Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So What's Up With the Feet?

Since 2007 twelve human feet, all laced up in running shoes have washed up on BC shores from Vancouver to mid Vancouver Island and another three have washed up on Washington State shores near the border. In only two cases have feet been from the same person! That means there are thirteen people out there missing at least one foot complete with running shoe!

Police are stumped and only one foot has been identified, the owner of which police are being silent about at the request of the person's family. They say foul play is "not necessarily suspected", whatever that means. It is very strange that in these days of CSI's and DNA that the rest of the owners have not been ID'd. If you see someone hopping around on one foot, ask them if they have been to BC. We just might have their missing foot..

I have lost all kinds of things and never reported it to the police, but if I lost a running shoe with my foot still in it I might say something.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Fish, Two Fish, Another Fish...

I went salmon fishing with my son! He called on Wednesday and asked if I wanted to go salmon fishing on Sunday. He has a neighbor who has a boat, loves to fish but is allergic to anything with fins! I have not been fishing for years so I immediately agreed. I went down and bought my Seniors Tidewater Fishing License for $19 and drove down to Brooks' on Saturday afternoon. We went to bed early after setting our alarms for 4:45 AM.

I actually woke up before the alarm went off and heard Brooks in the kitchen making breakfast and lunches. We drove to Grant's, hooked the boat trailer to the truck and we were at the ramp on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Sooke and across from Port Angeles, WA by 7:00 AM.

The pink salmon were running and that was what we were after. They do not make that great eating fresh or frozen but are really good smoked and Brooks likes to smoke them in his hi tech smoker that Linda bought him last year. He really does a good job.

We quickly went to a spot where they knew there would be fish and dropped our three sets of gear. We got a hit almost immediately and Brooks pulled in a nice four or five pound pink! The next hit was mine and soon the pink was joined by a very nice Sockeye! This guy was not going into the smoker!

We were allowed four salmon each and by about 2:00 PM we had nine on ice. We thought we could pick up another three trolling our way back to the boat launch but by then the fish had gone for their afternoon nap and were no longer biting.

During the afternoon we had hooked and lost a huge Chinook salmon twice. That would have made our day as Grant figured it was probably thirty pounds or so! The first time we hooked it, I grabbed the rod and the fish made a run straight down. I was too slow releasing the tension in the line and it was gone! I noticed the disapproving look in Grant's eye and he was very vocal in his disappointment that "we" had lost the prize! A few minutes later it hit again and I stepped back and let Grant try his luck. He held onto it a little longer than me but the inevitable happened and it escaped from him as well.

We headed home, cleaned the fish and Linda made a huge batch of delicious sushi with the just caught (raw) Sockeye. It was delicious and I ate way more than my share! I was exhausted after the early morning and long day on the water so it was not long before I went to bed.

This morning we got up and after raiding Brooks and Linda's "burn pile" for usable cedar pieces (I managed to fill the Honda) I followed them to their current job site where they are erecting an eight foot high fence for a very charming lady! It is a beautifully made, very heavy duty fence that will offer privacy and noise protection from the road in front. They should put a photo of it on their website. I am sure it would bring in some work for them, although they seem to be pretty busy lately.

It was a great weekend and now I am back home in front of the TV. Norma spent the weekend working in her flower garden and bossing the lawn guy around who she kept for an extra few hours moving rocks for her. She enjoyed her weekend as well!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Simple Matter Of Equality

Here is a story for those people who still think that Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships are "just the same as"  or "as good as" real legal same sex marriage. It is something that all Americans with any sense of fairness should think hard about.

Tammy VanDam, 42 was one of the people killed in the stage collapse at the recent Indiana Sugarland Concert Ms. VanDam was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Ms VanDam was legally married to Janeen Urschel who attended the concert with her. When Ms. Urchel went to the hospital to claim the body for burial, she was denied. The reason? Their out of State marriage was not recognized by the State of Indiana! As far as Indiana was concerned, she was not "next of kin" even though they had been together for ten years.

This just goes to prove that we must continue to fight for full and equal marriage rights for everyone and that we can allow no "compromise". The discrimination shown to Ms. Urschel and her partner must not be allowed to continue.

People ask me why I care about this. Why am I so passionate about something that does not affect me? It is simply because someone has to take a stand and I think it is very important that straight people join this fight for marriage equality. I do it because it is the right thing to do. I have always believed that "an injury to one is an injury to all" and if I can change just one person's mind on this issue, then all this effort will be well spent.

It is a simple matter of equality.

Dentist Trip

Our little trip down to Victoria to see Norma's dentist turned out to be expensive. We left home at about 7:30am and got to his office at about 11, one hour early. We had breakfast and went to see him. Norma's top teeth are held by magnets to steel rods that are implanted into her jaw bone. It was the latest technology and they have worked perfectly for seven years. The top teeth are slightly softer than the bottom and are designed to wear down easier ("sacrificial material"). They are fairly easy to take in and out and the individual teeth are easily replaceable. Two years ago we had three replaced in Mexico for $20 each. When they were new, it was very difficult to break the magnetic hold to remove the teeth. Last week it felt as if the magnets were no longer holding and that was what sent us to see him.

He inspected everything and announced that her jaw had changed shape a little over the seven years and that the tiny but powerful magnets were no longer lining up with the implanted rods. Re-engineering and replacement is in order and we were told it would cost around $5,000! He took impressions, took a HUGE deposit and scheduled us for three more appointments, starting in about a month.

We gave up our dental plan after the original job was done, mostly because they would only pay $3,000 of the total cost of close to $40,000 ($35,000 for the dentist and $5,000 for travel, hotels, etc.). That $3,000 was the maximum the insurance would pay out for one patient per year. We were paying almost $1,000 per year for the insurance so we decided it was not worth keeping it.

Jack Layton 1950 - 2011

Today we lost Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party and of Canada's Official Opposition and the toughest fighter for the little guy we have seen in a long time. We have always worked for and supported the NDP and this feels like I have lost a family member. 


This is a letter Jack wrote two days before he died. He obviously new he had only hours to live but was still thinking only of others. He was 61


Jack Layton's Letter:

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we've done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let's continue to move forward. Let's demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada's Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don't let them tell you it can't be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.

All my very best,
Jack Layton

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quick Trip To Victoria

We are off on a quick trip to Victoria tomorrow. Norma had a set of dental implants done there seven years ago and this weekend she started having a small problem. We looked up the name of the dentist and called his answering machine on Friday night, asking his office to call on Monday. Much to our surprise he called this morning (Sunday) to tell her he had an opening at noon tomorrow if we could make it. It is a four hour drive so we will have to be out of here by seven.

We will stop at Brooks and Linda Lee's tomorrow night on the way home to test out their new hot tub.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Big Class Action Settlement!

I was just notified that I was entitled to a share of the multi-million dollar class action settlement from I joined several years ago when we had our forty year high school reunion. Classmates is like a virus. It is impossible to stop your membership and they were always trying to get me to upgrade from my free membership to the $10 per year one which is even harder to get out of. They kept sending me notices that someone in my class was trying to get hold of me and if I sent them some money, they would tell me who it was.

My share of the huge settlement is estimated to be $10 but of course I have to pay my share of the legal fees which will take $8 or $9 off that amount. All I have to do is fill out a complicated form and mail it to new York.We can rest easy that there will be another rich lawyer because of this effort.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Satellite Pointing Made Easy

I found this on a forum tonight. It is another way to find your satellite signal. You will need:

1) A GPS unit that will give you your present location in Lat & Lon (most have this feature)

2) A computer on the Internet on the Dishpointer site.

Set up dish making sure it is perfectly vertical
Enter your Lat & Lon in the first window of the Dishpointer site
Enter your desired satellite in the second window
Dishpointer will now show your exact location on a Google Map with the path to your satellite highlighted
Set the Google Map to Satellite view and zoom in on your location
Get your skew and elevation settings from Dishpointer and transfer them to your dish
Find a landmark on the Google Map and point the dish at it. It may be a  telephone pole, a building or whatever
You will now be extremely close to the perfect setting. A little tweaking might be necessary.

Slightly different method. If you do not have access to your Lat and Lon then find your location on the Dishfinder map by using the address of your location. The location cursor can be moved around to fine tune your exact location with your mouse.  Either way, get the green cursor to your exact location on the map.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Inverter Problems Solved

I bought a new 760 watt inverter to replace the old 400 watt one that was having difficulties running the new fridge. Before I installed it I connected it directly to the battery and plugged the fridge in with an extension cord. It worked! Problem solved!

I then moved it to the front of the motorhome and replaced the old inverter with it. It powered on. I plugged in the fridge and it gave an awful whine and immediately blew the 40 amp fuse! The fuse was not heavy enough. You may recall that I wired the inverter with two runs of cable and used two fuses, each 20 amps. I did this because I happen to have a roll of green #6 cable from a previous life. One run was borderline on my amperage / wire size chart so I simply doubled up on it to give me plenty of capacity.

I went down to the local wholesale electrical supply and bought bigger fuses. I wanted two 40 amp fuses to feed the 760 watt inverter but the largest I could buy that fit my fuse holders were 30 amp. Well, not ideal but it might work. I replaced the fuses and turned on the inverter. The fridge went on and started drawing 460 watts on startup! No wonder it blew the fuses! After a few seconds it went down to 220 watts for "normal running". I will have to be very careful to unplug the fridge when we stop for any length of time as my 125 watt solar will not keep up to this kind of draw and it will kill the batteries in hardly any time if left on when the truck is not running. I am happy with this system.

We will not be able to keep perishables in it but it will work nicely for cold water, pop, juice and (when we are parked) beer. Jonna reminded me that it is illegal to carry liquor "within reach" of the driver while traveling. It is nice to have retired cop friends to remind me of these little nuances of the law!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Drug Gang Shootout In Kelowna, BC

It has all the makings of a Hollywood "B" Movie. Drugs, armored Porches and SUV's, Hells Angels, The Notorious Bacon Brothers and machine guns! The attack occurred in the driveway of a casino in the central BC city of Kelowna. Vancouver's General Hospital immediately went into lock-down with no explanation given but amid speculation that the battle might extent to their sterile corridors as the bad guys try to eliminate the badder guys (or the other way around).

"Police would not say who they believe is responsible for the shooting or if it's believed to be gang-related, but they believe the shooting was targeted and that members of the general public are not at risk."

It is just like Mexico except no police were targeted and no innocent bystanders hit. It was a precise operation with no suspects arrested. Now the USA media will be telling folks to stay away from Canada as well as Mexico!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Did I Do This Weekend?

Last year Norma bought a round cedar outdoor table at the local Farmer's Market. She did not buy the benches for it as they were $75 each X 4 = Too Much! This weekend I decided I could do it myself so I went to Home Depot and bought eight cedar 2X6's and a bag of deck screws. The Honda will actually carry four 8' 2X6's! I used some benches we already had as a pattern and built four new benches. Not a bad job and I did it for about $140 in material. I am such a DIY'er! Dad would be proud!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Motorhome Addition

We added a small fridge to the overhead area of the motorhome. It is a 3.7 cu ft electric only unit that Zellers had on sale for $99 the other day. It uses only 90 watts of power and will run very nicely off the 400 watt inverter that powers the TV, StarChoice and computer while we are traveling and boondocking. When we are parked in a site with power it will get plugged into a regular wall outlet. My friend Rae finds her regular RV fridge to be plenty large enough for her but we are always trying to cram one more thing into ours and it is always my couple of cans of beer that get tossed out to make room. Now I will have cold water and pop within easy reach while I drive and cold beer when we park! It will also serve as a "beer fridge" when we are home. I had to get rid of our "junk basket" to make room for it but most of that stuff will find another home.

I just have to find a way to stop the door from opening when I turn a corner and get pummeled by the contents!

Edit:  I am having problems getting the fridge to run off the inverter. I get an alarm and error code when I plug it into the 400 watt inverter even with the truck engine running. I have ordered an 800 watt inverter that should be here in a week and will try again. I guess I am not as smart as I thought I was as I thought it would work. If the 800 watt won't work, I will put in a 1000! I want this to work.

Norma says, "Why did you post that photo? The place is a mess!"

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How I Started RVing

One of the RV forums I frequent asked it's members how they first got interested in RVing. This was what i put in there and I thought you might be interested in the story as well.

Back in about 1949 or '50 when I was four or five, my dad had a cabinet making shop in Edmonton, Alberta. A customer could not pay his bill for some work he had done so dad took his Ford pickup truck in payment. I don't know what year the truck was but it was not all that old at the time, maybe a couple of years. This was long before you ever saw campers on the road. Dad came up with the idea of building a tall box on the back with a table, benches and a drop down "shelf" for me to sleep on. It had no cabover and mom and dad slept on the table. The "kitchen" was a Coleman stove and an ice chest with cooking done outside. The bathroom was a bucket with a wooden seat that dad made. It was very primitive but we spent at least one month per year traveling the northwestern States in it.

As we traveled, people were looking at the rig, taking photos and making sketches. After a few years we started seeing the odd similar rig on the road. Dad should have started building these contraptions! We could have been rich.

On one memorable occasion they were driving late at night to get home and I could not stay awake. Mom put me to bed on my "shelf" in the back and they carried on driving. At some point dad dozed off and sideswiped a telephone pole, knocking the "camper" off the truck! They ran back to it and as they heard no crying they feared the worst. They opened the door and there I was, still sound asleep. I had fallen off my shelf and landed on the pile of their bedding without waking up. I always have been a sound sleeper! Dad got some help putting the only slightly damaged rig back in the truck, tied it on and drove home, this time with me in the truck! I guess I had the "bug" then.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wisconsin Recall Vote Today

Six of the Republican Senators who backed Wisconsin Governor Scot Walker in his recent union busting legislation are facing the voters in recalls today. The democrats have to win only three of these to take control of the senate. Polls are hinting that at least three of these seats will change hands so it is looking good for workers in that State.

If nothing else, it is a warning to other GOP held states that they cannot use their majority to bully workers and take away their hard won rights with the sweep of a pen without ramifications. It will be interesting to see what happens as polls close in the Badger State.

EDIT: It's a nail biter! The Democrats have taken two seats and are leading in a third. They need three to take control. I wish I was there!

Well, it did not work. The Republicans managed to hold onto four of their six challenged seats. Once again we see that the majority is not always right! A bad night for working families in Wisconsin!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Days!

Brooks has surprised both us and LindaLee with a diamond! The two of them are a natural fit, Yin and Yang. They own their own fencing company and live and work together every day. They have been together like this for several years so if she has put up with him this long, it is an  easy downhill run for them now!

The date and place has not really been nailed down but they are looking at Hawaii next summer. This will be good because I have always wanted a reason to go there. I probably would never have gone otherwise. Just as long as I can wear shorts to the wedding and LindaLee's mom and I can sing a Johnny Rivers duet.

Fear And Panic

That is what is happening in the market today. Both he Dow and TSX are down five or six hundred points.The market is and always has been irrational. Gold on the other hand is up $62 to $1710 per ounce, an all time high. If your portfolio is well balanced, this will not hurt too much. We are balanced. We will see how well.

We will ride this one out as we have before, no fear and panic here. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. The old Honda will just have to suck it up and last one more year or two and we will have to make do with our 70's style kitchen for a while longer. Neither of these small sacrifices will affect our lifestyle to any great extent. We both have bullet proof pensions that continue to pay our day to day living costs and even allows us to winter someplace warm. We owe nothing but like everyone, we will have to tighten our belts a little but in my case, this is not a bad thing! We will not have to dip into our savings.

One thing about a day like today on the market is that it spurs some sober thought the next morning. The fall should not continue. I think the ratings people were making a statement against the idiocy that has taken over American Politics as much as they were looking at the financial situation.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Parrots

Here are the happy parrots after their new paint job. Thanks Sierrah, great job!

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Roller Coaster Ride

Well, the market did not like the USA debt deal and did not like the much better than expected July employment figures from the USA either. I am not even talking about the Canadian market because it simply follows in lockstep with the USA. No matter what happens, the Dow is down and has been for nine out of the last ten days! I thought of converting some of my holdings to cash but did not. I am in a huge pool fund and got an email from them saying they had anticipated this drop and had cushioned the fall somewhat. I am also heavily into gold which does good in a down market so I will come out of it OK but I still do not like these wild roller coaster rides.

We both have good pensions, mine a very good Union pension plan so we do not really need our savings for day to day living. It can stay untouched, at least until the Honda packs it in and hopefully the market will be back to normal by then. I still watch it too much and update my portfolio value in Quicken far too often. I should learn to relax!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No Internet!

The Internet went off at about 10:00 yesterday morning and was not restored until about noon today. 26 hours of solitary confinement! I called my provider a couple of times and was told the same thing. "We are experiencing technical difficulties. Try accessing the Internet again in a couple of hours". The second time I convinced him that I was a retired Telus employee and asked him what was "really" going on. He said he was told that some scheduled maintenance went bad and that most of the Province was dead. He had no idea how much longer it would be down and had been told to say two hours. I worked in the radio and fibre optics field and we always had redundancy protection. If something broke, there was always another system standing by to take the traffic. Lengthy outages were very rare back then. Times change I guess.