Archive for March, 2016

Automobile Electronics

Now this is going to sound like an Old Coot blog…. and it may well be.

I was watching an ad for a new SUV on TV downstairs while working on the Model.

Anyway you may have seen the ad where the SUV comes with WIFI so multiple obnoxious kids in the back seat can download and play “Tank Warfare” or any other on-line game as their dad drives while talking on a cell via his bluetooth earphone.  The kids ignore the movie playing on the screen in the back of Dad’s seat.  He is also following a GPS route to Grandma’s house.  He needs the GPS because he has never actually driven back home without GPS over the years.  Meantime his wife, sitting on the right, is using her computer to email her business contacts.

Whatever happened to drives where the family sang songs as you drove along?  Our family favourite was Rickety Tickety Tin.

I was watching this ad and remembering when I was 18 and bought my third car (in those days even 8 year old cars never lasted).  I bought a 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne and it had a major electronic upgrade.  The Radio received FM as well as AM signals.  Little switch that could connect from one to the other.  What a major development in Automobile Electronics.  Granted in those days AM had the rock channels and FM played classical so, while a nice feature, not that significant.

Boy am I old.

St Patrick’s Party

Last Friday night Patty and I went to our club’s St Patrick’s dinner and dance. (You will notice I referred to my wife as Patty which reflects her Irish heritage)

This is an annual party that our Probus club holds at the local Legion.  Over the last couple of years it has become a highlight of our club social events.  Think of it with about 90 seniors dressed in fake Irish green outfits showing up for a party at a Legion Hall.  Party started at 5:30 with dinner at 6:30.  (Roast pork but as Patty was on Lent she had just Veggies)

The band was a local group that could play many Irish tunes (but plays regularly at local Valley clubs as well)

We knew at least half of the people attending, and after the meal everyone moved from table to table.  The music was great and the dance floor was always packed.  Spot prizes and best costume awards kept the energy going.  (Last year Patty won a best costume award)

Granted by 9:30 most of the couples started to head out and the party was done by 10:00.  The lead singer in the band commented that they have never played for a more enthusiastic crowd or an evening that ended so early.

I am part of the Probus club executive, we have booked the band and hall for next year.  Might even try to make it to 10:15 next year.

I Went Geocaching today

Now this blog is supposed to be deep thoughts and introspection from me to you…….  but it is just so much easier to talk about my exciting life.  Did I mention that I managed to complete 15 knee braces on the model this afternoon?

But actually this was an exciting day (Sunday).

I have signed up to join a Geocaching contest next Wednesday.  I am part of a team of 4.  Today we went on a practice geocaching hike in Seal Bay to work on our roles in the team.   If you have never been Geocaching it is like an easter egg hunt only for adults and in the forest.  You are using the satellites that the US and Russia have launched to make their missiles find targets but we use them to find caches at specific latitude and longitude locations.   People hide an object in hidden areas and post the location on a geocaching site and you go look for them with a GPS unit.  I know it sounds weird, but fun.

I have been selected (as a Techy Guy) to operate the GPS unit for our team.  Not only watching the screen to make sure the team follows the directions but the responsibility of downloading all the caches from the internet on the night before the contest.   Alex will be in charge of recording all the clues as we go on because part of the contest is determining the secret puzzle.  Jill, the wife of the team leader, has the responsibility for timing the searches (you cannot spend more than 10 minutes per search) and declaring if we do not find it to move on.  Fairly easy role but she is a blonde and kind of pretty so I can see why Tim would assign her for this. (I assume Jill does not follow my blog).

And then there is the leader Tim (a great friend).  Now he is responsible for organizing our team and assigning roles and making sure that we follow them (typical leader) but I have to give him credit.  He will take a picture of every cache we find, he will have the overall map of the area, he will drive us to the contest, and he purchased the expensive Garmin that I will be using (plus as a great leader he has offered to buy the first round at the party after).  A noble leader.  Another leadership thing Tim did was name our team Karma.

The organizer of this contest is a mountain goat guy named Earl.  He is a trail blazer and a leader in geocaching on Vancouver Island.  You may remember the TV program a few years ago called “My Name is Earl”  on the program Earl was always following his Karma, so Tim hopes that that if Earl connects with this we might earn special points.

If you do not know Geocaching when the GPS beeps as you come near a goal you have to search in a 10 meter circle in dense forest to find a cache that might be nothing more than a thimble.  A big skill will be those that are prepared to reach into a hole in a rotten log hoping to find the cache and not a squirrel or spider.  (I will wear a glove).

So as I said, today we did a practice search in Seal Bay Park.  10 caches and we found them all.  Granted this is a well visited geocaching route that often all you needed was to see the trail on the ground left by others to the stump or tree.  But we did very well regardless and are confident.

Wednesday will be a different matter.  35 caches in rough forest along trails not much more than animal tracks in an area we do not yet know.  Most of the caches are near-virgin (not been found yet) spread over a route of 17 km.  Estimate is that it will take a minimum of 7 hours.  Our team is optimistic but as I expect the prize for the winning team is only a Tee Shirt, mostly we hope to complete without injury.

Pat is going to join us at the Pub in Royston for the wrap up party and prizes then take me home to give me a much needed massage.    I will let you know how we do.


Now Who is too Anal?

I am working on the framing for the main deck of the Diana.  The main beams are finished and I have morticed in the cross beams.  I am now making the little knee braces that lock in the beams. (see picture)

In the picture the piece is about 7 mm by 12 mm and every single knee brace has to be custom made to fit the hull shape.  Many hours of detail finicky work.  There about 50 of these to be made. I will eventually plank these frames over and no one will ever see them again.  Most model builders just cut a sheet of thin plywood for this deck, I mean who cares after it is planked?

So I come upstairs to find Pat working on the computer on a brochure she is creating for a CWL convention.  She is spending many hours on the little details of the font and the spacing and the borders.  Lining up everything perfectly for a brochure that no one will keep afterwards.  I say to her “why are you doing this, what kind of an anal person are you?”  But even I realize that I might be a bit of a hypocrite.

Knee Brace

Why I will be Loyal to my Blog

Meagan was responding to my earlier blog about me being a techy guy and suggesting that maybe I should consider a Twitter account.

Instead of deep thoughts from me on a weekly or twice weekly basis that my fans expect and love, I could fire out my instant opinions on everything by Twitter.  That, of course, would lead to the contest of matching the Tweet responses that apparently everyone that uses this to measure their success.  Who has the most hits.

This could be very competitive, so I would have to reveal my views on an hourly basis regardless of any form of pre-thinking.  The more outrageous, the more respondents.  Believe me I do have some crazy opinions through the day (I could just fry your ears with my comments about people too lazy to take their shopping carts to the store and abandon them in parking stalls)  Given a Twitter account some of these, well let us just say, excitable statements, might be broadcast.

Now that might not be a bad thing but just in case I ever run for a political office, or am checked by a family that is investigating if their son should marry one of my grand daughters, not something I want to have in the public domain.

So I will suffice with my moderated opinions expressed in the Family Blog.  Nice day today with partial sunshine.  Spent the day sewing the Jawa outfit for Mason.  Now that is a blog.

I am a Tech Leader

Today is one of those days that those of us living in Paradise do not mention when we brag about our life here.  Pounding rain all day.

Pat and I were joining our Miata club members to drive down to Nanaimo for the club Annual General Meeting.  Obviously not a top down drive.  Miserable trip both ways.

This club includes Miata members stretching from Campbell River to Victoria.  But only 20 die hards showed up for the AGM.

So I did not have to spend much money to run my campaign to be the Northern Island representative on the executive.  Every member of the board stayed the same as those not on the executive chose to bend over to pull up their socks or pretend they had lost consciousness when our President asked for volunteers to take over some positions.  Typical

Anyway I moved over to chat with some of the members at another table and the discussion came up about the horrors of the upgrade to Windows 10.  Now remember these are people our age or older.

I mentioned how I was able to stop the upgrade by going into the control panel and adjust the settings.  Then I revealed that I actually have a personal BLOG (which you are reading) and web site. Jaws dropped as they realized that they were in the presence of a computer techie genius.  All because of this blog (which truthfully Meagan set up for me)

In the land of the blind the one eyed guy is king.

Winter is Officially Over

Today we took the Murano to the dealer to have the winter tires replaced with the regular wheels.  I should have done this a month ago.

I did not like rumble as we drove with the nobbly winter tires and with the ugly steel wheels, I just had to get rid of them… but I should explain.

We have lived here for many years and have never felt the need for actual Winter Tires on our vehicles.  If there was an icy winter day we just did not drive.  A Rare event.

But last fall we (well mostly I) decided it was time to put winter tires on the Murano.  There were a number of reasons.

1 – The weather network was predicting a particularly wet/snowy winter for us.

2 – We had to make a drive to Victoria in late December to Victoria for a medical reason for me which involved crossing the scary MALAHAT ridge.

3 – Meagan and Jorg were going to visit after Christmas and we assumed they would want to drive up to Mount Washington for skiing and that road needs winter tires.

4 – Back in Ontario I always put on winter tires and they meant that driving was so much better.

So we dropped $1,500 on winter tires and rims.  (we have big wheels on the Murano)

As it turned out we did have a few days where the tires were appreciated,and Meagan and Jorg did drive up the mountain to ski, but for the most part, a non event.  While it has been snowing like crazy in the mountains, down here it has been a very wet February and March.

So today, we declared winter over and converted the Murano back to summer tires with the smooth ride and the chrome rims.  We will see if next winter we go to the effort.

A Great Salad Dressing

Sunday evening.  Even though we are long retired where we could make any evening of the week a special event, we always try to put extra effort into Sunday dinner.

Friday, of course, is seafood day and Monday is leftover day from Sunday… but mostly we just drift with the time during the week and plan a meal on inspiration.

We dropped in yesterday (Saturday) to our local Thrifty’s Grocery store, which was opened a couple of years ago in our neighbourhood.  Despite the name, Thrifty’s is not thrifty but the quality of food is wonderful.  Now normally we do not go shopping on Saturday because, as retired people, we do not need to and we want to avoid the crowds.  But as we perused our inventory of frozen options we needed to go out to select our Sunday dinner, (and I needed eggs for the Quiche that I was going to make for Pat for Sunday Brunch).

We pushed our cart through the crowded Saturday (working people) aisles and noticed that the store had Porterhouse Steaks on sale.  Beautiful hunks of meat.

Now there was a time I would have bought a Porterhouse for me and a smaller steak for Pat, but we bought one to share.  Is that not sweet????

They also had a special display of a new salad dressing.  We have salad with every meal and normally make our own dressings, but are not reluctant to buy a store version.

One of the nice thing about Thrifty’s is that they will buy and feature local and small company products.  It is so not Safeway.  We bought a bottle.

This dressing is called Little Creek Dressing and is produced at a small (4 employee) company in Kelowna.  All the dozen ingredients are Organic (not necessarily what I look for) but no salt or sugar.

I can just envision a group of modern day vegan hippies, with the 2 ladies in mumus (no bras) and the 2 guys with balding heads but pony tails producing this wonderful elixir from the crops they grow in an Okanogan commune.

Probably one of the best salad dressing we have ever enjoyed.  Sucks to be you people outside of BC as I expect you will not be able to buy this.