Archive for January, 2012

Business Travel

I went to a conference a number of years ago and as the keynote speaker was introducing himself, he made a very wry observation. He was from the States and indicated that he had been on the road a lot over the past while. His comment about business travel, and this quote has stayed with me ever since; “I wish my business travel was half as much fun as my kids think it is”.

I was in Calgary yesterday and to prove his point, here is the view out of my hotel window:

Scenic Vista

Point made.


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Some random thoughts …

It’s Over

It is amazing how things change in five days. Last Tuesday we had wind chill values of -45 C. Today it got up to zero C. Even Penny seemed happier on her walk this afternoon. Days are getting longer and we are past the statistically coldest week of the year. A little more snow would be nice but I could handle this until spring!

Ian’s Amp

My second son works at an antique mall. One of the folks who frequents the mall has a very interesting sideline. He makes guitar amplifiers out of old radio cabinets.

Ian's Amp

Ian bought one of his creations and brought it home on Friday. The amp uses tubes and the old circuit board, but has been brought up to date. It is a Philco cabinet from around 1940 and while the controls are pretty rudimentary, I think it works as both an amp and as a piece of art – sounds pretty good, too.

John Pinette

I know a lot of people say they don’t watch a lot of television but I really don’t keep up with the latest and greatest – I have enough in my life already. But, one guy that I find particularly funny is John Pinette. If nothing else, he is a great storyteller. The Comedy Network had a special of his last night with a show called, “Stay Hungry” (you’ll get the joke when you watch the clip below). Enjoy …

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One of the things about living in a northern climate is that it does get cold sometimes. Not just cold … but COLD.

The temperature hasn’t risen above -28 C today and the wind chill has hit -40 C several times during the day. Environment Canada has issued a wind chill warning. That means a wind chill of -40 for at least three hours with a minimum 15 kph wind.

Our digital thermometer - the bottom reading is "off-line", which means it is below -30 C!

Beside the fact it is cold, interesting things happen when it gets this cold. After a couple of minutes, my winter jacket sounds like it is made out of paper. The extension cord to the car’s block heater doesn’t want to bend at all. I left my lunch, in an insulated bag, inside the car when I went to teach at university this morning. The container of stew was frozen solid after three hours. The car’s automatic transmission doesn’t really want to shift gears until it gets somewhat warm and the tires feel like they are square for the first few blocks. And walking outside and having that blast of cold hit is something else. This morning we were close to a 50 degree difference in temperature from inside to outside. The first breath sort of catches you but you adapt – quickly.

In February 1994, a colleague and I spent five days in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, which is just south of the Northwest Territories border. That was my first experience with a -40 air temperature – doesn’t matter if it Celsius or Fahrenheit – they are both the same at -40. I think facing the cold is somewhat a matter of attitude. We were appropriately dressed and it was a great experience. But I have some understanding how tough it would be to endure for months at a time.

Standing at the Fort Chipewyan historical marker - @ -40

As a good friend once put it; after the winter solstice, every day you are one day closer to spring.

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Modern Language

One of the benefits of getting older is that all the old jokes are now new again … such as – “yes, I speak 5 languages – English best!”.

I was a meeting a couple of days ago and a person was in the middle a very rambling diatribe (which indicated that they hadn’t read any of the briefing material), when they used the word “directionality” in a sentence. I was sitting beside an old friend and I leaned over to her and whispered (in a WTF tone) “directionality!?!”. She just smiled, leaned over and whispered, “Grade 14 level”. Some days, I can’t imagine what my (future) grandkids will be speaking.

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Damn, I am good with resolutions. Come the first of January, I can make them with the best of the them. And I have already abandoned about half of them. My sister scooped me on the shot a day for Flickr … but, if I can do a shot a week, then I am doing well. Learning guitar scales and practising – that lasted 2 days.

But I have one that I am motivated to keep. That is to walk my puppy every day – this is both for me and for her. We have become too sedentary in our lifestyles and doing something for her is a good incentive for me. However, tonight will be the test. The temperature dropped about 30 degrees over the last day and the wind chill is now in the minus 20s. The walk may not be as long … but we will get out there.


Now for the resolution to write more blog posts … there is always next year.

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I am far from being a Luddite – I bought my first computer in 1979 and it didn’t even run DOS. But I find myself a little overwhelmed with all the technology today wanting my attention. I find myself not turning on my cell phone (not a smartphone) when I am out. My work Blackberry goes off as soon as I get home – even though it has this really annoying habit of turning itself on when left off for a couple of days – I wonder if it is lonely. I know people that live on Facebook and can’t spend a half hour without having to check if they are still in contact with the rest of the wired world.

Which nicely brings me to the this article from the New York Times today. Sad when a New Year’s resolution is to spend a half hour a day without technology … how far gone is that. It is a good article that makes the point that maybe our creativity isn’t being served well by all our electronic masters. I’m just saying …

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

This is a nice way to finish up the year. All the best to all for a peaceful 2012!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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