Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Getting water from the pump was an art and a hard physical job. I would take a big metal cream can in my little red wagon and haul it to the nearest well, also taking with me a small amount of precious water. I would place the big can under the spout and then pump like crazy. You could feel if the water was drawing upward or not, and if it did not, then priming was necessary. A little of the precious water down the pump shaft would wet the bushings and provide a better vacuum. Depending on how deep the water was, it could take several minutes to get the water up to the surface. When it finally started pouring, you did not dare stop or you would have to start over. I would often pump to exhaustion and certainly when I had a friend along, and we would take turns, the job was much easier.
How little we realise the value of simply turning a tap.
But me? I was sucking on an icicle and playing in the snow. The lake was not frozen over so I took a dip and then romped in the snow for a few hours. Snow angels, snowmen, and snow balls were the order of the day for me. Yes, I was nice and cool. In my mind. I got out this photo, put myself in a deep trance, and with my vivid imagination escaped the heat, at least until I heard the dreaded words "Terry, the other fan just quit."
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Case Study #1 : Our four year old Kenmore Range was having some bad days as one of the big elements was not heating consistently. We took it apart and determined that a receptacle had burnt out and the connection was not firm enough to work well anymore. The stove is on a 5 year parts warranty so I ordered a new part. But, you see there is always a catch, is there not? I cannot get free replacement parts unless a technician comes out to inspect the stove. If indeed the parts are broken or defective, they will be free but his time and trip out will not be, in fact for a few dollars more, we could simply buy a new stove. The only way around this is to purchase the parts plus pay an exorbitant shipping fee. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding Sears. I may buy next major appliance elsewhere.
Case Study #2 A few days ago, I got a call from the customer we decorated for last week. She informed me that I had "missed a spot". I dropped what I was doing and drove the 24 Km. round trip to take care of it. There was a small section of wall about 11 inches by 25 inches that needed attention, and I did that in about 3 minutes, and I did it with a smile because I guarantee my work. She was quite amazed and and then asked if I could give her a quote on doing some more work for her. I did and by the time I left had a another contract for about $3000.00 worth of work. How do we get repeat customers? How do you spell service?
I may be a dinosaur and will soon be extinct, but I must say that the old fashioned way of doing some things will never be replaced.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Yesterday, with finance minister Colin Hansen at his side, our premier Gordon Campbell gave a beaming performance as he announced his excitement that BC would now be participating in a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) replacing the present GST and PST. If you are not following this, what it means is that you will no longer be charged two separate taxes at 5% and 7%, but one tax at 12%. It sounds harmless and even presents the possibility that there will be less paperwork and administration in collecting the tax. Naturally, I assessed what it would do to my business and how it would impact my cost of living.
There are many products that are charged both taxes, but there are also many services that are only charged the GST which is 5%. I am in a service industry so the bulk of the invoice I write to my customer is labour, which is subject to GST only. Now everything that is taxed will be taxed both taxes. In other words, the tax that I charge to my customers just went up 140%! This is just unbelievable. For arguments sake, let us say that the average client hires me for a job worth $3000.00 in labour and I do $100,000.00 in business in a given year. I will be collecting, for the government $12,000.00 in taxes where now I only collect $5000.00 This will also apply to restaurant meals, haircuts, appliance repairs, vehicle repairs and servicing, etc. Mr. Campbell had the unmitigated audacity and gall to state matter of factly that this tax will be revenue neutral. How can you tell when a politician is lying? When he moves his lips.
I know what will happen because I remember all too well when the GST was first introduced. Many of my customers refused to pay the new tax. I had to 'swallow' it. That will happen again. The other thing that happened and is still happening is that the customer will offer cash with no paperwork, under the table. Every self employed tradesman will testify to the fact they face this temptation on a regular basis and it is, for many of them, too tempting to pass up. More underground economy results in a net loss to the government, but this is what inevitably happens when the citizens are being taxed to death. For many, it is a matter of survival. The HST will have an overall detrimental effect on the economy and should be vehemently opposed before it comes into effect.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Here is the interior of the general store at Shady Grove. Note the well stocked shelves of vintage items. Just out of the photo is a fully stocked bakery shelf with bread, buns and other goodies from the ovens. The old scales and cash registers were in excellent shape and condition for their age. Both my father and grandfather had retail food goods businesses so this was right up my alley
We drove into Vancouver yesterday morning, and then Surrey in the evening, so we did not have another trip in us to take in the Symphony of Fire fireworks displays in English Bay last night. The reports said that there were record numbers of people out and only a few incidents of alcohol confiscation. There are those who say that Vancouver's alcohol laws are archaic and not in keeping with modern times. Not being much of drinking man myself, I will not comment on that, but there is something I will say that relates to the rule that says you cannot have a glass of wine with your picnic on the beach. Compare this to the policy of handing out free drugs (heroin) to addicts on the downtown east side. There is a huge disconnect here.
This morning I had the first of two procedures to replace one of my ancient teeth with a gold crown. This is my fifth one and my mouth is beginning to look like Fort Knox and is worth almost as much. I must say that my young Dentist is excellent. There was zero pain from either the freezing needle or the grinding down of the old tooth. There was so little discomfort during the 45 minute procedure that I was actually able to think of something other than my mouth while they were working away in there with their jack hammers and grinders. The only time I got a little concerned was when the backhoe arrived to clear away all the debris.
And now for the information you have been waiting to hear. There may be breaking news on my hip. Stay tuned. (there is no pun there)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The owner of Shady Grove, a converted chicken farm, grew up on the property. The main part of the museum is two converted chicken barns. In the bottom photo you can see that the front of the barn was renovated to create a show room look, similar to an auto dealership of the 50's, complete with a bright, shiny car displayed in the window. There is a sales office with old office equipment, and a parts department stocked with oil cans and many new and used auto parts, some still in their original packaging. As you marvel at the old coke machines and automotive posters on the wall, you suddenly notice that there is a small entry into the back area of the converted barn, what in a real auto dealership would be the service bays where the repairs and maintenance would be done. When I stepped through that small door I was greeted by a sight that quite simply amazed me. Remember that I had never been here before and did not really know what all was here. Tomorrow I will show you what was in the 'back room'.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tech support: What kind of computer do you have? Christine says: A white one...
Customer: Hi, this is Maureen. I can't get my diskette out. Tech support: Have you tried pushing the Button? Customer: Yes, sure, it's really stuck. Tech support: That doesn't sound good; I'll make a note. Customer: No , wait a minute.. I hadn't inserted it yet... it's still on my desk.. Sorry....
Tech support: Click on the 'My Computer' icon on to the left of the screen.
Customer: Your left or my left?
Tech support: Good day. How may I help you? Male customer: Hello... I can't print. Tech support: Would you click on "start" for me and --. Customer: Listen pal, don't start getting technical on me! I'm not Bill Gates.
Customer: Hi, good afternoon, this is Martha, I can't print. Every time I try, it says 'Can't find printer.' I've even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can't find it...
Customer: I have problems printing in red... Tech support: Do you have a color printer? Customer: Aaaah.....................thank you.
Tech support: What's on your monitor now, ma'am? Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me at Woolies..
Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore. Tech support: Are you sure it's plugged into the computer? Customer: No. I can't get behind the computer. Tech support: Pick up your keyboard and walk 10 paces back. Customer:! OK Tech support: Did the keyboard come with you? Customer: Yes Tech support: That means the keyboard is not plugged in. Is there another keyboard? Customer: Yes, there's another one here. Ah...that one does work...
Tech support: Your password is the small letter "a" as in apple, a capital letter V as in Victor, the number 7.
Customer: Is that 7 in capital letters ?
Customer: I can't get on the Internet. Tech support: Are you sure you used the right password? Customer: Yes, I'm sure. I saw my colleague do it. Tech support: Can you tell me what the password was? Customer: Five stars.
Tech support: What anti-virus program do you use? Customer: Netscape.Tech support: That's not an anti-virus program. Customer: Oh, sorry...Internet Explorer.
Customer: I have a huge problem. A friend has placed a screen saver on my computer, but every time I move the mouse, it disappears.
Tech support: How may I help you? Customer: I'm writing my first e-mail. Tech support: OK, and what seems to be the problem? Customer: Well, I have the letter 'a' in the address, but how do I get the circle around it?
A woman customer called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer:
Tech support: Are you running it under Windows?
Customer: "No, my desk is next to the door, but that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine."
And last, but not least...
Tech support: "Okay Mickey, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter "P " to bring up the Program Manager." Customer: I don't have a P. Tech support: On your keyboard, Colin. Customer: What do you mean? Tech support: "P".....on your keyboard, Colin. Customer: I'M NOT GOING TO DO THAT!!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I remember the day well. There had been mounting excitement over the possibility that this just might happen, but so many factors had to come together. As today, weather was key to when the rockets could lift off. At last the flight was under way, and then the tension mounted as first the space craft had to get out of the earth's gravitaional pull. Then it had to orbit the moon, while the lunar lander had to swoop down to the moon's surface and actually pull off a landing. The 'Eagle' was manually flown when the landing sight looked too rugged and with only 16 seconds of fuel left, a suitable bench of land was selected. Touchdown, and then the first step of a man on the moon was incredible history in the making.
I remember being with a friend that night as we pulled off the road and turned off the headlights. We were out in the country and there was no light pollution as we gazed at the moon, visible above the horizon, and marvelled that we were looking at men on the moon, but could not see them. If man could acheive this astounding feat, what was next?
And yet today, there are many who believe the whole thing was shot in a NASA movie studio. A recent poll in both Russia and Great Britain shows that fully 25% of people do not think the moon mission was real. There have been people dedicating their lives to debunk the feat. The astronauts themselves have been stalked and hassled many times. In the near future, NASA is sending a lunar orbiter that will take very high resolution photos and hope to capture the lunar lander 'on film'. But this will not satisfy the detractors, as they will say that the photos will have been manipulated, and of course this is very possible.
So you be the judge. Personally, I believe it, not because I can prove it, but because I want to.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
I put all my photos through my Photo shop program because it allows me to crop, correct, and size the photos for putting on this blog. Wouldn't you know it, my Photo shop program which is only 2 years old, would not recognize the files from my camera! It is too new. It took several hours of frustration to find a plug-in online that we patched into the Photo shop that up-dates the list of cameras it recognizes. Without my son's help, I would not have gotten to first base.
Now, all that is left, is to learn how to adjust the RAW files. I am going to find time. I have to find time. I did not come this far to quit now.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
So, here is the advice I gave to the poor victim of shingles, who, by the way, reported to me today that she is doing better than ever.
As I was saying, shingles results from a latent herpes Chicken Pox virus that lies dormant in the body, waiting to strike when the body is run down or the immune system is somehow compromised, either from stress, poor diet, or lack of proper rest.
The recipe: Take high quality Vitamin B complex (the vitamin for a healthy nervous system) and Vitamin A (the vitamin that enhances your immune system).
Then stay away from foods with Arganine such as chocolate, red meat, and coffee.
Eat foods rich in Lysine, such as white chicken meat and corn.
It is that simple and it will help keep your shingles on the roof where they belong.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
At my appointment with the specialist, who confirmed that I had Shingles and that I would just have to ride it out, I mentioned the article to him. He asked where I had read that. I told him and he laughed out loud. "Since when is the Saturday Evening Post a medical journal"
I was determined to follow the regimen laid out by Dr. CerVaas, and to my great delight, licked the problem in about five days. Since then I have passed on this advice to many people who have been helped by it, or at least those who have tried it.
It happened again this week. About ten days ago, I got a call from a customer delaying our start date on her renovation. The reason was that she had developed Shingles and she was not up to turning her house topsy-turvy in her condidtion. I gave her the diet and recomended the vitamins she should take and a few days later she called to re-book me. Today she told me how much better she was and that the condition was in remission. She thanked me profusely.
I thought it interesting that her husband runs a roofing company but she was the one who had the Shingles.
Shingles: an attack on a nerve trunk in the body, brought about by a lowered immune system and triggered by a latent
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
We all need to be challenged and held accountable for our words and that is why I invite comments. If you and I were face to face having a conversation and it was strictly one way, not much would be accomplished. If I said something that you disagreed with, or something that offended you, and you said nothing, I would take it to mean that you agreed and approved. I know that dialogue is not the purpose of a blog, but a comment to challenge an idea is certainly in order. I, like everybody, need to be held accountable.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I used to play piano, but because I no longer play any instrument, all my recitals now have to be organ recitals. My hip is not an organ, but you get my drift. I tried a new tack this week. I got a massage immediately followed by another acupuncture treatment. This is like getting a facial, a pedicure and a manicure all at once and is reflected in the bill at the end of the two hour session. I really did miss my calling, if making easy money was my aim in life. There are actually people out there who will sit by your side, music softly playing beside them, and hold their thumb in your lower back for minutes on end and get paid $100.00 an hour for doing it. The end result is that your backside feels lighter, less weighty, but only if that is where you keep your wallet. The acupuncturist really 'stuck it to me' also. I am giving these guys one more chance and then I am out of there. The problem is, I am running out of options. The physio stretching exercises not only were excruciatingly painful to do, but left me incapacitated for many minutes after doing them. With all this poking, prodding, stretching, and needling, the situation is actually deteriorating. Besides, I need a Obama style economic stimulus bailout to keep all this up.
The hot tub alternative looks the best so far, but I know it is not getting at the root cause. It only brings very temporary relief, but for now, I will take that.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
In 1970, when I was in Ocean Falls and decided that photography was a hobby worth pursuing, I did a lot of reading in the photography magazines of the day and finally came to a decision to purchase a Pentax Spotmatic. It was state of the art and an excellent SLR (Single Lens Reflex Camera) I also purchased several lenses, a good flash, and I was on my way. But what I really wanted was a Nikon. More money, yes, but better reputation and better quality. In the end, I settled for second best.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I no sooner walked in her door when she sat me down and pulled out a torn page from the local newspaper. "Do you know any of these people," she queried. I recognised it as the obituary page from this week's local newspaper.
"As a matter of fact, I do," I said. I told her a bit about two of the people pictured on the page.
Then she told me that the first one on top, on the left was her husband. I was taken aback. Why would a widow of only a few days have a contractor come into her house to make a plan to disrupt her life for a week?
I was not in a great hurry so I sat and listened as she poured her heart out. I could write a very lengthy blog post regarding the conversation we had, but I did sense after an hour that I had provided a needed service, above and beyond giving her a price and a plan for re-decorating. Indeed, most of our time together was an opportunity for her to pour her heart out. There were tears and words of encouragement and as I was leaving, she thanked me profusely. I thought at that moment that one hour with that woman was more productive that the previous month of work.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Is it not a perverted society when those things that should repel us attract us? The above photo collage speaks volumes about this man. He was so dissatisfied with what God gave him that in the process of doing it over himself, he became a freak in every sense of the word. He had three marriages although the definition of marriage has to altered in his case. He was suspected of and accused of child molestation, and when his house was searched, it was found to be more like a pharmacy than a home, with at least 10 different types of addicting drugs, including methadone and Demerol.
With only mild apologies to Michael Jackson fans, I must say that his perversion was evident early on in his music videos when he made grabbing one's own crotch the norm in entertainment.
There is no doubt he was talented, but what he made of his life and what his life became is not the stuff of heroes or icons. I had pity for him, as I do for anyone who has lost their way in life, and it is too bad that all the pastors are now only paying attention to his cold body. He needed their help many years ago.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
After all the food and plenty of visiting, there were a few gifts to open and the patriarch left to retreat to the peace and quiet of his own home. He is not used to all the excitement and noise. (Some of his grandkids were having a rowdy game of Krokinole in the other room and he kept asking who was screaming.)
Don't let this get around, but we did defy the authorities by lighting an open fire. Yes, we had real candles with real flame. I don't know how we did it, but somehow managed to not burn the house down or even cause a forest fire. I guess we were just lucky this time.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Did you notice it? The anniversary of our wonderful carbon tax on fossil fuels was on Canada Day. Also, the tax jumped 50%. Did you know that? Do you know what this tax is supposed to accomplish? Do think it is a wise tax? (Wow, is that an oxymoron or what?)
Here is the deal. The whole idea of a carbon tax is to eliminate carbon and is based on a few premises, the first being that carbon is harmful. The second premise is that because we cannot afford to buy the gasoline and heating fuel, we will stop doing so.
I will start with the last one first. We will always need fuel, at least until there is a readily available and viable alternative to power our need to transport and be transported. As for heating, we will always need to be warm. It is called survival.
The first premise is faulty on several fronts. The theory is that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and we as humans are producing too much of it. Carbon dioxide is actually a necessary and natural component of the atmosphere and is not harmful. But this is again based on a premise, and that is, that man is causing climate change by pumping too much carbon into the atmosphere. The body of science that is disagreeing with this theory is growing. It is still an on going debate, and yet we are being taxed to save the world.
Our government's own data says that the carbon tax will result in a reduction of .oo27% of greenhouse gases. Now that is what I call a poor bang for the buck, especially when it is not even certain that it is the carbon that is causing climate change.
The best defense of this tax this week was that the pine beetle devastation needs to be stopped. That statement assumes that the pine beetle is thriving because we are driving our cars. This is ridiculous.
I was listening to a national talk radio program this morning and it was on the topic of global warming and what is causing it, if indeed it is a reality. The host of the program has not heard from one single scientist on the anthropogenic side that has come forward to debate with the many scientists he has had on his program who refute man-made climate change. I think it is because they do not have a leg to stand on.
But keep on taxing us and soon our gas pumps will look like the one in the above photo, sitting derelict and rusting, while we walk in the heat and wait for the sunspots to return so our climate goes back to normal, if indeed what we are experiencing is not normal. I think it is.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thus we lose our freedoms in the name of safety. Socialism says that we can have a risk free society, with enough regulation. This is a pipe dream, and a costly one at that. As for me, I will take the freedom along with a few risks, over state imposed safety, any day.
As we brought them to the airport and saw what they had to go through, we were not sure they were even going to get airborne. They arrived in plenty of time for check-in, but when their turn finally arrived, they were at the check-in counter for more that 1/2 hour. The line up behind them did not move and flight time was coming closer. Finally, the luggage was checked and we walked with them to the departure gate and security. Apparently the ticketing agent through which they purchased the flight, made a slight error when entering their information into the computer. They were designated as two adults and two children, each with a baby! Babies travel for free, but do not get their own seat. So, instead of attaching a baby to one of the family members, each family member got one.
Common sense and logic would say that this was obviously not the case and so they should have been checked in, a flag or note attached to their computer designation and dealt with later. But, protocol is protocol and everything must be in order at all times. A supervisor was called to over-ride the previous designation and issue a new one. This took too long, in every one's opinion. The more we depend on technology, the more it enslaves us.
Perhaps, as my good friend Jan, in England, suggested, the easy solution would have been to find three more babies to take along.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Last summer there was a burning pot on a stove in the house across the street. Three fire trucks showed up and later a fourth for back-up. There was minimal smoke damage and no fire.
Several years ago, I had to call 911 because of a heart attack victim I was helping. Two fire trucks and two ambulances showed up even though I told them specifically there was only one victim.
A Polish immigrant in the Vancouver airport is upset that he cannot get anyone to communicate to him in his native tongue. Four big burly cops show up, taser him, and he dies.
A man and his son are walking through a wooded park with a pellet gun and suddenly the Chilliwack S.W.A.T. team takes them both down and haul them off to jail.
Last week in our fair city, some exuberant teen aged boys were driving around and one of them exposed his multi-coloured, super soaker-like marshmallow gun ( a toy designed to fire miniature marshmallows), someone reported the activity, and the S.W.A.T. team 'took them down' in a most dramatic fashion.
Do you see anything wrong here. If not, you have been successfully 'dumbed down'. I did not say dumb, just 'dumbed down'.
The Ambulance in the above photo is from the 50's. Ambulances back then were a rare sight and it was when people had more common sense and also taxes were lower. Let's go back there for a moment. My friend and I are walking through the middle of our small town, our loaded .22 caliber rifles over our shoulders, and nobody blinks an eye. It is a common occurrence and is of no concern. Here is why. People were given some credit for intelligence back then. There were no politically correct safety Nazis patrolling the streets looking for danger. Everybody had guns and every kid in town was taught gun safety by his father who was taught gun safety by his father. And nobody ever got shot. Is that not a miracle? Not really. There was a lack of paranoia back then that was freeing.
Today, total safety is paramount at all cost. So we have an over abundance of fire trucks and ambulances, whose crews are mostly sitting around all day and are trained to the hilt. Now a call comes in, the adrenaline rushes, and they have a purpose and chance to break the boredom. And do they ever! I am sure you have seen it over and over again as have I.
Have you ever noticed how in the more primitive countries, when there is a train wreck or car bomb, the victims are unceremoniously tossed onto a pick-up truck or thrown into an ambulance? This is not what I am advocating. I am advocating a considered response that is adequate, timely, and helpful. If more help is needed, call for it.
More on this later. I need to take my blood pressure medication.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
This kind of thinking at many levels have had consequences that have crept up on us over the years and now that we are used to them, they do not bother us, but should.
My opinion is that the root of this is socialism. Socialism believes that the state is capable of looking after all the needs of its citizens and if the government is big enough and regulatory enough, all risks can be eliminated and all people will be happy, safe, and equal. This type of thinking is insidious (both treacherous and seductive) and we have succumbed to it. These are worthy ideals, are they not?
The danger lies in the fact that we all become non-thinking pawns and depend on others to take care of us and even to think for us. In the process we lose our independence and become dependent. This is a dangerous state to be in for then we can be controlled and we have condoned it by not speaking out when it came at us in little bits.
By being spoken to at a grade nine level, we are not being given credit for intelligence. When this happens often enough, we begin to believe that we might not be smart enough to think for ourselves.
Some examples in tomorrow's post.