Archive for November, 2014

Tedious Detailed Work

Now I normally write about the little detail work I have to do on the MODEL.  I realize I undertake this so that someone in the future will appreciate my many hours, but in truth, I would do it anyway.  I think of myself as one of the dedicated Monks that hand wrote the manuscripts in the 15th century.  Only God would truly appreciate the beauty  of their work.

OK I have gone a little overboard.  I do the detail because I love it.

In an earlier blog I told of my anger over a US supplier of Linen line that I need to move on with the fixed rigging of the Victory.  My Bad, as I should have realized a year ago that I did not have the right inventory of lines to complete the rigging, but I was so excited in the hull and deck fittings.

As a result of waiting for the proper lines, I have had to put the fixed rigging on hold.  So I moved ahead to work on the spars and finishing details.

It is a rainy Thursday and I spent hours making the tiniest (smallest diameter) treenails I have ever done so that I can make a small boat (think of it as a rowboat) for the Victory.  Very tedious work.  Think of planks 3 mm wide on a frame.

Meantime Pat was off at church all day volunteering to help stuff 23,000 envelopes for a L’Arche charity.  A long tedious day for both of us.

Before dinner Patty described how she convinced the group to pre open envelopes and help set up an assembly line.  I shared my lessons on how to make tiny threads of bamboo and how I could shape each plank on the little boat.  Toasted each other with a glass of wine.

No wonder we are happily married for 45 years.

Ordering Stuff From USA

I was not sure how to title this blog because I am so angry.  I order stuff all the time on the internet and get ticked off when American companies charge a huge premium to ship into Canada.  But a recent order just took me over the top.

For the Victory I need some Linen thread.  Linen is better than cotton or polymer for ship models because it does not stretch and is closer to the real lines (at the scale I am working with)

Unfortunately Linen thread is not carried at any of the fabric shops in our town.  I could get it in Victoria or Vancouver but not here.  So I went on the internet and sure enough there is a company in the US that sells the spools of linen thread that I want.  I could have ordered from the UK where it is made but thought the US would be available quicker.  Price of the 4 spools I want is about $10.  But then they want another $10 to mail the spools.

Think of a little package with 4 spools of thread.  But I said OK it is still cheaper than driving down to Victoria.

I wait 2 weeks and ask the company what happened with the order.  They reply that they did not realize I was ordering from a foreign land and needed another $15 to airmail to my country and furthermore because they did not have faith that the postal service in my foreign country could be trusted, required that I buy insurance.   This would be $40 for a product that must have cost them $4

Now I understand the issue.  The company is based in North Carolina and given the American education system, they must think Canada is an Island off the coast of Thailand if they know it at all.

I told them to just put it in the mail and I would take the chance on the Canadian Postal Service.    No wonder I have most things I order in the US sent to Janine.

Blocks for Victory

I am now in the rigging stage where I need dozens if not hundreds of blocks (basically pulleys made of wood)

Up to now I have been making the blocks as required for each stage.  But this last week I took a pause and started to mass manufacture the blocks I will need for the next few months.  Equivalent to 18″ blocks (both single and double) 14″ blocks (both single and double) and the most difficult at this scale, the 10″ blocks which are the most common. (see pic with just a few)  Think of these as the size of a dinner plate.  Unfortunately at 1/96 scale they are about 2.5 mm.  Zoom in and look

Kind of finicky but if you are a model builder you pride yourself in the block details.  Boring the little holes are done with a drill bit half the diameter of the finest sewing needle.  Occasionally that meant drilling into my finger but the tiny blood helps stain the wood.

You cannot buy these finished blocks even from China because even they would not work at my pay scale.

10 inch blocks




Life Changing Moments

I was off at the Grocery story today (Saturday) to pick up a couple of things.

James makes a big issue of why seniors shop on Saturday thus crowding out the normal people that need this special day.  A good point, and normally we avoid Saturdays (totally out of benevolence for the poor working people that support us) but mostly because it is crowded.

However, I spotted a recipe for an Oh Henry dessert slice in a cook book and had one of those inspirational, must be done today developments.  As everyone knows, I am an instant gratification guy which is why we do not live on Salt Spring Island.  I needed more chocolate pieces.

Anyway enough about the slice (it turned out to be only Ok)  but that is not the subject of this blog.

As I was standing in line at the checkout (wondering again why people shop on Saturdays) I was previewing the magazine titles.  People Magazine was featuring Mathew McConaughey on the 10 events that changed his life.  The people ahead of me in line seemed to take forever to figure out how to pay or pack their purchases which gave me time to think of this subject. (Time always goes slower when you are waiting in line)

What 10 events in my life changed me?  How do I come up with a list?

I challenge you, my readers, to find 10 events in your life that actually changed the direction of your life.  It is easy to come up with major events (the moon landing or the birth of your second child) but did they actually change your life?  Take you in a new direction?

Pat and I discussed this a dinner tonight and I could come up with maybe 4 events (of which meeting her was honestly number 1)  Think about it.  I am not asking you to share your lists with me, but can you come up with 10?  If you can you must have had a turbulent life.


Perseverance Trail Cumberland

I joined our hiking group for an aggressive hike today.  Well aggressive because it did require 200 meters of vertical climbing.  In the first 2 hours we climbed the equivalent of a 70 story building.  More than a bit of a puff.

Still what made this hike memorable was the weather conditions.  In the last couple of days a high pressure system came in bringing frigid weather from the north.  Crystal blue skies but when we started the hike -6 C.  We started in Cumberland and took the Perseverance trail up a high ridge which runs parallel to the Buggered Pig trail (you got to love the trail blazers that get to name them).  Cool but with the sunshine and no wind very  acceptable.

This is not your government maintained flat trail that you could push your Grandma up in a wheelchair, they are stream beds with loose rocks and roots.  After 40 minutes we came upon a century old logging road that we climbed for another hour.  But on this road I observed remarkable features.  Unlike the forest around that was still green, alongside the road the plants were flash frozen.  Earl, our experienced guide, told us this is a phenomena where super cooled air from high up on the mountain rolls down the road or valley flash freezing everything it touches

If you watched the movie Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quaid  they tried to represent this condition with people frozen like statues.

So I took lots of pictures.  See Pic 1 of  some plants.  10 feet behind it in the woods the plants were still green and lush.

Then there was the Hoar Frost (see pic 2)  These are needle like angel hair, ice crystals. Zoom in on the picture to see the details.   I had seen this before but in small patches but nothing like this.  We hiked uphill through this stuff for an hour crunching away.  It seemed a sacrilege to destroy them.  I am not sure the picture does justice to the beauty of these crystals.  Eventually, as it warmed up they suddenly disappeared.

We turned off the road and skidded down a slope on a narrow Earl trail (believe me much more difficult than it sounds) to a viewpoint 600 feet overlooking Comox Lake the normal objective of this particular hike.  (see pic 3)

At any other time of the year this would have just been an exhausting hike with a nice view but the frozen features made it a special day.

Flash Frozen Hoar Frost IMG_1102

2014 Remembrance Day

We have been experiencing the typical November days with rain and overcast, but today, November 11, dawned with crystal clear skies and brilliant sunshine.  You could see the mountains all around the horizon.

Granted it was a cool 7 C.

I have to admit that we do not always attend the local Cenotaph ceremony for Remembrance day, but we decided this year we would.

The combination of great weather and the recent events meant that our local event drew at least 2000 people versus the 500 in previous years.  We were a long way from the actual Cenotaph stage but we could watch the parade that was, as usual, lead by the Veterans marching in with their service medals and trying to keep pace but with many using walkers and wheelchairs.

When I was a teenager, I attended this ceremony several times in Regina, and there would be hundred of veterans marching in.  Now in our community there were at best 30.  They were followed by the local militia, members of the Comox base and various cadets.

Pat and I decided a couple of days ago that we would attend the ceremony and, as a tribute, prepare our meals on November 11  to commemorate the RCAF veterans that served in England.

So when we got home for lunch I made Bacon Sandwiches.

When the Lancaster bomber crews in the war were about to about to head off late in the evening after briefing they were given a treat of Bacon Sandwiches.   With the rationing going on this was a real treat.

Pat and I had bacon sandwiches , granted the bread was toasted and I served them with tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise.

For supper we had bangers and mash with peas.  I am pretty sure the bangers served in the mess those days were not the kind of variety of sausages with portobello mushrooms and apple, etc  but the thought was there.

I realize this blog may seem that I make light of the day, but during the 2 minutes of silence I did reflect on a memory.

About 15 years ago I was in a small town Uden Netherlands with time to kill and discovered a small memorial graveyard.  It was a graveyard  that included many Canadian RAF Lancaster crews that had crashed nearby.  Maybe 400 tombstones all grouped in crews of 7 as their bodies were found.  The pilot would have been 22 and the crewmen were 18 or 19.

When I walked around and read the names I thought of when I was 18 and 19.

How trivial my life seemed compared to kids that were loading into a Lancaster with a significant chance they would die, and yet were rewarded with a Bacon Sandwhich….


Cop Car

I was in the workshop worming stay lines for the model.  That is a tedious step where you take line or rope and wrap it along its length with a very thin filament.  A bit boring but necessary for the accuracy of the model.

When I am doing something very boring I cannot put on a TV program so I put on a music channel.  Easier to listen and not have to look up at the monitor.

This particular time I picked a country and western channel.  Actually a good channel if you cannot watch a TV program as each song is a story.   However, like eating peanuts, you can only take so much before you need to change.

My mind was distracted by some tedious knot tying when I could finally focus on the song that was almost finished.  To me it sounded like “We Made Love In the Back of a Cop Car”

I stopped and thought, now that is a story.

The song ended and I turned off the TV before heading up to help prepare supper.

I was thinking that this is right up there with the great country song titles

“My wife ran away with my best friend, and I sure to miss him”

“How can I miss you, if you never go away?” etc etc etc

I could just imagine the video of the song.

So after supper I looked the song up and apparently I got it wrong.  The actual lyrics are “I fell in love in the back of a cop car”  by Keith Urban.  I expect he went politically correct after a great concept.

First Line in a Novel

As you know I am an aficionado of the opening line of a book.  I read between 50 to 60 books a year and do not have the time left in my life to read a bad one.  Often with a new author, the first line will determine if I continue.

This is well know in the industry and authors often spend many days AFTER WRITING their book to massage the first line.

So last night I opened a new paperback.  The first line was “Lacey Dowell clutched her crucifix, milky breasts thrust forward, as she backed away from her unseen assailant”

Now tell me, who would not immediately slam the book closed and throw it  into the corner.

However as it was a Sara Paretsky novel about the detective V I Warshawaski, I realized that her schtick is to make fun of the genre and I knew I was in for a romp of a book.  Good call

So sometimes my rule on the first line has to be ignored.

Andra Is coming

Tonight we pick up Andra who is flying in to spend a few days.  It is still paradise here but the fall and winter version of our paradise with lots of rain.  Still better than the snow in Alberta where she is coming from.

Pat has spent the afternoon sterilizing the bedrooms upstairs for the intended guest.  She used to do this before her mother or mother-in-law would visit because they might judge her….  Now that they are not coming she has transferred her neatness fear to her daughters.  Heaven forbid that Andra finds a speck of dust upstairs and scorns her mother.

On my part I have taken the reasonable route of insuring my bar is ready for any cocktail she desires and planning some outings to keep her from being totally bored and checking her watch to see how long until her flight away.

When this was planned I was hoping for some golf but not sure that is going to happen so I may take her on some adventure hikes.  There is nothing better than hiking in light drizzle on slippery rain forest trails into the mountains for the potential of finding a hidden water-fall to make you forget the tedium of working in an office all day.  Maybe not the same as lying on a sunny beach in Hawaii but still a different experience.

I look forward to this visit.  We seldom see our kids so this is a bonus.


Sistine Chapel Redux

For those of you that believe my personal blog is interesting but not affecting world events, well you are wrong.

You may recall my blog about our horrible visit to the Sistine Chapel last September.

Well the powers-that-be, apparently read my blog and took it to heart.

A news article today announced they have installed new LED lighting and air conditioning at the cost of 3 million euros to improve the experience and furthermore will start to restrict the number of people going through.

I take full credit for this development.   I think, for the amount we spent for the advanced tour, we should have at least had a Bishop walk us around…..