Bob and Marilyn's Weblog
December 2015

I've never really understood HTML and it continues to get more complicated. As it tries to adapt to multiple platforms like iPads, tablets and different browsers the results can be ---- unexpected.  I think of editing as WYSMBNLWYG (What You See May Be Nothing Like What You Get). This fact was hammered home when I happened to view some of my ramblings on my smartphone and noticed that the script was worse gibberish than what I had originally written.

So -- if you see something that is clearly garbage please PLEASE let me know!
Sorry about a double post in one day but it was such a glorious day I just had to share some photos.  This is the kind of winter day that makes people love winter. If they were all like this there would never be a reason to go away.

Go ahead and click on the images to see the high res versions.
Dec 24
Christmas Eve
Its Christmas Eve in Buchanan and I can feel the normally slow pace of the village slowing down even more.  Yesterday there was only 5 or 6 of us showed up for coffee at the Community Centre c/w a more "normal" 10 or 12.  

We're wrapping up projects - getting ready to move back onboard Gray Hawk.  Marilyn has started prepping the walls in the bedroom for paint - we plan to have both the bedroom and her office painted before we leave which would mean that the entire upstairs would be painted.  I've got the truck on the lift again - already I can't believe I lived without a vehicle lift for so long.  Yesterday I picked up a set of rear brake pads and a pair of front shocks in spite of the assholes that run the parts store in Canora.  It is generally agreed around Buchanan that Canora is a hell hole.  I believe that the auto parts store in Canora is the worst of the worst among don't-give-a-shit Canora businesses.  I wouldn't have bothered with them at all but I was getting tires mounted at Kal Tire and I thought I could endure the stupidity to pick up a set of brake pads.  My truck is one of the most popular platforms Ford has ever built - there's 1000s of them running around locally - so it wasn't a big stretch to assume that a store claiming to stock auto parts would have rear brake pads.  Of course they didn't and then the normal stupidity morphed into a 2 day ordeal but they did manage to get the right pads and I did survive the experience of picking them up and they did fit.  The jury is still out on whether they got the right shocks but I'll figure that out today.  

I've started watching the weather on the coast.  Its still too far out to get any specific information related to travel 10 days in the future but I want to watch the big patterns to get a feel for what is driving the weather.  We need a minimum 2 day window to get through to the Island and ideally a clear 3 day window would allow us a bit more leisurely trip.  We will stop to see Michael & RJ in Medicine Hat - a more relaxed weather window would allow us to spend the night in Medicine Hat.  Right now the weather almost looks like a summer pattern - there's a big high anchored northeast of Hawaii that seems to be sending the weather further north as it approaches the coast.  I assume that's the El Niño pattern that I am seeing.  

Dec 24
Christmas Eve
We're not much into the Christmas spirit bullshit but we have what is for us a pretty busy schedule coming up - a meatless Ukrainian Christmas Eve invitation tonight and a full table of guests coming here tomorrow.  The curling club has wings on New Years Eve and the village pancake brunch is January 1.  In between now and then we need to get some paint slapped on the bedroom and office walls and I need to get the big Ford bolted back together and down off the lift.  

Merry Christmas to all of you.
This little guy has been travelling with us for as long as I can remember.  
Dec 18
Travel Buddy
I think he actually belongs to RJ.  Mind you - its hard for a hedgehog to "belong" to anybody.  He's travelled pretty well all of North America including much of Mexico.  Lately he's been living in the Lincoln so he came along this week when I drove up to Nipawin.  

You'll need to zoom in to see it but that sign says something about livestock on the loose.  What it actually refers to is a herd of runaway buffalo that has been terrorizing the highway through the Barrier Valley.  I didn't see them and the word on coffee row this morning was that they had finally been corraled.  Bufflers is hard to herd - I speak from personal experience.  When I was in university and working weekends at the U of S feedlot, Hugh Nicholson had some kind of feeding trial involving buffalo.  They had to raise the corral fence 6 feet (to a total of maybe 12 or 13 feet) just to keep the buggers in their pen.  When we drove down the feed alley they would stick their tails straight in the air and run laps around the inside of their pen.  One of them dropped dead of a heart attack in the chute while the guys were weighing them.  PETA wouldn't have approved.

Several years later, at the height of the buffalo raising craze, one of my staff fell for the hype and bought a herd.  We went out to his place one weekend to help herd them to a new pasture.  I use the word "herd" loosely because you simply don't direct buffalo anywhere that they don't want to go.  When we arrived on our quads there was about 30 animals grazing peacefully east of Silas's yard.  As we got closer they lifted their heads and then simultaneously went from standing still to running flat out.  The calves ran in front with the cows kind of in a semi-circle behind them.  Occasionally one old cow would break away and run back toward us as we followed and tried to direct their run.  It occured to me that if one of our quads quit we'd be in big trouble but the attacking cow never let the herd get too far away from her before she would leave off worrying us and rejoin the herd.  Not long after that adventure one of the animals got Silas down in the pen and ripped his leg open.  I believe he said it required over 200 stitches to close the wound and the Dr. said he was really lucky to be alive.

I've heard of buffalo herds crossing a highway and going right over vehicles. When we lived on the flat west of Nipawin one of our neighbours got bit by the same buffalo craze and I agreed to drive him to Edmonton when he was shopping.  I think the guy we visited was Bill Crillo but I could have that name wrong.  Whatever his name was, he had several hundred head somewhere northeast of Edmonton.  His corrals were all welded drill stem about 6 feet high.  I commented on how sturdy they looked and his reply was that it didn't really matter to the buffalo.  He said if they made up their mind to go somewhere they would just run at the fence.  The animals in the front would go down and the ones behind would keep on coming until they went up over the down animals and eventually over the fence.  Its not hard to see how the Indians were able to run the stupid things over a cliff whenever they needed to kill some of them.  

So it didn't hurt my feelings at all to not see the escaped herd and I was happy to hear they had been rounded up again. 
It was carolling night in Buchanan so we just had a visit from about 10 members of the drama club.  They go around singing Christmas carols to raise money for the community centre.  Food and drink is encouraged so we encouraged them.  I solicited assistance with painting the hallway but didn't get any takers.  I wasn't hopeful but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

Painting was on my mind because that's what we were doing today.  Marilyn got everything ready and we slopped some primer on this morning.  We had planned to slobber on the topcoat this afternoon but the primer wasn't drying fast enough so we opted to wait 24 hours.  As it turns out the grader sprang a leak again today so the painting may have to wait while the mayor and I play mechanic in the morning.  We had a grader incident about a week ago now - Richard (the grader operator) showed up on my doorstep, greatly agitated.  I couldn't immediately understand what had happened so I rode over to the shop with Richard.  When we arrived it looked extremely bad.  Initially I thought he had managed to break a ram on one of the cylinders but it turned out that the piston had threaded itself off inside the barrel.  That was a relatively simple fix.  It sounds like he blew a hose today but I'm not 100% sure whether we're talking about a pressure or suction hose.  Whichever it turns out to be it will interfere with painting in the morning and the warden has art in the afternoon.

Dec 14
Christmas Carol Night
Yesterday I hit my frustration threshold with Blogspot and Microsoft. I don't know which is worse - Google (Blogger) or Microsoft. We can't live without either entity but they can be incredibly frustrating. I have been using Blogspot to host our weblog and Windows Livewriter to make the posts. Blogspot has an online editor which is a genuine pain in the ass to use. And of course flat out impossible to use if you don't have an internet connection. So in the past I have been able to create a new post in Livewriter while offline and then whenever I have web access upload that post to the Blogspot website which makes it visible to the world. 
Over the past year one of the two companies - likely Google - has continuosly made small changes which impact the experience for users of the other company's software. There's no warning of the impending change - I just try to publish the website as usual and get an arcane error message. When that happens nobody ever admits that they caused the problem but after a few days it equally mysteriously corrects itself.  I'm no longer willing to participate in that frustration.
The last time this happened was in the spring. At that time I was equally frustrated by the Homestead web hosting experience so I resolved my frustration by ditching Homestead and moving my websites to GoDaddy. That resulted in a signficant cost saving and - for me anyway - a much better customer experience. Homestead "support" is a complete joke. GoDaddy on the other hand has exceptional customer support. Their website is a disaster but when you phone or chat with them they are extremely helpful. Nothing is perfect - their website is a serious fustercluck and my blood pressure spikes every time I try to use it.  
This morning I braved the GoDaddy website - searched in vain for how to register a new domain - reverted to Google to even find the registration page and eventually registered this domain - Then I went through what I remembered needing to do in order to make that domain visible as a webpage but with no success. I used OpenElement, which is open source website publishing software, to upload the necessary files and they appeared to land in the correct locations. Nonetheless, the annoying GoDaddy placeholder page saying something to the effect of “There’s a very wonderful website about to appear here but its not ready yet – check back later” was all that I could get online. When I finally phoned GoDaddy it took “Charles” less than 2 minutes to resolve the problem. And he spoke flawless mid-west English. Gotta love that.  
No doubt there will be issues as this changeover goes forward. I started with a template which populates with a bunch of placeholder pages so you may encounter some pages with even worse gibberish than what I normally create. Bear with me (but while you're waiting you can go back to the homepage and click on the Alaskan pictures link - some of them are really good).
Dec 13
A new weblog location