Tag Archives: Wendy Cooper

Purchasing a Drone

I have wanted a drone for a long time.  I was going to purchase a DJI Mavic Pro drone this spring.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out the video below.

Wendy (and Mark) were totally supportive of my decision to get one of these.   I get questions all of the time for how we afford the gear.  It’s a weird question because people who ask me often have expensive hobbies of their own.  Photography is our hobby and it is less expensive than ATVs.  That being said, Wendy and I will sit down and figure out what gear we want to buy in a year and then save towards it.  I have a “lens fund”.  Every time I get paid, I put some money in the “lens” account and that goes towards buying a couple of lenses each year for Wendy and I.  Mark does the same thing now that he is working.

With us going to Lake O’Hara this summer, I wanted an ultra-wide angle lens for this summer.  I haven’t decided if I want the Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM lens for my Pentax or if I want an Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0 – 5.6 for my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II.  Either way that was above and beyond what I wanted to spend for my drone.

Then while out and about this Christmas, I saw the Yuneec Breeze.  It is small and portable like the DJI Mavic making it easy to take places but less capable.  While it says it shoots 4K video, it really used that 4K video to shoot 1080p video that is stabilized.  That isn’t bad because I don’t generally shoot 4K UltraHD video anyways.  What I like about it is the price and the fact that Oliver could even use it.  The trade off is speed and altitude.

Initially I wasn’t that excited about it.  The initial real world tests sucked in part because no one was doing anything cool with it and didn’t know how to fly a drone.  It was nerds talking about a drone while struggling to fly it.

The other day I saw that DJI was still selling the DJI Phantom 3 Standard for about the same money as the Yuneec Breeze.

It is way more powerful the Yuneec Breeze which is both really cool but I realized Wendy and Oliver would never use it.  Wendy likes it but as she said last night, “I would not feel comfortable using it”.  It also isn’t nearly as portable.  Both the Breeze and Mavic fold down really small.  The Yuneec Breeze is compact enough to fit in a 10 inch by 10 inch case and has the sensors to fly and hold it’s position inside.

If you have any muddled thoughts or ideas, let me know in the comments.  I am not buying until March so I will probably change my mind and then change it again many times between now and then.  Also you don’t need to point out, “You can’t use these in any Parks Canada parks and you don’t know seem to be vacationing anywhere other than a National Park in 2017”  I know, that is a big issue for me right now too.

2016

This is what I didn’t like this year:

  • Brexit
  • Kellie Leitch
  • Donald Trump
  • Twitter
  • Global Warming
  • My right leg
  • Misogyny
  • Racism
  • Terrorism
  • Climate change deniers
  • The Ohio State University football team winning
  • Notre Dame’s football team losing
  • The way that Brian Towriss firing was handled
  • Huskies Athletics being handed over to a bunch of boosters
  • Token funding cuts to social service spending that is devastating to those that need it but really do nothing to cut the provincial deficit
  • The ongoing farce that the Global Transportation Hub and the government’s lack of transparency of what is going on.
  • Friends losing their jobs and leaving Saskatoon
  • Brad Trost’s leadership bid.
  • Facebook
  • Saskatchewan’s reaction to a carbon tax
  • The violence and crime in my neighborhood
  • Politics in general

This is a list of things I liked this year

  • Mark and Oliver 
  • Wendy
  • Meewasin Valley
  • Marley
  • Really all of the dogs at the dog park
  • Moraine Lake
  • Lunch specials at Spring Roll with Wendy and the boys
  • Mexican Coke
  • Spotify
  • Takakkaw Falls
  • Journalism
  • Twitter
  • Printing out photos, framing them and having them on my wall
  • Work
  • The rabbits that hang out in our yard all winter
  • Cold winter nights in the wave pool at the Lawson Civic Centre (having Mark and Oliver toss balls at my head)
  • Coffee at The Night Over and on the deck of City Perks.
  • Silverton Falls

Twas the night before Christmas

It’s late on Christmas Eve.  Wendy, Mark and I are just chilling out and having some night time tea.  Oliver has already gone to bed.  I doubt he is asleep but he is in bed.  I assume he is filing a formal protest as we speak.

It was a busy day today.  I had to go to work which wasn’t so bad and we closed up early.  It’s one of those things that you never think about but then Wendy shows up and the day is done early which is nice.  Lots of coffee made the day go by faster.

Wendy was off work today so she hung out with Mark and Oliver until Mark had to go to work.  Wendy and Oliver took Marley to the Pierre Radisson Dog Park a few times in an effort to tire her out.  After much running and playing, she still wanted to go back again as we all were ready to call it a night.  She is a dog with a strong internal clock. 

A can of Diet CokeSwan PizzaWhen it was time to leave work, Wendy picked me up and we had two pizzas from Swan Pizza ordered and set to arrive at 6:00 p.m.  While Mark and Oliver wanted to open presents right away, we ate first, poured some coffee and opened the gifts around 7:30 p.m. 

Once that was done, we opened out our Christmas stockings which had all of the usual fair of new socks, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste along with some candies and treats for everyone.

We exchanged gifts after that.

Mark

Wendy and I gave Mark a new Head snowboard and bindings.  That kind of blew him away but he was understandably thrilled and excited.

Head Snowboard

Oliver gave his brother some good snowboard boots so he is ready to hit the slopes.

Marley gave him some Ryder sunglasses and a thing to keep them on his face when he wipes out while snowboarding.  There were some good gloves in there as well.

Ryder Sunglasses

61fK-6 NL8L._SL1000_Hutch gave him a red GSI Outdoors Java commuter mug.  Making good coffee was a struggle last summer and with Wendy, Mark, and I all having one, this should make some adventures this summer start out much better.

Since Mark wants to do some adventure travel after he graduates high school, we gave him a copy of Alastair Humphreys book Grand Adventures.

Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys

To go along with the book, I got Mark a large duffle bag which is perfect for travel.


Oliver

Wendy and I have him a Acer Iconia 7 tablet.  He was pretty excited since all he wants to do is text Wendy, Mark and myself.  We set up Google Hangouts on our phones and he had a blast messaging us all night, even though we were in the same room.  Now that he has gone to bed, I am installing the apps that he will need and want.   We also got him a 16 gb MicroSD card for it.  To make it easier for him to annoy us, we gave him a Bluetooth speaker so he can rock out all night long.

Acer Iconia 7" Tablet

A friend of ours gave Oliver her old snowboard which meant that we just had to get him some boots.  A quick trip to Larry’s Skate Exchange and we found some great ones at a remarkably low price which were there under the tree.

Mark gave him a Huskies Athletics hoodie and a few games for his Nintendo 3DS.

Marley gave him a pair of snowboarding goggles and some warm gloves.

Wendy also gave him the new Jedi Academy book which I gave him his own website at olivercooper.org.  He’s happy to have a blog at last and I enjoy doing stuff like for him.  I am using Blogger to power it which means he can control it and post to it from both the web and the Blogger app.

Santa Claus brought him a Bluetooth speaker and some Wicked Raven headphones.  He can play Spotify loudly or quietly.  I hope he uses his headphones but I have my doubts.


Wendy

I gave Wendy a 10.1 inch RCA Android tablet with a keyboard.  She was looking for a netbook but in the end she felt a the Android tablet was a better option.  She had seen our friend Janice’s Microsoft Surface and loved the form factor.  After debating over her options, she decided that an  Android version is what she needed.

RCA Viking Pro Android Tablet

Mark was aware of what I was going to get her and get her a handcrafted leather case from India.

He also picked up some other things like a stainless steel Samsung USB drive, a micro SD card for extra storage, and Moleskine daytimer and a nice pen.

81lLpXNwiHL._SL1500_Oliver went in a different direction and got Wendy a new camping cookset.  Not only that be since he already got Wendy a GSI Outdoors Java Press for her birthday, she would need a nice tea kettle for camping, a new 2 litre pot, and a camping frying pan.


Me

Wendy bought me an Acer Iconia 7” Tablet as well.  I don’t use a tablet that much but I do use it for consuming information.  The size works for me and I think I’ll use it a fair amount.  Of course Oliver went nuts as it means that we have the same tablet as each other and Mark.  Oliver thought that was incredibly cool.

Mark got me some badass carbon fibre trekking poles.  He was with me when I saw them and he decided to pick them up for me.   He also gave me a Rode VideoMic Micro for my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II.

Oliver got me a new Swiss Gear backpack.  In it I found a pen, notebook, and a knife from Gerber.  I have written about our travel bags that are already backed and ready to go before, he just figured I needed an upgrade as my backpack was showing some age.

Santa Claus realized the household had transitioned from Apple OSX and iOS to Android/PC and so the old guy gave me a Google Chromecast to replace my Apple TV.

Marley gave me a Philips Multipurpose Grooming Kit.  Apparently it was a hint to keep the goatee a little tighter trimmed.  Fair enough.


After the gifts were open, Wendy served up Sex in a Pan for dessert.  The boys devoured all of that and now Oliver is off to bed and I am installing apps from the Google Play store for Oliver and Wendy.  I may need more  bandwidth.

Christmas Morning

Good morning.  It’s early on Christmas Day and the boys are still asleep around here.  I would have been sleeping but when Marley wakes up, she leaps between Wendy and I even if there is no space there and wakes us up, often by hitting us in the face with her paws and licking us.  There is nothing quite like being woken up in the morning than being licked on the face by your dog.

Mark and I will be taking Marley to the Pierre Radisson Dog Park as soon as the coffee is made.  The dog park near Mayfair Pool is closer but for whatever reason we prefer the park in Pierre Radisson.  Really the only thing that can go wrong at the dog park is if the other dogs don’t want to run around and act like idiots.  If the behave sensibly and just want to chill, Marley gets upset and sulks on her way home.

She also doesn’t understand that despite her internal clock going off early in the morning, the rest of the world (and their dogs) like to sleep in.  We may have to take her back down there after breakfast.

While we do that, Wendy is going to make breakfast.  It’s going to be scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and eggs benedict.  She does a wonderful job of these kinds of things.

After that is done, the plan is to head to Optimist Hill with two snowboards  and snowboarders in tow and let both Mark and Oliver hurt themselves while trying out their Christmas gifts that we gave them last night.  I expect at least one visit to Royal University Hospital this afternoon.  I wonder if I can book ahead.

Update:

The warnings I was given about the side affects from the medication kicked in this morning.  In killing the infection, the antibiotics killed much of the bacteria in my stomach needed to break down food which means my digestive track broke sometime after I posted this today.  Instead of a fun day of snowboarding, I laid in bed and contemplated going to the hospital.  I was in so much pain.

I wasn’t a horrible day.  Marley crawled up and cuddled with me.  I had some good talks with Oliver and Mark while getting some needed sleep.  We will take the kids to Optimist Hill tomorrow or Tuesday.

Some random Christmas Eve thoughts

Stockings hung with care on Christmas Eve

  • Yes I am at work.  So far this morning I managed to crash part of the work website (the blog) during a failed WordPress upgrade.  Apparently the upgrade to WordPress 4.7 isn’t an easy one and is crashing many servers.
  • Mark works until 6:00 p.m. tonight.  I never thought I would have to figure Mark’s work schedule into our Christmas plans but things change.
  • We are opening our Christmas presents tonight.  Growing up we used to wait until Christmas morning but while working at The Salvation Army, I used to either be working or head down to the shelter to give out gifts on Christmas morning to the guys who were there and to chat with staff.  We started opening up our gifts on Christmas Eve ever since.
  • Since Mark and Oliver are both reading this blog trying to figure out what they are getting (hint: a lump of coal), I won’t talk about our plans tomorrow.  I do however hope to find the time to grab a camera and take some shots of a very empty downtown Saskatoon.  I love the look of downtown cores on Christmas morning.  I think the total emptiness is quite cool. 
  • I bought a Sigma 19mm F2.8 DN | A  for my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II today.  It is primarily for video but it is a great lens for capturing the cityscape.  The plan is take it out with me tomorrow.
  • We will do a traditional Christmas dinner tomorrow but tonight we will order in from Swan Pizza before opening our presents.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a turkey dinner but over the years we have always been flexible enough that if it wasn’t possible, it wasn’t a big deal.  Last year we sacrificed tradition for going to Star Wars: A Force Awakens.  Instead we had a roast in a slow cooker and made French Dip Sandwiches from it.  My point here is that there are a bunch of great ways to celebrate Christmas.  I love tradition but I have heard people lose it if their favorite recipe isn’t made or their favorite movie isn’t on.  C’mon, just enjoy doing something fun with people you like.
  • Speaking of Swan Pizza, it has replaced Santa Lucia Pizza (which has replaced Family Pizza) as my favorite pizza joint in Saskatoon.
  • Everyone has been asking about my health.  Here is the deal.  The antibiotics stopped working, my system shut down, and the infection in my leg started to spread a few weeks ago.  They then upped the dosage of antibiotics which beat back the infection but left me really, really sick with some internal bleeding.  Apparently this was worth stopping the infection.  I am feeling better but still in a lot of pain and am sleeping horribly but it is getting better.  It is the third Christmas of being really sick and I am tired of it.  It isn’t all bad.  After almost two years of great pain existing in my shin because the infection was between my skin and the leg, that has gone.  I remember gusts of wind hurting my leg quite a bit.  It is nice to not have that to deal with.
  • Check out this series the best of Gothamist for 2016.  There is a lot of great local journalism here.   There is a business model for digital only, even if it only seems to work in large cities.

Christmas Dinner Recipe Guide

Wendy has been sharing and posting recipes for years, several of those have been holiday recipes.  For those of you looking for recipes, here are some of her recipes that may make planning for the day a lot easier. 

Appetizer Recipes

  • BLT Dip Recipe
  • Bruschetta Recipe
  • Baked Parmesan Dip Recipe
  • Sriracha Veggie-Cheese Balls and Sauce Recipe
  • Slow-Cooker Spicy Queso Dip Recipe
  • Bacon Ranch Layered Spread Recipe
  • Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip Recipe
  • Norwegian Lefse Recipe
  • Main Dish Recipes

    • Here is how to carve a turkey

    Dessert Recipes

    Random Thursday Thoughts

    I have hated this time of year for the last two years.  This weekend I am going to write and file two columns for The StarPhoenix.  Not a big deal but it wraps up my 2016.  Since I know what I am writing for my first column for 2017, I’ll probably write that as well.   I just wrote on Saskatchewan drunk driving problem and I am probably going to shoot a video talking about some of the issues that didn’t make it into the paper.  I’ll post the video and column here on Monday.

    To go back two years ago, I told my editor that I would fire off some columns for him in the same way.  Then I got sick.  I didn’t know it at the time but it was the start of the infection in my leg spreading rapidly and my body was trying to fight it.  I was so sick that I couldn’t function at all or write the columns which was the first time it had ever happened.  I couldn’t get warm.  I’d be buried under ten blankets while wearing a toque and gloves to stop the pain in my hands.  I kept thinking I would go to bed and I would be fine but it never happened.  Finally on the 22nd, I went to the hospital and was loaded up with antibiotics.  As we know it didn’t work that well.  I was on all sorts of antibiotics.  I had picc lines going into my hands (You write a column for several weeks where every single key stroke in your left hand caused you to experience great pain).  I was injecting myself at the dinner table.  I was taking so many antibiotics at one point where the new pharmacist refused to fill the prescription.

    Last year after being on antibiotics for months, I was declared cured and good to go about this time in December.  Within 72 hours I was as sick as I was the first time.  I can’t remember why but in the middle of the night I got up to get something and I passed out at the top of the stairs.  I remember laying at the bottom of the stairs and thinking that I have broken something when Wendy gasped and said, “Look at your leg”.  It was bright red enough I could see it brightly without the lights on and it was giving off an incredible amount of heat.  The infection was bad and had spread.  The next morning I was back at RUH being pumped full of antibiotics.  I remember the doctor saying, “Another couple of days you may not have made it.”

    So again back to my column.  I had written my editor saying I wouldn’t file that week that I was too sick and needed some time off.  Anyways there was a miscommunication over whether it was that week or the next week and to make a long story short (I never did look back at my email but I assume the miscommunication was mine) I wrote my column in the bowels of RUH hooked up an IV drip in like 30 minutes.   I took some time off of work but came back just before Christmas but I was still wiped out from the infection and the treatment.  I slept through pizza on Christmas Eve and was too tired to hand out gifts that night so I had Mark do it.

    Luckily by Christmas morning I felt better, the antibiotics had started to beat back the infection and for that time, the worst was over.

    It is hard to believe that two years later the infection is still there.  It is shrinking though and seems to be getting better.  It’s been two years of antibiotics, side effects, IV’s, tests, and doctors appointments.  There has  been a lot of pain and more fevers than I care to think of.  I still am exhausted at the end of most days and the plan is for another year and a half of antibiotics but it is nothing like it was the last two Christmases.  That’s a good thing.

    So as weird as it is, when I sit down with a cup of coffee and write 1200 or so words over an hour or so, it will feel like a huge step forward.  None of you will enjoy reading those columns as much as I will have had writing them.

    Kristy Dean

    I attended the funeral of my friend Kristy Dean today.  I got to know her through Jerry and Gloria Reimer and we like many others became her friend.  As Gloria said today, she crashed there for a night but stayed there for 10 years.  With Jerry and Gloria being godparents to Mark and Oliver and the closest thing Wendy and I have to parents, Kristy was close to us as well.

    Today her sister and Gloria gave stirring eulogies.  I came home and went looking through some photos and found some favorites.  I thought I would post some here and tell some stories.

    Kristy, Gloria and Wendy

    We spent most Christmas Day’s with Reimers and even if they were travelling, we always celebrated Christmas, even if it was early.  We also spent a lot of other holidays together.  Later on I hired her at the Salvation Army and The Lighthouse where she worked the front desk which if you know anything about shelters, is the most demanding part of the job.

    Hiring a friend is always challenging but Kristy was great and found that balance between giving me absolutely no respect as her boss and getting the job done.  I appreciate that in any front desk staff.

    She had changed a lot by the time she worked with me.  She was strong willed, loud, and could be defiant, all skills someone needs working with a challenging population.  She also took those strengths and used them to advocate for people.  Many time she would call me with a course of action she wanted me to take on Monday for someone who needed help. 

    Kristy was a quick thinker and good problem solver.  She understood the big picture and the system we were in well.  That made her a great employee but also someone I could talk with about the job because she understood the inherent frustrations in the system. 

    Kristy and Jacqueline Kroeker

    She was a passionate Edmonton Oilers fan and I am wearing a Calgary Flames watch while typing this so our friendship was based on either making fun of each other or just prolonged times of sadness when both Calgary and Edmonton sucked at the same time.  We went over the Reimers one time and Kristy just said, “I have nothing to bug you about.  It’s just pathetic how both of them are playing.”

    We did set that aside momentarily on Christmas Day and we would often exchange Edmonton Oiler and Calgary Flames merchandise on Christmas.  Just as we were both enjoying our gifts, the other would say something like, “I found it in the trash at Walmart.  They tried giving them away but no one wanted it.  I got you one.”  Those truces never lasted long.

    Kristy Dean and her Nikon

    I like to think I won the exchange at least once.  Kristy was a photographer and used a Nikon camera.  I bought her a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens mug.  The box hides the fact that it is a mug really well and Kristy thought I had bought her a $2000 lens.  I was like, “Umm, we aren’t that close of friends”. 

    So she then realized it was a mug and while laughing about it was still really happy.  The weird thing about this mug is that the top seals totally, there is no hole in the top which makes it really annoying.  She told me a couple of months later that it drove her crazy every single time she tried to take a drink from it.  She cursed my name every time and knew I would be pleased with that.  I was.

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    The above photos of Kristy is my favorite of her.  It was Christmas Day 2013 and for some reason after Christmas meal at the Reimers, Jerry and Gloria had somehow talked us into playing charades.  The look on Kristy’s face is of her disgust with her losing team mates.   If I remember correctly, her disgust was appropriate.  Her team was horrible.

    Someone asked me today if Kristy was close to the boys.  She was close enough that when we brought Oliver home from the hospital, we stopped by Jerry, Gloria, and Kristy’s place before we stopped home.  She tormented Mark for a decade and he loved every minute of it.

    The day before she passed away, I was looking for something to get her for Christmas.  I was going to give her an Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask because I thought it was cool and I knew she would love one.

    Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask

    I decided to day that I am going to pick one up anyways. None of us are quite ready to leave her memory behind yet.

    Some quick post-election thoughts

    1. Some Charlie Clark supporters need to chill out more.  I made the joke on Tuesday about another election happening so soon after the civic election and that it felt like Charlie Clark had accomplished nothing since being elected.   It was a joke.  Learn to laugh.  Either that or you need to stop following me.
    2. In the run up to the Ford election in Toronto, every time a scandal would hit Ford (and they were serious), people would say that Ford was finished.  He actually became more popular.  I tend to think the same thing happened to Trump.  People saw themselves in him.  That isn’t a good thing as we found out with Ford and America will find out with Trump.  The good news is that Toronto went the opposite way the next election with John Tory.  So if they can survive four years, there is hope.
    3. Trump did not win, Clinton lost.  Trump’s vote total didn’t increase and in fact many Republicans did not vote for him.  The reality with Clinton is that more Democrats chose not to vote for her.  We sometimes look back at the Clinton years with rose tinted glasses but a lot Americans hated Bill Clinton when he was in office and that hatred and distrust never left.  Would I vote for Trump?  Never but there is a lot of animosity towards Clinton as evidenced by the fact she lost Arkansas.
    4. Winning the presidency didn’t make Donald Trump less dangerous and unacceptable. It made him more so
    5. Trump’s victory will impact Saskatoon.  Murray Mandryk hits on the economics in his excellent column today but I am talking in other ways.  Wendy works with the public.  Many of you see her there and are wonderful to her.  Wendy is also an immigrant and came to Canada in 1975.  Being from Guyana, she is of mixed ancestry because of their history of indentured slavery.   Nothing bothers her at work until this last month when she would deal with a flood of racist comments almost all day long about immigrants, her co-workers who are also immigrants, and people of color in general.  It was vile and disgusting.  Luckily her company has good policies on dealing with this stuff but the line out there about Trump’s victory normalizing racism and hatred against minorities having an impact on more than just
    6. For all of the positive talk about Keystone XL, I don’t know if it is the slam dunk that everyone is saying it is.  Here is why?  Canadian crude flowing down to the U.S. hurts their fracking industry which needs a boost in prices to be feasible.  That and Trump is protectionist and  I could see that the pipeline being stalled.  Again.
    7. There is the alt right.  I also think there is something called the alt stupid.  I have been told of how Hillary Clinton had a son that was an abuser and she covered it up (not the son but the abuse).  Umm, she has a daughter named Chelsea.   There was also the story about how her and Bill raised millions for Haiti but used it to build luxury hotels. 
    8. Kellie Leitch has no soul.  She knows that Donald Trump stands for.  She knows what Donald Trump did.  Yet all she cares about is cheap electoral gain at the expense of Canadians.  I have never had as little respect for a MP as I do Leitch and I live in the same city as Brad Trost.
    9. I tend to think that Trump will spend most of his first term in office enriching himself.  This will bring Democratic scorn which will mean retribution from him and the thugs he surrounds himself with like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani. 
    10. I’ll just toss this in there but it is in-excusable that Saskatchewan Party MLAs blocked an investigation into what went wrong with the Global Transportation Hub.  As Murray Mandryk pointed out, In legislative public accounts committee on Tuesday morning, Sask. Party backbenchers Glen Hart, Larry Doke, Warren Michelson, Jennifer Campeau, Herb Cox and Randy Weekes did their utmost to ensure anyone who had anything to do with the GTH decisions (including Boyd himself) will now never be held to account by a formal legislative body.  By doing this, they have failed at the primary responsibilities as MLAs which is to hold the government (the cabinet) to account.  Those MLAs are representing you, they are representing the office of the Premier.
    11. This chart shows you the divide in America.  It’s an urban/rural divide as much as it is a Republican/Democratic one.The GOP/Democratic Divide county by county
    12. Despite Trumps win and the dark times ahead, I remain committed more than ever to trying to build a great city and community.  It’s not a time to give up, it’s a time to dig in, help out, and serve others.  If we don’t, all of the progress that has been made will be lost.

    Proudly Independent

    Over the last few years I haven’t paid as much attention to this site as I should have.  I have been busy doing other things and to be honest, being sick sucks.  I still go home too often and just fall asleep at the end of the day at work

    Yet for some reason, more and more of you every day stop by.  At time when blog traffic is in decline, traffic here has grown and I have no idea why.  What I am told is that it has more traffic many days that some media properties.  I find that both incredulous but also a reflection of how poorly run some of the news sites are in Saskatoon.

    I know blogs aren’t as cool as they used to be.  We have all moved on to other things like Twitter and Facebook.  Well you have moved on to Facebook, I still hate it and won’t acknowledge any messages sent to me on it.  No I won’t follow you either.

    Last week, Twitter announced they’re shutting down Vine. Twitter, itself, may be acquired and changed in some terrible way. It’s not hard to imagine Yahoo selling off Tumblr. There’s no guarantee any of these platforms will be around in their current state in a year, let alone ten years from now.  Heck the same could even be said for The StarPhoenix and Postmedia.

    There are only four things in my life that have lasted longer than this blog.

    1. Breathing
    2. My brother Lee.
    3. Reading The StarPhoenix every day.
    4. My marriage to Wendy.

    This week I was offered a somewhat lucrative offer to sell advertising on it and I turned it down.  I just couldn’t imagine running ads here or endorsing things I don’t believe in. 

    Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to Verizon. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed.

    This space has given me exposure, a place to share my projects and ideas. It’s created new opportunities for me, directly or indirectly responsible for every major project I’ve gotten involved in. It’s a place to play and experiment with ideas, some of which led to big breakthroughs and passions. And it connected me to people who cared about the things I did, many of whom became lifelong friends.

    Not only are you awesome to me, you have made the web this awesome place for Mark and Oliver.  Instead of seeing the web as someplace scary, it is a place they can talk with cool adults.

    So I am putting a renewed emphasis on this place.  The first thing you will see in 2017 is a daily vlog.  I’ll be using YouTube to host it but they will be embedded here.  (I know that undermines my previous points about services going away).

    The boys are a huge fan of Casey Neistat and really want to do their own blog and somehow Wendy and I got sucked into it.

    So Bridge City has sucked majorly this year in part because I got sick (the infection destroying my leg is two years old this week) and I stopped taking photos which dried up some of the content.  The traffic on that isn’t bad so I will keep it going.  That being said, the site crashed in early October and I just realized it had last night.

    What you don’t see is that this blog is falling apart.  Bots are using up a tremendous amount of system resources and I am fighting them, my database wasn’t optimized, and I have an issue with chron jobs which sounds dirty but really isn’t.   I may or may not have to upgrade my hosting plan or leave Dreamhost over it.  It is just hard to find a host that can handle this much content for what I am paying Dreamhost for.

    Finally, we are recording the first episode of The Saskatonian this week.  It is kind of a reboot of OurYXE but this time it is going to be less formal, longer and recorded in a bar over nachos.  If I am motivated enough to remember the power cord, it may even become a video.

    Holiday and Christmas Gift Ideas for the Women In Your Life | 2016 Edition

    Each year I put together some holiday and Christmas gift guides for the important people in your life.  Wendy wrote the first one and here is my first one; a holiday and Christmas guide for the women in your life.  It could be your wife, maybe it is your mother or sister.  It could be a fiancée or a girlfriend.  Whoever it is, here is the guide.

    Wendy loves to tell the story of working at Safeway at Market Mall on Christmas Eve.  A guy comes in just before close and yells out and no one in particular, “Do you sell any jewelry?!”  Don’t be that guy.  Get your Christmas shopping done early.

    Let me know what you think in the comments below.

    Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

    Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

    The alluring Original Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant, crafted in 925 Sterling Silver. This design is set with 1 Heart Shape stone prong set (simulated emerald is shown but there are many other options), 1 stone prong set colorless Round Cubic Zirconia. This product measures 8 mm wide, 18 mm long and is a great looking while affordable necklace and pendant.

    Sterling Silver Infinity Created Blue Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet

    Sterling Silver Infinity Created Blue Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet

    • Bracelet featuring oval-cut gemstones interspersed with diamond-accented infinity links
    • All the diamond suppliers for this bracelet confirm that they comply with the Kimberley Process to ensure that their diamonds are conflict free.

    An elegant and timeless gift for the special women in your life.

    Sterling Silver Diamond Heart Ring

    Sterling Silver Diamond Heart Ring

     

    Simple, but stunning diamond ring.  Just like her.

    Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss

    Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss

    This is a fun gift.  It is an Air Plant with clear glass hanging terrarium wide with glass bottom. Kit includes pebbles, moss, glass globe and air plant.  The kit is a great addition to any room as it livens it up.

    Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

    Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

    Up her coffee game in one of two ways.  If she likes to kick it old school, check out the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker.  Fast and convenient, the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavour with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).  It’s the number one selling coffee press on Amazon for a reason.

    We have one and while we don’t use it all of the time, it’s great for a relaxing morning on the deck or an evening of reading and relaxing.  I really recommend it.

    Cuisinart Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

    Cuisinart Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

    Sometimes it is just easier to make a pot of coffee for everyone.  Then you want the Cuisinart Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker.  It’s an excellent coffee maker at a reasonable price.

    Timex Ironman Sleek 50 Classic Mid-Size Watch

    Timex Ironman Sleek 50 Classic Mid-Size Watch for WomenThere are times for a dress watch and then there are times for a watch you can take hiking or into the backcountry.  Since Wendy is one that loves to hike and explore, she needs a watch she isn’t afraid of using or breaking.  This is it.  Fashionable yet durable.

    Invicta Women’s Collection Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch

    If you are looking for something more formal, there is this stunning limited-edition watch from Invicta’s II Collection features white diamonds set on a polished stainless steel bezel complete with an opulent mother-of-pearl dial.

    Invicta Women’s Collection Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch

    The watch not only looks good but is water resistant to 330 feet (100 M): suitable for snorkeling, as well as swimming, but not diving.  She will wear it years.

    Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

    Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

    Victorinox Chef’s Knife features an 8-inch blade that is 2-inches wide at the handle. High carbon, stainless steel blade is hand finished at Victorinox in Switzerland by skilled craftsmen. A special tempering process is used to produce an edge that can be re-sharpened over and over again, so the knife can keep its original sharpness throughout the entire life of the blade. 

    For years neither Wendy nor I paid any attention to the quality of our knives.  Once we started to invest in better knives, cooking just got easier.  If you are shopping for some one who loves to cook but doesn’t have an amazing set of knives yet, a good chef’s knife is a great investment and gift they will use for decades.

    I know how much Wendy loves her chef’s knife in that even when we went camping, a good chef’s knife came along for the trip.

    Beyonce Heat By Beyonce For Women Eau De Parfum Spray

    Beyonce Heat By Beyonce For Women Eau De Parfum Spray

    Which perfume to get for her, that’s a tough one but check out Beyoncé Heat because it’s affordable, it looks great, people love it and it’s Beyoncé and Jay-Z we are talking about.  What could go wrong? Nothing could go wrong.

    UE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speaker

    Wendy beat me to this and recommended it for men but this a great sounding Bluetooth speaker that you can take anywhere, including your shower.

    UE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speaker

    We have tried a variety of shower radios over the years but they all kind of suck.  Lots of static, batteries wear out, and you are stuck trying to figure out what radio station to shower to.  With this one, the women in your life can leave their iPod or iPhone outside the bathroom safe from all of the humidity while streaming their early morning playlist to this Bluetooth speaker.  If they want to listen to the radio, they can still stream the TuneIn or local radio station app.  If you are lucky, they will let you use it and you can listen to ESPN in the shower.  Win, win, win.

    Of course the other part of this is how portable it is to travel with.  You can have it with you while hiking, camping, traveling for work or just to grab and sit outside with.  According to reviews, it sounds great as well.

    House of Marley Positive Vibration On-Ear Headphones

    House of Marley Positive Vibration On-Ear Headphones

    After a long day at work, there is something about coming home, grabbing your iPod or firing up Spotify and turning on your favorite playlist and tuning out the world with a pair of great sounding Marley Positive Vibration headphones.  If she doesn’t have an iPod or something portable to listen to music with, consider an Apple iPod Nano.  Since it has Bluetooth, the iPod will work great with the Bluetooth speaker.

    Bath Bomb Gift Set

    Bath Bomb Gift Set

    Treat her after a long day with  this bath bomb set.  There is the following scents

    • RELAXATION (Lavender)
    • DETOX (Vanilla)
    • ENERGIZE (Grapefruit)
    • DESTRESS, SINUS (Peppermint)
    • CONGESTION RELIEF (Eucalyptus)

    She’s love it and leave the bath feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

    Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag

    Wendy and I travel a bit.  Over the years I have given her some travel gifts to signify that I was serious about her and I spending some time together in the year ahead.  The other thing this kind of gift does is remind the person you are shopping for that it is okay to take care of themselves as well.

    Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag

    The Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag is a staple for the organized traveler. From its rich, 100% genuine leather exterior to its spacious interior compartments, this travel bag has it all! Designed to hold toiletry items of all shapes and sizes, this compact travel bag unzips to reveal two separate zippered compartments, two elastic pockets, and one large compartment. A stainless steel metal hanger extends from the top interior compartment, letting you hang the toiletry bag to maximize your counter space. The small exterior pocket is perfect for holding jewelry or any other last-minute item you might think of.

    Last year I suggested a Schick Hydro Silk Razor to go inside it.  Wendy thought the cost of refill blades was ridiculous and instead suggested the Magnum M5 Razor.

    Magnum M5 Razor

    After using it for a year, she says that it is has done a better job than any women’s razor and the blades cost half the amount.  Not only that but they can be found at any Wal-Mart or grocery store.  I’ll stay with Wendy’s recommendation this year.  Here are some other great ideas for what to toss in there.

    US Art Supply 13-Piece Oil Painting Set with Mini Table Easel

    US Art Supply 13-Piece Oil Painting Set with Mini Table Easel

    I bought Wendy a paint set years ago similar to this because she wasn’t sure how much she wanted to paint.  Even when we upgraded it, it was still used as the size and portability makes it easy to work anywhere, inside or outside.  It’s a great gift.

    What to Make for Dinner

    If she loves to cook, get her a great cookbook.  There are literally thousands to choose from and many are a lot of fun to read and cook from.

    Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to EatSkinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker RecipesCooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa CookbookMario Batali--Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USAThug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ckMexican Slow Cooker Cookbook: Easy, Flavorful Mexican Dishes That Cook ThemselvesThe Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on FlavorAlton Brown: EveryDayCook

    It’s always hard to shop for the women on your Christmas and holiday gift list but hopefully this made it a little easier for you, no matter who you are shopping for.  If you have any comments or think I missed something the world should know about, let me know in the comments. 

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

    This is why I am voting for Darren Hill in Ward 1

    Wendy and I live in a tough neighborhood in Saskatoon.  Some of our neighbors struggle and Wendy and I hear about those struggles.  For whatever reason they have problems with City Hall and they talk to Wendy about it.  The first answer is to have them talk to Darren HIll.  The story is always the same.  Darren helps them.  There is a phrase that you can’t fight City Hall.  Well sometimes you don’t have to.

    Darren Hill campaigning for a tigers votes in 2012

    That stuff matters to me.  Knowing that people who have had a rough time struggle can get help.  They can with Darren.  One of Wendy’s co-workers had no luck with her councilor and Wendy mistakenly told her to talk to Darren (thinking about where she worked rather than where she lived).  Darren helped her resolve her issue in minutes.

    The other reason I endorse him is that a lot of people online think I hate Darren and always want me to run against him.  We joke around online and he torments Wendy (It’s a hilarious story and Mark and I are firmly on Darren’s side on this) in person and online but I agree with many of his stands and have no reason to run against him.  There were some votes that made me question what he was thinking but overall he does a good job representing the diverse Ward 1 and his constituents and deserves another term on Saskatoon City Council.

    Here is funny story to pass along. I can’t remember the reason but someone called The StarPhoenix wanting to talk to me about something.  In that situation The StarPhoenix doesn’t give out my cell but I get the message and a return number emailed to me.  So I call a women up and somehow it came out of nowhere that she hates Darren so much, she can’t even stand to see his name is writing.  Later that day I was talking to him and he knew who I was talking about without me giving him the persons name.  He can’t resolve all of the issues but I know he has made an effort on so many of them.  For the record, I think that hating an elected official so much you hate to see their name in print in next level. 

    About that photo, I grabbed it from Flickr account and at first glance, the photo’s thumbnail looked like he was dropping a baby.  Instead he is campaigning for white tigers votes at the Saskatoon Zoo.  You just know that sometime during this photo op there was some bloodshed as the tiger tried to attack him.