Home!

Home after one month. And is it good to be back. We spent time in Ireland, England, passed through Holland and Germany unexpectedly, and finally Denmark. Europe is changing, it is busy, and in some ways it is loosing its old magic. It is becoming more and more anglicized with ever more words creeping into its languages which originate from the larger Amercan culture.

This is a picture of a window at the train station in Hvalsø in Zealand, Denmark. We visited relatives here. It is a small town about 40 minutes from Copenhagen. There is not a lot to see in town as it is pretty small. The library has great internet access and there is a lot of choice of magazines and newspapers. We ate in a small pizza place. Interesting that as we ate the postman came in and proceeded to tell the owner that he tried to deliver items at noon but the place was closed. The owners comment was that they didn’t open until 12:03 pm as they had a family emergency. But the postman had to continue to express his concern that this was the second time he had to come to this place to deliver mail. You could sense he was not pleased. We then watched him walk across the street to put his bags and bicycle in the shed. His day was over and he was heading home. And this second delivery must have cost him and extra 2 minutes. Maybe he wasn’t happy that the owners of the pizza place were Danes. Yes the Janteloven is still alive and well!

Kinvara


After close to 1,300 km we arrived in Port Rush this afternoon. This is the town we left this morning, Kinvara, which was a total delight. There is a pub at the foot of this street, O’Connors, which we visited last night. The people were friendly and it had to be the ultimate place to talk and have a Smithwick. Wish we could have stayed here a few more days.

Ireland is a country of seemingly endless contrasts. It is unique and charming. Ulster definitely has the British influence which is noticeable. The south in contrast is growing, developing and hanging on to what Ireland was and is. I hope they can keep it but you can sense the changes and the erosions that will come. There is too much Western influence creeping in. But as one person we spoke with said “When we left school in the 80’s the counselling was to get a ticket out of here if you wanted a job.” That is no longer the case. Ireland needs people now. But it seems the housing market is the same as at home, too expensive for young people.

Only another few days left until we head off for London. Lots of pictures and great memories here.

Europa!

This is our Java programmer after hiting the ATM (man with a pocket full of money)—and we are all off to A.N.A.F. Unit #315 for a pizza and beer! Work is over and the holidays have begun. 5 weeks across the pond. Ireland, London, Denmark.

I haven’t been back for 14 years so am really, really looking forward to this. We’ll meetup with a cousin I’ve never met in Kilkenny, auto around Ireland, stay in London with Marjun’s cousin and wife (a fellow Canadian), up to Norfolk to visit a favourite uncle & aunt, and then onto Denmark and our home for a number of years, Nakskov. Some old school friends are planning a get together so I get to see them in their family life instead of the student life. That should be interesting.

Everything is assembled to be packed. Now the proverbial ‘change of mind’ at the last minute. I figure for that going away for that long there is no way I can take what is planned and should just travel light knowing you are going to have to buy something you forgot.

I should be updating this blog whenever I can get internet access. At the same time some of the pictures will get uploaded to Flickr.

It is hot today. I’ve been in the basement most of the time and it hasn’t cooled off yet. Upstairs is an oven. Gotta get to the store, the fridge is empty! It’s ice cream time. At London Drugs today it was empty and the salesman said “The only thing we’ve done lately is answer the phone and tell people – Sorry we are sold out of airconditioners!”

Dentists, garagedoors and mechanics

Today I was back in the chair slated for a 60 minute session. Two inlays to put in and I’m out of there. But the temporaries wouldn’t come out so easily, then the rubber dam (does anyone like those things?) and on and on. If something could go sideways today in that chair it did. That’s when, all said and done, you need a good dentist you can trust. My dentist is the best. That’s why it wasn’t that bad.

Garage doors. Doorworks came out to look over this creaking, intermittent up an down double garage door we have. Complete overhaul. You have to appreciate craftsman who take time, do it right and explain everything to you. It works great now. You can hardly hear it.

And finally got the SUV tuned up. First major tuneup with a change of plugs in 3 years and 114,000 km. Everytime I thought it needed a tune-up our mechanic would say no way it is still good. Something to do with platinum plugs. Anyway the thing is ticking like a dream.

When your day gets filled with good people you can trust and do good work for you then I think it is a pretty good day. Because most of the time it is completely the opposite. The one thing that stands out with these guys — they all have a lot of pride in what they do and they do it right the first time.

Old recipes

When my mother passed away a few years ago we were given all the cookbooks and recipes cut out from magazines and newspapers that she had. They were safely put away in the basement as we didn’t have any other place to put them. When we built some shelving in the kitchen for cookbooks last year we got them out and placed them on the shelves. Over that last year we’ve found some real treasures.

In the early 50’s when Kentucky Fried chicken started with Colonel Saunders, they opened a restaurant in Vancouver featuring this chicken. I remember my mom once saying that she met the Colonel and I never thought anything of it. In amongst all the recipes is a small booklet describing this “new” Kentucky Fried chicken. Neat. But then on the cover in very fine handwriting is a small note and signature of the Colonel. She must have met him to get his autograph.

Then there is the booklet on BC Home Canning put together by the sales agents of the BC Tree Fruits Ltd in Kelowna. This is filled with more information about canning fruit than anything I have ever seen. Jars, methods of canning, fruits with a chart of when they are available and their peak season, every fruit with varieties mentioned and then the recipes.

There is a book put out by the Daily Province (newspaper) called Cooking Clinc. On the last page it says “Just phone PA 4211 and we’ll be pleased to send you The Province immediately.” PA was the old Pacific exchange. Remember the other exchanges?

Then there is something put out by the B.C. Electric Home Service Centre at 970 Burrard Street. B.C. Electric and recipe books? That would now be B.C. Hydro and recipe books.

Amongst all of these pages is the occasional note about an adjusted measurement or “good recipe!” in my mother’s handwriting. She would never have realized what these old recipes mean to us now.

CN, what’s up?

There was a report of yet another derailment by CN, this time leaving two men dead and one in the hospital. Last year the Cheakamaus River was destroyed by a CN derailment. And there are others. I understand that after last year’s mishap they were to keep the number of cars down to a minimum but subsequently applied to have that order lifted.

Now most of us are not train people. The closest we have come to operating a train is the HO gauge in our childhood bedroom. But it doesn’t take an expert to realize something here. BC Rail when it operated the line didn’t have this problem. Now with the new operator there has been nothing but problems. Why does it take the destruction of a river and people loosing their lives to make the authorities wake up? Is the company “too big” to regulate? Or maybe admonishment is the only course some care to choose.

This is not a political process we are talking about. This is the government, who are to be the public’s watchdog in these circumstances, doing what most people would ask– make those that are responsible accountable for their lack of proper judgement. Someone wake up and do something before more mayhem is inflicted.

Stuff

The Globe and Mail Business section had an article by Mathew Ingram on Web 2.0 applications. He mentioned dabble db, a Vancouver entry into this ever growing group of web applications.

PopChar has a new version out that seems to finally have made the grade. It is one of those products that never seems to quite make it. You can always find that one character some other way. This must be one of the oldest Mac utility programs around.

Comming home on the freeway tonight the line up into the city was backed up at 176th Avenue. The other side, going east, was packed with everyone getting a head start on the long weekend. Just when you are coming down the hill to the bridge you could see an accident on the other side. Some guy, with an older stationwagon, loaded up completely with travel stuff and pulling a trailer and boat on top, rear ended a Jeep. He was on the cell phone. The woman was in the passenger seat, hands folded, glaring out the window. “Well honey, there goes the holiday!”

Flickr

Today I upgraded my flickr account to pro. After spending some time with the menus and what you can do it definitely is worth it. IF you are into digital photography to any great degree this program will allow you to share those pictures that you think are shareable. With the bandwidth they give you there is ample space to fill their storage area with whatever you want. You can see the stuff I’ve downloaded at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinfoiling/

#9 Boundary

Had to go to the dentist today for a 2 hour session. To get there I take the Skytrain to Commercial Drive then the #9 along Broadway to MacDonald. Great route for seeing cosmopolitan Vancouver. This afternoon when coming back the bus was about half full. At Kingsway this fellow gets on with a liquor store bag and a backpack. You can see he is a roofer with dirt and sweat just caked all over him. He had a red bandanna on and looked like he had worked hard all day. So he sits down near the back. There is another guy next to me and a lady by the other window, all of us watching as he packs the 2 six packs of beer into the knapsack. When he is finished he looks up and says “one 6 pack for the game, the other 6 pack when the Oilers win!” Everybody at starts laughing and the conversations begin. I am pretty sure if the law allowed it there could have been a bunch of people at the back of that bus starting a pre-Stanley Cup party. The guy in the bandana was the type to pass around a few of those beers without any hesitation.

Peace Arch

This weekend we spent it down at the seaside retreat at White Rock. The weather was great and there was hardly anyone down there so it was quiet and peaceful. On Saturday we walked over to the Peace Arch and milled around the “Hands Across the Border” event. They say there was 12,000 people participating, mostly Girl Guides and Boy Scouts from the US and Canada. It was pretty neat to see so many young kids having fun. They have this event every year and this year they celebrated the Peace Arch’s 85th year.

It was interesting to walk about and feel that you were no different than the citizens of this country you were in. In some ways it is amazing how at home you feel. And in other ways how different the two systems are.

Today the tide at noon was extremely low and we made it out to the 49th parallel marker in the bay. There were a lot of starfish and anemones surrounding the cement marker and an eaglet in a nest at the top. There were a bunch of people harvesting crabs and clams. Given the size of the buckets they were over their limits.

Yes down to the States both days without going through customs!

Everywhere and everything

Seems that May is ending and most hadn’t realized it just started. With the longer days of sunlight you just get busy with everything. It’s like you have finally come out of hibernation.

Everything is set for our summer vacation. Marjun leaves the beginning of July for 2 months. She’ll be in Denmark until the 25th were she will meet up with me in Dublin for the WOCCU conference. This is a 4 day conference with credit unions from all over the world. The last one we were at was Nashville, Tennessee and it was amazing to meet so many different people. The Irish will be putting out the red carpet to make this memorable. After the conference we tour Ireland by car for 5 days, then onto London and Norfolk to spend some time with relatives. The final weeks will be back in Denmark with family and old friends. There are a few old school mates that are planning to get together. I haven’t been back for 14 years so there will be some changes for sure. One looks forward to seeing the people, tasting the food and seeing all of those familiar haunts as well as something new. What always intrigues me is the different fragrances. There are smells that just bring back a flood of memories that can only be found in some unique corner of the globe.

Today it’s off to the passport office. That is a high priced product that seems to take longer to apply for, longer to get, and last a shorter time. If nothing changes why can’t you just append your passport with a new photograph? or better yet just get your Flickr account updated with a few pictures so they can always see what you look like.

The Nikon D-50 continues to amaze me. The clarity of the images is the best I have seen in a digital camera. With a true SLR lens you begin to notice the lack of limitations in taking any photograph. We were over at a friends place last week and took some pictures outside at about 10:00 pm with the flash. Clear, brilliant and simple to take. The optics on the lens makes a huge difference. The picture below was taken in a gymnasium from the far side of the door in the background. Cropping out the noise brings in the focus of people milling about chatting and enjoying a school reunion.

It is fun taking pictures, again.

This new camera continues to amaze me with its functions and possibilities. Since using small “automatic” digitals that really didn’t allow you to manage the variables to any great extent, you tend to just point and shoot. If you adjusted the aperture there was usually not enough light to take the picture you wanted. Not enough light meant the blinding flash would saturate your image with light creating those glaring shadows. With the return of the SLR controls you have to begin to “construct” your pictures thinking in terms of depth of field, control of the light, etc. With this camera you can bracket your white balancing, automatically. It only does that with JPGs not with the RAW files. Now the variances when you view what you have taken are just incredible. It seems like painting at times.

The biggest question to begin with is what type of file to take the picture in. RAW allows you to bring the file into an editing enviroment that gives you wonderful control. It really is like being in the darkroom again. But the files size! And because you can just click away , the total download is usually over 1G. You tend to become somewhat ruthless with trashing those images that are the least bit out of focus or no amount of cropping will help. It does bring some new excitement into an old hobby.

Season of meetings


Sooner than later this ‘season of meetings’ should be over. I don’t know what has been happening in everyone elses life but for the last few months the calendar is full of meetings. Never ending meetings. Meetings with and meetings without purpose. What is it? The new way to make social contact? Sorry but sitting in a boring meeting is sometimes worse than a root canal. The root canal has a knowledgeable end. Meetings take on lives of their own and go on and on and on. Long live the simple freedom to sit by yourself and think!

My last purchase of a good camera (SLR) was in 1979 with a Canon A-1. It doesn’t get used much anymore, is heavier than a kitchen sink, but was one of the best 35mm cameras made. It still feels good to hold and shoot. Last week after a number of months researching Lens and Shutter got a sale. I chose a Nikon digital D50 but not with the kit lens. I upgraded to the same lens as the D70s. And after hundreds of pictures this camera is impressive. It does everything the A-1 does with just new dimensions in taking pictures. It is fast, very fast. The RAW images are a joy to work with, and the ability to compensate with all the tools of the camera to take a good picture is at times unbelievable. I picked up the SB600 Speedlight flash which is a gem. No more flash picture with the black curtain ending the visual. Great bounce flash AND fast! I am sure there will be further comments about this apparatus in the future but the most striking thing about this camera is it’s usability. If you have a medium knowledge of photography everything that makes up this camera is understandable and very usable. Just a joy to use with some great results (as you can see).

Old pictures

When I got home from work tonight my wife, daughter-in-law and a friend were doing scrapbooking at the kitchen table. They had a pile of old pictures strewn across the table, sorting them into little black boxes. This is a serious hobby. Why? Where else can you see a dozen different types of siscors, 50 types of gel pens, corner cutters, hole punchers of every shape and size, different types of papers and stickers, stickers, stickers. This is heavy duty. Nostalgia at its finest. Cut, paste, scribble, print. Sort of like grade one except you can’t eat this glue.

So I went through a batch of old pictures. Amazing. There was one there of my wife when she was 20 years old. Funny how all those old first love memories come flooding back. We could even remember the day the picture was taken (she was mad at me for something). There is still a box of them to view, enough for a lifetime of memories to live again.

Cold April

Yesterday was at the University Golf Club for a golf tournament. It was supposed to rain and didn’t even try. But man was it cold! It felt like a round in November. And then when you skull the ball the vibration up the shaft hits your hands and OUCH! The wind seemed to just go through you. We have all had cold rounds but most everyone agreed that was close to number one. All the suppliers had nice buckets of ice with water and pop. Sorry, wrong temperature. No one had a hot drink. Our foresome didn’t do so bad but at the dinner and prize draw I came home with a red and yellow Taylormade golf bag. Very nice way to end a memorable day even if my better half has laid claim on the bag.

The story of the fridge



or “Men creating order out of chaos, women creating chaos out of order”

Men will always put items back in the fridge where they originally found them. It is much easier to find them then. But women sabotage us. They move stuff around. Then when we ask for help finding stuff they always say men can never find anything. They seem to want to prove their superiority by confusing us. And sometimes women think we are confused, which of course is not the case. If women would only put things back where they found them, the fridge would be a much happier place.

Conceptualizing

I am reading ‘The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death’ by Douglas John Hall. In it he writes:

‘It is the same with our conceptualizing of the totality the whole of reality. We can give so much loyalty to our own intellectual-spritual pre-understanding of the world that the world as it acutually is has a hard time getting through to us. In fact, we use our ideas about the world to shield ourselves from the real world.’

This seems to be the normal behaviour of most. By our pre-defining the world, and to such a large extent as we grow older this pre-definition grows, we loose sight of what that real world is. Is that why when we encounter a 4 year old we are overwhelmed by the innocence and wonderful view of the world that they have to offer? That they have yet to define it and as such can just see the world through a fresh set of eyes? After reading this I can see the challenge of constant re-definitions or even getting to the point of existing at times without any definitions. We also seem to create ideas that perform their duty to keep reality at bay.

There is a word that is becoming popular these days – lenses. That says something about the way we view things.

Have a blessed Easter!

A hockey game

Tonight it is off to the hockey game against the Ducks. It seems they are going to have to win the next games in order to make the playoffs. When you have grown up here you take your sports seriously at times but tend not to go overboard. Why? Because Vancouver teams always tend to disappoint the fans (BC Lions, Grizzlies, need more be said?). Tonight could be a very good game with Burke and Carlyle there. The biggest surprise may be the grin on their faces if they win.

And Mikelson wins the Masters. Another point for us lefthanders. Someone I know had Mikelson’s as their pick in a pool at their golf club. The win will probably be worth $800 for him. Mikelson wins $1.25 million or so.

I am reading Douglas Adams – The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Is this book funny. There is some unique humour here that just makes you laugh out loud. Imagine Thor the god of thunder being glued to the floor by his father Odin and asking a woman for help in removing the floor pieces from his back. See— you really are going to have to read it to understand this plot.

Income tax filed. Refund coming back. Thought I would owe them money this year so hesitated doing the return. Was wrong. They have had my money and now it needs to come back. But if you do the return early and owe them money then you just stress out that they are owed more. In the final analysis if it has anything to do with taxes it just is going to be an annoyance you have to live with.



Choices

The Globe and Mail has some interesting letters concerning the women who does not want her child to receive a form that would allow her to receive a bible. It isn’t the fact that she receives a bible it is only that she has a choice to receive a bible.

Now in this day and age when someone asks a question, you do have a choice. In most instances an elevated society would then state that the person questioned would then answer. It seems a bit backwards to ask someone not to ask the question, at all. I was wondering how advertising in schools is then viewed. There you don’t get a chance, it just sits in your face. But then that is all about money which is always more important than theology. Money will always carry you through any of life’s crises, right?