Saturday, 11 May 2019

But is it art?

A few years ago, when we were in New York City, we visited the Museum of Modern Art. One of the exhibits that caught my eye was Marcel Duchamp’s “Bicycle”.

(Picture MoMA)

In case it’s not clear from the photo, this work of art consists of an inverted bicycle fork and wheel (sans tire) stuck in the top of a stool. That’s it. That’s the whole piece.

I remember remarking to the spousal unit that only an established artist could get away with this. Imagine an unknown artist (me, for example) showing up at MoMA’s door with this contraption and having it on display the next day - and a sizeable check in my pocket? Not a chance in Hell.

Still, I did think it was kind of cool in a silly sort of way. Along the lines of my bicycle in the trees. (Which MoMA could acquire for significantly less than what they paid for this piece, if they were interested.)

Now it turns out I can have my own version of “Bicycle” should I want a companion piece to my “Bicycle in trees”. (See what I did there? I gave my 'art' a proper name, thus increasing the value tenfold.) A local Facebook for sale page just listed this copy for a cool $350.

(Picture FB)

But I think I’ll pass. I have some old bike parts around and need only to find a stool. I figure $10 tops for my very own “Bicycle”. Easier than copying the Mona Lisa, for sure.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A shed full of 'Sea Kings'

For more than 5 decades, the Canadian Navy flew the venerable Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King. Long past it’s projected life span, they were finally retired in 2018 after a 35-year project to select a replacement finally resulted in a new helicopter for the Navy. It was the very definition of a political football as successive governments tried to out-stupid each other over the project.

Now this has nothing to do with anything really, except that it was reported that, in its later years, the aging Sea Kings required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every flying hour.

Which is pretty much like every mechanical device I own. Well, except for that whole life or death thing associated with equipment failure at 10,000 feet.

I was all set to put the second little KZ 440 on the road, until I discovered a dodgy bearing. (Here) Other than pulling the engine from the frame little progress has been made on that front because I’ve been too busy fixing other stuff.

Then I went to use the lawnmower the other day and it wouldn’t start. No spark. A few hours later I had it apart on the bench and discovered the magneto/coil ignition gap was incorrect. Put that all back together and now it’s running again, for a while. Of course I’m not too upset about the lawnmower as it was a good deal. (Here.) But I haven’t found a suitable replacement at the dump yet, and I don’t want to have to buy one.

And today was a nice day to till the garden in preparation for planting season. I hauled out the ancient roto-tiller and it wouldn’t start. It’s always been balky, but eventually I would get it running with liberal doses of quick start or raw gas poured into the carb. This time, no go. I’ve been able to isolate a fuel problem of some sort but that will now have to wait a day or so before I can get to it.

And in the middle of all that I discovered that the “professionals” who shingled the house roof 13 years ago had left a cut in the shingles, exposing some roof sheathing to 13 years of rain, snow, and ice, with the predictable result. As a dry attic is pretty important, everything else was put on hold as I replaced a 2’ by 4’ section of rotted roof sheathing and re-shingled the area.

All of which is to say I’ve spent the better part of the past week just fixing stuff so it could be used, while not actually using any of it. I must be getting close to that 30-1 ratio.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Killers of the Flower Moon - a review

In the early part of the 20th century some of the richest people in America were the Osage Indians in Oklahoma. Like many tribes, in the 1870s the Osage were forced from their ancestral home in Kansas and relocated to a part of Louisiana, land that was “broken, rocky, sterile, and utterly unfit for cultivation”. However it did sit on vast oil reserves.

And so, by the 1920s, the nascent oil boom was making the Osage wealthy beyond their imaginings. Mansions dotted the countryside (staffed with servants), most families had at least one motorcar (often with a chauffeur), and the wells kept pumping. Then the murders began as, one after the other, dozens of Osage land owners met untimely ends.

This is the story of those murders and the work done by dogged investigators of J. Edgar Hoover's fledgling FBI to uncover the secrets and bring the perpetrators to justice. It’s also a story of racism, greed, and a lawless territory where corruption among lawmen, judges, bankers, and others in positions of authority were, seemingly, the norm. A far, far cry from the Roaring 20s as we normally think about them.

This is a series of events in American history that had largely gone under the radar until author David Grann began poking about in the dusty archives to bring the story to life. It’s a fascinating read and highly recommended.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

California Road

It was a beautiful day today so I thought I’d take a run down California Road to see how much spring runoff damage there was.


There was still snow in places and the swamps and ditches were full of water. The road was muddy and wet but passable until I got five kilometres in, to find it had completely washed out.

This spot regularly floods in the spring, but usually just over the surface of the road. This year the spring runoff took the road out completely and even managed to shift the culvert (put in a few years ago to avoid this happening) about 30 feet downstream.






As I wasn’t about to start chopping trees to build a 30-foot bridge, that pretty much halted my forward progress.

Being a seldom-used back road, California seems to attract a number of people who view the world as their personal garbage pit. It gets particularly bad during hunting season when all sorts of interesting trash appears under the cover of darkness.

For example, this boat. A couple of kilometres from the nearest body of water larger than the puddle behind it, someone decided it would make a nice roadside attraction. Filled with rubbish, the registration numbers were all removed so finding the previous owner would be near impossible.


And this mattress, queen-size I believe, was left at one of places where hunters pitch their tents for a couple of weeks in November. Except for the mattress the site had been nicely policed and cleaned up, so perhaps it was some local left it over the winter and here I am blaming the hunters. Doesn’t change the fact though that some moron thought it was perfectly okay to toss this old mattress in the woods.


I just don’t get the mindset.

However in the making-lemonade-from-lemons tradition, I did find enough beer cans and bottles to pay for my gas.


Every spring the local community bands together and has a roads cleanup day. We make a bit of a celebration of it with a BBQ and prizes for the most outrageous trash discovered in the ditches. Mattresses are, unfortunately, pretty common, but I may enter the boat this year.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Three steps back

No, this is not in reference to any 60's dance craze.

I did get the second little Kawasaki running. Not great but good enough to warrant proceeding with a carb refresh and making a few other repairs like brake master cylinder and caliper rebuilds. Then, while waiting for the carb kits to come in, I though I’d pull the rear wheel to check and clean the rear brakes. And it was while spinning the wheel I first heard the “clunk”.

It was coming from the front sprocket, so I pulled the cover off and, sure enough, at one point in the rotation the drive sprocket drops a couple of millimeters. This is NOT good.


I might as well forget about carbs for now; the entire engine needs to come out. Fortunately I have engine no. 3 in the shed so I guess I’ll be doing a swap in the near future.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Starting to itch

Here we are again, in April. Finally, after a long winter, we’re starting to see some relief from the cold. The snow is mostly gone and the sun’s heat warms the soul. But there’s still enough frost in the ground that paved roads are randomly buckled and pot-holed and gravel roads turn into a kind of gumbo that sticks to every exposed surface like cement. Frequent rains, sometimes torrential, swell the creeks and rivers to overflowing, but haven’t yet washed enough sand, salt, and other debris off the roads to make two-wheeled travel any less exciting. And periods of below freezing temperatures and multi-centimetre snowfalls can still surprise at any time. In short, April’s capricious weather can drive one to drink, sometimes making it seem the longest month of the year.

Yet some are riding, mostly city folk who venture out on the four-lane and back again, but not many. The rest are using the time to get their bike(s) ready for a new season, changing oil, charging batteries, checking everything twice. And then it’s a matter of wait, wait, wait, until the rains stop and the roads clear up. And try to ignore the itch.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

A special guest

Our small rural area is home to a vibrant community centre. Managed by locals for the benefit of locals, the centre hosts all the usual sorts of events and activities one would expect – euchre groups, yoga classes, dinners, a garden club, and so on. It’s a busy place.

But yesterday was extra special. The Live ‘n Learn group had arranged for a visit by an Ottawa historian and author, Tim Cook. Tim is the Great War historian at the Canadian War Museum and the author of numerous books focused on Canadian military history, for which he has received many awards, including the Order of Canada.

I first came across his work several years ago when I was given a copy of At The Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1914-1916.  Having greatly enjoyed that book I proceeded to acquire additional volumes and now I can say I have read most of them, including his most recent, The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War, which I reviewed here. I am a big fan.

So I was very much looking forward to meeting Tim and hearing him talk about his research and his writing. And he did not disappoint, keeping us all enthralled as he talked about his latest book and took the audience back to what life was like for those young men during those terrible years.

The time flew by far too quickly, but to have such an accomplished individual come and spend even a few hours with us was indeed a pleasure. Thanks Tim.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Dear Abby

Dear Abby: I just finished rebuilding my master cylinder and I have a piece left over. Why do manufacturers always use more parts than needed? Signed: Give me a brake.


Dear Give Me A Brake: It’s brakes, you moron. Do it again, and this time RTFM (read the f$^%$^# manual). Who let you loose with tools anyway? Signed: Abby.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

A Canadian scandal

Like many Canadians who follow politics I have been consumed by the bizarro world that Washington inhabits these days, Canadian politics being dull and boring in comparison. However we now have our very own home-grown scandal upon which to focus our attention.

First, some background. SNC-Lavalin is a large, international engineering firm based in Quebec. They have a history of dodgy business dealings and are currently either in court or under investigation for various offences including bribery of Libyan officials under the Gadhafi regime. Previously the company lobbied hard for a deferred prosecution agreement to be established in law (essentially a get out of jail free card) to protect it from further repercussions related to these offenses. Dutifully, and somewhat shadily, the Liberal government passed such a law a couple of years ago. (This kind of law is currently in place in the USA and Great Britain, so it’s not unique in that regard.)

SNC-Lavalin, facing these charges of corruption and fraud, have now been pushing hard for the federal government to use that deferred prosecution agreement option to allow it to avoid prosecution. But the auditor-general and her staff, having done their own research, felt the law didn’t apply in this case and proceeded with the legal process.

As the story develops, the Prime Minister, his key advisors, and some other Cabinet members, all subsequently applied unrelenting pressure upon the auditor-general, Jody-Wilson Raybould, (who was also the Minister of Justice) to go easy on SNC-Lavalin and give them the easy out. One of the main reasons proffered  was that damaging a Quebec-based company the size of SNC-Lavalin would hurt the electoral prospects of the governing Liberal party in the province.

But she refused, and insisted the legal action should continue.

For this she was demoted from her position as justice minister and shuffled off to a more junior position in Cabinet, leading to her subsequent resignation. (Effectively a constructive dismissal.)

After weeks of speculation, the details of this sordid mess came out yesterday in a she-said, they-said series of appearances before a parliamentary committee, public statements by various principal actors, tweets, re-tweets, accusations, rebuttals, and mud-slinging. (Sound familiar so far?)

Now Jody Wilson-Raybould, while accomplished, is likely no saint herself. (She is a politician, after all.) Though she is lauded by some as a hero for standing up against a white male dominated “system” (she is also Aboriginal) there is still a question as to whether her passionate defense of her position is more a matter of integrity or vengeance.

Probably some of both, but that doesn’t really matter.

What matters is the independence of the attorney-general and the scrupulous avoidance of any real or perceived political interference in the Canadian justice system. And that line has been clearly crossed in this instance. It was crossed when the Prime Minister and his acolytes (who do have the right and responsibility to lobby in support of their constituents) refused to take “no” for an answer and continued, and in fact escalated, the pressure on the auditor-general and her staff. And it was crossed again when the Prime Minister demoted her from a job which she was, reportedly, doing well to a lesser position, to be replaced by a, presumably, more agreeable Quebec minister.

Of course the opposition parties feel like it’s Christmas all over again and they’ve just been given the gift that keeps on giving. So this is sure to consume many, many more days of recriminations, counter charges, explanations, excuses, and personal attacks, not to mention charges of sexism and racism, sprayed around like water from a firehose.

All in all it smacks of the most Trumpian of politics. Sad.

Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould in sunnier times (Photo: Canadian Press)

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

True believers

We hear about true believers in many contexts. Faith and politics are the two most common but there’s a third, and that’s technology.

The younger generation(s), those who Gerry Seinfeld once described as “our replacements”, have an inordinate (and unhealthy, in my opinion) belief in the infallibility of electronics. Not unlike the serfs of medieval times for whom the minutiae of daily life was controlled by the local priest, these young people are well and truly lost without an electronic device to provide guidance. And, like the serfs of yore, they rarely question or challenge their modern oracles.

We frequently read (on-line, of course) about drivers who follow their GPS into a swamp, or down a one-way street, the wrong way.

And we’ve all, at one time or another, been confronted by a cashier who is unable to do the most basic of math processes – providing change – when their cash system isn’t working for some reason.

Now, I love technology. I have worked with and on computers since 1966. I’ve owned personal computers since 1980. And if I’m not an early adopter I’ll at least be in the second wave of any new technology. But, really? This unquestioning faith in computers and the infallibility of the designers and programmers behind the scenes baffles me.

What brings this to mind is a recent discussion I had concerning a driver who couldn’t find their destination even though they had a GPS in their car. It seems that the default on the GPS unit was set to the shortest distance, which was via a road that was not maintained during the winter. So when Trixie (or whatever pet name the GPS was assigned) said “turn left” the driver, seeing nothing but a 6-foot high snow bank, continued on straight only to then hear the dreaded “recalculating” and instructions to make a u-turn. Only to be confronted with the same snow bank, on the other side now. It was a classic you-can’t-get-there-from-here scenario, resolved finally by a phone call (via cell phone, of course).

Fortunately someone was there to answer, otherwise the driver would never have known that there was another entrance a bit further along that was kept open during the winter. It just wasn’t Trixie’s preferred shortest route. And, unlike a human, she was not programmed to look at a physical map and work out an alternate route.

All of which is to say, when the zombie apocalypse happens we’ll have nothing to fear if we just hand out paper maps, because they’ll all blow their tiny minds trying to figure out where they are.



Sunday, 24 February 2019

No. 2

Well I finally dragged the second 440LTD in from the shed. I decided to go with the '83 belt drive model as it seemed to be in the best and most complete condition. The belt is in good shape which is critical as replacements are near impossible to find. But if needs be I can swap it out for the chain drive off the '82. We’ll see.



A preliminary once-over shows it will need a few things like brakes, new bars, and cosmetic work - lots to do. But before investing any serious time or money I want to make sure it runs. So job 1 was to check out the carbs. Sure enough, one of the diaphragms was torn so it was back out to the shed to pull the carbs off bike no. 3. I was in luck; one of the diaphragms was still good (the second was also torn). This was good news for a number of reasons, not least of which is replacement throttle slides with diaphragm can run upwards of $150 each, used.

Cannibalized a few other carb parts and now I have a complete carb setup that seems in good shape.



The proof will be in the running, of course.

So now it’s time to put enough of the bike together to hopefully (fingers crossed) get it running. With the crappy weather forecast for the next few days perhaps I’ll have some good news in a week or so. Wish me luck.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Has the time come for flying cars?


Some time ago I clicked on a link (no idea which one) in Facebook that put me on a list of recipients interested in human-sized drones and flying cars. And it’s now a rare day that goes by without some sponsored ad or video showcasing the latest technology. All of which got me thinking a bit about flying cars and whether they’d ever become a reality in my lifetime.

Flying cars have been predicted as being imminent for at least 50 years now with magazines such as Popular Science and Popular Mechanics leading the charge. For many reasons – cost and technology being but two – they have never really taken off (pun intended).

But that is now all changing, and quickly.

Multi-rotor drones of the type predicted in this 1967 issue are becoming commonplace as toys for hobbyists. They are also being used more and more in support of safety and security and business operations. Working prototypes have been developed that can transport a person some distance, limited only by the capacity of the battery power plant. And battery technology is also advancing at a rapid pace, further improving performance.

Another concern was the skill required to operate such a vehicle. With a majority of the population incapable of safe, focused use of a 4-wheeled motor vehicle operating in two dimensions, one can only imagine the chaos adding a third dimension would create. However, advances in AI for self driving cars will be the saviour here, taking control away from the lipstick-putting-on, texting, yelling-at-the-kids-in-the-back-seat, road-rage-inducing typical driver and putting it in the hands, so to speak, of computers. The only way these machines will fly is if they are capable of operating independently and without human interference.

The major roadblock will be the various well-entrenched bureaucracies such as the FAA and Transport Canada under whose authorities these vehicles would likely operate. Their starting positions will be that autonomous vehicles operating in shared airspace with regulated aircraft is a no-go from the outset. Which is not unreasonable as long as there’s a human behind the wheel/joy stick. But once the computers take charge of critical safety factors such as inter-vehicle clearances, etc., the doors will be well and truly opened for these types of vehicle to begin inhabiting the space above our heads.

Which will then lead to congestion, demands for runway space/landing zones, noise complaints….

Ah, progress.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Montana Canada?

My favourite news aggregator had these two items posted together this morning. One wonders what would happen if both were to occur.



Canada’s redneck province, Alberta, has decided that it’s not getting a fair shake from the Rest of Canada (ROC) leading some to call for separation. This is mainly because, for a variety of legitimate and not so legitimate reasons, initiatives to build more pipeline capacity to move crude oil out of Alberta to tidewater and/or the US have been stalled for years. There is some validity to this argument although there is also the point to be made that the oilcos have significantly increased production without the necessary delivery infrastructure in place, leading to over production and the inevitable downward price pressures that creates. Add to that the fact that successive provincial governments have been fiscally irresponsible, borderline criminal, by not making provisions for the typical boom-bust cycles of resource development and you have a population that feels hard done by, looking over the fence to our southern neighbour as being a more reasonable dance partner than the ROC.

The Montana petition is a slightly different proposition as the proposal is to sell the state to Canada for $1 trillion to help reduce the US national debt. The proposal has attracted interest from residents of the state for a variety of reasons: “Kristen Inbody, a columnist for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana, told CTV Regina she has spoken to a number of residents who listed legal marijuana, healthcare, better tea, and Tim Hortons as potential draws in Canada”.  All worthy objectives to be sure.

While neither proposal has a hope in hell of becoming reality – Alberta separation is the wet dream of a loud-mouthed minority and selling Montana is a joke – I can’t help but think of a scenario where both occur and a separate Alberta finds itself totally surrounded by Canada, with no access to anywhere, while the ROC simply bypasses the country-previously-known-as-Alberta by swinging a few miles to the south. One almost wishes it could happen.

Besides, Montana Canada has a nice ring to it.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

What happens in Vegas...

Well, I’m now back from a four-day guys trip to Vegas. While a core group goes yearly for Superbowl weekend, I tag along only periodically. As one would expect there’s usually some golf involved, some drinking involved, some eating involved, and some gambling involved, and this year was no exception. What was the exception was the weather. It was, compared to previous years, dreadful. Freezing temperatures, cold winds, drizzle, and some hail made the golf memorable, even if for all the wrong reasons.  And having to bundle up in layers to go walkabout was not my idea of fun – even if the scantily-clad showgirls on the Strip still managed frozen smiles in hopes of getting tips for photos from parka-clad passersby.

And, as usual, there were the characters. The most memorable for me was the 60-year-old (she told us) female cabbie who entertained us with tales of her grandfather’s golf with Sam Snead, how her grandmother was a rich socialite from Pittsburgh. Married twice, subject to spousal abuse in both cases, divorced, she now has a room-mate (male) who spoils her dogs, softening them up to the extent that the police are no longer afraid to come to her house. Never prejudiced before coming to Las Vegas, she now hates pretty much everyone – and she wasn’t shy about articulating why. And Uber drivers “are the worst”. It was a 20-minute monologue, frequently punctuated by a smoker’s hack, that left one wondering if it was all just an act put on for the rubes.

Then there was a friend’s shuttle driver whose story was he hailed from South LA. A gangbanger gone straight (he says) after a couple of prison stints. He has 9 children by 9 different baby-mamas back in LA. He was married to a “crack whore” but that didn’t last once he found out she was into drugs. He is now remarried but is having trouble with his wife because he refuses to buy a tent for her homeless brother so he’ll have a place to sleep. “He can get a job and buy his own damned tent!” He doesn’t know how long this marriage will last. Perhaps he’ll soon need his own tent. And just what are the qualifications for driving a cab in Las Vegas anyway?

But the strip was as gaudy and glitzy as ever, the new Harley dealership was imposing, the casinos were rowdy, and the drink girls were omnipresent and generous, so it was a good time overall. And a nice break from the bone-chilling temperatures we’d been enjoying (?) in January. Now if only I had more than lint in my wallet when I got home...

Thursday, 31 January 2019

The Secret History of Soldiers - a review

I don’t consider myself an expert on the First World War, but I have always had an interest in the human side of that horrific conflagration. Books exploring the soldiers’ experiences in the trenches, behind the lines, and back home fuel my fascination with the incredible sacrifices made by those men (and a few women) in a war, and at a time, that is quickly fading from our collective consciousness.

Some of the very best books I have read in that genre include William Faulks’ Birdsong, Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden, and Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy. There are many others but those come first to mind. And now I can add to that list The Secret History of Soldiers by Tim Cook.

Tim Cook is an historian at the Canadian War Museum and has written several books about the Great War (many of which I have read) but in terms of hitting my sweet spot, this volume nails it. In it he explores (from the flyleaf) “the daily lives of the combatants, how they endured the unimaginable conditions of industrial warfare: the rain of shells, bullets, and chemical agents.”

While not a fictional rendering like the books previously mentioned, The Secret History of Soldiers draws from thousands of letters home, postcards, trench art, and other sources to provide a brief glimpse into life in, and behind, the trenches. With life expectancy at the front often measured in hours and days, Cook describes the ways in which soldiers found the strength to face horrors beyond imagining and “push[ed] back against the grim war, refusing to be broken in the mincing machine of the Western Front.”

Highly recommended.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Get me out of here!

I have a love-hate relationship with winter. On occasion I have been heard to say that I don’t really mind it all that much. Of course that’s when I’m rationalizing to all my snowbird friends why we aren’t spending the next 6 months golfing in Florida or Arizona with them. And usually I don’t mind a normal winter where there are enough ‘nice’ days to offset the frequent miserable days. A day with temperatures about –5C, sunshine, and no wind is kind of magical. Being out in a pristine white landscape marred only by our snowshoe tracks and the meandering trails of nocturnal critters, birds flitting about, the heat of the sun warming our backs, is a fantastic feeling.

But this year the pendulum is definitely over on the 'hate' side of the arc. We’ve had snow on the ground since forever, and January has battered us with well below normal temperatures most days (-25C again this morning), cold north winds have been persistent giving wind chill readings in the –30s and lower, and the sun has made only rare appearances. A sort of cabin fever has set in that makes even disappearing into the shop feel like more effort than it’s worth.


In short, I’m done! So I’m really looking forward to a few days’ escape with a guys trip to Vegas. It won’t be hot, but even 15-16C will seem balmy in comparison. Throw in a round of golf, some time on the strip, (hopefully) a bit of luck at the tables, and I should be ready to face February when I get back. And from there it’s all downhill to spring and (again, hopefully) an early riding season.


Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Progress?

Okay kids, gather around the woodstove and let this old man tell you how life used to be. Once upon a time, when we actually wrote letters to each other, we sometimes used typewriters. They looked like this:




To transfer the desired letters to the page the typewriter used a ribbon, a carbon-embedded strip of cloth. Hitting the cloth with the appropriate key transferred a wee bit of the carbon to the paper, leaving an imprint of the letter. Of course, over time, all the carbon in the ribbon was used up and the ribbon was then replaced with a new one in the same old typewriter. The ribbons were generic, and very inexpensive compared to the cost of the typewriter. They were considered ‘consumables’.


Skip forward 50 years.

Now when we want a written document we print it from a computer using either an inkjet or laser printer. Similar to the ribbons of the past, the ink (or toner) gets used up over time and must be replaced. Except now there’s a twist. Thanks to the Chinese a printer can now be had for less than the cost of a decent meal in a good restaurant, while you have to sell your first-born to pay for replacement ink cartridges. (Sorry kiddo, I should have prefaced that with a trigger warning.)

So now, based on comparative values alone, the printer itself has become the ‘consumable’. Cheaply made, it might have a 12-month lifespan before some tiny, critical, molded plastic piece snaps off, rendering the entire device useless. And forget using the expensive, left-over ink in the replacement machine. Manufacturers have figured that one out too, releasing new, non-generic cartridge designs with every model thus ensuring no savings can accrue to the the frugal consumer. In fact, as most printers come with a partial ink load included, there’s even an economic argument that can sometimes be made for simply tossing and replacing the entire printer when the ink runs out. Environment be damned.

And so it was that I recently cleaned out the office cupboard and headed to the recycling depot with this load.



What a waste.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Sad news

Going through some papers today I came across these tickets for a ‘69 Pontiac GTO and wondered why the organizers hadn’t reached out to advise me of my win.

Scan_20190111

A quick check of the website explained the oversight.

Capture

Sad news indeed.

Well, there’s always next year.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

2019 – so now what?

It’s officially over. Today the Christmas tree came down and all the decorations were packed away up in the attic for another year. And I’m totally discombobulated. Remembering what day of the week it is is hard enough when retired. Throw in Christmas, New Years, family visits, community celebrations, and neighbourly get-togethers and I’m lucky if I know what planet I’m on, let alone what day it is. Fortunately the spousal unit is much more capable of keeping track of my social calendar and so I just do what I’m told. (Seriously, I do! Usually. Some times.)

But, as they say, all good things must end and so, while my liver begins its recovery process, I can start planning 2019.

Planning, for me, consists of filling a bucket with all the things I planned to do last year (See how that works?), things I hope to do this upcoming year, and all the good works I plan to do when I win the big lottery. The due date for most items in the bucket is “some day”, or perhaps, “whenever”. I find this approach gives me the most flexibility and provides a suitable response to the irritating questions such as, “Why haven’t you done ‘X’ yet?”. It also allows for a sort of soft commitment that avoids crossing the line into New Year’s resolution territory.

There’ll be some travel in the bucket. A 4-day guy’s getaway to Las Vegas in February is already in the books. A European trip is on the drawing board and in the early stages of discussion. And, perhaps, a Canadian road trip or two.

On the motorcycling front there’s nothing I want/need to do on the Harley, but I hope to get a second Kawasaki roadworthy. Who knows, there may be another old bike (or two) added to the stable if I stumble across any too-good-to-ignore deals. And, of course, the perennial favourite – ride more!

It’s also time to resurrect some old hobbies that have been surpassed by newer interests. I have a pile of electronics components and project ideas to work on. I also have a sizeable collection of wood-turning blanks that need to be converted into shavings and sawdust. And, finally, it’s time to get back into making cigar box guitars, canjos, and diddley-bows. All great initiatives and fantastic fun but the overarching issue is, what do I give up so I have time for all this? Perhaps spend less time following politics? We’ll see.

I know myself well enough to know that some of these items will still be undone by year’s end and added to the 2020 bucket, and other new ideas will pop up (“Look, a squirrel!”) to knock everything off plan, but that’s where the fun and flexibility comes in – total predictability is, after all, totally boring. Whatever happens it will be a ride.

So to all my readers, may 2019 be a year of adventure, discovery, joy, and, most of all, flexible plans.