My Girl Turns 7

Yesterday (August 24, 2017)  was Veronica’s 7th birthday and she had lots of opportunity to flash her lovely gap toothed smile all kids her age have. Too bad you can’t see it here as this is more her Betty Bacall Look.

She wanted to have Apple Fritters as a special treat and how could we say no? I teased her a bit calling them Apple Critters and she was quick to correct me. She always is – just like her Nonna.

Sometimes you hear that the middle child gets neglected in a family. This will never happen with Veronica. She’s assertive to a “T” and she wants to make sure everyone has a fair share of mommy and daddy’s attention. Maybe she gets a bit more of Grandpa’s but hey…you’re only old once.

I still find her the sweetest and most affectionate of our grandchildren. She has a special spot in her heart for me and I for her. She is the joy of Gunther the tabby cat’s elder years. She feeds him, cuddles him and makes sure he can safely get on and off the couch beside her. She looks out for her older brother and younger sister with passion.

I think Veronica has inherited the musical talents of both her parents. She wants to learn dance and piano and yesterday she was busting a lot of moves in a dance oriented video game – racking up the points as she moved and grooved to “Barbara Ann.” But she’s also a demon karate student – although she’s not a big girl the schoolyard bullies better watch out!

She’s worked hard with her mom to become a proficient reader It didn’t come as easily to her as it did to Teddy but she’s doing well now.

Probably it’s not politically correct to say so but she is a girl’s girl. She loves her dresses and “princess costumes” from the Disney Store. She has a gutsy female character costume from Star Wars to wear for her weekend party when all the kids arrive.

Happy birthday sweet girl. I am sure you’ll be able to twist Grandpa around your little finger for as long as I am able to be twisted.


Statues and Values

There seems to be a lot of controversy about the presence of statues in our communities, and it’s not just about the Civil War monuments in the US. Cornwallis is having his problems in Halifax at the moment. But in our tiny community of Almonte there are a few monuments that aren’t going anywhere any time soon. They reflect the values and sentiments of the time they were set up in the town but so far they haven’t been controversial or divisive.

First we have our war memorial which was sculpted in the early 1920s by Dr. Robert Tait-McKenzie at the behest of the Alexander Rosamond family. Mr. Rosamond – Almonte’s primary Edwardian businessman – enlisted in the Army in World War I and was killed at the Battle of Courcelette in 1916. The statue bears a startling resemblance to Lt. Alex – so much so that it shocked his widow.

This one has 94 years of Almonte history behind it and certainly reflects the values of Remembrance, Courage, Sacrifice and Sorrow that marked the thought in town right after the War. It’s not the friendliest or most approachable monument though. The stone benches are more designed to hold wreaths than people’s bottoms.

A little more whimsical Dr. Tait-McKenzie sculpture. This one uses an old millstone with a bas-relief of his parents in the center. The bench is on the opposite side and gives a peaceful and tranquil view of the river above the falls. This one is from the 1930s and reflects Almonte’s industrial history, traditional side and family heritage. Totally non-controversial.

And here’s my favorite – a masterpiece by by Kansas sculptors Elden and Kim Tefft, it is a duplicate of the one in front of the University of Kansas fieldhouse. James Naismith, the inventor of Basketball, came from Almonte so it’s only fitting that he sits right downtown amid all the historic buildings. This one is fun, informal and welcoming – certainly the way we’d want to look at life in Almonte today.

Just a brief look at some ways that sculpture enhances rather than complicates our lives.

Cell Phone Roulette

We are nothing if not loyal to our wireless provider. That was the first service Rogers Communications ever provided us – way back in 1991 when they were called Cantel.

In the ensuing 26 years we had 3 – count ’em – cell phones:

  1. (1991-2000) Motorola bag phone – plugged into cigar lighter in the car and only worked there.
  2. (2000-2008) Nokia candy bar phone. We’d probably still be using this puppy except Rogers dropped their analog service and forced us to upgrade.
  3. (2008-2017) Nokia flip phone. Great for phone calls but little else.

So today we joined the 21st century I guess. Maria was up visiting my sister this past week and she discovered the convenience of instant messaging on Linda’s smartphone. She was going to try it on the flip phone. It supported it but all you had was an old numerical keypad that took three presses to get the right letter. You could probably write an instant message faster on a stone tablet with a hammer and chisel.

To make a long story short, we were off to Rogers in Carleton Place today and we came back with our 4th cell phone in 26 years – a Samsung Galaxy A5. Not the latest and greatest tech but it does have a nice display and keyboard and yes – she can send messages on it. She’s happy.

The Joy of Tampering

When Dave and Sarah got their HDTV close to a decade ago, they gave us Dave’s old RCA Standard Def TV along with this snazzy Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300 PVR. Since then the PVR and TV have graced our basement where Maria uses it to record soaps as a backup to our upstairs NextBox 3.0 HD-PVR. She often watches the soaps in SDTV down there. I don’t question her choice of soap viewing – nor of format.

All went well until last week the old PVR started to say “Disk Trouble – record and playback are not available.” Not a good sign. I tried to reboot the box and reformat the drive but no joy. All signs pointed to hard drive failure. It happens after 12 years or so. The tuner worked fine but Maria wasn’t happy.

Now this is old technology. Really old. I checked online and found out the hard drive was IDE/PATA – the old fashioned ribbon cable variety. Who has one of those archaic hard drives around today?

Well turns out I do. I checked my junk parts box and sure enough there was a perfectly serviceable 160GB PATA drive I took out of an old desktop PC years ago. Problem solved, right? Not so fast Mac.

I quickly ran into Ray’s First Law of Repair:

  • No matter how many tools you have collected over the years, you’ll never have the right one for the job.

The nimrods who designed the 8300 put three screws into it to hold the case onto the chassis. They were tamperproof Torx – and I did intend to tamper, believe me. I had to go to Home Depot and get a special security screwdriver set. An odd name don’t you think – because I was about to jailbreak the secure appliance. Anyway armed with this screwdriver I got the case off. Then I needed two more types of screwdrivers to remove the drive cage and free up the drive.

The rest was easy – just like replacing an old hard drive in a computer. Plug and pray, as they say.

Once I got the unit reassembled and hooked up, it started the reboot cycle – this time it flashed electronic messages like “HDD+” – which I took as an encouraging sign. When the reboot was finished, the recording capability was back.

Of course I had to reprogram the dam’ thing to record Maria’s soaps and I hope I did that right – we’ll see tomorrow. Old technology and the joy of tampering on a Sunday afternoon – can’t get any better than that.


Laundry Agitation

My daughter’s 15 year old GE washer bit the dust earlier this week. With three kids that wasn’t a pleasant situation so she decided to replace it ASAP.

In helping her research a new model, I had some personal concerns since our own Maytags are getting up there. Granted they don’t get the steady use Sarah’s machine did but you never know.

I learned more about washers and washer efficiency than I really wanted to know. It appears that in the past decade there has been a revolution in technology in the washer biz – not to mention a concentration in brands. Not only do you not know who’s who but also what’s what. Whirlpool, Amana and Maytag are the same company today. GE and Hotpoint are brands of Haier – a Chinese appliance powerhouse.

The new buzzword in laundry is high efficiency – lower water levels, longer wash cycles, more efficient spinning and lots of digital gew-gaws. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to surf the Web on my washer or phone it on my cellphone – it’ll happen sooner or later though. High efficiency used to be the domain of front loading washers, but now the venerable top loader is also going that way. Why, even the non high efficiency top loaders are being designed with load sensors and automatic water level controllers you can’t switch off.

Anyway Sarah went over to Home Depot, was dissatisfied with the service and delivery times and ended up at a real appliance store. These folks know their business, gave her good advice and offered to deliver the next day and remove the old machine for free.

She ended up buying a Speed Queen – a brand I was not all that familiar with but apparently is built like a tank and is old school as can be – no fancy-schmantzy  electronics or missing agitator. A bit more costly but she thinks it’s worth it.

As for me – well I don’t think I need a washer to last 25 years at an age when I don’t buy green bananas. I just hope we can squeeze a few more years out of the Maytags.

cww trust seal