Tag Archives: Mark Cooper

Heading back to Ogema

By the time this publishes, I will be driving a 2016 Ford Focus (not the one below, this one is white) south to Regina where I meeting up with adventurer and author Robin Esrock.  He is a Ford Canada brand ambassador.  After meeting up (and I assume getting coffee at the Starbucks), we are heading south to Ogema, Saskatchewan (a place where I explored last year with Ford), testing out some food, riding the Southern Prairie Railway, taking in a museum, and then heading back to Regina.

In Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan with a 2015 Ford Focus

Wendy and the boys are coming along for the trip.  Instead of heading south with us, they are going to explore Regina and in particular, Wascana Lake and the Saskatchewan Legislature.  I’ll post some photos from the trip to the blog tonight.  I assume they will as well.

If you don’t want to read my account of the day, check out Elan Morgan’s blog.  It’s always a good read.

There is a book signing with Robin Esrock in Regina at 7:00p.m.  at the Chapters.  If you come on out, I’ll be there.  I won’t sign your book but we could totally do a selfie or something over coffee. 

Take a hike

My leg has been messed up since November of 2014 and I have been told be stay off it.  I did my best and a couple of weeks ago it was healed up enough that I could start to walk on it.  Unfortunately I have been as active as a panda bear during the summer months (hilarious story about that, when the pandas were at the Calgary Zoo, we drove out as a family, stood in a long line, saw the panda just lay in a tree and do nothing.  It could have been a stuffed animal.)

So for all of the advantages of living in a neighborhood where you work is a great and all but my work place is 8 kilometers away from home.  So to make a long story short, Wendy has been driving me to work in the morning and I have been walking the 8 kilometers home.

So far it has been going well.  I got into a yelling match with a goose in Kinsmen Park but he was totally in the wrong.  Yesterday Wendy dropped Mark off at my work and then parked at 33rd Street bridge and then walked to Place Riel where we met up.  Oliver and Marley slowed the pace down considerably as we stopped at the ski jumps.

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

There is a beaver lodge at the bottom of the hill so Oliver, Mark, and Marley explored that while Wendy and I sauntered the other way.

On the way over, Marley encountered a train while crossing the CP Rail Bridge.  She was not happy about going across that again but she did and was okay.

So the good news is that it isn’t that bad of walk.  The bad news is that it is an incredibly boring walk, podcasts or not. 

(Ford) #ExploreSask

Ford Canada is lending me a 2016 Ford Explorer to take to Swift Current tomorrow and take in some of the 2016 Ford World’s Women Curling Championship.  

2016 Ford Explorer

I don’t know if Ford knows this but the drive from Saskatoon to Swift Current is a lot of fun.  First of all you drive from Saskatoon to Rosetown which is no fun at all.  Then once you turn south, the drive gets better.  You get into some hills and curves.  The scenery is great.  There are giant wind farms.  There is Saskatchewan Landing.  Just thinking about taking that SUV down to Swift Current makes me smile.  I love driving that road.

So why am I doing this?  Well let’s get this out the way.

  • I don’t work for Ford.  Nor am I paid for anything that I write about Ford vehicles.  They give me complete freedom to write what I think about their cars. Over the years when I have written about things that I may not like, I have been contacted by people from Ford asking for more feedback and ways I think it could work better.  That’s it. 
  • Basically the only restrictions that Ford places on me is insurance related and I am not allowed to smoke in the car.  Since I have never smoked, that isn’t an issue.
  • For this trip, Ford Canada is paying for my hotel (at the Motel 6 in Swift Current), gas, and some of the food.  I mention some of the food because I decided I wanted to pay for the red licorice I am buying tomorrow out of my own personal money.  That way I don’t have to share if I don’t want to.
  • Having thought long and hard about this but if I could own any car in the entire world, it would be a Ford Escape Titanium edition.  You have your favorite vehicle, that is mine.  I love that vehicle and every Ford I write about is compared to how it stacks up to that car. 

Okay, so I mentioned Ford is putting Wendy, Mark, Oliver and I up at the Motel 6 in Swift Current.  The place looks like the inside of an Ikea show hotel.  I can’t wait to take some photos and show you.  I actually am nervous sleeping in it because I am afraid that someone is going to wander through and want to buy part a piece of furniture on their way to go and look at oversized coffee mugs.  The most cutting edge hotel in Saskatchewan is a Motel 6 in Swift Current.  Try to get your head around that. 

There isn’t a lot to do in Swift Current but I will see what I can photograph and explore there.  Several locals have given me some suggestions on where to eat.

Once we eat and are secured safely back into the Motel 6 with the NCAA basketball tournament on, I’ll post a review on how the 2016 Ford Explorer handles and a little bit about the trip.

One last thing, Mark is in driver’s ed but doesn’t quite have his learner’s license yet.  In his (delusional) mind he was so close to test driving the Ford Explorer that he could taste it.  Then I told him that he had to be either 18 or 21 to be able to drive one which pretty much crushed his spirits, hopes, and dreams.  He was quite happy tonight to be able to ride in the front seat.  As he said, “all he had to do was picture being in the U.K. and it was like he was driving.”  I admire his spirit.

New Windows 10 box

Mark wrote about this as well this weekend but I decided to upgrade his laptop this weekend.  His laptop runs Windows Vista and while it does a not bad job of it, it would need some more RAM to handle Windows 10.  I was pricing out the memory and the license for Windows 10 when I noticed that OTV had some Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop computers coming off lease that had way more power and were less than the Windows 10 license.  Not only that but they included a copy of the 64 bit version of Windows 7 (which of course upgrades to Windows 10).  The machine will handle a total of 16 gb of RAM so that was a plus as well.  I’ll add some more memory to this summer.

I picked that up with a $15 Logitech keyboard and mouse and took it home.  We had an extra monitor in the basement but as I go to grab it, Wendy and Mark tell me that  they threw it out in a cleaning purge.  Excellent.  So it was back to OTV where they had a 19.5 inch monitor on for $50.

Still it was cheaper than upgrading Windows and the RAM.

So we got it going, connected it to the interweb, and then used Ninite to download and install the freeware programs like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Chrome, Apple iTunes, Spotify and other programs.  The one thing I didn’t download is Libre or Open Office which I have come to believe are some of the most bloated pieces of software available.  Instead I was going to download AbiWord and have him use Google Sheets for a spreadsheet but I was in London Drugs where they had Corel WordPerfect Office Home and Student on for only $34.97.  It’s not Microsoft Office but it is a lot better than Libre Office in terms of speed and features.

This is off topic but I thought I would take a moment to mention how much I miss Lotus Smart Suite which included Lotus 1-2-3 but more importantly Lotus Ami Pro (later called Lotus Word Pro).  While I am it, I also miss Microsoft Works which I did an awful lot of writing on.  I really miss Works suites.  I wish someone would do one again.

The last bit of freeware software I put on his computer is Serif Publisher Starter Edition.  It is designed for beginners and gives him far more control than either WordPerfect or a word processor will give him.

I am kind of careful about fonts.  So many collections of freeware fonts have commercial fonts in them.  Years ago a graphic designer I know realized he had some illegal fonts in his collection and purged them and then put together some excellent freeware font CDs.  I installed them and then added some excellent commercial fonts that I have the license for.  He isn’t into page layout of print design but if he ever is, he will have a nice system for it.

I love my laptop and have no problems with it but the joy of a full sized keyboard and an almost 20 inch screen was pretty awesome as well.

The upgrade to Windows 10 took overnight to download but once that was done, it was good to go this morning.  Am always amazed at how powerful machine I was able to get him for so little money.  I grew up with DOS and then Windows.  After 4 years with a Mac and OSX, I like being back with Windows and the PC world again.

Turning 42

Stanley Thermos Travel MugIn about 60 minutes I turn 42.  I do however have to get to Saskatoon City Hospital so I can have a coban wrap put on my left leg so excuse me for posting this prematurely.

Rather than letting me sleep in during my old age, I was woken up early by Wendy, Mark, and Oliver.  Seems as if they didn’t get the company wide memo that I am old and need sleep.

They got the dog riled up (wasn’t she supposed to be walked?) and then gave me my gifts.

Oliver gave me a Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Venture WV Air Mattress. which will be great for hiking this summer.

Mark gave me the same Stanley travel mug he has.  It will keep my coffee hot long after it has become stale and gross.  He also gave me some Nike running gloves which will great in the evenings or if it gets cool while hiking.

Wendy also gave me a Fitbit Charge HR.  I have used my Nike Fuelband for years but this takes up a notch.

They all gave me an 11×14 Itoya Art Profolio Advantage portfolio.  Now I have to print out some photos for it.

For dinner tonight, they are talking me to the Bon Temps Cafe where we will dine out on some Cajun food and then meet up with some friends later.

Cell Phone Down

Yesterday Wendy came to me all upset and said she had dropped both of our iPhones.  Mine was fine but her phone had a smashed screen.  I wasn’t that upset.  Those things happen although two in a month (ahem Mark) was kind of painful.  When Mark broke his screen, I went to Costco and bought him a Acer Liquid Z410 for $130.  I picked up a 16gb Micro SD card from Don’s Photo for $15 and he was set.  For being so cheap, I was really happy with his phone.  It also has DTS Sound in it so even without a Bluetooth speaker the sound is good.

Wendy felt horrible but I was secretly happy.  Our contracts come up this summer with Bell and I had no idea what phone to get.  I was tempted to get some unlocked phones from Costco and save the money on our monthly bill.  I’m happy with Bell (and Mark is with Virgin) but it’s nice to have options.  Now I only have to figure out what I am going to do.  I am personally thinking of a Windows phone but I am always tempted to go back to Blackberry or a Windows Phone.

Acer Jade Z

Instead of picking up the Acer Liquid Z410, I got her the larger Acer Liquid Jade Z.

Features:

  • Display: 5-in. IPS TFT LCD
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth® 4.0 with EDR
  • Screen resolution: 1280 x 720
  • Operating system: Android™ 4.4 (KitKat)
  • Main camera: 13 MP AF with flash LED
  • Battery: Built-in 2,300 mAh rechargeable Li-polymer battery with up to 7 hours of talk time
  • Wi-Fi
  • Capture 30 fps FWVGA (MP4, H.264, H.263)
  • 720p video recording
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.5 GHz, MT6732
  • Dual micro SIM
  • 16 GB storage
  • 2GB RAM
  • MicroSD™ memory card expansion slot (card not included)
  • In-cell type touch lens with direct bonding
  • Side keys: volume up/down
  • Power key on top of device
  • LED indicator lights for charging, missed call, new message, lower battery
  • Google virtual keyboard
  • GPS Satellite data updates

For $220, it was a steal (way cheaper in store than online). 

The only thing  I don’t like about it is that it was a pain to find a case for it.  I ordered one for Wendy’s and Mark’s from Amazon.ca.  The price is right but they won’t be here until the end of March because I assume they are shipping from Taiwan or China.

Contextless Thoughts

  1. We are 95% done Christmas.  The only big discussion that is tearing the family apart is which shaving system do Mark and I go to.  I am tried of paying big money for Schick Hydro 5 blades (which work great but are expensive) which Mark wants an upgrade from his Gillette Sensor 3 razor and blades.  I am not sure what I am going to do.  Some of you have expressed strong opinions against Henry’s razors but Mark is considering the M5 Magnum.  I may also consider the Costco alternative.  Of course we don’t talk about this in front of Wendy who erupts and brings up how much more money and how much lower quality women’s razors are.
  2. Some of you read my tweets about a City of Saskatoon contractor tossing a handful of grass seed down on some dirt a week ago and thought I was mad.  I am not.  By them cheaping out and not doing the job right, let’s me plant a premium blend of seed on the boulevard and then let is fill out the grass in other areas.  18 years ago when we moved in, we had a huge path that cut it’s way through one part of the side boulevard.  After a couple of years of planting and replanting, I found the right combination of grass seed and it took off through the entire boulevard.  Part of the plan of seeding in half of the driveway with the same kind of seed is to see it take off and grow back into the back section of the boulevard and take over the crappy grass there (it’s fine if it is raining but the combination of weird seed and no top soil means that it goes yellow if not seeing water almost all of the time, even after 20 years of mulch and fertilizer.
  3. Mark’s jaw is back to normal which means he can eat real food.
  4. Oliver is taking karate at Mayfair School three times a week.  After watching a Jackie Chan fight scene, he said, “I think I take that next year”.
  5. Wendy and Oliver took in the 2015 Santa Claus parade.  Wendy took photos and posted them on her website.
  6. Varsity Scripsit by Tandy for DOSFor the first time since the early 90s, I don’t have word processor on my computers.  I am now writing my columns on Google Docs and I have loved the transition.  Since no one has asked, here are the list of word processors I have loved.  GeoWorks Writer (DOS), Varsity Scripsit (DOS) by Tandy, Microsoft Word 5.5 (DOS), WordPerfect 5.1 (DOS),  Microsoft Word 2.0c (Windows), Microsoft Word 6, Microsoft Word 95, WordPerfect 7, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000, Open Office Writer, Libre Office Writer, Apple Pages and now Google Docs.  Of all of them, Varsity Scripsit, Microsoft Word 2.0c, and AbiWord (depending on the version) are my favorites.  Apple Pages and Open Office Writer were the worst.  I may purchase Corel Office for times I need more complicated page layout options.
  7. Part of still doesn’t believe Donald Trump is serious about running for President.  He isn’t spending any money on a field organization.  No advertising, no nothing.  I still wonder if it is a marketing stunt for his Trump Hotel that is opening in Washington this spring.

Mark

Since Mark was attacked on Wednesday, some of you have shared some incredible stories of your own.  I have read them all, shared many with Mark, and will reply to most of them next week.    I am stunned at the amount of violent attacks that people have suffered, most of them random over the years but as many of you have said, no one seemed to care unless you know someone.  A friend of mind reminded me of the murder of Scott Asher who I went to school with.  Another one reminded me of a friend who still suffers brain injuries.  Random attacks with lasting consequences.

This isn’t the first time something random happened to Mark.  He was sitting with some friends at A.H. Browne Park one early evening and a guy threw a container of urine at the group.  Another day just a block away, a prostitute who was working the street at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon attacked him and Ollie demanding money.  Luckily they were able to run away.  Life in Mayfair.

I have been asked how Mark is recovering.   His jaw still hurts but it is healing.  His headaches are gone and he seems to be responding better.  He will walk to and from school tomorrow.  As he said today, he has to do it sometime and it may as well be on Monday.  The worst thing happened today when a friend’s mother offered to bring him cookies to make him feel better.  He can’t chew them.  Rather than risk more injury, Oliver and the dog have offered to eat them.

He has been out of the house walking the dog.  Tonight was his first time being out at night since the attack.  When I asked him if there was any problems he said, “other than walking the dog, no.” 

Most of the emails and people stopping by have been really helpful and kind.  Some of them were really weird and some are just dangerous.

  • A few people emailed me and suggested that Mark must be involved in drugs or gangs.  It’s like random violence can’t ever happen.  I understand the fear and the need to rationalize it but the need to blame victims isn’t helpful.
  • Some wondered if race was a factor and that got dark quickly.
  • One teacher,  yes a teacher told me that she thinks the only way that teens will be safe from the police is if they join a gang.  I really don’t know what to do with that one.  It Donald Trump crazy on so many levels.  I think she read the joke that Mark said to Darren Hill in which he said, “I don’t blame police unless I find out it was them that hit me with the Emergency Response Vehicle”.  Of course he had just finished reading about the police that ran over the dog three times and claimed they thought it was a coyote.  Anyways, it was bizarre to think that a teacher in Saskatoon thinks that “gangs are the answer”.  I also think I have read comments on The StarPhoenix over the years by that teacher where he/she espouses the same thing.
  • More than one person has asked if I would consider letting Mark carry a knife for his own protection.  Again, that is getting crazy.  Mark has a knife and he carries it in a backpack on hikes.  That it is it.  As I have told him, the only time to use this is for making a fire and if a Grizzly Bear challenges you straight up to a knife fight.  I can’t envision a single instance where any kid pulling a knife in self defense ends well and a lot of cases where it ends tragically. 

So yeah, appreciated the supportive comments, thought I would share some of the weirder ones.  Mark got a kick out of the weird ones too.  He’s going to pass on it, unless he find a gang of knife wielding grizzly bears, then he is in.

I have some more serious thoughts on it in The StarPhoenix tomorrow.

18 years

I have been married for 18 years today to Wendy.   I was off all week from work so she was pretty much sick of me by the time today came around.

It was a long week.  We had a deal with Mark that he had to work hard in school and hand in all of his homework on time if he wanted to play football.  After backing down and giving him one more chance earlier in the year, he did it again and so I made the really hard choice to say, “no more football.”  He was mad, hurt, and frustrated but on Thursday we had a long talk about it and on Friday we went for breakfast and he understood that football was hurting him academically.

Of course the reason we went for breakfast on Friday was he was out of school because of parent teacher interviews.  His teachers love him, his marks are good but they would be amazing if he got his assignments done.  It was good for him to hear both those messages. 

Yesterday I was sick again.  The infectious disease specialist warned me that I could have flare ups of the infection and yesterday was horrible.  I had a fever, was in incredible pain, and even was struggling to breath.  I slept for a lot of the day and then Wendy and I went out to The Odd Couple restaurant and had a wonderful time.  We had plans to go out for a drink afterwards but I was exhausted so we cam home.

Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. LensI gave Wendy a new lens for our anniversary.  It’s a Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. Lens.  She has some good lenses but nothing this fast and so she is excited about it.  I had bought it a couple of months ago and she knew she was getting one.  I gave it to her early for Nuit Blanche.  She tested it out on this photo shoot with Marley.

I also got her a backpacking hammock.  Wendy works hard and doesn’t always take the time to relax.  My fear was with us in the mountains was that she was going to spend a lot of time making sure we were happy and not enough time chilling out.  This way I can force her (or guilt her) into taking some time and spending it on herself.  She liked it and I was happy with that.

She gave me a Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW camera bag.   I had been looking for a camera bag that can carry all of my stuff, plus some of the stuff I want to buy.  This bag basically is the bag to rule all of my bags.  That and Mark is thrilled because he can have my old bag.

So now I basically look like a balding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  If you hear reports of middle age and balding mutant ninja turtles turned vigilante in the sewers of Saskatoon, I have an alibi.

She also got me an Altec Lansing Soundblade which will sound great in the living room.

This is what Mark wants for Christmas

From the Verge

The dream car of your childhood can now be the dream car of your adulthood. A giant street-legal version of Little Tikes’ red and yellow car is currently for sale on eBay. It’s a one of a kind, and there are some real perks to it. There are huge windows (although there’s no glass), an engine so that you don’t have to walk it around, and it should be easy to spot in a parking lot.

The car was built in 2013 by the custom vehicle shop Attitude Autos. You may have heard about it back then: after being featured on the BBC, video of the car went viral online. Since then, it’s been popping up at charity events around the UK — the shop behind it seems to hope that whoever buys it next will put it to the same use. "We have managed to raise a substantial amount of money for children’s charities with the Crazy Coupe, so it’s potential in the right hands could be quite phenomenal," it writes.

My 2016 Mayoral Campaign

I was asked a few times today if I was going to run for Mayor in 2016.  The answer is no.  I have no political aspirations and have no desire to be a politician.   That and I don’t like ties or suits.  Even if I did, big boned and balding politicians generally don’t do that well… wait a minute, we do really well in politics.

I have very little respect for career politicians.  There are many people I know (and we all have our lists) that desperately want to be elected to something and want to remain elected for financial, prestige, or even retirement reasons (I have heard of politicians whose entire retirement planning is based on getting elected and then government pension).  They see politics as a career and as a path to greater political power.  I don’t aspire to that.  I have control of the both the TV remote and the Apple TV remote at home.  I’m good.

I have a lot of respect for those that are public servants.  Those are people who are drawn to the service of their city, province, and country and that is the main motivating factor for them.  The problem is that most politicians start out that way but it’s a fine line until you transform into a politician where re-election comes before doing what is right.   Some public servants can be elected for decades and serve only the public.  I think of the Joe Clark’s, John Crosbie’s, or the countless MP, MLAs, and councillors that care far more about constituent issues and the big picture than party politics or personal gain.  They avoid the meanness that defines many politicians and they genuinely love their jobs.  I think they are great but I still wouldn’t want to be one.  I simply lack the desire to compromise on things and in our system, it is based on compromise and doing things you hate.

Then you also have the campaign fight.  That can’t be a lot of fun.  I remember door knocking a couple of decades ago and a guy came to the door with a shot gun, I was bit by a stray dog, and some naked women answered her door.  No wonder Atch stands on the streets and waves at cars.  Who can blame him?  If I was him I’d have a small portable fence with me at all times.  If someone from the media questioned me, I’d have them stand outside the fence and deal with the dogs.

I was out with some candidates and councillors years ago and they were talking about lawn sign stake storage and what a pain that is.  So let me get this straight, you win office and instead of celebrating, you have to clean out your shed and build extra storage for the stuff you need for the next campaign.  Wendy would not be pleased with that.  We have a small house, we don’t have a lot of storage.  She’d be out campaigning for Atch or Charlie Clark on the provision that they took all of the lawn sign stakes when I lost.

I’d be going, “How does the other campaigns get all of these leaks from?” and Wendy and Mark would be avoiding making eye contact with me as they easily moved stuff in and out of our shed.  Okay, that would be hilarious but still.

Also, the being recognized in public part is both good and bad.  Bad when someone tells me how stupid I am in front of my kids.  Good when they say nice things to me but I still find myself going, “please don’t punch me in the face” when someone goes, “Aren’t you Jordon Cooper?”.  Of course I could just be like one councillor who makes me go, “I thought they quit council” the rare time they speak. 

I guess I could run against Darren Hill but here is a list of his accomplishments in office and my position on them.

Darren Hill’s Record in Office

Jordon Cooper’s Position

Avenue B Diverter in Mayfair

Thought it was a good idea

Thought the Cosmo deal was a costly mistake

Totally

Disagrees with 33rd Street Bridge and says it would be built over his dead body.

We agree with that too although I hope no one has to die to stop it.

Wears colourful socks

Wears plain socks

Wears colourful ties

Has a tie just like Rob Ford’s NFL tie but has NHL logos on it.  Wishes he had a tie like Rob Ford’s NFL tie.  Would also wear a MLB tie.  Now that I think about it, that is a solid three tie rotation. 

Suggested that we wait a few years to buy a new city website when prices were lower.

Umm, yeah.

Tweets at celebrities

Does that actually work? (update: Darren says it does.)

Tweets at City Council Meetings

Tweets about confidential in-camera meetings that he read about in The StarPhoenix.

Ran for the federal Liberal Party after two terms as councillor.

Criticized Hill, Paulsen, Olauson, and Donauer for doing the same thing and not resigning their seat.

Non committal about in Council Twitter Wall.

Totally in favour of Twitter wall.   Really, really in favour of a Twitter wall.  Have I mentioned how badly I want City Council to have a live twitter wall. 

That would be a riveting debate.  I can see the moderator saying, “So the only area where you truly disagree is men’s socks.  Well let’s go back to that issue once more and Mr. Cooper, could you tell us where you got that NFL logo tie from?”

So after reading that chart over, I am not running in Ward 1 or anywhere else in the city since I live in Ward 1.  Darren is doing a fine job… well there was the vote where he voted to “right size the bridge” that was waste of tens of millions of dollars.   Nor do I ever aspire to being on Saskatoon City Council not now and not in the future.  Here is why.

Outside of Wendy and the boys, not many people have seen how sick I have been this summer.  It has scared Wendy and even made me wonder from time to time if I was going to make it.   I have never been so sick in my life and it hasn’t been fun.  Today my vital signs were so out of whack, the nurses freaked out and that happens all of the time.  There is no way I am strong enough to make it through a campaign even if I did want to.  I have never seriously considered it but I need get rid of the MRSA infection in my ankle and then get healthy again. 

I have been married with 18 years this week to Wendy and for the first time since we have been married, her depression and mental health issues are under control.  You have no idea how many times I have said, “next summer” will be better (well actually about 16 summers).  To actually have a summer trip go well and her depression be managed was a huge thing in life but we have a lot of catching up to do.

Those lost summers have come with a price of me being there for Wendy and not having the time to spend with Mark and Oliver.   It’s why next summer is being spent in the backcountry of Banff and Kootney National Parks.  The only door knocking I plan to do is at the door of a mountain tea house at the end of a long hike (I hope I don’t get bit by anything)

I don’t know how politicians handle their commitments to the public and family.   Is there a less family friendly job then being a politician at any level?  For this I am not being sarcastic, I can’t imagine how hard it is to juggle all of that well. I enjoy being a dad.

So my plans are set for election night 2016, vote and watch Monday Night Football while writing about those that did decide to run.  That is my goal for 2020, 2024, and 2028.  It is also my goal for any and all provincial and federal campaigns.  I have even a less of a desire to be told how to vote by a government or opposition whip who got the job because they are difficult to deal with in Question Period.

So yeah, I am never running for public office but thanks for suggesting it.  Throw your support behind someone that wants the job, there are some good ones out there, support them.

New headphones (and The Wirecutter)

When Mark lost his beloved Skullcandy headphones a few years ago, I asked for some opinions on what to get him on Twitter.  Hilary (she’s the bot behind the @theotherhilary) tweeted that I should check out the reviews on The Wire Cutter.  They tested hundreds of pairs of in-ear headphones and recommended a pair of Panasonic RP-HJE123 in ear headphones for having the second best sound under $50.  They cost $15 since he doesn’t need the ones with a hands free mic on them.  I was happy, he was less than happy since I think he wanted some Dre Beats but you can’t win them all.

This week, Marley chewed up my mediocre Monster headphones and then ate some other ones that I liked so it was back to the Wire Cutter.  They again recommended the Panasonic RP-HJE123 In-Ear Headphones.  I found the cheaper microphoneless version of the headphones at Winners for $10 and got a white pair.

The best headphones under $100 gave the House of Marley Smile headphones a good review and I saw those at Best Buy for only $25.  I like the looks of them and I am quite happy with my House of Marley Chant.  Plus if my dog Marley chews them up, the wood will be good for her.

I’ll let them burn in and then decide on a favorite but it is really hard to dislike either one of these choices.

One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten has been to check out The Wirecutter for audio reviews.  I have saved a lot of money by not making bad purchases and have learned a lot on what to look for in audio.    Oh yeah, those Dre Beats you want, they cost $14 to make and sound like crap.

Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, Saskatchewan

Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanIMGP1465Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, SaskatchewanSouthern Prairie Railway in Ogema, Saskatchewan

We took a weekend to go to Ogema, Saskatchewan and experience the Southern Prairie Railway.  The railway is a tourist one and offers different kinds of rides every weekend.  It is the only tourist railway of it’s kind of the prairies. After getting to Ogema a little early and taking a look around a truly charming town, we headed to the train station and looked around.  After boarding, we were off to the ghost town of Horizon, Saskatchewan. 

Along the way, we were treated to entertaining local history and stories by the host of the trip who both shared a prepared presentation and interacted extensively with the audience.  Once to Horizon we were able to go inside a historic Federal Grain elevator while the train turned around and we headed back.  The entire tour takes about two hours in a restored Pullman carriage (the restoration of the carriage makes for a great story in itself).

Starting with lunch in the community, the entire afternoon was worth the time and the money.  The boys, Wendy, and myself loved the trip and want to do it again in the future.

We did learn one thing on the train and that is the back of the railcar swings quite a bit.  The difference in going to Horizon and then back was extremely noticeable.  Not a distraction but another neat part of the trip.

You can find out more about the railway at www.southernprairierailway.com.

Claybank Brick Plant

Wendy, Mark, Oliver and I visited and explored the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site.   The Claybank Brick Plant remains frozen in time, virtually unchanged from the day it opened in 1914.

Brick manufactured at the plant graces the facades of many prestigious buildings across Saskatchewan as well as many other provinces. Face brick was produced until 1960’s, and adorns such prominent buildings as the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and the Delta Bessborough in Saskatoon. Among many others, the beautiful Gravelbourg Cathedral is faced entirely of Claybank brick as are a number of court houses and other public buildings.

The rare fire brick produced here lined the fire boxes of the CN and CP Rail line locomotives, and of warships in World War II. The fire brick was also used in the construction of the rocket launch pads at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Not only does the brick plant constitute one of the best preserved examples of early 20th century industrial activity in Canada, but is one of a small number of heritage attractions in Saskatchewan to have achieved formal National Historic Site designation status.

The self guided tour cost us $25 and about an hour to complete.  There are also trails into the hills south of the site and I wish we had time to explore.

Claybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteIMGP1359Claybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic SiteClaybank Brick Plant National Historic Site

This was a lot of fun for both me but the entire family.  We explored for a while together and alone and found all sorts of fascinating sites and facts while on the site.   I think it is also a testament to the vision of the community which has worked very hard to raise the money and put in the elbow grease to slowly bring this site back and make it into a National Historic Site.  They say they are $2 million into a $6 million project so make sure you visit and then donate.  It’s a site that is worth preserving.

Just a quick note for when this post is buried in the archives.  The weekend trip was made possible by Ford Canada who gave us a 2015 Ford Focus to use and review.  They also paid for a big part of the weekend.