Sunday, June 27, 2021

Post 4030 - Sunday Night Stuff

 Another day, sweltering in the heat. Another day, wishing I had done more.

Actually, I did do some stuff. I was in the recroom for a while, going through some boxes left over from the sale of the Valley house in 2020. I found an old beer stein of my father's that I will probably start using right away. I found some old papers and a few magazines and CD's containing ISO's of Linux-based operating systems. A few other things, most of which are going into the garbage in the next few days.

My plan is to get off my duff and do at least something every day and try to reclaim that room. I don't even know what is in most of these boxes; most of it can likely go to the landfill as well and I wouldn't even know it was gone. 

Tonight we watched episodes of "Superstore" on Netflix. One of those shows that I watched only sporadically when it was running. We are starting from day one and it is much more entertaining this way. There are not nearly enough shows featuring people making crap wages and how they survive working for a company that takes them for granted and doesn't care about them. There should be a lot more of these shows.

I have to get up early so we can have our second shot, in a scant eight hours, so I am drawing this post to a close.

You all have a good rest of the night and I will bark at you tomorrow.


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Post 4029 - Two More Days Later

 Hello again, my hearties. 

It is Saturday night. I just listened to what I think is the last ever edition of "Randy's Vinyl Tap" on CBC Radio. They cancelled the show because... CBC, I guess. They have not announced what will take its place in the Fall, but I have no expectations it will be something I will enjoy listening to.

I had an interesting couple of days. I guess the highlight was using a jackhammer for the first time in my life. I only used it for a moment. The carpenter I have hired to build a ramp leading into the back hard from my driveway was also asked to remove the horrid asphalt leading from the driveway to the back deck. It was a lousy job when it was done in the 1990's, and only looked worse over the years. Removing it is long overdue.

I told Dana that I wanted to use the jackhammer for part of the job, myself. He called me out, and I used it, and then went back to pose for these photographs. Call them a dramatic re-creation. 

People have been telling me that I was foolish to wear sandals whilst using the jackhammer. They are not wrong. But once again, I only used the jackhammer for perhaps a total of 90 seconds, and then posed for this dramatic re-creation. 

I have added appreciation for people who use a jackhammer for a job. The ones they use are far more robust and powerful than the  one we used on Friday to chop up that asphalt. I found the machine heavy and hard to use, although after a moment I was getting a bit of the hang of it. But the so-called professional jackhammers are far larger and the people using them are likely powerful people with muscles on their muscles. 

Anyway, Dana scooped up the pieces of the asphalt to take them home to use as fill on his property. I just wanted the stuff gone. 

The next step is for him to build the actual ramp, which may come as soon as Sunday. Somewhere along the way, we will get patio stones and place them where the asphalt was. It will look much better than what was there before.

A few other things are being done in the back yard. Adding a step to Patricia's she-shed. Choking off some grass by the shed to move the Veg Trug in front of. But the main thing is the ramp. It means not having to carry the lawnmower from the back yard to the front lawn, or trespassing on the neighbour's driveway to negotiate the wheelbarrow. I know it is silly but I am looking forward to having a silly ramp. 

Saturday, I wish I could say I did something, but I slept in. Made a late breakfast. I ended up taking a nap in the afternoon. Showered tonight and now I am here in my home office typing away like a silly person. In a few minutes I think I will watch the last part of the Netflix series about the Son of Sam before trying to get yet more sleep. 

Such a life I live. Such excitement!

You all have a good rest of the evening. See you tomorrow.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Post 4028 - Two Days Later

Hello again.

Well, after I wrote my Tuesday blog post, I jumped on the bus and went downtown. I spent most of the morning at the main library, researching a fire in downtown Halifax in 1943. I walked around the downtown, eating the sandwiches Patricia had prepared for me and seeing the newish buildings. The tear up of Spring Garden Road is going at a languid pace. The block between South Park and Dresdon  think it is, is all ripped up, revealing the old tram lines. 

By the time all is done, there will be more pedestrian walk ways during that section of the road, and even less area for cars to be on. I can take the hint and not go downtown anymore, but they should explicitly tell me that. 

Anyway, in the afternoon I went to the Archives and researched another unsolved murder, this one from more than 100 years ago. I cannot find a picture of the victim but did find one of the person accused of killing him and details of the trial. 

I returned home. Patricia had spent a quiet day by herself, but prepared dinner for us. That evening I purchased a used lawn mower and whipper snipper thingy for a total of $35. It is a Yardworks lawn mower and a Yardworks weed eater thingy. I mowed the lawn and snipped weeds with them on Wednesday and they work great.

I now have two Yardworks lawn mowers. They are fine for smaller lawns like ours, and seem to last forever, requiring very little maintenance. They just work. The weed eater thingy is an especially good find. It has two holes for the cord, and the motor seems more powerful than the one on my existing machine. 

I do not collect lawn mowers, even though I now have four of them. The first electric lawn mower, assuming it still works, will be sold on FB marketplace in the next week or two. If it doesn't work, I will give it away. The second lawn mower is just a push thingy, which I seldom use and will likely sell as well. But the Yardworks mowers will be kept and used until they fall apart. I will likely also purchase another outdoor extension cord to complete the planned redundancy. 

I love getting a good deal. We grew up without a pile of money, and my parents always made do with what we had. It largely rubbed off on me. If I can get something inexpensively, and it lasts me a long time, then that is a good thing. 

Also on Wednesday, the man I have hired to do some home improvements began his work. By the time he is done, there will be a nice ramp leading to the back yard. There is just a drop off now, so if we are using a wheelbarrow or pushing one of the 4 lawn mowers, we either have to live the thing up over the ledge, or "trespass" on the neighbours' property to move the item in question. The ramp is long overdue.

He will also jackhammer the crappy pavement job that was done here in the backyard, before I owned the property. It is unsightly and overgrown and we have never liked it. There are a couple of other things he is doing as well that will result in the back yard looking much better. Looking forward to it being done.

Today has been a quiet day so far, but the news of the 751 graves found where the residential school was for 100 years is deeply sobering and upsetting. I have no idea why the national government allowed this to happen at all, or why any church would agree to go along with this horrid program. 

I have done a full 180 on this. As recently as last week, I thought it was disrespectful to deface a statue of, say, John A. Macdonald, but now I think that if removing a statue or renaming a street helps people deal with what happened, then go ahead and do it. 

I am not ashamed of being a Canadian, but that may come yet. 

There is a word for what happened to those Indigenous children. Genocide. 

I am going to take a break. Talk at ya tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Post 4027 - Tuesday Morning Stuff

Well, hello there, my darlings.

I am up very early today. Around 5:30, I got up and found my cleanest dirty shirt, and my dirtiest clean underwear and some short pants that are questionable at best.

I have eaten some breakfast. Packed the lunch that Patricia prepared for me last evening. Placed the sandwiches and the cherry tomatoes in a bag along with a couple of ice packs into the bag I use when I research cold cases. There is a bottle of water in there, too, along with the other stuff I use when I am researching. The bag is really a little to heavy now. 

Yes! The archives are open again, at least for appointments. And, yes, I have an appointment today. 

I have a particular case in mind, one that I began to research before the late April lock down when the Archives shut down again. I know the broad strokes of how the case played out, as my subscription had a brief article or two; but the local newspapers will have far more information, which I will find today.

Sorry I didn't write on Monday. The day got away from me. Which means I watched "The Republic of Sarah" late last night. It is a show about a town in New Hampshire that realizes it is technically not a part of the United States, or Canada, and declares its independence. The first episode was a week ago, ending on a bit of cllffhanger. That cliffhanger was resolved within the first 3 minutes of the show last night, which felt like a cheat; but I wonder how they will play out this overall storyline. How will they resolve issues like who provides police and fire service, do they have the right to charge taxes, and what becomes of all the people who are all of a sudden, no longer American citizens and want to remain them? Do the people who are collecting social security no longer receive it, and have to pay back the benefits they have already received? I am not confident that a YA-leaning show has considered things like this, and if they have, how they will figure out these problems. But I am along for at least a few more episodes to find out.

Already bailed on "Kung Fu", which is boring. We have nine episodes of "Walker" on the PVR and no interest in watching them. But we both love "The Chase", a game show that you have to see to believe. Oftentimes, the contestants who have worked hard to get to the final round, walk away with nothing at all. Probably not even lovely parting gifts.

I have to go catch the bus in a few minutes, so I will draw this to a close. You have a good day. Bark at you either tonight or tomorrow.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Post 4026 - Sunday Night Fun Times

Hello again.

Tonight, I wanna write about something that changed my life, nearly 30 years ago. No. Not Patricia. That will be for another night. This evening I want to mention my many years in Toastmasters.

For those who don't know, or care, Toastmasters is not-for-profit organization designed to help people speak better in public. This is accomplished through a program devised by Toastmasters International in Mission Viejo, California. A man named Ralph Smedley founded TM in 1924 in California, at a single club. All these years later, there are thousands of clubs world wide. Probably a good 15 clubs in Nova Scotia. Like many other organizations, if you don't know anything about them, or pay attention to their advertising, you wouldn't know they existed or where the clubs even met. 

I joined in 1991 when a woman at my company sent out an email telling us about her own club, which met at Maritime Centre in downtown Halifax. I decided to go on a lark, and was impressed enough that I joined after my second meeting. 

I went to that first meeting for two reasons. One was an innate curiosity. The other was that I was sick and tired of people underestimating me because I had a hard time getting words out and the comments on my yearly work evaluations that I was not confident in my approach to aspects of my job. Those comments hurt, and I knew I had to do something to overcome that impression. As a manager told me more than once, pityingly, "Perception is reality". Hello, Jane. 

Over the many ensuing years, I went from being a person scared to death about speaking in public to someone who at least could grasp the concept of speaking in public, and that doing so was something that person could learn. That it was a craft, a skill, that a person could develop over time if he wanted to and put the time in. I put the time in. There were times when I hated my day job so I put my energies in to things outside of work like Toastmasters. Much more fulfilling.

I have long since lost count of the number of people I met through Toastmasters. These were politicians such as our previous premier, Stephen McNeil, to people who wanted to move on up in the world in a way that could only be done if they could just communicate a bit more effectively and persuasively. 

There are many ways to get a person to improve. The most nerve wracking by far is Table Topics. It is when you are presented with an idea or a topic and must improvise a 2 minute speech about the topic. I did hundreds of table topics over the years; it became my fave part of the meeting. 

Another part of the meetings was when we did business meetings, because we had to practice parliamentary procedure using Robert's Rules of Order. It is a way to make business meetings run effectively and efficiently. Only one person speaks at a time. Questions are funnelled through the chair of the meeting to another person. You don't speak to John directly. You say something like, "Through the chair to Toastmaster John," and then you ask the question. John, in turn, speaks through the chair to you. It is all about making sure one person speaks at a time with little or no cross talk.

The rubber always hit the road with the prepared speeches. When you join, you get a manual spelling out the first ten speeches to earn your first designation. The speeches each focus on different aspects of public speaking. You are evaluated a peer in the club, with gentle offers for areas for improvement. It is all about not being mean, but collegial and respectful. 

I was in TM from November of 1991 until December of 2017, when our club finally folded. The club folded for various reasons, most of which would bore you, but some others have to do with politics within the club and with several members. We did not change with the times as much as we should have. People would come to a few meetings and join for a short period of time and then leave. The constant churn in the membership did not serve any of us veterans well. We were burned out and exhausted and frankly did not care as much as we should have. So, the club ended, months before it would have turned 50. Sad. 

I treasure most of my time in Toastmasters. I met people I will never forget, and I hope they never forget me. I still get that itch to do a table topic or two, or twenty two, and I may yet darken the door of a Toastmasters club in the future. 

It is in my blood. I miss it.

See you tomorrow.




Saturday, June 19, 2021

Post 4025 - Saturday Night Shtuff

Hello again, my hearties.

I haven't done much the last two days. I went to the store on Saturday afternoon to get the paper. It is a civilized thing to do, to read a weekend paper, and I am making a habit of it. 

The paper used to be a major read. I remember my friend's uncle in Port Williams. Lived down the road from me. He worked on a farm, and lived with his sister in the farm's tenement property. A house owned by the farm that someone whom they liked and trusted enough could live there. Anyway, when I visited Reg after lunch on Saturday, because he was there to visit his grandmother and uncle and aunt, Basil would be there reading the Saturday paper before returning to work. I'll never forget him reading away and just becoming immersed in the Saturday paper. It inspired me.

In university, I would often buy the paper and read it between classes. It made me feel erudite to be seen with the newspaper, although in retrospect, it likely made me look like more of a nerd than I would like. I also subscribed to Newsweek magazine for a time, and Time and MacLean's over the years, too. But I digress.

I kept reading the paper and subscribed to it many times over the years after university and during my working years. Like I stated above, it was a civilized thing to do. I even subscribed to both daily Halifax papers for some time. The Daily News in its prime covered crime like nobody's business, while the Chronicle Herald was more staid and stodgy not only its reportage, but in the writing of its articles. Even the letters to the editor were always edited to include the 'Dear Sir" salutation until 15 years or so ago. Old habits died hard.

When the Daily News went away in 2008, it was a shadow of its former self. It had long since fired most of its reporters and relied increasingly on wire service content, plus a slew of columnists who were likely just paid a fee to produce their columns, thereby saving the paper money in salaries. The columnists prattled on about whatever. If the topic was something that interested me, I would read it; otherwise, I would not and not be any poorer for it. 

After the DN folded, the Chronicle Herald had no competitor to speak of, so it quickly cancelled the Sunday paper. The Mail-Star, the afternoon paper, had gone away some time before that. It just wasn't there any more.

Say, do you know why it's called the Chronicle Herald, and why the afternoon paper, The Mail-Star? It is because the papers were once separate entities. The Morning Chronicle and the Halifax Herald were competing morning papers. The Daily Star and the Evening Mail were published later on that day. In 1949, the papers merged to form the Chronicle Herald and the Mail-Star. The Mail-Star mostly repeated the content from the morning papers in its latter years, but made an effort to update the stories from the morning paper in its early years. Updated articles. Different pictures. But seldom content that wasn't in the morning paper in some form. In its final years, the Mail-Star was published on Saturday at nearly the same moment the morning paper was. You would see them both by 10 or so in the morning on Saturdays. 

When I go to the archives, I look at both sets of papers when I am researching a cold case. Updated articles. Different pictures. Worth the effort. 

And if a fella had the time, he could do worse than to look at all the crime articles in the Daily News from, say, 1983 through to 1992 or so, when the paper was sold to Southam from Harry Steele, I think it was. That is when the paper began its slow decline, in my opinion. Those many articles could be downloaded to one's hard drive and form a pretty good view of crime in this city during that period of time.

But back to my Saturdays. I can read the weekend paper in maybe 15 minutes. The sections are short and have too much wired copy in them. The local content is less and less, with fewer articles of interest. But I feel I should make an effort to support the paper, at least on weekends. Without a daily paper in this city, we would be poorer for it. It is a different experience to read a paper on a computer or a tablet. There is no substitute for reading an actual newspaper over one's coffee and brunch. I hope I can get to do it for many years to come. 

Hope does spring eternal. 

Hmm. What does naivete spring, anyway?

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Post 4024 - Thursday Night Things

 Hello again.

We are back from a short late night walk. We decided to try to get into that habit, and we went. It is a little cool at this hour, so we walked  a little faster and were gone less than 10 minutes. We'll likely go out again on Friday, during the day, when it is warmer.

Thursday, Patricia worked out in the back  yard for a couple of hours while I attended to things in the kitchen. And earlier tonight, we got our rain barrel. Patricia wanted one for the property, and now it is here, and we have to figure out how to hook it up such that water from the downspout ends up in the barrel. We are learning about things like diverters and so on, and my head is spinning. I have no freakin' idea how to "divert" a downspout to a rain barrel, and how to change the diversion (divert the diversion?) so that once the barrel is full, water goes down the way it currently does, away from the house and on to the driveway. Sigh and double sigh.

I am university educated and have a bachelor's degree, but I cannot think of a single way it has benefited me professionally or in any other way that counts. The talk with the surly gentleman who dropped off the rain barrel this evening served only to convince me further of the gaping chasms in my knowledge. He was speaking English words, but they were arranged in a manner that made no sense to me. This happens to me over and over. 

Certain things, I do not think anyone expects me to know about or understand. Like, make up. Why should I know anything about make up? Or camisoles. Or what my managers were talking about for 26 years and five months. Et cetera. 

So, back to the rain barrel. I am told there are youtube videos that explain at a grade 2 level, how to install them. I may be able to figure it out, but I am not confident. 

Maybe that's the inherent problem, huh?

You have a good evening. Talk at ya tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Post 4023 - Wednesday Night Woes

Hello again.

Well, Newbie had his visit to the vet on Wednesday. It went reasonably well. He is nearly 15 now. Had him since he was a scrap of fur, and it is not fun to watch him grow older. 

He has kidney issues, which we are trying to treat; but he continues to lose weight at a troubling pace. He is barely 4KG now, having lost a good kilogram in recent months. The vet is not overly concerned about the weight loss just  yet, but the signs are there. 


Newbie is my buddy. He gets on my nerves, and I probably get on his. I can pet him for a few minutes, and then he will scratch me to pieces when he has had enough. Knocks things over. Runs up and down the stairs. Still and all, he is my buddy, and I want to keep him forever.


Newbie as a little kitten, in October of 2006

I can't remember if I told you about this before, in any of the 4022 previous posts going back to 2007. But I had a cat once before, from 1980 to 1986. It was the summer of "Who Shot J.R.?", a long ago tv cliff hanger for a show called Dallas whose main character, J.R. Ewing, had been shot in the season ender. There were rumours of Larry Hagman being replaced by another actor as he wanted too much money to return to the show. Everyone wanted to know who had done the deed. Spoiler alert: it was Bing Crosby's daughter

Anyway, Dad had a woodpile behind the house. The idea was that he would throw the wood into the basement and use it to heat the house in the winter, as we had a combination wood and oil furnace. 

One day during that summer, we heard a plaintive mewling coming from that pile. My sister investigated and coaxed a little ball of fur out of the wood pile. It turned out to be a cat, likely dropped off by some a-hole who didn't want to look after it. The cat made its way to our woodpile to stay safe and warm.

We kept the cat and named him, you guessed it, J.R. We kept him for six years. He seemed to gravitate to me, and I spent quite a bit of time with him, at least at first. Once I was in university, I got busy with other things and became a bit neglectful. J.R. more or less lived downstairs and we fed him and I would sneak him upstairs when my mother wasn't looking. But we saw less and less of him.

That summer of 1986, one night he disappeared. We never saw him again. We can only guess that a coyote or some other animal got him. 

Newbie in 2016


I didn't blame myself perhaps as much as I should have. He gravitated to me, and I didn't spend as much time with him as I should have, and I felt badly about it. He had become more feral and was on his own more and more, and that is on all of us, but most especially me.

When I moved to the city in 1988, I often wondered what it would have been like to have had a cat with me, J.R. in particular. He would only have been 7.5 or so years old at the time, plenty young to have had many more years with me, but due to my irresponsibility  that did not happen. He would have been a fine companion to me during those early times in the city on my own. I can think of many times he would have helped me during dark periods of my life, but that did not happen.

I promised myself that I would never have a pet again. Patricia eventually ended up with me, and then with a cat named Cindy Clawford. And years later, Patricia found a woman at the Tatamagouche Farmer's Market with a basket of kittens with little ribbons around their necks. One of them fell asleep in the crook of her arm and we decided to keep him. We got him back to the cottage and wondered what to call him, because, after all, everything was new to him. He was kind of a... Newbie. And the name stuck.

He was about six weeks old when we got him. I would leave him in the upstairs bathroom when I went off to work. The litterbox was at one end, and his carrier and food and water dishes were at the other. I would leave a radio on for him and close the door. At night, he would have full run of the house and join me in bed after exhausting himself. He was too little to make the leap from the floor to the top of the bed, so he would climb up the side of the blanket to join me, and then make it clear that he preferred to be under the covers, so I would accommodate that request. 

Newbie is on the couch next to me, snoring softly. Long ago, I promised him, and Patricia, and myself, and my parents, and total strangers I would encounter on the street, that I would never forget what had happened with J.R. all those years ago, and that I would care for Newbie in the way he deserved. I would not always get back that love and attention and respect, but that is a cat for you.


Newbie at the Vet's in February, 2021

The day will eventually come when I will have to say goodbye to my buddy, but I hope and pray that day is no time soon. He has meant so much to me in a way that is difficult to describe in mere words. Rather, it is on an emotional level that I connect with Newbie, and I hope, he with me.

Newbie is my buddy, and buddies stick together.

You all have a pleasant rest of the evening. Talk at you tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Post 4022 - Tuesday Night? Already?

Yes. It is Tuesday night. Already.

Another quiet day. We learned that the Lotto Max draw tonight was for 125 million dollars. That would pay just about all my debts, so we decided to get a ticket this evening, after our trip to Sobeys. The 88 cent sale was still in effect so we got more pasta and pasta sauce for nearly nothing. We figure if we win the big prize tonight, that we can buy yet more cheap pasta, perhaps going as far as two helpings for each of us. 

An old friend posted on Facebook today about how he had read an article about the housing crisis in Canada. I asked him to post the link so I could read the article, too, but I don't think he did that. But there is a housing crisis world-wide, it seems. People can't afford to live where they want to, and if they can afford it, there is often insufficient housing for them at all. 

I have no idea what the solution is. You can't make anybody build something. You can't make anybody rent an apartment or a room or anything else to anyone else. And if people do choose to rent a space, they can charge whatever they think the market will bear. Supply and demand. It is not fair, but it is the way things are. That is cold comfort to those who would dearly love to get a place, any place, to live and cannot. It is even worse for people who suffer through  a "renoviction", but once again, I do not see any particular remedy other than hoping that enough people choose to construct or make available enough housing for everyone. And that the markets will force prices to move to a decent level so that most people, most of the time, end up with a suitable place to live. 

I guess.

What do you think? You know how to hit me up.

Calling it a night. It's a night, and that joke never gets old. 

See you tomorrow.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Post 4021 - Monday Night Stuff

Hi again. 

No. I still haven't worked out a way to keep my scanner safely closed. Thank you for asking. People were coming up to me on the street and knocking on my door and texting me. Even a few disturbing phone calls. I'll tell you as I told them. I haven't worked it out just yet. Likely something to do with velcro "dots" on the top and underside of the scanner with a velcro strap joining the dots. Once applied, it will keep the scanner closed in a way I see fit.  Still thinking it through.

Patricia had an appointment downtown today and parking was validated, so we drove down together. I purchased Graham Steele's latest book about Nova Scotia politics, his third. It discusses the various premiers the province has had since 1945. In 262 pages I am not sure yet what level of detail he can get into, but we will soon see. 

After that, I wandered around the downtown, noting that an awful lot of businesses remain unopen, making things quite boring. But Freak Lunchbox was still open, so I went in there and spent $37, which given the store's prices, is not difficult to do. Patricia joined me there a few minutes after I arrived and we picked out a couple of items together.

We returned home and barbecued the rib eye steak Patricia had purchased at the Canning Meat Market on Thursday. One piece was overcooked, my fault. But the steak was terrific, mouth watering and made me look forward to the next feed of steak, which will not be any time soon. 

Tonight we finished watching season one of "Hacks", and are looking forward to season two, coming in 2022 I guess. 

Also this evening I spent some time on Newspapers Dot Com researching a murder from long ago. I didn't know it was unsolved until I followed through and found that the man accused of the murder was found not guilty. I am unaware of anyone else ever being charged with the man's murder, so it is fodder for my cold case series. 

Newspapers Dot Com is a pretty good resource, but it could be better. At least, though, murder is such a horrific crime that it makes the news in other papers, even in the States, so it can be a starting point for research. You can find brief articles written by the Canadian Press and picked up in other papers. That gives you the dates of the crime and broad strokes as to what happened. With that information, you can go to the archives and look at Nova Scotia papers for that period of time and harvest the associated articles from the microfilms. This last step would not be necessary if Nova Scotia newspapers were included in  Newspapers Dot Com. Maybe some day.

So, another unsolved murder to finish researching, once the archives open again. Looking forward to it.

Here it is, 11:30, and I am thinking about turning in. 

You all have a good evening and I will bark at ya tomorrow.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Post 4020 - Sunday Night Musings

I overthink things. I can't help it.

Here I am, late on a Sunday night, early on a Sunday morning, and I am trying to hack a way to keep my flatbed scanners from opening up when I don't want them to, and possibly breaking. 

It is silly. I know it is. I have several usb-powered scanners that I acquired inexpensively over the years. I only keep two of them on the go. The one that is attached to the all-in-one computer I got six months ago, and the one I keep in a small Staples shopping bag and take with me when I go to someone's house to scan in something, usually for my cold case series. I might have paid ten dollars for that scanner, and it still works great for what it is. When those two give up the ghost, I have I think four more in a closet that can be pressed into service. 

Still and all, as a thrifty person, I think of ways to protect that ten dollar investment. When I take that scanner out of the house, I could drop it, or it could get smushed under something and just stop working. Ten bucks is ten bucks. You understand

I thought at the very least I could get something to keep the scanner closed, "locked" if you will. When I want to use it, I could "unlock" it and Bob's your uncle. I figured that maybe I could use four velcro "dots" on the East and West side of the scanner, top and bottom, and then wrap opposite type of velcro strips (fuzzy on the non fuzzy dots for example) on those dots to keep the scanner closed. The problem is that most of the velcro strips I have seen have adhesives on the back, which is something I do not want. Just the strips, and not the adhesive. 

I could also devise something in which to keep the scanner safe while it is being transported somewhere. Something perhaps made out of bubble wrap that I could slip the scanner in and out of easily as I need to. 

Whatever I decide to do, it must be simple and elegant and something that doesn't require a lot of work to maintain.

Yes. I think about stuff like this, probably too much. Did I tell you I paid ten dollars for this scanner,  years ago, and it was several years old then? Yeah. Sorry.

So, if you can help a fella out, please get back to me. 

I'll try to think of something fun for tomorrow's blog post.

See you then.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Post 4019 - A Busy Couple of Days!

Well, hello again, my friends.

Sorry I didn't write the last few days. Thursday we were busy running the roads. Friday we... uh, I am having a hard time remembering. I'll tell you about Thursday first; I may remember what happened on Friday after that. 

So, Patricia wanted to pick up some plants down Hants County way, so around noon on Thursday we piled into the Soul and headed out. The google maps app told us what turns to take and it worked great. The only thing was, the two day sale had sold out every plant in stock, at 10am on Wednesday. Double plus ungood. But, Avondale Sky Winery was close by, so as to salvage the trip, we went there. 



It is the first time we had been there since the original owners, including my friend Lorraine Vassalo, had sold the place. We walked up to the winery's store and found it wasn't open yet, but we were warmly greeted by Avila, the owner or co-owner. Here she is, in her glory:

Patricia bought two bottles of wine, including one called Lady Slipper. I don't know if it tastes like lady slippers because I have never eaten a lady slipper, so I suppose the colour of the wine is reminiscent of the lady slipper flowers that grow by the winery this time of year. Maybe I am over thinking this. 

(Bevboy, get back on track! - ed.)

Avila was kind enough to show us the new mural, and told us that we were among the first to see it, as it had just been completed. She said that the folks who prepared the Africville murals in the north end of Halifax also did this one, so props. 

The mural depicts the journey that the winery's store/restaurant took from Wolton to Avondale. For those who don't know, which is likely 4.4 of my 4.7 readers, the winery building is a deconsecrated church that Lorraine and her husband had the vision to transport to their new winery. Many churches in the last ten years or so were sold off in this manner. The church I attended for many years in Canada suffered the same fate, but the parishioners broke off from the United Church of Canada, which had done the divesting, and bought back the church from the man who had bought it from the United Church. Which severely ticked off the United Church people who assumed that the Canard flock would join the new super church they were building in New Minas. They were even more ticked off when some of the Wolfville parishioners joined the Canard church, too. Hee hee. I love this story, but I digress.

(Stop digressing. Get on with it! - ed)

Wait! This is my blog and I will take my own sweet time writing these posts. 

Anyway, bless Lorraine and her hubby for transporting that old church to Avondale. When they sold the winery to Avila and her family, they honoured the original owners and the the church itself by doing this mural. Bless them for that. 

The stained glass from the church remains in place

We got there the day before the restaurant would reopen, but we got a sneak peek at the menu and we can't wait to get back there again, soon, and have a decadent meal. 

We wish Avondale Sky Winery every success. Any local business that has managed to survive in this pandemic is to be commended for continuing to exist, and these guys are no exception.

We bade our leave and decided to drive to Wolfville, not really that far away and had a wonderful meal at the Naked Crepe in the downtown. I had the smoked salmon. Patricia had the Mexican crepe. That is two terrific meals in a row there, as I had the "Royal with Cheese" the first time. From there we went to the Barrelling Tide Distillery in Port Williams, where I bought two more bottles of their delicious Vodka as well as a shot glass. The glass is pretty neat. It has a "low tide" (1 ounce) or "high tide" mark if you want a drink with two ounces in it. And they have a loyalty card as well. After two more bottles we get a free shot glass. We will need one, soon!

We then made our way to Canning to the meat market there. A very small store, they only let two in at a time so I went in first and got a couple of store-prepared subs. Patricia went in and got some steaks for our Sunday dinner and some pepperoni and some other stuff. All prepared in the store. That meat market has been there in that location under several owners, for decades, long before I was born. They had a store in Port Williams for a short time but they left for some reason and concentrated on their Canning business. The guy who served me saw the Naked Crepe take out menu in my breast pocket and told me they sell meat to them. 

While Patricia was at the meat market I went up the street to the small grocery store in town. I got several packages of bacon, the daily paper, and a couple of pies to freeze. The bacon would also be frozen. 

We drove around to Kingsport and then back through Canning before making our way to Kentville. We went to the small grocery store and got some chicken thighs for half price and visited my parents' graves. 

My brother is buried on the other side. Here he is.

Ernest died of cancer when I was five years old, and he was about two months short of turning 17. I think of him often. He would be 68 years old if he had lived. And everyone wishes he had. I do not know many people who remember him to any degree. I used to be sort-of friends with a friend of his, but I never got around to asking him about my brother, which is a regret of mine. But maybe it is for the best. This sort-of friend is a liar and a cad and betrayed me in an almost-Shakespearean fashion. A pox on him.

Let's see here. We left Kentville and drove to Greenwich to Noggins Corner. They were selling North Mountain Coffee, our fave coffee, in the Columbian medium type, which is delicious. And they were selling it in a five pound bag for sixty dollars. A good deal as the 12 oz bag was $13. 

Do the math and you pay 75 cents per ounce on the five pound bag. 

60/(5*16) = $0.75 

The 12 oz bag is $1.08 per ounce. 

13/12 = 1.083333 etc.

So, the sixty dollar bag of coffee, which is crazy delicious, is a tremendous deal to boot. And they ground the coffee for us.

The car smelled wonderful on the way back to Halifax. We stopped off to fill the gas tank, and then went to the local Sobeys, where we got a few staples and a pie.

We finally got home around 9pm. Newbie was tamping his foot on the floor wondering where we had been. Mea culpas and head scratches later, we settled in for the night, wondering where we would store all the stuff we had bought.

Two days later, we have been in to the coffee a few times. We have consumed one of the pies. And we still talk about what a great day we had. Retirement can be pretty good.

Friday, I went to the local drug store where they have a deal on eggs. Got some food for Newbie. Drove around a bit. Friday night Patricia and I picked up a ladder shelf from a place in Clayton Park. It fit in the back of the Soul. Today, we both slept in late. I mowed the front lawn this afternoon and then used the whipper snipper thingy to clean things up a bit. Patricia did the same thing out back. Had a good dinner of some of those chicken thighs on the barbecue. Watched the telly. 

And now you're caught up.

It is after one in the morning. I really should turn in.

You all have a good evening. Talk at ya tomorrow.



Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Post 4018 - Bevboy Wonders...

 Hello again, my lovelies.

Sorry I didn't write the last couple of days. Sleeping plenty. Tuesday night, though, I was outside mowing the lawn when I took a bad tumble and landed on my rear end. I also managed to sprain my left wrist. Today, it is very sore and I cannot achieve a full range of motion. Hurts like a bugger even today.

But that is not what I want to discuss with you today.

Rather, I want to mention someone's comment on my Facebook from a few weeks ago. A friend said I was cheap. I should ask him why, and will, but I want to defend myself.

I am not sure what is wrong with being frugal with money. Plenty of times I have been a spendthrift, throwing money around with abandon. A few times, it lead to some embarrassing and even humiliating financial issues that took years to recover from. It was really only 2018 when I took a payout on my long service award and used a big pile of it to pay off a couple of debts that I felt some breathing space. That space grew in 2020 when I sold the Valley house. 

In the last few years it has been all about doing everything I can, not to acquire debt. I have two credit cards, with small limits, and use them, but pay them off in full every single month. If I cannot buy something and pay it off that same month, then I don't get it. 

The home improvements made to Casa Bevboy in 2020 and 2021 were paid for out of the proceeds of the Valley house. It shrank my savings, but it was money well spent and I have quite a bit to show for it. 

For years, initially out of necessity and now because I want to, I buy my shirts and pants at thrift stores. I wear them until they become threadbare, at which time I either cut them up into rags or wear them when I am staining the deck or veranda or side steps. If I do the former, make rags, I remove the buttons from the shirts first and put them in a jar so I can use the buttons on other shirts where the buttons have worn out or fallen off. 

Shoes. I buy a few pair a  year and wear them until they are no longer wearable. I strip off the laces and throw out the shoes. Used men's shoes are barely a thing. I buy them new.

Socks. I buy them and use them until they wear out. I do not darn them like my grandmother did. I just throw them out.

Foundation garments. I buy them new and wear them out, at which time I throw them in the garbage.

Coats. Usually buy them used and wear them until they wear out, which takes a very long time. I have one green Fall jacket that I have worn for a good decade now, and I love it. I am pretty sure I got it used. Why would I get rid of it?

We take great advantage of discounted food products. Superstore sells a lot of meat at 50% off, for example. We call it "used meat", or "previously enjoyed meat". We cook it as soon as possible and then freeze what we will not consume right away. We have a Foodsaver machine that sucks the air out of the bag the food is in, so we can freeze it for months. Last night's salmon was prepared in that way, and tonight's haddock was, too. 

I have only bought a few new computers in my life. The last one was in 2009, and I still have it. It kept freezing on me, so I no longer use it, but I will remove the ram and the hard drive from it before I throw it out. Otherwise, I buy a refurbished computer from a reputable dealer in the city. I know that the computer will last me for years.

The same goes for peripherals like printers and scanners. I bought a bag of computer mice this Winter for $15, I think it was. There were at least ten of them so do the math. The laser printers were purchased used and I got them working myself. The toner is not fun to pay for, but I don't print that much, so I can get years out of a printer. One of them I bought in 2012 and it still works perfectly. 

I hate going downtown now, so I take the bus when I go to do research at the archives or the library. Why pay the money to drive there and park using that ridiculous new parking scheme they put in place last year? A round bus trip costs me $5. Cheap, cheap, cheap. And I usually take my own lunch and eat it in the park, to boot.

I have no idea what is wrong with any of the above procedures. You try to save money where you reasonably can. Have some fun with your money, but pay your bills and don't spend yourself into a flurry of debt. Try to have something left over at the end of the month.

I realize during the pandemic that plenty of people who otherwise have been good with their money, exhausted their resources and are having a hard time. They have my full sympathy, and empathy. This post is about me and not them, though.

My question to you is simple: what is the reasonable cut off between being a thrifty person and being unreasonably parsimonious? 

I look forward to your thoughts. You know how to contact me.



Sunday, June 6, 2021

Post 4017 - Sunday Night Ramblings

 Welcome to one in the morning on Monday, actually.

Sorry I didn't write the last few days. Stuff going on. The highlight was Saturday when we drove down to the Valley to celebrate the opening up of the province. We went to the Wolfville Farmer's Market and then walked around the town. Ended up at Eos Fine Foods, a health food store that has been on Front Street in that fair town since 1977. We love that store.

We ended up having a rather expensive lunch at Troy Restaurant on... Elm Street, I think it is. It looks like nothing from the outside, but the inside is very atmospheric. The deck/oasis on the side is sublime, and so is the Mediterranean-centred food. Patricia had lamb kebabs. I went with the steak. We started off with the hummus. For dessert we had baklava and two Turkish coffees. Loved all of it. With tax and gratuities it added up to a pretty penny, but we did want to celebrate the opening up of the province.

From there we went to the Barrelling Tides Distillery in Port Williams, in the industrial park. That building has been several things over the past... 20 years or so. A place where architects worked. A place called Nova Scotia Post and Beam. A Happy Harry's. I think a Frenchy's was there at one point. Probably missing a few along the way. But it has been a distillery for the last few years. I am not much of a vodka guy, but they have one that is incredible. It has a hot pepper swimming around in the bottle, and has a great deal of kick. I am no expert on vodka, but I have found one that I enjoy perhaps a bit too much.

We returned to Halifax in time for Patricia to get some plants at a place in Fairview. We returned home and enjoyed a few hours in front of the telly before turning in early. 

Today has been another quiet day, but I did walk to the corner store to get the weekend paper. I have told you before how much I like this little corner store. They must do a good business because I always see people milling around it, and several cars parked in front. 

I also bought a bag of "white cheddar" potato chips from Lays. The white cheddar popcorn is wonderful, but the chips are tasteless, literally. If there is any white cheddar on the chips, it is hiding in embarrassment. I wasted four dollars on that crap. Please, follow my advice and stay away from these wretched potato chips. 

We have been watching the first two seasons of "Line of Duty" on Netflix. One of those Irish crime dramas that you have to re-play portions of over and over so you can decipher what they hell they're saying. The pacing is a little too leisurely for our tastes. The episodes run nearly an hour long each, and there is ample opportunity for scenes to be cut or trimmed, but they don't. The acting is compelling, though. I just wish the stories were a little easier to follow, but the fact that it isn't, probably is my fault in the end.

It is 1:30 now. I really should turn in. I got up relatively early on Sunday, around 11, so I should make some kind of effort to get back on to a regular routine. 

You guys all have a good evening. Talk at you tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Post 4016 - Wednesday Night Thingies

Well, hello again.

You'll be pleased to know that I got up before 11:30 on Wednesday morning. It was 11:20 to be exact. Now, it is past 1:30 in the ayem on Thursday, and I really don't feel tired. Like I said before, my sleep pattern post CPAP is thrown off to the point where I am not sure how to get back to the kind of pattern I had when I was a working stiff. Maybe I never will. Maybe I don't need to. I am not sure yet.

I remember when I was growing up that my mother would have "her" night on Saturday. She would do a some combination of taking a long bath, sitting out on the front stoop, sitting around in the kitchen, often times until 3 or so Sunday morning. I never really asked her why. Like I said, I think she thought of it as her time when she could do what she wanted after we had gone to bed for the evening. As she grew older, the 3am became closer to, say, one am. Once she moved into the Shannex facility prior to her death, and was no longer living in the family home, she probably kept more "normal" hours.

When I was working every day, I would go to bed around 11, and got up between 5:30 and six. Hit the road by 7-ish to be at work by 8 or slightly earlier. I had always thought that people with office jobs worked a strict 9 to 5, but official government hours were 8:30 to 4:30. Since I was on what was called a modified work week, I had to put in an extra half hour a day to get the third Friday off. But this starting work at 8 or so went back to when I was in university and working summers at the university library for the late George Halliwell and Paulette Mosher. Even then, I thought it was odd to work at such an early hour. After university I began working for a private company, once again, I was at work by 8 or so. We had to average 8 billable hours every work day. With an hour for lunch, that meant working 8-5. 

People always thought I was a morning person, but it was just something I got used to. Even towards the end of my illustrious career in 2019, when my sleep apnea was getting worse and worse and worse, and I would doze off at work and awaken with a start, I was almost always at work by 7:30 or so. I would have to take naps in the evening and oftentimes sleep Saturday afternoons away to stock up enough energy to confront another work week, but once again, those early hours were something I had grown accustomed to.

Now, with the CPAP machine, I still require sleep but I feel well rested when I do get up. And the pattern of staying up until 2 or 3 or 4  in the morning is not something that causes me any particular issue as long as I can get the hours of sleep on the back end. 

The more I think about it, the more I am convincing myself that this is the new norm for me. I think I can come to like it.

The government decided to open schools in Halifax, starting on Thursday. That means the mad rush on my street will commence by 7:45 or so. Entitled parents will park on the street, block driveways, park in driveways, do whatever they want, in order to inconvenience those of us who live here. I do not understand their entitlement. They are supposed to drop off their kids at the main entrance, which this is not. I am content that the school year will be over in a few weeks. 

I often have to remind myself that I must accept the things I cannot change. I try to do that, but people like the above challenge my resolve. I am sure you understand.

I think I will turn in. Distilled water, here I come!

See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Post 4015 - Tuesday Night Stuff

Well, hello again, my lovelies.

It is nearly 1:30 on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I slept in until 11:30 on Tuesday morning and have been on the go ever since. Well, if you call "on the go" sitting around the house. But I didn't take any naps or anything.

We spent probably too many hours on Tuesday watching "Line of Duty" on Netflix. One of those British crime dramas. We watched all of season one today. Five episodes. Then we started watching season two. The first season had Lennie James in it, and season two doesn't, and it kinda shows. Patricia expressed boredom and I may have looked at my watch a bit as well. 

I spent the last hour or so mucking around with this computer's webcam. I can't get a good frame rate when I record video. Everything looks choppy when I play it back. Then I read that good frame rate is a function of how much light there is, and the light here in the home office is not the best at the best of times, and certainly not at this hour. I guess there isn't much I can do about it. 

I probably shouldn't have, but I sent an email to a source regarding a long-ago murder. I found out a bit more information about the victim this evening and wanted to confirm some stuff with my source. He has been quite helpful over the years.

You know, I had always wondered how reporters develop sources. I still wonder a bit, actually, but it seems to come down to just knowing people and getting them to trust you enough that they can tell you things and you don't tell anyone who they are. Gradually, sometimes over the course of several years, you just build up a cadre of people who can give you information and you can ask questions of them.

I keep thinking of Mike Gorman at the CBC in Halifax. A few years ago, he broke a major story about how the CEO of the IWK was allegedly involved in financial regularities. Gorman got the story from someone who contacted him I guess out of the blue. He admitted a couple of years later in a tweet that he still didn't know who the source of the information was. The people charged with these crimes have yet to face their day in court; they keep delaying the trial for whatever reasons. Innocent until proved guilty and all that tommyrot.

This process continues to interest me, how people will just contact you as a reporter and trust you enough to share some potentially explosive information with you. I am not sure I am that trusting toward anyone that I would risk a job or a career in that manner, so my hat's off to those who are brave enough to step forward.

Not really going anywhere with this. It is just late and I had this observation is all.

I think I will turn in. I am determined to get up before 11am.

See you tomorrow.