April 13th, 2024

Noteworthy: If you’re happy and you know it…

By Bruce Penton on April 3, 2024.

Thank goodness for the existence of the World Happiness Report. If such a report did not exist, we’d never know which countries are the happiest, or the saddest. Canada ranks 15th, but I’d hazard a guess we’d be higher in the rankings if the period of determination was the warm stretch from April to September, rather than the full 12 months.

Finland, Denmark and Sweden, none of which are regarded as warm-weather countries, are 1-2-3, while the U.S. is evidently grumpier than we are, sitting 23rd in the rankings. Dead last of the 143 countries ranked? Afghanistan.

• Beautiful signs of spring. Besides the mid- to high-teen temperatures the last couple of days, signs of spring are everywhere. There must have been a record number of Hatters on city trails Monday, walking, jogging, cycling or pushing baby carriages. Brian Oliphant at Connaught Golf Club says they’re aiming for a start date of April 12. while out at Desert Blume, the tarps came off the greens Tuesday and play is tentatively scheduled to begin April 10. Cam Jacques at the Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club says his course’s driving range is opening this Friday and play will begin April 10. Redcliff’s Riverview will likely be open around that time, too, but I couldn’t get confirmation. (Editor’s note: Tentatively, their plan is for April 12, I’m told.) Of course, Paradise Valley and Cottonwood Coulee are always among the first courses to open in this area. Now, if only the heavens would open and give us a nice two- or three-day rain, everybody would be happy.

• Another sure sign of spring: Long lineups at the various car washes around the city as drivers were trying to rid their vehicles of that winter grime.

• Major props to the Medicine Hat Tigers for rebounding in Game 2 of their Western Hockey League playoff series against Red Deer. How that Game 1 defeat happened could have been a psychological killer; the Tigers led 4-0 early in the second period only to lose 5-4 in double overtime.

Coach Willie Desjardins must have worked some magic to get his charges to rebound after that demoralizing opening-game defeat, and they did the next night, winning 3-1. Tigers were in Red Deer on Tuesday night for the third game of the best-of-seven series and play Game 4 tonight before returning to Co-op Place for the fifth game Friday night. Crowds of 4,500 and 4,100 last weekend were encouraging, but how about filling that brand new barn Friday?

• Short snappers: If we’re going to ‘axe the tax’ can we take some time to get rid of the income tax act and GST, too? … Having been out of the city for a number of weeks working on my golf game and tan, it was interesting on my return to see some changes to the Medicine Hat landscape. The remodelled Ramada by Wyndham on Thirteenth Avenue is a great looking building, and Original Joe’s on Dunmore Road has transformed into a Blowers and Grafton, which offers Halifax street food. Have to check that out one of these days. … Medicine Hat won’t be exposed to the total eclipse of the sun on April 8 (we do get a small portion of it), but parts of Eastern Canada will see totality for four minutes and 27 seconds. Coincidentally, the song Total Eclipse of the Heart, by Bonnie Tyler, is four minutes and 30 seconds long.

• Speaking of Monday’s eclipse, airlines across North America are reporting huge increases in flights booked, as thousands of people are traveling to North American locations within the path of totality. Carly Simon sang of something similar in 1972 when she suggested some unknown man “flew your Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”

Although Medicine Hat won’t see totality, we are forecast to have approximately 30 per cent coverage from about 11:43 a.m. until 1:46 p.m. The southeast corner of the province is not being forgotten by the eclipse. Central Alberta will get only 20-per-cent coverage while the northwest part of the province will receive only 10-per-cent coverage. Special glasses or pinhole projection devices should be used to view the partial eclipse.

It will be another 20 years before this part of Alberta experiences a total solar eclipse. Mark the date: Aug. 23, 2044. If I’m still around by then, I’ll be surprised but if I am, it will be the second total eclipse of my lifetime. I was a young adult in 1979 when totality occurred in Brandon, Man., during a late February day. It didn’t get pitch black, but it got very dusky around 11 a.m. and it was, well, it was weird, but invigorating, and truly unforgettable.

Bruce Penton is a retired News editor who may be reached at brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca

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