it’s just that I’ve never seen one there before. That makes all the difference.

Today, there is NO rattlesnake on my patio, and I’ve ventured out into the yard to do all the spring gardening tasks that need to be done before we head for our Northern home. Of course, I’m extremely more cautious than I was a few days ago. I’m also hopeful that the snake will chow down on the wood (pack) rats that inhabit parts of our yard, then move over to the neighbour’s yard and never visit my patio again.

Question of the day – what would you do if you found a Rattlesnake on your patio? (I went inside and got my camera, of course…)

 

 

Blanche Russell Rock Houses

A few years ago, after a visit to the Grand Canyon, we drove east on Hgw 64, then north on Hgws 89 and 89A. We crossed the Colorado River on the Navajo Bridge, and were on final approach to the Vermillion Cliffs when we were surprised to see some mushroom shaped rocks that looked like a group of Smurfs had built houses under them.

Arizona

We stopped to investigate  and quickly realized they really were ‘Tiny Houses’. A worn and badly damaged sign nearby told the story of  Blanche Russell  and her husband William (Bill), whose car broke down in the area in about 1927 (or maybe 1920)…

Arizona

The pair took shelter under the mushroom rocks over night. Blanche liked the area so much that she bought the property and built permanent structures. She lived there for about 10 years and operated a business.

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona

When I looked online for more information about the Blanche Russel Rock Houses, I found a number of  ‘folklore’ stories on several sites:

“Around 1927, Blanch Russell’s car broke down as she traveled through this area. Forced to camp overnight, she decided she liked the scenery so well that she bought the property and stayed. The stone buildings under these balanced rocks were built shortly after that in the 1930’s.”
http://arizona.untraveledroad.com/Coconino/HouseRock/56SSign.htm

“The Old Cliff Dwellers’ Lodge (Blanche Russell Rock House) is located on 89-A in Marble Canyon, AZ…  Blanche built a meager lean-to against the largest rock of many… and gradually built a life by serving food to passer-bys visiting the Grand Canyon. Guests of particular interest included Mormons traveling the nearby Honeymoon Trail to the temple in St. George, Utah.”
https://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=5326

“Blanche Russell was a successful dancer in a series of sophisticated theatrical productions called The Ziegfeld Follies. Blanche left the limelight when her husband Bill was diagnosed with Pulmonary Tuberculosis… They immediately purchased the land and constructed a unique rock house which they later converted into a roadside trading post. The structure was built with stacked rock against a large fallen boulder… The original home remains on the property today… They started serving food to travelers and later found themselves running a full-scale restaurant, trading post and even selling gasoline. The area became so popular, travelers began to refer to the area as Soup Creek or House Rock Valley… After a decade, the Russell’s grew tired of the desolate desert and sold the land to a rancher named Jack Church, who later turned the restaurant into a bar. It wasn’t but three years later when he sold the establishment to Art & Evelyn Greene.”
http://theproperfunction.com/the-cliff-dwellers/

“According to author Kay Campbell, who wrote a booklet about the Cliff Dwellers lodges, (Cliff dweller’s old and new: A history of the rock “village” on Highway 89A near Lee’s Ferry – 1998) the Russells sold water they took out of nearby Soap Springs and also sold pigeons out of a coop they kept at the site.” (This booklet is listed on Amazon, but is not available for purchase.)
– This site is no longer available: archive.azcentral.com/travel/arizona/features/articles/archive/0928cliffdwellers –

“By the 1930’s, their full-scale restaurant evolved to include a trading post, both of which are just a stone’s throw further down the road. The little settlement, known as Soup Creek or Houserock Valley, included several attendant outbuildings.”
https://frametoframe.ca/2014/10/blanche-russells-rock-houses-marble-canyon-arizona/

Jack Church, who added his own personal touch by turning the restaurant into a bar during World War II. In 1943, third owners, Art and Evelyn Greene, purchased the land. They kept the old dwelling, which then consisted of eight buildings and a gas generator.”
http://www.kitchensaremonkeybusiness.com/2012/05/may-20-2012-rock-houses.html

In 2001, Sandy Nevills Reiff interviewed Evelyn Greene for  the Northern Arizona University. The Greene family established trading posts, restaurants, and motels in the region. Evelyn’s recollection was that  Blanche Russell and her husband had come from New York in about 1920 or 1921. (She says the exact dates are in their archives, which are at ASU.) Evelyn says that Blanche and her husband set up a small business by the road side. Since the husband couldn’t do much in the way of helping, they would ask their customers to help them lay blocks and rocks to  make the buildings.
http://archive.li.suu.edu/voices/archive/transcripts/greenetranscript.htm

The only verifiable source facts I could find about the Blanche Russell story were  William Russel’s Death Certificate and the Patent for the land:

According to an Arizona State Board of Health’s Certificate of Death, William Pat Russel of Soap Creek, Coconino County, died July 27, 1936 of chronic myocarditis and mitral regurgitation. He was born on May 10, 1864 in Boston Mass, and was 72 years old when he died. He worked at a Service Station. He was married to Blanche Russell (nee Dodge) of Cameron Arizona. His father was Wm. Russell Sr. and his mother was Mary Sheets. He was buried in Flagstaff.
http://genealogy.az.gov/

The Bureau of Land Management holds the document that shows Blanche A. Russell, the widow of William Russell, was issued the Patent for 400 Acres of land on 1/11/1939.

The Bureau of Land Management also shows that Art Greene acquired 40 acres of Blanche’s property (039N – 006E SE¼SE¼ 28) on 4/21/1955.
https://glorecords.blm.gov/search/default.aspx

The Arizona State University Libraries Archivist was kind enough to look through the Greene Family Collection for me. The only relevant item he found was a negative photostat copy of a 1930’s application for homestead by William Russell for the land Cliff Dweller’s Lodge occupies. (That application was denied by the federal government.)

Google Maps for the area:

Google Map – Blanche Russell Rock Houses (Cliff Dweller’s Stone House)

Google Map – Blanche Russell Rock Houses (Cliff Dweller’s Stone House)

So many questions, so few answers about a woman, who by all accounts, was a remarkably resourceful and adventurous person!

Wouldn’t you love to know ‘the rest of the story’!

I’d Rather Be… Here than There

March is a strange month.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations –

I’d rather be here where it is warm:

Warm and sunny Arizona

Than there where it is cold:

Cold and snowy Alberta

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is I’d Rather Be…

These same photos with a Cartoon Filter are at my other blog, Almost Artistic.

Where would you rather be?

Mildly Amusing Missives #1

When Grammar and Punctuation Walk into a Bar
I’ve posted a new series of quotations on my blog, The Quippery. They are  jokes about Walking into a Bar, but the subjects who do the walking are unusual.

The Trials of Being Senior

The other day, my mom asked Siri to find information on senior self-defense.
Siri: “Looking for information on seniors in Depends.”
After a couple of such unsuccessful attempts, my mom gave up.
– Dawnette Moore Thompson, comment on Mike Rowe’s Facebook Page –

A Belated In Memoriam

Women loved (Alan) Rickman: He wasn’t movie-star handsome – not Kevin Costner male-lead handsome – but he oozed both a predatory sensuality and a kind of indifferent hauteur and the combination was irresistible. His mesmeric baritone could sound knee-tremblingly sexy when he was asking if you’d like fries with that.
– Mark Steyn –

To Be, or Not to Be

The way to do is to be. — Leo-tzu, Chinese philosopher
The way to be is to do. — Dale Carnegie
Do be, do be, do. — Frank Sinatra
– A Three part missive written in about 1968 on the wall at Bud’s Tool Cribs by Bud Crew, a Salesman and an Anonymous person-

Does this describe President Trump?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
-Steve Jobs –

Speaking of Donald Trump
It would be hard to pick the best lines he delivered at the Annual dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation. He started with

I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That’s why I accepted.

and closed with

I just want to say this, this is one of the best times I’ve had with the media — this might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night.

Last Trump Reference, Honest!
I heard the Secret Service had to change their commands. They can’t say “Get down!” anymore when the President is under attack. Now it’s “Donald! Duck!”

Prime Minister Trudeau – Can Gender Neutrality be Fun?

Canada’s Prime Minister has admitted he doesn’t have the best track records with jokes. At a recent Townhall Meeting, he responded to a woman who said “… change the future of mankind” by suggesting she say “… ‘peoplekind,’ not necessarily ‘mankind’,” adding that the former is more inclusive. He later said he was just ‘lightly ribbing the woman.’

The Trudeau Government is a leader in women’s rights, equality and power dynamics of gender. In keeping with that, Canada recently passed a bill that would make the country’s national anthem gender-neutral by changing the phrase “in all they sons command” to “in all of us command.”

Personally, I wonder how our vocabulary would change if we were required, either by practice or law, to speak ‘gender neutrality’. Is the word ‘person’ gender neutral? (It contains the word ‘son’.) Is the word ‘woman’ gender neutral? (It contains the word ‘man’.) Is the word ‘human’ gender neutral? And finally, do we have to change ‘Manitoba’ (a Canadian province) to Peopletoba’?

12 Things I Learned from Life and Writing by Anne Lamott

So I sat down a few days before my 61st birthday, and I decided to compile a list of everything I know for sure. There’s so little truth in the popular culture, and it’s good to be sure of a few things…
Number 2: almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
– Anne Lamott –

What was Mildly Amusing to you this week?

Faces in the Car Show Crowd

January and February are the best time of the year for the car buffs in Arizona! This year The Car Guy went to Russo and Steele, Silver Auction at Fort McDowell and the Fountain Hills Concours in the Hills. He would have gone to Barrett-Jackson too, but got tired of trying to find a place to park.

Silver Auctions At Fort McDowell

Chrysler Town and Country

Fountain Hills Car Show

Triumph TR250

Fountain Hills Car Show

Shelby Cobra

Fountain Hills Car Show

Ford Ratrod

At my other blog, Almost Artistic, I used several filters on the same photos – the faces are not nearly so recognizable: Faces at the Car Show.

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is A Face in the Crowd.

Land of the Left – Santa is Being Relocated

Here in the ‘Land of the Left’ (Canada) our Government is attempting to cut our 1.69% of the world’s Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Though our emissions are as you would expect for one of the coldest, largest countries in the world, our Federal Government is doing everything it can to let the world know they simply don’t want warmer winters (the season that has experienced the most warming in Canada).

Our government is even willing to sacrifice the ‘North Pole is Santa’s home fable’ in order to advance their cause. They published this document on its Policy Horizons website this past December:

Is it Satire? An attempt at humour? Virtue signalling?  Whatever it is, it misrepresents the basic facts about the North Pole (which isn’t on a land mass) but is a location in the Arctic Ocean where the water is usually covered with drifting ice 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m) thick and where the annual mean temperature in the winter is minus 40F (minus 40 C).

Does the Canadian Government really believe that Canadians, or the world for that matter, think that Santa can be dislodged from the North Pole by the ‘on again, off again’ vagaries of Arctic Ice and a couple of Ice Breaking ships that pass by now and then?

Consider this: Santa’s mode of transportation circles the globe in 24 hours and makes billions of stops. He has stealth capabilities and all weather traction. He has an intelligence network that Google would die for. He can enter and exit any building without tripping alarm systems, and he can eat millions of cookies and drink gallons of milk in a single night without feeling ghastly sick. Would Santa (who has maintained a residence there since about 1866 when an American illustrator, Thomas Nast, declared it was so) agree to being labelled a climate change refugee and consent to being shipped off to the South Pole? I think not.

What a wasted opportunity for a better message. The Canadian Government could have announced they were in support of a global initiative to establish the S. Claus Marine Life and Sea Ice Research Station

… or better yet, they could just leave Santa to the children.

 

Increase Your Chances of Being Right

In “post-fact culture”, where rationality seems to vanish in the storms of lies and conspiracy theories, beliefs about the future are crucial.
– Gapminder Data System –

Are you smarter than a chimp? Watch this funny, entertaining and encouraging video to see how your knowledge compares to the chimps at the zoo.

How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know. Play along with his audience quiz — then, from Hans’ son Ola, learn 4 ways to quickly get less ignorant.
– TED Talk by the Gapminder Founders

What facts surprised you or made you think more positively about the future of the world?

Wrongology

Wrongology – the study of what is ‘not right’ – not in conformity with fact or truth, not required, not intended, not fitting, not suitable, not appropriate; deliberately misleading.

I made this definition up for a word that is not in the dictionary. There is, however, an interesting TED talk by “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz who explains why we should admit and embrace our fallibility. (She also wrote a book: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.)

Kathyrn points out that the state of being wrong often feels exactly the same as being right. We feel good, (though we are puzzled as to why others don’t agree with us). We don’t attempt to understand why others disagree because if we are wrong, we won’t feel so good.

It is incredibly easy to be wrong in the age of biased mass media. I read a report last week that criticized our Canadian Prime Minister’s fiscal priorities  when he responded  to a disabled veteran at a Town Hall Meeting:

“I was prepared to be killed in action,” said Brock Blaszczyk, a former corporal who lost his left leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. “What I wasn’t prepared for, Mr. Prime Minister, is Canada turning its back on me.”

Prime Minister Trudeau responded: “Why are we still fighting against certain veteran’s groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now.”

This report supported my previous opinions of the ‘virtue signalling’ fiscal choices of the Trudeau government. However, when I looked at less biased, more complete reports of this confrontation, Trudeau went on to say: “And what I know from veterans I’ve spoken to is nobody wants after having served their country with valour and honour and sacrifice to have their government say: Here’s your cheque. Now don’t bother us anymore.” The prime minister then defended the new system of providing compensation and support to veterans, which includes money for rehabilitation, job-training and caregiver support.

Two news reports, both right, but one that was kind of wrong (or misleading). I would have been wrong to believe the report that supported my bias, because there was more to the story.

Everyone and everything has flaws, and we’ll all make mistakes in life. If we learn to accept this, while also acknowledging the value of failure, we might finally become comfortable with uttering those three simplistic, yet complicated words: “I was wrong.”
– John Haltiwanger, Science Of Strength: Why Successful People Admit When They’re Wrong, Elite Daily, Feb 17 2015 –

The QuipperyI’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been totally wrong, partially wrong, or right but wrong. It is part of the journey of learning. What I learned about the Trudeau government’s approach to veterans doesn’t mean I would vote for him, but it makes me more cautious of the media I think is ‘right’.

When was the last time or most important time you said “I was wrong”?

Half a World Away

When the Internet publicity began, I remember being struck by how much the world was not the way we thought it was, that there was infinite variation in how people viewed the world.
– Eric Schmidt –

The Belchen (35 Km south of Freiburg) is a mountain in the Black Forest of Germany. The Belchen Cableway takes you up to scenic viewpoints and hiking trails.

If you do a web search for The Belchen, you will find lots of photos of the scenery, but no photos of a bee and some thistles on the grassy slopes of the flanks of the mountain. You also won’t find very many moderately funny or interesting quotations about variations. Until now…

I’ve been getting a lot of science fiction scripts which contained variations on my Star Trek character and I’ve been turning them down. I strongly feel that the next role I do, I should not be wearing spandex.
– Marina Sirtis –

Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth.
– Bernice Fitz-Gibbon –

Time rushes towards us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation.
– Tennessee Williams –

No patent medicine was ever put to wider and more varied use than the Fourteenth Amendment.
– William O. Douglas –

More varied than any landscape was the landscape in the sky, with islands of gold and silver, peninsulas of apricot and rose against a background of many shades of turquoise and azure.
– Cecil Beaton –

Country people do not behave as if they think life is short; they live on the principle that it is long, and savor variations of the kind best appreciated if most days are the same.
– Edward Hoagland –

How many vacation photos have you taken that could just as easily depict something in your neighbourhood or backyard?

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Variations on a Theme.

Frozen

It was very cold here in Alberta in late December 2017 and early January 2018. The overnight low temperatures were below -20C (-4F) for 7 days straight during the holiday season. The lowest temperature was -31C (-24F). January 2018 was briefly milder before sinking into another 4 day stretch of extreme cold. When it finally warmed up to a balmy -8C we packed the Jeep and made a dash to warmer climates for a while!

As Alberta was plunged into extreme cold warnings on Boxing Day…  Alberta was about as cold as Mars’ Gale Crater, the home of the Curiosity rover. Mars is subject to pretty violent temperatures shifts, and Curiosity regularly encounters temperatures below -80 C. But this week, the highest temperature experienced by the rover were -23 C. A Calgary Boxing Day shopper, therefore, might have found themselves getting into a car that was literally colder than a Martian spacecraft.
– Tristin Hopper, National Post, Dec 27, 2017 –

Snow Flakes, sharpened and color corrected

We spent a lot of time indoors in December and January. Inconveniently, it snowed regularly. I did a lot of snow shoveling, but only for short periods of time. It was just too cold. As for The Car Guy and the tractor – neither would start on several occasions…

Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world, having an average yearly temperature of about -5C. Viewed through this lens, it is no wonder that by the New Year we start to forget that we ever had summer…

By January it had always been winter.
– Annie Proulx, Shipping News –

How has your winter been so far?

When Do You ‘Put Your Affairs in Order’?

The Quippery

Unless your Doctor has given you notice that your ‘Best Before Date’ is rapidly closing in on your ‘Expiry Date’, you might not have thought about the most important thing you can do for yourself now AND leave for your loved ones when you depart this world.

This important thing costs no more than a sheet or two of paper, but it is priceless. It is a List of All the Things you know now – but might not remember later. It is a list of things the Executor of your Estate won’t know until they have rifled through your desk, file cabinet and all sorts of places obvious and obscure – so that they can wrap up your estate and deliver it to your rightful heirs.

Think about this: Do you keep your documents in obvious locations like your desk, file cabinet or a shoe box under the bed? Does your family know you also stash important papers in a fake cabbage (or lettuce) in the fridge, a former box for fish cakes in the deep freeze, a secret cubby hole, a hidden safe, behind a trap door, or in a plastic case under a paving stone in the garden?

The QuipperyOur Experience: The Car Guy’s Dad passed on to the Great Fishing Hole of the Beyond a few months ago – without making The List.  The Car Guy is the Executor of this relatively simple Estate and fortunately he knew that the Original of the Will was in a safety deposit box – but he didn’t know which Bank owned the box nor where the keys were kept. That was just the beginning of what The Car Guy didn’t know.

Fortunately, The Car Guys Dad kept just about everything in a desk and file cabinet (and a Safety Deposit Box that the Bank won’t release the contents of until some unknown date in the future). It  took weeks to sort through all the documents, make a list of  possible assets and trace accounts back to their source to see if they were still active. Multiple layers of Government, Banks and Financial Institutions had to be contacted. Each of them required a large number of detailed and correctly filled out forms.

The whole process is like doing a Jigsaw Puzzle, except you don’t know how many pieces there are and you don’t have the box lid to see what the picture is going to look like. This experience has been the incentive for us to make our List of Things our Executor will need to know. It has been a good motivational exercise that has encouraged us to reassess what we are responsible for, and what we can get rid of. If you are similarly motivated, here are some things for you to consider, roughly in order of when your Executor will need the information:

The Basics: Full Name (‘Fishin’ Fred isn’t going to be good enough); Birth Date and Place (somewhere ‘down East’ before the crash of the stock market’) is just a bit vague; Location of all government issued documents and the ID numbers.

Burial or funeral instructions – that aren’t in your will.

The Family: Names and Contact numbers for all Immediate Family; Parent’s full names, where they were born; Spouse – Full name and location of the original marriage certificate.

Government, Career, Financial Information: List Company Names, Policy or Account Numbers, and Contacts for: Employment, Pensions or benefit plans; Health and Insurance plans; Government Insurance and benefits; Income tax documents; Bank and Credit Cards; Investments.

Real Estate: Properties you own; Loans and Mortgages; Utility companies you have accounts with. If the deceased owned property in another country, the transfer of the deed could be difficult to do, and possibly costly.

Affiliations: Groups, associations, memberships, newspapers, magazines and all those things that will have to be redirected or cancelled.

Online: Internet accounts and passwords.

Final Tax Return: Keep previous income tax returns for the number of years your government suggests is advisable. A list of all sources of income and deductions will be needed. Also keep a list of items that will be subject to Capital Gains, such as property. Itemize when these items were purchased and or disposed of. Retiree’s should also list when they retired.

Wrap it Up: list all the places where you keep documents and valuables. Explain what is in those places. Summarize  your assets and liabilities.

That is it! It will take some time to gather this information, but it will be as valuable to you now as it will be to your family when you pass on!

Have you been Executor of an Estate? Do you have a secret hiding places? Have you made a List?

 

Crabapple

If you have a Crabapple Tree in your yard, you know there can be such a thing as too many crabapples. If you offer your crabapples to the local wildlife –  deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, bears, raccoons or coyotes for instance –  you won’t ever have to deal with too many crabapples. You might end up with wild life problems, however…

I planted six Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple trees a few years ago. This year we harvested the three crabapples you see in this photo. Too many crabapples might not be a problem for some time.

Plant Profile
Common Name: Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple
Scientific Name: Malus x ‘Jefspire’
Hardiness: to Zone 3
Growth: Purple foliage; full sun; 10 to 20 feet tall (8 meters); 5-10 feet wide (2.5 meters); columnar form; slow growing
Blooms: Sparse pink flowers in spring.
Fruit: Flavorful but often very tart
Origin: A seedling from the controlled cross ‘Thunderchild’ and ‘Wijcik made by Dr. David Lane of the Summerland Research Station in British Columbia

If you plant crabapples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.
– Author Unknown –

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