Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finally, Something Useful To Do With The Border Fence

A group of Mexicans and Americans found a good use for "The Fence" that cost over four million dollars a mile to build. International Beach Volleyball! This is the portion of the fence that extends into the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dreary Weather

It is raining again today! The weather was quite nice when we returned from our travels but that only lasted a few days. Recently it has been quite wet. Not all day but enough to discourage you from starting an outside project, knowing that if it is not raining now, it soon will be.

Our old friend Dave MacKinnon and his new bride, Susan, were going to come over to the Island for a visit but that never materialized. The good thing was, Norma went out and bought a couple of nice Dungeness Crab for the occasion, one of which we made thick sandwiched out of last night. Can't beat that.

I am packing for my 50th High School Reunion. It will be an event packed three days in Vancouver at the end of the month. It will be interesting to catch up with some old friends from back then. Some I have seen throughout the years but most, not. The weather does not look good for the weekend so the outdoor activities will probably be cancelled. Oh well, we were good at making our own fun back in '63 so I am sure we will come up with something!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Problem Neighbours Gone

The house to the south of us is empty again. This is where the police incident occurred over the winter. Our house sitter was surprised by RCMP squad cars in our driveway and armed police running around in our yard, taking our lawn furniture over to the side fence where they pointed guns at the neighbors house and yelled for him to come out with his hands up. The house sitter went out to see what was up and was told to go back into the house and to stay away from the windows.

The excitement was soon over and we heard not long ago that the renter had been standing in front of his house pointing a gun at passing traffic. We had never met or spoken to this guy or anyone else who lived in the house with him. We really cannot see into their yard as there is a high hedge, our workshop and a six foot fence separating us. This was the house that our friends Dave and Doris lived in for many years after we moved here. They were the best neighbours we could ask for, almost like family.

Dave and Doris moved out several years ago when a condo developer knocked on their door and offered them an obscene amount of money for their house and huge lot. It was too much to even consider turning down, so they moved. These developers still own the house but the bottom has dropped out of the condo market here so they are just holding the property until better financial times. There have been several renters, none of whom we liked or even associated with. First there was the couple with two kids and two very expensive vehicles. The one time we did talk to him he said he worked in the Alberta oil fields but in the two years they were there, he never left town and seldom left the property. We suspected drugs. Another time there were two women, one of whom had a young son. One worked in a local bar and at least one was a hooker. There were comings and goings all night. Another pair of women who did not appear to have regular jobs had two pit bulls that ran free around the place and which on many occasions found their way into our yard. After many polite phone calls asking them to come and get their pit bulls off our lawn, I finally had enough. In an uncharacteristic move, I pounded on their door and told them their *^&$% dogs were in our yard again and to get them out and keep them out or I would get rid of them. That did the trick as we were not bothered by the dogs again. They moved out soon after, probably because of the cranky old neighbours.

A couple of days ago there was a lot of noise from next door. We peeked through the hedge and saw a huge dumpster being taken away and another being placed. There were workers around the house so we went over to talk to them.

It turns out that the renters had not been paying their bills or rent and were evicted. The police were required to help in the eviction because of their history with firearms and, it turned out, their known status as local drug dealers.

The workers were stripping out the house. Everything was going into three huge dumpsters, old furniture, carpets, appliances, everything. The upstairs and (ground level) downstairs are going to be separated and the house will become a rental duplex.

They said the place was full of garbage, rats and used needles, a real disaster. They say they are the new property managers and there will be better quality renters from now on. We shall see.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Navel Gazing

I am having trouble getting past the election.

I can understand why the 1% vote for the Right, in most cases it is in their best interest. But that should give the Liiberals 1% of the vote. The rest of their voters can be divided into a couple of categories, those who simply do not care enough to make an informed decision and those who somehow think that supporting the business class and the rich will benefit them. I guess you could say they subscribe to Ronald Regan’s “Trickle Down” theory even after it has been soundly discredited in the USA. Some others are simply locked into the ideology with the drilled in mindset that “Right is good and Left is bad”. Others, some of them normally intelligent friends, do not seem to fall into any category.

I supported Adrian Dix in his decision to not engage in the US style mud slinging that the Liberals employed but looking back, I wonder if taking the high road was the best decision. People vote because they are mad and perhaps we did not give our supporters enough to be mad at. Polls that showed the NDP with a seemingly insurmountable lead did not help either. I know many of our supporters did not think the Party needed their vote, they were going to win regardless.

What is clear, the NDP blew a lead, how big a lead is open for discussion. Norma blames the loss on 1) the inaccurate polls and 2) the strategists and organizers the party imported from Ontario to run the campaign. She has always said "Easterners" do not understand BC voters. She has managed dozens of BC elections and has won the vast majority of them, more than her fair share. Perhaps she should come out of retirement.

We need to do something. We can start by finding a way to convince young people to get involved, they made up a huge share of the 49% who did not bother to vote.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Clean, Clean, Clean

It is almost time to park the motorhome. Our parking space is shared with the two cars and the dolly so the motorhome has to fit quite close to the hedge separating us from the neighbour. The rotten neighbour, not the good one. That meant a lot of work.

First the paved parking area had to be pressure washed. It had a years accumulation of dirt, grease, gunk and gravel that had been kicked onto it from the commandeered space between us and the neighbour's house. The "other" neighbour, the one who had the police pointing guns at him when we were away. We have four neighbours, not counting the one at the back who is too far away to matter, This neighbours house used to be owned by our friends, Dave and Doris, and we made the agreement with them. We could use the eight or ten feet of space in front of the parking area for the dolly and to park the front ends of our vehicles on and they could use the five feet of extra lawn area behind our shed. A good agreement for everyone as both respective spaces are unused by and useless to their owners. We have not talked to the guy with the police problem, I haven't even met them. I talked to someone downtown who claimed to know the current out of town owners (it is a rental) and they said the guy was was standing either on his porch or in his front yard waving a gun at passing traffic. Probably a common occurrence in the USA, but not here in Canada, it makes you stand out. In fact it got the RCMP SWAT team pointing their guns over our fence and yelling orders at him to come out.

Just a note, we are not on the "wrong side of the tracks" here. This sort of thing is pretty much a once or twice in a lifetime thing. I hope.

We finished pressure washing the parking area and then decided to wash the side of the motorhome that would be against the hedge. It is not really accessible once it is parked there so now was the time. We added the front and back and then decided, what the heck, we may as well do the whole thing. It hadn't been washed since Las Vegas and had tons of bugs embedded in the front.

That got done and then we decided that as long as we have the pressure washer and bucket out, we may as well do the house windows.

We have tried everything with the house windows over the years. The house is only a hundred and twenty feet or so from the ocean and we get a lot of salt spray. We started using Windex and paper towels but that only spread the dirt around. We eventually tried a professional and watched carefully how he did it. He used Dove dish soap in a bucket of warm water and scrubbed the windows with a brush on a pole, much like the brush we use to wash the motorhome. That is now our preferred method.  Brush on Dove and rinse. It does a good job and does not even need drying. Mind you, we have very good tap water here in Campbell River so no streaking or water spots.

So that is what we are going to do after this coffee/Blogging break. A busy Sunday. It is what people who do not go to church do on Sundays.

I am getting over the election loss. Slowly. Not happy about it. Except for that, Life is Good.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Price Of Gas

Expecting gas prices to be high in Canada, we topped off both the motorhome and Honda before we boarded the ferry in Port Angeles, WA. It was good we did because gas was $1.35 per liter in Victoria and $1.24 in Campbell River when we got there. Since then prices rose steadily and local stations are now demanding $1.43 here in Campbell River.

This works out to $5.25 CAN ($5.11 USA) per US gallon.

The mororhome is parked, probably for the summer with about a half a tank in it That will let me run the generator for it's requisite hour per month. In the fall I will add $100 worth and that will get us back to the USA. We have to keep the level above 1/4 to allow use of the generator in the ferry lineup the night before we sail.

Right now there are huge lineups at the border crossings every day by people crossing the border to fill up their tanks. It is kind of a break even thing when you consider the amount of gas you burn getting to the USA compared to the $20 to $30 you save on filling a normal size tank but people are trying to make a statement.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Officially Depressed

Well, the polls were wrong! The pundits were wrong, the press was wrong, even I was wrong. The last thing I expected was a Liberal Majority Government but that is exactly what the voters of BC decided to do last night.

What happened? Who knows. Whatever it was the result was people lying to pollsters and more importantly, young people staying home and not voting! The turnout was 51%, a very low number that should be up in the seventies. People said they wanted change but would not go out and vote to get that change.

The Green Party was the spoiler. They elected one member but came a strong third in so many ridings behind the NDP that if you combined the NDP and Green vote, it would have been enough to win all these ridings  and would have put the liberals in second place. Green voters handed the election to the people they hate most, the Right Wing.

The Premier, Christie Clark, won a majority government but lost her own seat. They will fix this by asking another member in a safe seat to resign, creating a by-election that the NDP may or may not contest. My first instinct is to throw everything we have at this by-election and lock her out but I am not very realistic. By-elections are expensive and there are ridings where a liberal could not lose.

What is the answer? Maybe it is time to look at Proportional Voting. A form of that, "Single Transferable Vote" went to a referendum a few years ago and was soundly defeated. It was very confusing and few people understood it. Mandatory voting has been experimented with in some countries. Maybe it is time to seriously consider online voting as an option.

The only election I have missed in my life was one year when we were in Arizona when a Federal election was unexpectedly called. That was the only one. I cannot understand how you could justify not voting.

Well, I am heading back into my funk. See you soon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lets See How Close This Guy Came posted this prediction at midnight last night, before the polls opened.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"E" Day Minus One

British Columbia votes tomorrow. Not me, Norma and I voted on Saturday in the Early Voting. We voted NDP. The latest polls show the race tightening up but Adrian Dix and the NDP are still in the lead. The Green party is taking away some traditional NDP votes and the Conservative Party is taking away some traditional Liberal votes.

Tomorrow will be interesting. The press is talking about the "Incumbent Effect" where last minute deciders will just vote for the incumbent Party because they are too lazy to look at alternatives. The BC "Liberals" have become so unpopular recently I do not think this will be too widespread. At least I hope this to be the case.

I am hoping that people who have traditionally voted NDP will do so again and will refrain from giving their vote to the Greens as this will only split the "left" vote and give us another four years of Liberal rule. That would be a disaster.

The race is tightening so if you have not already done so, get out tomorrow and vote for your NDP candidate. You will thank yourself when the results are in tomorrow night. You will be on the winning side!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Taste Of "Work"

Brooks had to put up the golf course net on Saturday. I had picked up this net from his supplier just north of Campbell River and the excuse for our visit was to deliver this net. LindaLee was working at her part time waitress job and I was there so, off we went. It was a 25 foot high, 60 foot long net protecting the front of a house built right on the fairway at the Arbutus Ridge Golf Course. Brooks is the only contractor "approved" to put these nets up so he gets quite a few orders and has the process down pat.

Before leaving, we welded together lengths of mat black powder coated pipes to form the four uprights and Brooks had previously buried and cemented in place slightly larger diameter pipes flush to the ground, into which these pipes would slide. On the way to the job we stopped to rent an orchard ladder that would reach  to the top of the uprights. These pipes are chosen so as to not reflect the sun and cause distraction to the golfers. The net is also heavy black fishing net. These nets are expensive but is what is required by the golf course. Many residents have tried putting up their own cheaper solutions but have been ordered to take them down after complaints from golfers or neighbors.

We fastened the net to the tops of the four uprights before we raised them and dropped the bases into the previously placed larger diameter pipes in the ground. It worked perfectly. We then welded more lengths of black pipe at a 45 degree angle to the two outside uprights to provide support. It was then just a matter of attaching the net to the uprights using black tie-wraps.

This net will stop flying golf balls and will protect the homeowners from broken windows and dented siding and vehicles, the downside of living on a golf course.

The only mishap of the day occurred when I stepped on a piece of old chain link fence that was covered with grass and tore off one of my big toenails! Ouch! It was my own fault as I had foolishly decided to wear sandals while Brooks had his steel toed safety boots on. Oh well, it only cost me a teaspoon or so of blood and I got lots of sympathy from LindaLee when we got home. If I did this for a living I would have to take a little more care. Don't tell the Worker's Compensation Board!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Early Polls Are Open In BC

Early voting starts today in British Columbia! Come down to the polls with us today and let's show those "Liberals" the door!

Voting day is May 14, but why wait? Norma and I will be voting for Adrian Dix and the New Democratic Party. Send your message to Christie Clark today. Don't let the door smack you in the a** on your way out, Christie!

I Live a Boring Life

Nothing much going on. My niece Robin and her partner George from Alberta were up for a visit. They had just returned from a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam where Robin's daughter teaches English. They had a great time, ate wonderful food and met friendly, happy people. It was their first visit to a "Communist" country but they said you would never notice it. There was no military and little police presence in the city and surrounding countryside. They had a very nice hotel in a central location. The price was posted at $50 per night but they asked for and got the discounted rate of $35 for the school where her daughter teaches.

I just checked the price of a ticket and we could fly from Vancouver return for under $1700 each. I am getting travel fever. October is the month to visit as it is between the humid summer and the rainy winter. I have almost quit thinking of Mexico as "traveling" It is almost like a second home.

EDIT: Our Mexico RVing friends Kevin and Ruth just commented that there is an even better deal  of $1000 each available! How do people find these rates?

We are driving down to Shawnigan Lake later today. Brooks is home from Fort McMurray for his ten days off. He and LindaLee have a couple of fencing jobs to do while he is home so they can't come up here to visit. One of the jobs is installing a net at a golf course and the company that makes those nets is here in Campbell River. I picked it up yesterday and will help him put it up while I am there. Maybe he will pay for my labour with a fancy breakfast.

Life is good!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Not Much Happening

I have not gotten too far with the dishwasher installation. Robin, my niece from Alberta and her partner George dropped in on Friday. We had a great visit accompanied by fish and chips from Dick's down at the dock. They were in Courtenay for a birthday party and had a free day. It is always fun when they are here.

I got George to help me carry the old dishwasher out of the house and from there is went down to the end of the driveway with a "Free" sign on it. It dissapeared within two hours. Someone will either replace all the chewed parts themselves to get it working or remove the stainless steel for scrap.

Yesterday I screwed quarter inch plywood over every possible rodent size opening to keep them away from the new Bosch and will tackle that installation job today.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dishwasher Part 2

We drove down to the local Brick Store where the dishwasher was on sale. Norma immediately upgraded to the one with the stainless steel door for $100 more. That is OK, I would have done the same. So he starts doing the paperwork. Do you want the five year warranty? If you don't use it, you get the money back in five years in the form of a store credit. So it is like free then? Yes. Well, OK. Do you want to take advantage of our buy now, pay in 16 months promotion? Sure, why not? We can deliver it on Saturday, is that OK? That would be great, thanks.

He then handed me the invoice to sign and said, "Your total is one thousand three hundred and something. WHAT? The dishwasher was $699! What is that $299 charge? That is for the five year warranty. That is half the price of the dishwasher! Forget it, I will take my chances. What is that $199 charge? That is the "administration fee" for the "interest free" buy now, pay later plan. Forget it, I don't want it. I will pay for it now. What is that $99 charge? That is the delivery charge. Does that include disposing of the old dishwasher? No, that would be another $25. Forget it, my buddy with a pickup will do it for a bottle of beer and the old one can go down by the road with a "FREE" sign on it and it will be gone in an hour.

You really have to pay attention when you buy something in Canada. In Mexico if something is 999 pesos, that is what you pay at the till, 999 pesos. Not 1700 pesos. That would be dishonest. Here if is just, "Maybe he is not paying attention".

Anyway, we bought it. Anyone want some stainless steel scrap? Come and get it.


Well, the verdict is in on the old dishwasher. The rodent guest chewed up quite a bit underneath it. Wire, rubber hoses and plastic parts including the pump housing (that is what was leaking). The estimate for the obvious repairs to the four year old Maytag is $450. There may be more things wrong that he will only discover after he does these repairs and tests it. We can get a brand new Bosch stainless steel washer on sale for $599. I guess this is the way to go. It's only money.

Political Sign Wars

The Provincial Election here in British Columbia is in full swing. Lawn signs are popping up. including a big one at the end of our driveway. Ours says "Claire Travina, NDP" (New Democratic Party). NDP signs are seriously outnumbered by the signs of the only real opposition, the Liberals. In this part of Canada the Liberals represent the far right. We also have a Conservative candidate but he will come in a distant third or forth (we also have a Green). Here in BC, all the "Conservatives" vote "Liberal". A bit of an identity crisis.

I noticed the Liberal signs as we were coming into town a few days ago. Their sign budget appears to be substantial but they obviously do not have enough people volunteering to sport one of their signs because most of them are in front of empty lots.

The Liberals will lose here, Claire will hang onto the riding. The polls say they will lose the Province as well as the people have not forgiven them for an outright lie they told during the last election. They swore they would not combine our Provincial Sales Tax with the Federal Sales Tax but as soon as they were elected this is exactly what they did. Public backlash and outrage caused the Premier to resign and there was a referendum to get rid of the new tax which passed overwhelmingly. The problem was, it took the government under it's new leader Christie Clark two years to change the tax system back to where it was before they messed with it. She in fact waited until the month before the election to do it, grabbing all the tax revenue she could and hoping the electorate would be thankful enough to give her another four years.

Christie Clark, the current Liberal Premier is a cutesy, chatty, former radio talk show host who reminds me a lot of Sarah Palin. Several years ago under a former Liberal Government our Provincially owned railway, BC Rail was sold under very suspicious circumstances. Government offices were raided, truckloads of computers and documents seized and ministerial assistants were arrested. Allegations of accepting bribes were made and the former husband of the present Premier was working for the eventual buyer. Nothing much came of it as the Courts were not anxious to embarrass the Liberals but everybody in BC could smell a big skunk when it came to the sale of the railway for millions less than it was estimated to be worth.

The leader of the New Democratic Party is Adrian Dix. An old friend of ours and a very intelligent, capable young man. He is the horse we are supporting. We were both way more active in the NDP in past years. Norma managed dozens of NDP campaigns all over Canada over the years and I worked full time on many elections, taking care of the finances. We were both on the policy making committees of the party, donating thousands of hour over the years.

Now we are backing out of the campaigns, leaving it for the younger folks. It is a gruelling job, putting in 14 - 16 hour days before locking up the campaign headquarters at midnight or later. It is a seven day a week job where you are constantly trying to convince volunteers that the win is worth the effort you are asking of them. Now what we do is support them, vote for them and write a cheque to the campaign. We are getting old!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Home Work

We dug into the Job Jar yesterday and today. First was the dishwasher. Our housesitter reported that it leaks badly out of the bottom as soon as he starts it. Not being able to see anything obvious through the inspection panel in the wall behind it, we called the Maytag Repairman. Yes there really are Maytag Repairmen.
He saw nothing either and after analyzing the situation, suggested that it sounded like a rodent had chewed through the water line after the valve in the washer. He said the built-in unit had to come out of the cabinet and that we might want to do that ourselves as 1) it would take a long time at his high hourly rate and 2) he has a bad back and cannot lift. The wall oven had to come out first to give us room to lift the dishwasher up over the bamboo flooring we had added since installing it. I called my old workmate, Brian for help and after a lot of grunting, groaning and bleeding, we got everything out. I owe him a few beer! There was a lot of evidence of rodent activity in there so I suspect the repair guy was correct. He will be back tomorrow to fix it. If you live near the ocean in BC, you get the odd rodent.

Next was the shower head. When I turned it on this morning it sprayed water out over the top of the curtain. Not good. This was fixed by replacing the rain head. A fifty dollar repair.

After that it was a badly leaking drain in the main bathroom sink. I took the trap and riser out and found a clog in the pipe where it goes into the wall. I improvised a wire hook and got a lot of hair out before pushing the clog down the pipe and beyond my reach. I decided to try one trick before calling the plumber. We passed the garden hose through the window, wrapped a rag tightly around the end and pushed it into the exposed end of the pipe using the rag to form a watertight seal. Norma then turned the outside tap on full and I heard water flowing down the pipe. We had cleared the clog without a plumber! I reassembled the trap using some Teflon tape and added a wrap of Eternabond RV roof repair tape to a leaking factory solder joint in the drain pipe under the sink. No more leak.

Tomorrow I will replace the kitchen faucet in the motorhome that developed a leak over the winter. It should be an easy job as long as I can get in there and see what I am doing.