Godspeed, Ron

The sign for Kalbergs' Värmland Farm

We got a call on Thurs­day evening, late; lat­er than Kath­leen’s mom Mary usu­al­ly calls.

My father-in-law, Ron, died sud­den­ly on Thurs­day. He’d gone out to clear some bro­ken branch­es out of the brush, and he did­n’t come back in. Mary found him by the tractor.

Ron’s obit­u­ary

We spent the week­end out at the farm. On Sun­day, I went out in the yard and on the road, and took a few pho­tos, as is my way.

Sign for the Conservation Corner contributed by Ron & Mary
Con­ser­va­tion Farm
The Halfway Tree between Brandon and Winnipeg, viewed from the east side
Every­one’s favourite: the Halfway Tree
A panorama of the yard at the farm, with a tree on the right side
An attempt­ed panora­ma of part of the yard

As Kath­leen said—and I agree 100%—at least he died doing what he loved: being mad at a tree.

Green Things

Gene Cernan in the Lunar Rover

For the first time in my life­time, there are liv­ing things on the moon.

Con­sid­er: Apol­lo 17, the last crewed mis­sion to the moon, left the lunar sur­face in Decem­ber 1972. (I was born the next year.)

And now? Now, right now, in Jan­u­ary 2019, seeds have sprout­ed in a Chi­nese rover on the far side of the moon.

Head­er image: Gene Cer­nan in the Lunar Rover. Tak­en by NASA, and in the pub­lic domain.

A markèd improvement

Eye (photo by Vanessa Bumbeers)

I had laser eye surgery per­formed on the week­end. Today was my sec­ond fol­low-up appoint­ment with the ophthalmologist.

My vision is now sit­ting at 20/16 with both eyes, which is appar­ent­ly a step bet­ter than 20/20 or “per­fect” vision. I gath­er that the 20/16 means that I can see at 20 feet what a nor­mal per­son can see at 16 feet.

I had a look at the doc­u­ments the doc­tor pro­vid­ed. Before the surgery, my good eye was at 20/400. My bad eye, well, they did­n’t even both­er with a 20/number, just marked OF 2ft (I assume “out of focus at two feet”).

Now all I need to do is get used to a life with­out glasses.

(That’s not my eye­ball. Pho­to by Vanes­sa Bum­beers on Unsplash)

Jim Johanneson


This is my dad, Jim Johan­neson. “JJ” to his stu­dents, his co-work­ers, and his friends. “Jim­my Dan­ger” to his sons-in-law.

A cou­ple days ago, he left this world. I miss him but I know he’s not feel­ing any pain now.

I will sure­ly say more lat­er, but for now: Thanks, Dad.


If you’re inter­est­ed in mak­ing a memo­r­i­al dona­tion in Dad’s hon­our, here are the char­i­ties we as a fam­i­ly have selected:

If you’re inter­est­ed in send­ing flow­ers, please, spend the mon­ey on one of the above char­i­ties. If you want to leave a note of con­do­lence for us, the ones left behind, you can do so on the funer­al home­’s site.


The Greyhound Chronicles

This all orig­i­nal­ly appeared on Face­book, but not every­one’s on Face­book. (Hi, Mom!) So I’m post­ing it here, too, for you to enjoy.

Any anno­ta­tions are in ital­ics, and most­ly they pro­vide con­text or commentary.


Dec. 7th, 5:20 PM

I love pay­ing a $3.50 “con­ve­nience” fee and then hav­ing to catch a cab to the air­port to get on the bus. A fine use of irony there.

At this point I had­n’t left my sis­ter’s house yet. I had no idea. None.


Dec. 7th, 6:51 PM

I’m at the depot ridicu­lous­ly ear­ly. Got my tick­et. Found out my bus is delayed by 90 minutes.

If I’d known I was­n’t in a hur­ry, I’d have told my cab­bie to not both­er run­ning those three red lights.

Thanks for the noti­fi­ca­tion, Grey­hound. You suck.

Any Wpg folks, if you’re bored, swing by and say hi.

One did. Thanks, Michelle!


Dec. 7th, 8:07 PM

I won­der if the dude with the Aus­tralian accent run­ning the met­al detec­tor over every­one who will be board­ing the north­bound bus ever looks out the win­dow at the snow, sighs, and thinks about the choic­es he’s made.

One of my Aus­tralian Face­book friends assured me that he does.


Dec. 7th, 8:22 PM

I just now saw a sign telling me that I can save 10% on a Har­vey’s burg­er if I take my bus tick­et to the air­port terminal.

I was loath to leave the bus ter­mi­nal, on the chance that my bus would some­how mag­i­cal­ly show up, and I’d miss it. Also, if you’re try­ing to lure me away, you’ll have to do bet­ter than Harvey’s.


Dec. 7th, 9:05 PM

Dou­glas Adams point­ed out that it’s no coin­ci­dence that no lan­guage has ever coined the phrase “as pret­ty as an air­port”. Dit­to bus terminals.

Self-explana­to­ry, I trust.


Dec. 7th, 9:23 PM


Like­wise self-explanatory.

I also post­ed a com­ment: “Grey­hound, you owe every­one in this ter­mi­nal a refund on their ‘ser­vice’ fee.”


Dec. 7th, 10:00 PM

In line. Grey­hound suuuuuuucks.

They herd you through “secu­ri­ty” before they load the bus. It’s pret­ty fun­ny, since peo­ple get­ting on at stops along the way aren’t sub­ject­ed to a met­al detec­tor. Also, in the Win­nipeg ter­mi­nal, you can leave the “secu­ri­ty” area and return with­out a sec­ond check. Just so long as you don’t move your car­ry-on bags out.


Dec. 7th, 10:18 PM

They’re still call­ing it the 8:30 bus to Bran­don. It’s 10:18 PM now. #grey­houndIs­Ter­ri­ble


Dec. 7th, 10:39 PM

The Thomp­son bus arrived after the Bran­don one. Guess which one is board­ing first. Go ahead, guess. #ffs


Dec. 7th, 10:43 PM

A dude has decid­ed he’s not get­ting on the bus now. Cue the clown show of retriev­ing his checked bag.

He got yelled at for mov­ing his car­ry-on bags from the “secure” area. He decid­ed that the high­way con­di­tions were still too bad to trav­el. (He was part­ly right; as is tra­di­tion, the high­way was ter­ri­ble from Win­nipeg to Portage la Prairie.)


Dec. 7th, 10:54 PM

I’m on a bus.

It’s almost 11 pm. This is the 8:30 bus.

Nev­er again, Greyhound.

The ear­ly bus was sched­uled to leave Win­nipeg at 8:30 PM and arrive in Bran­don at 11:10 PM. The late bus was to leave at 11:00 and get in at 1:50.

The ear­ly bus left Win­nipeg at 11:00 PM (ish) and arrived in Bran­don around 1:30 AM. I don’t know the fate of the late bus.


Dec. 7th, 11:00 PM

As we got rolling, I noticed that the front seat held two cool­ers of human blood, help­ful­ly labelled Please Expe­dite With­out Delay.


Dec. 7th, 11:40 PM

A mid­dle-of-the-night bus ride down a snowy Trans-Cana­da between Win­nipeg and Bran­don? Yeah, The Trag­i­cal­ly Hip seems like the right soundtrack.


Dec. 8th, 1:52 AM



Dec. 8th, 9:29 AM

They just got in touch via Twit­ter and sug­gest­ed I check their bus track­er next time. I tried that. Appar­ent­ly “Win­nipeg” does­n’t exist.

I snarked a bit on Twit­ter, too. The help­ful peo­ple at the Grey­hound Help account obvi­ous­ly did­n’t real­ize I was talk­ing about Grey­hound Canada.

This also felt a bit like the post-cred­its scene, the last joke in a rolling farce.

On the up side: at least I did­n’t sleep on the floor of the ter­mi­nal, like the one guy loud­ly pro­claimed he had the pre­vi­ous night. Accord­ing to him, the tem­per­a­ture dropped overnight in the ter­mi­nal — almost cer­tain­ly a cost-sav­ing mea­sure — and no one was will­ing to turn up the heat.

At least I had a good book to read. (Sto­ries of Your Life and Oth­ers, re-titled Arrival to cap­i­tal­ize on the movie, a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries by Ted Chiang.)

You can never go home

Can you?

Prairie Girl has a cou­ple car­toons on the mat­ter, and they’re par­tic­u­lar­ly poignant to me, because the ghost town she left is the lit­tle city that I’ve made my home.

Ghost Town, by prairiegirl cartoons

(Click­ing the image will take you to the whole story.)

I grew up in a much small­er town—pop. ~1200—and now it’s home only to my father. I did­n’t even attend my 25-year high school reunion last sum­mer (though, to be fair, I had my rea­sons, which includ­ed a sched­ul­ing conflict).