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Archive for November, 2012

Senior Moment

In a previous post, I described what it was like turning sixty. Well, today I had a serious senior moment – so I am there.

I went to see my family doctor this morning. He has changed practices and this was the first time I saw him in his new office. I really like my GP and we spent time talking about the new office and the challenges of not having a computer in the exam room (his previous practice was a little more modern). So, after catching up on my lab results and my last visit to a specialist, I left. I headed to work and about six blocks from the office suddenly realized that I had forgotten the reason that I had booked the appointment in the first place – I had wanted to renew a prescription!

I am sure I am not the first and won’t be the last. But it was a humbling experience explaining to the pharmacist why I needed them to fax my doctor with my renewal request. Welcome to the senior zone – just have to remember not to take this seriously.

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I once was a serious camera collector. However, with the decline in the use of film, I have a lot of little bodies that I can’t really play with anymore. After I got into serious digital photography (my Canon 20D), I have really haven’t looked very hard for more cameras to add to the collection.

Musical instruments on the other hand can be both collectibles and working pieces. I really should stop going into Acoustic Music in Edmonton because I seem to keep ‘finding’ new pieces for stage use.

Early in the summer I went over to look at a mandola. I ended up walking out with a used octave mandolin.

Octave mandolin and its little brother

The octave mandolin is a Trinity College TM-325. It was used but in wonderful shape and has a pick-up installed. It came with a case so we were good to go right from the start. As the name implies, the octave mandolin plays an octave lower than a regular mandolin. The sound seems to fit nicely in between a guitar and mandolin so there is space for it when used on stage or recording. It is a little easier to play than the mandolin with larger frets. I have used it now a fair number of times on stage and I get questions and compliments every time it is used. It is a very sweet instrument and one that adds to our sound.

Yesterday, I went back to Acoustic to see what they had on offer and came away with a MIM Fender Stratocaster. This is pretty well a bog standard Strat but I have always liked the way they play and while used, I got this one for a fair price and in good shape.

My new Strat

I tried it out yesterday with Don and Jim. The consensus was that the Strat adds a little edge to our sound that we hadn’t had before. But now we have a bit of an issue with acoustic guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, keyboards, bass and now the electric available to us … we may just need to include a couple of more people on stage 🙂

and BTW – MIM means Made in Mexico

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Spam

I am an early adopter. I started with working with computers in 1972 in a stats course at York University using APL (a programming language). My bachelor’s thesis used a computer model, written in Fortran, to estimate pollution dispersion from a point source. My first personal computer was a home-brew that ran CP/M (control program for mircocomputers) as an operating system – it predated DOS. And I was using the net before the World Wide Web – back in the days of Freenets and Compuserve. This is not to brag – I have just been around this technology for a long time.

So what do you do when an elderly relative (not a close one, mind you) discovers the wonders of the Internet and insists on sharing everything and anything he comes across. My Dad’s cousin is in his mid-80s and at least once or twice a day, I receive the mailing list post of his interests – which unfortunately don’t have any interest for me. It wouldn’t be so bad if the e-mails were limited to beautiful landscapes or puppies and kittens. But included in the flood are borderline racist observations, misogynistic jokes and rants about things that he either doesn’t understand or can’t abide. I have asked him to stop sending me these posts and while they stopped for a time, they are back and more frequent than ever.

I understand we live in an amazing time. Our world is now available on our desktop. I can fly to anywhere on the planet courtesy of Google Earth and in many instances see where my friends live. We have up to the second access to news and sports. As I have said before, this is Star Trek come to life.

I also understand the attraction in sharing these marvellous times. However, when we are just carrying on with old prejudices and sharing them with light speed, I wonder how far any of us have come. Sorry Jim, your posts are no longer welcome and won’t be read by me. Sad in a way – given the power of communication that the Web affords.

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Snow

We have had an early start to winter. Last Wednesday I stopped into our local gas station to pick up a coffee on my way to work. I was probably in the store for 5 minutes and when I came out it was a winter wonderland. We got about 25 cm (10 inches) of heavy wet snow that day. The temperature was right around 0 degrees when the snow started to fall so it melted on contact at first and then formed a layer of icy slush. And it didn’t stop snowing then – since Wednesday we have had light snow until today (Saturday). This morning there was at least another 5 cm (2 inches) on the ground.

This weather does have some benefits … it makes for very pretty days.

Noon sun on fresh snow

But, the biggest issue has been getting around. Because the first snow fell on relatively warm ground, it melted and then was compacted into a layer of slush. Edmonton has the North Saskatchewan River running right through the middle of the city and getting in and out of the river valley became the area where the most problems occurred. I have to cross the river to get home and I ended up going quite far out of my way to avoid the steepest hills – but I did make it home alright.

My son’s car, which had not been driven since the snow started.

I took my daughter to work this morning and we gave ourselves a bit extra time to make sure we got there on time. Coming back home, I witnessed a perfect example of how not to drive in these conditions. I was about six car lengths behind a Malibu and I noticed ahead of us a car had spun off onto the median . The car the on the median must have been there for a bit since there was some snow accumulated on it. What I saw next was classic. The driver of the Malibu must have seen the car on the median and hammered the brakes – even though the stalled car wasn’t even on the roadway. The back end of the Malibu broke loose and the person kept the brakes locked until the Malibu nosed into the bank right beside the car on the median. They hit the bank pretty hard. I saw in my mirror that they did get going again. The term used in racing was “pucker factor”. It was a perfect example of why my winter driving instructor said not to look at the ditch, pole, whatever, when you are in that situation. Because you will have the tendency to head straight for the problem. I am not saying I would have done any better – but it was a good reminder of how not to react.

Home Maintenance Canadian Style – My son using a rake to clear snow from the roof of the house.

And of course, the sobering thought is we are just into November and we haven’t even hit winter yet. 😦

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