Thursday, January 31, 2013

Life on Mars: Cold dry climate?

I think I now have pretty clear proof there is life on Mars, the red planet.

I think Martians are small creatures, live in cave-like dwellings and suffer a cold, dry climate. If you hear a sneeze, it may be because of the red cedar dust.

Authentic Photos by GH


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Money Matters: Less stressful times for many

Financial analysts spot small problems while the majority of average Canadians face really big ones.

[From 'Alison on Money', Jan. 29, METRO]

Alison says "setting up an automatic contribution plan will help you deal with this stressful time (i.e., RRSP season)." Meanwhile the average Canadian family is up to their eyeballs in debt and has no money for an RRSP contribution plan.

Someone other than a financial analyst has to soon deliver a series of new messages to help average Canadians avoid financial stress.

Try these on for size while we wait for government and business officials to prepare their notes:

Downsize the North American Dream

Buy or build a much smaller house 

Buy a much small car

Buy 50% fewer furnishings for your house

["I'm still waiting for a store like this in Old South, London"]

Buy Canadian and keep more jobs at home

Learn to cook more of your own meals

Include nature walks on your entertainment schedule

What other messages does the average Canadian need to hear in order to avoid financial stress or ruin?

Photos by GH


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Zoom w a View: The inner bird

My grand-daughter's penguin looks scared in this 'x-ray photo' taken with an iPad2. It's skeleton is nowhere to be seen.

I was able to locate a lion and cow with the help of the iPad's heat-seeking feature.

Cool. I'd better start saving up for my own iPad.

Photos by GH


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birdhouse London: Paperwork

"Hurry up, will ya!"

Photo by GH


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Money Matters: Stressful times for many

[Photo of 'Alison on Money', METRO, Jan. 29]

Financial analysts may at times appear to have all the answers - related to our financial health - but they fail to address very big questions. While 'Avoiding the stress of RRSP season' may sound helpful (and it will be to some readers), consider the following:

The average Canadian is up to his eyeballs in debt 

He doesn't make enough money to have an RRSP

When he hears "the maximum you can deposit to an RRSP for 2012 is $22,970" he wonders if he even makes that much and what planet is the writer from anyway?

Welcome to Canada, eh, the land of milk and honey for fewer people each year.

There are many reasons why fewer people are prospering each year and why comments from 'Alison on Money' (e.g., "setting up an automatic contribution plan will help you deal with this stressful time") sound really out of place for the average person. Canadians buy foreign products as if they're going out of style and 'Made in Canada' products and related jobs are going the way of the Dodo just as quickly. Modern machines do the jobs of many men and women and related unemployment figures seem destined not improve. Other reasons abound.

Since this is the season for financial analysts and gurus to pedal their wares, I predict a certain amount of financial stress will surface as a result of some of their encouraging words.

For example, when 'Alison on Money' says "$69,426.19 (is) the value of $100 saved monthly for 25 years at six per cent average annual return...", the average Canadian will wonder where they are going to scrap up that $100/mo. for 25 years.

Unfortunately, on that final matter, Alison remains silent. So do and many others, including most levels of government and businesses. Why is that?

Photo by GH


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Zoom w a View: Very colourful birds

Wet days, like the one London is experiencing today, keep birds away from my feeders. To see birds I must check my Photo Files.

["Wooden cardinal on the wing - and door screen"]

["My grand-daughter's fluffy penguin"]

The camera options on my son's iPad2 are fun to use. I will try to save up hard to get one.

Photos by GH


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The Workshop: Making 'minis' and more

I could not fix my busted table saw so I saved up real hard and bought a new one. 'Mini' log cabins and more will pay for the saw - in the long run. (Ten years of marathoning have prepared me well to deal with the long run.)

I recently felt the difference in size between the mini and large log cabin (seen directly below) was so great there was room for another size in between.

So I created a medium (directly below).

After dusting off my eyebrows I realized there was room for yet another size.

["L to R: Small, medium, large. Mini on top"]

Now I feel there is room for a log cabin triplex. I'll be busy in the workshop all week, I'm sure.

(It's not called a playshop, after all!)

Photos by GH


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Fun and Fitness: Hockey Day in Canada

Today is Wednesday. Check. I play hockey at 3:45. Check. I'm motivated. Check.

Last week I scored my first goal in a long time after getting moved up to right wing from defence. Opposing players stood amazed. My brilliant speed - thanks to pedalling 106 miles that week - left them in awe.

Well, it left them in something. (How do I start the laugh track on this thing?)

[Sure, I only pedalled 1.2 extra miles, but I reached my goal!]

Keep spinning.

Photo by GH


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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday 2:15 p.m.


It's not nap time for the twins? They're three. They should be in bed!

Saturday 1:30 p.m.

Three-year olds must have a different inner clock - regarding meals, baths, TV time, outdoor time - than adults my age. I finished washing the lunch dishes a few moments ago and Anna subsequently asked for spaghetti.

"How about a walk outside?" I asked.

"Spaghetti," she said.

Why didn't she eat it at noon with the rest of us? I wondered.

I said, "Why didn't you eat it earlier?"

"I wasn't hungry."

So I heated up the spaghetti (she also wanted more sauce than I had added) and after she ate she wanted a bath. Because of the extra sauce Anna needed a good soak.

Three-year olds are weird.

Saturday 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast dishes are finally washed and put away. Ella informed my wife and I that she eats at a different time than Anna so breakfast was a long, drawn out affair. Two hours!

Now I will try to convince the twins that a short walk would be a good idea. I don't think I can handle another round of cartoons - unless the girls can find 'Mighty Mouse' with my remote.

Saturday 8:30 a.m.

It took me 45 minutes to make toast this morning. Usually it takes five. The twins took a long time to decide what kind of jam they wanted - with or without bananas on top - and the first batch didn't pass the sniff test.

In five years I likely won't get as frustrated with them at breakfast time because I'll just point toward the kitchen and say, "The bread and toaster are in there. Jam is in the fridge. Pass me the remote, please. Cartoons are over." That's how they learn. 

Anna just dropped her toast. Peanut butter, jam and banana side down.

I don't know if I'll last five years.

Saturday 7 a.m.

My twin grand-daughters Anna and Ella (age 3) are visiting today and one girl woke me up 30 minutes ago. Unexpectedly. She was looking for her small cow.

Anna was carrying her medium cow, large cow and a lion that looked like it had seen better days, and let me know in no uncertain terms she wanted the small cow to round out her collection before she could get on with her day.

Her day starts at 6:30 a.m.?

I have so much to learn.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Politicians, Teachers, Parents, Students and Money (1)

The London Free Press published a story and photo ('Young runner idled', Jan. 16) related to an issue involving politicians, teachers, parents, students and money (and much more). Something the student Jessie Fleming said caught my attention.

["I give her that. I liked sports too. Still do."]

Sports are so big. If we studied the history of sport within the school setting we would likely be amazed. The number, intensity and importance of sport has literally exploded. We've gone from bags of clay marbles and games of scrub with borrowed bats and spongy balls to badminton, football, hockey, track and field, basketball, soccer, to name a few. You name it, a child can sign up for it. Some students will even say, "(Pick a sport, any sport) is my life."

At the same time we should study those things that contributed to the wild growth from marbles to a mountain of athletic activities.

What might those things be?

Photo of news quote by GH

What could possibly go wrong? 1

Much in the news about USA gun control and lack of it. So what could possibly go wrong if more guns appear in more places?

Scene 1: Disgruntled person open fires in crowded mall. Armed citizen yells at people to get down.

Scene 2: Eighty-four year old woman takes them both out with her Colt. Says the following to police:

"First person just looked so angry when he started shooting and the other guy yelled at me, screamed he was with him, was going to get me. Well, I showed him."

Photos by GH

Zoom w a View: Gone in a flash

Why didn't I think of this sooner? I.e., make very small birdhouses and use up all the little bits of lumber  hangin' about the workshop.

["My first - but not last - mini-cabin"]

And see the blue ranch-style house in the background? I think it would look smashing if I shrunk the size by 50 per cent, then 50 per cent again. (How small am I talking?)

Photo by GH


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The Workshop: "Makin' minis"

Often, necessity is the mother of invention, and because my table saw is busted* I used materials I already had at hand to assemble a very small log cabin birdhouse yesterday afternoon.

["The set of parts come together quickly"]

Seeing the result I feel I will switch to minis for a week or two. Makin' minis will use up all the wee bits hangin' about the shop.

I have to make a second one - another wren house - at least. My wife such swiped the first one!

Am I onto something?

Photos by GH

* For now. I'll disassemble, clean and stare intently at the motor parts one more time this p.m. Drat!


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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zoom w a View: Icy Turf 2

Now you see it, now you don't. The icy turf in my year is almost gone thanks to weird, warm January temperatures. I had to be as fast as a laser to snap a few shots before the ice melted.

Laser Beam from Space 1

Laser Beam from Space 2

Photos by GH


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Life on Mars: "Martian landscape?"

Rumour has it I discovered a Martian landscape outside my workshop door.

["Bend down and look at just the right angle..."]

Well, I did, and it changes every time I sweep more red cedar dust out the door.

Photo by GH


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Birdhouse London: Wood's Innards 3

I'm thinking, instead of using the matched set of warm coloured slats for a birdhouse roof, I will sand them smooth.

Then frame them. Hang the art nouveau piece in my shop. And call it 'Warm Wood' or 'Lovely Lines'.

Photos by GH


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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Life on Mars: "You saw it here first!"

These are amazing photographs. Some will say there is - in fact - life on Mars.

What do you think?

Original, undoctored photos by GH


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Birdhouse London: Wood's innards 2

While cleaning out my wood pile I came across two pieces of wood that I felt might make decent roof slats for birdhouses.

["Old pine or spruce barn board. Great colours"]

["These two slats come from one piece of (I think) black poplar"]

Photos by GH


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Zoom w a View: Icy turf

Because ice had formed in the grass last night, as I walked to the workshop earlier today the lawn began to crack.

So, I got a move on!

Photos by GH


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It Strikes Me Funny: Singin' about My Girl

When it's cold or quiet in my workshop I pop in a CD and sing along to any song I know. Yesterday, I especially liked 'My Girl' by The Temptations.

"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day. 
When it's cold outside I've got the month of May. 
I guess you'd say 
What can make me feel this way? 
My girl (my girl, my girl) 
Talkin' 'bout my girl (my girl)." 

My voice isn't the best but I keep things rockin' once I'm warmed up.

Cartoon by GH


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Monday, January 14, 2013

Go slow, enjoy the view

Though busy in the shop I took several pauses recently to enjoy the sound of relative silence, the smell of old cedar and the look of freshly cut or assembled 'bits and pieces' of birdhouses.

["Birds will enjoy the green interior"]

["I like an old solid chimney"]

["The colours and texture should make for an interesting roof"]

["A favourite close up"]

Photos by GH


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Fun and Fitness: Raising the bar

Because it's a new year I'm raising the bar. Because I've hit my goal (100 miles per week) six weeks in a row I'm raising the bar. Because I've collected 743 'extra miles' over the last couple of years (another 8.9 mi. last week) I'm raising the bar.

This week's goal will be 105 miles. My latest bargain book will motivate me to pedal hard for the next few days, I'm sure.

Photos by GH


It's a new year. Are you raising the bar?

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Birdhouse London: Wood's innards

Lon cabin birdhouses are essentially made up of 24 logs for the four sides, two triangles (one with a hole) and 6 - 8 slats for the roof. Though I can make them fairly quickly a few things happen to slow me down.

Making trim, e.g., a telephone pole perch, slows me down. Fussy work. Cutting a 10-inch length of wood in half through the center (for roof slats: it's like taking a two-inch thick slice and bread and cutting it into two one-inch thick slices), is time-consuming as well, because once I see the wood's innards I stop to appreciate the different colours, grains and patterns.

I know some people like a painted roof. Not me, not this time.

["I like to go slow and enjoy the view"]

Photos by GH 


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Zoom w a View: Icy target

I moved a potted plant off a back deck table a few moments ago in order to create space for a birdhouse I wanted to photograph. The pot was difficult to move with one hand because it was frozen in place. Once I'd succeeded I noticed an icy target had been left behind.

Note to the curious: Yes, my last post, re Happy Hour, was several days ago. No, Happy Hour didn't last several days, but busy times in the workshop continue.

Photo by GH


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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It Strikes Me Funny: Happy Hour 3

It doesn't happen often. Happy Hour rolled around in the workshop yesterday and I still had chinking to do on a birdhouse. So, I had to ask myself an unusual question. "What cold beverage would go down well while I'm filling cracks between a few logs?"

["Happy Hour is at five in the afternoon. Whoops! I'm late!"]

I thought about it. I drummed my fingers on my work bench. I hummed along to the music by Van Morrison and eventually settled on something from across the way.

['Hymns to the Silence' made me think of Ireland]

I didn't have any Guinness so I selected Gooseberry Wheat Ale, a fine product of Scotland. It was perfect. Light, nicely carbonated, gooseberry-ish, a titch tart (and I like 'sours').


Photos by GH


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Zoom w a View: I told you so

I told you I spare no expense when it comes to building fine houses for my feathered friends. Remember the eight-penny washers I bought recently that set me back $1.60?

They're already going out the door - as part of distinctive perches - and there's more trim to follow.

Step aside Mr. Warbucks!

Photos by GH


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The Workshop: Chinking the log cabins

I have log cabin birdhouses on the brain. They're fun to make and eat up scrap, thereby reducing the need for me to light a fire and send leftover wood up the chimney.

["Five of seven cabins all in a pile awaiting trim"]

 I am using pine that once was attached to my house in the form of exterior board and batten. The batten sat under a tarp for many years and I am feeling very satisfied with myself now as I use it up - as logs and slats - to provide distinctive homes for chickadees, finches and the ubiquitous sparrow.

["I'm using up my eight-penny washers as well. No expense is too great!"]

Two of the cabins looked a bit wonky, with gaps between logs, so I grabbed a can of crack filler and went to work like an old pioneer on the Canadian Prairies. I'n no expert on chinking but if any chickadee comes to my door this year to complain about losing sleep because of a cold draft on its neck I'll be very surprised.

["Chinking the log cabins took but a few minutes"

Today I'll add the last of the trim and paint a sign for my sales corner:

Gordie Boy's Spring Special! Only $XX

Step right up.

Photos by GH


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