27 June 2013

High River Flood 2013 - Update 27 June 2013

 Well, we made it back for another visit from Highway #2 on 26 June 2013. We took a few photos and moved along before the Sheriffs or RCMP came to ask us to move along.

It is still quite sad, that we still do not know the status of our home. The not knowing is taking its toll on our well being. If you know you lost some or all, you can mourn your loss and prepare to move on. If you have escaped loss, you can rejoice at your good favour and move along to help others, knowing you are safe and secure. But not knowing, weighs on
you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is like an anchor holding you back. Slowly, but constantly drawing & taxing your energy, hope and faith.

Thankfully, we are staying with family in a supportive environment. We are receiving encouragement and offers for assistance from many of our friends and neighbours. We do live in a blessed part of the world. Thank you, to all of you who have helped.

Now these pictures. The first two are the water level in our part of town. Top photo was taken on 22 June 2013 and 
The one below it was taken on 26 June 2013. Not much difference in water levels, I am afraid. Since, these pictures were taken the canal was breached to assist in water removal, as well as, three 12" high volume pumps have been in use. After 24 hours the pumps lowered the water 1".

Pictures 3 and 4 are of the roof of the pump house across the street from Holy Spirit Academy. Again the water does not look like it has gone down much at all.

It has come to my attention, that while
searching homes for stranded or defiant citizens of High River, the RCMP has taken the liberty to remove firearms they discover in homes. Here is a link to the story in the Calgary Herald:  http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/alberta/Hell+Residents+angry+RCMP+sieze+guns+from+High+River+homes/8588851/story.html

It is too bad the citizens of High River have not been allowed in to secure their homes and their property from questionable search and seizure. I recognize the RCMP are just doing their job, but this is getting into a very distressing issue for citizens who obeyed the evacuation order and left peacefully. To find out property is being taken without permission.........

This last photo is the playground equipment on the lower play area at Holy Spirit Academy, taken on 26 June 2013. 

Tomorrow, we will try to pick-up our mail from the Post Office in Okotoks and then head for either Nanton or Vulcan to get issued our evacuation pay. We are so glad we registered at the Evacuation Centre in Okotoks on Thursday 20 June 2013, before seeking shelter with our relatives in the city. It has been very comforting to have place to live during all the chaos and confussion of the disaster, evacuation and now entering the recovery phase. I hope folks get to go home sooner than later. All the initial damage is now mute, as mould and bacteria have had a huge amount of time to spawn and multiply.

I will try to post another update soon. But, being forced to stay away is becoming more and more difficult, especially, when we do not know what the status of our home is.

Keep safe out there,

Mountainman.

23 June 2013

High River Flood 2013

This will be a quick post. These photos were taken in the morning of 22 June 2013.

The first picture is Highway #2, Northbound, with the Highwood River flowing under the bridge. When we evac'd on Thursday night, 20 June 2013, the water level under this bridge was almost to the top of the arches.

I will edit soon.

26 June 2013 - Update.

Been a bit busy at work and was not able to get back til now.

The second photo is from Highway #2 looking West at Moody's Equipment in High River and the buses for The Christ Redeemer School Division. The new lake extends West to 5th Street, North to the Cargill Plant and South to 12th Avenue.

I stopped at the RCMP and PPCLI checkpoint setup at the Commercial Truck Exit into High River. And that was as close as I was allowed to home.

The third photo is looking at the street just South of the condo complex of Sunrise Terrace Villas NE, High River. The water is up to the bumpers of the vehicles parked on the street. This was at least 12 hours after the waters had begun to recede. This is at least 2 vertical feet  lower than the level our front door. We do not know whether or not we have had any flood damage to our home. The unknowing, in my opinion, is considerably more difficult to contend with, than knowing everything was destroyed.

The last photo is again looking West from Highway #2, this time to the Storm Water Pond and Pumphouse across the street from Holy Spirit Academy, High River. The storm water pond's water level, is usually well below street level. The water in the photo is within 2 feet from completely covering the pumphouse. This part of the lake extends right to and around Holy Spirit Academy. 

I am glad we were able to get out safe and sound, but now is the time to be allowed back in to assess the level of damage to our home, before mold and rotting food in the fridge and freezer make this an even worse tradegy. So, I hope the leaders from our town are listening. Please let us back in, so we can find out how we have been affected. Home owners have a vested interest in the clean-up, too. We want to start on our property before the damage gets to the stage of being non-repairable.

I will try to get some updated photos today.


14 June 2013

The G.O.O.D. Plan e-Book SALE!!

Howdy Folks,

Please dropby The G.O.O.D. Plan Blog - thegoodplanblog.blogspot.ca . We are having a summer sale on The G.O.O.D. Plan - Get Out Of Dodge in the e-Book PDF version. $5 per copy. Regular $10 per copy.

Cheers,

Mountainman.

12 June 2013

Found My Old Y2K Pamphlet - SERE Pack System

 Imagine my surprise to find an old pamphlet I wrote and self-published just before Y2K!! (Still looking for the plans for the Chuck Boxes, they are around here somewhere.....I will find them yet.) So, anyway, I figured some of you may get a kick out the old pamphlet, so I scanned it and posted it. I have the original file on an old laptop, but the .pfs file is unlikely to convert to the images I scanned.

For those with no idea on where to start with a bugout bag system this gear list does provide a starting point. Those old pro's out there, you can post your edits or suggestion, if you wish. The pack pictured I made back in 1996 for some friends in the military. Back when I was first making packs, as a serious hobby.

As always, keep your gear ready!!

Mountainman.




3 June 2013

Solving How To Expand Capacity at Post Secondary Institutions

Yesterday, I provided a solution to forest management. Today, I would like to tackle Post Secondary Institutions - University, College & Technical Schools. Most specifically, how to get more people educated without expanding the physical campus.

Let's say, you have a small university with a student body of 2000 full-time students. Your school has been around for a long time and the urban environment now surrounds your campus. The grounds of your campus are world famous for their splendor and park-like setting. To remove any of the trees or other botanical items to build a new building would be akin to sacrilege. However, demand to attend your school is at an all time high. How do you solve this challenge??

First, we must get out of the academia box. Although, this protective box shelters students and instructors, alike, from the world. It also stifles imagination and creative thinking. Creative problem-solving is what is needed at this very moment.

First part of the solution set requires change. Ouch!! Now I have done it. Academia hates change. Bear with me and you may find this first change is not so hard to adapt to. Please, hold off the complaints until this whole idea has been presented. It is a package deal. 

The first change is the school year. Institute a 3 semester year. That is correct 3 x 4 month semesters = a school year. This change alone allows a 50% increase in the student population. From 2000 to 3000 per year. 

The second change is the teaching day. Currently, the normal instructional day is from 0800 to 1600 - Monday to Friday. Luckily, I am not extreme and I am not suggesting expanding the school week to seven days.

The solution I am suggesting is to have three instructional cycles per day. 3 x 8 hours = 24 hour instructional hours per day. This will allow students to follow one of three instructional time tracks: Track 1 - 0800 -1600, Track 2 - 1600 - 2400 & Track 3 2400 - 0800.

Before complaining it can't be done, please hear me out.

By step 1 & 2, your limited sized campus can go from 2000 to 6000+ without building any new buildings. 

Can this be done flawlessly?? No, certain infrastructure and planning must be in place first. And it will take at least four years to fully implement, to make the changes as smooth as possible.

I will leave solving the biggest challenge to the end - student housing. First we will tackle instructors - tenured, senior, junior and new. Then, we will address students and tuition. Finally, student housing.

Precursor. Your university campus is active at full capacity 1/3 of the day. However, you have to heat/cool, light, clean, secure, and maintain the campus buildings 24 hours a day. Every hour these buildings sit idle, these buildings are costing you - The University President - a lot of money. By taking a chance and thinking outside the box, you can develop a win-win-win solution.

Faculty. You have tenured staff. In a creative solution, this is the group most likely to rebel against change. They have "earned" their comfortable status on campus. I will refrain from injecting my personal beliefs about untouchable employees - public or private industry. So, the first group that the university management has to get onside with a monumental paradigm shift are the tenured instructors. 

The sale to tenured instructors is flexibility and stability. They are the most senior instructors, so, they get first pick at the expansion. They are guaranteed their current salary. They are guaranteed their current benefits. They will not lose what they already have, so they get to keep the stability they currently enjoy. Now the carrot......they have the flexibility to adjust their work year and/or work day to meet their personal teaching style and lifestyle. Thus, if a tenured instructor prefers to work summers, so they can take the winter block off; they have that option. If they want to work the exact same pattern they currently work, obviously, that is available. The tenured instructors, will also have first choice of working the different time tracks. If, a tenured instructor is a natural "night owl", then track 2 or 3 may work better for them then getting up early to teach first thing in the morning. Again, tenure means first choice. If this will not get support from your tenured staff, this whole plan will probably die before it gets a chance to be put into action.

Senior and Junior instructors. Similar to the tenured staff, seniority has its benefits. More senior, sooner you get to select which semester and which time track you get to work. The lower on the totem pole, means you get the opportunity to work in the times or semester that have vacancies.

Junior and New instructors. Being relatively new to the instructor world, you are probably very hungry to get the hours necessary to pay your student loans and get a little higher on the totem pole. By expanding the instructional day to 3 independent time tracks and using a 3 semester school year, the potential opportunities for new instructors is very inviting. Instead, of only getting a substitute position or maybe a single night school class, you could start of with an almost full-time position, albeit on nightshift or during the summer. BUT, these hours increase your seniority and in less time you can compete for openings in better time lines or semesters.

Students. We know from attending post secondary school, that not everyone has the same learning style. Nor, does everyone have the same time of day to learn their best. So, having 3 time tracks - in addition to opening up more potential courses also has the potential of filling the learning style and needs of the students. For those students that are very academically focused, by having a third semester each year, they could in theory finish a four year program in less than three years. 

Tuition. Since, in the current model the university is paid for by the Monday to Friday, 0800 - 1600; Fall & Winter semesters students, these tuition's would remain the same. Now the afternoon and night time tracks would only need to cover the cost of instructors, the tuition could be reduced, to encourage student support. For those who do not have big scholarships, trust funds or RESP's, they may need to find an alternate way to get their education. So, for argument sake let's attach some numbers. Track 2 (1600-2400) would be 75% of Track 1. And Track 3 (2400-0800) would be 50% of Track 1. So, now there is an option that wins for some students, more affordable education at a first rate school.

Finally, the largest challenge - student housing. This will require the most creative solution of all. If your current dormitory uses a 3 bedroom style pod with a shared washroom, your school will be easiest to adapt. I would suggest at least two types of campus housing - academic and social networking (Sorority). For those who are at school to go to class, get an education and then go meet the world. They need housing that houses all 3 tracks, and must be quiet 24/7 (24 hours a day/7 days a week.) As students will always be in class, a sleep or studying/eating/etc. Now, for those who want a more active social aspect to their education, on campus or off campus housing organized by the different Sororities, could be an option. Each Sorority House would have their own rules, that are published and enforced. A Sorority House, would not necessarily have a 24 hour quiet time. Another possibility would be private off campus housing, if available. Of course, when a university decided to pursue a paradigm shift such as the one I am suggesting, it would be in the university's best interest to communicate with the community to inform them of the schools potential student body increase and the need for full-time housing for students off campus. 

Other on campus challenges may include: food services, library services, fitness facility access and support services such as laundry mats, gas stations, study halls, computer or science labs. For each challenge however, there is also opportunity. Employment opportunity. 

So, there you have it. The short form of my solution to increasing post secondary school capacity without building a bigger campus that is only operational 1/3 of the day and 2/3's of the year.

Keep learning and solving problems,

Mountainman.

2 June 2013

The Ten Ten 100 Forest Management Plan

The Ten Ten 100 Forest Management Plan is for those who are interested in maintaining a healthy, sustainable forest. This forest management plan relies on skilled timber-cruisers to patrol the blocks and select the correct trees for harvest. As well, the plan requires select harvest of specific trees and not on strip harvest or clear-cutting. This forest management plan works for community based timber companies who are focused on long-term prosperity not short term profit. This forest management plan works because, it works in harmony with the forest life-cycle not against it. Tree planting and other reforestation programs are not required, because the forest repopulates the trees naturally.

Before I continue, let me give a little background. I grew up in a logging community in the Interior of British Columbia. Between the main two companies - one multi-national and one community owned, there were not less than 5 mills in the valley. 4 sawmills - permanent type, 1 planer mill and then some smaller portable mills and a private sawmill. Now there is only the one small private sawmill left. The multi-national sold there timber license to the competition and the competition had years earlier bought out the community owned company. So, the last remaining big company, comes in and harvests when they are in the mood and then long-haul the logs to mills hundreds of miles away. When I was growing up, there were enough trees to be harvested in a respectful fashion to last multiple generations. In less than one generation, all the profitable trees were gone and the community has all but disappeared. I am not a tree hugger, but I do believe in responsible resource management. Making a quick profit today at the expense of the children starving tomorrow is not responsible, especially, when there is another way to do business that keep the profits flowing for generations. I will present another way.........

The provincial government issues TFL's (Timber Forest Licenses) to the forestry companies. This provides the companies with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of acres of trees to manage and harvest. The province taxes the companies - "stumpage" and the revenue helps pay for things citizens need from their government. 

First order of business is to identify the TFL and then subdivide the TFL into ten relatively equal blocks, thus 1/10th of the available forest. This is the first ten in the Ten Ten 100 Plan.

Next order of business is to decide on the harvest. This is where the timber-cruisers come in. Instead of marking out blocks to be clear-cut, like is happening now. The timber-cruiser will go into the block to be harvested and will survey the block and identify the largest, oldest, healthiest trees. A rough tree count for the block will also be taken. Once we know where the most valuable trees are we decide that ten percent of them will be harvested. That means a select harvest of the best, most profitable trees will be taken in that harvest year. This a slow method of logging but once started, it will be come easier in the years to follow. So, in the second step, 10% of the trees in the block are selectively harvested. This will be labour intensive, because you do not want to unnecessarily destroy the forest. This means smaller machines that can pull logs between trees that are left standing without damaging the standing timber. Damage means loss of profit in future years. The first harvest in each block will also be when the skid trails and haul roads are planned, mapped and built. Expensive but if done right, will make getting future harvests easier and most profitable. Think ahead.

Remember, there are ten blocks. So, it will take ten years just to get the best 10% of the trees from the TFL. Now, the cycle is beginning to work. You have invested ten years. You have built the infrastructure to make the future harvests easier and more profitable. The timber-cruisers are working at least one block ahead of the harvesters at this time. It is now time to return to the first block that was selectively harvested. Now, the 10% of the best trees are now harvested, and since it has been ten years since you last at this block and there is more space in the forest, the trees have grown, maybe even larger than the first 10% you harvested ten years ago. It takes ten more years to harvest the next 10% of the original trees that were in the TFL.

To harvest 100% of the original trees in the TFL, in a rotating, select harvest method takes 100 years. 100 years. In the business world that is forever. In the forest that is right amount of time for a tree to go from a pine cone to a full-size harvestable and profitable tree. 

So, a one hundred year harvest cycle. This means that if the harvest is done correctly, with care for the future; the forest is healthy and self-renewing. You are unlikely to have to plant trees in this managed forest. The forest will have space to grow. Ground clutter will be minimal, so forest fire mitigation is on place. The forest will be pleasing to look at, unlike a clear-cut block that takes at least 40 years for the planted trees to reach a height that obscures the scar of clear-cut harvesting.

Now, not all trees have a 100 year life-cycle. So, the foresters in those areas could take this model, the Ten Ten 100 Plan, and scale it to meet the needs of the trees in their forests.

The major advantage of the Ten Ten 100 Plan is that it keeps the money in the community. The community harvests the trees, the community mills the timbers and the community transports the finished product to the market. Community based forestry companies help to keep communities strong by employing locally and spending locally. The forests would be healthy, the community would be healthy and the people would be healthy. Oh, yah, and the government would be assured its taxes - stumpage, income, property and corporate. 

So, why have you never heard of a system like this?? Because, large multi-national corporations want to rape the Earth of its resources, make a few executives and shareholders richer than necessary and leave the mess to be cleaned up by future generations; while they are sipping an umbrella'd fruity alcohol beverage in some tax-haven island making 21% interest on there invested, stolen from the people, funds.

I am not opposed to making a living or making a profit, but some folks on this planet are so greedy, that the rest have to suffer. There are ways to manage the resources of the planet that provide for comfort today and still have enough leftover so our kids and their kids have similar comfort.

Manage your resources responsibly and enjoy many happy returns,

Mountainman.