Archive for April, 2010

24 Apr 2010

Posted by under Mr. FixIt

Heated Motorbike Grips (Part 2)

With a switched distribution block wired in as described in Part 1 of this write up, the heated grips can be added. This is a little more involved and requires a bit of patience to pull off the grips, run the wires, replace the grips,check for clearance, drill a hole (!) in the dash and make the hookup to the power distribution block. The good news is that since the power is already done and tested this step is mostly a mechanical exercise.
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22 Apr 2010

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts

Ahh! Retirement…

Ahh! Retirement…

Since I was let go from General Dynamics almost two weeks ago I’ve just had one busy day after the next. Going out for coffee with friends or with former colleagues, driving out to Strathmore in the MG with my brother Brian on his birthday, getting the spring-time yardwork done or going hiking with my brother Scott – who has time to think about finding work? I have spent some time thinking about the things that I enjoy and am good at; I’ve even done a bunch of career/aptitude assessment quizzes to provide some food for thought. I’d really like to make sure that the next job is challenging and, importantly, with an organization that suits my work-style and values. Maybe a smaller company next time, or some contracting jobs to round out my skills in certain areas, who knows?

In the meantime, the days are scooting by. This week on Tuesday it was a glorious day for mid-April – sunny, fairly calm and about 22 °C. Scott had a gap between painting jobs, so we took our mountain bikes out to Kananaskis and made our way to the Canyon Creek Ice Cave. Years ago, the parking lot was at the end of about 6 km of gravel road heading north from Highway 66. The old parking lot is now a well pad for a Shell sour gas well and the parking is back by the highway, thus the mountain bikes. The road is in good shape and used by Shell employees, but not accessible except on foot or bike. Scott and I took about an hour to ride in to the trail head, locked the bikes to a tree and headed along the creek to the path up to the cave.

It’s quite a steep scramble up pretty loose scree in places, very rubble-y and not that much fun. I complained a lot, ‘cuz I’m wimpy and out of shape; complaining really helps! The other thing that helps is to stop and take pictures, lots of pictures – and take a bit of time to fiddle with the settings on the camera. It’s all about the art of photography.

After about 40 minutes of grumbling and panting like an old dog chasing a rabbit, we made it to the cave entrance. After the exertion of the climb and the warm day, the cold temperature in the cave was quite refreshing. There was very little ice in the cave, just a few short stalagmite-like pillars of ice here and there. I’d expected more ice in April. The main (“tourist”) chamber is fairly well lit as the cave entrance faces south and it was easy to get 40 or 50 meters into the cave with out any additional light. We hadn’t bothered to bring a flashlight with us so didn’t want to risk a slip or twisted ankle in the dark – bad enough that we kept messing up our dark-adapted eyesight with flash photos! We probably poked about in the cave for about 15 minutes before we headed out into the warm sunshine and sat on a ledge overlooking the valley and ate our lunch.

The hike down the slope was a bit tricky in the loose rock, but at least it went quite a bit quicker than the uphill. We found our bikes and ground our way up the first kilometer up to the high point of the road, paused for a photo op and then made excellent time on the mostly downhill run back to the parking lot. The round trip took us about 4 hours. It really was a great day and it encourages me that I should be getting in shape and doing more of this. Scott is a pretty enthusiastic hiker and scrambler and I’m trying to convince him (and me!) that we should do enough hiking this year that I could summit a 10000’ peak before this year’s hiking season is out.

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14 Apr 2010

Posted by under Mr. FixIt

Heated Motorbike Grips (Part 1)

The best thing since sliced bread.

After years of procrastinating I finally (at Brenda’s prompting) purchased and installed heated grips on both of our motorcycles – last June! Then I continued the trend by procrastinating on posting this write up. As a reward for mentioning to Sean just how much more pleasant cool/cold weather riding is when you have warm hands, Sean has prompted me to describe how I did it. So here’s the skinny.

I decided to use Symtec Motorcycle Grip Heaters that are installed underneath the stock grips. In my research over a couple of years, I’d sort of settled on these as the simplest to install and the most cost effective grip heaters available. I ordered them in from the US when I couldn’t find a local supplier.  Continue Reading »

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13 Apr 2010

Posted by under Book Review,Dave's Thoughts

What the Dog Saw

Well, the charms of unemployment are already undeniable. After only 2 days off work I’ve managed to finish another book! Actually, I started a week before I finished work, but I made much better progress after Friday!
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell (ISBN 978-0316075848) 2009
Malcolm Gladwell’s fourth book is a compilation of articles that he has written for The New Yorker magazine over the past dozen years. These abbreviated explorations into a wide range of topics stand in contrast to the depth of the author’s three previous books: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. Nonetheless, the stories are fascinating explorations into territory where Gladwell’s natural curiosity asks questions about such things as the difference between choking and panicking when under pressure.  Or why there should be many popular varieties of mustard but only one truly popular ketchup.

Gladwell’s insights dig beneath the surface in three broad areas of human endeavour. First, “minor” geniuses who have changed the way we look at the work in small but significant ways; Ron Popeil (the As Seen On TV Chop-O-Matic inventor) or Cesar Milan (the dog whisperer), for example. Second, theories and predictions regarding the way we interpret the world around us; what Enron tells us about financial scandals or why it is so difficult to predict the actions of terrorists.  The final area that Gladwell examines is how we make judgments about people; are job interviews good predictive indicators of good employees or why genius is equated  with the exuberance of youth.

Each essay is thought provoking and some even challenge ideas that our culture almost assumes as fundamental facts.  I quite enjoyed this book, although sometimes I felt that the essays could have been easily expanded to dig deeper into the topic.   If you’ve never read Gladwell’s work before, this book is an excellent introduction to his style and manner of viewing the world.  For a preview of the second essay in this book about how mustard, ketchup and spaghetti sauce relate to how society views food, you might want to view Gladwell’s address to the TED conference in 2004.

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