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...