Archive for April, 2013

Snow Trip

Tomorrow Pat and I head off on the start of our trip through the High Passes of BC to visit our kids.  This last week the Coquihalla and Rogers Passes have been closed several times due to heavy snow.  We could have made the trip in March with no problem.

I am loading the vehicle this afternoon in my shirtsleeves in brilliant sunshine, but recognized that we may face severe winter hardship.  I am reminded of the couple heading south to Vegas a couple of years ago and got stuck in the snow in a pass.  The wife stayed with the car and lived by melting snow and eating granola bars and the husband heads off to try and save her but is found the following summer dead on a trail.

So regardless of the sunshine I have packed my winter boots, my parka my toques and winter gloves with candles and matches. Plus lots of granola bars so Pat can stay alive in case we are cut off by a blizzard on the infamous Coquihalla and I have to go off to find help.   I will struggle on as needed.

I send this, possibly my last blog, so my children will know I thought of them as I froze.  Plus the instruction to make sure they do not throw out all my tools and wood.

With great luck we shall prevail and make it through the high passes and see our children on the other side.  Otherwise…goodbye all


Victory Model Disaster

I was spending the afternoon on the many steps for the middle deck guns.  First you have to turn the gun barrels, then you have to make the carriages, then turn the wooden wheels and apply to the axles.  Then start to assemble the gun carriages (the part that caused my left finger injury in an earlier blog).  Turn and paint the tiny eye bolts that are part of the carriage.  Yadda yadda you are probably bored with my details, but something happened yesterday.

The model is sitting on the bench before me as I work on these tiny details… when I notice that one of the guns on the lower deck was not sitting properly.  I immediately dropped everything and looked carefully.

Someone, I do not who, but I suspect it was me,  has hit the gun and broken the gun carriage in its position.

Now you could say, you made it so you can fix it, but this is on the lower deck.  If you want to, you can go back until January and see the pictures of the guns at that time.  The seventh gun from the stern.  Meantime I have built a framework above it and planked in the next deck.  It is closed in with roughly 2 cm of deck above and you can only see it through an 80 mm square gun port.  A bit of a panic…..

This leads to the decision I used to make (which Pat will remember) where I jump up and down on the model and start again.  Fortunately I am more mature so I spent the time to seek a solution.

Today I peeled back a few deck planks, and using my special tools I pulled out the pieces of the broken carriage, remounted the gun and repolaced the deck boards.  I think I could be an arthroscopic surgeon (although I did not sterilize the instruments)

I do realize all my family is saying at this point that Bruce is verging on craziness, but I am pleased with my success today.  I suspect most of the people in my peer group in Comox Valley thought that success today was planting some flowers.  I successfully did arthroscopic surgery on my model replacing a gun carriage.  I feel pretty good about it.

Now the deck does not look perfect anymore (see left pic) but the gun is sitting proper (see right pic)  Given that there is another layer of guns and another deck above, I am pretty sure Andra and Sean will not notice the flaw or I could say that it was battle damage recovery.

Dun replacement

Deck repair

Blog Survey

I am one of the many people that are surveyed by Angus Reid.  I am asked each month for my opinions on many topics and with a slight reward (aside from my obviously opinionated opinion) is that some recompense goes to a charity of my choice (in this case Make a Wish Foundation)

They went through many trials before they realized that my opinion was not only significant but also correct.  Anyway they keep asking me.

This month one of the questions was about my role in facebook, twitter, yabba yabba and do you have a blog?

If you had a blog they had a multi choice question about what is the purpose for the blog.  Good question.

I ran through the list that included -educating the world- pouring my heart out on my sorrow- trying to find a job as a writer- pure boredom.

There were many selections on the list that did not apply.  Here is my actual reasons  for my blog.

– Meagan set it up for me

– My personal amusement

– To pontificate on my opinions on life

In the actual Angus Reid survey none of these were options I could select.

The more times I participate in the Angus Reid survey,  I realize that the survey results that you read about in the paper are skewed. Real options are not always what they are looking for.  And yet Angus Reid is quoted all the time.

I still think that the best survey is the one on Family Feud where they ask the participants a question (example ‘what is the best way eat meat when you have lost your front teeth in a bar fight’) and then they vote by “Survey Says”

Still I will continue to participate because, as my family will confirm, I am not shy on my opinion.



In 1990, when George Bush became President of the United States, one of his first declarations was that he would not eat Broccoli.  Apparently the chef on Air Force One included it in his first meal and George had a hissy fit.  Stated that he never liked broccoli and now that he was President he would never be forced to eat it again.  The Broccoli growing farmers had a big issue and Barbara Bush stated that she would make sure he ate it.

I only mention this because I have had a Broccoli situation.  I always liked it (in moderation) .  Before Pat left for Edmonton we went to Costco and bought a huge bag of Broccoli.  We served it to Blaine and Lisa and Wylie and Maggie (but they did not eat their forecast quantity)   Pat went off with the directions that I should consume the bag.

I tried my best.  I had Broccoli with my pasta, with my steak with my ribs with my chicken.  I had it in my salads.  I even put it on my pizza that I made.  There came a point where I am sure my urine was green.

When Pat returned she looked at the bag of Broccoli and it was still substantial,  and she doubted my commitment.  So I put it in the quiche I made for her on Sunday, and we keep adding steamed Broccoli to every meal.

We are now getting to the bottom of the bag and I am hereby declaring as the President of this house that we do not purchase any Broccoli for at least a couple month and we will never buy a Costco bag again.

Unfortunately, like President George Bush, I do report to a higher power, so I we shall see.

Rereading books and watching old movies

My partner-in-life has left me for a week.   This leaves a problem on my evening entertainment.  I cannot watch any of the programs that we have pre recorded as that would be a conflict with our agreement.  I knew this was going to happen so I prepared myself by selecting some old favorite books to read again (thus allowing me to spend some down time reading)  In this case a couple of CS Forester books African Queen and Midshipman Hornblower.

In the evening I taped or played DVDs of great movies that I have watched many times but still love (Tremors, Sink the Bismark etc)  Movies that Pat would say did not interest her.

Last weekend I was at a luncheon and talked to a member of our club about my intentions for the week vis a vis old books and movies.  He declared quite strongly that he never re read a book once he read it and would never watch a movie that he had seen before.  Granted he was a smoker so there is a strong possibility that he does not read books, but I have actually heard this opinion before.

My usual response is “do you ever listen to the same piece of music again?”  When they say “well of course” I say what is the difference between listening to a favorite piece of music and re reading a favorite book or watching a great movie.

There actually is no reason to listen to the same song twice since there is so much music available you could spend your life listening to original recordings.  But can you imagine having Christmas without ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ or “White Christmas’?

I have probably listened to Eagle’s ‘Hotel California’ a thousand times and still love it even though I know (spoiler alert), they never kill the beast.

Speaking of Christmas can you imagine not re watching ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘Home Alone’ or ‘A Christmas Story” even though you know all the dialogue”  Or spending New Years without seeing ” Caesar’s Bark Canoe”?

And as for books…. Can you imagine going to church and having the Minister/Priest say…”sorry folks we have now gone through both testaments cover to cover and must now close down”  so you should find another religion.  I believe the Muslims are looking for new members or you could become a Mormon.  I understand that Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon takes a long time to read.  (believe me I have tried it)

I have always maintained that life is too short to read a bad book but long enough to enjoy past pleasures.

RCAF Snow Birds

One of the many benefits of living in Courtenay (aside from the weather) is that the Snow Birds come here every April to finish their training.  The team is based in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan where they train all winter in clear skies and boring flat landscape.  Every year before they go on the road they come here for 2 weeks to practice their routines out of the Comox Air Base.  This gives them the variety of a mountain range on one side and the ocean on the other so they are better prepared for the many locals they will see over the summer.

We get the benefit of 2 airshows over our house every day.  One at 9 am and the other at 2 pm.  Tudor jets flying in tandem or groups rushing back and forth practicing their various arrangements with loops and twists.  Sometimes they have to repeat as there is always another jet flying beside or above to critique and tighten their groupings.  Very nice.

But at least once every visit there is another routine and that is not on the official training synopsis.  On a crystal clear evening such as tonight the Snow Birds take off and head west over the mountains in pairs.  I expect the official reason quoted for the auditor  is that this is on the books as a training over rough territory, but I know this is the pilot’s reward.  They fly through (not over) the mountains on a beautiful evening and play tag with their partner.  Everything that you could imagine as a pilot zooming between mountains and then doing loops over the Pacific and returning they are doing this evening.  As I said this is the reward for guys dedicating themselves to a strict routine and I have no problem with it (although they are burning tax payers fuel)

When I was 17 I took my pilot’s license training in Regina.  I had obtained a scholarship through Air Cadets.  20 Air Cadets taking their training at the same time (I expect today that is a $5000 or more today)

The course was run by a private company and each student was allotted so many hours on the planes.  As it happened I passed my solo and cross country flight with 2 more hours of payed-for flight time.  (I was actually the first of the group to solo alone but that is another story)

A buddy of mine on the course named Dennis Hendricks also had extra time available once we had passed all the tests.  So we agreed to check out two of the training planes and head off together.  We did not have to practice stalls or navigation we could just  fly around.  It was a beautiful Saskatchewan morning with little puffy clouds.  We switched the radio to an unused channel and chased each other through the clouds pretending we were WWI fighter pilots. These were Piper Cubs with 80 hp engines so not high speed.

Still, in my memory that was the best flying I have ever experienced.  Using the skills to turn and bank and climb and dive….. it was the closest I ever came to the concept of body flying.  It was lovely (and I did get onto Dennis’s tail at one point and go RATATATAT on the radio. )

I think the Snow Bird pilots are getting their version of this feeling this evening and all power to them.

Snowbird Practice

Left hand vs Right hand

This is one of my deep thought blogs.  Pat is away and there is nothing on TV so I am sharing my thoughts with you.

Over the years, whenever I need to hold a small piece of wood next to a blade running at 7000 revolutions per minute, I use my left hand.  Whenever I am hammering a nail I use the left hand to hold the nail while the right wields the big hammer safely away.  When drilling a hole with the drill press the right hand is on the handle while the left hovers around the spinning bit holding the piece to be drilled with all the risk of the drill jamming and spinning violently.

This should have nothing to do with the fact that I am right handed.  Many of these functions that I delegate to the left would benefit by having the more supple and controllable right handling the delicate adjustment of the piece of wood while the left did the easier non-skilled work of turning the wheel.

Regardless, this is the way I have always done it, and as a result my left hand and arm has a multitude of battle scars to prove its assigned role.

Happened again last night as I was cutting a small piece of wood on my little table saw.  A momentary, no not momentary, a micro second of inattention and the blade was running through the tip and nail and flesh of the pointer finger on my left hand.  (fortunately this does not happen that often)

Later in the evening as I was preparing for bed trying to hold the left hand aloft to ease the pain, I had the intellectual conversation with myself about if it is fair to favour one hand over another.  If you have 2 children would it be fair to send one into battle while holding the other safe?  Should I not send out the child (read hand) that is actually more skilled and capable to deal with the danger or send the one less regarded and with a the greater risk of injury?   Let me tell you the pain is the same regardless of the hand.

But as I brushed my teeth (with my right hand) I realized that I was correct.  I am not sure if I could do many of my needed functions with my left.

However to give my left hand credit, as I type this, do you realize how hard it is to type when the left pointer is out of action.  Try typing without the r-t-y-f-g-h-v-b characters.

I think I should resolve to care for both my hands equally as I would for my children.

Another Saturday Night

I took Pat to the Airport this afternoon so she could fly to Edmonton.   I am alone on this beautiful sunny Saturday evening.

For dinner I prepared Linguine with meat balls in a marinara sauce.  The meatballs were already prepared as I made them earlier in the week for Pat and made extra for tonight.   The sauce was made from scratch with a bit of the left over sauce from earlier this week and the tail of a bottle of Merlot I found in the fridge.  A side salad and olives with a little red wine. (well maybe more than a little)

Watching the Blue Jay game.

After the meal was finished I relaxed in front of the game (Jays won) then went back into the Kitchen.


I do not recall this happening on other meals I have prepared.  What could have happened?


Movie Music

Pat and I were attending our monthly Probus meeting this afternoon (a service club for retired business couples)  The guest speaker was Arthur Arnold the conductor of the annual Symphony training course held in Powell River.  (PRISMA)  He is also the chief conductor of the Moscow Symphony.  He came to promote the annual recital held by the students that come from all over the world for classes and eventually put on a series of symphonies

This is not for high school kids these are serious musicians that attend this school (at great cost) to learn how to get into the major orchestras.  Actually a big deal.  Anyway Yadda Yadda

Arthur Arnold (who lives in Holland and conducts orchestras worldwide) started off his career playing the Cello.  Although he no longer plays it in public, he brought his it along to the meeting to show how he directs musicians.  Before he left he was asked to play another short number and  he played Bach’s Suite # 1 for Unaccompanied Cello.

At the end he asked if anyone recognized the number.  Pat kept me from jumping up and saying it was the theme from the movie ‘Master and Commander’.  The cello music from the beginning of the movie and later when Jack played with the doctor.

I did not embarrass my wife by shouting out “Master and Commander’ but it did make me reflect how perfectly great classical numbers have become associated with TV or movies.  I cannot think of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro without thinking of Trading Places and of course William Tell Overture will always be The Lone Ranger.

War of 1812

I was watching a History program today called The Real Story.  They take famous movies about historical events and try to test the truth.  This version was about the movie Master and Commander

The program is obviously produced in US.  In it they were discussing the structure of the US built warships of the period since the French warship was supposedly built in the US.

They describe the war of 1812 (and this is a quote) where “America fought off the attempt of Britain to reclaim them as a Colony”  What a bunch of BS.  US declared war on Britain who was fully involved at the time in fighting Napoleon and had actually pulled most of their troops from Canada.  The last thing Britain wanted was another war theatre.

US president Madison wanted to appease Senators from Southern States and agreed to invade Canada to take us since they thought it would “be just an matter of marching”   They got defeated in almost all of their attempts (aside from the burning of Toronto)

The few times I have discussed the history of this war with Americans they thought that it was just a defense on their part and of course the Battle of New Orleans was the only battle.  If they knew a little more they may recall that the US Constitution heavy frigate wiped the seas of the British Fleet (in fact it was one single encounter against a smaller British Frigate)

Oh history.  I regret that Pat and I could not make it down to Ontario last summer to attend any of the battle reinactments  At least some Real Truth