Archive for March, 2011

Internet Experiences

A couple of observations from this last week about our internet experiences.

Pat (through her connection to the Newcomer’s club) received one of those great emails from Africa.  A rich widow of a former cabinet minister in Ivory Coast (pick any country) is trying to get her $50 million out of the country and offers a reward to anyone that can help.  Beautifully written with just the right spelling mistakes and details to make it an adventure.  You would think with all the news reports that no one would fall for it, but now it is just exotic to receive the offer. 

Now would it not be ironic if it turns out that Pat was actually approached by a rich widow (lets face it Ivory Coast is having a problem these days) and we blew the opportunity?????

The other incident is from something I ordered through the internet.  Over the years I have purchased countless items and downloads.  Not always happy with the product but I get what I order.  Generally I pay through PayPal as I thought they would be the barrier that protected my credit card and so far it has proven correct. 

My next model project is a Japanese Junk for Meagan.  Actually there is no such thing as a Japanese Junk since they never developed off shore ship capability.  Every concept of a junk is Chinese so the few Japan off shore excursions were done on Chinese Junk designs. 

I have been searching for many months for some plans of the hull layout for junks and they are few and far between.  Eventually I found a model ship website that had plans for a Junk and ordered them.  Actually a great website with plans for many ships and all the attributes of a professional website.  Paid $22 US through PayPal in early February and waited.  5 weeks passed and as I went on the site they reported payment but no shipping.  I started contacting  their customer service through their site and never received a reply. 

Finally I reported to PayPal a conflict and they immediately pulled back the money from the seller and within 24 hours I get an email from the seller (who is located in Israel).  After 8 more emails he finally sent  me the plans via internet.  I expect without PayPal pushing him he would have ignored me. 

In the end the plans were for a Vietnamese Junk design and not what I needed.  OK there were no details in the original site so Mea Culpa.  But after 3 weeks of constant emails and disputes I received plans that are of little use.

However I am very happy with Pay Pal.  They truly protected my money.

Fortunately I have been able to find enough free plans through the internet that I will be able to piece together the layout (by hand) for the next project.

Sometimes inventing recipes does not work

It is a Monday night and I decided to do something different for dinner.  Pat was out for the afternoon and I was charged with coming up with the idea for the day (she made a marvelous new meal yesterday)

We had some boneless, skinless chicken breasts which I would normally use for an Indian meal or oriental stir fry.  Over the years I made many Shakuti dinners which is basically cut up chicken, coconut milk and variations of Curry (that does trivialize what is a little more complicated but the concept) 

The kids always loved Shakuti and at one time it was voted a favourite meal by Monique (granted growing up in Northern Alberta I would think any of my Indian dishes would be special)

A few weeks ago we made a Morrocan meal with the sweeter spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and it was fabulous.  It occured to me that this combination was not that different from Garam Masala which is an alternative to Curry (amongst thousands of other alternatives) in Indian cooking. 

I was thus inspired to do the Chicken Shakuti dish only using Garam Masala instead of the normal spice combination.  Chopped up chicken, chopped onion, tomatoes,  browned and cooked in coconut milk and broth with Garam Masala seasoning. 

Not a success.  It occurs that the times I have used this spice blend in the past was with lamb and the Morrocan dish was with lamb, and now realize why.  Not great with chicken needs a stronger flavoured meat.

Fortunately Pat made a spicy Tomato salad which saved the meal.  We are not talking of inedible, but not to be repeated.  Still it is a luxury to still experiment and and not be in a rut.  As I have mentioned, you often learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes.

Get Down Tonight

This morning I was experiencing an ear worm.  That is where you have a song lyric or tune in your mind that you just cannot place.  In my case it was ” do a little dance, make a little love”  No idea where it came from but I just could not finish the next line. 

So, of course, I had to look it up and it is Get Down Tonight by KC & the Sunshine Band.  A huge shock when I determined that I had NO KC & the Sunshine Band in my music inventory.  How do you get through life without ‘Get Down Tonight’ or ‘That’s the Way I like It’  etc.

I used some of the ITunes gift card to improve my inventory with some KC and some other classic Disco hits.  Now this was at 9:00 am so do not blame my nightly R&C for this inspired decision.  Great thing about a gift card is that you can spend it on interesting things and the wife cannot complain about wasting my money.

Miranda Rights

We all see the TV programs where upon arrest the criminal is told “you have the right to remain silent etc”  I expect everyone can quote the remaining lines. 

This last year the Supreme Court of Canada came down with a decision that this does not apply in Canada.  Basically if once warned you can have an attorney and reject and later implicate yourself, sucks to be you. 

So I was looking into the Miranda statement and it came from a case in Mesa Arizona where a murdering rapist confessed and the civil liberties lawyers went to bat (at huge expense) to get his conviction thrown out.  He was retried without his conviction and found guilty and went to jail.  The Lawyers involved all had a brief moment of fame.  Think of Johnnie Cochran and O J Simpson. 

So Miranda went to jail and came out doing his normal crimes.  He was murdered and the guy that killed him was released because his confession was not allowed under the Miranda rule.  Ironic

Walking a Course

I played a round of golf yesterday with my buddy Harry.  First game of the year for me but Harry has cheated by playing down south and TAKING LESSONS.  I did not learn this until we were teeing off.  We discussed earlier in the week which day to play and picked Friday because the forecasters said Saturday would be bad.  Well they got it wrong.  Friday was great in the morning but in the back nine the temperature dropped and it was a cold last few holes.  Today (Saturday) is lovely with sun and blue skies. 

Anyway not a bad round for the first game of the year.  I shot 56 on the front nine but 46 on the back including 3 pars but a snowman at one hole (that means an 8).  Had a par on the 18th which was the best I have done on that one. 

Now I hear you all saying yaddah yadday yaddah, nothing more boring than listening to some guy talk about his golf round, and I agree, but the good news was I walked the round. 

Last month I had such an arthritis attack on my right ankle I thought I was going to be crippled. I spent weeks hobbling with the aid of a cane.  There was even plans (which I uncovered) by James and Blaine to have me put down as a humane act.  A month later and I am walking 18 holes, that is just great.  Granted my right foot hurt by the end of the round, but still wonderful news for me.

Marble Machine

For those of you that think I am crazy for taking on model ships and birdhouses and gadgets think again.  There are a whole class of crazies that really go weird on wood projects including a class in itself of people that make marble machines.  These are wooden machines that make marbles roll through mazes.  No other purpose in life, but I expect fun to build and lots of guys do it. 

For now I do not plan to go this way.  I have enough craziness in my own projects, but watch the attached video and enjoy.  If it does not start automatically  copy the following file and paste into the internet address bar.  When video starts enlarge to full screen

Wooden Combination Lock

I was looking for a project to do after I finished the latest model ship (which actually is not finished but will be shortly)  I was scanning the internet and found a guy like me that likes to fool around in a workshop.  He makes intricate mazes and toys and other gadgets.  He is also a computer guy so has the ability to make computer drawings of the components in his gadgets.

I was intrigued by one gadget which was a wooden combination lock.  Basically a model that shows how a combination lock works.  So I downloaded the plans (for $7) and immediately started to modify it while keeping the bsic design.  I used pine and maple instead of plywood which he used and some improvements.

It only took 3 days and was fun but when I finished I realized (as he must have) that there were critical fits that needed to be precise and others that did not.  I was unhappy with the sloppy action so decided to remake it using whitewood (American Poplar) for the disks and Holly for some small components. 

Second version works like a charm.  I will keep it for people to play with.  Below are the 2 locks side by side (good one on the right) and a closeup of the disks. 

As I said it was a fun project but now have to think of the next one.  I am making some steps for Maureen and I have a big project for Meagan and Jorg but I think I will try a couple of more gadgets.  Retirement is great. 

BBQ Quail

Whenever I talk to Mother I try and tell her what exotic dish we are preparing for dinner.  There is no question that we like to experiment in our meals.  Granted hamburgers and pasta with meatballs is a regular, but we do like to reach out.  She claims that this fascination is why I am ‘slightly’ overweight.  

We were at the store this week and they had a special on a package of frozen Quail.  Now I have had quail at a restaurant once, but we have never prepared it at home.  So we bought the package and said lets try it.  There is a Pizza joint at the bottom of the hill just in case the experiment fails. 

I went on the internet and found a video on how to prepare quail for the bbq.  The normal procedure is to remove the backbone and ribs so the bodies can lay flat.  Needs a filleting knife and patience. The deboning procedure (see picture) was not as simple as the video and I would have warned all of you never to try it.  In the end I had 6 tiny quails with the backbone and rib bones removed.  Marinade I chose was basic -olive oil, dijon mustard, oregano, basil, paprica, garlic and pepper. 

Put on the BBQ for roughly 4 minutes per side and served with wild rice ( see the next picture)  This is not a fancy company meal because the only way to eat is is in your hands like wings.  Messy but it turned out to be great.

Quail has a lot more flavour than chicken wings so the comparison is not valid.  Messy it is true, tedious to make, but it was delicious.

It  is a rainy night in March so we need something special to cheer us on. Spring is coming. 


Oscar Night

Now this may come as a late blog, but I wanted to write about this great party we attended on Oscar night.  New friends of ours have held Oscar night parties for years and this year we were invited.  You have to come dressed as a character from a nominated movie or formal and everyone brings an appetizer. 

I dug out my tuxedo  from 20 years ago, which kind of fit if I did not try to do up the buttons on the jacket.  Amazing how wool shrinks in a closet over the decades.  So I was attending as King George.  Pat dressed up with a fur wrap.  Guess what?  Given the fact that most of the people at the party are from our generation, there were 3 other guys wearing tuxedos and at least 5 women as Queen Mary. 

 One lady came as Mrs. Wallace and carried it off well.

The host had set up the living room in theatre style with a big projection screen at one end.  Lots

of food, lots of wine and a contest on who predicted the winners.  (I got 15 out of about 24 categories and yet did not win)

A great party concept because every 3  oscars there was a break to reload wine and get more food.  (picture of one of the food tables)

Arriving at the party

Sunday Night Blog

When I first received the gift of a blog site (courtesy of Meagan with ideas submitted by others) I thought, no problem.  I can fill a blog with all my great thoughts.  Just as I always thought I could write a novel if I only had the environment (and original idea) 

Ian Fleming used to hide out for 2 months a year in his home in Jamaica, turn off the air conditioner and write a novel while drinking Blue Mountain coffee (and given his liver when he died I suspect other things) but the point is he moved out of normal life to concentrate on his writing.  I don’t want to do that.

So now we come to my blog.  It occurs to me that I am not being interesting enough to attract the millions that could lead to my retirement life made into a movie.  Now I could invent stories about my ongoing life (which I am not reluctant to do, and according to Pat I have done in the past) but that will have to be a future development. 

Here is the highlight of today.  I am making a wooden combination lock in the workshop (a combination lock that is open so you can see how they work) and this evening I am watching the Curling championship.  I am not sure this is the grist of a great novel.  Still it makes me happy.