Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring is springing in Buchanan

Its been a while and we’ve been busy – sorry about the extended interval since my last post.

We made a flying trip to Saskatoon, Prince Albert & Nipawin last week.  Marilyn had some meetings – I went out to Shellbrook to visit Ken and we both had a good visit with Al & Grace.  We had been really pissed at the fridge that came with this house for a really long time.  We never could figure out why it insisted on dumping about a cup of condensation out on the floor every day.  So when we were going to Saskatoon anyway we took the truck and brought a fridge home with us.  Marilyn put the old one on the local Facebook buy & sell page as a free fridge and within an hour had four candidates willing to come pick it up.  We could never have sold or even given it to anyone we know but when we were giving it to someone we will never see again it seemed OK.  Of course we told the new owner how annoying the fridge was but it looked really good and its hard to believe it could be as annoying as it was.

We also brought home 40 little raspberry sticks from Boughen Nurseries in Nipawin.  I fired up the Kubota excavator, scratched out some shallow trenches by the little house and planted our new raspberry patch.  Then Marilyn called Richard to come turn the water on at the little house and we discovered that the main shutoff valve had exploded over the winter.  Actually “we” didn’t discover that – Marilyn discovered that when she got soaked by a fountain coming out of the incoming line from the street.  So today I went to Preeceville and got a few plumbing bits so that we could get the water turned on without getting soaked.

This was also the week when the mayor organized a work party to build our neighbours a ramp into their front door.  Irvin has something wrong with his back which is taking away his use of his legs.  I’m not sure that anyone knows exactly what the problem is but the symptoms are that he is increasingly wheelchair bound and that wasn’t workable without ramp access to the house.  So about 10 of us got together over the course of the last 3 days to build a ramp, put railings on the sides of it and lay carpet on it.  It looks pretty good despite the qualifications of the crew.

Today I fired up the little Scat Trak and started excavating for another neighbour’s drainage project.  Keith has had a lot of trouble with water in his basement.  At one point the water pressure under his house built up to the point where it raised the middle of his basement floor by 6 inches.  Last year he had that all dug out and rebuilt.  Now he wants to change the surface drainage around the house so it doesn’t happen again.  The starting point for that project was skimming off some topsoil and sod around his house which is what we did this afternoon.



My biggest news for the last week is that I have finally resolved all my computer “issues”.  After we got home I got my prime laptop and my backup working so that I could use either of them but there was still something wrong with my prime machine.  It wasn’t throwing any error codes and there wasn’t anything showing up in any of the various Windoze performance monitors but it also wasn’t completely right.  Fairly regularly it would just go off somewhere on its own.  By “Fairly regularly” I mean at least a couple of times every hour of use and more often at least one incident every five minutes.  The activity light for the hard drive would light up solid and the keyboard/mouse would become completely unresponsive.  It would stay that was for anywhere from 5 seconds to a couple of minutes.  I did a few software tweaks which didn’t do much more than stop the “not responding” message that Windoze likes to display.  The machine just clearly had a mind of its own and it was extremely annoying, bordering on impossible to use.  The only remaining possibility that I could think of was a failing hard drive but none of the hard drive utilities that I have showed anything wrong with the one I was using.  Finally I bought a new drive off eBay and restored the system onto that drive.  Its been like I have a new machine ever since.  This computer hasn’t worked this well for literally years.  So I’m very happy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Springtime in Saskatchewan

We’re getting two springs this year.  It never really was winter on the coast but by the time we left, they thought it was spring.  So we got to see a lot of the trees, including the cherry trees, in full bloom.  Now that we’re back home it is slowly turning from winter’s grey to spring’s colours.  The trees still haven’t budded out but yesterday I saw crocuses and the robins are back so spring can’t be far off.


I spent most of yesterday and the day before at a couple of local auction sales.  That’s what I like to do in the spring.  I don’t buy much other than an auction burger but I always see someone I know and have a good visit.  The sale on Friday was all the way down at Lemberg which took longer to get to than I expected.  There was one of my favourite little Case garden tractors in the sale which I wouldn’t have objected to buying but, when they finally got around to selling it, the bids quickly surpassed my estimation of its value.  When they finally quit bidding it was at $4300 which is easily double what it should have sold for. 

The tractor in question was a 448 which means it was likely built in the early 1980’s.  This one had a Linamar engine in it but I don’t think that Case ever installed any Linamar badged engines so it must have been repowered at some point.  It was in decent shape – not showroom by any stretch and it showed signs of having been recently washed.  I think it probably slobbers oil as badly as any of the older Cases like to do.  There was certainly plenty of grunge left under the hood on top of the hydraulic reservoir where the kid doing the washing didn’t bother to look. I’ve got two similar tractors – the one I repowered last fall is essentially the same machine now that I put the Linamar engine in it.  The other is nominally a smaller machine but about the only real difference is the Kohler engine.  I haven’t got $3300 in the pair of machines and that includes the replacement engine plus the 2 Onans I have sitting on the shelf plus the carcass of the Roper that I pulled the Linamar out of.  If someone walked by and offered $2500 for either of my machines I’d run all the way to the bank in Canora to get his cheque deposited before he changed his mind.  Auction fever I guess.

The sale yesterday was a local consignment sale.  In other words it was 4 acres of junk with a hotdog stand in the middle.  The auctioneer was on par with the equipment he was hired to dispose of.  When I arrived in the morning they were playing Ukrainian polka music over the auction speakers.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Ukrainian polka music but in this case they were singing in Ukrainian too.  You don’t hear that everyday.  Or possibly it was Polish.  I’m not in tune with the fine points of difference. 

Last night we went to the long awaited Buchanan Black Box Theatre presentation of Spamalot.  It was every bit as good as we could have hoped for.  We didn’t get home until 1:30 which is about 3 hours past our normal bedtime but it was well worth it.  Saturday was the last night so the cast was unwinding and nobody was in a hurry to leave. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bleepin’ Computer dot com

We got home late yesterday afternoon, capping what must be our most leisurely stroll ever across the western half of this country.  When we left Cow Bay, a week ago this morning, we intended to stop and visit a couple of couples along the northern route.  Typically we leave Vancouver, point the hood ornament east and head directly to Buchanan.  This time we angled northeast through Jasper and Edmonton.  Unfortunately for our visiting plans, our friends must have had word of our impending arrival which enabled them to vacate their residences.

We could have just booted straight through to Buchanan but we had set up a couple of other appointments which tied us to a more leisurely agenda.  So we adapted by working in an Edmonton shopping trip.  That meant West Edmonton Mall for Marilyn; KMS, Busy Bee and Princess Auto for me.  Then we spent the weekend re-uning with my Class of ‘79 summer group in Saskatoon.  Eric and Deanne had (bravely) opened their house to a weekend potluck.  Calling it “potluck” is a real stretch because Eric did all of the important cooking – namely the meat and the desserts – the rest of us brought a few salads.  And the desserts – oh my goodness!  I’ve always wondered what Deanne sees in him but now I know.

Yesterday we swung through Regina, stopped at Costco and were unloading the car by mid afternoon.  And what a job that was.  We had literally every nook and cranny on the poor old Lincoln stuffed full of “stuff”.  We started with over 15 gallons of wine and port plus 6 milk jugs of crab so there wasn’t a lot of space left to work with but what there was we made good use of.  We actually had to limit our activity at Costco simply because we had no place to put anything more.

As I have alluded to previously, I have had more or less non-stop computer grief since we left here in January.  Between dead keyboards, corrupt UAC and loss of network access I have had a miserable time of it.  The cloud over my head may have finally lifted however.  Last night I stumbled onto a registry utility on which appears to have fixed not one but both of my sick machines.  The utility still hasn’t made a clean pass through the registry but after the first pass on my backup machine it had cleared the UAC problems that have been plaguing me for a couple of weeks.  So I thought “what the hell” and ran it on this machine as well.  This is the one that all of a sudden lost all network connectivity after an antivirus “update”.  On this machine, as on the first one, it has yet to make a completely clean pass through the registry but after the first pass I noticed that it had restored network access.  So that’s good.  Really good.


Right now I’ve got the Mozy restore paused because it was consuming too much horsepower and preventing me from typing this weblog post.  This has been my only computer for years and I never lost any data so I don’t need to do a huge recovery.  I was always well backup up – I never worried about data loss. I just couldn’t connect to any networks from about the time we arrived on the boat.  Which was a huge pain in the ass but in the recovery sense not a great big task.  My biggest worry all along was that I would end up having to do a clean install of Windows but it appears that I may have dodged that rather large bullet.

This morning I installed a new 1 TB drive in what ended up being my backup machine and I’ve cloned the hard drive that was in that machine onto the new drive.  Its now getting started on a week long data restore from the cloud.  Right now it is estimating just over a week but it will no doubt take longer. 

Now that I can relax a bit on the computer front I have been slowly firing up my collection of antique equipment.  The mighty Ford coughed a bit and stumbled once or twice once it was running but no big deal.  The Exploder lit right up so I kicked it out of the garage to make way for a more deserving resident. The little Perkins in the skidsteer is such an easy starter – the batteries were getting a little soft so it barely rolled over but it caught on the 2nd or 3rd piston that hit TDC and fired right off.  I haven’t fired up the oriental wonder in the little excavator but its a pretty easy starter too and it has glowplugs.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Otter Bay "cruise" weekend

Shortly after we bought Gray Hawk we also joined the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club (SNSYC).  Our choice of yacht clubs was based primarily on the list of reciprocals as well as the fact that it is - in the yacht club world anyway - cheap.  Reciprocal moorage is the arrangement between yacht clubs that allows members of a club with reciprocal privileges to stay free for some, usually brief, period of time on the co-operating club's reciprocal dock .Our club has an extensive list of reciprocal docks throughout the San Juan Islands, Puget Sound and up as far as the north end of Vancouver Island.  It costs us roughly $600 per year in membership fees.  If we get 12 free nights of moorage that pays for the membership.  We don't always get that many nights free but there's a social element to the club as well.

This weekend we're doing one of the club's compulsory fun things.  They organize what they call cruises through the summer, starting off with this Easter weekend trip to Otter Bay.  "Cruise" is a reach for what they do on most of these events.  For most members the "cruise" consists of untying from wherever they spend most of the year, motoring for a few hours to wherever the weekend event is and tying up again.  Judging by the number of helpers that were standing on the dock when we arrived, salivating at the chance to grab our lines, the average member doesn't even need to know how to dock in order to cruise.  Judging from a few of the episodes we saw on the dock, some of our fellow members shouldn't be allowed to go anywhere that doesn't have 6 or 7 dockhands waiting for them.

Yesterday the activity was a walk to the local "farmer's" market.  To appreciate the significance of that sentence you have to understand that we are at ground zero for the Canadian Green movement.  Dizzy Lizzie represents these nitwits and its not hard to understand why they think she is doing a good job.  As a good friend of mine told me years ago "the people get the government they deserve".  The natives of this intellectual backwater clearly desire to be represented by an idiot.  I don't think I was actually the only hetero male at the market but we may very well have been in a minority.  I am 110% certain I was the only person there with any real understanding of food production.  I sat on a bench drinking an organic gluten free fair trade free range coffee and wishing that I had a Monsanto jacket.

It is very pretty here.  The walk to the market was pretty pleasant.  Its not a great marina though - the ferry dock is about a half mile from our moorage so we get waked regularly and the bay is open to the ferry traffic between Tsawassen and Swartz Bay so its pretty roly-poly all the time.

Yesterday was the end of the line for the HMCS Annapolis.  As I wrote about earlier, the Artificial Reef Society of BC had previously obtained permission from a host of governmental goobers to sink the old destroyer as an artificial reef.  Then some doob lawyer with high priced real estate overlooking the proposed site started a lawsuit to prevent the sinking.  Common sense finally prevailed, the injunction was lifted last month and yesterday they pulled the plug on the old girl.  We watched her sink via live webcam.  She went straight down and disappeared completely in just over a minute.  By the 2 minute mark you couldn't tell there had ever been a boat there.  The goal is to have her sink straight down so that she lands in precisely the chosen location.  By that measure it certainly looked like a picture perfect event.

Now that the Annapolis is safely on the bottom we can admit that we actually toured her extensively.  The society didn't want anything to possibly interfere with the sinking so we were sworn to secrecy but we had a good tour and took a lot of pictures.  They did an incredible job of cleaning her out.  I can't imagine how many man hours must have been spent pulling insulation, washing gearboxes and just generally sanitizing a huge ship.  I'll never get to see her in her new resting place but I did get a good look at her before she went down.