Archive for April, 2017

Marketing Dependency

In my twenties I went back to school to get my Masters Degree in Business at York University.  I choose to take the relatively narrow specialty of Industrial marketing.  I was a salesman for GE at the time, selling big electric motors.  Virtually every product I sold was intended to last for decades so the idea with the marketing was to present my product in the best light.

I was naive.  The future of marketing was to sell short life products and build dependency.

If you want to be in the drug business, give away the first few samples and once the customer is addicted, you could charge whatever you wanted.  Get a guy started with Gillette Mach III razors with a cheap handle and then keep raising the price for the only blades that would fit the handle.

The car companies knew this as they would practically sell the car at cost, but then you needed their parts for which you paid a fortune.   OKay you may be wondering where this diatribe is going by now.

We have a Samsung printer attached to our computer.  I just ordered two toner cartridges from an on line site (cannot afford to actually buy them at Staples).  The price of the two cartridges exceed the cost of the original printer… but we are addicted to it.  Just makes me think.

If I had known this concept when I was taking my MBA, I could have made it the center of my thesis.  I could have found employment in a job (maybe at P&G) where I could have been rewarded with riches.

I could have had a big house on an exotic Island with a sports car, lots of friends, a beautiful wife and a life of ease………………….  wait a minute….  I have that.

Never Mind.

Guide Dogs

In the Valley we have an organization that trains guide dogs for people that need assistance.  We often see them walking in downtown Courtenay to get used to street lights and meeting people.

This morning I was driving back from my morning fitness (a recently rare morning in sunshine) when I noticed a training dog being walked along Royal Vista Way.  Do not see them up here on the ridge. Easily identified by the jersey that tells people that the dog is in training and not to pet.  But in our neighbourhood.. it is not the people.

Our neighbourhood has dozens of dog owners ranging from the biggest German Shepherd you have ever seen to ankle biters.  Lots and lots of doggies.

Some are well trained like our friends Brian and Darleen that have the best trained little Westies that you could ever hope for.

Now we do love our Westie grand dogs Reese and Jackes, but on walks they are excitable particularly when they meet a larger dog.  We have to hold back Jackes whenever we meet a dog.

I had to stop by the road to watch this guide dog as it met several of our ankle biter neighbour dogs.  The training dog was an unusual cross between a Whippet and a Greyhound.  The trainer would stop and chat with the person while that person’s dog was snapping and yapping all around the big dog (as little dogs do) and yet the training dog stood there like a Queen’s Guard outside of the Palace.   And walked on when the trainer continued.

I stayed at the side of Royal Vista to observe two meetings and was stunned.  Very impressive.  I just wonder how you train a dog to ignore other dogs.

Progress on the Model

For those that have not been following my journey through life…. months ago, after completing The Diana, I took on the project to complete a kit model of The Golden Hind started and abandoned by my good friend Harry.  A good model kit, but far too detailed for someone just starting out.  When I brought the hull into my shop and studied it I realized that the instructions and drawings were terrible.  So I started to correct what I could including thinning down the upper hull because the frames were just 3 times too thick.

Still the kit came with some fine details such as the stern carvings (a casting)  you will see that in a later blog.

I am at the stage that I love which is where I work on all the details on the decks, gratings and pin rails etc.   Replacing casted parts with real wood where I could.

The drawings for the kit show the supports for the pin rails (the rails where belaying pins are used to tie off rigging) as spindles.  The drawing showed the shape but the only instruction was TURNINGS.  No wood supplied in the kit for these parts and an assumption that a starting model builder had to have access to a lathe.

Fortunately I do.  Blaine gave me a mini lathe many years ago that I use all the time for these details.

The other issue was the wood. The kit came with very thin planks of walnut (a horrible wood to work with at this scale) and bass wood.  Bass is a good wood but it is white like pine.  The other detailed parts are from Mahogany (again, a colourful red wood but horrible for scale)

So I have been finishing off the pin rails.  I have used some walnut on the hull top rails but to match the mahogany parts I determined I had to find a wood in my inventory that would fit the reddish components provided in the kit.

Normally I would use my lovely Swiss Pear or the Holly or the exotic Balkan boxwood for turnings… but the colour did not work.  Granted I could have just painted the parts after, but thought I could to try other choices.

If you look at picture one, that is the spindles for the pin rails.  The wood is a bit coarse, but matches the model.  The second picture is a frame that holds the ship bell (a detail the kit did not provide).  The third picture is the source of the wood I used.

In our home we have a great hardwood floor made up of Brazilian Cherry.  They left a bunch of scraps in the crawl space when we moved in.

While not a great wood for model building (the grain structure is way out of scale) it is a lovely wood and in this case, the colour matches the mahogany pieces from the kit (and is much stronger)

I turned the bell out of the cherry and painted it gold.  Looking at the picture I have to work on it.

Another Muddah Foddah day

If you have been following my blogs over the years you would recognize my reference to the Sherman song hello Muddah hello Faddah.

I have been reluctant to complain about the weather here in Paradise because I realize my blog fans live vicariously in the belief that here is Nirvana.  But to be truthful it has been a horrible winter and the wettest, most overcast and coolest spring you could imagine.  Even the long term locals have been saying, why did we move here?  I was going to write a letter (a blog) to complain about the conditions…..  but not today.  Disregard everything I was thinking of.

The last two days have had brilliant sunshine, warmth and clear skies.  The mountains covered with snow are crystal clear.  Every cherry tree and fruit tree on the street is in bloom.  Our azaleas are bursting with colour and the early rhodos are out.  This is several weeks late but who cares.  It is glorious.

Easter weekend and everyone is happy.  We even had a bunch of little kids riding their tiny bikes up and down the street today. No idea where they came from as this is not a neighbourhood with kids, but like the Easter bunny you do not reject magical days.  (having said that I did trap a bunny in my backyard trap yesterday and relocated it… but that is another story)

It is a paradise weekend.


New Tenant

There is lots of talk about the shortage of rental homes in the Valley (actually on the whole Island) so it came as no surprise that we finally have a tenant for one of my bird houses.  Over the years since I made them we have had lots of lookies but no commitments.  This morning a Chickadee family finally started to move into my rustic birdhouse.

This is made from old cedar fence boards topped with bark from a Douglas Fir tree washed up on a beach.  The only other tenant for this house was a wasp nest several years ago which I destroyed but possibly this why other birds have not moved in.

A Hiking Nightmare

Pat and I belong to a hiking group as part of our Probus club.  Not a lot of hikes this winter because, well let us say it was not a typical Paradise winter.

Many of our hikes are along rivers where there can be some scrambling over tree trunks and up and down some steep slopes, but for the most part they are hikes for people of our vintage.  Occasionally we come out of a rainforest hike for a view over a lake or river where there is a sharp drop or cliff.

You have to approach the edge just to get the  great view.  But we have one member of our club Jill who is the wonderful wife of our hiking team leader, who has a fear of sharp drops.  Technically called Basiphobia.

Jill is great to hike with but she often delays the group because she wants to take photos of weird fungi or flowers.  She is always trying to pose the group on interesting spots and when you hike in West Coast rain forest, these come along all the time.  But when we, as a group, come along to a cliff viewpoint, Jill becomes very agitated.  Not that she would approach the edge herself but she gets very upset if one of the members hangs on a tree leaning over the edge to get a laugh (that was actually me).  I soon realized this was a serious concern she has and and recognized the feeling.

When we first moved to Calgary in the mid 80s, Pat and I took the kids on hikes into the mountains to the west.  We came across a trail that lead along one stretch where we had a narrow trail with a cliff on one side and a sharp drop off on the other.  James, (I think 17 at the time) walked to the edge and put his toes over a drop of 200 metres and looked down.  Pat and I were freaking.  Not that I had a problem with heights, but this was not right.  I actually had nightmares after that about climbing down to retrieve his body.

So I recognize Jill’s phobia about her friends hanging on the edge.

For those not local, there was an incident for a hiking group out of Vancouver this weekend on Mount Harvey.  A hiking club were climbing to a summit.  Possibly more aggressive than our club would do, but not weird.  At the last part of the hike they needed to put on show shoes to finish the climb.  A group of 6, but as normally happens one fell behind to catch his breath.  Another hiker came up and passed him and came to the summit and no people.  Apparently the wind and snow had produced a cornice or ledge that  stretched out from the cliff face.  The group ahead had gone to the edge to look down at the great view of Howe sound.

When the following hiker showed up there was a chunk out of the cornice the size of a living room missing, and no hikers.   They had fallen 500 metres to their death.

I wrote an email to Jill telling her that if this had been our group,  she would have yelled at us not to approach the edge and we would have been saved.

Is This Paradise?

Now Pat and I moved out here to Paradise on the West Coast for the mild winters and comfortable summers.  We were retiring from Oakville, a great town, but we hated the traffic.  The QEW going through Oakville was 10 lanes wide and still it took 30 minutes to get across town.  Just far too busy.

So we looked on a map to see how far we could get away from the QEW.  It was either the island of Newfoundland or Vancouver Island.

Now this has been a snowy winter here.  Had to use the snowblower at least 5 times and that did not include the time we spent in Palm Springs.  And there seems to be perpetual rain….

But looking at the last week in Newfoundland, I think we made the right decision.  A meter of snow in one day with high winds in April.  No wonder half the population of Newfoundland has moved to Alberta, which let’s face it, is not the best province to spend winter.

So we will have to pucker up.  Granted even with the dismal skies, the lawn looks great.  I only need a couple of days of sunshine to get out there to cut it.

A Thursday Night

We have just had the worst winter and spring in our years in Paradise.  Snow in the winter and cool rainy days all spring.  Even though we spent weeks away, the weather on the return has not been great.

I only mention this because we had a pretty good day today.  The sun is shining and the golfers are going by,  and I realize I will have to find some time to mow the lawn.  Still cool.

Anyway I digress.

Pat is spending most of her day on her various volunteer roles.  No matter what position she takes, she becomes the go-to girl in the clubs. CWL, Elder college or the Probus, Pat is the person they call on if they have an issue.  As a result I do not answer the phone.  It rings many times a day from ladies asking what they should do about this or that… and Pat says “do not worry, I will handle it”.

Anyway why should I complain as I spend every afternoon in the workshop on my model ships.

We earlier in the day planned to have a steak salad for dinner tonight.  Thin sliced marinated steak on a mound of salad with hard boiled eggs and blue cheese.  A favourite.

Pat sent me off to the local store to buy a small bit of steak and a few items.  She was busy on the computer for her duties so she could not accompany me.

Think of the story of the mother sending Jack off to buy food and he comes back with beans.

I am looking a slice of steak at our butcher and notice that he has a couple of packages of prepared Rouladen beef.  These are thin beef roll ups.  They only do this rarely.

So like Jack, I buy a package of rolled beef and some sharp Kosher pickles and bring them home to tell Pat, we have a new plan for dinner.  Fortunately she loves me and accepted the change.

Tonight we had German Rouladen with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes.  Might have been better with Jorg’s Spaetzle but pretty good.

And, of course, I write this blog as Pat cleans all the pots and pans I dirtied in the preparation.

Basket ball on TV

Tonight we have the finals for the March madness college championship b-ball game on TV.

Now we do not follow basketball.  Even Pat does not watch basketball.  She loves the Jays (and they lost today) and curling (Gushue is doing well) and even golf.  She loves her TV sports but never basketball and definitely not college ball.

However Janine is in an office pool and her team Gorgonzola or Gonzaga (whatever) has made it to the final game and if they win she will be the office champion.  Who would have picked Gonzaga at the beginning of the month? As such, she will be viewed by her peers as a visionary.

Janine actually won her office pool last year for the March Madness by a random selection based on team colours.  I doubt if Janine has ever watched a college basketball game on TV or knows any of the teams but she now has a reputation.

This year she randomly selected teams based on their team mascots.  Gonzaga is the Bull dogs (she does like her doggies) and for the first time they made it to the final.

Janine called her mother to ask that she cheer for the bulldogs tonight on TV because she realizes that Pat is major sport cheerlady and could have solid Karisma.  Could be all they need.  Granted did not help the Jays today.

So tonight we are watching the Gonzaga vs North Carolina for the US College championship.  Apparently this event is just behind the super bowl for betting.