Thursday, January 17, 2019

College of Agriculture and Biosciences 1969 (50 years) Graduate Reunion

Nineteen Graduates from 1969 came to the reunion banquet on Saturday, January 12th, plus one came to the Friday get together but not the banquet. Not too shabby for a bunch of 72-year-olds. There could have been more but some never answered their emails, a  few said they had been to Saskatchewan in January and had no intention of repeating it.  But at least three flew in from Arizona, Mexico, and Hawaii just for the occasion.

Picture courtesy Jo Hammond.

The only girl in our class flew in from Kamloops. Her husband had to stay home to mind cows as they cowboy for neighbouring ranches since they retired. Less stressful than owning the cows.

What a great time catching up on all the intervening years. Some hadn't seen each other for 50 years, some 10 years, since the last reunion. I was at our 30th in 1999. The stuff we did in college had improved over the years with the telling and retelling.  Today, any of it would have got us expelled from the University.

One of the highlights of the banquet was introducing two graduates from 1939 (80 years) and 1943. They were 102 and 103 respectively. They looked healthy enough to make the next 10-year reunion.

The annual reunions are organized by Saskatchewan Agricultural Graduates Association (SAGA). Any graduate can attend but the focus each year is on the 10, 20, 30, etc. year grads. Next year the 50-year grads will be from 1970. SAGA has a program for 65 years and older grads who do not have to pay registration.  There were quite a few '54 and '49 grads plus the two centenarians.

On Saturday morning a number of us toured the new (opened in October) Beef Forage Centre of Excellence about 20 minutes east of Saskatoon.  It replaced and combined several aging facilities including the old feedlot where I did some of my MSc research work which had been built in 1962.

This three-minute video gives a pretty good overview of the new facility:

In my life, I have never wanted to relive one minute of it or be younger.  Once was enough.  But when I saw that new research facility and heard about the work being done and that could be done, I wished I was 40 years younger.  I would have signed up for a PhD program immediately. But it is a new generation that will have all the fun and that is OK.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

And Now For something Completely Different

My Surgery to repair my incision hernia is scheduled for January 22.  This is the last if all goes well and I can begin healing for the long term. They phoned to say it was January 17th and Tanya said she dreamed it was to be January 22.  When they called back to reschedule to the 22nd, Tanya looked like the cat that swallowed the canary.  My friend Enoch will be in the following week to get a second hip replaced. If he ends up in my room we will terrorize the nurses though we will not be in any position to chase them.

Tomorrow I had to Saskatoon by bus for the 50th reunion of the Agriculture class of 1969.  Not sure how many will make it but it will be good to see old familiar faces.  I don't expect to see them again as it is highly unlikely I'll be back in 5 or 10 years when the next reunion will be. We are not getting younger, any of us. Winters in Saskatchewan are not much fun for me.

On Sunday, Kylee-Anne and I will drive up to North Battleford to see Grandma L.  It will be four and a half years since I was to see her. She will be glad for the visit though she won't know who we are. She turned 99 last week, not something she wanted but had no choice in the matter.  She has been ready to go for many years and it makes me sad to see this once vibrant woman, full of life, dedicating herself to looking after everyone else, to be so lost and helpless.

Sorry about the personal stuff.  Not very interesting and certainly not funny but not much happens around here from day to day.

Western novels and movies are my go-to for relaxation. By and large, they all have happy endings where the bad guy gets his and the good guy gets the girl and sometimes even the ranch. Usually the movies are totally unrealistic. There are occasional stories that try to paint a less stereotyped picture.  Monte Walsh, The Oxbow Incident and many of Dorothy Johnson's short stories (A Man Named Horse, the Man who shot Liberty Valence, the Hanging Tree). I watched Lonesome Dove finally, thirty years after it was made.  The first three episodes were powerful enough but I was not prepared at all for the final episode. No happy endings for anyone. So I bought the books, a series of four novels of which Lonesome Dove is the third.

Damn movie made me all melancholy and philosophical.  Are there ever happy endings in this life? In the end, we all die. Whether that is happy or not, I'll let you know when it happens. There are happy beginnings and middles, I guess, for some folks but not for others. Didn't sleep until 6 in the morning, thinking about it all night. My head sounds like this:

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Give us a king to judge us. or Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus

One of the great puzzles of the last few years is why Trump (and his Canadian counterparts) have the support of the Evangelical Christians.  I call them Republican Jesus Christians as they are the antitheses of everything Jesus of the Gospels stood for, as is Trump.

It is more than the easy explanation that they are holding their noses so they get the supreme court stacked, or get abortion declared illegal, or get tax laws favouring the rich.  They actually love the guy.

Part of it is their expectation that the greater mess the world is in, the sooner Jesus will come again and rapture them out of it.  It is why the Christian Right does everything in its power to prevent peace in the Middle East.  For this reason, they support Israel, not because they have any use for the Jews.

Trump has been called the next thing to the Messiah and practically worshipped by the Religious Right.  Now he is the new Cyrus the Great, according to their interpretation of Isaiah 45.

An Opinion piece in the New York Times a few days ago shed some light on this Cyrus thing. I'll copy a few lines but it is worth reading.

Cyrus, in case you’ve forgotten, was born in the sixth century B.C.E. and became the first emperor of Persia. Isaiah 45 celebrates Cyrus for freeing a population of Jews who were held captive in Babylon. Cyrus is the model for a nonbeliever appointed by God as a vessel for the purposes of the faithful.

Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.

The great thing about kings like Cyrus, as far as today’s Christian nationalists are concerned, is that they don’t have to follow rules. They are the law. This makes them ideal leaders in paranoid times.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.
 They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

Of course, there is precedent.  Read 1 Samuel Ch 8. We know how that turned out.
Here is another article, the one I stole the picture from.