Monday, December 12, 2016

Strom days are coming

Last night I thought today, the second Monday of December, would be what we call a "storm day". Storm days occur when the weather is terrible and essentially means that we will get a prodigious amount of the white stuff usually in the area of 20-25 centimeters. The driving is treacherous and some roads are virtually impassable.
Yep, there's car under there
 To give you an idea here is a storm we had last year. You can see that quite a bit of snow fell. The roads in the area were undriveable.

A storm day means a nice relaxing day at home and for many a paid day off. It also means shoveling the stuff. Although he roads are eventually plowed you still have to get your vehicles to the road and that means many hours of lifting and shoveling.
that's how deep is was
 The first two snow days in the snowy weather are exciting because you have an unexpected days off, but through the winter season they start to wear thin and it means whatever work at the office that has to be done just piles up..
Up to the windows
A snow day is fine unless the power goes out. Unless you have a backup generator or a wood stove the house can chill down in a hurry.Best to be prepared.
But it sure is pretty outside!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

How to deal with winter in Canada

Snow shoeing in the back yard
As we transition into the winter months in Canada there are a few things I am really not looking forward to; bad driving conditions, snow shoveling, and that housebound feeling when it is too cold to go anywhere.

I certainly look forward to the coming together of the family and friends for the Christmas season. I look forward snow shoeing and winter photography and leisurely walks on sunny days though in our winter we don't get a lot of sunny days, unfortunately. I know that come January I will be wishing I were some place else, like the Caribbean or our summer cottage in Quebec.

Paradisus Rio de Or
To stave off the effects of seasonal affective disorder we have decided to break the winter doldrums with a trip to Cuba. This will be our 7th trip and our third stay at the Paradisus Rio de Oro located in the Holguin province. With the change of government in the United States it looks like America will sadly reverse its normalization process with Cuba. It also looks like the resorts are in somewhat of a panic mode and are offering some great bargains now as Americans are reconsidering their decision to vacation in Cuba,

If you are interested in a Cuban vacation this is a great time to go. If the US government decides to continue with restoring ties with Cuba this might be the last "best" time to go and you can expect a corresponding rise in prices in the years to come.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Back to the East Coast

Okay, so I am back. My last post was the celebration of 40,000 page views. Thanks to you, the internet viewer, that number has risen substantially.

Well, it was a great summer spent at our family retreat in Quebec. It was our longest stay yet at over twelve plus weeks. The weather was perfect. Not much rain and plenty of hot, sunny summer days punctuated by the odd bit of rain.

On our way back we visited the Sagueneay region of Quebec. Talk about a must see area. We first stopped at Saint Ann de Beaupre where we toured the famous religious site.

Saint Ann de Beaupre

Main altar
Next we paid a little visit to Baie St. Paul while on our way the Saguenay region. Baie St Paul is a pretty little town obviously geared towards tourism as there are plenty of shops. On the day we visited there was not much activity since early September is just off the peak season.

Main Street Baie St. Paul
We stayed at a small B&B in Saint Simeon, Quebec. A quaint little B&B. Though not much to look from the outside it was quirky, cute and very clean.
From there it was on the Pointe Noire and Tadussac. Our intention was to see the famous fiords but time was not on our side. The scenery was fantastic nonetheless.
View of Tadoussac from the ferry
View just outside of Tadussac

Le Gibard in downtown Tadussac
All in all a great little side trip on our way back from Quebec to the east coast.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wow, 40,000 views!

It's climbing steadily. I never thought this blog would climb to 40,000 views despite the fact that I have not been posting as much lately. Thank you readers for coming to my site and thank you for those that keep coming back. I intend to post more often once summer is over.

Again thanks and 40,000 kisses to you all.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Update my Dynaco Part II

Dynaco SCA-80Q Integrated amplifier

Restoring my Dynaco SCA 80Q integrated amplifier to it's original state has been a interesting project though some would argue that the changes might even be beyond the original state and yes, it is a better integrated amp in every way.

Capacitors added
After replacing the C9 and C11 caps as well as the speaker caps I still experienced distortion in the left channel. What to do? The only boards I did not touch were the pre-amp and amp boards and it turns out that the problem was with the amp board, left channel. Since this was beyond my level of expertise I took it in to a professional shop. The shop found the problem almost immediately. The charge was $100 but worth it. The sound is wonderful.

So far I have put about $225 into this amp. Was it worth it? Unequivocally, yes. Why? It restores the amp to better than original condition and guarantees its life for an additional 10-20+ years. There are some other things I can do and that is to actually spend a little more money to update both the pre-amp and amp boards. I have had new experience wiring boards and I can also measure the voltage between two points to see if I have gotten things right.

At this point I am going to use this amp through the summer of 2016. If it gives me any trouble I will address the amp and pre-amp stages.

Taking a break

In the next few weeks you will see fewer posts as I am spending some quality time with friends and family at our summer get-away in central Canada. While in that area I intend to make my third visit to the Canadian Clock Museum in Deep River, Ontario. It is always exciting to see the newly added pieces to the museum collection and to chat with it's knowledgeable curator. See my clock blog for more information about this excellent museum

Regular readers have no doubt observed that my usual practice in the past year is to post at least one article per week in an effort to keep readers interested and of course help me, the writer, offer the kind of content that appeals to a broad spectrum of readers. 

If you have a comment on any of my posts please feel free to leave one though it may take some additional time for me to respond, so, a little patience would be appreciated.
In September I will resume my weekly posting schedule. As they say in the show business world – stay tuned!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My clock blog

If you have an interest in collecting and repairing antique and vintage clocks may I suggest you go to my blog that is dedicated exclusively to clocks. Some time ago I decided to concentrate on my clock hobby by writing about them in a separate blog. You will still find clock posts on this blog though they are not as detailed and thorough as they are on my other blog. For more in-depth analysis of the various aspects of horology may I suggest you visit

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Getting that summer cottage feeling

It won't be long now. Soon we will be making our annual trek to our paradise at the lake. Good food good friends, fishing, boating, hiking, camp fires at night are all the niceties in life to look forward to as we spend our summer at the shore. The cottage is a great place to decompress, to get away from the toil of everyday work and to take time to contemplate the future. Indeed, our most significant family decisions have been made at the lake.

Projects this year include a porch roof, trim painting, more stairs to the lake plus a railing along side and a new bunkie for family and visitors. However, this could be a lean year for visits from the family as our oldest will be beginning her residency in July, our second daughter will be busy preparing for her European trip and our youngest, who is in the navy, will be deployed through the summer and part of the fall. Moreover, that will give us a chance to concentrate on my projects and allow us to spend more time with friends on the lake.

My other plan is to do more fishing and to that end I have purchased a new rod and gear which will no doubt make me a better fisherman.
 Not much longer to go. I am glad to have to opportunity to spend some time in the most relaxing setting that I know.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Unplanned visit to a Cuban farm

Front of farmhouse
 As I mentioned in a previous post our tour bus broke down on the way to Holguin City. Our perplexed tour guide came up with an impromptu plan. Why not visit a typical Cuban farm? Marcelo made a discrete inquiry with a local farm and within minutes took everybody off the bus to see what a typical small Cuban farm really looked like.

What made this so fascinating was the fact that it was a completely unplanned and un-staged.. All of us got to experience, however briefly, a genuine Cuban farm.

The first photo shows the modest farmhouse which had a small living area, one bedroom and a galley kitchen. This was likely the original farmhouse and it was surprisingly compact. We were informed later that this was not the main farmhouse and that a larger, more modern and better equipped home was located about 100 meters away on the same property
Crop of some kind of spice
This was a very small farm of about two hectares. I cannot remember the crop but it was some form of root spice. Farmers in Cuban are now able to sell part of their crops on the open market following a new entrepreneurial initiative by the Cuban government about two to three years ago.

The farmhouse is very modest. The only power we saw went to a TV / VCR, an electric pressure cooker and a couple of lights.
Modest cooking facilities
Laundry day

Laundry the old fashioned way

The day we visited was laundry day and of course it was done the old fashioned way, by hand. The clothes were either hung on a line or draped on a thorny hedge. Simple but effective.
An old sow

Sergeant Cluck 

There were a couple of old sows which which were bred, I presume, to supply pork to the family. This "guard" turkey followed us where-ever we went on the farm and we all suspected that it probably had secret police training.
The lady of the house

Our tour passengers
The lady of the farm was doing her daily chores and seemed unfazed by the unplanned visit. Finally this was our group as we trundled through this very quaint Cuban farm. This impromptu tour certainly added value to our day at Holguin City.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A funny thing happened on the way to Holguin

Bus breakdown
Smoking tour bus
We signed up for a day trip to Holguin City. Holguin is a large city in the Holguin province of Cuba. Holguin is said to be the birthplace of Cuban music. The city was founded in 1545 by a Spanish conquistador and it is the fourth largest city in Cuba. The brewery Cerveceria Bucanero is located in this city and what I did not know is that Bucanero is a joint venture with LaBatt breweries a one-time Canadian company.
No clue to the problem

A full day tour of Holguin involved the requisite cigar factory tour, a drive up to a cross which overlooks the city and was blessed by Pope Francis when he came to Cuba in the fall of 2015 and a delicious meal at a hilltop restaurant as well as free time walking through the downtown core of the city.
The bus emptied on the side of the road
The drama occurred before we even got to the city. Just about 10 minutes outside Holguin, the bus broke down. I have been to Cuba 6 times and have traveled by bus on a number of occasions and this is the first time I have ever experienced a tour bus break down. The Cubans use Chinese tour buses exclusively and they are said to be very reliable. For bus 9127 its day had obviously come and with some amount of drama. The only thing missing was flames because it produced a prodigious amount of black smoke. The driver must have seen a warning light on his dash because he stopped virtually on a dime..

Everybody got off the bus while we waited for some resolution to the problem which meant calling the depot and determining how to deal with the breakdown.

Tour guide mulling his next move
Our tour guide, Marcelo, mulled his next move. How do I save the day he must have thought and how do I preserve my tip at the end of the day. We were on a busy road and it did not make sense for us to stand by the side of the road and wait while vehicles of all types zoomed past us on what is the busiest road in Holguin province. And it was a hot day with temperatures in the low 30s.
Farm visit
There was a small farm on the side of the road and Marcelo paid the farmer a visit, must have explained his desperate situation and managed to bring all the passengers on a tour of this small farm. It was an opportunity to see an actual Cuban farm that had not been staged beforehand.

Marcelo saved the day. A replacement bus arrived and we continued on our most interesting tour of Holguin City.
Marcelo,our tour guide
The remainder of the day went without a hitch and it was clear that Marcelo did not let this incident mar his day. My guess is that there were good tips at the end of the tour.