Sunday, 26 March 2017

Friendly Visits, Fine News, Fun Finds and Fnark

The word of the week is Fnark.

Mar 20 – Aries I
Today, an old friend came to visit me, from far away!

My friend Aries, who I have known since kindergarten, was in Vancouver this weekend vacationing with his wife - all the way from Ottawa  - and took the time to come and see me for two days. Being all the way out here in BC, I've had very few visits over the years and as this was a special treat, I only worked a half day of work.

I met Aries at 130pm at the bus stop, then we had lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory nearby while catching up a little. From there, we stopped at my place after a brief tour to show him how lovely Cook Street Village was just down the road, then went downtown. We popped into some shops along the way, including the Interactivity Board Game Cafe, then we ended up at Cherry Bomb Toys, which he loved. We spent some time there, checking out the huge numbers of well-displayed 80's and 90's toys, then continued upstairs to view the Canadian Toy Museum that Cherry Bomb has assembled. There were quite a few things there that I barely remembered and was impressed to see, like these:

CLICK for BIGGER high-res picture!

We then continued the walking tour of downtown Victoria, ending up downat Swan's Brew Pub for dinner, which was great as it wasn't crowded at all and we had plenty of time to catch up. In fact, we took a little bit too much time, as we  just managed to miss the opening start for Rogue One  - oops! It turned out for the better, as most of the good seats were taken, so we purchased tickets for tomorrow night and then went back to my place. I caught him up on the last few years in Victoria with some of my many photos, which I was glad to go through with him as I rarely get to talk to anybody in person about being here in Victoria who's not already from the city. 

We finished off the day by watching the first episode of Star Trek Continues, and that's all... Because by then it was time to pass out! After all that walking today, my feet hurt, as it felt like we walked around the entirety of the downtown, which according to my Pebble we did: over 14,000 steps, which is twice my usual! For Aries though, it was just a walk in the park, as he wasn't even breathing hard... he walks everywhere in Ottawa, even in the deep snow, which is impressive.

Mar 21 – Aries II

I was up at my usual time, and so was Aries despite the time change. We went down the road and had breakfast at Bubby's Kitchen, which was delicious as usual; too bad it was too cold to sit outside on the patio despite be heaters. After yesterday's exertions, and with the weather rather blah, we decided to spend some time inside at my place to play a few boardgames for old times sake. I introduced him to my favorites DragonWood and Hive, while managing to mess up explaining a few of the rules for both. But as always, Aries got the hang of things quickly and we spent a few pleasant hours trying to defeat each other. 

Later that afternoon we headed out, stopping again at a few stores along the way, including several guitar shops as Aries has an interest in that instrument. We also spent more time than I would have thought at the Curiousity Shop on Fort St, which for some reason has recently become stuffed with Star Wars and Transformers toys - nice! In fact, I managed to pick up one of the Transformers I've always wanted( but never could find the cash for )who was hiding in the back of a cabinet in the store... and funny story: my friend Aries had him all those years ago, and still does! Here he is, in GREAT non-yellowed shape for a mere $27.50 cash:
He's missing most of his armor, but that's the challenge...

We ended up at Murchie's for an afternoon tea, lucking into a table in the quieter back area despite it being rather busy. Most of our time there was spent debating the merits of various Star Wars films, including Rogue One( which Aries hasn't seen and I've seen twice )while coming to no conclusions, at least in my part - his opinions were rather more well-defined.

We went to dinner at Frankie's Honest Diner, where we were joined by my girlfriend, and had a lovely time together in the best seat in the house that I had reserved earlier in the day.

Then it was time for Rogue One at the IMAX! ( see the slightly annoying HISHE review below )and I enjoyed it, even for the third time and knowing about the 3D parallax effect, it really wasn't as bad this time. Aries seemed to enjoy it as well, but being a taciturn kinda guy, we didn't talk about it much beyond the brief time it took us to walk back home. SPOILERS: 

That was pretty much it, as I was wiped out again, but I feel that I did justice to giving Aries a solid tour of Victoria that he'll not soon forget. Thanks, man!

Mar 22 – WOW Wednesday!

What the heck

Unbelievably, there was an e-mail message waiting for me to discover this morning : my Lockitron is shipping in the next few weeks!!! Having ordered it in November 2012, I was despairing of ever seeing it, as the five-year anniversary was coming up... but now I had a heck of a smile on my face! As it's been so long since I've even mentioned the Lockitron, here's a catch-up for you folks from their Kickstarter video in 2012:

Needless to say, I'm really quite excited, as( for the most part )I soon won't be needing to carry door keys to get into my apartment anymore. I can also authorized my sister's, parents and girlfriend's phones to all unlock the Lockitron, as well as manage the door lock on my phone in case I ever wonder if I locked the door behind me... plus all sorts of other functions, which you can check out here. I should also mention that this is the perfect example of how unreliable crowdfunded Kickstarter items are: delivery not guaranteed on-time, if at all!

DOUBLE BONUS DAY: On the way home from work today, I picked up an innocuous-looking small package from the post office, and to my delight when I opened it, there was my phone! Pretty fast shipping from China too: I ordered it on February 23rd 2017 and my delivery notice was yesterday - less than a month, thanks to living so near Vancouver's port! Here's one of the many videos I watched before I made my purchase decision:

After letting the phone warm-up for well over an hour, I charged it( it has QuickCharge3 too! ) and then commenced the initial setup, which didn't take nearly as long as I thought given how speedy the phone is. Mine's the 4gb RAM version, as I didn't think the 6gb version was worth a whopping $144 CAD more, despite it also being on sale at the time.

My initial impression: it's a big, solid feeling phone with a gorgeous high-resolution display that's slightly larger than my OnePlus One at 5.7", which only has 3gb of RAM, though they both have the same storage capacity of 64gb. The LeEco also has a fingerprint sensor on the back and a USB-C port, meaning it's faster to securely unlock and is more future proof for connections / charging. It feels light and is easy to hold in either hand, while being quick and responsive, as a mid-range phone should.

I'm happy with my purchase, though I'll have to spend some time getting it configured the way I want it, much as my OnePlus One is already. Once that's done, I'll have to decide if I want to sell my OnePlus or keep it around; aside from the fact that the OnePlus keeps losing the cell signal and has issues with wifi sometimes, it's still a solid phone and might be useful to me in a few projects...

Happy Double Bonus WOW Wednesday to me!!! 

Mar 23 – Admin Pals

I do so enjoy catching up with friends... especially former admin-team coworkers from my government position, as I've been blessed to have worked with some stellar people in the last couple of years.

A group of six of us got together tonight after work at Table 21, where we caught up with each other over dinner and drinks. Each one of them is lovely, so it was a true joy to hear how well they're doing in their various positions. I should mention that each of them held the same entry-level position as I still do, but have managed to move on to other better-paying  government positions.

They all took the time to ask me how I was doing, which made me smile, and in return I asked some of them for help in fine tuning my resume so that I applications might have a better success rate than zero. It's no small thing: applying for government jobs is completely different from other jobhunting experiences, as you have to target keywords and competencies so that your application isn't filtered out of the process in favor candidates who have fine-tuned their works better than you have. It's frustrating to me that I've been in the same position for almost three years and haven't managed to move on yet, but part of that's on my head: I have to learn to step up my 'application game' some more.

In related news, in case you didn't already know: sitting is that for you. As someone who has now sat at a desk for almost 3 years and suffered for it, I have to say that one really has to pay attention to the changes that a desk job forces on you, or you'll find yourself( as I did )with sudden health complications that you never had before. I'm still in the process of learning, reading through my copy of Deskbound and taking notes, but to date I've put far more get-up-and-move breaks into my day, every 20-30 minutes.

I'm also stretching as well as getting anywhere from 6000-7500 steps in a day.... because: Sitting All Day Sucks.

Mar 24 – Fnark...

Aw, man... my hobby-server's power supply fan's failed!

There goes several hours of tedious installation time out the window that I can't get back, but it's a good thing that I'm a thorough person and so thought to check the fan... though, really, I should have done that first, right?

Experience: valuable only after the first time you learn something.

Apparently my PC doesn't have one of these... for the PSU.

So now it's hunting time, to try and find a power supply locally on UsedVictoria / Craigslist / Kijiji / VarageSale / wherever, as quality new ones tend to be around $100-150 and there's no way I'm spending that kind of scratch on what amounts to a side project computer that I'm just going to mess around with anyway.

It's too bad, too; I only paid $10 for the power supply that failed, though the fan was working just fine at the time, so I'm not out much of anything except time.

Which, I must admit, I don't have a like a lot of to spare this year....

Mar 25 – Gaming!

Where do the weekends go?

My morning vanished today, as I had family over visiting / helping with chores, and I did some tech support on my Dad's pair of TF101 tablets that he's still enjoying it immensely for games, web browsing and Netflix - he's certainly getting far more use out of them that I did!

My afternoon was spent enjoyably playing games at my friend Chris' place, though unfortunately my lady had to decline to attend due to a nasty migraine that hit her yesterday - damn. I played a game of Dragonwood with my friend Greg while we were waiting for the fourth person to show, and he quite enjoyed it, so next time we might try a four-player game, which was exciting to ponder.

There I am: Gree, with a commandling lead...

As you can see above, we played Epic Munchkin for most of the afternoon, and despite my commanding lead at the start, I ended up losing... though not without a fight. A couple of bad decisions on my part meant that my defeat was inevitable, and so I vowed to learn from my errors to better my game next time.

Mar 26 – Old Time Radio

Have you ever heard of Theatre of the Mind?

No? Well, you missed out. When I was a teenager, I listen to CHUM FM radio every Sunday night, and after the Sunday Funnies with Rick Hodges, there was... Theatre of the Mind!

You can get a taste of the majesty of what these old radio shows achieved here, courtesy of the magic of YouTube, where some of those golden sounds are preserved:

Sadly, Theatre Of The Mind went off the air in the late 90's, and a similar program has never resurfaced anywhere that I could find... until recently! There's been a groundswell of interest in these old shows, enough so that today, in the era of internet radio( an odd amalgam of terms, that )that sites have sprung up with all sorts of collected shows free for you to listen.

The best I've been able to find is Old Time Radio, at, that has several thousand episodes to listen to, and you can even get an app for your phone with 14K OTR programs to listen to! 

It's unfortunate that I had so much to do this year that I won't be able to spend too much time listening to old radio shows, but I'm certainly going to dial in time to time on my new phone, since that's the easiest way.
I did love Theatre Of The Mind back then, and now it can live again!

NOTE: While this week’s blog wound up being early-ish, next week's blog will be delayed by a day, as I will be spending all weekend at the Landmark Forum getting my brain drained and refreshed. More on THAT on Monday April 3rd... until then, have a great week!