Passed a Test

This afternoon, I took a Microsoft Azure certification exam, and I passed! This was the Microsoft Azure Architect Technology exam, which is the first of two exams to pass to get the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. I took a five-day course from LearningTree in late July and it was a wall of information. I took the prep very seriously, doing lots of practice labs, studying the course material and taking practice tests.

Yeah, about that. The practice tests are something that you purchase ($80 USD for 30 days’ access) and then you can run the test in a “study” mode or in a “certification” mode where you take the test like you would in the testing centre. Well, to make a long story short I only passed the practice test once, and that was the last time, on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t looking good. Heck, I only barely passed the Fundamentals exam back in January. I don’t administer Azure on a daily basis. I was trying to pass this exam on book and brainpower, and the practice tests weren’t looking too positive.

But pass or fail, the exam was happening today. And thanks to COVID, it was happening right here, at my desk. There were lots of rules about what you could and couldn’t have within arm’s reach, so everything came off of my desk. It was a nice opportunity to dust, anyways.

Totally stripped down desk (bookshelves empty)

I did my best to be chill when I was waiting for my test time (2:00), but got on the rollers for a half hour beforehand. I think that cleared my mind. It took about fifteen minutes to get into the test, having to take a selfie, photos of my driver’s license, and four of my desk from each angle. I didn’t speak to anyone during the “intake” or the exam. Once I was in, my camera was on and I wasn’t allowed to leave. No food, drink or breaks. I locked the door, because if anyone walked in, the test would be over and I would fail.

It took over 2 hours, and I was very focused on teasing every bit of information out of each question. The questions were like the practice tests, but somewhat different, too. It seemed there were more clues available, but that could have been my imagination.

Anyhow, now on to the Solution Architect Design exam. It’s scheduled for Thursday next week.

Fall colours

I felt like bringing on Fall so here’s a painting to display all of fall’s colourful splendours 🍁

Reminds me of mom and how she loved to drive down to the water through the turning trees ❤️

Mole or Not?

It’s a new really lame game: what’s that beauty mark? 😄

When I had my annual checkup with Dr. Sadiq pre-COVID, I brought a mole to her attention that was in my left underarm area. She had a look at it, but didn’t say much. So I was somewhat surprised when about a week later I got a call from NW Dermatology that I’d had a referral to them and they were setting up an appointment for me in September.

I assumed it was the mole, but I wasn’t certain. Today was the day of the appointment, and I met with Dr. Chia. He inspected my upper body and face for any signs of cancer (and found none) and took a look at the mole and at the subtle skin growths on my right temple. Right away, he said “That’s not a mole,” and then after looking at my forehead said “and neither are those.”

Sounds ominous, right? He identified them as seborrheic keratosis. They are symptoms of age, and nothing more. No worry and no need to treat them unless they are in a sensitive area or cause problems due to appearance.

The doctor is also a cyclist, and complimented me on showing no signs of skin cancer. Apparently spending hours and hours in the sun in short spandex tends to lead that way. I can’t claim to be the most rigorous user of sunblock but I do wear it in the summer on long rides. I guess that pays off. I told him that I have a redhead wife and son and there’s always a bottle of sunblock around.


Today’s job was picking the apples on the tree out back. It’s much easier with everybody helping out and we’ve already managed to pick, wash, cut the tops and bottoms off, bag and freeze them. 15 large freezer zip lock bags of apples. There’s no rush to turn them into sauce, juice or cider, but we will at some point.

A Company Picnic

We’re at about the six month mark for the Esri office closure. It’s been strange, not seeing everybody every day. Two days ago, though, an Outlook invitation arrived from Cathy:

What: Esri Calgary Luncheon – social distanced

When: Thursday, September 17th, 2020 – 11:30am to 1:30pm

Where: Confluence Plaza – St. Patrick’s Island Park – right off the Calgary Zoo West Parking lot – 1300 12 St. NE

Lunch: Will have individual Box Lunches and Drinks – key here is to social distance, but have a chance to see everyone in the Calgary office.

Let me know if you require a special lunch (Vegetarian / Gluten Free / Meatatarian)

Look forward to seeing you all there. Please RSVP.

My Thursday was pretty full already, but I managed to shift some things around and I rode my bike down to St. Patrick’s Island Park. Well, sorta… If only I’d remembered to put a mask in my pack before I started riding. Then I wouldn’t have stopped in Silver Springs, kicked myself and ridden back home again. Then I rode down to the park. And arrived an hour late. There still was a lunch available and I got a chance to say hello to everyone.

The socially-distanced scene
Selfie with Mark and Steven

I stuck around afterwards and attended a meeting via my iPhone from the park, then rode home again. It was a long ride there and back, made longer by adding 10 km due to forgetting a mask. Glad I made it in the end, though.

We’re Sorry to Report

That after the following selfie with the world’s largest dinosaur, Simon was eaten.

No, seriously today was a Bow Cyclist Club ride in Drumheller, AB. We originally were going to have three “special” rides, but after the Canmore ride people started thinking about having one more. The Gran Fondo Badlands 2020 was postponed to 2021, so most of the club hadn’t ridden in Drumheller this year. We set up a 75 km and a 100 km route, but most people elected to ride the 100 today. I was leading the second “B” group.

It was pretty chilly this morning. We had a 9:00 am start, and it was single-digit temperatures with a breeze blowing. Adam and Brett rode from Calgary starting around 4:00 am and then rode with my group.

Getting on the Bleriot Ferry

We rode the Dinosaur Trail to the ferry and then back into Drumheller, and then on to Wayne. Usually during the Gran Fondo, there is a bacon sandwiches station in Wayne, but not today. Still, riding the road up to the Last Chance Saloon is nice. There was a large group of motorcycles there on some kind of run. The one motorcycle ride who came over to say hello was darn impressed that Adam had ridden from Calgary.

Last Chance Saloon in Wayne. Doug adjusting his knee warmers in the foreground.
In Wayne

After Wayne, our route would have been on to East Coulee before turning around, but last night, BCC member Dallas sent this:

Hey there BCC crew, Dallas here and I haven’t been out to too many rides but just wanted people to know that if people need a rest station for the Drumheller ride I will be at my place 10k east of Drumheller.

He was there at the 9:00 am gathering, and when we were passing Cambria we pulled in and found the first “B” group there as well. It was a welcome rest from the headwinds and an opportunity to refill water bottles, use the washroom and even have some coffee. I think Dallas’ wife Valerie thought he was nuts to do this at first, but we won her over. We really are a nice bunch of people. 😊

Part of the group, seen from the patio.

We then headed for the turnaround and then enjoyed a tailwind back to Drumheller. Adam, who had been planning to ride back to Calgary, started to feel the 240 or so kilometres that he’d ridden and elected to get a ride.

The sun tried to break through all day, but the mix of high cloud and some smoke from the US wildfires kept it at bay until we were packing our bikes back onto car racks. It never got too warm: I wore arm warmers and knee warmers and a wind vest all day. But if you ride Drumheller, you gotta be ready for a weather experience.

Charles was with us as well. Normally he rides with the “C” group, but today he carpooled with Dave and I guess decided to ride together in “B”. It didn’t start well and we thought Charles was going to drop back to ride with Alice’s C group, but he managed to keep up with us on the first hill and from there he managed to hang with us all day.

It was his first 100 km ride ever! 🎉 In celebration, most of our group gathered at the dinosaur for a picture.

Lee, Simon, Bob, Adam, Charles and Doug. Dave took the picture.

Italy take 2

So I did another similar Italy painting to one I had done a while ago except it has more blue hues to it than the other.

Again these look much better from far away.

Previous Italy

Sudden End of Summer

Note the frosty rooftops and snow on the Rockies

Labour Day, 2020 in Calgary: almost freezing temperatures and it tried to snow at least three times.

It’s supposed to get nicer as the week goes on, but it was a wakeup call.

Speaking of wakeup calls, there are now five schools in the Calgary area with known COVID cases among the students. That includes Bowness High School, which is the one that Miranda would have gone to if she had not signed up for and been accepted into IB. 🤦‍♂️

New Roomba

It was going to happen eventually. When our last working Roomba packed it in, it was only a matter of time before we got a new Roomba. Ever since we got our first one, we’ve used them on and off. At first it was all the time, and we even bought a second one. But then the batteries started to lose their recharging and they stayed parked. This was before the age of being able to find anything on Amazon, of course. Then we found new batteries and filters on Amazon and the robots sprang back to life. That is, until they actually packed it in. One couldn’t recharge any more (the battery was fine, but the charging circuitry died) and then the other refused to acknowledge that it was on the carpet.

I was looking around at Amazon, at London Drugs and then today at Costco they had a big stack of a couple of different models. We bought the 985, a higher-end one this time.

This one actually has a camera on it, that it uses to navigate and map the house. The old ones (and the less expensive current models like the e6 that was at Costco, too) just navigated by bumping off things and using random chance to ensure that they vacuumed everywhere. This one is methodical. It’s very cool. It also has a charging station that it parks at when it’s done.

The map of the top floor

It’s connected to WiFi and to Alexa so you can keep tabs on it, remote start it, the whole nine yards. Its default name was “Roomba” so I put it to the family to give it a name. It took all of five seconds for them to come up with…

THE MYSTERY MACHINE. My Cricut kung-fu is the best.

Alexa, ask the Mystery Machine to start cleaning.

Solving mysteries and fighting cat hair.

New Bathroom Fan

It’s always something.

The fan in the kids’ bathroom, which has been very noisy since we moved in, finally gave up the ghost. I was informed of the fact yesterday: “It just makes a humming sound.” How hard could it be to replace? Well…

Getting the fan and motor out was easy

You can see that the box was installed prior to the drywalling and the ceiling texturing. It was a bit of a mess. I watched a YouTube video from Lowe’s that showed how it should go. I thought that the steps would be:

  1. Remove fan and motor,
  2. Remove box,
  3. Go to Lowe’s with the disassembled fan and find one that was the same size and shape,
  4. Install new box,
  5. Install new fan.

I wasn’t entirely wrong, but the problem was that I couldn’t remove the box. And until we went to Lowe’s spoke with Gary and saw that there were flanges on either side of the box (which is how it was screwed to the stud), I was stuck marvelling at the magic box that was attached to the stud by no visible means. We came home with the new one and after some demolition of the old box, was able to remove it. Not before considering that we might need to climb into the attic to access the flanges (and maneuvering the long ladder up the stairs, before finding out that it was too long to maneuver into the closet to climb into the attic).

Finally, everything removed

That should be the end, right? Wrong.

Finally settled on No More Nails double-sided tape to attach the outlet from the new box to the vent, after about a half hour of trying other things. The new one’s box was about an inch smaller in both directions than the old one, so I needed to shim it to center it in the hole. The dang grounding wire had a mind of its own. Couldn’t remember how the electrical plug attached to the box.

But finally it was in and when Tammy flipped the breaker, it came to life.

The stain thing was there when we moved in. Pay no attention.

Ended up being about four hours. Maybe more. Sweaty work, and painful holding tools and other things above my head. Tammy was a great helper and had a lot of patience with me when it wasn’t going well.

All that and I rode 98.5 km this morning out to Bragg Creek and back. Pretty much all of me hurts right now.

We should totally replace the fan in the ensuite bathroom. 🤔