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Finding the secrets of the ESRD

People are mystified that Environment-Sustainable Resource Development led all other government departments in the Progressive Conservative search and destroy rush to shred immediately following the recent NDP election win.

Perhaps most puzzled of all was Premier Rachel Notley, but she did issue an immediate Stop Shredding! order anyway. Her people, particularly new Environment-Sustainable Resource Development Minister Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West, should immediately get in there and have a hard look at what remains and try to identify what has disappeared. Let me explain. READ

Confrontation with hooligans turns nasty

To the tweenage jerk who flipped me off today: Believe me when I tell you that I wish I could have breezed on past and simply not taken notice of your ruffian behaviour. I wish that I could have neglected the fact that you were riding by on your dumb, ridiculously undersized BMX bikes, kicking over full garbage cans and laughing as all of the trash flowed outwards to the streets. READ

Fear of failing and it’s impact on self-esteem

It was colour night for our local gymkhana club — a time to acknowledge effort and award prizes for achievement. I’d been a member as a kid but had dropped out a couple years earlier when I’d finished high school. My buddy, Doug, who had been in the club with me when we were kids, invited me to attend. It felt like my last chance for nostalgia, because I’d just accepted my first job in radio as a news reporter, and I was about to become very busy with my adult life, and maybe even move away. READ

What you need to know about Alberta’s problem weeds

One definition of a weed is a plant growing in an area where it isn’t wanted, which means that every plant has the potential to become a weed. The first settlers arrived in Alberta with seeds for plants with food, medicinal or ornamental value. Plants that escaped cultivation spread quickly and are now considered weeds. READ

May long weekend brings memories and mushrooms

For me, the surest way to predict when we’ll finally get some rain is to have firm plans for an important outdoors event. It is surer still if the day is also part of the Victoria Day or May long weekend, when the whole province goes camping. READ

The difference between life we have and the life we want

“Stay engaged,” I repeated silently to myself. “Stay engaged, damn it!” Years back, I worked at a job I dreaded. I lived for the weekends and felt my anxiety increase as I counted down the last fleeting hours of freedom each Sunday night. Each weekday my eyes would pop open around 4 a.m. and I’d lie in bed mulling over all the things I needed to accomplish — things I had little interest in accomplishing. READ

Routine change met with mixed reaction

Kids are loud and obnoxious. Kids are messy. Kids are the worst kind of know-it-all. They push your buttons and will find the most inopportune moment to reveal your deepest darkest secrets to that stranger passing you on the street. READ

Spring temperature changes can be problematic for some plants

Beware of spring weather as it can change from warm to cold quickly. While there is an desire to put out bedding-out plants, it is not a great idea as temperatures still drop below freezing at night. With the exception of pansies, bedding-out-plants should not be put out for another week or two unless they are in a protected area or given extra protection when needed. READ

The benefit of the doubt

Alberta’s long siege of political chronic wasting disease, 30 years of bad Progressive Conservative government that conserved nothing after Peter the Great abdicated in 1985, ended spectacularly on May 5. I’ve often said that Albertans don’t know the difference between scratching their arse and tearing it to shreds; this time a majority NDP government is the result. READ

Hopelessness: lacking a better alternative

“I got scared,” the young man told the two EMTs. “He hasn’t moved in half an hour.” I was at a downtown coffee shop in the city where I live, waiting for friends to arrive. Shortly after I had sat down, the EMTs had walked through the door and the young man — a server at the coffee shop — had waved them over to the booth in front of mine. READ

Becoming a soccer mom, learning to trust

Soccer season has officially begun. If I was feeling apprehensive as the days before Lars’s first game approached, then I was an all-out wreck by the time we arrived to the field the day of. READ

Monkeying around at the playground

Once upon a time, there was a very large and important playground. It was a place that children came to from other playgrounds from many miles and kilometres away, because this playground had many advantages and the children didn’t have to pay tax on their colourful vinyl string craft supplies and other playground necessities, and there was always a generous supply of much-loved lemonade. READ

The plight of CWD

Chronic wasting disease continues its death march across Alberta, west from Saskatchewan, from whence it came to who knows where, eventually. CWD is an always-fatal disease of deer, elk and moose caused by virtually indestructible particles of abnormally folded protein called prions. It is similar to mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) or Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, but has not yet jumped to humans as mad cow has. READ

Global warming is no hoax or conspiracy

“Global cooling ... must be expected within the next few millennia or even centuries.” — George Kukla and Robert Matthews A quick look at my bookshelf will show that I have an inordinate fondness for history. And so, when Murray Snyder wrote (Letters to the Advocate, March 30) about the global cooling scare of the 1960s and 1970s, I must admit that I put the subject near the top of my list for a future column. READ

Make the most of your choices at garden centres

The first of May marks the opening of seasonal greenhouses and garden centres. For the year-round operations, it is the start of the busy spring selling season. READ

Swimming in the deep end

I had decided to take the children swimming. Jamie was working and I didn’t feel like tracking down any other adults to come with me. “No worries,” I said to myself, “I can deal with two measly kids at the pool.” Two kids to one adult; those odds weren’t too bad. READ

When the pieces no longer fit

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but you can’t speak to me that way — not any longer.” She just stared at me and, though she said nothing, I knew what she was thinking. “I’ve spoken to you this way for years and you’ve never challenged me. Why the change?” READ

The gambling game of gardening

Really good anglers go whatever the weather, good and bad; gardeners try to outwit the weather, try to time it like a volatile stock market. Both start too soon in the spring. READ

Tips and tricks for useful compost

Thinking of starting a compost? Successful compost piles are usually tucked into an obscure but convenient corner that gets a number hours of sunlight each day. The heat of the sun speeds up the process. If the bin is not in a convenient location, it is less likely to be used. READ

Stop fungi, viruses and pests in autumn

In late spring, summer and early fall, deciduous trees and shrubs are covered in leaves. During this time, yellow leaves, dead leaves and dead branches are tell-tale signs that the plant is not healthy. READ

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