Archive for November, 2015

16 Nov 2015

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Family,Photos

November on the Prairies

Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? November can often be blustery and grey – flurries of ice pellets rattling the windows as Old Man Winter stretches and yawns after a long summer’s slumber. This November has seen some of that, but we have also had some fine clear days with blue skies in abundance. Certainly the landscape’s palette has had the yellows, reds and fading greens removed in favour of browns and muted gold, but in the thin, bright sunshine there is still plenty to admire.

Brenda and I spent three days this past week working in the country around Gull Lake, Lacombe and Ponoka. We were doing antenna upgrades for the rural customers of a wireless internet service provider. I wouldn’t say that it was glamorous work, but since my contract in the energy industry wasn’t renewed at the end of September, it helps to cover the mortgage. Brenda had started in on this project a week or so earlier and had upgraded the transmit/receive equipment at a dozen towers throughout central Alberta. This past week, we were upgrading the customer’s antennas and inside equipment. We visited 32 properties over the three days.

We were fortunate with the weather, apart from a morning long snow squall on the second day that turned the roads and roofs icy slowing our progress considerably. By afternoon though, we were back to sunshine and temperatures just above freezing. At one point between customer sites, we stopped at the top of a hill on Range Road 11 north of Township Road 432 in Ponoka County. While Brenda took advantage of half-decent cell coverage (2 bars!) to call in the previous upgrade, I took a few (nine, actually) pictures and created a panorama of the view:
2015-11-11 14.23.05_stitch

I used the Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor to build the panorama (5300 pixels wide) from the still shots – quite a cool program, easy to use with some interesting features. Features like the ability to extrapolate to fill in the black areas:

2015-11-11 14.23.05_stitch_auto

There are a few funky artifacts like half fence posts and the trucks shadow disappears suddenly, but it is pretty interesting to see how well it completes the image.

In any event, on this day at least, it was anything but bleak.

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06 Nov 2015

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt



Little British Car.

I’ve had my 1979 MG Midget for over 30 years now. I bought it in the spring of 1985 and, at first, it was a daily driver. However, the first serious cold snap that next winter made me re-think how practical that would be in Calgary. If it was colder than about -25C the carb would ice up and stop providing fuel to the engine within about 6 or 8 blocks of driving. So then it was my summer car, alongside a series of cheap winter beaters, for a few years. It was a great car in the mountains and I made a few trips to Vancouver Island in it. Eventually, after getting married and buying a house, it became the summer sports car and reigned supreme in the garage while the “other car” got the driveway.

For about 10 years it got plenty of use and was pretty reliable – particularly once I sorted out the Lucas ignition issues and removed the air pump. During our Cold Lake years there were lots of great memories and trips to Calgary or Edmonton. Eventually it had some gearbox issues which took a while to sort out and it started to take a bit of a lower profile as life got busier.

For two years in the late 90s my Dad had it while we lived in Australia. We came home to Calgary in 1998 when Steven was one and the demands of a growing family left less and less time to drive or maintain the MG and after about 2008, I was down to driving it a few hundred kilometers a year – just a few little day trips each summer. Last year was a bit of a low point, the only trip that I did was from Chestermere to the new house in Calgary – and a run to the local gas station to fill the tank before winter set in.

This spring I decided that it was time to get serious about the Midget. We are pretty settled in the new house, I have more free time due to cutting the commute in half and the kids are all plenty old enough to amuse themselves while Brenda and I go for an evening cruise in the MG. Only trouble was that 5 or 6 years of minimal use adds up to maintenance issues. In particular, the brake master cylinder had developed a leak and needed replacing. So I ordered a new master cylinder and a bunch of tune-up parts from the US and started to tackle the backlog of issues.

For less than $400, I have done an oil change, full tune up (plugs, wires, air filter…) and sorted out some suspension issues. I bought a bunch of car care products and have given it a polishing like it hasn’t had in ages. I figure that I’ve managed to drive at least a 1200 km over this summer and fall – it is a little hard to tell as one of the things that still needs fixing is the odometer – it stops turning when the speed is over 75 km/hr. Maybe that will be one of the winter projects to disassemble, clean and lubricate the speedometer. Next spring, brakes and rear suspension bushings are on the list, as well as figuring out why it is using up a bit of coolant.

All told, it has been quite a good season with more wind-in-the-hair driving than the previous five years combined.

Dave and Brenda (April1988)

2 April 1988 – the day Brenda and I got engaged

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