plonq: (Emo Luna Mood)
Dear Mount Hagen Coffee,

I purchased a small jar of your freeze-dried, instant, decaffeinated organic coffee because my experience with the three previous brands of instant coffees I had tried were disappointing, and also I have no self-respect. I can say with some assurance as I gleefully tossed the empty jar into the recycling bin this evening that the coffee therein was not disappointing. I daresay it vile to the point of being insulting. These horrid little crystals bore as much resemblance to coffee as the ashes of a dearly departed. Did anybody taste the product before it was labelled as coffee? I would suggest that a the consumer would be better served if this product was renamed to, "freeze-dried tragedy. Serve hot."

I would not serve this drink to my enemies, though I would venture to suggest that I might make a few by serving good folk this abomination.

If I could find a silver lining in this brew of putrescence, it is that it spurred me into dropping all pretence of coffee in the evenings, and made me seek out an alternative to decaf entirely. The problem is not that I dislike coffee, in fact I love it too much, and I drink it in all of its full-caffeine forms during the day. I would just like to enjoy the brew in the evenings without disrupting my sleep. I've had some mixed success with whole bean and ground decaf coffee, but I was hoping to get away from the fuss and mess of brewing coffee by lowering my standards a bit - a lot, actually - and and trying my luck with instant coffee.

Anyway, I blame you and the sheer repulsiveness of your product into rendering me susceptible to my next ill-advised purchase: Bambu instant organic coffee substitute.

The product caught my eye while I was shopping for other products, and I happened by the section of the store that offers products like Almond Milk, Flavoured Soy Drink, and other items that tend to serve as a ward people who do not hate themselves. I was intrigued by the label which showed a couple spikes of wheat, several whole acorns and half a fig flying gleefully into a swirling mug of foamy, brown liquid. I held the product in my hand in a state of detached, morbid fascination before I quickly tossed it into my basket lest somebody see me and misidentify me as a pod person. I mean, surely nobody would make a product like this as anything other than a trap to ensnare aliens trying to pass themselves off as humans.

"Hello, fellow humans. Would you care to join me in a cup of beverage made from nuts, grains, and a pulpy fruit normally used for making newtons?"

I had low expectations for this beverage, so nothing would delight me more than to tell you that it was delicious. But it wasn't. It was a disappointment. From the very first cup of hot, steaming, what the hell was I thinking, I knew that I had made a big mistake. I made another cup the next night, and tried adding enough sugar to mask the flavour. No amount of sugar helped. The second cup was naught but sweet regret.

I left both products sitting on the kitchen shelf, untouched for almost a week after that. I finally concluded that I was never going to drink either of them again, and though I am loathe to waste a product, I went out to the kitchen with the intent of pouring both into the sink and recycling their jars. It was when I had both jars in my hands that I performed an act that I can only attribute to temporary insanity, or suppressed self-loathing. I decided that they deserved a proper send-off, and I was curious if their awfulness was additive or multiplicative, so I scooped half a proper portion of each into my mug and prepared it as I would a regular instant coffee.

What I had not anticipated was that their union was neither of those, rather it was subtractive. The resulting blend was not simply not bad, it was actually pretty good. It would be like putting a pug and a shih tzu into a grinder and... well, actually we could stop right there and we'd still have a winning condition. But in this case, it would be like putting two yappy, snorty dogs into a grinder and having a border collie come out the end.

I finished the last of the Mount Hagen coffee this evening, and I have since purchased a brand that was more passable. I am hoping that it will play as nicely with this coffee substitute as its predecessor. I suspect it will. I remember years ago it was common for coffee companies to add chicory to their instant coffees, and it is the main ingredient in Bambu.

Feather

Return to Pinawa

Path of The Rock

Happy Birthday CanadaHappy Birthday Canada
plonq: (Christmas Mood)
Our area was hit by (what they are currently calling) a 4.9 4.3 magnitude quake last night. I was sitting at my computer trying to decide if I should go to bed when I heard and felt what I thought was my neighbours stomping around in their room. It quickly escalated, and I realized that it was not the neighbours, but an earthquake. At its peak, the building shook and swayed and made alarming sounds, but just as quickly it passed. Short as it was, it was probably the most interesting five seconds of my life this week.

One would think that with a big garden full of Christmas lights I could find something more interesting to take a picture of than a doughnut truck, but I loved how this thing stood out like a beacon in the cold and dark, attracting hungry visitors like a porch light pulls in moths.
Donuts
plonq: (Christmas Mood)
[livejournal.com profile] atara and I have split up; she's flying home today, and I'm heading off to Vancouver for the next three days. I am torn between looking forward to spending a few days in Vancouver, and regretting that I did not just call this the end of my vacation and fly home with her.

Christmas with my family went well. We had 22 people in the house for Christmas dinner, and we managed to get through it all without fighting once. I guess the only lowlight of the trip was that Mom invited our pariah cousin over for dinner.; His mother (my aunt, obviously) recently died, and he was alone and mourning. I am glad that she invited him, and he was very grateful for it, but at the same time we were all reminded of why we have generally avoided contact with him for years.

This was the first time that many of the extended family have ever met this cousin, and I wondered how they would react to it. The moment he was out the door at the end of the evening, all the family knives came out. I feel bad for my cousin because I can't imagine how it must feel going through life knowing you leave a bad impression everywhere you go.

Victoria
plonq: (Christmas Mood)
This picture of Merry represents my vacation. It was fun, but now we both have places to be. So long, and thanks for all the lap.
Going...

I won't say how many work hours I logged during my vacation, but my managing director would have my hide if she knew. She is very strict about not working when we are on vacation, but usually I don't take off in the final stages of a complicated project. We are coming up to the final push to go into production with what we have, but the business is starting to push back pretty hard, to the point where they are threatening to stall it past the firm production date if we can't deliver on their latest demands.

And I don't blame them at all.

I think I have bitched about this project earlier (if not here, then other places) with its vague requirements and moving targets. The thing is that it did not start off with vague requirements; the business gave a list of eighteen core reports they needed replaced because the systems that house those reports are slated for decommissioning. At the start, we took that list of reports, started gathering requirements on them, and began delivering some of the easy hits, with a tentative time line on the rest.

That's when IT stepped in and said, "This suite of reports does not match our current reporting paradigm in the new environment. What we will give them is a single, massive dashboard with the bulk of their metrics in one place, with one or two supplemental reports to provide them with some of the details." That would be great if it was what the business had wanted, but it wasn't. The higher ups in IT assured them that they would love it once they got their hands on it and realized that it was the New Way Of Doing Things.

The business finally got their hands on it, and surprisingly they don't like it because it barely gives them a fraction of what they currently have and need. They are pushing back hard because they believe (rightly) that they were bullied into this by IT, and are not being given what they were promised.

They are not the only business unit that is starting to get annoyed with the new direction of IT. I have been caught in the middle of a battle between our service centre and IT over their refusal to deliver an important dashboard that the centre has been after for years. IT has built the dashboard, but it suffers because of bad records coming in from customers and other carriers alike.

Bad data is just a fact of life in this business - when Joe Shipper in Atlanta is sending a carload of sulphur pellets for export at the port of Vancouver, he doesn't know or care about the finer points of whether the facility he is shipping to is in Port Moody, Lynn Creek, Van Wharves, or Vancouver Wharf; he's sending it to Vancouver. We just have to accommodate that bad data because if we don't the other guys will. Most of our systems have tolerances built in to deal with it, but suddenly the new paradigm at the top of IT is that we are not going to do that any more. Even though our routing and billing systems will handle it fine, our reporting systems are now going to be G.I.G.O. engines.

On the one side we have the business saying, "Just give us the damned dashboard." On the other side we have IT saying, "We will give you this broken one, but we are under a strict embargo against modifying incoming data for it, so you'll have to live with something useless." I am stuck in the middle saying, "It's called an umbrella table, people. It's not modifying anything, and they exist in almost every application we've produced to date. Why the change now?" Oh, and the developer who was working on the dashboard has left the company. Guess who is probably going to get saddled with his unfinished work?

I worked with it a bit earlier when I had to try and interpret his work. I can figure out most of it fine, but there are some parts where I have no clue what he is trying to do - though I suspect that's because he also had no clue. He's a good coder, but is working from zero business knowledge. Our department head hinted that she has a project in mind for me once I get back from vacation. I am praying that it is not this.
plonq: (Grawky Mood)
This is my last evening of vacation before I return to work in the morning, and I am feeling a little melancholy about it. I had a lot of plans for things and places I was hoping to do and go while I was off work, but most of them did not come to fruition for a variety of reasons. This was not a bad week of vacation, just not what I had envisioned. I have another long weekend coming up later in September, so I will see if I can make that one count.

Since we did not get out of town much this summer, we decided to fit a Fargo trip into the last week of August. Part of that trip involved a side venture into Minnesota to take in the potato festival in Barnseville. It was as small-town and kitschy as one might expect from such a thing. We did not stick around for the potato wrestling later in the day, but we managed to bag a couple of teeshirts.

I call this Our Lady of Perpetual Levitation -- truly a miracle in tarnished copper and stone.
Our Lady of Perpetual Levitation

Ponies of Constant Sorrow
Ponies of Constant Sorrow

My biggest disappointment of my vacation was that I did not get around to writing the story I've had percolating in the back of my mind for months. I've actually gone as far as to sketch out the entire plot from start to finish, which is a rarity for me. Normally I am too tired and mentally burnt-out from work to put much effort into writing these days, so I was hoping to put some time into that this past week. If nothing else, I am coming off the vacation time feeling mentally renewed, so I may be able to get in some writing before my job sucks the life and hope out of me again.
plonq: (Dubious Mood)
We hit Chicago with rather vague plans, but most of them involving outdoors. It is just as well that we had no plans, because the skies turned ugly while we were caught out in the open and we got soaked to the bone. If we'd had solid plans, they'd have melted to a sloppy pool of ruin.

I grabbed this shot from the top of the Sears... er, Willis building. Something about the small army of tiny towers tickled my fancy.

City of Sears
plonq: (Enlightened Mood)
I have not taken a lot of photographs lately, but what I have been doing is finally processing some of the ones that have been in my queue for months. I am starting with the shots from our drive out to the coast in the summer, which I will follow up by working through the rest of our shots from the cruise - well, both cruises as I never finished processing all the shots from the first one. Finally I will move on to MFF, where I have a couple dozen pictures that I think are probably worth fixing and posting.

While I was fixing up a few pictures today, [livejournal.com profile] atara wandered up and watched me work for a few minutes before she made an observation about our difference in philosophy when it comes to photography. She said that she takes pictures with the purpose of documenting the moment, and capturing digital memories. On the other hand, she thinks that I am more concerned with capturing the art of the moment, where the composition is more important than the content.

I guess I can see her point. I like to think that I am creating a digital documentary of sorts as well, but I confess that I have always had a soft spot for pictures that raise more questions than they answer.

I call this one, "I am ready for my close-up now." This is a picture that I would normally have left to sit on my HD because it is a bit blurry, and not quite composed the way I wanted because I shot it in a rush. On the other hand, I love what is happening in the shot, so I did my best to salvage it.
I'm ready for my close-up

I dashed off ahead of the pack in order to capture this shot of the trail up ahead. Originally, I wanted it to show how wet and muddy and miserable the hike was, but when I processed it, the trail actually looks friendly and inviting. It looks inviting to me, anyway.
DSC_4311

I am a real sucker for black and white photos. I have always had an interest in learning to take good black and white, and to that end I bought a roll of film back in the day with the intention of taking pictures around town. It was one of those films that Fuji put out that took black and white, but was designed to be processed in a colour lab. I loaded up the roll by accident when I was on vacation down in Alabama and then went through some very colourful gardens down there, taking great pains to ensure that I carefully composed the colour arrangement in every shot I took.

Then I got the roll back from the lab, and I was both disappointed and intrigued. I was irked because I had been so careful about my colour arrangements, but I was actually very pleased at how the black and white shots turned out. Many of them were very striking, where I think the colour version of the same shot would have been forgettable. In the case of this shot, I just like the way the contrasts work in black and white.
Stark

The last time I was out to visit these ice fields, Dad was still alive. We did not get out to the ice fields this time, but we hiked up to their base. It was not a long hike, but it was a taxing one because of the altitude.
Mind the step

I scampered down a hill to get to a good location for these shots. I thought the others knew where I had gone, so I took my time setting up for a few pictures, and even used my neutral density filter to get a couple of shots like this one.

Apparently, they did not know where I had gone, and they assumed that I had wandered out into the woods and gotten lost. Oops.
A river runs through it

This was very good, but I could not get my head past the idea that I was basically eating a deconstructed sandwich. When we were at MFF a couple of years back, we went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I was tired of road food, and all I wanted was a salad. I ordered the chef's special salad, and when it arrived, it had been similarly deconstructed. It came on a long plate, with a wedge of lettuce at one end, and the rest of the ingredients strung along the plate. It was pretty good, but it was not what I'd had in mind.
Brisket

I love the look and feel of determination in this picture. This was actually near the start of the climb, so I can't promise that they looked quite as determined by the time we all got to the top.
Hiking

Even though we were there in the shoulder season, the lake was not quite as empty as it looks in this shot. A lone family just happened to row into the frame as I was setting up to get the shot, and I decided the shot would look better with them in it than without.
Rowers in the Rain
plonq: (Destructive Mood)
First, thanks to everyone for the well-wishes about Jaws. We knew she was getting on in years, but she was active, happy and personable right up to the end, so it came rather suddenly for us. It was a rough week.

We finished training on Friday, and we were issued passports with stamps showing that we are now qualified car inspectors. I don't feel particularly qualified, but I guess if I can catch the majority of things, that's all they can really expect of a replacement worker. My thinking is that we just need to ensure that the car is safe enough to get out of our yard, then it is somebody else's problem.

I discovered that my little Canon does not like cold weather. I was packing it around in my coat pocket and it refused to work the last time I removed it for a shot. I powered it up, and it immediately flashed a message and powered down again. When I finally got it to power up again, I saw that it was grumping at me to replace the battery pack. I removed the battery and wrapped it in my hand until it felt more like a batter than it did like an ice cube. When I put it back in the camera, it was magically back at full power and working happily.
Lunchtime

I was chatting with one of the other trainees as we were loading our cold weather and safety gear into our cars at the end of the week, and we were discussing best case and worst case scenarios in the upcoming weeks. Obviously the best case is that the union and company sign a contract, and we all just keep doing our regular jobs. A bad cased is that they cannot come to an agreement, and the union walks out on the 15th (which is their earliest strike date).

Worst case is that the company locks them out. Usually that happens if the union starts working to rule, or doing other things to cause delays. Under the new regime though, there is a good chance they will just pre-emptively lock them out at the earliest possible strike date as a show of force, and to prevent any kind of work-to-rule shenanigans. We both agreed that a lockout would likely drag on the longest, and be the ugliest in terms of picketer anger.

DSC_4297
The above is one of the pictures I took during our late-spring vacation.
plonq: (Innocent mood)
My boss finally got back to me and told me that after Today, I will be off until the new year. I don't know if the project knows yet, since they seem to be working under the assumption that I will be fixing defects and scheduling a couple of things in the week after Christmas.

I will actually be away from my job for even longer though, because on January 5th, I have to report to the car shops to learn how to be a car inspector. I will get to learn how to replace brake shoes, knuckles, air hoses and the like. Since this will all go down in January/February, I guess I will have to learn how to work with frozen finger stumps.

Some honest, physical work might do me some good. In any event, some time out of this stressful, toxic IT shop will definitely do me some good.

Home

Jun. 29th, 2014 01:00 am
plonq: (Wait!)
Today's drive was as bad as I had been anticipating - worse if you include the fact that it alternately rained and poured between Regina and Brandon.

We arrived home after fifteen(ish) hours on the road to a house that smells of cat pee, three cats who are ecstatic to see us, and 70 KM/H winds. All of the clocks are blinking, but they are blinking about the right time, so I am just going to leave them for tomorrow. Right now it is time to collapse into bed and see if the cats will let us sleep.

Calgary

Jun. 28th, 2014 12:41 am
plonq: (Innocent mood)
We made Calgary tonight as planned, arriving about the time I had expected. Tomorrow is the long day.
Tunnel Vision
Calgary may not be exactly as pictured here.
plonq: (Fark Off Again)
Among the things that are not concerns for me when I am working back home are the danger of flower petals falling on my keyboard, or aggressive vines vying for space on the table. Something else that could have pushed this a couple of more notches toward perfect would be a glass of wine beside the computer, and a newer, faster computer. No offence, laptop, you have been a workhorse and a tank since I got you in 2005, but you are definitely showing your age.
Unforeseen Danger

I bought his and hers computers back in 2005 when we still got a corporate discount for buying Dell products. The Inspiron 6400 got pretty good reviews, so I ordered a pair of identical units (with different colour schemes to tell them apart) and a couple of other accessories. Since then, I doubled the memory in mine to its max 2GB, and replaced XP with Vista when it came out.

Yes, I installed Vista by choice. I knew it had a bad (undeservedly so, I have found) reputation, but I was still the go-to guy in my office for support at the time, and I wanted to learn my way around it before others bought systems using it and started whining for help. It has actually been a solid performer. It struggled a bit in the early going until I installed a second gigabyte of memory, but after that I have no complaints.

After breakfast yesterday, we spoke with Fernando and let him know that we would not be there for this morning's 8:00 seating. We explained that we had to be out the door by 6:30 in order to catch the 8:00 sailing. When I told him what time we planned to leave, he gushed, "Oh, how uncivilized!" Shortly after we retired to our room to start getting ready for our day, he knocked politely at the door and informed us that he would be making some bagged breakfast for us to take on the road in the morning. He instructed us to fetch them from the small refrigerator just inside the kitchen door as we were on our way out in the morning.

He packed us each a drink box, banana, soft boiled egg, one of his delicious home-made scones with butter and orange marmalade, some yoghurt, and a little caramel-fudge candy. As we sat in the ferry terminal enjoying the snack, our morning felt slightly less uncivilized. It was very thoughtful, and one of those little touches that entices us to keep coming back to Albion Manor when we stay in Victoria.

I was a little concerned about making the 8:00 ferry in spite of our early start, since it is the Friday of a long(ish) weekend. Technically it is not a long weekend, but I suspect a fair number of people will be taking the Monday off work to get a 4-day weekend out of it. If I had been smart, I would have done that to buy myself a bit of extra time to unwind after out trip.

We awoke to rain this morning - or to wet roads after a rain. If it has already moved through, that means that we will probably be driving through it as we head east into the mountains. Yay. Nothing makes a trip go faster like poor visibility and wet, slippery roads. It is a long haul to Calgary. Wish us luck.

Last day

Jun. 26th, 2014 11:58 am
plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
Today is our last day of what I would consider vacation before we hit the road for two long, ugly days of driving. All I ask for is no major accidents along the way (we got delayed twice by ugly fatalities on our last drive home from the coast), and good weather. Rain makes the drive eversomuch longer.

We advised Fernando this morning that we would not be around for the 0800 breakfast seating tomorrow because we had to hit the road early. He appreciated the notice, since it would have just been wasted food if we had not shown up - and given the fancy service, it would have been a fair bit of wasted effort. He stopped by our room shortly after breakfast and said that he would prepare a bagged meal for us to take on the road and leave it in the fridge for us in the morning. These are the little touches we love about this place, and one of the reasons we love staying here when we are out in Victoria.

I spoke with our cat sitter briefly this morning via our IM client at work, and he told me that the cats are all doing well. We were a little worried about Jaws, but he said she is always the first one to show up for meals, and then she does a tour of all the dishes, eating her fill while the other cats try to decide if it is safe to come out and eat or not, then demanding attention when she is done.

At work, I forgot to run a report for our Accounting office before I left, and great drama unfolded as soon as I hit the road with lots of passive-aggressive messages flying about. I tried running them while I was in Calgary, and they failed miserably. I passed the task off to a co-worker, and he ran into the same problem. He has been working with the database architects to try and get the problem resolved, and this morning he finally got the reports to run. Now I need to perform all of the secondary tasks involved in converting the reports into a usable spreadsheet for our needy accountants. Oy.

Fortunately I managed to remote into my desktop in Winnipeg this morning. I have been trying all week, but the connection was failing. Another 30 minutes should have me off the hotseat for another couple of months before I have to run these awful reports again.
plonq: (Innocent mood)
Unless we hear from my mother, today may end up being our first day of vacation that we have to ourselves. My sister-in-law browbeat us into coming out to their house again this evening, but today is all ours. We have some vague plans about doing some touristy things, and some shopping for a car adapter to charge our phones on the trip home, but nothing beyond that.

When we left my brother's place last night, I started following the route that the GPS would have suggested, then veered off when I spotted a familiar street name and thought, "I have a vague idea of where this street heads."

I made two more turns, both times following a hunch that I was turning the right direction on streets with which I was only passingly familiar. I never drove when I lived in Victoria, so my experience with many of the streets in that part of town was either being a passenger in somebody else's car, or recognizing them from the names of bus routes. What did not help was that the compass in our car is only moderately correct part of the time, and usually gives random readings that have no bearing on reality. As I took each turn toward what I thought was our hotel, the compass assured me that we were going exactly opposite of where we wanted to go.

Just as I was thinking about asking [livejournal.com profile] atara to fire up the GPS, we finally reached a street that I knew quite intimately from living in Victoria. It seems that in spite of our car's assurances that I was heading directly away from our accommodations, I had been making the correct turns all along. I guess my sense of direction is better than I had thought. I continued following my hunches - taking Quadra street rather than Blanshard or Douglas because I vaguely remembered that it emptied out into Beach Hill park, and it seemed to me that if we turned at the park, it would drop us fairly close to our B&B. Again, I was right.

I suppose I should not feel too surprised, nor smug about my Zen-like ability to home in on our destination by hunch. Victoria is not a huge city, and I spent almost half of my life here, so I still have a pretty good sense of direction, even at night in unfamiliar parts of the city. On the other hand, even after being away for nearly thirty years, this city still feels very comfortable and home-like to me. That kind of flies in the face of that old adage about how you can never go home again. Maybe you can.
plonq: (Dashing  mood)
After several false starts I finally managed to remote into my work desktop and almost wished that I had not. Things virtually fell apart the moment I walked out the door on vacation, and checking in brought back all the stress and annoyance I had been feeling before I managed to escape on vacation.

Then I remotely rebooted both of my desktops and things got better. It is always a nail-biting experience to remotely reboot a machine like that, but when they came back up, they were behaving in a much more civilized manner. As I read through the wall of hopelessness and despair in my in-box, it occurred to me that I picked a good couple of weeks to be away, and suddenly I felt much less stressed and more relaxed again.

We are going to hook up with my mom today and do some stuff around town. She wants to take in a public market where they have an olive oil and vinegar tasting shop, then [livejournal.com profile] atara insists on taking in the Provincial Museum where they recently opened a Viking display. She's into Vikings. Actually, Vikings are kinda cool so I'm interested to see it as well.

I lugged my cameras around with me all day yesterday and managed to only take a single picture at the ferry terminal before the battery in the small camera died. I will lug them around today and see if i can manage two pictures perhaps.
plonq: (Comparatively Miffed Mood)
The pace of things picked up a bit once we left the mountains and arrived in Vancouver, so I never got the chance to update here. Now, with 90 minutes to kill on a ferry crossing to Victoria, I can post one of those "so far, so good" updates.

We managed to hook up with most of the people on my list for Vancouver, and though most of the time was heavy on the "sit around and chat" while light on the "go do something", it was nice to catch up.

In spite of the fact that [livejournal.com profile] atara makes me slather on SPF 60 sunscreen every time we make any motion to head out the door, I managed to pick up a bit of a sunburn while we were up in the mountains. Fortunately it is a very minor burn, mostly cleared up already and unlikely even to peel.

I got us into a fancy hotel for our stay in Vancouver for very cheap using my work discount. While I was booking it, the agent asked if I wanted to upgrade to "Gold" status for only a few dollars more. That got us onto a special floor, where we had a private self-serve lounge that was stocked with hot and cold entrées and drinks for most of the day. It was like buying a sponsorship at a furry con, but much cheaper. We were out for most of the day, and only took advantage of the lounge in the mornings for the most part, but the free breakfasts and bottled waters more than made up the difference in the price of the room.

We never did order any of the complimentary pillows off of the pillow menu in our room, but some of them looked intriguing.

There were only two flies in our vacation ointment in Vancouver. The first is that my feet and ankles are covered in itchy little welts that look suspiciously like flea bites, and I picked up a few fresh ones each night in the hotel. At first I though they were residual bites from our stay at the cabin (I know we had mosquitoes and other biting insects in the cabin, and my feet were often exposed during the night), but yesterday and this morning I awoke to fresh bites.

[livejournal.com profile] atara was not bitten, and it was only my feet and ankles. I am 90% sure it was not bedbugs, because there was no evidence of them in the bed, and the little welts do not match the pattern of bedbugs. My suspicion is that I either had a reaction to something in the detergent they used on the sheets, or there were a couple of fleas in the room, because these look a lot like flea bites to me. And as I learned from having flea-bitten cats when I lived out on the coast, fleas love me. Also, the bites around the feet and ankles strongly resemble flea bites.

We are always careful to store our luggage and clothes off the floor, so I doubt any will be hitching a ride with us when we leave. Fleas are one of the things that I do not miss from living out here. That and the traffic.

The other downer was that I forgot to run a report for our accounting department before I left on vacation. I noticed that I had a missed call from my boss when we got into cell range on Friday, so I checked my work email when we got to the hotel and it confirmed my suspicion that he was calling me about it. Being the conscientious individual that I am, I remoted into my work computer and set up the jobs in our Business Objects. Two of them ran, and two of them failed after about 20 hours with puzzling errors. I tried running them a couple more times before emailing the office and letting them know that things were broken, and I was on vacation and did not care that much to try and fix them.

I left enough instructions for one of my co-workers to run most of the things for me if he can figure out what is breaking on our BO server. I let them know that I would remote in again this evening to finish things up if I could get a stable Internet connection. This is why they hate to let me go on vacation.
plonq: (Masturbatory Mood)
Our first visit to Lake Louise was cold, rainy and grey. At [livejournal.com profile] atara's suggestion we went back up there today when the weather was nicer. We decided that the lake itself would probably be a disaster of tourists, so we took in other attractions instead. We grabbed lunch in the village, then rode the gondola up to the top of the ski hill.

Later, we drove up to Lake Moraine to see what it had to offer. In a word, scenery. We took a few shots of the lake, then noticed that a lot of people seemed to be collecting at the top of a large stone pile beside the lake. On further investigation, we learned that there was a path leading up the back to scenic overlooks at the top.

[livejournal.com profile] atara, her uncle and I took the path to the top while her folks waited at the bottom. It was a bit of a hike for people who were already tuckered out from three very active days of exploring and hiking, and at about the 4/5 mark [livejournal.com profile] atara protested and sat down in the stairs, announcing that it would be a good time to get a picture of her if I felt so inclined.
Lake Moraine

The view from the top was nothing short of spectacular. I will posting more pictures once I get home and have access to a computer with more horsepower, but here is a sample of the view from the top.
Lake Moraine

We saw a bit more wildlife on our way back to the cabin at the end of the day. There was a moose by the side of the road leading out of Lake Louise, and later we saw (or [livejournal.com profile] atara saw, since I was driving) a family of grizzly bears (mother and two cubs) by the side of highway 1.

Pass

Jun. 18th, 2014 11:23 pm
plonq: (Unsympathetic Mood)
Today's itinerary was one of those ones that could just as well have been decided by throwing a dart at a wall map of the area. After some debate, we settled on driving west to Roger's pass to check out some of the hiking and sights around there. To date, my experience with Roger's Pass has been to drive through it at the maximum speed allowed by law, so I was understandably surprised to find out that there are actually things to see and do there.

Alas, there was not as much to see or do as we might have hoped because what was not closed due to slides or bears, was not yet open for the season. We took a short board-walk trail through a cedar grove (where I took the shot below) and then we headed on to Revelstoke for lunch. We wandered around the town centre for a few minutes scoping out a dining place before settling on a German/Indian fusion restaurant that smelled very good. I ordered the butter chicken spätzle, which was as quirky and delicious as it sounded. The outfit appeared to be run by a couple (not sure if husband/wife, or just partners). He did the German cooking, and she took care of the Indian cooking. She made me a salt & pepper lassi to order (they did not include it on the menu) and added nice hint of coriander to it.

I did not bring my tripod on the trip, but I did not let that stop me from slapping the 35mm lens on my camera and attaching a neutral density filter. I do not get a lot of opportunity to play with those filters.
Cascade

The nature trail we took today was entirely a raised boardwalk. After slogging through 3+ miles of mud and tree roots on the first day, it was a welcome break in some respects. While we were stopped, taking pictures of the stream above, a group of about half a dozen came marching past us as if they were on a mission. We probably would not have paid them any attention at all if one of them had not had a Go Pro mounted on a stick, held aloft so that he could mug at it and document every step he took.

I have seen fursuiters doing this in the parade at MFF, and it has always struck me as being near the height of self-absorption. I can kind of understand why a suiter might do it - especially if it is a suit that they have made themselves. I would want to see my suit in action as well. For a "hiker" who is walking a notably unchallenging wooden board-walk, I just don't see any reason for it other than shameless vanity. I suppose he might have been a Vlogger, who was planning to dub over it later.

"As promised, here I am communing with nature along with several people who I shall refer to as real life friends."
plonq: (Dashing  mood)
As usual, I have left a lot of our vacation preparations until the last moment. My excuse is that I work better under pressure. Does that make sense to you? I hope so, because that's my excuse whether it is justified or not.

A couple of things that I can scratch off my list today are:

1) Get the lug nuts on the Volkswagen re-torqued. I called the nearest tire shop (not the place where we got them changed, but the one on the chain that is closer to our house) and the owner cheerily told me to bring it in whenever I liked. It took the mechanic who they sent out all of five minutes to torque them, but he grumped about it with every click of the torque wrench. I admit that the lug caps on the car made it an added pain, and that lugs seldom fall off, but it was his own company that had instructed me to come back for the service.

I ignored the advice when I had the snow tires put on my old Probe a few years back, and when we drove down to Ohio I discovered that a few of the lug nuts were just a couple turns away from falling right off by the time we got there (stupid alloy rims). So I understand you may think this is a pointless ritual, re-torqueing dude, but my first hand experience has taught me otherwise.

2) Clear the bathtub drain. This was made more complicated by the fact that [livejournal.com profile] atara hid the plumbing kit we bought a couple of weeks back, so I had to resort to using a plunger. The plumbing in this house is old, and the bathtub drain invariably slows to a crawl ever few months, so plunging it has become a routine bit of drudgery. As I was taking a mid-morning nap today (part of my day when I working the 5AM shift), I suddenly had an idea that might make it easier. Part of the problem with plunging the tub is that I don't have enough hands - at least, not when I try to use a plunger.

The problem is that when I plunge the drain, the water just comes blasting up through the overflow drain under the tap. My usual method of attack is to cover the overflow (usually with a wash cloth wrapped in a plastic bag) using one hand while I operate the plunger with the other two hands. That's the main reason why I dispensed with plunger and started buying those expensive compressed-air drain clearing kits.

The idea that came to me stemmed from the fact that the overflow drain has a little decorative metal cover over it, with a little projecting nob that has a hole where a plug on a chain would normally hang. I pondered on whether that could be removed, and if it could, then it occurred to me that I might be able to put a layer of plastic wrap over the opening and screw the cover back into place, effectively freeing up my third hand. It did, I could, and it worked. Our tub drains properly again. Well, still slow, but its usual slow rather than it's "standing in water while you shower" slow.

3) Clean the tub, sink and toilet. I am still working on that one. I cleaned the tub, but as I was turning my attention to the sink, Jaws kicked me out of the bathroom because she wanted to use her litterbox.
plonq: (Cheesy Grin Mood)
Later today (or tomorrow) I am going to write a longer entry about our Ohio trip, and rest assured there is a picture dump or two in the works as well. The good news is that I had fun at [livejournal.com profile] atara's class reunion. I only vaguely knew a small number of people there, but they had an open bar, and her classmates were good about not making spouses feel excluded.

The last time I saw my niece and nephew they were about the size of a large pot roast, and we had to wear surgical masks for the whole visit because they had underdeveloped immune systems. This time they are normal, happy, healthy 22-month olds. They are not talking a lot yet, but they are full of character and personality. I took quite a few pictures of them on the trip, but these are two of my favourites.

I originally posted both of these to Facebook in full colour, but when I got home and started playing with the raw files (I don't have the Canon raw software on my notebook), I decided that they look better in black and white.

Josephine does not smile as much as her brother does (though she has a very cute smile when she wants to turn on the charm). Her neutral expression is one of haughty, mild interest. Although it may look like she is leaning on the piano, posing for the shot, she is actually assessing me to decide if my camera is more interesting than the piano behind her. She was idly plinking the keys while she made up her mind.
Jo Piano

This was the picture that made me decide to convert to black and white because it contextually reminded me of a vintage 1930s picture of a man reading the newspaper. I could probably find the original with a bit of work, but I am happy with the way this one turned out. Ike loves to "read" the newspaper just like the adults.
Ike Paper

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