Friday, April 19, 2019

It's a wrap...

This past week I finished nearly 39 years of military and federal public service. There were days when I didn't think retirement would come soon enough but now that it's here it's kind of bittersweet.

I joined the Canadian Forces after graduating from university with a Bachelors of Science in Biology.

I was enrolled as a Logistics Officer and after completing basic training in Chilliwack BC, I did the Basic Logistics course and the Supply Specialty course.
Company Sports Competition

Drill Competition

On exercise
Before my Logistics and Supply course, I was posted awaiting training to Toronto where I met an officer who had been selected to do the Ammunition Technical Officers (ATO) course in Australia.  That was my first introduction to the ATO course although I found out later that most candidates went to England for the course, I still thought the course would something that I would really be interested in doing.

I had a few years to wait as you had to be a captain to apply for the course. I applied the first time as soon as I was promoted to Captain but my boss refused my application.  That was fine as that summer I was to be posted to the year-long French course and that was followed by a posting to a radar station in British Columbia called Baldy Hughes.  Canadian Forces Station Baldy Hughes was part of the Pine Tree line that was being shut down since radar technology had advanced so much that the stations were no longer required. I was the Station Logistics Officer (SLogO) responsible for Supply, Transport and Maintenance and one of only eight officers on the station.

After Baldy Hughes I was posted to a project in Ottawa where I again applied for the ATO course. This time my application was supported and I was selected to attend the ATO course at the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS) Shrivenham and the Army School of Ammunition (Kineton). I was only the fourth woman that the Canadian Forces had sent. The British Army had not yet sent a woman on course.  At RMCS, my ATO course was combined with the Naval Ordnance Officers course, of the almost 30 students on the two courses I was the only woman.  There were other women on the Masters of Science - Explosives Ordnance Engineering (EOE) program. The year I attended there was a post-graduate diploma offered for the RMCS portion of the course. It meant you had to write two exams for each subject, an ATO course exam and the diploma exam.  The diploma exams were tough; on one exam, the chemistry of explosives, only a single officer from Singapore managed a pass mark. I missed passing by about 5 marks, roughly about 2%, The college decided that they would bell curve the marks and I did indeed pass; it was the only exam I failed on the course. Diploma candidates also had to do a viva voce exam (oral exam) on our syndicate project, that was a bit nerve wracking to go in front of a panel to defend your project results. But in the end I was awarded a Diploma in Explosives Ordnance Technology. I was the only one on my ATO course to receive the diploma although two of the ATO officers worked toward and received their Masters (EOE) degree.

The next phase of the course was at the Army School of Ammunition in Kineton near Leamington Spa. There we studied all types of army ammunition, how to store and transport them and also how to dispose of them by demolition. I didn't think I would like the demolition phase but it was actually fun to blow things up.   We also studied how to render safe improvised explosives devices (bomb disposal). Most of the officers on my course wanted to do bomb disposal, that didn't really interest me. The exam for this phase of the course was a practical exercise, usually I'm really nervous about that type of exam but since I wasn't too worried about my standing in that subject area I was actually quite relaxed. It must of helped as I finished first in this phase, overall I finished fourth on the course.

ATO Course 1991

My posting after course came as a bit of a surprise, I had been assigned an Air Force uniform and expected to be posted to an ammunition depot but instead and somewhat at the last minute, I was posted to 5 Service Battalion in Valcartier Quebec.  I came home from England via Edmonton, Alberta as my car had already been shipped out west (I was originally posted to the ammunition depot in Saskatchewan) and I drove back across the country to my first posting with the Army.

Ammo Platoon field storage

Ammo Platoon

Canadian Forces Decoration

EOD Flag

I really enjoyed my time in Valcartier. It was difficult to work in French at first but I think I did fairly well by the end.  I enjoyed being on exercise but that's probably because ammo platoon was never located with the Service Battalion so you kind of got to do your own thing. I also never had to pull any command post duties that all the other Captains had to do, primarily because my platoon was so far away and also perhaps because I was Air Force and didn't have the required field training. I did two more Army postings one as the ATO in Gagetown and then as the Quartermaster at Armour School in Gagetown.  It was while I was in Armour School that I applied to change to an Army uniform but only after I was granted credit for Phase II Infantry.  Once my transfer to the Army was approved I agreed to wear an Armoured back beret something I had always refused before as it wasn't part of Air Force dress.

After Armour School, I was posted to Borden to the Logistics School as the operations officer but I was soon promoted to Major and was appointed the Division Commander responsible for Transport, Supply (which included ammunition training) and Cooks training companies then later on Officer Training Company; it was a full circle now being back as an instructor at the Logistics School.

In Army Mess Kit
My last posting was back to Ottawa to another project where I met another Major who was doing civilian federal government job competitions. She encouraged me to start doing them for the experience even if I wasn't ready to get out. I did a number of procurement group (PG) competitions but the jobs I really wanted were with the newly created  Directorate of Ammunition and Explosives Regulation (DAER) I did two competitions for DAER. I was successful in some of the PG competitions as well as the DAER competitions where I accepted a job offer in an Engineering Support Group (EG) position.

Mess Dinner with DAER
My last job with DAER saw me as Canada's representative to NATO and to the UN for explosives safety, primarily for safe storage.  What an experience and not just for the travel, the work as well was really interesting. And that's what is kind of disappointing is that both organizations are in the middle of revising and updating their explosives safety storage guidelines and I'm leaving before the work is finished.  I would have really liked to see that work through to the end.

UN Technical Review Board 2018
I've met so many great people over the years and had many great challenging and interesting jobs; all in all, it's really been a sweet ride. So it's a wrap on that chapter of my life but the new chapter is just beginning; I hope to do more travelling and will continue to do agility with my dogs.

Monday, April 8, 2019

April Showers?

This Saturday we went to an agility trial at Absolute Agility, it was hard to get up so early but off we went in the dark to play our favourite game.  It turned out to be a very nice day; the only nice day we got this weekend.  Today, we have freezing rain and tomorrow they are calling for snow, at this rate it will be May before all the snow and ice is gone.  Unless it really warms up, it's not looking good for me to have my Christmas decorations down before Easter.

But back to agility, in January I thought Beckett got his Silver Expert Jumpers and his Silver Versatility titles but I had miscounted his qualifying scores; we were short one Jumpers qualifying score. In Feb, we only did one trial and Beckett got a refusal in the Jumpers event at that trial, I worried that we would take forever to get that last Q.  At this trial the Jumpers was the first event, I didn't really think we would get it, not that the course was really all that difficult but because first thing in the morning, either I'm off or Beckett is. We were the last dog of the event.  We had a clear round and well within time. It wasn't our best run, I never felt connected with Beckett but we got it done. And that was really Masters Jumpers qualifying score number 25 for Silver Expert Jumpers; that is Beckett's fourth Silver Expert title giving him also his Silver Versatility title. We did the Silver Versatility title the hard with way with Steeplechase as one of our Silver titles.  For Silver in Steeplechase, you need 50 qualifying scores.

Masters Jumpers

Keltic also did me proud, getting his third Masters Snooker qualifying score, one more and he gets his Masters Snooker title.  He made me work for the Q though.

Masters Snooker

I had planned to do red jump, the tunnel number four, then red jump and jump number 7 followed by the red jump to the left of the tunnel with the jump 7 again. We got the first two pairs done but Keltic knocked the bar on the third red, I could have started close then but I knew we wouldn't have enough points to Q; so I thought we might as well go for the 4th red and do number 6 which was a combination obstacle, a tunnel, a jump and another tunnel.  We got over to the red, got number six done then started the close, where you run the numbered obstacles (2 through 7) as numbered. I was sure the buzzer would sound before we had enough points but we actually finished the close in a time of just under 53 seconds; you have 55 seconds to collect your points.

So each boy came home with Q ribbon. I'm not sure they were happy about having their photo taken with bunny ears.

I did take some without the ears too, but it's not as cute! Don't you agree?

Now hoping that we get some warmer weather, we have our next agility trial at the end of the month.  It's in a horse arena that is not heated so it would be nice to have warmer weather.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Baby's got Blue Eyes

Blue-eyed Girl (Me)
So recently I discovered that I can watch full episodes of TV shows on YouTube that I used to watch as a teenager and a young adult, so I have been watching many of my favourites: Western and Science Fiction TV shows over the last few weekends. It struck me as I watched the shows that many of the principal actors had blue eyes even those who had dark hair.

So since you can Google anything, I wondered if there are fewer blue-eyed people and yes, there are. One web site said 100 years ago in the United States, half the population had blue-eyes and, in 2010, only 1 in 6 had blue eyes.  Of course, there's also the fact that now on television there's more racial diversity rather than actors predominantly of Western European descent. 

But what's more interesting is that blue eyes haven't been around all that long, only about 10,000 years and apparently we all have one common ancestor.

 "Every blue-eyed person on the planet is descended from a single European who lived around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, and who first developed a specific mutation that accounts for the now widespread iris coloration.

Originally, all humans had brown eyes, although genetic variation relating to a gene called OCA2 resulted in changes to the amount of pigment produced by different individuals, resulting in the emergence of different shades of brown. Armed with this information, scientists had for many years searched for the source of blue eyes on the OCA2 gene, but without success.
More recently, a mutation to a separate, nearby gene called HERC2 has been identified as the cause of blue eyes. This alteration switches off OCA2, the gene that determines the amount of the brown pigment melanin that we make. It is thought to have first occurred when humans began to migrate from Africa to Europe, meaning that every person with blue eyes is a descendent of a single early European.
The fact that every blue-eyed person alive today has this same mutation is pretty compelling evidence for this theory, although the identity of the initial mutant remains something of a mystery. To date, the earliest set of sapphire-colored peepers ever found belong to a 7,000-year-old skeleton that was discovered in northern Spain. Naturally, the eyes had long since decayed, however genetic analysis revealed that they would have appeared blue in color."
Will blue-eyes ever become extinct, other web sites I found say "no" unless that gene mutation changes again. But we are pretty rare, world wide only 8% of people carry the gene for blue-eyes and it's recessive so they may not have blue eyes themselves.
So anyway, next time you see another blue-eyed person, you can say "Hi Cousin".
 And see if you can guess what TV shows I've been watching?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy Saint Patrick's' Day

And Happy Seventh Birthday to Triadic's Keltic Livinonthedge!

Keltic's name comes from a line in the song "Shamrock City" by the Irish Descendants and was inspired by his grandsire's name which was Bach's Razor's Edge.

Hope he has at least 7 more years ahead, wouldn't that be the Luck of the Irish!

Friday, March 8, 2019

It's My Party

Birth Day Mug Shot

First Birthday with cousins, an aunt and an uncle.
Seventh Birthday with school friends.
We won't say what birthday!
I know I have more birthday photos in albums around the house but finding and scanning them is sometimes quite a chore. Maybe next year I'll have more of them scanned as I join the ranks of retirees this summer.

I set the scheduled time for this blog post as the same time that is shown in my baby book.