Remembrance Day 2012-Thank You Dad

Our father, Bill Allen, served in the army in World War II.  He initially trained others to drive tanks here on Canadian soil and then he served overseas-Northern Africa and Italy.  He service ended before the end of the war due to serious illness.  He contracted rheumatic fever and was sent home.

He was a man of solid character, our Dad.  A bit of a rascal some would say.  Well perhaps many would say that and we (three daughters) enjoyed his sense of adventure, wit and humour.  He was full of mischief.  His service in the war was never a big topic of conversation or perhaps I just wasn’t listening.  If it was the latter, that is a shame for Dad never lived long enough for me to be wise enough to ask him more.  He died at the relatively young age of 61 in 1979.  I can only imagine the experience, the impact and the horrors of war that our Dad experienced.

Men and women who served and returned must hope and trust their work and sacrifice makes the world a better place.  This was brought home to me in a very real way when in the 1970’s I was held up at gun point while working in a pharmacy in Regina, Saskatchewan.  I was not harmed.  Shaken, but not harmed.  When I called my Dad to tell him what had happened, he said “I never served in the war so that some ba@#$rd could hold a gun to my daughter’s head!”.  And I thought how he and others might have held hope the world would be rid of all evil as a result of their efforts.

If Dad were alive today, I’d travel to wherever he lived from wherever I lived.  I’d accompany him to a Remembrance Day Ceremony.  And I would tell him the world is a better place because of his service.

Thank you Dad.

A Eureka Moment-Scrubbing Data

It’s back to school time.  Today there’s a fleet of yellow school buses on the road and the newspapers have been filled with stories of how to pack nutritious lunches and how to encourage conversations with your children and so on.  Under the banner then of the well-known phrase “And what did you learn today” and as a testimony to lifelong learning, here goes my true story.  

I am not a researcher but I have worked with many a talented person who was.  I would hear them speak of ‘scrubbing data’ or ‘cleaning data’.  My understanding of what it means is meagre but I get the concept.  You take a bunch of information that is stored in a database and through some mysterious process you separate the wheat from the chaff as a farmer would put it, or you remove the extraneous bits and keep the solid data that can be used in your research.  

I have discovered a new method for scrubbing data and am putting it out there for researchers to comment upon.  Perhaps this eureka moment will save a lot of time for those who toil in the details of data. 

Step one:  You are the secretary.  Using your laptop and a memory stick, take minutes at the Annual General Meeting of a local organization.  No paper back up is needed.  Good for the environment and efficient too.  Save the minutes, the only record of the meeting, on your memory stick.

Step two: Stick the memory stick in your pocket after the meeting (you don’t want to lose it).

Step three: Do laundry.  Washer and dryer.  Find memory stick in drum of dryer after cycle is complete.  

Step four:  Sweat.  Insert memory stick and find out….ta da!!  It works!

Moral of the story, well actually two morals:

1.  There is more than one way to scrub data.

2. Those high-efficiency (HE) front loading washers really are gentle on your belongings.

A true story.

Citations: If We Had A Chance To Do It All Over Again

I have been working on a report that is to include citations.  I am more of a big picture person and citations seem very detailed and finicky.   They slow down the whole writing thing. 

Citations a.k.a. references may appear in much of what you read-particularly if what you read is in academic areas, in research studies or professional journals.  References cite a source, a paper, a study, a book or another author and they tell the reader that the comment or idea or fact came from somewhere else.   You can even cite yourself if you’ve written and published something beforehand and wish to reference it in an article.   It’s really giving credit where credit is due.  The area of copyright is right up there with citation.  If it’s someone else’s work, art, image, idea, music originally then there is likely copyright to consider.  

My knowledge of citations and references is limited .  One could say it is more like a poor understanding or conversely one could say I am unencumbered by knowledge and able to look at things in a new light.  And it is in this new light that I offer up the following thoughts on citations.  If we were going to do this all over again and I was the President and CEO of Citation in the World Inc, there would be two levels of citation and you would choose your desired level before you write the article.

Level I:  Game changer

Criteria:  This article/research/report will make a huge difference to mankind. An example would be the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.  

Requesting this level would be very expensive.  You’d pay a large fee to Citation of the World Inc.  The author(s) must follow the academically sanctioned format for citations.   Permissions for copyrights must be requested and granted.  All citations will be checked and sources will be verified by Citation of the World Inc. (to justify the large fee).

Level II-Everything else. 

Criteria: This article/research/report will add (we hope) to a body of knowledge, perhaps lead to some action.  Oh, and when it’s published and I can add it to my resume! 

There would be no charge for requesting this level.  Instead of citations, there would be a standard disclaimer at the end of the article or report.  It would read:  I read a lot of background and research when I was writing this work.  I used the stuff that was relevant and good and the rest, while mostly interesting, didn’t make the grade.  I thank those people whose work has been used here.  If you are interested in knowing who they are and which work of theirs I used, give me a call.  I have it all written down on a piece of paper.  It’s not in any special format though.  

An Excellent UK Adventure

There’s a song that begins with the phrase: I love to go a wandering

The reason things have been a bit quiet on this blog is the past 2 weeks I was hiking in England.  Four of us (women friends) teamed up and after a few months of planning off we went!  We hiked in Cumbrian counties (the Lake District)northwest England generally.  

On, not off, the wall. City of York

Two people in the group had hiked before and they gave the remaining two some great advice on what to pack and what not to pack.  If I was going to sum it up it would be: pack  light, take lots of things that can be layered, waterproof gear is essential and be prepared to wear the same things over and over again.  There were no fashion forward sightings on this trip. And as the lyrics state in the song above, we did have knapsacks on our back.

We stayed in and visited the city of York, the village and surrounds of Kirkby Stephen (pronounced Kirby Stephen), the city of Carlisle the town of Windermere and the city of Manchester.

 

 

 

 

 

We did our own booking and basically followed the motto:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought I’d do a few blogs on the trip.  

Stats and facts from our trip

  • Weather-wettest April on record (we did have many nice days too)
  • There is never enough room for luggage on the trains
  • Personal losses-one pedometer, one tip from a walking pole (in some awful muck going up a ‘fell’), one camera battery and no weight
  • Personal gains-getting to know people better, a new appreciation of waterproof gear, enjoying the hospitality and friendly manner of the Brits (speaking of hospitality, when I lost my pedometer Mary, proprietor of the Warwick Guest Lodge in Carlisle gave me hers to keep as she said she didn’t use it!), varied and beautiful scenery
  • We hiked a total of 157 km in 14 days-an average of 11.2 km/day.
  • Total steps 250,000!
And another thing that is important when traveling in a wet cool April/May in northern England is a hat that you can tie on!  One that will remain down and locked when the weather forecast calls for “gale force” winds.
Do you have any retrospective advice for hiking in England in late April/early May?  Or perhaps an experience to share?

Snow plows and cinnamon rolls

A while ago I wrote about Snow Plow Happiness and the joy of pushing the snow off ones driveway and onto the street BEFORE the snow plow arrives.    The plow pushes the snow away to some far off place rather than me hoisting it up and onto our already large pile of snow on the lot.

We had quite a bit of snow Friday night and Saturday morning last week.  I got up Saturday morning early.  The driveway would need shovelling today.   I had a hankering for cinnamon rolls and had just put a batch in the oven when I heard the snow plow on our block.  Drat-I would really have to rush to get some snow out there before he got to our house.  It’s not fair to the driver  keep pushing the snow out after they have passed your house.   Out I go, madly pushing snow down the driveway and then sticking my head back in the house to listen if the oven timer has gone and the baking is ready.  When the rolls were done, I put two of them into a bag and out I went.  I flagged down the snow plow driver said thanks for great job and handed him warm baking. He seemed surprised and was very thankful.  

We had more snow yesterday and today.  After dinner tonight I went out to push snow onto the street-no snowplow in sight.   Just as I started shovelling the plow came around the corner.  Drat again-I’ll never get this out onto the street on time.  I had a few swipes pushed out when the snowplow turned into our driveway and in two fell swoops and 45 seconds cleaned what would have taken me 15 minutes.  It was the same driver as Saturday.

The power of cinnamon rolls.  And the kindness of a driver.

Good for a smile for a week.  And an incentive to share baking another time.

Opposite Directions

One Sunday morning, not so very long ago, I went to church.  Going to church is something I have done with decreasing frequency over the past several years.  

In the afternoon of that day I finished Christopher Hitchens‘ book “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”.  

When I told someone about the day, they said paradoxicality is the ability of adults to hold seemingly contradictory notions in mind at the same time.  

You’re not kidding…at least on that Sunday.

Have you read the book and if so, what did you think?