hard brake

RCE_0870Venus going down through smoke.

I saw something today that bothered me. I was following a school district truck hauling a trailer with an industrial mower. Every time the driver touched the brakes the trailer brakes locked up. As he went around a corner the brakes locked and pushed him towards the cement barricade on the side of the road. Luckily the trailer wasn’t heavy enough to push him into the barricade and he was able to pull out.

I worked for the school district a few years ago. I cut grass and did just about every other thing I could to stay busy.

One of the men I worked with regularly was a real treat to work with. He was an angry individual, abusive to his wife and children. Working with him for several years I heard all his stories, about how hard done by he was, men’s rights, blaming feminism and all the ways he had been slighted in his life. It was certainly true he had a shitty upbringing. I heard all about it. At work he was mostly passive aggressive. He was a coward. Most people knew to stay away from him and only worked with him if they absolutely had to. Unfortunately I had to work with him often.

He would run to the union anytime he felt snubbed. He was only barely competent, doing the very least to get by. On occasions he would sleep during work hours in the operations van he was assigned. In short he was the perfect public union worker. His co-workers and management tried to stay clear of him. He built a nice secure job for himself.

While working at the school district I noticed the equipment I used was often tampered with. It was usually little things, like fuel valves being shut off or blade height being changed, air out of tires, nothing serious. I got in the habit of checking the equipment thoroughly before a shift and after lunch.

Even though I was the only one using the truck and trailer, the brakes would often lock on the trailer. That doesn’t happen very often and you start checking them every single time you get in the truck.

One day we were working together and he told me, in his previous job, working in the oil field on job sites, he would sneak into competing companies trucks and change the trailer brakes so they would lock.

It was his way of telling me what I already knew.

I knew there was nothing to be done, so said nothing and moved on. I took a lower paying job cleaning toilets in a primary school. I often joke, with pride, I am the only one who moved down the ladder in a union job at the school district.


That guy is still employed at the school district and always will be. Once folks like him find their place they stick. Public unions are like fly paper for incompetence, apathy and his kind of veiled antagonistic bullshit.

When I saw those trailer brakes lock in front of me today. It made me wonder if he was up to his old tricks.

early June

RCE_0058.jpgA Great Blue Heron fishes in the runoff. Photo by Lisa.

Lisa and I took a quick drive behind Swansea tonight. We commented how nice it is to be able to get away from it all in only a moment. We have been busy in the studio. We both like being busy and we have to be if we are going to make it. We have always worked a lot of hours for not a lot of money. That is how we have been able to stay in the valley. It comes with a lot of perks. It is being close to the bush and able to show our children, and now grandchildren, that makes it worth while. We are fortunate, but money has never come easy. My personality is something to blame as well.

Tonight, we were fortunate to be close to the truck when it started to hail. We saw it coming and heard the thunder. We got back in the truck and watched the show. The temperature dropped to 3°c and the pea sized hail gathered on the truck and ground before it could melt.

On the way back into the valley bottom we spotted a Great Blue Heron and Lisa took some photos. Willow would have barked the dinosaur into the air, but she never caught onto what we were looking at.


The National Post reported the Alberta Government is cracking down on School Superintendents getting raises and bonuses. http://nationalpost.com/news/alberta-cuts-school-superintendent-pay-as-review-finds-high-salaries-big-perks

In our school district, in recent years, there have been several instances of mismanagement; busing issues, disposing of school properties, increased management costs, including the hiring of spouses in top positions, the handling of teachers accused of indiscretions, schools over populated or in need of upgrades while choosing to build a multi million dollar Operations building, to list just a few.

When things appear to go sideways, in business or government endeavours, it can almost always be traced to the top.

Sure enough, in School District #6 Rocky Mountain, the Superintendent is at the top of the heap, getting yearly salary raises and bonuses, while teachers and staff put up with salary freezes or minuscule increases.

Some would explain his salary package as compensation for a job ‘well done’, or to attract people of ‘high calibre the pay must be good’, or simply say, ‘the money is in the budget’.

All would be untrue. Convenient, but untrue. Leaders who’s first goal is feathering their own nest are not rare. They’re a dime a dozen.

Not unusual in this day and age where leading by example is non-existent in our businesses, institutions and government.


We get bogged down. We hear about the American President on every newscast and the internet. We hear about Canada buying a non existent pipeline from a Texas company for 4.5 billion dollars just to see it built. We hear constantly that we are doomed. The Doomsday Clock is 3 minutes to midnight, the seas are filled with plastic, the ice caps are melting and the oceans are rising, the storms are getting worse. Meanwhile, the whole world is arming themselves with assault rifles and nukes with the only outcome, the complete annihilation of humankind!

That’s what we read and that’s what we’re told. It keeps us from a lot of pleasure. I don’t know if we are being fed a line, but I do know I’ve been lied to before.

We feel powerless.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of dragons we could slay right in front of us if not for the fatigue of thinking it won’t make a difference. Isn’t our own backyard where we should start? There is no shortage of scoundrels, big and small to go around, nor garbage to pick up at our own feet.


The tomatoes and lettuce were pummelled by the storm. The hail punched holes in the leaves. Still the moisture did them good.