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Journal Entries for May 2007
May 5, 2007 - 1:05 AM
John Yawn

Where to begin? I had a rant all prepped this afternoon, I think it had something to do with coffee shops and book stores. Most everyone steps foot into a grocery store, a gas station, or a convenience store once in a while. You see all sorts of people in these types of places and it seems very normal. But two places that tend to attract some pecular clientelle are book stores and coffee shops. (All the more so when the two share a roof!) As many of you know I enjoy observing people. While I worked at the print shop downtown I used to take my lunches in the Plus Fifteen, find a seat and watch the people go by. Where is everybody going? I'd ponder in my mind. You'd see hundreds, possibly thousands of people, all in transport between their own personal A's and B's. People in bookstores are almost entirely oblivious. They see the world as right between their eyes and no further. I'm standing there, propping up a ladder, a lightbulb in my hand, a burnt out lightbulb above their head, and they look at me and ask, "Oh, am I in your way?" "No, I just like watching you browse. If you help me find somewhere to screw in this lightbulb, I'll brighten that book you're reading..." *sigh*

You see some very strange people do some very strange things in bookstores too. This one lady came in today and I have to say she looked like a witch. Wrinkled face, raggedy cloths, hunched over, scraggly hands, she could easily have been the mold by which the stereotype was cast. I think she must have been homeless too though, because as I passed by her I caught a strong whiff of old urine. Still, one can't judge a book by it's cover. (Ironic, considering I was surrounded by books.) So then she goes and finds this fellow who worked at the store and stopped short of insisting that he eat some sort of bread she had brought in. He politely and tactfully declined despite her repeated attempts. "A homeless, witch-like lady wanders into a bookstore and tries to feed the staff bread." That's the kind of thing your mind concieves during the dark hours of night to demonstrate it's ability to produce random absurdity! Fact is stranger than fiction sometimes...

The other day I brought some 110 and 126 film into a photo processing place to see if there was any way they could develop it. While Blair and I cleaned out the attic at my parents' house we came across a grocery bag with about 20 rolls of film, mostly used but never developed. It seemed as though I were in luck as the fellow I talked to was quite passionate about film photography and was nearly as eager as I was to see what might be on those rolls despite the fact their equipment hasn't processed such relics in years. He took almost all of them though, the ones he believed would be developable (I had some Disk film that he'd never even heard of before, as well as a unique 126 roll that used a now-defunct development process.) If any of them do turn out, I can only imagine the treasures they might hold. I remember being very little when I got my first 110 camera. I vaguely recall taking that camera all sorts of places and taking pictures, but as for what might be on those rolls, I can't even begin to guess what may be there and I'm really hoping something turns out!

The other night I went to Treasures of China with Kristin for supper and pulled a dinner table faux paw. John Cuts The Cheese

May 6, 2007 - 11:57 PM
Bat Grin

I found a bat today. Not the kind you hit baseballs with either, but a flying, leather-wing'd blind-as-a-bat, bat. I'd been cleaning up the back yard, just lit a fire in the fire pit and was taking some garbage out to the garbage box behind the garage when my eye caught a glimpse of something tucked into a tight nook (or maybe it was a cranny... I'm not sure what the distinction between the two is) sort of underneath the soffit of the garage roof. I paused and moved in to take a closer look, and it appeared to be a dead mouse stuck in there. Perhaps it had been there from the time of construction? Who knows. Now it just so happened that I had a blow torch in my hand at this moment of discovery. Now we all know that boys will be boys, but every once in a while men will be boys too and I couldn't resist the urge to take a quick blast at this thing with the torch to see if it was in fact alive. It didn't appear to be breathing when I watched it, and I really didn't expect much. So I did. I took the torch and fired a blast of hot air upwards at this mouse-like thing. Well sure enough, if it didn't fall out of the nook (or cranny) and start flopping around on the ground. I called Bo out to take a look at it and he thought I'd half killed the poor thing. He carefully picked it up and we took it up onto the garage roof for a better look, where I got these pictures.

Bat Wing

Maddy had come out by this time to see what the commotion was about and the three of us were watching this thing lurch around very groggy-like on the roof of the garage. Bo poked and prodded it with a pine cone to get it to move, and whenever he put the pine cone in front of it, the bat would open it's tiny pink, teeth-lined mouth and make a kind of hissing, crackling noise. It wasn't loud, but it still sounded eerily threatening. I then switched to movie mode and recorded it moving around on the roof, eventually taking flight. It hopped up into the air and started flapping it's leathery wings as it began to fly off away from us. But then, after a moment or two it turned around, did a 180 and began to fly directly at us! All three of us freaked, Bo shrieked, and Maddy jumped off my knee - an ill fated move because in doing so she also jumped off the garage roof! I tried to push her to the side as she was falling so that she'd land on the grass instead of the stairs and although she was screaming by the time she landed, when all was said and done I think she was more frightened than actually hurt. It was quite a start. The bat ended up landing behind her playhouse on the ground and went back to sleep there until I came back later in the day with the garden hose... but that's another story.

Bat Fangs

I also acquired my new 61" TV today... Well, it's not new but it's new to me. I have to replace two integrated circuits in it and check a couple of resistors at the same time, but after about $100 in parts, it will be as good as new. The price I paid? One extension ladder in trade. Not a bad deal, but I got what I want for something I didn't need anymore, and my friend Kris got what he needed for something he didn't want anymore. Bargaining on trade is a lost art, one that I believe ought to be brought back in society. We're so used to paying the advertised price that the idea of negotiating has become foreign to us.

I also put two new rotors on Rusty and new brake pads at the same time, so now he drives smoother than he has in a long time. I never really noticed a problem until the one brake pad wore down to the squealers, but the left rotor did have a bit of a bow in it so that whenever you braked it would rub on the brake pad in one spot so as you decelerated there was a consistant, momentary pull to the left as that brake tried to stop faster every time the wheel went around. Now it stops as smooth as ever. I just need Al to help me with some other front end work and it will be set! Oh what fun it is to drive around in Rusty all day! Hay!

May 8, 2007 - 7:27 AM
My Living Room In Transition

I'm now in the process of trying to re-arrange everything to accomodate this very large unit of furniture. It's been interesting, and since I leave for Florida early on Friday morning, time is not on my side! I ordered the service manual for the TV though, and found the parts that need replacing. After reading up in the forums and finding an online retailer that stocks the two chips that need replacing, I was quite happy to learn that their cost is a combined total of less than $20 US! So far on this TV it's cost me one 28' extension ladder and about $25 US. Fingers crossed...

Faulty IC's on the block diagram

These are the two Integrated Circuits that need replacing in my new TV to fix the convergence issue.

Today is also the first time I can remember hoping in the hot tub BEFORE going to work! hehehe

May 12, 2007 - 1:17 AM
Man it feels good to finally lay in bed and relax. This seemed like a pretty long day that actually started last night. Bo and I went to Jolene's house for an evening of food followed by the showing of our Australia pictures. Although we had a lot of fun and their home-made meal was excellent, the festivities ran longer than I had thought and I wound up with very little time to finish packing. Things were thrown into the bags and I hurriedly tied down what loose ends I could think of before driving to Miller's house where I arrived just shy of midnight. I slipped in, made my way to the spare bedroom and crashed, only to be awoken several hours later after what seemed like a short nap. By four forty-five we were out the door and headed to the airport where we hopped on a plane and flew to Orlando, Florida.

The rest of our day has been one big blur as my body struggled to figure out whether I should sleep or wake up. First of all we had to wait at least an hour at the car rental place to pick up our vehicle. Several bus loads of other tourists came and drove off in their rentals before ours finally was boarded. I'm not even sure what the holdup was there but we eventually made it out onto the streets of Florida. But that wasn't the only holdup, when we got to our hotel, the Seralago, there were more delays. The first room we had was right by a playground complex and fearing the noise and traffic from dozens of families with small children we requested a different room. The room they gave us was over by the other pool, but walking through the door of the suite made evident two substantial problems: First, it only had one bed (and not even a couch) and second, it stunk of urine. When we went back to the front desk, they gave us keys to a different room but none of those keys worked. The key cards were re-programmed and security was sent over to assist in case these cards, too, did not open our door. Fortunately they did, but we found that it was very difficult to close the door. The door frame was twisted or warped somehow and you really have to slam it to get the locking mechanism to latch. Otherwise the door appears closed but only needs to be pushed to be opened. So their maintenance staff is going to look at it tomorrow and hopefully it will be repaired then. Still, things have been an adventure!

At the persuasion of Barb and Ed I got changed and went down to the pool where we went for a very refreshing (and awakening) dip, and after our swim went to the Wal-Mart supercenter to pick up some supplies. It was amazingly busy for being close to midnight... They seem to do a brisk sale even through the wee hours of morning!

Now stocked and ready to go, we await the morning of our first day in this vacation in paradise. Not sure what we're doing yet, but I've got my Disney pass in hand and high hopes!

May 12, 2007 - 5:53 PM
Gather 'Round Children, It's Picture Time!

After sitting through a five hour Time Share presentation, we obtained free tickets to see Arabian Knights and are going tonight. Then tomorrow we're hoping to begin the busy portion of our trip with a day at Universal Studios. It is WARM down here! Wow. So nice.

May 13, 2007 - 8:41 AM

(Especially you, Mom. Just because I'm thousands of miles away doesn't mean I'm not thinking of you today.)

Last night we went and saw Arabian Nights, a live action horse-filled dinner theatre adventure here in Orlando. There was much prancing and dancing and riding and stunting, and the food was excellent to boot.

May 17, 2007 - 7:38 AM
The non-stop action continues as we hit park after park relentlessly. First of all, here are some pictures from the Arabian Nights show we saw early on in the week:

Triple Decker

Arabian Nights Seating

This guy flips over horses

Horse Rider

Jumping off the horse

Praying horse

Getting ready to go to bed, this horse kneels down to pray.

Next, we go to pictures from Sea World:

Flying Dolphins

Sea Lion posing

Six Dolphins Jumping

Standing on a killer whale

Standing on a killer whale

The Stingrays are coming!

Side view of swimming stingrays

There was a stingray feeding area where visitors to the park could touch, pet, and even feed the 101 stingrays that were circling the shallow pool. I stuck my camera in the water and took some shots (and also some video) of the rays gliding through the water. One even bonked right into my camera!

Stingray Feeding Instructions

... Just in case you were wondering how you feed a stingray...

Rollercoaster Screamers

Duelling Dragons

The Duelling Dragons rollercoaster is actually two separate coasters that take their own set of overhead tracks through a winding, twisting, flipping course that are a blast in and of themselves, but then at exactly the right moment, the two coasters come together and your feet dangle a mere 12 inches away from the feet of the riders in the other coaster! It's a one-of-a-kind experience!

Barb and Ed at the Hard Rock in Universal Studios


Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

Anyone seen Back To The Future?

Here's a classic piece of movie history...

The bar at the Hard Rock Cafe

Barb and her cousin in front of Richters

While in line at the Richter's burger, Barb realized her cousin from Calgary was the patron in line in front of us! What a small world.

Barb and Ed

Ed, the Flower Fotographer

Lots of pretty stuff too.

Silky Falls

More to come soon!

May 18, 2007 12:40 PM

Fireworks in the happiest place on Earth

We stopped in Rafiki's Conservation Station and they have a section where you can watch vets perform different procedures on animals from behind a glass wall. We got to watch them anethesize a little birdie for a checkup. It was pretty cute watching them put the tiny mask over it's face and pass out cold on the table. It's the kind of thing you don't think about that goes on all the time behind the scenes as they look after the thousands of animals and critters in these parks.

Gotta love the magic mirrors...


And of course, some pretty stuff...

Now that I've put up some pictures, I've got to sort out some issues at home. Shaw withdrew nearly five hundred dollars from our house account even though we cancelled our TV service on the 8th when Bo brought our cable terminal in. I looks like they dropped the ball, forgot to make any of the changes to our account and never even called us back to let us know. So the Shaw payment came out the same day our mortgage tried to, it bounced, and now that's a hundred bucks in NSF fees. And, two nights ago those guys came back again trying to break into my white van, this time with two vehicles in what looks like a coordinated, organized operation: The first vehicle pulled up in front of my van facing it so that it's headlights would illuminate things for the people who jumped out of the other vehicle as they tried to gain entry and remove it's contents. The funny thing though, is that Bo was ready for them and as soon as they got out of their vehicle to start, he scared them off and they peeled out in opposite directions. They seem pretty determined though, which is funny because the stereo that's in that van isn't even worth anything! Hopefully they've given up now, but still - what fun it is trying to deal with this stuff while you're thousands of miles away! *sigh* Oh well. On with the show...

May 19, 2007 - 12:49 AM
Barb and Ed Before

John Before


Barb and Ed After

John After


River Rapids

Big Bubble

This was a giant bubble for kids to play with

Inside the Time Machine in Dinoland

One ball of duck

Awww, look at the sleeping duck all tucked up into a ball! (This one's for you, Dianakins! This and the next one, you silly duck-lover you! hahaha)

Sitting Duck

Flamingo Park

I wonder whose birthday it was? huh huh

Upsidedown Ride


Oh! There's a camel! (Watch out, they spit!)

Hungry Birds

Wherever the people gather to eat, the birds also surround their feet! The Hospitality Houses were no different. I had to laugh about that - since Busch gardens is owned by the beer maker that makes Budweiser, even though you have to pay for every little thing once you're in the park, at the Hospitality houses they GIVE away free beer! Figure that out!

Pleasant Tables

Moving now into Disney's Animal Kingdom, there are some lovely spots to eat.

An Old Gas Lantern

Stroller Parking

Red Flower

Parading Mops

All that glitters

Throngs of people in the Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom was absolutely packed with people for the light parade and final fireworks of the day. Everywhere you looked, there was a horde. What you see here went on up and down every street leading away from the kingdom center.

Wishing Upon A Star

See Ya Real Soon

May 20, 2007 - 9:41 AM
Today is our last full day here. It's been a good getaway, but with all the stuff going on at home and the inability to deal with it effectively from afar, I'm at the point now where I can't wait to get back.

Tubing Down The River

Tubing Down The River

Happy Me

Foreground vs. Background


Ok, so you see that ball above? This toy is for sale at Downtown Disney, it's exactly what you see: A big, honkin ball. The price? THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!! Crazy!

Lego you can program with your computer. With sensors and servo's, you can make all sorts of intelligent creatures. The guy was showing me their scorpion kit, which would back off as your hand got closer but if you got too close to it, the scorpian would sting you! They showed it on a video and it was hilarious!

The Lego sea monster.

Guess who we ran into AGAIN??! This time, we were already seated at Ponderosa Steak House and the waitress seated them in the booth right next to us! What are the odds of that?

Lego Sydney. Some guy is walking his dog on the roof of the opera house.

I did not know that.

So it looks like we're going to have to put BJ down as soon as I get back. I talked with Blair yesterday and he said our puppy is really not doing well. Bumping into things, doesn't know where he is, seems to be lost & confused, gets very uneasy if he doesn't know where the people are. (Doesn't like being left alone.) It sounds like it's time to do the humane thing and put him down. I think I'm ready, or at least as ready as I'm going to be. At least I know it's better for him now that he seems to be suffering. Still. As his suffering ends, ours begins.

May 24, 2007 - 6:39 AM
Remember those guys who came back four different times in the middle of the night and tried to break into my white van? I found out yesterday what they were really up to. They weren't trying to break in at all. When I went to move the van around to the back so I could vaccuum it out, I noticed that BOTH gas tanks were completely empty! Before I went to Florida, I know for a fact that one tank was full and the other was half full, meaning there would have been close to 100 litres of fuel they got away with! Time to invest in locking gas caps I guess... As the price of gas goes up this thing is likely only going to continue and get worse!

Flat Puppy

I went over to my parents' house yesterday and hung out with my puppy. The more I play with him now, the more I think he's merely acting as a blind, deaf dog would. He's not crippled, he just can't see anything and doesn't like bumping into things! As I said to my mom, blind people don't run! It would seem that we have been granted a little bit more time with him, and for that - I am thankful.

May 28, 2007 - 6:59 AM
Holey Cow!

Holey Cow!

Bo, Maddy, Clayton, Emily, and I went to Lethbridge for the weekend, and here are some of the pictures I took (I still haven't got the other cameras' pictures transferred yet so there are more to come, particularly of everyone fishing at Park Lake.) I also sold my white van last night, so now it's just Rusty, the bike and the Seadoo. I suppose I should name them too, huh. What do you think? Considering I still haven't named two of my 3 birds, it's probably not going to happen soon! haha

Clayton Sleeping

Trumpet Tooter

Little Trumpet Tooter

Trumpet Tooter Senior

Where is Maddy's body?

Burried Maddy

Spring Horse

Overloaded spring horse


A bike thief

In other news, I came across this scene in the staff washroom at a store I was working in. How would you like to drink water from those two containers? Not only did they have a layer of dust on them, but the layer of dust was pocketed with splash marks from the toilet!!! Mmm tasty. Someone wasn't thinking when they chose this spot to store their drinking water...

I went over to Jason's house on Friday and Teresa made some baked macaroni! Mmmmm soooo good! Did I ever tell you about the story of the Cheese Cutter and baked macaroni? Still makes me smile to this day!

Baked Macaroni

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