Archive for August, 2013

Snakes, why did it have to be Snakes

We have all read about the horror story from New Brunswick. Two young boys crushed by a massive python escaping from the apartment below and dropping on them from the ceiling vent.

As I grew up this was one of my worst nightmare concepts, a snake dropping on me in the middle of the night.   Wake up in the dark and you could vision a snake descending on you from the ceiling.   You saw this in James Bond movies so obviously a shared nightmare.

In the reality of daylight you say “how could this happen?”  You convince yourselves that this is as remote as an alien attack.  And  yet it happened for these boys.

Which has proven my life-long fear of snakes (a fear shared by Indiana Jones) .

And yet I grew up on the prairies where there were virtually no snakes beyond the occasional tiny garter snake.  I could appreciate my condition if I grew up in Australia or Florida.

For some reason this pathological fear of snakes that I have, was not passed on to my son.  James could pick up snakes when he was just a kid with no fear.

When James was about 8 years old we visited Regina and Blaine and I took him along as we played golf.  At one green we suddenly came across a massive 14 inch long snake on the green.  Blaine and I both climbed onto our golf carts (which was difficult because they were the little 2 wheel pull carts)  Meantime James just walked over and picked up the snake and dropped it at the side of the green.  At the time Blaine and I (as we crawled down from the top of our bags) said “well we could have done that but we were startled”

A few years later we were living in Markham and we had the occasional garter snake in the back yards.  Our neighbors would call and say, “can you send James over to get rid of a snake?”

These days I am very comfortable about seeing a garter snake in my garden.  They eat slugs and are good for the garden.   I can actually pick them up and move them to another part of the yard.

Then I hear the story of a Python dropping on kids in the middle of the night and the old fear comes back.  SHUDDER

Training for Retirement

I love to read the column that Scott Feschuk writes in Maclean’s magazine each week.  A former Liberal speech writer he captures great concepts and has earned a page in every issue.

Although he is relatively young he nailed the truth in this last weeks article about how a summer vacation is where you train to be retired.  Three critical goals to accept being retired.  I will paraphrase

First learn to make a big deal over little things.

I set my objective each day fairly low so that it can be easily achieved.  When you are retired you do not need to learn anything more from failures.  For instance I jump out of bed on Thursday because ITS GARBAGE DAY.  Get dressed and haul the stuff out to the street.  Before breakfast I have achieved my goal for the day and I can celebrate with my bran flakes.  Heaven knows you all realize this is my view of life if you read my blogs.  Celebrate the little things…  good advice

Second goal is develop strong opinions about things

Now I do not necessarily think of these as opinions, I think of them as truths that stupid people do not recognize or acknowledge.  I find that speaking louder helps them comprehend and accept the truth.

Realize that the memory is slipping on new information

Now this goal I am not sure of, when I started this blog I had something profound to say on this point but have since forgotten it.  Certainly it had nothing to do with my going back to the phone company to convert my smart phone back to a simple flip cel phone because the features were too complicated.

Anyway I think that Scott has achieved the essence of retirement and he learned it while lying by a beach on his summer vacation.

New Domain

You may notice a slight change when you access my blog.  I have registered viewsfromparadise as a domain and not just a contact on word press.  Allows me greater control in case some one wants to take it over.

Go to University

Well first of all I have to start with the marvelous meal we had tonight.  It is Friday so we decided on a Bouillabaisse.  And it was delicious.

We used part of the leftover sauce from the steamed mussels we had last week and added a garage sale of seafood.  Cod, Halibut, shrimps, mussels, scallops, and calamari with some chopped Chorizo sausage.  A spicy tomato sauce and thin slices of French baguette.  Wonderful meal, but that is not the subject of tonight’s lesson.

I was reading my latest issue of Popular Mechanics magazine and there is an article by Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs guy from TV)  He was describing how his high school counsellor advised him that the way to riches was to go to University.  He tried it and eventually dropped out to pursue a career in the trades.  (now lets face it he is 6′ 4, good looking and with a good voice and made his riches from TV  So not a typical example) but it does lead me to the point of this blog.

When I was a young man, the trades (electrician, plumber, farmer, carpenter etc) were paid diddley squat.  Go to University was the cry by our advisors and so we went.  I thought I was the first of my family to graduate from University but my older cousin Wylie graduated from Engineering before I did, but still I was at the leading edge of the trend.

I graduated and immediately had a job that paid more than my father was making.  In those days you could go to university and take weird things like sociology or political science and be guaranteed a well paid job.  You could take the history of basket weaving and get a job.

So an entire generation went off to university to get ahead in life while the kids without the marks went into trades.

Along came our kids and the same advice.  Must go to university to make more than minimum wages.

We now had so many graduates of sociology and fine arts but no one to take care of the infrastructure of our society.  The scarcity of trades meant that wages went up.  Now plumbers, welders, electricians and mechanics make more money than teachers. Certainly more money than political science graduates (thank goodness).

Of my personal friends, the wealthiest, is a guy that dropped out of university to take on a market farm and is now much richer than I am.  (granted he has the intelligence and drive that would have made him wealthy even with a degree)

The Mike Rowe article was about this idea where why should we need to import people with trade skills from abroad to meet the demand while university graduates are unemployed.

I am now giving this advice to my grandchildren.  University is great if you want to pursue a specific career but do not assume you will make more money.  What they should look at is an education that will make them money and fulfill their interest in life.

On the other hand, Pat and I both have university degrees and as a result have a great retirement life where we can enjoy a wonderful bouillabaisse on a Friday night.