Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What did you get ?

Yes it's better to give than to receive, but I'm just a boy in a man's world, so I like "receiving" :)
Here's some examples of my 2009 Christmas spoil:

Leatherman Blast. I have several junky imitations, but this is my first "quality" example. What a well-made piece of gear. God bless America.



Coghlan's Sierra Saw. I've wanted one of these for a while, and the hint dropping paid off. This will no doubt come in handy for those unexpected anti-green fits of tree-cutting rage...much quieter than the proverbial chainsaw too :)

Double StoveTop Sandwich Cooker. I never thought much about these, but it might be a nice camping accessory.



Legacy of Laughter: A book to curl up with.



LED Light: I'm overdosing on LED lights, but this one has a nickel metal hydride battery pack, supposedly better than an older one that I have. It comes with 110v and 12v charging cords.

What did you get ?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Brunch

It's a good thing I didn't overdo it yesterday with the turkey ingestion because today's Brunch was pretty indulgent. See here for the steak and egg toast recipe.





Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

The silly looking bound and gagged tree has been freed, and is starting to look the part. Me and the boys unwaveringly voted down the intentions of another "dweller" to go with that awful gold leafy icky look with only white lights. We want color !! It's not done yet, but here's what we have so far:

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Console Repair Guy

UPDATE: Since I wrote this 3 years ago, I've heard nothing but negative reports about this guy. Additionally, when my repair failed, repeated attempts to contact him were not successful. I don't want to badmouth anyone. I had one short-lived good experience but the repair did not last...


If you need a game console fixed, may I wholeheartedly recommend:
Background: Joel's "out of warranty" 80gig PS3 packed it in, and Sony wanted just shy of $200 to fix it. A difficult decision since the new "slim" 120gig version's price had just dropped to $299. I opted to get him the new machine. While looking on Kijiji, I found an ad from The Console Repair Guy. I sent him an email outlining the problem, and he concluded a new laser unit was needed, and that he would charge me $95. Short story longer, for that $95, he came to my house and picked up the PS3, and also delivered it back to the front door, repaired; all for about half of what Sony Canada wanted.
Outcome: Both Joel and James now have a PS3, meaning they have to find something else to fight over (the snow shovel maybe?)...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Decluttering vs. Christmas

Ok I'm suspending the "Decluttering" initiative until the new year. I've had 2 bouts of cold/flu/bronchitis so far this month, and the Christmas preparations have fallen behind. I must play a little catch-up. We have not had a real tree for the last few years, so we decided it was time to play "non-conforming conformists" and get one at the local tree-man stand. 35 bucks was a bit of an "ouch" but it's here, and it's up. No decorations yet but we still have time :)


Now that the tree is in hand, I almost forgot about the homemade root beer. It only takes an hour or so to whip up a 20 litre batch. oops, got to run to the water and wine store for extract and bottle caps. This year, a combination of old Pepsi bottles from PEI, even older 300ml Pop Shoppe bottles, and some classic Coke bottles of the 237ml "2-sip" variety..done:

See last year's here...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The mercury doth plummet...

We've started burning wood pretty much full time now. Until this week, I've been burning pellets in the wood stove via a pellet basket. The photo below shows the indoor and outdoor temperatures late last night:

 By this morning, things had cooled somewhat, both in and out. The indoor fell overnight by almost 3 degrees, while outdoors it went from -9 to -12. I could have kept the indoor from falling, but by doing so, I might have had to light the fire again. So far, this was the coldest night of the season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Decluttering, Week 14

Still plowing through the home office junk...
  1. PowerColor ATI 9200SE Radeon Video Card, fried, garbage
  2. 3 more phone books/yellow pages, curb recycle
  3. 2008 Page-a-day calender, (still at Jan 1st), curb recycle
  4. Smoke Detector, garbage
  5. Yet another Computer Tower, recycle
  6. IBM PCMCIA SCSI Card w/ centronics cable, garbage
  7. IBM Etherjet ISA card, garbage
  8. SONY NP-66H Camcorder Battery, recycle
  9. Creative Labs CD-ROM (1994), recycle
  10. AA Flashlight, garbage

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Linux in a Windows world ?

I guess I'm a bit strange when it comes to computers, if not in other ways. I tend to lag behind in technology, and see little wisdom in buying the latest greatest at the premium price. Consequently, our home computers have largely been running Windows 98SE or some flavor of Linux. Of course Windows 98 is no longer a viable option, and Linux is synonymous with "work". Last Christmas, I got Debbie a Netbook running Linpus Linux. It has worked well overall, but Acer's support is far from perfect. Often, a "live update" will alter permissions on certain files and render things unworkable until a search of the latest online user forums reveals a solution. I have a pretty good unix/linux background, but most normal people would just abandon the thing, or buy a Mac even. Additionally, these Netbooks with the Atom N270 processor are not fast. Browsing the web and viewing Youtube videos can be a bit  troublesome. Further to this, printing has been problematic under Linux. I've tried several different approaches, CUPS, HP Linux packages etc but none work right, if at all. So, our little HP P1005 printer can't be exploited. Nor can our 4x6 HP photo printer. Add kids with Ipods to the mix and it gets to be too much. What's my point? Well, I needed a cheap solution so I bought a cheap "off lease" IBM ThinkCentre from Staples. On sale for under $200. For me, its biggest selling feature was the included XP Pro CD/License. (An XP Pro CD still retails for about $180 in Halifax). With free delivery, it arrived at the door the next day. You get what you pay for, of course, but I think this will work just fine for now. It's a P4 3ghz small footprint box with an 80 gig drive, 1 gig of ram, and 8 USB ports. I can scrounge a bigger drive and more memory. Now I should be able to toss two or three older machines :)

 
 
 

Habs squeeze into 8th in the east

I have to comment on my favorite team, and last night's game against Ottawa. Halak stopped 44 of 45 shots. Ottawa failed to cash in on seven power play chances, resulting in a 4-1 win for the Habs. This is significant in that it moved Montreal into 8th place in the East...lest we lose hope  :)



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Decluttering, Week 13

A little late again, but I'm still at it. From a "confession" viewpoint, I'm not really seeing much difference. That statement should provide some insight into just how much stuff I have amassed over the years. I have alot of books and magazines and I hate throwing them out. I'm sick really though aint I ? Take number 9 below for example. The Datsun 210 was Debbie's, and we got rid of it in 1988 or so. What was I keeping it for an extra 20 years "just in case" ???
  1. Bag of magazines, curb recycle
  2. Incandescent Outdoor Christmas Lights, garbage
  3. Outdoor Light gutter clips, garbage
  4. La Crosse Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer, junk, garbage
  5. Desk Lamp, busted, garbage
  6. Old motion detector/alarm, garbage
  7. Another old Pentium 3 Tower, recycle
  8. Quicken 6 for DOS, garbage
  9. Haynes Datsun 210 Shop Manual, recycle
  10. Programming in Basic Plus, recycle

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good News...

I don't know if it's a sign of age, but I routinely find myself surfing over to my hometown newspaper website to check out the obituaries. The paper / site are updated twice weekly, and I was happy to see that for the whole month of November, I was greeted to a "nobody died" report. I realize that we all have an appointment with death, but it's good to see a whole deathless month  :)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Decluttering, Week 12

Continuing with the home office purge this week. Not as much as I had hoped and a bit late, but a nasty flu has knocked me down a bit:

  1. Old Jacket, garbage
  2. Old IBM PS/2 mouse, garbage
  3. Old 9-pin <->DIN cable, garbage
  4. 64 meg expansion board ??, garbage
  5. "Old" Adaptec 2130 MFM Disk Controller, garbage
  6. 3.5" Floppies, garbage
  7. Old Phone Books, curb recycle
  8. more magazines, curb recycle
  9. Fundamentals of Nursing (huge), gave away
  10. Medical-surgical Nursing (huge), gave away
lots more to come...

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 11

    This is getting more difficult, but I must press on, even if it's only a few more small things. (in case you've just joined in, I've chimed in on a 10 Things Challenge, in an effort to reduce the junk)...

    1. Electric Razor (thought I'd fix it), garbage
    2. Electric Razor #2, ditto, garbage
    3. Suitcase/Duffle Bag (didn't survive last overseas trip), garbage
    4. Nikon Nuvis S2000, APS Camera, discard pile
    5. 1 million Candle Power Light, broken, garbage
    6. Old AT Computer Keyboard, garbage
    7. Cheap Telephone, garbage
    8. Another stack of old magazines, curb recycle
    9. Teach Yourself QBasic in 21 Days, curb recycle
    10. Using Novell Dos 7, curb recycle
    I guess this is all pretty meaningless from a "blogging" perspective, in that it's not of much value to anyone reading, but this silly facade of accountability seems to be working for me.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 10

    For this week, (and maybe next) I'm largely concentrating on my home office, a space so smothered with junk that my wife with NetBook in hand, has long since abandoned the place in favor of the kitchen...  

    1. Adaptec PCMCIA SCSI cable (card unknown), garbage
    2. Ipod Touch "case", didn't fit, garbage
    3. Xircom Rex, microPDA, manuals etc, garbage
    4. PagePLus Desktop Publishing Software, 1993, garbage
    5. Microsoft Money v2, (on 3.5 and 5.25 disks), garbage
    6. Quicken 2002 (umopened), garbage
    7. Quicken XG (unopened), garbage
    8. KeyCad Deluxe Software (CD, Manual), garbage
    9. 2 - 110v LED NiteLites (didn't last), garbage
    10. Polaroid One-Step Camera (where did that come from), garbage
    not much, but it all adds up...

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Where does the time go?



    Just a word to those with small kids; not that this is earth shattering news, but be sure and enjoy them, for they grow up fast...one of the oldest cliches in the book, but true nonetheless...I'm still enjoying them, but now they're big and scary :)

    Scrooge...

    Debbie sneaked out of town for the night, so me and the boys took advantage and went to see the new Scrooge movie with Jim Carrey. They did a great job is this remake. Imax 3D made it even better. Of course I'm biased and a bit of a Scrooge nut. So far I've seen the following versions starring:

    Sir Seymour Hicks, 1935
    Reginald Owen, 1938
    Alastair Sim, 1951
    Albert Finney, 1970
    Rich Little, 1978
    Henry Winkler, 1979
    Mickey's Christmas Carol, 1983
    George C Scott, 1984
    Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992
    Jack Palance, 1997
    All Dogs Christmas Carol, 1998
    Patrick Stewart, 1999


    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 9

    Wow! another week has rocketed into eternity, and I had trouble keeping up. Due to the amount of "useful" stuff I keep finding, I'm going to start a "discard/free" category...kind of a pause before the garbage just in case someone wants it. Speak up if you see anything...

    1. Media Vision Jazz SCSI sound card, garbage
    2. Curling/flat iron, garbage
    3. Roasting pan, garbage
    4. (another) VCR Remote Control, garbage
    5. Megahertz PCMCIA 14.4 modem, garbage
    6. 2x Xircom PCMCIA Ethernet adapters (coax), garbage
    7. 2x Xircom dongles, (for above), garbage
    8. Speedstream DSL modem, discard/free pile
    9. Megahertz Xjack Ethernet PCMCIA card, discard/free pile
    10. Canon IS-22 Scanner head, discard/free pile

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 8

    I'm hoping to keep this going at least until Christmas. By then I might actually notice a difference in the clutter. This week was mostly some garbage lying around the garage etc:

    1.  2 boxes/cases of old 3.5" floppies, garbage
    2. Chrysler AM/FM Radio, garbage
    3. Box of Coleco Adam Cassettes, garbage
    4. Canon Canonet 35mm Camera, garbage
    5. Internal 96/24 Fax modem, garbage
    6. Windows 3.1 on 5.25" floppies w/manuals, garbage
    7. DOS 6 Upgrade version, garbage
    8. Box of misc. software, ancient, garbage
    9. 2 old pillows, garbage
    10. garbage bag of clothes, charity
    There you have it. What did you get rid of this week?

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Operation Christmas Child

    It's that time again, to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. Below is the 2009 promotional video for this great cause. I find it both interesting and at the same time sad, that this cause is sometimes given a bad rap because they dare to keep Christ in Christmas, and otherwise promote Jesus as the "greatest gift".  A while back, the school board in Halifax and other places banned this cause from the local schools because any open exaltation of Jesus Christ could of course be considered offensive and inappropriate. Friends, the "do unto others" message of Jesus has been offending people for a long time. Nevertheless, it is a message that to me, is more relevant with each passing day. This bunch may not be perfect, but they are doing something instead of nothing. If you view the second video (from a few years back), you will notice that there is much more reference to, and mention of "The Christ". Compare the two, and you'll see what I mean. In any case, I hope that they receive so many shoeboxes that they have to charter an extra container ship...He knows my name...







    Monday, October 26, 2009

    You never forget your first...

    ...computer that is...While gathering up some junk to throw out I came across this invoice taped inside the manual for my old Coleco Adam. These beasts sported a whopping 80k of memory (64ram + 16 for video memory). I remember doing several university papers and pounding them out on its earsplitting printer. See below for a demo. Sadly, Coleco orphaned the thing in favor of its more successful cabbage patch doll. The Adam retailed for over $1,000, but good old Canadian Tire ended up liquidating them for $300 (what I paid). Oh the memories...





    Which 24x SuperZoom Camera for me ?

    OK I want a new camera (notice I didn't say need). My Kodak DX6490 is almost 6 years old. No complaints but it's only 4 mega pixels. I think I've narrowed it down to these three, the Nikon P90, the Pentax X70, or the Kodak Z980. I think the Kodak is already discontinued...

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 7

    Not much spare time this week either, but I managed to shed some "stuff". I think I'm going to try out the HRM Freecycle site and see if I can get rid of some "non-garbage" items. I was hoping for a list of 20 things this week to atone for last weeks failure but I'll go for that next week, since our garbage day is only every second week in these parts.
    1. 2 old car batteries, recycle
    2. Darkroom Chemicals, disposal
    3. Old 1lb propane tanks, disposal
    4. Stack of old magazines, curb recycle
    5. Old (ancient) hard-drive enclosure, recycle
    6. laptop bag(s), garbage
    7. Old EXP PCMCIA CD-ROM drive, garbage
    8. Old VCR Remote, garbage
    9. Iomega Hard-drive enclosure, garbage
    10. Old tri-fold wallet, garbage

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 6 Setback

    Here it is late Sunday night, and I have no decluttering data to report. I could easily list 10 excuses I guess, but I have no valid reasons. It's been a busy week and weekend, and I just didn't make the time. Also, as the weeks go by, all of the "low hanging fruit" has been picked so to speak :) I will attempt to get back on track this week and have a bunch of stuff ready for garbage day/ Friday...

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Google; will they ever cease to amaze ?

    OK, is there no end to the Google machine ? Now they have all of the "Backpacker" magazines available to read online, as well as many others...this is great...poke around the embedded example below...

    "Canadian" Food ??

    Received this as a giant 6 meg video that "killed" my inbox, (thanks Bruce, but I digress). Anyhow, it got me thinking about the future, and wondering what my children's lives will be like in 50 years. I know "sustainable" is the all the rage buzzword these days, with "sustainable development" being one of my favorite oxymorons  :)
    Is it true that propped up and subsidized cheap transportation costs make it reasonable to import fish from China and apples from New Zealand, while we raze Ontario's farmland in favor of more townhouses? Deforestation is serious stuff. Sadly, the fatalist in me has concluded the nobody cares. We'd all rather debate and wax eloquently about politicians piano playing prowess, argue about the appropriateness of political Logos on giant fake cheques, or...again I digress...just watch the movie  :)

    Hellmann’s - It’s Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    She's b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k...

    Debbie and the team are back from Uganda. Mission complete !! If you are someone who bought one brick, said one prayer, wished them well, or in any other way expressed kindness toward this effort; THANK-YOU !!
    Here's a "tiny" sample of what took place...

     

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Don't fall for Batter Blaster

    Admittedly, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. While at Costco during the summer, we bought some Batter Blaster, thinking it might be convenient for an upcoming 2-week camping trip. I guess I forgot about it, but the boys tell me that Debbie tried it and they were not impressed. I found it in the back of the fridge over the weekend, and unlike a fine wine, it does not get better with age. This stuff is actually pretty horrible. I tried my best to make it palatable by adding some blueberries and even some extra sugar. Alas, sometimes judgment must be honest and swift, if not harsh. It's one thing to be too lazy to make pancakes from scratch (eggs, flour, milk, sugar etc) and go for the "total" mix. This next level, however, is a genuine mistake. See the video on their site for a real laugh.



    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Decluttering, Week 5

    No time this week...too busy trying to be the "Mommy" replacement, an impossible undertaking. Nevertheless:

    1. Another old answering machine, garbage
    2. Bag of photography magazines, curb recycle
    3. Bag of books, curb recycle
    4. Old Electric Shaver/Razor, garbage
    5. Box of VHS movies, "give away" pile
    6. Small color TV, recycle
    7. Various unexposed 35mm & 120 film, garbage
    8. Unused photographic (darkroom) paper, garbage
    9. Mountain of old bills etc, shredder
    10. Haynes Datsun 210 Shop Manual, curb recycle
    I'll try harder next week :)

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Uganda Watoto Classroom

    ...heard from Debbie today. The classroom is pretty much completed. Some people think it's not worth trying to make a difference, but I'm reminded of the old saying: "I cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do". God bless Debbie and the team. Give them a good rest and a safe trip home...Amen !!

     

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Google Maps Street View !!

    All I can say is "WOW" !!!  What once would have been an almost impossible registration or geo-referencing undertaking is now met with a quick news "mention" and everyone moves on. Here's our shack as seen in Google's Street View:


     
     
     
    As far as I can tell, these images were acquired sometime early this past spring. Does this give anyone besides me the creeps?