Archive for July, 2011

When I started this blog every 10 posts I wrote an ‘introspective’ for lack of another word.  It has been awhile so I figured I would try another.

What have I learned/observed?

1)      People like to read my lessons on Jewish holidays.   While my favorite such post, (there have only been two) was about Chanukkah, it gave me a new found respect for what it is to be Jewish.  You readers on the other hand seem to like the one about Passover.

2)      I’ve written one post at somebody else’s suggestion.  It was not a pleasant experience so while I am open to suggestions, I’m a little gun shy on the whole concept.

3)      If you are going to write a fictional piece, it may be best to create another page for that purpose. The post generated a lot of questions.  The bulk of the story is true.  The only part I made up was the very end.   Since writing that post I have learned that most of the locals do believe the Avondale is haunted, but I made the ghost part up.  When we drove up to the Avondale there were two grizzly men, but one got in a pickup truck, the other got on a motorcycle and they both drove away.  There was no picture of George on the wall.

4)      I learned how to post stuff on YouTube and since then I’ve learned how to embed them on my page.  Now I have to come up with more video.

5)      Foxes are really beautiful animals. Elephants are still my favorite.

6)      One of my most popular posts had to do with a conversation between my mother and myself.  It seems a lot of people identified with it, I’d like to say the conversation was unique, but really it was just normal for my family.

7)      I may suffer from a little road rage.

8)      With some of our pets getting older I am dreading the next few years and the decisions that are going to have to be made.  After the passing of Maya I am finding that ‘dreading’ is to light a word.

9)      Never take air-conditioning for granted, we would have never survived this last week without it.  At the moment I love my air-conditioning almost as much as I love my Garmin.

10)     I still stand by my previous lessons learned.

11)     I feel a little bad about punching Ant because he was just doing what wasps do.  Now I check the van before I start it up.

13)    The most common phrase that people type into a search engine and find my blog is ‘mouse poop’  I find it a little worriesome that people are typing ‘mouse poop’ into a search engine.

14)    I don’t care what people say, possums or o’possums are really cute.  

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I’ll Pick You Up

My wife and I are a one car family.  We both work the same hours which means one person gets to work early and leaves late.  After looking at all the facts it was decided that logically it made more sense for me to take the car.  By logically I mean that in the winter I would have to scrape the snow and ice off the car and by the time I arrive at her work the car would be toasty warm.  And in the summer I would get to deal with a car that feels like an easy bake oven, but by the time I get to my wife’s lab the car is nice and cool.

The other day my wife wasn’t feeling so well so she made an appointment with the doctor which means she had to take the car. She dropped me off at work and said she would call me after her doctor’s appointment.  A few hours later my phone rings.  The display on my phone says ‘car’ along with a picture of my dashboard.  We have OnStar so our car does have its own phone number so I list it that way in my phone.  The conversation went something like this, and please keep in mind my wife really wasn’t feeling well.

Me: “So what did the doctor say?”

Wife: “As I thought, I have an infection in my throat, but I’m going to work anyway seeing as I don’t have a fever and I am not contagious.”

Me: “Well at least you don’t have a fever, so did you get any good drugs?”

Wife: “Not really just some antibiotics which you will have to pick up before you pick me up.”


Me: “Before I pick you up?”

Wife: “Yes from the Walmart right by your work, the usual place,”

Me: pulling my phone from my ear so I could look at the display, yup she was calling from the car, “uhm, I don’t think I can pick you up today.

Beat…then chuckling on the other end of the line

Wife: “Well I told you I wasn’t feeling well”

Me: “Well at least you have provided me some material for my next blog!”

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There is a term in the Air Force known as the bio-line.  Psychologists started looking hard at this bio-line back in the 80’s. Basically flying a plane uses the left half of the brain, all the additional (military in this case) information is processed through the right brain.  During certain situations pilots were passing out in the cockpit during simulations.  If a pilot of a fighter jet passes out or becomes unresponsive the jet levels out.  Which is a bad thing because then the enemy can lock onto its target.  They figured out that there was so much information that the right brain was starting to encroach on the duties of the left brain which over stimulated the pilot who would then black out.  Oddly this only happened in simulations.  Only when the pilots were able to answer question anonymously did the truth come out.  When in flight pilots instinctively knew that they were being overwhelmed and would turn off all ‘non essential’ equipment and would fly into battle using their wits more than anything.  I understand that thankfully for the most part this issue has been resolved. But it does go to show that sometimes technology can be too much.

There is a large cable company that deals with cutting edge equipment in the communications field.  There is a constant stream of new products hitting the market and ending up in our homes.  The problem is the future really is now.  This stuff is coming out so fast and furious it even leaves the installers confused at times.  Not all that long ago a TV had two ports, one for the plug so that it plugs into the wall and another for the cable that went from the wall to the back of the TV.  Then came the cable box which was still pretty simple, cable goes from the wall, to the cable box, and from the cable box to the TV.  Now there are a multitude of cable boxes, just for standard digital TV itself, not that pesky analogue stuff of 8 years ago.  We also have a multitude of HD boxes and let’s not forget about HDDVR’s. There are boxes that have HDMI cords, others have component cables.  There are host boxes where you can have one DVR and watch that DVR from the ‘slave’ boxes which can be in other rooms in the house.  Some cable boxes are the size of two decks of cards, others are as large as an old record player, (remember record players?).  Basically there is a lot of equipment that technicians have to deal with.

The following conversation took place between a technician which installs this type of equipment and a co-worker who works behind the scenes with the different types of equipment.  In no way is this conversation a reflection on either of the two parties, it is however, a reflection on how fast things are changing in the field.

Technician: “I’m bringing these cable boxes back to you because the DVR portion of the box is either shut off or broken”

Co-worker:  “The cable box in your hand?  That’s the one that you are having DVR problems with?”

Tech: “Yes, and I have three more that I tried and they are all having the same problem.”

Co-worker: “Well the problem is that this particular box is not a DVR it is a straight HD box.”

Tech: “No it is an HD DVR combo box”

Co-Worker: “No I’m telling you this is a straight HD box.  There is another box that looks just like this one which is an HD DVR, but this particular box is HD only.”

Technician flips over the back exposing the bottom of the box and points at the cooling fan. “See there is the fan so it is a DVR.”

Co-Worker: “Cooling fan or not this is an HD box. I can tell because this one says DCH3200 and I know that the DCH3200 is an HD box.  The DCH3416 which looks exactly like a DCH3200 except that it says DCH3416 is the DVR.  The other way I can tell you is if you look inside the box, between the air vents you can see there is no hard drive.  If there is no hard drive it cannot record and if you can’t record it is not a DVR”

At this point another technician enters the conversation.  “You can tell by weight” he says, “This box is light in comparison to a DVR and that is because the hard drive is heavy, no question this is an HD box.”

Original technician realizes his mistake and is starting to chuckle.  “Okay” he says, “It’s an HD box but I don’t like it anymore, can I still give it back and get some DVR’s?”

Co-Worker goes and gets the tech some DVR’s which are completely different, different colour, different dimensions, different look figuring it would be easier for the tech to spot the difference amongst all the other pieces of equipment on the truck.

Tech: “This is an HD DVR?”

Co-worker: “Yes”

Tech: “How do you know for sure?”

“Because it says right on the front DCX3400”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if it said DCX3400 DVR”

“Yes, yes it would.  But then we wouldn’t get to talk nearly as much.”

“Well there is that.”

“Plus this box is a little heavier, it does have a cooling fan, and if you hold it at an angle and look through the grating you can see the hard drive”

“I’m getting to old for this.”

“I hear you brother, but now we have the difficult task of finding the correct power cord that powers this puppy!”

Technician looks like he wants to cry as they wander over to the 5 shelves of power cords

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Emerging from carrier

The other day we got a call from Sparrow our local wildlife rehabilitator.  There were two foxes that needed to be released.  It wasn’t skunks so I was down with it.  Not that I have anything against skunks, but we have had too many close calls between the husky and skunks, and many a nights we have arisen from our slumber with tears in our eyes due the odor of Pepe Le Pew. 

This morning we picked up the foxes. I believe it was the first time I’ve seen foxes up close and they are incredibly beautiful animals. When the foxes left the safety of the carriers and started running around the woods, well lets just say it was one of those indescribable magical moments that will last a long time for both my wife and I. 

I have been unable to download video onto this blog, so I only brought my trusty little camera down to the release rather than my supercool video camera.  My little camera does take some decent movies and I did manage to capture some of the excitement.  I also managed to create a YouTube account and posted the video here.  So this is my first appearance on YouTube.  Before you click on the link see the photo’s below.  I’d also like to take a moment to thank Robyn (aka Sparrow) and the good folks at Centre Wildlife Care for giving us the opportunity.

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We went to the Cracker Barrel for dinner.  If you have been to one Cracker Barrel you have been to all the Cracker Barrels because they are all the same.  We went there for breakfast over the weekend and decided to go again for dinner.

Walking into the restaurant the greeter asked me how my day was going and thanked me for coming to the Cracker Barrel.  The person who arranges for your seating asked me how my day was going and thanked me for coming to the Cracker Barrel.  The person who then seated me thanked me for coming to the Cracker Barrel. 

Our waitress took our order.  I ordered a hamburger steak with two country veggie sides.  We had a big discussion at what constituted a veggie, because I didn’t think fried apples should be classified as a vegetable.  I learned that it was ‘country vegetables’ which it seems are different from city vegetables.  That aside, I ordered the fried apples and the steak fries for my sides, and the meal came with some kind of rolls.  My wife ordered the country fried steak and she choose green beans and the fried apples as a side, but then changed the green beans to corn.

A manager came by and asked us how everything was going.  Some other staff member came by and asked how things were going and would I like a refill on my soda.  Then another manager came out with our rolls and assured us that our meal was coming right out, and of course wanted to know if we were doing okay.

At this point I made the comment to my wife that I was really getting sick and tired of people asking me if everything was okay.  

Our food came, our waitress did not bring the food, they have separate people for that.  I’m not sure how there are so many people out of work!  Cracker Barrel must have hired half the town.  Anyway, my wife’s plate not only had the country fried steak but had both green beans and corn along with the fried apples.

My meal also arrived with the fried apples and corn, I didn’t order corn but it looked good so I was happy with the mistake.  Our Waitress brought the bill and of course asked if everything was to our liking.  Seeing as we both had a mouthful of food we nodded ‘yes’.  I like the fact that they bring the bill first, that way I don’t have to wait for it when I want to leave.  We briefly looked over the bill to make sure they didn’t charge us for the extra side dish.  They didn’t.  A moment later somebody else showed up with my steak fries, and of course wanted to know if everything was okay.  Grrr!

Another manager showed up at the table and asked us if we were enjoying the meal and if everything was to our satisfaction.  I wanted to tell him everything was wonderful except for the fact that we were being constantly interrupted by staff people asking us if everything was okay.  But I kept my mouth shut.   My wife explained about all the food we got and the extra sides.  We made sure he knew we were not upset.  He said he would look into it, (not that we cared if he did or didn’t). 

Our waitress came back to refill our drinks, and of course wanted to know if everything was okay.  My wife made mention about the extra sides.  The waitress apologized and said she probably put the order in wrong.  We assured her that she didn’t because she had read it back to us and that we did get everything we ordered plus some.  Even after we assured her that all was good she apologized again, and hoped that our meal was to our satisfaction. 

I went to pay the bill.  All three cashiers were busy at the moment, but there was another employee standing there who asked me how my meal was, and wanted to make sure everything was okay.  He also assured me that a cashier would be free in just a moment and he would direct me to the cashier when one became available.  This stumped me a little bit,  I wear glasses but I’m not blind, certainly even a moron like myself would be able to figure out when a cashier was free.  But this guy did stay with me and tried to make small talk, all I really wanted was for him to go away.  Then two, count ’em, two cashiers opened up at the same time.  I took it upon myself to choose which one to go too and was heading to the closest one but I was wrong.  The man ushered me to the furthest one, so I took the extra half step not a big deal.  As he led me to the cashier he thanked me for choosing Cracker Barrel.   The cashier then asked me how I liked the hamburger steak and hoped everything was okay!  I was honestly amazed that I rejected all the witty sarcastic remarks that I could have made.  Instead I just thanked her very much and paid the bill and headed for the door.

I was so close.  I had my hand on the door and was heading outside.  But I wasn’t fast enough.  From behind I heard a voice talking to me.  I turned my head, an employee was opening the door for me and once again he hopped I had a pleasant dining experience and thanked me for choosing Cracker Barrel.  

I’m thinking the next time we go back and they constantly ask me if everything is okay I’m going to reply that no, everything is not okay.  I have Crohn’s disease so in about half an hour my stomach is going to hurt.   Also I work very hard at my job and I don’t get paid nearly enough.  I’m going to tell them that we heat our house using oil and I’m really worried about oil prices. I might throw in the fact that we have six cats and a husky and they are all getting up there in age and it seems like we are taking somebody to the vet every other week. And… and, well you did ask!

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