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  • Re-Connecting with Old Friends

    No, I have not died.  Just missing in action due to a front line battle with Microsoft Windows and the dreaded blue screen of death.  Thus, to my friends who were wondering about the lack of emails from me.....it has taken me a while to track them down as many were erased during my eradication of the problems on my disk drive.  Be patient and I shall catch up with you.  :-)  Trust me, I have a large pile of stories to relate and, probably, you will miss the peace and quiet that has been offered by yours truly over the past few months.

  • Surviving an Encounter with Death---Sort of

    Well, just as I was in the midst of my initial blog post to cement my return to this site, fate struck.  I faced death.  Or I should more accurately note, I faced the blue screen of death that Microsoft Windows likes to wing at us. Loading errors were noted.  Cleaned them off and tried to re-boot the computer.  This just made things worse as I was now stuck in an endless boot cycle.  Sigh, I was now gaining a good understanding of the frustration experienced by some of my friends and their encounters with the dreaded blue screen of death.

    I worked on the problem on a sporadic basis over two weeks.  Nothing solved the plethora of issues.  Attempting new solutions just resulted in new error codes or generated a rainbow of colours to add to the existing issues.  I even tried to install a linux based program in an attempt to hack into the backside of windows.  Alas, I made the decision to do a re-install.  The thought was there but the computer would not even co-operate with this task.  Self preservation it was saying to itself.  Refuse entry!  Man the barricades.  Ha....after several attempts, this old guy was finally successful!  At least, I thought I was.....until I started to re-install my programs and discovered that the speed of the computer was taking a severe beating.  Perhaps, this was but a temporary condition.  No such luck.  :(  Another week spent doing a re-install only to find that the computer was crashing on a frequent basis and that my patience was rapidly coming to an end.

    I decided to clear off the hard drive and to ensure that it was spic and span, I went through the process three times.  Only then did I decide to start re-installing my numerous programs back onto the hard drive.  At selected periods of time, I would test out the individual programs and monitor the speed of my once trusty CPU.  By George, I finally got it.  The bloody thing now seems to have been tamed and is functioning rather well.  To the best of my knowledge it appears that a file became corrupted in Windows Vista during one of their numerous up-dates.  Now, I am thinking that  Windows 7 has been out long enough to deal with any bugs and issues and, perhaps, it is time to migrate away from the annoyances of Windows Vista.  In any case, my back-up plan has now been put into effect - a new laptop!  Now, there shall be no excuses should I desire to cruise the nether-regions of the internet and to up-date the blog.

  • Father's Day

    I woke up this morning to find the sun shining and very few clouds in the sky.  There was a slight breeze softly caressing the leaves as it passed among the trees.  It was a great morning to take the pooch out for a walk and to reflect on life.

    Father's day has now become  more of a meditative and reflective day for me.  It was on this day, 20 June 1993 that my Dad passed away.  After having gone through numerous strokes and various associated ailments which commenced when he was fifty five, his body finally gave in.  Even now, I can still remember that day quite vividly.  Life would seem strange without him.

    My Dad had me late in his life.  He was forty when it was time for me to be born.  While it was an unexpected surprise, he tried his best to cope with having a new son.  Neither my brother or I ever wanted for anything.  He did his best to ensure we had a roof over our heads, good food and clothes for our backs.  Being a product of the Depression, my dad wanted us to have the benefits that were denied him.  Even as an adult, I could always depend on my Dad.

    Thus, I guess it is not surprising that I still talk to him.  As I look over the North Saskatchewan River this fine morning, I thought of his love for nature.  throughout his life he enjoyed camping, boating and fishing.  Sigh, I have a fishing box that he made up for me but my proficiency as a fisherman has much to be desired.  Many of the items in the box are hand tied flies which were made painstakingly by him.  His first and second strokes robbed him of strength and dexterity on the right side of his body.  Yet, dad figured a way to pursue his enjoyment of fly tying. Now, many of these little works of art sit in a yellow tackle box along with the rest of my camping gear.

    Vermcros1


    My dad was a "meat and potatoes" sort of man.  He thrive on outdoor life and it was frustrating for him to deal with being disabled.  Thus, it was a family decision not to have him buried in a cemetery with people he did not know and in soil that would not have offered any appeal to him.  we had dad cremated and then scattered his ashes in the river at Vermilion Crossing.  Just off of Highway 93, this area is found in Kootney National Park.  It is a favourite location of hikers, cyclists and campers.  There is a day park on one side of the river and a Lodge on the other.  The photograph prior to this paragraph and succeeding it document where his ashes were laid to rest.

    Vermcros2
    I really cannot thing of a more appropriate resting place for my Dad.  It is as if the circle of life is complete for him.  At this location, I have been able to stop by and talk to him.  I feel much closer to him here than if I was visiting a plot in a cemetery.  to me, this is where he naturally belongs.

    On this day, I say hello to my Dad once more and wish him a happy father's Day.  Thank you for the grounding you provided to me. Thank you for all you did and that you tried to do.  Love you Dad.  I remember where I came from and what I have left behind.  A song for you from one of your favourite singers.

  • A Return

    Yes, I posted my first video and doing my first post in a long time.  I will be getting active once more in the blogging community.  It has been an interesting journey.  Since my last post, I have buried a couple of relatives, re-ignited contact with several others and learned how to deal with false pride.

    A quick scan of past friends on this site has revealed that many have also been in a sort of hiatus or they have quit altogether.  It does require a fair amount of time and commitment.  I have been slowly developing an alternative blog to cover some other aspects of my world.  As it takes shape, I shall post some links for those of you out there who may be interested.  Now, it is time to catch up on some of the news that has been posted on your blogs and some various sites.

    Catch you soon!
    Blaine

  • Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (The Official 2010 FIFA…


    Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup (TM) Song)

    ShakiraMySpace Music Videos

    I love Shakira and especially enjoy this latest video.  :-)

  • Music...If Only!

    I have tried my hand at several musical instruments through the years including the bodhran, drums, organ, piano and the guitar.  The one thing that was consistent in all of these attempts was my lack of talent.  What my brain and\or heart wanted to play never quite translated into the hands and became one with the instrument.  However, I love music and have always found it frustrating that I had little strength in this area.  I think this is why I admire muscians and what they are able to do.  The artist that has the ability to take you away from your present day trials and tribulations and give you a few moments of inner joy....now THAT is a real gift.

    Many guitarists seem to be improving on the technique of air tapping.  I watch in amazement at what they can do with their instrument.  Here is one of my favourite videos in this area. 


  • 20 January

    It was a rather chilly evening when Velvet and I headed out for our walk.  We were following our traditional route through the ravine and down to the river valley.  The skies were dark but we were being watched over by heaven's stars shining brightly down upon us.  The constellation, Orion seemed to offer protection for our journey as we made our way along the snow covered forest path.


    The trees were slowly swaying in the wind as if they were dancing to some song that was eluding my ears.  You could hear the rustle of the branches and the sound was soothing...relaxing.  I have always enjoyed these nightly walks and find them to be a chance to sort out all of the competing thoughts that pass through my mind.

    I practice meditation....some sessions are more successful than others.  It is a constant task to quiet those thoughts that seem to enjoy racing through my synapses at break-neck speeds.  However, during these nightly walks I will sometimes let the mind wander and find it interesting where it will often take me.

    On this night my thoughts turned towards my Dad.  He passed away on Father's Day in 1993.  That is almost sixteen years yet, in many respects, it really does not feel that long ago.  During this walk I caught glimpses of Dad and some of the wisdom which he imparted to me.  As a youth, I did not always listen to him but as I grew older I understood the wisdom of his words.

    On this walk, I saw him setting up our old green canvas tent and getting the campsite prepared.  We often went to Jasper National Park and would stay in the same campground on each visit.  It was close to Jasper and during our walks along the highway, it was always fun to see if one could see the skytram making its way up or down the mountain.  The sound of the Athabasca river would lull me to sleep after spending the evening sitting in front of a campfire.

    My Dad was a pretty down to earth and basic individual.  Little pretensiousness could be found in him.  Dad was excellent with his hands.  He could build just about anything with a high degree of craftsmanship.  Once, I can remember coming home from university and spending the summer working in Virden, Manitoba.  My Dad had a stroke several years before and was not as capable in doing certain tasks.  I offered to assist him in renovating the house.  He quickly learned that I had not inherited any of his carpentry skills. 

    Snippetts of thoughts.  Vignettes of certain scenes would come to mind and play out as a little play.  At times a smile would come to my face, at others I could feel the odd tear as a sadder memory played out in my personal theatre.

    It was a chilly night, this 20th of January 2009 but there was some warmth in my heart.  It was ninety five years ago that my Dad had been born and commenced, a not always easy journey, on this earth.  My Dad loved nature and enjoyed being outdoors.  While he was not musical he would sit in a chair and listen to songs of all genres for hours.  Although my Dad has not been physically with me for many years, I still talk to him.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I think he is still watching over me much as he did when I was growing up. 

    This night caught me in a reflective mood and thinking about my own journey.  I thought I was lucky to have the parents that were given to me.  A song for you Dad.  Whispering Jesse by John Denver.


  • An Addition to the Camera Collection

    I have noted my frustration with the preparation of newly acquired computers in an earlier entry.  On the other hand, I find cameras to be far easier to master.  There seems to be a logic to them that often eludes me when it comes to the quirks and quarks of computer technology.  Perhaps, it is just that I do not always understand the "whys" in how they operate.

    I have always been fascinated with cameras...well, optics in general.  As a young teenager I was given a telescope for Christmas along with a membership into the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  This may account for my love of nightly walks under heaven's lights.

    Last year I up-graded to a digital slr though I have yet to fully abandon my film-oriented cameras. Early this month I added a Canon camcorder to my collection.  Nothing out of the ordinatry but it will expand my abilities to record my travels as well as those of the pooch and the odd friend.  Hopefully, over the next year I will be able to document more fully some of the areas mentioned in this blog.

  • Technology = More or Less

    After procrastinating for several years, I finally took the plunge and bought a new laptop.  It is a fairly basic Toshiba but it has widescreen capabilities, decent memory and will act as a backup to my desktop.  I must admit it was rather enjoyable sitting at The Second Cup cafe and enjoying a hot chocolate while I was surfing the net and doing research.  What was more enjoyable was sending my old laptop into the world of recycle.  It was a HP Omni that had been put together with parts from three different machines.  Actually, this machine was used for parts to fix up an original Omni.  When it crapped out I transferred the parts from machine number one and three  (all used and acquired for free as they were going to be turfed by an employer) to get number two operational.  It was a bit cranky and required babying.  Bottom line was the price was right and it served its purpose.

    One of the benefits of such a machine was that it was so old that no one would want to steal it during any one of my many forays to the University or the local libraries.  It also required a few commands, the right timing, a hope and a prayer to get it going and to keep it on track.  However, it was built like a tank and very hardy.  It weighed a ton and I am sure I have a permanent stoop from carrying it over my left shoulder.  As well, the little black box with its gadgetry was faithful and got me though many a long night working on term papers.  Thus, there was a tinge of sadness when I took it to the recycle depot.  Fare thee well old companion.  

    This tinge of sentimentality did not last long once I commenced work on the Toshiba.  But I have to ask the reader, "Why the hell don't they set these contraptions up prior to being sent home with their new owner?"  The excitement abates when one has to spend the first hour allowing it to set up its programs and to develop its own e-personality.  Then you discover all the programs that are useless to you or that just serve little to no function.  Time to get rid of them.  Then one must set up the existing programs to recognize you followed by installing the programs that are normally used by you.  Two days later, the machine is ready to be used.  As added security, my little grey Toshiba has face recognition technology as an added security feature.  I went through the various contortions and presented all sorts of facial angles for the built in web cam.  Turned off the computer and everything worked.  Off to the library and....the software decided it did not want to recognize me.  Damn haircut and a change in lighting.  I guess my new friend could not recognize me.  Fortunately the back-up password allows me to by-pass the face recognition system.  Sigh, they really do not make things easy.

  • A Familiar Theme Song Updated

    I can barely remember the tv program, Peter Gunn which ran as an adult detective series when this writer was just a young tyke.  Last year, I caught a couple of episodes on a DVD compilation and found that I still enjoyed the whole concept.  Craig Stevens played the lead role as a private detective in  a water front city. He was macho but in a very "cool" way.  He differed from the private investigators that tended to be portrayed as tough and course.  this man enjoyed some of the finer things in life, including jazz.  Love it!

    Duane Eddy did a cover version of the song and, I believe, won a Grammy for his efforts.  A few years later he teamed up with 'The Art of Noise" and did this version.

     

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