Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guitar Lessons for the Fun of it

Long time no see. But that is the fall, too little time too much to do. And since I did not have enough on my plate I signed up for guitar lessons. Just half an hour a week with travel that equates to about an hour every Wednesday night. That and at least a half an hour a day practicing what I learned. The half hour is what I try to put in until I can't feel the tips of my fingers or move my shoulder. Which is God's way of telling me he has heard enough noise for one day. Funny how things change when I was in the band in school it was a chore to practice now I put in as much time as I can muster until the old joints ache, because it is "fun".

My teacher is a young man, a kid really, in his very early 20's who is remarkably polite to the old geezer. In the first few lessons we have been going through a lot of theory. He has been teaching me and in some cases reminding me of things I had known many years ago. High school band is pretty much a dim memory but a lot of the theory came back when I started talking to Zairial.

He has a little bit of a mean streak though. He started off with Barre Chords. That for people not familiar is a chord shape that is made by barring all six strings with one finger. And it takes a fair bit of practice and strength in the finger to produce results. So for the first week or so I got very little music and a whole new world of pain out of my guitar. But I stuck it out and little by little the pain was replaced by music. He later told me it usually takes a student three or four weeks to get the hang of barre chords but the benefit is that they are very systematic and logical unlike the other method called CAGED or open chords. So that is what I have been up to for the past 4 weeks.

Last week he started to show me how to finger pick. I had a book but had not started to work from it. But now I know 3 different patterns and I have even started to pick out a few songs. And I must be doing something right because Ellen said that one even sounded like it was supposed to. She said "Is that Shenandoah?" which it was and a total surprise to me. I have no idea what the tune is supposed to sound like and the patterns I was picking out were not the melody so if she can recognize it I must be doing something right.

Finger picking has the added benefit of making your fingers on your right had sore. That as I understand it is to balance out the blisters and or calluses on the left hand. In finger picking you play three stings with the thumb and the other three strings with the index middle and ring fingers. It sounds very nice and more musical to my ear than strumming. But as with everything about the guitar it hurts for the first while. I have also read on the Internet that you need longer finger nails but the steel strings will break them and tear them up. Something else to look forward to.

But I think that I can get even. The whole point of this hobby is so that at some point I will be able to sing around the camp fire. That is when I get even. All the pain and soreness that I have been putting up with to learn the guitar will be nothing compared to what my audiences will have to put up with when I sing. Think of the worst contestant on American Idol and multiply it say tenfold. That is what I'll sound like. Add to that the fact that I can't remember lyrics and there you have it. My revenge. And the best part is that I sound great in my own mind so it won't bother me in the least!

Still banging away on the old axe...


Monday, September 8, 2008

Indian Summer

Well summer is nearly over for another year. We had Ellen's aunt Norma out to our trailer for the weekend just to get her out of town for a change of pace. The weather did not really cooperate but I think she had a good time anyway. Mostly we played board games. But we did get out and see the country side a bit. We took her down to the Pearson Berry farm for a Saskatoon pie and jar of black current syrup.

And now we are getting ready for fall and there are still nearly two weeks of summer left. Like Aunt Norma I hope we get an Indian summer. OOPS! I said Indian Summer how un PC of me. Did you know that kids today don't know what Indian summer is. Apparently it is a derogatory expression, and here I thought it referred to that warm few weeks after the first cold snap of fall. I don't know why people call it Indian summer but I suspect that there is something in the lore that may not be too savory. We never learned it in school all we knew was the name. And because some people are offended that expression is gone too.

What will it be next? Dutch Ovens? For those of you who do not know a dutch oven is a roasting pot and not an oven at all. From the days when every thing Dutch was thought to be second rate in old New England. But who knew it was politically incorrect. I am sure that if I studied it a bit I could find any number of politically incorrect expressions that everyone uses everyday. And we better use them archaic and quaint though they might be. Before they go the way of Indian Summer,

Just sitting here hoping for that-warm-spell-that-comes-after-the-first-cold-snap-of-fall TWSTCATFCSOF for short, Indian Summer for those politically incorrect types in the crowd.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

I might be a redneck

If your dog and your wallet are both on a chain... you might be a redneck.

If you both use the tree at the end of the block when you walk your dog... you might be a red neck.

I have heard a great many redneck jokes thanks mostly to Mr Jeff Foxworthy but here's a new one

If you buy your wife lingerie at the bait shop... you might be a redneck.

Well it was at the marina and it was a nightshirt not lingerie but you get the idea.

While on vacation I went to the Sunset Bay marina to pick up fishing licences, a bit of tackle and gas for the boat. I did not need bait but I bet they had it. And in a side room in the marina store was a little shop called Jammyz (or something like that). And they sold all sorts of t shirt type nighties and bags and PJ's. So the wife and I went browsing.

She needed a new nightshirt anyway. Her old one is getting pretty thin is spots and it is very old. So we had a poke around and found her one that had comic dogs all over it with the slogan "Let Sleeping dogs lie." (The comic dogs relaxing in beach attire with the slogan "Dogs In Heat" was funnier but too mean since the girls are spayed.) So I bought it for her. (It even has a beagle that looks like Dixie on it.) Lingerie, sort of, at the Bait shop, sort of. So I might be a red neck, sort of.

Like I said If you buy your wife lingerie at the bait shop... you might be a redneck.

Feel free to use that one Jeff.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Flying the Flag

It was Canada day yesterday. A time for all patriotic Canadians to fly their flag. And that is just what we did. It took me three days to do it but I got her done. How hard can it be? not real hard unless you want to go a little bit over board like I did.

You see a year ago I bought a flag because it was Canada Day and I like flags (although I think Canada's flag is a little boring compared to some) and I like it when people fly flags. So I bought a flag and it came with a 4 foot pole and a bracket to allow you to mount it on a building. Well last year at this time I had just finished my skirting on the old trailer and I mounted the flag on that. Then I up and sold the old trailer and had to take my flag down. There was no place to mount the bracket on the new trailer or on the deck as I did not want to try to drill holes in everything. So after careful consideration I decided to mount it on the deck railing. That part was easy the how to burned out a few more brain cells. All I had to do was mount a board on the railing attache the bracket and I was in business.

Easier said than done. I devised several methods of mounting a backer board. All very complicated and none of them that would not mark up the railing. I was concerned that If the railing was all full of holes it would detract from the resale value. Yeah like I'm going to sell the place! It will be in my will. So Ellen will get it but that is another issue. Anyway I still wanted to find a way to mount it without scaring the aluminum railing. Also the pickets in the rail are solid aluminum and more than not wanting to mar them I knew they would be the devil to work with. So I thought about it off an on for a while since last September. And I came up with a solution this weekend. Hose clamps.

I decided that if I attached hose clamps to the backer board and then clamped them to the uprights I would be able to accomplish my goal. But I ran into a problem. The spindles are only 3/4 of an inch or so and a clamp small enough to go on them was nigh impossible to work with. First off you can't open it completely then put it back together because the bend is too tight to get the screw started again. Trust me. I have the cuts and blood stains to prove it. So I had to go with a clamp that was really too big for the job. Now how do you tighten it so that it holds snugly. the Answer was Hose. If I put a small piece of hose around the spindle where I wanted to attach it I could clamp the hose to the spindle and voila. But can you imagine they don't sell short lengths of rubber hose? At least in Sundre they don't. They will sell you a 25 foot garden hose that you can cut down but that was pretty wasteful. So I looked around the hardware store.

Hardware stores are great places to browse. They have all manner of wonderful things. Most of them have no relevance to this story. But it was still fun to browse. What I found in my search was rubber strapping that is used to repair rubber hose. That was the solution to my problem. I wrapped the spindlles in the rubber strappping. I made the wrap large enough to accomodate the large clamps and that did the trick. With four clamps attahce to the backer board I clamped the backer to the rail and that did the job.

Oh yeah the backer was 3 foot by 10 inches. Now if you are thinking that is an awful lot of space to be hanging a Flag bracket on you're right. I could have got by with a piece about 10 by 10 but where's the fun in that. Here is what I came up with!

And here are a few more details on how I did it. Now my sign is completely removeable and won't mar the railing spindles.

Oh yes the name, well we are Beagle people and it just seemed appropriate. And Belle and Dixie like it just fine.

Relaxing on my finally finished deck....


Monday, June 16, 2008

Jim's Curse

My friend, and I use the term loosely sometimes, tried to put the whammy on the weather this weekend. When I told him I had a construction project to do, Jim says "It's gonna rain all day every day this weekend, where ever you go!" Thanks Jim just what I needed. A curse to rile up the weather gods. Fortunately there were no gypsy relatives in his background so he couldn't put a curse on anything. He was dead wrong. The weather for a change was wonderful. And I was able to finish the skirting as you shall see.

Last time I estimated $100 in supplies well it only took $80. So I am already ahead by twenty bucks. I figured a two day job and it came in one. The step problem that has been bugging me in the back of my mind since the deck went in last fall worked out perfectly once I determined what I had to do. And I was able to use a lot of the scrap left over from the trailer skirting so I had lots of materiel left over which I was able to give to a friend for his project. (He offered to buy it but since it was given to me by the guy that sold me the original package with the trailer I thought it would only be fair to give it free to the next guy who needed it. )

So the weather made me nervous all the way out. As we left town Jim's curse was firing on all 8 cylinders. The sky turned black then wet. If someone passed you you could not see. Even with the wipers on full speed you could not see very well. And on the QE2 speedway aka Highway 2 that did not phase the morons a bit. They still were passing everything in sight. And don't bother putting your lights on just stay invisible in the spray and mess. Then all of a sudden the rain stopped. Bye bye curse.

There were pools of water everywhere and not a thing was dry but it wasn't raining anymore when we got to Sundre. But where I had to work was drying quickly. as it was getting the evening sun. So we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best for Saturday. Then in the middle of the night the rain started again. It woke me up and I figured Jim had struck again. So I rolled over and went back to sleep. What else could I do?

Saturday dawned cloudy. Thanks Jim. We walked the dogs and made breakfast. It was wet everywhere but the rain held off. By 8:30 blue sky was poking through the clouds. The hardware opened at 8:00 but it was almost nine when it looked like it might be a good day. By the time we were back at 9:30 it was nice enough to get started. I had the base in by noon. As I was taking the last piece down the dogs escaped from the deck. Maybe Jim's curse was back.

The weather was co-operating but now I had to try to chase down 2 beagles on a "Thelma and Louise" weekend. In a fenced yard they will come when called. In the great outdoors Ha! They were gone and as far as I could tell they were coyote bait. We looked for them called them but nothing. So we went back to work hoping they would find their way home on their own. They never got too far away because every so often they would get the scent of some poor bush denizen and they would start to howl. When we heard them we would stop what we were doing and try to find them to call them home. When they heard us they would quiet down. When they saw us they would grin and wag their tails good bye.

So we would go back to work. They would go back to "huntin' an' howl'n". As long as we could hear them they had a chance of coming back. And about 4 hours later Belle came dragging back in soaking wet and a it turned out a little worse for wear. An hour or so after that Dixie came home as it is no fun chasing yourself around the woods. That apparently is a game for two. Belle did something to her hind leg. It was very tender and she would not let anyone touch her at first. It was not bleeding or cut so it must a have been a sprain or a fall. All she wanted to do was sleep so we let her be. Just because she was hurt we still took both of them for their regular walks which on Saturday night was probably punishment enough.

We finished the skirting on Saturday night about 8:00. And the rain stayed away all day. It rained on the hunters which probably cut the run short, and there were thunderstorms in the area which I thought might have scared them away permanently (but didn't). So Jim's curse did not work. And when the job was done the sun came out and stayed. Everyone was home. Safe if not sore. And it was a good weekend after that.

Here is a shot of the guys taking down the tree last week.

And the finished product all skirted in,

And finally the view from the inside...

Now where did I put the mint julep mix....


Monday, June 9, 2008

Singin' in the Rain

Rain rain go away come again some other day.

It was wet again this weekend. Real wet. Noah wet. I think I saw animals lining up two by two. Ducks were looking for umbrellas. You get the picture. But my deck was dry! We had rain off and on for most of the day Saturday and until about 10:00 am Sunday. The fellow who put up my deck roof was wondering how the noise was. Frankly Art, the only thing that woke me up was the furnace kicking in through the night. The rain on the deck roof was not a problem.

But it can stop now. Or at least by the weekend. I have to fin sh skirting in the deck so that I don't get critters living under it. I have most everything I need except for the front trim and a few 2X6 maybe about a hundred dollars worth of material. There was one item that had me scratching my head. How do you skirt around the steps. Art's partner said he closed them in all around but that seemed a little fussy. So after wandering around the park I saw a solution that will be perfect. I will add a piece to the front rail of the deck so that I can go under the steps to skirt them. The extra piece will let me mount the shirting under the steps without having to remove them. It has the added benefit of letting me use small pieces of scrap skirting that would have other wise wound up in the land fill. Gee Green and efficient how lucky can you get. I'm sure this is all as clear as muddy water so when I do it I will take some pictures.

The girls don't like the deck particularly it is sort of a jail for them but since they can't be let loose it is better than being cooped up inside all day. I can live with the occasional accident on the deck better than on the carpet.

And what is on the agenda after the deck. Well it looks like a small shed for tools and junk storage. I have a storage box but it has a split roof and it leaks no too clever in retrospect. So its time to replace that. Maybe I will clean it up and use it for fire wood storage. It will keep that dry enough. And I will have a whole tree to stow away in there for a while.

I did not get to cutting it up this weekend. Too wet. I would have been dry I suppose because I would have been using my hand saw, a Swede Saw my Father In Law would have called it or I guess since my father calls a shovel a Mexican Back Hoe this would be a Mexican Chain Saw. In either case it is a lot of hand work. We will see about it next week.

In the mean time I have some shopping to do and some set up. And a little more clean up, and d a little more planning, and some figuring...

Waiting for the sun to come out and dry up the place...


Monday, June 2, 2008

The Deck

There is a bit on you tube and elsewhere where Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey and others are sitting around comparing decks and all the innuendo that comes with it. It believe it is a skit from Blue Collar TV. Well I'm going to be getting into decks for a minute too. We have a roof on ours at our RV lot as of about 5 o'clock last night. And it was a good job. Art and Brian two older renovators from the campground are doing them just to keep their hand in but not to have too much work. They are semi-retired or so they say but they worked all weekend on mine and another project. If that's retirement I'll keep working.

Anyway they got 'er done. Beat the rain shower by about an hour. But there was a casualty. We lost a tree in the process. Had to take it down because it was crowding the roof. OK more than crowding by about 6 inches which was just about the thickness of the tree at the bottom. So down it came. Next weekend or when ever the sun comes back I will cut it up into firewood.

I was lucky that it was the small tree I could have been up against a big one. If we had had to go any further the next tree is a good foot across at the bottom and 70 or 80 feet tall. I think we may have had to build around that. But we didn't have to so we were lucky.

What a difference a deck made to the trailer and what a difference the roof made to the deck. It near doubles our living space. And the dogs can go outside rain or shine. That would be a perk for us but not probably not for the girls. Dixie, the summer dog, is partial to the creature comforts. But she did not mind the deck yesterday after the construction noise stopped. Dixie was beside herself with the noise form the drilling and power tools. She did not know where to hide when the fellows were using the hole saw to install the downspouts. If she could have gotten into the wall she would have as it was she was trying to make herself disappear into a corner every time they drove a screw home. The whole deck roof amplified the sound and believe me it was not her cup of tea. Belle, the winter dog, on the other hand napped through it all except when it was very loud. The noise was an inconvenience for Belle.

So in just over a day and a half we went from a plain deck to a roofed in outdoor living room it was a fantastic transformation that I should have done years ago, But I used to have an awning and it was sort of the same but not quite. The new trailer didn't so I kind of missed it. I like the idea that you could put it up and down but I wont miss the 2 am roll ups when the wind started up Or rolling and unrolling it until it was stowed properly. Nah on second thought aluminum is better. If I need sun I can move my chair off the deck.

It is calling for rain this weekend and part of me hopes that it will. I'm looking forward to sitting and listening to the sound of rain on the roof, even a tin one.

On the edge of our seat waiting for the weekend...


Monday, May 26, 2008

Eau De Wet Dog

The girls are sporting a new fragrance this week. Eau De Wet Dog. It is raining again just like it has been for week now. And Belle and Dixie have to go out so they get wet. And voila Eau de Wet Dog. That lovely aroma that permeates everything. And put a curb to our trailer visit this weekend. We went up but came right back again after we completed our errands for the day. A new trailer should not smell like an old wet dog this soon. And the wet makes them rowdy and I'm sure that despite their being good last week a set or two of muddy wet feet would almost certainly wind up on the new couch. So we did not stay and the girls did not get to come into the trailer.

60 millimeters of rain is what we got over the past week about 3 or 4 inches for the non metrics in the crowd. When it gets warm every thing is going to pop. I think I'll have a 20 minute window to mow my lawn before I need a swather. Maybe we will be lucky this year and the rain and snow pack melt will not coincide and maybe we wont have flooding any worse than we already have. High River has high water again for the umpteenth time in as many years it seems. The Elbow in town is threatening the poor folk in Rideau. Those large estates are getting smaller as the Elbow river washes them down to the Bow and on to Medicine Hat.

But we need the rain. Make that needed the rain. But enough is enough. It can stop any time. The rain barrel is full the apple trees in my yard are well watered as are the Saskatoons. And yes Belle has been over inspecting the blossoms on them too. Judging by the blooms it will be a good year for grazing if they don't get washed off.

A friend at work here lucked out on the rain though. He sodded his yard on the long weekend. Got all his new sod in and just as he was finishing the rain started and has not stopped. It was just exactly what he needed. When it dries up he can let his little ones out on new grass. And he didn't even have to drag a hose around. What's more rain is better for the new grass than the treated city water. He was the only guy smiling at the forecast around here. Well even he is not smiling any more. Seems he can't let the little ones out of the house in the rain and they are going stir crazy. Not a problem in our house, our problem is Eau de Wet Dog.

Just sitting here with the Glade...


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Victoria Day Again

It was Victoria Day weekend again last weekend and once again the rowdies proved that God made more horses asses than he made horses. And first among them were the off roaders on their ATVs. According to the paper some 5000 people crammed into the McLean Creek Campground and took their gas guzzling noise making terrain destroyers out and tore up some of Alberta's best wilderness and camping land. All for the sake of getting drunk and muddy. But on a positive note it wasn't just the male of the species getting stupid. There were women too riding around in bikinis without helmets (real smart).

They are just too many idiots in the world. Too much money and not enough brains. In fact some times I think money and brains are inversely related. They must be. Let's take your average ATV er. He is driving a truck to pull his trailer or carry his ATV. or one truck driven by the significant other to pull the trailer and one by the nut in question, that would be 40 to 60 grand for vehicles, another 10 large for the toy and 20 more for rolling accommodations. Now add to that 160 dollars for gas out from town and back and another 120 for camping fees thirty dollars per night x 4 nights one of which you don't even use because you have to get out early to save a spot. Then 60 bucks for beer, another 100 for groceries (Steaks or better). I don't know how much for dope but you are what you smoke I'm told. And judging from the reports in the paper there was a lot of doping going on. Well you get the idea this is not a cheap pastime and what was the outcome acres of terrain torn up and drunken revelries and destruction. Loads of garbage strewn about and a good time had by a very few. Now the government wants to do something but fortunately they'll get over it by next week.

On the bright side we spent the first weekend of the summer up at Sundre. It was 25 degrees (Celsius for our American friends. ) and we got to try out the air conditioning. What a great perk. The weather was great. We got to see old friends who we had not seen since last fall. The new deck was really nice. All in all we had a good weekend. The brother-in-law and sister-in-law came up for a visit on Sunday and we had a good visit and to top it off the guys beat the gals in a game of Aggravation. I have not played that for years. Oh sure the gals drew first blood just when I was almost home and sure they gloated then but the guys stormed back to win it all! Winners and still family champs! I wonder what the girls meant when they said they "let us win?"

We also made arrangements to get the roof on the deck. There were a couple of surprise showers on Sunday afternoon and we had to run for cover. The roof on the deck should prevent that problem. I guess we will find out in a couple of weeks.

And last but not least we gave the new armchair a workout. There was a spot that just cried out for an armchair in the trailer. So we have been keeping a eye out since last fall for a small leather armchair and we found one just the right size. Along with our old foot stool it is just perfect and the dog kennel makes a perfect side table for it. Just one little problem the chair is the best seat in the house and I'm told it is very comfortable but it looks great and Ellen looks great in it. She promised to let me try it next weekend.

Looking forward to our next visit up there...


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spring is in the Air

It looks like, could possibly be, maybe, spring is here. Yeah we been fooled before and it did snow on Wednesday. And there has been a chill in the wind but it was sunny and warm today so it could be that spring is here. At least the plants think so. They are starting to bud out.

The Saskatoons look like they will be loaded with blossoms this year too. For those who don't know what they are, Saskatoons are a small blue berry that is native to western Canada. And the northwestern states too but I think they call them service berries. It doesn't matter they make a great pie if you can get enough.

It is a struggle here though. Belle discovered Saskatoons last year. I could not figure out why all the lower branches had no berries. I thought maybe a low frost got them. Or some sort of bug. Well it was a parasite alright a fat little beagle. I came out one night and there she was grazing. She cleaned the branches off as high as she could reach. If she had stood on her hind legs we would not have even got a taste. If they look like they are going to be a good crop this year I am going to fence the bushes off. I will fight with the birds for them but Belle is supposed to be on my side. It could have been worse Dixie is taller and smarter than Belle and she would have figured a way to get all of them if she had know what Belle was up to.

But I digress. Spring is here! Shh not too loud. Old man winter is probably not out of earshot yet. He can always make a return visit. Just our luck he likes the scenery round here. Every time we think he's gone he comes back for a short stay. He's like Peter Falk in the old Columbo movies "Ah Just one more t'ing!" He hit us twice in the last couple of weeks once just in Calgary a 12 inch dump and then a week later all over the southern half of the province. We thought the Calgary dump was a good omen for the Flames because they won when we got a late dump of snow in the playoffs. Yeah right another old wives tale bites the dust. We need the moisture. That is true but the snow comes and then a Chinook comes and it all runs away. I'll settler for a good 3 day rain later in May.

I have had enough of winter. It's May. According to song in Camelot winter exits March the second on the dot. Old man winter has overstayed his welcome by two months if that is the case. I just hope he is gone till November. But as I recall he came for a visit to the Stampede one July and then was late for Christmas the same year.

But despite his persistence the grass is getting greener and the leaves will be on the trees soon and Belle will be munching Saskatoons before you know it.

Its spring ... pass it on.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Could Have Been Worse

It was a bad weekend or so it seemed at the time. On Saturday morning we were driving over to a new place for breakfast and enroute I lost power steering, the temp went up and the charge light came on all on a van less than a year old. First reaction was that the belt had failed and broken. But I had not heard it go. So suddenly breakfast is delayed and we're on our way to the dealership to fix the belt. Well the girls and I get up well before the service tech at the dealership and it is an hour or so wait until we can even get the car in, then they don't do service work on the weekend. And what is wrong with the van the alternator fell off. It sheared the bolts off and depending on what they find in two days it may or may not be covered by the bumper to bumper warranty.

I phoned Enterprise rent a car and they came and picked us up at the dealership and we rented a van for an unspecified duration. Enterprise were the first shining light in what was shaping up to be a dreary weekend. Very professional and friendly, I have to recommend them for all your car rental needs. They go over and above.

Now it is three hours since we set off and we have the rental and are on our way back for breakfast. On our way there we see the traffic lights are all out. The south end of the city is having a major power failure. The restaurant is closed. So we had to find an alternative and we finally get our breakfast at noon. Not an auspicious start. We wanted to run some errands so we thought that we would take the cell phone because the way things were headed we might need it and the battery on it was dead again. The battery had been charged just two days before but was not holding a charge. A replacement for it was $70 so we went back to Telus and we wound up getting new phones, one for me and one for Ellen.

Sunday was uneventful, considering that Saturday certainly had been this was a good thing. Now with only the van to worry about I started to relax.

Now it is Monday. I phoned Courtesy Chrysler (still one of the best Dealerships in town for nearly 20 years now) to find out the bad news on the car. Turns out that it was a warranty item and it would be ready later today. I went home to see about the upgrade to my security system. They were able to do it by just replacing my keypad at the back door. No charge as long as I signed up for another 3 years at a lower monthly rate than I am paying now. Winner,

Then Courtesy called my car was ready and at no charge. So I took the rental back and they gave me a ride to the dealership and I got my car back, The rental was only $180 for three days including full insurance. Which was the full cost of the weekend.

Sure I have a new cell phone plan and an extra charge there but we were planning that for a while because we knew the old phone that worked fine could not get a replacement battery. The car well things happen and what can you do? The service manager said that the alternator that was replaced was noisy but he had no idea why it sheared the bolts off. But they fixed everything and it was all covered and they were quick. All in all I got good service from everyone I dealt with.

What could have been seen was a bad weekend turned out to be not too bad at all. Good service from Enterprise, Courtesy Chrysler and Telus all helped make the pain go away. Thank you everyone.

Oh and the breakfast place, Cora's was open and busy on Sunday but we got there before the rush and it was terrific. Lots of real good food and good service, Just remember to get there early or you will be waiting. We'll be back.

Counting my blessings...


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ten Digits

Yesterday I learned that we in Alberta are going to ten digit phone numbers from 7. Not that dialing an extra 3 digits will kill anyone but along with that come extra costs. Like the nearly 100 dollars I have to outlay to up grade my security system so that it can call home when some cell packing dirt bag breaks into my house. And what's more my system is old almost 7 years old so that makes it over the hill. And I have to upgrade that at a cost of God knows what.

Seven years old does not make something obsolete. Except for electronics I guess. So I am on the hook or unprotected. And the girls don't count. In fact if you look the Beagle up on the Internet I am sure that somewhere it says protection: NONE. ('Cause I seen it!) If someone broke in Belle and Dixie would wonder over tails a wagging to see what treats the intruder brought. Anyone could clean out my place for the price of a couple of milk bones or a rawhide chewy if I was relying on the girls to protect the place.

So why do we need the upgrade? Simply put Cell phones. Every one has a cell phone or two. And a land line and a blackberry etc. The province has a population of 4 million tops why do we need 40 million phone numbers? Sure you need your home phone heaven knows the telemarketers need someone to call at suppertime. And there is your office phone, and your office cell (So you can get interrupted in that meeting, and so on and so on.

But what really pushed it over the top are kids. Kids as young as 10 or 12 with cell phones. Kids whose Idea of a good time is sitting on thier butts on the couch text messaging to their buddy in the easy chair next to them. Kids who think they ahve to be in constant contact with their friends. Even during school when thy should be paying attention. Kids from 10 to 25 who can't leave home without their electronic apron string. How did we survive the 60's or get out of the fifties alive without having a cell phone.

Do I hav a cell? Yes. I use call forwarding to link my home phone to my cell when I am out of town for more than a few hours. I don't carry it with me all the time. And it is about 7 years old too, it doesn't take pictures play games or surf the net. It makes phone calls. It could text message but it makes phone calls and does not need to text message. I can call someone and they don't need to be able to read alphabet soup I can talk to them. But I don't need to be in contact 24-7.

The idea that you have to be at the beck and call of all your buddies all the time is absurd. That you need a phone on your person all the time is ridiculous. No one is that important. If you believe that you are that important you are suffering from delusions of grandure. That belief in the old days would have labelled you a nut. If you live to have people call you on your cell and cannot make it through the day without one maybe you are a nut. But you have plenty of company. So much that we need 10 times as many phone numbers as we have people. And what ticks me off is your insane need is costing me money.

Just sitting here waiting for your call....


Saturday, March 15, 2008

View Master

Do you remember view masters; little toys that you put picture reels in and saw everything in 3D? Well It turns out that my wife's grand father had a Stereoscopic Camera for taking those kind of pictures. And most of the family photos were taken and mounted on the reels. I think my brother in law has the camera and paraphernalia for mounting the pictures on the reels and all. But it is a really fussy process to create them. Anyway it looks to be a dying technology because you can't easily get the reels or cameras anymore except on EBay maybe. And hasn't Kodak even gone digital?

Anyway the camera had two lenses set about eye width apart and t00k two images at once with just a little different perspective. The images were taken on slide film and when mounted the different perspective gave the 3d effect. The biggest problem was that if a picture adds ten pounds the 3d being two pictures added twenty so women didn't like it!!!! Also it was a manual fiddly process to take the uncut slide film strips and cut the images into little tiny chips and mount them in the reels. If it had been more popular today's crack users could really get into a career tweaking view master reels but who knew?

In any case, another brother in law has decided to get all the pictures scanned from the reels and I am going to touch them up as put them on CD for everyone in the family. I have done this sort of thing before when I made up slide shows for the in-laws and my parent's 50th anniversaries. Al is doing this for a birthday present for his mom. I think its is a great idea and the fringe benefit is that we get a copy of all the old pictures.

There are a few things to remember when you do this kind of work however. First you are going to see somethings that well are pretty darn funny (ok scary too but mostly funny). The fashions and the hair styles are great for a laugh but don't. Especially not out loud. Some of those pictures may be your loved ones and having lived though it will not see the humour. Remeber they think those pictures are ... normal! They think that people really looked like that can you believe it, ha!

The second thing is that when you are discussing the subjects do not use adjectives. For example do not say "Hey who is that homely kid with the big honkin' schnoz?" because again some of those pictures may be your loved ones (in some cases your wives). They may not have thought of themselves as homely or their schnozes as "big honkin'". Those type of comments will get you a guaranteed reservation in the dog house. Trust me this is the voice of experience.

In spite of that I am looking forward to it. I like old pictures and in case my wife reads this I hope to see lots of pictures of her as a baby. She must have been as beautiful baby 'cause baby look at her now!

Sucking up for all I am worth...


Saturday, March 8, 2008


"Bald eagle's back in the Cottonwood tree,
Old brown hills are just about bare"

That is a lyric from Ian Tyson's song Springtime and it applies this year. At the risk of angering the weather Gods I think spring is here. Maybe the ground hogs were right. It was 10 degrees celcius here today. I was able to take the girls to dog disneyland (the off leash dog park) in just a hoodie. For those of my generation just a kangaroo jacket.

Snow is almost gone just a bit left in the shady spots. That is going fast. At least here in the city. We were up to the trailer last weekend to show it to Ellen's mom who was visiting, There seems to be quite abit of snow there yet. We had to walk in or risk getting stuck. And there was a few inches of snow around. But it was warm and that was going too.

It was a mistake to go up there. I was reminded of what I am missing and now the wait until the park opens for the season and we can stay up there is going to seem really long. You know the feeling. Remember when you were a kid and saw the first Christmas decorations of the season and how they made it seem Christmas was sooooo far off. Well that was the effect the quick wisit to the trailer last week had. I guess I will just have to wait. The warm weather is not making it easy.

Oh well nothing can be done about it. Like they say everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. And I can do nothing about it either. But with any luck it will warm up and we will be able to get the park open early. April is not that far away, 30 sleeps? Just like we used to do with Christmas eh?

On the edge of my seat waiting...


PS Happy Anniverasry Dixie she's been a member of our pack for a year today.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


What do I have in common with the Titanic this morning? Well nothing really except that ice killed the Titanic and darn near killed me. No I was not hit by a berg in the north Atlantic. I slipped on it under the snow. A common theme I know but one that bears repeating. Be careful out there hidden dangers lurk everywhere under an innocent pile of white. Well here in Calgary at least.
It was the subject of an item on the local news just last night. And it is the reason I can barely type this morning. While walking the dogs I wiped out on the ice twice. There is no warning and no forgiveness. One step and you are on your backside on the ground. The girls even hit the ground. That was the only warning I would get. Dixie is sporting a sore hip and Belle took one on the nose. I have a somewhat less than useful shoulder and a pulled hip. But then again I fall harder than the girls. At any rate when you see us coming down the walk we look like walking wounded.
On the plus side the temperature over the next couple of days is going to be on the plus side. Maybe as much as 10 C on Friday. That should take care of the snow and anything hiding under it. I hope. Otherwise its going to be a dicey few days till people get their walks cleared.
I better sign off. This is silly but it is actually painful to type and mousing is nearly out of the question. I guess I landed just right for a guy in the computer business. I wonder if walking the dogs is covered by workers comp. Some one's got to pay and it wasn't even the dogs pulling me off balance either this time so I can't even punish them. Maybe I'll just be sore and surly with everyone. Curmudgeon becomes me.

Grumbling, moaning and complaining ...


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sore Fingers

I tryed to learn guitar many years ago. All I accomplished was a) I can tune a Guitar and b) I got sore fingers. I don't think I ever did develop calluses on my fingers so since I was not too big on pain I let it lapse. Well lo these many years later I thought I would take it up again. What is different now now I have the intenet.
Let me explain. Now I can go to various sites on the intenet and get on line lessons from someone who actually knows what the hell they are doing with a guitar. They can show me what the cords are supposed to sound like and how to finger the chords. They can show me how to properly strum the guitar and hold it properly. And they give you files to play along with. You are not just sitting there plunking along on your own.
So what have I learned in the last two weeks. Well I still don't like pain. And learning is still a painful process. Nylon strings help somewhat they are not as tough as the steel strings. They actually give a bet when you press on them. And I am actually learning a few chords and how to strum. No Johnny Cash just yet, although I am dressed in black today, but I feel like I am making progress.
What do I want to get out of this. I want to be able to play a few songs so that I can accompny myself singing. Just to be able to tinker a bit if you like. I don't care if I never get good enough for someone else but I want to be good enough for myself that I can learn how to play by ear.

If I can accomplish that I will have made my goal. In the meantime I have sore fingers. But in the plus side they are recovering faster. The first day they were sore for three days. All I could manage was 20 minutes every few days. Today they are good enough that I can type this in a few hours. I understand that when I get calluses I will be set. Then all I have to master is, well playing. I can't wait.

As for now, like the old joke goes: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!

My cyber instructor says 20 minutes a day is better than 3 hours on the weekend. And he's right. It will just take me time to get organized. And set aside half an hour a day to practice. If I want it enough I can do it. When it's 40 below and we don't walk the girls its easy. It will take some planning when it warms up.

Now any requests?


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog Day

According to rodents we will have an early spring. Wireton Willie and some other gopher from Nova Scotia did not dee their shadows and so an early spring. Which in this neck of the woods means only 5 more weeks of winter a big Chinook and a two foot dump of snow just for the heck of it.

If you beleive that a rat can prognisticate the weather then let me tell you about this bridge I have for sale. It is a bright sunny cold day here in western Canada and spring time in the Rockies is still a couple or 3 months off. March 21 is the first official day of spring and if it warms before that count your blessings. We always get a final blast of winter in the form of a big dump of snow in late March or early April sometimes as late as May and that is the end of winter here, Mother nature's way of saying "And another thing!". It is the way of things and that is that.

But Groundhog day is a way to get a bit of hope. To see the light at the end of the tunnel and for that it works. The little critters did not see their shadow so a break from this bleak and lately very cold winter is on its way and soon. And with that to cling to the cold and snow and darkness is just a bit easier to take.

I'll bet that is what Groundhog day was invented for. Some old european guy in the middle of a dreary Polish winter decided he needed a way to get his neighbours to feel better. And what beter way than a magic gopher. Yank him out of a fine winter slumber and if it is a dreary day proclaim an early spring then everyone off to the local watering hole for a few cool ones. An excuse for a party and if the prediction fails blame the rat. Darn clever if you ask me.

And that is all that it is. A bit of animal abuse rousting the poor bugger that way and a party. But if it works and gets everyone out of their winter funk so much the better.

I don't have to rely on meterological rodents. I have my regular dog walks to keep me feeling good. After a long day at the office its good to get the girls out on the leash. And if you've got something on your mind or to get off your chest you can tell the dogs. The girls are good listeners most of the time. (They just have a little trouble with obedience.) And talking to dogs is much better than talking to yourself as you go walking in a winter wonderland. But if all you have is Groundhog Day I hope the promise of an early spring helps you get by.

Just putting the dog's boots and coats on for thier walk...


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Life at 50 Below

With the wind chill it was -49C yesterday. Cold in any language to be sure. It was the first day that I have not walked the dogs in the nearly two years I have owned them. At that temperature it is just too dangerous. Boots and coats not withstanding. The Icy blast is supposed to last until Thursday. With a bit of luck I will be able to take them out Thursday night. But for now I think they are happy with 5 minute zips outside to do their business. And not a lot of time wasted at that. Funny how at 50 below you don't have to inspect every bump under the snow!

So at this temperature you can guess that the weather was the lead story on the news. How cold it is, how the EMS has been touring downtown to look for homeless who might be in trouble, how the C Train was running late because of the cold etc etc. Like we had not had enough of the weather already.

But then their survey poll asked how do you deal with 50 below. They of course were looking for responses like "I bundle up and only go out if I have to" or "I cocoon and stay inside". Well that's nice work if you can get it but some of us have to go out. We deal with it by; well dealing with it. Dress warmly, and do the bare minimum outside. For some that is a brisk dash from the house to the garage into the car, from the car to the office etc. For others like our postmen you bundle up and take it on the chin. Then again Postal delivery another job that is overpaid every day except these then it evens out.

But getting back to the news poll they wanted to know how to deal with 50 below well a picture is worth a thousand words. The girls know how.

In my next life I want to come back as a spoiled beagle.

Trying to thaw out....


Monday, January 21, 2008

Dead Cartridges For the Last TIme

Dead ink cartridges again. I went to print a page on my Lexmark Ink jet printer and the ink cartridges were dried up. I think I got 25 pages out of these but 20 of them were clean the head pages. So what's a guy to do? Why rant grumble and complain of course. Which I did. The dogs ignored me but Ellen started looking through the flyers. Staples has nothing on for ink cartridges (how is anyone ever going to do their Christmas Thank-you cards?) But they had a Color Laser on for $170. This weekend only.

Well off to the Staples Office Supplies store I go to get a new set of cartridges (and yes I need both). They are $79. About 3 bucks per page not counting paper. It's my own darn fault because I don't print that much at home and if you don't the darn ink just dries up. And in the winter in Canada with the relative humidity hovering around 0% those cartridges just do not last. While I am there I decided to check out the laser. And what it came down to was that for the cost of 2 sets of cartridges I could get a Color Laser. Even with the starter toners I should be able to get 500+ pages. And the toner likes to stay dry. So I broke down and bought it.

Now I know I won't be able to print pictures on it (yet). But I can still edit the pictures I want the way that I want and then fire them over to Wally Mart to get them printed for 20 cents each which is cheap. And I read about photo paper that works in a laser that will soon be coming to an Office Depot near you. So the Laser was a good idea.

It is a Samsung CLP300. According to the stickers the smallest color laser in the world. According to the manual a small printer with big printer capabilities. Full color or black and white, poster printing (it prints your picture /poster over several pages then you glue them together a nice to have) double sided printing, Booklet printing, all kinds of things. I can even configure it as a network printer so I would be able to run it over the wireless net without having my desktop computer running should I decide to do that. It kind of reminds me of a little dog that thinks that it is a German Shepherd. A small package with big features.

I played with it for part of Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and I like it. Yeah it's just a printer but in this case at least I think I got my money's worth. We will see over time how well it works but for now I am a happy camper. I'm going to give it a big test and print out the User manual double sided and in full color. Just think How much more I will be able to do if I actually RTFM (read the freaking manual).

Sitting here sniffing printer fumes....