Sunday, November 30, 2008
One night my kids yelled at me to come outside and when I did, they pointed up and I saw one of the most beautiful things ever. The northern lights were right above the house. It looked like spin art as the lights moved around. If you could ever stand at the end of a rainbow that's what it would have looked like. Most of the times that I saw the lights, they were north and looked like flowing white curtains.
I got to look at fish swimming under my feet. Down under about eight inches of ice in the community lake just down the street from the house.
I got to drive from the prairies through the foothills and into the most magnificent mountain range in North America.
I got to spin out of control in a snow covered intersection and end up looking back at where I had come from. Then I waved to the drivers who saw me spin and waited even though they had the green light. I'm glad I only got to do that once.
I got to experience -50 temperatures. You really feel alive with a lung full of that cold air.
I got to live in one of the premier cities on the planet for four years and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Rebecca, Miss 604, Bolwitt has invited me to a gala event recognizing the best bloggers of the "604". First off, I'd like to thank the 604 Blog Academy and all those who made this award possible. And I'd especially like to thank all you fans. I'd be nowhere without you.
I never would have guessed that there was a "Fifty-year-old-US-Govt-employee-posting-photos-and-bilingual-narrative" category!!
I'm so honored.
Is there an open bar?
Monday, November 24, 2008
You have a time machine and you can travel back to any musical performance. Which one do you go see?
My answer was almost instantaneous.
The June, 1969 Monterey Music and Arts Festival.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Grateful Dead
And many more. All in their prime.
Of course I don't stop there. I'm gonna squeeze ten trips outta this machine.
2. Any performance by Edith Piaff in her prime.
3. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper. Feb 2, 1959. Clear Lake, Iowa.
4. The premier of Mozart's first opera, Bastien and Bastienne. Vienna 1867. He was 12.
5. Count Basie at the Cotton Club.
6. The Rat Pack in Las Vegas.
7. Hank Williams Sr. in any small venue.
8. Elton John. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour.
9. John Lennon.
10. The Ramones at CBGB's. I'm not a big fan but it's the Ramones at CBGB's!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I am finished here. People seem to be fading away. They're becoming strangers. It's a mental process of seperation. I have pounded it out for five years here now with damn little recognition. I don't do it for the recognition. I do it because that's what I do. That's how I do it. The nonrecognition just makes them liars when they talk about professionalism and mission statements.
Now I am finished. I owe them nothing more.
I'm just waiting it out until the next assignment.
Sunday mornings make me want to be looking out of hotel windows at strange places with two queen beds and the news on the TV.
Sunday mornings make me want to walking gingerly across the gravel driveway of my home in my bare feet to get the morning paper.
Sunday mornings make me want to be pushing a tee into the ground with a golf ball on top.
Sunday mornings make me want to be sitting on the large porch in a small town listening to the birds and the dogs.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Two of the kids went to the same elementary school and we had to send an extra pair of shoes with them to leave at the school. You walked into their school and you saw shelves full of shoes. Some of them were dirty and some were clean. It depended where the kids were. You see, they would wear the clean shoes while in the buliding and put their dirty shoes on when they went outside or home. It made sense. Kept the halls pretty clean too when you consider the muddy playground in the winter.
One MAJOR thing I noticed about my kids' schools is that they had no windows. It was the only way they could maintain the buildings warm when the -40 temps arrived. I gotta tell you, my wife didn't enjoy walking the kids to the bus stop on those winter days.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I came of age in the 1970's with the backdrop of Rock and Roll music that still dominates FM radio. My political infancy was the Vietnam War and Watergate.
In 1999 I moved with my family to Canada. I had put in for, and gotten, a transfer from the U.S.-Mexico border to the airport at Calgary, Alberta. It was there, among the classic rock songs of the seventies blaring out of the car stereo, that I heard the music of the Matthew Good Band.
Everything Is Automatic was the first song I remember hearing and Symbolistic White Walls was the song that made me say wow. Soon after Hello Time Bomb stormed the radio and the CD Beautiful Midnight was released. I became a big fan and first saw Matt live at the Calgary Stampede. Speed up to the release of The Audio Of Being and my panic to hear the the band was splitting up. Then my joy when I heard the news that a solo project was ongoing. I bought Avalanche the day it was released and listened to it through headphones as I walked through the house. As I would later tell Matt, when it was finished I took off my headphones, looked at my wife, and said "wow".
In 2003 we transferred to Vancouver where Matt lives. By this time I was casually aware of Matt's blog and had used his site to email him, telling him how much I enjoyed his music.
One day I was in my booth processing travelers and looked up to see Matt standing, with his then wife, in front of me. I told him I was a huge fan and chatted him up a bit on politics and his latest release, White Light Rock and Roll Review. When he left I closed my line and went down the concourse where we talked until he boarded his flight to Las Vegas.
I followed along as he wrote in his blog and discovered another blogger named Tony Pierce, and they are why I started blogging. So now my children and grandchildren know who to thank because this is the only record of my life that exists.
Matthew has also opened my eyes to the political reality of my country and has gotten me out of the mainstream media and into the internet where I look for different takes on discussions of the day. Every time Matt flies to the States he lets me know so I can ease his way through and then we talk while he waits for his flight.
One time he told me that he was going into the studio to record and invited me down to take pictures. He told me to come down all I wanted and shoot all I wanted. Saying that this was the thrill of a music fan's lifetime still falls a little short. The stories, the meals, the jokes, and sometimes the tension that went into recording Hospital Music will stay with me the rest of my days.
Matt and I don't see each other face to face very often because he is pretty reclusive and deals with mental health issues that he has openly discussed on his blog. And I'm pretty antisocial as well but I am happy to call Matt my friend and I value that friendship very much.
Matt goes back into the studio after the first of the year to record his next CD which will be titled, Vancouver. I have been invited down again but I leave Canada on February 1st so I will only get to drop by a few times. But it will be a great way to say goodbye to a man who has changed the way I think about many things.
Goodbye that is, until he tours and I fly into Calgary or maybe Toronto to see him perform again. Everybody who knows me knows that I don't need much of a reason to travel.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
What I DO like about their list is that it's compiled by people in the business. It's not a reader's poll. Hence, Avril Levine, Pink, and the singer for Finger Eleven are not on the list.
Aretha Franklin tops the list which makes sense. Here are my favorite ten from the list. The name at the top of the list is my fave. The others are in not particular order.
And here are 10 that I like who didn't make Rolling Stone's list.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
1. When I buy a newspaper or magazine or book, I never take the top copy
2. When peeing in a toilet, I flush before I am finished to see if I can time it so me and the toilet stop at the same time.
3. I give an opinion of places by tossing two pennies if I have them. That way I've, as the American saying about opining goes, "thrown in my two cents".
4. I don't "inhale" or "gobble" my food but I have only met one guy who eats faster than me.
5. As hard as I try sometimes, I cannot hold a grudge.
6. When I am finished with a toothpick I break it in half.
Now I'm supposed to tag six people and put links up and all that but I'm terrible at links so I'll just tag'em
Monday, November 17, 2008
I have been doing what I do for 20 years and by far, the last five have been the most frustrating. Before I left for Canada I had a supervisor tell me that I was a natural leader and that I would make a great supervisor. I told her she was probably right but that our organization does not look for leadership much when it picks supervisors.
Everything since then has pretty much proven that.
When I was in Calgary there was a supervisor slot open and it came down between two of us. The guy who was selected over me was the type of guy who puts more effort getting out of doing something than it would have required to actually perform the task. The boss explained to me that he chose the other guy because he had been in the Service longer than me. I saw it as a cop out and most of the others in Calgary were flabergasted by the decision.
So I transfered to Vancouver.
The situation in Vancouver when I arrived was very adversarial between management and the work force. I am a good inspector and I have a lot of knowledge and experience. It bothers me when I see supervisors who seem to have less knowledge of the law. It manifests itself in decisions that they make. It wears on the morale of the office. Vancouver, and many other places in my job have management but lack leadership.
Now that I am transferring to a port that is not large but will be growing in the future, my thoughts turn to maybe putting in for a supervisor slot again. I've confided in a few in Vancouver that my thinking is such. I have been emailing the supervisor in Salt Lake, who happens to be an acquaintance, and asking about the situation. It seems that he and the boss are disappointed in the officers there. When I get there I will instantly be the top of the pecking order in both immigration experience and overall time in service. He has told me that they, he and the boss, are hoping for great things out of me. They're looking to me to step up to the plate and restore the level of enforcement that has been long gone. He said that the next supervisor slot may be mine for the taking. Of course they may not have the final say because SLC is ultimately under San Francisco but it's encouraging.
What is interesting is that I know if the two guys in Salt Lake were to ask my current supervisor about my ability to do what they are asking me. If they were to ask about leadership qualities, they would hear words like cynical and lenient. They would not get a hearty recommendation from the two chiefs here either. But they would never have the benefit of actually working with my supervisor or chiefs or talking to other officers for opinions.
So I will ride into Salt Lake like a new marshall and I will seek out and find what others there are missing. And if all goes like it should, I will be rewarded. And some of my old supervisors will hear if I get promoted and wonder what changed in me. The answer will be nothing changed in me. I am, and will always be the same inspector. Somebody will have merely had the sense to finally recognize it and do something about it.
I read a quote in Reader's Digest and I do not know who said it but I remember it and it has been my greatest learning tool.
I have learned far more from bad bosses than I ever will from good bosses.
I've learned a lot about how not to be a bad supervisor and that will make me all that better a leader if I ever get my chance.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
All of'em, real decent fellas
Roll up the rim
Hearing April Wine every 10 minutes on the radio
Most Canadian commercials
Seeing the Queen on coins
Reading/hearing about a crappy judicial system
The cable TV system
The Trailer Park Boys
The Govenor General
Having only two weeks of Summer
Fifty weeks of Winter
Cruise Ship season
Maple Leaf fans
The crappy highway system
Friday, November 14, 2008
The car is in the shop until Monday because they didn't have the part I didn't know was broken when I took it in to get something else fixed near what turned out to be the real problem.
Then the toilet in the master bathroom broke so you have to lift the lid to flush it. On TOP of THAT, the toilet clog that travels through the house made it to that toilet for the first time ever. This is actually a ghost clog because it hits more often in one toilet than the others (we have 5 toilets) and a plummer ran a snake down that toilet and said there was nothing there.
The one good thing that happened was yesterday's wind. Although it kept me from playing golf on an otherwise sunny day, it DID push the leaves from the driveway and gather them up against the house where we easily shoveled them into bags.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It all started, like it commonly does, with an alarm clock going off. Then it got worse when I heard my son get into the shower. I asked the wife what he was doing home still and she said he had first period off at school.
My son showers like a girl. He turns on the hot water and stands in it until it is no longer hot. That means when I finally pound on his bathroom door and get him out, I have a nice shower that's slightly warmer than the garden hose.
My wife asks, as I'm walking into the bathroom, why I don't wait a few minutes. I don't have a few minutes. I have to get to work. Me and work have this uneasy proposal. I get there on time and they don't mess with me about being late. They mess with me about enough things as it is.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I went through my archives looking for different posts and found myself in a toss up of "what an idiot" and "what a really BIG idiot".
I can tell that I used to be a chatter and ICQer because I was cruising along with the "community" and being the team player and going for comment numbers. The thing paralleled my social life growing up. I tried to belong to groups and socialize but never quite felt up to snuff.
I'm just making observation mind you. I'm not feeling sorry for myself because I'm pretty nonsocial. I border on recluse and would be hard core recluse if I didn't have to work. So I find a balance and set it on cruise control.
I have no intention of deleting anything and am planning on getting the whole blog printed in book form in the near future. It's just funny to me how I've stumbled through directions and styles.
They say the more masks we wear, the more of our TRUE selves we actually reveal.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Wide Mouth Mason
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Laying on the bed in my hotel room in Calgary I soon discovered Much Music on the TV. The first two Canadian acts that I saw and liked were Skyy (Push) and I Mother Earth (Summertime In The Void). The next band I recall in those early days was Our Lady Peace with Superman's Dead. From there the bands poured in.
The Tragically Hip (saw'em at the Jubilee Auditorium)
Matthew Good Band (first time at the Stampede)
Big Sugar (saw'em at the Stampede)
Big Wreck (saw'em in Edmonton)
Wide Mouth Mason (hockey playoffs in Vancouver)
The Tea Party
Now of all those bands that I saw live, I would have to saw that Big Wreck was the best just for the charisma that oozes from Ian Thornley. What a performer. Of course Big Sugar was a great band to watch. The lead man of Wide Mouth Mason sure knows how to lean into his geetar.
Now I'll surprise a bunch of Canadians by saying that The Tragically Hip was one of the worst shows I've seen. For one, they're pretty boring, and two, the crowd was a bunch of idiots who would never shut up and listen to the show. It was like seeing NSYNC with a bunch of 13 year-old girls. That's why I tell everybody to see Canadian bands OUTSIDE of Canada if they can.
I saw Nickelback at the Coca Cola Stage at the Calgary Stampede which should tell you that I saw them before the exploded into the stratosphere. I LOVE the OLD Nickelback. I met Chad Kroeger and he's a real nice guy.
Although I have never seen Jann Arden in concert I love her stuff and I have met her. She's a scream.
Now my favorite Canadian musician is Matthew Good and I don't say that because me and Matt have become friends. I think his stuff is amazing and like a few other acts I wonder why it didn't catch on in the States. Later I'll do a post just on Matt.
My son begged for a drum set one Christmas, got it, worked hard on it, and became part of the local Calgary scene with a band called The Falling Pianos. Dan, Chris, and Spencer filled our basement with punk music and would become among local favorites before breaking up. Before they did that, they played The Cobalt in Vancouver and a dive bar in Seattle which I did a post about. (click on June 2005 and it's the second post down. "I'm with the band") Dan would then go on to play drums with a band from Edmonton called The Johnsons and would cross Canada from West to East playing bars and nightclubs.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The Alberta Prairie
The Canadian Rockies
Silvertip Golf Course
My favorite golf course on the planet is about one hour west of Calgary in Canmore. The three peaks you see are The Three Sisters
Lake Louise, Alberta
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I would fly back to Arizona and grab the family. Six of us in a mini-van pulling a trailer. We spent the night at my parents house in Tucson then on to Kanab, Utah, then Bountiful, Utah, then Helena, Montana, and in to Calgary.
It was cloudy and thunderstorms were in the area when we arrived so it was cold to the family that had just days earlier been in 100+ degree weather. The oohs and aahs started when we pulled up to the house I had rented. A beautiful white two story house with a basement. Everybody was blown away when they walked in the door.
We would spend the first nights sleeping on the floor as the furniture would not arrive for a few days. What was funniest is that we arrived as a family in Calgary on July 13th and on July 15th, it snowed. Nothing major, just flurries but it would mark the beginning of a wonderful adventure.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
What a moment in history this is. I voted for him because I see him as a leader. George W. Bush has done such a horrible job and has left this country in such a bad shape that I doubt Barack Obama will be able to fix it all and bring about all the change he speaks of in his first term.
He will be able to change the direction we're currently going and I would certainly prefer to be six inches from the bottom heading up than six feet from the bottom heading down.
In his victory speech I could see that he was humbled. I could also see that he is aware of the great responsibility we have given him.
Times are going to be tough and expectations are high. I just hope our patience is up to the task.
Monday, November 03, 2008
I would not see Ilsen until I flew home for Christmas. She has been a tremendous joy to me.
She was married this past April and although I know she is very young I know that she is in good hands.
I love you very much sweetie.
I have a picture of me on my 20th birthday. I was almost as thin as you as I stood on a dirt road in Oruro, Bolivia. There was a dusting of snow and I had my favorite leather jacket on. I feasted on a roast chicken that day.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
On June 20, 1999 I arrived in Calgary. I cleared Immigration and Customs and laughed when the lady at the money exchange gave me a bunch of different colored money. I laughed again when the guy from the hotel told me Jean Pierre (pronounced like the French pronouce it) would come pick me up. It was 10:30PM when I got to the hotel and the only place open to eat was the Boston Pizza across the street. That was the first and last time I ate at a Boston Pizza.
The next day I reported for work and when I took a lunch break I was asked if I wanted gravy with my fries. "What the hell for?" was my exact response.
Make no mistake, after seven years on the border with Mexico I knew how good I had it in Calgary. I came to fall in love with Calgary.
On September 22, 2003 I transfered to Vancouver. We got lost in traffic before we found our hotel in Richmond. Vancouver had a completely different feel to it. For one, the atmosphere at work was completely different. Almost hostile but it mellowed out a bit. We found a place out in the burbs near Ladner and settled in. Then I met Matthew Good at the airport. I had become a fan of his music in Calgary and now I would become his friend. I would come to be friends with his circle of friends.
What I DID like about Vancouver over Calgary was it's proximity to the U.S. and we would end up doing all our grocery shopping in Bellingham.
In May of this year I would submit a list of five places where I wanted to transfer. My 5 year tour in Canada was ending. I actually got 9 because of a loop hole that was now closed. I was selected by my 4th choice, Salt Lake City. It's a paid move so I sat back and waited.
On October 30, the wait ended. I have now been cleared to move. Along with that notification is a 60 day window in which to move.
I leave Canada on Febuary 1st bound for Salt Lake City.
Between now and then I will post experiences in Canada here in the ol' blog.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
This morning I was awakened by a voice. "Bah bah, are you?". I was on my feet and smiling at the beckoned call of my precious granddaughter. Sabrina Isabelle is two years old today.
I remember the first time I saw her in the hospital screaming her head off. I think it was because she knew where she was. I calmed her down by whispering in her ear, "don't worry my angel, you're American too".
Keeping that hair under control is a full time job. She pulls all the clips and bands out pretty quickly. She's a wild one she is.
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