October 23, 2007

A Little of This and a Little of That



Here are a few of my favorite online haunts:

[This is the site I visit to fantasize about living in Toronto again, which is almost every single day during the winter]

Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts
[This is where I visit in the morning, when I need a positive spin on things past, present and future.]

Living Local
[This is where I go to see what Canadians are up to, sometimes I even buy things from the businesses listed there.]

Environment Canada Weather
[This is the site I visit every morning, and before every road trip during the winter]

Time is flowing again, a brook that babbles in places, lies still and peaceful in others. Just at the minute we are in a peaceful pool of warm weather, sunshine and brilliant color. The sky is blue, the leaves range in colour from green to earthy brown to orange and yellow and red. The colour is not as spectacular as it has been some years, this year it is muted, almost subtle. This is our favorite season.

The weather has been primarily overcast with intermittent rain, making the occasional sunny day all the more precious. Sunday we had one of those perfect days, shirtsleeve warm, sunny, breezy and scented with autumn. After breakfast we hopped into our aging and so far reliable little car and drove off into the sunshine. We traveled to the Parry Sound District, where my heart lies. Attila has fallen in love with the area as well, seeing it through my affections and affiliations.

We poked around the villages where my Great Great Grandparents lived their lives, where they died and where they now lie peacefully under the pines. We visited my Grandparents gravesite; where I like to go for a little visit with the people who are a part of me, who whisper still to me in the rustling leaves, caress me with the breeze.

While visiting with my Grandparents at the cemetery, Attila and I met a couple with their grandson, searching for their ancestors. Almost instantly a conversation struck up, and we enjoyed a few hours of very good conversation and company. We learned about their ancestors, their experiences growing up in the area, and about their children and grandchildren. The gentleman had worked with my Grandfather and asked me if I knew about Grandpa’s accident? It was a story I had not been told.

It seems my Grandfather was hauling salt north of Sudbury, Ontario. His truck was fully loaded with twelve tons of salt, a red single axle dump truck. He was traveling at speed on the highway when a woman in a station wagon, full of children, suddenly pulled out in front of him. He said later that he took one look at the children and pulled the steering wheel to the right to avoid hitting the station wagon. The truck went into the ditch and hit a concrete culvert.

I knew that my Grandfather had been in an accident that had destroyed his knees and that although he could still walk he was frequently in a lot of pain. He never complained about the pain. At the age of 85 he underwent knee surgery to replace the joint, and the next year underwent similar surgery on the other knee. Like any real hero, my Grandfather left his story for other’s to tell.

Small wonder I adored my Grandparents.

At home we are settling into our cold weather rituals. Each morning I rise to set the fire with the wood that Attila brings for me from the woodshed. We sit before the fire with our coffee, Attila snoring softly between murmured early morning exchanges. From time to time Attila will rise from his chair, to throw Mist’s foam ball down the stairwell. She enjoys a high-speed chase, fetching the ball and bringing it back for him to throw again and again. Usually she will tire of the game, bring her ball back upstairs, flop down on the carpet, and triumphantly display her prize ball between her paws. Eventually we rise from our chairs and make our way to the breakfast table, chatting about our plans for the upcoming day and exploring ideas randomly as they occur to us. Then Attila completes his preparations for the day and he is off into the world of work. I start up the computers, run the dishwater and begin my projects. I seldom dress before mid-morning. I am never bored, although I am occasionally lonely.

I have a few new projects on my list. The first is a project that is long overdue. We have hundreds of LP vinyl records. Our collection dates back to the 1960’s. The records take up an incredible amount of space, as does the turntable/stereo system I still own that will play the records. We have often discussed selling the LPs, but could not bear the thought of losing access to our cherished music. What to do?

On a recent visit to the hospital for a routine test, I popped into an electronics store. It is an hour drive to the hospital, so I like to take advantage of the trip to take a look and see what’s out there. To my great surprise I found a USB turntable on the shelf. I had been looking at this very item on the Internet, for some time. However, I had not managed to find the item for sale in Canada and had thought that it would have to be purchased from a retailer in the United States. It probably was on offer on a Canadian retail site, but with a dialup connection I cannot summon the patience to maneuver through image laden and convoluted retail web sites to find it. I had done a cursory search, which took several hours, and had found nothing. So, upon seeing it there on the shelf, I immediately purchased it.

It took me a day to assemble the turntable, not difficult, but one needs to do these things correctly and to follow instructions carefully to ensure high quality output. It took another day to install and learn the basics of the Audacity software (freeware) and to download and install the add-on to export MP3 files. I was surprised at how easily I took to Audacity, like a duck to water. The forums provided for the software were a goldmine of useful information, which I used to guide me through a few rough patches of confusion. It took two more days to work out just how I want to approach the workflow, again with reference to the wisdom of the software forum.

So, I have two LPs converted to Audacity files, WAV files and MP3 files. The WAV files are burned onto one music CD, which will play in traditional CD players. The original Audacity files and the MP3 files are burned onto a second data CD for future reference and possible replacement WAV files. The two albums I have completed are both by the artist Gordon Lightfoot, The Summer Side of Life (1970) and Sundown (1973). They were both damaged in 1974 when stored too close to an electric heater, but I was able to extract all of the songs. There are some clicks and pops on the first songs on each side of each album, and someday I may teach myself to eliminate these sounds using Audacity. However, my priority at the moment is to convert our entire collection of LPs to Audacity, WAV and MP3 files and to burn them on CDs. This is a winter project that will fill my days with beauty and fond memories.

Another new piece of software has been providing me with hours of entertainment. Personal Color Viewer from Benjamin Moore paints has a Macintosh Version, which I purchased online and downloaded. It took half a day to download the software, but it was worth it. I find that I enjoy “picky” work, like defining areas for paint color. Even more fun is choosing different colors for the exterior and interior of our house, and being able to see how they look in a photograph. We will not be painting any time soon, but by the time we are ready to give the place a fresh coat of paint we will know what we like.

My old standby project, the genealogy database, continues to provide me hours of entertainment. I am working my way through the 1881 census for the Parry Sound District, a much larger endeavor than the 1871 census transcription already completed. It is a slow go, but I do enjoy it, particularly finding out about the people my grandparents talked about during my childhood. I have also made some breakthroughs using the computers at the Family History Center. Like the hospital and the retail stores, it is an hour’s drive away. I am hoping to get there again for a day’s research before the roads turn treacherous. We shall see.

Top of Page

Worldly Distractions

Lake sparkling in the sunshine.
Our Sunday Walk.

"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Analog to Digital

Gordon Lightfoot:
Summer Side of Life

Carole King:

Mostly Cloudy
Temp 6.8°C
Press 100.9 kPa / rising
Visibility 15 km
Humidity: 96%
Dew Point 6.2°C

Page by Page: A Woman's Journal
by Maggie Turner

Canadian Maggie Turner writes and publishes poetry, photography, and a personal journal online. Her work reflects the current way of life in Canada, embracing Canada's past, present, and future in a unique portrayal of everyday life. Maggie's voice is one of the many that actively depict the rich diversity of Canadian culture.

Photography: "a term which comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (drawing). A photograph is made with a camera by exposing film to light in order to create a negative. The negative is then used in the darkroom to print a photograph (positive) onto light-sensitive paper.
Source: University of Arizona Glossary

Poetry: "a form of speech or writing that harmonizes the music of its language with its subject. To read a great poem is to bring out the perfect marriage of its sound and thought in a silent or voiced performance. At least from the time of Aristotle's Poetics, drama was conceived of as a species of poetry."
Source: Creative Studios

Journal: " "Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue..., a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, though not necessarily daily.... Some (entries) will be nearly illegible, written in the dark in the middle of the night.... Not only is it a record for oneself, but of oneself. Every memorable journal, any successful journal, is honest. Nothing sham, phony, false...." (Dorothy Lambert from Ken Macrorie's book, Writing to be Read )
A journal is a way to keep track of your thoughts about what you read... as well as what you did on any given day."
Source: Journal Writing

A Blog is an online journal created by server side software, often hosted by a commercial interest.

"The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger[4] on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999.[5][6][7] Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog") and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms."
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_blogging

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