A Skunk 🦨 Visit

Just before work this morning, as I was making coffee, Tammy exclaimed that there was a skunk in the back yard. It came up onto the brick patio area and dug around in the cornflowers for a bit before heading to the front yard to do more of the same. Not sure what it was looking for, but it trundled off.

Mr. Skunk

Last Day of Middle School, High School and Grandpa’s in the 🏥

Yesterday was Ian’s last day of middle school and Miranda’s last day of high school. It was a bit of a non-event: Miranda’s finished her exams and didn’t even go to school Monday and Tuesday. Ian had a regular day of school, but it sounds like it was about activities, games and movies. I was up to my neck at work and it was only after the fact that I realized it was such a momentous day.

Next year, Miranda will be attending the University of Calgary, and Ian will be going to Bowness High School. That’s something new for both. Miranda went to Sir Winston Churchill instead of Bowness because she was in IB, so Ian will be treading new ground.

Then there is the concern for Dad. Last night, we were watching some TV when Stephanie called to let me know that Dad was at the hospital. He’d had a severe dizzy spell and was having some numbness and weakness on his right side. The ambulance took him, and Stephanie helped keep track of him and brought him home early this morning. So far, there isn’t a good explanation as to what happened to him, but not all of the tests are in yet. He’s home and feeling better but still suffering from symptoms.

Gran Fondo Badlands / A Day in Drumheller

It’s 9 pm on the day of, and there’s just too much to go into… I promise I will add more tomorrow, but here’s a taste of the day.

Ian came in first place in his division.


It’s now six-thirty in the morning the next day. I didn’t choose to be up this early the next day, but the reality of doing such an effort the previous day leaves you sore and your insides a little upset. I’m making coffee, and maybe some pancakes in a bit.

As you may have gathered, it was a whole-family event. Ian was riding the 75 km distance, I was riding the full distance, and Miranda and Tammy were going to enjoy a day in Drumheller. The basic idea was that we would park at the rec centre, and while Ian and I were out riding, the girls would ride their bikes from place to place.

Ian and I were off at 7:45. The 75 km start was at 8:00, but Ian started with the rest of the BCC group so that we could ride together. Our group was Phil, Adam and Justin, and Will for the first 10 km or so. Will dropped back to ride with Derek at a slower pace after he got some GoPro footage. Right from the start, our pace was pretty brisk. I was concerned for Ian, but while he was working hard and only taking short turns at the front, he was keeping up. He took it cautiously (like me) down the big descents and his answer to Phil asking how he liked the climb up from the ferry was “I think I just crapped my pants.” 🤣

Ian was going to stay with us until after the bacon station in Wayne. If he turned left in Rosedale, he would be back in Drum in 8 km. But he chose to turn right and rode for another 12 km to the 100 km turnaround before heading back. We had gone so fast over the first 60 km that he would have been back long before Tammy and Miranda would have expected him. They would have still been at the museum. He did fantastic. The people we rode with who found out that he was 14 couldn’t believe it.

“I don’t know what I was doing at 14, but it wasn’t this.”


“It took me years of riding to do 100 km in three and a half hours.”


He rides like his father.


Adam, Phil, Justin and I continued on. The day was beautiful. It was windy, but that’s to be expected for this ride. If you go into the Badlands expecting a calm day, you’re a fool. The temperature was perfect and the sunshine was welcome after the rain we’d had this week. We worked together, keeping the pace up but taking time to stop at the aid stations. It was a great ride.

Meanwhile, Tammy and Miranda got on their bikes and pedalled to Whifs Flapjack House for breakfast. They got there just before the 8:00 start riders went by. That was where Tammy had her eggs benny and Miranda had her waffle. Then it was off to the Royal Tyrrell Museum (of course!) Miranda took her iPad and was focused on taking reference photos for drawing. Their only complaints was that it was already getting too warm to ride up the hill to the museum for their sweaters they were wearing by 9:00. They were glad to get there for opening, because when they left there was a long line.

They got back to the rec centre to see Ian crossing the line, and got some Vietnamese subs for lunch, and went to a local coffee roasters to buy some drinks and some beans. They were back at the finish for when I got back. I showered and got my food before we were back on the road home.

We were all tired but happy. We got some Pizza 73 and rented Spider-Man: No Way Home to watch at supper and then followed that up with Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness for a late-night movie fest.

Today looks like another beautiful day, but Ian and I are skipping the BCC ride. Maybe we’ll do the ice cream ride tomorrow.

Brown Recluse Spiders

That was unexpected. After dinner, Miranda came upstairs with her iPad and showed us this picture:

Near the door to the storage room

For years, there have been spiders hanging around the door jams to the storage room and I’ve never really given them much thought. However, with this one being brazenly out in the open and Miranda so worried about it, I went down with the flyswatter and took care of it. There was another by the other door and I don’t know if I got him or not. Then, later in the evening, we were playing ping pong and when a ball went behind the fridge, there was another one. I took that one out with the butt end of Tammy’s ping pong paddle.

We were talking about them just now and for a laugh, I looked up the species of spiders in the Calgary area. I was a little shook when it became pretty clear that these little guys were in fact some of the most venomous spiders in Canada: the Brown Recluse.

Now, on the other hand, the information on Wikipedia about the Brown Recluse leads me to think that this might not be right. I don’t know what to think.

Regardless, I’ll be taking reports of spider sightings in the basement a little more seriously from now on. 🕷


Today, I was the guest for “Esri Canada On-Air”, a semi-monthly interview show at work. It’s run by Alia and Alice at work, and they invite a mystery guest and then interview them on Teams in front of an audience. They’ve been running the show for two “seasons” so far, and I was the last guest of the second season.

The first part of the show is the “teaser hints” that start a couple days before. If people guess who the guest is, they win a little prize.

Our guest can easily win the award for attending most of Esri Canada On-Air episodes – (that’s a mini hint). A musician by association… our guest is the proud owner of five – seven guitars, but in their own words “isn’t really good at playing them”. Know someone who fits the bill?

A couple of people actually guessed it was me based on that. Should I be insulted?

Teaser no. 2: One of our guest’s true disappointment in life is that none of their children like Star Wars. Although, after the last couple of movies, that might be a good thing.

The interview went well, with a lot of topics including what I do for Esri, how I got there, how my family has dealt with COVID, ping-pong, the fact that all my cultural references are out of date, and other things. I’m glad I stepped up, and it seemed that the audience enjoyed it. I was glad Mike G. was there, and asked a couple of questions at the end. He’s been at Esri longer than I have.

And then the water line sprang a leak

Well, Father’s Day was going pretty well around here. Tammy got up and made pancakes and sausages for breakfast (at just after 6 a.m 😮) because Ian and I were going to take part in the BCC ride this morning. There were cards (physical and e-cards) and a couple of bottles of nice whisky.


The weather behaved beautifully for the ride.

Mark, Phil and the rest of the group. Some are waiting for the light.
Ian is behind Jo-Anne in purple in the centre-right

Then we got home and Tammy had prepared a lunch with cheeses, crackers, fruit and wine. We ate out on the deck until a thunderstorm threatened.

But just as we were retreating, the Vivint system went off. The water sensor in the basement had detected water (near the water heater). Tammy was the first down there, and sure enough, it was raining. But on a hunch, I rolled out the refrigerator in the kitchen and found the root cause. The 1/4 inch line from the water line to the fridge had sprung a leak. Tammy turned off the water main and that fixed it, but we don’t have any water in the house.

Murphy seeing if he can fix the problem

I tried to figure out if there was a shutoff, or if there was an obvious way to replace the line. I reached out to my friend Perry from the bike club (who is in the HVAC business) to get his opinion. He’s going to pop over here in a little bit with some tools and bits and bobs to see if we can’t fix this. Otherwise it’s a Sunday evening call to a plumber…


Perry’s been here. He brought a cap that he used to stop the copper line. There’s no water flow to the fridge, but the water main is back on.

We will have to call the plumber in the morning. Adding a shutoff valve would be a nice touch. Thank goodness for the Vivint water sensor. It would have been better to catch the water under the fridge before it leaked into the basement, but this is much better than finding a flood downstairs.


The fridge situation is now resolved (somewhat). First thing: at eleven last night, I was lying in bed. You know, that feeling where you’re so tired you can’t sleep? It hit me like a bolt of lightning: I knew where the shutoff was for the fridge. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and sure enough, it was under the kitchen sink. 🤦‍♂️ If I’d figured that out, Perry wouldn’t have had to come over.

In the morning, I called Benner Plumbing and a fellow named Daniel came over just before lunch. He poked around and tried to access the place where the plastic line comes out of the fridge, but it was the same problem I had: there was no way for a grownup to put their hand in far enough, even if they knew what they were doing. He cut the line and then attached a new section, and put it together with the copper line, and we turned the shutoff back on, and it remained dry.

It’s nice to be back to normal, and it was fantastic that the water sensor worked. Otherwise, it might have been “raining” downstairs for a long while.

20 Years of the ii News

Talk about a milestone! Today marks 20 full years since the ii News launched with a post celebrating Dad’s 59th birthday. (By some strange coincidence, today is his 79th birthday)

The first steps of the blog were small. It was more of a programming project for me than anything else. It started on my Power Mac 7500 running Quid Pro Quo and running Perl CGI scripts. It wasn’t long before I moved to more standard technologies but it was a start. I’m sure I have a backup on CD-ROM of the original site, but I’m not sure where. I even fired up the Power Mac to see if it was there and runnable, but it wasn’t. There was the immediate precursor to the dynamic ii News there:

That static page became the framework for a site that you could add stories from the browser. When I had a server that could run Apache, my home-brew site got replaced by Nucleus CMS, and WordPress later on.

There has been so much that has happened in these 20 years that it would be impossible to try to summarize it properly. Every year, I try with the “retrospective” posts, and that takes hours. Cats, kids, houses, births, deaths, moves, hobbies, sports, art… it’s a rollercoaster. There was a dark time sometime around 2010 when I considered shutting it down. Facebook was a microblogging site that was on the rise, and Tammy and I were both starting to put stuff there. It was so much easier to put pictures there, and most of the people we knew were there. I think it might have been the fact that Mom and Dad weren’t on it that saved the site. I was against shutting it down, but it seemed like it was only me who cared. Time has proven that it was the right decision 🎉 3391 posts and counting.

It started before the kids were born, so that means it’s the whole story. Sometimes I wish it went back further. There is a lot of the time in Prince George and before that is only in fading memory and a small number of photos.


There’s no better way to get me to find something than to assert that it was something that I lost. Even if it’s me who asserts it. I found the backup of the old ii News folder with CGI scripts and everything. It took a bit to get it running, but here it is.

Seven glorious items before it was superseded.

Yes, it’s a cosmetic replica of Mac OS 8.6. The Apple, File and Edit menus pull down with lists of links, and the Control Strip pops up a menu to create, update or delete items.

No, it doesn’t resize. No, there’s no pagination of the news items, it’s just one long list. The data file on the server is just plain text HTML content. It’s all totally open and unsecured… Makes you wonder why I had it running at all. The Internet was a different place then?

But I found it and got it running on 26 year old hardware.

Miranda’s Graduation Present

The last part of Miranda’s grad present arrived via UPS yesterday: a 12.9″ M1 iPad Pro with a case and an Apple Pencil*.

“Unwrapping” her present with Murphy

The gift was her choice. With university coming up, she thought it was the right tool for taking copious handwritten notes and I’m not going to argue with her on that. I wish I’d had such a thing instead of looseleaf lined paper in my UVic clipboard thing.

This is how we know this Apple Pencil is Miranda’s

Congratulations, Miranda!

* Yes, I’m jealous. No good reason for it, but I’m jealous.

Even More Bloodletting

Miranda and I gave blood tonight down at the Al-Azhar Shriners hall. I wasn’t aware until dinner that Miranda had an appointment. Tammy had cancelled hers because her latest bloodwork indicated her iron was low, and I hadn’t made one. The last time I had an appointment with Miranda and Tammy, I had some sort of an allergy or cold so I bailed. So I didn’t have an appointment for this time. At dinner, I checked with the GiveBlood app and there were two available appointments, one 15 minutes after Miranda’s. I hemmed and hawed about it. We all drove down and Tammy and I went for a short walk, and I decided to take the appointment. I filled out the form and walked in. Didn’t take long, and I got some apple juice, Oreos, Cheetos and a granola bar.

Suckers! 😝

EnerGuide Energy Efficiency Home Evaluation

That’s a mouthful, but in short a fellow named Paul came to our house today and spent a little over two hours going through our house. We are signed up for the Canadian government’s Greener Homes Grant with the intent of putting some solar panels on the roof, and the first step towards being able to qualify for the grant is the evaluation.

He did a bunch of observing and measuring outside before coming inside and measuring all the windows, observing the furnace, water heater etc., and then setting up a fan in the front door to create negative pressure in the house to find leaks.

When he took me around for the leak discovery, there were a handful of things that I can do really easily (caulk, weather stripping, foam gaskets) and some that would require some more time and money (replacing windows, doors). He also had some recommendations for high-efficiency water heating and… solar. We will get the report in a little bit, but for the moment, we can move on to the solar installation. I got in touch with Green Light Energy today, and we will hear back from them.

The hardest part of the morning was keeping track of Murphy. Tammy stayed home and taught so that she could keep him with her. Originally she was going to be at her desk in the master bedroom, but when it was clear that Paul was going to need to get into the attic, she moved to Ian’s room instead. When the door had to be open, she put Murphy in the little carry case. He was meowing a fair bit, and managed to escape! He actually unzipped the case from the inside and hid under the bed. We have no idea how he did it.

After we do renos, Paul (or other) will be back and follow up to see that we improved our efficiency.