Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gone to Wordpress

Have transferred all author blogging activity to my Wordpress blog. I'm leaving this blog up purely as an archive.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Spring cleaning

Have revisited the blog for the first time since June last year. Plenty of water under the bridge since then.

Item one; first visit to the UK since I left in 2007. Amazed by the plethora of health and safety inspired signs all over the UK. Amusing and disappointing visits with old friends. I do miss them sometimes, but not so much as to want to return to the UK. Some walked past me without recognising my face. Have I really changed that much?

Item two; have got my permanent residency, so no more work permits.

Item three; novel length MSS completed. Second in series almost so. First readers are already asking when the second will be ready. Another month if all goes well.

Item four; new job. Part time, which suits my current lifestyle.

Item five; am thinking about self publication more and more, and the possibility of using social media to draw attention to my work. Facebook might not be the best way forward, but Twitter sounds like a worthwhile even money bet. See if I can put together my own Audio versions, and donate some eBook copies and sound files to VIRL. I've been told I have a pleasant reading voice, and my dulcet tones can be heard booming out from the Coal Mine exhibit at Nanaimo District Museum. Feels rather spooky to hear my own voice sometimes when passing by the entrance and someone is listening to one of the brief passages I'm narrating. It's nice to think my drama training finally found a venue.

Item six; planning another visit to the UK in July 2011. Laura and Joanna will be graduating from their respective Universities, and Angie and I will be there to celebrate their success. Side trips to France are in the mix, as is a possible stop off in Dublin, one of the few European capitals I've yet to visit.

Item seven; Completed new Tampions for our two Cannon at the Museum, also the display stand for the Sculling outboard. Looking forward to seeing them in place. The Nanaimo Bastion reopens this May after a significant refurbishment. Displays have to be reorganised and put in situ, or as David the curator says with one of his gamine little grins, that will be another little job I can help them with.

Have done a little spring cleaning on the blog, and am debating whether to begin afresh for the novel marketing, or use this one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

3D Astronomy display

This weekend has been busy with Joanna being here as part of her Summer break from Uni, and we've been looking after her. Lots of Motherly hugs from Angie to make up for the long absence. We look forward to doing the same for both Laura and Joanna after they graduate next year.

Taking a break from family matters, on Saturday I dodged off to the Museum to help out setting up a 3D Astronomy display with members of Nanaimo Astronomy Society. The end results are as seen below. Photographs by me, original images by Pal Virag and Nanaimo Astronomy Society

There are a whole heap more, but they tend to look a bit samey at the low resolution images I have available.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It's cannon season once more, and this lunchtime I persuaded Angie to come and video a noon firing at the bastion. I quite enjoy this little Summertime task, done in addition to my other voluntary work at Nanaimo District Museum. Corinne, one of the museums Summer students, does the speech and tries not to fluff her lines bless her little cotton socks, while I do the grunt work of loading, ramming and firing. Between the two of us, we've got the drill up to a reasonable standard, although seventy two seconds from load to firing isn't quite Navy speed. It's a performance for the tourists, and we treat it as such.

I always find the bangs quite satisfying, although today just as we dropped linstock to charge, two elderly people attempted to bypass the safety rope which we place around forty feet directly in front of the muzzle blast. This noontide we had what I describe as a 'good detonation' and gave our would-be interlopers quite a scare. Perhaps they will pay more heed to the numerous 'do not pass - Cannon firing at noon' signs we put up all around in future. The abject look of terror in their eyes as the gun fired a cloud of smoke and polystyrene wadding at them gave my darker side a brief twinge of amusement.

We were also graced by the presence of a Japanese TV crew who filmed the firing, which is why I was hamming it up a bit with the exaggerated 'parade ground' behaviour. Normally I don't say "Ma'am!" at the end of every command confirmation. Not that I think anyone noticed.

Tuesday is our Museum day, when Angie and I take a break from the day jobs and help out with research and displays. Angie, being the brains of the outfit, mainly handles research, while I help out with displays. Mostly this involves constructing displays which the display staff haven't got time to do. Like the overhead projection array which will be used for this Saturday's Astronomy event. It also means refurbishing and cleaning some of the mechanical exhibits, and generally trying to be useful by restoring various artefacts to working order.

This afternoon's result was a mounting stand for a Mine Rescue Rebreather unit, shortly to grace the inside of the new Coal Mining exhibit. Made out of two pieces of 5mm perspex shaped and bent with a heat gun to support the straps and mask, the intention was to display as much of the unit as possible with the maximum safety. David the curator liked the end result and dropped one of the display helmets from archive storage on its 'head' with a view to fitting a miners lamp. Debbie, the Museums General Manager also seemed quite pleased. The overall effect, once we get the lighting right, promises to be quite spooky.

Next weeks job is the mine lighting display, where we'll be trying to demonstrate the light given off by mine illumination devices such as Davy Lamps etc. As space is at a premium, that may prove quite a challenge. We've done voice overs for the miners biographies, researched events and characters from the past, and generally supported the full time display staff, who have had their work cut out designing and troubleshooting the rest of the mining exhibit. Today they were busy painting the coal seams in and fitting 'support' timbers.

Below is three views taken in late May just after the contractors had finished rendering work on the interior of the exhibit and the floors had been cleaned. Rene and crew usually work constructing film sets for the Vancouver movie industry, or 'Hollywood North' as it is referred to locally. From a bare framework of blue painted steel sections it's come a long way. When you walk past the entrance it really is like being underground, and all Rick Slingerland's design work has really paid off, despite a mountain of hitches and hangups.

Having been involved almost from the beginning, both Angie and I are really looking forward to the opening of the mine exhibit. The end result of everybody's hard work promises to be very good indeed, and in some ways deeply poignant, especially when you read the casualty lists from various local mining disasters which I've heard referred to as a 'deadly tithe'. Safety records like those from the late 19th and early 20th century would nowadays rapidly see charges of corporate manslaughter brought against the mine owners. But then those were other times, and attitudes were different.

I like it, there's always something to tweak my curiosity on the nose. David has tantalised me with the promise of working on a very unusual outboard motor in the near future. One that doesn't utilise a propeller, but instead has some sort of oar based propulsion. Sounds interesting. Very interesting indeed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


A lot of moving going on of late. Over Christmas and new year I moved house. Angie had the common sense to absent herself to visit the kids and her mother back in the UK, leaving me on my ownsome to do everything.

At the Museum there is always motion. The new Coal Mining exhibit which I've been helping out with every Tuesday, the Bastion Cannons, which have just had their carriages refurbished, and the contents of Nanaimo Bastion itself. While the Cannons are Bailey and Pegg six pounders, the Carronades have a 'P MMM 1809' foundry mark on the barrel. I'm sure there's some form of reference out there somewhere, but I'm not sure where.

The two Bastion Cannons have had their carriages refurbished prior to safety checks on the barrels prior to firing, and we spent last Tuesday morning putting the carriages together for moving. The Quoins or elevating wedges, were fitted before we moved the carriages out of the old Museum premises before fitting the iron shod wheels. Cue much wisecracking about wheel balancing and tyre mileage. Then they were loaded and despatched to have the barrels remounted, which is a specialist task.

The Bastion, or the 'leaning tower of Nanaimo' as it is coming to be known needs around a quarter million dollars to remove, recarpenter and replace rotted structural timbers. At present, the temporary expedient of steel bracing is holding everything together. The only problem with said bracing is the weight of structurally unsupported steelwork putting extra stress on the internal wooden structure, causing it to sag to one side. For example; inside the first floor the main cross timber has two heavy steel C sections bolted along either side running almost, but not quite the full width of the first floor. The rot within the cross timber has spread to the point where the bracing C sections bolted to either side are beginning to have an adverse effect on the structural integrity of this historic building. The only real cure is to strip out the old 10 by 12 inch Cedar cross and supporting timbers and replace with new ones. The new timbers will need to be Fir or Spruce, as the City building code quite rightly doesn't allow Cedar as a structural material.

My own pet project, which is currently an overhead display projection on a nine foot diameter printed satellite photograph proceeds in fits and starts. Focal length is an issue, simply because even with a special short throw lens, there is not a great enough distance between the projector and the screen to fit the projected image. Next week I'm talking to an Astronomer with a view to rigging the current setup to create a special 3D solar display relayed via the Internet from a solar observatory on Mount Benson. Providing I can get into the workshop up at the old annexe, I can build a slightly better overhead projection setup, which should give almost a full image width, but what with me only there five or six hours a week, time is not on my side. Still, it's all interesting stuff, and there is so much to learn. Pictures may follow.

Real life continues to throw surprises my way. On top of being scavenger-in-chief locally for Tetra, I've been asked to serve on the board of Directors for another non profit. Unpaid of course. I swear this whole town would cease to function without volunteers. Not that I mind overmuch, it's just that paying work I'm allowed to do is currently a bit thin on the ground. This, along with recent currency fluctuations, have necessitated a clampdown on spending. Once the right piece of immigration paperwork is stamped our immediate restricted financial situation will ease as I will be able to take up several job offers without breaking the immigration regulations and risking deportation.

I have heard tell of would-be immigrant families who just get fed up with the long wait, give up and go back to their country of origin. All we can do in the meantime is keep up the voluntary work, try and keep our skill sets current and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sp*m OFF!

Comment spam, i.e. commercial messages posted within comments on this blog are deleted as soon as the blog owner becomes aware of them. Which is usually about 30 seconds after they are posted. So SPAM OFF!

Incidentally, the products of comment spammers are automatically put on a "I will never use your service - ever, and will slag your products and services off to all my friends at the first opportunity." list. This is the only warning you will get.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Watching Seals dance

In August 2008 while on a day trip to Gabriola Island I witnessed something I'd never seen or heard of before, something never seen in wildlife documentaries. A Seal, less than fifty feet from the shore was repeatedly leaping two thirds of it's body length out of the water and slapping its pectoral flippers and tail on the surface with repeated loud smacks! The day was quite warm, with temperatures sneaking up over thirty Celsius, and little cloud. Perhaps it was getting rid of parasites, performing a pre courtship display meant to attract potential mates, or just generally feeling good about being a Seal. At the time I thought no more of it.

This year I have witnessed the dance of the Seal several times, and even once today at Lantzville. A seal less than a hundred feet from the shore flipped over in the water and slapped its tail on the surface, dived deep then, as I'd witnessed near Gabriola Island, rocketed two thirds of it's body length out of the water before slapping down hard with its hind or pectoral flippers. Said acrobatics were performed two or three times, then the seal in question would dive for five or so minutes before coming up for air, staring mournfully about for five or ten minutes, then diving and repeating the display further along the shoreline. Recently I've seen the same behaviour in Dodd Narrows while I was fishing last weekend, and for several previous weekends all the way back to early September. Sometimes by more than one Harbour seal at a time.

A quick google search indicates that this water slapping behaviour is part of a pre-courtship ritual, so perhaps what I'm actually witnessing is a gathering of the local Harbour Seal populations lonely hearts club?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The view from my front room

Today Dodd Narrows is the colour of bright beaten steel, rippling and glistening in the late afternoon light. Our view framed by white primed architrave of our small apartments front door and fine pebbled concrete steps. From there the pale brown dusted green of a Canadian Summer lawn in the front yard bakes bordered by an aging brown picket fence. Beyond that, a steep grassy bank leading down to a roadside culvert. Here is where I have lived for the past twenty months or so, writing and working. The opposite side of the road is bordered by a three metre Leylandii hedge, a telegraph pole carrying electricity cables and a boxy electronic repeater belonging to the Shaw cable company bearing number 1128.

Almost hidden by the hedge is a square section white brick chimney stack capped with two louvered alloy stove cowls to draw the hot air from below when a hearth fire is lit, which it seldom is. The American lady who lives there during the summer months was taken ill recently. Her dog, an enthusiastic and loveable Flatcoat Golden Retriever, has not been around for several weeks. I can only assume the rest of her family is looking after him right now. The brown painted weatherboarding and northwest facing clerestory vent windows are all I can see of her house from where I sit. Beyond and to its left are two Douglas Firs and one of the curiously smooth orange barked Arbutus trees. After that is my view of the steely bright water, on the other side the Fir tree clad long barrow of Mudge Island, rocky shoreline a distinct sandy colour in this light.

Occasionally a yacht, sails furled and under power, dinghy tender bobbing in its wake, will drift northbound up the narrows towards Nanaimo Harbour. Sometimes powerboats will growl through at full speed, roostertailing white behind them. Small canoes with outboard motors will carry rod and line weekend fishermen out to where the big ones are mid channel. Every day we will see a Log boom, a three hundred metre plus long hawser linked scoop of logs being strenuously hauled, bullied and bumped southwards, sometimes northwards, dependent upon destination. Some for processing into paper pulp at the Harmac or the plywood plant on the other side of Duke point. Maybe Ladysmith, Duncan, or across the border to the USA. Maybe once a week we see one of the massive tar black hulled tugs, low and squat in the water, all brute strength and Diesel muscle, boxy white superstructures punctuated by square windows at the sides, hauling the rust and iron oxide squareness of a construction barge.

Overhead come the regular seaplanes on their passenger bearing missions to Vancouver and Victoria, turboprop and radial engines making their own archaic propeller driven sounds. The engine notes as distinctive as music to the accustomed ear, and bearing their own little mystique to West British Columbian skies.

During the summer, especially at weekends, it is not unusual to see lines of assorted boats queuing up to use this relatively narrow piece of water. A motley collection of pleasurecraft from a billionaire’s power yacht, scaled down ocean liners to Kayakers paddling against time to beat the six knot current that rips through the sixty metre neck of the narrows on a normal tide. At Neaps and springs, the current can reach a vicious sixteen and a half knots, forming tricksy vortexes and rips to carry unwary paddlers far south of Round Island before they can retain control. In the winter months this torrent roars, gushing southwards at the flood, but on languid summer days the narrows show their deceptively gentle side; silently running through tidal cycles, patiently grinding down beaches of discarded clam shells to pinhead sized grains.

Near high water mark this material forms whole speckled drifts bordered by crab haunted pebbles and sandstone shingle among man sized boulders of the local sandy grey rock. Otter and Gull discarded crab shells, pink and fragmented, add occasional spots of colour. Two landslide shattered trees sprawl across the shingle foreshore, one supporting colonies of dark blue shelled Mussels where its trunk lies mostly beneath the water, upward jutting branches forming convenient perches for fish hunting birds.

Up and down the strand every sub tidal rock coarsened by the calcareous teeth of barnacle encrustation, and bearing current stunted clumps of bladderwrack. Whip like kelp stems with their distinctive bulbed ends litter the intertidal zone. Tide uprooted eel grass adds highnotes of green to the high water mark. Weathered and discarded logs, refugees of long ago log booms populate the high water mark where they high tides and storms periodically rearrange them like some complex natural game of jackstraws dotted with occasional items discarded from passing boats. Above yellowish grey sandstone lined shorelines the deep upright green of Douglas Firs, Pine and Spruce stand at attention, ready to march over the landscape in countless regiments at God’s bidding.

These are the shores of Dodd Narrows, a relatively small but tranquil location by grandiose Canadian standards. When the humans aren’t about the Common Loon ululates its distinctive wailing cry. Where the Bald Eagles wheel overhead, spotting for passing Salmon or Herring near the surface, in early March glutting themselves on Herring as the shores turn a pale milky green with fish spawn. Shores haunted by Blue Herons and ululating rafts of strangely beaked Surf Scoter ducks.

851 Words minus title

Flesch-Kincaid Grade 11.2

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is this a hoax?

Dear Account User

This Email is from Gmail Customer Care and we are sending it to every Gmail Email User Accounts Owner for safety. we are having congestion due to the anonymous registration of Gmail accounts so we are shutting down some Gmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account.

Due to the congestion in all Gmail users and removal of all unused Gmail Accounts, Gmail would be shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button, or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons.

* Username: .............................
* Password: .............................. ..
* Date of Birth: ............................
* Country Or Territory: ................

After following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. We apologize for any inconveniences.

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his/her account after two weeks of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
Google respects your privacy, to learn more, please read our online privacy statement.
Warning Code:VX2G99AAJ
Thank you for using Gmail !

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Fax: +1 650-253-0000
Google Online Services.

Gmail Customer Support
Google Team

I use my e-mail regularly, so what on Earth are these guys on about?

Update: One quick google later. It's a fake.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bang 3

Call from Alexis at the Museum. "Hey Martyn, we need someone to fire the Cannon on Friday. Can you help?"
Well, I'm up for it.

Have been browsing the web for information on our two six pounders, affectionately known as 'Lefty' and 'Righty'. No broad arrow marking so they aren't British Ordnance. From what I can make out they were made by a company called Bailey, Pegg & Co of Brierly Hill, Birmingham, England between 1760 and 1870. Cannon numbers are 476 (Righty, number on back of breech 1) and 484 (Lefty, number on back of breech 7), so it looks like they were originally part of a set for a ship.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bang 2

Driving home last night, Angie and I were having a giggle about what hoops we'd have to jump through in order to fire a cannon in the UK. In a moment of mirth, I came up with this list;
Volunteers have serviceable cannon which has been restored to working order, they go to Mayor for permission to have a regular noonday gun firing once a week during the summer months to help boost the local tourist trade
  1. Mayor agrees
  2. Local Tourism agrees
  3. Town Council agrees
  4. Local Businesses agree
  5. Local Police agree
  6. District Council contacted; hold Health and safety inspection on proposed site
  7. District Council environmental site assessment, pass on request to County Council
  8. MI5 background checks on these crazy people who want to play with antique firearms in public
  9. Volunteers sent on five day 'health and safety with explosives' course
  10. Medicals for Volunteers
  11. Psychiatric evaluations of Volunteers
  12. Firearms certificate demanded
  13. Volunteers all have to have expensive gun safe's installed at their homes to store black powder
  14. Police background checks on all volunteers
  15. Firearms licence granted
  16. At least six meetings to discuss possible environmental noise hazard of one loud bang
  17. Cannon inspection (Cannon sent to Birmingham for proof firing)
  18. Health & Safety meeting between Police and County Council re firing of cannon
  19. Another Health and safety site meeting between Police and District Council
  20. Police certificate required by Chief Constable's Office
  21. Environmental license required from District Council
  22. Planning permission required from County Council
  23. Performing rights licence required from District Council as this is a performance in a public space
  24. District Council health and safety site assessment for siting of warning signs
  25. County Council health and safety site assessment for siting of warning signs
  26. County Audit officer identifies area of duplication, requests cost cuts
  27. District Audit officer identifies area of duplication, requests cost cuts
  28. County & District health & safety officers meet to discuss demarcation
  29. Council Chief Executive demands action after complaints from Mayors office
  30. District & County Council Health & Safety liaison officer post created @ GBP35,000 p.a.
  31. Vandalism to cannon requires the refurbishment of the carriage
  32. Minority pressure groups protest proposed cannon firing (League against Cruel sports, Anti Islamic defamation league, PETA)
  33. Noise prevention officer files complaint from local residents
  34. County Council Health & Safety site visit
  35. Area coned off two days before proposed firing
  36. Volunteers interrogated for six hours by anti terrorist Police Officers, lose two volunteers for unpaid parking / speeding tickets
  37. Explosives licence obtained for black powder only
  38. Criminal records check on all volunteers before purchase of black powder allowed
  39. Ten kilo's of black powder purchased because EU regulations forbid smaller orders
  40. 40% blasting Gelignite sent by suppliers by mistake
  41. Anti Terrorist officers raid Volunteers private houses again
  42. Gelignite returned
  43. Black powder finally delivered to District Council in error
  44. District Council refuses delivery, passes order on to County Council
  45. County Council refuse black powder delivery as they have 'no facilities'
  46. Powder returned to suppliers
  47. Powder re ordered and delivered to Volunteers house
  48. Anti terrorist squad arrest all Volunteers until intervention of Mayors office
  49. Volunteers released without charge
  50. Cannon sited ready for noon day firing
  51. Cannon given parking ticket by over zealous Parking Attendant
  52. Cannon stolen and melted for scrap by illegal immigrants
  53. District, County Councils fine Volunteers for 'non-compliance' with Planning, Environmental; and performing orders
  54. Volunteers jailed

Compare this with the Canadian approach; I got asked this question last week; "Hey Martyn. Want to fire a cannon?"
Me; "Oh yes please"
"See you at the Bastion at eleven thirty on Tuesday."

My 'training' took ten minutes. I cleaned the cannon, made a charge, loaded and rammed the cannon, set the fuse and fired it. We fired the cannon at noon. I'm still chuckling.


Today I got to load and fire a cannon. A real live six pounder cannon. I prepared the charge (Under supervision), I cleaned out the bore with a swab / rammer and set the fuse before igniting it. Thus I can state truthfully that I am one of the few people who has blown their wad all over Nanaimo Harbour. I'm completely tickled by the whole thing.

For the past few weeks I've been making replacement Tampions / Muzzle caps for the two six pounder cannon at the Bastion, Nanaimo; taking a mould from the original bronze and iron cap, casting replica's in resin, making a muzzle plug which is bound to the back of the cap to make a water resistant seal, painting and fitting them. Due to a distortion in the mould the new muzzle caps look more in keeping with the cannon than the old ones, which I still think looked smarter, but someone stole one and David, the Museum curator asked me to make a new set. This has been done.

Tetra are just finishing a really cool project, which is the construction of a voice activated switch. A couple of my volunteers are making a new microphone mount to cut down extraneous noise, whilst at the same time allowing the switch to activate the LifeLine service. Everyone is dead chuffed, as am I.

Literally dreamed a really cool idea for a new science fantasy show last night; even right down to the title. Have written a three sentence outline and done a few web searches. I think I've found an original and exciting idea which I think I can get really pumped about. Who knows, I might be able to work it up into a pitch to a studio.

One thing; I keep on getting emails from some blogging service who want me to give them my blog details. No. I've decided not to. I called this blog the 'best kept secret on the internet' for a reason; I don't do links or the whole blogging thing. I just can't devote the time to blogging when I should be writing seriously. There is a little message I'd like to share; guys, if you want blogs to add to your list, please include me out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reasons to be cheerful - and not

Reason 1: The voice activated switch my Tetra volunteers made worked beautifully first time. It allows the lady we made it for to call for help and also answer her phone. LifeLine are dead chuffed and so am I.

Reason 2: Angie won an award for her work at the museum, and I managed to make two new lightweight tampions for the Bastion display cannon out of resin. Because of problems with getting the right mould release material (Detergent & other mould release agents reacted with the resin) there was a lot of finishing work to do. However, good result.

Reason 3: We've been bumped up the queue for our permanent residency processing by a staggering 18 months! My jaw hit the floor, and Angie and I did a little dance of joy.

Reason 4: Bought a new fishing rod, and now have both Fresh and Salt water permits for all of BC, which should be useful for when Brothers in Law are over this summer. The girls can do their thing (Shopping), while we load up the Bronc with beer and sandwiches and go off and do ours. Yeah.

Reason 1: My current work contract has not arrived for signing which means no money until it is returned. We've been having a number of late deliveries recently, especially since all the post was re-routed via Victoria.

Reason 2: I have to find my old school and college certificates going back over the last 30 years. This is not much fun as we have to get them a.s.a.p. Also I have to pass a test in French. This is not much fun as although I can get by quite admirably in France, Quebec left me tongue tied and embarrassed at my paucity of fluency.

Reason 3: Immigration Lawyers seem to be incapable of answering a simple question in plain English and getting documents from the BCCT to support Angie's application looks like a real Everest of a task.

Reason 4: Mother in Law is here for the next few months starting Monday; and while Lily is a decent old stick she does tend to turn on the old waterworks at the first hint of trouble. All I can say is that Doctor Who would have signed her up as his 'assistant' in a picosecond as she would fall and twist her heel forcing all the men to get massacred by the nearest Dalek.

Well, the scores on the doors look about even, and I'm inclined to think that none of the reasons not to be cheerful can't be adeptly turned about to our advantage.
On the 'down' front; Reason 1 means I get three paychecks together when my contract documents are finally signed and sealed. Reason 2 means I just have to do some French revision between now and May 30th. Reason 3 is just a matter of asking the right question, and reason 4 isn't so bad as Mother in law will be living at Sister in Laws place in town.

I can always go fishing.

Brainstorming meeting over coffee this weekend for my Tetra guys to work out some solutions to a few problems that have been thrown our way. I have to write some 500 word pieces for the local press so we can get some much needed publicity. Time to get on with it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Getting better

Spring has finally arrived thank goodness, and we've had the all the doors and windows open this weekend to air our current domicile out a little. This Easter I'm hoping it will be warm enough to open everything up and hoover it to perdition. The pet freshening spray and baking powder shake 'n vac can only deal with so much dog.

Work permit documentation finally arrived last week, ncessitating visits to both Service Canada to update my Social Insurance Number and Service BC for Health Insurance. Hit the front desk of Service Canada at one minute past nine, and were out before twenty past. Considering there's usually an hours wait before you get to see a clerk, that's blindingly fast. Even Angie was impressed.

I have several new volunteers to look after, and things seem to be picking up on that front. Tomorrow is scheduled to be the day we fit a voice activated switch which one of my Tetra guys built for a lady with MS. After that I shall be doing the rounds of the local publications to drum up a little support, and perhaps a few cash donations for Tetra off the resultant publicity. That should amuse my boss in Vancouver.

On the voluntary front, today's little challenge has been fixing the First Nations Intranet display for Nanaimo Museum. Not a little HTML coding was required to remove all the tricksy little external links which were causing the display to crash all the time. The sound has been disabled because the Adobe flash in the remote browser was throwing up conflicts, and since the machine has no Internet connection, there was no simple and direct way of fixing the code by downloading the right update. Hey, I'm only a volunteer for six hours a week, and shouldn't really be getting this deeply involved, except that David the curator knows I love a challenge and will be back next Tuesday with the answer to his problem. Then the display will be sound enabled once more.

A second 'little challenge' for the Museum was working out a solution for duplicating one of the tompions in the cannon at the Bastion exhibit up on Front Street. That's another for next week as it involves making a direct silicone rubber mould off the original, and using that to make cast resin replicas which we will paint. I've also decided to work out some kind of lockable device for the cannon touch holes to stop the late night drunks stuffing sweet papers into them. There's a couple of ideas idling around in my subconscious, and when I go back and take a second look, I'm sure the solution will be pretty simple. Maybe a large Torx headed expanding bolt which fits flush with the top of the touch hole. Unless whichever merrymaker has a large enough multi tool with the right driver head, it should do the trick.

The old Magic Lantern project is almost completed, although with so many other things competing for my time, I'm not sure when I'll finish. Must ring its owner to let him know.

Angie is talking about trips to Victoria and Vancouver, and as we have her Mother coming over from England at the end of the month I'm looking for excuses to go fishing, even if I never do catch anything. Fishing is partly a contemplative exercise; it's not just about getting a big one on your hook, although that would be nice. Haven't bought a freshwater permit yet, as I'm not sure whether or not my two brothers in law will be interested in getting away from the womenfolk for a while. I should really remind both of them that I am bribeable with a decent single malt. Angie can take the girls shopping in the van, and I'll take the Bronco, after a suitable defurring of the back seat. Amos our dog loves having his own seat, but he does shed hair so, even despite a serious shearing three weeks ago.

Tomorrow is buying fishing lures and weights in the morning at Canadian Tire, and dropping Angie off at Literacy Nanaimo while I attend my Tetra meeting. I'll arrange another project meeting in a couple of weeks to get to know my new volunteers a little better over coffee, and update them on what's happening next. Whatever that turns out to be.