Friday, July 31, 2009

This Place Gave me the Willys

As I said yesterday, there is whole barn full of Willys Automobiles. Here is a sampling. This Blue Beauty would shorten your commute considerably.
Restored and customized interior.

A photo of the exterior of the previous car. Wonderful paint job and highly visible, as it should be.

Here was a unique and interesting display. The owner of this collection has travelled far and wide to find all these Willys and he says that this is the way he usually finds them, on the back forty and covered in bush and debris. So he set up a portion of the building to simulated a bush full of undiscovered Willys. He plans to eventually restore all of them, but time is a limitation.

And this is a 'head on' of a Willys only painted Matte Black for the time being. Besides all of the intact but derelict Willys in the building, there are racks of parts such as fenders, doors and just about anything that go into restoring one of these quaint automobiles from the past.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yellow Willys

Back to Shady Grove and the amazing Willys section of the museum. These are rare cars and yet here is a collection of both old unrestored Willys and Willys rods, many of which have had a career at the drag strips. These are unique automobiles and have a funky charm about them. With only two seats, they cry for a Friday night date, cruising the strip and stopping at the local A&W drive-in. Is that the Beach Boys I hear singing in the background? More Willys tomorrow.
The heat continues with no immediate relief in sight. I could not hold the steering wheel in my truck after work today for fear of burning myself. I poured some ice water from my jug onto a napkin and had a small hand hold. It was so hot I was shivering and about half way home I experienced a not so pleasant bout of heart palpitations. I had visions of passing out and waiting for the ambulance to rescue me but it was only a desperate plan to get a ride in an air-conditioned vehicle to an air-conditioned hospital where they would naturally have to keep me overnight for observation. Oh, when will it end? (The heat, I mean.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today a total ban on watering grass took effect. It is not because of the heat causing a shortage of water, but because the infrastructure, the water delivery system in our city, is inadequate. It cannot supply sufficient water at peak demand times and that is a risk because of the imminent threat of fire. Yes, fire is always imminent so we must have more than enough water. This cool fountain is found behind our city hall and is a perfect place to splash and play on a hot day. No deep water here so mom's can watch their kids keep cool without any worries. However, there are signs posted in strategic areas around this fountain that say playing in the water is forbidden. Most ignore it. I am thinking it is liability issues. Junior might slip and fall and bruise his tender knee. Lawsuits would ensue and fines paid to Junior's mom would not be able to go into the kitty reserved for up-grading the water delivery system so we could have more fountains with signs that say "Playing in water Forbidden". Meanwhile we cook in the heat wave.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting Pumped

This pump at Shady Grove brought me back to my boyhood years. Growing up in Saskatchewan meant there was always a problem with water. In our small town of 500 souls there were only two public pumps. Some folks had their own pump, depending on which part of town they lived, and the rest of us had to fetch our drinking water from the town pump, whichever one had water. Water for washing came from the cisterns we had in our basements, which caught rainwater off the roof in the spring and summer and which we filled with snow in the winter, hoping it would melt fast enough to meet our needs. We were always conserving water.
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.

Hot or Cold?

Today it was 33C but because of the humidity, the weather people said it felt like 43C! I am not at all concerned that this is a harbinger of Global Warming and doom and gloom because in 1960 on this day, it was 35C. Back then there was no greenhouse gas, no Al Gore, and no carbon taxes and yet it was warmer. Go figure.
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

On Going Extinct

There are some things that get old and are replaced with something better, newer, and more efficient. And then there are some things that fade away, become extinct, and are replaced with something newer, but not better. I am talking about old fashioned service.

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

Shady Grove Nostalgia and Taxes

More nostalgia from the Shady Grove era, these photos taken on the upper floor of the converted chicken barn.

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

In General

I thought I was a day ahead with my blog posts, but I inadvertently post dated two blogs for one day. I can't very well take it back now, can I?
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

Back to Shady Grove

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'.
I am writing this on Wednesday, and in a few hours we are going to the airport to pick up and bring home the lost remnant of our family tribe. It has been three weeks since last we saw them and I am quite excited, to say the least. According to their last communication with us, they were ready to come home after having had a wonderful time in Ireland. They now need some routine in their lives, and of course the boys really need a big hug from their Grand Dad, or is it the other way around?

What Was Behind The Door

This was once a two story chicken barn, but now it houses a magnificent row of 50' and 60' vehicles all in mint condition and totally road worthy. If you notice on the right side of the photo, there is a row of overhead garage doors. He had to install one of these for each vehicle because he could not move the posts that held up the upper floor of the barn. Every weekend he has to decide which vehicle to drive, and he does drive them all. The beautiful baby blue T-Bird in the foreground is the car his wife drives every day.
Lining the walls opposite the cars are rows of Juke boxes and this Soda Fountain, complete with mannequin waitresses, coke coolers, and fake food.

They cranked on some oldie goldies for us as we admired the cars, and even got to sit in them. Most of these Juke Boxes were in perfect working order and loaded with Elvis and his contemporaries.

Here are three of the gals sitting down to order their hamburgers, french fries and milk shakes. This little diner was incredibly authentic down to the minutest detail and certainly brought back memories for me. Me and my buddies used to hang out in a place just like this when I was a kid.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Fit in There Somewhere

The following are a number of transcribed conversations to technical support departments:
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

Man on the Moon

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the incredible feat that rocked the world. Above is a photo of Buzz Aldrin as taken by Neil Armstrong, both standing on the moon! This event marked a culmination of a fierce space race between the Russians and the Americans. Russia sent the first man into space, Yuri Gargarin, but the USA could redeem themselves by getting to the moon first. Every Gemini space flight had been a near disaster, and it was quite miraculous how the technology and good fortune came together to pull off this amazing feat.
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

Shady Grove

You probably did not notice, but I put this post under the tag 'Travel'. That is because normally, one would have to travel to see such a thing as this. But right here in our fair little city in the country, is the most amazing private museum you will likely see anywhere. The owners are a middle aged childless couple who like to collect things and display them. They take small groups, by appointment, through their Shady Grove museum and follow them around, unlocking and locking doors. Apart from the $5 per person, their reward is to see the looks on the faces of their guests. I had no idea there was such a thing only a few minutes drive from our own house. In the next little while I will be posting some photos of this most amazing place.
My friends in England, who frequently travel about in their own country, always have amazing photos of the history of their country. That is REAL history, and this, because it is all relatively new, is only memorabilia, but certainly conjured up some terrific memories for us 'fifty somethings' who were in the group. I suppose this post really does belong in the 'Travel' category because this what is known as Time Travel.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Removing Clutter

I normally find time to blog, or I make time to blog. However, there are times when the clutter in my life prevents me from doing the things I enjoy the most. Right now my life seems to be full of clutter. Clutter produces stress and must be removed. The best way is to take care of each thing that needs doing, not putting it off, but getting it done and out of the way. Everyone has issues that need to be dealt with. If ever there is a time in your life when there are no pressing issues, enjoy it, because it will be short-lived. I have found that stress makes me very tired. I lack energy and this tempts me to procrastinate. I know that when the issue is resolved, there will be flood of energy, almost euphoric in nature, but knowing that, still does not motivate me to take the action that is necessary. I may be able to talk in specifics in a few months time, but right now I am just writing these things for self therapy.
The Sunflower photo is not the first photo I took with my Nikon, but the last. I found a cute garden themed frame in my Photshop Elements program and thought I would do two versions.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Getting Closer

Just like these apples are getting closer to ripe, so am I getting closer to getting my Nikon pictures up and running. Last night I had my techie friend, Jim, in to see if we could fix the DVD player and get my Nikon software loaded. No luck there, after several attempts. It is dead, even though hardly ever used. We went to plan B and loaded the software onto his 'thumb drive', from his lap top, then plugged the thumb drive into my USB port and uploaded the software. Fortunately my computer recognised it, even though it was not off a disc. Then, because my card reader is not high tech enough to read the latest high speed memory cards, I plugged the camera straight into the computer and downloaded my first batch of 100 photos. I thought I had finally arrived at my destination.
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

Shingles (continued)

Oh dear, the blog site glitched. It did not save and upload my complete post.
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


A number of years ago, I developed a rash on my leg that was very sensitive and painful, so much so that I could not sleep at night without my leg hanging out of bed. Even the gentle touch of the bed sheets were more than I could bear. My GP gave a tentative diagnosis of Shingles, but sent me to a Dermatologist. Between appointments, I read an article in the Saturday Evening Post written by a researcher, a Dr. named Corrie CerVaas. Her research had lead her to some remedies for shingles, things to take and things to stay away from in terms of diet. At that time there was not an injection for early onset Shingles that would nip it in the bud.

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

What's in a Name

As our culture evolves, so does our language. I have noticed that very much of the change in our communications has to do with political correctness, changing the name of something or somebody to reflect a 'new reality'. For example, I have numerous times in the last few months, heard references made to 'South Asians'. At first I was confused, but then realised that this is the new name for what we have been calling East Indians for decades. Let me see. There are East Indies, and West Indies. People from India are called Indians as people from Canada are called Canadians. It is a derivative of the name of the country. Americans are from America, Moroccans are from Morocco. Austrians are from Austria. So why are now East Indians now called 'South Asians'. The country as well as the compass point has changed. I think it is because the old name has somehow taken on a derogatory connotation. I am not sure how this happened, but I know it has happened in the past with other ethnic peoples. Take our own North American Indians for example. How many name changes have they gone through? There seems to be a test in society today, to see who is politically correct and who is not. The one who is on top of the latest ethnic label is definitely the more sensitive and politically correct. Besides confusion, what is this really producing?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tongues and Things

The first 12 verses of James (Bible) speaks to the human tongue. We had an excellent sermon, in church, yesterday, on this topic. Naturally, it was related to speech and what comes out of our mouths, and who or what controls that. But the nature of speech has evolved since those ancient times and speech is now much more than what you say out of your mouth. Back then, it was the primary form of communication as literacy and availability of parchment (paper) was limited. Today we have the Internet with its attendant Face book, email, Twitter, and blogs. The written word has in some ways surpassed the spoken word as a form of communications, for some of us. But the principle still applies as what is written is still out of the heart, not via the tongue, but via the fingers and keyboard. In fact it can be more dangerous, as a written word cannot as easily be taken back, and can certainly be misunderstood much more readily. A great part of speech communication is voice inflection, eye contact, and body language, as well as opportunity to rebut, challenge, or clarify what is being said. These are not available to the e-mailer or blogger, so great care must be taken.
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

Hot Tub Relief

A hot tub is the best in winter, but we can have some cool summer nights too, when the warm and relaxing waters of a jacuzzi can be very inviting. We took advantage of absent hot tub owners this week and indulged not once, but twice. Of course, I had motivation, other than pleasure. In spite of many and varied treatments, my hip is not doing well at all so I tested the waters in the hope that I could find some relief. I did. It was short lived, but relief none the less.

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

Delayed Gratification

Oh the disappointment!
Because the camera is 13.5 mega pixels, I needed a huge memory card and one that up-loaded quickly. I bought the best and latest. I took a bunch of sample photos and was so anxious to see them on my computer. I plugged the memory card into the card reader on my computer and nothing happened. I then re-booted like any techie neophyte would, thinking that a re-boot is the cure for all that ails the computer. It still did not work. My computer which is only two years old has all the doo-dads, bells and whistles that were available at that time, but, you know, technology changes. My card reader reads seven different kinds of memory cards but not SDHC. Oh well, I could at least plug the camera into the USB and read the card that way. Problem is, my computer does not recognise a Nikon camera without having first installed the Nikon software that comes with the camera. No problem. Load the disc and download the software. Problem is, my CD/DVD/ROM player would not work. I tried the last CD that I had played only days ago and nothing. I plugged in a DVD that I had looked at a few weeks ago, and nothing. I have a deceased driver. So, I am hooped. I called a few techie guys and found out that these things take time, especially in summer, because apparently techie guys take holidays too? Who gave them permission to do this?

Friday, July 10, 2009

At Long Last

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.
In 2003 I purchased my second camera. Digital imaging was almost perfected and I wanted something beyond point and shoot, but the D(digital)SLR had not fully arrived on the scene. I settled for a Panasonic Lumix FZ10 which has been a really fantastic camera, and still is. But it has limitations and is not an SLR. Again, I settled for second best.
Today, after almost settling for a slightly lesser camera, I have finally fulfilled my dream. I purchased a Nikon D5000. The challenge now is to learn to use it. I got it up and running on full Auto mode just to try it out, but there are so many nuances and options on this machine that I will never fully learn to use it to its full capabilities. In fact you may only see old Lumix photos for a while yet as I struggle not only with the camera itself, but with the accompanying software and the fact that I want to shoot in RAW format and need to learn how to process those types of images. My son will be my teacher as he is fully initiated into this kind of thing.
I am really looking forward to posting some of my new and improved photos. I am always making some kind of attempt to keep my readers.
PS I just re-read yesterday's post and realised that some of you may have misunderstood my last sentence. I in no way meant that it pays (monetarily) for my business for me to be empathetic to my customers. What I did mean is that investing in human lives and relationships is the best anyone can do and when I am doing that, I am truly being productive, in things that count for eternity.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sounding Board

My older sister is a retired nurse and Care Home administrator. She has a natural talent for working with people, so volunteered for a position as a grief counselor. It was interesting listening to her on the weekend. She needs only to be a sounding board, but in so doing provides a therapeutic service that is invaluable to those who are grieving. It was not coincidence that she told us about her experiences because only a few days later I was called to give an estimate for an elderly lady living a condo building near here.
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

Most Strange

The 24/7 media frenzy is partly to blame, but I find it strange how the world picks and chooses its idols. 1.6 million people registered for a lottery to get tickets to Michael Jackson's memorial when they could have avoided traffic and stayed home to watch on TV if they were so interested. There were pastors aplenty and the whole affair had more of a spiritual tone than spectacular. "He was an inspiration to us all" said one lottery winner and "He is heaven now teaching the Angels how to dance." said another. Really?
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


I have had this photo on my computer as my desktop background for so long now that I did not realise I had not posted it on my blog. Although it did rain recently, this photo was taken in our garden just after the previous rainfall, several weeks ago. I did not 'mist' the flower with a squirt bottle, as some do, but found the roses exactly like they are photographed here. I find a scene like this very refreshing. The soil was parched where we did not water and seemed so thirsty that it would not even drink. You have seen that, I am sure, where the soil is so bone dry that it cannot absorb the water immediately. Our roses are doing better this year than they ever have, and my resident gardener tells me that it is because of the dryness and the heat. It is interesting that as a result of adversity, such beauty can arise. And have we not also seen this in the human experience? We should not shy away from or be fearful of adversity. It will come, as it always eventually does, but out of it will arise something new, something beautiful.

Monday, July 6, 2009

No Weiner Roast

This is a very lovely looking weiner roast. Unfortunately, it is not a picture of our weiner roast because we are not allowed, by law, to have one. The birthday party for our 87 year old father, which has traditionaly been a weiner and marshmallow roast, was instead an indoor meal cooked on a stove. It was a 30C day so it was not that comfortable until later in the evening when the air began to cool and we set up all our fans. We are five siblings and after two of us planned on being there, much to our great surprise, a third one showed up at the last minute after having travelled for four hours to get here. We had a great time with great food and a wonderful Black Forest birthday cake, all prepared by my Busy Lizzy who is only a daughter-in-law to the birthday boy.
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

More Taxes

Sunday is supposed to be a relaxing and restful day, but I could not keep quiet any longer. This has been bugging me for several days now and one of the purposes of a blog is to get things off one's chest. I am actually writing this on Saturday night so by tomorrow (Sunday) I will be calm and restful once again.
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

Freedom Vs. Safety III

My Father's 87th birthday is in a few days. It has been a tradition to have an evening camp fire at my sister's place out in the country. We sit around the fire, reminisce, roast marshmallows, (after we fire them from our illegal marshmallow guns) and have a great time. But no more. Safety has taken precedence. The city rules state that we are too stupid to make a fire because we will burn down everything in sight because we do not know that fire is hot and will burn things. So now we are spawning a generation of kids who will not only be deprived of the joy of camp fires, but will know nothing of fires and fire safety. What a great opportunity to teach a child about fire and safety by helping them to build and maintain a fire under adult supervision. One day they will start a fire for the fun of it and end up burning things down and all the firemen will have employment for the day. Oh the irony.
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.

Flying With Babies

I got a text message Thursday morning saying that all was well. Though exhausted, my daughter's little family had arrive in Belfast and was en route to the northwest corner of Ireland for a three week vacation.
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

Freedom Vs. Safety II

There was a howl of sirens in our neighbourhood a few weeks ago and soon there were two police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance in the townhouse complex across and down the street from us. I assumed there was a domestic disturbance and someone was hurt and someone was being taken down. Not so. My friend lives there and told me a few days ago what it was all about. There was a 70 year old man delivering strata meeting notices and he tripped and fell over a curb. It turned out he broke his hip. Does this make you shake your head? It should. If it does not, you have been successfully 'dumbed' down.
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


Happy Canada Day. It is a beautiful sunny day and there will be celebrations all across our wonderful country. The 'rant' post for today is not an intentional Canada Day post, as I post dated this piece quite some time ago. I love my country and would not want to live anywhere else. I also see problems that I wish could be solved. Many of them are on-going and could be 'nipped in the bud'. But over all, given the world circumstances and the plight of many nations of the world, I think this is the best place in the world in which to live. One day I would like to once again travel from coast to coast and verify that statement. Today my kids are leaving for Ireland for three weeks and it will be interesting to hear their comparisons when they come back, and see if they are indeed glad to be back in Canada. I know I will be very happy to have them back.

Freedom Vs. Safety

We are working for a recently retired newspaper publisher. He made a statement that got me thinking. He said that the policy in the editorial department of the paper was to write stories to the grade nine level of reading and comprehension. Writers were constantly being scrutinized for this standard. This, to me, is another confirmation of the 'dumbing down of society'.
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.