The Sign (a short story contest submission)

In 2015, I entered all the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) literary prize contests as part of my effort to get writing back into my life. I didn’t win anything, but that’s OK. The competition was immense for both quality and quantity. This is my entry for the Short Story contest (link to winners), which is now over and I can share my entry. It’s my first ever science-fiction story. I hope you’ll enjoy it. 🙂

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Country Style Somewhere Over the Rainbow, by Ian Tyson

I’ve heard the famous song, (Somewhere) Over the Rainbow, in many, many styles, but not country… until today. I found out about this very moving rendition by Canadian country legend, Ian Tyson, via a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation series called Rainbow Battle pitting different renditions against one another. Ian’s performance completely took me by surprise and entranced me, I must say! Have a listen!

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Halifax Skating Oval Could Be Kept for 50 Cents to $2 per Use (A Cost-Benefit Analysis)

Halifax Skating Oval

For about $1 of tax per person per year, or a $2 (toonie) charge per use, the Halifax Skating Oval can be sustained, at the highest cost estimates. It could be as low as 50 cents per use. I’m not encouraging this, but if paying for use of the Oval were a last resort, it could be very affordable and definitely worth its value!

There’s a big debate on whether or not to keep the Canada Winter Games Skating Oval on the Halifax Commons (CBC, Jan 4 2011). A lot of the public is enjoying the facility, but the worry is the cost of maintaining the Oval after the Canada Games are over. The hope is that business support can be found to pay the costs, rather than increasing taxes or having to charge skaters. However, that’s a political solution. This analysis looks at the business case of keeping the oval if the public had to pay for it.

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As of Oct 8 2010, Try Harder NOT to Get Arrested in Canada

A Canadian Supreme Court ruling came down today that limits access to lawyers for people being questioned by police regarding a criminal case.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a person questioned by police in connection with a criminal case does not have the right to have a lawyer present during the interview. The Supreme Court also said a suspect doesn’t have the right to re-consult with a lawyer midway through an interview, unless the situation in the interview has changed significantly. Finally, the court said a suspect does not have the absolute right to consult with a specific lawyer if that attorney can’t be reached within a reasonable time.
– Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC, Oct 8 2010)


I’m no lawyer, but in the spirit of free speech, I’ll throw in an opinion.

I’m siding with the decision here. I do think suspects have too much access and counsel to “prepare” themselves for questioning by police. Really, if you’re innocent, a little preparation to make sure you say what you need to properly, which isn’t necessarily the “right” thing to say, is all you need. Extensive counseling from lawyers so you don’t incriminate yourself basically alludes just that, even if you’re presumed innocent till proven guilty. That’s an ideal, and we all know humans aren’t ideal people, as much as we strive for it.

But I write this post because I have a practical piece of advice to those worried about this split 5-4 ruling.

Try harder NOT to get arrested.

This ruling will then have no direct significance to them. If they worry about it affecting them indirectly through those they know and/or love, advise them of the same thing. More common sense in the world means less legal system.

I’m not encouraging people to be better criminal while in Canada so as not to get caught. I’m encouraging people to stay within the law in Canada.

Save the tax system some money. Save the yourself some hassle. Save the lawyers some income.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5

Guitar and Ukulele Tabs for Four Strong Winds (Ian Tyson)

Happy Canada Day! On the day I am writing, that is. You know, for a small population nation, we can compete with anybody when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll and other popular music!

Four Strong Winds is a timeless Canadian song that was written by Ian Tyson in 1960. It was voted the most essential songs in English language Canadian pop music history in a 10 week poll by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2005 (top 50 list). I doubt it will ever leave that chart, whether or not it would hold on to top spot as time goes by.

The song is based on the life of transient farm workers, forced to move where work can be found, but its theme is the sometimes temporary nature of human relationships. That’s about as nice a summary as I could find. You listen to the song and read the lyrics in the great fan video below and see/hear for yourself. The song even has subtle horse hoof running sounds! Love it!!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Four Strong Winds, Ian Tyson Guitar Tabs Letter Sized PDF

Four Strong Winds, Ian Tyson Guitar Tabs Tabloid Sized PDF

Four Strong Winds, Ian Tyson Ukulele Tabs Letter Sized PDF

Four Strong Winds, Ian Tyson Ukulele Tabs Tabloid Sized PDF

These tabs all fit on one page to avoid the inconvenience of page turns. However, the letter size tabs (8.5″ x 11″) may be too small for your eyes. If so, you can either enlarge to tabloid size (11″ x 17″) using an automatic enlarge feature on many photocopiers, or download the tabloid sized versions for printing. The tabloid size tabs can be inserted into a typical letter sized binder on the 11″ size, and folded almost in half to fit. You just open each tab to use it.

This song is very singable, in most people voice ranges without requiring a huge range. There are only a handful of chords, and easy ones at that. Nothing complicated about the strumming, either.

The arrangement I have chosen for the tabs include the tune as Neil Young sang it in the video above, without the guitar break. Note the fine differences between the last notes of the third and sixth lines of both verse and chorus. It’s a very fine difference, but that’s why I have included the notes in my tabs. You can pic out the notes to know what I had in mind to go with the chords listed rather than guess, as you often have to do with most online tabs. In some of those cases, there are actual errors people make in singing out of tune, then putting a wrong chord to it, but I’m not going to go further down that road.

However, I have left the verses and chorus in the order Ian Tyson originally wrote them. It starts out with the chorus, then verse, chorus, verse and ending with that beautiful chorus again. Ian and his wife Sylvia sing the song below. It’s a nice version, just a tad harder to tab and sing than Neil’s version with all the country style nuances.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Between the two videos and tune notes left on the tabs, I hope you’ll be able to figure it all out.

Oh, for the ukulele tabs, I left out the D7 transition chord compared to the guitar version. The ukulele D7 didn’t sound right without much of a bass set of notes.

Please click here for guitar and ukulele tabs and chords to other songs on this blog.

Other notes about Four Strong Winds:

Ian and Sylvia Tyson

This folk classic has been recorded by many artists including Neil Young on his 1978 album Comes a Time (Young also performed the song with The Band at the famous The Last Waltz concert, and in his 2005 documentary Neil Young: Heart of Gold), Sarah McLachlan, Hank Snow, The Seekers, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithfull, The Searchers, Teenage Fanclub, John Denver, Bobby Bare, The Brothers Four (in an album by the same name), The Kingston Trio, Trini Lopez, Waylon Jennings, Chad and Jeremy, Ulf Lundell, The Tragically Hip, Joan Baez, and most recently, Johnny Cash. It was a hit by Bobby Bare in 1964. It was also a big hit in Norway in 1966 in a Norwegian version: “Mot ukjent sted” by The Vanguards and a big hit in Sweden in 1967 in a Swedish version: “Mot okänt land” recorded by The Hep Stars.

The mentioning of Alberta in the lyrics led it to be considered in a contest to choose a provincial song, which it did not win. Additionally, the song is sung on the last night of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival each year.


Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.4