Archive for January, 2010

Travel plans 2010 – England and Norway

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

A handful of our friends have been aware for a couple of weeks that Janet has been considering a trip to England.  I won’t go into the reasons on this blog, other than that it’s related to surgery scheduled for one of her family members.

It didn’t take long before the discussion moved from Janet taking a quick trip to the concept of Janet taking an extended trip to be with her parents.

Then the discussion progressed to the fact that our two youngest children really don’t know their grandparents very well, unlike their older siblings who spent the summer of 2009 on the island.

The upshot is that Janet, Jennifer and Fiona will be flying to London in less than two weeks, and then on to southern Cornwall.  The tickets have been purchased, and the girls have been registered in a school where they will be required to wear school uniforms.  The schools at both ends have been very accommodating.

Luke, Charlotte and I will carry on with life in Prince Albert.  However beginning in late July I will take four weeks of vacation leave to join Janet and the girls.

After I’ve spent a couple of weeks with them on the Isles of Scilly, we’ll all continue on to Norway.  Our plans aren’t fully firmed up yet, but we plan to spend the bulk of our time visiting my distant relatives in the Trondheim area, including Rindal, the village that my paternal grandparents both emigrated from, before returning to P.A. before school resumes in late August.

I spent a month in Norway in 1984, and have many fond memories.  After 26 years it will be great to make it back.  Some of my Norwegian relatives have been to Canada at various times over the years, and some on the Canadian side including my sister Carol have travelled to Norway, so some contacts have been maintained.  I am generally a stay-at-home guy, but I am already excited about this trip.

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More thoughts on weather and climate

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

In recent days much of North America had a cold snap, reaching temperatures well below the long-term average.  Oranges were freezing in Florida orchards.  The cold wasn’t restricted to North America, with Southern England having snowstorms that brought traffic to a stand-still and kept half the work force home.

Many saw the cold weather as positive proof that human-caused global warming is a hoax.

Today the temperature here in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is +2 degrees Celsius.  That is about 15 degrees higher than the long-term “normal” high.  Meanwhile on Canada’s left coast, organizers of the Winter Olympics are worried as some of the downhill venues continue to lose their snow due to rain and warm temperatures.

Some see this warm weather as positive proof that human-caused global warming is real.

Meanwhile, as I’ve stated before, I believe that weather happens and climate happens, and although they are related, they are not the same thing.  Both sides of the climate change lose credibility in my eyes when they use a specific weather event as proof for or against climate change.

I came across a recent opinion piece from Ireland that I think makes some good points on weather and climate, common sense and science.  Read the article “Cold ’snap’ does not undo climate trends” by John Gibbons here.

Haiti earthquake response

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Over the past couple of days I’ve been deeply affected by the news reports about the suffering in Haiti caused by their massive earthquake.  Of course the fact that Haiti was already so needy, with so much abject poverty and a disfunctional government, doesn’t help matters.  They have a long recovery road ahead of them, and huge amounts of aid are required, not only in the short-term but until they can get back on their feet.  At some time in the future the discussion can shift from relief to development.

There are many relief agencies, some with better track records at actually getting most donor contributions to those in need (I chose to give to World Vision).  If you are reading this and haven’t yet contributed please consider it.

And of course, if you believe in a God who listens to his people, then pray.  But I do understand why many people have honest difficulty believing in a merciful God in times like these.

UPDATE 2009-01-16: Linea points out in the comments below that the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada (ECCC) has a missionary working in Haiti.  Janelle Peterson helps at Ebenezer Clinic, located in the north part of the country, more than two hundred kilometres from Port au Prince, an area unaffected by the quake.  The clinic has been helping with the relief effort.  For information on donating through the ECCC or World Relief Canad, and a link to Janelle’s blog click here.

90 years and a few days ago

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Throughout the year 2009 it seemed to me that I kept bumping into references to the year 1919.  I’m not saying that there is anything significant or prophetic about that observation, but having some interest in history, I thought I’d share some of them.

Clifford is Born in 1919

This summer our family had a visit from Terry, a distant relative from Missouri, an avid genealogist with interest in all branches of the family tree, whether pointing down to the roots or up to the branches.  In exchange for reams of his research, I was able to provide him a bit of information on our family, including my dad Clifford, born in 1919 to the Norwegian immigrant homesteaders Louis (Lars) and Sigrid.  If he were still alive, Dad would have turned 90 this past April.

The Great Fire of 1919

My part of Canada had variable weather in 2009.  Although we started out with a dry spring, the summer was unusually cool and damp, unlike B.C. where forest fires raged.  The area burned in Saskatchewan this year was fairly insignificant compared to The Great Fire of 1919.  Starting near Lac La Biche in Alberta, that fire raced across the provincial border and burned huge tracts of forest in western Saskatchewan.  As a result, the forests surrounding and west of Meadow Lake have a disproportionate amount of 90-year-old stands.

End of the Spanish Influenza Pandemic in 1919

In 1919, health authorities officially declared that the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918/1919 had run its course.  It’s estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 Canadians out of a population of 8 million died in that pandemic.  In 2009 Canada had another flu pandemic on its hands, with 401 deaths as of December 23.  That’s nearly 1/10 the number of annual deaths from the seasonal flu.  I received my H1N1 flu shot, and I’m more careful with hand-washing and sneezing into my elbow.

Paris 1919

I’ve been reading Margaret MacMillan’s history of the 1919 Paris peace talks.  It’s not an easy read, but my ignorance of that chapter of history has been reduced somewhat.  Some ongoing disputes in the Middle East, the Balkins, and other hot spots have roots in decisions made by the world leaders who dispensed their wisdom at the close of the Great War.

One obscure reference that struck me was in the chapter on Arab Independence.  Apparently the French and English were jostling for favourable positions in the Middle East, and the French produced some Arabs who

claimed that their people, whether Christian or Muslim, wanted nothing so much as French help.  Unfortunately, as the gray-bearded spokesman for the Central Syrian Committee was launching into his two-hour oration, an American expert slipped [President Woodrow] Wilson a note pointing out that the speaker had spent the previous thirty-five years in France.  Wilson stopped listening and wandered about the room. [French Premier Georges] Clemenceau whispered angrily to Pichon, “What did you get the fellow here for anyway?” Pichon replied with a shrug, “Well, I didn’t know he was going to carry on this way.”

I couldn’t help thinking of a dilemma that the Liberal Party of Canada is faced with.