Sunday, April 19, 2015

Springtime in Saskatchewan

We’re getting two springs this year.  It never really was winter on the coast but by the time we left, they thought it was spring.  So we got to see a lot of the trees, including the cherry trees, in full bloom.  Now that we’re back home it is slowly turning from winter’s grey to spring’s colours.  The trees still haven’t budded out but yesterday I saw crocuses and the robins are back so spring can’t be far off.


I spent most of yesterday and the day before at a couple of local auction sales.  That’s what I like to do in the spring.  I don’t buy much other than an auction burger but I always see someone I know and have a good visit.  The sale on Friday was all the way down at Lemberg which took longer to get to than I expected.  There was one of my favourite little Case garden tractors in the sale which I wouldn’t have objected to buying but, when they finally got around to selling it, the bids quickly surpassed my estimation of its value.  When they finally quit bidding it was at $4300 which is easily double what it should have sold for. 

The tractor in question was a 448 which means it was likely built in the early 1980’s.  This one had a Linamar engine in it but I don’t think that Case ever installed any Linamar badged engines so it must have been repowered at some point.  It was in decent shape – not showroom by any stretch and it showed signs of having been recently washed.  I think it probably slobbers oil as badly as any of the older Cases like to do.  There was certainly plenty of grunge left under the hood on top of the hydraulic reservoir where the kid doing the washing didn’t bother to look. I’ve got two similar tractors – the one I repowered last fall is essentially the same machine now that I put the Linamar engine in it.  The other is nominally a smaller machine but about the only real difference is the Kohler engine.  I haven’t got $3300 in the pair of machines and that includes the replacement engine plus the 2 Onans I have sitting on the shelf plus the carcass of the Roper that I pulled the Linamar out of.  If someone walked by and offered $2500 for either of my machines I’d run all the way to the bank in Canora to get his cheque deposited before he changed his mind.  Auction fever I guess.

The sale yesterday was a local consignment sale.  In other words it was 4 acres of junk with a hotdog stand in the middle.  The auctioneer was on par with the equipment he was hired to dispose of.  When I arrived in the morning they were playing Ukrainian polka music over the auction speakers.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Ukrainian polka music but in this case they were singing in Ukrainian too.  You don’t hear that everyday.  Or possibly it was Polish.  I’m not in tune with the fine points of difference. 

Last night we went to the long awaited Buchanan Black Box Theatre presentation of Spamalot.  It was every bit as good as we could have hoped for.  We didn’t get home until 1:30 which is about 3 hours past our normal bedtime but it was well worth it.  Saturday was the last night so the cast was unwinding and nobody was in a hurry to leave. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bleepin’ Computer dot com

We got home late yesterday afternoon, capping what must be our most leisurely stroll ever across the western half of this country.  When we left Cow Bay, a week ago this morning, we intended to stop and visit a couple of couples along the northern route.  Typically we leave Vancouver, point the hood ornament east and head directly to Buchanan.  This time we angled northeast through Jasper and Edmonton.  Unfortunately for our visiting plans, our friends must have had word of our impending arrival which enabled them to vacate their residences.

We could have just booted straight through to Buchanan but we had set up a couple of other appointments which tied us to a more leisurely agenda.  So we adapted by working in an Edmonton shopping trip.  That meant West Edmonton Mall for Marilyn; KMS, Busy Bee and Princess Auto for me.  Then we spent the weekend re-uning with my Class of ‘79 summer group in Saskatoon.  Eric and Deanne had (bravely) opened their house to a weekend potluck.  Calling it “potluck” is a real stretch because Eric did all of the important cooking – namely the meat and the desserts – the rest of us brought a few salads.  And the desserts – oh my goodness!  I’ve always wondered what Deanne sees in him but now I know.

Yesterday we swung through Regina, stopped at Costco and were unloading the car by mid afternoon.  And what a job that was.  We had literally every nook and cranny on the poor old Lincoln stuffed full of “stuff”.  We started with over 15 gallons of wine and port plus 6 milk jugs of crab so there wasn’t a lot of space left to work with but what there was we made good use of.  We actually had to limit our activity at Costco simply because we had no place to put anything more.

As I have alluded to previously, I have had more or less non-stop computer grief since we left here in January.  Between dead keyboards, corrupt UAC and loss of network access I have had a miserable time of it.  The cloud over my head may have finally lifted however.  Last night I stumbled onto a registry utility on which appears to have fixed not one but both of my sick machines.  The utility still hasn’t made a clean pass through the registry but after the first pass on my backup machine it had cleared the UAC problems that have been plaguing me for a couple of weeks.  So I thought “what the hell” and ran it on this machine as well.  This is the one that all of a sudden lost all network connectivity after an antivirus “update”.  On this machine, as on the first one, it has yet to make a completely clean pass through the registry but after the first pass I noticed that it had restored network access.  So that’s good.  Really good.


Right now I’ve got the Mozy restore paused because it was consuming too much horsepower and preventing me from typing this weblog post.  This has been my only computer for years and I never lost any data so I don’t need to do a huge recovery.  I was always well backup up – I never worried about data loss. I just couldn’t connect to any networks from about the time we arrived on the boat.  Which was a huge pain in the ass but in the recovery sense not a great big task.  My biggest worry all along was that I would end up having to do a clean install of Windows but it appears that I may have dodged that rather large bullet.

This morning I installed a new 1 TB drive in what ended up being my backup machine and I’ve cloned the hard drive that was in that machine onto the new drive.  Its now getting started on a week long data restore from the cloud.  Right now it is estimating just over a week but it will no doubt take longer. 

Now that I can relax a bit on the computer front I have been slowly firing up my collection of antique equipment.  The mighty Ford coughed a bit and stumbled once or twice once it was running but no big deal.  The Exploder lit right up so I kicked it out of the garage to make way for a more deserving resident. The little Perkins in the skidsteer is such an easy starter – the batteries were getting a little soft so it barely rolled over but it caught on the 2nd or 3rd piston that hit TDC and fired right off.  I haven’t fired up the oriental wonder in the little excavator but its a pretty easy starter too and it has glowplugs.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Otter Bay "cruise" weekend

Shortly after we bought Gray Hawk we also joined the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club (SNSYC).  Our choice of yacht clubs was based primarily on the list of reciprocals as well as the fact that it is - in the yacht club world anyway - cheap.  Reciprocal moorage is the arrangement between yacht clubs that allows members of a club with reciprocal privileges to stay free for some, usually brief, period of time on the co-operating club's reciprocal dock .Our club has an extensive list of reciprocal docks throughout the San Juan Islands, Puget Sound and up as far as the north end of Vancouver Island.  It costs us roughly $600 per year in membership fees.  If we get 12 free nights of moorage that pays for the membership.  We don't always get that many nights free but there's a social element to the club as well.

This weekend we're doing one of the club's compulsory fun things.  They organize what they call cruises through the summer, starting off with this Easter weekend trip to Otter Bay.  "Cruise" is a reach for what they do on most of these events.  For most members the "cruise" consists of untying from wherever they spend most of the year, motoring for a few hours to wherever the weekend event is and tying up again.  Judging by the number of helpers that were standing on the dock when we arrived, salivating at the chance to grab our lines, the average member doesn't even need to know how to dock in order to cruise.  Judging from a few of the episodes we saw on the dock, some of our fellow members shouldn't be allowed to go anywhere that doesn't have 6 or 7 dockhands waiting for them.

Yesterday the activity was a walk to the local "farmer's" market.  To appreciate the significance of that sentence you have to understand that we are at ground zero for the Canadian Green movement.  Dizzy Lizzie represents these nitwits and its not hard to understand why they think she is doing a good job.  As a good friend of mine told me years ago "the people get the government they deserve".  The natives of this intellectual backwater clearly desire to be represented by an idiot.  I don't think I was actually the only hetero male at the market but we may very well have been in a minority.  I am 110% certain I was the only person there with any real understanding of food production.  I sat on a bench drinking an organic gluten free fair trade free range coffee and wishing that I had a Monsanto jacket.

It is very pretty here.  The walk to the market was pretty pleasant.  Its not a great marina though - the ferry dock is about a half mile from our moorage so we get waked regularly and the bay is open to the ferry traffic between Tsawassen and Swartz Bay so its pretty roly-poly all the time.

Yesterday was the end of the line for the HMCS Annapolis.  As I wrote about earlier, the Artificial Reef Society of BC had previously obtained permission from a host of governmental goobers to sink the old destroyer as an artificial reef.  Then some doob lawyer with high priced real estate overlooking the proposed site started a lawsuit to prevent the sinking.  Common sense finally prevailed, the injunction was lifted last month and yesterday they pulled the plug on the old girl.  We watched her sink via live webcam.  She went straight down and disappeared completely in just over a minute.  By the 2 minute mark you couldn't tell there had ever been a boat there.  The goal is to have her sink straight down so that she lands in precisely the chosen location.  By that measure it certainly looked like a picture perfect event.

Now that the Annapolis is safely on the bottom we can admit that we actually toured her extensively.  The society didn't want anything to possibly interfere with the sinking so we were sworn to secrecy but we had a good tour and took a lot of pictures.  They did an incredible job of cleaning her out.  I can't imagine how many man hours must have been spent pulling insulation, washing gearboxes and just generally sanitizing a huge ship.  I'll never get to see her in her new resting place but I did get a good look at her before she went down.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting back to normal

We've all been there.  You finally get on the airplane, everybody is getting settled, they're almost ready to close the door and then the pilot comes on the intercom.  "I'm sorry folks but we've got a very minor problem with this airplane (that supposedly is serviced regularly by very highly paid union employees).  We'll need to resolve the problem before we can leave but it will only take a few minutes so I'll just ask you all to remain in your seats while we get this sorted out.  It will only take 15 or 20 minutes."  Then maybe 40 minutes or an hour later he'll give you the same bullshit story and after a couple of hours of your life have drifted by they'll finally admit that their highly paid maintenance staff haven't the faintest bloody clue what the problem is so they'll eventually unload you and herd you like cattle into another steel culvert at another gate.

It wouldn't be so bad if they'd just tell you up front - "We dunno WTF is going on or why this is happening, its going to take a long bloody time to figure it out, we don't have another plane to move you to even if we wanted to which we don't, you're just royally screwed so sit down, shut up and suck it up."  Of course they're never even close to that honest.  Well, the local healthcare system is just about that bad.

We spent 3 days getting told "surgery mañana".  In Mexico the literal translation of mañana is tomorrow but what it really means is "not right now".  On rare occasions it may actually mean tomorrow but it could also mean next week, next month or even not in this lifetime.  The big problem with "surgery mañana" is the attendant "nothing to eat today."  After having thrown up all Saturday night Marilyn was getting pretty hungry by Tuesday night.  On Wednesday morning we were assured that mañana meant that very afternoon at 4:00.  They finally got around to doing the surgery at midnight and then they almost tripped over themselves to get her kicked out of the hospital by noon on Thursday.   I did get a chance to thank the surgeon before I explained to him that if this is "normal" for the BC healthcare system then we're really thankful to be SK residents.

Marilyn wasn't very active yesterday (Friday) but she's been pretty active today.  Her appetite failed her Thursday night but its coming back now.

I had another big crab harvest today.  I think I've got the meat of 23 crabs in the freezer now.  I should get a couple more hauls so another 10 or maybe 15 to take back to the prairies.  We had hoped to catch some prawns after the season opens on April 1 but I think that is off the agenda now.  Our trap capture system depends heavily on Marilyn catching the line with a boathook while lying on her belly on the foredeck.  That's probably off the table for the immediate future. Her at the helm with me on the foredeck is likely a complete waste of time to say nothing of how frustrating it might be for both of us. So we'll go home with a freezer full of crab instead.

Our slip neighbours are from the Yukon.  They just finished up a year on their boat and left to go back to the Yukon today.  We're not the only ones with boating schedules that don't fit the standard mould.  

We've been watching the weather on the prairies and counting the days until we leave.  10 more sleeps until we leave.  My university summer reunion group is having a spring get together in Saskatoon which - very conveniently - is going to coincide with our passage through Saskatoon so we'll take a couple extra days to get home.  I talked to the Mayor the day Marilyn got out of jail and there was still snow on the ground in the village so there's no immediate rush to get back there yet.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Very bad day

Marilyn woke me up at midnight complaining of chest and back pains.  She didn't think it was serious enough to do anything about but she kept getting worse as the night went on and by morning there was no doubt that she needed to go to emerg. So that's what we did. 

As emergency rooms go this wasn't the worst I've been in.  Not that I have such an extensive experience but I have been through a few of them over the years.  Mind you, on a couple of those occasions I was suffering from severe concussion and actually have no recollection of most of my time there let alone details about the experience. 

This time it was my job to just be there while they attended to Marilyn and they did a pretty good job of it, eventually arriving at the conclusion that she has a swollen pancreas.  They need to call it "Pancreatitis" just so they can use a $54 word and show off their years of medical training but its a swollen pancreas nonetheless.  And as near as I can tell from Dr. Google, when it comes on suddenly like this attack did, the prognosis is likely to be good.  She'll need to spend a couple of nights in the hospital while they poke and prod her and draw blood mainly so that they can pad the bill they send to Sask Mediscare but also so they can watch to see if its just going to go away on its own or if they need to actually do something to make it go away.

So for the first night in a very long time we'll be sleeping apart and it feels very lonely on the boat. 

Other than our big adventure this morning there's not much happening in The Bay.  I've been pulling my crab traps every other day and harvesting a decent crop of crabs which promptly go through my processing line and into the freezer in preparation for transport back to the prairies.  Prawns are closed in our favourite spot until the 1st of April but we're planning to be anchored in the bay on the morning of the 1st.  With any luck we'll catch a few gallons of prawns, freeze them and take them home as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Oh dear, not again

Its been a long winter of computer problems.  Shortly after we got back on the boat I lost all network connectivity on my prime laptop.  I think I can do a non-destructive re-install of Windows so I wasn't overly worried about that.  That of course has to wait until we get back to Buchanan.  Both Marilyn and I use the same model of Dell and we carry several identical backup laptops so I just pulled one out of storage and fired it up.  That's when the "issues" started appearing.

Initially I think it was storage in damp conditions.  Of the three backups we had onboard, none would do a clean boot and none were really useable when they did finally boot.  They would beep wildly during the boot and once they finally loaded some or all of the keys were non-functioning.  The keyboard on my prime laptop was still useable so I was able to sort of work through that initial problem and I got a backup laptop running with a partial restore of my data.  I've got something like 140 GB of data (lots of photos) in my main backup so I didn't even think about a complete restore.  That worked really well until about a week ago when something else happened.

This time its a corrupt user profile and I don't know whether that was caused by some kind of malware or whether it "just happened".  It seems really unlikely that I got struck by two random events in such a short period of time but I can't find anything malicious on either machine and I've looked really hard.  The user profile problem is apparently a known problem with Windows 7 and again, the only possible solution is a non-destructive re-install of the operating system.  That of course also has to wait until we get back to Buchanan because we don't carry all our original media with us.

I've managed to get the machine with the corrupt user profile sort of functioning.  It still has network access but anything that requires a temporary user directory won't work.  So I can't send email (but I can receive just fine), can't use Windows Livewriter to make this post (but I can do it online), I've lost my desktop and I get to respond repeatedly to prompts that should have their answers stored in my user profile.

We got up Monday morning in Vancouver to glorious sunshine and calm waters.  We hadn't planned to cross back to the Island until later this week but Monday seemed too good a day to pass up so we got underway before noon, got a good lift from the ebbing tide and were back on the dock in Cowichan Bay for a late supper.   We'll enjoy a few days of socializing on the dock before we go to a yacht club outing at Otter Bay in early April.  We're starting to count the days until we can return to Buchanan.  I've been checking the webcams in the mountain passes and most of them are already free of snow.  Our schedule could still be deranged by a day or two by a spring blizzard but our current plan is to leave here around April 7th. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Artificial reefs and NIMBY types

The Artificial Reef Society of BC has spent several years getting the old HMCS Annapolis ready to sink to form a reef.  They’ve already done that 7 or 8 times mostly with big boats but once with a jet airplane.  The whole story is here

Our old buddy Bruce, the bluenose sailboat builder that I have written about before, somehow landed the security gig to keep an eye on the Annapolis until the liars figure out where the society will be allowed to sink her – or even if they’ll be allowed to sink her anywhere.  We wanted to see what he was guarding so we pulled up beside him a few days ago and had a good visit.  Nobody is allowed onboard but we were able to take some pictures and the website does a good job of documenting the society’s big project. 





The striking feature of the Annapolis is all the rounded edges.  That’s because she was built at the height of the cold war.  The theory was that rounded corners meant that they could wash all the fallout off her if that became necessary.  Evidently she also had some kind of a water sprinkler system that could put up a shield to protect the boat from fallout.  Bruce knew some of the crew when he and the Annapolis were in Halifax.  He said they hated the rounded decks because there was nothing to stop them from sliding overboard which evidently did happen on occasion.  There is a bit of a cable railing but otherwise nothing along the gunwale to keep someone from sliding straight into the ocean.

This morning we untied from Bruce’s boat and headed for Vancouver.  Its pretty crowded in False Creek but we found a spot, got the anchor stuck and settled in for an as yet undetermined length of time.