Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blown back to Regina

Well, its been a busy week in the Bader-Evans household.  We headed out on my annual Palliser trip to SW Sask and parked for a few nights in my uncle’s yard north of Kincaid.  That’s a pretty good location from which to visit a bunch of the files.  I had some long days but I got around to most of the clients and had some good visits.  Harvest is in full swing in the southwest so it was easy to find the guys.  Some of them were simply too busy to talk to me but some of them had time and I got to spend some combine time. 

Marilyn has been waiting for word on a big contract that she applied for and that finally came through this week.  She’ll be spending the winter in Regina which is a bad thing but she has a big project with SaskPower so she’s excited about that.  Aside from the contract itself the contacts she will make should help her branch out from her current dependence on SIAST. 

I flat out refuse to spend a full winter in Regina so we’ll be apart for some of the winter.  No doubt Growsafe will ship me off on some projects in warm places and I’ll likely spend some of my time in Regina.  But I also intend to spend some extended time on the boat.  I like being on the boat better than Marilyn does anyway so it makes sense for me to spend some time on it alone.  I’ve got some work that needs to be done so that we are ready to leave for Alaska in the spring so I won’t be short of things to do.  And I’m looking forward to some single-handed travelling.  The first order of business once I get out to the boat will be to set up a 12 or 13 foot aluminum dinghy on the transom.  That way I will have a real fishing boat that I can rig up with a depth finder and maybe actually catch some fish from. 

In the meantime I’ve got to leave for Maryland in the morning and Marilyn has a ton of things to do to get ready for the new job.  Her first priority is to find a place to stay.  In the short term the bus will serve but its going to get cold here pretty soon.  We could live in the bus long after any campground around here would let us.  Remember last winter we arrived back in Regina between Christmas and New Years and we still had water in all our systems.  And more importantly the water was still flowing in all those systems.  Unfortunately I expect the campgrounds around Regina will likely turn their water off around the end of September. 

Yesterday I rode in another big John Deere cutting canola.  It’s still pretty unusual to see anyone straightcut canola but I saw it a couple of times in the last week.  I asked the guy yesterday if he had ever stopped in the middle of a cut just to see how much canola gets thrashed out on the table.  He hadn’t but I’d imagine it is at least 1/3 and maybe 1/2 thrashed before it ever hits the feederhouse.  Just watching it come onto the table you could easily see a preponderance of white pods by the time they got past the reel which means that they were already open at that point.  He said he runs the reel as far back as possible to hold the whole mass back against the table and force everything to go up the feederhouse.  I didn’t crawl around behind the combine yesterday but I did behind the one earlier in the week and it was surprisingly hard to find canola on the ground.  There’s always going to be some loss and the research I have seen suggests that there is a yield benefit to straight cutting canola but with one huge caveat.  You get a yield benefit until the year when you get a big wind the day before you get there with the combine.  That year you lose everything. 

My uncle’s tenant had some swathed canola that they started on yesterday.  Late in the day the wind got up and tossed the swaths around.  Leon showed up at the house this morning for a visit and he said that after the wind he could see 5 bushels less on the monitor so that’s an indication of how easily ripe canola will shell out.  Since they were only getting around 20 bushels before the wind, a 5 bushel loss is pretty significant. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bound for Southwest Saskatchewan

We’re in the Ogema Regional Park tonight.  Its so insignificant that it doesn’t make it into the provincial registry of regional parks but its a fine little park nonetheless. 

One of the signs at the entrance to town proclaims that it is the home of some chick who played in the All American Girls Baseball league.  That’s the league that was fictionalized in “A League of Their Own” which was a cute show but I didn’t recognize the girl’s name so I don’t think she was played by Madonna.  And Geena Davis’s character came from somewhere in the midwest so it wasn’t her either. 

The park here appears to be built to support a local sports day or rodeo with maybe a hundred camp sites scatted over several acres with a couple of ball diamonds and horse barns interspersed.  There was a family gathering on the ball diamond when we arrived and they have now moved over to a neighbouring site for a campfire. 

Harvest is just getting going down here.  There’s a 9600 JD thrashing canola swaths right across the road from the campground.  I walked out for a look tonight – I don’t think he’ll be retiring off the profits from that field.  Between flooding in the spring and extreme heat through July there’s some extreme variability in the canola this summer.  I walked a few fields yesterday and they ranged from piss poor to pretty damn good. 

This week I’ve got a bunch of Palliser/Assiniboia files to review in SW Sask.  We’ll spend a couple of nights here and then move over to Kincaid where we’ll park in Norma and Fred’s yard until the end of the week.  Then we’ll likely need to be back in Regina so that SWMBO can start a major new contract.  She’s not 100% sure she has it yet but she will know this week and if she lands the work they want her to start immediately. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bullshit masquerading as security

I’m sitting in the Calgary airport waiting for a flight to Regina.  I flew over Regina about 4 hours ago on my way to Calgary from Hamilton but Westjet makes me go to Calgary if I want to get from Regina to Hamilton or vice versa.  Its worth the inconvenience in order to fly Westjet. 

Some alarm just went off in the airport.  It was a very alarming alarm but nobody seemed particularly concerned.  That should be cause for concern in itself.  We’re so used to hearing car alarms and door exit alarms go off that nobody really pays any attention to them anymore.  Someday that’s going to get some of us killed.  I ignored the door alarm at Richardsons many years ago and got yelled at by Bruce’s idiot son-in-law in front of the Bank of Montreal.  But I digress.


This airport alarm was accompanied by a flashing strobe light on the wall next to the handicapped washroom.  I think the location of the light was coincidence but some old fart of a rent-a-cop hustled off into the washroom anyway.  He came out alone.  Meanwhile I had visions of an imagined “security threat” which would eventually involve us having to re-clear so-called security screening.  Which of course would only serve to make my flight which is already late that much later.  Eventually somebody turned the alarm off and no explanation was offered.  I’ve said it many times before but it bears repeating:

As a species, homo sapiens is too stupid to survive.

I had steak and eggs for breakfast when I arrived here this morning and ate my steak with a steak knife.  On the airplane side of the “security” checkpoint.  Sometimes they give you plastic knives but not here.  And not that I think there is anything particularly wrong with eating a steak with a real knife.  Its just that if I showed up at the screening desk with …. Oh, I don’t know, maybe a knock-off Leatherman, they would freak out and immediately seize it.  As a matter of fact they did exactly that two weeks ago in St. Louis & I had to go buy a new fake Leatherman.  I doubt my flight home was any safer but I was out the price of a new knock-off.  At least Walmart benefitted. 

Next time you are on a layover and bored, wander through the gift shops and imagine how you could hijack an airliner with the merchandise on display.  That will require a certain amount of imagination but often not all that much imagination.  Imagination that is sorely lacking in the managerial ranks of air terminal operators.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh dear, I’ve heard about this one………

…….. just never thought it would happen to me. 

So this afternoon I was getting some books caught up and went online to check an amount on my CIBC Visa.  The statement items weren’t making sense though.  There seemed to be a cluster of charges in Calgary and its been a while since we’ve been in Calgary.  At first I thought I must have the dates mixed up – sometimes those bank statements are most recent to most distant and sometimes they are chronological so I was trying to make that work against the last time we were in Alberta.  But we haven’t been in Alberta for a very long time and there were all these charges in and around Calgary.

Slowly it dawned on me that I have been a victim of some kind of fraud.  I immediately phoned Visa and to their credit they seemed to be set up to handle that type of call in a very expedient manner.  No waiting on hold, not too many stupid questions and a rapid assurance that the card has been cancelled.  Also, as I have long believed, this type of incident is in no way my problem.  The girl on the phone was anxious to reassure me that the charges would not be my responsibility.  I never even had to ask and several times she emphasized the fact that they would be taking care of any of the fraudulent charges.

As far as when it happened or how, I simply haven’t a clue.  I think it was about a year ago now or maybe a little less that they sent me a new card along with an explanation that my card number had been among a block of numbers that was “compromised” and therefore they were issuing all of us new cards.  Perhaps this incident is somehow related to that although that seems strange since it is my new number that has apparently been copied.  The girl on the phone told me that whoever is using it is presenting a card – they aren’t telephone or electronic transactions. 

Their little adventure came to a crashing halt this afternoon however.  I was logged onto my account when I found the charges and immediately phoned Visa.  I referred to the account several times during the call but by the time I got off the phone with Visa I had been inactive for long enough to be logged out.  When I tried to login again evidently they had already zapped my card because I was unable to get logged onto that account.  I hope that is all of my identity that was compromised.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Getting around

We had a busy day. 

The trucklet has been missing air conditioning for some time now.  That’s a big problem in the heat wave we’ve been having on the prairies.  I set out to do some farm calls yesterday and had to turn back because I simply couldn’t stand being cooped up in what amounted to a mobile greenhouse.  The previous day I left the truck at Ukrainian Tire for a diagnosis.  They concluded that I needed to spend in excess of $2000 to fix it.  Since I’d just as soon unload it on some poor hapless sap, the thought of pouring yet another 2 boat units into that piece of worthless Ford crap was unappealing.  I have in fact had it it listed on a couple of sales sites for a couple of months but so far no fools have emerged.  Perhaps I need to further lower my price; or give it to somebody that I really dislike.

The night of the July 1st party in Buchanan neighbour Michael introduced me to his mechanic.  I liked him so yesterday I phoned him and asked if he was interested in working on the Exploder AC.  He was, so this morning we left early heading for Buchanan.  Our intent was to leave the trucklet with Sergei and bring the car back for Marilyn to use next week.  On the way back we would go by Shields to take in Norma & Ron’s 50th wedding anniversary community party. 

Our plans got upset a bit when I got to Canora with the Exploder.  First off Sergei turned out to be booked up all next week, despite having assured me yesterday that he could work on the truck.  However as we discussed the situation we kind of arrived at a work around.  I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on the truck; Sergei didn’t have time to work on it.  So instead we dumped 3 cans of refrigerant with leak seal into the system, I gave him a hundred bucks and we called it good enough.  Time will tell how well that plan works out but we had AC all day and so far I’m only out $100.  If it survives through August we won’t need AC again until next July.  And some summers we don’t really need it all summer.  In the meantime maybe some fool will come along and buy the piece of crap which I can now offer to the unsuspecting public for $2000 less than I had previously planned on.

I had intended to just drop the truck off in Canora and head directly to Shields.  All our buggering around took quite a bit longer than I had planned so we got busy and drove to Shields arriving just as the event had turned to story telling.  As we walked in the door Ron was in the middle of a story which was immediately followed by several of the attendees with their own stories.  They weren’t as bad as that kind of stories often are but some of them could have saved themselves the bother.  My favourite for the day was Ron’s retelling of the linoleum story.

The story is that my grandfather, Ron’s father, laid new lino in the farm kitchen sometime during the depression.  Evidently he had enough lino left over to cover the kitchen table.  Some local Irish bachelor, when he saw the table for the first time, said “By God Alec, if you come home drunk you won’t know if you’re eating off the table or off the floor.”  As Ron was quick to point out, that situation likely ensued because, while a very effective community leader and successful farmer, my grandfather was also an Irishman with all their reputed drinking tendencies.

Friday, August 3, 2012

We’re having a heat wave

This is my last night in southern Illinois.  I’m down here on a Growsafe installation and its been hot.  Not as hot as some places but hotter than I’m used to.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’ve been cold for 2 solid years and it feels good to be warm again.  Some of the local news is talking about temps in the low 100’s.  We’ve been in the high 90’s with high humidity as well.  I won’t mind going home.

Its hot out there

My trip down was a gong show.  They held our plane on the ramp in Saskatoon while the pilot and a mechanic covered their respective asses.  Evidently the pilot noticed a tire that he didn’t like the looks of during his walkaround.  I’m just guessing but I suspect there wasn’t a suitable replacement in Saskatoon.  That meant that the pilot and mechanic had to sign off enough paper to cover their asses so that Delta could fly the plane to Minneapolis and change the tire there.  All that ass covering took well over an hour and I only had about an hour and a half for my connection in Minneapolis.  Sure enough, as we rolled to a stop at the terminal a pickup with a new tire and a hydraulic jack lying in the box pulled in under the wing and two old geeks got out and started getting ready to change our tire.  Meanwhile we scrambled to get harassed in immigration and on our way to our respective destinations. 

I made my connection but they more or less closed the door behind me.  There wasn’t a hope in hell that my bag would make it and sure enough, when I got to St. Louis no bag arrived.  That meant some more time wasted in the lost baggage office where a very stupid woman ahead of me was going into great detail about her kids hockey bags.  When I finally got my claim filed I was able to learn that there were no more flights from Minneapolis that night which meant that my bag would (likely) arrive on the first flight in the morning.  I guess I’ve always thought that lost bags would be handled separately but no, evidently they just get dumped in the hold with every other bag.  And then they get similarly dumped out on the conveyor with all the other bags.  I’m not sure how they end up in the lost bags office because there wasn’t anybody from Delta there in the morning to pick my bag off the conveyor.  After I retrieved it I tried to contact Delta to tell them that I had my bag but that turned into a voicemail ordeal and eventually I gave up.  Obviously they didn’t care too much about it because despite having my phone number and despite not ever finding my bag they have never called to tell me where my bag is (or isn’t.)