• Updates to the website

    I was getting annoyed that there wasn’t a search feature at the top of the page when I needed to search for ‘instant pot’ so I decided it was time to update my website.

    Of note:

    • Still playing around with text colours.  I’m not sure if Red colour font works on red colour background!
    • I am moving the music section to a timeline based style which is in ‘Music Archive’ which I’m quite fond of
    • Check out the music archive for a new song hot off the presses in time for Troy’s 50th birthday!
  • Thoughts on virtual learning

    We decided to try out virtual learning when Sierra started her maternelle class this year.  There were many questions on top of mind but the most poignant one was “Will this even work for our four year old?”

    In our case, virtual learning consists of having Sierra sit in front of an iPad for most of the day.  But let’s get into the actual details of her schedule:

    8:30 – 9:15am (recommended exercise videos and meditation videos which I’m assuming any parent can just blatantly skip since it’s not like anyone is monitoring us) – While I’ve never checked out the meditation videos, I have to say that I’ve been checking out the exercise videos for ten minutes and then let Sierra do whatever she wants until 9:15.  Vero sometimes even joins us in the living room to get some aerobics in!

    9:15 – 9:45 – school time!  Sierra has learned how to mute the microphone when she is not using it and she knows how to connect to the classroom via Google Meet when we are not around. Actually, a week into this, she INSISTS that she does this herself.  Generally around this time there is O Canada, the Lord’s Prayer, and some other things that I don’t pay too much attention to.

    9:45 – 10:00am – Break

    10-11am – School time

    11am – 12:15am – lunch break where I try and get Sierra outside doing stuff for awhile and then go back in and make lunch

    12:15 – 1pm – school time

    1-1:15pm – break

    1:15 – 2Pm – school time

    Then it’s all done for the day.

    It’s taken some work to adjust our schedules (our household generally ate around noon), but these are minor points to adjust to.

    After the first day, we felt comfortable that this wasn’t an utter trainwreck for our household.  Sierra generally had enough interest to listen and do some activities.  On the first couple of days, Vero and I (mostly Vero) were paying close attention via a monitor to understand what is happening and to help her understand what she needs to do.  But here we are at the end of the first week and while I do have the monitor on, it’s mainly to hear if she is calling for help…sometimes she has touched the wrong button on Google Meet and her camera has flipped, or something like that.

    School activities range from singing songs, playing with blocks or play-dough, finding an object on an image on the screen, coming up with stories surrounding an image.  I find the most fun Sierra has are with the activities that has her running around the house.  “Go and get a red object and come back and show the class!”  “Now go get a blue one!”  I was on the way to the bathroom one afternoon and Sierra zoomed by me and I said “Whoa, what’s going on?” and she said “I need to get the toilet paper!” and I thought “Boy, I’m glad I wasn’t sitting down and she came in and stole the toilet paper!”

    I’m sitting here writing this on a Thursday and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a Thursday and everyone feels like the week has dragged on after four days, but I noticed that Sierra completely missed an entire activity and read a magazine instead.  I was furious in my head but then I realized that at the end of the day, this is maternelle, it’s not like she is going to fail out of this program, and if anything, she stayed in front of the iPad and read a magazine in front of her teachers so I just have to remove myself from the situation more and more.  If she was in regular school, I wouldn’t even realized that this stuff happened.

    Vero and I are experiencing something that doesn’t happen all too often…it’s like we are sitting inside the classroom while the teachers teach.  We can’t help to want to give assistance to Sierra in understanding the activity or not to get lost sometimes, but I have to learn to pull myself away and just let Sierra and the teachers figure out how to do this whole virtual learning thing.  I can only imagine how hard it is for the teachers to try and keep an eye on 30 four year olds via a video conference.  It’s wild.

    After the first week, I think Sierra is enjoying class, and she does seem to pay attention to most of the class.  There are a few days where she will come out and show us stuff she is making and we prompt her to return and listen to what the teacher is telling her, but we can’t really complain about this virtual learning experiment.  In our household, it’s going good.

  • Sierra = The next Céline Dion?

    Yesterday I heard Sierra singing an original song she came up with.  The lyrics were something like “The sunnnnn…in the skyyyy!”

    Later on when she was getting dressed for bed she was singing another tune and singing it quite well and I thought “Wow, what does the future have in store for her?  Will I be traipsing her back and forth to Montreal for singing gigs?  Will she be the next Céline Dion?”

    Then she proceeded to sing ‘MACARONIIII, MACARONIII, MACARONIIII!” For twenty minutes and I thought “Yeah, there goes that idea.”

  • Small leak in Kenmore dishwasher

    Vero started noticing some water coming out from under the dishwasher so one day we took a look at what it could be.

    Note for future reference: don’t forget to disconnect the actual electrical cable from the dishwasher!  We were hauling on the dishwasher for a good hour after taking out the screws and realized that it’s a really short electrical cable so it just wasn’t letting go without it being disconnected!  Rookie mistake.

    Once we got it out, we turned it over and took a look around and figured out that the leak was coming from something called a diverter and that research showed that it was probably a seal that had gone bad over time and needed to be replaced.

    What should probably cost in the $5 range to purchase ended up looking like a hundreds of dollars purchase from Kenmore because they didn’t sell you just the seal, they sold you the entire assembly that you would have to re-install.

    We were a little upset at this and so I got onto Ebay and did some digging around and found this listing:

    For $30 I was willing to take the risk.  A few reviews said it worked on their Kenmore dishwasher (which I found out is really manufactured by Whirlpool so if you’re looking for parts, you can add that to your search query.

    The instructions with this seal even told us we didn’t have to take out the dishwasher, we just had to take a screwdriver to the seal from within the dishwasher and then put some lubricant on the new seal and shaft, and bam, it should be good.

    As I type this it doesn’t look like we have any leaks so we’ll let it run for an entire cycle and see what happens!

    For $30 I am a happy camper and for future reference, I don’t even need to disconnect or pull out the dishwasher to replace this seal.

  • Thoughts on live-streaming…months later + Matt Mays Shore Club

    Live-streaming has currently levelled up in my opinion.  Gone are the days of dudes hanging out in their living rooms with subpar cameras and sound equipment…now it has become a really good experience from the comfort of my sofa.

    Case in point, I checked out the Matt Mays livestreams this past weekend which was put on by Sonic Records/Concerts.  For $20 I get a password which gets me access to a webpage to watch the livestream.  This livestream can be delivered in 1080p and I encountered only one minor hiccup in the feed near the end of the second night.  Actually, now that I think of it, I was watching on both my iPad and iPhone and the iPhone feed kept freezing for some reason.  Strange?

    You might think it’s odd that I am watching on two devices.  Well, how about three?  I had one iPad hooked up to the TV via an HDMI adapter.  Then I had another iPad recording the concert.  Then I had my iphone recording the concert as a backup if the iPad didn’t work.

    Both days had the iPad emerge as the victor over the iPhone in terms of recording.  It never dropped it’s connection.  Strange isn’t it?

    Anyhow, back to the livestream.  Great quality, great soundboard feed…live-streaming has become a really great experience for me considering I have no other alternatives at the moment.  The only issue I’m starting to have with livestreams is that there are starting to be too many of them!  I missed a Trews concert going on at the exact same time and this upcoming weekend we have a double header of Pearl Jam and Big Wreck.  So many choices!  But that’s not a bad thing is it?

    Two thumbs up for the livestream future.  I believe this will become a new alternate source of revenue for bands if the amount of people paying to watch offsets the costs of running the livestream.  I can only imagine a film crew is not cheap.

    A note about the Matt Mays concerts at the Shore Club

    I tuned in to both nights of Matt Mays because a) I want to support the band b) I didn’t have anything else going on and c) It’s Matt Mays.  Always a good time, he will deliver.

    But here’s the thing…the set list was pretty much the same except for one song.  This makes sense considering they got the band back together during a pandemic and were only playing four gigs at the Shore Club.

    Now, as a guy who spent money on watching the concerts, I was a little disappointed that the set list didn’t vary.

    But I can’t really fault a band on this…a lot of bands play the same set list night after night.  Look at U2!  It’s the exact same show for 200 dates in a year.

    Watching the same set list over two nights did give me a unique perspective into what I have theorized as the “ebb and flow of a touring band”.

    The ebb and flow of a touring band

    I theorize that most bands go through a cycle (maybe this even occurs in any live entertainment industry like theatre?).

    The first show(s)

    The jitters are there, they’ve been practising for awhile now and it’s showtime!  Issues do arise (hopefully minor!) like hitting a chord at the wrong time or forgetting the odd lyric but for the most part, it goes ok.

    The next show(s)

    This is when the band gets their groove on.  They are familiar with the material and all is good.  They are as we call it, a well-oiled machine.  This can either translate to a second show or if you look at a year long tour, the first third of the tour.

    The grind

    When you’re passed the first third of the tour, that’s when things get a little relaxed.  Maybe the band has grown tired of playing the same songs every night…it’s the same routine and they are getting tired of it.  Mistakes creep in, they laugh it off but it seems just a little bit more sloppy.  I feel this is what I witnessed when I saw the Matt Mays livestream of August 28th.  It was a great show but I felt sometimes they were going through some motions.

    The final night

    Considering I saw Matt Mays play both the 28th and the 29th, I would say that the band was a different beast on the final night.  They were tighter, everything was coming together and they had a force to them.  I think the final night can go both ways though…in the theatre world it’s quite common that the last night of a show is when things get looser…the actors have fun with the show and pull pranks and maybe have a few more drinks than usual.  In the music world, I can only assume that it can go either way…you’re either on fire knowing that this is the last hurrah of the tour and so you give it your all, or it’s the most loosey goosey concert there ever was.  I’ve seen both over time and they are equally great to watch.

    Even though I was watching the same songs as the night before, I was paying a lot more attention to the show on the final night because of the energy being put out on the stage.

    In conclusion, I was not overly disappointed with paying another $20 to see the same songs being played because a) I probably would have been paying $50 to see just one night in real life b) the show was the better of the two so I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

  • Grand-maman

    Vero’s grandmother passed away last Friday.  She was a fun woman which is evident in this photo from a trip to the Dominican Republic.

    My favourite memory of her involves one Christmas party where I decided to ask her for a dirty joke as a Christmas gift the next year.  Some members of the family thought I was crazy to ask but lo and behold, the next year, I got a dirty joke delivered on a piece of paper and we all had a good laugh!  She had a great sense of humour and I knew she would go for it.

    Rest in peace Grand-Maman.

  • Sierra’s 51st Month

    Another beautiful morning at the Castor River

    We have the most amazing outfits in this house for the summer

    Who is helping who?

    On my birthday, there can never be enough sprinkles

    Teaching appropriate hand gestures

    That’s a BIG puddle!

    Sierra and I played a new game.  She think it’s a form of soccer.  I think it’s a form of “Oh, hey, the hallway is the perfect width so I can sit with my back against the wall and just hang out while Sierra tries to get a ball past my 200 pound body.”

    A cold windy morning at the beach

    Strummin’

    Dancin’

    The creature emerges onto the land searching for food

    Taking in the sun

    Hanging out on the hill

    I had a good laugh at this photo.  The kids were playing hide and seek and this is where they chose to hide.  Two feet from where they last were.

    Waiting for the creature from the Black lagoon

    Hanging out with Maman at the beach

    Art time

    Hunting bug time

    Sierra’s first time using the bike pump

    Sierra must have taken this photo while we were reading her a story.  This is a typical view from her bed around 7:30PM in the summer.

    The summer of never ending cake making!

    Wow, that’s an intense face Sierra!

    My uke cheat sheet

    Helping Maman set up the tent

    Big night of Sierra camping out for the first time!  Maman and her started off with some marshmallows.

    Shadow puppets!

    Here they are before settling down for bed.  Vero told me she didn’t get much sleep that night due to someone tossing and turning!

    We heard about Prehistoric World from our friend so we decided we should check it out.  Pro-tip, always have enough facemasks in the car during a pandemic and while you’re at it, carry some cash!  Because we  needed both when entering Prehistoric World near Morrisburg.

    This place ended up being amazing.  It looks like some guy has just made dinosaur statues over the past 40 years and charges admission to his property.  It’s fantastic and a good hour with the kids.

     

    I would hate to see what would happen if Sierra did manage to pull on his tail!

    I believe this one is entitled “Dad, do a scary face!”

    Look who wanted to sleep in the tent again!  I can concur with Maman that it’s quite hard to sleep in a tent with a four year old!  Plus it was quite cold!

    Only professionals can walk a curb without falling off

    Kapuskasing special

    The greatest thing about our summer was not our deck, it wasn’t our swimming pool, it was the tent we set up!  We left up there for the rest of the summer and many adventures were had with both Sierra and Ezra bouncing off the air mattress, reading books, finding bugs.

    Corn time!!!!  I can’t understand how she likes eating it raw.

    This is entirely true.

    It was nice to have some visitors near the end of the summer.  Here is Grandpapa playing with Sierra

    The hoarder in me always kept a lot of scrap wood for projects.  But we had an electrician coming over to do some work for the new hot tub.

    Bam!  A decade of scrap wood was brought to the backyard firepit.

    Picklin’ time!  Last year we waited until mid September and the pickings were slim.  We didn’t fall for that trap again this year.

    I was in the backyard with Grandpapa and heard a jingle down the street.  My eyes lit up and I went running to the street.  Then I ran into the house saying “EVERYONE OUT!  THERE IS AN ICE CREAM TRUCK HERE!!”

    To put this into a little perspective, at 42 years old, this is probably the first time I have ever seen an ice cream truck come by my house.  I think Vero ran a block to catch one when I lived in Orleans, but this was arriving right outside our doorstep.  This was quite the treat for everyone involved!

    Vars must have been quite the customers because this truck came back at least three times in the next few months.

    Rule #1 of a water pistol fight – the other opponent always has to have a water pistol

    The garlic is insane!

    Quite the spicy concoction

    Cheers!

    I think this might have been the last sprinkler session of the summer

    My picklin’ partner

    Getting some corn ready

    I can only assume they were checking to see how the pickling process was going

    Grandmaman made a whole bunch of lasagnas for us to freeze and what was the first thing Sierra wanted the day after she left?  Lasagna!

    This time we remembered to bring some water shoes

    Fetching some apples!  There were tons this year

    Now that some restrictions were loosened, we headed over to the Limoges park one morning.  I quite enjoy that park!

    Sierra wanted me to put on a princess dress

    It was a year late but I finally got it!  When filling out the form to receive my 15 years of service certificate, they asked which name I wanted to have on it.  I had to go through some hoops but I’m quite happy that they printed this name!

     

     

     

     

  • Sierra is quite smart for a four year old

    Context: We’ve been getting her to go to the bathroom by herself, including wiping.

    Sierra: “Dad, come and check!”
    Dad: “Ok, so…if there’s nothing on the toilet paper when I wipe you, that’s a good thing. So…what do you want if there’s nothing on it?” (insert positive reinforcement ploy that rarely works anyhow).
    Sierra: “Uhm…I DON’T want the iPad at quiet time.”
    Dad: “Don’t you mean that you do want the iPad at quiet time?”
    Sierra: “No, I DON’T want it at quiet time if there’s nothing on the toilet paper.”

    I stood there trying to figure this out and then it dawned on me.

    Dad: “Wait, that means that if there is something on the toilet paper (which 99% of the time there is), then that means you get the iPad for quiet time?”
    Sierra: “That’s right!”
    Dad: “Nice try. That’s not how it works.”
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

    He-Man | hobbyDB

    Five minutes ago I had a great discussion with Sierra about He-Man so I wanted to capture it while it was fresh in my mind.

    Yesterday I got word that the new Masters of the Universe Origins toyline had hit Wal-Mart stores in Canada so I was quite excited.  These things look pretty  much like the toys I collected as a kid.

    With that, I figured I should introduce Sierra to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  It’s probably been 35 years since I’ve watched the show.  Would it stand the test of time?

    I would like to thank John and Maureen for having the He-Man episodes available on Plex because they weren’t on Netflix.  They saved the day!

    I fired up the episode for the family and Sierra was skeptical at first because it wasn’t her new favourite show called Fancy Nancy (on Disney Plus), but soon enough, the show hooked her in.

    There are so many incredibly cheesy moments but everything is super interesting to a kid and so after the show her and I went to her bedroom for storytime and instead of a story, we got to have an extended question period about He-Man.

    Here are some questions that came from a four year old’s brain after seeing their first episode of He-Man.  Sidenote: I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen the first episode of He-Man but I have to say that it did a really good job of introducing the good and bad guys.

    Sierra’s questions about the first episode of He-Man

    • Why did He-Man not disappear from the ray?
    • Why was the skeleton man laughing?
    • How did the sword not disappear when the ray hit it?
    • Why did He-Man go into the crack?
    • Who was the floating guy with a wizard’s hat?
    • Why did the kid of the King and Queen hide?  (this prompted a really interesting discussion about secret identities and heroes but I think it went over her head)
    • Why does Prince Adam and He-Man not look the same (didn’t we all have that question?)
    • Why did He-Man hit the guy on the blue flying thing?
    • Why did the lion have He-Man riding on his back?

    I can’t even remember all the questions but they were great questions from a four year old after watching He-Man for the first time.  Honestly, I was contemplating setting up a video camera to capture this moment because I knew they would be great and hilarious and thoughtful questions all at the same time!

    I think I wasted my favourite series of Thundercats on her at 3 years old.  She breezed through them but didn’t have the brain to ask questions about it.  I think she just liked the fast moving pictures.

    I’m really excited for the toys to hit the shelves and maybe her and I can play with them!

  • Ezra’s First Birthday Party!!

    How do you celebrate a first birthday within a pandemic situation?

    With lots of friends!  We drew inspiration from this comic strip from Calvin and Hobbes:

    The day before Sierra and Maman worked hard on a cake

    We started out the morning with the king sitting in his mighty throne

    We hung up some photos of the past year of his life

    Sierra hid a few gifts for him downstairs.  This firetruck was from Sierra.  Back when she had her birthday she was so impressed by the gift that Ezra got her that she said “I want to get him a firetruck for HIS birthday.”  He seemed to enjoy it!

    Here’s how excited he was!

    After the firetruck we decided to take a bike trek around the village

    Happy Birthday song!

    Maman took some nice photos of Ezra on the front lawn

    Birthday smiles

    We asked some friends around the house to come join the party after Ezra’s morning nap.  Yes, that is a Mr. Zucchini head!

    A lovely cake before Fredo and Ezra tore it apart

    Some friends dropped by with some gifts and balloons!

    Sierra is getting pretty good at taking photos

    The birthday boy arrives!

    Always the polite host, he thanks everyone for coming to his party

    Everyone gets a birthday hat!

    Mega balloon

    Snapshot with the parents

    Nabbing Maman’s hat

    Maybe having the ceiling fan on wasn’t a good idea

    Looks like he is enjoying it his first birthday cake!

    Of course Maman will take some cake!!

    Playing with a new gift

    Hanging out on the playset

    Baby Yoda from his great grandmothers.  I should let them know that this is what they purchased for him.

    In no way did that gift enter this house for me to play with.  None whatsoever.

    All in all, if his smile were an indication of how he enjoyed his birthday, it must have been a hit!  Thanks to all who phoned, Facetimed, dropped by and sent gifts.  It was much appreciated.