Category Archives: Contextless Thoughts

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Men | 2008 Edition

One of the secrets of the house is that I do all of the Christmas shopping.  Wendy sees it as a task to endure, I see it as a work of art.  We know who gets the better Christmas gifts around here.  At the same time I keep hearing for people that they don’t know what to get for their husbands, sons, and fathers.  I have been giving out tips lately and I thought that I would post them here.  As you will see, some are more serious than others.

In case you are wondering, Wendy and I have spend under $100 on each of us at Christmas.  We have a pretty simple Christmas but I enjoy looking for the perfect gift.  A decade ago Gloria told me that if she likes the gift she is giving and if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for the person she is giving it too.  Wendy and I think the same way.

  1. Ohio Fine Fountain Pen | Give a nice pen this Christmas.  Those 25 packs of pens for $2 are fine if you are a homeless shelter and everyone takes yours but eventually you or someone you love is going to want to write a memo, a letter, or need to fill out a bunch of pointless paper work for a certain government department that you may have to deal with.  For that, you need a good pen for a reasonable price.  This is a fine fountain pen and you can get it for only $20.  Make sure you order some refills as well.
  2. What’s the point of having a kick butt library if those ingrates that call you a friend come over and take a book home every time they visit.  Since tasers are still illegal for personal use in Canada, why not pick up a personal library set instead ($19.95).  Of course you can’t buy them integrity but you will be able to get your books back.  In case the person you are you buying for is vain, you can get them a year long ($10) or a life time ($25) subscription to LibraryThing as well.  They may be vain but they are in good company.
  3. Leica M8 | Is there a better gift for a loved one that a Leica camera?  At only $5995.00, you can get one for your favorite blogger as well.  I know almost $6000 seems a little pricey for a camera but look at the camera you are giving out and just think of how much better the photos will be that they will be posting to Flickr.  Of course you can’t help them if they take photos of their thumbs and feet all of the time but at least they will be clear photos of their thumb and feet.
  4. Movie Pix HD ($100) | I bought one of these this fall for $100 at Wal-Mart and it has been a great little camera that one can carry everywhere.  It shoots in 16:9 and with a 2 gb memory card, you never have to worry about running out of space. (I review it here).  The one thing that you will want to pick up for it is some extra batteries.  We have some nickel cadmium batteries but for the holidays, we also picked up 40 Maxell alkaline batteries to make sure we had some batteries ready to go if needed.  If you have kids this is the way to go.  Within minutes of shooting, these videos can be uploaded to YouTube which go a long way in making his mother-in-law forget what a schlep her daughter married.  While you are at it, pick up a video editing suite that is better than Microsoft Movie Maker.  Check out Movie Magix ($45) (download free trial here) for an affordable but functional movie editing software for Windows.  If he has a Mac, he has iMovie and he is taking care of.
  5. McFarlane Toys ($15) | As boys we loved our Star Wars and GI Joe action figures.  Our tastes have matured a bit but so have our action figures.  Now McFarlane Toys is making Derek Jeter, John Elway, or LeBron James action figures but in a way where they look cool sitting on our desk.  When I mention this to women they look at me like I am idiot but at the same time their husbands come into my office every day to talk sports and check them out.  I got some of mine at Wal-Mart for $5.  Just make sure you don’t get the Grant Fuhr in a Calgary Flames uniform or something stupid that could get him beat up by Calgary and Edmonton fans.
  6. America at War Megaset ($60) | 25 DVDs of American history by the History Channel.  This is a great gift for the history buff that gets on your nerves.  Not only do you make him happy but he won’t leave his den until September 2009.  You can thank me later as you will have all sorts of time.
  7. Neumann Gloves ($35)| If he played football in high school, he had a pair of Neumann gloves and I bet he misses them.  When wet, they actually get tacky which is helpful should a random stranger fire a football at him while it is raining.  The leather palms almost make for a durable glove which are good for playing slo-pitch or mountain biking.  It is also guaranteed to get the ball tossed to him during touch football games even if he does move slower than Shaquille O’Neal playing defense.  If he lives in Canada or is just a CFL fan, get him the winter receiver gloves.
  8. Interactive R2D2 Astromech Droid ($104) | There is nothing more irritating to be driving along and find out that your rear shields have been shot off.  While you are concentrating on shooting the ears off a Gundark or sending a protron torpedo down an exhaust chute, R2 can take care of your car or X-Wing fighter.
  9. Personal Sountrack Shirt ($39.95) | If you are like me, you dream of a personal mariachi band to follow you to play a soundtrack for your life.  Well it’s time to give the band some pink slips and replace them with a shirt that can play MP3s, sound effects, and look good doing it.  It even has a remote.
  10. Find me the Matrix ($19.95) | If you are shopping for a guy or girl who is always wondering where the nearest wifi connection is, this shirt lights up when you are near one.  The brighter your shirt, the better the connection.
  11. Sony PSP 2000 ($169) | I know it’s been out for a couple of years but after having one for a year I can’t recommend it enough.  Games like SOCOM kill time during a rainy day at the lake and at the same time keep Mark quiet on the drive up in the back seat.  I have a 2 gig memory stick that I load up with YouTube videos and documentaries from Google Video.  Spluge a bit and get the 8 gig card and you have a great travelling machine.  For another $20 you can get the headphone and mic which combined with Skype make for a really cheap long distance option for the road warrior.
  12. University of Saskatchewan basketball tickets ($8) | This is pretty localized but if you are in Saskatoon and you haven’t been to a Huskies basketball game, you are missing out.  The PAC is a great place to watch a game and the Huskies play an entertaining style of basketball.  Courtside tickets are only $15 and you have your own waiter/waitress.
  13. “ Roughriders Drive” Sign ($20) | This metal sign will be perfect for your cabin or den and if you aren’t a Roughrider fan, you can a variation of the classic street sign with your own teams name on it.  Of course all of you are Rider fans so this won’t be an issue.
  14. Noise Cancelling Headphones ($35) | If your loved on travels a lot and doesn’t have a pair, this should be at the top of your list.  Until you have flown with a pair of these on, you have no idea how much easier they make flying.
  15. Bellagio Classico 2 Vintage Series Men’s Mechanical Skeleton Watch ($200) | There is nothing like opening a great looking watch on Christmas day and this is one great looking watch.  I am not sure if you have to pay $200 for a watch, I am wearing a good looking Timex that I bought for $10 that generates a lot of compliments.  Another watch I have was purchased for less than $30 that has provoked even a decade later that it is the nicest watch people have seen.  I just linked to this one because it looked cool and  I hope it is some inspiration.
  16. Swiss Army Knife | It’s the knife that MacGuyver used.  Do I need to say anything more?

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

The season we call Christmas

I have been in Christmas mode for a while.  At work we tend to start it on the day that the Christmas Kettles go out as we start accepting Christmas Hamper applications around the same day.  Wendy was in decorating the Residential Unit at the Centre (we decorate a couple of days later than everyone else because I think the second week in November is too early).  Once the Christmas season starts, it is full speed ahead until the 25th.

Today I got a Christmas wish answered in that a youth I have been working really closely with and his mom found an apartment and are moving in.  A considerable amount of time and resources have been spent keeping them from having to live on the streets and finding safe, affordable, and stable housing.  I have tracked down some nice furniture, household goods, and food for them.  Now all I have to do is move them over there which isn’t going to be a problem.  It takes a lot of emotional stress off of me.  I told Wendy that I wasn’t going to allow them to be in a shelter or on the street for Christmas and we had even talked of letting them stay at our place but in the end it worked out better for them and through the decency of a landlord, they found a good place to stay.

Tonight we feed 1000 people in one massive sitting as our annual Christmas dinner for the community.  We went through 1000 free tickets in no time this year and it will be interesting to see how many people are there.  I am taking some photos and providing security if anyone is too heavily intoxicated.  After that I am breaking out of there to pick up Christmas kettles with Mark.

Tomorrow is the annual Santa Shuffle.  I am coming in early to help with that and will be taking some photos and video as well.  I was asked by one Salvation Army officer if I was running in it and I joked, “Major Len, does it look like I run in a lot of Santa Shuffles?!” 

After I shuffle around the Centre in the morning, I am going to head over to the Reimer’s for our Christmas meal together.  Mark’s first words were said while over at the Reimer’s at Christmas.  He didn’t say “Mom” or “Dad” but rather his first word was “Tamara” yelled through a roll of wrapping paper.  I doubt Ollie will be saying much but you never know what will happen once the rolls of wrapping paper come out.

Sunday night, Wendy and I are taking over coffee house at the Centre.  We are bringing in a decent CD player and belting out the Christmas music.  Some Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra.  No Bony M but there is always next year.

Next Friday night is going to be the staff Christmas party.  We are going bowling this year and somehow I was talked into not only bowling ten pin (which I have never done) but also joining a bowling team with some co-workers in the New Year.  I am not sure how either one of those things happened but they did.  Mark is really looking forward to it.  As he said, “it’s almost as good as Christmas Day!”

Next Saturday is Wendy’s birthday.  I think we are planning to stay in and just enjoy the quiet evening.

On the 17th of December is a major funding announcement for the money we are getting for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy to purchase a women and family shelter in the city.  This date is just penciled in as it has changed 10 times already.  Apparently the Government of Canada has some sort of parliamentary crisis going on.

On the 22nd is Christmas hamper handout day which means that a couple thousand Christmas hampers get handed out to the people of Saskatoon.  This is an really nice day.  Last year I was asked to drive people home as it is too much food to take home on the bus or by walking.  It was insanely cold but people were crying as I was bringing in the boxes to their homes.  I heard some heartbreaking stories and heartwarming thanks that day.  Wendy is coming down this year to volunteer and so do a bunch of staff which makes it a fun day as well.

By that time one would think it was over but after the 22nd, about 100 people call in because they didn’t realize that Christmas was the 25th (that is what they say to us) and need hampers.  We plan for that and give them out.  For the 23rd and part of the 24th, I carry a lot of turkeys and hams to the front of the building.

The morning of the 24th, I am planning our coffee time.  I would normally get Starbucks coffee for this type of situation but everyone at work prefers (no demands) that we get Tim Horton’s coffee.  Even I am starting to prefer Tim Horton’s some days.  The plan is that we will all just relax and unwind and already we are looking forward to it.

The night of the 24th, Lee is coming over and we are having our Christmas that night.  It will be the first time we have ever had Christmas on the 24th.  The Cooper side of the family has historically done it that way but we always waited until Christmas morning.  The reason we are opening is that I am working from 8-4 on the 25th at the Centre. 

I generally only work the desk is someone is sick but the regular day person wanted the day off and so I agreed to work it.  There is non-stop food, movies, and some nice presents for the guys.  Mark is looking forward to working as well and since we are not open to the public, I agreed he could come in for a while.  Since I am only working until 4:00 p.m., we are having some friends over and chilling out that evening.  The next week is what I am looking forward to.  I am on vacation until the new year and you can’t believe how nice that sounds.

I hope your Christmas season is a good one as well.

Saturday night thoughts

Some of you have noticed that I am using to collect and automatically post the contextless links around here.  There have been those that don’t like it and those that enjoy the extra tagging options that it gives you as a reader to discover other cool stuff.  You can let me know what you think in the comments.

Personally I don’t actually enjoy doing it, I prefer to collect and post the links as I find them during the day but I no longer have the time to do this any longer.  Especially over the last week.  In the last seven days I have had two different variations of the stomach flu and had to sleep through my one day off because of a high fever and I was just sick.  That had the secondary effect of really messing up the diabetes medication which means higher blood sugar levels which means I am absolutely drained.  By the time I get home, eat, spend time with Mark and Oliver, I am ready to go to bed.  I hoping I feel better next week and my energy comes back.  The plan is do a lot more walking next week which often regulates my body and gives me more energy.

Work has been okay.  We just wrapped a week of being audited which was a surprisingly positive experience.  I walked away with the knowledge that my department is pretty tight and I got some good tips from the auditors of stuff that is being done at other Centre’s that will actually make life easier for us.  We had a couple of discussions that could be summed up as a “philosophy of accounting” which helped me understand the kinds of checks and balances that I will need in any organization.  One of them even helped us decide what kind of television to buy for the guys.  The bad part of the week was that because they were there, I needed to be there in case they had questions.  I made it through the week but just barely.

On top of surviving the auditors, I have been helping a family stay off the street.  I don’t think one realizes how hard it is for people when they have no home, to even find an apartment, pay a $25 fee just to see the apartment (yes I know that is designed to discourage those on social assistance to move in), convince landlords who are biased towards certain socio-economic classes to rent to them, and then make it livable.  The good news is that we do have a partial solution to this problem that should be a reality in early 2009.

On a positive not, we did manage to do some Christmas shopping.  The advantage of living in Canada is that we don’t have any Black Friday type events so it is relatively quiet.   We are done shopping for Mark and Oliver and I am pretty much done shopping for Wendy.  Since I coordinate all of the Christmas shopping, Wendy just has to shop for me but really struggles with it.  She is in denial over it but I will get a copy of Larry Lessig’s book that I don’t think I want and a book on the emerging church that I won’t read (she just read this sentence and just grunted in reply).  I have been trying to explain that good gifts don’t require money, they require insight and thought.  We’ll see how she does.

Contextless Thoughts

  • I wanted to go to the cabin this weekend but considering the high was still going to be below freezing, I decided to stay at home and make some plans for 2009.  Here is my 2009 to-do list for the cabin.  The big debate Wendy and I are having is whether to go with wallboard or drywall inside the cabin.  The bigger focus will be creating two decks for the back and the front of the cabin.

Oliver chilling out at night with a sleeping cap on.

  • I snapped this photo of Ollie the other night.  Despite his peaceful expression on his face, he hates the sleeping cap with a passion.
  • After years of reading Alan Creech‘s fishing stories, I finally bought Mark a fishing rod.  Next spring we plan to empty Last Mountain Lake completely.  Of course we do have some competition from the bird sanctuary that is near the cabin and we have to try to convince Wendy that cleaning fish is fun.
  • I signed Wendy and I up to take the coffee house at the Community Centre every second Sunday night.  I am paying Mark to help clean up the mess (he is saving for a Nintendo DS or a PSP) afterwards.  Wendy fielded several marriage proposals and requests for dates.  We had over 100 people there for coffee house which consists of coffee, juice, soup, sandwiches, and a dessert.  In addition to people coming for coffee, we had a couple people there that were thwarted from making a drug deal (what happened to dealing drugs on street corners?).
  • Christmas shopping is almost done.  The hardest one to shop for is Ollie as he has all of Mark’s baby toys plus a bunch of new gifts from friends. 
  • I am shopping for a new desktop computer.  My trusty desktop has been a 900 mhz AMD Duron for years.  2 gigs of Ram and a big hard drive can only take you so far.  I was going to give it to Mark but Computers 4 Kids has 1.4 ghz machines that come with everything for under $50.  Mark won’t be going online without permission but I am wondering what software is essential for a kid in Grade 3.  Suggestions?   Leave them in the comments.
  • The lack of posting around here is from me being exhausted at nights.  Work has been really tough and when I come home, I have been heading to bed around 8 p.m. a lot of nights.  I have the next two days off which may be the longest stretch of days off I have had in a year.  So far, so good.
  • Wendy posted this cabin the other day on the cabin blog.  When we were first married, we wanted to build something like this, although this is nicer than we envisioned.  We were watching a show about cabin’s one time and this couple had one like this and a smaller one for their two kids.  They were far enough from each other that they had privacy yet they cooked, ate, and drank coffee together as a family.  Perfect for a family of introverts.

If I had a blog of my own…

I haven’t had much time to write much of anything other than the occasional tweet on Twitter from my iPod Touch lately.  Some have said that Twitter is ruining my blog but the bigger issue is that I don’t have uninterrupted time to write.  If I had time to write, this is what I would be talking about.

  • I recently considered two job offers.  One in a church and the other one in a more beauracratic setting.  Both were in some ways tempting but in the end I realized both were not what I was passionate about.  Turning down the one job was hard because it appealed to my ego and the fact that the chances of going home smelling like urine are absolutely zero.  Turning down the pastoral position was really tough because it made me really examine what was a strong pastoral calling in my life.  At the same time something that Leonard Sweet said on Twitter has been tormenting me. “…but musing about how I am SO tired of the church viewing the world more as a market than as a mission.”  That clarified a lot for me (and cost me a lot of money) as despite using the language of mission, the church sees the world as a market (and I wonder if a lot of pastors see the church as their market).  Anyways it helped me realize that I didn’t have the passion or energy to lead something that saw the world as a market and for which I wasn’t sure if it wanted to see it as a mission.  At the end of the day I realized I had more in Saskatoon that I wanted to accomplish.
  • Speaking of church, I haven’t darkened a church door in a couple of months.  I have been working nights on the weekends while I tried in vain to find the right staff person.  Along the way I found another outstanding person for the Centre who is great but not the right person to fill the night shifts.  Last week I finally found that person which means that this could be the first time that I will be in church in a long time.  Wendy has been attending the Saskatoon Free Methodist Church and Lakeview Church but until next weekend, I am the father and husband who never attends church (feel free to judge me in the comments).  I don’t know what is wrong with me but when I was 24, I used to be able to stay up all night and function the next day.  Now that I am 34, I can’t stay up 24 hours straight (while working 16 of them), go to sleep for five or six hours, work another graveyard and function at church in the morning.  I have great intentions but they fall apart as soon as I stop moving and sit down in the morning.  Then I find myself worshipping at the Presbytry of the Pillow.
  • Some have asked how the emergency women’s shelter is going.  Well it is a long process but it is still moving forward.  We have operational funding in place, we have capital funding in place, we have identified a building and now we are entering a zoning process with the City of Saskatoon.  Believe it or not I have read the 200+ pages of the City of Saskatoon zoning bylaw but I actually brought it with me to the cabin.  That was some relaxing reading by the lake.   We have a ways to go on it still but it is looking pretty good from here.  I’ll save the entire story for the formal announcement
  • I was going to do some creative campaign coverage of the election up here but Warren Kinsella started doing a lot better job of it than I could.  Today he is writing why Stephen Harper is going to win the campaign.   After reading Kinsella’s posts day in and day out and then watching some excellent W@AL videos, I realized that his coverage was going to be way better than mine and so I just kind of decided to be quiet about it and accept that some things (like medicine, mortgage backed securities, and brake repairs) should be left to the professionals.  That leaves me with commentary on Survivor, Bon Jovi CD’s, what I had for supper last night, and the East Coast Hockey League (update: Wendy says that if I start commenting on supper, my life expectancy could be shortened).
  • I have been meaning to blog about Sarah Palin but I’ll leave it at this, she probably is a wonderful parent, good neighbor (if you like your neighbors being Rovian), and decent governor of Alaska but she wasn’t prepared to be nominated by John McCain who is exploiting her age, sex, and looks for his own political agenda.  Everytime I want to come out against this strongly, I think of Dan Quayle who was the male version of Sarah Palin.  JFK disliked (even hated) LBJ but chose him to help him in the south so this isn’t a new or a partisan trend, it is just that YouTube makes it a lot more painful.
  • Why is it that many sites equate being a social conservative with being a hunter.  Are there no liberals who shop at Cabelas?
  • After breaking up with hockey, I may be open to a reconcilliation this year.  I am not sure I miss it but if we run into each other on a Saturday night, I may stay a while and chat.
  • Forget NCAA cheating scandals, out of control Olympic games, crooked NBA refs, or even fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are mathematically eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, here is the real problem in sports, out of control marching bands.

Vote for Me

In the most mediocre Canadian contest.  I am serious.  Join the campaign.  It’s going nowhere that spectacular.  Brent Gretzky is only mediocre because of his brother.  Warren Kinsella has FOUR well known books and drives a nicer classic car than I do.  Alan Thicke?  Way, way nicer hair than any of us.  He is a D list celebrity already.  You won’t see me courtside at L.A. Clippers games, that is Alan Thicke territory.

I am from Saskatchewan.  We define mediocrity.  A 9-9 football season is a good but not great season for the Riders and that Grey Cup thing last year was only because we messed up and hired Eric Tillman as our G.M.  Saskatoon, nice but not great city.  My blog is good but not great.  I define mediocrity.

It’s Over

Well today the residents of Sandy Bay left the Cosmo Civic Centre in Saskatoon, boarded three busses and started the 8 hour drive back home which ended the evacuation from the community.  Before the busses had left the Cosmo Civic Centre parking lot, the Salvation Army Community Centre had packed up our stuff and were heading back to the Centre via a Tim Horton’s for some much needed vitamin supplement (vitamin: caffeine).  Shortly after that I was back home taking a much wanted nap.

Since I last posted, a lot changed.  On Sunday I got a call to be at the Centre for a meeting where I found out that I was taking over the food service operations at the Cosmo for the next seven days which was  fine and dandy except I have never done anything like that and I don’t have my safe food handling certificate.  The good news is that I was taking over from someone that was really competent and she gave me an amazing job description.  With some help from the bulk of the staff and volunteers who were at the SaskTel Sports Centre (they had 590 people there), we made it through at Cosmo (we had about 120 people there).   Thankfully a couple hours later the weather forecast changes, the fire and smoke had abated and people were told they were going to go home on Tuesday.  That took the anxiety out of the whole place, from the supporting organizations to the evacuees and the end result was that everyone was in a pretty good mood.  That mood was further boosted by Fire Creek Gas station brining in 160 large pieces of fresh off the grill bannock which was loved by everyone.  I was persuaded to give bannock a try and I don’t think I had ever had it before but I liked it.

One thing to note.  Yesterday I was wearing a green shirt and one of the kids runs up to me and told me I was a pretty big guy.  He looked at my shirt and said, “You are big and green like Shrek!”  His dad heard him and said, “That’s Mr. Shrek to you.”  So for the last two days, every meal or snack time he would call me “Mr. Shrek”.  Today about a dozen kids under five years of age were calling me “Mr. Shrek”.  I don’t know if they got the reference, just overhead me being called that, or think I am an ogre but they were polite and solicited a laugh from whoever heard them so it was okay.

It was up at 5:30, at the site by 7:00 a.m.  There all day until I came home around 11:00 p.m.  I wish I could have slept when I got home but the neuropathy is killing me right now to the point where the Neuragen can’t deal with it.   I know that the long hours make it worse but I think it is just another cycle of a lot of pain right now. 

A quick list of what I learned…

  • No matter how professionally dressed and educated, give a ring pop to a person who is overtired enough and they will put it on their finger and wear it as proudly as the kids.  They also will lick it for the sugar rush.
  • Coffee perks work better with coffee grounds inside them.
  • Never carry your bottle of Aquafina into a conversation with public health officials.  It just starts a long conversation about the commercialization of water that you may not want to have.  My explanation of “I don’t like the way city water tastes” doesn’t really end the conversation either.

I wish I could have tomorrow off but I have to get some funding applications finished this week but it is off to the lake for a bit this weekend.

Around here

I haven’t been blogging that much because we have a couple of things going around here.

  • I could be a father any day now.  Wendy‘s pre-eclampsia is becoming eclampsia which means that the baby could be coming 8 weeks or so early.  The baby is doing fine but mother is struggling a bit.
  • I haven’t blogged about this but I am up my ears with trying to start a second women’s emergency shelter in Saskatoon with others at work.  I can’t describe to you the amount of hours I have spent filling out proposals, revising proposals, realizing the proposal was flawed, debating flawed proposals, creating new proposal, wondering if old proposal was better than new proposal, more debating with co-workers, pacing outside office of other manager while he figures out if our business plan works, feeling pretty good when business plan works, tossing all night because I realized I forgot an expense, finding out in the morning that it actually was factored in, sharing proposal, getting feedback on proposal, taking feedback personally because that is what I do, stewing over feedback, accepting feedback, improving proposal, filling out funding applications, more applications, seeing even more applications on my desk, getting discouraged over the amount of applications to go, being encouraged by government officials, being put on hold by government officials, getting sent mixed messages, talking to real estate agent, talking to contractors….  the list goes on.  This comes on top on top of my regular responsibilities but it has been an excellent experience and it will make a big difference in the lives of women and children in crisis which keeps me pretty motivated day in and day out.  
  • Right now we are waiting to hear back from a couple levels of government which means that I have time to focus on what is really important…. my office is being moved to the administrative hallway from off the chapel.  It will make it easier to work but I lose my window.
  • Lee is moving out.  He found a nice apartment being redone in Lakewood.  It means I get my basement back.  Actually Mark gets my basement back.  It has something to do with a new kid being born.  Mark is quite disappointed in Lee leaving.  Not so much that Lee is leaving, it is that Mark thinks he is ready to move out to his own apartment.

Contextless Thoughts

  • Wendy is blogging about some cheap cabins that I kind of like.  She also links to the Lightbox Cabin which I find pretty amazing.
  • The six Canadian NHL teams provide 31% of NHL revenue :: In fact, eight U.S. teams – the Coyotes, the Florida Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers, Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues – generated less than half the amount of ticket revenue this season of the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators. At $1.2 million in ticket revenue per game, the Oilers and Senators garnered the least amount of ticket money among Canadian clubs.
  • A quick prediction, Hillary Clinton will take her case to the DNC credentials committee and then to the courts before conceding defeat which will destroy not only her political career but also hand deliver the general election to John McCain.  The Washington Post disagrees with me and I hope they are right.
  • Here are some great photos of a part of America that is quickly disappearing.
  • I am not supposed to be telling anyone this but we found out that we are having a boy.  All of the old wives tales suggested it would be a girl but according to the many, many ultrasounds that have been taken, it will be a boy.  I am just hiding this in the middle of a larger post with the hope that my beautiful, smart, and forgiving wife will forgive me.
  • Just a quick job hunting tip.  If you are giving someone a resume, make sure your e-mail address is not a crude sexual pun or joke  Also, even if your resume is phenomenal, giving me a phone number that is wrong or disconnected causes a lot of problems as well.   Here are 25 other reasons why you may still be unemployed.
  • The Centre’s resident half-coyote is moving out with his owner.  We are a little sad to see them gone.  While the dog was here, he had a nice bed, new leashes, a bike carrier to ride in, and an amazing assortment of dog treats given to him from staff and even some other agencies in the city.  The dog went from homeless to pampered pretty quickly.

Contextless Thoughts

  • I can’t figure out what Hillary Clinton is going to accomplish by keeping her campaign going until the Democratic convention in August.  Jason Cherniak has some reasons on why she should stay in the campaign but in the end he is arguing for a Canadian type political convention rather than an American one (one with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson all in it).  I agree but I think we are both biased towards one system rather than the other.  Either way, I wonder if this nomination may be decided with the courts deciding if the Florida and Michigan delegates get seated (you know those states that Hillary won without having Obama to campaign against).
  • Bill Simmons says that KG’s habit of choking in pressure situations could keep the Celtics from winning the NBA championship.  Of course he isn’t the only guy to choke in big games :: Now, Garnett isn’t the only NBA star who has struggled in big moments. Wilt was famous for it. The Mailman choked so many times I once wrote, “You know you’re watching ESPN Classic if it’s 2 a.m. and Karl Malone looks like he’s about to throw up.” David Robinson was an extremely nice guy who played like one in big games.  C-Webb passed the basketball like it was a hand grenade in the clutch. Clyde Drexler always seemed like he’d just downed too much caffeine. Even one of my favorite Celtics, Kevin McHale, got the yips. In Game 2 of the 1984 Finals, his legs shook after he missed that free throw before Gerald Henderson’s famous steal.
  • Good story about Dale Jr.’s relationship with his dad in ESPN Magazine.  While I am excited about the Indianapolis 500, I have to admit I am becoming a NASCAR fan.  I find myself turning left when driving just because I can.  Also when watching a NASCAR race I find my literacy deteriorating and George W. Bush’s presidency making sense.
  • Can someone please tell me how the NDP are both pro-green agenda AND calling for lower gas prices.  Wouldn’t lower gas taxes lead to higher consumption creating more demand AND creating more emissions.  Look, I hate filling up the tank as much as anyone but…
  • If I was Stephane Dion and the Liberals, I would reach out a little bit to Canadian bloggers this summer when selling the carbon tax.
  • The only was an English soccer team was going to win a major tourney on penalty kicks was for another English team to be in the game so they could lose. 
  • So is college for everyone?  A professor at a small community college argues that not everyone will make it and wonders why everyone needs a college education.
  • It’s time to upgrade to Firefox 3
  • Lifehacker has ten ways blog easier :: It missed the obvious suggestions of 1) reader better books and magazines 2) start covering more NHL hockey games 3) spend more time writing original well thought out content (do as I say, not as I do)


Cabelas-Logo I found out about Cabela’s (via Jason Kottke’s blog) a couple weeks ago and ordered their catalog  to take a look at.  Cabela’s is a Sidney, Nebraska-based direct marketer and specialty retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor recreation merchandise.  Right now their catalog is the most widely read thing in the Cooper household.  I got it before we were thinking of getting the cabin but since then it has been a lot of fun to look through.  Our reactions go from “that would be so comfortable” on one page to “No. We are never getting elk antler chandeliers” when looking at the next page.  We only got the Home and Cabin catalog, and apparently their full catalog is almost 1400 pages.  Until then we will have to take our time with browsing their website.

For some reason I didn’t know they did retail shopping as well until a friend told me how cool their stores are.  Take a look at this photo.  Now I hate shopping but this looks okay to me.


They have moved into Canada and I hope the check out their Winnipeg store the next time I head east.

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Contextless Thoughts

  • I just read The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawasaki.  It was sent to me anonymously a month or so ago and it is a great book.  Some excellent stories about Apple and early pioneers like Dave Winer are in there.  If you can find it at a used book store, it is worth reading.  Whoever it was who sent it to me, thanks!
  • A friend phoned me yesterday about the cabin.  He asked if I had made any big plans yesterday and I said no, “I am up to my ears in paperwork.”  He replied, “That’s why you need a place to retreat to” and hung up the phone.  About 20 seconds later, I got an e-mail which said in full, “and that’s why I am borrowing it from time to time as well.”  Sounds good to me.
  • Wendy‘s protein count is rising, so is her blood pressure, and blood sugar.  She is off work for another week and they are hoping some medication helps with the preeclampsia  Normally she would be okay with it but as she blogged, she is getting transferred to the 33rd Street Safeway which is only two blocks away from home and is one she has been tried to transfer to for about five years.  It also means a big savings in gas and that store keeps shorter hours (because it is smaller, it is quicker to close) which means that she will be home a lot earlier when she is working in the office.
  • Len Sweet has a new podcast which may interest you.
  • I can’t figure out why Hillary Clinton stays in the race.  People say that she is running for 2012 but she is burning so many bridges in the Democratic Party that if Obama loses, she will take a lot of the blame for it.  I think she still thinks she can win.
  • East side churches in Saskatoon want to send a 1000 people to the west side core neighborhoods and “clean it up”.  It’s a nice idea but it makes it sound like the west side residents can’t or won’t do the job itself which is totally false.  Riversdale and other neighborhoods are a lot more alive then people give them credit for and believe it or not, do clean up the neighborhood every year by themselves so I am not sure why having an army of SUVs and minivans descend on the area helps at all.
  • I like Stephane Dion but his proposal to make me pay even more for gas is a little tough to swallow politically.  You know since I am paying $1.31 for a litre of it now.

This and that

  • Some photo sets of our trip to Regina:  Saskatchewan Science Centre, Saskatchewan War Memorial, and the Saskatchewan Legislature
  • After returning early, we did manage to get a head start on some yard and garden tasks for our house.  A productive trip to Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Peavey Mart.  The big jobs this summer will be replacing part of our roof but in addition to that we will be painting fences, decks, and redoing the playhouse that does duty as our shed.  The other big task will be reseeding again a big chunk of our lawn after Maggi managed to kill it off.  Some people have suggested a cap of apple vinegar in her water may help stop the damage to the grass so we will see.
  • We also had some cracks in our basement wall (what happens when your house is 88 years old) from water seeping through.   A bunch of people have asked about this from when I blogged about it before but the key is to chisel away all of the damaged concrete and tightly pack in hydraulic cement into the crack.  Now hydraulic cement dries too quickly to really work with so if you want to add a top coat to make it look good, you will need to leave a bit of space.  Let the hydraulic cement cure for bit (I left it for a month) and then some standard cement with a bonding agent for parging.
  • So much for “This Note is Legal Tender”.  I found out that many hotels won’t allow you to pay cash for your hotel room and only take credit cards (and won’t even take prepaid credit cards with the Mastercard or VISA logo on them), even if one offers to pay for the deposit that is normally billed towards a credit card?  How is that not prejudicial against people who don’t have a credit card?  Just claimed bankruptcy or just choose to use cash?    The weird thing is that I called some Saskatoon hotels and it doesn’t seem to be dependent on the class of hotel.  Some high end hotels accept cash while some middle class hotels do not.   I don’t want to sound like Ralph Nader but this hurts some of the guys who we serve at work and it is frustrating.  (Update:  BMO has a pre paid card that costs $9.95 for three years and they said it works with hotels although they don’t recommend it as hotels can keep the hold on their card for weeks – it doesn’t make what the hotels do any better but it works)

Contextless Thoughts

I made some tweaks to the site that you will find throughout it.  I have finally added a search box on each page from Google that combined with Google Sitemaps should offer much better search results.  There is an improved navigational element which should make it easier to find stuff in the top left corner and some improvements in the bottom navigation as well.  I know some of you hate the design but that’s okay…

  • Last night Wendy, myself and some co-workers took in Perogy Fest III at the Manhattan Ballroom.  There was five different varieties and over 12,000 perogies made in total.  The event was a fundraiser for Nashi, which works to divert children out of the sex trade in Ukraine and the money from the perogy smorg and auction went to support these projects as well as fighting human trafficking world wide.
  • I repaired a crack in my basement wall which isn’t that exciting but several people I have talked to about it have  cracks in their basement walls and have been asking me about this.  After reading all sorts of solutions, I took the advice from Ask This Old House and chiseled away any deteriorated concrete that I found.  This enlarged the crack from quite small to about an inch across (not all of it was bad but it came lose while chiseling).   After cleaning it all out, I decided to use aqua cement which is suggested for any cracks below grade, is waterproof (it will actually set in running water), and dries far harder than ordinary cement.  While it works great, you really need two people to install it as it sets so quick.  It worked well but I think we wasted about 20% because it dries so quickly.  It also dries harder over a month.  I’ll see how it lasts but I am impressed with the first couple of weeks.  It has been a slow melt so I doubt I will see much water coming through it even if I didn’t patch it so we may have to wait until next year.  Now I get to dig down and seal the outside of the wall this summer.  One tip that I have is that since it dries so hard, it is almost impossible to finish so don’t fill the crack completely with it and leave a bit for standard portland cement to finish with.  Using Weldbond will help with the bonding quite a bit as well.  I discovered Weldbond this summer and it amazing around the house.
  • I am reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer (Wikipedia has more and here is the complete text available online).  After watching a couple of documentaries this year that talked about how Hitler knew the war was lost in late 1942 and 1943 as did many of his generals, I was interested to read more.  Of course not so interested to do anything about it but now that I have a copy of the book, 1400 pages await me.  Once I get this book done, I want to read a Russian telling of the Second World War.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a good English translation that I can find?  If you do, let me know in the comments.