Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Traffic Laws

Apparently red is the new least until the malls close on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Backup Issues Solved

Whenever a computer has a near death experience I'm always very careful about backing up and insuring I will be able to access all the pictures and music that I have. This time around I found the ultimate backup solution, the Lexar Echo MX.  It's a flash drive that comes in a variety of sizes (I grabbed a 64gb on sale at Future Shop) and has backup software on board. Simply plug it in, XP recognizes it, XP reboots and it's ready to backup. I'm using it to backup my external hardrive which stores my 29gb itunes music collection. The initial backup took less than an hour. I'm currently sorting pictures before adding them to the filters.Might seem like overkill as the external hardrive is almost exclusively used to store music but it has moving parts that will break at some point. I simply have too much time and $ invested to let it get turned into stray 1's and 0's. Most of the stuff I listen to is parked on other memory cards so I hope it is safe.
includes an 'always on' visible capacity meter

One of my New Year's Resolutions will be to blog daily in 2013, among other things. More on that soon.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Computer Blues

Normally a new computer is something I look forward to. When our Dell decided to crash Thursday I looked for a replacement and picked up a Sony Vaio laptop with the new Windows 8 OS. The touch screen was a nice novelty but I had to use a mouse to work with it. Things are very different from any other OS. It's more like a phone than a desktop. I started missing some of the software I rely on and decided to look into repair rather than replace. The weekly Skype session with Cullen sealed the deal as it was slow and blocky.

A new graphics card was far cheaper and luckily my diagnosis was right on. It took about half an hour to swap in the new card and install the software. Learning the new OS software would have been a much longer process and about $750 more. There were a lot of programs that just don't have Windows 8 versions ready yet.

As much as I prefer a real tree at Christmas I wasn't really looking forward to picking one out in the rain so we grabbed an artificial one on sale, added some new decorations and voila, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wild Weekend

It was a wild weekend of hockey in Thunder Bay. A tournament each for the 9-10 year old and 11-12 age groups produced four kicking penalties along with the 'usual' bevy of checks from behind and a stick swinging 9 year old. Fun stuff. It took about three hours to go through the game sheets and process the suspensions.

Meanwhile Northwood had a usual weekend of games. A total of 3 minor penalties, no screaming, no injuries. And I got my first win behind the bench in about 10 years. I have to say it was too much fun.  I was dreading it all day but once I got back there and realized I knew the kids names I got into it. The team is currently in last place, not far out but we were up against the second place team. It was a tight one but something I told one of the older forwards worked to get us a goal and then he scored another on the same shift to put us up one. We held on for another period and snuck out with a 2-1 win. The kids are still hilarious. These two five year olds can't sit together because they are cousins and they will fight. Why do I have to cover for the defenseman, I'm the center. Next weekend it's back to the other side of the rink, none of the coaches took me up on my offer to swap jobs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sorry Lance

I didn't believe it at first. I didn't want to believe it. But at some point the evidence was just overwhelming. I wasn't 'into' cycling when Lance was all the rage. When I started it was mountain bikes that I dreamed about not sub-15 pound road bikes. But as I go into it every bike was of interest and high tech steeds were something that began to catch my interest. Then while in Calgary I grabbed a book about Lance and his fight back from cancer and wins in the tour. Seeing as I was training to ride in support of cancer research he became someone to look up to. Surely if he could go through all that and then ride thousands of kilometers I could ride a couple of hundred.

I remember watching him ride to victory in the Leadville 100 'Race Across the Sky' and getting that tingle all over. I pulled for him during his comeback in the first tour d'France I'd ever really watched.

But the earth is not flat, gobal warming is real and Lance cheated. Sure it looks like everybody else did too but that doesn't change the fact. So today I said goodbye to the tattered first Livestrong hoodie I ever had. Not much of a big deal now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Samsung Sells 30 Million SIII's

Samsung has sold 30 million Galaxy SIII phones in 157 days. And that with the new iPhone 5 released right in the middle of their campaign. I have to say it is my go to device right now, even before the Xoom tablet. Fast and easy to use, 16 gigs of memory and a 32 gig sd card, great camera, voice typing that works about 90%. Right now it's with me if I'm awake. 

Wrong NHL, Really?

I got a call from the 99FM news room this morning. They wanted me to confirm that NHL players were coming to Thunder Bay on Monday the 12th to play an exhibition game. Sorry our leagues share the initials but that's where it ends. They couldn't even find us on the net, they called a former Thunder Bay Minor executive. Investigative reporting skills apparently are not a requirement in the news room. 

I should have told him yes, NHL players will be at the Gardens on Saturday. Players from the Leafs, Flyers, Senators, Canadiens, Sharks and Kings have confirmed they will be there for three hours and admission is free.

If the big boys do come, I hope people stay home to show them how they feel about the whole mess.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feels Good

I once wrote that you never really appreciate your parents until you become one. Last week after visiting with Mike, Mel and Cullen on Skype I started appreciating myself as a parent. I'm not saying I did anything out of the ordinary, there's lots I didn't do that I regret. Lots of things I wish I had been able to give my kids that I either didn't or couldn't.

But watching Mike and Cullen on the couch together just goofing around for the camera I got a warm feeling, knowing the little guy is in good hands, just as I know Ginko is. Maybe our kids have learned something from their parents, maybe learned from our mistakes in some cases. Regardless, it feels good.   

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I didn't feel like 55 Sunday as I rode the 40km to the Sturgeon Bay rode on my 38 year old singlespeed bike Molly. The next morning was a different story as everything was moving a bit slower and a bike with lots of gears was the one I hauled out of the basement. Despite having a super high tech new bike I've been loving the simple and quick ride that Molly provides. A few hills, a headwind and temps out on the highway of 29 made for a challenging ride.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Officially Been Doing This A Long time

I had two kids register for Northwood last night. The parents were former players. Players that played since I have been running the league. Has it really been that long?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Where Have You Been?

Seems like forever since I last posted here. Somehow I stopped in the middle of our visit to Calgary and just never got back to it. The details are gone but the memory of our first time with Cullen is still fresh. What a character. So many different faces including that one-eyebrow trick, mood changes in the blink of an eye, and smiles for almost everyone. While the internet makes it possible to keep in touch, there's nothing like being in the room.

Many, many posts ago I complained about having to buy an electric lawn mower because the kids hated the cheap push reel mower I had bought and I was still the one pushing the electric. Well with all the kids out of the house there is no waiting for miracles, the lawn is mine. I have been using the push mower all summer but it was injured a few nights ago and lost a wheel. Still for $75 bucks it lasted about 10 years. Didn't really cut worth a damn but going over the lawn 3 or 4 times provides a good workout when it's 30 or so. Today I picked up another push mower but a Ferrari instead of a Fiat, the Fiskars Stay Sharp. Assembling the handle  was enough to tell me that it was a quality tool. The manual and online videos explained how to fine tune the blades and in no time I was in the back yard giving it a test run. In a word, wow! Easy to push and the grass flies even as long as it was. The flywheel mechanism keeps the blade rolling so even while pulling it backwards the cutting continues for a bit. Instead of the quick test run I had planned I ended up doing the yard in the time it would take me to drag the electric out of the basement and uncoil the extension cord.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cullen's First Visit to Banff

On Monday we made the 90 minute drive to Banff. Cullen proved to be a great traveller as he slept there and back even through the rush hour traffic jam. We had lunch in the quiet upstairs at Earl's where he locked on to Mike's Bronx burger. We did some shopping and wandering around town and headed home.

The drive out never ceases to amaze me. The Rockies just loomed on the horizon last week and suddenly they they are all around us. Going to Lake Louise or Moraine weren't in the game plan but just being surrounded by mountains was a treat.

Elbow River Trail Redo

On Sunday Mike had a tennis game at the exclusive Glencoe Club so I put the Gary Fisher on the bike rack and went along. The club was a block from the Elbow River trail that had given us so much trouble two years ago. Armed with gps and the bike path layer on google maps I headed for downtown.

Minutes later I had to stop as the bike path ended at an intersection. A quick check on the map told me to just go up 1 block on the dead end street and the path continued. 

The rest of the ride was pretty straight forward except for a few detours and 30 minutes later I was rolling downtown. Next problem was the MS walk that was ongoing. I just couldn't find an easy way around the joggers, serious runners and family groups dominating the pathways. I crossed the Bow on the new Peace bridge but just found more of the same. A few more bridges and I got far enough from the route to ride comfortably without weaving through pedestrian traffic. In no time I was headed for the Elbow Trail and back to meet Mike.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Farmers Market

Saturday we all headed to the new Farmers Market. We picked up some supper supplies and had lunch. Cullen was serenaded by a violinist and seemed to like that. Next stop was Lina's Italian Market. Despite the parking lot from hell it was an amazing store with anything you might need to prepare an Italian meal, or sit and have one.

Mel made her excellent sauce and we all enjoyed another great meal. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and bathtime. Mike has been spraying the little guy with squirt toys and this time he fought back the only way he can. Yep, peed on daddy. I think I saw a little smile on his face as the mop up was completed. 

Fresh Air

Thursday I got up at 7:15am to ride to work with Mike and then just slowly made my way back along the gravel paths along the Bow. It was a nice cool morning, perfect for a ride.

I got back after about 90 minutes, showered and had breakfast. We took Cullen for a long walk around the neighborhood from playground to playground, there must be 3 within 10 minutes walk of the house. The little guy slept through the entire walk and then for another hour plus in his stroller on the porch. Fresh air does wonders.

Friday I went for a 4 hour ride into Fish Creek park, about 10 minutes from the back door and about 2 blocks of that on the street.

Cullen is so close to laughing but ends up with hiccups.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Public Transport Adventure

After researching routes and reviews of our destination we decided to take a trip downtown to Calgary's Chinatown using the light rail system, the C-train as it's known here. The closest station is about 8 km away and the connecting bus took about 30 minutes to get us there, but we were in no rush. We got a surprise when the bus pulled up, a short 24 seater. It was standing room only once we got close to the train station. A 5 minute wait and we were on our way.

Using the gps on my phone I was able to pick a stop just 3 blocks from our destination. We were both hungry so our first stop was the Happy Valley Hong Kong style cafe. As we entered we were greeted by the daily special sign,  written in 100% chinese. The patrons were the same, a good sign good when you are looking for a good spot. I had barbeque pork with rice and veggies, Sal had duck with lo mein. It was excellent. We picked up a duck and 3 pounds of pork and headed off in search of a bakery. Chinese bakeries are my favourite part of Chinatown. We found the Rainbow Bakery and picked up a dozen bbq pork buns. Our last stop was was Wai's for more bbq pork and some su mai dumplings. My packsack and 2 shopping bags were full as we headed back to the train station. Another short wait for a now crowded train and we were back in no time. Our connecting bus was waiting so the trip home was a quick one.

We went to 5 Guys Burgers for supper and then came home again for Cullen's bath time. He sure loves his bath.

Tuesday we did some shopping for Cullen and groceries. Mike and I went for a quick ride around the Bow River Trail, his route to work when he rides his bike. I still can't get used to that first view of the Rockies when we get to the trail.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tense Day

Sitting a four hour plane ride away from your home where ankle deep water is not amusing your son, is not my recipe for a relaxing vacation. All in all it looks like we were pretty lucky. The water has drained and AJ has fans going and is removing the wet remains of boxes etc. Viewing it all online makes things worse.

Our neighbours were not as lucky. They drove out to Calgary where one son lives and the other flew here as well. They have a little bit of water in their basement and AJ has that in hand too. They are shopping for a car as the son who totalled two cars as a teen completed the hat trick and wrote off another. Their other car is back in Thunder Bay waiting for a  $9000 transmission. Have to take them to buy lotto tickets, nobody can have that kind of luck forever.

Yesterday was a quiet one as we just relaxed and spent the day with Mel and Cullen. He's quite the character. He's happy, he's hungry, he cries then eats and he's all smiles again. His hamhock legs are incredibly strong and when he straightens them out he is nearly standing. Sal is really enjoying being with him. She had him smiling with his bottle in his mouth and that is normally his serious time. When Mike came home from work he sat on his lap babbling and grinning. It's a joy to watch how happy the three of them are.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sitting with Smiley

I guess I should get a matching hat to cut down the glare.


After waiting nearly 3 months we have finally arrived in Calgary. A very uneventful flight, a short walk and there they were. Cullen was asleep in his stroller/car seat all the way back to the house but woke up shortly after we got in. He was all smiles. I took a quick ten pictures as Sally held him and he was smiling the whole time.

The entire country must be under the same cloud as I barely saw the ground from my window seat. The sun is out now. Sally is up with Cullen and the kids went for groceries.

Congrats to Ryder for his historic win at the Giro. First time for a Canuck on the podium for a Grand Tour. Mike found a bike for me to borrow so everything is peachy from where I sit.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Define Senior Moment

A momentary loss of memory or cognitive power.


2:00pm: light rain.
As I'm loading the groceries into the car I hear "Hi Jim, oh dear this is the other man in my life". Instantly five brain cells sizzle and explode as if tossed on the barbie

2:15pm: light rain.
I grab the three bags of groceries and bring them in the house. "Did you get everything" she asks. "Everything  but the....damn I must have left the two cases of pop in the bottom of the cart". She calls the store but no one has turned the pop in. Go to customer service and they will give you two more.

2:45pm standing in line at customer service
Apparently the recent lucky streak in Thunder Bay has everyone thinking they are next as they drop their hard earned pensions on billion to one odds to be the next  big winner. "Do you have wintario? " Just shoot me now.

2:50pm front of the line
Customer service says grab a couple more cases and bring them here for proof of purchase stickers. I say it's not the store's fault but she insists.

3:05pm third in line
"These potatoes came up wrong so they should be free". Off goes customer service to check. "No the price is correct". "Then I don't want them".

3:10pm heavy downpour
I finally escape the clutches of customer service and head to the car with my salvaged cases of pop. I open the hatch and am greeted by....two cases of pop. Mere words cannot describe my level of frustration, four letter words however did nicely.

3:12pm customer service
"Oh you are so honest!" Yes that's what I am, honest.

The other man in her life is the guy who delivers the linens every Thursday.
$4.99 for ten pounds was too much for my friend but you can get three baking potatoes pre-wrapped in 5 cents worth of foil for $1each, just in case you have lots of bucks or a foil phobia.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Project:Free Spirit 3-Speed

With my new glasses on, starting this project by taking pictures and disassembling the major components was a joy, exactly why I brought home Sal's dads old bike. Working on bikes is very relaxing for me. It's what I miss now that I'm not working at Petrie's or the old FCD reline shop. I've taken the handle bars off of Lisbeth about 4 times lately and ended up right where I began with the same setup but not even being annoyed. Being able to see helps the process so much, not having to guess 3 times for every nut, recognizing how something comes apart before damaging it.

Eventually this bike will go to the cook at Sal's place or his wife as they ride often but have just 1 set of wheels. It will take a bit of elbow grease but I can't wait to continue.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Great Day

Wow, what a great morning. 5 pounds less on the scale, 10 degrees and sunny, long weekend coming and Calgary is on the horizon like the Rockies are from Mike's front porch. And we got to see Super Cullen live last night for about half an hour.

Lisbeth wanted nothing to do with making the turn that brings us to work. Can't blame her, I could have just kept on going.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lisbeth Nearly Complete

Just a cosmetic upgrade since I doubt I'll ever use the flask for its intended purpose but it looks cool. As for the Magura R33 hydraulic rim brakes they are simply amazing. With two fingers I can stop on the proverbial dime. Much better for the hands as are the straight bars and bar ends I switched over to. Now if it would just stop raining!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


If I robbed a bank, got caught, then apologized and returned all the money I still wouldn't be riding my bike to work to sling brake parts come Monday morning. I guess you have to be 'honourable' to do that and get away with it. Why do we put up with this crap?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fun For Now

Now that I can get Lisbeth out every morning the miles are starting to pile up. I can't wait to hop on and start the day with a quick 5km. My first surgery for carpal tunnel is scheduled for April 30 so who knows how long I'll be grounded. But for now I'm going to enjoy the hour I spend meandering along the river and bike paths to and from work. I'm really getting used to having a few gears (14) to pick from and the Rohloff is perfect for stop and go because you can shift while not moving. I can literally ride her no-hands for miles, touching the bars only to shift, really good for keeping the bees at bay.

Work is finally picking up so juggling 3 lines at a time is becoming common again. The day sure goes by when you are too busy to watch the clock. I have a huge set of playlists on Grooveshark so I don't even have to listen to commercials or the same song in a week nevermind a day. Search for a song and you'll be streaming it in no time.

The yearbook for Northwood is finally complete, I'm not happy with it but got virtually no help so it is what it is. Off to the printers via dropbox. There's a small but growing committee working on the banquet so that should run smoothly.   

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Wonders of Kijiji

For Sale: early 80's CCM 10 speed bike, asking $125. Value, maybe $25 if the tires are new.

Wanted: bike in working order like this one (pictured), offer $25.  Value of the Pinarello in the picture, about $6000.

Decision Affirmed

At last Sunday's monthly meeting of Lakehead Minor Hockey I announced that I would not let my name stand if nominated to the board next season. This morning the continued antics of a coaching staff has affirmed that decision in my mind.

The last time they met up with the teen that reffed last night's game our favourite team finished the evening with 10 games worth of suspensions to the coaches over a single penalty call. The ref called a 2 minute minor penalty. The player hit was injured and that turns it into an automatic 5 minute major, no choice for the ref. Since it happened in the last 10 minutes of the game a suspension of their best player resulted. Seems trivial, but three adults lost it and did everything in their power to intimidate the teen ref. He fought back with game ejections. They were not held accountable for blocking his car in the parking lot or taunting him as he passed through the arena lobby. All that and they still managed to win the game.

This time only one coach was ejected but he will face a 10 game suspension for his third offence in a season. As a bonus they lost the first game of the final series. Whether the individuals that slashed the tires of the teen ref are ever charged remains to be seen. But I have seen enough. I'll stick with the timid brand of hockey that is Northwood, where at least the adults act their age and the kids have fun. 


Friday, March 16, 2012

C'Mon Let's Go!

It's an extremely slow afternoon at work and Lisbeth is starring at me. I can almost hear her saying "c'mon let's go, let's get out of here and into the fresh air, you know you want to". It's great to have her on the road but so hard to to have her sitting so close while I try to stay busy. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Jury is Still Out

Sal says Cullen has cheeks just like his dad did. I think we'd have to see his 'other' cheeks to say they were as big as Mike's but further pictures will no doubt be compared. Please discuss amongst yourselves. Somebody pinch me please, Mike is a dad!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meet the Newest Canuck Fan

Cullen Lee Alexander Kresack was born in Calgary this morning weighing in at 8lbs. 9 ounces. Congrats to Mel and Mike, enjoy every minute. I thought I'd be the first to get him in Canucks gear!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Please Explain...

how the guy who drove through a construction site and into a snow bank last night was behind the wheel at all. The news just reported he was charged with a d.u.i. last week!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Another One In The Books

The 2011-12 Northwoods season wrapped up this afternoon with a pair of finals. Ginkos team captured the championship with a 1-0 win in the fifth period. A bit of a flukey goal but that's the way the puck bounces sometimes. Can't say I'm sorry it's over. It was a long one where much of the time I'd have rather been somewhere else.

Congrats to the Petries Sharks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More Goggling Around

Using Google's image search often makes for interesting results, here are some of the pix from "Woody". The girl at bottom right is supposed to be dressed as Woody from Toy Story and he is the number one result of the search, by far. I was searching for a picture of a woody wagon like the one at bottom left but it was hundreds of images down the page.

Googling Around

I search many things on the net. Trying to find a hit for old parts or answers to technical questions from customers often brings up some very strange results. I came across a Ted talk about data visualization which had me thinking. I searched both "i love you' and "i hate you" wide open on the net, just in Canada, just in French-Russian and Arabic. Then added the total hits for each and came up with a percentage of total hits.

wide open on the net
the term "i love you" returns 559,000,000 responses or 92.5%
while "i hate you" finds only 45,300,000 or 7.5%

searching the same in Canada
 "love" gets 3,830,000 hits or 92.09%
"hate" gets 329,000 hits 7.91%
we are pretty average

search in French
"love" 56,000.000 hits or 98.21%
"hate" 1,020,000 hits or 1.79%
oh those French

in Russian
"love" 16,400.000 hits or 78.28%
"hate" 4,550,000 hits or 21.72%

finally in Arabic
"love" 51,000,000 or 99.82%
"hate" 90,800 or 0.18%

Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Goal

The Ginko scored his first career goal this afternoon, a game winner in the third period to boot. The puck was turned over near centre ice and dumped into the opposition's end and he chased after it, picked it up near the boards at about the top of the faceoff circle. Then he turned and headed straight to the net, patiently held off his shot until the goalie thought he was going across the front of the net and then shot it low to the glove side. Well that's what I saw, he may simply have shot it blindly but I'm sticking to my version of the story. Nice one, have to order his trophy now.

Just when I thought it was a good day at the rink I got home to a multi-page e-mail complaining about what a coach said in the dressing room after a loss. Oh well can't spoil this one. Made a call to the coach and then this post.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

'Free' Computer Help

I got a call tonight from a gentleman with a very Dell-esque accent. He wanted to help me rid my computer of all of the files that were causing my problems. I played along as he guided me to the start menu and through to the windows error log files where sure enough some errors were found. Then after warning me to do nothing else he wanted me to open up remote access to his rescue team. I bid him a good day and hung up. I'm pretty sure had I continued I would have been hacked somehow. Lord help anyone that falls for it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Last Laugh Goes to Andy

When Alberto Contador defied one of the timeless traditions of cycling and took advantage of Andy Schleck's chain malfunction in the 2010 Tour de France, Andy took the high road and was the first to forgive him. It spoiled what would have been one of the best finishes in recent years as two of the top riders were going toe to toe. 

Yesterday Schleck was awarded the title as Contador's crown was stripped for testing positive during the race. He claims he ate tainted meat which accounts for his positive result. Maybe the cycling gods just peed in his cornflakes. Schleck will not be satisfied with winning this way but I'm sure he's smiling, at least to himself.

The Man Who Lived on His Bike

THE MAN WHO LIVED ON HIS BIKE from Guillaume Blanchet on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why I'd Rather Ride a Bike In Winter

No plugging in extension cords in the dark.

The bike starts every time.

No waiting for a cold car to warm up.

No windshield to brush the snow from.

No windows to get frosted.

No frozen windshield wipers.

No frozen slush rubbing on the tires.

Nobody pestering me for a ride.

Better tires.

No worrying about odd or even parking days.

No over-dramatic radio announcers telling me how cold it is outside.

No traffic on the back lanes or bike paths.

If I get gas it's cause I had chili last night.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take Advantage

With another great day of weather hanging on at quitting time I decided to take a longer ride home. I just went up the bike path to the college and around the golf course but added nearly 6km to my ride home. I set the tracking app on my phone which uses GPS to map and keep stats. After about five minutes I heard the robotic voice of the phone reading out after the first kilometer, average speed etc. Must be an update as it's never done that before. Anyway it was fun to get out in the air for a bit. I started keeping track of my millage for 2012 so I guess something wanted to add a few.
With the time off I had at Christmas I was able to do some work in the house, finally getting baseboards in the living room. Lots of delays but they are done and just require some additional paint.
Sal and I have been taking advantage of our time too, doing things now rather than just talking about them. I can't remember ever feeling closer to her. A rough couple of months for sure but things are getting better.