Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Furnace

Wouldn't you know it, we need a new furnace!

The gas furnace started acting up two weeks ago. Sometimes it would come on and blow hot air and sometimes it would come on and blow cold air. Turning it off and back on would sometimes fix it. We called the repairman and he arrived today. He said the "board" had to be replaced. The "board" is actually two pieces, a $200 part and a $400 part. These prices are both plus tax and installation bringing the total up to almost $800 for the pair.

"The real problem" he said is that the furnace is 23 years old and only has two or three more years of life left in it. Throwing $800 at it would only delay the inevitable. Plus, this old technology is only 80 some percent efficient and the new ones are 96.5% efficient. The new one is $4200 after tax and labor. As much as I hate to spend the money right now, a new furnace is the smart way to go.

They promise to be here early next week. Now I just have to find the money to pay for it!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blind Mice

This post is about blinds and rats, not blind mice but it was the closest I could come for a title.

"You Dirty Rats"

We live about 120 feet from the ocean and that means we are in the perfect place for the Norway Rats or, "Rattus Norvegicus" that live in the rocks on the beach to come looking for a handout. We seldom see these guests as they are nocturnal and I am not. Like Mexican drug gangs, they prefer the dark to work their mischief.

They seem to hit my workshop before the house so I thought that this year I would attempt to stop them there, a first line of defense. I first noticed their presence when they chewed through a plastic box and got into my bird seed. That was when I pulled out the heavy artillery, those giant sized mouse traps that will easily break a finger if it goes off while you are setting it. I smeared peanut butter which they prefer to cheese (despite the Tom and Jerry cartoons we remember) on two of them and placed them against the walls of the workshop.

Sure enough, the next morning I found one of the traps held a very dead, foot long (if you count the tail) rat with more than a finger broken, but I will spare the details. I put him in a plastic bag and into the garbage can and re-set the trap. The same thing happened for the next four mornings, four more dead bodies in the garbage, and then it stopped. I can't believe there were only five of them that ventured up the path so I will leave the traps in place. The rest are probably gathered on the beach now wondering where Tom, Jerry, Ted and Alice got to.

And Now The Blinds

When we bought the house in 1989 we had blinds installed on all the windows. We splurged for the designer blinds because we were taking out a mortgage anyway and thought, "what the heck". As I recall they cost about $100 per window at the time. Well, they lasted 24 years but are now starting to fail. Norma raised the bedroom blind the other day and some of the strings broke. 24 years was a pretty good life for them so I started looking for replacements. Designer blinds are now two or three hundred dollars each so I was having nothing of that. After a few phone calls and Googling I found custom sized DIY aluminum blinds at Home Depot for $55. Now that is more like it!

I carefully measured and drove into town. The blinds come oversized and they use a trimmer to cut them to length. A simple job and I was back home in less than an hour.

The old blinds came down easily but the mount for the new ones is different. It consists of three metal brackets that screw to the top inside of the window frames. They come complete with Phillips screws and while I hate those things, I did not have an equivalent Robertson replacement on hand and did not feel like driving back into town for screws so I got my screw gun out and fitted a #2 Phillips driver to it and started. The process involves balancing a screw on the driver, holding the bracket in place with one hand while operating the driver with the other. Sounds simple, and would be with a Robertson screw but the Phillips head screw wobbled and fell off the driver several times. I ended up with unintentional holes in my hand and  in the wall before I finished.

Well, the job is done and Norma is happy, having mentioned only once that we should have at least "looked" at the $250 designer blinds. After 49 years, she is beginning to know me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Don't Be Mad

Don't be mad at me. At 68 I am finally learning that if I have nothing to say, then keep my mouth shut. Something I should have learned fifty years ago and probably something my readers think I should have been practicing for a long time.

We had a fun weekend with a visit from our old Terrace friend Dave MacKinnon and his new wife, Susan. We had been friends with Dave and Dorothy for years and unfortunatly Dorothy passed away several years ago. On one of Dave's trips back to PEI he ran into Susan, his old high school flame and things connected between them. We really like Susan and we had a great couple of days visit. They live half the year in Burnaby, BC and half the year on Dave's old family property on PEI. They recently installed an RV hookup on their PEI property and tell us we now have no excuse to not visit.

We are getting things ready to leave and to get the house ready for Dave and Doris to move in. Norma finally has her garden put to bed for the winter and has given the motorhome a thorough cleaning. Clothing and food have to be moved in and we are ready!

We have a wedding to attend near here on November 9 so we will be delayed until then. The wedding is at a resort on the highway leading south so we will park the motorhome there and on the morning of the 10'th, head to Victoria and the Port Angeles, WA ferry. I can already feel the sun!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Norma and Mike

Well, I am in there as well but only as a minor player and I have a projected sign across my face. Very dignified. We ran into Mike at Barry O'Neill's retirement party. Mike Harcourt was mayor of Vancouver from 1980 to 1986 and Premier of BC from 1991 to 1996.

Norma worked with Mike on all the campaigns and various projects for most of these years and we have been friends since the 70's. At the retirement party we were sitting with Patrice Prat, Sharon Prescott and Angie Schira and when Mike saw the three of them he yelled across the room, "There is my "A" Team! That is why we lost the last election, they sent in the "B" team!", and came charging over for hugs. Norma, Patrice, Sharon and Angie were the Back Room 'Boys' of the BC New Democratic Party machine for many years. The Party has never found a suitable replacement for them and has been importing organizers from Ontario for the past several elections, most notable the last one. Ontario organizers do not understand BC's hardball politics and the election results have shown this. Mike wants his "A" Team back!

This photo was taken with a cell phone. There was a professional photographer working the room who was hired by the Canadian Union of Public Employees who Sharon now works for. I have been promised better photos but they have not been forthcoming.

We almost lost Mike in 2002 when he fell off the deck of his Pender Island cottage. He was working on his deck and fell twenty feet, landing face down in the shallow water and rock strewn beach below. He almost drowned and also suffered a near fatal spinal cord (neck) injury for which the prognosis was very poor. Mike, ever the fighter, shocked doctors with his rapid recovery. He is now walking with almost no sign of his injury.

Mike is one of the people we worked closely with years ago but hardly see any more. We always say we will have to get together more often but as usual, life gets in the way. When we do get together though, Life Is Good!

here is the REAL shot!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Dollar

I see today that our Canadian dollar is worth ninety-seven US cents. Not bad, it would be nice if it were a little higher but we can live with this. Much better that in 2002 when our dollar was worth only sixty-four US cents! We managed that year although we did stay parked in Yuma to save gas and to cash in on monthly RV park rates and we limited our meals out to once or twice a week.

They will be getting more of our Loonies this year! Maybe we can get a little sunshine in repayment?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Grown-Ups In The Room

Thank goodness the grown-ups on both sides of the US Government stepped up to the plate today and put an end to this madness. A few right wing crazies managed to manipulate the US into a very serious situation that had started to spread to other countries, including Canada. The Canadian market follows lockstep with the Dow Jones and was approaching a disaster. It looks like, after having stepped right up to the edge and looking over, reason has returned. The people of the world are the winners today and the "Canadian", Ted Cruz is the loser. I can only hope that Cruz is successful in his attempt to be the Teapublican nominee for President in the next election.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where Are We Going?

Where are we going to spend the winter?

We have been talking about this for a while. We have officially traveled every State in Mexico and have spent five of the last six winters there. We love Mexico and it's people, we love the food and we love meeting other Mexican RV'ers. But...

We spent the winter of 2010/11 in the southern US States and loved it there as well. We developed a taste for southern hospitality and food and have a longing to go back. The weather is cooler, there is no doubt about that. I looked back in my Blog and read about many days where I talked of having both electric heaters on all night. I remember frost on the ground in Galveston, Texas at Christmas.

I also remember the great shrimp and oysters eaten in waterfront restaurants and meeting many travelers from Canada. The fun Happy Hours and shared meals and last but not least, finally finding warm weather in south Florida.

So we have decided to explore the Gulf Coast one more time this winter. We will head to Yuma, as we usually do, and then head east to Texas' Rio Grande Valley for a week or two before following the coast to who knows where?

As usual, we will make up our route as we go so it will be a surprise to us as well as to you. I emailed our Florida friends Paul and Dodi and they are going to be around, although maybe not in the same house. They have a pending sale for their property and if they sell they are going to move to an RV co-op on the Gulf Coast near Sarasota, FL where they have bought a spot and say they should be able to find us a spot to rent there for a month. We always enjoy our time with them so maybe we will make it that far.

On the way home, we will cross the country as far north as the weather allows. We have no idea where that will be but that is how we like to travel.

Tag along with us. It will be fun! Oyster Po' Boys, Gulf Shrimp, Etouffee, Baguettes, Waffle House breakfasts.....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blogger Problem Fixed

A couple of weeks ago the toolbar on my Blogger page in Chrome dissapeared on one of my computers. It was fine on the other three Windows computers so I knew it was something specific to my laptop. I could not fix it so I Googled the problem and found several other bloggers were experiencing the same thing but there were no solutions offered. I switched to FireFox for posting blogs from the laptop.

This went on until today when I decided to see if reloading Chrome would help. That was the solution. I opened Chrome and the toolbar was there! Now I can post from Chrome again.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Memory Improvement and Doctor Visit

I went down to my local Pier Street Computers store and bought 1GB of used memory for my Linux computer. John dug it out of his junk drawer (actually a box) and tested it in my machine. He charged me $20 and I was on my way out the door with 1.5 GB of memory showing.

I got home and tried to run Linux Mint 15 on it but no luck! It was the same as when I tried it with 512MG of RAM - no start button, blank screen and running in "Fallback" mode. I assume I still do not have enough RAM but I will make do with the Mint 14 which is running.

My friend Gary came down for a look at my computer as he is doing the same thing.  He was suitably impressed so I gave him some discs to start testing. He found he did not have enough memory and went down to Pier Street Computers as well. Gary is a bigger spender than me and is using a slightly more modern computer so he was able to walk away with 4 GB of memory. He is running Ubuntu and is going to try Mint 15 now that he has all that new chrome plated memory. We shall see how it works for him.

I am going to leave my Linux machine alone until I get that switch that allows me to share the same monitor without changing cables. It is too hard getting back there and it is only a matter of time before I bend some pins.

My main reason for going downtown today was to make my semi annual trip to my doctor. I went in for my standing order of lab tests the other day and then got a call from the doctor's office telling me to come in right away. I always hate it when they do this as they make it sound like I am going to die if I don't drop everything and run. As it turns out, there is nothing wrong with me. My blood sugar is still in the "safe" range but has been going up about 1/10 of a point every visit. I am taking Metformin to control this and in April he suggested I increase my dose. I am supposed to take 1 pill in the morning and 1 at night. I have been taking a shortcut by taking both of them at night. I was told this is not good as the pill only lasts 8 - 10 hours so taking both pills at once does no good.

My regular doctor is away so I saw a "Locum", a young woman who lives here in Campbell River and has a brand new medical degree. She was very personable, competent and not bad on the eyes. The downside is, she is only 16. Or at least looks like it. Oh well, she makes an old man feel alive. I promised her that I would behave myself with the Metformin doses.

For my American friends, the total charge for the lab work and doctor's visit was zero, nada, nothing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Olympic Team To Cheer For and a Heart Warming Story!!

Germany seems to be taking on Russia's repressive anti-gay laws in the selection of their rainbow coloured Olympic uniforms.

This protest is aimed at Russia's recent law banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations". The anti-gay law has been used to justify crackdowns on gay rights groups and gay pride parades, and has been seen as a contributing factor to anti-gay violence in Russia. It has also sparked concerns that Russian authorities could arrest gay athletes and visitors, and prompted moves to boycott the Olympics and, according to one petition, relocate them to Vancouver at the last minute.

Congratulations to Germany! Where is the USA and Canada on this issue? Yes, I wrote to my member of Parliament (Conservative), Canada's Sports Minister (Conservative) and our Prime Minister (Conservative). Why is it I do not think much will change?

A Heart Warming Story

While researching this item, I came across this story. A woman has disowned her son and kicked him out of the house after he "Came Out" as being Gay. The boy's grandfather immediately stepped up to the plate and wrote this letter to his daughter:

In this incredible letter, a grandfather passionately addresses his daughter's decision to kick her gay son out of the house after he decided to come out of the closet. Though we don't have the full details surrounding the incident, the grandfather tells his daughter that "kicking Chad out of your home simply because he told you he was gay is the real 'abomination' here. A parent disowning her child is what goes 'against nature.'"
In wake of his daughter's apparent disavowal of her gay son, this grandfather seems to be stepping up to the plate when it comes to his care and well-being: "He was born this way and didn't choose it more than he being left-handed. You, however, have made a choice of being hurtful, narrow-minded and backward. So while we are in the business of disowning children, I think I'll take this moment to say goodbye to you. I now have a fabulous grandson to raise..."

-Huffington Post

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Republicans: You lost the election. I don't want to hurt your feelings by bringing it up again but it is true, you lost. I have the newspaper clipping to prove it. The election was fought on many issues but right front and center was Obamacare. You lost the election by five million votes because more people wanted Obamacare than did not want it. Take your lumps and wait until the next election before you start choosing new drapes for the White House.

It is like the Yankees loosing the World Series to the Dodgers and the next day demanding they be awarded enough additional runs to overturn their loss. No. You lost. Start rebuilding for next time. There are no "negotiations". Live with it.

I think that Obamacare is going to turn out to be one of the most popular programs the US Government has ever introduced and I think the Republicans realize this. Link. They see a small window of opportunity to defeat it (just because they hate Obama) and they are doing everything they can to take advantage of this opening, no matter how much harm they do to the economy and to the loss of international reputation the US suffers in the process.

When Social Security was introduced in the US it was also met with predictions of disaster and I see there is still a tiny loonie faction screaming "Train Wreck" over it. Try to get rid of SS now, you will see what a train wreck is.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monitor Sharing Switch

I ordered a device from Ebay that allows sharing a single monitor between two computers. It will let me use Windows or Linux interchangeably with just the push of a button. It cost only $16 CAN complete with cables and shipping from California. A lot cheaper than a new monitor (even if I had room for it, which I don't).



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tree Is Back Up

Norma's willow tree is back on it's feet! Norma's lawn guy, Beau, came over and between him and I we lifted the tree back up and tied it to the fence. Staking it would have been better except it is almost on the property line and the stakes would have to be in the neighbor's yard. I will design a brace for the fence post to keep the fence from being pulled over and then we just hope the roots take hold.

It is another cold, rainy day here and we are just vegetating. My Linux computer is working great but I think I will take the cover off and see if I can add some RAM to it, up the 512MB to 1GB. Then it might even handle Mint 15! If I could replace my Quicken that only works on Windows, I could move right into Linux.

If you have an old computer laying around you should think about trying out Linux. Setting it up keeps your brain working and you end up with a very nice system that is easily update-able. A win - win situation.

Well, off to watch something on TV. Did I mention it is raining?