Out and about

Posted by bernicky - July 22nd, 2014

Kieran has been here for a week now and we have managed to travel a bit in that time though at a rate which might seem a little weird. Everything has to be compressed because our son is working Monday to Friday normal business hours and our daughter is enrolled in classes for the summer to bring up her math and science to the advanced level she needs to get into the courses she wants in CEGEP and eventually university. This leaves very little time to actually do things as a family or group. (Photos in the gallery – full sized for printing so be patient)

We have managed to do a little walk about downtown along St. Catherine between Metcalf and Papineau which is a good hoof especially if you start in Chinatown head west then east and back again. Kieran had a smoked meat sandwich which failed to impress. Oh well. It’s a Montreal thing. He seemed to enjoy the walk about though we didn’t actually do anything other than walk and talk.

We had a down day then our daughter and I took Kieran on another walk about. This time we went to Old Montreal and inflicted poutine on him. Poutine is a mixture of french fries, curd cheese and gravy. Kieran, not content with the traditional order, added pulled pork as a garnish and washed it down with a little local hard cider.

pulled pork poutine

Kieran v Pulled Pork Poutine

It is surprising how tiring just walking around looking at stuff can be.

The big trip was one of those things which probably sounded good at the time. Kieran wanted to see Niagara Falls but Niagara Falls is wicked pricey. I decided that Hopewell Rocks would be close enough, inexpensive enough and interesting enough to makeup for not going to Niagara. Not sure it worked out that way. Hopewell Rocks was once shortlisted as a possible World Heritage site and while it didn’t make the final cut (who knows why) it is a magnificent thing to behold. The downside is that it is an eleven hour drive from Montreal. Ten hours to Moncton and then another hour to the rocks.

We drove almost nonstop from Montreal to Moncton only taking a gas and lunch break in Edmunston. We rolled into Moncton and into our hotel, the Delta Beausejour, while there was still some daylight and a music festival in full swing. We were really bushed from the drive – well I was really bushed from the drive – so we went to Alexandra’s Pizza on Main (the best pizza in Moncton and better than any I’ve had in Montreal) bought the boys each their own pie while our daughter and I shared a small cheese pizza and some fries.

Pizza from Alexandra's on Main in Moncton.

Pizza from Alexandra’s on Main in Moncton.

After pizza the boys went off to find women and drink while our daughter and I did a little walk about along Main to see what we could see. In truth Main Street is kind of nice but Moncton is a small city and they roll up the sidewalks pretty early in comparison to Montreal. There was a nice theatre which would have made a nice picture had I brought a tripod. Lacking a tripod I tried to use a post on the side of the street and was bent over taking the picture when Hank, a local guy down on his luck, came over to see if I was okay. Hank had a close trimmed mostly salt with a dash of pepper beard and a face which has seen more sun than most and the kind of crows feet that say he’s laughed more than most too. He had old school large bore tattoos which had, no doubt, once been black but now were blurred blue and faded. He asked for a little spare change which as it turned out was jangling around in my pocket with nothing to do for the rest of the evening.

We were both asleep when one of them made their way back to the hotel. It turned out to be our son who managed to make it into bed without any of the static sparks from the hotel carpet igniting the fumes from his breath. My fitful sleep was made more so by the phone ringing at two thirty in the morning. The front desk called to tell me that my son had made it back to the hotel but had forgotten the room number. Kieran made it upstairs a few minutes later.

There is nothing to be done with two twenty year old men who’ve had a few too many because they will snore. It is the nature of the beast. One was sawing lumber the other was milling it. Our daughter can sleep through anything but she had not been woken up several times already. I on the other hand could not find rest between the two so picked up my sleeping bag and pillow and made a bed for myself in the bathtub. It was uncomfortable but I did manage to sleep between three and five thirty. In total I probably managed about five hours sleep after being awake for sixteen hours, ten of which was spent driving. On the upside the early morning in Moncton is beautiful and Tim Horton’s was empty.

Footpath along the river in Moncton.

Footpath along the river in Moncton.

At Tim Horton’s I ran into Hank again and we had a coffee before I toddled off to the river to have a walk along the footpath there.

There are a lot of runners in Montreal. On the mountain on any given day there are hundreds of them. Thousands and thousands across the island of Montreal but Moncton seems to have a running tradition and time which brings many of them together on Sunday morning along the river. Who can blame them? Beautiful scenery and a cooler run than on pavement. They were legion.

Moncton runners

Moncton runners

After a little morning constitutional I returned to Tim Horton’s and picked up some breakfast, water and juice for the kids. The goal was to get out and to Hopewell Rocks for around eleven when the tide had gone out and the sea floor was accessible. The kids had other ideas involving sleep and boozer gloom. By dint of cajoling and nagging they did manage to clear the room by a little before eleven and we were on the road again.

The drive to Hopewell was uneventful but it was brutal hot, humid and sunny. From the car park to the beach is about 800 meters which doesn’t take long to walk but there is a shuttle if you have any difficulty walking. We hoofed it on down and went straight to the beach. In all we spent about two hours at Hopewell Rocks before starting our journey back to Montreal. We finally hit the road around noon and by 14:00 I was struggling to keep my eyes open as the kids drifted off to sleep. I’ve come up with exercises which I do when I am feeling sleepy and driving. Simple isometrics with big muscle groups helps to get the blood flowing and increases alertness. So lots of leg tension, stomach tension, buttock tension and eventually they eyelids relented and full alertness returned. Aside from a brief stop at a gas station to get gas and pick up a few snacks, we drove straight through from Hopewell to Grand Falls where we decided that Kieran had to do the Zip Zag zip line over the gorge.

Zip Zag in Grand Falls, New Brunswick.

Zip Zag in Grand Falls, New Brunswick.

The Zip Zag is a little pricey but worth it when you consider that to get two people safely over the gorge it requires five people who do it professionally. The zip rides themselves are only about a minute each but they are exciting. Kieran seemed to have fun as did our daughter who was doing it for her second time.

After the short respite from travel we headed out on the road again and arrive back in Montreal shortly after midnight.

In all we probably spent about twenty two hours in the van covering a little over 2200 kilometers. Probably not the most adventurous trip he’s ever taken but I venture to guess probably the longest drive Kieran’s every been on.

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A British has landed

Posted by bernicky - July 16th, 2014

On the left our cousin from England - first stop Tim Horton's

On the left our cousin from England – first stop Tim Horton’s

The plane landed ahead of schedule which worked out just fine. He arrived, we recognized him and took him immediately to Tim Horton’s for a little snack and a chat. It wasn’t a terribly exciting first night. We had a little Chinese food from Chow’s and then he and the kids went off to see on of our son’s friends. And that was it for the first day. The plan for today is just to mosey on downtown for a bit later in the day, do a bit of a walk about and have a bite to eat. We’ll see about some other stuff later in the week.

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Kind of an oddity

Posted by bernicky - July 8th, 2014

In truth I don’t know who reads this blog nor why they read it. There is traffic and page views and once in a while there are comments.

With this in mind it struck me as obvious that making a small post on the site LinkedIn would go all but ignored. The network of contacts I have on LinkedIn is small and not nearly as Alberta centric as I would like it to be. So I posted a little thing that I had been thinking about as it relates to my field as a computer technician. The post was called COPE – a supportable alternative to BYOD. Be honest. Would you actually read an article in a magazine with that title? At best I thought perhaps a couple of fellow techies would read it and give me some feed back. As of this writing the article has been viewed thirteen thousand times, it has been tweeted and liked on Facebook. Not really what I expected at all.

There is something to be said for having so many people read something you’ve written even if the numbers are small in the scheme of things. It makes me want to do better the next time. With luck that is what will happen. I have a topic in mind and have been fleshing it out. In the meantime I suggested some story ideas to Liverpool FC after an acquaintance emailed me a link to their page requesting story ideas. They’ve responded with interest so we’ll see where that goes. Meanwhile back in photography my 500PX gallery has been getting a lot of positive attention. I have to hope it is because my photography is improving.

It is nice to have successes, however minor.

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A passion for steam

Posted by bernicky - July 5th, 2014

Steam is a wonderful thing. It can be wet, it can be dry, it can power cities, break apart cast iron valves it is a very efficient way to transport and transfer energy. It is at the center of power engineering or stationary engineering as it is called in Quebec.

The deeper I get into the power engineering course (about a month of study left for the first half) the more interesting everything becomes. It is a world completely alien to the computer tech world in which I work and also a world apart from almost any other career of which I have heard. The part of this world which interests me the most is that of super heated steam and environmental safety. Of course the power engineers probably don’t get to work much on the environmental safety side of things but it is an intriguing area and one which the industry must pay close attention.

Super heated steam and power generation are interesting. We all use electricity every day. In Quebec we use hydroelectric energy but most of the world runs on power generated by power plants which means steam. The facilities are huge and complex and I cannot imagine how anyone could not be interested in the subject. Simple things like being able to identify valve types, pipe types, how the steam is produced and recovered. All these things are endlessly fascinating to me which, all things considered, is just as well.

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Helter skelter

Posted by bernicky - July 1st, 2014

One of the beauties of life is its unpredictability it is also a constant source of giggles. Last Saturday Katharine’s dog Bruno had a stroke. It was a completely unexpected thing and it made for some fun financial machinations as the emergency room visit, overnight observation and medicine added up quick to a smidge over two weeks salary.

The entertainment continued when the guidance counsellor from our daughter’s school called to let me know that she had been accepted into a summer program for math and science. That was the good news. The bad news was that she was supposed to organize it last Thursday and pay a week and a half’s salary. I made arrangements to meet with her on Wednesday morning to bring things up to date.

Enter a postponed dental appointment and another week and a half’s salary floating out of the bank account. On the upside I was cavity free but our son and daughter both had small cavities which will need to be taken care of.

Wait, wait, there’s more.

When I logged on to my email today there was an email from NAIT letting me know that a spot had opened up in the steam lab for next May if I want it. Of course I want the spot and I am going to take it. The email was one of those entertaining moments when you just look back at the last week have to laugh. I’d just spent five weeks salary and now have to watch six weeks more float out the door. Laughing is all you can do.

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