Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes to All

Well here it is Christmas eve, and nearly a week away from the start of the New Year. Wow!

This past one has been a year of change and challenges around the world for both those known to me as well as the vast amount of those that we all came in contact with through the different media and communication sources. Almost the first year anniversary of the tragic Tsunami in Asia, many there still working towards rebuilding their communities, assisting each other in rebuilding their lives. Yet I think that even such a catastrophic event such as this can bring out the best in people and countries, many who upon hearing of this opened their wallets, and opened their hearts. Many appeared in the news seemingly giving of themselves wholly without desire to gain anything for themselves. Discovery channel recently aired " Unstoppable Wave" in which they followed a collection of scientist to find the location and cause of the Tsunami, (repeating on Christmas day at 7 and 10 AM) it is an excellent explanation of what occurred far under the ocean. Well worth a watch if you can view it. Guess this was a precursor to other natural disasters that occurred with greater frequency than previously recorded. Each had their victims and their saviors, I hope that this upcoming year will see us with less occurrences of these and less suffering for those who get caught in them.

I went through some radical changes recently myself. I have completed my Canadian citizenship by performing my oath at the ceremony in Citizenship Court. It was a surprise as I had been informed at the test, months earlier that it would most likely not occur until 2006. So now I have dual Citizenship (EU/Canadian)! It was much more emotional than I had expected, I really felt charged up by the whole event. The ceremony itself was very moving and no where as bureaucratic and dry as I thought it would have been. It really made me proud that I am now a Canadian and part of this great Country's family. Additional as we are coming up on a Federal election I will now be able to participate, I am really looking forward to this, my first vote ever. I am now also able to travel outside of the country, well let me be clear about that I have always been able to travel outside, it was coming back in where the issue was since the change to the law that required me to carry a PR Card (Permanent Residents), I could have applied for one but after much discussion with A , we felt the time was overdue to join the country that has been my home for nearly 38 years.

Things at work went down the tubes this year with a labor issue that came to a head. Now things are back on track although they are not the way they used to be, many relationships that have been damaged, many trusts broken as has a tendency of occurring with these kinds of troubles. It will heal with time for most I hope. I am continuing towards certain Certifications, although much of what I am trying to achieve I am doing so by building my knowledge in both theory and practical rather than the "paper-certs" that you see everywhere. One of the managers summed it up perfect referring to several MCSE's that this Manager knew of, he said it stood for M ust Call S omeone Else. I don't want to be seen as one of them. I am very interested in the portions of IT that I have chosen to pursue, I also believe that the skills I am honing will continue to serve me well in the future as they have in the past. I think 2006 could be the most exciting year with the focus I am taking, it should be fun to see where it all ends up a year from now.

Home life is going very well, we have (As you have seen from previous posts) really made some improvements around the house. With the help of some friends we have started getting the electrical issue resolved. I am doing up a detailed floor plan in order to plan out the new drops, as well as pre-wiring for the Sunroom. We should be installing the new wood stove late winter. As well as starting the floors very soon after the holidays. Painting and prepping the rooms before hand. The kitchen I think will be the first room to be done as much of the hardware is already in hand, with the exception of the tiles.

We wish all our family, friends and anyone else who has stopped in to read my blog the very best of the Christmas season to you and your family. We hope it is filled with happiness, warmth and good friends. We look forward to again meeting up with as many of you as we can in the upcoming year, and hope that if you are ever over our way that you take the time to look in on us.

"In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want."

Nollaig chridheil !


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Update - Yes Finally ;-)

OK I broke my typing finger that is why the site has not been updated in forever... hmm not buying into that one are you? Could make all the excuses under the sun, but in all truth just have not had much time to focus on it.

Here we are a matter of weeks away from the most important day of the year.... (my Birthday, naw just kidding but what a coincidence), yet another year that has flown by, as each one seems to do in quickening succession. It has been a fantastic year for us here in Victoria. We have a had a parade of great people coming from all over to spend some time with us. We have got a lot of projects on the way or completed around the Castle. Winter projects are ongoing and include the installation of a wood stove as our primary heat source, we presently use a combination of fireplace and portable oil heater. The house has several old style baseboard heater which provide a shocking increase in our electric bill with very little heat to show for it.

We brought in a Chimney sweep, (was disappointed that the service provided did not include a musical rendition of  Chim-Chim-Cher-ee  been a while since I have seen Dick Van Dyke doing that). to both clean and inspect chimney, as the inspection part is one of the primary steps before installing a wood stove. Thankfully the Chimney passed, saving a large expense. Next step is to speak with the Father-in-law, a mason and house builder in Northern BC. He just installed a couple of stoves, and since he has all the experience and knowledge it would be crazy not to check with him about it.

Another project that we are getting help with is our electrical and wiring configuration in the house. Presently we seem to be able to blow a breaker in the Living room and Kitchen area, see above note about baseboard heaters, we also have a real shortage of plugs in the common rooms. One of my co-workers learned of my plans to perform the upgrades, and offered up her Hubby's services. He is a trained and qualified electrician, from England. It was really nice of them to offer to assist us, asking for nothing, (but you know how that sits with me ;-) ), so he is going to bring over his tools and we will need to start by mapping the wiring/breakers out first, I am hoping that the elimination of the baseboard heaters will allow us to add several plugs, there are also a couple of spares on the panel as well that we should be able to take advantage of. With the coming spring project for a new deck and Sunroom it would be nice to dedicate a complete circuit to this area. They seem like a real nice couple, A was very taken by them and is hoping that we can get out and do some things with them.

Speaking of meeting new people, I recently put an ad in Kijiji, (eBay's new free localized classified service) for a chin fairing for my FJ1200. A guy,
MonkeysWrench locally passed his contact information to me. So gave him a call and we met up, he is the owner of both a '86 and 92 FJ. While the fairing he had was not what I was after, we went for a ride to Mill Bay for coffee, turns out we have a fair amount in common.He and his other half ride with group called the Southern Cruisers local 443 I went out with the group a couple of Sunday's ago for a ride from Langford (Sort of Victoria's Surrey) to Sidney for coffee. Riding with a group, or even with another is very different than my normal solo riding. Lots more to pay attention to and be responsible for. MonkeysWrench sent me this fantastic and logical guide to riding in a group you can view it here. Thing is I think a  lot of riders forget how much more demanding it is to ride with others, and how much more precise you have to be with all your actions for the safety of both yourself and for those around you. He also gave me a few other ideas, while riding back from Mill Bay I took the lead, it was a sloppy night to be riding, not that it has ever stopped me before, but having him follow was something else. He has mounted these two driving lights on the lower points on his bike, basically it was like being pursued by a freight train, his lights were lighting the road in front of me much better than my own single lamp.He also mounted some small LED lights on top of each the swingarm's ends, they are small non blinding ;-),  but what a difference they make to increase your visibility to others from behind. I am going to have to pick some up from Quayle's and play around with them a bit, perhaps side mounting a couple or underframe. Yes you guessed it, I have bought a set of Pilot 37000, white beam lights, these also have a blue LED function that can be toggled on or off as need be for fog riding. I spent yesterday replacing my wimpy horn with a highway low tone unit. I also got rid of the old grips and swapped to a set of red/black Sport grips from ProGrip. Yes December in Canada and still riding, the third winter in a row and still riding,  gotta love Victoria.

Well more to say but it will have to wait a couple of days...


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

So far so good...

I am enjoying this Blogger site - (For those of you reading this on my MSN Spaces site click here. ) more and more. The configuration available seems limitless or about as limitless as you can get with out the overhead of your own server. ;-) I still have a long way to go with it, but can see it being used more and more. Can't wait to organize things a bit before advertising that this is up and running.

Cruising out this weekend for a camping trip, heading up to China Creek,near Port Alberni. Weather is supposed to be marginal, but hey who cares! It's time out there away from the day to day stuff. Its late October in Canada so typical fall weather is to be expected, nothing that a good campfire, large drink and warm company can not fix. We were at this location in Thanksgiving last year, had it to ourselves and hope it will be the same this year. I should have some great pictures when I get back to update the flickr website with. Did the Turkey up this past weekend, with my special stuffing of course, so we will have a delayed Thanksgiving dinner in the woods.

I got some great news on the camping front. Looks like the wife's friend and her hubby have bought a camper and want to begin some winter camping together. Perhaps heading to Tofino or Long Beach for a few trips over the winter. That should be a blast, I have never camped on the ocean in the winter and expect the storms and the waves to be impressive. Maybe they may want to head up to Mt Washington or Strathcona Park for some snow camping? That could be a lot of fun, don't know how our little hounds would handle it, but Andre has done the winter temperatures before and does fine in it.

Sad news on the passing of Rosa Parks, someone who must have had a very strong will to challenge the Laws of the days, to stand against such an oppressive Government and Law enforcement and to do so in a time when there was little support for her actions. I am sure that she will long be remembered for her actions on the Bus that day, and for actions taken ever since. Even though it has more bearing on the American history than anywhere else I am sure that she has worldwide recognition as being brave enough to stand against the wrongs being done to her and her people for all those years proceeding her initial actions. I would hope that she had in her time seen some improvement for the Black Americans and that she would have known how key her role was in making the positive moves forward. Time Magazine has an excellent article on her here


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Day of Reckoning

Quake 4! The return of one of the most intense and paranoid games should occur today. I say should as I had gotten my hopes up once before this week. The Launch date was moved back from this past Tuesday, (Tuesday always seems like a bizarre day for a Launch Date anyways) to today. I thought I better pre-order, ok I am sure they are not going to run out but wanted to make sure. All things being equal I am sure I will be very bagged tomorrow when I am getting up for work. At least I am hoping this to be the case, just another sign of an addictive game. Happy fragging!

Security Now, a great 20 minute Podcast covering the full range of basic security concerns from Passwords to DDOS, from Spam to Rootkits. Hosted by Steve Gibson ( Shields Up, SpinRite) and Leo Laporte (TWITs, Call For Help). This Podcast is a quick and dirty overview of individual subjects, the show notes are all located on the site as are the links. I try to make a habit of listening to them on the walk in to work, some solid information.

Is there anyone else on the planet besides me that has not seen Serenity? Somehow the original series escaped my wandering eye. Now I am playing catch up with the original series before seeing the movie. I am not sure it will still be in theatres by the time I get caught up, may end up on the rental list. March of the Penguins is out on DVD at the end of November, that is one that is going into the collection. I wish they offered the alternate soundtrack on it though. Emilie Simon's intro song "All is White" is very captivating and goes well with the fly in scene to the icebergs.

Camping at the end of the month! Be excellent to get away even if only for a few days. With issues at work the vacation schedule was thrown out the window this year, so even a few days away is nice to get. Heading up to China Creek near Port Alberni. We were there Thanksgiving 04, an awesome site right on the ocean. Spent much time cursing myself for not having a rod with me, yet listening to salmon splash every evening and morning. My furry friends, the ones that do not need a fishing license, left much evidence of their existence. Calling cards... A.K.A. Bear Skat. They pretty much kept themselves hidden. It is something I have noticed that differs much between the Bears here on the Island and the Bears of the Northern Portions of the Province. The guys up there are no where near as timid about showing themselves, I would venture to say that the Northern bears are much more bold in asserting themselves. Perhaps the Island Bears know that stealth is their protection here. I received the Book " Among Grizzlies", this is the diary of Timothy Treadwell, and am looking forward to reading it during the upcoming trip. What better to read about while you are out in the wilderness. :-)

Our local Cable Provider has come through in a huge way for me. Recently I was able to add Fox World Sports Soccer to our lineup. Absolutely Brilliant! Timing is great too every night I can watch a game from the English Premier league, now just to work out when the Scottish one is on, got my collection of Glasgow Rangers Jerseys ready to go. It really is one of the most enjoyable sports to watch for me.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bleeding on the Blogger

This is my first post to the blogger blog, hmm blogger blog? I have decided to try this out, after running my own from one of my servers at home, this turned out to be quite demanding as my admin plate is already overflowing, (yes my cup overfloweth ;-) ). Recent Hardware issue with my other server has taken up much of my personal time that I normally use to work on personal projects.

A few months back I decided to give MSN Spaces a shot, they took a lot of the day-to-day role away from me freeing me up to focus on other things that needed to be prioritized. While the Spaces site is very slick , easy to post to, and most of the people I know are on the IM client from them, it allows a larger range of fresh eyes to check my posts out, the only drawback is the a lack of freedom with respect to what can be added to it to individualize it.

Don't get me wrong it is a pretty good config for a simple blog. So long story short, well guess too late for that, that is what has gotten me to the Blogger option. I am also using Flickr and will start to combine the digipics I take with this blog.

I am hoping that you enjoy your visit here, I hope that I can share some thoughts with you or even expose you to information that you may not see elsewhere. Look forward to your comments