Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 28, 1963

Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, DC. Have we come far enough since then? Or have we simply transferred our fears and hatred to other members of society?


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Simple Job, Right?

We are going away for the weekend to visit some old friends (some from the early 70's) in Caycuse, an old logging camp on Lake Cowichan which is now cooperative housing. Norma suddenly realized she would miss a TV awards show this weekend so asked me to tape it for her. Well, we have been having problems with the VCR for some time and I have not been able to get it to play nicely with StarChoice.

I looked on line for a solution and discovered London Drugs had a StarChoice (Shaw Direct) Digital Video Recorder / receiver on sale for $269. This would solve the recording problem and also let me move the old receiver into the motorhome. Two birds with one stone.

I rushed downtown to buy the last receiver they had in stock and started setting it up. I quickly realized that it required two lines from the antenna as it was actually two receivers in one (one for watching and one for the recorder). The problem is, I only had one line run in to that spot and all four outputs from the antenna were used up! I found some cable, climbed up on the roof and unhooked the cable that went to the receiver that serves my office. I used that output, ran the cable down the wall and drilled a hole through the wall. I fished the cable through only to find it to be two feet short. I found another ten foot cable and connected it to the end and into the receiver. Then I found some caulking and sealed up the hole in the wall where the cable came in. It was now 9:00pm and I had started at about 5:00. I got a signal on the TV and called StarChoice to authorize the receiver. That took an hour and by the time everything was cleaned up and working it was almost 11:00. Now I just have to come up with a way to get TV back into my office. I have a spare antenna that I could install on the roof. or I can buy a "splitter" for $100. There is no end to it!

And some people wonder what retired folks do with all our time!

This is where we are going this weekend in the motorhome. Caycuse is actually just across the lake from the pushpin. We have to travel about 20 miles of gravel to get there.

Map picture

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My week On The Market

As I did my Quicken update today to reflect changes in my funds I was a little nervous as the market ended a little negative for the week. I was pleasantly surprised however as I actually ended a little up. My precious metals fund did very well for the fourth week in a row while my more conservative (and much larger) RRSP dropped a little. All in all I am up and if this pattern would continue for the rest of the year I will be a very happy man!

I am with the optimistic people here and think the worldwide recession has bottomed out. I am expecting low but steady gains from now on. Life is good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Deer Just Keep On Coming

Norma's latest weapon in her battle with the deer does not seem to be doing it's job. They have been up for a week now and the deer just walk right by them as if they were not there. I will give it another week to decide if they are going back.

I got some advice in a comment on the Blog from "Gringo Star" in Oregon that the only thing that ever worked for him was the "Scarecrow", a motion activated water sprayer. These things are made in Victoria, BC and cost $99 when ordered direct from the manufacturer. I ordered mine on eBay, brand new, from a dealer in Mesa, AZ for $47 including shipping. Go figure!

I wish I could just write the damn deer a cheque for $100 each if they would find somewhere else to brunch!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moving Slowly

We took it very easy for a couple of days and then started moving furniture back into place and completing a couple of places where the flooring does not come close enough to the walls. All slow work and not much to show for my work. Tomorrow I will cut baseboard for the kitchen. We are having company on Saturday night. Some old friends of ours that we have not seen for a long time are coming up so we will have to get the guest room ready as well. It will be fun and next week I will have to get busy and complete the trim in the rooms already done and finish the flooring in my computer room and a couple of closets. My back, arms and legs should have quit hurting by then!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Too Tired To Swallow!

After putting in 60 person-hours between the three of us laying almost 1000 square feet of bamboo flooring over the weekend, I am shot! It did not help that it was over 30 degrees in the shade all weekend so it was difficult to keep up with the water loss from sweat and I must have drank a gallon of water a day. It was a rough time for a 66 year old. We were eating breakfast this morning and I guess I was just sitting there with my eyes glazed over. Linda asked, "Aren't you hungry?" and I answered, "Yes, I am just too tired to swallow!" Even Brooks, who is only 39.8 was complaining! He and Linda work hard but flooring uses different muscles than fencing and his lower body was hurting.

With me, everything hurts, even my teeth! I have bamboo slivers in my hands and I don't know if I am allergic or what but they are all festered and I can't make a fist. I now know what it is like to have bamboo shoved under your fingernails! I am trying to carve them out with my tiny Swiss Army Knife. I am in my recliner in front of the big screen and I am not moving! It even hurts to breath..

On Friday I had 50 boxes of flooring, a table saw and a radial arm saw, both with razor sharp blades. Sunday night we had 10 boxes of flooring (for closets and computer room), a radial arm saw that no longer has a functioning trigger and two very dull blades. We ended up not using as much flooring as we were advised to buy because, thanks to Brooks' precise measuring and Linda's genius with the saws, we had nowhere near the 10% waste expected. In fact our waste was probably under 1%. That means we will probably end up taking five boxes (about $300 worth) back to Home Depot! It will pay for the Extra Strength Tylenol I will be needing to recover.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some Photos

Living room before and after:

 August 2010 041 August 2010 043


Breakfast nook before and after:

August 2010 044August 2010 045


Thanks for the photos Linda! I will take more soon and post them.

Work Day

Brooks and Linda came up and we started laying the new bamboo floor on Friday night. When we started it felt like it was going to be a very long, tedious job. We got about 60 square feet of the 1000 done before we went to bed. Saturday was much better when Brooks discovered a much easier way to "click" the pieces together. Now it started going faster with Brooks and I laying the floor and Linda running the saws and making the precise cuts.

We got the master bedroom, living room, hall and 75% of the guest room done Saturday. Today we will finish the guest room and closet and do the kitchen. This will leave my office which is a nightmare. It is a small room with two computer desks and all the cables to deal with. The desks will not come out of the room without a lot of work so we will have to take all the equipment out and then stack everything we can in one corner, lay all the floor we can and then move the pile to finish. We may not get this done today as Brooks and Linda have to be back in Victoria to start a new job in the morning.

They are very hard workers and Brooks has now officially paid me back for all the times in his youth that he "borrowed" my car and emptied my liquor cabinet! I will never bring it up again!

Have to go, I smell coffee. There will be photos.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Watch It Deer!

The Big Guns Are Out Now!

The Wireless Deer Fence arrived today. We ordered six posts (3 per pack) and I inserted batteries and scent pellets. The scent lasts a month and the batteries a year. There is a strong, pleasant odor and when the deer stick their noses onto the top for a sniff, they get a capacitor discharge shock of 500 volts (but very small amperage so it will not hurt them). After a couple of times, they associate that odor and location with the shock and stay far away.

In the FAQ part of the website, someone asks about harm to hummingbirds and the answer was that hummingbirds are not attracted to the smell and even if they were, their beaks are too small to span two wires so they cannot get a shock.

We will watch carefully for a couple of days to see how they work.

The flooring got delivered today and Brooks and Linda are coming up this weekend to help install it. It will be a busy weekend and I will have to stock up on my extra strength Tylenol!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Hate Going Downtown!

It always costs me money! Yesterday was particularly bad! We have known the house needed new floors for some time. Years actually. The carpeting was old when we bought the house in 1989 but my brother, a floor layer by trade, told us it was very good quality and in excellent shape so that was our excuse. We have been putting it off for a long time and yesterday we were in Home Depot for some little thing and there was a big sale on bamboo flooring. I had roughly estimated that it would cost $6000 to put in flooring and with the sale it will be $3500 for all material except new baseboard. We are planning to put it in the kitchen as well. Bamboo is a very tough product and should stand it. We will just have to watch spills and wipe them up quickly.

It is being delivered on Thursday. Brooks.... Linda...... HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Good Week

Despite lukewarm gains in the overall market last week, my funds did spectacularly well! I kept a lot of it in precious metals and it paid off last week when my fund rose about 7%. Huge gains usually scare me a little because it is my experience that for every big gain there is a big drop but this one just may be a little different because it was not a general market rise, just a specific sector. i am crossing my fingers and hoping for a repeat this week. A few more weeks of this and I will not have to spend as many nights in Walmarts this winter! Just kidding - I love WalMarts...

Still Battling The Deer

Norma is still battling the deer over her flowers. She is now getting up at 6:00 so she can stand guard at the kitchen window. She was up even earlier today and chased them away twice before I got up at 8:30.

We have ordered a product from the States called a Wireless Deer Fence. It consists of posts that you put in the ground and load with scent capsules and batteries. When a deer is attracted by the scent and takes a sniff he is jolted by a capacitor discharge shock. This is supposed to make him avoid the area where he was shocked. The scent and batteries are supposed to last a whole year.

Six posts and two years worth of scent cost $130. I think our deer are smarter than Indiana deer and will simply avoid smelling the posts after they get their first shock. I am not very optimistic!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More photos

Here are some more photos of the little house on the prairies. It was such a tiny house but I never noticed.

dadonsofa fireplace MOM&FIRE

kitchen kitchen2 livingroom livingroom2.tif

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mom's Birthday Today

Happy Birthday Mom! You would have been 101 today.

This is mom, dad and me in Edmonton in about 1949. Dad built that house 9 or 10 years earlier all by himself without borrowing a nickel. He bought material as he went and slowly it went up, all 600 (24X25) square feet of it. They moved in with plywood floors and tar-paper and batten board exterior. Siding, hardwood and carpet were luxuries that could wait for a year or so and be paid for with saved rent money.

We drove by the house last year and it is obviously a rental and in terrible repair but still standing. They sold it in 1955 for about $5000.

And yes, not necessary to comment. I WAS a cute kid!

To us, this was a palace! My sister's room was in the attic, my brother's in the basement and mine on the main floor where they could keep an eye on me. My sister had to climb a ladder in my closet to get to her room. She is 18 years older than me and didn't stick around very long.

The colorized photo is the finished product in about 1950. I cannot remember anything about the antenna on the roof! We had no TV (even after it came out in Edmonton) so it must have been radio. I am drawing a blank.

Dad eventually built a two story garage out back that was larger than the house.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Bugs Are Winning

The back of our house faces a steep slope. There is a lot of natural water and trees on this half acre or so, a perfect habitat for deer, eagles and mosquitoes. It is also warm and humid and impossible to sleep with the windows closed. The windows have no screens so this leads to a problem.

Yesterday I admitted defeat and called the local glass company to come and measure for new screens. We are getting six custom made screens for $230. I don't know if that is a good price or not but I did not argue. A few nights rest without the buzzing in my ear will make it money well spent. They will be installing them in a week. It's only money!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Little Afterthought

Why did the Mormon Church and other proponents of Prop Hate fail? They failed because they had no credible argument. The arguments they used in the media during the campaign would not stand in a court of law because they had no merit. Away from Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbough, the arguments were empty. The majority of the electorate may have believed that allowing same sex marriage would lead to eight year old kids being given homework assignments that included gay sex but even their own lawyers and "experts" were too embarrassed to argue it before a judge. Their arguments that the concept of "traditional" marriage would be destroyed or that straight people would be "forced" into same sex marriages were equally as empty.

They ended up with two "experts" who under blistering cross examination actually agreed with the plaintiffs on many key points. The right has nothing left but pleas for prayer, cash and more attempts at mass hysteria but that will have no effect before the US Supreme Court. The fact that Prop 8 was based solely on hate will come out once again. Times are changing!

There can be no compromise. "Almost good enough" will not do. "Separate, but equal" civil unions are not acceptable. Nothing short of full equality can be accepted. The difference may be slight when times are good but the deficits come to light when a partner is blocked at the elevator door when trying to visit in a hospital as "family". Inheritance could be an issue if there is no will. The worst happens when one partner is not allowed to make end of life decisions for the other partner. That thought is terrifying! No, nothing but FULL equality. That is why they are called "rights". There is no room for negotiation!

And, in a nice show of oneupmanship and hopefully a sign of what the USA can expect from it's own Supreme Court,

Mexican court upholds capital's gay marriage law

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican Supreme Court has voted to uphold the constitutionality of Mexico City's 6-month-old law allowing same-sex marriages.

The justices have voted 8-2 to uphold the law against challenges filed by federal prosecutors, who argued it violates the constitutional principle of protection of the family.

Hundreds of couples have been married so far under the law, the first of its kind to be enacted in Latin America.

The court ruled Thursday that the law did not violate the constitution. Justices on the majority side argued that nowhere does the constitution define what a family is.

Prop Hate

We are on the edge of our seats here! The California ruling on Proposition 8 that will define marriage in the USA forever is due any minute. The Proposition, financed by the Mormon Church and other right wing hate groups, passed in November 08 by a narrow margin and banned same sex marriage in California. This expected decision on whether to declare this vote to be unconstitutional is as important as Roe v. Wade. To say that I am hoping it will be overturned goes without saying. I am waiting.......

It will end up before the US Supreme Court no matter what the decision but it will be a lot easier going before the Court with a win!

BREAKING NEWS!!!!! IT HAS BEEN OVERTURNED!!!!!!!!!!! Prop Hate is unconstitutional and the enforcement of it is enjoined!!!!

Sorry haters, there is equal protection. You will not be able to vote to return slavery either. Tough. Suck it up and live with it! Civil and human rights are guaranteed and are not up for a vote! Opposite sex couples ARE NOT superior to same sex couples!

The Important Part:


Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result,see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants and defendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.


* I have the full 138 page decision in .pdf format. If anyone wants it, let me know.

Cindi Lauper Quote:

"I want to commend and thank Chad Griffin and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the legal team headed by Ted Olson and David Boies, and the plaintiffs in the case, Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, for their leadership and courage in standing up for equality and fairness." - Cyndi Lauper.

Predictably, the right have their noses out of joint and are starting the off the wall comments like "This decision will force gay marriage on all Americans". Now THAT would be interesting!

If you want to show your support for equal rights, these shirts are available from Karel.


What a way to welcome the 100,000'th visitor to this Blog (check the Sitemeter at the right side)!

Number 100,000 just hit and they are from Richmond, BC and connected through Shaw Cable! If you are still on here, say "Hi" in the comments or Shoutbox!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sometimes I Embarrass Myself

A "few" years ago I bought a hammer drill from Canadian Tire. It got a fair amount of use (and abuse) and a while ago I used the hammer feature to drill some drain holes through a concrete planter. It gave it a good workout.

Yesterday I tried to use the drill to drill some tiny holes in metal and the first bit broke instantly. I put another bit in and watched it as I squeezed the trigger. The bit wiggled from side to side as it spun. Something was out of alignment, probably from drilling the holes in the concrete wall. After trying a new bit to be sure I threw the drill into the garbage can and looked in the local sales fliers for a new drill. Canadian Tire had a huge tool sale on which got me thinking... The old drill is a C.T. brand so why not take it down to see if there is a guarantee on it? I pulled it out of the garbage can and drove downtown. The young woman looked up the model number and told me it was discontinued several years ago. No problem, I said, just toss it out for me. No, just a minute, she said and typed something into her computer. She told me they would give me a discount of $60 on any new drill! As luck would have it they had a 1/2" hammer drill kit marked down from $110 to $55! I got the new drill (which came with a case and about a hundred bits and screwdriver tips) plus $5 cash back for the broken drill!

These tools are not the best quality but if they honor their guarantees like that, who cares? Like I say, sometimes I embarrass myself but I love Canadian Tire.

GPS Woes

The new GPS came with [ALL] North American maps installed. I assume this included Mexico. When I registered the unit on line they told me there was a free map update waiting for me. I connected the unit to the computer and away it went, downloading maps for over an hour. When it finished I rebooted the unit and checked the map data only to find I now had the updated 2011 maps but only Canada and USA! No Mexico.

I fired off an email to Garmin and then went whining away on the Garmin Users Forum. On the forum I was told that the memory in my unit was not large enough to hold the new maps file so they eliminated Mexico to make it fit. Another person told me that if I hooked the unit up to the computer I could eliminate all the languages and voices I will never use and that will leave enough room for the Mexico maps. I will do this and then phone Support to plead with them to send me another download. If this does not work, I have two weeks to return the unit to London Drugs with no questions asked. I really want the Mexico maps.

Life is complicated.