Friday, August 29, 2014

Jiminy Cricket!

We all know the piercing sound of a cricket. They actually make this sound by rubbing their wings together, not their legs as is widely believed. As they rub their wings together, they also hold their wings up in the air creating an acoustical reflecting device which projects the sound and makes it very difficult to locate the source.

Such was the case last night when Jiminy Cricket found his way into our kitchen. It took both of us to narrow down his location to behind (or inside the workings of) the fridge. It was late and I did not want to pull the fridge out because doing so marks the laminate floor as we had found out previously. I would have had to go out to the workshop for a piece of plywood to do this task. I turned out the lights and it's chirping slowed down so I closed the kitchen door and we had a peaceful night.

This morning I got up ready to round him up and to relocate him to the bush out back but all was silent and I could not find him. Hopefully he found his way back outside during the night and will not try to sing us to sleep again tonight.

Walt Disney's Jiminy Cricket

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I am home safe and sound but have been doing nothing except catching up on sports that I taped while I was gone. I will eventually get out of my chair but for now, I have little to report.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Another Long Day

I had trouble sleeping in the hotel last night. By the time I realized it was the A/C - heater unit clicking on and off that was waking me up every few minutes it was almost time to get up. My cab was there at 5:20 and I was at the airport in plenty of time to learn to use the self check-in computer which prints your own boarding pass and luggage tag.

Our assigned aircraft never showed up so they had to substitute one with a different seat configuration so that meant dozens of people (including me) had to be re-issued boarding passes. We were an hour late leaving Toronto but this didn't matter because I have to wait in Vancouver for my Victoria flight anyway. Mind you, I could have used the extra hour sleep last night!

Anyway, I am stretched out on a seat in the Vancouver Airport and it is not worth trying to sleep because my flight boards in less than an hour. Did I mention, I hate air travel!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Heading Home

My week is over and it is time to go! The airport shuttle is picking me up here in Wasaga Beach at 2:00 PM and taking me to Barrie where I transfer to a van for the trip to the airport. My flight does not leave until 7:30 AM tomorrow and I spend the night (or most of it) in an airport hotel. There is some question as to whether the shuttle will drop me off at the hotel or not but if not, I will take the hotel shuttle from the airport to the hotel. In any case, I will be at the hotel by 5 or 6, find a place to eat and get to bed early as I will have to up by 5:00 to be at the airport by 6:00.

My niece Susan will drive my sister home later today, after I leave. I left Don's car here, dirty but full of gas so thanks a lot for the loan of the car for the week Don and Riitta, it made things much easier. I know Don will be silently cursing me as he washes and waxes it.

It has been a great visit, not long enough but it never is. The weather has been great, not always sunny but always warm. Most people do not realize it but southern Ontario is at the same latitude as northern California! The Canadian border makes a big dip into the US here.

So, a little more basking in the sun and then I leave. Life is Good!

Saturday, August 23, 2014


My sisters' daughter Susan arrived early yesterday morning for a two day visit out here at the cottage. Her son, Don and his wife Riitta have a house here at the beach as well and they invited us over for dinner. They have a beautiful new condo about ten minutes away.

We had appy's on the porch and then moved inside for a gourmet dinner with some really nice wine and desert. It was a wonderful time with the side of my family I do not see near enough of!

Don, Gloria, me, Susan

Susan, me, Gloria, Don

Me and my big sister!

Susan, Don, Gloria. Riitta (who took the other photos and got left out!)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Walk To The Beach

After breakfast this morning my sister asked me if I would like to go for a walk to the beach. I asked her if she was up to it and she assured me that she was. It is about three short blocks each way to the public access. I asked her if she would like to use the transport chair to help her walk (like a shopping cart) but she would have nothing to do with it, she just wanted to hold my arm.

It was damp but not raining and there was a slight breeze from the water but not enough to require a jacket. We walked down and she told me the history of every cottage we passed along the way and then when we got to the water pointed out where her kids used to play in years gone by. I snapped a couple of shots and then got her to let me take her photo. "You should have at least told me to comb my hair", she said.

Her daughter Susan is coming out tomorrow for one night and Don and Riitta are having us over to their house for lunch tomorrow as well. I will remember to take some beer. My nine day week is going by much too quickly!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wasaga Beach

We got up this morning and started loading the borrowed car with stuff for the cottage at Wasaga Beach. I set the GPS and the woman in the GPS and my sister had a little competition to tell me the way to go. It turned out they agreed with each other and we arrived after a two hour drive. I unloaded the car before Don and Riitta arrived. Don had a couple of cold beer for him and I and we relaxed on the deck,

It is about 26 Celsius with 30% humidity. Very tolerable. There are no bugs here this year so I think we will be spending a lot of time on the deck.

The other good news is, the Rogers Internet stick works just great here as well. It was a good investment!

We are going to have a short rest before going for groceries and beer. So far I have been drinking only Don's so I better get some in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm Here!

I finally got on the plane at 2:00 PM on Sunday. It was a wide body something or other, 60 rows of ten seats per row and it was 100% full! With all these people there was bound to be one nutball and sure enough before we could take off all the cabin staff rushed to the rear of the plane, soon followed by the Captain. It turned out there was a passenger who refused to sit down. He was going to stand the whole time and there was nothing anyone could do to make him sit, After almost an hour and after threatening to call the police, he allowed himself to be escorted off the plane.

That put us into Toronto at 10:30, one hour late. I got my bags, jumped into my pre-arranged, perhaps illegal, cab and I was on my way. I got to my sisters at about midnight and much to my surprise she was up and waiting for me along with my nephew, Don. We sat and caught up for a bit and then we all headed for bed at about 1:00 AM Monday morning. It was a long day.

On Monday Don's wife, Riitta (only spelled funny if you're not Finnish) arrived and we chatted until dinner time when Don BBQ'd a slab of BC sockeye salmon. Don and I then put a serious dent into the bottle of single malt I had brought and we all went to bed at a decent hour. I am almost over my jet lag.

Don and Riitta left this morning, leaving me one of their cars which I promptly used to go to the store to replenish our wine supply and to pick up some key lime pie for desert. Gloria's daughter, Diane, had already filled the freezer with pre-made meals for us to heat up.

My Rogers stick works very well here. Don left us one of his cars so tomorrow we are heading out to Wasaga Beach where my sister has a cottage and where Don and Riitta live. It is going to be a nice visit. I miss my sister and I wish we lived closer together.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

10:30, Up For 8 Hours

Here I am on my bench in the Vancouver Airport waiting for my 2:00 PM flight to Toronto. There are many flights to TO before mine so I asked if perhaps I could get on an earlier one but the Customer Service rep reminded me that my bags would still be on the later flight. Darn! I would have no way of getting them without a long drive back to the airport.

It is not too bad though. I arrived in Vancouver just before 6:00 AM and found a long bench with no arm rests so I could stretch out and I actually slept for an hour. Hopefully I will be able to sleep some more on the flight. Give me my motorhome every time!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Details, Details! Travel Is Expensive

I am leaving on Saturday to visit my sister in Ontario for nine days. I will spend Saturday night at Brooks and LindaLee's place in Shawnigan Lake. Or at least part of the night as my flight leaves Victoria at 5:25 AM so I have to be there by 4:25 AM! Then comes a 7 1/2 hour lay-over in Vancouver Airport before my flight to Toronto leaves at 2:15 PM. Ouch! I hope I can find a soft seat in the airport. I miss the comfort and convenience of my motorhome!

Internet is going to be a problem. I bought a Canadian Virgin Broadband pay as you go stick a couple of years ago and just assumed I could top it off for another month. However I waited till the last minute to do this and was informed that Virgin no longer offers this service. I am stuck with the stick I bought which is now useless.

I went down to my local Telus dealer and found I would have to purchase a $150 stick and open a $40 per month account which I could cancel when I got home. Still, $190 for ten days Internet is to much.

I have a SmartPhone I bought from T-Mobile in the US last year so I could use that with a Rogers plan to create a "Hotspot". This would cost $10 for the SIM plus $25/mo for 500 MB data or $40/mo for 5 GB which I can cancel whenever I want. Now this is more like it! I called T-Mobile to get a free unlock code for the Smartphone and was told I would have it within 24 hours which would make it about 6:00 PM tonight. Rogers is open until 9:00 PM so with any luck, this will work out for me! If not, I will be a regular customer at the Tim Horton's near my sisters.

In any case, it will be an exhausting time for both me and my sister but I am really looking forward to seeing her and my nephew and nieces. It looks like we will be getting some beach time at Wasaga Beach sometime in my visit.

EDIT: Well, the Smartphone did not work. It accepted the SIM and looked like it was working. I could see the hotspot on my laptop but no data would transfer. The woman at Rogers played with it for at least half an hour and finally gave up. She found an old, used Internet stick in her drawer which she put the SIM into and gave me (for FREE). It works! I have Internet on a "Flex" plan. If I use 10 MB or less in a month it is $5, 100 MB is $10, 500 is $20 and 5 GB is $40. It will only bill me for what I use.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


The full moon on August 10, 2014, will present the closest Supermoon of the year (356,896 kilometers or 221,765 miles). - EarthSky,org

A New Woodpecker

I think thought this is was a baby Pileated Woodpecker. (SEE EDIT BELOW) Norma noticed him around the feeder and called me. He loves the hanging feeder that we bought in the Southern US. None of the other birds have shown much interest in it and we were thinking about replacing it when this tough little guy showed up. The Louisiana seed variety must appeal to him.

EDIT: My first two commenters corrected me on the species of woodpecker. It is a male Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus).

Thanks Emily and Heyduke. I sure have smart readers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Batteries, Flashlights and Ebay

I recently had to replace a laptop battery that refused to hold a charge for longer than twenty minutes. I ordered one from Ebay and so far, so good. But that is not what I want to tell you about.

I read somewhere that laptop batteries were actually composed of six 18650 size, 3.7 volt batteries. I also read these batteries were used in LED flashlights and that when a laptop battery failed it was common that it was only one or two of these 18650 batteries that failed. The rest are probably OK.

I took the battery out to my workshop and with great difficulty, cut the case open. Sure enough inside were six of what look like AA batteries on steroids soldered together in series. I took them apart and checked them with my meter, kicking myself for not recharging them before opening the case. Five of them read +/-4.1 volts and one, 2.5 volts. Well, now we know why the battery failed. Like a chain, series wired batteries are only as strong as it's weakest link. I now have five perfectly good rechargeable, 3.7 volt 18650 batteries.

I then looked on Ebay for an LED flashlight that takes these batteries, found and ordered one for $4.28 plus $.99 shipping from China. Next was a 18650 single cell charger for $1.76, shipping included. Gotta love Ebay!

The flashlight arrived today and I was actually surprised by the quality. It is aluminum and quite heavy, well worth the $4.28 in weight alone! 1600 Lumens, whatever they are. The battery charger has not arrived so I put in one of the partially charged batteries and there was light! It has four settings, low, medium, high and strobe. I am not sure what the strobe setting is for but I may have read somewhere that it blinds muggers. I will have to research this. So that is my story of recycling five 18650 batteries and I am now ready to strobe a mugger, if that is even legal in Canada.

EDIT: I Googled this strobe thing and it turns out that the strobe actually disrupts brain patterns, making it very difficult for the subjected person to carry out their planned activity and giving you time to run. 

A warning though, it is even more effective on animals so probably not a good thing to point at a pet. Save it for the neighbors pit bull as it is rooting through your garbage.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Northern Flicker Woodpecker

This Northern Flicker Woodpecker Colaptes auratus came for lunch at one of our suet feeders a couple of days ago. He knows he is always welcome so he stayed long enough for me to go and get my new camera. This was taken from our porch about 25 feet away with no tripod and little cropping. I love the image stabilization on this Panasonic ZS40.

Monday, August 4, 2014

(Un) Happy Hour In British Columbia

Here in British Columbia, traditional Happy Hours have always been banned. Big Brother can't have us drinking too much now, can he?

Recently our liquor laws have been brought a little more up to date. We are now allowed to order a drink (if allowed) in a restaurant without ordering food to go with it, we can take a partial bottle of wine home from a restaurant and we can take our own bottle of wine (commercial, not home brewed) into a restaurant if the establishment allows it. Wine makers can have a booth and sell wine by the bottle in Farmers Markets.

They have also allowed "Happy Hours" so everyone immediately visualized 2 for 1 deals and cheap beer for an hour or two after work. Just like everyone else in civilized countries can! Bars were happy because this usually means that people will order appy's or stay for dinner and they will make more money, something the government should like.

Well, we should know by now that there are no gifts from our government. The legislation that allowed Happy Hours, also put a new minimum per ounce price on beer (25 cents per ounce) and liquor ($3 per oz). This means that a "pint" (we will talk about this in a minute) cannot sell for less than $5, Happy Hour or no Happy Hour. This is about fifty cents more than the previous regular price in many bars. So, in BC Government speak, beer costs more after the introduction of Happy Hour. If a bar wants to introduce a cheaper Happy Hour to attract customers then they will have to charge more for a pint during regular hours so they can reduce it to $5 for Happy Hour. Does this make sense to anyone?

On Friday they reduced the allowed sale price of beer to twenty cents an ounce but only if the serving is over 50 oz. This means the best deal is buying a 60 oz pitcher (3 pints) for $12 if your favorite bar wants to sell them for that. However, the new rules state there must be a minimum of three people sharing that pitcher so you and your buddy or a couple cannot order one. You have to order the $5 "pints" and pay the extra price per ounce. Thanks a lot!

Now we get to the "pint". In Canada we use Imperial Measurements when talking pints and quarts, meaning a "pint" is 20 oz. In the US, it is 16 oz, but that is not here, it is there. When you order a "pint" in Canada, you are ordering 20 oz. A Canadian pint, not an American or a Yugoslavian "pint".

The Vancouver Sun newspaper sent reporters out to drinking establishments in Vancouver with measuring cups and a credit card to order and measure "pints" (now there is a good job). They measured "pints" from many of the popular pubs and their results were surprising. Not one "pint" contained 20 oz. A couple were 18 oz and one was 14 oz. The rest were somewhere in between. Excuses ranged from, "'pint' is an expression describing the type of container, not the quantity of beer in it", to, "the glass only holds 20 oz if filled to the brim. Our servers could not carry them if they were that full and besides, there has to be room for the head".

What surprises me is that consumers put up with this. If you bought gas (or any other product) and only received 2/3 of what you ordered and paid for, you would call the cops, right? Why do we put up with it with beer? What if a "gallon" of milk came only 2/3 full and the grocer said, "No, no, "gallon" only describes the type of container, not the quantity of milk in it"?

And while we are on the topic, I wonder how many ounces are in the average 60 oz pitcher?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Still Kicking (Me and the Generator)

We are still plugging along here. I have not had much to say because I have not been doing much. We found a house sitter for this winter, a young woman who works at Home Depot and is currently boarding with friends. She came over the other evening for an interview and Norma was happy and when Norma is happy...

Today I fired up the generator in the motorhome and ran the air conditioner on it for 90 minutes, something that has to be done every month when it is parked to keep all the juices flowing. It fired up after holding the start button down for about five seconds and took the transfer of the air conditioner load without a hiccup. I guess I should have heated up a cup of water in the microwave at the same time but I forgot. Next month. I fired up the Ford engine for a few minutes and it also started and ran just fine.

All this preparation makes me want to get on the road!