Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out with the old in with the New!

It's here, the last day of 2006. It's really snuck up on me this year, but looking forward to 2007 and all the opportunities and adventures it will present.

I typically do not make any Resolutions, at least in the past but I have seen a need to change much of how I do things. The atypical diet and activity being very high on the list. I have not been taking advantage of this wonderful area in which we live. I have fallen into this "sit at home" rut, and in falling into that rut all other issues that surround inactivity have also caught up with me. The usual weight and strength loss, a reduction in the amount I read/study and learn, the drive that has taken me so far both personally and in my interests has faltered. I know that forcing myself out of this comfort zone that I am in will not be easy but will bring many unseen benefits to me.

The past year has not all been a rut, with many fantastic visitors to us, many good times and memories. We also had some great trips...
  • Camping on Queen Charlotte's Islands
  • Spending a fabulous week on Quadra Island
  • Visiting friends and family in Prince George, Hazelton, and Terrace
  • Many day trips to Duncan, Nanaimo, and other points here on the Island
We have spent much time working on improving our house, as many of you have seen either in person on through previous Blog updates. The three biggest improvements being the installation of the Blaze King wood stove in January 06. 90% completion of full wall-to-wall ceramic tile, and the removal and rebuilding of our back deck. It has been a very busy year and very productive in addition to these we also fully Tiger'ized our bathroom (T -I -double Grrr'd  ;-) ) as well as redoing our laundry room.  While this has taken a big step forward in Home improvements, as any of you homeowners know there is always more to do. 
2007 list as it stands now...
  • Final Tiling
  • Lose the textured 1970's walls  fill, sand, prep and paint
  • Molding, both floor and crown
  • Lighting in hallway, Kitchen, living room and dining room
  • Pot hanger install in kitchen
  • Sunroom expansion off dining room
  • Possible skylight in living room
  • Front Fence and Gate replacement
  • Expansion of Driveway to allow cars to park near the front yard (this will lead to maybe building a garage/workshop in 08)
  • Re-Roof the house and Sunroom, (needs soffit, and everstrough replacement too)
  • Landscaping back yard
The other big activity I will be focusing on is improving my Skill-set in the technology field with focus on Security, OS integration, Linux, and several applications that have my interest. I see that there seems to finally be a drive to recruit staff to focus on the security side, I guess the Corporation and Governments have finally seen their bottom dollars getting hit by these breaches. It has always interested me and I have been able to gain much insight and experience in this via web resources. I do need to further my skills on the Server-side of the house, or rather to continue to develop them.  I have many ongoing projects that will utilize these types of skills and will be a work in progress.

Since we now have the Canon DSLR I am scheduling many hikes, starting with Day hikes around the Southern part of the Island, of course this will allow me to get out there as well as increasing my Photography skills. As well as using my software to edit the pictures when complete. I have already printed out several pictures that I am impressed with, mostly the composition has grabbed me. As usual my primary interest with the camera is wildlife and scenery type shots. I will need to invest in a decent Mono-pod and perhaps a better/bigger camera bag, (the one I purchased is already full with the 70mm-300mm lens, hood and filters.), I suppose I could try to get a lens case to attach to the bag to create space. I will need to carry both the tripod and mono-pod though, as once you are doing any tightly composed shots the camera shake is always more pronounced on these shots. I was shooting some deer in the field yesterday there was 5-7 of them but with the zoom I could not get a clear shot.

I am also playing with the idea of selling my FJ1200, I am very interested in getting a BMW F650 GS Dakar , of course every time I get back on my FJ I have so much fun on it that I then question why I would sell. We will see though.  How about one of these instead?

Wishing you all, Friends, Family and anyone who reads my Blog, the best Health, Happiness, and future in 2007!


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas wishes

"Joy, Joy. May God shower joy upon us. Christmas brings us all good things. God give us grace to see the New Year; and if we do not increase in numbers may we at all events not decrease."
Traditional Scottish Christmas Toast.

Well it's here! Christmas Eve, it's so hard to believe that the year is almost gone, but so great that it is this time of season. I was up the Malahat and into Duncan yesterday picking up our Farm Turkey and it was snowing up near the turn off for Shawnigan Lake. It was really Christmas'y. This is our first Christmas not using a mass-produced, and drug filled Turkey. yes it cost a bit more than our usual "Stupor Store" one. I expect though that it is going to be a much higher quality tasting bird, as all the other meats we have purchased have been. They have local farmers, that do not use the typical growth drugs, the only drugs they do use are ones that would be needed to look after  the animal should they become sick, (or prevention of course), they are grain or naturally fed, and are free ranging animals. The steaks, Chicken and Pork products have been fantastic. They have better than 20 different types of sausages too. It is called "The Meat Market" and is located on the right side of highway(heading North) just as you enter Duncan. Just past The Old Farmers Market, a great spot for fruit and produce. So the bird goes in today just after noon, although I spent a good deal of time doing the prep work yesterday. We are really looking forward to our Christmas dinner, the Wife is working through the holiday's this year but her Sister is over to spend the season with us.

We've purchased ourselves an early gift a new Camera. We bought the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, as well as a 70mm -300mm lens in addition to the 18mm-55mm that came with the kit. I also picked up a couple of filters. There is a lot to learn about using it properly, it is going to be quite fun taking this new stuff in and getting good at it. I have already been out with the camera trying various styles of shots, spent a couple of hours at Hatley Castle shooting both the wildlife and the castle itself.  During the Turkey run yesterday I took a few shots around Shawnigan Lake. I have also been learning a lot about different photo editing applications. All in all it has been fun, even printed off some 8 X 10 and 4 X 6's of some of the shots to see how well they print off. Very impressed. Will need to get some of them posted.

You don't have to send money or anything else, just some Christmas thoughts.
Write the Troops, ( here  They do really like to hear from us all, they get printed out and posted to a board so all can read them!), let them know that they are missed and that their and their families sacrifices are appreciated and recognized, no matter your political views let's remember these folks sign up and go where they are told to, they have been presented with a monumental task (especially in Afghanistan) they have not shirked their duty and neither complain, nor hesitate to do their best in their role.

Let's make sure that those of us here who live our days in relative peacefulness surrounded by our friend and families, not left wanting for for any item, with opportunities that many citizens of less fortunate countries do not even dare dream of, show our support for those who put it all on the line, to assist others.

Seems lately like the Media likes to focus on the armed response that Canada has provided yet does not give the troops their due when it comes to the humanitarian activities, whether it be rebuilding the soccer stadium for the kids to play safely, rebuilding/restocking classrooms, encouraging the reopening of schools for all children and the removal of threats against those teachers/instructors who put their lives at risk by teaching classrooms of mixed sexes.

A Scottish Christmas; Linking to tradition:

Just some links to traditions form my cultural heritage. Some interesting reading.

Scottish Traditional Christmas 1

Scottish Traditional Christmas 2

Some Scottish Christmas Music:

Wishing all of you the very best wishes for the Christmas Season, hoping you all are healthy, happy and have everything you need.

May the best you've ever seen
Be the worst you'll ever see;
May a moose ne'er leave yer girnal
Wi' a teardrop in his e'e.
May ye aye keep hale and hearty
Till ye're auld enough tae dee,
May ye aye be just as happy
As I wish ye aye tae be.

by Allan Ramsay of Ayr
Merry Christmas!


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