Sunday, December 24, 2006

Pre-Christmas gift


Mustang Zip Zap
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
On my way home for Christmas, I dropped by my buddy Kevin's house. His parents had already arrived for a holiday visit, and we were to exchange gifts. Pictured here is the gift he had for me - a micro RC toy car.

I'm always a sucker for kid's toys and so is Kevin - so it was a great gift. He later admitted that he got one for himself too, so that we can have races. I took it with me and assembled it here while my wife was otherwise occupied. I expected that the cats would really enjoy it - what I did NOT expect was for Louise to enjoy it so much. Heck, I have to restrain her if the car is to have a fighting chance.

Of course, if she gets the chance, Louise picks the car up in her mouth, and then carries it off to her bed for a proper chewing. While the cats are certainly interested, it's clearly dangerous to get too close when the dog is present. I figured I would take a picture BEFORE visible damage appears. It's only a matter of time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chance encounters

So this morning on my morning commute, I recognized one of the other Skytrain passengers as a guy I used to work with years ago at WebCT. We recognized each other instantly and spent the rest of our commute getting caught up. Just one of those little surprises that make the start of a day interesting. As it turns out, both of us have started new jobs, and are waist deep in the kind of work we want to be doing.

Then, on my way home, I run into ANOTHER person I used to work with at WebCT, and this one just happened to have heard from the first guy later that same day. Since he was at the mall to do some Christmas shopping, I was only too happy to help him procrastinate by taking time out to eat dinner. He started his new job a full week before I did.

All in all, it has been a pretty good day. I have been looking forward to getting in touch with people now that I'm back in town, so running into two of them unexpectedly was almost like an early Christmas present.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The building next door

The building next to our office is getting torn down. It's fun to watch, because they are paid to break stuff and make a mess. I really missed my calling, I think.

To be honest, I think I would want to be one of those crane operators. Hundreds of feet in the air, lifting and dropping heavy stuff. I'd at least like to try it out for a day.

I expect this is just one of many buildings that will be cleared off to make ready for nice shiny new buildings near to the Olympic Village site. Our neighborhood is due for a transformation, I guess. One thing that I will miss though is the graffiti. The second picture shows how busy the graffiti artists were - they went the entire length of the inside of this building. It went unnoticed until the construction crew took out the back wall.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sometimes we get it right

Be patient with this link - it made it onto the digg front page and is suffering a bit. But it's calming down a bit now. I happened to get in and read this lady's article and agree with her. She basically rants for a while about how the phrase 'the customer is always right' is destroying common decency in north america these days. It's well written, kind of abusive (she's ranting, remember?) and articulates a valid point, at least in my mind.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blues night

Last night, AMC was playing The Blues Brothers 2000. I just love that old movie. So much so, that I was having trouble staying focused on the chat conversation I had going on with my wife. She could tell and was laughing at me a bit whenever I lost place.

The hard part came when it was time to go to bed. Right after the movie finished, AMC decided to follow it up with the original The Blues Brothers movie. I watched about the first half hour or so, to see just how young Dan Ackroyd looked, etc.

Other than that, just working, commuting and sleeping. Oh yeah - and praying to God for some help selling our condo quickly.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dreaming about being late for work

This morning I slept through my alarm. Not by a lot, but enough to put me a little behind schedule. The odd thing was that during that time, I was dreaming that I was late for work, and that I was rushing to finish whatever I was doing (there were a variety of activities) so that I might eventually get to the office.

But every activity I was doing seemed to take twice as long as usual to complete.

Needless to say, the theme of the dream remained constant until I eventually did wake up. And man, did I ever rush around at that point. So much so that I wasn't really late for work. On a side note, while at work I tend to use iTunes to listen to music. There are a bunch of others here who have shared their playlists, so I have taken to listening to what my co-workers have.

It has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

At the moment, I'm listening to Rick James, of all people. I can't help but think of Dave Chappelle as I listen. Well, specifically Charlie Murphy and his Rick James stories. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I suggest you rent Season Two of The Chappelle Show - it's on DVD. It will all make sense then.

UPDATE: BeeGees?? WTF? I can't believe I work with someone who still listens to disco. [skipping to next track]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No more ban on the water

I was in Metrotown mall yesterday, which is not all that exciting, since that is also where I catch the bus. So I'm pretty much there every weekday. But it was different yesterday.

Yesterday they had the Nintendo Wii on display.

There were four units available to be tried out, and they even had a fair amount of Nintendo staff to assist people with trying out the games. The whole thing was very well planned, and drew the kind of crowd I think that Nintendo would have been hoping for. They were also pretty smart to include a wide selection of titles to display. There was a bowling game, a first person shooter, a boxing game and another sporting title that I failed to pay attention to.

What interested me the most was the first person shooter. The staff on hand spent most of their time explaining how to use the controller to play the game. Some of the moves required were somewhat non-intuitive, I thought, but until I try for myself, I'll reserve judgement. An example of what I am talking about is the reload action, which involves 'shaking' the 'nunchuk' half of the controller. (I didn't actually speak with any of the staff, so I'm not 100% certain on the terminology.) The same action was used to open doors, and to change weapons. At times the player would crouch in the game, but I got the impression that he wasn't completely in control of that action.

The game also supported a zoom feature, which was very slick. The player would merely thrust the wand forward and the view would zoom in. Pull back, and the view would zoom out. From watching the people playing the Wii demo units, it looks like Nintendo hopes to reintroduce exercise into the living room. I think it is this factor more than any other that will relegate the Wii to the recreation rooms of family's households, instead of hooked up to the big screen in the living room. Mom's not going to want the kids jumping about, flailing their arms wildly in the living room.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Second worst trip to date

I made the trip from Vernon to Burnaby yesterday and it was one of the worst I have ever experienced to date.

Having said that, I managed to not have any accidents or mechanical failure, which means it was still a good trip. This is unlike the time when I blew an engine in my Jeep on the return trip from Vancouver - not so much fun.

Pictured right is a shot from inside the Great Bear Snow Shed - one of the few moments when the road conditions permitted me to actually grab a picture. I was doing about 40 kph here, so not very fast. (The posted limit is 110 kph through this stretch, and it's downhill.)

During the course of my trip, which took me approximately 8 hours to complete, I saw roughly a hundred cars either in the ditch, or in accidents, or stalled in a random lane of the highway. In all cases, it forced the drivers still on the road to slow down even more to ensure safe passage beyond.

I am not going to rant about the 'quality' of the other drivers who shared the road with me yesterday because quite frankly, many of those on the road were very cautious, responsible and courteous. For the most part, people were allowing extra space between vehicles, driving slower and generally not driving like an idiot. For the most part. Whenever an aggressive driver appeared, my general reaction was to slow down and let them go by - I really didn't feel like dealing with any bad driver drama yesterday.

The coup de grace came as I arrived at my destination - only to find a driveway in need of shovelling. Past experience has taught me to do it that night and not put it off until morning, as it tends to freeze and make life miserable.

I am really going to enjoy taking the Skytrain home tonight.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Overdue for a post

Vancouver has a water problem. Let me say that again, as it sounds wrong: Vancouver has a water problem. It's been raining steadily (as it always does this time of year) yet because of that, and the runoff into our water reservoir, nobody can drink the water.

Well, almost nobody. Basically the water is muddy, and because of that, the UV sterilization that normally helps kill bacteria doesn't work anymore. So how does this affect me? For one, I cannot drink the water at home. But more importantly, it is affecting coffee shops across the city in a much larger way - places like Starbucks and Tim Hortons are resorting to making coffee from bottled water, since they actually care about the taste of coffee. Other shops have taken the position that since the water gets heated up to a very hot temp, that the bacteria would be killed off anyway, so the water is safe for use. What they fail to mention is that they are still making coffee with muddy water. So basically the only people getting coffee from those shops are the people who want caffeine and don't care about the taste of what they are drinking.

Which is perfectly valid. It is safe, afterall. And for most folks, they won't be awake enough to care about taste until after the second (or third) cup. So the question is, where are you getting your coffee from this week?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Flurries before Falkland


A little geography lesson for those not familiar with this area: Falkland is the first community I have to drive through on my way home from Vernon, BC. It's about twenty minutes away, if you go slow. When I left, the weather reports indicated that conditions were clear and that I would have no precipitation to worry about.

It didn't stop with just flurries.

By the time I got to Kamloops, it was full on blowing snow, which is to say, lots of snow in the air, but none of it actually staying on the road. So all in all, not too bad. However, conditions worsened as I left Kamloops and it got kind of crazy for a while. I saw one truck in the ditch and figured I'd take a 'lessons learned' moment from it - I promptly slowed down a little.

Later, past the toll booth it got bad again. This time the blowing snow was replaced by a sheet of ice on the road. This time the accident involved more cars than I had time to count. This time I figured slowing down even more was sounding like a good idea.

Lucky for me, between those two times there were times when the road conditions were not too bad at all, and I was able to make up for the loss of time. And then, while in the Lower Mainland, some psycho in a pickup was exceeding the limit by a prodigious amount. I identified this person as 'my kind of people' and promptly caught his tail. He seemed to like that idea, and we made good time through the valley until I had to stop for gas.

So what does that have to do with the picture? Nothing really, except that on my way to Vernon I stopped at Krispy Kreme's to get my wife some donuts. I knew she would like 'em (and I did too) and it made for a nice little surprise when I arrived.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another trip to Vernon

After work today I will be making the trek back to Vernon so that we can finally list our condo. The picture linked here is from one of the traffic web cams that reports current conditions. So long as it stays warm enough to prevent snow from forming, I'll be happy. Otherwise, it will be slow going.

I also hope to return the borrowed tools, etc. to the various people who were kind enough to lend them to me. Thanks!

Anyway, if you see this pic turn snowy and ugly, that would be the time to get concerned I guess. Especially if the snow starts drifting and you see cars in the ditch. heh. Okay, that's not gonna happen. Just a little rain for my drive home.

*crosses fingers*

Monday, October 23, 2006

You never know who you will meet

This morning I still had to return the rental car from the weekend, so I was a little later than usual getting into the office. One thing I noted about Enterprise, is they REALLY like to go over their cars when you take delivery or drop them off. We must have wasted about 20 mins looking at this car that obviously had no damage to it before they would let me pay for things and be on my way. This, despite the fact that there was someone waiting to rent it again immediately. But, their car, their rules I guess. A bit of a delay, but otherwise no real hassle.

Now the rental place is only a block away from my office. As I was walking out, who should I see, but Gwilli, who was also on the way to his office. After a brief chat, we both headed in to serve our time.... er, happily contribute to the goals of our employers. Or something like that. I vaguely remember G saying something about wanting to find a job that doesn't actually require the 'work' component. I suppose it is good to have aspirations.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Forgot my umbrella

Yesterday when I left to go to work, it was drizzling slightly. I chose to bring my umbrella and naturally, things cleared up and I did not need it coming home. So of course, this morning when I left, I figured that I did not need it.

And yes, it was raining when I left the office.

Luckily, it wasn't raining all THAT hard outside. Just enough to get me only partially soaked, I guess. For the record: if it shows even a HINT of rain tomorrow morning, I'll be bringing my umbrella.

Of course, by Friday this really won't matter - the car rental office is much closer to work than the skytrain station. It can be pouring buckets and I should be ok. (I'll still bring my umbrella, just in case) Once I am on the road in the rental car, I probably won't make more than one stop (in Sumas, for gas) on the way back to Vernon.

It's a good thing I like the drive along the Coquihalla highway.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

So long Gary, and good luck

I was hired into my new job by a man named Gary.

Three days after I start, Gary no longer works for the company.

Before you all start, these two events are not related.

While it sounds bad, in reality I do not think it will change things too much for me. I will still have my job to do, and there is much to do at that. I'm still full of questions tonight, as the official company meeting doesn't happen until tomorrow morning. But the questions I have are detailed questions like 'who do I report to now' instead of wondering if I have a job or not. (I still do.)

The company I work for has a solid management team and I know they didn't take this decision lightly.

I'm really at a loss to say more than that at this time.

Hit the ground running? If only.

So I'm in Vancouver now, but haven't had much time to reconnect with people I know here. The new job is keeping me pretty busy, but the people I work with help make the days go by quickly.

Luckily, I am staying with family so I haven't been feeling too homesick so far. I do miss my wife, and my dog but I will be seeing them soon (next weekend). To help pass the time I have been playing video games with my cousin after supper. Nothing relieves stress quite like taking a shotgun to dozens of enemy drones, or shooting rocket launchers at attack helicopters.

Anyway, I made it. I'm back in Vancouver. I'd hardly say I hit the ground running, but I'll get there.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I said my goodbyes and left

Today was my last day at work here in Vernon. I'll start my new job on Tuesday, right after the long weekend.

The team of testers who worked with me decided that they wanted to buy me lunch on my last day. They certainly didn't have to, so I appreciated the gesture all the more. I'm sure that some, if not all of them will read this at some point. Lani, Paul, Les and Kevin: thanks for lunch and for being a great team. It was always fun to work with you. The only thing I regret is that we didn't take a picture of the team when we had the chance.

Soon after lunch I decided to end my day - after all, I had all this banked overtime and one or two things to do around the house. Okay, more like about four hundred little things to do around the house, but who's counting? Working in the Vernon office was fun, and I will miss it. But I'm equally sure that I'm going to have a total blast working in Vancouver as well.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bathroom renos

Well I finally started getting a few things done around the condo. Today was spent ripping out the bathroom lino and installing a new toilet. Two things I haven't really done before. (We had carpet pretty much throughout when we moved in.) To say I was nervous about the toilet is an understatement. But somehow, we got it installed (thanks to my wife for insisting we read the faulty instructions) despite the contradictions in the install guide.

We have a couple other projects underway, like painting the walls and installing floor moulding (some call them baseboards?) but those are things that can be done a little bit at a time. Nobody half installs a toilet. Or at least, they shouldn't if they happen to live in a one bathroom condo.

Anyhow, we did not do work on the tub, so we are still able to take showers after a long day of work. After that, I may have to consume a beer or two with dinner.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Going another round with Applecare

The ibook is dying a slow death.

Okay, it's not really so slow anymore. A better description of its current state would be 'dead'. It won't even boot off the recovery CD. So yay for me, I got to call Applecare yet again. For the record, I was calling about my 12" ibook G4 - I don't have one of the intel products, and don't know if their service record is better or worse.

After reading the forums, we strongly suspect a failing logic board. Honestly I don't care, so long as Apple returns it to me in working order. It's just a bunch of hassle, especially with the nearest Apple service center at least an hour's drive from here.

In summation: when it works, the ibook is a great little computer. But it's reliability record (at least for us) has been spotty at best. I'm just very glad that we got Applecare when we bought it.

My Apple reccomendations have been far fewer these days.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The return trip to Vernon

First of all, we made it in one piece. The weather wasn't too bad, so I was able to 'add my percentage' to the posted speed limit for most of the trip, which was kind of cool, since we were driving in our upgraded rental car. (Pontiac G6, for the curious) We were about two hours into the trip home when we realized we had my cousin's cell phone with us. The day before she had asked us to hold it for her as she didn't want to carry a heavy purse. She forgot to ask for it back, and well, we forgot to empty our pockets I guess. But still, nothing a visit to FedEx can't fix.

My buddy Kevin picked us up at the airport (that's where we rented the car from) and was kind enough to get Louise from the kennel along the way. We got the gear packed into his car, and were on our way home. All in all, it was a nice vacation and I'm glad we were able to get away. There were friends we were able to see, and friends we somehow didn't cross paths with - we'll try harder next time, for sure! Anyway, as for now, I think I am going to just enjoy a full night's sleep in my own bed.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Richmond Night Market

One of the things my wife and I planned to do on our trip to the Lower Mainland was to visit the Richmond Night Market. So last night was the night we chose to head over and check things out. We have been there before, so in part it was to see how things have changed from the past, as well as to enjoy some 'interesting' Asian foods.

But that is always half of the fun. Sorry, no food pictures in the Gwilli style - but we had octopus balls, lamb kebobs (mine were extra spicy) and some deep fried thing that was shaped like a fish and had red bean paste inside. We may have had something else, but I can't remember. We were going to have some shark fin soup, but couldn't find some that we liked well enough to order.

On stage, there was some sort of a game show - like the old Dating game, or singles match or whatever it's called. The basic premise was one lady was able to ask three gentlemen (who were hidden from her view, but not the audience's) some basic questions, and then she chooses one to go out on a date. The whole thing was unscripted, corny and very informal. So of course, I enjoyed it. My wife picked the guy who would win while eating one of those fish shaped donut things. (I'm a bit of a fast eater, so mine was already gone.)

Other than that, we didn't buy much at the night market, other than a new coat for Louise. One of the kiosks was selling dog clothing and our problem has always been finding clothes that fit Louise. Come to think of it, that's also a problem for the rest of us too. Anyhow, the seller was very pleasant, and a little bit entertained when he found out that our method of measuring the neck size for the dog garments was for me to try it around my neck. You see, I have the same size neck as my dog. If it doesn't fit me comfortably, well you get the idea.

Anyhow, we had fun, and barely managed to catch the Night Market. It's seasonal, running from May to October. I'm sure we will be back next year though.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Headed to the Coast

Once again I find myself rushing around in the early morning trying to get ready for a short trip set to begin tonight.

I love it.

Even though last night was spent cleaning litter boxes, doing laundry and dishes and other cleanup chores, I feel energized. I woke up a half hour before my alarm was due to go off - in part because Sophie or Sassy made some noise - but also in part because I was excited to start the day.

All of this enthusiasm, despite knowing I will spend today testing an import/export routine for accounting rules used by our application. It sounds was more fun than it actually is. What - didn't sound fun to you? Don't worry, it isn't. But I don't care. It is a good task for today.

Anyway, I have enough to do without adding more to this site. Have a good weekend - I'm hoping that I will.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Smoke filled dreams

So yeah, the smoke around here is getting pretty thick. When I ride my bike into work in the mornings, I can look at the sun with only my sunglasses on. The colour is a burnt orange that looks similar to the moon that shines at night. I'm used to a harvest moon only appearing once during the fall. This year, we have had it for about a month so far.

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones though - the smoke doesn't really bother me like I'm sure it does some others. It's just an interesting effect, although I'm sure it's going to be the cause of some colder weather.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Another birthday, a new demographic

I am no longer a member of the 25-35 crowd. I can hang on no longer. I still feel young, but I'm merely the youngest of the old now.

Was I supposed to start saving for retirement a while ago?

Money issues aside, this hasn't been all that bad of a year. I really do enjoy the summer weather in Vernon, I have my health and am happy at home. I really can't complain.

I feel that I should. But I won't - at least, not here, not now.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Smoke on the water

There are some fires in Washington state that have been making things very hazy up here. The smoke hasn't been this bad since the Kelowna fire, three years ago. I guess the wind is blowing along the lake, and the valley funnels the smoke toward us, even though we are probably about five hundred miles away from the fires.

So no imminent danger for us, although I'm sure that the people with athsma and other breathing problems are less than enthused.

It has been making for some interesting moons lately. The light reflected off the moon turns a bright orange as it penetrates the smoke, giving it a very unnatural (or at least unusual) colour. However the smoke has been getting thicker over the past two days, so I'm not sure if we will even see the moon again for a little while.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A quiet weekend spent shooting people

Yes, it sounds horrible. Playing video games during the heat of the summer. My Mom would be so ashamed - especially so if she knew the game had me play the role of an assassin, mercilessly killing people of all stripes.

At least the game penalized me for killing innocent bystanders.

Okay, the real issue is that if I didn't have a dog to walk, I would have been indoors the whole weekend. I've noticed that video gaming is easier to justify in the dead of winter, mostly because people are indoors already. Sorry Mom, for not playing outdoors more.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

For haircuts, pay more to cut less

I went to my barber for a haircut. It was time, I needed one. Unfortunately, on the day I went, my usual barber was closed. As it happens, there is another barber just a couple blocks away from where I normally go, so I decided (against better judgement) to try him out. At least he was open on a Saturday.

He was a grumpy man who liked to complain that cutting hair for a living was the worst possible thing in the world to be doing. But his rates were cheap, so I (against better judgement) decided to go for it. After all, I would only have to listen to him for about half an hour, right?

Lately I have been getting my hair cut so that the length on top is a little more than an inch, and shaved pretty close on the sides and back. This barber's interpretation of that was to take it down to a quarter inch off my scalp pretty much everywhere except the little piece on the very front. It doesn't look 'bad', but at the same time, it wasn't what I asked for.

One thing I have noticed with it this short though, is I get a pretty good look at which parts are turning grey (or white) faster than others. It makes parts of the top of my head look like they are balding (I'll be in denial on any evidence supporting that theory for quite some time yet) because of the hair colour. I figure things should be back to normal in a few weeks, just in time for my birthday.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Grampa turned ninety

Well yesterday was my grampa's ninetieth birthday. I gave him a phone call to see how he was doing, which is always fun. He actually celebrated a day early because he liked Thursday's daily special better than Friday's at his favorite restaurant. When I heard that the dish was corned beef and cabbage everything made sense to me.

It was a good conversation and later it got me thinking: how much different are things going to be when (if) I hit the age of ninety? Looking back at his life, he was born around the time that World War I started. The Great Depression was soon to follow, and he would have been old enough to be actively enlisted during World War II. By the time the Dot Com Bubble burst, he was already retired, collecting his pension - aside from watching the news, I wonder if he was affected by it at all?

Of course, when I call my grampa, it's not an interview. Sometimes I get a few answers, and other times he says something interesting that I wasn't looking for. But it's mostly about how we are doing, telling a few jokes and enjoying the conversation.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What happened to my hot weather?

On Sunday, the temperature dropped by about ten degrees. It was like someone unplugged the power for our Okanagan summer. While just about everyone around us was rejoicing for the milder weather, I was not amused.

Wearing a sweatshirt while biking into work IN AUGUST is not my idea of summer weather.

Oh well. At least the dog is more comfortable. This is probably the ideal weather for her. I wouldn't complain if it wasn't such a shock. I like a more gradual change, I guess.

On a different note, I have added a lot of blues to my regular playlist at work. Stevie Rae Vaughn, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and even some Ella Fitzgerald. I dunno, sometimes I just like some blues in the background.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A sick cat makes for a shitty day

This morning I woke up and had to walk to work instead of bike, due to a flat tire. No big deal, walking takes roughly the same time as catching the bus (because of the route they take) so I figured I would enjoy the morning sunshine. My plan was to pick up a tube at lunch so that my bike could be ready for tomorrow.

Shortly after arriving at the office, my wife called and informed me that one of our cats was sick. We keep two of them in a rather large pet cage overnight, and well, there was shit all over the bottom of it. To top it off, we didn't realize this at first, so we had two cats with shitty paws wandering through the house. Needless to say, my wife was busy washing the sick cat and mopping the floors. The cage made it outside for later.

My wife also informed me that the other cat just happened to puke up the world's largest hairball on my side of the bed. If she wasn't already busy enough, now extra laundry got added to the list, along with another cleanup. The only good news is that Louise slept most of the day away, which made cleaning up much easier than doing so under constant pug scrutiny. (Read: "Louise! Get out of that! NOW!")

Later, when I was home from work we discovered that the not-sick cat also had some more shit on her, and needed a bath. This turned into a game of 'catch the unwilling participant,' starring said cat. Of course, the unlucky winner was me, since I caught the cat, and it was just simpler and easier if I proceeded to carry her off to the bathtub.

Let me just say that this cat reacted poorly in the tub.

There were howls. There were mad attepmts to flee. There was much shedding of fur. At one point she may have even been foaming at the mouth and at no point was there ANY cooperation from this cat. She was not pleased. When the ordeal was done, my wife swooped in with a towel, deftly wrapped the cat in it and carted her out of the bathroom. Net effect: my wife, the Hero in the cat's eyes for rescuing her from the torture treatment, me the evil torturer who shall not be forgiven (at least for the night - this cat doesn't hold much of a grudge, luckily.)

Anyway, as I type this out, all of today's little disasters are behind us and while a little tired, I'm hoping one day we can laugh about it. I'm sure some of you are laughing already.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Been a long time

I wish I could say I was busy, and that was why I haven't updated in a while. Well, I sort of can - here is what has been going on with me lately:

- I got the vinyl floor glued in the entranceway. Now all that is left is installing some trim - for that part of the house. This is a good thing though, as we went an entire week with the piece of vinyl laying on the kitchen floor (it was stored in a roll, and this was an effort to un-curl it. Mostly successful, too.)

- The Dragon Boat races are here in Vernon once again. I blogged about it last year, and we will head down to the beach again tomorrow. The only problem with that beach is that we can't bring Louise. But then again, she would just get overheated anyhow.

- I have been revisiting some old video game classics. Well, classic games to me, at least. I installed Hitman: Codename 47 today and also dusted off Thief II. I'm doing this because they are about the best games I can expect to run on my home computer.

Oh crap, I forgot to call the cable company and cancel our service. We talked about it a few days ago, and decided that we weren't really watching TV anymore, so why pay for it? I find we download and watch way more content, or just spend time on the computers instead of the tube. I'm sure there will be more on this later, as it happens (and more importantly, as I start suffering withdrawl in September when the new shows start.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lobster nite

Tonight's supper should be extra tasty.

Lobster will be served.

I can really wrap it up there. I like lobster - a lot. If you read this, you already know that. I'm already preparing the neccesary defenses to keep the cats away from my plate.

Now as for the picture, it's a freehand doodle I did after browsing to the lunch at the village blog. Over there they pointed out a neat little site that simulates spilling oil paints. Gwilli was bright enough to figure out a way to 'break' it, which I have used here. What he did was to right click and choose zoom in. At this point, the website stops drawing with heavy strokes, and only uses a thin line instead. Go ahead and try it - clicking changes colour, and otherwise you cannot 'lift the pen', so to speak.

On my picture, you can see the big black splotches that were created before I zoomed in/out. Also, I tried to sign it at the bottom. Didn't work so well, heh. But go ahead and TRY to draw a better picture.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada Day


Today is Canada Day, and it also happens to be the anniversary of our wedding. (It's been six happy years, thanks for asking.) This year gone by marks only the second time since we were married that we did not move. However, in place of moving, we had a steady stream of renovation work to do.

Of course, tonight we will go out for a nice meal at the Phoenix. It's a steakhouse, but the menu is varied enough that we can both find something tasty to eat. They also have fantastic deserts, so I'll have to save some room when eating my main course.

Of course, one advantage of having our anniversary on Canada Day is that there is usually fireworks that night. While Vernon might not be the largest city around, they will have their own display at 10:15 pm. As for the photo, it's a random one I scooped from the internet - if you recognize it as yours, congratulations, it was the best looking one in the bunch served up by Google.

Anyhow, have a happy Canada Day, everyone.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Morning bike ride

Now that the weather is nicer, I have been riding my bike to work. It's much faster than the bus, mostly because I go straight to the office instead of taking a slow route through town. Keep in mind though, the best way to describe me on a bike is 'casual'. I may wear my helmet, but generally I'm in shorts and a T-shirt, ideally wearing my Birko open toe sandals. What can I say? I like the feel of wind between my toes.

On my typical daily ride I tend to go along a pedestrian/bike path built along one of the busier roads. This saves me the headache of dealing with traffic and it's quite nice. There is even a bridge at one point, with lots of trees around. Well today, one of the branches was broken, and the bridge was completely blocked.

Or mostly blocked. I really didn't want to back track to a point where I could avoid the bridge - that would be at least an extra 5 mins added to my ride. So I took a closer look at the foilage - sure enough, with some persistence I could force my way through the branches to the other side so long as I kept to the far edge of the bridge. Once through, I continued my ride, content in the knowledge that I was able to overcome my little obstacle. But really I was happy that I managed to find the lazy-man's path through the branches rather than riding around the bridge.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Relaxing on the patio

Summer is here and it seems like this is the first year we are actually using our patio. I really enjoy being able to hang out there in the evenings after work, watering the plants and just hanging out in the shade. Or even better, to enjoy a cold drink on a warm night. About the only thing that prevents us from really enjoying it much at night are the mosquitoes, but once it dries up around here like it usually does, that shouldn't be a problem.

Of course, the patio furnature we have is in dire need of refinishing - and the cushions in need of outright replacing. But that just means we don't care if the dog or cats hop up and if we spill something, that's not a big deal either. It's a quiet place where I can pretend I'm a gardener as I water my dozen or so potted plants, and Louise can bark at a few passing cars if she likes. Sophie, well she would hang out there all day if we let her - we have already had at least one request to relocate a litter box out there.

And of course, now that the laptop has the wifi card installed, I am able to hang out on my patio and browse the internet (or update my blog) while sipping back a cold vodka and cranberry drink, or beer, depending on my mood. Yep, just sit back and relax.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More reasons to love Coffee

Like I needed more reasons to justify my favorite drink. Well actually I do. If only coffee didn't get such bad press at times. I mean really, how is it ever going to be able to compare against green tea, with all it's 'health benefits' and such?

Well today I stumbled across a link that shows that cofffee helps protect one from lethal radiation. Not convinced? Kachadpillill George, the head of the research team, said "It does suggest that coffee might have some beneficial effects in protecting against radiation." Yay coffee!

A few days ago, we learned that coffee may actually protect the liver from the worst ravages of alcohol. Suddenly, drinking your Bailey's in coffee sounds like a pretty good idea. Then today, someone shows me a link to a new style of coffee press that supposedly makes a very good cup of coffee. You can see a video of it here.

Just when I thought this blog post on coffee was going well, I get directed to this piece of disturbing news. I don't care how rare civet coffee is, I want no part of a cup of joe that has been passed through the digestive tract of some mongoose-cat hybrid animal. My condolances also go out to the workers who have to sift through this animal's crap to collect the coffee beans. Times must be rougher than I thought.

Okay, so obviously one can take the whole coffee thing too far. Maybe cutting back on coffee isn't such a bad idea for me after all. I can always resume drinking lots in the event of a nearby nuclear detonation, I suppose.

Monday, June 12, 2006

More concrete to pour

So this weekend I resumed my entryway project. I used up the last of the original bag offloor leveling concrete, and set about mixing up the next bag.

One small problem became readily apparent: this was different stuff, and they didn't give a proper mix ratio. And what they did give didn't seem to make much sense.

One good thing about all these do-it-yourself renovation superstores is they become the functional equivalent of technical support. Not sure how to use that bag of cement? Call Rona (or Home Depot, or Home Hardware, etc.) and ask. They are only too happy to help. So that's just what I did. The person on the other end of the phone wasn't entirely sure what the answer to my question was, but he at least gave me the amount of water required for the whole bag. Some simple math divided it down from there, and then I was ready to mix, if a bit skeptical.

The difference between the old stuff I had and the new is that this was self-levelling cement. So it poured out like a soupy pudding mess, slowly settled into a level puddle and then hardened into place. The finish was much smoother than before, so I'm very happy with the product. I used up the entire bag, and will probably go through another one by the time I get things to the right height.

So basically, I'm one step closer to putting down the vinyl floor in the entrance.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I had a great weekend - how about you?

The weekend started Friday evening - with me winning the lottery! Ye-haw. I won $1 on the extra, making me a believer in that extra cash grab. It put me in a good mood and I had a great night. We weren't celebrating my win per se, but it was a good night. I can't remember now, but I think this was also the night I was talking with a friend and learned that she is getting married. More good news!

On Saturday I won a couple bucks on Super 7. Another amazing day was had by all. Okay, not entirely. Louise was upset when we went out for an hour or so without her, but that's par for the course, and later she got to meet a boxer puppy.

Sunday brought forth the discovery of yet another dollar won, this time with Lotto 6/49. My wife made me breakfast in bed, and later we went out to get some plants for the balcony. A garden on the balcony is the perfect size for me. It gives me the excuse to hang out there without it becoming so big as to be a chore. Louise particularly liked the trip to the plant store as she got to ride in the wagon.

I also re-connected with an old friend on the - one who had been out of touch for several years. I wasn't sure if he was in jail, dead or what. Turns out, it was probably none of the above. Oh well, I guess things are more dramatic in my imagination.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

So is anyone else ready to ditch cable TV?

So now that all the season finales are done, we find ourselves watching a lot less TV. We have even started to wonder why we still get cable TV, since most nights there isn't anything we want to watch on the tube. Now that a lot of networks are encouraging viewers to download the shows the day after they are aired, I'm left contemplating life after cable TV.

All in all, I don't think it would be that bad.

We already have high speed internet, courtesy of a DSL line. I was also happy with the high speed service offered by the local cable retailer when I had it. I'm a price-conscious shopper when it comes to internet - I'll switch for a lower rate. If internet also offers me TV content for the same price, it seriously devalues my cable TV subscription.

Come to think of it, the resolution and overall picture quality is way better on either of our monitors as compared to the TV set.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fast food - DENIED

Sometimes I hate this town. Last night was one of those times. I had a meeting to go to last night, so by the time I got home and settled in it was a little later than usual. We ate kind of light at suppertime, so around 11:00 PM my wife was a little hungry. I offered to go pick her up something since I wasn't tired yet. She decided she would like something from Wendy's. Perfect - I set out on my errand.

When I arrive, there are 2 other cars in the drive thru lane. I figured that 2 was a good number. Things proceeded quickly, and I made it to the order board. At that point I was informed that the drive thru was closed for the evening - it was a little after 11. I had to ask a couple times, I was that surprised. I thought the whole point of drive thru service was that you could get junk food later if you wanted.

So at that point I was mad at the Wendy's franchise. I figured I would support their competitors instead. Luckily, Burger King is only a block away from Wendy's - I head over there, and find that they are also closed! I drive through town on the way home and confirm that Dairy Queen, A&W and others are also all closed.

All I can say is God bless Tim Horton's. They are always open.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

48 hours in Pursuit

So for my stealth trip to Vancouver, I rented a car. Since this was to be a solo trip, I decided an economy class car would do the trick, to keep gas costs down. I was given the keys to a Pontiac Pursuit, but as I walked past the Mustang convertible, I was feeling that I had misplayed my hand somehow.

But the car was black, and did have a sunroof - and would be much more comfortable (and reliable) than my Jeep. I later discovered that it also had a 12 inch subwoofer in the trunk. Maybe this Pursuit wouldn't be such a bad ride after all.

As it turned out, the car was actually pretty nice. I used most of the 'toy features' at one point or another. By 'toy feature' I mean things like cruise control, fuel economy calculator, or that sunroof I mentioned. The other thing about this rental is that I went for the option to purchase a tank of gas at their price, instead of returning the car with a full tank. While this ensured I got gas for about $0.05 cheaper than what is available, it also gave me strong incentive to return the car as near empty as possible. THIS IS NOT RECCOMENDED FOR CARS YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH. About 45 mins away from my destination, the low fuel indicator came on. It was a tense half hour as I coasted/creeped toward the next gas station for a quick $5 worth of gas. Next time I think I'll top up the tank as required and drive with a healthy reserve in the tank. The savings in stress alone would be worth it.

For those of you who know the area, I was returning on the connector and the low fuel light came on about 2/3rds of the way back to Kelowna. I actually put the car in neutral and coasted for 20 km from the mine to the end of the freeway. Never have I been so glad to see Westbank.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Have wifi, will travel

Last night I picked up Apple's WiFi card for our laptop. I'm looking forward to getting it installed and freeing the laptop from those troublesome ethernet cords.

Now if only the charger cable wasn't so flaky these days. Looks like that might be next on the list. If you know of anyone with a spare ibook or powerbook charger, let me know.

One great thing about having this card is that once everything is up and running, I hope to be able to set up the router and DSL modem in a different room so that I can hook the other computer up via cable. Currently, I have it connected via wifi with a USB adaptor. Not a bad situation, but it is plugged into a USB 1.1 slot which really slows things down. Overall that is still okay since the entire computer is slow as well. But that is an upgrade project for another day. Speaking of upgrade projects, has everyone seen the upgrade video for the new Macbook? It's less than a minute long, so take a peek if you haven't already.

So back to the title. It looks like I am going to be doing another whirlwind trip to Vancouver this weekend. I won't be leaving until Sunday, so Monday is really going to be the only day I have to do things. But at least it's a holiday, right? Oh, and for those who know me, fear not: I'm renting a car for the trip. The Jeep stays in Vernon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm overdue for a post, I know

It's been a while since my last update. I think I prefer posting with pictures, but whatever. Internet Crutches, be gone!

So let's see - back in February I signed on with Telus (local telephone monopoly) for their high speed DSL service. I was actually very happy with the local cable service, but was bribed with the first three months free, as well as a free ipod for signing into a contract. I had my reservations, but free is free, right?

As luck would have it, I signed on the absolute last day possible for the promo. This practically guaranteed that my account would be set up with problems. As a tester, I really have to stop living my life like a test case. Anyway, the day came to switch over from cable to DSL (it was almost two weeks later - no need to set it up until my paid cable service ran out, right?) and things started to go wrong. A quick call to tech support had me up and running within 24 hours I think. It's hard to remember details that far back. At any rate, I remember that was the first time I had to call for help, only to discover that the problems were NOT on my end but had to do with how the account was set up.

Pretty soon, all was well. Internet was up and running, things were all happy and good - service was comparable to the cable internet we just left, at least speed wise. We did lose all our email from the old ISP account but that was early in the game and I was willing to let that slide.

Then an odd thing started to happen - my free ipod wasn't arriving. MULTIPLE calls, with several transfers between departments were required to sort out this problem. (One department, the Loyalty and Retention dept made me wonder what sort of company requires a dept with such a stated purpose.) They eventually assured me that the ipod would now ship, but it could still be a few weeks for arrival.

Then the bill came in. Somehow, in the mess they created, they neglected to give me my free months of internet service. By now I was pretty steamed but when I called the customer service rep was competent, polite and actually helpful. Or at least, that's the impression I got at that time - I guess the proof will be in the next phone bill.

Oh, and yes the ipod finally arrived. I picked it up yesterday.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Happy Cinco de Mayo


and Happy Birthday, Roscoe. Ya stanky little....oh wait, I'm trying to be nice.

Yes, it's Roscoe's birthday today. And it's Cinco de Mayo, which makes it easy for me to remember.

Anyhow, how does one celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Drink Mexican beer? If so, it sounds a LOT like St. Patty's day, and I can be happy with that. But if there is more to it, I hope someone is able to enlighten me. I mean, if I'm also supposed to eat burritos with the beer, I'd like to know about it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bad days can really suck

Man, I hate having a bad day. It really destroys my mood.

That's about it.

Hope you all have a nice day.

PS - Tiger, my condolances. Your day must be infinitely worse than mine.

Monday, May 01, 2006

At least they waited until spring

Remember the homeless guy who lives outside my office window? Well today a backhoe and dumptruck pulled into the lot, and started to remove his stuff. There is a cop supervising the activity, and at least three workers. Another man is on-site, presumably the owner, or developer of the vacant lot.

Of all the days for me to be without a camera.

I will say this - there was a LOT of stuff. That dumptruck is mostly filled (it's pulling away now.) It probably took the crew about an hour in total to clean out the area. About half the office floor came over to our windows for a good look at the workers doing their job. I'd say that was a pretty clear indication that we are either easily amused, or simply have no lives.

Oh well, I hope Mr. Homeless guy has found a new home by now.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A no-work weekend

Finally, a weekend where I won't have to come into the office. A weekend where I can take my mountain bike out of storage, clean it up and get it ready for the summer. A weekend where the forecast for Saturday is RAIN??!?

I don't care. Rain or shine, I'm having a good weekend. At least today is sunny and warm. Twenty-eight degrees centigrade with low humidity.

I might even go outside.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Finally a diesel SUV


Jeep is now offering the Liberty with an optional diesel engine. The link is for the US site, but it is also offered here in Canada as well. When it first came out, I wasn't really a fan of the Liberty, but over time I have come to like it at least a little more. I suppose I would be really excited if they offered the CRD engine in a TJ, and who knows, maybe they will. But even if they don't, I think this is a good move for Jeep and I hope they sell lots of these cars. I would love to mod one to run on straight vegetable oil, much like Vegetapaul did with his antique Mercedes.

Plus, a 5000 lb towing capacity? That's INSANE for a 4 cylinder! Give me money and sign me up. Suddenly I really want one of these cars.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Juice Bags


Okay, I so want one of these bags. It's called a Juice Bag, so it already gets bonus points for the pun, because of the solar panel built into the top flap that can be used to recharge whatever electric device you like.

It even has a lighter jack on it, much like you would find in a car. Standard car adaptors (like for cell phones or ipods) work just fine.

It's a bit pricey - okay, outrageously expensive might be the term some would use - at about $200 US. But I suppose you can bill into the cost of the item the free energy that you can get for your devices, most notably in places that don't have access to electricity.

But nevermind the utility. I'm a sucker for gadgets, and this is just the sort of thing that appeals to me. Now where did I put that spare $200 of mine?

Oh right. I used it to pay the electric bill.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Renovation update - flooring complete

Well yay for us - we finished laying down the laminate flooring last weekend. Although it now seems that we are also being screwed over by the flooring company who sold us the wood. (they are King of Floor, in case you are wondering) It seems that if you don't pick up your merchandise in a timely fashion, they will turn around and sell it to someone else without notifying you, or making any attempt to rectify the situation. Lucky for us, we had JUST enough wood to complete the last room.

Of course, that still leaves plenty of things for us to work on - but I for one will be happy to be done with the green dust. (FYI - the 'green dust' is the sawdust generated from cutting the laminate boards, as the wood used to make them is coloured green.)

It also helped that we had company over for dinner recently, which forced me to get off my lazy behind and actually clean most of the house. It is so much nicer in the condo now - who knew?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My ibook es teh SUPAR!

Yeah, don't ask me why I chose the title I did today. I think it is funny when I see intentionally misspelled text for some reason. I'm sure my wife will roll her eyes and make some comment about my degree in English and how useful it has been for me.

I explain to her that it was so long ago, my degree was actually in ye Olde English and therefore not relevant today. She's not buying it.

Anyway, the other, more important reason for today's title is because I installed some extra RAM in the trusty iBook last night. As usual, I was a little nervous about opening it up - too many times in the past I have tinkered with some gadget, only to end up with a dead patient on the operating table. So before opening it up, I had to once again search out instructions online - you know, to idiot proof the process. This meant I needed pictures. So after finding the illustrated how-to on iFixit.com (thanks again hon, for searching it out) I proceeded to do the deed.

I think I was a little too nervous - after putting the RAM in and booting it up, it was sluggish and the RAM was not recognized. So I open it up again, re-insert the RAM and try again. No luck. I was scared of forcing it and causing breakage. My wife, who was watching and getting much enjoyment out of the whole process, quipped "well the third time is the charm, take another look." This time I was able to seat the RAM properly. I didn't have it inserted all the way in my earlier attempts. Sure enough, on bootup, all 768 MB were recognized. Whew. The doctor can relax now.

Cost of the RAM - free, thanks to connections. Cost of the install - I figure a few weeks shaved off my life due to self imposed stress, so no biggie. Being able to play Vendetta Online again - Priceless.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Evidence of a weekend visitor

I was in working on the weekend again, and as luck would have it, was able to bring my dog with me. Look closely at the provided photo - it shows a nice big smudge mark from when Louise was barking at the doberman outside. It was the only time she was noisy, and I was the only one working upstairs, so it was okay. But I did have to calm her down after a bit.

I suppose I will have to clean the window now.

Happy news - I checked my FedEx tracking number, and some RAM for the ibook should arrive today. Since I still only have the base 256 MB that came with the ibook, this is a much needed upgrade. Many thanks to the generous person who made this happen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Just gotta fib

Someone introduced me to another blog site called GottaBook. The article I linked to is called 'the Fib' which in his words, is:

a six line, 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8 – the classic Fibonacci sequence.

So I thought to myself: Fantastic! An excuse to write crappy poetry is JUST what this Friday needs. Now all I need to do is write a crappy poem to demonstrate.

Uh,
Hmm.
Oh wait,
I got it!
Hang on, no I don't.
Crap. This is harder than it looks.

I call this little fib "Inspiration". Thanks Gregory K. for the idea.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Flying in the dark

So last night when I was walking the dog, I noticed what I thought was a helicopter flying overhead. As if flew past me though, I realized that it was actually a plane with a horrible-sounding engine. Instead of the usual purr or buzz sound associated with an engine, this one was making a choppy pop-pop-pop kind of sound, which is why I assumed it was a helicopter at first. Anyway, I watched it continue past me, then bank and turn as it prepared to make the final approach.

Once it levelled off and was on the final approach, the lights on the plane went out, and the engine noise changed.

I'm pretty sure the plane made it in to land okay, but can't see the airport from where I live. It was very eerie to follow the plane by sound only as it travelled through the darkness, although to the pilot, I am sure his path was well lit with the city lights. As for the engine, my guess is that the change in noise was due to the pilot throttling back to idle and gliding in to the runway. I could clearly hear the propeller spinning as it flew past, and can only assume based on other planes that have landed here that the trajectory was correct.

My bus route circles the airport on the way into town - I'll be keeping an eye out for fresh wreakage, but it will be difficult to tell the difference between that, and any other projects on the go over there.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I missed most of April Fool's

About the only April Fool's gag I caught was Google's dating service, which was pretty funny. I think that last year there was a lot more, or maybe because the day fell on a Saturday this year I just didn't see as much.

If any of you were aware of other shenanigans that happened on the web for this year's April Fool's please let me know.

As for what I have been up to, well more concrete pouring. It looks like I am going to need more than was initially purchased - lots more. Which is okay, I guess I can look at what I have done so far as practice, with much more to come. By the time I put the vinyl floor down, it should have a very smooth surface, and should also have less of a drop from the door. I'm still looking for that quick and easy home renovation project though. It seems all of mine have hidden 'gotchas' attached to them, increasing time and effort required.

Oh yeah - I absolutely HATE the time change in the Spring. The whole losing an hour concept is not what I like about this. Things in the Fall are much better.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Time to review how we do things

Okay, this is a very rough draft, but I was having fun with it, so here goes:

Software testing is kind of like religion. There are many 'bibles' available that talk about how things should be done. (ie. Thou shalt not file a bug without a clear description.) It's even more like religion when you realize how many people who practice software testing for a living fail to live up to these 'codes.' Guilt associated with not being able to test 'properly' is prevalent, expected and demoralizing.

Much software is not released without a blessing from the tester, and the stuff that is often seems to be cursed. Not all of the religions of test are organized - some, like ad-hoc testing, are more like superstition than a formal religion. Others are heavily ritualized, requiring multiple layers of test documentation to be laboriously produced and maintained for every release of a product. You tell me which religion that sounds like. Multiple answers are accepted.

Then there is the New Age school of thought on software testing. Agile Testing seems to be in style at the moment, but so is Rapid Software Testing. Both attempt to deal with a similar problem - that is, how to be effective at testing the software with limited time and information. Agile attempts to solve this by working as closely as possible with the customer and by reducing the number of communication channels while RST attempts to increase the skill and effectiveness of the tester through a variety of means like risk analysis, exploratory testing and heuristics.

Test Automation is clearly Voodoo. It is often the least understood practice and requires much dedication in the arcane arts of scripting in order to show much effectiveness. It is however, a powerful tool in the right hands, but only when the moon is full or the browser is Internet Explorer. Go figure.

Defect Tracking systems are the lexicons of our SW testing religions, as they record the bugs throughout the ages, often useful for indicating 'dark times' in a project, when it seems the war against software failure is futile. However, under the skilled guidance of proper project management, a faithful tester can look forward to rapture, or the product release, when all their hard work will pay off - hopefully with rewards like a week off with pay, or at the very least, a brief end to mandatory overtime.

Like I said it was rough - and not nearly complete. Maybe I'll add more some time later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

What ever happened to Easy?

So yesterday was the day that I was to work on the entranceway. I lifted the carpet, pulled out the staples and all the other junk used to hold it down, cleaned up the area, put a coat of primer on the bare concrete and then prepared to put on the concrete. I did it just like the guy at the store said to, pile the powder on the floor, make a hole in the middle for the water, mix well and smooth out.

Hmm. Things have a way of not going according to plan, it seems.

The surface I was covering is not level, so the water kept trying to roll away from the powder. The concrete did not mix smooth because the surface under it was uneven, and the remaining powder on the floor acted like flour on the counter, preventing the concrete from sticking well. I almost had to walk away for a while, but couldn't because then the concrete would set and I'd have even bigger problems.

Enter my wife, who talked me down like an Air Traffic Controller telling someone how to land a jumbo jet. I'm still not happy with the way the floor looks, but at least she was smart enough to keep the overall height lower than what we plan for, so I can smooth it out with another coat later. I also started mixing smaller batches in a yogurt container, which allowed me to control the consistency much better. I'll probably return to the job tonight after work (there is probably about 30% left to do) and put the finish coat on. I found that by adding just a little more water, it makes the concrete much easier to smooth out.

One thing I am glad I did was I installed a 5/8th inch strip of wood between the concrete and the laminate wood flooring to act as a barrier. This way, should someone want to change the laminate floor, they can do so without having to re-do the entrance, or vice versa. It will also make attaching a decorative cover strip much easier, with something wood to screw into. I will tell you this - once I get the vinyl floor down in the entrance, I will NOT be lifting it up again.

UPDATE: I work with John, and he was away last week. This morning when we arrived, we discovered his office brightly decorated, presumably by another staff member. At first, John was not too thrilled to have his picture taken, but as the morning progressed, he seemed to be getting used to it.

For my part, I'm just the lowly photographer, using the office camera. Surprise, John!

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's hard to write without illustration

Today I will be picking up some more flooring supplies. I'm happy about that because our entranceway looks really bad in its current state. Some new flooring is just what it needs. So it looks like I'll be doing some more handiwork on the house this weekend. Ahh, progress.

Oh yeah - a friend of mine introduced me to a new artist a while back. This artist was featured in an advertisement for the Sony Bravia. It's a cool ad that shows brightly coloured rubber balls bouncing down a street in San Fransisco. The artist's name is José Gonzáles and his CD is titled Veneer. If you like the music in the Sony ad then chances are you will like the whole CD. I'm pretty sure it's an independant release, so there shouldn't be any Sony rootkits included.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Molson Canadian in Kokanee country?


Screen of fallen leaf
Originally uploaded by tearoom.
Another random Flickr shot for today. I like red leaves - must appeal to my sense of nationalism. Anyway, this is a much better shot than I typically take, so I thought I would showcase it here.

I don't really have much to write about today - kind of in between things at the moment. We might actually purchase some flooring supplies and get some work done on the condo soon. We finally found a good deal at one of the places in town. Two other condos sold in our building last week, and we keep watching the prices go up, up and up. Last year we were talking about selling our place and I half jokingly said "I'm not selling until I can get !" Well the two units that sold last week were only about $10k shy of my crazy number and spring has barely arrived.

Of course, even if we did sell and get our asking price (very likely in this market) we would still be faced with getting another place with just as inflated a price tag. Which would mean getting another place that is rough around the edges and doing some of the fix-up work ourselves.

Bleh. Enough with the speculation. For now it will be enough to put a proper floor in the entranceway.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day


DSCN7428
Originally uploaded by weerasak.
I don't know about you, but this shot really captures the spirit of St. Patrick's Day for me. There is something about a green Leprechaun pulling pranks that I'm sure most of my family can identify with. Thanks, unknown-to-me-flickr-user for the great photo.

Oh, and happy birthday Shawn. I tried calling this morning - chatted it up with your answering machine.

Yeah, that's right - my brother started his life with a blessing - he was born on St. Patrick's Day. So consequently, he's the most Irish of us all. Don't ask me how that works, it just does.

I'll have to update this post later on tonight, when I get home. There is another certain somebody that I like to remember on this day and I'll be uploading his picture as soon as I can. More details on that when I get home and can do proper justice to the update.

Here's the update:
This here is my buddy Gordon who died of an athsma attack on St. Patrick's day over a decade ago now. I had to be sure to hoist a Guinness for him when we were out tonight. It was another friend of mine (still living) who reminded me that Gordon's motto was 'Life is a party.'

I may miss you buddy, but we are still having good times, just like you would have wanted.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An attempt at replacing the LCD

Well last night was the big night. I was so anxious to get started that I was annoying my wife, who forced me to eat dinner before tearing into the laptop.

After eating, we cleared a space on the coffee table, I placed down an anti-static mat to work on, we printed off pictures and instructions from the internet, I assembled the tools I knew I would need, etc.

My wife found it very entertaining to watch me work on the computer. My dog had a different opinion though, and was thoroughly bored with the whole process. I've put together a page over here that describes what happened with a few more pictures if you are interested in the gory details. For those who just want the end result, well I managed to repair the laptop without causing even more damage (my primary concern.)

While I found the process to be somewhat harrowing, I think that was mostly because it was my stuff on the line. I would probably enjoy this sort of thing quite a bit if I was breaking...er, FIXING other people's computers instead. At least, when it is straightfoward. I hate the troubleshooting part. I'm still amazed that I didn't have leftover screws at the end.

Heh - I forgot to mention. When the laptop rebooted, the date and time were reset - to 4:00 PM, December 31, 1969. Gotta love UNIX time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The LCD panel has arrived


I just got off the phone with my wife. The LCD panel we ordered has arrived (Yay!) and doesn't appear to be damaged. So it looks like tonight the ibook undergoes more surgery, this time to get a new face.

GAH! I was planning on documenting the whole process in typical geek fashion but just realized that I can't do that anymore - my cheapo digital camera stopped working. Unbelievable. Of all the rotten times for that to happen.

UPDATE:
I was able to borrow the crappy digital camera from work - hopefully it will do the trick. I've tried to upload a test photo to get a feel for the lens but blogger.com isn't being very cooperative right now. Oh and yes, my PDA case is that scratched. But that doesn't make much sense without the picture. Sigh. I'll try again a little later.
FURTHER UPDATE: Okay, picture uploaded now. Yes, those are also dents along with the scratches.

I'll be busy tonight - we are also switching from cable internet to ADSL, effective tomorrow. So after the laptop surgery, I'll be configuring one modem and unplugging another one.

Oh yeah, happy Pi day, everyone. For all you mathematicians out there, this video is for you.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hate the wait.

Okay, so the weekend has arrived and the replaceemnt LCD panel has not yet arrived.

AARGH! I hate waiting.

I'm sure it will arrive sometime this week coming up. If not, I may have to drive to Victoria and kill someone. Okay, maybe not quite so drastic. Besides, the Jeep isn't really up for the trip. Hey speaking of Jeeps, I'm contemplating a totally insane prospect - another Jeep Cherokee, this one only a year newer than my current (failing) one. Will someone smack some sense into me please?

Okay seriously though. The price is pretty cheap, at about the same that I paid for this one. Plus, this new one has a fantastic feature called a 'working engine'. Apparently it's a popular feature, especially among older models. What it does need are things like tires (just got some new ones on the older Jeep) and a battery that I could also steal out of the older one. Plus, the new one has leather seats. So it's at least worth a look, especially if I can haggle him down a little bit. Apparently it is black in colour, and the air conditioning has been disconnected. Oh yeah, and one of the power windows in the back doesn't work. Can you say oven in the summer? I guess it doesn't cost anything to take a look though.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Replacement parts are on the way

I love ebay. We were able to win the auction of our choice to get a replacement LCD panel for the ibook. It will be coming from nearby, so we won't have to worry about customs, or other things like that which could cause further delay. You can see another photo of the current panel over on my dog's site. It's in the background of the second photo.

Of course, I'll be happy once it's installed and working correctly. But that will be another post.

I took this picture the other day as I headed out to work. I liked the way the cloud was acting like fog on the hill behind our complex. My wife will probably think I'm crazy for saying this, but I sometimes miss the fog. But then, if I grew up where she did, I'd have to miss crazy stuff like torrential rains and thunder storms. No wonder she loves sunshine and hot weather.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

100th Blog Entry

It took me almost a year to write one hundred entries in my blog, but here I am. Still no focus, still just rambling about what's been going on in my life - just the way I like it, actually.

Speaking of what is going on in my life, look at the pretty picture in today's post. Note the bright vertical lines. There are also some dark horizontal ones. Yes, that's right, I broke the LCD panel on our little iBook.

So naturally I would be upset about this. But there wasn't really much point in freaking out since the damage was already done. I was pretty discouraged though, and my wife noticed. Sometimes it amazes me how she is able to do exactly the right thing in certain situations. Once I had determined that damage to the iBook was limited to the LCD panel and the power cable, she was quick to search ebay to find a suitable replacement panel. So now it looks like the damage can be repaired (by me) for much less than I was expecting. But it doesn't stop there. Even though her back was sore, she decided to bake up a bunch of things like cookies etc. Then, she did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen (normally my chore) before I came home so I wouldn't be faced with a mess on arriving home. Hon, I know you put the extra effort in yesterday because I was feeling low - I really appreciated it and wanted to say so here. When times are tough, you are the one person I want in my corner.

Now as for the iBook, let me just say this is our first laptop and as such we have not exactly been kind to it. I can't count the number of times it has been knocked off the table by the pets tripping on the ethernet chord alone. And every time it happened, I would wince and have this horrified look on my face that made my wife wish we never got a laptop. Yet here we are. I guess we will just have to figure out a way to prevent the laptop from falling off the end table. I'll use C-clamps if I have to. heh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No picture for you.

Bleh. it's snowing again and I'm tired of photographing the neighbor's backyard to show it. Besides, as it turns out, the house next to the office had a grow-op in it. Someone broke into the house, and then someone from our office called the cops. The cops entered and discovered it. Then they parked an unmarked-but-obviously-a-cop car across the street while they waited for a warrant.

They were there to make sure nobody came in to clear out the pot gear before they got their warrant.

That's about all I know about it though. The whole thing could have happened without me ever knowing, if not for office gossip. Oh yeah - I think the gossip spread beyond the office, because this morning there was another broken window in front of the reception desk. My guess is the alledged pot-grower was upset.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Zamboni!

So the place I work was giving out more free hockey tickets to the local team, and I managed to get a pair. It's usually a fun night out, even though the home team doesn't usually win (at least when I attend) and even though it is usually pretty cold outside.

It also meant we would be taking the Jeep to get there - luckily, no incidents to report with that.

Trivia note: our local arena is the same one that was used to film Making the Cut - the hockey reality show from 2004. It's really quite a nice arena.

Once again we were seated a few rows back from the benches, and once again we were afflicted with the stinky player stench. I didn't bother to post any shots of the stink lines this time though. Probably because I am a little stuffed up these days, so I wasn't smelling things as strongly as usual.

I also find that it's harder work to watch a hockey game in person. TV has spoiled me with instant replay and multi-angle analysis. It seemed every time I looked away, or followed the puck, I would miss some other interesting part of the game. Oh yeah, no real fights to report in this game either. I would have had to run down to ice-level to get some good pictures if one did.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The kindness of strangers

So last night after work, we headed out to do some grocery shopping. This meant using the Jeep, which is always an adventure to say the least. We got a lot done, but when pulling into the parking lot of one grocery store, I was stopped by a complete stranger who wanted to tell me that my headlight was out.

I thanked him and prepared to continue into the store, but he then offered to give me a headlamp. As it turns out, he recently replaced his with a new set and happened to have a spare working lamp, so it's not like he was offering me something new. But still, I thought it was a very nice offer and thanked him for his generosity. It was too cold to attempt installing it right then and there, as we have all that arctic air blowing through town right now. I'd rather do it in sunshine on Saturday.

Running errands in the old Jeep last night reminded me of how upset I was over blowing the engine. I was just getting used to this vehicle and starting to enjoy driving it when the engine trouble hit. At some point we will have to get a newer vehicle to replace it but that is always filled with compromise as I never seem to be able to spend enough to get what I really want.

What would I want, you ask? Well take a look at the Jeep pictured here. It's clearly not mine. You can tell because it's all shiney and new. I really like the Jeep TJ (or Wrangler, in the US) and would be happy with just about any of them, ideally with a standard transmission and air conditioning. I'm not saying the TJ is the only thing I would like to drive, but it's a fun rig.

I honestly don't mind riding the bus to work. But damn, I miss driving my Jeep.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sloppy Sushi leaves no room for Sloppy Seconds

So last night I decided to embark on a new adventure. Without assistance from my wife (who is a master chef in her own right, at least according to me) I decided to make sushi for the two of us.

During the process, I learned a few things and was reminded of a few more.

First, I learned that if you use quality ingredients, even a novice can make tasty sushi. At first I was worried about screwing up dinner and being left with nothing to eat. No such problems, my friend!

Next I learned how important the rice is. When I started asking around about sushi prep, EVERYBODY kept stressing this point. So many horror stories. So many good tips too - like keep a little extra rice wine vinegar to dip your fingers in when working the rice. It helps to prevent the rice from sticking to you. I'm sure that some of you are saying 'well yeah, of course!' but for me, this tip was the difference between eating a sushi roll, or eating a pile of rice and fish on a seaweed wrapper. Here is the recipie I used for the rice, and as you can see in the picture, my first rolls were made with too much rice. Still tasty though.

I must have asked a hundred questions about the fish. I already knew (roughly) what kinds I wanted, but wasn't sure on how to properly thaw it out, or of any special technique for cutting it. Luckily for me, the guy I bought the fish from was super helpful and gave me all the answers I would need. Memo to self: our kitchen knives really do need sharpening.

Best of all, my wife was pleased to not only get some sushi, but to also have a night off from cooking. Well that, and she was thoroughly entertained by watching me prep the food.

Sushi on Valentine's day is starting to become something of a tradition for us. It's partly because Sophie's birthday is on that day, and we indulge the pets with a little taste of the raw fish as a birthday treat. Sorry, we were planning on taking pictures but some of the pets were so quick at eating the food that there was no time to get the camera ready. I won't mention any names.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day from the Trip

Happy Valentine's day to all of you who have wasted your time here at one point or another. More importantly, Happy Valentine's day to my wife - you have stuck with me through good times and bad and I honestly don't know how I could live without you anymore.

Yeah, it's mushy - what of it? Valentine's day is a special day where guys make fools of themselves for their women and I'm just following with tradition. Lots of guys complain about this but I don't. To be honest, I like having an annual reminder to recognize my significant other - without it I might go too long without doing something to show her how much I appreciate all that she does. Anniversaries are good that way too. So as for Valentine's day I say bring it on. Yeah, there is pressure, and yeah, failure can be catastrophic. But we as men signed on for this. Back when we were dating our wives, we would do backflips for them. Valentine's day serves as a last measure to prevent the worst of us from being a total writeoff by forcing us to actually acknowledge our love for another. For the best of us, it's cause for celebration. I'm hoping I at least fall somewhere in between the two.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hypocrites, Blasphemers and Cartoons

I'm breaking this post into global and local topics, starting locally.

Local issues:
Stephen Harper (our latest Prime Minister) has barely been sworn into office. What does he do first? He announces his new cabinet of Ministers. No big deal you think, this is normal stuff. But wait - David Emerson, who ran as a Liberal just two weeks ago and won with an overwhelming majority changes teams to be the Conservative Trade Minister. I honestly would not care about this so much if Harper had reacted differently to Belinda Stronach's defection just last year. If it was clearly not okay for Belinda to defect, why is it suddenly okay now for David?

Stephen Harper, your actions portray you as a political hypocrite. I won't even get into the whole issue of appointing someone who wasn't even elected to be Minister of Public Works and Government Services. We are off to a spectacularly bad start. So much for electing a more accountable government. I've already lost confidence in this minority government. Can we get a motion?

Global Issue:
I'd continue this rant, but I also wanted to mention the first sane article I have seen that discusses the Danish anti-Muslim cartoons. I applaud the Times for taking the stand they did. Muslims the world over have been offended by these cartoons, and for what purpose? To highlight the difficulty experienced by Danish writer Kåre Bluitgen in finding artists to illustrate his children's book about Muhammad. So now an Iran newspaper has decided to hold a contest of their own to test this 'free speech' in Europe to find a dozen holocaust cartoons. Which I suppose, is better than burning down buildings or killing folks.

So in the spirit of today's news, I commissioned a political cartoon of my own, to express what I feel about our newly elected government's actions. While I got exactly what I described from the artist, I was surprised at how conflicted I felt on seeing it. My initial reaction was to laugh, because I did find it funny. But it is funny only because I feel it is true and that there is comedy in misery. At the same time I also find it somewhat offensive to my sense of national pride. Lucky for me I decided not to make fun of my religious beliefs today. I can only imagine how much worse that would have made me feel.

Which is my main point, I guess. I can see how upsetting these cartoons would be to Muslims. I get it - I would hate to be painted with the same brush used on terrorists motivated by my religion. What I do not get is the violence - I can't sympathise with Muslims who feel justified in physically harming others. The cartoon contest, well I don't know. If it's good for the Danes, it should be good for the Muslims - it's just disappointing that they would be willing to stoop to that level. And let me be clear: the Danish cartoons stooped to a new level of low. I have not put the images on my site because I do not approve in the slightest. They were mean spirited and I feel they were designed to incite hatred toward Muslims. And that's an opinion I'm not comfortable with, even though I myself am not a follower of Islam. Free Speech means the racists and assholes of the world have a voice and this can be a problem for some when they spout heresy or offer contrarian opinions. It also tests our resolve toward being tolerant toward those who oppose us. What it does not do is excuse us from the rules of civil conduct. Slander is still slander and offense is still taken from insults. We still have to play nice with our neighbors.

So without further preamble, here is my cartoon:

Monday, February 06, 2006

Vernon Winter Carnival

Every year Vernon has a winter carnival. I know this because every year a bunch of hot air balloons fly into town and descend into one of our parking lots. This happened on Friday. Also every year, there is a parade through town. That happened sometime this weekend, Saturday I think. I didn't go because I have a library book due back today and I was trying to finish reading it first. It didn't help that the book reads like a text book. I was falling asleep quite regularly and ended up moving to the dining room table just to push through it.

Of course, this also means I missed the Superbowl. Well, in all honesty we did turn on the TV to keep tabs on it once in a while, but like most football games it progressed way to slowly to capture my interest. I was way more distracted from my book when The Family Guy came on afterwards.