A recovered Monday

Yesterday when we went shopping there was a large choice of hot sauces on the shelf. A hot sauce company located in Salmon Arm, Denzels, seemed to have the right ingredients. So we picked up Gourmet Habanero. Well last night I had the biggest heart burn for the longest time because of this bottle of dynamite! This stuff is HOT and not for the weak tongued. They have it rated 6 out of 8 on their heat level. This morning went back to get something a little less tangy – Lil’ Smokehouse (2 out of 8) made from smoked red jalapeno peppers. Excellent! Even mixed just a smidgen of the Habanero with it to bring it up the spice ladder. This product is as good as it gets. Take a look at Denzels site.

What is with golf?

Today I was all prepared to have a great game after the 93 last week. Should have known better. At the clubhouse the cashier had an opening “If you can get out there right now”. So you hurry up to the teebox looking for the glove, ball, tees, etc., tee up the ball and away you go. But you didn’t even have time to find out what kind of ball you hit! From there it got worse with the low point being the marshall telling us to hurry up. Sure buddy. We are a walking foursome and the two guys in front of us have a cart. No problem in keeping up with them. Well with the back nine I finally settled down and got a few nice pars in but the final score was a disasterous 103. Yuck! The good part, and that is what really makes the game, is playing with 3 pretty nice people. You always get to meet people you would never meet otherwise. Now if I could just get to meet my golf ball sometimes!

The Saga of the pick-up trucks

Seems these posts get fewer and farther between.

In the last few weeks it has become apparent that there is a new type of driver hitting the asphalt. Last week a large pickup truck passed me on the freeway. Yessirree passed me on the freeway. I was in the slow lane, a car was coming up in the fast lane and the pickup track passed on the right hand side using the shoulder as the driveable highway. That is the second time that has happened in over 10 years of daily freeway drving. I wonder what driving school he went to.

Today was a typical incident. Driving in the slow lane with a number of vehicles coming onto the freeway. You can’t move into the fast lane due to traffic so you keep you speed constant allowing those coming onto the freeway to adjust either a faster or slower speed to merge. Typically the pickup truck must have expected me to stop to let him on the freeway because he had to slow down instead of me. Looking in the rear view mirror was the proverbial finger. Then the fast approach on the left hand side with the wife-beater T-shirted passenger shouting obscenties, leaning out the window with his arm and middle finger held high, sort of a salute to the gods of ignorance. What do you do? Shake your head and wonder. Yes these young bucks own the road, they have paid their fair share of taxes (like about 2.43 years) and they drive a leased and certainly not fully paid for truck. Pillars of the transportation elite. Oh to be a law enforcement officer for 5 minutes!

Old Vinyl

On Saturday went up to Apollo Records on Austin in Coquitlam. They were having their semi-annual “lets sell everything in the store” sale. There wasn’t much in the CD bins. My friend was bound and determined to go through them all so I looked through the LP bins. Unbelievable! Everything there was for $1.00. After 45 minutes there was the grand total of $17 spent. That is less than the cost of a new CD. Do you remember?

Leon Russell and the Shelter People
Al Stewart – Time Passages
The Mason Williams Phonograph Record
The Lilac Time – Paradise Circus * been looking for that one for years
Elvin Bishop
Dan Reed Network – Slam * another rarity
Jeff Healy Band – See the Light
and 10 more – Genesis, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, The Grapes of Wrath….

And at this point no noticeable scratches. You seem to appreciate the music when you have to get up every 20 minutes to either change the LP or turn it over.

The odd bits

Came across a real neat comic book program. www.plasq.com Comic Life. It is so simple and the results are pretty neat. I sent a quick creation to my kids and they were impressed. Mac only though.

Darren Barefoot
had a very interesting post about blogs being defined as advertising, campaign that is. What a wonderful world we live in huh.

With all this recent rain you have to think of the positives with all the water we get. Of course everything is green and we tend to have mild weather because of it. The water out of the tap is usually as good as what you buy in a bottle (there could be some disagreement here) and much cheaper. And those that travel will notice the lack of soap suds in the shower in most other places. Living here does give rise to fewer sundances though.

Fountain pens. I have been writing with a fountain pen occasionally for the last 15 years. The people in a previous workplace bought me a beautiful Waterman Lemans which is just a joy to write with. So I happened upon the Vancouver Pen Company on Hastings across from the SFU campus which has a fantastic selection of pens. They have a new Lamy graphite fountain pen (comes in 4 colours including black) and a variety of nibs that are just a pleasure to use. Writing is effortless and isn’t as fast as typing but it gives you a chance to use that right side of the brain when “drawing” each character. You really can’t go wrong with one of these. Inks are for another post.

What you loose going faster

For the past few months I have purposely been slowing down on my drive to work. You know you are going slow when EVERBODY is passing you. It seems one begins to notice the environment and world around them much more. The people in the cars passing become interesting. The trees and buildings on the roadways seem to become much more real. When you begin to focus on the world around you, going faster isn’t important. When you focus on yourself…speed becomes a priority.

It works!

Our SMS/e-mail messaging product (MemberNote) is really taking off. I just noticed that our transaction counts for the month have climbed. It would seem that people will use their cards more if they feel secure. The other interesting comment from users is they love the messages because now if they loose their slips they still have a record. Taking it one step farther think of the paper that could be saved if you didn’t need that slip.

What is also interesting in the feedback are the ideas for added features.
– balances. What if you could push a message, for example just call a number, and have a text message with you current balance. We had thought about this but didn’t realize people REALLY want this.
– payroll deposits. Checking with the staff they say on certain paydays there are a lot of calls asking if their paycheques have been deposited. Why not just get noticed by SMS when it was deposited?
– postive option. It is something that larger institutions demand, the ability to accept any items that are attempting to clear their accounts. They want the final say. It is more a risk management thing to prevent fraud. But what if that was available to anyone when they wrote a cheque? You could be notified of the item and asked to authenticate it within a certain time frame with a unique passcode.

At this years meeting of all the credit unions in the province there were a number of credit unions asking about MemberNote. I work for one of the smallest credit unions in the province so having these humongous ones take notice of something like this is pretty nice. Hopefully others can get involved in using something like this. More than anything it needs to be a vehicle for creating what people want with technology they have.

The Vancouver Sun had a colour banner across the business section on Wednesday April 13th. That was a huge surprise. We were expecting nothing to be picked up by the press and if anything two small sentences on page 83 lower left hand corner.

To anyone with a Mac, the Tiger upgrade is well worth it. Spotlight finds everything you lost.

EOBR – end of business report

May 1st – Labour Day

Well not here in North America, in Europe. I remember getting this day off when working over there. The interesting part was that it was only for half of the day, the afternoon. You couldn’t get the morning off. It always seemed strange. This was the day those red labour flags were noticeable.

April is gone and May is upon us. Am listening to the Crooked Fingers “Dignity and Shame” CD. Excellent melodies, especially the piano playing. It isn’t classic rock and could definied more along the Indpendent rock them.

Mac OS 10.4 Tiger is installed and working well. When I bought the system disk yesterday in Vancouver the computer shop had two tigers (real big tigers) at the back of the store for promotion. These were definitley alive and well. The salesperson asked if I wanted my picture taken with these large cats. Given my inability to have any relationships with cats I declined. Over the years cats have not liked me, at all, and the feeling is mutal. It seemed very probable that these two large tigers might possibly clue into my lack of a having any type of bond with cats and take it upon themselves to show me the error of my ways. Thanks but it was too close to lunchtime.

The Atlantic article

The Atlantic Monthly has a very interesting article America in Foreign Eyes by Bernard-Henry Levy. As this year marks the bicentennial of Alexis de Tocquerville’s birth, the magazine has asked a French philosopher/writer to retrace the route and comment.

He has some wonderful insights into the American culture.

On the “living” museums –
The whole idea is not to preserve but to reconsitute a false truth and celebrate it as such. Defeat of the archive. Triumph of kitsch.
…and…
The self-generation of culture that wants to be descended from its own handiwork and, accordingly, rewrites its great and small genealogies. An American neurosis?

There are some remarkable statements in the article, that as a Canadian, bring to light a newly defined perspective. When you live by a country such as the US your own perception of American culture gets clouded by the huge amount of American influence. This European challenges these old ideas.

There are to be a number of articles by this individual in the next months. The article is worth the price of the magazine.

Generous people…

Today it was actually hot out in the Fraser Valley. The fragrance of the blooming flowers was fantastic. It looks like all week will be like this. A nice time to take a weeks holiday.

My oldest son is garnering pledges for this weekend’s 8 hour skateboard-a-thon. He is one of the leaders of a local church skateboard club and the money goes to getting all the kids to a week long camp this summer. He was going over his pledges (now over $500) and it was remarkable the number of people who have donated. I am pleasantly surprised by their generousity. The youngest son was interviewed and published in a local grafitti magazine. He’s happy. What did I get today? The MasterCard bill with the payment due on April 30th. I guess it just depends on who you are as to what you get.

Conspiracy of Fools

I am reading Kurt Eichenwald’s book on what happened at Enron. After 169 pages it is pretty clear what happened, some people got very greedy and lied. Pretty simple plot but complicated storylines. As you read the book you can Google the names and get images of these people. They don’t look like crooks. It is amazing that there were a number of people that understood something was wrong but the chain of command or the normal business practice stopped their concern from being brought to a larger majorities view. So where does that put the school of thought that businesses can be ethical? How can an entity with no moral compass be ethical? Its like a virtual Ten Commandments that is there but really isn’t.

Gnomedex

Reading the list of people that will be speaking at Gnomedex (where did that word come from anyway?) in Seattle this June is impressive. When I first learned about it being in Seattle it sounded interesting so I signed up. As the weeks have past, the speakers list keeps growing and it looks like an event that is going to be remembered.

Energy usage in Iraq
The recent edition of The Atlantic (May 2005) has an interesting article on the U. S. military. Seems that everyday 2,000 trucks involving 20,000 Amercian soldiers and private contractors are leaving Kuwait everyday carrying fuel to Iraq. The M1 Abrams tank get less than one mile per gallon! This must be getting to be a problem and it seems to spell “inefficiency”. But the article concludes that the prevailing wisdom in the Pentagon is that “fuel efficiency is for sissies.” I must have missed something here.

Pocketwatches

Jan mentioned pocketwatches in his blog.
http://www.jankarlsbjerg.com/blog
which brings up an interesting story, since it involves Denmark.
My first job required a suit, everyday. Having the bodyshape that a suit off the rack would never fit I needed to get them tailor made. Of course the tailor talked me into always buying a vest with every new suit. Always wanting a pocket watch, when the time came I bought an 18K gold Waltham with chain. It was a beautiful timepiece. You can’t find them anymore. This was the watch that you pass onto your kids. Excellent watch and you begin to see there are always rituals with getting the time and popping the case open to view the face, winding the large dial at the same time everyday, making sure the chain is fastened correctly, etc. It was like have something to do that you enjoyed, all the time. With all these new vests it was a perfect fit. An old friend even gave me a small ivory elephant to attach to the chain. Then I met my wife who was here visiting from Denmark. To make a long story short I ended up marrying this wonderful lady 11 months later in Denmark. I got there by selling the watch.

The car is in the repair shop

I am just waiting for a call from my mechanic to pick up my vehicle. It is in for brakes and a tune-up which hopefully won’t prove costly. It is the first time anything has been done to it after the warranty period. The people we got the vehicle from wanted to get the brakes done 6 months ago and they kept bugging me, but everyone (and you know everyone is a “mechanic” when you ask them for advice) said to wait. Rob, the mechanic we used to go to, said the same thing. When the warranty was over that was it for those dealership guys, back to Rob who has always been good.

CBC Radio had some audio clips on Terry Fox, on the eve of the start of his Canadian marathon, it being 25 years old. On one of the audios he mentions how cancer has touched to lives of people we know. Now 25 years later my mind reels at the number of people who have had cancer, some making it, others not. Even now there are friends fighting it. I would have to say it is the disease that has affected our family the most. There is a Danish saying that people abhor when they hear it, as it is a curse. It translates “May cancer eat you”. It has to be the most disgusting phrase I have ever heard and no one has to be told why.

Terry Fox is a true hero. He made sure we would have and keep hope in our hearts. That is what cancer can never take away.

Podcasts eh?

I was listening to a series of podcasts while on my way to and from work today. What seems to be happening regularly now is that I download a massive number of podcasts and then burn the MP3s onto a CD that is playable on the car stereo. It seems to work quite well as the player controls are easier to use and the titles appear on the LCD. It gets to be a little difficult reading iPod screens when driving.
There are some interesting podcasts and the list is ever growing. So were do these verbal files fit into the whole scheme of things? First and foremost is that my listening of radio or TV rarely includes any commercials. IF someone wants to pay me to listen to this then ok. There is very little worth listening to in these 30 or 60 second attacks on my senses that try to sell me something rarely needed. That leaves CBC as a prime listening station and let’s face it not everything said on that network is everyone’s cup of tea. One can listen to music but one needs a change and this is where podcasts fit in. They are usually specialized, which makes choosing various casts in the chosen genre very easy. Listening to a series of speakers with some interesting and unique insights is interesting. I have a 40-minute commute to and from work each day and being able to have choices to listen to, as well as a cell phone to communicate with the world, makes the time spent in the vehicle not totally wasted. Most of my drive is going against traffic on the freeway. With cruise control set at just below 100 kmh, most mornings are pretty easy. Listening to something that you want makes it that much easier, almost close to enjoyable.

Tulips?

I had a call from a business colleague back in Toronto this week. She described the Saturday they had in Toronto with about 6 inches of wet snow and the problem her husband had removing it as the snowblower was useless. I listened intently, waited for the pause and then stated that it was also difficult out here with the daffodils just about finished and 3 beautiful tulips just opening up in our container by the garage. There was silence on the other end and we both started laughing. Where else but in Canada?

The day before daylight savings

Darren Barefoot has some interesting points about podcasting. The whole area is new and just beginning and will probably evolve in aspects that we don’t realize at this point. Podcasting points to becoming aural content on demand. Until now this was the domain of spoken books and taped radio shows. The podcaster is a layman’s attempt to create some aural context. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t. But a good story will always have willing ears to listen. Bad stories…well you usually find something else to do. The nice thing right now is that there are more sources of choices to hear.

The Common Good

This morning while in the Post Office I overheard two men, one in his early 30’s, the other in his 60’s, discussing the increasing amount of traffic that was flowing through the neighbourhood. They commented on the noise and the road wear and had heard that someone was going to present like concerns to the local council. As the conversation grew older the conclusion was that there should be a toll on the road to keep the traffic to a minimum and hopefully the road would be for locals only.
It was somewhat hard to believe what I was hearing, a public road with restricted access. There wasn’t much discussion about the common good of the road being accessible to everyone. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Middle Ages with drawbridges and tollbooths. I am sure the hospital that either of these gentlemen may attend in the future would have to have free and open access! There are some in our society that just don’t seem to understand what the common good means anymore.

The principles of society…yeah sure…

Greed. Are greed and the acquiring of material goods the engine of growth in our society? It seems that we are no longer supposed to feel badly about being greedy. Sacrfice is a foreign word and there is no limit to the number of expensive items we are expected to have in order to have the lifestyle we so “richly” deserve. Nothing should be free or even done for free. This seems to be the central organizing theme of our society.

But do we really understand the road we are on and where this path will take us? How can we individually look out for only ourselves and expect there to be any social good in the context of our neighbours and our communities. We are not the centre of the universe and the first time we slip and see the necessity of help from others there will be a tremendous amount of upheaval in what we have thought our world to be. Our ability to make meaning in our lives from “things” is limited. And yet the world and the communication apparatuses around us keep churning out that mantra.

Easter Sunday

This morning 4 of us prepared a Sunday morning breakfast at church for about 50 people. The interesting things was that we actually received compliments for the meal. When you are in the middle of preparing 14 pounds of sausages or 8 pounds of pancake batter you really aren’t thinking about how people will appreciate it. You just want to finish doing this and getting the dishes done. In a typical household this morning is what you would prepare for at least 10 breakfasts, or 10 weeks of Sunday household breakfasts. And there were a lot of helping hands to cleanup.