Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sorry for the Disappearance...

This past week has been what you may call the "week from hell!" I will be gone for a few more days but I have not jumped ship. As The Terminator once said... "I'll be back!"

Friday, February 23, 2007

Simon and Garfunkel

Music class in public school was always a lot of fun. We never learned to play instruments at that young age but instead learned the lyrics of many modern day artists. Looking back, we memorized songs such as Signs by Five Man Electrical Band, Black & White by Three Dog Night and Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog by Credence Clearwater Revival. Now, we learned only one or two songs from each of these artists since these were basically the only good songs that we really liked. There was one exception however… Simon and Garfunkel. If I am not mistaken, we learned almost every song that was on their Greatest Hits Album. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel epitomized what most of us considered to be great artists.

Over thirty years later, I still know the lyrics to every one of their Greatest Hits Album! To this day I still sing along to all of their songs. Some of my favourites are as follows: The 59th Street Bridge Song, Scarborough Fair/Canticle, Bridge over Troubled Water and Bookends just to name a few. The one song which stands out in my mind more than any other song is Sounds of Silence. The lyrics, the philosophy behind the lyrics as well as the music is enough to have me close my eyes, shut everything else out and concentrate on each and every syllable to the song.

Simon and Garfunkel are an American popular music duo comprising Paul Simon and Arthur "Art" Garfunkel. They met in grade school in 1953, formed the group Tom and Jerry in 1957, and had their first taste of success with the minor hit "Hey Schoolgirl." As Simon and Garfunkel, the duo rose to fame in 1965 backed by the hit single "The Sound of Silence." Simon and Garfunkel were among the most popular recording artists of the 1960s. They have received several Grammy’s and are inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked them #40 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

They have reunited on several occasions since their 1970 break-up, most famously for 1981's The Concert in Central Park, which attracted 500,000 people. I am sure that you are not surprised but I have The Concert in Central Park laserdisc which is one of my prized possessions. I also have the LP.

I would not be surprised if I was still singing along to their lyrics throughout the rest of my life and long after many will have forgotten them.
Simon & Garfunkel… my all time favourite artists!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

My iMac Computer Is Now Operational!

Well, I have actually fixed my iMac G4! On January 29th, I submitted a post talking about that G4 I was given. The only problem was that it did not work. Now being a PC user for all of my computer life, I had absolutely no experience working on iMac computers. In my January 29th posting titled My New/Used iMac G4 , I announced to the blogging world that I intended to fix my broken down G4 by the end of February. On February 10th, I reported the following in my post entitled My Computer Graveyard

“I just recently acquired one of these. It does not work and so I have to fix it. I set a goal of getting it fixed by the end of February... It does not look like I am going to meet that goal. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing!”

By this point, I had essentially given up trying to fix it. I tried replacing the hard drive, I bought an original apple keyboard, and I even replaced the cables. Nothing I did got the computer up and running! Shortly after, I moved the G4 off to another table and soon gave it little or no thought.

…Until, I thought about experimenting. I noticed that the G4s used PC100 RAM (Random Access Memory) just like PCs did. Having a few extra sticks of the stuff, I replaced the RAM and guess what? It worked! Since then, I have installed the Operating System as well as other key pieces of software.

I now have a workable iMac computer!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Don't Quit

There have been times in my life when I have felt like quitting. It is times like these that I read this poem and continue to push on. I hope that each of you that read this poem will continue on and live your life to the fullest.

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow
You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Daughter Has a New Boyfriend!

My daughter has a new boyfriend! Now that is not to say that he is her first because it is not... It is just that he is probably the first that I kind of like. Now that "kind of" is not to mean that I kind of not like him either, it is just that I have yet to decide either way. The jury is still out.

When comparing him to her past boyfriends, I must admit that he is certainly one of the more intelligent ones. My past experience with her past "suitors" have not been very encouraging. One by the name of J.D. had the personality of a sponge. Everything you said to him just got absorbed as he never ever responded to anything I said other than "yes" or "no." I never saw him laugh or even smile. Another one of her boyfriends, whose name I can not remember, is someone I don't even want to remember. Am I ever glad she dumped him! Another one of her boyfriends had definite anger problems and it wasn't too long that they parted ways... Thank you Lord!

Along comes Brad.... Brad is 22 years old. Though he is not at the same college as my daughter, he is in the same type of program. They both plan on becoming film producers. The one thing that impresses me about Brad is that he can not only carry on a conversation, but he can also carry an intelligent one! Now, dealing with youth and young adults on a regular basis, I consider the ability to converse intelligently with them something of a phenomenon! Also, Brad appears to be mature.

So, I met Brad for the first time today. He is spending a couple of days with us and hopefully I will behave and not scare the poor guy away!

Time will tell!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ice Storm in Norway

Someone recently emailed me these photographs of an ice storm in Norway. I think myself lucky with the little ice storm we received this winter.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Japan Airlines

Okay… Okay… I just couldn’t resist! In Light of Lone Grey Squirrel’s Post regarding Singapore Airlines, (Singapore Girl in Blue) I just had to submit one of my favourite regarding Japan Air Lines… I was going to post this next week but I thought “What the heck… I might as well add it to LGS’s!”

I am not going to go into too much detail suffice it to say that … well…. Anyways, you should get the point if you have read LGS’s post and comments on Saturday, February 17, 2007. If you have not read it, you might want to read it first.

The topic, of course is, Using Females to Sell Products. So… what do you think? Do you think it probably worked back in the sixties when this showed up in a National Geographic Magazine?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Vintage Laserdiscs

Also called a video disc, the laserdisc is a disc with pictures and sounds recorded onto it. It is read by laser and then transmitted to the TV screen. The material recorded onto the video disc is stamped on to the disc in a similar way that DVDs are produced. As with the early DVDs, the home user could not record onto a Laserdisc.

In the late 1970s, Philips and Sony brought video discs, later called laserdiscs, on to the market. It recorded images and sounds as tiny pits on the surface of the disc. Pioneer made use of the format as a form of karaoke entertainment which made the format popular in commercial circles of Asia. Laserdiscs were never really widely accepted as the discs could not be used to record and viewers were restricted to pre-recorded films. In addition, the hardware was expensive and therefore only the very serious video buffs were able to purchase the home laserdisc format. The average vdeo user was very happy with videotape due to its recording capabilities.

So, now that you know a little about the history of the laserdisc, what do they actually look like? Well, put it this way… DVD’s and laserdiscs look exactly alike except for a few differences. The diameter of a DVD is 12cm while the diameter of a laserdisc is 30cm which is about the same size of your old vinyl LPs. A movie can fit onto one side of a DVD while a movie fits on two sides of a Laserdisc. A DVD is recorded digitally while a laserdisc is recorded analogically. A DVD movie costs in the area of $25 where, when laserdiscs were selling movies, they cost $250! These are some of the main differences.

Needless to say, laserdiscs did not fly and were soon replaced with higher quality VHS tapes as well as the DVD. As a result, laserdiscs, though excellent in video quality, were erased into oblivion.

About four years ago, while out yard sale shopping, I purchased 100 laserdisc movies for a mere $50. I figured that I would resell them to laserdisc buffs over eBay but then decided to buy a laserdisc player and keep the movies. Since then, I have included many other movies to my collection for pennies compared to what they used to sell for. I could simply buy DVDs whose format is certainly better than laserdisc but, you know the way I am… I just love vintage! Most of the laserdiscs I buy are from the States and the laserdisc player I bought was from thousands of miles away in Western Canada. It is impossible to purchase new movies or players and so, it becomes an exercise in thinking outside the box to find exactly what you want for your collection.

Yesterday, I received a Laserdisc boxed set of Start Trek the Animated Series from Maryland, U.S.A. For over a year I had been looking for this boxed set and was pretty happy when it finally arrived. I have never seen any of these episodes before and am looking forward to checking a few of them out over this weekend. I could have bought a DVD boxed set of this series instead but it wasn’t the TV series that I bought it for as much as it was the format and scarcity of it.

Over the past few years, I have bought movies from all genres of interest including some of my favourites as well as ones that I had never even heard of. I am also considering buying a second laserdisc player since, if the one I have breaks years down the road, I might not be able to purchase another one. Have any of you seen an eight track player recently? If not, then you would know what I mean.

So… you know all about my vintage toys, my vintage windows, my vintage computers, my vintage family members and now my vintage laserdiscs. As time goes on, I will post about other vintage stuff that I have interest in. I would tell you about my vintage bottle of wine but that is not possible since I have to keep that story "sealed in the bottle" as it will only get better with age!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Our Day From... You Know Where!

Have you ever had a day when EVERYTHING went wrong? Well, for a friend of mine, today was that day. As every morning, she headed to the gym to work out for an hour or so. I am so very impressed at her dedication... if only I could do that! Well, back to the story... On the way home, she realized that she had a flat tire. It seems that somebody decided that a car tire was the perfect place to deposit a screwdriver for safe keeping...Nice! She had to get the vehicle towed to the repair centre and so she called for a tow truck.

Upon hearing about her misfortune, I headed out the door to give her a ride to pick up her vehicle. By the time I got her to her destination, I headed off to work where my day started of on the wrong foot as well. Within the first five minutes, I had been called a few choice names by one of my students. Within the next hour I got into a bit of a disagreement with one of the staff at the facility. Later on in the day, I forgot to make an important phone call and by the end of the day, I was frustrated as heck. After work, I went for a massage, hooked up with a friend for a coffee, went to the grocery store and then headed home for supper.

At home, I ran into a few problems which I won't bother you with but suffice it to say that my time and therefore plans for an interesting blog went down the drain. So, it is with much regret, I thought I was unable to fulfill my desire to come up with something of any interest ... until I remembered what I found on YouTube the other day and so, without further ado, let me present another We Are the Champions video by Queen and starring Crazy Frog!

Hope your Friday goes better than my Thursday! Take care!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Definition of "Scrambled"

Bcak in Oeocbtr, I sutimbted a psot teiltd “Go Frugie!” If you had raed taht psot, you wulod hvae dseociervd taht you cloud qitue esaliy raed my psot dpsteie the fcat taht ervey ltteer bteeewn the fsrit and lsat ltteer of ecah wrod wree srlmbecad.

Wlel, snice I had scuh a good tmie in cnairetg taht paairucltr psot, I dedecid to simubt a sailimr psot aagin. Anywyas, I hvae been snititg hree for awhlie now tyirng to fuigre out waht to wtrie abuot but I hvae cmoe up sorht. I am triyng to tnihk of a tiopc taht has soithemng to do wtih the wrod “scamblre” sncie it wuold olny mkae ssnee becsuae why esle wluod I salcbmre the lettres tohgurouht the psot? I tguohht aobut wtinirg auobt how dgrus colud slcbarme yuor brian but tehn I tghuhot taht msot of you sulohd aealdry konw taht by now and it wloud be ptlsineos to wirte aubot a tpioc taht did not alppy to the reehsairdp. I tehn freguid taht I wulod witre aobut the ipctamorne of wnraeig a bkie hlemet so you wuldon’t srlcmbae yuor brian wehn you flel off yuor bkie but tehn I firuged taht scine you are an adlut and hvae yet to be in the hiabt of wrianeg one, no mttaer waht I sgugset, you wolud not waer one anyayws.

So, froegt abuot setfay iuesss… Let’s mvoe on to cioonkg. I colud taceh you how to proreply smraclbe an egg or eevn mkae scbmraled eggs for taht maettr but I am the last psoren who sohuld be theicang you taht sicne I don’t hvae and neevr wlil konw the prpeor mohted to scrlbame an egg eevn if I ndeeed it to svae my lfie.

So… Waht can I witre auobt taht has to do wtih the wrod “samclbre?” I tehn wnet itno Ggoloe and leookd for dtiinneiofs of the wrod “sacrlmbe”… Hree are a few.

“To sitr vliorougsy” – Now tihs is the fisrt dneitoiifn I raed and I thnik it safe to ausmse taht we arelday coeervd tihs otipon and chsoe not to use it. The nxet defniitoin was “To mvoe hdeurliry.” Now tihs one oepned a wlohe new laod of piiosbesiitls!

I sudednly cmae up with sapeking to you aobut how to prlrpoey smbcrlae if you wree brnkaieg and eirnteng a srtoe and the aralm wnet off but tehn I wolud be iiymlpng taht you wloud csiodner scuh a paitrcse. In dnoig so, I wluod be oinndeffg all of you. I mhigt be albe to wirte to you abuot smcabirlng atefr a scecor blal but why wloud you be irneetsetd in taht?

Oaky, myabe I suohld slipmy tlak to you aoubt the mian diitonfien of the wrod sarlmcbe scnie I hvae alradey oaevestryd my tmie on tihs psot tadoy.

To mkae uiglnleinitlbe – ie “slrmcabe the mgesase so taht noodby can utnersndad it”

Oaky, isn’t taht waht I hvae dnoe? Semrlbacd tihs maegsse? Oaky… But aiordnccg to the dcortiniay, it ieimlps taht by sircmabnlg tihs megssae, ndoboy can untdrnsaed it…. Hmmmm. Smthnioeg wnorg hree!

I tinhk taht I wlil gvie up wlhie I am aehad!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day!

I thought, in light of it being Valentine's Day, I would tell you all about the origins of Valentine's Day but then I gave it a second thought and decided against it. Suffice it to say that Valentine's Day is a day where you celebrate your love for your partner ... I tell you what... If you want to know all about this "special day" I am sure that Google will set you in the right direction!

Instead of boring you with a lot of history, I have selected a few "love related" pieces of media that you might enjoy.

My Favorite Cartoon About Love

My Favorite Love Song

My Favorite Love Scene (from the movie GHOST)

My Friend Peg's Favorite Romantic Sculpture

My Friend Peg's Favorite Romantic Movie (Mine as well actually!)

Bridges of Madison County

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One Hundred Things About Me!

Today I submit my 100th post!

I started this blog back on October 17th, 2006. This is the first time I have blogged and, at first, I was a little apprehensive about blogging. Initially it went slow but, as I continued to plug away at presenting my thoughts that have been in my head for many a year, I became more and more comfortable with sharing them. In celebration of my 100th “blogday,” I have decided to post a list of 100 things about me. Hopefully, you will gain a better understanding about “this guy who writes all these things that are in his head!” Thanks for all the comments you have shared with me… I appreciate each and every one of them as I read them in their entirety on a daily basis. Thank you!

One Hundred Things About Me!

Pizza gives me indigestion
My favorite video game series is Donkey Kong
3D video games make me feel sick
I act like someone twenty years younger
I always go to bed very late
I am 5’7”
I am a teacher
I am over 45 years old
I can't sketch to save my life
I collect vintage toys
I dance when I am home alone
I dislike climbing ladders
I don’t look my age
I drink very little alcohol
I enjoy camping
I enjoy playing practical jokes
I enjoy playing trivia board games
I enjoy reading about Celtic history
I enjoy researching family history
I enjoy science fiction movies
I hate cats
I hate coconut
I hate eating sweet potatoes
I hate washing dishes
I have a computer repair business
I have a friend I can trust with my deepest secrets
I have a large laserdisc collection
I have few friends but the ones I have are close to me
I have had 4 dogs in my life
I have lived in three different countries
I have never broken a bone in my body
I have one bad knee
I have one sister
I have two beautiful children
I have watched every Star Trek Original Series episode
I have watched every Star Trek Voyager episode
I have watched every Start Trek The Next Generation episode
I have worked with youth for 25 years
I have yet to see even one Star Trek Animated Series episode
I live in Canada
I love eating chicken curry
I love eating Marmite
I love flying
I love sleeping
I love photography
I love reading fiction after not reading it for over twenty years
I love to blog
I love to run
I love watching fireworks
I mountain bike
I once had an accident with a transport truck while I was driving my van
I once taught calculus to a deaf-blind teenager
I rarely speak while driving
I spent an entire summer working in a walk in freezer full of fur coats
I swim like a rock
I used to buy and sell sports cards
I used to play basketball
I used to play ice hockey
I was born in England
I weigh 149lbs
I would only wear jeans if given the chance
I would sit by a campfire every night if I could
My favorite colour is black (I know…black is not really a colour!)
My favorite video game is Super Mario World
I was 7 years old when I first took a puff off a cigarrette.
I have only had a cigarette to my lips once in my life.
I trust no one … well almost no one.
I love hot tubs
I have travelled more in the United States than I have in my country of Canada
I love rollercoaster rides
I hate spinning rides
In grade two I used to skip off school and go ride the city busses
I enjoy driving
I once dropped 25 bags of cement off the back of a truck onto a busy street. Most of them exploded.
I once dropped a ping pong table off the back of a truck. I never noticed it until another driver told me two blocks down the road.
I once dropped a full load of lumber off the back of a truck onto a busy street
I once dropped a truckload of bed mattresses off the back of a truck onto a busy street
I never got fired from my university truck driving job.. Should have!
I absolutely love Northern Ontario in the winter time
I am a lousy dancer when others are present
I am a better dancer when I am alone
I love creative writing
I don't act my age
I love travelling on trains
My initial plans in life was to become a fighter pilot
I love to tease people
I have never been drunk
I have curley hair when it is longer
I am the vice-president of my highschool alumni association
I have lousy handwriting
Nobody is able to read my signature
I love to discover the undiscovered
I love drinking B52 coffees
I can take any appliance apart and reassemble it without any extra parts being left over.
I have never owned a power-saw
I once spent over 6 hours taking my van's dashboard apart only to later realize that I could have fixed the problem in 5 minutes had I known better.
I have taught in the same classroom for over 15 years
I once found $600 and lost it 5 minutes later
I procrastinate
Cooking in peanut oil makes me very sick

Monday, February 12, 2007

We Didn't Start the Fire (Part 2)

History can be defined as the “aggregate of past events” or the “continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future.” A simpler definition could be that “History is a record of the past.” This past could be a millennium ago, a century ago, a decade ago or even a year ago… As a matter of fact it could even be a minute ago.

I believe that our knowledge of our past helps us move forward in our future in a more circumspectual manner. We learn from our past and we make decisions based on what has previously occurred. We have often heard that without our knowledge of the past, we run the possibility of making unwise decisions. Knowledge of our past partially defines the way we are today.

“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I firmly believe in the importance of being aware of the events that have defined our society. We don’t have to be historians to learn from our past or to even understand it for that matter… We simply need to be aware of what has been occurring around us.

Singer Billy Joel chronicled 120 well-known events, peoples, things, and places widely noted between1949 and 1989. Though many of these events are American related, many of them are international in nature. When I read the lyrics, I discovered that many of these names and events that occurred during my lifetime were virtually unknown to me. I therefore decided that I would put some time into researching what has occurred during my lifetime… Without a shadow of a doubt, I learned more today about civilization than I have in many a year.

If you are interested in events that have occurred since 1949, click on any of his lyrics below and read more about our history. I have no doubt that you will walk away with a deeper appreciation of what has been going on in the world over those past 40 years. If you would like to continue hear the song while researching, be sure to hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on the links...This way the link will open up in a new window as the music continues.


We Didn't Start The Fire by Billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I", and "The Catcher in the Rye"

Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Josef Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu and "Rock Around the Clock"

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, "Peter Pan", Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez


Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, "Ben-Hur", space monkey, Mafia
hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo


Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs Invasion

"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say


Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon, back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollolah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

"Wheel of Fortune" , Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller Cola Wars, I can't take it anymore


We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

We Didn't Start the Fire (Part 1)

"We Didn't Start the Fire" is a song by Billy Joel that chronicles 120 well-known events, people, things, and places widely noted during his lifetime, from March 1949 to 1989, when the song was released on his album Storm Front. Joel explained that he wrote this song due to his interest in history; he commented that he would have wanted to be a history teacher had he not become a rock and roll singer.

The lyrics of "We Didn't Start the Fire" are essentially a chronological list of specific events, names, and places, beginning in Joel's year of birth. An exception is that of 1976 and 1977, whose years and events are swapped chronologically in the song.


In today’s post, I have submitted Billy Joel’s Lyrics to this song as well as the music video. If you are not familiar with the song, I would suggest that you watch the video and read the lyrics at the same time. You might want to print off the lyrics first. Today, I just want you to become familiar with the lyrics and the video. Tomorrow, I will submit the second part of this post where we will discuss the importance of this song as a tool for self learning as well as teaching others about history.

Have a great day! See you Monday!

We Didn’t Start The Fire
Storm Front Released: 1989

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye

Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen
Maciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dancron
Dien Bien Phu Falls, Rock Around the Clock

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, Bridge On The River Kwai

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkwether, Homicide, Children of Thalidomide
Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, Space Monkey, Mafia
Hula Hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichman, Stranger in a Strange Land
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Computer Graveyard

For those who have been reading my blogs over time would be aware of my interest in graveyards. To me, a graveyard is a place where one can learn something about the past. Now most of the graveyards I have been to are graveyards where we bury our loved ones once they have passed on.

There are many types of graveyards. Author Stephen King once wrote about a pet cemetery where people bury their deceased pets. In my house, I have a different type of graveyard… a computer graveyard.

Over the past years, I have run a small “on the side” computer repair business. One habit of mine was that I never threw any old computer parts out just in case I needed them. As a result, I have acquired all types of obsolete computer parts as well as a number of obsolete computers. Every once in awhile I reminisce as I look at the old dinosaurs and when I do, old memories flood back to my mind. Below, are a few examples of some of the computers and the memories they invoke…

Apple II

I had never seen a personal computer until my very last day at University in 1983. As I was clearing out residence, a summer school student was setting up his new Apple II computer as he prepared for the summer semester. University was a good memory for me.

Commodore PET

Shortly after University, I took a computer programming course. This was my first experience with working on personal computers. I don't remember much about computer language other than it was called BASIC. The only two commands I remember are PEEK and POKE. One was for colour and the other for sound. Which one was sound and which one was colour is now a mystery for me!

Commodore VIC 20

Now there was a good computer! It was the first computer that got to play computer games on. Games such as Astro and a couple of other games whose names I forget. It was then that I ended up with tendonitus in my fingers... my first experience with a computer related injury.

Commodore 64

The first computer that I ever had in one of my classrooms. It was my first experience in word processing. It also had a great war game installed. I can't remember the name but I got to sink ships. Nope... wasn't battleship! This was my first experience in computer game addiction.

Apple IIe

While working for the Boys & Girls Club, I ran the computer lab. This was my first experience working with Apple computers. The only software I remember was Appleworks. I didn't spend too much time on these computers as the club members were always on them.

Atari 800

One day I came across an Atari 800 in its original box on top of my neighbour's garbage can. I snapped it up and brought it home. I have never tried to run it and yet I refuse to junk it. One day, I shall give it a go and get it going. I have taken it apart and looked inside it but that's about it. This was my first experience taking a computer apart.


I was responsible for purchasing 10 of these computers for the Boys & Girls Club. This is where I received my experience in setting up computers. Since then, I have owned an unknown number of PCs. I have also used my experience on PCs to finance a number of family projects as well as pay many bills. I have installed Windows 3.0, 3.1, .311 for Networks, Windows 95, 98, 98SE and ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP Home and Professional and Linux Mandrake and Red Hat. I have no idea how many times I have installed these operating systems. Each and every time I have worked on a computer, I have learned something new.

iMac G4

I just recently acquired one of these. It does not work and so I have to fix it. I set a goal of getting it fixed by the end of February... It doesn't look like I am going to meet that goal. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing!

So... Do any of these computers bring back any of your memories? It is amazing how objects such as these can invoke our memories!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Changi Prisoner of War Camp

At 8.30 p.m. on Sunday 15th February 1942, the British Army suffered its single greatest ever defeat when Lieutenant General A.E. Percival surrendered Singapore Island to the invading Japanese forces under General Tomoyuki Yamashita. The cost to the British was enormous, with total casualties numbering 138,708 of whom over 130,000 were taken prison of war. 40,000 of these prisoners were taken to Changi, a notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp, where they suffered out the rest of the war until September 1945 when Japan surrendered.

It is said that the conditions at Changi were harsh and deplorable. The Japanese justified these conditions by saying that since the prisoners of war had surrendered they therefore should be treated as such for dishonouring their country by surrendering. I could go into the history of the events surrounding this part of the war but suffice it to say, that the defeat at Singapore was considered one of the greatest defeats in the history of the British Army and probably Britain’s worst defeat in World War Two.

During this period of time, thousands of the men were slaughtered, thousands died of disease and thousands died building infrastructures such as the Burma-Thailand railway and the bridge over the river Kwai.

My grandfather spent three and a half years at Changi. My mother was just a little girl when he went off to war to serve “Queen and County.” When he returned to his family, he was just a fraction of the size that he was when he left. My mother often said that he was never the same upon his return. I think it safe to say that nobody who is seen battle or a POW camp can ever possibly be the same. During those years when he was a prisoner, they never knew whether he was dead or alive and it wasn’t until the war was over and they received official notification that he had survived, that they could breathe with relief.

One of my mother’s memories was going with her mother to be present for the arrival of her father after the war. At one point, they could not find him and, as fear cropped up into their hearts, they received word that his ship had arrived at another pier. With great relief, they rushed over to the correct pier. While trying to track him down, they walked right by him due to the fact that he was gaunt and malnourished. It wasn’t until he reached out and grabbed a hold of my grandmother, did they realize that he was most definitely alive. The first thing that my mother did was to blurt out how skinny her father had become. My grandmother’s response was to elbow her on her arm and tell her to be quiet!

Norman Hector Vaas, my grandfather returned home and lived for another ten or so years until he died in 1955 when my mother was 24.

I had often heard of the stories of how my Grandfather, who I never had the honour of meeting, survived the war. When I was younger, my mother gave me his duffle bag that he used to carry whatever belongings he had from Changi. I still have it. He was an avid reader and writer. Throughout his stay at Changi, he managed to keep a diary of his experiences there… I so wish that diary was still in existence for I would have loved to read of his experiences.

I never had the opportunity to meet most of the relatives on my mother’s side and even less on my father’s side but the stories I have heard about them, I shall never forget… I only wish that, whilst a teenager, I had been more attentive to those stories. Had I know how much they would mean to me when I got older, I would have asked a lot more questions.

Suffice it to say, I am proud of my grandfather’s bravery to fight for what he believed in and the courage he had to survive.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fake Photos??? Naw!!!

So, most of you thought that that guy was photoshopped in huh? Hmmmm… Well, I hate to tell you that this is not the case! As a matter of fact, as far as I can tell, this guy actually DID jump across… and you thought that I would post fake photos! Sheesh! You have no faith in me even though I did string some of you along with my 3 part story of my “experience in the restaurant” back in mid December (The Unexpected Visitor). I don't think that I will ever get LGS's trust back after that one!

It turns out that this series of photographs are well known on the Internet. On one particular site, an additional photograph from a different angle is provided of the pinnacle of rocks in question. To get a clearer view, click on the photo. As you will see, the jump that was made by the foolhardy photographer was not as dangerous it is appeared to be from yesterday’s blog. Judging from the scale of the person lying down on the rock, I think it is safe to assume that the drop would be about 10 feet or so and not the 900 metres as assumed. Either way, however, the jumper photographer is certainly not the sharpest pencil in the drawer to be carrying out this sort of activity.

During my research, I also came across a couple of other photographs of others jumping across so it seems that this might be a regular occurrence.

So…Blogger friends who thought I was misleading them …. Hmmmm … That’s alright! I suppose I had it coming! LOL

Now for you, who are interested, check out the following photograph that made it into news stories before it was proven to be a fake. Click on the photo to see how it was done.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Getting that Perfect Photograph

I received this email in my inbox the other day. It contained four photographs of a particular adventurous photographer. Well, I don’t think I would actually label him adventurous… maybe something else! I would say much more, suffice it to say, you all have your own opinions about this guy! Click on each photograph for better detail.

Now here is this guy taking a photograph. The first thing that comes to my mind is that he has one awesome view! What we would give for a view such as his! It wasn’t until the next frame did it occur to me as to how he may have arrived on that pinnacle.

The guys gonna jump! Yah… that’s right… He’s gonna jump! Man alive! I love photography but I also love my life… and a heck of a lot better!

The guy jumped! He is in mid friggen air! My heart sinks just thinking of it. What is with this guy?? What the heck was he thinking?

He makes it! He barley makes it! Oh man!!! That guy is nuts!

Now, upon closer inspection, we have take a look at what else the photos show us…

First of all, he is wearing flip flops…. Yes, flip flops!!! … Like… couldn’t he have worn hiking boots or something? Next, he has a tripod and camera in one hand while he is jumping. Maybe a back pack would have been more prudent. Thirdly, when he finally makes it, he is barely hanging on with one hand… I wonder what he would have done if he lost his grip… let go of the camera and tripod? Or just plain fell to protect his equipment? My next big question would be… “What was wrong with the rock behind him? Didn’t have a good enough view from there?

What people will do for that "Perfect Photograph?" Becky... Marie... What do you think?? How far would you be willing to go?

Photos by Hans van de Vorst

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

If I were to describe myself, I would say that I am a free spirit. Though I have never taken the opportunity, I would travel the world and put down no roots. A while ago I read someone’s blog regarding a friend of theirs who would, once a year, sell all their belongings and travel to distant places until they ran out of money. They then would return home to work for awhile only to again sell of all their belongings and disappear to yet another distant land. Now, I am not proposing that I should do just that but I would definitely love to spend more time uprooted than rooted. I suppose that the one thing that would keep me semi-rooted is my children. Now, considering the readily available communication that we have today, I suppose that no matter where I am, I can always be in contact with them at a moment’s notice.

I had never taken real notice of a magazine advertisement before until I came across this one. The words are as follows…

Backpacked across Europe.

Visited town where grandfather grew up.

Discovered grandfather still owes some guy a lot of money.

Would you do it again? Yes or No

Upon reading this ad, I immediately cut it out of the magazine, framed it and mounted it upon my wall. I have since used it for inspiration when I feel that I am starting to get bogged down.

Sometimes in life we feel as if we are walking through a farmer’s field knee deep in mud… Every step is laborious; every breath is hard. It seems like we are putting so much effort into something and getting nowhere… tied down and claustrophobic. It is when I feel like this that I look up at this ad and remind myself that one day this will be me.

Today is not that day.

At this present time, I have many responsibilities that keep me rooted… not that I am complaining about that though. As a father, I have children to raise up through high school and into college. As a son, I have responsibilities to my aging parents. As a teacher, I have responsibilities to my career. As an individual, I have responsibilities to the betterment of myself.

I do know, however, that one day, my ship will come in and the opportunity will arise where I will be able to set myself free to explore the world as I have so often dreamed of.

One day … That day will come!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Oak Windows

The W. Ross Macdonald School, originally called the Ontario School for the Blind was founded in 1872. This school provides instruction from kindergarten to secondary school graduation for blind and deaf-blind students.

I have been through The W. Ross Macdonald School on a number of occasions. The first thing that caught my attention was the amount of solid oak used throughout the school. The craftsmanship was astounding! Upon walking through two sets of large oak doors and up the oak stairway, you would enter a long oak trimmed hallway where oak doors with solid brass knobs would stand ready to usher you into various rooms. Upon entering these rooms, you couldn’t help but marvel at how oak flowed throughout. The rooms were bright and warm as the bright sunlight flowed through the large oak windows with solid brass handles.

You may notice the overusage of the adjective “oak” but that was for a reason. I had never before seen such a beautiful oak and brass filled building! Now in 1984, this building was 112 years old. Nowadays, you would never see building built in this fashion. New is not always better. Back then, buildings were built with pride…They were built to last. Unfortunately, with the focus of saving energy and its related costs today, modifications had to be made. The solid oak windows had to go.

In 1984, workman went into the building, ripped out the windows and replaced them with new energy saving vinyl ones. In order to save time, once the old ones were ripped out, they were merely tossed out the “window hole” and onto the grounds below. There were three floors in this building and so you could imagine the mess that was made by shattered glass and splintered wood. What a waste! These windows lasted over one hundred years only to be tossed out with the garbage. The good news however, was that not all the windows were smashed upon impact; a number of them survived.

One evening, upon hearing the news about the windows, I ventured onto the school grounds to see what the talk was all about. I was dismayed at what I saw. I was hoping for the opportunity to be able to retrieve a couple of windows in order to restore them back to their original beauty to be used as living room mirrors but unfortunately, it appeared that I was out of luck. As I wandered near the broken windows, I came across a large walk-in dumpster about six feet wide, ten feet deep and six feet high. I stuck my head into it to see what was in there. It was a dumpster full of shattered glass and wood. I ventured into it in hopes to find some retrievable oak. I was a little nervous at this adventure that was upon me since, had I fallen; I would have been sliced or stabbed by the shards of glass. Each and every step I took shattered glass which, in turn, spewed away in all directions. I regretted not wearing gloves and, on a number of occasions, considered a safe retreat. Every time I considered wisdom, I thought of how I would regret it in the long run as I would look on my bare living room wall. I forged ahead. I succeeded in carrying out my task at hand in looking for whole windows and the gingerly retreated from the "Dumpster of Terror." All in all, I was able to retrieve five complete windows.

Since then, I have only restored one of the windows. I have two more to work on as I gave two of them away to a buddy of mine. This restoration hangs from my living room wall. I often look at it and say to myself … “I gotta restore another one of these ...Maybe one day!” and then I walk away.

I suppose that the reason why I love this window so much is that it is a part of the history of a beautiful building and that I had the opportunity to give it new life, so to speak. These windows gave joy to many of the children who resided in that building. Over the 112 years, how many deaf-blind children, unable to see God’s beauty through their eyes, were able to feel the sun’s rays upon their faces as they stood by these windows? The windows gave joy to the children and now they give joy to me!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I Was Once a Boy Scout

Scouting is a movement which encourages the development of young people physically, mentally and spiritually so that they may become positive and respectful members of society. The origins of the scouting movement reaches back to 1907 when Lord Baden-Powell, Lieutenant General in the British Army, organized the first Scouting encampment in England. Since then, scouting has spread throughout the world. Today there are over 38 million members reaching into 216 countries.

A close friend of mine, who is a descendant of Lord Baden Powell, is very proud of what her ancestor has done for children around the world. As a matter of fact, it can be safe to assume that his scouting movement has created many positive experiences and lasting memories for hundreds of millions of children in each of the countries where scouting movements are active.

I was a boy scout for a number of years. Throughout those years, I learned many skills, visited many places, formed many great memories and made many new friends. My best experiences as a boy scout were when we went camping. After each of the camps that we attended, we were awarded a scouting badge (sometimes called patches) of that particular campout. Over the years, I collected many of them and I still have them. I will always have them as they are an integral part of my youthful experiences. When I think back, I often laugh at some of the fun we had. If I was to live my childhood over again, I would never change a single thing that had to do with camping as a boy scout. These memories will stay with me forever!

One of these memories had to do with when we went camping in the middle of January. Now, if you have experience with Canadian winters prior to Global Warming, you would know how frigid it was in the middle of January and how insane it probably was to go camping in a tent out in the middle of nowhere. I remember one time when, because of a recent snowstorm, the leaders were unable to drive the vehicles close to the campsite and so we had to hike in like a bunch of pack mules loaded down to the hilt. When we got to our destination and after shovelling off a clearing, we pitched tents, built a number of campfires and proceeded to enjoy a hot meal. Later on in the evening, as the temperature dropped, we huddled around the fire. Now, because of the not-so-good winterized rubber boots of mine, my feet were freezing. Hoping to alleviate this situation, I straddled the campfire. After awhile, I couldn’t help notice that my boots were melting with the intense heat of the fire. Fortunately, I was able to remove myself to a safe distance before they completely melted onto my feet! I had to spend the entire two days with damaged boots. Upon returning home, my father was most certainly not impressed with how I destroyed my boots.

Now, I am sure that I had a great time regardless of almost cooking my boots and, if given the chance, I would winter camp all over again… not today, mind you… I am way too old sensible for that nowadays!

“Akala, Akala… we’ll do our best!”

Saturday, February 03, 2007

We Are The Champions!

In the world of Rock n’ Roll we have the King (Elvis), we have a Prince (Prince) and we have a Queen (Freddie Mercury). I am not sure as to whether or not we have a princess but I am sure that, if given the time, I would probably find one!

Now I am not a fan of Elvis though I have to admit that I do love his song “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” I care little for Prince but I don’t mind his song “Little Red Corvette.” I do, however, love the music of the English rock band Queen.

British-Indian rock musician Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) and lead singer of Queen is best remembered for his powerful vocal abilities and charisma as a live performer. As a songwriter, he composed many international hits, including "Killer Queen", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Somebody to Love", "We Are the Champions", "Bicycle Race", "Don't Stop Me Now", and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". Mercury died of complications from AIDS, greatly increasing public awareness of the disease.

Queen was formed in 1970 in London by Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Freddie Mercury from the remains of the band Smile, with John Deacon completing the line up the following year. Britain's most successful band of the past three decades became popular during the mid-to-late 1970s and still retains an extremely large international fan base.

Now I am not sure if many of you enjoy their music but I think it safe to say that Queen has been, is and will be for a very long time, a formidable rock n’ roll group known throughout the world. Though many of the songs from various artists that I listened to throughout my “growing years” have been long forgotten, Queen has managed to stay stuck in my mind. It is safe to say that there are more Queen songs on my Ipod than that of any other group. Many of their songs have made it into movies and commercials which attest to the popularity of this group. Below, I have included a couple of videos from Queen as well as one particular commercial. The first video is about seven minutes but if you enjoy Queen, I think it is worth the watch. If you haven't seen the second video before, I suggest that you watch it to the very end otherwise you will miss a good laugh... At least I thought it was funny! Enjoy!


Friday, February 02, 2007

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

When I think of incorrect predictions, the one above is always the first that comes to my mind. It simply amazes me that people can make statements without the foresight to at least consider the possibility of man’s ingenuity. To this day, people still make predictions that I believe may very well come to pass.

“Yes,” I believe that man will one day discover intelligent life on other planets (okay, now that I have lost all credibility with fellow bloggers!). “Yes, I believe that teleportation will one day be a reality (Oh no! Now people are really going to dismiss me as a crackpot!”) The point that I am trying to make here is that we never know what man will one day turn into a reality so why be dismissive but instead allow our minds to go free to explore and consider all possibilities.

Throughout history, people have been making predictions. When Christopher Columbus decided to set sail in search of new lands, the Spanish Royal Commission, rejecting Christopher Columbus' proposal to sail west said that “So many centuries after the Creation, it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value." On a more recent note, former U.S. President Cleveland, predicted that “There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.”

Below is a number of other predictions that, since made, have proven to be incorrect.

"You're planning to make a ship sail against wind and tide by lighting a fire below deck?? I don't have time to listen to that kind of nonsense!"
Napoleon, about Robert Fultons plans to make a Steamboat.

"I believe in the horse. The automobile is merely a passing phenomonon."
Emperor Wilhelm II

"Airplanes suffers from so many technical faults that it is only a matter of time before any reasonable man realizes that they are useless!"
Scientific American (1910)

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced." – Scientific American, January 2, 1909.

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." – Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

"We can close the books on infectious diseases." – Surgeon General of the United States William H. Stewart, 1969; speaking to the U.S. Congress

"Democracy will be dead by 1950." – John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936.

"Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." – Dr Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." – A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

So there you have it! Just a few of the predictions that have been proven incorrect over time. Now if inventors were to listen to these naysayers, where would our society be today? If the people responsible for the advent of the Internet shared the attitudes of Western Union, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American as well as other organizations and individuals, you would not be reading this post right now… So, the next time somebody says that it can’t be done, remind them of all the predictions that have been proven incorrect.

Okay, now that that has been said, I am going to prepare for the end of the world which I hear is supposed to be happening in about one week! That's what I hear the word on the street is!

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My Creative Daughter

Back when my daughter was in preschool, she was asked to paint a picture. Now, like most kid’s paintings, what we think their paintings are about, is often a far cry from what they really are about. When I look at this painting, I cannot recall what would have been described here and I have no doubt that my daughter would not recall either. I can only assume however that each of these people in the painting were Mommy, Daddy, herself and baby brother. Maybe that red guy with the green head was our dog at the time… Who knows!

My daughter always had an artistic flare. Over the years when the drawings and paintings were shoved into a drawer or thrown in the back of a closet, I managed to retrieve them and scan them. I now have many of my daughter’s creations. One day, I plan to present them to her as a reminder of how creative she was as a little girl.

It has been a long time since she last painted with paints or drawn with pencils. She now exercises her creative flare via her computer Wacom Tablet where her creations show up on her computer screen. She is still a very creative individual and her computer sketches and paintings are still outstanding, in my estimation (I know…I am bragging!) but I still miss collecting her creativity without the computer.

Lately, she doesn’t have the time to draw and paint since she is in college and is burdened within her program but fortunately, she is in a program where she can be her creative self … only this time it is in a different forum. She is currently in a Film and Television Production program. I have seen some of her video creations and am very proud of her! I have no doubt that her creativity will continue to flourish.

I am very glad that her mother and I encouraged her to reach beyond all expectations and follow her dream of creativity and I look forward to watching her comtinue to flourish into that creative adult that she is so quickly becomming!

Congratulations Sweetheart! Take the world by storm!