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Journal Entries for January 2008
January 6, 2008 - 11:02 PM
Thought of the day: There's no point doing well what you haven't been asked to do.

No better way to start the new year than with a kiss. This year's arrival was announced with a bang - literally. Mission's rowdy residents raised a ruckus repeatedly by riddling the roads with roarious rioting. Ok, well maybe not outright rioting, but there was indeed a ruckus as many fireworks shot off with a bang accompanied by hooting' and hollaring' to welcome the year.

I went to a surprise birthday party for Derek, one of the sales reps at Convergint with whom I work at the Airport. Some good 30 people marched up to his door and descended on the house. He was very surprised but we all had a good time.

Maddy loves this artifact. For whatever reason, she still thinks it's one of the funniest stories ever told and never tires of hearing it.

I asked Maddy the other night if she wanted to try this new juice I was drinking, and not sure what it would taste like, she was hesitant. So I offered her a half cup just to try it. When I handed her this cup, she almost fell over she was laughing so hard.

January 10, 2008 - 11:39 PM

This was from yesterday's Sun and it made me laugh so I clipped it out. I'm going to bring it to the Airport because the guys out there are always talking about Vegas.

Have you ever had one of those annoying little computer problems that irks you until you decide to just bite the bullet and fix it? This laptop, the one that has now become my main computer since my desktop blew up a few days before Christmas, has had an annoying little glitch with the sound. Whenever you've got headphones or a stereo plugged into it, unless you put pressure on the connection by pushing it downwards you would get about 50% stereo separation. Consequently, you'd hear a LOT of the background instruments and reverb - things that are usually pushed deep into the edges of the sound would be plunked near center in the stereoscape. If that weren't enough, the opposite would also happen sometimes in certain songs: sounds (like vocals) that are usually up front and center would get faded into the background. This made it quite annoying to listen to, and since movements to the connector would fix the problem I knew it was a connection issue. Armed with my soldering iron, I determined to take the machine apart, find the faulty connections and make them right.

As it turns out, with this little Dell L400, you have to take EVERY SINGLE COMPONENT apart to get at the bottom of the motherboard where the solder connections are for the headphone jack! So that's what I did, I removed every part, piece, and component until I could see the solder. I gave it some nice fat blobs to hold the headphone jack extra securely and touched up a couple of surface mounted resistors and capacitors for good measure. After putting the entire thing back together, (with only 3 screws left over!) I was as pleased as I was relieved to find out that not only did the machine still work, but the ghost-like sounds were gone as well. Finally, after however many years I've owned this thing for - it sounds normal.

Yeah, I'm a geek.

January 13, 2008 - 11:32 PM
Bo, Maddy and I cracked open the board game Worst Case Scenario this evening, and found that it's questions and scenarios were quite amusing. What was even funnier about the game was that we found a number of scenarios in there which we had actually experienced ourselves! I don't know what that says about some of the adventures our lives have included, but it made for some merry recapping of the stories and tales at least. There was another element of irony about the game, though not in any way related to itself. On each person's turn, they must roll the dice to determine how many places they will advance if they survive the next worst case scenario. With no more than one or two exceptions, Bo repeatedly rolled one's, and Maddy - with just as much recurring accuracy - rolled sixes. It was hard to believe actually. Further adding insult to injury, the five-year-old beat us both... I think it's safe to say we'll have to bring her on our next wilderness survival adventure...

I did a bit of maintenance on the house this afternoon, and one of the things I thought I'd try was placing towels in my windows downstairs to see if it helped cut down on the heat loss through the windows. Right away I could feel a lot less of a draft beneath the windows, and within an hour I went back to check if I'd left something on the sill. There was an incredible temperature difference on either side of the towel. It will be interesting to see just how much warmer it stays down here now that a lot less of my heat is escaping through those windows. I need to redo the weatherstripping on them anyways, there are noticible cracks between the panes and the sills, and in some places you can even see light from outside. It probably wouldn't hurt also to cover them with plastic to seal them entirely and since they really don't allow that much light in I might even stuff them with styrofoam for the winter. With a couple of energy bills through the roof lately, I've become something of an energy-freak, frequently patrolling the house to turn off lights in unused areas and making sure doors are securely shut each time I enter or exit. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference it makes on our next set of bills. I guess you could say I've had to tighten the ol' belt a few notches of late.

It's official, my new favorite drink is Bolthouse Farms' Vanilla Chai.

January 16, 2008 - 7:17 AM
What an awesome day yesterday was! I awoke to find that the house was again colder than I can recall it ever being, which further added to my angst about the cold-house situation. I'd hear the furnace go on from time to time, so I knew it was working, but my little thermometers told me that my basement, despite for the previous two winters being the warmest place in the house, was unusually cold. At times, like first thing in the morning, the temperature would hover about 16 degrees! Now that's brisk! So finally yesterday morning I decided to check the thermostat. It read 15 degrees upon it's LCD readout, which further added to my confusion since I know it's programmed to bring the house to 20 degrees at about 5:30 in the morning! So why, when it is claiming a temperature of 15 degrees, which is supposed to be 20, has it not instructed the furnace to turn on and get crackin'? Then I noticed it seemed to be away from the wall a bit, and immediately I knew. At least one of the clips that hold the [front] part of the thermostat to the wall plate (back part) is broken which makes it fairly easy to knock off. That's exactly what had happened, the clips on the bottom had let go so the thermostat was hanging there off the wall, and the electrical contacts between the computer and the furnace were just barely touching — enough that it would come on some of the time but not enough to make it work all of the time! After re-seating the thermostat in place, I went back downstairs to see what the result had been and low and behold - the furnace was firing up. Consequently, the last two days now have seen our house CONSIDERABLY warmer! Especially my chilly little basement!

The day's work went well too, I'm climbing a very sharp learning curve at the moment, and succeeding too! After work Bo and I went to play badminton and had one of the best rallys we've had, maybe even since the highly competative days of high school. We played 4 or 5 rounds over several hours and came out of there beat but very pleased with our performance. It was a lot of fun.

Then last night I also made another critical step in yet another project of mine: I finally was able to get my alarm system to talk to my computer systems. This will eventually give rise to an incredible level of integration, from remote control and status displays to full on home automation abilities! Remember on this web site a while back how you could turn on a couple of lights in my basement (and then see the result on my then-webcam?) Imageine that but for every light in the house! Potentially even the ability to control other things, like the thermostat or the hot tub. Oh the possibilities are endless! Such an exciting time with all these things on the go!

Saving the best for last, Kristi and company are flying out to Calgary near the end of February as her sister just had a baby boy. Our nightly conversations continue and we've been regurlarly reading the devotional my mom bought us for Christmas. It's been amazing just how relevant it's daily messages have been, paralleling what is happening in our lives on a day to day basis. Challenging too, and revealing. It is very exciting to see life happening.

January 17, 2008 - 8:14 AM
It's eight o'clock but where's the sun? Apparantly hiding under a blizzard that just whipped up moments after I got to work.

Fiery Sunrise

Have I mentioned that I love the sunrises in this city? They are phenominal some mornings! You just have to stop and stare in awe and wonder. Absolutely incredible.

One of the things I love about my work, besides the electronic and technological goodies that make this geek purr, is all the colors of the things I work with. I've always had something of a wire fetish, and as you can see, it really is a colorful line of work!



Working hard...

I must have had a smear on the lens because it looks like I'm totally glazed over... Nice. Working hard, stripping wires... It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it!

Bo and I are going to play Badminton again tonight. I can't wait. It's really getting fun, and I dare say we're both getting fairly good. We had some incredible rallies the other night, returning shots that neither of us would have expected and carrying on birdie battles shot after shot! It was a blast. Absolutely loved it. And believe it or not, it's even a bit of a workout! I never would have thought badminton to be an 'athletic' sport, but you can certainly come away feeling like you did something... Fun and exercise — Can't be a bad thing!

January 24, 2008 - 11:50 PM
Morning Moonscape

I've been in bed, sick all week. I didn't even know I could sleep as much as I have in the past couple of days. With barely the ability to get out of bed for bathroom duties, I've been brushing up on my C programming and surpassed even my own expectations for this latest project. I'm going to try to go to work tomorrow, but I'm still coughing up a storm (in fact, I think I am coughing more today than I have yet of this illness.) Still, it will do me good to get out of the house. I have to hand in some paperwork anyways.

Bo, the Albino

White Mud

Ticket To Ride

Saturday evening Blair and I went over to Aunty Mymy and Uncle Ron's place for supper, which was followed by a rousing game of Ticket To Ride.

January 26, 2008 - 9:50 AM
Have you ever had one of those really vivid dreams? The ones where you wake up and recall it more like a memory of something you had or somewhere you went and did instead of ( just a wierd dream? ) Such was the case this morning with me. I dreamed my parents bought this huge (like, warehouse sized) house and that they were having a birthday party for me. Tonnes of people were there, everyone was bustling around trying to get everything together. The house caught fire once and we got it out with no damage to speak of and I splashed some of our guests from an in-house pool. It's strange how, even this late into the morning it all seems so vivid.

Little Punk

Bo, Maddy, and I went to Humpty's for dinner last night. They've torn down the wall that used to designate the smoking area from the non, and you can see (can't miss is more accurate) from the color of the ceiling tiles where the smoking area was. Our waitress said that their sales have plummeted since the change, though it didn't seem any more or less busy in there while we were eating. They had a lot of street people come in. One fellow looked like he was hopped up on something, they kicked him out so he went to the vestibule and kept hitting himself in the head with his touque. This other group of people came in and took a booth, the one girl was VERY loud, appeared to have no ability to control the volume of her voice and the whole restaurant could hear as she re-enacted segments of her life recently, I'm assuming. As we were walking out, we passed by that table and the whole lot of them commented on how cute Maddy was. The girl then says, "I want to have one of them someday... you know, once I get my life together." And you know, I thought to myself At least she has the decency to put the two of those in order! Now whether or not things end up taking place in that order, who knows. But thank goodness she had the wherewithall to recognize her situation and determine that (wherever she is currently at) she is not ready to have a baby.

Me with glasses

If you've ever wondered what I would look like with glasses, I tried Maddy's play pair on last night. (Her hat wouldn't fit though...

January 28, 2008 - 6:38 AM
Looks like winter has finally hit this city, and while my little basement is warmer than usual at a balmy 23 degrees right now, the upstairs portion of our house does not fair nearly as well in inclimate weather! Bo phoned me a few minutes ago to say that his car wouldn't start and asked if I was planning on going to work today. So far, so good, but I suppose it will depend on whether or not MY truck will start as well. I know Rusty would start, I've started him without problem in weather colder than this, but I'm not about to drive him around for work purposes all day even though that middle heater would be highly advantageous today. Minus 50 with the windchill...

Dinner and a Bird

My family came over for supper last night and Bo cooked a wonderful spare rib dinner. Afterwards we all played Worst Case Scenario and had to think our way out of everything from determining what kind of fish are poisonous and stopping a car with no brakes to losing someone following you on foot and making a makeshift tooth filling. Bill came up and joined us at the table, much to Maddy's delight but then he found the plant in the kitchen and sat atop it while making enough chirp for all three birdies.

Mom and Dad

Family Supper

Worst Case Scenario

January 28, 2008 - 7:15 PM
Goodness me oh my, there is a lot of loose money laying around in the banks of Nigeria! At least three times a day I get emails from this representative or that financial officer telling of these surplus funds into the millions of dollars just lying around — waiting for some hapless American (or Canadian) Internet user to send his or her personal information so that the money can be transferred. Nearly every email I've recieved asks you to send your Full Name, Full Address, Telephone Number, Fax Number, Mobile Number, Private Email Address, Age, Occupation, Country of Origin, Sex, and Marital Status. I've even had some go as far as to request your Passport Number, A Recent Photograph, and The Nearest Airport to your residence (Because I often give that landmark as a reference when clarifying directions...) Now I have a very effective spam filter. In fact, before it was turned on I would get over 100 spam messages every day! Since it's activation, I get 3 or 4. And of those, they are either advertising male enhancement or these "phishing" attempts to get your personal information. I often check the mail headers to see how it is that the emails came to be in the system, and invariably they are originating from hijacked email clients, with by far the most common one being (anyone want to guess? I'll wait... No? Ok.) Microsoft Outlook Express. So hear my plea, fellow Internet user: Don't use Outlook Express for your emails. Don't even have it configured to send or receive email. I'd say delete it off your system but in many cases that is not an option because doing so might cripple your Windows operating system. But even if you don't remove it, use something -- anything else. Thunderbird is a wonderful email client, it will even make the transition from Outlook Express (or several other popular email clients) as simple as a few clicks - importing your contacts, folders, even your messages automatically. It's easy to use, it's far more secure, and like all the other best things in life - It's Free! Do the Internet a favor and switch away from Outlook Express.

Now I could see how an unsuspecting person, when first reading one of these messages might be intrigued by the offer. Some of these fraudsters actually do some homework and will claim to be representing some wealthy person who has in fact passed away. Often they will even post links to media sites (CNN is one I've seen a few times) containing stories of the tragedies in which these people died. So from a standpoint of continuity, it may seem to be there. (But what the reader may fail to realize is that the fraudster has merely taken advantage of a tragedy in an attempt to make a gain.) And perhaps the most flagrant red flag that should appear in the face of the reader is the terrible spelling, grammar, and formatting of these emails, which usually claim to be from well educated, individuals of influence. Rest assured, if eight million US dollars really WAS on the line, the author of any email dealing with a matter of such importance would run that sucker through a spell check! Twice!

The other point upon which I meant to ponder on the 'puter is an energy saving tip I stumbled across this evening as I was doing some routine maintenance on one household appliance you would not want to fail in this weather: The Furnace. I knew it had been a while since I'd last changed the air filter on it but did not realize just quite how clogged it had become. When I took the cover off the fan compartment to take a look at the motor, the inrush of upon doing so made me immediately aware of just how far behind I was in my filter upkeep. So to make due in the mean time, I have removed the filter. A little poorer air quality, a LOT more heat coming out of the vents! I would go as far as to say it would be nearly twice the amount we had yesterday! Lying on my bed I can FEEL the airflow from the vent in my ceiling. Not so before. And with temperatures set to continue their dip into the dismal, I am more thankful than ever that I replaced that weatherstripping when I did and sealed up my windows. The basement here is toasty warm. In fact, according to the thermometer on my desk, it's 23 degrees as I write this, and negative 23.6 outside. (That outside thermometer has always read 4-5 degrees warmer than [the official weather sources.] It is so cold in fact, that neither of my vehicles would start this morning and I had to get a ride to and from work today. I also got to drive Lloyd's Tundra when I went to Coco Brooks for lunch, and I must admit, that is a fun little truck. Well ok, it's a BIG truck. It does have a lot of power though! And I am not usually impressed by foreign cars - especially Toyota's. I guess it might be time to shake the image of our old Corrolla when associating the brand.

Well, off to do some other things around the basement. It's starting to look respectable again. Possibly even usable. Bo and I might even get to sit down and jam one of these nights!

January 29, 2008 - 11:11 PM
Happy Birthday Jason!

Ironically after talking with Pam for a while (since I didn't have Jason's phone number) I had planned on popping by to deliver my birthday wishes in person - but as it turned out I ended up killing several hours on another project this evening and never did make it over, nor did I manage to call. *sigh*

The strangest thing happened this evening as I went to plug my truck in. It made me stop in the freezing cold and ponder to myself, What are the odds of that??? I guess as I was dragging the extension cord out to the truck, some snow got into the ground prong 'hole.' Naturally, as I went to insert the prongs of the truck's block heater cord, the ground prong acted like a plunger and compacted the snow, making it as hard as a rock inside the tiny opening. The plug would only go in about half way, and I could hear it crackling and sizzling meaning that it would not make a reliable connection if left like that and could even start a small fire. But what could I do? I tried tapping the cord to shake the snow out, but as it had been packed quite tightly in there, no amount of force would budge it. Having a moment of (in my humble opinion) brilliance, I brought the end of the cord into the truck, started it up and held it in front of one of the heater vents until the warm air from the vehicle thawed the snow enough to be shaken loose from it's prong-hold. Once free of snow, the heater plug was inserted easily into the recepticle and I quickly made my way into the warmth of the house. Still, What are the odds of that???

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