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  • Football and Square Dancing

    Posted on October 25th, 2014 admin No comments

    Last Tuesday was the first lesson in our new square dance group at Devon, Alberta.  I’d rented a Bose L1 Compact to play with, and this was a good opportunity to test it out.

    To my surprise, when I turned down the music and was greeting the dancers, I could hear what sounded like a football game coming over the L1.    It was faint, and people could hear my voice fine, but they could also hear the radio.   We ignored it for the first part of the lesson, because when the music was playing, we couldn’t hear it much.

    During the lesson, I noticed that when I shut the mic off, the radio sound quit.  Aha!  At the first break, I changed to a shorter mic cord.  No more game in the background.

    I later asked the guy at Long & McQuade, where I had rented the Bose, and he said that it sometimes happened.  Could have been coming from the power in the building, and plugging into a different receptacle might have helped; could have been a cross-wired mic cord, and I could check the connections (did that when I got home, all okay); but changing the cord showed that the first cord was just the right length to be an antenna and pull in the radio signal.

    Would never have dreamed that could happen — but at least I had a spare cord and was able to fix the issue quickly and still look fairly professional.

     

     

  • Event on Facebook

    Posted on September 27th, 2014 admin No comments

    I added an event on Facebook.  First time!

    Took me a while to find it on my page.   I’ll make it easy:  Go HERE

     

  • Do Us a Flavour? Ick and Meh!

    Posted on September 17th, 2014 admin No comments

    Had the opportunity to try two of Lay’s new Canadian potato chip flavors.

    Meh!

    Meh!

    First up:  Bacon Poutine.   On opening the bag, I did note a scent of bacon.   The chips do taste a bit like bacon, a bit like gravy.  Couldn’t get any sense of cheese.   They were okay, not as good as BBQ by any means.  Perhaps that’s because I found the flavours quite subtle, without the tang or bite of BBQ.   My wife ate a couple but didn’t want more.  Neither did I, really, but we’d paid for the bag, so I washed them down with rum & cola.  They weren’t all that bad, just sort of “Meh!”.

    Ick!

    Ick!

    Next in line:  Cinnamon Bun.  We both had left these sitting on the counter for a couple of days.  Neither of us really wanted to open them.  When do you eat cinnamon buns?  For breakfast, or maybe a coffee time snack.   We couldn’t quite manage the idea of having potato chips for breakfast, so finally we opened them with an afternoon coffee.  Okay, they smell of cinnamon.  So far, so good. Wife ate one, refused the rest.  I had two and didn’t want any more.  We wound up throwing the rest away.  Gotta be the worst flavor imaginable for potato chips. Ick.  I can’t believe that anybody would vote for these.  De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess.

    After this inauspicious beginning, do we dare try the other two (jalapeno mac ‘n’ cheese and tzatziki)?

  • CANYA Calling

    Posted on September 14th, 2014 admin No comments

    Saturday night we called a hoedown for CANYA, Classis Alberta North Young Adults, at a facility south of Spruce Grove.

    This was a repeat engagement, and again a lively bunch wth about four squares (32 people) dancing on an outdoor patio.
    About a third were there last year, and requested moves from that night.  I called the ABC Basics program, again meaning to move into the A moves, but wound up doing some old-time dances including Pattycake Polka, Rip & Snort, and No-Name Contra, all of which were immensely popular.

    It was a cool night.  The dancers stayed warm because I kept them moving (and they’re hot-blooded anyway), but by the end of the night I was wearing a hoodie, a jean jacket, and a vest, and trading hands between holding the mike and warming up in a pocket.

    Several came up to thank us afterwards and say they enjoyed the dance and the variety compared to last year.  Several took brochures and business cards and said they would see about having a dance in their home church (CAN is a division of the Christian Reformed Church).

    Future gigs would be nice, but watching the folks laughing and having fun sure makes it fun for us.

  • Trek II, the Hoedown Continues

    Posted on September 6th, 2014 admin No comments

    Got an email recently from the Bonnie Doon Stake, as a follow up to Trek.

    I was at the Hoe down you did for the Mormon church out near Cold Lake last month and I’m in charge of activities for the Bonnie Doon Stake.  We were wondering if you are available to come and do another Hoe Down for us on either October 24 or 25.  We will be holding this Hoe Down at our Bonnie Doon location….  Are you able to be our caller?
    Apparently there will be up to 300 people.   The event has been booked for Oct. 25 and is on my calling calendar.
    Repeat business is a terrific compliment.
    Thank you note
  • Rogers Rewards the Sedentary

    Posted on August 21st, 2014 admin No comments

    Recently bought a smart phone.  Loving it, should have got one years ago!

    It’s with Rogers, which has a customer loyalty program that offers points for their monthly contract and other things.  Today I got an email from Rogers offering three rewards for under 1000 points:  movies, a monthly TV theme pack, and long-distance phone minutes.

    Since our contract has unlimited long-distance in Canada, that last one isn’t of great value.  As for the other rewards, thanks but no thanks.  They’re clearly oriented to couch potatoes, sluggards, stay-at-homes, and the obese-to-be.  A one-month TV pack, oh my fat butt!

    I look forward to receiving rewards for the active and energetic.  How about a pass to a local fitness center, coupons for active wear, discounts at a bike shop.

  • CALLING AT TREK 2014

    Posted on July 20th, 2014 admin 2 comments

    Had a great time calling at Trek 2014 out east of Cherry Grove, AB.

    Dawn in a borrowed bonnet

    Dawn in a borrowed bonnet

    The trek — a simulated re-enactment of the Mormon hand-cart migrations to Utah in the mid 1850s — saw an estimated 190 youth and 50 adults in an approximation of period clothing building hand-cart kits, loading up their sleeping bags and gear, and hauling them some 25 km over rough terrain.

    We pulled the rig in on Thursday afternoon, in time to go and watch the group playing various “pioneer” games such as tug-of-war, cow-patty toss, log-sawing, and the like.  Fun to watch, and despite having trekked some 15 km the day before, up and down hills and through swamps, the kids seemed to have a lot of energy.

    Wow, a cow-patty frisbee!  (Painted polyurethane foam)

    Wow, a cow-patty frisbee! (Painted polyurethane foam)

    The hoe-down was Thursday night, about mid-way into their trek.  Not sure if all the participants danced, but they sure spread out in the field.  I had chosen dances and music of the period to add to the authenticity of the experience.  I called some old-time circle dances, a contra, and a reel, which saw enthusiastic and lively participation.

    Mounted mobbers arrive at dusk.  "Git offa our land!  Move, varmints!"

    Mounted mobbers arrive at dusk. “Git offa our land! Move, varmints!”

    I was just starting Cumberland Squares, with plans to move into some old-time square dances, when a group of masked horsemen (“mobbers”) broke up the dance and drove the campers off the land–something that also happened in the historical migration.  One dancer complained, “But we’re having a hoe-down!”  No matter — clear out!

    The group was packed up and moving fast within a surprisingly short time.   Although I had not been directed by the mobbers to clear out, with the dancers gone there was no point to my staying; I packed up and left too.

    In preparing for the dance, I learned a lot about the trek migrations, the early history of the Mormon church, and about songs and dances of the 1800s.  And calling for all those folks in an open field was a unique experience!

    A big thank you to all those who helped with setting up equipment and dance formations; thanks especially to the Bonnie Doon Stake for organizing the Trek and for hiring me to call the hoedown.

    Followup:  Trek II, the Hoedown Continues

  • Montague Folding Bike – A Bit of Cycling History

    Posted on June 28th, 2014 admin No comments

    MONTAGUE FULL-SIZE FOLDING BIKE

    Last winter, at an estate sale in California, I found a bike with an interesting-looking frame labeled “BMW Wireline”.  It was a full-sized bike, but was obviously designed to fold.  It had no tires, the handgrips were melted, the wheels wouldn’t turn, the rear derailleur was bent, the headset was frozen, the brake pads were like rock, the chain was rusted in place.  Still, it had a CrMo folding frame in good condition, alloy wheels, decent quality caliper brakes.

    The owner had no idea of the provenance except that it had been in his sister’s garage for decades and he wanted to get rid of it.

    “Make me an offer,” he said.  I offered $1.  He accepted.   I threw some breadbags over the tar-like handgrips and stowed it under the RV.

    When we returned in the spring, I hauled the bike home and set to work.  The California heat had been hard on the bike.   I scraped the melted hand grips off (a sticky, icky job!) and removed the distorted pedals.  Every bit of grease was hardened to resin, so I had to soak, clean, and re-grease the bottom bracket, both wheel hubs, and the headset.  None of the cups showed wear, and I reused all the ball bearings.  I replaced the rear derailleur, grip shifters, hand grips, and chain; replaced a couple cables; put on new tubes, tires and brake pads; and tuned everything up. Oh, I also added new Globe round rubber pedals, because I thought they looked interesting and because they snag on things a lot less than the old square platforms.

    This amounts to a frame-up rebuild.   It was the most money and most work I’ve put into a rescue bike.  Still,  the outcome was an unusual bike that’s fun to use and ride.

    The frame had a sticker showing the manufacturer as Montague, which was easy to research.  Around 1988, the Montague Corporation, of Cambridge, Mass., began producing full-sized folding bicycles with 26” or 700 mm wheels. In the early1990s, Montague began working with the automobile industry,designing bicycle models for various companies including BMW, General Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru, Toyota, Honda and Peugeot. In 1996, Montague folding bikes gained international attention when the Montague BMW folder was chosen as the first ever official Olympic mountain bike for the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. “Two thousand of these bikes (painted red, white, and blue) were featured in the Games’ closing ceremonies. Olympic athletes and staff rode in formation on Montague bikes to make the image of the Olympic rings,” reports the Montague web site.

    My Montague would have come in the trunk of a new BMW, and is similar to the 1996 Olympic version.  Montague staff identified this individual bike as being “from 1994 to 1995″

    Now I have a neat folding bike that I can stow in the RV or even the back of my wife’s tiny Chev Aveo.

  • Paper VS Digital in Genealogy Research

    Posted on November 22nd, 2013 admin No comments

    Mocavo sent out a “Genealogy Survival Kit” as a holiday (they’re afraid to say Christmas) gift to its subscribers.   One part of the “Kit” was a list of tips, which included this:

    Even though many people use a computer for much of their work, paper charts and forms can be very useful when you are at a research repository. Blank family group sheets can easily be filled in with information, and can also show what information is missing. Pedigree charts quickly fill in with more generations.
    It can be much easier for you to carry pieces of paper into the stacks than trying to carry a notebook computer all over the building.

    I suppose this makes sense of a sort, but I don’t find it true of my own work.

    • My handwriting is not the best, and if I want to be able to read it three years from now, or if I want anybody else to read it anytime, I’d better type it.
    • I can’t keep track of a pen or pencil for more than a few hours.  Whenever I need one, it has crawled under a table somewhere.
    • I am a touch typist with recorded speeds of up to 120 wpm on a real keyboard.  I can’t write nearly that quickly with any accuracy.  Cursive is slo-o-o-o-w!
    • My laptop is not that cumbersome and I don’t mind carrying it.   “He ain’t heavy, he’s my laptop.”
    • I’m not about to hand write or even transcribe most documents.  I carry a digital camera, I photograph documents, I use OCR software to transcribe the image into a file.    And I’m not about to try to sketch images.   That’s what the camera does best.http://ed101.bu.edu/StudentDoc/Archives/fall05/malily/pencil-n-paper.jpg

    Paper and pencil are so yesterday.  At the very best, they’re a last-ditch backup.

    What do you use.   Paper?  Smart phone?  Tablet?  Laptop?

  • Gray Land Records in Noble County, Indiana

    Posted on November 17th, 2013 admin No comments

    One reason I enjoy doing genealogy is that I enjoy solving puzzles.

    In 1989, some of our family put together a collection of family writings and memoirs called Ancestor Pioneers.  In that booklet was a hand-drawn map of Noble County Indiana which showed land holdings of various ancestors in 1856.   The map showed section numbers but unfortunately did not include pertinent information such as the township name or the meridian.   Copies of the original land records had not been among the records I got from my parents.   I had never quite gotten around to tracking down whatever cousin had made the map to see if she had them,  nor had I yet begun searching online for these land records.

    A few days ago, I got a letter from another cousin (Thanks, Jenny!) who happened to include a sheet from Ancestry.com showing a parcel of land purchased in 1837 by a many-greats grandfather. Since I happened to have my copy of  Ancestor Pioneers open on the desk, I checked — yes, it was one of the parcels on the hand-drawn map.

    The hand-drawn map of Gray Land Holdings in Noble County, IN

    Never mind what I wrote last week about focus!  Here is a wonderful distraction!  I needed a break from the JK Gray biography anyway (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

    With Jenny’s lead about where to look, I dug into ancestry.com’s databases and found not only the other parcels on the hand-drawn map, but others in a township to the north.  Cross-checking against census records to confirm that these were likely our people, I pushed further into the land records,  and have so far located a baker’s dozen of parcels in York and Noble Townships, Noble County, IN owned by our kinfolk.  I’ll continue looking this afternoon and expect to find even more.  With the legal land descriptions, I may be able to dig even deeper and find who got them after the family sold out (or who inherited them).

    So I have a satisfactory outcome, having solved a minor puzzle,  found a lot of new information, made a note of clues for future research, and taken a break from a long-term project.  A pleasant way to spend a couple of cold winter days

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