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Journal Entries for April 2008
April Fools, 2008 - 9:09 PM
Well, much to the surprise of many, I played nary a prank upon anybody today. Kind of sad, I know. I've been reading one of my Uncle John's Bathroom Readers - novel-sized books packed cover to cover with interesting and quite probably useless bits of information. One such story contained within tells of a man in the States, a Mr. Rob Banks who was tried on five counts of... (can you guess?) Robbing banks! He was convicted during his first trial, but the judge ordered a re-trial using an alias as he thought the jury might have been swayed by his name. There are all sorts of amusing stories and facts within these books and they are quite addicting. I was reading of some dumb criminals, one such being who was an employee at a convenience store. He placed tape over the security camera, cleaned out the till, then phoned the police to report a robbery. He was very quickly arrested and charged with crime. His mistake? He covered the camera with clear tape!

Another such dim-witted criminal story comes from Edmonton where a pair of theives attempted to rob a Subway restaurant with knives. The Subway employee managed to set off the burglar alarm and disarm his would-be robbers who then fled the store realizing they probably weren't going to make off with any dough. The employee chased after them, calling out that there'd been no harm done and that he'd be happy to make them each a free sub. What would you know, they went back, he began to prepare their sandwiches just in time for the police to arrive and arrest the hungry pair. As I've heard it said, You're never a complete failure in life: You can always be used as a bad example. Exhibit A.

April 3, 2008 - 11:32 PM
I have been wondering a great deal of things today. For example, do most of the people the world might consider successful get up really early every morning? Is getting an early start to your day a prerequisite for success? Or, does an awareness of knowledge make a person smarter? Or does one actually have to posess that knowledge and contain it in order to benefit from it? My process of reasoning tends to lean towards the latter on that one. With all this information available to us today, even the most bumbling idiot can find their way around Google, and probably dig up a web page or two on pretty much whatever topic their hearts desire to know about. Words are everywhere. Spoken and written, it would be impossible to go a day (quite possibly a few hours) without encountering a word or two being spoken or written somewhere, unless a person was plunked down in the middle of some grain field. And even then, there may be an arguable chance they'd stumble across some piece of letter-adorned litter to lose the bet. Does being surrounded by information make us more informed? Some thoughts for the reader. Ironic, I realize, since this very paragrpah is made up of words and not-words, what we tend to call spaces.

April 6, 2008 - 9:39 PM

Well, another weekend is winding down and it's been a pretty good one. It started with a good laugh on Friday. Several of the airport employees have been in Vegas at a security convention, and so we thought it would be funny, especially after the whole cerfuffal surrounding parking in the airport employee lot while [not working at the airport] (IE: In Vegas) - to get some fake parking tickets and administer them to Bottomly. Well, what would you know it, when we went out to the parking lot to write up the tickets, it turned out his registration HAD expired! March of '08 (and as everyone knows - this is April!) So that earned him two $50 tickets right there, and then to spice it up a little, we gave him an Overnight Violation ticket as well. Two hundred dollars in fines sitting under his windshield wiper to greet him when he returns.

Here's another interesting picture I got on Friday... Apparantly this guy was inspecting the engine. Either that, or he chose a very unwise nook to take a nap...

I was able to finish wiring up The Dungeon - finally adding workbench plugs along (my workbench, how rhetorical) and also added three lighting circuits, one for 'Main Lighting', one for the workbench lights, and one, my favorite, for the black lights. It truly feels like a geek's hideout with the black lights' a black'n.

I went to Home Depot to pick up some electrical components and started browsing the lighting aisles to start getting an idea of what sort of light fixtures there are out there (and how much they cost) to take in to consideration as I begin the next stage in the re-development of the basement. Just choosing a fixture is going to be a process in and of itself!

Alas, my little Canon digital camera is starting to show signs of age. If you look closely at the picture of the wall (with the insulation above) about a fifth of the way up the image from the bottom you can see something of a blue streak (no, I was not swearing when I took it) in the picture. It's been doing that more and more lately, and the image (the user) sees on the screen as you're lining up the shot is flickering like crazy with bars similar to that one, making me wonder just how many more pictures I can squeeze out of it. I belive however, off the top of my head, that it has so far taken something in the realm of 21,500+ pictures to date. Not too shabby.

April 10, 2008 - 11:04 PM
Got a wee bit of snow today, eh?

A lot of flights got cancelled today, stranding hundreds - if not thousands - of visitors en route to other destinations.

April 13, 2008 - 12:59 AM
It is now one in the morning, and I have just spent the last five and a quarter hours rebuilding Tom's computer. (Time to drive to and from his house on the other side of the city is included.) I feel sick, physically sick, from having sat there breathing in his second-hand smoke for that time, but more than sick I feel furious. Furious that somehow he thinks that he's doing me a favor by giving me $20, an obsolete hard drive, and half a pizza as compensation for my work. I give up my Saturday night, (and a gorgeous Saturday night at that) to come fix his stupid computer problems and he's doing ME a favor by giving me "Twenty bucks for the bike." That doesn't even cover my gas to get to and from his place, nevermind the five hours I spent working on his computer. If you average it out, that's $3.81 / hour. I hope his computer lasts a loooong time because I will never service it again for less than $100 / hour and he has to bring it here. This is ridiculous. I'm so pissed off right now I don't think I can even sleep. And it's not like he has no idea what it costs for on-site computer service... He's gone to the Geeks on wheels places before when I was not able to come to his beck and call and they charged him up the ying yang, and didn't do half of what he wanted... How he thinks $20 will make me happy is incomprehendible. That's it. I'm done. Goodnight.

April 14, 2008 - 6:48 AM
Half-way through April, the beginning of a new week, what - oh what - shall this new week hold?

April 15, 2008 - 9:55 PM
What a week this has already turned out to be. Asked to do the impossible, found a way to make it work and then was told it was too complicated. With the budget belt requiring some tight'nin, I looked into cashing in some investments I have, but with the recent turmoil in the markets, the amount I'd get back on one of the investments barely covers a months' expenses and the other one, if cashed in right now, would actually end up costing me several hundred dollars. Seems the best thing to do for now is to sit tight and see about cutting the costs elsewhere... and working three days a week at the Airport, I'll be the first to admit it would be hard to give up my Starbuck's habit...

Electrician's 'Hangover'

Behold the Electrician's hangover! And to use an electrical term in context, I couldn't resist taking this picture! haha


Behold my Whirliebird. This little contraption sits atop the roof of my house and spins with the passing wind, drawing air up and out of the attic.

My little helper

The other day I had Maddy helping me with my renovations by removing all the little nails in the studs left behind after the fake wood paneling was removed. She did pretty good.

Me folding laundry

With the vast majority of my life's objects crammed into small and unconventional spaces right now, some of the day-to-day activities (like laundry) have become more interesting than normal.

Wee bit 'o glare

Something of a semblance to a Mister Clean... at least as far as the sparkling noggin is concerned...


Ever wonder who writes these things? This is an image of my likeness. Woo hoo, my claim to fame.

Contemplating light and life

I have always loved the complex light given off by lamps. The shades dim and deflect the beams casting all kinds of intricate and disproportional shadows upon the walls. Rest assured, my new lighting scheme will make good use of lamps.

Stacks of folded laundry


While folding all that laundry I was listening to some great tunage, and one song in particular has risen the ranks of my present personal preferences.

No Cars Go, a great song by Arcade Fire

... that song being No Cars Go by Arcade Fire.

Beauty in simplicity and symphony... We know a place where no cars go...

The litter-mobile

Be sure your sins will find you out!
The other day I was atop the roof of my house cleaning out the gutters as they were starting to overflow in places gutters ought not to flow over, when I saw, to my shock and horror, this truck drive by and toss a pop can right out the window, landing on my front lawn. As I am rarely ever without my camera and just so happened to be taking pictures of my Whirliebird (see above) - I took a few incriminating pictures of the truck in question. I don't know off the top of my head what the fine is for littering, but I'm sure it's not worth it. Alberta plate EJZ-912 if anyone wants to look it up.

Litter-mobile's license plate

Driver of the litterbug

Driver's side of the litterbug

Faith in action is learning to let God manage the things we can't control anyways, and even the things we can. Lately I've had an increasing number of opportunities to trust One I've never seen with both the big and the small things in my life. We are such selfish and independant beings by our very nature, and yielding or surrendering an obsessive control over every little detail of our lives is perhaps the most constant struggle of all. But just as the guy in the air traffic controller's tower has a much better perspective of the 'big picture' than one of the pilots in a plane or a person on the ground, it makes sense that he who has the better vantage point should make the decisions, as with that vantage point comes a much better perspective with which better decisions can be made. How much moreso when those decisions affect many more than just one person on the ground or one plane in the air! And there is truly nothing quite like the excitement of watching an intricate plan come together, as all the unknowing pieces fall into place.

April 20, 2008 - 10:01 PM
Two thousand eight, four, twenty. More commonly referred to as Four-Twenty by those who recognize the day... I just realized it as I was typing out the date. I'm feeling less than verbose this evening as I prepare to bunker down in my cozy, freshly-washed bed (which smells really good, by the way) and phone the love of my life for our evening conversation. But in the mean time, to appease the masses, here are some pictures from my weekend with the little blurbs of explanation as necessary.

I went over to Ed's reno house on Friday after work to start jacking the house up. Not in terms of lifting it above the ground as the term might apply to a motor vehicle, but as in attaching the appropriate wall jacks suitable for the connection of video and data devices where necessary.

Ya. It snowed. And got pretty cold. So cold in fact, that a couple of things broke - including our garden hose's plastic attachment thingie. Snapped it clean off.

Between the quantity of snow and the plentifulness of wind, we got some pretty amazing drifts this time 'round, not the least of which were seen dangling precariously about the entrance to our garage.

Sign of the times I guess... No biking for at least another day or two...

Now, Saturday night Mark was flying in from Guatemala where he's been away for a few weeks on a mission trip. Since it was my aunt's birthday too, the original plan was to have lunch with the family at Country Cousins in Linden, but when this snow storm hit that plan changed (or rather, got postponed / cancelled for the day.) Instead, however, the few of us who were going to the airport to see Mark in went there purposefully a few hours early to have dinner at Montana's. My brother ordered a Very very very very very well done steak. (That's not even an exaggeration. The waiter had to go get another pen because his ran out of ink, probably from writing all the very's Blair used in his request.) When the steak came out, it was as is shown above and immediately below.

Not enjoying his $30 steak in the slightest, he sent it back to be cooked again. The second result was not much better than the first, in fact - can you even see a difference? The picture above is how it came out of the kitchen the first time, the picture below is how it came out of the kitchen the second time. I'd hate to see what shape a piece of meat would be in if you requested it blue rare... Moo'ing, I'd wager.

While waiting in line to pay the $24 parking fee for three and a half hours airport parking (gripe gripe) I couldn't help but notice a rather offensive license plate adorning the vehicle being served ahead of us. Out came the camera, and there it is for all to enjoy. I think it's actually an E that has the bottom leg covered by snow. In any event, he probably wouldn't need his horn till the snow melts with a plate like that...

My little flytrap is braving the wintery spring very well, despite the lack of flying food for it's consumption as of yet...

In fact, just today it sprouted two new mouths (which have still yet to open) but when I watered it this morning there were none - and by about 3:00 in the afternoon there were two. That little $6 dollar plant continues to amaze and amuse me...

Not a lot of people-pictures this time 'round so here's one of Maddy, a favorite of visitors to this site.

While working in my bathroom I discovered that my medicine cabinet, weighing at least 5 - 10 pounds fully stocked, was supported only by four tiny drywall plugs - one of which wasn't even fastened properly! As soon as I took one of the four screws out, the whole cabinet came flopping off the wall. How it stayed on there for three years is a mystery of physics and chance. Rest assured it is firmly supported now, and could probably withstand ten times the weight applied to it before, thanks to break-throughs in modern wood-and-screw fastening techniques! In laymen's terms, you simply fasten a thick piece of wood behind the wall on which the cabinet is to be attached, support this piece of wood by fastening it to the surrounding structures of the house, and then using long & strong screws - fasten the cabinet through the drywall and into the newly added piece of wood! It's so simple, even a homeowner could do it! In fact, I'm quite amazed to learn that the last one didn't...

Ok, enough sarcasm and faux-ranting for the night. I'm off to bed. Thanks for reading, and have yourself a wonderful, supportive day!

April 23, 2008 - 10:49 PM
Colorful lights

What happier photograph to start today's recap than that of some colorful lights? These high-output LED packs are mounted into the floor in the tunnel underneath Memorial by the Zoo entrance, and cast a colored light upwards onto the walls into which depictions of various animals are etched. It creates quite an effect, and I'm sure the actual color output from them is fully controllable, so they can make the halls of the tunnel any color they please at the flick of a switch (or more likely, the command of a computer.)

The backend to my newly-invented J-Phone

Yes, I spent my whole day down at the Zoo, where I've been pouring many creative hours into something of a wheel re-invention. The Zoo needed an intercom that would travel a great distance from where it would be called to where the call would be received. One was bought, it was determined it could not on it's own accomplish this feat, attempts were made to modify it to extend the distance, and ultimately the entire device was gutted and replaced with different parts. Different cables were needed to be run, the list of parts on this project continues to expand, but at the end of the day we've created something that I think will serve them well, and is capable of being viewed, heard, and spoken to from potentially anywhere in the world! As the original product was manufactured by Aiphone, (pronounced A-phone) I have called my creation the J-Phone 42, since I think that's about the number of hours I've spent working on this!

Spot drinking from the plant's water jug

On a much cuter note, here we have Spot - who - despite having a bowl of always fresh, always clean water available to her, has deemed the plant-watering water much more palitable and continues to drink from it's basin, regardless of how it is accomplished.

Guilty look? I think not

And that, in the shell of a nut, was pretty much my day. Tomorrow morning it's up at the crack, and off to another deadline-chasing project! No rest for the weary I'm afraid...


April 25, 2008 - 11:22 PM

Let's start today's episode off with a sprinkler head. "Why?" you might ask... Why not?

Much of my day yesterday was spent searching out this wire shown above, pinched between the metal box it was contained within and the metal cover that was squeezing it so hard the wire was shorted out to the box and therefore, ground. Having a pinched wire such as this can cause enormous amounts of trouble in any electrical system, and this was no exception. I did end up finding it though, fixing it, and solving yet another problem. That seems to be the ultimate job description for what I do for a living: Solving problems.

Once all was sorted out, the display lit up with a very welcome message... System Ready! In other words, my work is done.

Today, on this the day of the 48th anniversary of Sean's birth, a modest gathering took place at the Hill House to celebrate. The following photographs were taken in no particular order, and are also displayed as such.

Hooper snatched a burger bun from Dexton's lowered hand as he was preparing to get a slab of hamburger for it. Quite the creature of opportunity! (Though guilt - it would seem - played a roll immediately to follow...)

Going geo-caching tomorrow with Bo and Maddy. It's been several years since the last time, and long over-due. Geo-caching, for those who don't know, is the modern day equivelant of treasure hunting. Coordinates of some kind of treasure are posted on Internet web sites, and treasure hunters young and old, near and far, place these coordinates into their GPS devices which guide them on their hunt. When the treasure is found, it usually includes a notebook so you can record your visit, and often contains a cache of small, inexpensive or unique trinkets to trade with other treasure-tracing travellers.

April 27, 2008 - 8:13 PM
I went to church this morning, something that I was once in a weekly habit of doing and am slowly but surely getting back into the habit of attending. Why do I go to church? Over the years I've often asked myself this question, (particularly while still lying in my bed on Sunday mornings!) And if I were to be honest, the answers to that question would include the following:
  1. Tradition. I was raised going to church and so have usually done so since.
  2. Friends. Church has been a meeting place for some of my closest friends.
  3. Pretty Girls. Whatever it takes to get me through those doors, God has used it!
  4. Community. The church I've been attending on and off for the past couple of years has a wonderful, caring, community atmosphere about it, and I've always been welcomed when I arrive and missed when I don't.
  5. Music. For the years I was a part of the worship team, going to church was an opportunity to actively participate in the ministry there by playing an instrument I love - the drums. (Joyful noise comes to mind...)
  6. Timely Messages. Quite often, perhaps more frequently than not, I've sat amongst hundresds of other people and listened to a sermon that could have been no more directly speaking to me than had I been the only person in the room!
  7. God's Presence. No, not a burning bush or a hand writing on the wall, but I can recall several instances where I was made poignantly aware of God's presence, and went away changed in some way every time.
In the last couple of weeks, I would have to say the lesson that's been placed before me to repeat until it's learned is that if any of us are to follow Jesus, take up his calling and seek righteousness over evil, what is right over what is wrong, what is pure instead of what is corrupt, what is noble instead of what is disgraceful, and what will bring glory and honor to Him - the choice to do so must be made each and every day as soon as you are awake. If you think of each day as a journey, you don't decide half-way through the trip where you want to go, and you certainly don't make that decision at the end of the road because by that time, your choice has already been made for you and you are already at where you are going to go! It's not a once-a-week decision, it can't be made by someone else for you, each and every day you must decide for that day, whom you will serve and seek to please. And living in a fallen world, the default answer is probably not the one you want it to be. But it is amazing, and I have been experiencing this in some incredibly tangible ways - how much of a difference it makes having made that choice in the morning and walking that day with God, instead of simply going about your business as usual and then saying a quick mindless prayer at the end of the day to fulfil your duty of prayer. With Kristi living as far away as she does, we have to talk every day in order to maintain our relationship. Even when one day is missed, we both feel it. After two days, I feel like I have to address her by first and last name when next we speak! If we, as humans, cannot maintain any kind of meaningful relationships without regular communication (and in both directions) with each other, how can any of us expect to have a meaningful relationship with our creator without the same kind and frequency of two-way communication with Him? And with God, it's even easier (and cheaper!) to communicate, because He is available any time, day or night, to listen to our problems, hear our concerns, and make his presence known to us when we need Him the most.

Another struggle I've been having lately, is that of giving credit (and therefore praise) to God when he accomplishes things through me. Many times I've been stumped with a problem or situation that I do not know how to handle. Whether it's a technical question at work or an interpersonal situation, I know so very little when it comes to life and find myself frequently smack dab in the middle of things I cannot fathom solutions to. So lately, I've been silently turning these things over to God through prayer, and asking Him to find solutions to them for me. Not once has He let me down. Not once have I thought to myself Well, God sure dropped the ball on that one... Every time He has come through and in most cases, in ways far better than I would have imagined possible! I need to start telling people where my help comes from instead of passively accepting the credit as though the accomplishment was by my own inginuity or ability. How do you do that without totally sounding like a crazy person? "I didn't [do that], God did." Does it really matter what people think?

April 29, 2008 - 6:56 AM

On Saturday, Bo, Maddy, and I went Geocaching around Elliston Park. I know I've explained the Geocache before, but basically, it's like modern day treasure hunting. People put together little caches and hide them throughout the world, marking down the GPS coordinates on web sites. Then other people plunk these coordinates into their own GPS units and go looking for them.

When we arrived at the park, there was ice still covering about half the pond. We even threw a couple of rocks on it. By the time we'd gone to the end of the park and back (at a liesurely pace) - all the ice had melted and there was nothing but water in the pond.

When I was little, I always used to look for sprinklers whenever I went to any parks or public places. This funny looking device is a sprinkler jack, a socket into which a big bup-bup sprinkler can be inserted but removed when not in use. Thought I'd take a picture, it reminded me of when I was little.

Sometimes the geocache is hidden in the ground and some digging is required.

Despite the park's beauty, it is located in Forest Lawn and with it's location come several artifacts to drive that point home. Check out the percentage on this beer bottle! That had to be some nasty tasting beer at 11 percent!

In case the water was calling you to come play in it, think again - You just never know what you might find lurking beneath!

Several of the capsules we found this day were no larger than a keychain-sized flashlight, containing only a rolled up piece of paper that serves as a 'guestbook' of sorts to the cache where people record their alias and the date of the find. Some of the larger caches have treasures you can trade, and I've even heard of ones with a disposable camera with which you can take your group's picture for the cache's owner to have developed eventually.

You never know where these things might be hiding, and without a GPS they would be almost impossible to find. Sometimes even with the GPS they can be pretty tricky!

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