Farewell Mr.Klein

klein

When I was in later elementary school, Mayor Ralph Klein came to visit my school’s Pioneer Days.   That was my first memory of him.  I don’t remember many details about Pioneer Days, nor anything about what he said that evening, but I certainly remember Mr. Klein.  As one might expect, the Mayor made an address to the full gymnasium of families.  Being in grade school, full of energy, and most interested in all things play, I  never took note that after the event, Mr. Klein patiently stayed to interact one-on-one with the oodles of parents.   On the way home that evening, my own parents remarked to each other how Mr. Klein had opted to meet and greet instead of bowing to his handlers’ wishes for him to depart for their next appointment.  My parents’ observation left an impression upon me.  Ralph Klein was a man of the people, and if the people wanted to talk, he was there to listen.

In early High School, a casual friend named Chris Burnie bragged about how he was chastised by the actual mayor, Ralph Klein, for making out with his girlfriend on the steps of City Hall.

A couple years later, a girl I was dating happened to live a couple doors down from the Klein’s home in Calgary’s Lakeview Community.  That relationship didn’t last, and sadly we never ran into the Kleins while walking her neighborhood during those warm summer nights.

The first time I ever voted in a provincial election, Ralph Klein became Premier.  Friends, out of the country during the election, came back stunned to discover that King Ralph now ruled Alberta.

Other friends I made while working in Halifax remarked to me about how offended they had been at Ralph Klein’s statement about how those “eastern bums could freeze!”  It turns out that he wrongly gets credit for saying it, but actually never did say it (as reported here in Macleans).  Never the less, it does indeed sound like something Ralph Klein might say;  he was a fellow who spoke his mind and seldom worried about being politically correct.

I was fortunate to be an Albertan when Premier Klein sent out those infamous Ralph Bucks.  I can’t recall how I spent my $400 prosperity cheque, but it sure made my friends and me smile.  I still smile when I think about it.

My Uncle, who retired and moved back from Japan a few years ago, has facial features that remind me of Ralph Klein.  I appreciate both my Uncle Les and Former Premier Ralph Klein, and for different reasons.  Strangely, whenever I look at one of them, I’m often reminded of the other.

In Ralph Klein’s later years, things seemed to catch up with him.  I remember when in 2004 the news reported about his plagiarism in essay writing.  Disappointing as it was to hear, this wasn’t a surprise to me.  If Ralph had been my a friend or relative,  he definitely would have been the last person to ask about citing references on a paper.  I was also never surprised when Klein’s alcoholism occasionally reared its ugly head in the media.   Did we honestly expect differently from a fellow who ran his first shoe-string mayoral campaign out of St. Louis Hotel & Bar?  Along with the good also came the bad.  Flawed like one of us, once again, he was indeed a man of the people.

I’m saddened to hear that Ralph Klein passed on.  He wasn’t a typical politician, and not even a typical guy, but he was good for Alberta.  I doubt any parents are pointing to Ralph Klein as a role model for their children, but while he was alive, he reminded me that even average fellows can do amazing things.

I earnestly hope that Ralph knew Jesus.  I think eternity would be more interesting with a fellow like him around.

ralph_klein_park
Ralph Klein Park
Image by http://www.carlosamat.ca

2013. Tuesday’s Grey and Wednesday Too.

Friday, I’m in Love

On the opening weekend, my family and I went to see the Hobbit.  My kids loved it.  My wife thought it was a bit too violent.  My nine-year-old son delighted in the fact he’d just been to a 14A movie (and that “he was only  age nine!”).  Yep, in his mind, he’d pulled a fast one on his dear old dad.  I had to laugh thinking back to seeing The Lord of The Rings at some midnight showing with friends and co-workers, long, long before my son had even been conceived.

It was in the moment, that I realized I’d been to see the movie with my friend Chadd; the same fellow who departed earth for heaven this last year.  That brought a moment of sadness.  How could so much had happened between then and now?  It made me wonder if there’s film showings in heaven.  It would seem a shame to see the other three films and then to miss the Hobbit.  Or is the business of heaven, what I imagine as pure fun, simply too distracting?  For a few seconds it was mind boggling.  But life waits for no one and time marches onward.

New Year’s Eve always seems anticlimactic for me.  Maybe it’s because past New Year’s Days seemed blue to me.  Or in the lyrics of The Cure, this year “Tuesday’s Grey and Wednesday Too!”  Yep.  I imagine Wednesday, my first day back to work  (real work that is), will seem a bit grey.  *sigh*

Welcome 2013!  I know that not all the days will be blue or grey.  Some days will definitely feel like Friday, and being in love.

2012, I’ll always be thankful for a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones.  And to my friend who departed this mortal life too soon, thanks for helping me remember just how precious each person and friendship can be.  And for every crumby thing that happened in 2012, thanks be it that I can leave you in the dust with reassurance that “This too shall pass.”

So in 2013, I pray God make every new day his reminder that the business of love, His Love, must remain my most important focus.  Matthew 22.39

Thanks also to Loy Valera for the cool design found here…

http://beta.threadless.com/product/1589/Friday_I_m_In_Love/tab,guys/style,shirt

Does this place Smell Like Teen Spirit?

My oldest child started Jr. High this fall.  I hadn’t anticipated it, but ended up a bit edgy for both her and us old folks (a.k.a the parents).  For Jana, a few tears were shed under the pressure of everything new, unknown, and uncertain.  Recalling those uneasy feelings from our own school days, Karen and I found ourselves at a loss for those perfect words to ease our daughter’s worry.

That was a few days ago.  Everything went just fine.  Insert collective sigh of relief here.  Most fears quickly deflated, and everyone seems excited by the new year.

As our daughter has entered the adolescent years, I’m reminded of how teenagers can sweat, and how those developing sweat glans can… er… what’s the word? Stink.  A couple of days ago we visited Jana’s school for a parental orientation.  The school board seems to have adopted a sparing usage of the air conditioning.  Despite it being September, at the end of the day, the place was stifling and reminded me of the Sahara Dessert.

One of the teachers joked about the place being hot, and the importance of making sure our kids took a daily shower (more for her benefit than the kids).  Later, as we walked down the hallways to our next class meeting I caught a whiff of something.  The school, nearly 30 years old, had a unique odor… maybe even a funk… and then a Kurt Cobain song title popped into mind… Smells Like Teen Spirit.  Maybe that’s what he meant?

Nope.  After I Googling it,  I determined that Cobain meant something completely different, but  in the end the song title ironically did make reference to an odor.  More specifically, fighting odors of the armpit kind….

Teen Spirit was first released by Mennen early in 1991, and with heavy advertising campaigns, it had soon “established a market niche” with teen girls.[3] However, one of its biggest boosts came from the grunge band Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a song that was inspired by a friend of lead singer Kurt Cobain, Kathleen Hanna (lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill at the time), spray painting “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on his wall (because Tobi Vail, Hanna’s band mate and Kurt’s then-girlfriend, wore Teen Spirit). At the time the song was released, Cobain had no idea that the brand even existed; when he did find out, he was rather upset that the song had apparently been named after a line of deodorant.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Spirit_(deodorant)

Thinking back to the stink…  When I was in Jr. High, grade eight I think, white leather Reebok shoes were all the rage.  Pretty much every kid had them, or wanted them.  And when I got mine, I was just happy to be in style.    A month later, sitting on the floor in a Phys. Ed class, I remember thinking, “What stinks?”  I sniffed closer to my shoes…  I took my shoe off.  Blah!  Sure enough, my feet were sweating up a storm in my leather shoes.  Together, my feet and the shoes were creating this horrid aroma.  Those shoes might have been trendy, but in a second, I vowed I’d never wear them again (at least at school).  I figured it was far better to be known for lack of fashion than to be known to have smelly feet.

Growing up in the eighties, most guys I knew went through the ever-popular BMX years.  And along with BMX-ing came Vans shoes from California.  Nearly every kid riding a BMX bike had a pair of those checkered Vans.  The black & white pattern was most common and early imports were of the slip-on variety.  Eventually different colored checkers and tie-up versions also made it to Canada.  Despite being popular and therefore deemed cool, these shoes were pretty much useless.  Skateboarders (or should I say skaters) might argue differently, but the rubber bottoms were crappy for running and the canvas tops didn’t breath (ah, yes, more stinky feet for me).  Since the shoes were slip-ons, it meant they also easily slipped off, often at unexpected and inopportune times.  It wasn’t uncommon to end up bare foot (or in stocking feet) while running a fast football play on the field.

Most the time, I proudly wore my Vans while riding my bike, but on two occations my prized shoes got shredded by the Bear-Claw BMX pedals on my Factory Kuwahara (for the lay person, that was the brand name of my BMX bike).  Never the less, my friends and I persisted and wore them anyways–all in the name of popular fashion.  Well, actually, we just wanted to be cool.

Below are some pictures of my bike that took me way… way back.  I had a KZ-02 model that was nearly identical bicycle pictured below (except my seat post was metallic blue, and I only had a one piece crank).  The last paragraph sparked my curiosity.  Here’s what I found online…

Below is a picture of an IRC BMX tire that came with my Kuwahara.  It only took about 2 months and I had to replace the back tire (as a kid, skids and power slides were extremely fun).