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Alexa Rankings

June 2nd, 2013  · stk

A practical guide to your website Alexa ranking. What it is, what are its pitfalls, why it's important and what you can do to increase your Alexa ranking. Written as a result of questions fielded by a web client, concerned that their ranking was substantially lower than those of his competitors.

What are Alexa Rakings & Should I Care?

Alexa is to website owners as Klout is to Twitter or Nielsen ratings are to television. It's a way to see how your website traffic compares to your competitors (or any other website in the world for that matter).

Founded in 1996 by two entrepreneurs, the name Alexa gives props to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the Internet - today's largest body of knowledge (pornography notwithstanding).

In addition to offering a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, Alexa also offers statistical information for each website one visits. Originally, Alexa archived the websites it crawled and this database served as the basis for the creation of the "Internet Archive", which can now be accessed through the Wayback Machine.

Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999 for about $250MM (USD) and has been through much, though analytic Alexa rankings remains a core function of this Amazon subsidiary.

For anyone owning or managing a website, Alexa rankings can offer valuable insight. If you advertise on your website, know that advertisers use Alexa rankings to determine rate-of-pay and other factors - your Alexa ranking becomes very important. For most website owners, Alexa rankings are another one of those "devil-in-the-details" things. You should know about it, how it works (and about its inherent flaws) and the small changes and improvements you can make to your website to increase its Alexa ranking. This article will cover all of this, in a practical way.

Understanding & Improving Your Alexa Ranking

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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Dear Facebook

May 21st, 2013  · stk

NewsBrief: [Dear Mark Zuckerberg] Why Facebook fails when it comes to malware or malicious software detection. Warning users not to download and run software from untrusted sources is good. Forcing users to download and run software from Facebook, in order to log-in again, is bad.

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Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg - I thought I would write to you Mark, since you are both the creator of Facebook and its public face (even though I know that it has grown and there's no way you can put your personal stamp on everything). I am writing to let you know of an ironic problem with your service, which I have come to utilize on a nearly daily basis (congrats on making something so relevant and useful).

What the system needs to know is that using a URL-shortening service (which takes long, ugly links and make them appear shorter) does not mean that I have a virus on my personal computer. Seriously. I am a web developer. I know a thing or two about malware, viruses and SPAM. A tad more than your Facebook service does ... like ... a LOT more.

So, when I reply to someone with two sentences and add a shortened link (e.g., http://fe.gd/wIk) it is not malware or SPAM, nor does it indicate that my personal computer is infected with a virus.

I have tried to tell you this many times before. When the system said: "Warning: The link you are trying to use has been blocked because it looks like malware, SPAM or may contain a virus. If you think this message is in error, please contact us" (paraphrased). Countless times I explained that a shortened URL is not SPAM, malware or imply a local virus infection. Obviously, the time I spent doing this was wasted.

It used to be that when Facebook "detected" SPAM or malicious content, it would degrade gracefully, suggesting that I check my computer for virus, but offer an opportunity to reclaim my account. No longer is this the case. This morning when it (again erroneously) assumed that a shortened URL was malicious content or a computer virus, I was ungraciously logged off of Facebook and led down a garden path. When I logged in, I see the following message:

For security reasons your account is temporarily locked

Unfortunately, your computer may be infected with a virus.
Don't worry. We'll help you find and remove any infected files right away.

 

Hitting the "Continue" button yields an ironic message:

How you might have been infected

Often, users who are infected with malware are tricked into running a malicious program, which infects their machine with malware. Remember, you should never run programs from sources that you don't trust.

 

The irony, of course, is what happens on the very next screen. Your system - after warning users never to run programs from sources they don't trust - ironically says I have a virus and (as an the only option) must download and run some software, in order to proceed! LMFAO!

I mean, we all TRUST Facebook, right? (How many SPAM "Farmville" notifications have I received, applications that post my personal information to "friends" or other untrustworthy behavior? ... TOO MANY!) But now, I'm supposed to believe Facebook when it says I have a virus and that I should download and run software that it CLAIMS is from McAfee? What a ridiculous proposition! (Especially given the message on the previous page!) Asking visitors to download and run software that is claimed will "fix" your personal computer is the oldest SCAM on the internet (next to cheap medications and promises of making millions while working at home)! LOL

Mark, where's this option: "The Facebook system screwed up, I swear I don't have a virus on my local computer and can I PLEASE just log into the account I was happily in 5 minutes ago?"? Pity it no longer exists and instead you force users down some shady garden path.

No, not pity ... more like PITA

I mean, I'm glad you partnered up with McAfee and everything, but (a) IF I thought I had a virus (which I do not), I'd pick TrendMicro or BitDefender as my scanning solution, not McAfee and (b) I don't have a virus and it is your bloody Facebook system that's the hang up here ... so don't shove software at users they don't want it (or trust it), sending them down a work-flow path that is both time-consuming and (in the case of shortened URLs) completely unnecessary. Your user's time is more valuable than you give it credit.

On the other hand, I waste too much time on Facebook anyway. Maybe I should thank you for locking me out of Facebook for no reason! I need to refocus energy on my blog anyway! :p

Sincerely, A User who got shortened out of Facebook

PS - Though I tried renaming my personal computer, clearing my cache (and my cookies) ... I could not log into Facebook. (Hmmm, I should try a different browser - Edit: Switching browsers worked! Must be a browser-dependent virus then, eh Mark? LOL). Maybe I'll just wait and see how long it takes until Facebook assumes my PC is "magically cured". LOL.

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Passing the Sniff Test

October 22nd, 2012  · stk

Passing the Sniff Test -- Scott & Rachel are replacing their broken Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. They can buy it locally for $349 CAD, but know they are cheaper in the States. They almost pulled the trigger on one for $162, but the company - smarttechcases.com - turned out to be a SCAM. Find out more.

SmartTechCases.com Scam

British Columbia - NAFTA woes continue for Scott & Rachel. While backpacking in Cape Scott two summer's ago, the Lumix camera they loved (Leica-lens, 10X optical zoom), popped out of it's soft case, landing hard on a wooden bridge. It wouldn't work any more. They took it to a camera repair shop, but thought the $180 repair bill was a tad expensive.

Fast-forward to this summer, when they had an amazing kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait. They missed lots of great wildlife shots, because they lacked a good digital camera with a decent zoom lens. The decided that they would bite the bullet and purchase the latest Lumix camera. (Updated to a 20X optical zoom - same weight and form factor, plus a few other goodies - GPS, touch-screen menu).

They've highlighted the disparity in digital camera prices between the United States and Canada. First with their Casio EX-Z875 digital camera and again with the Lumix DMC-TZ5 that broke.

Today, this latest Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera is "on sale" at their local Canadian Future Shop (if money weren't an object, they could drive right down and buy the camera, today and be instantly gratified knowing that they got it on sale). The sale price is $349.99 ("Save $30" the online advert says).

Knowing that they could probably buy the camera in the States for a lot less money, they headed to their friendly shopping bots and gave them a spin. Actually, it was their head that spun, when they saw a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera on sale through a Yahoo e-commerce vendor (SmartTechCases.com) for $160. Wow!

To learn how cheaply they were able to buy this camera (and how they were almost swindled out of nearly $165) ... read on brave consumer ...

The Deal & the Scam

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Johnstone Strait Sea Kayaking

September 2nd, 2012  · stk

NewsBrief: [Kidless Kayaking] Scott & Rachel took advantage of the fact that Alex is off with her maternal grandparents, visiting Watch Lake & riding horses with her cousins. They went on a 5-day sea kayaking trip, leaving from Telegraph Cove and paddling down Johnstone Strait and out to the Indian Group.

johnstone strait sea kayaking adventure - black bear

Paddling the Wild Life

Rachel & Scott just returned from a 5-day sea kayaking trip in the Broughton Archipelago area of Johnstone Strait. Wildlife was amazing! lots of orca, humpback whales, porpoises, black bear, bald eagles, sea lions, harbor seals and ... even a grey wolf (fleeting view) ... plus they were serenaded by the wolf as they packed up camp!

"Best sea kayaking trip so far!" exclaimed Rachel.

Paddling Area

Full journal and pictures coming soon. In the meantime, you can listen to the grey wolf (2-3 min recording made in camp). Haunting! (This grey wolf showed himself on the rocky, fog-shrouded bluff, near our campsite on the northern side of Crease Island. He darted for the woods and then serenaded us for the better part of 40 minutes, while we packed up camp. We cobbled together this 2-3 minute audio recording for your listening pleasure.)

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Pickled Tongue Recipe

May 28th, 2012  · stk

Growing up in Bakersfield, California meant eating Basque food. Why? Because the Basque followed the sheep at the turn of the 20th century and Basque boardinghouses were clustered down by the old Bakersfield train station. One of the things we ate was pickled cow tongue. Not tried it? Just head down to your local grocer (or butcher), buy a tongue and use the easy "Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe" herein! You'll either love it or hate it, but either way ... it'll be a culinary conversation piece!

Basque Pickled Cow Tongue Recipe

Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe

When you think of appetizers, most don't think of pickled cow tongue. Heck, if you've spent any time around cows, you know what they use that long tongue of theirs for - picking their nose! Eating that nose-picking thing doesn't sound very appetizing at all!

But it is! Pickled cow tongue may be an acquired flavor, but because I grew up in Bakersfield, California - it's a dish I've learned to love!

If you too, love pickled tongue, or are a brave soul eager to try a new Basque delicacy, I'm happy to say, "You've come to the right place!" We have an authentic (and easy) Basque Pickled Tongue recipe for you to try.

Make Your Own Basque Pickled Tongue

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Isagenix: Day 56

April 29th, 2012  · stk

Quick Update

Sorry. I've been crap at updating this blog. I lasted through my 30-day Isagenix Cleanse & Fat-burning system. I am happy to report that I lost a total of 17 pounds. I'm now on their "Five Pillars of Health" maintenance system and have now lost approximately 20 pounds total. (Not been as rigorous about maintenance as I could/should be, but I started my 30-day cleanse weighing 210 pounds and am now fluctuating between 189-193. Would still like to lose another 5-10 pounds and couple that with some weight training and exercise.)

I still need to finish out the articles to cap off my first week's experience - including my first fasting day on Sunday. The remaining weeks were pretty much a "rinse and repeat" operation, though there were several observations about the Isogenix products and my experience that were worth noting (will come back and infill on my personal experiences - promise).

I attended a day-long Isagenix seminar, yesterday ($20 to get in, got to listen to Michael Close - a Multi-Level Marketing guru). It was an interesting day and I learned more about the Isagenix products, which I am starting to gain an appreciation for the quality of research and ingredients. THIS is the main reason I signed up with Isagenix and not the marketing stuff (I'm a horrible salesperson and can't really see myself becoming some rich millionaire marketer. Wouldn't mind the millionaire part, just don't see myself turning into a "marketer" to do it! LOL.) The balance of the afternoon was spent on the marketing aspects of the product line. Yeah, it's there and if it's for you, then I'm sure that Isagenix is a great company - both in terms of product line and also pay-structure!)

The real reason I'm posting today is because of a news article I spotted in the local paper about the benefits of fasting (one of the hallmarks of the 30-day Fat-burning system is a weekly fast. THIS is where your body looks for fuel alternatives and begins to convert stored glucose, burning fat reserves for fuel. Within the Isagenix community, they recommend a 2-day fast, but after my 4 fasting experiences, I'm not certain I'm down for that. One day was hard enough ... although, oddly enough, after going to bed very hungry after a day of fasting, I was astounded to always wake up the next morning and NOT be hungry!)

Anyway ... here's some of the story (not sure how long the link will last). I thought it was interesting, since I had just come off the Isagenix 30-day nutritional cleanse and fat-burning program only a few weeks prior.

Medical Benefits of Fasting

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Isagenix: Day 5

March 3rd, 2012  · stk

Grumpy Bear

It's funny how you can go to bed hungry, but when you wake up, you're not hungry! I love it! (Kinda makes me want to sleep all the time though).

When I woke up on Friday, my headache (like normal) was gone, along with my hunger. The funny thing though, was that it never returned! Yay! I'm hoping my headache days are behind me (more room in bed, for one reason!) LOL.

I've been having fun trying different things in my shakes, just to be creative. Hey ... an artist uses whatever is around him to "create", eh? So what if all my art comes in a glass? It's still art!

This morning I put in a level teaspoon of homemade blackberry jam in with two level scoops of vanilla "IsaLean Shake" powder. Turned it a nice shade of purple and there were even bits of blackberry seeds at the bottom of the mug. (You know you're hungry when, instead of rinsing the mug, you pour water into it, swish it around and then drink it!.

Yep, I'm still hungry!

2 "IsaLean Shakes", 1 scoop of "Ionix Supreme" drink mix, 2 "Natural Accelerator" pills, 2 "Shake day support options" (Scooby Snacks), tons of water (half gallon minimum), 1 "IsaFlush" pill and a balanced meal (400-600 calories) rounded out my diet for the day.

Dinner was very good. I had range-fed, grilled T-bone steak (about 6 ounces) and a salad consisting of stir-fried vegetables and quinoa (Quinoa is an ncient Mayan seed that's considered a "whole grain" food. Quinoa takes less time to cook than other whole-grains, taste's great on its own, is gluten and cholesterol-free and provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It's pronounced as "KEEN-wah".)

I also splurged and had a beer with dinner!

Before you freak, I should qualify this by saying it was a "chick" beer.

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Isogenix: Day 4

March 2nd, 2012  · stk

Family Day

By day four, you'd think I'd be in a routine. Nope. I get up and try to get Alex off to school. I'm lucky to have a glass of water and a mixture of "Ionix Supreme" (one of these days, I'll have to figure out what all this stuff is).

When I come back, I make my morning "IsaLean Shake". I opted for chocolate this morning and added some peanut butter. I take my morning "Ageless Essentials Daily Pack" vitamins and head upstairs to work on web design. During the course of the morning, I drank a cup of coffee and at a "Scooby Snack". My headache persists, despite adding (reduced amounts) of coffee back into my routine.

It must be the hunger. Dunno.

Lunch consists of a vanilla "IsaLean Shake" and I can't think of what to put in, so I put in half of an apple. I guess I didn't blend it very well, because it ends up kinda chunky. I don't care. It kinda adds texture to the shake! So I drink/eat my lunch and head back upstairs to work on the computer.

Hunger has become my constant friend. It follows me wherever I go. In the office, it sits in the chair next to me. It follows me outside when I let out our chickens, collect the eggs or haul out the garbage. It's with me when I go to bed. I feel the need to give my hunger a name. After 30 days, who knows, me and my hunger may be having conversations with one another!

Oddly, I'm getting used to the hunger. It's not as bad as one might think it would be. I've never really experienced prolonged hunger before. Oh sure, the normal ... "I'm starving!" feelings you get before eating a meal, but never days-long, low-grade hunger. It's not that bad. It's kinda like hopping into a cold swimming pool. It shocks you at first, then you get used to it.

One thing I've noticed about hunger is that I now look forward to and appreciate my dinners much more! Tonight I baked butterflied chicken breasts, stuffed with a slice of ham and cheddar cheese, topped with a bit of Cajun seasoning. As a side we had brown rice and oven-roasted carrots. Boy, was it good! I ate it slowly, savoring each bite. I didn't want it to end! (Normally, I wolf down my supper like a hound dog ... then wonder what's for dessert, before dinner even hits my stomach!)

When you only get to eat one meal a day, it becomes a special event and you want it to last.

Another new sensation, leaving the table hungry. Never really done that before. Sure, I've left the table thinking, "Gee, I could eat more." But that's not the same as thinking, "Gee, I'm hungry."

Alex, my eight-year-old daughter, is intrigued by my diet. She tried a shake. "I wish I could have one for breakfast," she said. This morning, when I was making my "IsaLean Shake", she was pulling together her lunch for school. One of the things she added was a pre-packaged container of yogurt. I looked at her and said, "Hmm, I'll have to try a shake with some yogurt in it!" She thought that sounded like a pretty yummy idea.

After dinner, Rachel buggered off to work (she's a nurse and was working a 12-hour night shift), so it was just Alex and I at home. Alex and I were going to play a game, but Alex had her school lunch to put together and I had a bit of work on the computer. As I was typing away, I heard her bound up the stairs. She entered the office and said, "I know you're hungry dad and I was thinking of you." She handed me a tiny container of yogurt. What a sweetheart, eh?

Did I eat the yogurt? Damn straight! I enjoyed it too!

Afterwards, I went downstairs to the living room, where I sat quietly for 5 minutes, before playing with Alex. I took my blood pressure. It was 137/79. Not perfect, but within range. (I'm taking blood pressure medication and have for the past 2-3 years. It was super high when it was first diagnosed - at a Live Fire Training Exercise in Comox, B.C. - like SUPER high: 210/110. The firefighter doing the monitoring shook his machine a couple of times, thinking it was broken). One of my goals is to see if can't get this under control with diet and exercise, so I'm curious to see how Isagenix does with this.)

My hunger (and my low-grade headache) followed me to bed. (Not a problem, since Rachel was at work, there was room for the three of me).

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Isagenix: Day 3

March 1st, 2012  · stk

Yay! Coffee!

Today my headache persisted and I elected to drink a cup of coffee in the morning (with a teaspoon of sugar), to see if it helped to reduce my persistent, low-grade headache. It was great to have my coffee back! I missed you, dear black stuff!

It tasted great, but did nothing to curb my headache. I'm thinking it's more to do with hunger, than any withdrawals from caffeine. Just my opinion (which I remain free to change at any time!)

I changed up the "IsaLean Shake" this morning. I had chocolate for breakfast (started off with vanilla in the morning). BIG change, eh? LOL ... OKAY ... I added a spoonful of peanut butter. (There's a little recipe booklet that comes with the Isagenix "Isablender". It's a hard-to-follow recipe called, "Peanut Butter Cup". You add 1 tablespoon of "organic" peanut butter to your two scoops of chocolate "IsaLean Shake" and 8 ounces of water. Why "organic"? Why not "organic, dolphin-free, ecologically-sustainable, non-irradiated, community-generated, charity-supporting Canadian" peanut butter? Probably because peanuts come from Georgia, eh? LOL ... I used regular Jiffy peanut butter. I think peanuts are pretty much organic. Maybe not the mouse poops, but the rest is.)

Can you tell? I'm a tad grumpy. I get like that when I'm hungry!

Rachel asked, while I was drinking my breakfast (upstairs, working on the computer), "How's your shake?"

"Oh," I gushed, "This just tastes great! And it's so filling! I - - L ... O ... V ... E - - it! In fact, I love it so much, I think I'm going to have another for lunch ... and for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe I'll mix it up a tad and add a little less water though, it's a bit runny!"

Yes, I do sarcasm when I'm grumpy. No extra charge!

The rest of the day went by and I did all that I'm supposed to do (minus the 30-minutes of exercising). I didn't want to strain my already deprived, weakened body!

Actually, I must be getting used to the diet. I got busy with work and actually FORGOT to have my lunch-time "IsaLean Shake"! Can you believe that? (Me neither!)

Dinner sucked. Not wanting to overdose on lean chicken breasts, I pulled out some frozen salmon fillets. These WERE fresh-caught salmon, but they'd been stuffed back into the recesses of the freezer and made little houses back there, building an igloo using all the other frozen items. I guess they've been hibernating back there for what? Two years? (They were a tad freezer burned).

I was determined to use them. Partly to get them out of the freezer, mostly because nothing else was defrosted. Rachel was in a hurry to leave for some nursing function (or was it running clinic?) It's hard to keep track, my food-depraved brain isn't conducting electricity too well anymore!

I steamed the salmon over a bed of vegetables, drowned in balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, water and lemon juice. We had steamed broccoli along with a cup of steamed brown and wild rice. I also made a red pepper, cucumber and tomato "chutney" (hoping it would drown out the freezer-burned taste). Sounds good, eh?

It wasn't. Rachel couldn't finish hers. I happily ate every bit of mine, saying, "This is the best meal I've had all day!"

We counted how many bones we found in our fish. Alex "won" with nine. She won dessert! I asked her, "How do you like the fish?"

"Well," she hesitated, "I'm glad I won (the bone contest), but I really didn't like it all that much!"

We saved what wasn't eaten and gave it to the chickens the next day. (Chickens make great garbage disposals and have the added benefit of yielding eggs ... not that I've eaten any lately!) :(

I had another cup of coffee after dinner. It had the same effect. It tasted great, but it didn't help my low-grade headache much. (That's OKAY ... I'm kinda getting used to the headache!)

I worked late into the night and didn't go to bed till nearly 1 AM. I was stressing over the new website, which is probably what's causing my headache, in reality.

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Isagenix: Day 2

February 29th, 2012  · stk

One Tough Day

OKAY ... it's actually Day 5, so I have a bit of catching up to do. (Note to self: Do not start a diet in the week after launching a website! Crazy busy.)

It was cold last night and I couldn't get warm in bed. Mind you, it was a cold night too, so I don't know if "body fuel" was the issue or just plain "cold temperatures". I'm thinking "cold temperatures", because Rachel was cold too. One big benefit to being married? Snuggling! Great way to warm up. We snuggled together most of the night ... and slept.

I woke up feeling hungry. My body was definitely not liking the new regime. I drank water and had a glass of "Ionix Supreme". The morning ritual was pretty much the same, as I worked with Alex on her spelling, walked her a quarter mile down to the bus stop, fed the chickens and collected eggs on my way back.

After my first day, I decided that if I was going to see this 30-day "cleanse" through, there were going to have to be some changes. Plain shakes aren't going to cut it and eating solid food for lunch, while drinking a shake for dinner, isn't at all conducive to family mealtime.

So, I did a radical thing. I added half a banana to my morning vanilla "IsaLean Shake". (I know ... I know ... pretty bold of me, eh?)

The rest of the morning was spent in front of the computer, working on the new website. I chowed down a "Scooby Snack" at about 10:30 AM. Hunger persisted and one "Scooby Snack" didn't ward it off for very long.

As I was working, I noticed that I was beginning to develop a headache. I don't normally get headaches. In fact, I would say that I rarely get headaches. Usually, they're brought on by hunger. So, I figured, "Yep, I'm hungry!" It passed when I had my lunchtime shake (chocolate with - yes - the other half of the banana). Tasted a tad better than vanilla with a banana, but - of course - I still wanted more! I felt full, but hungry.

I pretty much followed the "Shake Day Planner" (plus the banana and change-up between dinner and lunch). My headache returned and persisted during entire afternoon, until dinner. I drank loads of water (hauling around a quart Nalgene water bottle. I drank about 3 quarts of water out of the bottle, plus whatever else I drank with my shakes and out of a glass. I had to pee a lot! Important to stay hydrated!)

Dinner was a highly anticipated event! The whole family had grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast with an Italian dressing marinade, steamed brown rice and steamed carrots and broccoli. (I actually weighed mine, just to make sure I was keeping within the 400-600 calories recommended in a "Balanced Meal". It weighed 6 ounces). Out of curiosity, we tallied up my meal based on Weight Watchers points (Rachel has had success following an "at-home" version of a Weight-Watchers diet, so we had the book ... but it's also possible to tally points online, or even from an iPhone app, I think). My meal came to 8 points and Rachel says, "A point is worth roughly 50 calories". So I was right in the range (maybe add one or two extra for margarine & the salad dressing).

Tuesday's are "Practice Night" at our local fire hall, where I volunteer. So after dinner, it was time to run off and practice fighting fires with my mates. My "Isagenix Coach" is also a volunteer. In fact, there are several of us on the Isagenix "30-day Cleanse" diet. Four hall members and a spouse).

At practice, we chatted about our experiences with the diet thus far. My coach said that my headaches are probably due to mild withdrawal symptoms from no longer drinking coffee. (I usually drink 2-3 ... sometimes more ... MUGS of coffee a day. When I started, I thought I was supposed to quit coffee completely. I found out at practice that you CAN drink coffee, just not on your "cleanse days", which are every 7th day). Good to know!

We all cheated a bit that night, having a few alcoholic drinks after our fire practice. I went home thinking the Isogenix diet wasn't so bad! (I'm sure it was the alcohol, rapidly converted into sugar, doing all the "talking"! LOL).

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Isagenix: Day 1

February 28th, 2012  · stk

My First Experience with Isagenix

When I woke up this morning, I knew the weather was going to be rough (speaking from a diet point of view). I wasn't disappointed. But it didn't start out too bad.

I normally don't eat breakfast, opting for a hot cup of coffee, instead. (Not the best way to start the day, but it's been my habit since I started walking with Alex down to the bus stop, ever since she started kindergarten. Nearly 4 years now.

Instead, this morning I broke into my Isagenix box, opened up the "30-Day Step-by-Step" guide and began on step one.

I mixed up one ounce of Ionix Supreme. It looked very odd in the glass of water and frankly, none too appealing. I've taken Metamucil before and it reminded me of that, only it was a weird purplish-black color. I drank it and to my surprise, it looked way worse than it tasted. I drank a glass of water too. The instructions say "purified" water, but since we pull our water out of a well 570 feet into the ground, I figure it's hard to "purifiy" it more.

I walked Alex down to the bus stop and when I returned, I had "breakfast". I opened one of my 4 IsaLean Shake canisters, measured out two scoops of vanilla-flavoured shake powder and plopped it into a drinking glass. I added cold water and stirred it with a spoon. (After, I regretted not using a blender, as it took a fair bit of stirring and still, the mixture wasn't consistently smooth). I drank it anyway. It tasted fine! And bonus ... I felt full! I also swallowed an AM packet of "Ageless essentials" (assume vitamens).

I had to laugh, because I'm normally pretty conscience about the quality of the food I put into my mouth (it's the quantity I have a problem with, eh?) and I still have no idea what all these products contain. I guess I'm placing a fair bit of faith that the Isogenix company has invested a lot of research money into this suite of dietary products and that, ultimately, they're all good for me!

The morning went by without too much issue. I had to remind myself to eat a "shake day support option" (1 Isagenix Snack), which I promptly dubbed a "Scooby snack". Wasn't bad tasting, but I was surprised it was a friable, dry pill and not something more "chewy".

Lunch came and ... yes ... I was hungry. I'd abandoned my normal 2-3 mugs of coffee (with a heaping spoonfull of sugar) ... plus any random fridge grazing. Since I work from home, lunch usually consists of warmed leftovers, hastily-made sandwich, odds'n-ends or - nothing. Today was a little different, as I had a client-meeting at a local restaurant (the Crow and Gate English Pub).

"Uh oh," I thought, "It's 'Day 1' and already I'm going to bust my diet."

I didn't though, opting for a (reasonable if you ask me) soup and sandwich. The soup was a Boston-style clam chowder and the sandwich a simple roast beef on wheat bread. Water to drink, of course.

When I returned from lunch, I continued on with my day and noticed that I was becoming increasingly hungry. I continued to drink water (can you say "blub, blub?" I popped another "Scooby snack" and began to miss the taste of real food. I would have really loved to have read the card, if it had said, "Eat a huge turkey dinner." Unfortunately, I knew the road ahead. I drank more water.

I forgot to take my "Natural Accelerator" in the afternoon.

Dinner came just after 6 PM and by then, I would normally have consumed a couple of beers. Without those empty calories, I was definitely hungry. My wife had a dinner meeting, so she fed Alex, while I continued to work on the computer upstairs. After they ate, I moseyed downstairs, fixed a chocolate shake (two scoops and used the blender this time). That went down quickly and tasted fine, but wasn't nice and crunchy like potato chips, nor did it satisfy me.

Well, that's not entirely true. For the next hour, I didn't feel hungry.

I also swallowed the PM packet of "Ageless Essentials" pills, along with the "Natural Accelerator" pill that I'd skipped in the afternoon.

I fielded a call from my "coach". He wanted to know how I was doing. I said I was hungry! He said he knew and asked me what I'd had for lunch. I said I went out to the Crow and Gate. He said, "Uh oh."

"No worries!" and I told him about having soup and sandwich, which he said was OKAY, but then I added, "Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have had those three beers though." (He didn't know if I was joking, but since it's a renown English-style pub, not out of the question!) LOL

So ... that's been my day. It's now 9 PM and - yes - I'm hungry!

I'm supposed to take 1-2 "IsaFlush" tablets. Not too excited about that, as it sounds like I'll be up all night ... flushing! I'll let you know how that works out ... in the morning.

Oh ... one problem I've noted with the Isagenix 30-day workflow so far (besides being hungry, which ... I guess ... isn't too surprising, considering it's meant for me to lose weight), is that the whole "eat a healthy Lunch" + "a shake for dinner", doesn't promote family togetherness. We normally eat our dinners as a family, which also involves sharing our days, talking and being a family. I doubt I'll be keen on sitting down to a shake, when the rest of the family is stuffing themselves with real, hot, delicious-smelling food! I *might* have to reverse the lunch/dinner part of the program and have a shake for breakfast AND lunch, reserving my "sensible 400-600 calories of real, tasty food" for dinner.

Well, that pretty much sums up my first day. I'm hoping it'll get a tad easier, as time goes by. (I'm sure all those people on the Survivor television show much go through this too - minus the shakes, Scooby snacks & flushing pills - when they're out there for their 20+ days? I know they crave food, but don't talk about it much. Hope the same happens to me!

What I didn't eat or drink today: 2 to 3 cups of coffee (with sugar); 4-6 beers (300-calories each); snacks watching television in the evening; over-sized portions of really good-tasting, mouth-watering, yummy, solid food! (i.e., if I can manage to 'stay strong' ... there will be a "new me" - well, really more like a "like-I-used-to-be me" - on the other side!)

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The "Toilet Bowl"

February 8th, 2012  · stk
Joe Paterno legend coach of Penn State football team

 

Douglas Robb hasn't written much since Joe Paterno passed away on January 22nd, 2012. He wrote a fitting tribute to Joe Paterno yesterday. He called it "The Joe I Know". Here is his story (which I feel honored that he allowed me to reprint here). Thanks Doug. ;)

For me, growing up in State College, Pennsylvania was a great experience. Those who come to live and work in "Happy Valley" generally have a sense of loyalty about the place that endears itself to people who have lived there - even long after they move away. For those of us who are "Townies," this is especially true. Part and parcel of this is the atmosphere that revolves around Penn State.

After all, State College probably wouldn't be much of a town without Penn State. There is no major employer other than the University, save for the businesses that support State College and it's surrounding community. Many come to State College to attend Penn State, only to find employment there after they graduate. Some start businesses and stake their claim to their little piece of "Happy Valley".

That's how my family arrived at State College. After serving with the U.S. Navy, my dad - "Big Lou" - attended Penn State, as thousands of others had, through their G.I. Bill. Many veterans came from the cities, towns and rural communities around the state, to the school whose mission was "to educate the working class sons and daughters of the Commonwealth."

And so my Dad and my Mom came from their childhood home in Johnstown and began their life in "Happy Valley". Like so many before them, my Dad attended Penn State and my Mom raised our family. When my Dad graduated, he began working for Penn State and our family "took root" in State College.

Penn State Autumn Rituals

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Visits in the Night

January 8th, 2012  · stk

A ClustrMap|NASA Mashup

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except Scott, who was playing with PhotoShop! Sorry, but "Visits in the Night" isn't about Santa Claus coming down our chimney. It's about creating a "night-time" display using a satellite image from NASA, merged with our worldwide website visitors tracked on ClustrMaps.

Ever since November 2005, we've been tracking the locations of many of our randsco.com visitors by using an application developed by Marc Eisenstadt, called "ClustrMaps". (Hover the globe in "Site Tools" section of the sidebar, for the regular map thumbnail - like the one that also shows here). Since that time, we've logged over 2 million visitors!

When you click the globe in the sidebar (or the thumbnail above) you'll be directed to the ClustrMap website, which shows a much larger visitor map for our website (clicking on country regions shows even greater detail). Since inception, Marc and the ClustrMap team have been continually adding features to their service and they recently won "Best Free Web Tool" in the 2011 Edublog Awards.

Not long ago, when I clicked on the globe and went to the larger, world-wide map, I noticed that the dots showed first and that it took a few seconds for the underlying "map" to reveal itself. I thought, "The dots by themselves, make an interesting display." They reminded me of a NASA image I once saw, showing urban lights across the world at night. (The image below. Click it for an even larger version).

NASA Composite Satellite Image of World Lights at Night

Earth at Night: Lights from urbanized areas show up clearly on this NASA image (a composite of hundreds of images taken by orbiting DMSP satellites).

Our ClustrMap at Night

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New Year Speed

January 5th, 2012  · stk

NewsBrief: [Need for Speed] We're in the middle of revamping our website so that it's much speedier to access (links to tools & techniques) • [Happy New Year] What's planned for 2012 (besides finishing a myriad of projects)?

Need for Speed

Maidenhead, England - Those who follow Randsco.com know that news has been slow-coming during 2011. In an effort to get 2012 off to a good start, we've been busy working behind-the-scenes. One of the areas of focus over the past few days has been website page speed. You can say, "We've felt a need - for speed!"

Ironically, this blog hails not from Canada, but from England (randsco.com is currently hosted on an Apache server in Maidenhead, a tad west of London). Hopping over the pond - even electronically - isn't the fastest connection, but thankfully, electrons move quickly! The server location speaks more to economy, than speed (read: We're lucky and are currently hosted for free).

Despite the electronic distance, there's still lots we can do to help speed up our website. This past week, we've been busy learning about all these nifty things ... and putting many into action. Here's the big list:

We've also found some nifty tools that help to evaluate page load speed. We use Pingdom to monitor server uptime. We learned they also offer a free tool for testing the load time of a web page (includes a waterfall diagram, performance grade, page analysis & keeps a history chart).

Another good tool is Site Load Test. This no-nonsense tool quickly shows areas that can be improved, to make websites load faster (identifies potential savings from minify'ing CSS, JavaScript and combining small images to make CSS sprites ... reducing the number of server calls).

All good stuff and part of our commitment to positive visitor experience. (We ALL hate slow-loading websites!)

Randsco.com ... it's a work "in-progress", eh?

Happy New Year!

Hutton House - We want to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012!

On that note, we took stock of our own situation right after the new year. Alex and Scott started the New Year by being sick! Joy.

Scott also quickly realized that he started off the New Year behind on most everything. (Rachel might say he started it of as a "big behind", but I digress).

The list of Scott's unfinished projects is long:

  • Rental trailer renovations
  • Chicken coop renovation
  • Pumphouse reno
  • Kitchen reno
  • Utility room reno
  • Woodshed #2 construction
  • Camper improvements
  • Upstairs bath reno
  • Hot tub / deck
  • Raised bed garden(s)
  • Orchard & watering system
  • Firebox heat ducting
  • Boat repairs
  • Auto repairs
  • Kayak repairs

The list goes on and on!

Of course, this is all on top of maintenance, yard work, fire wood gathering, fire hall duties, at-home dad duties (cooking, cleaning, homework, etc), chicken farming, website work, blogging (who has time for THAT?) and "me-time" (rinse, repeat)!

So ... what resolutions for 2012? It may be the year of "finish stuff"? ... or maybe ... the year of "don't worry - be happy"? Scott is hoping for a bit of both, including more time to enjoy life & update the blog.

We're all hoping for a little less death in 2012. (2011 was bad in this regard, as we lost Scott's grandmother, a business partner and friend, our trailer renter & our cat of 19 years.) :(

Do you have any New Year resolutions?

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Not Your Normal Call

November 29th, 2011  · stk

As a volunteer firefighter, you train in preparation for many different kind of emergencies. This one came across as a "river rescue", but it turned out to be much different than that. These calls don't happen very often - thank God - and it's something straight out of a Hollywood movie.

"Swift-water Rescue"?

When you're a volunteer firefighter, you never know what kind of emergency you're going to attend. You try to prepare for anything. Sometimes, however, a call comes across for which, no amount of training, can help. This was such a call. Something a screenwriter in La-La Land might come up with.

The call came across to us as a river rescue, but it was ... and turned into ... something much more bizarre.

Man Arrested after Hours-long Pursuit

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Broken Arm Update

June 22nd, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [After Six Weeks] An update on Alex's broken-dislocated arm, after her bicycle crash on May 7th. It's been six weeks and the bones appear to have mended, but the news from the doctor isn't that great.

After Week Six

Hutton House - The bones appear to be mended, but the elbow still looks 'fat' and the ROM is still not 100%.

Reporters gathered on the Randsco campus on Tuesday, to celebrate the summer solstice and to find out how Alex was doing after she suffered a fracture & dislocation of her right arm in a freak bicycle accident, in early May.

"I'm fine," she told the assembled group, holding up her right arm (still bent at a slight angle).

"As always," reported mom, "her spirits are good, despite the fact that she still looks like she has a 'broken wing'.

Alex crashed her bike into a steep ditch on May 7th. Her parents rushed her to the emergency centre at Nanaimo Regional Hospital, where she was prepped for surgery only a few hours later. Dr. Malone performed a closed reduction, while Alex was under a general anesthetic. The fractured bit of bone seemed to "fall back into place", so Alex was placed in a tensor bandaged 'half-cast' for a week. The cast came off after a week and she was encouraged to 'use her arm'. At about week three, it was evident that Alex was not regaining full motion in her arm. The doctor prescribed physio-therapy, where they measured her loss of range of motion at 55%. Working diligently the past 3 weeks, (joylessly) doing prescribed exercises, Alex made rapid gains - 20% on contraction and 15% on extension.

Unfortunately, just after six weeks, Alex has hit a tad of a 'brick wall' on her ROM. It seems that she's lost about 15% of extension and cannot straighten her arm, despite exercising.

Dr. Malone's take?

"That's just the way nature works. It's a functioning arm, so it just might be something that she has to learn to live with."

Say What?

Parents were disappointed to hear this news and thought it was poor bedside manner to give up so soon and also to plant seeds of doubt in such a young, bright mind.

"The doctors might be giving up," Scott told reporters, "but we're not!"

Scott plans on building a pull-up bar on the Randsco campus, from which Alex can hang. Hopefully, using her body weight will help to gain back that last 15% of extension.

"Nooooo!" Alex said, reacting to the perceived pain of stretching her tendons.

Alex doesn't like working her arm and she seems to have adapted to its limited range of motion. For starters, Alex is a 'lefty' and it was her right arm that was broken, so she doesn't use it as much as she would if she were right-handed. The pain of the break and dislocation is also fresh in her mind and she winces each time Rachel or Scott assist with 'exercises'. Stretching tendons reminds her of this pain and she holds back and whines.

"Her arm is still really 'fat' too," said Rachel, "The physio-therapist told us that the size of her elbow will gradually diminish, over the next six months or so. Alex took a very serious blow and there's still lots of swelling and irritation."

"Thanks to everyone that has wished Alex a speedy recovery," added Scott. Members of the North Cedar Fire Hall, where Scott volunteers, bought Alex a book on "How to Draw" and sent a (Shaw Cable) "Care Bear" stuffy. Members of our local Credit Union sent Alex a get well card and "Penny the Owl" goodies. Alex's "Fairy God Mother" in Seattle asks after Alex on a regular basis and sends hugs over the Internet. Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and great-Aunts have all sent cards.

"Alex is doing fine, but we're not quite out of the woods yet," said Scott.

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Canada Post on Strike

June 20th, 2011  · stk

Did you know Canada Post is on strike? The Canadian postal system shut down over a week ago. The United States is no longer accepting mail addressed to Canada. Who cares? In the age of text messages, email & a myriad of private parcel delivery companies to choose from - is Canada Post even relevant?

Canada Post is on Strike? Who Cares?

 Canada Post Strike 2011 - Mailbox closed

My seven (and a half) year-old daughter recently participated in day-long "Hands-Across the Border" event, where girl scouts (Brownies) from Canada and the United States traded goodies and celebrated at the near-by Peace Arch border crossing. Alex had obtained some nice "City of Nanaimo" and "Canada Flag" trader-pins from our MLA, Leonard Krog, when Rachel visited his office a couple of weeks ago.

"What's this got to do with the Canada Postal Union strike?" you might ask.

Well, Alex wrote a very nice, colorful, personal letter of "thanks" to MLA Leonard Krog and we took it down to the post box this morning to mail it. We couldn't put it into the outgoing mail slot, as it had been covered over with the Canada Post "closed" sign shown above.

"Oh, right," I told Alex, "Canada Post is on strike, so there's no mail delivery."

Sadly, MLA Leonard Krog will have an easier time finding his mail here, than he will finding it in his mailbox (an e-mail from his website will let him know that he can read his "Canada Post mail" here!)

This incident made me curious about the Canada Post strike. I know the Postal Union members have been on strike for a while and that mail delivery stopped over a week ago. But ... why are they on strike? If the strike doesn't affect me much, how many others don't care? How relevant is Canada Post in today's world of electronic mail, Skype, cell phone text-messaging, FaceBook, Twitter and private parcel services (e.g., UPS, Fed-Ex & DHL)?

The Irrelevant Postal Strike

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Boating & Fishing Safety Tips

June 19th, 2011  · Zooey

Kinda like Tom Sawyer, we were paid $55 to allow someone to write an article on Randsco. We are not otherwise affiliated with BoaterExam.com. This "advert post" by Zooey, is now part of an Randsco SEO experiment (write-up to come after data are collected. In the meantime ... a big "sorry" to our loyal readers who subscribe by RSS or eMail! We're not suddenly turning SPAMMY on you!

Fishing and boating are exciting family-oriented activities that can be both fun and educational. They can also be quite dangerous, especially when we lack awareness or are not properly prepared. It is for this reason that British Columbia now mandates a BC boating license regardless of boat size and other aspects. In fact, this kind of regulation is now popular throughout Canada and the United States because the statistics show that it saves lives.

Read full story...

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Bike Crash Update

May 27th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [Bike Crash Update] It's been nearly three weeks since Alex broke her arm in a freak bicycle accident. Here's an update on her progress ...

After 20 Days

Alex with her broken arm in a cast

Hutton House - Twenty days ago, Alex crashed her new bicycle into a ditch near the house. It wasn't a particularly steep ditch, nor was it filled with big boulders (like further up the roadway). She just landed awkwardly and then the bicycle landed on top of her.

When she walked down the driveway, she said, "I think I broke my arm!" as she sobbed.

She hadn't a bruise on her, nor a scratch. Dad thought for sure she was OKAY ... till he felt her arm.

"We better take off your jacket," he said.

Sure enough, it looked like Alex had dislocated her elbow. Rachel rushed her off to the Urgent Care facility in Ladysmith where, as a precaution, they took an X-Ray, before any attempts to put it back in place.

An initial look at the X-Ray seemed to indicate that Alex had only dislocated her elbow, but upon closer scrutiny, they decided it might be broken, as well. They recommended that Alex head up to Nanaimo Regional Hospital, in case surgery was needed.

After visiting the Emergency Room, doctors in Nanaimo decided that it was indeed a break and because there were operating theatres available, that the operation would take place that very day. She was admitted, prepped for surgery and underwent a general anesthetic which put her out cold. It was only afterward, that we learned that a closed reduction (relocation of the elbow, without cutting any skin) was successful and seemingly snapped the bone back in place too.

This was good news, as it meant that Alex wouldn't have to "go under the knife".

Her arm was wrapped in a fibreglqass "half-cast", which held her arm in a bent position. The cast was wrapped and held in place by a long Ace bandage. Alex was groggy, after the surgery, but her spirits were good. She was sent home after several hours of observation.

The cast was on for a week (and then left on during the weekend, as we embarked upon our annual 'Fire Hall Fishing Derby' camping weekend, up at Nanaimo Lakes). Better to have the cast on, protecting Alex's arm whilst playing and then off at night, whilst sleeping.

Alex didn't seem to be in much pain, but as one might expect, she didn't have a great range of motion with her elbow, either.

It's now been nearly three weeks since her accident and she's been out of the cast for some time. She's been instructed to try to straighten her arm as much as possible, but it pains her to do so and she still has limited motion. (She can barely touch her shoulder with her right hand and still can't straighten her right arm ... missing about 20-degrees of movement).

She had a follow-up visit to the doctor just after one week. The bone fragment that broke is roughly in the same position as it was after the closed reduction ... sitting just a tad further away than it was originally. The surgeon says this shouldn't cause much problem and will probably result in a slight thickening of her elbow - nothing more.

Alex has another follow-up visit this coming Tuesday and we'll be eager to hear what he says about the (continued) limited range of motion. Alex doesn't like trying to straighten her arm - "because it hurts," she says and hasn't been working at it as diligently as she could, as a result. Because she'd predominantly left-handed, having her right arm out of commission doesn't seem to bother her too much, as she carries it around like a broken wing.

Anxious parents want the assurance that she won't have a "broken wing" for life and are eager to see her healed with a full and complete range of motion.

Meanwhile, in other news ... both Rachel and Scott reported spotting loads more grey hairs on their heads this past week. Neither know why this might be. Any ideas?

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Bicycle Crash

May 7th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [title] blah blah •

Bad Day for the Oop

The Hutton House - Alex took a tumble on her new bicycle (which has gears and front/rear hand-brakes). She went into a steep ditch not too far from our driveway.

Mom and Dad weren't there to witness the event, but heard a crying Alex walking down the long driveway.

"I think I broke my arm," she says.

Alex looked fine. No cuts, scrapes or blood anywhere. But when Dad felt her arm through her long-sleeved jacket, he was immediately concerned.

"That doesn't feel right," he said to himself.

He quickly exposed the arm, by taking off the jacket. Sure enough, it looked like Alex had dislocated her elbow.

Mom took Alex down to Urgent Care facility in Ladysmith. She's down there right now getting X-Rays - to make sure there's nothing broken - before they consider putting her elbow back in place.

Poor Oop. :(

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Five Tips for Hiking with Kids

April 25th, 2011  · Nicole

In her first article for randsco.com, guest author Nicole provides five tips for hiking with kids. Just because you have young kids doesn't mean parents have to put away their hiking gear. Hiking with kids is a great way to combine family time, healthy exercise and teaching children about the natural world. Learn more!

Five Tips Help Make Hiking with Kids FUN!

It is definitely heart-warming to see kids bathing in bubbling brooks, climbing over rocks or boulders and appreciating the flora and fauna as they pass them by. Hiking and camping with your own kids is a great way to teach them about the beauty of nature, cooperation and healthy living.

If you’ve been taking your kids on hikes and would like to make it an even better experience (or want to and fear that they'll whine and complain) - this article will arm you with five ideas that will increase your chances for a successful outing!

5 Quick Tips for Hiking with Kids

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A Tandem Touring Kayak

April 3rd, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [8th Boat Added to Fleet] Scott & Rachel bought yet ANOTHER boat, a tandem touring sea kayak. This brings the number of boats owned or held by Randsco to a mind-numbing EIGHT! Are they crazy or what?

Eighth Boat Added to Randsco Fleet

Powell River, BC - Reporters learned yesterday that the Randsco executive staff took an unscheduled trip to Powell River Kayaking, on the Sunshine Coast, to pick up a twenty-one foot tandem kayak. This addition ups the total of boats owned or held by Randsco to - a whopping - eight!

"For a desert rat," said Scott, "this is far more boats than I thought I'd ever have!"

The new boat is a Current Designs Libra XT kayak, a high-volume, double (or triple) passenger touring kayak. It's overall length comes in at a garage-stuffing 21 feet 8 inches and the fiberglass model - which is the one the Kimler's purchased - weighs a back-breaking 92 pounds. The upper deck gel coat is a pleasing light blue color ("Caribbean Blue" according the the Current Designs color chart).

"Ewe," said Scott, "Doesn't that sound fancy?"

"It's not a fast boat," said Rachel, "but it will hold a ton of gear, is really stable and - best of all - it can seat three people, so we can take Alex out for some kayaking fun!"

The center hatch serves a dual purpose, as it can be used to stow gear (with two paddlers), or can be used to seat a third paddler. It even has a molded fiberglass "seat" built right in, for this purpose ... which was one of the selling features for Scott and Rachel.

"As Alex becomes more proficient with paddling," explained Rachel, "we can move her from the center hatch to the forward seat. Then we can take two kayaks with us on our family trips: a single touring kayak and this Libra XT double."

Rounding out the stats on the Libra XT, the boat has a 32-inch beam, forward and rear hatches. The forward hatch has a 22 gallon volume and the rear hatch has a 27 gallon volume. The maximum load rating for the Libra XT is an astounding, scale-straining 850 pounds! (You really CAN take the kitchen sink!)

The Libra XT has proven itself with many tour operators because of its safety, seaworthiness, comfort, carrying capacity and quality construction. Indeed, Scott & Rachel bought this boat from such an operator - Adam Vallance, the owner of Powell River Sea Kayak. They picked up this used kayak at their location in Okeover Inlet, a beautiful location and great launching spot for the Desolation Sound Marine Park - a kayaking destination paradise.

"We'll have to do some kayaking here," said Rachel, as they loaded their "new" kayak onto the Subaru station wagon.

This brings the number of kayaks owned by Randsco to five. Two recreational kayaks at the floating cabin, two single touring kayaks and - now - this triple touring Libra XT "bus"!

"We have too many boats," said Scott, "We must be out of our minds!"

The reviews by paddlers about the Current Designs Libra XT are much what one would expect. "The stability is amazing," wrote one reviewer, "we never tipped [and] it holds a TON OF GEAR ... almost 220 pounds worth".

"Comfortable ... very roomy ... tons of storage capacity."

As one might expect, some people complained about the speed of the boat. One couple said they averaged only 4 to 4.5 mph in the boat. Some don't like that there isn't drainage around either cockpit or hatches.

We are looking forward to family kayaking trips in our "new" Libra XT. Keep an eye out on Randsco for our shakedown cruise in this boat that some call a "touring Cadillac" (and others call an "aircraft carrier")! LOL

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BC Nursing Crisis - Five Years Later

March 15th, 2011  · stk

Five years ago, we wrote about the nursing crisis that British Columbia anticipated. How did British Columbia respond? How is socialized Health Care working out for residents of British Columbia now? Find out in our "BC Nursing Crisis" update ...

BC Government Cuts Health Care Despite Shortages & Overcrowding

Back in 2005, when Rachel had just over a year to complete her BSN degree, we wrote about the BC nursing crisis facing the Canadian Province of British Columbia. This bode well for job placement and when Rachel graduated from the UofA in 2006, many of the BC Health Authorities were hiring nursing graduates. (She accepted an offer from VIHA and has been gainfully employed there since).

Fast-forward to 2011 and the latest issue of "BCNU Update" (a BC Nurses' Union publication) describes a very different experience for those now graduating with a BSN degree. Despite an acknowledged and continued shortage of nurses, BC Health Authorities are facing government cut-backs and many recent nursing graduates are finding it difficult to find full-time nursing jobs. In an effort to make ends meet, many newly educated nurses are having to accept work outside of health care - namely in the service-sector - serving coffee Tim Horton's doughnut shops or selling paperback books at Chapters. Sadly, it's their only employment option.

BC Nursing Crisis

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Woodshed Take Two

February 14th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [2nd Woodshed] Less than a week after completing the "free" woodshed, the substructure failed. The shed had to be unloaded and beefed up! Lesson learned? There's a reason Scott likes to over-engineer things ... there's no such thing as a free lunch ... remodeling a woodshed is more expensive and time-consuming that making one right, from the start ... and more! ...

Woodshed Substructure Fails!

Hutton House - Reporters got a giggle as they walked around the "recycled" woodshed at the Hutton House last Thursday. Less than a week ago, they had photographed a completed woodshed that held three and a bit cords of wood. Today, the woodshed sat empty and the flooring had been pulled up. Apparently, the substructure failed in the middle of the night on Wednesday.

"I heard a loud 'CRACK'," said Scott, "It woke me up and I immediately knew it was the woodshed."

Scott had completely underestimated the weight of three cords of (wet) cedar wood and - in an effort to save costs and move forward - had (in a very uncharacteristic fashion, mind you) under-engineered the woodshed substructure.

"Nearly every one of the deck screws used to hold the substructure - failed," reported the embarrassed builder.

"You can see them ... here ... and ... here," he said, walking with reporters around the partially dismantled woodshed.

Asked if he was going to abandon the project, Scott replied, "Oh no, it just needs to be beefed up. It'll be back to holding wood within the week."

And so, the reporters left and Scott went about the task of completely dismantling the old 2x4 cedar wood substructure, getting it ready for replacement. It took the better part of two days to unload the wood, cut out the flooring, dismantle the substructure, remove broken screws and prepare for a new, better, stronger, substructure.

Scott took a trip down to the nearby building center, making almost $200-worth of purchases. (For those keeping score at home, the "free" woodshed is now up to $600!)

Rachel thought Scott was holding up well, given this sad turn of events.

"What can I do?" he asked, rhetorically, "I'd laugh, but it'd only make me cry. You make a mistake, you learn from it and you move on. I can't believe I under-engineered something ... I am like the King of over-engineering!"

It took Scott another couple of afternoon's worth of work to replace the old substructure with one that's beefier and better.

He jacked up the woodshed, re-leveling it and resetting it on the four 8-inch by 8-inch piers, tying it to the substructure using 5/16" diameter galvanized lag bolts, each 5 and a half inches long. He replaced the front 2x4 edge with 2x6 pressure-treated lumber and placed a 2x6 cleat under the rear 2x4. (Only the two side 2x4's remain from the original substructure, as they're under the plywood siding and more of a 'bear' to replace).

Joists were spaced closer - every foot, rather than the original foot and a half. 2x6 pressure treated lumber replaced the 2x4 cedar joists and each end is now supported using galvanized joist hangers.

Pressure-treated lumber was also wedged and leveled cross-ways, beneath all of the interior joists - front, center and rear. They rest directly on the ground and provide complete substructure support, for the interior of the woodshed.

Lastly, the cut-out flooring (numbered before removal) was re-laid.

When reporters returned to look at the beefed up shed, they were surprised that there wasn't more evidence of the work.

"Really, it's only these two cut marks on the floor," said one reporter.

"And numbered planks," laughed another.

"Laugh if you will," said Scott, "I've learned my lesson about 'free', 'recycled' woodsheds! Apparently, there's no such thing as a free lunch, eh?"

"After $600-worth of materials and a complete substructure re-do, this is one shed that definitely isn't free. By the same token, it will now easily support 3-4 cords of wood ... wet or otherwise."

"All that remains now," said Scott, "is restocking it with wood! Any one of you reporters want to put down your recorders and help?"

"Didn't think so," Scott said, as he watched every one of the reporters head back to their cars.

"Oh ... don't forget about the painting," he yelled, "It still needs paint!"

By that time, however, everyone had left. Scott then opened a beer and sat back to admire his new, built-as-it-should-be woodshed.

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Woodshed Project (Completed)

February 4th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [2nd Woodshed] Scott finishes the second woodshed amid project cost overruns & contractor delays. So much for "free" and "in one day"! ...

Woodshed Project Completed Amid Cost Overruns & Delays

Hutton House - Reporters walked around the newly constructed Hutton House woodshed number two. Originally meant to be made from completely recycled materials, Scott and Rachel opted to add plywood sides and a metal roof (since the original plan - no sides and a tarp roof - leaked like a sieve!)

"We are happy to have the second shed," said Scott, "Though it ended up costing more and taking longer to build than originally planned."

"It's now stocked nearly to the brim with milling debris, left over from when we bought the property. Yay! After four years, the pasture is finally 'clear'!" shouted Scott. (Mind you, Scott cut so much firewood last year that there is now a 4-year supply, stacked in wind-rows to dry - in the pasture!)

The original 'plan' for the second woodshed was to build it using 100% recycled materials and do it in one day. Though the project got off to a good start, it took longer to move the fence than originally planned and the project ended up taking two days, rather than one.

The "recycled" woodshed had no sides and only a (used) tarp for a roof. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the tarp had a fair number of small holes, which Scott tried to seal using some 'Tuck Tape'.

Immediately after completion of the "recycled" woodshed, the weather turned inclement and it proceeded to rain for several days. Much to Scott's disappointment, the tarp leaked like crazy. It became obvious that a tarp roof wasn't going to cut the mustard. A trip to the building supply center was required.

The project took a more expensive turn, as we headed to Home Depot to purchase 1x6 slats, 10-foot painted, corrugated tin roofing, metal drip strips, 7 sheets of half-inch plywood and a variety of screws. Cost? $400 ... nearly 'on the nose' (or is that 'on the chin'?)

Like most public works projects, this one suffered from delays - at least the workers didn't strike! (all one of them) - and budget overruns! LOL ... We'll leave it to you to figure out the percentage overrun from $0 to $400. Ha!

Despite the overruns and delays, the project was finished within a month and that included an extra day day to move and stack nearly three cords of (soaking wet, recycled) cedar wood into the new shed. The woodshed creaked and groaned as it was filled with wet wood. Three full rows and a partial 4th row meant that the woodshed was nearly full.

"That should be enough kindling to last us for 5 years," said Scott.

Even though the woodshed is complete, it's not really. Because most of the cedar wood that was loaded into the shed is wet, Scott purposefully left off the back of the shed, so that air could circulate and allow the wood to dry. The new shed also need a few trim pieces and - of course - a paint job.

"Add that to my list of summer projects," said Scott, sarcastically.

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Woodshed Project (Day 1)

January 8th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [2nd Woodshed] Scott attempts building a second woodshed using only 100% recycled materials and doing it in one day. See how that works out ...

news

Hutton House To Get Second Woodshed

Hutton House - Reporters recently learned that construction crews are building a second woodshed on the Randsco campus. The news came as a surprise.

"We always knew we wanted a second woodshed," explains Scott Kimler, the construction foreman (the architect, purchasing agent and work crew), "We just didn't figure on building it right now."

Like many projects, this one was precipitated by "timing of events".

The Randsco pasture was piled high with wood milling debris when the Kimlers first took ownership of the 5-acre property. It's taken them four years to clear that debris and in the process, they were able to recycle a lot of the cedar wood, using it as kindling stock in their wood stove. (The last bit of the debris pile was cut into kindling stock just last weekend).

When Scott started moving the remainder of this wood and stacking it closer to the house, he thought, "A second woodshed would provide a much better storage option than this flimsy tarp."

Another project was born.

The building site selection process was easy: build the shed where the current - semi-dry - stack of kindling stock was sitting, next to the fence. "But what materials should I use?" Scott thought.

In an effort to keep the project scope, size and costs down, Scott decided to use 100% recycled building materials to construct a 10-foot long, 6-foot wide and 8-foot tall shed. (Our neighbor is a contractor and lets Scott pick through his building and remodeling "burn pile". Over the past 4 years, Scott has accumulated a fair bit of building materials. All hand-selected, moved, stacked, stored (somewhere). Lots of nail-pulling is involved, but recycling stuff is good for the environment, eh?)

Cedar 1x6 planks would be used to make an elevated wood floor that would rest on a sub-floor of 2x4s which would be supported by several large (8"x8") posts. The walls would be open - just 2x4 framing - and the roof would consist of a light-weight tarp. Simple, easy ... effective.

Scott is ambitious. He thought he could complete the project in a day and so, without the normal ribbon-cutting ceremony, he began work the very following morning.

The weather is always a factor here in British Columbia, but the day dawned dry, cold and clear. Temperatures remained below freezing all day, but it also remained sunny and bright.

With a steaming mug of hot coffee, Scott started the project at an acceptable hour - 9 AM. The first step was to move all of the semi-dry kindling stock, now stacked under a tarp. The 14x10 tarp had a few holes in it, but it looked like they could be repaired and used as the roof. After the building site was cleared, Scott grabbed a tape measure, to determine the exact location of the shed.

"Uh oh," he said, disappointed, "With the tree roots and such, there's no way I can fit a 10-foot shed into this space without it being cramped."

Stumbling block number one. What to do now?

"I know," thought Scott, "The fence takes an odd jog here. I could move the corner of the fence out a couple feet and there would be plenty of room. All I have to do is undo the welded wire mesh, dig up the corner post and push it out. No problem."

Right. Problem!

Once the corner post was out, the old fence disintegrated. Three posts needed replacing because they were rotten through at the base. It took Scott all morning to move, fix, tighten and repair the fence. The project didn't actually begin, until 1:30 PM. So much for getting it done in one day!

Scott pushed on, measuring and cutting 2x4s for the sub-floor. He framed the 10-foot by 6-foot sub-floor and screwed it to six 8x8 posts. For expediency, the 8x8 posts were set on the ground. No post-holes, no concrete piers. This will hugely reduce the life of the shed, but Scott was looking 5 years down the road, not 50.

"There's time enough to plan and build a proper woodshed," he thought, "A bigger one, built using better materials and one positioned after seeing how this one works out."

With the sub-floor in place, Scott added 2x4 joists, spacing them 1.5 feet apart. Several 1x6 cedar planks were laid on the sub-floor, screwed into place and then trimmed.

In the waning daylight, Scott snapped some pictures of the new shed floor and called it a day.

Tune in to see what happens on day two and learn how a one-day project turns into more (and more).

"Does this stuff only happen to me?" wonders Scott.

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Ollie the Octopus

December 31st, 2010  · stk

In July, we caught a juvenile North Pacific Giant Octopus in one of our prawn traps. We took it back to the floating cabin for Alex to see. She named him "Ollie" and kept him as her "pet" for the afternoon. Ollie's story, with video, pictures and interesting facts about octopuses.

ollie the octopus

6-year-old Alex Meets an Octopus

One of the stories worth telling from Alex's summertime fun is the story about an octopus Alex named "Ollie".

The story begins as many of our more interesting stories do - at the floating cabin The Floating Cabin floating cabin barkley sound bc canada Picture of the floating cabin in the Barkley Sound. Located off the west coast of Vancouver Island and not far from the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. It's a wild, pristine wilderness area and wildlife abounds. Black bear, killer whales, sea lions, bald eagles, seals, sea otters, mink, cougar are among the inhabitants. There's oodles of sea food here too. Clams, oysters, prawn, crab, salmon, halibut, ling cod and snapper. It's an amazing area and we're lucky to be part-owners of this unique floating cabin. Click to learn more about the floating cabin (map, photos, etc). . The cabin is situated in the Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, very close to the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a wet and wild place, accessible only by boat and we love sharing it with family and friends. It was late July and Scott's folks were at the cabin. It was their second visit and they too, love the solitude, the wild nature and rugged west coast scenery.

We had taken the boat out to pull up our prawn traps, though Alex elected to remain behind at the cabin, on this particular trip. It's about a 10-minute boat-ride from the cabin to the traps and we usually check them several times a day, when we're prawning.

Pulling up prawn traps from the depths of the ocean sometimes yields sea creatures other than prawns. The most common of these creatures is also the least desirable - the dreaded slime eel About Slime Eels (Hagfish) pacific hagfish A slime eel isn't an eel at all, rather a very primitive fish called a Hagfish. They've been around for 550 million years. Because of their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities, the hagfish is often referred to as the most "disgusting" of all sea creatures. Hagfish have a sluggish metabolism and can survive months between feedings. However, hagfish often enter and eat the bodies of dead, dying or injured sea creatures that are much larger than themselves. Lovely, eh? More of nuisance to us, however, is the slime one of these "eels" can generate if agitated inside of a prawn trap. This slime encases the eel, the trap and the prawn and can take an hour or more to remove. An adult slime eel can secrete enough slime to turn a 20 liter (5 gal) bucket of water into slime in a matter of minutes. Yuck! Click the red-underlined link to learn more about Hagfish (Wikipedia) . This time, however, as Scott manually hauled up two traps from a depth of 250 feet, we noticed a reddish octopus in one of the traps!

Since Alex wasn't with us, we thought it would be fun to show her the octopus, so we carefully lifted it out of the prawn trap, put it into a pail of seawater and took it for a boat ride, back to the cabin. We were curious to see how Alex would react to this soft, eight-armed Cepholapod.

What follows is the story about Alex's encounter with an octopus, along with some interesting facts, video and pictures of these amazing and intelligent sea creatures.

Meet Ollie the Octopus

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Big CSS Rollover Links

November 28th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Big CSS Rollover Links] Randsco Labs unveils a new pure-CSS technique. The new technique utilizes large CSS rollover images to be combined with small target areas. (It inverts normal link behavior and provides for a multitude of innovative and new ways to style traditional links.

Big CSS Rollovers for Little Links

Randsco Labs Develops Amazing pure-CSS Technique

Randsco Labs - Reporters learned Friday that the rumors were true. Randsco Laboratories has indeed developed an amazing, breakthrough pure-CSS technique that combines large rollover elements with graphical links.

"Rollover links are nothing new," said Scott Kimler, Vice President of Research and Development at Randsco, "What is new are combining large rollovers with small target areas."

css rollover splatcss rollover for paintball store

Scott then demonstrated the technique and the assembled crowd clapped.

"The magic of this lightweight CSS code is achieved by harnessing the power of CSS directives in a unique way, taking advantage of built-in specificity hierarchy, natural z-index order and the ability of modern browsers to apply hover styling to any element," Scott explained.

The code was developed (and is currently deployed) on a Randsco Canadian-sponsor website - Nicol Street Pawnbrokers. On that website, the image is twice as large as the demonstration here and has a much more colorful "pop".

The technique is difficult to describe in words and much easier to show in a demonstration, like the one here. When you hover your mouse over the paintball graphic, an astonishingly large "splat" pops up, completely covering the graphic and surrounding elements (i.e., sidebar, adjacent links, images, etc).

"But ... and here's the tricky part," said Scott, "the link target area doesn't change. When you move your mouse outside of the paintball graphic, the splat disappears. That's the opposite of what normally happens and is the key to this newly-developed technique."

"This CSS technique allows an almost unlimited ability of developers and designers to style links, without interfering with neighboring links and other hover-able elements," said Scott.

Several reporters wanted to know when the technique would be available to the general public and Scott replied, "Soon. Right now our technical team is quite excited about the potential of this code and are eager to develop some uniquely-styled examples."

"Basically," Scott continued, "The geeks at Randsco Labs want to play with it a bit, before they release it into the public domain. They are hoping to transfer the technique to text links and utilize the code in some stunning slide-shows and other graphical displays. Once this work is done, Randsco Labs will summarize the technique in a White Paper and release it on the main company website. We're hoping to have this work finalized sometime during the first two quarters of the new year."

About Randsco Labs

Founded in 2004, Randsco Labs is the technical research laboratory for Randsco, specializing in XHTML and CSS web techniques.

Randsco Labs is responsible for popular pure-CSS techniques such as Photo Caption Zoom, popInfo and @font-face tutorials and more.

Randsco Labs occupies a small portion of the 5-acre Randsco campus, which is located on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Randsco moved operations from Alberta to British Columbia in 2006.

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White Power Chickens

November 23rd, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Mo' Chickens] The Kimlers bring home 10 new laying hens • [White Stuff] The Hutton House sees it's first snow • [Power Outage] Snow in, power out - for 18 hours.

Mo' Chickens

Hutton House - Reporters learned today that the Kimler clan has added ten more chickens to their egg production company. These new additions more than doubles the number of producing layer hens, as the Hutton House is now home to 19 laying hens.

Rachel, Scott and Alex made the drive down to Duncan on Sunday, to fetch the ten young hens. All of the birds are of the famous ISA-Brown variety, which are bred as laying hens. All were purchased as POL (Point-Of-Lay) chickens, which means they are approximately 5 months old - at the point where they are due to begin laying eggs.

Purchasing point-of-lay hens is a change for the Kimlers, as all of their other ISA-Browns hens were raised from week-old chicks.

"Buying point-of-lay birds is more expensive," said Scott, owner of the Hutton House Hen Farm, "but we actually save money on 5-months-worth of feed, reduce our chances of losing stock due to illness or predation and they begin earning their keep right away."

The 10 hens were transported in the back of the Kimler Subaru wagon, to their new home at the Hutton House. There, they are acclimating to their new environment and getting to know the 9 older girls.

"It will take a couple weeks till the new hens become acquainted with the older birds," Scott says, "During this time, they'll be lots of clucking and pecking, as the older girls will make clear to the youngsters, who is in charge!"

Ah yes. The pecking order must be established!

About ISA-Brown Hens

ISA Brown is a hybrid Sex-link chicken, the result of crossing Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites. The ISA Brown is a hybrid, not a true breed. They are known for their high egg production (approximately 300 eggs per hen in their first year).

"ISA" stands for Institut de Sélection Animale (the company which developed the hybrid in 1978). In 2005, via company takeovers, the hybrid is now maintained by Hendrix Poultry Breeders. More information about the ISA-Brown can be found on the Hendrix website

ISA-Browns make great family pets. They are confident and not afraid to try new things. When they get older, however, they show their love by pecking you a lot!

About the Hutton House Hen Farm

Hutton House Hen Farm is renown for farm-fresh, free-range brown eggs, which are distributed to local Vancouver Island clientele. Sales inquiries may be made by clicking the email link.

White Stuff

Hutton House - The arrival of ten new hens to the Hutton House was coincidental to the arrival of the first winter snow. Nearly 5 inches of the white stuff fell, mostly on Friday night, but more fell on Saturday, Sunday and a bit on Monday.

Most of the accumulation occurred Friday night, however, blanketing the Hutton House acreage with a thick blanket of big, heavy, wet flakes.

"The thermometer has definitely taken a flight south this week," reports Rachel, who has had to dust off her car several times, in order to make tracks into town, "Temperatures are well below freezing and we have to keep hauling warm water out to the chicken run, so that the hens have liquid water to drink. There's nothing more difficult for hens than to have to peck at ice cubes in order to quench their thirst!"

 

Power Outage

Hutton House - Along with the arrival of heavy snow and winds, came the first power outage of the season. It started early on the morning on Saturday (3:30 AM), just as Scott was returning from a MVI call-out near the North Cedar Fire Hall. As he was sweeping snow off of one of the temporary tarp "garages", the lights went out.

The power remained out for approximately 18 hours. Fortunately, the Hutton House is heated largely by a wood stove, so the power outage doesn't affect home heating. Water, however, is an issue, since the pump, cistern and pressure tank are all powered by electricity.

The 2Kw gas-powered generator kept the television, lights, microwave and computer functioning for most of Saturday, enabling Alex to watch her Saturday morning cartoons and Scott to catch the Penn State Indiana college football game (Penn State won, of course!)

Power was restored at approximately 10 PM Saturday night, this after the family meal - roasted chicken, pan-fried potatoes and salad - was prepared largely on the outdoor barbeque (which has a side-burner).

Everyone was happy to have electricity - flush toilets, hot water, lights and a clothes dryer - though it did mean setting the time on several blinking clocks. Extension cords were coiled and remain at the ready. Rural life can be "rough"!

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New Rescue

November 17th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [New Rescue Truck Arrives] The North Cedar Fire Hall takes delivery of a new 4x4 rescue vehicle. First look at this custom-built bad boy!

New Rescue Truck Delivered

North Cedar - During practice last night, firefighters got their first, close-up look at the new North Cedar Fire Department Rescue vehicle. Sporting a 6.7 liter twin diesel engine, crew cab that seats five, LED emergency lighting, 4-wheel drive and a frame-mounted 5-ton winch ... this baby is going to rock the streets of North Cedar.

The custom-made box by Express Custom features convenient and curb-safe roll-up doors. Slide out gear racks provide quick access to emergency equipment and an on-board SCBA air-compressor means on-scene refilling during major fires. Powerful scene lighting can be rapidly deployed and will assist in during nighttime emergency calls. There appears to be enough room to stow ample medical and rescue gear, including the equipment for newly acquired capabilities - swift-water and low-slope rescues.

The details on this new vehicle haven't been confirmed, but on first look, it appears to be an excellent replacement for the existing Rescue truck, which will likely be refitted and recycled as a multi-purpose forestry/utility vehicle. The new truck costs just a tad more than your base-price Masarati sports car, but the Department didn't have to raise taxes to pay for it. Because of foresight and responsible fiscal planning, money for this vehicle came from an existing "Truck Fund" (a long-term budget item ear-marked for major apparatus improvements and replacement).

The new truck is awaiting registration, decals and an equipment transfer. Fire Hall officials hope to have the new truck in service sometime during the next week. Look for it responding to calls in the North Cedar Fire Protection area soon!

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Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour

August 23rd, 2010  · stk

The day before yesterday, we returned home from our first cycle tour in which Alex actually pedaled a bicycle (attached to our touring bikes). We cycled from Nanaimo, up-island to Comox, took a ferry to Powell River and then cycled down the coast to Vancouver. This coastline is called "The Sunshine Coast". It's a cycle tour that's been on our list of adventures for some time.

Since we moved to Vancouver Island in 2006, we've been spending our holidays exploring British Columbia. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful Province and - so far - there has been no shortage of wilderness adventuring.

Now that our daughter, Alex, is six and a half years old, she is too big to tow in a bicycle buggy. Some time ago, we bought Alex a 'Trail-a-Bike', which allows her to sit behind our bikes, on a bike seat and contribute to pedaling. The 'Trail-a-Bike' even has a 5-gear shifter, though she hasn't quite gotten the hang of which gear to switch into at any given time.

Because we have been giving some thought to a Cross-Canada bike tour, we thought it would be a good idea to see how Alex does on a long bike trip. The trip we concocted was - "The Sunshine Coast Bike Tour" - which we did as a loop trip from Nanaimo, up to Courtenay/Comox, across Georgia Strait by ferry to Powell River, then down the Sunshine Coast, ending with a ferry ride from Langdale to Vancouver (where we dropped Alex off at her maternal grandparents house).

The trip took us the better part of five days. Along the way we stayed at a First Nations camping area, repaired a flat tire and a broken spoke, visited a salmon channel and sorting facility, swam in the ocean, cycled onto four different BC Ferries, stayed in two Provincial campgrounds ... all the time enjoying sunny weather, beautiful scenery, challenging cycling and a wholesome family vacation.

Join us on our family cycling adventure and see how Alex fared on her Adams 'Trail-a-Bike'. We hope that our journal whets your appetite for adventure and is useful to others who are thinking of a similar cycling trip. (Some time ago, Rachel and I had made a list of adventures we wanted to do and a "Sunshine Coast Bicycle Trip" was on the list. It's always nice to be able to check another adventure off the list, eh?)

Note: I updated this journal entry from our 1991 Subaru Loyale station wagon, whilst hurtling northward to check off yet another adventure off our list - a backpacking trip to Cape Scott, at the northernmost point of Vancouver Island! (Ain't technology grand?) The laptop is connected to the iPhone, the iPhone is connected to the Internet, the Internet is connected to the journal ... anyway ... it's a work in progress (i.e., photos to follow).

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eBay ebay Pure-CSS Photo Gallery

August 6th, 2010  · stk

What's more fun for a developer than to show up a huge online company like eBay? How about getting PAID to do it! Here's the write-up from my one, fun summertime web project - a pure CSS eBay photo gallery. (Oh and just for grins, it's displayed in another "Arti-zine" web design). I miss having time to write more blog articles!!

This summer, I have concentrated on work around the house and property (living the real life, as opposed to a virtual life). It keeps my wife happy(er), but it means a lot fewer web projects and contributions to this website.

One of the web projects that I did take on, however, was a fun one. A British web developer and programmer, had a client that wanted a photo gallery "like the eBay photo gallery" for his online auction site. The rub? They wanted a pure-CSS version.

Because it's fun to show a well-known online powerhouse how the web should work - and because there was development funding - I dived into the project enthusiastically. (Ahem - only after my daily, real life chores were complete).

The result - A pure CSS photo gallery that looks identical to the eBay gallery and which has significant improvements:

  • It's completely accessible,
  • doesn't rely on JavaScript,
  • is cross-browser compatible and
  • contains error-free, web-standard XHTML and CSS code.

In short - it rocks!

eBay Pure-CSS Photo Gallery Demo

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Photoshopped Rachel

June 6th, 2010  · stk

In 2008, I entered a photo contest at Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island outdoor store. We didn't win, but I recently noticed the photo was used as the background for the new Alberni Outpost web site design. Have a look at the new Alberni Outpost design. Amazing!

Rachel's Photo Backdrop for Local (Alberni Outpost) Website

Rachel paddling a canoe on Isaac Lake, Bowron Lakes, B.C. - now Alberni Outpost website backdrop

We are were considering purchasing a used tandem kayak from Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Store, with stores in Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Courtney & Nanoose. The fibreglass kayak has been in the Alberni Outpost rental fleet for some number of years and yesterday, we took it on a "test paddle" around Newcastle Island and to Protection Island (where we had dinner at the Dinghy Dock Pub). It was an excellent afternoon and will be the focus of an upcoming article.

In doing research for the article, I made a surprising discovery. A photo we submitted the Alberni Outpost in 2008, for a photo contest, is currently the background image for every page of the Alberni Outpost website!!

The photo I submitted to their photo contest can be seen in our Bowron Lakes Slide Show. It's also on the Alberni Outpost Photo Contest page (2008) on the Alberni Outpost website (their site depends on JavaScript, so there isn't a direct link to the picture. Just click on "2008 Photos" at the Alberni Outpost photo contest and you'll see it.)

Despite the fact that the photo didn't win, Alberni Outpost chose it - over all the other photos submitted over the years and over all past winning submissions - as the backdrop for the new Alberni Outpost web site design.

We suspect the photo didn't win because it was a canoeing picture and not a kayaking picture. No worries! Just a Photoshop nip here and Photoshop tuck there and suddenly, Rachel is paddling a kayak instead of a canoe! Amazing what can be accomplished with digital photos, eh?

So, do you think the owner of Alberni Outpost, Richard Antonchuk, will give us a discount on the used kayak as consideration for using our photo in the new Alberni Outpost web design? :D (NOPE and neither a "thanks", nor a mention on the Alberni Outpost web site ... nor any consideration. VERY disappointing). :'(

See & Compare Photos

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Bathroom Update

May 16th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Bathroom Update] It's been a week of renovation work on the upstairs bathroom. Here's where I'm at with the work.

Bathroom Update

It's been a busy week at the Hutton House!

I know all-y'all are just dying to know how I'm making out with the bathroom remodel. Well, there was a fair bit of destruction last week, which everyone knows I'm quite good at doing. After removing the rotten drywall from inside the skylight, I then *poof* became an electrician!

I tied into the electric baseboard heater and chased the wire around the corner, so that our vanity could actually be mounted directly to the wall. (The previous owner - and builder - had to set the vanity off the wall by a good six inches, because of the heater placement. The open gap between the vanity and wall was ugly!)

Next, I ran a new wire from the over-the-vanity light, into the attic and added a recessed light above the toilet (for library reading purposes). It was an absolute joy to be wearing coveralls and a dust-mask, crawling around in a rat-poop infested attic. (The previous owners built the house in two phases and the summer they were adding the 2nd phase, rats took over the attic. They're all gone now, but they made a fair bit of mess before they were chased out.

I also tied into a three-way switch in the hallway, running a new line down the stairwell and into the utility room. (Has nothing to do with the bathroom renovation, but I had to cut holes in the bathroom ceiling, to chase the wire and ... since I was already committed to a bunch of drywall work, what's a bit more?)

With the electrical complete, it was time to start putting things back together. We (the royal "we", since Rachel was away most of the week on some nursing union convention thingy in Vancouver) used water-resistant drywall in the skylight (blue paper). The rest of the holes, either the ones I made to chase electrical wires or the gaping hole behind the vanity - which was an odd clothes chute directly into the utility room below, were filled with regular 1/2-inch drywall. Then came the taping and mudding.

I used a fairly new product for the inside corners. It's called "SLAM" technology - stands for "Structural LAMinate". It's supposed to be way stronger and more dent resistant than metal corners (won't rust either ... key for a humid bathroom), but the reason I used it, was to straighten out the wavy, 135° drywall corners in the ceiling joints. (Previous owner just used paper and they looked wavy and non-professional).

A couple of coats of mud ... propane heat and fan to help speed drying ... and now we're down to the final coat - which Rachel (now that she's back home) can't wait to have done.

"I'm tired of all the junk in the bedroom and I can't wait to have order back in the bathroom!" she says. (I'm wondering if she has a nursing convention to go to next week, so I can work in relative peace!)

Rachel has picked out the colour (light tan color that has some fancy-sounding name) for the walls. The ceiling will be white. We're still looking at a new counter-top, sink and fixtures.

Next weekend, I'm off for spring firefighting training in Oliver, BC, so we'll have to see how far I get with the bathroom during the week. I'm guessing two weeks till the bathroom is fully usable again, because it takes time to pick out the right sink and fixtures, plus the weekend interruption. LOL ... stay tuned!

Oh ... and Rachel's already got me working on another project! Some time ago, she saw a street number sign she liked. She put in a custom order for the oval number (white text/numbers on "slate", not sure what the material actually is, but it's made to look like slate). The custom order is in - they called today - so she's gone off to have another look at the one she likes, then Home Depot to pick up the order, as well as buy the lumber.

I'm sure she's expecting me to have that done too, next week! 2010 is definitely turning into the "Year of the House"! LOL When will we have time to go to the floating cabin for some fishing? Cycle touring, backpacking or kayaking? (She's bought us a new tent and we're supposed to be buying a tandem kayak this year, so we can haul Alex with us on our kayaking trips!)

Eye-veh!

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Rainy Day Reno

April 18th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Rainy Day Reno] If it hadn't rained today, I wouldn't be doing this! •

Bathroom Reno Starts

The day before yesterday, it was a bright and sunny day. Scott was working outside, mowing the pasture and fighting the first wave of dandelions.

Yesterday, it was rainy. Because we had scraped off the textured ceiling in the bathroom, in preparation for a new coat of paint, we looked at the bathroom with a more critical eye.

"It'd be nice to move the baseboard heater around the corner," said Rachel, "because then it wouldn't interfere with opening the vanity drawers." (and the vanity could be placed against the wall, instead of having an ugly gap).

"Yeah," Scott said, "and we really need to redo the drywall in the skylight, since it's not finished well, peeling and probably has moisture damage."

One thing let to another and now, we've somehow committed ourselves to doing a mini bathroom renovation (mind you, not the big bathroom renovation, because the BIG bathroom renovation involves splitting the one full bathroom into two 3/4 bathrooms, giving Alex her own bathroom and removing the super-sized jacuzzi bathtub that we never use because it takes so much well water to fill it (when you're on well water and septic, the jacuzzi tub seems like an impractical luxury ... and we already have another full bath downstairs).

So, Scott grabbed the hammer and started the demolition phase.

Rachel asked, nervously, "This will be done soon, right?" adding, "I mean, you're pretty good at the demolition stuff, but fairly slow at the rebuilding stuff."

Scott glared at Rachel.

Rachel's only hope is that it rains for a week straight!

To be done: Replace the rotten drywall in the skylight with water-resistant drywall and finish it off nicely, change the angle of the drywall at the bottom of the drywall to continue the line of the vertical wall across the entire room, move the baseboard heater, move the vanity back against the wall, which necessitates a new counter top, sink and fixtures, build a shelving unit above the commode, add a pot light above the commode, straighten out the wavy drywall joints for the two non-ninety-degree angles, prime, paint and re-caulk.

No worries, eh?.

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Hisstory: Sumatra Roads

March 21st, 2010  · stk

A blast from the past. Scott used to work in the remote jungles of northern Sumatra for Mobil Oil, as a field geophysicist. In the first of a series of articles from his field journals, he examines the driving hazards in this far away land. (Note: Doubly linked, so that the article registers as a "new" RSS feed)

Real & Imaginary Hazards

Nearly twenty five years ago, Scott was working as a field-operations geophysicist for Mobil Oil, based out of Jakarta, Indonesia. His job was to supervise two helicopter-supported seismic crews (over a 1,000 men on each crew) that were exploring for oil and gas in the remote jungles of northern Sumatra.

He kept a journal of his adventures and is finally getting around to publishing some of them here, on Randsco.com, along with accompanying photos.

In this first "Hisstory" article (a new category), he's published an article which examines some of the driving hazards encountered in the Aceh Province of northern Sumatra. To learn about these road hazards, see some pictures and a slide show from "back in the day" ... click the link and head back to May, 1986 ...

The Medan Bus
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Spring Gardening

March 16th, 2010  · stk

2010 is officially "The Year of the House", as Scott refocuses on things closer to home. One of the first projects of the year was to revamp their front planter, building a trellis and creating a visual divide for an outdoor "room". See what he's been up to.

A Long 2010 To-do List

We've been living on our 5-acre Yellow Point wooded lot for over three years now. Each year it seems we have a laundry list of things to do, but the summer season always rushes by and the list just gets longer. It looks like 2010 might be "The Year of the Home", as Scott has been making more of a commitment to the property and less to his computer (as you can tell by the dirth of recent posts here).

One of the projects he's tackled recently, has been revamping the front planter box. This involved removing an overgrown Hydrangea, pervasive St. John's Wort, building a five-foot-tall lattice fence, amending the soil and planting some new (deer-resistant) flowering and climbing plants.

Follow along as Scott and Rachel plan their new garden and see the results of all of Scott's labor. (We'll update with another photo at the end of the growing season and continue with updates, to see if our "future planning" actually comes to fruition).

Can You Dig It?

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Alex Year Five

January 27th, 2010  · stk

A slide show of Alex's 2009. Over 100 photos presented in an "ArtiZine" format (unique design and layout, driven by the article content). Not your normal blog post. Come check out the design and Alex's year.

Slide Show: 100+ Pics of "the Oop!"

Christ­mas came upon us very fast this year. Be­cause both sets of Alex's grand­par­ents own a di­git­al photo frame, we gave them each a 2GB SD card, con­tain­ing over 300 fam­ily pho­tos (mostly of their grand­daugh­ter). One month later, I've up­loaded some of the best shots to Rand­sco, to share with every­one else!

Alex is a very out­go­ing and en­ga­ging girl of six, though in most of these pho­tos, she's five. Al­ex­an­dra is her full name, but we just call her "Alex" or "the Oop" (a nick­name that she's had for a while and one that stuck). She had a very busy year at kinder­garten, vis­it­ing grand­par­ents, ex­plor­ing, mak­ing friends and just be­ing a kid. We in­vite you to share her year in pic­tures.

We hope you en­joy the show, which is presen­ted in an Ar­tiZ­ine What the Heck is an Ar­tiZ­ine? An ar­tiz­ine is a blog art­icle that has a com­pletely unique design & page lay­out, driv­en by the con­tents of the art­icle. It is re­min­is­cent of print magazine art­icles, where each art­icle has a some­what dif­fer­ent design, ty­po­graphy and/or art­work. In fact, the word "artizine" is a com­bin­a­tion of the word "article" and "magazine". An ar­tiz­ine is dif­fer­ent from a blogazine. In a blogazine, every art­icle con­tains magazine-like styl­ing. Be­cause such styl­ing takes work, blogazines are in­fre­quently up­dated and re­quire the blog au­thor(s) to main­tain a sep­ar­ate site for their "nor­mal" mus­ings. In con­trast, an ar­tiz­ine is simply a spe­cial, magazine-like art­icle, con­tained with­in a reg­u­lar blog. format and it's the second such art­icle we've pub­lished. As such, it may be a bit dis­or­i­ent­ing to some folks. Just wait for the page to load and then hover over the mov­ing theater screen stat­ic. Click to start the slide show. Then click the thumb­nail im­ages to move for­ward, or back­ward, through the slide show! (Simple really)

Now, let's get on to Alex's spe­cially de­signed slide show!

 

Show me the Show!

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ArtiZine Fire

January 24th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Firefighter of the Year] Scott was awarded firefighter of the year • [ArtiZine] Scott introduces a new word to the world.

Fireman of the Year

North Cedar Fire Hall - At the annual Awards Night Dinner, held last night at the fire hall, Scott Kimler was named "Fireman of the Year".

A number of fire hall members congratulated Scott, also known as "Iceman", after he collected his plaque from the Deputy Chief.

Scott is thrilled to have been recognized for his contributions to the fire department. In addition to responding to emergency calls and his role as recording secretary, this year Scott and his U.K. business partner, redesigned the fire department website, which they also host. In August, Scott helped submit a $12,500 grant proposal to equip the hall's new fitness room. In December, Scott spearheaded efforts to allow hall members a voice in the selection committee, which appoints the Fire Department's Chief Officers.

We asked Scott how he came to be called "Iceman".

He laughed and said, "When we got our locker name plates, mine was misspelled as Kilmer. The guys started calling me 'Val' or 'Iceman' after the role played by Val Kimler in the movie Top Gun. At one point, I cut it up and re-arranged the letters, but then the guys started monkeying with it. At various times it read Kiler, Kimer or just plain Kim. When the department didn't issue me a new name plate, I took matters into my own hands and had a new one made, which solidified my nickname, as my locker now sports the only nickname in the hall - "Iceman"!

"I think I might have sparked a trend," he said, "as the officers are now talking about posting nicknames, in addition to firefighter's real names, above the lockers.

Congratulations, Scott!

ArtiZine

Randsco Campus - Chief Editor of the Randsco rag, Scott Kimler, addressed a throng of reporters, all gathered to learn about Randsco's latest invention.

"The details in your media kits," explained Scott, "but let me provide some background."

"As many of you are aware, the Internet is killing the traditional print media business. Magazines, newspapers and other such companies are dying, as online magazines, blogs and other resources are booming."

A chorus of agreement was heard within the assembled crowd.

"We have over 10 years of blogging experience, since before the term blog was part of our modern lexicon. All along, we've noticed that most blogs are boring, presenting all content from within a single design platform. Recently, some bloggers are breaking this trend by publishing uniquely designed content with every post. They're calling these blogs blogazines.

Blogazines, while beautiful, are infrequently updated, contain only individually-styled content and require that "normal" content be hosted from a separate blog. Randsco is the first online blog to introduce a blend of individual and templated styling, along with magazine and "normal" content. The front page appears to be a single template, but the full article presents uniquely-styled content.

"We call this new type of post an ArtiZine, which is derived from combining the word article and magazine - because the whole blog is not magazine-like, only certain articles."

One reporter asked, "How is someone supposed to tell regular articles from artizines?"

Scott said, "Lead articles will soon contain a graphic label and a sortable ArtiZine category. Anyone will be able to quickly find all the ArtiZines on Randsco."

"While they are fun to author," said Scott, "artizines do involve non-trivial styling, graphics and layout efforts. Because of this, not every article we publish will be an artizine, but that's the whole point. While it's more challenging than either a blog or a blogazine, it is a more realistic method of holding all published content under one roof.

Example Arti-zine Articles on Randsco

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Failing Users

December 20th, 2009  · stk

This article was a long time in coming. Over 25 years, to be exact. However, it contains much more than observations on why software fails the users for which it's supposed to be designed. It also demonstrates a method of designing blog posts. Is it "just another post" or a "completely new website"? You decide.

Programmers Cut Off Their Noses

 
 
 

Are users ever truly satisfied with the software they use? The answer is typically "no". We need the software. We use the software. But we often don't like it. Among the reasons: it's buggy, hard to figure out, doesn't do what we want, is overly complex, the navigation sucks, it's got a steep learning curve or it's poorly documented. Take your pick. Why does software fail the very users for whom it's supposed to be designed?

 

Why Software Fails

Why Software Fails

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Snoozy Hot New NCLEX Fairy

November 22nd, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Snoozy Newsy] Been awhile since we posted any news • [Hot Tub Progress] Just waiting for the rains to subside • [New Maran Eggs] Maran pullets begin to lay • [NCLEX Exam] Rachel now a licensed RN in California • [Tooth Fairy to Visit] Alex has a loose tooth!

Snoozy Newsy

Hutton House - It has been a while since reporters have been invited to the Randsco campus. When questioned about the lack of news, Editor-in-Chief Scott Kimler, did not appear very apologetic.

"We are aware that it's been a while since our last news conference. What can I say? Life has gotten busy."

Before proceeding with the day's events, he talked about Randsco's commitment to journalism.

"I've been a journalist at Randsco since I was 25 years old," he said, "and one of the things I've learned is that you can't be apologetic if there are lapses in news entries. If you are, you're journaling for the wrong reason. You just pick up when you left off and move forward."

One reporter asked if this meant we can expect more news articles moving forward.

"I can't predict the future," he said, "But we certainly hope so."

Hot Tub Progress

The Back Yard - Developer delays, financing issues, worker strikes, weather and equipment failure have all played a role in the delay of the Hutton House Hot Tub project.

"Not if you ask Rachel," Scott said, jokingly, "It's all my fault!"

The Kimler's picked up a hot tub from a fire hall buddy, Travis, at a bargain rate in 2008. The tub was pulled out of an in-deck installation, when Travis' family was moving to Japan and renting out their rural Cedar home.

"We don't want the liability," explained Travis, "Since we're going to be renting.

Design differences kept the project from moving forward, till this year, when Scott gleaned some paving stones from a nearby contractor.

"Rather than pour a concrete pad," explained Scott, "We used paving stones to form a level surface on which to place the tub."

A large, covered deck was planned around the tub and work has been slowly progressing during the autumn months. A 70-foot trench, which holds electrical cables and a water line, was dug by hand. The paving stone pad was built and laid. Six-by-six posts were set and a 2x6 pressure-treated deck substructure was built.

Lately, November rains have put a damper on progress, as there is a local flood watch and for the past couple of weeks, nothing but rain.

"When it clears," explained Scott, "we'll be building the roof and then laying the deck boards. After that, will be time to set the pump in place and make all the necessary electrical connections."

"If you ask me," said Rachel, "none of it is happening fast enough for my liking. I want to soak in that hot tub!"

Scott just rolled his eyes and pulled his "honey do" list from his back pocket and unfolded it. Holding the list high in the air, the bottom of it touched the ground.

New Maran Eggs

Hutton Hen House - It appears that the three Maran chickens, which are recent additions to the growing Kimler brood, finally hit egg-laying age.

Maran chickens are famed for their deep mahogany-colored eggs. Originally a regional fowl from France. They are not as prolific layers as our ISA-Brown hybrids, but the quality of the egg is superb; they taste excellent and have great structure (even if they are a tad small, since they're pullet eggs).

NCLEX Exam

California - Reporters learned that Rachel Kimler, a Registered Nurse currently practicing in British Columbia, has successfully completed her NCLEX exam.

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure EXamination) is a computerized adaptive exam designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry level. Passing the comprehensive $300 exam is a requirement for obtaining a nursing license through (an elected) State Board of Nursing.

In Rachel's case, she applied through the State of California.

Making application to the California State Board of Nursing, studying for the NCLEX exam and preparing for the test, was nearly a year-long commitment by Rachel.

The test can last up to 5 hours, depending on the number of questions asked. Anywhere from 85 to 205 questions may be asked, depending on the applicants response. (The computerized adaptive testing poses a question and if the response is incorrect will "adapt" and pose additional questions, on that particular topic, in an effort to determine the applicants knowledge in that particular area.) The test is terminated after the computer is 95% certain that the candidate's ability is either above or below the passing standard.

Finishing the test quickly, is either a sign that the candidate knows their stuff, or doesn't.

Test results are mailed to candidates 6-8 weeks after the exam date.

"I was biting my fingernails for six weeks," said Rachel, "I finished the test quickly and was afraid I might have really muffed it!"

The letter arrived recently at the Hutton House. Rachel passed the exam and is now a Registered Nurse in the State of California.

"Yay!" she exclaimed, "And look, I get a plastic card, which is a lot nicer than the flimsy piece of paper I got from British Columbia!"

Though the Kimler's have no immediate plans of moving to the United States, they said, "It's nice to know that if we do, Rachel is already set up to work there."

Congrats Rachel!

Tooth Fairy to Visit

Alex's Room - Alex Kimler, who turned six years old on October 3rd, has her first loose tooth!

"Look," she says, opening her mouth, grabbing her lower right central incisor and wiggling it back and forth, "See?"

Just watching her wiggle the tooth sent a shiver down my spine!

Alex is eager to have her wiggly tooth removed and the family discussed methods for its removal.

"We could always tie a string around it and then tie the other end to a door knob, then slam the door shut, yanking out the tooth!" Mom suggested.

Alex was relatively keen on this idea.

"Hey," Dad said, "Go fetch the pliers from the garage. We can have that puppy out in a flash!"

"Ewe," squealed Alex, cupping her hand over her mouth, "Noooo!"

The dentist had a much more humane and practical method of tooth removal, one which resonated with Alex.

"Give her a caramel-covered apple!"

No matter the method of removal, it looks like the "Tooth Fairy" will be making visits to the Hutton House for the next while.

"Wonder what the going rate for teeth is?" pondered Dad.

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Ad Space

 Promote your business on Randsco

Randsco can help to promote your products & services. We have over 10 years of web experience. Our site has authority - currently w/a Page Rank of 5 - & we're constantly adding new material.

We're a family-run website with international readers. Our original articles appeal to a large target audience. Rachel is a nurse and Scott a web-developer and volunter firefighter. We're professional and offer custom promotional opportunities at reasonable rates.

Look below at what we have to offer. We're sure you'll agree - Ad space on Randsco makes good business sense.

About Randsco

Randsco is a family-run website based in Canada (Vancouver Island). We focus on web-development, outdoor adventure, family stories and various local & international news. We launched Randsco in 2004, as a way to share our adventures and keep family & friends up-to-date (Scott is from the United States), but it has turned into much more.

 

Why Randsco?

  • Longevity: Online since 2004
  • Authority: Currently Page Rank 5
  • Prolific: Over 400 relevant articles
  • Audience: 40,000+ visitors per month
  • Interactive: Over 2,500 comments
  • Appeal: World-wide readership
  • Unique Content: Lots of original material on varied topics
  • Professional: Over 17 years of corporate experience
  • Reasonable: Our rates are reasonable
  • Customizable: Need something different? No problem

 

Randsco Advert Policies

We practice "White Hat SEO". We don't try to "fool" search engines & we write lots of original, engaging & relevant content. Content is King.

Google is constantly tweaking their algorithms & our Page Rank has been as high of 6 and as low as 4. While it always gives us a giggle to see a Randsco article when we're searching on Google, PR and SERP rankings are not the end-all-be-all for us.

Because of this, we don't mind sharing our authority with advertisers. It helps pay for electricity. We have, however, come up with a number of advert policies, to protect our readers & our "White Hat SEO" practices.

  • Relevancy: We don't write about gambling, medications or replica watches, so we won't advertise those products.
  • PG Rated: We're a family-oriented blog, so we don't advertise sex, porn or condoms.
  • Sneaky Ads: We don't allow advert links buried in body copy (all ads are clearly marked).

Note: When we say that adverts are clearly marked, we mean "for our readers (eyes)" ... not search engine spiders. Accepted text links will appear in a visually-separated DIV and have a graphical link (to this article). Below is a demonstration.

SampleCompany.com - Quality products at great prices.

For readers, the advert is clearly separated and marked as such. For search engine spiders, the word "A D V E R T I S E M E N T" never appears (because it's a picture) and the link is indexed along with the rest of the page content. Everyone is happy!

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Donation

Green Man T-Shirts

November 18th, 2009  · stk

FEATURED DONOR: Green Man T-Shirts is a super environmentally-friendly clothing company based in California. Their mission is to sell organic t-shirts and save the World. The second is a doozy, but with 25% of their profits donated to environmental causes and groups, they're off to a good start. Green Man T-Shirts uses Photo-Caption Zoom

Make Environmentalists Green with Envy

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Scott·Family

Breaking the Piggy Bank

November 16th, 2009  · stk

A classic Norman Rockwell moment, as Alex takes her ceramic piggy bank down to our local credit union "Island Savings" and opens her very first bank account. At age six, our girl is learning how to save her money! She deposited $54.40 in coins.

Alex's Opens Her First Bank Account - Chooses Island Savings Credit Union

 Island Savings Credit Union Logo

It was classic Norman Rockwell. A six-year-old girl holding a ceramic piggy bank, sitting in the lobby of a bank, waiting to open her very first bank account. The girl was none other than our Alex and the bank was the small branch of a local credit union.

Earlier that morning, Alex asked, "Can I get a bank account?" (Since Dad is keen on personal finance - having retired at age 39 and opened his first business when he was 12 - his ears perked up).

Several questions later, it became clear to him that Alex understood the concept of banks (even though she couldn't name all the denominations of coins in her piggy bank).

Alex has a very special piggy bank, one given to her by her God-mother - a beautifully decorated and glazed ceramic pig, complete with Alex's tiny hand-print on it (Alex was two-years-old at the time "Wilber" was made).

That afternoon, Dad drove his 6-year-old daughter to the credit union in Cedar. It was a long visit. She signed multiple forms and it took time to count out her "life-savings".

It was a very big day for Alex and a proud one for her Dad (who was busy taking pictures of the event). The visit brought smiles to the banking staff, whe were very patient with Alex and treated her like a 'big girl' customer. Not every new account holder meets one of the Credit Union Board of Directors, but Alex did! She also learned the difference between tokens, coins and foreign money (as she had a few Pence and U.S. coins).

To learn more about Alex's first account, read on ...

Alex Breaks the Pig

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Website house-cleaning. Moved our list of adventure journals inside our CMS, from a static file. (Dunno why I didn't do this from the start). Backpacking, bicycle touring, sea kayaking, hiking ... adventures ... explore your world

Our Online Adventure Journals:

  • Sunshine Coast Bicycle Tour (2010)

    Scott & Alex Racing cycling the beautiful Sunshine Coast of British Columbia

    Join us on a wholesome family adventure, as we continue to explore our own backyard in beautiful British Columbia. For the first time, our 7-year-old daughter, Alex, hopped on a bike saddle and pedaled all on her own! See how she fared on our 6-day loop trip along the Sunshine Coast. Camping fun, four ferry rides, beautiful views, glorious sunshine and - yes - a few bike repairs along the way! (Detailed journal, interactive route map & plenty of photos).

  • Southern Gulf Islands Kayaking (2009)

    Canadian Southern Gulf Islands Kayaking adventure

    With magnificent, eroded sandstone shorelines, tree-covered hills and blessed with Mediterranean-like weather, it's no wonder that the Gulf Islands is Canada's top kayaking destination. Join Scott & Rachel on their first sea kayaking adventure - a six-day journey exploring the Southern Gulf Islands: Saltspring, Wallace, Galiano, Mayne, Saturna, North & South Pender and Prevost Islands. (Detailed journal, maps & photos). (Warning: Continuing will likely whet your appetite for a kayaking adventure!)

  • Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit (2008)

    Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

    Outdoor Magazine listed the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit as "one of the World's 10-best canoe trips". The circuit is comprised of six major lakes and sits in the center of British Columbia, deep in the heart of the Cariboo Mountains. Elk, deer, moose, beaver, bear and other wildlife are commonly spotted. We borrowed a canoe, dropped off our 4-year-old daughter and then added "canoeing" to the list of self-propelled adventure traveling that we enjoy. Join us for a 6-day adventure, where we saw spectacular scenery, got up-close and personal with several moose, witnessed the sky on fire, had a pot-luck dinner with others and laughed, while we "sailed" home. (Complete journal, photos, slide-show and "plan your own paddle" resource section).

  • Nanaimo - Seattle Loop Bicycle Tour (2007)

    Nanaimo to Seattle Loop Bicycle Tour

    Cycling from our home on Vancouver Island, we made a loop that included the following: Salt Spring Island (a Canadian Gulf Island), Victoria, the Coho Ferry, Port Angeles, the Olympic Discovery Bike Trail, Sequim, U.S. Hwy 101, Bainbridge Island, Seattle (via Ferry), the Centennial Bike Trail, Snohomish, Mt. Vernon, the famous Chuckanut Drive, Bellingham, the Tswwassen ferry back to Vancouver Island. Whew! 350 miles of cycling and half a dozen ferry rides. It was Alex's third cycle-touring adventure (the Oop is now over 3½ years old). The early September weather was beautiful. Washington is a very bicycle-friendly state. Join Scott, Rachel, the Oop on this unusual, looping cycle adventure.

  • The West Coast Trail (2007)

    West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada

    The West Coast Trail is a rugged, breathtaking, beautiful backpacking trail that follows the western shores of Vancouver Island. Making up the southern one-third of Canada's Pacific Rim National Park, the West Coast Trail is one of the World's classic hikes, equally difficult as it is beautiful. Here, the coast is made up of rocky, impassable headlands, sand and pebble beaches, sandstone shelves, alluring seastacks and dangerous surge channels. Join us for our 5-day adventure. (Raw text journal only ... yeah, yeah ... we have photos and stuff ... but posting it takes TIME!)

  • Glacier & Waterton Lakes Cycle Tour (2005)

    Glacier Waterton Lakes Cycle Tour

    This was our second cycle-touring adventure with our daughter, Alexandra (aka 'the Oop'), who was 22-months old at the time. We cycled a 400-mile loop from Whitefish, Montana ... through Waterton Lakes, to Glacier National Park. The views were stunning - glacier-carved mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and lush alpine meadows, covered with colorful wildflowers. Join Dave, Rachel, the Oop and Scott, cycling among peaks of the Canadian and US Rockies. They followed the "Highway to the Sun" (or "Going-to-the-Sun"). Either way you call it ... it was a great cycling trip!

  • Icefields Parkway Cycle Tour (2004)

    Banff-Jasper IceFields Parkway Tour

    This was our first cycle-touring adventure with our daughter, Alexandra (aka 'the Oop'), who was 10-months old at the time. We cycled approximately 300 kilometers along the "Icefields Parkway", the road that connects Alberta's Banff & Jasper National Parks. Cycling with a toddler was an adventure in itself & towing her in the buggy, with all the extra gear, up some very steep grades, made for a challenging ride. The Oop was a 'hit' along the roadway, as fellow cycle-tourists & automobile vacationers marveled that we would be out cycling with such a tiny tot.

  • Pacific Coast Bike Tour (Vancouver to S.F. - 2002)

    Washington,Oregon,California Coast Cycle Tour

    8-Mar-2006 LOST Journal Entries! - (How You can Help!)

    What do you do after hiking 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada? You hop on your bicycles and pedal back! We were pushing the cycle-touring season, by leaving Vancouver in early October, but we felt that a trip down the PCH, down to Scott's parent's ranch near Chico, California was a fitting end to our 5-month Pacific Crest Trail adventure. Read the online journal of our trip (no photos).

  • Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike (2002)

    Pacific Crest Trail - Forrester Pass 13,620 feet in the High Sierra

    After several months of planning & dehydrating our own meals, we embarked on a through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trial. This National Scenic Trail is 2,650 miles long and is a crest trail that goes from Mexico to Canada, through wilderness mountaintops in the San Jacinto, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains. Over 500 people followed our live website 'trail-updates'. We stayed at a Rave house, suffered through a 17-hour ice storm, saw bear, were licked by deer, fell down (a lot) & had some hairy high-altitude mountain pass crossings in the Sierras. Read about the trip, look at the slideshow, learn about the PCT & plan your own adventure with the tools & resources on our PCT website.

  • Wonderland Trail Backpacking Trip (2001)

    Wonderland Trail - 100 miles around Mt. Rainier

    We prepared for our Pacific Crest Trail adventure by backpacking the 100-mile "Wonderland Trail" around Mount Rainier, in Washington State. Rated by Backpacker magazine as the overall 'BEST' long trail in year 2000, the trail lives up to the accolades. It's a rugged, mountainous trail, but affords a continual, awe-inspiring view of gorgeous Mt. Rainier. Wildlife abounds, as does wildflowers & wild berries. We saw bear, deer, elk, marmots and mice. We crossed alpine meadows afire with colorful lupine, paintbrush and other wildflowers. Read about our trip, the mishaps, view photos & maps. Plan your own adventure.

  • Oregon Coast Cycle Tour (2001)

    Oregon Coast Cycle-Tour

    Our first self-supported cycle-touring adventure! We cycled our own 12-day loop, from Astoria to about halfway down the Oregon coastline, returning via an inland route. We learned about the kindness of strangers & how to ask for assistance. In many respects, we had more fun during the inland return, than we did during the trip down the infamous PCH. Read about our run-in with marauding raccoons & finding odd places to camp. View photos & maps.

  • Rachel's Big Ride Across America (1999)

    American Lung Association Big Ride Across America 1999

    We met on the second day of a 3,250-mile, charity bicycle SAG tour across the United States that benefited the American Lung Association. One hundred thirty five riders, plus a 20-person support crew spent 48 days, averaging 80 miles per day, bicycling across America, from Seattle to Washington D.C. We were a traveling 'city', with semi-trucks that hauled showers, toilets, a bicycle repair shop & gear. Follow along on our amazing & life-affirming adventure! Read Rachel's journal & see how we met. (Complete journal - No photos)

  • Scott's Big Ride Across America (1999)

    American Lung Association 1999 Big Ride Across America

    135 cyclists, 48 days, 3,250 miles ... Seattle to Washington D.C. Most people fly. We cycled every inch of the way, raising more than a million dollars to help the ALA win the battle against lung disease. The first day over Snoqualamie Pass was hot & tough. The rest? All downhill! Ha! Follow Scott on his "Big Ride Across America" during his 1999 adventure, from training for the 100-mile days, through the uncertainty of fund-raising, and of course, the Big Ride itself (as well as a budding romance with a certain Canadian). (Journal, ride map & photos)

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3rd-Party Yahoos

November 9th, 2009  · stk

On October 26, 2009, Yahoo pulled the plug on millions of websites hosted on GeoCities web servers. It marks the end of an early Internet Era and one that affects no less than five of our early adventure journals. Restoration efforts are taking place. Learn more (including why the Internet is a house of cards)

26-Oct Yahoo-GeoCities Shut Down
Randsco Adventures Rescued from Ashes

On October 26, 2009, Yahoo-GeoCities shut-down their servers and immediately obliterated 15 years-worth of personal websites, made by millions of people across the world.

We rescued our early adventure journals off of GeoCities, reposting them on the Randsco domain, including: Scott's Big Ride, Rachel's 1999 Big Ride, our Oregon Cycle Tour and Wonderland Trail backpacking trip.

Begun in 1994, GeoCities spawned "neighborhoods" and by 1997, there were over a million "homesteaders" that had created personal websites. In 1999, Yahoo! bought GeoCities for $2.87 billion dollars.

GeoCities floundered under Yahoo's leadership. Terms of service changes, monthly data transfer limits, eliminating FTP access and changing advertising strategies drove users away. (We moved our home page off of GeoCities in 2003, because advertising changes interfered with visitor experience - and shared server costs were becoming affordable).

To learn more about the GeoCities shut-down, what's being done to preserve this bit of Internet history and the pitfalls of 3rd-party servers ... carry on.

GeoCities Restoration?

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Olympic Torch Run

October 25th, 2009  · stk

There are 110 days till the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, but the Olympic torch is on it's way to our little town of Cedar, British Columbia. Learn about the 2010 Olympic torch, the Canadian national torch run and more. If you can, come down and help celebrate the event with live entertainment, free hot-dogs and Halloween treats. (Olympic torch run map included)

Olympic Torch Arrives in Cedar on Oct 31st

There's 110 days to go before the start of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, but the Olympic torch was lit, in Greece, on Thursday.

The torch run has begun. It's currently on a 7-day circuit through Greece. After that, it will be handed off to Vancouver 2010 officials and flown to Canada, where it will begin a 45,000-kilometer, 106-day trek across Canada.

The Olympic flame will be passing through our little hamlet of Cedar, British Columbia on Day 2 of its 106-day journey ... coming through town on Halloween (Oct 31st).

For more on the torch, maps & the Cedar celebration ... read on ...

More on the 2010 Olympic Torch Run

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Things Rachel Loves

October 21st, 2009  · stk

Rachel loves scrapbooking and recently made a "100 Things I Love" page, partly using Photoshop. I carried on with Photoshop and made a pure digital version. Also included is a photoshop tutorial for the "text-masking" typographic technique.

Scrapbook Page via Photoshop

Rachel has been scrapbooking for a few years and she has improved her skills remarkably. Each 12-inch by 12-inch page she does now is a work of art. Most of her pages are vignettes of the moments of family life and - one day - I will photograph and put them in an online gallery - to share and inspire others with their own scrapbooking projects.

In contrast, I scrapbook online, with this blog. (I'm more about the words than the pictures ... but I try!)

Rachel's latest effort is shown here, a page dedicated to the "100 Things I Love". The page is a blend of digital scrapbooking and paper scrapbooking. It's Rachel's first foray into the digital scrapbooking realm.

I found an online Photoshop tutorial that explained how to make text from words, which Rachel then used to make her own "100". I think it turned out really well and thought others might like to learn about the technique. (Of course, because I'm the "computer dude" in the family, I took Rachel's final "100" and put my own spin on a purely digital page, which you can see by reading on) ...

Photoshop Scrapbooking Technique

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Infidel

October 19th, 2009  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "Infidel", by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan was raised in a traditional Muslim home in Africa, she experienced an intellectual awakening in Europe and now critical of Islam, living under armed guard. In 2005, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

(Non-Fiction)Review of "Infidel"
An Autobiography by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

When I finished the last page of Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I closed the cover and commented on what a powerful book it was. Others have described the Hirsi Ali's autobiography as remarkable, amazing, or a a brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir. All such acclamations are warranted as Hirsi Ali uses clear and descriptive language to tell the story of how she became one of Time magazines 2005 one-hundred “most influential people in the world today.”

Born in 1969, Hirsi Ali was born a traditional Muslim girl. She was raised in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, where her family held steadfast to the doctrines of the Quran. Like the 6000 young girls that undergo female genital excision everyday, Hirsi Ali was forced to submit to excision in order keep her pure, as well as other cultural practices requiring her to take a secondary and subservient role in life, simply because she was female.

Click the link below to continue reading my review of "Infidel".

More on "Infidel", by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Better @font-face Syntax

September 4th, 2009  · stk

I recently published an article about cross-browser font embedding, using the @font-face CSS selector. It turns out that the code I put forth causes a 404 look-up in Internet Explorer. A reader has suggested some superior code, which I put to the test

Paul Irish Sets My Morning Schedule

Funny how a single comment can change the direction of my day!

Paul proposes two concepts - new to me - in his recent article, "Bulletproof Font Face Implementation":

  • Internet Explorer tries and fails to download the TTF file (with 2-selector syntax) even though the 2nd @font-face selector includes a "format" declaration.
  • He proposes a single @font-face selector, which satisfies all browsers (obviating the need for two selectors), searches the local computer for the font first and eliminates the Internet Explorer "file not found" problem.

Okay ... this is techie, geeky cool and - for sure - not everyone is going to want to read about this, so here is where you should get off the geek train (if you haven't already).

If you're all aboard, heading for geekdom and want to be cool, then read on brave web-font enthusiasts ...

I'm a Geek, I want More

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Improving a Lightbox Effect

August 31st, 2009  · stk

There's a spiffy-looking CSS Technique that's been getting a lot of play in the web-design and web-development social circles lately. Unfortunately, it's not a CSS technique and even as a JavaScript technique, it's crap! Did you spot it?

"Innovative CSS Technique" Making Rounds is NOT a CSS Technique

Even as a JavaScript Technique, it's Crap

This article, authored by Emanuele Feronato, has been getting some attention within the web-design and development social network recently. I've seen it Tweeted, FaceBook'd, Blogged, Digg'd and included in various "Totally Amazing CSS Techniques" lists.

On his website, Emanuele bills himself as an "Italian Geek & Programmer". Unfortunately, his article demonstrates he knows very little about web-standards, W3C validation, pure-CSS, graceful degradation, cross-browser compatibility, accessibility or white-hat SEO. He says his LightBox-like effect is "100% CSS-based" and that it's made "only with CSS - no JavaScript needed".

No JavaScript needed? What a pile of hooey!

The article is the most popular article on his blog, sporting over 252 comments and it's currently being shot across the design social circuit like it was the newest communications satellite. While some of the commentary points out the shortcomings, most (who don't know better) are lapping up this code - using it on commercial sites and passing it on.

At first blush, the technique seems very cool, but it's not code we would use and you shouldn't either. In a nutshell, out-of-the box it's crap. (Are you a web-developer, designer or programmer? Can you spot the problems?")

To learn more about why this code is crap (and to get an improved version) ... carry on ...

Turning Crapola into Shinola

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Six Days of Sea Kayaking

August 23rd, 2009  · stk

We just got back from our first-ever sea kayaking adventure, spending 6 days exploring the Canadian southern Gulf Islands. We had a great time and are slowly getting our journal online. We thought we'd post what we have, as family and friends might like to read about the adventure, as it unfolded. Cheers! (Busily working away at spell-checking and such)

First-Ever Kayaking Trip: Canadian Southern Gulf Islands

Descriptive and entertaining entry about how lucky we are to have such a wonderfully diverse, rich and popular sea kayaking destination right in our own backyard. Till such time as I cobble all that together, just pop on in and read about our recent 6-day kayaking trip.

Though we're no strangers to camping, backpacking, cycle-touring and other outdoor adventure ... this was our first time traveling by sea kayak. We can laugh now at some of our mistakes, preconceptions and landlubbing ways, but make no mistake - we had a great time and we're hooked! There will be many more sea kayaking adventures in our future (and Alex's too, though she missed this one, away with her maternal grandparents and having her own summer adventure at Watch Lake).

Note: The text is a bit raw, at this point, as I've only run it through the spell-checker - still need to go through and finalize it. (Three cheers to Rachel for all her hard work writing the journal!! Yippee! Yippee! Yippee!)

What's Completed:

  • Intro Text | Pictures
  • Day 0 Text | Pictures
  • Day 1 Text | Pictures
  • Day 2 Text | Pictures
  • Day 3 Text | Pictures
  • Day 4 Text | Pictures
  • Day 5 Text | Pictures
  • Day 6 Text | Pictures
  • Slide Show
  • Resources & Planning

 

Kayaker at sunset in the Canadian Southern Gulf Islands

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Crazy Canadian Contests

July 13th, 2009  · stk

Rachel recently won $5 in a Subway Scrabble promotional contest. Like all Canadians, she had to correctly answer a mathematical skill question in order to receive her prize. Find out why a "skill test" is a uniquely Canadian thing.

Returning from the floating cabin last month, we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop in Port Alberni for lunch. (Alex cried, because she wanted a McDonald's "Happy Meal" - it's all about the toy). Parental units decided fresh ingredients were more important than supporting China's export trade. As a result, we all had a healthier lunch.

Rachel also won a "$5-off Subway Card", after tearing off a "Subway scrabble" game-piece from her drink cup. Yesterday I redeemed the instant prize online (contest ends today, July 13th). I entered the alpha-numeric code printed on the game piece. On the next screen, I was required to pass the uniquely-Canadian ritual of answering a "skill test" question, in order to claim the $5 Subway Card prize. As per usual, it was a math question: What is 6 x 14 ÷ 6 + 48 - 14?

I've lived in a lot of places, but only Canada has a "math test", when you win a prize! When I first arrived, I thought, "Wow, Canada really places an emphasis on basic math skills!" It wasn't till later that I realized that the purpose of the "skill test" is to circumvent Canadian anti-gambling laws.

To learn more about the odd Canadian contest "skill test" requirement, you must first derive the Wave Equation, from Snell's Law of Refraction ... (ack ... I mean, click the following link) ...

Great Canadian "Skill Test"

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xBrowser Fonts

July 4th, 2009  · stk

For years, web designers and bloggers have been limited to a select number of "web-safe" fonts. With the Jun 30th release of FireFox 3.5, it's now possible for cross-browser font embedding using the CSS3 @font-face selector. Here's a tutorial to show you how

@font-face font hell

Expand Your Font Palette Using CSS3

In a tale involving proprietary font formats and a week-old release of FireFox, I'm here to say that using the CSS @font-face selector to spice up your website typography is an easy, light-weight, valid and cross-browser solution. Finally, fancy fonts for the masses!

Can this be true? You bet your sweet bippy! Read on.

 

Fancy Fonts For All

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About Randsco

 

Randsco is a family-run website that focuses on web-development, adventures, interesting tid-bits and local news. We currently live on a rural 5-acres near the ocean, on Vancouver Island (western-most coast of Canada). Our website began as a way to share our adventures and keep family and friends informed (Scott was transplanted to Canada from the United States), but it has turned into much more.

 

What's Randsco IS

Scott is a web-developer, designer, father, adventurer, scientist, handyman and volunteer firefighter. He's posted a lot of original material since he's been "online" in 1999 ... and it's still growing. Here's a short list of what you'll find here:

  • Family stories (About Rachel, Scott, Alex & Tuxedo) - written with the "general public" as an audience.
  • Web Development Articles - Learn what's new, what works, tips, tricks, design - stuff that interests Scott (e.g., he loves bending CSS).
  • Adventure Journals - Backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, cycle-touring - many with photos, maps, slide shows and more information
  • Informative Articles - Analysis, personal observations, humor and serious discussions covering a broad range of topics.
  • Educational Articles - How-to articles, tutorials, b2evolution blogging software, CSS techniques and other web tips and tricks
  • Free Stuff - Maps, music, brochures, cut'n-paste code and Penn State football live-radio links (exclusive to Randsco)
  • Local Issues - politics, environment, water, firefighting and other things for Nanaimo, North Cedar, Ladysmith and the Yellow Point areas
  • Product & Book Reviews - Stuff we buy and use, companies we like and don't like and books we've read.
  • And More - We regularly update the site with more than what's included in this brief list.

 

What Randsco IS NOT

Here's a brief list of what you won't find here:

  • Porn - We're a family-oriented website.
  • Foul Language - We believe that intelligent people can find more suitable words to express their feelings.
  • SPAM - We have a ZERO-tolerance policy against SPAM
  • Blatant Advertising - We offer a nearly advert-free reading experience for loyal readers (those who type our URL or bookmark us)
  • Poor grammar & punctuation - We're from the old school and believe spelling, grammar and engaging writing are important.
  • Coding Errors - We constantly update and maintain our pages and code. We try to maintain a high 'visitor experience' rating for ALL visitors.
  • Closed Comments - We believe comments should be open to anyone. We don't moderate our comments, we don't ask you to decipher and type funky letters or answer silly questions. We even allow links.

Spend some time and poke around. There's a LOT more to Randsco than meets the eye. Scott particularly enjoys adding depth to online content and websites he builds, which translates into not-so-obvious treasures (easter eggs?) for readers who like exploring. (e.g., Some "internal" links will you to separate websites, while hovering or clicking will yield hidden features, information, photos and other online "goodies").

We hope you enjoy your stay and find what we've put up adds value. Please comment, sign the guestbook or contact us - we like to get feedback - good and bad - from our readers.

Cheers,
-Scott & Rachel

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Family

Last Day of Kindergarten

June 24th, 2009  · stk

Kindergarten is finished today. Alex is pretty certain she'll have a great summer, filled with lots of social activities. We're pretty certain Alex is going to miss school. (Class photo included).

"The Oop" Graduates Kindergarten Per Ultum Tripudium

There were no caps; no gowns. There wasn't any of the pomp and circumstance that graduates across the U.S. and Canada are experiencing this month. Alex just went to school at 11:35 AM and was released at 2:15 PM, just like any other day. The only difference, of course, is that it wasn't just like any other day, because it was the last day of kindergarten.

I asked her, this morning, if she was going to miss school (as I'm pretty sure she will, since she's such a social creature). It surprised me when she said, "No."

Exploring a little further, I asked, "Why not?"

"Well Dad," she said, putting her hands on her little hips, as she does when she's explaining how things are, "because during the summer, I don't have to go to school, see? And every day I'll have play dates!"

(I told you she was a social creature).

Unfortunately, as the Dad and one of two qualified chauffeurs in the house, I was pretty certain that her hastily thought-out plan of multiple 'play dates' per day weren't going to be the norm. I tried to explain that school was the ultimate play date and especially because (now) she's in day-care on many days, in addition to school, so she actually has more actual playing opportunities when school is in session, than during the summer months. (In our rural neighborhood, Alex has only a few kids to play with, within walking distance and none are her age - there are two that are 1-2 years younger than Alex and three that are 4 or more years older).

Of course, my argument fell on deaf ears and Alex remains excited by the prospect of upcoming 'social' summer!

To see Alex's kindergarten class photo ... head to the next page

The Graduating Kindergarten Class

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More NAFTA Woes

June 22nd, 2009  · stk

Once again, NAFTA fails to level the consumer playing field. This time, I ended up shopping in the United States for a Motorola MR350R two-way radio. I can't even get the bloody thing in Canada, at the moment. Find out why.

Motorola TalkAbout MR350R Two-Way Radios

On January 6th, 2009, Motorola unveiled its 2009 collection of TalkAbout two-way radios at a trade show in Las Vegas. On June 8th, 2009, Motorola declares the MR350R two-way radio is a "Perfect Father's Day Gift for Adventurous Dads".

I didn't know anything about the Motorola MR350R two-way radio until just prior to Father's Day, when I spied it for sale in a Canadian TigerDirect catalog. After reading the specifications Motorola MR350R Specs Motorola MR350R two-way radios specs Key Features  · Range of 35 miles  · 22 channels (each w/121 privacy codes)  · Dual power (3 AA batteries & NiMH pack)  · Battery Life: 27h (Alkaline), 9h (NiMH)  · Built-in iVOX hands-free  · Built-in LED Flashlight  · 7 NOAA & 4 EC Marine Weather channels  · Weather alert mode  · 20 call tones & "VibraCall" mode  · PTT Power boost  · Keypad lock, audible low battery, emergency alert, flexible charging options.   Click pop-up/link for specs at Motorola's website , the MR350R radio did appear to be an excellent communications tool for around our 5-acre property and floating cabin. Because both locations have spotty-to-no cell phone coverage and the radios also receive government weather alerts, they would be as much for safety, as for convenience.

Unlike most power tools I want, it didn't require a lot of convincing to sell the idea to Rachel. Yay! It looked like I might indeed be getting a cool "Father's Day" gift! All I had to do - I thought - was telephone TigerDirect and order it.

That's when problems began.

To learn why I ended up - again - purchasing the MR350R Motorola two-way radios in the United States and not Canada, why Canadians aren't getting a fair shake from NAFTA and how companies - like Motorola - downplay the Canada marketplace ... read on.

Deals South of the Border - AGAIN!

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Oop Loves Hardware Stores

June 18th, 2009  · stk

Scott and Alex attend the Grand Opening of the new Chase River RONA store. (RONA is a Canadian-based hardware store). They were thrilled to get some free hardware swag! The new store cuts our hardware store driving time from 32 kilometers to 13 kilometers. Yay!

Rona Hardware Store: Grand Opening in Chase River

Updates:
Save at RONA - Price Matching
Chase River Development - Sandstone

This morning, I mentioned to the Oop, "Rona is having their big Grand Opening today at 9 AM. If we go, we can get some free gifts!"

Being a lover of hardware stores (and gifts), Alex was immediately excited!

"I wanna go! Let's go! I'll go get dressed, right now" she said, bounding from the chair in which she was sitting and abandoning the computer game she was playing (Webkinz World).

We drove to the new hardware store in Chase River (just across the Island Highway from South Gate Center). It's a good thing we got there at 8:30 AM, as the gift bags were for the first 100 customers and there was already a line-up of about 50 people or so.

We waited a half hour (which is like a day and a half in 5-year-old waiting time). Towards the end, Alex's patience was wearing thin, despite the prospect of free stuff. As we finally walked through the front door, we were each greeted by a Rona employee, who handed us a re-usable shopping bag, filled with a Rona ball cap, a tape measure and a $10 gift certificate.

In addition to a bag, the Oop also got a helium balloon and (several) cookies. Dad bought a 4-foot piano hinge (to be used as a project with Alex, in making a dozen or so new bird houses, which we'll nail to trees around the yard and pasture).

For more about the Rona Grand Opening adventure and what it means to us, read on ...

RONA Grand Opening

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Blue Bird of Happiness

June 14th, 2009  · stk

We have a "new" twitter update status tool for our blog. See how it works (will be followed-up with a detailed discussion of how we made it, modified the JavaScript that comes with the Twitter API and some other nifty tricks we added). Some assembly required.

Twitter This, Twitter That

twitter bird

When the blue bird chirps, we've Tweet'd w/in the past hour.

twitter-logo

It seems that the whole world is a-flutter, over little blue birds (which are the universal symbol for "Twitter", a increasingly popular "micro-blogging" service). Twitter is used to make 140-character comments about what you're doing. You can even embed photos, videos and links - to be rendered in-place, by browser add-on applications. Use it to keep in touch with "friends", for time-delayed "conversations", social networking, staying on top of important (and not-so important) breaking news, popular topics, wasting your employers time or digging deeper into research: trends, keywords, news and other things.

We started tweeting early this year and I finally got around to customizing a "twitter status update", which you'll find in our "Site Tools" section of our blog sidebar. It's a bit different than most Twitter status updates I've seen and here's how it works:

IF you see the blue-bird a-singing (animated musical notes), it means that we've "tweeted" within the last hour or so. Hovering over this little blue twitter bird will reveal a stylish pop-up containing our latest "tweet" (140-char story-line of "what we're doing right now"). It's a great way to see what we're up to, see how witty we can be and we think it's a nice add-on (a mini-blog, if you will).

If you CLICK the blue-bird, whether he's singing or not, you'll get a pop-up list of our last 5 tweets. Each tweet may - or may not - contain links to web-pages or our fellow twitter friends, with whom we're "conversing". Follow the links to learn more. At the bottom of the 5-tweet list is a CSS-rollover link that invites you to "follow us" on twitter. It even degrades gracefully if JavaScript is disabled. We think it's pretty cool.

Coming Soon: A Twitter-torial covering "How to add a Twitter status update to your own blog", which will include detail about using the Twitter API, modifying the JavaScript, make a Twitter status list pop-up and some of the other cool stuff involved in making our own twitter status update tool.

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Helping IE6 Out the Door

June 12th, 2009  · stk

Randsco No Longer Supports Internet Explorer Six

Last month, we made the decision to drop support for Internet Explorer version six (IE6). Visitors using this eight-year-old browser will see a pop-up information box, when they land here. The box says:

quote

Update Your Browser

As of May 2009, we no longer support Internet Explorer 6. The reasons for this decision are many.

We strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer version. The current version is Internet Explorer 8. The upgrade is free.

Hint: For a better browser, use FireFox.

 

To learn about our reasoning for this move, what it means for visitors, the problems with IE6 and why FireFox beats IE hands-down ... read on.

Why We Dropped Support for IE6

IE6 is listed as #8 of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

- PC World Magazine   

Below is a short list of some of the reasons behind our decision to drop support for Internet Explorer 6:

  1. IE6 is old and antiquated
  2. IE6 is crappy compared to modern alternatives
  3. IE6 support costs web-developers frustration & time
  4. IE6 needs to go - now

 

IE6 Is Old

The release date for Internet Explorer Six is Aug 2001. That was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center! IE6 is older than the iPod, the television show "24", IE5 for the Mac and the Hummer H2.

At its peak, in 2003, IE6 commanded roughly 95% of the browser market and created for Microsoft, a browser monopoly that resulted in a U.S. Justice court case against the company.

Success of IE6 is attributable to a number of factors:

  • Unlike early version of Netscape & Opera, IE6 was free
  • It was bundled and integrated with the most popular O/S - Windows
  • It was the best browser available at the time and competitors were lacking

IE6 Is a Crappy Browser

IE6 may have been the best browser in 2001, but this is 2009 and eight years is an Eon of time, technologically speaking. Compared to modern browsers - which are many and all free - IE6 is wildly inferior. Here's a brief list of some reasons why:

IE6 is one of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

 

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Oop Shots

June 10th, 2009  · stk

A slide show consisting of 75 photos taken by our 5-year-old daughter, Alex, over the course of a year and a half, using her "Little Tikes" 640x480 digital camera. Our world from a three-foot-something, kid's perspective.

Photography from a Child's Perspective

Shortly after our daughter, Alex (AKA "the Oop"), turned four, we gave her a digital camera for Christmas. She's now five and a half years old and has used the camera for a year and a half, taking roughly 750 pictures all-told.

It's interesting to see what catches her eye, even though many of the pictures didn't turn out well. While we really like the rugged quality, ease of use and child-oriented design of her "Little Tikes" digital camera "My Real Digital Camera" by Little Tikes little tikes digital camera We bought this durable camera in Canada for approximately $30 CAD. It's worked well for Alex for a year and a half. Pros: The camera is well designed for little fingers, it's rugged and will take abuse, it has both a 1.3" LCD screen and a view-finder for framing shots, it's easy to use, has auto flash and stores about a 1000 pictures (64 MegaBytes). Cons: Picture quality could be better (it takes 640px by 480px shots with some spherical aberration and blurring). There is an appreciable shutter delay, which children must understand, before they can begin to take non-blurry shots. (One needs to hold the camera steady for about a second, after pressing the shutter button). It uses 4 "AAA" batteries & also comes in pastel colors. Thinking of getting one? Click inside this box or the link for more information & reviews on the Little Tikes website. , it has one major flaw - there is a one second delay between pressing the shutter button and when the image is captured. It took Alex a while to work out that she needs to hold the camera steady during and after she presses the button.

We figured that it was high time to show off our daughter's photography "skills" and share her visions through the lens. Life looks a lot different when you're only three feet tall and the things that she's pointed her camera at ... well, you can only conclude that they're important to her!

On to the Show

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Beautify a Resource List

May 21st, 2009  · stk

Sometimes we include a list of "additional information" links at the end of our articles. Generally, they've been styled on the fly, but we thought it was high time to spend a bit of attention on this detail. The resulting CSS-styled ordered list looks nice, includes a block hover effect, a "visited" status indicator and is XHTML/CSS valid. We thought people might like to use it on their website, so included a tutorial and ZIP file.

Adding Pizazz to an Ordered List

A lot of online articles include, at the end of the article, a list of "additional resources" - or links - for further reading and research. Several Randsco articles have such a list, but styling them is generally an afterthought, because most of the energy goes into the article itself.

Ideally, additional information links would be contained in an ordered list. It's semantically correct and allows visitors to reference a particular link by number. Unfortunately, we don't always follow our own advice and some of these links are held in simple paragraphs which may, or may not, be numbered.

We thought it was about time that we come up with a proper "additional information" list. By melding together some existing design ideas and adding our own CSS touches, we have constructed an ordered list that not only looks nice, but also includes a number of other features: a hip CSS roll-over effect; compatibility with fixed-width or liquid layouts; toggle-able ":visited" link status images; pure CSS (no JavaScript, AJAX or jQuery); and it's cross-browser friendly.

Have a look at the demo page and read on to get the ZIP file, learn about the design, look at the code and see the live example.

Styling an Ordered List

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Scott·Relatives

Scott's Mom Wins Award

May 10th, 2009  · stk

Scott's Mom was honored last night in a gala event held in Washington D.C., where she was given the prestigeous "2009 - Mother of the Year" award, by the National Maternal Society of America. Beyoncé Knowles, British singer Seal and his wife, Heidi Klum, were among those in attendance. The presentation included a pre-recorded message of support, from President Obama. See the CNNBC news video, proudly posted on Randsco.

Marilyn Kimler Recognized as "Mother of the Year"

CNNBC News - Just in time for Mother's Day, the National Maternal Society of America, last night, awarded Marilyn Kimler - my Mom! - the prestigeous and coveted "2009 Mother of the Year" award.

In a star-studded event that included such celebrities as Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé Knowles, British singer Seal and his wife, Heidi Klum, the Master of Ceremonies, Robert Winthrop, presented the Marilyn's award and described her hard work.

"Our recipient's duties also include selflessly contributing 52-hours of every day to people other than herself," he said, to a packed audience.

To see the CNNBC neww video of the event - which also includes a pre-recorded message by President Obama - continue on ...

"You go Mom!" said Scott, during several telephone interviews, last night, with various press agencies, "You rock!"

Mother of the Year Award Presentation

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The Blogging Task

May 5th, 2009  · stk

In 12 hours Tourism Queensland picks their "Island Caretaker". The Top 16 have been on a whirlwind tour of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef for the past two days. Each were given the task of blogging about the day's adventures. Read the entries. Which do you think should be hired to be "Island Caretaker"?

12 Hours till the "Island Caretaker" is Announced

Tourism Queensland Island Caretaker picked from Top 16 blogging task

In what way are the Top 16 candidates for TBJITW like the Swine Flu?

They've both been in the press & under a microscope a lot lately.

For nearly four months, since the announcement in early January, it's all been leading up to this moment. Tourism Queensland's search for their "Island Caretaker" has captured the interest of the World. Nearly thirty five thousand applicants dedicated approximately two months of their lives to submit and support their 60-second video applications. Fifty were chosen from the lot and they labored another month, garnering media attention and furthering their application. Sixteen of those recently embarked on a trip of a lifetime - a week-long visit to Australia - the land they call "Oz" ... to an idyllic place ... the Island of the Great Barrier Reef.

For the past three days, these sixteen lucky candidates have been paraded in front of the media, as they embarked on a rigorous, fun-filled, whirlwind tour. The snorkeled, flew, swam, fed fish, held koalas, luxuriated in the spa, ate like Kings and saw some of the best of what the Whitsundays had to offer. The whole time, they were followed by media and an evaluation team. As fun as it was, they went through the experience under a microscope.

Their applications are now nearly complete. All that's left are the formal, one-on-one, sit-down interviews and then Tourism Queensland will have a tough decision: Which of the Top 16 candidates will they hire to be their "Island Caretaker"?

For links to the Top 16 candidates "Blog Task" articles, covering Day 2 and Day 3 of their Hamilton Island interview adventure ... read on ...

On to the Blogging Task

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Family·Our Life

Purr-fect Inspiration

May 4th, 2009  · stk

Our cat, Tuxedo, is fat, old and lazy. Scott thought that a positive motivational message would inspire him. See if it works

Tuxedo Gets Motivational Message

Scott's father sent Scott an email today. Attached were a bunch of great animal photos, many of which were amazing, fast-action shots. Scott loves animals!

Isn't Rachel is always saying, "Scott should have been a veterinarian?"

One of the photos, in particular, caught Scott's eye and he thought it might motivate our cat, "Tuxedo". He's a neutered, 17-year-old cat that lays around the house and is keen only on dinner, a warm lap or geting petting. He's not too interested in catching mice.

Scott moused his way over to Big Huge Labs and within 60 seconds - OKAY, more like 10-minutes because he had to tweak the fonts and colors - came up with this motivational poster.

For more about the motivational poster, Tuxedo's reaction and to see the 30 other great animal photos, carry on ...

Motivation for Tuxedo

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Let the Games Begin

May 3rd, 2009  · stk

The Best Job in the World: The Top 16 candidates were flown to Hamilton Island today. They now have 3 days of interviews and activities. Which are doing the best job of sharing their experience with the World? Find out.

Interviews Begin for 16 Top 'Best Job' Candidates

It's been nearly a month since Tourism Queensland announced the Top 15 candidates and the wild-card. Today (Sunday May 3rd) the top 16 arrived on Hamilton island, checked in at the Reef View Hotel, participated in a "swimming task", took a tour of "The Blue Pearl" (the sea-view residence in which the hired candidate will live for 6 months) and then were treated to a "Welcome Dinner" which included - among other things - skewered BBQ crocodile meat.

For the next three days, the candidates will be under a microscope, as they participate in a number of "tasks" and adventures. Part of the official selection process will involve the candidates blogging on the main site - islandreefjob.com (announcement to come soon). Some have already established blogs and are providing a great deal of information about their experience, thus far.

For a quick run down of the interview events and to see which candidates are already taking the world with them on their Hamilton Island 'Best Job' adventure ... read on ...

Top 16 Interview for Best Job

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First Live Rider Break-In Facility

April 28th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Live Fire II] Scott attends advanced firefighting training • [New Maintenance Facility] Randsco campus grows • [Rider Mower] Maintenance equipment donated to company • [Break-in Reported] Rachel's car is broken into

Live Fire II

Maple Ridge - Last weekend, three firefighters from North Cedar - including Scott Kimler - joined nine other Vancouver Island firefighters in a 'live fire' exercise at the Justice Institute training facility in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

The focus for the two-day course was training firefighter personnel in the role of "company officer", when approaching various live fire situations. Training included a morning lecture on fire fighting theory (use of foam and foam types, properties of propane and BLEVE situations). An afternoon was spent in live fire exercises applying foam onto various hydrocarbon fires, as well as safe approach and shut-down of an ignited, venting propane tank. An entire day was spent rotating through various roles in a variety of live fire exercises in the 4-story, concrete "Burn Building" on campus.

It was a grueling and exhausting, but fun, two days.

"It was great meeting other guys from various [Vancouver Island] fire halls," said Scott Kimler, from North Cedar.

Of the nine other participants, six were from Colwood, near Victoria, two from Salt Spring Island and one from Eucluelet.

Justice Institute technicians ignited several rooms afire, using a number of wood pallets. Teams of four entered the building, named either as "Attack 1" or "Attack 2" - charged with fire assessment, suppression, ventilation, search and rescue. The third group acted as RIT, setting up a RIT staging area and conducting a 360-degree evaluation of the "structure", looking for hazards and secondary means of egress.

To give you an idea of conditions inside the "Burn Building", one of the firefighters from North Cedar, received first-degree burns on his knees, from the heat of the concrete floor.

"It was bloody hot," said Scott Kimler!

New Maintenance Facility

Hutton House - Those on the 5-acre Randsco main campus at "Hutton House" may notice the new, temporary maintenance building, in the northwest corner.

"It's hidden in the trees," reported the construction foreman, walking a group of reporters to the site of the new structure.

The new building provides storage and a base of operations for the Randsco campus landscaping maintenance crew, which - up till now - has been forced to share space with the poultry management department.

"We're very happy to have our own space," said Scott, chief of the landscaping maintenance crew, "Not that we don't like the poultry people, but it is a tad stinky over there!"

The new treated canvas and metal pole struture is the first new building to be erected on the Randsco campus since the property was purchased three years ago.

Randsco president and Editor-in-Chief, Scott Kimler, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony said, "This heralds a new era for Randsco. Our company is growing. We're adding more employees and building revenue - day-by-day, month-over-month and year-by-year. While we're hoping to replace this temporary facility with a new, state-of-the-art facility, this building is a demonstration of our growth and proof that we're on target with our 10-year plan."

Reporters were led on a tour of the new facility and then treated to a wine-and-cheese bruncheon at the main campus headquarters, overlooking the newly mowed pasture and enjoying the sun-dappled beauty of the cafeteria patio.

1st Cabin Trip

Julia Passage - Randsco executives took the company yacht "Blue Yonder" to the floating corporate hideaway in the Barkley Sound, two weeks ago. Reporters are just learning about the trip, apparently the first of the season.

"We didn't want to make a big deal about it," said Scott, during a phone interview, "It was a short three-day excursion and we're happy to report that the trip went well and - more importantly - the corporate yacht ran through her paces without incident."

The long Yellow Point winter is over and warmer days are ahead. Lucky Randsco staff and important guests are often treated with weekend trips to the remote and beautifully-situated floating company retreat, which is located on the doorstep of the Pacific Rim National Park.

"Unfortunately," said Scott, "I came down with food poisoning and the trip - for me anyway - was marred with flu-like symptoms. I spent most of the trip confined to bed."

Rider Mower

Hutton House - It was reported earlier that Randsco had built a new, albeit temporary, maintenance storage facility on their main campus. In a later press release, Randsco announced that they had received a generous donation of a riding lawn mower, which became the first piece of equipment to be stored in the new facility.

"We are very thankful for the generous gift," wrote Scott Kimler, President and Editor-in-Chief, "The donors, Georgina and Richard, have given us their older mower, in favor of their new John Deere tractor/mower.

The new riding lawn mower is a 15 horsepower, rear-bagger model with electric start and night-operations capabilities.

"No more grass! No more grass!" shouted 5-and-a-half-year-old Alex with glee, riding atop the mower in the lap of the head of the Randsco maintenance department. The duo mowed the pasture in a third of the time it took staff to mow the pasture with the gas-powered, push mower.

Alex laughed going uphill, downhill, under branches, over bumps and around tight turns. She was even allowed to "drive" and managed to keep a straight track, in large part.

"Alex is a lot of fun," said the groomsman, after dumping a bag of grass into the poultry yard, "She loves riding the mower and helped me mow the whole pasture - staying up till 9 PM, which was way past her bedtime!"

"The "new" mower will be a welcome addition to the Randsco campus," said Rachel, "It means less time will be spent on mowing and they'll be more time for other projects!"

Break-in Reported

Nanaimo - Rachel dropped Alex and a friend off at the Nanaimo Aquatics Center for swimming lessons, then drove the short distance to the Buttertubs Marsh Bird Sanctuary parking lot. There, she locked the car and began jogging, following the nature trail that rims the marshy pond in the center of the sanctuary.

Her first hint that something might be awry, was when she spotted a man sitting on a rock near the parking lot area.

"He just looked suspicious," Rachel said, during her interview with the police, "but I wasn't paying much attention and don't remember much about his appearance."

When Rachel returned from her run, she discovered that the passenger window of her Subaru station wagon had been broken and that a thief - presumably the same suspicious-looking man - had stolen her canvas handbag. Inside was her jacket, wallet, hospital identification card and an envelope containing roughly $50 in coins (Alex's "Girl Guide" cookie sales money).

Rachel notified the police, but because she had moved the car (to pick up Alex and her friend from swimming lessons), they wouldn't "investigate".

Distraught and feeling violated, Rachel called Scott, to relay the news. Rachel returned home and began the process of canceling credit cards and taking inventory of all that was lost.

The car window was replaced the next day and the guy at the shop installed the window, free of charge. This helped to restore Rachel's faith in humanity, but still, the hassle and sting of the theft loomed large.

A couple days later, Rachel's hospital ID turned up - at the hospital and Rachel received a telephone call from a man who had found her bag, on a wooded trail near Vancouver Island University. The bag, her jacket and Alex's Girl Guide money were all intact. The only thing that was - ultimately - taken, was the wallet.

"The crazy thing," explained Rachel, "was that the back hatch to the car was open and there was a $250 depth sounder, in a box, sitting out in the open."

The smash & dash has shocked everyone at Randsco.

"Gee, we think of Nanaimo as being a small town and relatively insulated from this kind of crime," said one staff member.

The man who found Rachel's bag, declined comment, but did say that he routinely walks that particular path and has - on several occassions - found stolen belonging tossed into the woods.

"Someone is breaking into cars in the Buttertubs parking lot and has been, for some time," he said.

Hopefully, the RCMP is aware of the activity and will catch those responsible.

Aside from the major inconvenience, cost of repair and feelings of violation, the thief didn't manage to get much monetary gain.

"I had less than $20 in my wallet and none of the cards I'd canceled had any recent, illicit activity posted," said Rachel.

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Alex's Easter

April 15th, 2009  · stk

Alex was really looking forward to Easter this year. She dyed eggs at day-care, at kindergarten and at home. She found a chocolate bunny, was given another by friends and hunted down fistfuls of chocolate Easter eggs.

Dyeing Eggs, Stuffing Turkey & Watching Alex Bounce off the Walls

Another Easter holiday has passed. It was less about Christ rising from the dead and more about our five-year-old daughter waking the dead, with screams of delight, upon finding hidden confectioneries.

"The Easter Bunny didn't do a very good job hiding the eggs," Alex remarked, at one point, after plucking a foil-wrapped chocolate 'egg', sitting in plain site, from the coffee table.

In past years, Easter had a way of sneaking up on us. There's no such thing now, as news of the upcoming holiday is distributed throughout Alex's kindergarten network. Before Easter weekend, Alex had dyed eggs thrice: at school, in day-care and at Sparks (young Girl Scouts). She was fully aware that a "candy-filled" weekend was imminent!

It's become a bit of a family tradition that we celebrate Easter at the float cabin. This year, however, we stayed on dry land. Rachel was scheduled for shifts at the hospital and our cabin-mate's were left high and dry, as their boat was in need of mechanical repair.

To learn about our land-lubbering Easter holiday, including photos of egg-dyeing fun and tales of a turkey dinner party ... read on ...

Oop Easter Fun

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Top 10 Candidates

April 3rd, 2009  · stk

Surprises continue for the applicants of "The Best Job in the World". Tourism Queensland announced their top candidates, yesterday. Surprise: there are 15, not 10. Surprise again: They went for geographic distribution over qualifications. Find out more

Surprises Continue for Applicants of "The Best Job in the World"

Yesterday was the day that Tourism Queensland were to announce their top ten applicants, selected from the remaining field of 49 top 50. The wildcard slot went to Clare Wang, from Taiwan, with over 150,000 votes (roughly three times more than the next most-voted-for video by Mitchell, of Canada).

... we have
been so impressed
with our Top 50's passion, commitment, ideas and the incredible media coverage and support they have generated in their respective countries, that we have found it impossible to choose just 10 stand-outs

-Tourism Queensland

Two of the candidates in the top fifty dropped out. Julia Yalovitsyna, from Russia, was eliminated because of her involvement in a porn scandal (which included an online porn video) and Achim Dold, from Germany, who decided to withdraw his application (for reasons unknown). The field of 49 dropped to 47.

With less than 24 hours till Tourism Queensland made their top ten selection, they announced that they decided to invite another five candidates down to Australia to participate in face-to-face interviews. Including the wild-card, this means that sixteen, rather than eleven, will be traveling to Australia for interviews in early May.

For a discussion about Tourism Queensland's Top 15 picks ... read on ...

Top 15 Island Caretaker Job Seekers

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Don't know why I didn't do this sooner, but we've created this post as a special guestbook page. We'll port over any and all 3rd-party guestbook entries, open this up for general comments (non post-specific) and then ditch the advert-riddled BraveNet guestbook we've had for ages.

Guestbook

One of the things we've enjoyed about sharing our adventures online, is meeting new people. We'd love to hear from you, so don't be shy ... just use the comment box below and tell us what you think ... say "hi" ... or just whatever is on your mind. We accept links and images! (We don't cotton much to SPAM, so we don't allow any of that stuff, so don't even try!)

Hope to hear from you soon!

- Scott & Rachel

Guest Book History A Checkered Past We've relied on various free, online guest-book services, since 1999 - mostly with ill-fated luck (e.g., we lost all entries made during our 5-month, Pacific Crest Trail adventure, because the service experienced a server failure in 2002). We were very sad. :( After the PCT debacle, we waited a couple of months, hoping that the old guest book would magically reappear. It never did. Afterwards, we went with a larger provider - bravenet.com - and their free service for 5 years. We didn't like all the adverts, so we eventually moved it here.

Instructions The Art of the Entry There are some nifty features that puts this guest book light-years ahead of our very first guest book (in addition to the fact that our entries are now backed up, along with the rest of our site, on a regular basis - no more lost entries!):

  1. You can use 'smileys'! :x ;) Which is fun. (Type in the smiley face and it will be converted after you hit "send")
  2. You can use XHTML code: <strong>; <em>; and even <a href="http://whereever.com" title=" your title ">links</a>.
  3. Your email address doesn't show. (You must enter one, but if you're ultra paranoid, you can use a fake one ... provided it looks like a real one).
  4. You can also "subscribe" to comments. (Anytime a new comment is added to the article to which you've subscribed, you'll receive an email notification about the new comment.)

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Emergency Aussie Yahoo Sale

April 1st, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Aussie Top 10] Tourism Queensland announces tomorrow the Top 10 "Island Caretakers" * [Eggs 4 Sale] Rachel sells eggs to Nanaimo nursing staff * [Aircraft Emergency Training] Scott attends weekend firefighting training at the local airfield * [Yahoo Hacked] Rachel's Yahoo!Mail account is hacked and Yahoo customer support is pathetic

Aussie Top 10

Queensland, Australia - Scott didn't make the Top 50 list for "The Best Job in the World", but still, the show goes on.

Julia Yalovitsyna, from Russia, was eliminated because of her involvement in a porn scandal. Achim Dold, from Germany, withdrew his application for unknown reasons.

Forty eight remain. Clare Wang, from Taiwan, was declared the wild-card applicant, because her video received the most votes - by a wide margin (151,000+ votes, compared to 2nd-place Mitchell, with 55,000+ votes).

Tourism Queensland will announce, tomorrow, which of the 47 remaining applicants they have selected as the Top 10. All eleven will be flown to Australia for interviews.

UPDATE: Tourism Queensland announced early on April 2nd that they would be selecting 15 applicants for an expense-paid trip to Australia, rather than 10. (The wild-card - Clare Wang - will be going regardless and she'll bring the total number of applicants selected for a trip to Australia to 16). (tourism queensland news item)

The move is an acknowledgement by Tourism Queensland that the Top 50 have generated "incredible media coverage and support ... in their respective countries". (My guess is that they decided the media coverage far exceeded the $20k AUS or so extra it will cost them to offer a paid trip to the five extra candidates).

Good luck to all the Top 50 candidates who are anxiously awaiting to find out if they're one of the 15 that will be selected!

 

Yahoo Hacked

Yahoo!Mail Server Somewhere - Two weeks ago, someone from Australia hacked into the Yahoo!Mail server and broadcast a SPAM message to everyone in her Yahoo address book. The message was short and contained a link to some SPAM website.

We've been trying to work with Yahoo!Mail customer support to determine the nature of the email break-in and despite multitudes of messages, the Yahoo!Mail support staff has been very un-helpful.

"Most Yahoo!Mail customer service representatives don't read our message content," said Scott, exasperated with the lack of cooperation and assistance, "They just send back some automated message or try to throw up some other unhelpful roadblock."

The incident wasn't a one-off, as it happened again, last night.

"This is most frustrating," said Rachel, during a cell-phone interview, "and I'm thinking about swapping my account to gMail, because of the grief Scott's gotten from Yahoo!Mail customer service."

Aircraft Emergency Training

Nanaimo Airport - Last weekend, Scott - along with other North Cedar Fire Department members - participated in a joint training session at the Nanaimo Airport.

Because of the recent fire department boundary changes, different departments will now be responding to emergency calls at the Nanaimo Airport. The airport now falls within Cranberry's fire-protection district and they will now be responsible for any and all emergencies calls. In the event of a large-scale emergency, Cranberry will be calling on their neighboring departments - North Cedar and Ladysmith - to provide mutual aid.

The training provided an introduction and overview of aircraft emergencies, firefighting and rescue priorities, tools and techniques and got the new departments interacting with airport staff, equipment and learning airport procedures.

The two-day classroom course went well and there will be follow-on training and a mock emergency scenario training event, at the airport, this coming autumn.

 

Eggs 4 Sale

Nanaimo Hospital - With seven laying hens, the Hutton House hens have been producing more than Scott, Rachel and Alex can consume. Rachel has begun to take the extras (couple dozen eggs per week) to the hospital, to sell for $3 a dozen, to other nurses.

The labor and delivery department, where Rachel is now working, seems to be keen on the brown, free-range eggs. Rachel has more customers than the hens can keep up with in eggs!

At the moment, profits are used to "grow the company", so to speak - quite literally - as the hens are producing enough to keep themselves in feed.

Scott and Rachel have given some thought to expanding operations, which would require the acquisition of more birds, chicken coops, fenced-in runs and a permanent barn.

"If we can sell $2500-worth of eggs," explained Rachel, "we would qualify for 'farm status', which would lower our property taxes and provide several other benefits."

So far, the Hutton House hens are ambivalent about Rachel selling their eggs.

"There's been some squawking," said Scott, jokingly, "but usually, it's about laying the eggs and not selling them!"

Expansion of the egg business will be discussed at the next Randsco board meeting, expected to take place sometime this summer. No decisions will be made till all parties involved have their say. Any shareholder who cannot attend the meeting, may vote by proxy.

Though we can't determine which way company execs are leaning, we're fairly certain that Rachel holds the majority vote.

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Spring Break

March 26th, 2009  · stk

Alex goes to Vancouver for Spring Break 2009! Alex visited maternal grandparents for a week of fun, most of which has been captured in this online scrap book (Thanks Gran!)

Alex has a "Whale" of a Time in Vancouver!

I still have to pinch myself at the fact that Alex is in school! She's finished her 2nd (of 3) kindergarten terms and did very well on her report card, by the way. (Alex "meets expectations" or "exceeds expectations" in all 42 of the development metrics and improved over her first term marks in 7 of them.)

Yay Alex! (Congratulations and high-five's all 'round for our "Oop"!)

For her week-long Spring break, Rachel ferried Alex over to the mainland, so that she could spend a week with her maternal grandparents. Rachel returned after a couple days and we were "kid-less" for the better part of a week! (Not that we really took advantage of it, but we did note how clean the house stayed and - sadly - how quiet it was in her absence. On the plus side, we did enjoy a few "pub dinners" and even had a lunch-date at a sushi restaurant, so mom and dad enjoyed some "quality time" for ourselves.

Alex was kept very busy in Vancouver and even kept a journal of her activities! ("Thanks Gran and grandpa for taking good care of me! I had lots of fun and I especially liked making the scrap book," said Alex, adding, "Well, Dad said to say the bit about the scrap book, but I did have fun making it - really!")

To see what the Oop was up to on her Spring break ... read on ...

Alex's Spring Break Journal

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Mother of All Mashups

March 16th, 2009  · stk

I have John of wow-factor.com to thank for turning me on to an amazing mashup of music by an Israeli named "Kutiman". Kutiman has mixed a variety of disparate YouTube videos, creating amazing new music. Rarely does something cross my desk that astounds me. This did.

Israeli Musician "Kutiman" Mixes YouTube Videos to Make a New Vibe

Every once in a while, you run across something on the Internet that blows your socks off and redefines your very understanding of the world. So it was for me, when my Australian mate turned me onto Thru-You, an online album of recycled YouTube music.

"Wow," Scott said, replaying the music again and again, in an effort to digest and fully comprehend the creative genius at work.

"The vision, patience, technical and musical knowledge that's required [to pull together unrelated YouTube videos and mix them into a completely new sound] is just astounding," Scott claimed, upon watching (and hearing) "The Mother of All Funk Chords", which is the first of seven songs contained in this online album.

See if you agree. Watch Kutiman's YouTube mix and learn more about the controversy that it created!

Listen & Watch in Amazement

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Reef Cruise Go Firehall Dog

March 14th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Run Dog Run] Dog terrorizes Hutton House Hens | [Liars Go Live] Lindsay Kenney website goes live | [Reef Her Madness] Tourism Queensland Top 50 Update | [Alaskan Cruise] In the cards for the Kimlers? | [Firehall Field Trip] Alex's kindergarten class stops by.

Run Dog Run

Hutton House Chicken Run - For the past two days, some dog has been terrorizing our 7 chickens!

Rachel spotted a dog, out the living room window, by chance.

"There's some dog running down our driveway," she said.

"So?" said Scott, with his usual interest in odd animal behavior.

"So ... he's running toward the chicken coop!" said Rachel, excitement building in her voice.

Afraid that the dog might scare a bird to fly out of the fenced-in run and into "jowls of death", Scott raced outside. The dog was in a fervor, running around the fenced-in chickens, barking at them, which created quite a bit of feathered excitement, from the frightened birds. Scott yelled at the dog, which ran away.

The dog loped off the property, back out the driveway and Scott was relieved that Rachel had spotted it, by happenstance, at the same moment it spied "the girls".

Relief turned to frustration the following day, when Scott again spotted the dog, running around the chicken run, barking and scaring most of the chickens into the coop. This time, however, when Scott gave chase, he realized that the dog had been pestering the girls for quite some time - it had created a rutted path, all around the fenced-in run.

We don't recognize the dog and don't know where it lives, but it's grown suddenly interested in our chickens and we're not certain what we can do to dissuade it. Our poor chickens are being terrorized and spend most of their day in the chicken coop, afraid to come out.

Because it's the weekend, the regional animal services department is closed and besides, we're not sure what they could do, as they're a good 45 minute drive from where we live.

"It would sure be nice to know where the dog lives," said Rachel, "I'd have a talk with its owner, for sure!"

Scott moved the wireless driveway monitor, which is a heat-sensor, aiming it at the chicken coop. "At least we'll get a signal, the minute he comes back."

Meanwhile ... egg production has tapered a tad, as the girls are fearful of a certain, four-legged menace.

Liars Go Live

Vancouver, B.C. - Scott and Yabba have been working for the Law firm of Lindsay Kenney for a number of months, coding, designing and inventing for their new web design.

"Great News!" said Scott, "It went 'live' last night!"

"The site might bounce around for a bit, till the nameservers are propagated around the web," explained Scott, "and there's a known DNS issue, that LK Law's IT staff need to sort, but you should be able to hit the site at - http://lklaw.ca."

"It's hot!" said Scott, about the new design, look and custom features - including Scott's pure-css technique (Photo-caption Zoom) and custom javascript/PHP coding by Yabba.

Reef Her Madness

Queensland, Australia - Though Scott's bid for the "Island Caretake" ended when he found out that he didn't make the Top 50 cut, he's been having fun following the progress of those that did make the short-list.

He's performed a quantitative analysis of all 50 applicants, posting the results in an interactive table that many are using to see how the applicants rank against each other.

"It was surprising to see how many didn't demonstrate any knowledge or experience about the Great Barrier Reef Islands," said Scott, "Especially as this was one of the 'key points' that Tourism Queensland claimed to be evaluating."

Something smells fishy and it's NOT the reef!

Meanwhile, one of the applicants, a 20-year-old girl from Australia, named Hailey Turner, has embarked on a round-the-world tour, to promote her application.

"It's mad!" said Scott, "But it's also fun and exciting!"

Kinda raises the question - What would you do to land a $150k "Dream Job"? How much time, effort and resources would you be willing to commit?

In more scandalous news, it turns out that one contestant is embroiled in a porn scandal and another received professional help from her countries top TV News station, to make her video (leaves many wondering the quality of her own material, should she be selected "Island Caretaker")

For those readers in Canada, a heads-up: Starting this week, Canada AM will be hosting a different Canadian applicant each morning (there are 7 Canadians in the Top 50). They'll showcase each applicant's video, plus have an interview with each.

Alaskan Cruise

Hutton House - Sources close to Randsco staff have heard rumors that Scott, Rachel and Alex might be planning an Alaskan cruise with Norweigen Cruise Lines, early this summer season. No details have been released, though it was rumored they'd be traveling with friends.

Firehall Field Trip

North Cedar Fire Department - The morning and afternoon kindergarten classes at Woodbank Elementary visited the fire hall last week. Scott was one of 5 firefighters that hosted the youngsters. Alex's class (afternoon) had fun and Alex (as well as her Dad) were excited about the event! The two groups watched a safety video, aimed at teaching kids about fire safety, helped firefighters "suit up" (w/SCBA) and got a chance to fire water from a 1 1/2" nozzle, at a distant target. Fun stuff!

Pictures and more to follow in an upcoming Randsco article.

Fire Hall

Click a thumb to see the bigger picture

  • Alex Takes Her Shot w/Dad!
  • Engine 1 was on Display
  • Alex's Thank You Drawing!
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Sorting the TQ Top 50

March 7th, 2009  · stk

Presenting a quantified, sortable list of the Top 50 applicants selected by Tourism Queensland. I've ranked them based on several criteria and there are links to their videos, as well as comments on each applicant. This is currently a "work-in-progress", but I thought I'd throw it out there

A Sortable, Quantitative Evaluation of the Top 50

When I discovered that I hadn't made the Top 50 - (yeah, I know ... shocking ... take a deep breath, I've had my cry) I swore I wasn't going to follow the top 50. And I didn't. For exactly two days. Then, out of morbid curiosity, I took a peek at the current wild-card leader-board and watched the number one most-voted video.

"Whoa!" I said to myself, in shock.

It became evident that Tourism Queensland was saying one thing to the world (and 34,000+ applicants) and doing something completely different. Let's start with the fact that there are probably many less applications submitted than the 34,500+ that Tourism Queensland claims. I know my video was submitted three times, because of IslandReefJob.com server upload issues, and all three were "accepted". There are likely many others duplicated in similar fashion, inflating the final numbers and making the marketing campaign look more successful than it really is.

Rather than just throw a big pity party, I thought I'd take a quantitative look at each the fifty videos that Tourism Queensland did select. Regardless if the actual number of unique video applications added up to only 12,000 - that's still a whack-load of videos to sort through! It's a daunting task that Tourism Queensland faced, for sure. No wonder they used a strict set of criteria to cull videos!

So, without further adieu, I present to you, the top 50 candidates that Tourism Queensland picked for "The Best Job in the World" (plus one that should have been included)! Hey, it's my blog, right? :p

Table on Next Page

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TQ Gets a C Minus

March 3rd, 2009  · stk

The Tourism Queensland promotion for "The Best Job in the World" is really a glorified job application. As such, it's a chance for both the prospective employee and employer to get to know each other. Tourism Queensland has rated me and now it's my turn to rate them. Are they someone for whom I'd like to work?

Rating Tourism Queensland as an Employer

I've never lost sight of the fact that the Tourism Queensland marketing of "The Best Job in the World" is really a job application. Just as our videos provided a means for Tourism Queensland to evaluate prospective employees, so I've been evaluating them as prospective employer.

How did they do?

"Tourism Queensland definitely rates 'below average' in my book," said Scott, "Here's why."

 

Employer Ratings Are In

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Ellis Design Associates

February 28th, 2009  · stk

FEATURED DONOR: Ellis Design Associates is a small, independent civil and structural engineering consulting company, based on the south coast of England. Most of their work is in the U.K., but they've also had projects in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Middle East and North America. Their new website was deployed on Jan 12, 2009 and uses Photo-Caption Zoom.

Engineering Creative Webpages

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Not in Top 50

February 26th, 2009  · stk

It's official. Scott did NOT make the top 50 of applicants for "The Best Job in the World". In other news, Scott's suicide is scheduled for 5 PM PST at the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge. Bring popcorn and an umbrella. Those watching from the base, may want to wear safety goggles.

It's Official: Scott Kimler not in Top 50 Candidates

Scott didn't make the 50-cut. The videos were quantitatively analyzed on 5 criteria:

What are you looking for in the top 50? What is the Selection Criteria?

(1) English is a must, as the successful applicant will be communicating to the world.

(2) Personal presentation is obviously important in such a high profile position.

(3) The technical proficiency demonstrated in the video application is an important element, as the job requires the successful applicant to produce blogs and video diaries.

(4) The applicant’s experience and knowledge/understanding of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef as demonstrated by the content in the video submission is vital in assessing whether they are the right person for the job. Like any job you apply for, it’s important to show you have researched the role and the company – or in this case the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

(5) Demonstrating motivation and a genuine enthusiasm for this position is vital. We need someone who can sustain worldwide interest for six months.

May I Have the Envelope Please?

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Short-Listing of Applicants

February 26th, 2009  · stk

Well, news finally, from Tourism Queensland about the short-listing process. Pulled this off of their Tweet about an hour ago. Regurgitated here for those interested (and posterity).

Twitter Queensland | 10:02 PM PST Feb 25th

What a week! Over the past few days a huge team of trained and dedicated Tourism Queensland staff have been working literally around the clock to make sure every one of the 34,684 video applications we received for the Best Job in the World by the closing date has been processed. This phase has now been completed and we're moving into the next exciting stage - short listing.

On Thursday February 26 (Queensland time) a pool of applicants will be contacted via email to undertake online psychometric testing for potential short listing into the Top 50. We'll then publicise the Top 50 next Monday 2 March at 11.59pm UTC. So stay tuned!

FAQs on the Short-Listing Process

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An Eye on the Cloud

February 23rd, 2009  · stk

One of the things I debated about, when making my "Island Caretaker" video, was whether I would feature our website - randsco.com - prominently. See what I decided and measure how well it worked out

The Randsco Search Cloud, I Mean

One of the things I debated about, when making the application video, was whether I would prominently feature the randsco.com web address. Just like so many bikini-clad girls hopping about in piles of snow, I figured that in this blog-centric age, applicants would be plastering WWW addresses across the screen in droves.

Never to be 'one of the herd', I decided to underplay our web presence. Boldly proclaiming our typical visitor stats was the lure. Randsco.com has been "on air" since late 2004 and we're easy to find. Since 100,000 visitors a month do it, I figured Tourism Queensland could too (even if they are - how's John of www.wow-factor.com put it? - a bunch of marketing wankers)!

I left two BIG clues in the video:

  • My Name - It always cracks me up when people say, "I'd have told you about [insert message here], but I couldn't get a hold of you." Google me!
  • Photo-Caption Zoom - It's a CSS technique (think "computer" and the answer will be - google it!)

Did the strategy work?

How to Find Out

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It Begins

February 22nd, 2009  · stk

Did you know that there's a social network site, just for applicants of "The Best Job in the World". Scott didn't (until a friend told him). Also, Scott gets his first mention in a news article. And so it begins ...

First Article and the Pundits Come Out

A friend told me about islandreefjob.ning.com. It appears to be a social gathering place for 'Island Caretaker' applicants. I recognized some of the faces in the "members" section, but hadn't heard or discovered it until moments ago.

Two hundred and forty five of the roughly 20,000+ applicants are members.

One, Australia's own Hailey Turner (long-time turtle-toting 'Most Views' member) posted a "Top 50 Potentials" list. (Mind you, looking at the article, I see it's dated January 30th, so it's way out of date).

Nevertheless, it reminds me that now that the application deadline has passed, the pundits will be out in full force, putting forth their top 50 picks.

The whole world will be focused on the 'Island Caretaker' selection and it's a reminder that the big magnifying glass in the sky will come out. (Better not hold Alex out our bedroom balcony sliding window! It's a full two-story drop, don't you know!)

Will we live in fear of helicopters buzzing the property?

"I sure hope not," said Scott.

"I like to poop in private, without it being all over the news!"

Scott "In the News"

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Application Deadline Tonight

February 22nd, 2009  · stk

Boy, I'm glad I got my Island Caretaker job application in when I did! Applications close tonight and all the last-minute uploading has cratered the IslandReefJob.com website (again)! More on the looming deadline

Island Caretaker Applications close at 11:59 PM UTC

Anyone wanting to apply for "The Best Job in the World" had better get on the stick! Tourism Queensland will not be accepting any applications uploaded after 11:59 PM UTC (3:59 PM PST).

I'm not sure if the whole application has to be uploaded by that time," conjectured Scott, "or if it has to be started by that time."

"Either way, there's likely to be some disappointed people."

Tourism Queensland has had a phenomenal response to their advertising campaign, which is seeking an employee for "The Best Job in the World". The final numbers aren't in yet, but there will likely be well over 20,000 applications, by the time the dust settles.

Word from Tourism Queensland

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Tourism Queensland Site Craters

February 18th, 2009  · stk

Yesterday, many of Scott's "Best Job in the World" supporters, complained that the link to his video application didn't work. The problem was with the Tourism Queensland website, which was overloaded. Today it buckled under the strain and crashed.

"Best Job in the World" Website Crashes - Again

Due to the overwhelming response to the "Best Job in the World", the website that is playing host to over 8,000 60-second video applications, has crashed.

The crash occurred at approximately 2 PM PST. Scott received an email from a friend, who went to the site to view and vote for his video application.

"What's going on?" this friend wrote, "I tried to view your video yesterday, and the link wouldn't work. Today I'm getting this message (see attached image).

Scott doesn't know. Tourism Queensland probably doesn't know either. They're probably just as mad about it as Scott's supporters are.

"It's a grand waste of time on everybody's part," said Scott, "It's very hard to drum up support for your video application if those supporters cannot even get to the site to view the video. It makes all the applicants look bad and it makes Tourism Queensland look bad."

Tourism Queensland reserved the right to move up the closing date, if the number of applicants exceeded 30,000," said Scott. They've reported close to 20,000 applications, two-thirds of that amount.

"You'd think they would have prepared for this kind of digital onslaught, eh?" said Scott.

Complaints aside, it's one thing to plan for it, but another to actually live through it.

Scott, who stepped back for a moment and put on his "web developer" hat, said, "You can't really test for the onslaught, until it actually happens. One thing I would have done, however, is put the application uploads on a completely separate server from the one hosting the site. I would have also provided applicants with some kind of immediate feedback, to verify that their application video was received without being 'munged'. This would have prevented multiple uploads and saved much server bandwidth."

Regardless, the site - http://islandreefjob.com - crashed about a half hour ago and is still down, at the time of this posting.

"Picture in your head," Scott said, "scads of skinny, pimply-faced kids, scrambling around in a room humming with computers. The site will be up again, once they've ate their pizza and drank all the coke from the vending machine!"

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News About Closing

February 18th, 2009  · stk

Island Reef Job dot com has relayed information regarding the closing of "Island Caretaker" applications. The news is as follows (please continue to view and vote for Scott's video)

Here's news about the closing of "Island Caretaker" applications, which is scheduled for February 22nd at 11:59 PM (UTC) - four days hence.

Bottom Line: Get your application in NOW! Delays of up to 5 days may occur and rejection due to selection criteria (60 seconds or under, relevant to the job & in the King's English) will mean certain death.

More than 19,000 would-be Island Caretakers have so far applied for The Best Job in the World. With applications closing on 22 February 11:59pm UTC, potential applicants should not leave it to the last minute to submit an application. Unfortunately we will not be accepting any applications after this time, given the huge task we have ahead of us to shortlist down to the top 50.

Please be aware that there may be an increase in demand on the site this week as many people race to get their applications in. We urge you to please take note of the closing time in your local time zone (22 February 11:59pm UTC) to ensure you don't miss the deadline. Applications must be submitted successfully by this time and any in the middle of being uploading as the deadline occurs will most likely receive an error message indicating the application has not processed and they will be unable to reapply. Applications submitted this week still go through processing and may be rejected if they don't meet the criteria. Processing is taking up to 5 days so if your application is rejected after applications have closed because it did not meet selection criteria you will be unable to resubmit. Please ensure that your application meets the criteria stipulated (i.e. 60 seconds or under, relevant to the job, in English etc).

As many applicants try to get their submissions in this week, the site may experience capacity issues. We urge you to keep trying and if you have a large file we recommend reducing it under 40MB to increase your chances of successfully uploading your application.

After applications close we will be shortlisting down to the top 50 applicants, these will be loaded onto the site 2 March 11:59pm UTC.

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Aussie Valentine Record

February 17th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Aussie This Aussie That] It's been all about Scott's application for Tourism Queensland's "Island Caretaker" lately • [New Lay Record Set] The Hutton House hens laid seven eggs today, setting a new single-day lay record • [Valentine Amore] Scott made a small blunder in buying Rachel's Valentine card.

Aussie This Aussie That

Yellow Point, Australia - Sometime shortly after filming Scott's Aussie "Island Caretaker" video, it's been like a 24-hour cable channel around here - the "AAA Channel". (We're talking about the "All About Australia" Channel, not the "American Automobile Association" channel).

If you don't already know - and it's pretty hard not to, when Scott throws up a site-wide banner about the bloody thing - Scott's applied for the highly publicized Queensland Tourism position of "Island Caretaker".

We won't go into details, as not to bore everyone to death. Just letting folks know that most of the recent news has more to do with the land down under than the land outside the front door.

Enough. View the video and vote 5 stars! (View it again, if you've already viewed it and vote again, if you've voted already. Vote daily, hourly or minutely ... and we don't mean a small, we mean OFTEN!

We apologize if the Queensland Tourism website is slow. We didn't design the site or plan the server specifications. IF we had, you would be darned sure that the "visitor experience" would be better! ;) (Just pull up the video link and camp on it and do something else. If the video comes up, watch and vote ... if not, just hit refresh and give it another few minutes.) Aaargh - I know, but it's a reflection on THEM, not my video. Makes my "thank you for voting" mean something more, because we know what you're having to go through.

New Lay Record Set

Hutton House Hen House - A new single-day lay record was set by the Hutton House hens today. Seven eggs were laid and gathered this morning!

"It was bound to happen," reports Scott, "now that we have seven hens."

(The last record was six, set last year, by - then - four hens).

Valentine Amore

Hutton Dog House - Valentine's Day came and went, but for Scott, this Valentine's may live in infamy.

First, the legal disclaimer: The following story in no way reflects poorly on Scott's moral or romatic upstanding. Any resemblance to Valentine's Day past or present is purely coincidental and unintentioned. Let it be known that Scott, being of sound mind and body, did herefore make a - terribly funny though it may be - social blunder.

"It was an honest mistake," he said, laughing.

What happened? Scott bought the wrong Valentine's Day card. So eager was he to share his love and affection, that he grabbed a card that showed three "people" on the front. His idea was that they represented himself, Tuxedo (the cat) and Alex. (Mind you, only Tuxedo's likeness was represented by a cat. Alex was a dog (on the right) and Scott was a - well - whatever that's supposed to be. A dog with stiff ears?

The outside of the card said, "Happy Valentine's Day" and the inside, "We [heart] You!".

"Ah, that's nice," thought Scott, "I'll let Alex sign it, I'll draw a small paw-print for Tuxedo. It's the nicest card on the rack!"

What Scott failed to see? That under the "Happy Valentine's Day", was stitched the word, "Grandpa"!!

Scott may have missed it, but Rachel didn't. :(

Reporting live from the frigid Hutton House Dog House and bringing you "news that you can use" this is Dirk Smedley (of the famed, "Birk Does ..." XXX-rated movie series).

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Caretaker Gets Free Beer

February 17th, 2009  · stk

Tourism Queensland's "Island Caretaker" gets a pretty good salary, multi-million-dollar house to live in and plenty of adventure. Now they get free beer too, courtesy of Fosters, which (apparenly) is Australian for beer

Fosters - Australian for Beer!

As if the 6-month "Island Caretaker" job on Hamilton Island doesn't offer enough: $150K 6-month salary, airline tickets, multi-million dollar 3-bedroom beachfront home, golf cart and various adventure packages. Fosters Group has announced that they are adding to that pile by awarding the successful candidate with free beer "to help them get acclimated with the Aussie lifestyle"! press release

In the press release, Foster's has agreed to reward the new "Island Caretaker" with a three-months supply of Foster's Oil Cans, prior to their trip.

"Excellent!" said Scott, "I like beer!"

"Great," said Rachel, rolling her eyes, "like Scott needs more incentive other than warm sun, adventures and an opportunity to blog about it."

More on the Fosters Oil Cans

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Picks and Pans

February 15th, 2009  · stk

I've pawed through a lot of "Island Caretaker" videos and thought I'd start a list of some that stand out, both good and bad. Have a look.

I consider myself a "realist" and understand that while I've got a pretty good resume for the Aussie 'Island Caretaker' job, I'm not the only one. Who knows? Maybe Tourism Queensland already has an idea of the kind of person they're looking for and I'm not it.

Before I put my video together, I viewed a LOT of the videos that had already been loaded. After I uploaded my video, I've viewed a LOT of videos too.

While the majority are crap (really), there are some that stand out as 'worthy competitors'.

I've learned several things here. One: If you open up a fabulous opportunity to the world, the wannabies and idiots come out in droves! Two: There's some really cool people out there that are doing some very interesting things with their lives! Three: What some people will do to attract attention is ... well ... to put it nicely ... creative!

On the next page is my (growing) list of videos I've found that have struck me as either very good, or very bad ... for the reasons I mention.

Shirley, you've found some you like (or dislike)! Post the link. (I'm curious to see what floats or sinks your boat, not just Shirley's) :p

On to the Picks & Pans

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Island Caretaker Job

February 12th, 2009  · stk

Scott's application for the Tourism Queensland "Island Caretaker" position has been approved and is available for viewing. He's made a quick, holding post on the main blog, with the link. Check it out, if you haven't already. Check it out AGAIN ... if you have!

Queensland Tourism Seeks "Island Caretaker"

You probably heard about this amazing offer during the weather segment of your local news. The weatherman said something like, "How would you like a 'dream job'? Tourism Queensland, is hiring a 'caretaker' for the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. It's billed as 'The Best Job in the World'. The successful candidate will live on Hamilton Island for six-months and must be willing to explore the other Great Barrier Reef Islands. The only catch: you must report back on your adventures to a global audience (via weekly blog updates, photo diaries and video snippets).

For consideration of their duties, the successful job applicant is paid $150K (AUS) for their six-months of work, provided with airfare and travel insurance, and will live in a 3-bedroom, ocean-view home (complete with swimming pool, golf cart and a computer with the latest video equipment).

Wow!

 

Scott's "Island Caretaker" Video Approved

It took Rachel thirty minutes to convince Scott that he should apply for the position. After that, it's been "Island Caretaker" nearly 24/7, as he drafted a storyboard for his 60-second video application, re-drafted it, watched competing videos and then finally taped his own, which he uploaded on February 7th. Approximately five days later, he received word that his application had been accepted and was "live" on the IslandReefJob.com website.

Watch the Video!

Scott then told as many friends, family, acquaintences and - embarrassingly enough - complete strangers about his quest to win the job. He'd tell people to, "View my video every day, vote for it twice a day and spread the link around - like you would spread manure!"

Kind of a crappy analogy, don't you think? We did.

Use the mini-menu below to read through a variety of front-page topics about Scott's "Island Caretaker" application. Head to the "latest news" section, to see all the gory detail. (We did warn you that Scott has been living 'down under', from 'way up top' - which has been, for the rest of the family - a little 'over the top'!) :p

 

"Island Caretaker" Pages
Front Page: (Video Accepted)
Video: Scott's Island Caretaker Application
Video Bloopers: Wry on awry
Deeper Meaning: Hidden Info & PZ3 Demo

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Yay, It's Been Accepted!

February 12th, 2009  · stk

After five days of nail-biting, Scott's video application for "The Best Job in the World" is now available on the IslandReefJob.com website. Check it out! (Don't forget to VOTE and pass it along to friends, collegues and anyone you that will watch!) Thanks!!

Scott Kimler's Video is at 136 Views

At about 7 PM on Wednesday, just over 5 days since submission, Scott's video application for "The Best Job in the World", has finally been approved!

"Yee Haw!" exclaimed an excited Scott.

Be one of the first to see it online!

Elation turned to disappointment, however, when Scott saw that the video quality wasn't up to par.

"There's a video and audio "sync" problem and then the video really cuts out - visually - during Alex's cycle-touring picture and the first part of when I'm talking in the office. Darn," said Scott, "and to think we tried SO hard to get the quality 'just right'. The original wasn't like this."

Scott figures that the problems were introduced by whatever process that Tourism Queensland uses to prepare the final, uploaded videos.

Still, Scott's jazzed with his submission and it's been playing to a kind audience. Scott's video was on the site less than an hour and it had already found it's way to the first page of the "most popular" videos!

"Wow," said Scott, "and to think I haven't even tried to promote it yet! This rocks! (And give me hope, eh?)"

Still, there's a big difference between a hundred and forty six views (the view count at this writing) versus over 35,000 for the "most-viewed" video.

"Let's hope my rating stays high and the view count exceeds forty thousand ... there's only 10 days left!!" said Scott.

"Oh, gee ... I almost forgot *Scott sheepishly grins* ... here's the video link."

http://www.islandreefjob.com/#/applicants/watch/7AudvMYpYh8

"Please," said Scott, "please pass it on to five friends and tell them to pass it on to five of their friends. If you think it's a pyramid scheme, it is!! So much of this application is about "Buzz" and who can generate it. Don't forget to tell people to "VOTE" too!"

To vote, just click the right-most "star" under the "rate me" section.

"Wait a minute," said Scott, "I'll SHOW you!"

How to Vote for Scott

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Dingo Eats Application

February 10th, 2009  · stk

Three days ago, Scott Kimler submitted his application for "The Best Job in the World". Since then, he's been waiting for it to show up on the islandreefjob.com website. Nothing. It appears that a dingo ate his baby

Where for Art Thou, Video?

Somewhere in the Australian Ether - Scott Kimler's video application for "The Best Job in the World" is missing. Readers want to view Scott's video. So does Scott.

On February 7th, fully 3 days ago, Scott submitted his video application, photo and contact details to Tourism Queensland. Because he received a "Thank You" email, Scott assumed that the video application had been successfully transferred.

Fast forward three days and Scott is a nervous wreck.

"Where's my video?" he mutters, to himself, over and over. He's been checking his email 97 times a day and even looking for his video on the islandreefjob.com website.

"Where is it?" :'(

Unshaven and emaciated, Scott's very existence seems to hinge on seeing his video application posted on the Queensland website - islandreefjob.com.

More on Scott's Dingo-Eaten Video

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Application Posted

February 7th, 2009  · stk

At approximately 3 PM today, Scott uploaded his video application for Tourism Queensland's "Island Caretaker" job. Billed as "The Best Job in the World", it has attracted over 10,000 applicants, so far. "Whew," said Scott, about his submission. It's up to the judges now.

Video Application Uploaded Today

Queensland Server Farm - At approximately 3:17 PM PST, Scott Kimler's video, a photo and contact information was uploaded for the Tourism Queensland "island caretaker" position, which they bill as "The Best Job in the World".

"Whew," said Scott, "I can relax now! I've done my part and the rest is up to Tourism Queensland."

When asked about the quality of his submission, Scott was upbeat.

"The video rocks!" he said, "I don't know if it's enough to win, but I'm pretty proud of the entry."

Rachel, his wife, said, "I'm just proud of him for submitting an entry. It takes a certain kind of person to 'put themselves out there' like that."

"Well," Scott said matter-of-factly, "How else are they going to find 'the best candidate'? I was compelled by unforeseen and powerful forces, to toss my name into the hat."

"Yeah, yeah," she said, "You're just full of yourself now, aren't you?"

Scott just grinned. :D

More on the Submission

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New Script

February 4th, 2009  · stk

OKAY ... I've done up a new script for "The Best Job in the World". It's hard to trim it down to 60 seconds, but here it is .... (Shooting takes place tomorrow, rain or shine) ...

Shooting Begins Tomorrow

LOL ... between getting www.lklaw.ca ready for deployment (the new site that we've been working on is going "live" this Friday), getting over Alex's cold (thanks Oop!) and preparing for our annual Fire Department awards night (last Saturday) ... I've also been trying to hammer out a new script for "The Best Job in the World".

Those keeping score at home know that the draft script was a tad "off the mark". Well, I've taken creative control and spun my own story. It's kind of like Hollywood meets the Clampits, minus Granny, the mansion, the budget and stars.

OKAY, maybe that wasn't the best analogy. :|

The hard part of writing the script was fitting it into 60 seconds! So much info, so little time. (Seems they're a tad ruthless about the 60-second mark, from what I've seen, automatically rejecting anything that exhales over 60.00001 seconds). There's nothing about being a fireman, having a master's degree, certified diver, competitive swimmer, 2-years spent exploring for oil in the jungles of Sumatra, field research in Costa Rica, work in Qatar or other overseas travels. No mention of being on the b2evo dev team. Pity.

There's also no fake tattoos, no Osama Bin Laden or any cheezy "how cold it is" references, marketing hooks, hype or cheesy website addresses. Just straight-up Scott (and Rachel, if she manages to wake up in time to be included in a shot - she's working a night shift and will sleep in past the 9 AM shooting start - and Alex).

On to the new script

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A Draft Script

January 29th, 2009  · stk

One of my fire hall mates, who has a background in film, video and screen-writing, has offered his services and has even written a draft script for "the best job in the world". Hmmm ... needs a tad of a re-write, IMHO ... have a read.

Fire Hall Mate Offers Video & Script-writing Help

One of the radio operators at the fire hall has done a fair bit of video work and he was kind enough to offer his expertise. He even wrote a draft script, offered to film the video and put it together.

On one hand, that's great!

On the other hand ...

Here's the script

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Little Hens on the Move

January 25th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Little Hen's Big Day] Yesterday, the new hens (which we got in October) laid two eggs. Their first eggs! It was a big day for the little girls, as they moved in with their older "sisters"!

Little Hens, Big Day

Hutton House Chicken Run - Yesterday, Scott and Rachel's four new ISA-brown chicks became full-on hens!

"Well," said Scott, "Two of the four did anyway."

"The chicks laid their first egg!" exclaimed Alex, explaining things to Rachel, clutching a small egg in her hand, "Two eggs! One broke though."

The four chicks have been growing at a fairly good clip and are nearly too large for their small wire cage. Both the eggs were laid inside the cage and one had broken, presumably trampled. It was a double-yolker, but small.

The other egg had a small crack in it, but otherwise survived the close-quarters.

"I guess it's time for them to move in with the big girls," said Scott, as he removed the temporary wire fencing that divided the chicken run into two unequal areas.

For the first time, all seven chickens (3 from our first batch and the four new ones) spent the entire day together.

The older ones asserted their pecking rights and chased the young ones around the run, occasionally, but for the most part, the amalgamation went fairly well. No one was injured, though there was a fair bit of squawking going on, during the day.

Scott had to lower the other roosting bar, inside the chicken coop. This meant clearing the mesh floor of chicken poop, climbing inside and un-screwing the 2nd roosting bar and lowering it a foot or so. (One of the flaws in the original coop design, the roosting bars - two - were placed too high up and none of the chickens ever used it ... until Scott lowered it. Even then, he had to train the birds to "climb up" every night, by manually lifting them onto the wooden bar, for a few nights, before they got a clue that's what it was for.

When evening came, the three experienced girls put themselves to bed, on their normal roost, while the new hens were still clucking and scratching about, outside. Scott had to shoo them all into that coop and then later, had to climb inside and set them all onto the roosting bars. (The things he does for his "girls", eh?)

Once they settled down, Scott climbed out and washed his hands of the matter (literally).

"Hopefully, the new hens will into the groove and follow the pattern of the older, more experienced hens," said Scott, "They'll learn to put themselves to bed on the roosts and use the nesting boxes for eggs."

Scott and Rachel are hoping egg production will pick up as spring approaches. With seven laying hens, they're hoping for about six eggs per day (depending on how much of a slow-down there is with the older hens).

No matter the total, it's more than the Kimler clan can consume.

"We give eggs to our friends, fellow firemen, neighbors and house guests," said Rachel, "There's more than enough to go around!"

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First GOOD Video

January 22nd, 2009  · stk

I think most of the video submissions for "The Best Job in the World" are crap. I've looked at hundreds, scoping out the competition. Well, I've finally found one that competes. I bet this guy gets a call back.

I've pawed through hundreds of the "Best Job" videos and - finally - found one that I think stands out.

I bet they go, "Hey, we've got to get this guy down here for an interview."

Hmmm ... makes me think about having a snappy background soundtrack for my own video. (Love that he's standing in front of rolling video of past adventures. Too bad all our stuff is stills. Tad lackluster on personality & creativity maybe.)

LOL ... how can I be critical? His video is good and FINISHED! :p

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Props & Such

January 22nd, 2009  · stk

The Best "Best Job" information, seems to be in the media kit. After downloading most of what's there, I realized that Tourism Queensland had included some suggested story photos that included a white sign with the words "The Best Job in the World" scripted on it. "Hmmmm," got me to thinking ....

Best Job Deserves the Best Candidate!

In an effort to set myself apart from the rest of the mooing herd, I thought I'd expand on the Tourism Queensland's white sign theme, with a sign of my own.

In fact, I had two signs made up. One is meant as a replicate of "The Best Job in the World" sign that's included in the media kit. With the other, I thought I'd trumpet my own horn a bit.

Have a Peek

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Draft Storyboard

January 20th, 2009  · stk

Best Job: I've created a "feed-only" blog that will allow feed subscribers (dedicated readers) and select people to follow my quest for the "Best Job in the World". In this update - my draft video story board.

Okay ... here's the rough draft of some of my initial ideas. The difficulty:

  • Can only be 60-seconds long
  • The video is the only thing to get you to the "next level"
  • There's lots I think I should say
  • It can only be 60-seconds long.

I tried to add in a bit of humor, but the one thing lacking (thus far) is that bit of "pizazz" to set me apart and (b) something to show that I'm "not shy" (something they're wanting).

I'm planning on generating a list of "what they're looking for", to help focus on changes.

Any suggestions/changes/additions you might have, would be greatly appreciated.

Now ... on to the (rough draft) show.

Scott's "Best Job" Story Board (Slideshow form)

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The Quest: Best Job in the World

January 20th, 2009  · stk

When Rachel told me about "The Best Job in the World" ($150k for 6-months of adventuring in Australia), it took me about a half hour to get jazzed about it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was right up my alley. Now all I have to do is put my best foot forward in a 60-second video....

"Caretaker" of the Australian Great Barrier Reef Islands

Tourism Queensland, in Australia, has hit a gold mine with their recent "Best Job in the World" campaign.

Timing for the campaign, which aims to promote Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Islands, couldn't be better. It was launched on Jan 12th, in the dead of winter for the northern hemisphere and on the heels of a tremendous downturn in the global economy.

If you haven't heard about it on your local news (weather segment, most likely), Tourism Queensland is looking to hire someone to be "caretaker" of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. It's billed as "The Best Job in the World". The successful candidate will live on Hamilton Island for six-months and must be willing to explore the other Great Barrier Reef Islands. The only catch: you must report back on your adventures to a global audience (via weekly blog updates, photo diaries and video snippets).

"They'll also have to talk to the media from time to time about what they're doing," says Anthony Hayes, CEO of Tourism Queensland.

Upping the ante even more, the successful job applicant is paid $150k for their six-month job and is provided a 3-bedroom, ocean-view home (which comes with some other perks, such as a golf cart, computer and video equipment).

(Ewe ... sounds rough, eh?)

If you think you're up to the task, just head to www.islandreefjob.com and submit your application. They must include a 60-second video (saying why your the best candidate), photo and contact details. The application deadline is currently February 22, 2009, but Tourism Queensland reserves the right to move it forward, once 30,000 applications have been received.

That may happen, as the promotional campaign has been very successful. Interest in the job overwhelmed the site's servers, shortly after the job was announced and Tourism Queensland had to scramble and add additional equipment to handle the web traffic.

I estimate that about 3,500 applications have been received, thus far.

Of course, this begs the question: "Will Scott or Rachel throw their name into the hat?"

Chucking a Canadian Snowball into the Australian Sun

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The Best Job in the World

January 17th, 2009  · stk

I've been so busy with my application for "The Best Job in the World" that I never posted my original article on it. Well ... now that my application video is submitted, I finally got around to finishing the article. Good background information, but old-hat to anyone already following along

"Caretaker" of the Australian Great Barrier Reef Islands

Tourism Queensland, in Australia, has hit a gold mine with their recent "Best Job in the World" campaign.

Timing for the campaign, which aims to promote Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Islands, couldn't be better. It was launched on Jan 12th, in the dead of winter for the northern hemisphere and on the heels of a tremendous downturn in the global economy.

If you haven't heard about it on your local news (weather segment, most likely), Tourism Queensland is looking to hire someone to be "caretaker" of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. It's billed as "The Best Job in the World". The successful candidate will live on Hamilton Island for six-months and must be willing to explore the other Great Barrier Reef Islands. The only catch: you must report back on your adventures to a global audience (via weekly blog updates, photo diaries and video snippets).

"They'll also have to talk to the media from time to time about what they're doing," says Anthony Hayes, CEO of Tourism Queensland.

Upping the ante even more, the successful job applicant is paid $150k for their six-month job and is provided a 3-bedroom, ocean-view home (which comes with some other perks, such as a golf cart, computer and video equipment).

(Ewe ... sounds rough, doesn't it?)

If you think you're up to the task, just head to www.islandreefjob.com and submit your application. They must include a 60-second video (saying why your the best candidate), photo and contact details. The application deadline is currently February 22, 2009, but Tourism Queensland reserves the right to move it forward, once 30,000 applications have been received.

That may happen, as the promotional campaign has been very successful. Interest in the job overwhelmed the site's servers, shortly after the job was announced and Tourism Queensland had to scramble and add additional equipment to handle the web traffic.

I estimate that about 3,500 applications have been received, thus far.

Of course, this begs the question: "Will Scott or Rachel throw their name into the hat?"

Chucking a Canadian Snowball into the Australian Sun

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Ghost in the Machine

January 9th, 2009  · stk

For the second time in five years, my computer bit the dust. This time, however, armed with a "Ghosted" image of my operating system, it was a snap to start over with a clean install of Win XP Home Edition. Learn how Norton Ghost can allow you to laugh at viruses, corrupted system files, driver problems, malware and software conflict. Reimage your system drive in 10 minutes flat.

thumbs up thumbs up

A new computer is a bit like the attic in a new home - shiny, clean and empty. You are happy. You begin to fill it with your belongings and life is good.

As time passes, you store more items into your now, not-as-new attic. Finding things becomes more difficult. The attic is filling up and you're running out of storage space. Bugs, water leaks, the kids and other things are randomly damaging some of the items you've stored. Tools and appliances no longer function properly when you pull them from storage and try to use them.

"It worked last time," you think, "What happened?" Frustrated, you throw the item away, go down to the store and buy a newer version, perhaps by a different manufacturer. At least this new one works.

More time goes by. You take a Saturday and instead of having fun playing with your family, or going golfing, you spend the entire day cleaning the attic and organizing it. You throw away some items, reorganize contents of boxes, re-label others and generally shuffle things about. You feel good about it, in the end, and the result is that the attic functions better.

More time trickles by and you now realize that the attic is getting cluttered again. You think, "Didn't I give up a weekend to organize it, not so long ago?" Discouraged, you devote another weekend. Soon, "organizing the attic" becomes a regular, unwanted and unrewarding chore.

"Couldn't I just throw this out?" you ask yourself, looking at some loose parts to the dim light. "Better not, they might be an important part of a favorite game, useful tool or something. I might need it later."

Bugs, dust, mildew and chaos creep into your, now old, attic. You pull out your hair. The attic isn't even much good for storage anymore. It's messy, you can't find stuff and you can barely walk around. Most of what you pull out, no longer functions properly. Aaargh!

You realize you need to start over and you fantasize about a new, clean storage space. "Wouldn't a clean, new attic, filled with things like my (now old, moth-eaten) vinyl record collection, be great? (Since it's your fantasy, the record albums aren't old any more, they're in the same condition they were when you first stored them).

This scenario may be a fantasy for your attic, but it can be reality for your - similarly afflicted - computer.

Unlike your attic, you can start over with your computer's operating system. Just like it was 'brand new'. Remember? Bug-free, clean and functioning? Better still, you can also have spanking new copies of the programs you use, the settings you've tweaked, your bookmarked favorites, special fonts, treasured pictures, important documents and other precious data.

Best of all ... you don't have to spend days laboring to reinstall Windows (and the billion updates that came after). Nor do you have to reinstall every program, re-tweak the settings (if you can even remember where they are), or installing hardware and their pesky drivers. In less than an half an hour, in most cases, you can 'start over' with a 'brand new' computer!

Sound too good to be true? I'm here to say it's possible. All you have to do is purchase and use a disk imaging back-up program by Symantec called "Norton Ghost".

Reimage using Norton Ghost

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Go Bandits

January 8th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Go Snow Go] After a record-setting month of snow, the white stuff is finally starting to melt. • [Masked Bandits] The Hutton House girls catch another two raccoons.

Go Snow Go

Hutton House - It's been nearly a month since snow first fell and it's only now, beginning to melt.

After record snow dumps in mid-December, temperatures remained below freezing or slightly above, until after the New Year. At one point, Scott was certain the weather feed - which reports from the nearby Nanaimo airport - was wrong, as it showed an unbelievable -18°C (-0.4°F)! That's very cold, considering we're less than a quarter mile from the ocean.

The snow was so light and fluffy that it was impossible to make a snowman, though Alex made up for it by sledding down the road and driveway.

Temperatures did - gradually - climb to just above freezing, but continued snow flurries kept accumulating the white stuff faster than it was melting.

While we were fortunate to have a "white Christmas", to be honest, we were so sick of *cough* used to the snow by then (shoveling, getting stuck, school cancellations, etc.) that it was no longer "special".

Yesterday, with temperatures climbing to 5°C (41°F), the snow began to melt with earnest.

"A couple more days of this," said Scott, "and we might have a snow-free driveway."

The December snow measured over a meter, which has happened only twice before during December, since 1947, when Environment Canada began keeping records.

"We had 116 centimeters of snow at the Nanaimo Airport," reported David Jones, a climatologist for Environment Canada. Agency records shows 111 cm. accumulated in 1964 and 107 cm. in 1968. Even in December 1996 - the most recent winter dump - snowfall reached only 95.2 centimeters.

"This has been the second-highest monthly total at the Nanaimo Airport," Jones went on to say. (The highest was February 1975, when 122 centimeters fell.)

Masked Bandits

Hutton House Hen House - The chickens are also glad that the snow is melting. It means they're gradually getting more of their run back, each day. (They're not keen on tramping in the snow and Scott kept a small area snow-free for them).

One benefit of the snow was seeing tracks of all the critters that had been about, during the night. For a while, it appeared the raccoons were hibernating, but just the other morning, Scott spotted raccoon footprints. Now that temperatures are rising, they're venturing out and eager to fill their hungry bellies.

Tracking the prints, Scott surmised that the raccoons walked around the perimeter of the chicken run, looking for a way in. They moved some stones away from the edge of the fence and paced back and forth.

The distressing part was that they were successful in breaching the fenced-in run. There were raccoon prints INSIDE the chicken run! How had they gotten in? No matter, really, as the result is the same.

Fortunately, the girls were all safely tucked in for bed, holed up in their coop. "Chicken" wasn't on the menu - at least - not that night.

Retribution came for the seven chickens just this morning, as they caught another two raccoons in their cleverly-devised trap! Sentencing was swift and merciful.

For those keeping score at home, the tally is now: Raccoons - 1 and Chickens - 6. (Note: The chickens caught a raccoon just before the snowfall, which the Randsco rag didn't report ... being Holiday season and all.)

"Brawk, brawk," said one chicken, when asked about the capture.

"Brawk Obama!" squawked another (apparently excited about the United States Presidential nominee).

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Red Dirt Emporium

December 30th, 2008  · stk

FEATURED DONOR: The "Red Dirt Emporium", located in the historic "Bricktown District" of Oklahoma City, made a donation toward - and is using - Photo-caption Zoom Version 3. The Red Dirt Emporium was founded in 2007 and has a goal of introducing visitors and locals to the best that Oklahoma has to offer. They specialize in Oklahoma resources, art, music and other items that celebrate Oklahoma

Grab Some Red Dirt

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Dear Santa

December 21st, 2008  · stk

Alex "wrote" her very first letter to Santa Claus, with a list of what she wants for Christmas. Her wants are few! She also visited Santa at the local mall and is eagerly awaiting the red-man's trip down our chimney. Merry Christmas everyone!

alex's first letter to santa claus

 

Alex's first letter to Santa Claus!

Well, it was more a dictation that actual writing, as Mom played the part of "secretary" and Alex acted as "the boss" (a role she plays all too well).

The Oop did pen the salutation to Jolly St. Nick and then - at the end - penned her name, which was followed by an alternating, ungulating row of X's and O's - for hugs and kisses. (I think she's pretty smitten with the rosy-cheeked, gift-giving man)!

You can see from the above image that Alex is still struggling with the letter "S" (and also has a tough time writing the number "3"), though she fairs pretty well with the others. There's always the occasional "backward" letter and sometimes - guess this is common? - Alex writes a whole word (her name, usually) in mirrored reverse. I couldn't do that if I tried. I wonder if that's why Dad and Mom are palindromes? Makes it easier for kids to spell!

Although the body of the letter was in Rachel's handwriting, the words belong to our 5-year-old kindergartner.

To read Alex's cute Santa Claus letter, Merry Christmas greeting and pictures ... carry on

Alex's letter to Santa

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High Up Low Down

December 19th, 2008  · stk

An electrician advised Scott against moving our electric Maytag dryer controls, but we really didn't want to purchase a brand new dryer, just so we could stack it onto our washing machine (and save space in the utility room). Read about how Scott sorted the spaghetti and modified our dryer.

Utility Room Remodel
Moving Dryer Controls so the Dryer Can Stack onto the Washer

Our utility room is pretty small and not well utilized. One of our ideas for gaining space, was to stack the dryer onto the washer. Unfortunately, our older-model dryer isn't a match to our newer, front-load washer. Not only is the dryer is a different make, model and year, but the controls are at the top and back. If we stacked it - as is - you'd need a ladder to dial in a setting and turn it on!

What to do? Plunk down $400-$500 (or more) for a comparable stacking dryer? Our dryer, a higher-end model that came with the house, has an "intelli-dry" sensor that shuts off the unit when the clothes are dry. It works great! Seems wasteful and expensive to purchase a new one, just to stack it.

Instead, we thought Scott could find a way to move the control panel to a lower position. This would enable us to stack our old (working) dryer on top of our newer, front-load washer, for a lot less money.

Our neighbor, Charlie, a retired electrician, thought this would be a tough job. "Do you know how many wires you'll have to extend and move?" he asked, "There's about 30 or so wires back there."

This is one of those cases where ignorance is bliss. Undaunted by Charlie's warning, Scott pushed forward and - last weekend when Rachel was off with Alex in Vancouver and he had the house to himself - he tackled moving the dryer controls.

For a low-down on putting the dryer high up and learning how Scott managed to move the dryer controls ... carry on ...

Moving the Dryer Controls

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Record Snow

December 15th, 2008  · stk

Nanaimo - Record snow fell on Sunday, dumping 33 centimeters overnight and in the morning. Record cold temperatures accompanied this record snow dump, changing what had been a mild winter thus far, into something a tad more extreme.

Thirty Six Centimeters of Snow

Rachel and the Oop were off visiting grandparents in Vancouver, so they missed witnessing yesterday's record snowfall.

"When I went to bed on Saturday night," Scott said, "there had only been a light snowfall that afternoon and nothing after that. When the fire hall pager went off at 5:30 AM Sunday morning, I woke up and looked out the window. It was a white winter wonderland!"

Thirty three centimeters of snow had fallen, during the night. Outside, Scott flipped "the beast" into 4-wheel-drive and plowed his way to the North Cedar Fire Hall, seven kilometers away. There, personnel put chains on the front-line pumper (Engine 1), back-up pumper (Engine 7) and the water tender (Tender 6).

Another 3 centimeters fell Sunday morning, bringing the December 14th total to 36 centimeters. This beat the previous December 14th record of 19.8 centimeters, which was set in 2000.

For more Nanaimo snow records and photos ... carry on.

More on the Record Nanaimo Snow

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Oop Xmas Pageant

December 6th, 2008  · stk

What parent isn't proud when their kid takes the stage for the first time? Alex's school put on a Christmas Pageant and the kindergarten classes all joined in to do a reindeer "Hokey Pokey" dance. (Video included)

Alex Takes the Stage for a "Reindeer Hokey Pokey" Dance

Alex loves to perform at home, taking over the living room, doing her modern, "interpretive" dancing (and sometimes singing). So I figured she'd be all over her Christmas pageant like a dirty shirt, but I was a little surprised she wasn't more "into it" than she was.

Woodbank Primary School put on their annual Christmas Pageant the other night. They had an afternoon performance (rehearsal with the other grades) and a 6:30 PM performance, for the parents. Each class did one (or more) songs on a temporary, elevated stage in the gymnasium. It was pretty cute, watching all the kids perform. Some were really into it and others weren't, but a fun time was had by all, I think.

We sat next to our family doctor, Neil Rogers, who has twin boys starting school next year and another son in 2nd grade. (You know you live in a small town when you go to the "school play" and see your doctor!)

Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead, but Rachel came to the rescue and caught video of "the Oop" doing her Hokey Pokey thing! (They were supposed to be "reindeer" and each kindergartner had a red nose and a head band with cut-out hands as "antlers". Both the morning and afternoon kindergarten classes were combined, which is why there's so many kids.)

Alex is wearing a blue dress and is - pretty much - the kid in the center of the video. Her teacher, Mrs. Pettit, is the one you see in front, waving her arms and shaking her head, giving directions to the kids.

OKAY ... I'll shut up now. Head to the next page to see the unedited, raw footage. (Pasted in a relative hurry for eager grandparent's pleasure)!

Alex does the Hokey Pokey

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Some Holiday Cheer

December 5th, 2008  · stk

The U.S. Economy. If you're worried about all the doom and gloom about the U.S. Economy, tired of watching your investments decline in value, worried about your job ... then this video outlining the government's plan to get back to prosperity is sure to cheer you up!

Good News About the U.S. Economy

It seems that every time you watch the news, there is doom and gloom about the U.S. economy. First the sub-prime lending fiasco, then housing prices take a nose-dive, then the government $700 billion dollar bail-out and the financial markets are dropping like a stone. Everyone is worried, not about a recession, but an out-and-out depression. Long-standing companies are folding, the automobile manufacturers are asking the government for help, unemployment is climbing, foreclosures right and left, no-one is building homes, which means more unemployment ... will it ever end?

Anywone who thinks they're immune from the effects of this economic downturn is kidding themselves. This crisis will touch everyone, in some way, at some point.

Fred Thompson, a former actor (of Law and Order fame), U.S. Senator (Republican; Tennessee Senator from 1994-2003) and candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States, has some good news to share, about the U.S. economy. In the 8-minute video on the next page, he summarizes the government's plan for getting the economy back on track. In plain English, he cuts through the chatter and presents the plan in a completely understandable way.

The video is a "must-see" for anyone worried about the economy, the future of their jobs, potential bankruptcy of Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, their retirement investments or pension, or the financial future of their children! By the end of the video, you'll have a complete understanding of the current plan, faith that the government is doing the right things and peace of mind.

The U.S. economy will be heading for prosperity in the new year ... watch the video and relax ...

Video on U.S. Economy Plan

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Oop Lights Utility Raccoon

December 2nd, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Utility Room Redo] Scott has been spotty on the Internet - here's why • [Chickens Three Raccoons One] Another two raccoons have been caught • [Oop Rabbit] An update on Alex's kindergarten year • [Festival of Lights] Kimlers head to Ladysmith for a Light-up Celebration

Utility Room Redo

Hutton House - After three days of debris, dust and upheaval, Rachel is already antsy for the project to be completed. Scott is thinking that he should have his head examined by a doctor of psychiatry, for beginning such a project, right before the holidays.

If you hear banging and notice plaster dust on your furnishings, it just might be from the newest Hutton House project - "The big utility room re-do".

"It's by far the biggest interior remodeling project we've done to-date," says Rachel, eager for her Christmas present, but unhappy to be living in turmoil till then (and secretly wondering if "her Christmas present" will be DONE by Christmas).

"We're just getting started," says Scott, covered in dust and up to his ears in plumbing, electrical, drywall and construction work.

The Hutton House utility room wasn't very ... well ... utilitarian ... for lack of a better word. The chimney and nearly triangular room makes the space awkward. Having a plumbing clean-out drain sticking up two inches out of the concrete floor, nearly two feet from the wall, doesn't help either. It meant the Kimler family washing machine sat nearly in the center of the room (since it can't be placed against the wall). There was little built in storage. Rachel bought and assembled a temporary shelving unit, which she put behind the washing machine - just to utilize the space. The electric dryer space is poorly utilized as well. It blocks access to the water heater, which is jammed into a triangular corner and was "hidden" with two large and ungainly doors. The only storage closet was - mostly - an laundry chute all the way from the 2nd floor bathroom.

"We thought the laundry chute was kinda cool," said Scott, "but we don't use it. So we're removing it and replacing it with a bonafide broom closet."

Other things that will change:

  • baseboard heater - removed
  • plumbing - moved interior to wall
  • washer - moved to dryer location
  • washer/dryer - stacked
  • washer area - add counter, cabinets & sink
  • add 220 Volt 20 AMP plug for garage
  • use dedicated 110 Volt 15 AMP circuit
  • more sockets + another overhead light
  • wash/dry area - add counter & storage
  • add lighted display cubby to stairwell
  • add coat hooks & shoe bench
  • new linoleum flooring
  • smooth textured ceiling & skylight box

"Of course," said Scott, "One thing leads to another and now we're looking at adding some kind of ducting system to move hot air from the living room - which has the wood stove - to the dining room and guest bedroom."

Rachel rolls here eyes, knowing that her life (and house) are going to be in varying states of demolition and construction for some time to come.

"Scott has a way of starting projects," she explains, "then putting them on hold whilst he works on something else."

"Hey," he retorts, "I finish stuff!"

"Yeah," says Rachel quickly, "but you do in years, what other people do in weeks."

"Hey, at least I finish them," Scott says, sheepishly.

We'll follow the progress of he utility room re-do, whether it's over the course of several weeks ... (or years - which is another matter entirely).

Chickens Three Raccoons One

Hutton House Hen House - The Hutton House hens caught another two raccoons in their trap. The raccoons were tried and convicted by a chicken court for their participation in the murder of a Hutton House chicken. Sentencing was carried out swiftly by the court bailiff, amid much clucking and brawking.

Oop Rabbits

Alex reports that she has been having loads of fun in kindergarten. In fact, between kindergarten, day-care, swimming lessons and Sparks (earliest Girl Guide group), she's got quite the social calendar.

Besides having her very own (first) birthday party this year, she's also on the social circuit for attending many parties of other kids ... AND ... she's even starting to have "play dates" with some of her school chums.

Eye vey, little Alex Kimler is growing up quickly!

It used to be that Alex spent a great deal of time at home, doing her own kind of "remodeling projects" (most of which involved loads of "demolition" and very little clean-up .... hmmmm .... kinda a lot like her Dad's projects!) Now, with school, her remodeling is pretty much limited to weekends.

This past Saturday (known to the Oop as "Cartoon Day") Alex decided she wanted to build a fort. So she took her "TV Blanket" (quilt made for her by her Gran) and the couch afghan (made by her other grandma), pillows, chair and foot-rest - placing them around the coffee table. Blammo ... instant fort!

Alex got her very first report card from school the other day. She "met expectations (advanced)" in all categories and "exceeded expectations" in her ability to "verbalize her thoughts and feelings". (When Scott and Rachel met with Alex's teacher, they learned that this was because Alex puts on such great "Show and Tells").

Alex has a show and tell opportunity each Wednesday. So far, she's shown and told about: Her summer trip to "Watch Lake (she brought Gran's photo scrap book to share); the different types of forest mushrooms (Dad and the Oop picked a variety of mushrooms from around the Hutton House); about her chickens (she brought a "rabbit" to show. For those that don't know, Scott draws a picture of a rabbit onto hard boiled eggs, to tell them apart from raw eggs.) and shared that her dad is in the fire hall (she's informed Dad that he'll have to come by the class and "talk" to the kids about the fire hall).

"Oh joy!" says Dad.

Festival of Lights

Ladysmith Festival of Lights

Ladysmith - Besides being the home town of Pamela Anderson, Ladysmith - a seaside town just south of Nanaimo - is also known for its Festival of Lights, a Christmas tradition.

The festival started in 1987, as a way to compliment the town's heritage and revitalization project. From the last Thursday in November, till the first Sunday in January, the town of Ladysmith is awash in shimmering Christmas lights. Over the years, the festival has grown, attracted corporate sponsors, more visitors and (of course) the light-up celebration (complete with a visit from Santa, a town parade and a fireworks display) is widely attended.

The first year the Kimlers moved to town, the light-up celebration was canceled, because of snow. They missed last year, but made up for their lapse by attending this year.

They joined the throng of people lining the main street. They watched, while Santa (perched on a roof) did the honors and lit up the town. Then it was time for the parade. All manner of emergency vehicle, truck and float - sporting a dazzling array of lights - made their way slowly down the street. Clowns, elves, Santas and other people walked along, handing out various trinkets, flyers, discounts and candy to kids small and large.

The Kimlers headed for home, after the parade, skipping the big fireworks display. (It was already past the Oop's bedtime - 8 PM).

"It's a great way to ring in the holidays," said Rachel, "and it's made even sweeter, because I took my final exam for my Labor & Delivery course, which means I'm done with school for this year! Yay!"

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Ginger Blue Raccoon

November 27th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Off with the Blue] Scott's no longer considered a "rookie" firefighter • [Raccoons One Chickens One] Hutton house chickens retaliate after losing one of their own to raccoons • [National 'Kick a Ginger' Day] A teen FaceBook group acts out on a satirical South Park cartoon episode, with socially concerning results

Off with the Blue

rookie blue tags firefighter tags

Hover over the image to watch the "rookie" blue stripes come off of Scott's helmet.

North Cedar Fire Hall - Amidst loud clapping and a mayoral handshake, Scott and two other volunteers at the North Cedar Fire Department, graduated from being rookie firefighters - to full-fledged members of the fire hall.

Since Scott joined a year ago last April, he's been wearing the reflective blue stripes that are the hallmark of junior members of the firefighting team. After much training, including first responder, CPR, live fire, air brakes, incident command, auto extrication, ladders, pumping, wild-land fires and hazardous materials ... as well as attending many calls ... he's now been moved into the regular ranks.

There was much back-slapping and quaffing of beer, by hall members, welcoming in Scott's graduating class. (Mind you, it doesn't take much cause for celebration at the hall. After fighting hot fires all day, most members have a nearly unquenchable thirst!)

(Hover over the helmet to see the "before" and "after" look).

From "Rookie" to "Pro". Way to go!

Raccoons One Chickens One

Hutton House Chicken Coop - After the loss of Chicken little, there was much clucking and brawking in the Hutton House Hen yard this past week, as they mourned the loss of one of their own.

In the wake of their grief, the girls put their heads together and came up with a daring plan to build - a raccoon trap! With Scott's help (and that of our neighbor, Charlie) they managed to fashion a galvanized metal trap.

The girls have been baiting and setting the trap each night, before they head into the coop. Using everything from meat to chicken feed - whatever they can get their little beaks on - they've been "trolling for 'coon", as they call it.

It took a while before they caught anything, as most of the time, birds would fly into the trap and peck at (eat) whatever bait was used.

Last week, however, the chickens were met with success, as they captured a live raccoon!

As you can imagine, there was much glee. They clucked and brawked ... then they scratched dirt at the trapped animal. They even tried to elicit information from their prisoner of war, but the raccoon refused to answer their questions.

We can't really say what became of their prisoner, as it's not appropriate to discuss such things in a family blog. Let's just say that the chickens got their revenge.

The girls are feeling better these days, though they still keep their raccoon trap baited and set.

 

Official "Kick a Ginger" Day

Canada - In a very bizarre and disturbing collision between technology and juvenile behavior, November 20th became promoted as Canada-wide "kick a ginger" day. (If you don't know - I didn't - a "ginger" is a deragatory name for someone having "light skin, freckles and red hair").

Canada national kick-a-ginger day was November 20, 2008, thanks to south park,  facebook and dumb kids

Fueled by a South Park cartoon episode (see video snippet on the left**), kids that are way too young to be viewing such satire, decided that they would use the Internet - by way of FaceBook - and create a "National Kick-a-Ginger Day" group.

The group attracted as many as 5,000 members, many of whom vowed to "kick a ginger" on the designated day - November 20, 2008.

Sadly, many people followed through with their promise and some did so in a non-joking manner. There were many instances of red-heads being kicked, some over 80 times and a few were left with physical evidence of their battery - bruising and such (and any associated emotional scars).

The story came across the Randsco editorial desk after one of Rachel's co-workers, Diane Mishkin - who has a 13-year-old red-headed son named Aaron Mishkin - was victimized at his school on "National Kick-a-Ginger Day". He figures he was kicked or hit about 80 times. He was traumatized by his treatment and elected not to go to school the following day. He was amazed at the behavior or his classmates who participated in the violent kicking and punching.

The FaceBook group has since been removed and the administrator of the group - a 14-year-old Courtenay kid - has been questioned by the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Some parents are so outraged, they are considering suing South Park. Other parents are angry that the schools weren't aware of the impending date and that they didn't take stronger actions.

Ironically, November 20th fell during the Canadian "Anti-Bullying" awareness week.

People are pointing fingers at South Park, teachers and administrators, but this author puts the blame squarely on parents. What the heck are they doing allowing juveniles to watch South Park? (With such episode titles as "You got F'd in the A", "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut", "Erection Day" and "Guitar Queer-o" ... this is obviously not material intended for undeveloped minds). Where is the dinner table discussions about bullying, tolerance and good sense?

That an early teen made a FaceBook group is not what's deplorable - don't blame the technology. What's deplorable is that kids actually acted-out on their cyber promises.

It's not a Village-idiot award here ... it's more like an entire village gets the award.

Smarten up folks.

** In the South Park show (not a show I've seen much of), the kid giving the speech during the episode above, wakes up one morning to discover he suddenly has red hair. By he end of the episode, he's advocating "red-power" and promoting tolerance. (i.e., despite the horrid language, the show does come back with a redeeming moral message).

More Info

  1. Vancouver Sun Nov-22 Article
  2. CTV.ca Nov-24 article and video interview
  3. Google search for "Kick a Ginger Day"

 

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Future NOT Very Friendly

November 21st, 2008  · stk

We've experienced over a week's worth of poor customer service and technical support, courtesy of our phone and high-speed internet provider - Telus. In the past 7 days, we'e been "off-line" for over 96 hours and had so much static on our basic phone service, that we were worried about contacting 911 should the need arise.

Telus Customer Service: Not helpful, not prompt, not reliable, not honest ... and well, not a lot of very good things.

thumbs up Telus: The Future Ain't Friendly

Two separate phone problems last week left us without an Internet connection for more than 96 hours and with a static-filled (essentially unusable for voice or Internet) line for 48 hours. Calls to Customer Service and Technical Support resulted in a run-around where we were put on "hold" for extended periods of time, disconnected, told placating lies, asked to perform silly "tests", or given wrong information ... all of which left us frustrated and without timely resolutions. Aaargh!

A week ago last Thursday, there was an Internet service outage in our rural neighborhood. It started about dinner time. As it turned out, a "Stinger Card" had to be replaced. It was no big deal, as these things happen from time to time. What was unusual, however, was when the "Stinger Card" was replaced - around noon the next day - Internet service was restored to everyone - except us.

Were we unlucky or was there some other problem? It took another day and a half of frustrating telephone calls to Telus customer support and technical support to answer that question ... and to get our broadband Internet connection functioning again.

Then, on the following Tuesday - after only two full, trouble-free days - our phone line suddenly became static-filled. The Internet was up & down more times than Paris Hilton on a Friday night and the voice quality so horrid, we couldn't communicate on the phone. We worried what might happen if we had an emergency! (FYI - We live rurally, so going "next door" takes a great deal of time and there's also no cell-phone service here ... we rely on our phone.)

Mpre xb0#t "wiy Telus s8cks" ...

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Kayaking to DeCourcy Island

November 18th, 2008  · stk

On an unseasonably warm & sunny November day, Rachel & Scott paddled their new sea kayaks to DeCourcy Island, 6-kilometer offshore Vancouver Island. DeCourcy Island is home to Pirates Cove Marine Park and has a rich history, including buried treasure! (DeCourcy Island maps, photos and tales "Brother Twelve", Canada's notorious cult leader)

Blue Heron Park to Pirate's Cove Marine Park, on DeCourcy Island

After two years of living in Yellow Point, we finally bit the bullet and bought two ocean-touring kayaks. They are both used kayaks, obtained from a 2008 rental fleet sale at local outfitter (Alberni Outpost). They're both bomb-proof, made of tough, durable roto-molded plastic. We haven't acquired all the accompanying gear (we still need spray-skirts, for example), but were eager to plunk them in the water for a test paddle.

A week ago, the stars and planets aligned, so we took a 12-kilometer round-trip paddle from Yellow Point (putting in at Blue Heron Park), paddling 6 kilometers across the Stuart Channel, to explore Pirate's Cove Marine Park, on DeCourcy Island. Alex was in day-care and kindergarten for the day. Rachel was scheduled to attend a B.C. Nurses Union meeting, but it was canceled at the last minute. Even the weather cooperated; after four days of rain, the skies cleared and it was a sunny, unseasonably warm November day. Wow! We just had to get out of the house before the November rain and drizzle returned.

It took us a while to get organized, tossing Rachel's blue Necky "Elaho HV" Necky "Elaho HV" Kayak Profile Picture of Rachel's Necky Elaho HV kayak Rachel's Necky "Elaho HV" kayak. The "HV" means "High Volume". Necky added 3 inches to the length and width of the cockpit of a regular "Elaho", making entering and exiting easier. This roto-molded plastic touring kayak is made by Necky (in Washington State). It offers outstanding turn response, good leaning & solid edging. It's narrower than most touring boats, which lowers its initial stability, but increases handling and performance. (Necky no longer manufactures the Elaho line). The Elaho HV is 17-feet long, 22.5-inches wide, weighs 63 pounds and can carry 325 pounds. The metal rudder is standard.  kayak and Scott's mango Current Designs "Storm" Current Designs "Storm" Kayak Profile Picture of Scotts's Current Designs Storm kayak Scott's Current Designs "Storm" kayak. The "Storm" is a lively, rugged & affordable touring kayak. It's designed to handle tremendous abuse. Built by Current Designs, the Storm is a roto-molded polyethylene kayak. The model underwent a major design fine-tuning in 2004 and sports a new hatch system & rudder controls. The deck fittings are recessed and have full perimeter deck lines. It's a very stable and rugged performing touring kayak. The Storm is 17-feet long, 24-inches wide, weighs 63 pounds and can carry up to 400 pounds. Click the link for the Current Designs website & more about the Storm kayak.  kayak onto the roof rack of the Honda Accord. We packed a lunch and drove three or four kilometers, from our house, along Yellow Point Road, to Blue Heron Park, where we dunked the boats in the water and began our paddle over to DeCourcy Island and Pirates Cove Marine Park.

To find out more about DeCourcy Island, our kayak trip and Pirates Cove Park (with maps) .... carry on ...

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Three Woes

November 10th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Then There Were Three] The Kimler's lose an egg-laying hen to predators • [ISP Woes] A local circuit board fails and when it's replaced, everyone is reconnected, except us

Then There Were Three

Hutton House Chicken Run - Last Thursday evening, sometime between dusk and 7:30 PM, the Kimler family lost one of their four egg-laying hens.

By "lost", we don't mean that they set the chicken down somewhere and just can't remember where it is. We mean "lost", as in - a predator sneaked into the chicken run, killed a chicken and then made off with the carcass. Murder. Plain and simple.

Reporters were stunned at the news and a teary-eyed Alex tried to grasp the situation.

"One of our chickens ... is ... gone," she sobbed to the throng of reporters gathered the next morning at the Randsco campus gates.

"What took it?" reporters asked.

"We're not 100% certain," said Scott Kimler, who was standing next to Alex, putting a consoling arm around his 5-year-old daughter. "We think it was a raccoon, based on the forensic evidence."

By "forensic evidence", he meant that only feathers were left behind. Reporters, touring the chicken run, noted a light scattering of feathers, everywhere. However, there were two spots in the run, each of which had a mass of feathers.

"We think the chicken was killed either here, or here," Scott said, pointing to the two feathered spots, "then the culprit made off with its kill."

As it turns out, different predators have different "MO-s" (Methods of Operation). Not all predators will take a chicken, once they kill it. Minks and Weasels, for example, will generally chew off the head of the chicken and then drink the blood that drains out. They'll leave behind the carcass and often kill multiple birds, leaving the carcasses neatly piled. Skunks, who hunt mainly during the night, eat the entrails and leave much of the skin and muscle untouched.

"We're pretty certain, based on the evidence, that it wasn't a skunk, wolves, dogs, mink, weasels, rats or coyotes," Scott said, "which narrows it down a tad."

"Other possibilities include an owl, mountain lion, domestic cat or raccoon."

"The way the fence was pushed over, indicates that it probably wasn't an owl," Scott went on, "and while Vancouver Island has a dense mountain lion (cougar) population, sightings in our area are generally very rare. We don't think (and hope) it wasn't a mountain lion.

"As you can see, the fence has been pushed down in this area," Scott said, pointing to a rickety portion of the chicken run fence.

"We're not ruling out a domestic cat, though we know it's not ours - "Tuxedo" - as he was in the house at the time of the incident. Nope ... our money is on raccoons, who may hunt alone or in a family pack."

"When I went to put the chickens to bed the other night," said Rachel, "something in the bushes growled at me. It was very spooky."

"We think it may have been the raccoons, scouting out the area," Scott said, "Unfortunately, once they find a spot to nab chickens, they'll return on a pretty regular basis, every 5 to 7 days."

When asked what they were going to do to protect their flock from further attacks, Scott said that he'd for sure strengthen the fence and that they'd be certain to tuck the chickens into their coop, which is secure from predators, no later than dusk.

"Maybe we'll even enclose the chicken run - top and sides - with mesh, just to make certain nothing can get to "our girls".

It was a somber press conference. Sympathies went out to the missing chicken - a family favorite - and the group of reporters quietly dispersed.

ISP Woes

Manila, Philippines & Montreal, Quebec - After the tragic "chicken murder", the Hutton Household awoke on Friday morning to discover that their broadband connection, like the neck of their favorite chicken, had been severed.

A phone call to technical support - handled in the nearby neighborhood of Manila, Philippines :| - failed to re-establish their ADSL connection, despite over an hour of pulling cables, flipping switches and rebooting the computer.

At 9 AM, it was determined that the outage was on Telus' end. "We are aware of the problem and working to fix it. It should be restored in about an hour".

Scott drove into Nanaimo to run some errands, figuring that the broadband connection would be functioning when he returned.

At 10:30 AM, when he returned, the connection was still down.

Scott called Telus technical support (Manila again). The 'solution' sounded eerily familiar: "It's a problem at Telus' end, we're aware of it and it should be restored in an hour".

After asking to speaking with a supervisor - who didn't add much "new" information, other than a series of platitudes and excuses - Scott was passed over to Customer Service (in Montreal, Canada) where he requested a rebate for the inconvenience. The woman he spoke with was only willing to offer two day's compensation for "the actual time the service is down". (Wow ... a $2 rebate!)

Scott explained that he was losing $50/hour because of the outage, as he had billable work that needed to be done.

"I'm losing over $200-worth of work because of this outage and you're willing to offer a $2 rebate ... generous!"

In the end, he got one month's free service.

Though neighbors reported their broadband service was reconnected around noon, Scott's remained down.

Another call to the Philippines technical support office ended without a resolution and Scott's call was dropped during a transfer to Customer Service - "there appears to be 'a problem' with your billing account".

Saturday morning. Still no broadband connection. (Scott had used *gasp* dial-up - how antiquated is that? - to check emails and perform a few basic functions.)

This time, a call to Customer Service (Montreal, Canada) fixed the "problem" with the billing account - though it couldn't get fully resolved until the work week.

"You mean, because of a mistake that Telus made on our billing account, we'll be without a broadband connection until the middle of next week?" Scott asked "Donald", the Telus Customer Service representative.

"Well," he said, "I can transfer you to our technical support office, there may be a way to get your service back on today.

Scott again spoke with someone in the Telus technical support section. This time, however, it was with someone in Montreal, not Manila. "Martin" had already managed to reconnect the broadband connection, by the time Scott had been transferred.

"What did you do?" Scott asked, happy to have finally been reconnected, but shocked at how quickly and easily it had happened.

"A "stinger card" in your neighborhood had been replaced," explained Martin, "so I boosted the signal strength and did a hard boot of the card, from our main office. A hard boot generally unblocks the ports by resetting them, which is what appears to have caused your problems.

"Wow" said Scott, who then immediately thought, "Why couldn't they have done that YESTERDAY, when I called technical support in the evening? Eye-veh!"

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Boundary Changes

November 5th, 2008  · stk

OKAY ... It's not as important as voting for the President of the United States, but there's a local election that will expand the Fire Protection Boundaries in our area. Even though I can't vote, I'm urging residents to vote "YES". Find out why

North Cedar Improvement District Voting on Nov 15th

Cedar and Yellow Point residents will be voting to elect an RDN Area "A" Director on November 15th. Some property owners will also be voting on a referendum to expand the NCID/NCFD fire protection and emergency response boundaries.

Voting will be held at the North Cedar Intermediate School (2215 Gould Road, in Cedar) on Saturday, November 15th, from 8 AM till 8 PM.

I can't vote because I'm a permanent resident (not a Canadian citizen), but I can urge you to vote for your choice of Directors and "YES" to the referendum question:

Are you in favour of the North Cedar Improvement District extending its fire protection boundaries in order to provide fire and emergency response services to properties in the Yellow Point - South Cedar area at an estimated cost of $70 per year plus $66 per $100k of assessed property value?

There's not much information on the Internet about this fire protection expansion, so I thought I'd put some out there.

Residents who vote "YES will be closer to their fire hall (receive faster fire and emergency service), they'll actually have ownership of both their fire hall and the equipment, they'll also gain voting rights and they may save money through lower homeowner insurance premiums. It just makes sense to vote "YES".

For more about the referendum, a comparison chart that clearly shows why a "YES" vote is the right vote and a map of the affected areas ... carry on ...

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Innervisions

November 3rd, 2008  · stk

There aren't many folks running a b2evolution blog that don't owe this Brit some sort of "thanks" for helping them with their blog. This amazingly generous bloke is a first-class coder & is also very giving with his time. It's appropriate to kick off the *NEW* "Shout Out" section, with a post about ¥åßßå - and his "Tacky Pad" website ... (Note: Post not done yet, which is, ironically ... the story of my life!)

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