Friday, December 21, 2007

Old Friends

It was the annual XFH Christmas lunch today. The day we get together with the old crowd from the Foothills Hospital IT department to commiserate and remember the old times. There were fellows there that I have not seen for over ten years. No great changes just everyone getting older. Where they once talked of children there is mention of Grand children. A lot more grey except where there is a bit more forehead but basically the same.

The group consists of mostly the tech support group or what remains of it and the rest of us who have moved on. It only took a few minutes to get up to speed with what has gone on over the past year and then it was like old times, joking kibitzing and carrying on. Some old friends were not able to attend but most sent their regards. It was fun to catch up and we parted with promises to plan next year's get together a little further in advance so that more people can attend. I hope that happens.

I personally intent to reserve a holiday day so that I can attend. The lunch runs a bit long so unless you plan to play hookie for half a day its better to take the time as a holiday. And in my case it I would like to partake of a few cold ones I can't do that on a work day. But the chance to get together with the old gang is worth reserving a day.

On the work front I am using up the remainder of my holidays from this year. Use 'em or lose 'em is the policy at work so when I found myself with a few days left at the end of the year I found myself with time off. Ellen doesn't get 4 weeks so I may be in this predicament every year. I plan to make the most of the time by doing nothing in particular except walking the girls and putting my feet up. Hopefully the weather will co-operate. Santa Claus is coming to town but I hope when he comes by our house he keeps it down, I may be having a nap.

Relaxing, taking it easy....


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

No Kitty For the Cao's

Well we found all kinds of cats, young ones old, skinny ones, fat ones, black cats white cats multi colored and striped cats. As I said before oodles of cats and crates of kittens. But it doesn't matter Paula in addition to being scared of mice is just as scared of cats. So no cat for the Cao family.

Quang told me that she is terrified of the neighbour's cat. The cat occasionally comes into their yard and when it does she hides in the house. I may have to have an intervention, take them or Paula at least down to the Humane society, get a couple of the kittens to turn on the charm. You can't be scared of a little powder puff curled up in your hand looking cute. Heck that's why little animals are cute, so you don't kill then when they get into trouble and so you adopt them at the shelter.

The Animal Christmas party was wall to wall people. You were lucky to even see an animal. The few dogs they had were all on hold or adopted, and it looked like a lot of the cats were on their way out too. What was a good deal was the sales room especially the everything for a buck table, they had dog bags for 1 dollar for 105 bags. I bought 5 dollars worth. It will take the girls more than a few days to fill all those. So it was a good deal all round.

Belle had to get new shoes this week. She walked through the bottoms of her's. So I went to Pet planet where I got Dixie's. Just in time too, they only had one pair of small ones left. So now Belle is the proud owner of a brand new set of HOT PINK boots. They are so bright I think they melt the snow just sitting there. Belle doesn't mind them though she is color blind. Although that pink is so bright she might even be able to see it. So far Dixie has not gotten jealous but I think she's been looking over at them.

And our Chinook finally arrived and is supposed to stay through the weekend. We are planning to see if we can take Ellen's Aunt Norma out to a buffet on Sunday morning and we will be putting up the tree on Saturday. It will be (in the words of the Christmas song) "beginning to look a lot like Christmas"! And if the Chinook kicks in t0 high gear it will look a lot like a Calgary Christmas, brown and dusty.

Just sitting here counting sleeps til Christmas...


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Shopping

Finally done Christmas Shopping. The out of town stuff was done and mailed two weeks ago and we had everything for everyone else locally done last week. Just had to go out and get something for Ellen and she for me. So yesterday we went out early and finished it off. The malls are crazy. Wall to wall people. And every indication is that it will be getting worse. But we are done just regular grocery shopping and God forbid we have to go out and get something from another store.

So today we have a Christmas event at the Humane society. It is the animals Christmas party, as opposed to the office animals Christmas party. From noon to three we get to go visit the animals that are in the slammer for the holidays. It should be fun. But we will have to leave the girls home. I can imagine the worlds biggest dog fight if everyone showed up with their dogs.

I have an ulterior motive for going to the society, I need to check out the cats for a colleague. Quang has mice in his house and his wife is scared of mice. He has tried to get them with traps but he says that is expensive. And the little blighters keep coming back, so I suggested that he get a cat. And they have lots, lots and lots. You see the city just passed a law that says cats have to be licensed in Calgary and oops all the bad cat owners who don't want to licence or care for old kitty any more have been turning them in left and right. As a result the humane society has oodles of cats and crates of kittens.

Now I would be the last person to suggest that someone get a pet for Christmas, the chances are when little Johnnie or Janie get tired of playing with the new pet somewhere around noon on boxing day, or the first time Kitty drops one behind the Christmas tree, or better yet climbs it back it will go. But in this case I think it would be a good idea. A cat about a year or two old that is a good mouser would be a good addition to the house. Ted is almost 4 and would do good with a pet and Miss Hillary would do well to grow up with a pet. And a cat is independent enough to get away from them when she needs space. Now i expect that if they got a good mouser it will likely be one to show off its trophies in the kitchen at supper time but hey that's what cats do.

So part of the mission for the Humane Society is to scope out a good cat for the Caos. And then my Christmas shopping will be done. And oh yeah, I don't think Paula will care if the kitty clashes with the drapes she is more practical than that.

Looking for a good mouser...


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poor Dixie

Dixie is my summer dog. She likes the heat while her adopted sister likes the cold. She is perfectly happy inside Belle needs to be out and about even if its just in the back yard. Belle is the winter dog. According to Belle snow is something to romp in, always, and rivers are for wading no matter the time of year. Dixie on the other hand likes her terra a little more firma. And water is for drinking otherwise why are there those nice dishes in the house.

And it is winter now. We had our first real taste of it this week. About a half inch of snow minus zero temperatures and wind. Not pleasant by any means. But the girls still need their walks. So out we went. Half way around Dixie is hopping on three feet and setting a blistering pace at that. Belle is nose down up to the eyeballs sniffing for what's under the snow. I expected Dixie not to like the cold so we got her back home as quick as we could. Nothing like a nipping from old Jack Frost to get Dixie on the move. Belle resisted as well as she could but due to the wind chill I sided with Dixie.

The next time out I put their coats on. Now how a coat like that for a dog can possibly do anything more than annoy them is beyond me, but they work. It helped that the wind had died down but the girls were nice and warm and back to their usual pace. So the second winter walk was fine. Dixie doesn't mind the cold if she is bundled up apparently.

The next day the city went around and salted the streets so they were slushy and wet. It was not too cold so we went without coats. And for the first while everything was good. But one street in particular was wet and sloppy and when Dixie crossed it she started to howl and didn't know which foot to lift first. You would have thought I was beating her. So I cleaned off her feet as best as I could and that stopped the crying at least. On the way home I carried her across that street. What ever chemical the city uses sure did not agree with her. For the next walk I dug out Belle's boots for Dixie.

She didn't like them in the house. She was high stepping around the living room like a cat in a wading pool. But outside she figured out what the boots were for almost immediately and she was just fine. She set the path for Belle through the deepest snow. So I was out today buying dog boots. I thought that since the chemical aggravated Dixie as much as it did it can't be good for Belle either so they both need their own boots. $40 later they are both ready to go. And at $40 a set they are as expensive as my shoes. I only paid $20 for my runners at Wally-mart but then again I only got two shoes, Dixie got 4. I don't know how families with kid's manage a budget. Anyway tonight Dixie gets to break in her own pair(s) of "Muttluks". Maybe Summer Dog will survve this winter after all. I will keep you posted.

Bundling everyone up against the cold ...


Thursday, November 22, 2007


Yesterday I saw another article about texting while driving. That one solicited feedback and for the most part the feedback was either: "People who text while driving are STUPID" (the correct answer) or "I am not STUPID I am some kind of super human who can do both and don't you be telling me I can't " (the wrong answer). One "stuper-man" said all it took was "distributed attention". That is as i understand it the ability to split your attention between two activities. Nice to know there is a term for driving with half a brain.

Driving especially in a major urban center in winter in Canada is a full time job. It takes all your attention because the knuckle head in the other car might very well be texting, reloading his iPod, having breakfast, surfing the net, or reading the paper behind the wheel. "Distributing" their attention. Sorry but doing anything else while navigating traffic is STUPID. But if you are 25 and immortal you can do it. Guess again. If you are not paying attention to your driving you will be paying your insurance man. Sooner or later those habits will catch up with you.

We have all seen the doofus with the cell phone and the coffee careening down the road in and out of lanes expecting everyone to watch out for them. I say hit 'em. Hit 'em hard enough to jam that cell phone in their ear and dump that double double all over their designer suit and all over the leather interior of that leased gas guzzler with all the toys and whistles. I heard of a bumper sticker once that read "Maybe you would drive better if I crammed that cell phone up your ass!" I agree with the sentiment (and want one for my car).

It should be a law that if the police see you texting, chatting on the cell, reading a book, bobbing up and down tweaking the stereo, or any one of a hundred stupid things while driving, they should be able to stop you and take you off the road right then and there. Being stupid is not criminal. Getting behind the wheel and being stupid is. What did you do before text messaging and cell phones. People survived being out of touch for more than 10 minutes. The world will not end if someone cannot get you while you are in traffic. We did without that for years and some of us still do. They don't call them "crack berries" for nothing. You are addicted if you can't go for the duration of you commute with out your wireless device. And feeding your habit putting everyone else at risk is STUPID.

One last point, the car makers are enablers for these junkies too. They are installing technology in the vehicles that facilitate people being STUPID. GM is prviding an option to allow you to download music to your iPod while driving. And an option on my van (that I don't have, want or need) is a hands free phone that you can plug your cell into. It will turn your cell into a hands free phone with, (get this) call waiting! There is about 30 pages on how to use that phone in the user manual and only 3 pages on how to use the transmission. Think they might have their priorities all screwed up? Me too.

Sitting here watching the world go to hell in a hand basket...


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Chinook Would Be Nice

For those of you not familiar with it a Chinook (shin-ook) is a warm westerly wind. The climate scientists say that that it is warm Pacific air that is blown through the passes in the Rockies that warms up the province. Well our little piece of the province anyway. The word is a native word that means "snow eater". And if there is any snow around a Chinook will make short work of it. And we are waiting for our first one of the season. It has not been really cold, no minus zero Fahrenheit weather but cold enough. With the wind cold enough to make hands and joints ache. Cold enough to pull the winter coats out of storage. And its been that way for a couple of weeks now. Time for a Chinook.

The weather man on the TV has promised one by Friday. Unfortunately Dave is usually spot on on the bad news and off on the good. That is he is able to predict bad weather correctly more often than he predicts good weather. Or so it seems.

At least there is no snow and ice yet. That is what makes dog walking down right dangerous. Last year I fell on the icy sidewalks a couple of times. It was a good thing that Belle was young and quick because I nearly landed on her the first time. And how do you go back to the humane society and explain a squashed dog!

The second time Dixie was just in front of me and she slipped on the ice. And as I was telling her to be careful I wiped out. Belle tried to keep going (after all I had fallen before) but Dixie came back to see if I was dead. She was newly adopted then and needed to know if she still had a meal ticket.

And that's the bad side of a Chinook. If there is snow there will be ice and lots of it. So before the snow comes it would be nice to get a Chinook to warm things up a bit. One last chance to get out and do some of that yard work we have bee procrastinating about. Picking up the frozen dog rockets and picking up the garbage that has blown around. Actually I picked up after the dogs but we have a whole new collection of trash thanks to a gale that came through last week for a few days. (But unless it gets warmer that's not going to happen.. A bit of snow covers a multitude of sins.)

But I can't put off getting the Christmas Lights up. I don't want to look like the Grinch house. It looks like there will be lots of lights this year because some folks have their's up already. I think people are coming to Calgary this year. They don't put up lights if they are going away. So judging by the show this will be the place to be come December 25. And it is much more fun to put the lights up when it is warm. So a Chinook would be nice.

Hunkered down by the fire till the Chinook comes...


Friday, November 9, 2007

Give the Guns Away Free Then Sell the Bullets

There was an article on the web today talking about the price of ink for Kodak printers. And how Kodak was lowering the price on their ink which was overpriced to begin with etc etc. Well whoop-tee-do. It is their traditional approach. They used to give away Brownie cameras and then soak folks for the film. It is the idea that you give away the guns then sell the bullets to make your money. Cheap device expensive consumables. Why is this a surprise?

The worst case I saw for that was with a Lexmark printer I bought. The printer was $67 and came with 2 smaller ink cartridges. The printer was capable of using larger cartridges but they cost $79 a set. The small replacements were $45 a set. So what to do? I went with the larger replacements, getting hosed in the process. If the printer came from the factory with the larger cartridges I would have been better off getting a whole new printer. But it only comes with the small ones so replacing the machine just to replace the small cartridges was not viable. Pretty sneaky these printer guys. But let me tell you the next time they jack the cartridge prices look out. Also if the printer gives me one hiccup of trouble it is out the door too.

What was it Stompin' Tom sang? "The consumer they call us we always get a fair shake. We buy a Fridge that doesn't freeze and a stove that doesn't bake!" He nailed it pretty good if you ask me. And electronics are the worst offenders.

Take IPODs for example or MP3 players to a lesser extent. You can get a 500 meg IPOD that will store 700 songs. Several days worth of music non stop but is that good enough? No sir you need the 1 gig IPOD because you absolutely cannot live with out your top 1440 songs. Who has a list of 1440 top songs? No one. No one has 700 favorites either. I will put money on it no one, except the odd weirdo with too much time on their hands, can even list 700 songs. So what do they need a one gig for? Just cause they can afford it and it is bigger than their buddy's.

Everything is hype these days. They gouge you on the prices and hype it up till you think you can't live without it. Well give your head a shake folks do you really believe the hype?

And Christmas is coming. Hypee Holidays. Watch the companies ramp up the hype. The excited states are teetering on a recession so this will be their last chance to fleece the old consumers before the crunch. Better get the hype in gear big time. An one of their favorite tricks is to give the guns away free and then sell the bullets.

Mortgage Christmas and Hype the New Year...


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


We took the new van out to Banff on the weekend. It was Indian summer in Calgary and we wanted to try out the van. It was not Indian summer in Banff. A mere 80 miles and a few hundred feet in elevation and its winter. It was right cold and snowy out there and there was a wind off the Bow. Wind in the mountains. Aren't they supposed to stop the wind? Maybe it was just the fact that it was colder than we expected that made the wind so cold. The girls did not seem to care. There were squirrels or at least squirrel scents to get them excited as we walked them around town. So they were excited and let everyone know with an impromptu concert.

It will sure be nice when they get that town finished construction. World famous Banff Avenue was all torn up. In fact you could not drive right down the main drag. But since we did not know that there was construction we were pleased to see a reduction in traffic. Usually Banff rush hour runs from 10 am to 2 am. But last weekend traffic was bearable. Its the shoulder season up there too so that helped. The shoulder season is too late for summer but too early for skiing. Just the right time for us semi locals.

We did not get into the shops. We left too late in the day and spent too long walking the dogs around so all we did was grab a quick bite at Melissa's Missteak. One of our favorite restaurants. They specialize in homemade soup and sandwiches at lunch time and we like to go there. I expect that their steaks are good given the name but we are usually there at lunchtime. The food is good the rices are reasonable and the servings are too big. Everything you want in a restaurant. After a late lunch it was time to go home.

We could not find a parking spot in the outdoor lot so we had to park in the parkade. It was free but we wound up on the top level. Now normally I would take the stairs but with two dogs in tow that could be dangerous with leashes and all coming down four flights. You take your life in your hands going down three steps from the deck some mornings. So we took the elevators. And it was a glass elevator to boot. But the girls surprised us they did not panic or get excited, The rode down and back up like a couple of pros. You'd have though they did it every day, Someone had spilled potato chips and they did not even eat those. They were real ladies.

They did not think being left in the car was a good idea and sang a bit then but that is because we were obviously going for another walk and a ride in the funny little room and not taking them. We could have tied them up outside the restaurant but the last time we did that we almost lost Tiara. She chewed through her lead. It would have taken the girls about a minute to replicate the feat. Then we would have had to chase down two hounds in a town full of squirrel scents. No small trick. So the van was the best place for them but I think they would give you an argument on that.

All in all it was a good trip. The new van performed better than I expected (Chrysler sure fixed the cruise control as it kept the speed up on Scott Lake Hill both ways the old van could not do that even new,) The ride was good and quiet. Banff was not it's usual crazy self. And the girls were good as gold, if it would have been Indian summer it would have been a perfect trip.

Sitting back trying to get warm...


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fighting the Flu

There is one thing according to the pitchmen that children will share in a Daycare and that is a virus. And they do. With everyone the caregivers included. And since Ellen is a caregiver she gets her share too. But she has been there long enough to be relatively immune to what ever the little darlings can dig up. And I do mean dig since most of them are hard rock nose miners! But since Ellen is semi immune she becomes a carrier only. And I wind up with the little gifts that keep on giving.

But I must be developing immunity too. There is something going round the office and nearly everyone has or had it to one degree or another except me (knock on wood). Or if I did get it it was a very mild bout. (But I am worried that I may just be the last in line for this bug so when everyone else is over it I will be sick. If that happens it happens.)

Now building up immunity vicariously is a good theory but an alternative might be it might be the walks. I walk the girls every day three times a day weekdays and twice a day on weekends, (that is because they usually get longer walks during the day on weekends and I like to sleep in till 6:30 or 7:00 on weekends). I think the daily constitutional is having the effect of keeping the cold bugs at bay. The cold weather especially makes you tougher and the fresh air is less contaminated than being inside the house every day. I think that the little break from sitting in the house all day gives you just enough of a break for you to beat the bugs.

I think it works that way for the dogs too, when we first got them, both of them, they got bouts of vomiting a diarrhea, but after a few months of daily walks they are in fine shape. A little sleepier than some but in the pink otherwise.

And now that it is flu season I am going to keep up the walking. If it is the way I think it is I should be able to walk away from the flu. Just 20 or 30 minutes (depending on stops right girls) 3 times a day should do it. If it doesn't I could try an apple a day.

So where did those leashes go...


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

"You load 16 tons and what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt"

Well except for the 16 tons that's me today. I upgraded the van yesterday. Traded the old on in on a leaseback with a lot fewer kilometers. We also stepped up a model to the Grand Caravan now that we don't have the truck I thought we could do with the extra hauling capacity. The fact is that the van can carry more than the Truck because you can get a full 4X8 sheet in the back of the Grand Caravan. My truck only had a 6 foot box and with the cap on it could haul less than the new van.

So some time tomorrow I will become the proud owner of yet another used car. Oops, "Pre-owned" vehicle. Ellen particularly likes that phrase and gets a kick out of it when the sales guys try to make a used car sound better than it is by using the old "pre-owned" when they know full well it means "used". But then again the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is the car salesman knows he's lying.

At any rate the new van is a 2007. A lease back with 30000KM. Hardly broke in. I have 2 years left on the bumper to bumper warranty and the balance of the 5 year 100000KM drive train warranty. And who ever took out the lease ate the biggest chunk of the depreciation. So I saved between 5 and 7 grand over the price of new maybe more. I don't know what that is in American dollars. Ha!

The salesman was also surprised that I was not concerned with the color. This is the bright ruby red that you see in all the dodge ads. Their flagship color. I just did not want a real dark color because it gets hot fast and we sometimes leave the dogs in the car. So the red is a change from the white I have had and not too dark I hope. It will look good with the red and white Alberta plates.

This van has the stow and go seating. On the plus side I can fold the seats away and have lots of room real quick, on the down side the exhaust is hung real low and might be a problem when I have to take a load to the dump or when we have our annual 2 foot dump of snow in March or April. But the sales guy was quick to assure me that they have not had any problems with it. We will see. I'm sure that with my luck I can have a problem.

As a lease back it has lots of toys, bells and whistles. That's how the lease system works. You lease all the toys you want then pay for it for a long time then trade it in so you can get more toys and bigger payments. The guy who comes along behind you gets a good deal on a "pre-owned" car with all the toys. Good for us Johnny-come-lately's. Not so good if you are keeping up with the Joneses.

My old van they gave me 3000 and change. That seems to be the going rate these days. But with 224000 KM or 140000 miles no one will give you much even though the thing is still basically sound. It's road worthy and I probably could have had another couple of years out of it. But without the truck it did not have the hauling capacity I wanted. You get to rely on a truck pretty quick. I don't know how I got by without it before. Not often but when you need it it is nice to have. And my service guy (Mike at the Certigard in Douglas Square always gives you a square deal I recommend him whenever I can) said that there were a few things coming up that were going to cost about a grand fairly soon. Just maintenance things. The idlers on the fan belt were making noise and the belt was due for replacement. The belt isn't so bad but the noisy idlers were stuck and would have had to have been replaced a 300 dollar touch. And the timing belt on the engine is inside the engine you usually get 150 - 200 000 kms on one of those before it goes. That is another 500 dollars. The Struts were due, 250 each minimum 2. So it seemed like time to look at putting the old van out to pasture. Nothing really wrong just wear and tear.

But I did give the guy a deal on the old one. I left all the dog hair in the back. There must be near 50 pounds. More than enough to knit a whole set of car seats! But can you imagine he was ungrateful. He actually complained about it. Just goes to show you he doesn't know what a real treasure he has there. Imagine genuine beagle hair seat covers a rare prize indeed! Just like the ones in my old van and the truck when I sold it.

On the edge of my seat waiting for the new van....


Friday, October 26, 2007

What a Way to Start The Day

And I missed it all. Well not all maybe but the exciting part, the part with all the action, the part where the car went flying and spinning. But Jim sure didn't, though I bet he wishes he did. On his way to work he had a fender bender. Right outside the office right in full view of my window if I had been looking out at that moment but no, I had my nose in my work. I didn't even hear anything.

My buddy Jim was on his way to work. He was slowing down to make the turn into the parking lot fortunately, when an idiot ran a stop sign right in front of him. The idiot almost made it. Jim couldn't stop and hit the back end of his car. The idiot spun around twice and ended up crosswise across the road. I didn't see it but a young girl in a car right behind Jim did. We only saw the aftermath, that's Dave Z and me, and he was just as upset at missing it as I was probably more because he would have had a better view.

Now its not that we want a big accident but in the years we have been in the new office, we have seen the traffic increase on the road over 100 percent. We have watched the city police set up a regular radar trap at the bottom of the hill and nab speeders at will until they had more than enough donut money for the whole squad. We regularly hear squealing tires as we have yet another near miss. And when we finally have an accident involving one of our own no less we missed it.

So that was how Jim started the day with a bang not a whimper. And it caused a good deal of excitement for a while this morning. No injuries or gore, hell the idiot didn't even spill his coffee. Totaled his car most likely but kept the extra large double double. Now Jim gets to try and get his car fixed. It is drivable but all the plastic on the front, and these days that's a lot, and with insurance rates and accidents and shortages of help, etc. etc. Its going to be December before they can get Jim's car in.

And whatever good came out of it, Jim owes to his witness. Jim really didn't see the Idiot till it was too late but his witness saw him, she saw Jim hit his brakes, she saw the guy run the stop sign and more importantly she told the police and kept the Idiot on the straight and narrow when his story started to change to the police. It seems she though that it could have as easily been her rather than Jim and the Idiot was not going to get away with it. She saw to that.

So all and all it was an exciting morning. And I missed it.

Keeping a better eye out ...


Monday, October 22, 2007

Pet Tricks

It was a "Dog Disneyland" weekend. Dog Disneyland is the off leash area where we take the girls for extra special long walks. They can go off leash because they would take off at the first scent but the other dogs come over to them so they still get socialized. This weekend was Indian Summer and the park was wall to wall dogs and people. The girls loved it. Two laps on Saturday and a quick lap on Sunday. It must have been Take a Beagle to the park day on Saturday because it looked like a beagle family reunion. There were Tricolors galore and even a black and white that could have been Dixie's brother. But he didn't have her speckled ears.

So we walked the girls in the sun for what may have been the last good weekend of the fall. The forecast is for colder weather so we took advantage of the sun and the colors.

Belle was her usual self. Happy go lucky. Just having fun. She had a good day but then that's Belle she always has good days.

Dixie had a bad day. She found a treasure. Well a treasure for her anyway. To you and I it was a stick. But to her it was a treasure. Still green about a half an inch thick and a foot long, just right for chewing. Laying there by the side of the path and no other dog had picked it up. So by all the rules of the dog park it was hers. She picked it up and was walking down the path carrying the treasure. She made it nearly three quarters of the way around as the proud owner of a stick. Tail up a big grin and a treasure. You could see it made her happy.

Now I know you are not supposed to attribute human characteristics to animals but you could just see it made her happy. And what happened next proved it. Just as we were coming along the river a golden lab cam galumphing along. The brute up and took her treasure without so much as a by your leave. Well Dixie was crest fallen. Her ears dropped, tail went down and she looked like she might cry. She was visibly disappointed. Fortunately the Lab's master made the cad give her treasure back. I think she could see how it had affected Dixie too. It put the spring right back in step to get her treasure back. But its a sad tale, she started playing with a pair of beagles dropped the treasure and forgot to bring it with her.

She found another chunk of wood but it was big and ungainly and it didn't have the cachet of the original treasure so she dropped it. But she can't wait till we go to dog Disneyland where she can find a another treasure.

Hoping for another Indian Summer weekend


Saturday, October 20, 2007

On the Air

Well with some help from my brother and remote access I am on the air with the new wireless network. It works slick. I don't have to hide in the front room tethered to my desktop and router. I can now sit up here in the kitchen and get right under foot. In fact I am in the way right as I type this. Normally you would have to be a beagle to get in the way this well. Ha! My my what technology can do.

It wasn't that tough either once I was able to turn over the set up to my brother. Thanks to high speed connections on both ends he was able to get it up and running no problem. I wonder what people who don't have tech support in the families do? Thanks for your help Ted. Hello to Duncan the only nephew I didn't talk to today. Hello Kim who I did not talk to at all either.

Thanks again Ted for the clever network name which must remain private (publishing it would not be a good idea). The wife's reaction when she heard it was "Oh Cute". Coming from her that is high praise indeed. She says South Park is "Just stupid" which is the worst slur she can direct at anything. I think we did a good job because when I look for a network on this thing mine does not show up but there are a couple of others that come up with what I think are the manufacturer's defaults. So we are safe and secure. No need to try to hack my network when there are 2 more with open doors.

Broadcasting from the heart of Calgary and well underfoot...


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Computer in Every Pot

It would be nice to have a computer in every room of my house so I could use it where I want to be not where I have to be where the connections are. The desk top would stay put. But it has to it weighs enough to anchor the Titanic. Not very portable. But I have a laptop. Nice small light eminently portable. But It has to stay leashed to my router so unless I want to drag wires through the house I am stuck. Two computers on one desk (and no its not that desk yet) is silly.

Now I know there are wireless routers and hubs and I could set up a wireless network but I really don't know thing one about them. As Blanche DuBois said, "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers." especially for my serious techie stuff. Yeah I work in computers, and yeah I been doing it for more years than I care to remember but this new stuff is way past me.

Give me a database, I will normalize the sucker till hell won't have it. Program design modularity no problemo but I never was a hardware kinda guy. And all the new stuff is hardware. On the plus side they are making it so that Joe Sixpack can set up his own network in the basement so it can't be too hard. Heck if the pimply faced "You-want-fries-with-that" can do it so can I.

But what is the best way or the best gear to buy. Do I want or need the best of the best or will the best of the cheapest be a better option. I know I don't want the cheapest of the cheap because you do get what you pay for (to a point.) I know that the top dollar does not mean top product (case in point Microsoft there are better and cheaper tools out there). And maybe there is something to be said for being a lemming. If I get the most commonly used stuff maybe someone will know what is snafued if I run into problems.

I guess I will just have to call my brother the techie in Winnipeg and get the dope. You see he is a techie who plays with this stuff all day every day. For work and for fun. He has a job doing what he likes to do and he gets into it big time. He also does not have a big budget for his hobbies, three kids, a cat, a dog and a mortgage will do that to you. So he has a knack of getting the best bang for the buck. That is why his opinions are usually on the money.

He will also be able to help me set it up so that I am not the local hot-spot. We already have a few of those in the neighborhood. You can tell when there is some guy sitting outside a house on the street in his car with his lap top surfing the net. Saving big bucks hitting hot spots not having to pay for his Internet. Shrewd or what. Except that with gas at a buck something a litre its costing him just as much to pay to idle his car while he surfs as it would to get a connection at home. (Probably more since Mommy and Daddy might just pay for the connection to their basement.) I'm not selfish but I think if you want to surf it should be on your own dime. The net is like a utility but it is pay as you go. Also I would not be able to control what some geek would do over my connection so better to not have them on it.

Anyway, I think a wireless network in the house would be great. I use the Internet like a phone book now it would be nice not to be sent to Coventry every time I want to use it. It would also make it handy (just like the remote for the TV). So the plan for the weekend is to find out what I need for a wireless network. First stop Winnipeg I just hope it ain't snowing out there.

Now should this thingy be smoking like that and what were those sparks about?


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Well Duh?

So Washington state passed a law that makes it illegal to text message while operating a motor vehicle. A no brainer that was due. I cannot imagine trying to compose a text message in traffic. At least not without causing a major accident. But that is just me. Apparently, according to one woman interviewed about it, she does that all the time. And she has only had once close call. She also went on record that she would be opposed to to any such law here. Well of course she would. The fact that she texts while driving is an indicator of how good her decision making is, which is to say not very.

But just like cell phones these text addicts cannot go from A to B without being constantly in touch with everyone they know. Now I have to worry that some crack berry addicted moron is cruising down the street in and overpowered rice rocket texting a message to his buddies while careening at me. Nice. I think technology is making people more and more stupid. It is lowering the common denominator to record lows. If someone can take a piece of technology and devise the most stupid use or way to use it they will.

Take texting in the first place. It is a matter of using 10 keys to replace 50 keys on a keyboard on a screen that will hold 40 characters max, not the best platform but what the heck! And to become efficient you have to shrink the English language to the equivalent of a few hundred TLA's (three letter acronyms). Hey whack job you are holding a telephone! Call the person, talk that's what the device was built for! Oh no I forgot your phone is not for talking it is for listening to music playing games and taking pictures. Of course that is why you can't live without it.

I digress. To get back to the Washington state law. It is illegal to text while driving but you cannot be stooped for it. You can only be charged if you are doing something else wrong at the same time. Washington is being criticized for that saying it makes the law much less effective. But I disagree, the Washington law makers have a loop hole. You see to my way of thinking if you are text messaging while driving you are, by definition, driving with undue care and attention. Surely they have laws against that in Washington. And if they do, voila, there is the first thing they did wrong and you can now nail them for the secondary infraction. Pretty clever I think.

Not texting anyone behind the wheel...


Monday, September 24, 2007

Winding Down

Well another summer has come and gone and life at the RV Camp is winding down. Some years you get a cold snap then an Indian summer and it is kind of nice but not this year. Its been cool and damp and cloudy all fall, well weekends anyway. The summer weekends were great but its been a dreary fall. Only one more week of that to go though. We are closing up the trailer next week. Then I am sure things will turn around.

I am having a deck built. for two reasons. First I have built decks before and they are not all that exciting and B I just can't do it for the price I am being quoted. The contractor is a fellow camper who has a contracting company in town here. He is getting on (ain't we all) and is winding down his company here. But he wants to keep his hand in so he will do small projects up at the park. And the difference between what he can do it for and what it would cost me is not significant enough for me to give up a couple of months of weekends. He will have it done in two days this week if the weather holds. He has already had the materials delivered. And good stuff it is too. As a contractor he can get better stuff for less than I can. So he is building my deck.

I won't be putting the roof on it until next year when I have a few bucks put away but we could use the deck. We can't put up fences according to the by laws so if we have a deck with a rail we will be able to let the girls out loose on the deck. They will probably like that more than being on the leash all the time. A deck will be nicer than the temporary stairs we have now too.

At any rate that will be going in this week. I have applied for the permits so the park is letting the construction go ahead It will likely be the last one this year or if it rains the first one next year. We are going to close it down next weekend so we may or may not have a deck. But we will see. I hope it is done this year as it would be nice to be able to use it first time out next year.

There have sure been a lot of changes up there starting with the skirting on the old trailer then the new one, then skirting that and finally the deck (maybe). But they're all changes for the better. I think they were all good decisions investment wise. The site is worth much more than we paid including the cost of the new trailer. If we had to sell we could easily recoup our investment plus. In the mean time we have a very nice unit to use.

And where, you may ask are the pictures? Well I did take my camera this weekend and the yard did not look like a scene from Twister. But it was dull and dreary and there are stacks of lumber every where and i still had not cleaned the bugs off the top of the trailer. (It came from somewhere near TO and there were bugs stuck to the top which had not been covered in transit so it got covered with bugs in transit. Not very attractive. I cleaned it up in the rain yesterday so they wont be hanging on it when I get out there next year. And Maybe I'll get pictures with the new deck next week. That is if I can remember the camera and if we have the time and If the weather cooperates and ...and... and...

Sitting here waiting for Indian Summer...


Monday, September 17, 2007

65" Short

Well the skirt on the new trailer is done. As far as I could go, at any rate. I ran out of the vinyl sheeting 65 inches short of being done. Two more panels and I would have been done. It reminded me of the scene in "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" when Don Nott's character is running a sting of extension cords to a computer that was buried in a grave yard (a long story that I can't remember) and he came up short. Don said "You work and you slave and life up an kicks you in the teeth and you are five feet short of your goal!"

Oh well, Scott who sold me the package, is dropping off a couple of extra panels today. I will be able to finish up in about an hour or so next weekend.

And tomorrow I go to Didsbury to apply for a deck permit. Hopefully that will go smooth and we can have a deck in before the snow flies. I am getting it built. It is not that building a deck is so difficult it is just that with the price of materials what I can get it built for versus what I would pay is a difference of about $500. It is worth it to me to have someone build it for $500.

If I had the time and a helper I would do it myself. But my last helper, Ted, moved to Winnipeg. (And yes Ellen could help but it is not a good idea to work some projects with your wife especially if things go off the rails a bit. I could wind up in the dog house and even the Belle and Dixie would not join me out there.) Besides Ellen is quality control, on the skirting project she was the one who would remember how long each panel had to be because I would be thinking about other things by the time I go back to where I wanted to make the cut. She also was the one who kept track of when and where we needed to put in a "holey one" (vented panel). She also was the keeper of the tools, when I would wander off without the tape measure or pencil or tin snips she would bring them along because she knew I would need them. So you see she is a very good helper who's talents would be wasted schlepping 2X10's around.

So the deck will be contracted out. What will take them 2 days will save me about a month's worth of weekends next summer. Weekends that are better spent sitting on, barbecuing on and snoozing on a deck rather than working on one.

Why from our new deck we will be able to see Dixie run away in style. Yeah the little beggar took off an went for a tour of the woods. At 7:00 at night just as it is getting dark. We went out looking for her but we didn't see hide nor hair. Apparently there was loots to smell but nothing to track as that we would have heard. I though she was a goner. But at 9:00 she came back calm as you please, standing looking in the sliding door with a look that said "I'm back! Isn't it cookie time?" The clip on her leash had come undone on the harness. I don't know how or what she did to accomplish it but let me tell you I will be watching. So she was in my bad books Saturday night and Sunday. Belle was good and we should have listened to here when Dix took off, she set up a racket because she could not go too. I would have had her track Dixie but that would have had the three of us, Dix, Belle and me, all roaming round the woods without a clue. Bell is not a tracker, she is just a sniffer who goes where her nose leads. If it is after something she is supposed to find that is pure luck.

Home again 65 inches short of done...


Monday, September 3, 2007

Another Leisurely Weekend

Well it was another great weekend at the leisure park. It must have been, I ache all over from installing nailers, building stairs and leveling the site. When I felt this sore the morning after(in the old days back at the U of R) I knew I had had a great night before. So I must have had a great weekend right? I have to go back to work to get a rest.

But we have pictures. Of the interior only I will explain why later.

This is the view from the kitchen looking back,
Looking toward the kitchen
The entertainment unit and china cabinet The glass cabinets are about 14 or 16 inches deep so they have lots of space. Its too bad we have nothing to display in them. We have old camping dishes and a camp kitchen kit. The fancy china is Corelle. Maybe we can make it look like a museum exhibit of old junk.

A close up of the cabinet. The wood is oak. But the grain is not as rough as you usually see. This is smoother more like cherry. All we have in the cabinet is the lantern that we use when we take the dogs for their morning constitutional. Its sort of a "flush light".
The bedroom. It looks a little crowded in this shot but it isn't really. You can walk around the bed and you can stand up. Not an option in the fifth wheel. Lots of light too from windows in either side. Flow-thru ventilation for those nights after the campfire bean and beer dinners.

Nope didn't get one of the bathroom but it has all the trappings.

We grabbed these shots on the way out so maybe they don't do it justice it was the end of a long weekend of working and we were both kind of tired. But I hope you get the idea.

A little skirting and clean up in the yard and I will show you the outside. Right now it looks like, well a trailer park just after the twister. The skirting material is lying around and the extra siding I had from the earlier project and lots of sawdust and wood and ... well you get the picture.

So the skirting this year, a deck next year and a roof on the deck the year after or that's the plan. But you know what Robbie Burns said about the best laid plans. The skirting project this spring was part of a plan too.

Sitting here aching from my leisurely weekend...


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The New Trailer

Well its here, its been here over a week now. The new trailer and what a difference a couple of pop outs and 8 more feet make. It is a beautiful piece of workmanship my compliments to General Coach.

And I don't have pictures yet. Last Tuesday when it came in I was going to take pictures while it was being set up and I wound up doing things and helping and didn't get around to it. This weekend I was going to take pictures but I got busy building steps and stowing stuff away and reorganizing and...and...and. And I did not get any pictures then either.

This weekend no promises.

My task for the weekend is to finish the second set of steps. They were built once but because it was raining and there are too many roots in my lot they have not been installed. I have to cut them down by one step because I can't dig them down. So for the time being we have just one set of steps coming into the sliding glass door.

So let me tell you about this trailer. It was bought basically sight unseen based on the floor plan. We looked at trailers like it but not this model. We knew this one had an entertainment center and some sort of storage at the end of the living room. Some sort indeed! It has 2 china cabinets with glass doors and deep shelves. They are mounted over more cabinets with solid doors all made of oak, really nice oak. The fit and finish are first rate. even better (according to one gentleman who is looking at park models too) than the top of the line units from this same company. In my opinion they are as good as the Citation line which is the next line up from this company and as good or better than the Breckenridge which is the top line from a competitor.

We were able to stow away everything that we had in the old trailer and still have storage space to spare. There are closets everywhere and that is a little problem that I will get too. But everything that filled the old trailer just melted away into the new one. It was magic.

The new bedroom is kind of plain so we will be able to hang some pictures in there. But the bed is comfortable (or maybe we were extra tired). The dogs each had a kennel in the front room and we weren't even tripping over them. We were able to fold out the hide-a-bed with out moving the kennels and still get by it.

The fridge is as big as ours at home and just as good a quality. The stove is a small gas stove like the old trailer but it is all that we should need. It has the same oven as the old trailer which should bake as well.

The bathroom has a regular city toilet and twice as much space as the old unit. That is a real treat.

I like it, the wife likes it, the dogs like it but they don't like that they can't sit on the new couch (sorry doggies), so I think we'll keep it. The salesman who sold it to us was equally impressed and want to get one like ours to keep on his lot as a show model. He also wants to come back and take pictures of ours to put on his web site. I think he liked it too.

It does fill the lot. We could have put a 38 foot unit on the lot but we decided to only go 33 ft. and it is a good thing we did. we would have had to take down a bunch of trees to get something bigger in. This is tight as it is. We could not have got this floor plan in a 38 either and the front kitchen I think, really makes the difference. I am glad we stayed with this size.

There is nothing that we don't like about it. Oh the problem with having many closets? Well it is out of sight out of mind. We forgot a couple of things because they were put away in the closets. In the old trailer it was not a problem everything was left out because there was no place to put it. So it was there staring at you when you went to load the car. With the stuff in the closet we only missed it when we got home. It's a problem but I think we can learn to live with it.

Can't wait to get back up there...


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back From Vacation

And feeling like I was never gone. Why is it that the vacation relaxation spill over is only about a day or two. It seems like all the benefit of a vacation is gone within a day or two of getting back to work. All that relaxation you felt gone. All the stress relief gone. Maybe its the 400 plus emails that were here to greet you. Or maybe its the people who were here who have been working on problems and issues who just want to off load them on the first happy face they see. What a downer.

Maybe the problem is that the vacation was too good. I know mine was. Some of the best fishing in years. No it was not having the boat back up an running after two years without it. It was good fishing. I know a bad day's fishing beats a good day's work any time but when you can reel in your limit in an hour, when they are lining up to get on the hook, well that is just a good day's fishing. When you get a hit on the first cast of the year that is good fishing. When you cast once an get a fish release it and get another on your second cast that is good fishing. And that is how good the fishing was. We even got a couple of Pickerel (Walleye).

The family reunion was a success too. I met cousin's of the wife's that I had not met before. She had not seen them since she was 11 or 12 well before my time. The weather was HOT and the beer cold. The food was fantastic and yes we ate too much. We visited lots and got caught up with people we had not seen since the last reunion 12 years ago. Everyone got along. The only disappointment I saw was the young boy (wife's cousin's daughter's boy) who wanted to get a picture of the hummingbird. He waited a couple of hours to get it and the bird just did not show up that night. Well maybe I can make it up to him. I got some really nice shots a few days later that I can e-mail out. (No they won't be posted for a while as I am still rebuilding my primary system since my hard drive crashed.)

I got acquainted with my niece. She is 6 and a going concern. She was my buddy because we had the dogs. You see she can't have a real dog because her brother is asthmatic. So when she got the chance to walk, feed and play with real dogs she did not let it go to waste. The girls were not lonely while she was around. And they got their vegetables every day. The green Milk bone treats are vegetable flavored and she dug through the bin each day to make sure each dog got at least one vegetable flavored one. She sure hated to leave the dogs when she had to go they got hugged and kissed and "good-bye'd" twice. I think the girls missed her

All in all it was one of the better vacations I have ever had. There were snafu's too. Like falling in the mud at La Colle falls, and having to get the vent fan replaced in the van. There were too many "wake weenies" on the lake so you were taking your life in your hand in the canoe on weekends. But on the plus side the new canoe rack worked great and the girls turned out to be good sailors in the canoe. They did not like sailing in the pontoon boat.

What's that? What's a "wake weenie"? Power boat operators who don't know or care to learn the rules of the road for boating. Their IQ is inversely proportional to the boat engine horse power. They roar around all day creating large wake waves. The one benefit of the preponderance of wake weenies is that very few fishermen use the lake any more and as a result the fishing is really good.

So why does it feel like I was never away?

Getting stressed again as usual....


Monday, July 23, 2007

Beating the Heat

It's HOT. Africa Hot. 32 degrees celcius. Good thing it is a dry heat. No Humidity to add to the discomfort. Too hot to even take the dogs for a walk. It's a good thing our new trailer will have AC. Yeah we did it. Got tired of being debt free and took the plunge again. but at least this time the loan is with a bank I deal with so its not all that bad. I won't lose track of it anyway. I will be reminded every time I check my banking on line.

So what have we got or will we get - a 33 ft park model with 2 pop outs. Since it was already built we had to take the Air conditioning option, in this heat it was an easy sell. It will be more like a small cabin than a trailer. It has a bedroom with a real door so the next time the brother in law stays and wants to get frisky we can close the door and let them. But be warned Mr B the dogs are not used to noises in the next room and may set up a howl.

It still just sleeps 4 but that's enough. We have never had too much company in the old one. 4 adults inside and a tent outside for the kids. Hey you're camping aren't you!

The kitchen is at the front and will face the road. That way anyone walking by will not be looking right into the living room (which is the second bedroom when the hide a bed is out), Also we won't be looking at the road all the time but will be able to look out a window when we are cooking. The living room looks out on the trees. The bed room is in the back where it is quiet.

The kicker though, is a real bathroom, someplace big enough to let me change my mind in, with a real toilet not a camper toilet. And a shower that is usable for something more than a bird bath.

And lets not forget the Air conditioning that I was forced to get and I will really appreciate cause it is HOT. Africa Hot.

Sweating like a stuck pig...


Monday, July 9, 2007

Trailer Number 3

Done. The skirting is finally done so what are we doing to celebrate! Ha! Looking at park models. For those of you not familiar with the term it is a mobile home that you set up and just leave in one place. Like we are doing right now with the trailer. But I think that went out the window for a year or so anyway. Actually we a looking at a "park trailer" same thing only narrower with slide outs. The sales-double-speak-people are getting pretty good with the weasel words.

We won't be able to afford it having paid out the house and paying out the trailer loan too. The trailer originally cost us 6 grand more than I remembered. And when we amortized it over 15 years (10 years ago) it was a good deal. Now we want to upgrade but we still owe way too much. It is costing nearly a hundred dollars a month in interest. So we are going to scrape our scheckles together and pay it off. They have got enough interest from me. They don't pay bugger all but sure sock it to ya on a loan so we are getting out from under. It will mean that the upgrade will have to be put off a while but we have time.

The sales guy, in addition to wanting to be my best friend, says we want to avoid the price increase for next year. What that means is he need the cash flow this year. Sorry about that new best friend. By this time next year we will still be ahead of the game. In the mean time the Lotto has to pay someone every once in a while and my fingers are firmly crossed. If we wait in 3 years we can be back where we were cash wise and not have any debt. That might just be the best plan.

If we do want to get into a park model this year I might consider selling the truck and trailer as a package. I put just about 5000 km's on the truck in the past 2 or 3 years. And only because I made 2 trips to Kelowna with it to help folks move. Do I need a truck, yeah it is a nice to have but I don't need a 3/4 ton 'cause I won't be pulling a fifth wheel. So I could sell the truck and trailer as a package. Then we could go for a park model this year.

Lots to think about.

Sitting here with a very sharp pencil...


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Trailer Project

Well I'm almost done the skirting project. I would be done but I can't remember things. Didn't make sense? Well you see if I would have remembered my belt sander I would be done. The door was the last thing I made and I made it just a bit too tight. A few minutes with the belt sander and it will fit just perfectly. But as luck would have it I forgot to bring the sander up on the weekend so because I can't remember things I am not done.

Technically since the door does close and I can lock the storage compartment I am done. Memory or no. But I would like to be truly finished with the i's dotted and the t's crossed. (That may have to wait until I get my old storage bin moved in and the trailer storage compartment cleaned out of peanuts and squirrel nests.) So I probably will not be finished this weekend. It's Stampede time. So we are only going out for the night on Friday and coming back Saturday. Its tradition to go Stampeding the first Sunday of Stampede just me, the wife, and 150,000 of our closest friends. But who am I to argue with tradition.

But back to the project, now that it is done-ish, and since the mortgage is paid off we have started to look at park models again. A larger trailer would be nice. The extra room that comes with pop outs would sure make a difference. and now that I know I can build the skirting, well a new trailer would be very nice with a deck maybe with railings so we can let the dogs out. But I could do that for this trailer too. Maybe next year. This year I can putter around getting my storage space squared away...

Now lets see will those chairs fit in that corner?...


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sick as a Dog

Dixie was sick this morning. Fine last night, roaring around, instigating, chasing Belle, all in all fine and healthy. This morning when I went to unhook her to let her out she was tangled in her lead. When I lifted her paw to untangle her she howled like I was killing her. Her stomach was hard and she would howl if you pressed it even lightly. She was listless, did not want to be on the walk particularly. She could not jump up on the couch without howling or whining. You'd have thought she was dying.

She ate her breakfast but with not the same relish that she normally puts into it. She beat Belle in the race that eating has become but not by her usual margin. So something was wrong but it was not fatal. I went to work. I called the emergency vet from the office. I described the symptoms and they said bring her in. They sounded pretty concerned so I asked my boss for the morning off to deal with the poor sick dog. I have lots of vacation time left so it was no problem.

I came home and she was eager to get outside. I thought it was because it was nice out. But I was wrong. Now, I had not seen her poop since Saturday night (Having to pick up after her you keep an eye out for those things.) It is now Tuesday morning. She has been eating healthy for the last 2 days. And now as I am waiting on her to take her to the vet she starts to go. And go, and go. And when she is done she seemed to be perked up. So I put off going to the vet to see if she gets better on her own. Her belly is not distended anymore and also not tender. I can pick her up and she doesn't howl. So it seems that her problem was.. well, she was just full of it. Now I grant you it was dump that probably made her pants fit better but I gave up half a day of vacation to watch the dog take a dump.

Bags and pooper scooper at the ready...


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Well we did it, for the second time. Okay get your mind's out of the gutters. We paid off the mortgage. We are mortgage free for the second time. Last time it lasted about 3 years before we added on to the house and bought our RV lot. I wonder how long I can hold out this time before I drag myself back in to a financial quagmire.

We didn't owe that much, we had the savings to cover it and they were not making much interest so we decided to up the return on our savings by paying off the mortgage. Net effect we went from a net loss of 2 1/2 percent to 0 percent return cause the money was spent. So while we are making nothing we are saving 2 1/2 percent (Since the term deposits were only earning 3 percent and the mortgage was 5 and 1/2 ) Now we can save the money we were paying on the mortgage and invest it theoretically.

Anyway it is good to see no loans on the books. We are in the black. The light at the end of the tunnel was not just another train on the same track. Can you imagine?! So what to do with all our lucre. I don't know but it probably won't earn very much. But we do have a very valuable asset free and clear. This house is a two storey, originally 1000 square feet or so that we added on to to bring it up to 1300 sq feet.

Original purchase price $72,000 in 82 at 18 percent (where the hell is that rate now that I have savings eh?) Paid off the first time in 94. Then we added on for 50000 and bought the RV lot for another 20000 or so. so between the two properties we have 140000 invested. The interest we paid is, frankly money down the rat hole so we won't even go there. I learned now that I can sell the house for almost 400K (Yep it's Calgary home of house prices that make Torontonians nostalgic for the 80's). The lot is probably good for another 50-75K. So that makes it nearly half a mil if I wanted to be homeless. Am I a lucky investor or what? That's it dumb luck. Don't let anyone tell you that they planned it in the real estate market. It is all of us that are in my positions who are saying how the heck do I get my money out of this? If I could figure that out I would be clever.

I do know one guy who has or is sort of doing it. A buddy at work is selling out an moving back to Saskatchewan. He will be out from under (way out because his house doubled since he bought it) he will have enough to get a very make that very very nice place in Regina and rather than being unemployed as he thought he would be the company will let him set up and work his same job out of our Regina branch. (Computers are clever things he can work there live cheap and do the same job.) And it wasn't his idea, he only wanted to go back to be close to elderly parents and family. He was planning to quit and look for a job when he got there.

So that's the solution I guess. Sell out here, move back to Saskatchewan a go there and take a job or better yet the same job. Well Saskatchewan is nice but I think I'll wait till the company opens a warehouse in Lahaina Maui.

Still working on Freedom 85...


Monday, June 11, 2007

Skirting the Issue

Well it was anything but leisurely at the Tall Timber Leisure Park this weekend. I was, with the help of brother in-law Dave, able to build the skirting/storage compartment under the hitch of my trailer. Well most of it anyway. I still have to install the door and side the outside with Vinyl siding. You would think that it would be straight forward now wouldn't you but it turned out that each side was a custom build.

The back wall was only 2 feet tall but had to be built completely and sided before it went in because I could not picture myself trying to crawl under the trailer and finish it. (Well, I could picture it and believe me it was not pretty.) Then the side walls which you would think would be similar weren't because one has a door and the other is solid, so the framing is different. And the front was different again. But we got it framed up in Saturday. And my wife and I were able to get it sheeted on Sunday. Next weekend we will finish it if the rains hold off.

W e did manage to keep in mind that it had to be built to be dismantled. And it is modular. Ten screws and the front wall is off. 6 more and the back is off and the trailer is ready to move. The siding will overlap into the corner bead but will not be attached to the end wall so that when the wall is unfastened the siding will slide free.

But my estimating skills are sure out to lunch. I bought a third too much sheeting, (two sheets can go back. And about that much too much 2X4, six of them to go back. I also have an extra 2X2. Oh well money back in my pocket and a good reason to go back to the hardware store. I don't need anything else I just want to go back to the hardware store. (It's a GUY thing.)

Here are some pictures. The before:

And the after: (OK so not quite after. How about the half way after.)

There is sure going to be a big expanse of white. I hope we don't go snow blind when we are lounging by the camp fire. I bet I would have enough room in there to store a good stack of fire wood and keep it real dry. I will have to see how much space is left after the little storage bin, the chairs and the table go in. We will wonder how we lived without it.

This is something that I probably should have done a few years ago before the squirrels found the storage compartment. But It'll be done soon and I can clean out the compartment and things will be good as new. Everyone will be happy and the squirrels, well who cares. as the tree huggers say they were here before we were so they should know how to fend for themselves.

Only one problem with the weekend was that I was so tired Saturday night I missed the excitement. I completely slept through the wildlife tour. A moose came trampling in off the river and marched straight through the park. And I slept through the Fireworks. A couple of newbies to the park, who didn't use the brains God gave an ice cube, had a fire works war and were back in the woods launching fireworks at one another. They must have thought they were in Gaza or something. The RCMP were called to do the peace keeping in Gaza West. The things you miss when you conk out at 9:00

Ready to hang siding...


PS: Remember a few posts back I mentioned my niece's little girl Jordan well here is a picture of the whole family, big brother Blake, Momma Samantha, Papa Rob, and the tiny one is Jordan.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Summer's Back

Summer's back. And we were up to the trailer for the weekend. I had to plant those 15 trees Perry gave me. And I did manage to find space for them all. Now if it rains they will be off to a grand start. The trailer park is coming back to life. It sure makes a difference when all the lots are full. There were about half the people there last weekend. Not too crowded nice and quiet. I slept like a log and so did Ellen and the dogs. (The snoring from all of us I suspect was just the proof. I wonder if that voilates the quiet time rules?) It is just so relaxing up there.

The river is high and fast right now and brown. It is cleaning out all the gullies all the way back to Saskatchewan Crossing. If there are fish in it they are eating dirt and going on a the Red Deer's version of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride.

We will be back again next weekend. I have a project. Now much as i like to kick back and do nothing when I am up there i have to do this project. I am going to skirt under the hitch part of the trailer all the way back of the front storage compartment. Hopefully when it is done the squirrels will not be able to get in. Someone was feeding them, probably last fall, because the front compartment is loaded with peanuts. So I am walling the little beggars out.

After that I think it is fair game to kill any that do come back. They can go live with the vermin feeders. Isn't it interesting that the "tree huggers" who get upset when you threaten vermin are the same dough heads who feed the blighters. Which fortunately for my side results in them becoming dependent on people who are not there for them through the winter. Result dead vermin.

They also argue that the squirrels were there first and people who don't like them should learn to live with them. But I ask you, where in their evolution did they find peanuts in Alberta before? Nowhere that's where. But as I said feeding them is good for my side. Well hopefully the problem will be solved by the end of the weekend. For me at least. For the squirrels they have new problems.

Still figuring the details on the skirting...


PS Better bring the camera for before and after photos. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain on Saturday. (But the trees can drink their fill during the week)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sick Puppy

We took a little trip on the weekend. The Victoria Day Weekend is the first camping weekend of the year and the first weekend at the trailer for us usually. But this year my mother in law is hosting a family reunion. So we went up to her cabin at Emma Lake and helped her get it in shape by steam cleaning the carpet. Fortunately we did not miss anything because it was wet an dreary all weekend. It even snowed at the lake the night before we arrived.

While we were there Belle ate or drank something that did not agree with her, and she's been a sick puppy ever since. Now being sick is not a problem everyone gets sick, but she needed to be let out every 4 hours. And she is a Beagle and the yard at the cabin is not fenced so you have to take her out on the lead. At 3:00 am, there I was, three nights running, holding the dog while she tried to poop. She felt that she had to go so out we went. The Victoria day weekend is also getting a reputation as a "Party" weekend at the lake. And I'm sure the RCMP would have wondered what kind of party I was up to at that hour clad as I was in a jacket, runners and fruit of the looms holding a dog. Fortunately they (nor anyone else) came by. (Hey it was O-dark Hundred for Pete sakes.) Had anyone come along I think they would have wondered who was the sick puppy.

We got home two days ago and now Belle is on the road to recovery. She was examined by the vet (quite rudely she would say) and given antibiotics and Pepto Bismal to settle her stomach and she slept through the night last night. She is off food for two days and she is not sure she will survive that. What's more she gets to watch the other dog eat when she can't. That is really cruel and unusual punishment. She will be over that at supper time tonight.

It will take a lot more time to clean up what the really sick puppies did. There was a bush party at the lake (well a few actually) and to celebrate the attendees drove around and overturned garbage bins, pulled out traffic signs, smashed things, tore down cabin signs and generally behaved like a bunch of sickos. Why they have to be so destructive is beyond me. It happened up at the lake and it happened in the back country here as well from what the papers say.

What is it about nature than makes people stupid? In Saskatchewan they were not permitting alcohol into the parks to prevent that sort of thing so the rowdies moved out of the park into the private cabin and camping areas. Out here they went into the back country where the rangers did not patrol and left litter debris and destruction (including burned out cars) in the wilderness. Sure it was a long winter and sure the weather wasn't the best last weekend so burn up buddy's car that will make things better. How were those morons raised?

My sick puppy will be better in a day or two. The ignorant jerks that caused the destruction will never get better they will just get more money so they can destroy more. It makes you wonder who the sick puppies really were. And by the way calling them sick puppies just gives dogs a bad name.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Baby Boom

Last week we had a mini baby boom around here. A friend from work and his wife had a baby girl on Friday and my niece had a baby girl on Sunday. Quang and Paula had Hillary 6 pounds 6 and a half ounces and Sam's little Jordan Danielle came early on a Sunday morning at seven pounds 8 ounces.

Two little girls at the same place (Foothills Hospital) and just about the same time. But how different. Quang is my age his wife of just over 4 years is 26. A 24 year age difference. And now they have a second child. Their first Ted is just about 3. To start a family at this age, he had more moxie than I have. We are old enough to be grand parents and then some. Well its like I told him, it will work out well by the time the kids are out of diapers he will be back in them. He will be in his seventies by the time they are through college.

Now Sam is just about 23, this is her second one too. Her "little" boy Blake is 2 going on three and a going concern. (I call him Hoss after Hoss Cartwright whom he resembles physically and personality wise.) Now her family is complete with "little sister" Jordan. Sam and Rob are just starting out. There kids will be on there own by the time they reach my age.

Those two little girls will have very different lives and to think they came in so much together. It will be a different life, but hopefully one with promise for both of them.

Good luck Hillary and Jordan and all the best in the world to you.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Arbor Day

Apparently it was Arbor day recently. You remember arbor day from back when you were in school. Everyone got a tree, went home, planted it and watered it faithfully for a week then let it die. Well my neighbor is a school custodian and he dropped off a bundle of 15 little trees and I will be taking them up an planting them on my RV lot. Up there they will be on their own but they will have lots of large cousins around. But that is not the point of this post.

My point is with all the interest in a green society and ecology why isn't arbor day a big deal any more. Planting trees should be promoted more than it is. I suppose it is a reflection of the time and the instant society we live in. Time was planting a tree and nurturing it through the years until it could stand on its own was important. Now people want instant landscape. They do not have time to work to make the tree grow. It is easier to buy full grown or trees and just stick them in. Then let it take care of itself. People are too busy and they want instant gratification.

Arbor day could be a good example on a couple of fronts. First it would be good for the environment to plant trees. And second it could teach children and people in general the value of patience and persistence. When we were kids Arbor day was a big deal we looked forward to it and I did try to care for my little tree for more than a few days but I think I planted them in the wrong place where they would get scorched by the sun or winter killed or trampled bu that was poor planning. But in this day and age where the environment is foremost in many people's mind It might be time to make a big deal of Arbor day again.

Thanks for the trees Perry. I will give them a good home and maybe in a few years they will be something to see.

Got my spade and my water bucket and I'm off to plant my forest...


Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Companion/Accpomlice For Belle

She's working out so I guess she'll stay. "Who?" you ask. Dixie the new beagle we adopted from the Humane society. I did not like it that Belle was alone all day so we kept an eye out for a companion for her. And about three weeks ago we got one. Another Beagle. They are pack dogs aren't they. She was sort of on a trial basis, then she got sick and nearly died (a combination of a virus and stress) but now she is settling in quite well.

The society said she was three years old but others who have seen her and examined her put her age at 1.5 to 2 years max. She had a home once because she is trained. She surprised me the other day by doing roll overs when I was trying to get her to just lie down. She barks, (as much as beagles bark, more of a howl) when people go by the yard (not entirely a bad thing) and she keeps Belle good company. She is a smart little dog, kind of on the thin side. Too thin for my eye. She makes Belle look like a little fat dog which she may be a little. She was skittish and nervous. She's not as trusting of people as Belle is. (Belle's motto "I never met a potential source of snacks that I didn't like!"). But she is settling in.
So there they are Belle and Dixie, a couple of angels with dusty halos!
Well its walk time, now where did I put those bags?

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Rocket Car Chapter 9


So there you go. That's the whole story of the Rocket Car,
or at least the part that I was involved with. I never went back
to the mine, and as far as I know, neither did Jimmy. We
discussed what we'd do about the wreckage while driving back to
town, but nothing we came up with seemed to make a lot of sense.
The road running past the mine wasn't very well-travelled, but we
knew that the only reason we hadn't been spotted was because
the whole thing happened so early in the morning. If we went back
to the site later that day, there was a fair chance we'd be
spotted. Of course we'd taken that chance before, especially
during the brake test the day before. But then we had the option
of rolling the car into the mine shaft and getting out of there
if anyone seemed curious. And at the very worst, we'd get nailed
for putting train wheels on a Chevy, then sticking it on an
abandoned track. I'm pretty sure there no law against THAT.

But now there was a very obvious piece of forbidden
military hardware in plain view, and no easy way to get it out of
there. The thing that kept repeating over and over in my head as
I drove back to town was that paragraph in my Dad's auction
paperwork. The one dealing with possession of controlled military
hardware. Specifically, the part detailing prison sentences
and outrageous fines. It was then that I started to think that
the best way to handle the whole thing would be to not handle it
at all. Pretend it never happened, and hope nobody connected the
car wreck to us.

And that's exactly what we did.

Actually, timing and nature lent a hand. The following day
was Easter Sunday, and there was no way Jimmy or I were going to
avoid spending it with our families. And even if we wanted to, it
wasn't a good day to be screwing around out in the desert. Late
Saturday night a windstorm kicked up, strong enough to make the
local TV stations interrupt programming with traveler's
advisories in our area. Nothing very odd about that, not in our
area in the springtime. Actually it was a pretty common
occurrence. But this time I was thrilled to hear the reports.
High winds and blowing sand could only serve to obscure the signs
of what we'd been doing in the desert that morning, and the
fewer signs, the better. When I got up on Easter morning, I saw
patches of sand that had blown around on the street in front of
the house, and was encouraged by the sight. If sand was blowing
across the streets in the middle of town, it must've really been
kicking ass in the desert. Later that morning I saw Jimmy at
church, and even though we weren't alone long enough to
talk about anything, we exchanged several Significant Looks.

And the next day, Jimmy went back to college.

I went back to work at the scrapyard, and I have no idea
what Beck and Sal did. I just spent the next few days trying to
act as normal as possible, expecting a police car to show up at
the yard any minute. But curiosity finally got the best of me,
and I called Beck on Wednesday. We met that night at the same bar
where we'd discussed brakes for the Rocket Car, and Beck told me
he HAD been out to the mine, actually a couple of times. Once he
even brought a camera and took a few pictures, because what
he saw was so damned funny.


I couldn't figure out what he could think was funny about
the whole thing, since I was there when it happened. But he
explained it to me, and afterwards I had to agree, it WAS kind of
funny. The storm that blew through the area on Saturday night had
indeed eliminated most of the signs of what we'd been doing near
the mine over the past few days. The tire tracks made by his
Dad's pickup were completely eliminated, and the railroad tracks
themselves were almost re-buried. But the Rocket Car was still
exactly the same as it was when we left, ass end hanging out of a
pile of rubble with a rocket sticking out of it. I'd hoped Beck
was going to tell me that drifting sand had covered the remains
of the car, but it hadn't.

I was waiting for the funny part, but it didn't seem to be

Finally Beck reminded me of what the scene looked like to
a person driving TOWARD the crash site. I had to visualize it,
since I'd never actually seen it. You drive down the stretch of
road, toward a butte that used to have a mine entrance in the
side of it. But now there IS no mine shaft, just the rear end of
a car sticking out of the side of the butte.

And, of course, the twin skidmarks on the highway where
Beck's truck leaped onto the roadway. Skidmarks pointing directly
at the Rocket Car. Just like you'd see in a Roadrunner cartoon.


There you go.

Now, I have to admit one thing, I didn't start hearing any
Rocket Car rumors right away. Nobody did. I didn't see any
articles in the paper, the cops never came to visit anyone (not
that I'm aware of, anyway) and I never went back to see what
happened with the Rocket Car.


Your guess is as good as mine.

The town I've been talking about isn't a huge one, but
it's not small enough so that everyone knows each other's
business, either. The road wasn't a busy one, and although the
Rocket Car was visible to someone driving past, they could easily
miss it. All I can say for sure is that whoever discovered the
car sticking out of the butte didn't make a big fuss about it.
And I'm pretty sure someone DID discover it. I saw Beck once more
after our meeting in the bar, at a Memorial Day party a few
weeks later. He was pretty drunk at the party, wanted to talk
about the whole thing, and I had a bitch of a time getting him to
a private spot so I could listen to what he had to say. He said
he'd gone out to the crash site a few days earlier, and the
Rocket Car was gone.

I said "What do you mean, gone?"

But "gone" is just what he meant. He drove past the spot,
couldn't see the car from the highway, and went down the slope to
take a look. When he got there, he couldn't find any trace of the
car ever having been stuck in the mine entrance. All I could
think at the time is that the rubble-pile must have eventually
shifted to the point where it covered the car completely. Beck
seemed doubtful when I suggested it, but like I said, he
was pretty drunk at the time. He said it looked more like the car
was pulled out of the hole and taken away, but that's a bunch of
bullshit. It has to be. To start with, none of us were there long
enough for the scene to form a lasting impression. We looked at
the wreckage for maybe fifteen minutes before we were back in
Beck's truck and hauling ass out of there. Maybe Beck saw enough
so that he could tell if the car had been moved, but I wouldn't
be able to tell.

On the other hand...

Later on I started thinking about what would have happened
if the county sheriff had driven by and seen the Chevy sticking
out of a rockslide. Or even if someone had called the sheriff and
reported it. See, the abandoned mine was far enough from town so
that it probably wasn't inside the city limits, which means that
it wouldn't be the business of the city cops. And folks who don't
live in town learn real quickly who they're supposed to call when
there's trouble. So if the site was spotted by someone
who didn't live in town, chances are they'd have called the
sheriff. Of course it MIGHT have been the business of the State
Police, but I don't know anyone who'd call the State Police in a
situation like this. Most people wouldn't even know HOW to call
the State Police. Oh, I'm sure a trooper would've stopped to
check it out if he'd spotted it while driving past, but the
troopers mainly stick to the Interstates, occasionally
pulling into one of the towns along the way for donuts or coffee.
No, if some law-enforcement outfit stopped to investigate the
crash site, it almost certainly would've been the county sheriff.

So what would HE have done?

I honestly don't know. I've got no idea if they have set
procedures for dealing with stuff like this (yeah, Section 203.1
of the Civil Code, Disposal of Jet-Propelled Railroad Equipment),
but the sheriff's office wouldn't have called the city cops
unless they HAD to. My Dad always hinted that there was some
animosity between the two departments, the city cops
considering the sheriff's department a bunch of hick-assed Deputy
Dawgs, and the sheriff's department thinking the city cops were a
gang of self-important pricks. And neither group liked the State
Police, who, by all accounts, ARE self-important pricks. If
someone from the sheriff's department came along the wreckage of
the Rocket Car, I doubt like hell they'd have told any
other law-enforcement agencies unless they HAD to. And until they
found out if there was a body inside the car, there really
wouldn't BE any reason to share the info. So their next logical
step would be to find out if there was anyone inside the car.


Dig through the rubble? That's about the only way it could
be accomplished. But it sure as hell isn't a job for the county
sheriff and a couple of deputies with shovels. It would take
heavy equipment and people who knew what they were doing. On the
other hand, why go through the trouble? When you see a car that
appears to be plugged directly into a mountainside, you don't
even assume that there are any survivors. I try to think of
what the sheriff would've done if he'd come across the crash
site, and it occurs to me that the first thing he'd have seen was
what appeared to be a rocket nozzle sticking out of the back end
of a car. If I were the sheriff, I'd have immediately called the
Army base where Dad and I got the JATOS in the first place. Who
else would be qualified to deal with such a thing? NASA? Evel

And if the Sheriff DID call the Army, and they had some
EOD people come out and take a look, anything could've happened
next. The military bomb-squad might have taken one look at the
expended rocket, told someone at the base to send out a truck
with a winch, and they may have yanked the car right out of the
rubble and taken it away. After they determined that there was no
corpse in the car, it wouldn't be the sheriff's business anymore.
Or anyone else's.

Case closed.

But I never did any serious investigation of these
possibilities, for two reasons. One, I didn't want to do any
snooping that might look suspicious. Two, I didn't hang around
town very long after that. Two weeks after the test of the Rocket
Car, I drove to.... the big-ish city I mentioned earlier, and
took the ASVAB test. That's the test they give you before
you join the military. And a few weeks after talking to Beck for
the last time, I shipped out for Navy basic training.

Before you make any assumptions about my joining the Navy
to escape the repercussions of the Rocket Car incident, let me
tell you that I absolutely did NOT. Get that thought right out of
your head. I'd been thinking about it for a long time, and if the
Rocket Car had anything to do with my joining the Navy, it was
just to give me a gentle nudge in a direction I
was already heading. Hey, take a look at the situation I was in.
I was 22 years old, living with my folks, and working for my Dad
in a junkyard at the edge of a shitty little town in the desert.
Not exactly A Future With Promise. I guess college was a
possibility, but Dad didn't really make enough to pay my way, and
I didn't feel like re-paying student loans until I was 100 years

Why the Navy? Well, because of that song by the Village
People, of course.

No, no, just a little joke there. Don't EVEN take
that seriously. Actually, there was never any question about
which branch of the service I wanted to join. I joined the Navy
because I wanted to get as far away from the desert as I possibly
could. Some people grow up around sand and scrub and get to like
it, they can't imagine living anywhere else. Some (like me) take
a look around and realize they've always hated it, and didn't
want to hang around for another minute. For awhile I thought I'd
be considered an oddball when the rest of the sailors found out
where I came from, but I found out it wasn't as uncommon as I
assumed. Take a look at a list of the home towns of all Navy
members, and you'll see that quite a few of the boys come from
Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and southern Texas. Joining the Navy
to get away from the desert turns out to be a pretty common

Anyway, I went home on leave whenever I got a chance, and
saw Jimmy whenever I went back. On my second visit, I found out
that Beck and Sal had hauled stakes and split for California a
few months after I'd left for boot camp. Not on foot, either.
They'd stolen their Dad's monster pickup, but rumor had it their
Dad never even swore out a complaint about the theft of
his truck. Maybe he figured it was a small price to pay to get
rid of his sons for good. Or maybe the truck wasn't empty when
they jumped in and headed west. Their Dad was still up to unknown
hanky-panky out in the desert somewhere, hanky-panky that quite
possibly involved the distribution of illegal vegetation from
Mexico. Beck and Sal may have been waited for an occasion where
Dad brought some work home with him, and headed for California
with a few bales of Columbian contraband in the bed. I wouldn't
put it past them. And if that IS what happened, I doubt Dad
would've been too anxious for the cops to collect his boys. Or
his cargo.

Whatever the case, nobody ever found out. The next update
I got on THAT situation was the following Christmas. My Dad told
me that Beck had been busted in California for God-only-knew
and had died in prison. The facts were sketchy, but I didn't
press details. Dad obviously considered it a case of "good
riddance" but didn't actually say the words, because he knew Beck
was a friend of mine.

Sal was MIA, and as far as I know, nobody ever heard from
him again. But without Beck to take care of him, it's doubtful
that he came to a good end.

So that leaves Jimmy. He finished college, got his degree,
and started working for a big company, designing various kinds of
equipment. I don't want to specify the company, or even the exact
type of equipment. Let's just say that you'd recognize the
company name if I mentioned it, and Jimmy is head of the
department that builds machines for making cold things hot and
hot things cold. If that's not good enough for you, too bad.

My Dad kept the scrapyard, continued going to auctions and
making a profit, all the way up until he retired last year. He
and Mom moved to Phoenix, where they're probably the only retired
couple who don't complain about the heat. They came up to visit a
few months ago, to see Lily and I and the kids, and while they
were here I took my Dad out one night to shoot some pool. I told
him the story of the Rocket Car, not knowing what his reaction
would be. I was more than a little pleased to see that he laughed
so hard that I thought I'd end up having to call the paramedics.
Seems that over the years he HAD heard various bullshit-artists
mention a car driven into a cliff, but nobody ever provided any
specifics, so he's always dismissed it as just another stupid
story. The one important thing he had to say on the subject did
NOT please me, not even a little. When I told him about how I
built the car, I mentioned that I didn't want to take one of the
parachutes from the shed, because I knew he'd find out one was

He said "You mean there were still some parachutes left in
that shed? Shit I'd thought I'd sold them all."

Son of a bitch.

Jimmy and I drifted apart while I was in the Navy, but we
got back in touch once I got my discharge and started college. I
know 26 is a pretty ripe old age to be a freshman, but I'd taken
a bunch of courses and equivalency tests during my hitch in the
Navy, so it only took two years to finish off my degree. One
thing about living on a ship, you have plenty of time to study.
I've stayed in touch with Jimmy over the years, he's met my
family and I've met his, but beyond the occasional phone call
and Christmas card, we haven't been very close. Part of it is
that we live pretty far apart, and part of it the pressures of
family, careers, etc. But Jimmy never forgot about the Rocket
Car, and over the years he's taken great joy in tweaking my balls
about it from time to time. Every now and then I'd
get something in the mail to remind me of the whole thing,
something Jimmy thought I'd think was funny. At first it was just
the odd newspaper clipping or magazine article, but once VCR's
became popular, he started sending videotapes. And even though
there was never a note or explanation with a tape he sent, I
always knew what to look for when I watched the movie. One
was "The Right Stuff", and I laughed out loud when scenes of
the rocket-sled tests came on the screen. Another was more
recent, a Charlie Sheen flick called "Terminal Velocity". I kept
my eyes peeled for whatever it was Jimmy wanted me to see, and
sure enough, there was a scene where Charlie and some blonde
bimbo escape from the bad guys in a homemade rocket sled.

I got a chuckle out of that one, too.

The one movie he sent that I DIDN'T find very amusing came
a few years ago, at a point where I hadn't heard anything from
Jimmy in a long time. A box came in the mail, and when I opened
it up, it was a videotape, just like the others. But instead of
being a stand-alone movie, this was the third part of a
three-movie series. And although I'd seen the first one a
couple of times (it was old enough to be shown on network TV by
then), I'd never seen the second part. So I had to rent Part II
at the video store down the street, which I watched with my
family one Friday night. The next day my wife took the kids to
visit her parents, and I stayed home and put Jimmy's movie in the
VCR. And I must admit, I DID enjoy it, but
the similarities between the movie and our little adventure in
1978 were too close for comfort at some points. The part at the
beginning of the movie, where Doc Brown and Marty McFly find the
DeLorean in the abandoned mine shaft was bad enough. But toward
the end, when mounted put railroad wheels on the time-machine and
push it down the tracks with the locomotive...

Like I said, too close for comfort. And I'm really glad I
watched that movie alone. I don't know what sort of expression
was on my face while I watched, but it must've been a scary one.
As a matter of fact, when the movie was over, I got up close to
the TV and read each and every name in the credits. I didn't
think I'd actually find a name I'd recognize, but we
never DID find out what happened to Sal after he was left on his
own in California.

I guess we never will. Not for sure, anyway.

Anyway, that's my story, take it or leave it. And even if
everyone who sees it thinks it's bullshit, I'm glad I told it. If
I never decided to sit down and tell it, my wife probably never
would've given me this nifty computer last Christmas. As a
result, I not only got to write most of it from the comfort of my
own bedroom, but I've also re-established contact with
Jimmy. E-mail is a terrific way to stay in touch with people, and
as soon as I told Jimmy I was going to write this whole thing
down, he started spouting out facts and details I'd long since
forgotten. That's one of the reasons this story is running so
long. So I suppose that if an apology has to be made, it should
be a JOINT apology from Jimmy as well as I.

One last thing before I call it quits:

When I originally ran this story up the flagpole for
Jimmy, he looked around on the Web for the "Darwin Awards" I'd
told him about, and was as shocked as I was at how far and wide
the Rocket Car story had spread. But he also seemed a little
miffed about the whole thing. He seemed to think that if anyone
deserved the Darwin Award, it was US.

It's tough to tell just how serious a person is when
you're carrying on a conversation via E-mail.

I pointed out that not only was the Darwin Award
completely intellectual in nature (I doubt like hell a
gold-plated trophy exists anywhere), but it was NOT the sort of
thing a person goes out of his way to win.

Jimmy thought differently.

Have you ever seen those silver Jesus-fish emblems that
Christians decorate their bumpers with? Well, not too long ago,
someone came up with a variation on the emblem, sort of a
counterpart to the Christian fish. It's the same outline of the
fish that the Christians use, but instead of saying "Jesus" (or
whatever) inside the body of the fish, it says "Darwin". And the
fish itself has little feet on the underside. The
message (for those academic enough to grasp it) is supposed to be
a rebuttal of sorts. Evolution over creation.

Very cerebral, eh?

Well, I've seen these things around from time to time,
both the Christian version and the Darwin version. And to be
honest, neither one made much of an impression. But this past
Easter, I got yet another package from Jimmy, the first one in a
long time. I thought it was another video, but when I opened it
up, I found it wasn't. Inside was a Hallmark card congratulating
me on a happy 20th anniversary. Along with the card was one of
the fish emblems, the "Darwin" version instead of the standard
Christian model. But not EXACTLY the Darwin version. Instead of
little feet at the bottom of the fish, this one had little
wheels. And there were curly lines coming from the rear of the
fish. Lines that looked like jet exhaust, coming from a tail that
looked surprisingly like a JATO exhaust nozzle.

Maybe Jimmy had a novelty store make it up, or maybe he
made it himself. Myself, I like to think the latter. But I ran
right out to my car (a boring old Toyota Camry,
gasoline-powered), wiped down the trunk lid, and stuck it on. And
even though nobody else knows what the hell it is, I get a
chuckle every time I look at it.

It ain't a gold statue, but it's good enough for me.