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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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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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Updated: 23-Nov-2010
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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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Updated: 25-Oct-2010
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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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Updated: 9-Aug-2010
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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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Updated: 25-Jan-2011
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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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Updated: 16-Nov-2010
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