Alberta Birds of Prey Centre – Coaldale, Alberta

August 16, 2013

My daughter handling a Great Horned Owl which is the Provincial bird of Alberta. His name was Gordon.

Located in Coaldale, 10 minutes east of Lethbridge, Alberta on Highway #3 is a gem of an attraction. It’s the Alberta Birds of Prey Nature Centre. This is a nationally recognized conservation centre.

When injured, orphaned or distressed wildlife need help the centre offers a place to go for help. Volunteers are on call every day of the year to respond. The centre makes every effort to rehabilitate and release to the wild, but if this is not possible then they have a home and are well cared for. The resident birds serve to educate the public and raise awareness of the value of these predator birds.

Visitors experience close-up encounters with hawks, falcons, eagles and owls. They get an opportunity to see first-hand the centre’s rescue, captive breeding and public education programs. Daily flight demonstrations will awe the visitor. Wait until you see one of these magnificent birds fly. Interactive experiences are available. You can hold one of these birds on your arm and marvel close-up eye-to-eye.

I recently visited the centre with my children and came away thrilled by the experience, more than that we gained a greater appreciation of these birds.  I invite you to visit and have this experience for yourself.  You’ll be enriched for it.

Admission Prices: (as per the latest brochure – August 2013)
Adults                   $8.50
Seniors 65+         $7.50
Students (6-18)   $5.50
Youth (3 – 5)        $4.50
Under 3                No charge

Note: The centre operates without subsidies. Donations are needed to ensure the good work continues.
(Charity BN/Registration # 896535895RR001)

Hours of Operation:        9:30 to 5:00 p.m.  May 10th to September 10th

Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation
P.O. Box 1030
Coaldale, Alberta  T1M 1M8



Extreme speed + extreme stupidity

July 16, 2013

No problem with speeding in these days.

Speeding at extreme speeds, more than 30 km/h over the limit, has become a serious problem in the Province of Alberta. These individuals not only put their own lives at risk, but those of others. A couple of examples will serve to illustrate this stupidity.

In the first example police stopped a black Mercedes SUV (sport utility vehicle) for speeding. Nothing unusual about that you say. Well in this case they ticketed the individual for driving more than 50 km/h (30 mph) over the posted speed limit. They clocked the SUV at 152 km/h (94 mph) in a 100 km/h (60 mph) zone.

The road in question is paved, but runs through a farming area with lots of intersections. At the time of the infraction police cited poor weather conditions, heavy fog and light rain with snow on the road.

Taking all this into account it seems to me this driver was being extremely foolish. Being foolish with their own life would be bad enough, but in this case even more so. Riding in the vehicle at the time was a father, his wife, with three children of theirs, and another child. The children were between the ages of four and 11. The driver was the father.

Next we have a man ticketed for driving his car at 180 km/h (112 mph) in a 100 km/h (60 mph) zone. Again it was on a paved secondary highway, but with lots of intersections and hills. In this case no one else was in the vehicle except the male driver. His excuse? He had just washed his car and was drying it off. Needless to say police weren’t sympathic. For this he received a $800 fine and a 45-day driving suspension.

What will it take to pound some sense into the brains of these drivers? Right now the penalty for driving more than 50 km/h (30 mph) over the posted limit is a heavy fine, driving suspension and demerit points. The ticketed drivers also must appear in court before a judge. They are not allowed to plead and mail the fine in as with an ordinary speeding ticket. Hopefully, it won’t take a horrific accident with multiple innocent lives loss before action is taken.

Blow the stink off.

July 14, 2013

Grandfather Davis possible originator of the saying.

When I was a kid my Dad would always be telling us to, “Go outside and blow the stink off”.

Every family has it sayings I guess. That was one of my father’s favorites. I tried for years to find out what the hell it meant, and second where in God’s name he ever came up with it.

He’d always say it to us kids. I think he’d use it whenever he got tired of us being in the house. It didn’t matter that there was a monsoon rain or the blizzard of the century happening outside, Dad’d direct that at us and then he’d get up and walk away. He never said it to our Mom, or anyone else only us kids.

As kids we actually got the part about going outside, but the “blow the stink off” part? Well I knew I didn’t smell because I showered that morning. I also knew I hadn’t farted, at least most of the time that wasn’t my transgression. Hell if it was the farts he did more of that than we did. Why didn’t he go outside and blow the stink off?

Now after many years I find myself using on my kids. I still don’t know what it means. I did find out where he picked it up. Turns out his father used it on him and his four brothers. Guess what? None of them ever knew exactly what it meant either.

The best interpretation I’ve ever have been able to come up with is this. Go outside meant to leave the house and go play outside where you wouldn’t be bothering him.

My interpretation of the “blow the stink off” is to get some fresh air. It’s a hell of a weird way to say it, but that’s the only way I can put a meaning to that phrase.

Where it came from originally I’m afraid is lost in the mists of time and family roots.


The Boomer Generation

March 11, 2011

When the Second World War (1939 – 1945) ended millions of men returned home to wives and girlfriends most hadn’t seen in years. Guess what happened? Nine months later there began a baby boom the likes of which had never been seen, and hasn’t been seen since. In Canada anyone born between 1947 and 1967 is considered a “baby boomer” or “boomer” for short.

Truly effective birth control, the pill, wasn’t available until the mid 1960’s, so in most cases sex resulted in babies, lots of them. This was not a bad thing, after all these men and women wanted to return to a normal life after six long years of war abroad and on the home front.

Couples wanted to put the war behind them. They wanted marriage and family, and did they ever succeed. Some factoids on the baby boom:

  • During the years 1947 to 1966 in Canada there were over 400,000 babies born each year. The highest year was 1959 with 479,000 born.
  • In the United States during roughly the same period over 4,000,000 were born each year.
  • At the height of the boom Canadian women averaged four offspring each.

I am a “boomer” as are my siblings. We were born in 1949, 1951, and 1955 respectively. Now over sixty years later our generation is beginning to enter our retirement years.

Our generation makes up the largest individual segment of the Canadian population (more than 30%). With retirement comes two key questions for Canadian society,

  • Can the pension plans handle the massive numbers of retirees?
  • Can the expertise lost by industry and government be replaced?

Most boomers are healther and wealthier than previous generations, but the cost of living has skyrocketed. Better health means longer lives and more stress on retirement income sources.

The anticipated retirement of workers from the workforce will mean more opportunity for the younger generations coming into the workforce.

Baby boomers have a tremendous impact on Canadian society and will continue to be a factor for many years to come. Some factoids on the impact of the boomer generation today (stats are from the United States, but are similar here in Canada.):

  • Control over 80% of personal assets
  • Control over 50% of discretionary spending.
  • Account for more than half of consumer spending.
  • Purchase 77% of all prescription drugs.
  • Account for 80% of all leisure travel spending.

Stay tuned for more postings on my experiences as part of the Boomer Generation.

Never Say Never

April 7, 2008

I learned an invaluable lesson over the years – never say never.

When my first marriage failed and I became single again I said that I would never marry again, ever! This went on for my 14 years of single-again living. I also said that I would never have children again.

Well here I am married again with children again. What happened you’ll say? Well I learned that talking and living by the”never say never” rule severely limits life’s possibilities. Life needs to be lived one day at a time. Most of all happiness needs to me taken wherever it can be found. Take advantage of life’s opportunities as they arise.

When I met the love-of-my life, who happened to be twenty years younger than me, I could easily have said no way, but I would have lost my soulmate and the happiness that goes along with that. I also could have listened to others who judge and told me she is too young for you. It is OK to listen to others, but the only person who can decide what is best for you is you. I am so glad I made my own decision based on what was best for my wife and I.

My younger wife wanted children, I really didn’t think I needed anymore. Again I could have run and lost her. Instead I chose to make her happiness and mine the priority. Many others thought I was crazy. I listened, but in the end made the decision to have children with her. This has resulted in more happiness than I thought possible. If I had decided based on the opinions of others I would be very lonely and unfulfilled in my life today.

The moral to this story is never say never! Always consider all the possibilities and never rule any of them out. Make the final decision based on what will make you and those you care about deeply truly happy. I’m sure glad I did.

Homework is Hell!

April 3, 2008

smurfs_posters_homework_gives_me_a_rash.jpgI recently read an article on the relationship between homework, kids and parents. The article focused on homework for elementary school level kids. This was of great interest to me with a child in grade one and another two entering school in the next couple of years.

Homework is hell! From my perspective and the kids. Damian, my six-year old, sits in school all day and hates that, then he has to sit still and do homework in the evening. That makes about as much sense as a screen-door in a submersible.

The boy wants one thing when he arrives home from school. That’s to hit the streets and play with his buddies. Forcing him to do homework, unless he is really motored-down, is akin to peeing in a windstorm. It’s the one thing I can count on to start a big battle between us. He gets angry at me, and I get stressed and angry at him. Great father-son time for sure. Not!

My solution has been not force him to do more than 10 minutes at a time, and then only later in the evening just before bed. I let him play because he needs to have a childhood. In addition to homework I always read a couple of books to him every night before bed. He loves this time with me and refuses to let me miss a night. Lately I’ve gotten him to read some short books to me before I read to him. His sisters, the four-year old twins, also get storytime from Dad every night before bed. I strongly encourage parents to make this part of the routine. It pays off in the long run and it’s excellent parent-child bonding time.

My wife is a teacher. She also believes that too much homework is counterproductive in most cases. This year she is teaching ECS (kindergarten) and homework is never sent home for these students. Grade one is slightly different. Home reading and word spelling lists are a necessity to develop reading skills; however even this shouldn’t become a heavy load on the child.

The article quotes one parent as saying, “educators claim homework projects teach children about co-operation, delegation and time management.” I agree with that. The projects get delegated to the parents. The kids learn to let the parents do it, then they have more time for play. The only co-operation is between mom and dad to complete the project or assignment for the child. The child learns to just pass the buck. Great lesson isn’t it?

This article quoted Vera Goodman, a retired teacher, and author of “Simply Too Much Homework! What Can We Do?” who says, “those hours [that families] have in the evenings should be spent building relationships, not fighting over homework.”

Some observations on the institution of homework,
1. It’s the number one reason children hate school.
2. It’s the main flashpoint for conflict between parents and their children.
3. I hated it when I was in school and I hate in now.
4. It’s one of main causes of stress in parents.

If you think you child is receiving too much homework, push back. Talk to the teacher and if necessary the principal to find out the rationale. If you don’t agree with the explanation make your own rules.

Further Reading:
“The Homework Question” by Amber Bowerman,, April 2008, pp. 66-72
“Simply Too Much Homework! What Can We Do?” by Vera Goodman, Rod Chapman and Elizabeth Collins Oman, Reading Wings Inc., January 2007

Travels With The Gang: Christmas in Maui

March 25, 2008

damiangirls.jpgI know it’s a little late, but I finally put my notes together and here is another adventure we had with the kids. Over Christmas our family vacationed in Maui.

Here I was planning on confining myself for nine hours on an airplane with the gang. Was I crazy? Damian, my dynamic six year old, and three year old twins, Claire and Livia. Would this be a vacation? Sure I thought hopefully. The time in Hawaii maybe, the flight, well that might be another story.

My wife and I loaded their carry-ons with games, coloring books, markers, books and of course goodies and snacks. Will there be enough to last nine hours? That was the million dollar question.

The trek starts with waking them out of a sound sleep at 2:30 in the morning. As usual when you want them to wake up, they want to sleep. You can bet that if we wanted them to sleep, they would be up and ready to go.

Finally we get up. Next we are waiting for the cab to take us to the airport. The cab shows up at 3:30. We load up and then the cat escapes into the cold darkness. Damian and I are chasing it around the yard and it is managing to make us look like fools. At last we pounce on her and toss her back into the warmth of the house, With the cat rescued from death by deep freeze we are on our way to the airport.

At the airport we get lucky and are near the first of the line. Check in, customs pre-clearance and security goes well. Damian is convinced to remove the wheels from his Heelies. Claire refuses to let security x-ray her “little Barney”. This is one of her favorite stuffed toys, she is a Barney freak, and she is not about to part with it. Finally we manage to get it in the x-ray and returned to her. God knows it might have contained a bomb.

The first leg of the flight, Calgary to Denver, goes well. Kids are on their best behavior. The food holds out and the batteries are still working.

Damian sits with me and says, “Dad when we get to Maui I am going to run into the room, get my swim suit on, and jump into the pool.” I decide then and there I better catch some zzzz so I can keep up with him. So I make that my goal. We’ll see how that works out.

Next we board the plane to Hawaii. After sitting on the tarmack for over one hour waiting for “connecting” passengers and their bags, we finally start moving. Halfway through the flight, “the boy” decides it is time to pester the sisters. Hell, it’s been way too quiet and uneventful, at least in his opinion. A melee ensures and separation is the order of the day. When we finally get his “engine” at an idle peace settles over the passenger compartment of the jetliner.

Food has run out and we still have 4 hours to go! My kingdom for some M&Ms. Are we there yet? No that is not the kids braying that, it’s me desparately hoping the pilot has made a mistake and the islands will suddenly appear and we will be on solid ground where I can actually give them a timeout.

Turns out that United Airlines has a contest to see how long it takes to get halfway. I can tell them. It takes several fights and lots of crying, from the kids, and parents before reach that milestone.

They say that countries will always find a way to start a war. My kids parallel the Middle East, any excuse will do. Share is not a word in their vocabulary.

Finally we are at the condo. Very nice one bedroom with large pullout in the common area. The kids decide they all want to sleep in the king-size pullout. They are so tired that it works out well. Damian in the middle with sisters on either side. Big brother is so good to them.

Before bed they go swimming with Uncle Mac, Colin and Caleigh. Meanwhile Cindy, Karen and I hike down to the nearest store for some provisions. The road is super busy with little or no sidewalk. It is so dark it is dangerous walking. We return with basics for the morning.

We are all so tired. To bed with plans for finding a nice beach in the morning.

To Lahania today and the supposedly number one beach in Maui just to the north. It was OK but lots of rocks. Very hot today. Damian and the girls had a blast in the sand building sand castles and burying Uncle Mac. Tried to get on glass bottom boat but full up so will try again tomorrow. Lahania is an historic whaling town from the 1800s with many old buildings. The old court house and jail had a huge Banyan tree in front. This building was once the capital of Hawaii. It is the spot where the official ceremony took place lowering the Hawaiian flag and raising the American flag. This made Hawaii a territory of the United States in 1888. The tree resembled an octopus with its many convoluted branches. Kids climbed all over it before we realized that we weren’t supposed to do that, oh well the kids had fun. Tomorrow snorkling and perhaps the glass bottom boat. Sure beats the heck out of the snow and ice of Calgary.

Snorkling at a local beach today. Lots of fish and a reef/rock formation that came right into shore. Not deep and good viewing. Saw about 20 different species of marine fish.

Back to the condo and a steak barbeque this evening. Christmas Eve. Strange but true. Christmas Day will be a luau on the beach. Maui is fantastic.

Christmas morning we went to Big Beach down the coast from Kihei and relaxed in the sun. Later in the afternoon we went to Lahanai to the luau. The dances and such were excellent, but food was terrible. What a disappointment. All in all a good time though. They did have a special buffet for the kids with chicken fingers and fries.

I was dreading the flight home because sister-in-law and family wouldn’t be with us. They left a day earlier, we had to spent an extra night in a hotel near the airport. I extended the rental car which was one of the smartest things I did. We spent the day at the local mall and took the kids to two movies before heading to the airport.

Turns out we were worried for no reason. The kids were so exhausted that they slept all the way back to San Francisco and then to Calgary. Damian was awake for the last two hours, but he and I watched The Simpsons on my laptop and he drew pictures.

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