Archive for June, 2014

Microsoft is Evil

My family has been telling me for years that my loyalty to Microsoft and Windows was a mistake.  Today it was proven.

Last year we bought a new high end desk top loaded with Windows 8 and Office.  Never really happy with the system but you get used to it.

This morning we had a routine announcement that there was an automatic upgrade to Windows 8.1.  So I followed the prompts (as a brain dead Microsoft user will do) but with some options to turn off.

No I did not want Bing to be my home base.

No I did not want Microsoft to record every thing I looked at and and send me prompts on their version of what they consider better options.

No I did not want every key stroke I made recorded, sent to Bill Gates for his personal amusement.

Eventually it came to a screen asking me to input my Microsoft key.  Who the heck remembers this number from something I may have input a year ago.  I thought, skip this, I will input it later and went next.

Bad Bad Bad mistake.  The computer went into lockdown.  I could not shut the computer down.  I could not go into the internet. I could not access any Windows applications.  Over the next 15 minutes the computer went progressively into purgatory.  I eventually managed to find the site where I could input the code that I found on a piece of paper in my files from a year ago, but it was way too late.

So I phone Microsoft support and spend 3 hours,  yes 3 hours as an on-line support person tried to guide me through the fix and eventually when I gave him access to look at my screen directly he came to the decision that I was screwed and the only next step was to contact Dell and get them to send in a technician to fix the computer.

Now remember this was not a download that I requested.  The guy did say he might mention my problem to his supervisor, maybe over coffee, as this might be a flaw in the 8.1 download.

So then I phoned Dell support, and got a very nice young lady in India.  A very competent lady.  Even though I am one month beyond the 1 year warranty she spent the next 2 hours going through all the systems checks to prove that it was not the computer.  She finally determined that there was a corruption in the Microsoft download and the only solution was to do a full reset back to the factory settings.  This meant losing everything that we had in our files (not a huge problem because I back it up regularly to a auxiliary hard drive … I thought, to protect us from a fire not the incompetence of Microsoft) .

The entire reset took 5 hours, but the good news was that it fixed the problem.  Granted I now have to load all our files back on and the layout that we had spent a year fine tuning has to be done again, but we are alive.

I realize why people switch to Apple.  I was trying to send a nasty email to Microsoft, but apparently they do not have an email address and Bill Gates was too busy to answer my phone call.

A “Chopped” Appie Party

We were invited to an appetizer party this evening at our friends Paul and Bev.  This was not a party organized through one of the clubs but a personal one where they just invited friends (26 in all)

The reason for the party was to watch tonight’s showing of Chopped Canada.  This is the cooking show where 4 chefs have to make first an appetizer, then an entree and then a dessert each in 20 minutes from unusual ingredients.  At the end of each dish one of the chefs is chopped until there is one left who wins $10,000.  Paul and Bev’s nephew Pierre Lamelle was a contestant.  He is a chef from Calgary (where he teaches at SAIT so wonder if Chandler knows him)

Our hosts had no idea how the show would turn out but we were there to cheer Pierre on.   In the end Pierre won, so a very good success for the evening.

I took along my appetizer which was little smoked cocktail wieners wrapped in bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and baked in the oven.  Simple meal but it took me a lot longer than the 20 minutes each contestant had.

My appetizers were great and everyone loved them.  Mind you how can you lose if you use bacon?   They had to make appetizers using chicken skin and prunes.  I would have just walked off the show, granted they have a full kitchen so maybe I could have found bacon and deep fried it with the chicken skin and prunes.

A fun night

The song On Broadway

Now my daughters, and probably the wife, will have words to say about this blog.

We were dining tonight and listening to soft music when George Benson’s “On Broadway” came on.  And that always reminds me of the best stripper I ever saw.

Now let’s go back in time.  In the 80s and 90s it was common for guys to go to strip clubs in the evening.  Truthfully, I never actually liked them that much.  Very expensive drinks, horrible food (if you risked eating) and girls taking off their clothes to some kind of music.  I always felt a bit of embarrassment — where do you look …. at their eyes, or down there.

Still it was a requirement of the job, particularly when in sales and taking out male clients.  Fortunately as I moved up in the organization I could delegate these evenings to others.

In 1981 I was with Gulf Oil enjoying some of the best working years I ever had.  Our office was in downtown Toronto.

One night a group of up-and-coming executives like myself stayed on for a meeting and went out for dinner.  The single guy in the group said we have to go to Gimlets Bar to see the ladies.  Now this was a club downtown where the executives went.  No truck drivers or factory workers, everyone was in a suit.  No Hell’s Angels sitting at the back to keep an eye on their girls.

The experience was much different from the few strip clubs I had been to at that time.  The girls were gorgeous but they were dancers not strippers.  Yes they took their clothes off during the dance (although never going naked)  but the dance routine was the show.  The one I remember the best was a girl coming on the stage in top hat and tails doing her routine to On Broadway.  Fabulous.  The dancers were not drug addicts but girls with other jobs trying to break into the dance roles at the limited theatre available at the time in Toronto.

I always thought that the movie Flashdance was based on this club and it proved to be true.  Tom Hedley was a reporter in Toronto and he attended the club and co-wrote a script that became Flashdance.  To make it sell they had to change the location to Pittsburgh and move it down to a blue collar venue, but the essence was  about dancers, not Hell’s Angels strippers.  The movie did far better than anyone expected.   Hedley and his partners kept the rights to the concept which is why there has not been a sequel.  They were able to live off the money made from the movie.

The reason for this blog (not just listening to On Broadway) was that I recently read that there is a musical coming out in London next fal,l based on Flashdance and approved by the writers.  I just hope they have a great looking gal in top hat and tails.

Gourmet Adventure

Our kids gave us a coupon for a Gourmet  lunch Adventure.  Yesterday Pat and I were finally able to participate.

Gaetane is a female chef and tour guide that takes small groups on a Gourmet tour of Comox valley.  There were 5 guests including Paul, a chef from Edmonton.    Beautiful sunny day.

We first visited a coffee roaster in Royston.  They bring in coffee beans from various places in South America and roast them in small batches (30 lbs) for specialty coffee shops and restaurants on Vancouver Island.  We have seen Royston Roaster coffee featured at many restaurants and have driven past the facility many times, but never dropped in.

We learned a lot about the differences in French roast, Expresso, Medium Roast etc.  News for me was that the darker the roast , the stronger the flavour but the lower the caffeine.  The reverse of what I thought.  Apparently the more you roast beans the more caffeine evaporates.    People that think if they have an expresso in the evening it will keep them up are wrong.

Next we drove up to Cumberland to visit a small Chocolatier shop.   Lovely chocolates but very expensive, never-the-less we did get to sample.

A short walk to a herbalist and spice store.  (Cumberland is the Hippy village) Now this is a store that I would never enter.  Whole bunch of dried mushrooms and roots and things that cure lumbago and enhance sex lives, but with a large selections of unusual spices and food enhancers.  At least 15 varieties of salt for instance.  Paul, the chef, was commenting to Pat and I about the variety and pointed out interesting items.  We ended up buying a couple of packages of items and will try them out on dinner tonight.

Drove back to Courtenay for a great lunch at Locals Restaurant.  Gaetane was slightly disappointed that we know this restaurant well but we were not disappointed.  She knows Ronald the owner/chef well so he joined us to discuss some of the dishes that we could select.  As per usual at Local’s the food, even at a lunch was superb.

A longer drive up to Shelter Point distillery (where we took our family at Christmas) for a special tour and Vodka tasting.  Again Pat and I have been there before but we had an even better tour as they were actually distilling.

On the way back we visited the Bison ranch that supplies Buffalo meat to every restaurant on the Island.  This farm/ranch was taken over a few years ago by a relatively young couple who had a hobby farm in Langley but wanted to go big time.  Our guide was Lisa the relatively young wife who showed us around the operation with enthusiasm.  When they bought the ranch it had 30 bison and basically supplied a few restaurants.  They expanded it to 140 animals and added a small herd of Water Buffalo.

Now I have dined on Bison and it is a leaner variation of beef but apparently Water Buffalo is sort of between beef and bison.  At their store they have packaged Water Buffalo steaks.  As we are travelling we did not buy but I know when we have visitors I will be buying some Water Buffalo steaks to impress them.  I had a brief thought that we might freeze them and take them on our trip to visit Janine and Vedran but imagined the issue at US customs trying to explain bringing in Water Buffalo meat.  I suspect hanging by the thumbs might have been the result.  So we will wait for family to visit.

We had a wonderful day and did not get home until after 5 pm .

A Huge Rock Cairn

For some reason, over the last few years, there has been a notion to make a pile of rocks to indicate that you have passed by.  The best of these are the Inukshuks with a man figure, but for most people, it is balancing 3 or more rocks in a vertical pile.  Not always easy as rocks are rounded and balancing with some sense of preservation over time, takes some care.

We have seen thousands of these over the years as we drive past river streams and hiked past rock falls.  I admit that I have attempted a few myself.

The other night as Pat and I were coming back from a Geocache we took a trail through a clear-cut area in the forest near us.  This is a controversial 20 acre clear-cut as it was done by the owner of the Crown Isle resort to clear land east of the resort before he applied to have the land assumed by the city so he could eventually build a housing development.  The rules for clear cutting under the city would have been much more restrictive.

Anyway there is this big clearing in the forest with the huge piles of leftover scrap.  Over the years the land has grown quite swampy but there are some hiking trails along the borders.  (see picture 1 and 2)

As we were hiking back I noticed a 3 rock cairn in the middle.  Huge rocks that conspiracy people would say were done by aliens but I guess that the forestry workers with their big excavators when they were done with the piles, had some time, so made a rock cairn. Pretty sure the owner of Crown Isle was bitter about the time they spent on this (he is a jerk)

I sent Pat off to meander through the swamp to stand beside the cairn for photo perspective.  (see pic 3)  The top rock must weigh 300 lbs, the middle 700 lbs and the bottom tons.  Nice picture, granted it did take Pat 10 minutes to find her way back to the trail through the swampland, but life is an adventure.



Patty’s First Geocache find

I have been trying to introduce Pat to the fun of Geocaching.  She was unable to make the hikes in the past where I experienced the group hunts.  Our hike last week had several sites but as the group was just interested in finishing the 8 km so they could go to the floating Dinghy Dock pub, no one had time to stop and properly look.

The other evening I took her to find several caches that are within a kilometer in the woods south of us.  That evening while we could locate the sites we did not find the caches (I went out the next morning on my own and eventually found them)  So Pat has looked for maybe 8 caches, but not experienced the thrill of the find.

Tonight after supper we hiked to another site near us and Pat finally touched and recovered her first Geocache.   Victory.  We will be doing this a lot more to add interest to our hikes.