By Ray on October 6, 2005 - 5:10pm
Thank you, Leanne, and thank you, Carla for the welcome comments.
I'm tempted to say "Now, we're getting someplace with all this."
Bloggers, of course, are writers. To write implies that someone
will read it. Readers of blogs, unlike readers of newspapers,
have a much easier way of sending back their thoughts on whatever
they've read, because all they need to do is enter a comment on
the blogger's page. Don't you wish the daily newspaper was that
easy to provide with feedback?
Speaking of providing the daily paper with feedback, I've been
writing a "daily Blurb" for about ten years now, and faxing it
to Dear Editor each morning after I see the paper. What do I
write about? I pick out three, four or five of the stories with
catchy headlines, and do one rather tersely-worded paragraph on
each, then send it off by fax. I almost never get into print
in their "letters" column, because I don't do a couple of hundred
words on one single subject as a rule, except on rare occasions.
So there really isn't enough "meat" in any of my brief little
paragraphs to make it worthwhile for the letters page.
But that's not to say it's wasted. The nice folks at the paper
obviously read my stuff, because my ideas show up later in the
form of professionally-written editorials, or delightful editorial cartoons, or, sometimes, even in the form of investigative reports by their ace reporters tracking down a story suggested by one
By Ray on October 5, 2005 - 2:50am
Partly because another birthday is approaching, I recently had
the annual progression of my horoscope done, and considering its
results is something which requires both time and attention.
This isn't anything like those cute little paragraphs that you
read in the daily papers. Those one-size-fits-all generalizations
which probably fit nobody. This is a carefully considered detailed review of whatever went before, along with the current trends,
and the future implications of all that. Along with a letter-size
chart, there's two CDs of interpretations and advice, which takes
If "we are what we eat", then we're also the result of everything around us with which we interact. The stone thrown into the pond
not only effects the pond, but also the stone. One of the bits of advice on those CDs is for me to "make some new friends". That's partly why I got into this blogging thing, so that hopefully, it might result in an exchange of thoughts or ideas from which we might all benefit. As many of us who have grown older now know, the learning process, like life itself, goes on until that final curtain. It doesn't stop when school's out, or when you have finished your apprenticeship, or graduated from some kind of
job-training scheme. Every day is a new challenge, with new things to learn from it all. We do most of that learning from each other
in one way or another. It's a lot easier if we actually enjoy it.
By Ray on October 2, 2005 - 9:51am
Just a little reminder for those of you who are using the Open Office suite of office programs: There's a new Version 2.0 now
available, with the latest improvements, so check it out. As usual
it's a free download, and is about 74 megabytes. This version has
improved graphics, and other nice features. In my humble opinion,
I still think it kicks the stuffings out of Microsoft's Office
programs. When I got Open Office, I threw out Office 2000 Pro, and
saved myself all kinds of aggravation. This one does it better, and takes up a lot less space on the hard-drive. Give it a try, if you
haven't already. You can find it at www.openoffice.org.
This is open source freeware developed by and for the Sun Microsystems folks, and it really works.
By Ray on September 24, 2005 - 9:05pm
Got the old bike back yesterday afternoon, and it's running
like a charm. They solved the no-start problem, gave it new
spark plugs, and fresh seals & oil in the forks. Now it handles
more predictably in those corners, and gets out of them quick.
I enjoy getting work done at Burnaby Kawasaki, because they
always do a fine job, and treat me like I belong there.
I often feel like I do, because I've never bought a motorcycle
from anyone else since my first ride in 1980. So the folks at
our Kawasaki dealership and I go back a long time. In fact,
Bryan, the owner, and his then-partner, taught me how to ride
that first little 440 in the back alley behind their first
shop near the corner of Broadway & Kingsway one evening just
at closing time. I had one lesson, and I've been out there
playing in the traffic ever since. I've learned a lot since then,
mostly by the well-known trial & error method. Road-rash has
a habit of teaching you things you'd never learn in books.
Things like not trying to take a corner signed at 45 Km/hr
while going into it at 60 MPH. And avoiding little old ladies
in old Datsuns turning left across your path right in front
of you. I've never quite understood how a driver can fail to
see a blinding halogen headlight staring them in the face and
not realize something's coming at them.
Found another neat little program on the web today, on the
By Ray on September 23, 2005 - 1:47am
Another entry on here mentions new books. If you'd like a new book
on the subject of writing blogs and staying below the radar where
Big Brother might be tempted to harrass you for the content, then
you should check out a site called 'Reporters Without Borders',
based in France. Their home page is multi-lingual, so just click
on the English set of directions to search the site. Their web
address is: www.rsf.org and they've just created a new book for
all us bloggers who might be tempted to write something controversial or provocative or upsetting to the political folks.
They will also lend you a bulletproof vest with the word 'Press'
prominently displayed front & back, if you can produce your airline
ticket to a war zone, your press credentials, and a handful of
Euros for the rental. (They didn't say what happens if you get
killed while wearing it. I assume you couldn't sue them.)
Moving right along, there's another site, www.siratc.co.uk which
collects and archives satellite images of various places around
the globe, and tgo search it, follow the entries listed under
the heading 'PR Images' - those are the ones available for public release. I looked for Vancouver, but it isn't on the list. That
chokes me right up, because there's one for Regina, Saskatchewan.
There's also a neat one or two showing the Three Gorges Project
in China, and the Pyramids, in Egypt.
By Ray on September 19, 2005 - 5:09pm
Roland, Old Chap, there are many things I haven't done, including
successfully dating any of my favourite Dream Girls. The list is
rather long & tedious. I haven't piloted my own aircraft since
checking out of the RCAF in 1954. I haven't climbed any major
mountains. I haven't crashed a motorcycle now for almost 19 years.
I haven't been shot by a jealous husband. And lastly, and perhaps
most importantly, I haven't died yet. That one's at the very bottom of my To Do List, and I'm in no rush whatever. Thanks for asking!
By Ray on September 18, 2005 - 10:37pm
Those poles with transformer platforms and high-voltage wires
are part of our city's heritage, and have been carefully preserved
from the good old days when men were men, and the gals were all
Now, for the Good News:- some of those cables that keep your lights
on downtown actually are buried. Two sets of them, to be exact.
Those are buried all over the downtown core, and are running from
office tower to office tower, underneath the streets & sidewalks,
to provide power for most if not all of the major buildings of
the downtown core. One of those high-voltage cables is always
designated as the "hot" cable, meaning it is in use, while the
other is kept energized but disconnected from its load connections
for emergency purposes. When a new building is being built and
requires power, it is connected to the underground system.
To do that, the section into which it is to be connected has to be isolated and made safe to work on. This requires switching from
a dozen to two dozen of those other office towers over onto the
"spare" or emergency cable while that work is proceeding. Then,
afterward, switching everything back to the normally-used one.
How do I know? I used to work on the crew which did all that
switching of buildings from one cable to the other, and I've
been into the basement electrical rooms of almost every major
building in the downtown core, many of them more than once.
By Ray on September 18, 2005 - 6:15pm
You're only reading this because I got lucky a few minutes ago,
after spending almost all day trying to correct a few mistakes
in this thing's programming, as a result of my compulsion to try
improving on those code-writers and programmers' best efforts.
The moral of this sad tale is simple: "A program on the hard-drive
is worth two on an internet website."
I downloaded a sexy-sounding program today which promised a lot
more than it delivered (much like my last wife!) and in the whole
process, it attached itself to one of my key ACPI drivers with
an extension. So when I realized I'd grabbed a tiger by the tail
and then deleted that new program, it took along that link it had
made to my ACPI driver file, rendering that useless because of
the now "lost" extension. I finally got everything going again,
by chopping out about three recent additions to programs on here, during which, Old Computer took a fit, kicked into Safe Mode, and
during the recovery process of that, it fixed itself all up again.
So now, I'm going to try my best to remember: "If it ain't broke,
then DON'T FIX IT."
By Ray on September 17, 2005 - 7:00pm
I'm glad I didn't grow up in Detroit. I almost didn't survive a visit there during my first honeymoon. That was away back in 1950s and even then, the traffic in Detroit was so wild, those guys would roar down the main drag at full highway speeds, and the unfamiliar were expected to "go with the flow". This meant keeping your foot on the pedal until the car was right up to the crosswalk, because these cowboys knew when it would change, and just before their front bumpers crossed that white line, sure enough, the lights switched and they roared through the intersection without slowing down. I was young & brave myself back then, but that even scared hell out of me. Crossing a street back there must truly be a life-threatening experience. One mistake, and you're a bumper sticker.
But I digress (as usual). These audible alarms (canaries?) at the intersections are great if (a) you aren't deaf;(b) you aren't in a car with the windows up and a cellphone to your ear; and (c) can plainly see and understand the visual aids called lights. Otherwise, there just might be problems in paradise. My fear is that some sawdust-brain with a cellphone and a hot date with his car's windows all closed and the stereo blasting won't hear that poor defenseless little 'canary', and isn't paying attention to the lights, and comes roaring through anyway. It happens.... So who are you going to trust? The distracted driver?
By Ray on September 14, 2005 - 1:34pm
Why Not? Because the Mexican was still wearing it.... :)