Thursday, September 28, 2006

ALL IN A DAY'S WORK - I saw the light! (long post with lots of pictures!)

Two weeks ago I was presented with a project. The problem to be solved was this: The church had bought a used organ from another church nearby. When the organ tech hooked everything up, he placed the speakers along the windows.

The problem with this is that now the first three rows of people get blown out!

Meanwhile, the organist is situated behind a structural pillar. As he or she cannot hear properly, the volume goes up.

Do you see the problem?

Now, don't get me wrong... there are times when I love to wear my music as much as the next fellow, but please... Granny's already half-deaf and it just wouldn't do to finish her off!

I had suggested, when they first bought the organ, that the speakers be placed in the loft at the back of the church. Not only would the cabinets be "out of the way", the coverage would be much, much more even.

So, on with the project!

In order to place the speakers at the back of the room, effectively 60 feet away from the organ, a cable had to be run down through the floor, across the ceiling of the basement and up through the floor again and up to the loft. It would be simple enough to hardwire everything in place, but if you ever went to change something it would be a bear!! So I decided to put plugs on either end of this cable so that the organ could be unplugged if necessary, likewise with the speakers in the loft.

Connectors placed on the speaker and organ cable ends.

Preparing the multi-conductor line for soldering to the plugs

Plugs attached to the face plate

My make-shift vice: A C-clamp I had in my tool box. Crude, but effective.

As I was doing all this, there just happened to be a meeting downstairs. Lucky for me, it was the annual Ladies Group Pot Luck! One of the ladies came upstiars to see what all the fuss was about and said, "Well, David... you MUST come down and have a bite! ...Have some dessert at least!" SCORE!!

Once the ladies had gone home, I was free to work on the downstairs portion of the project. The first order of business was to drill a hole through the floor to run the cable.

I popped a ceiling tile so I could see the hole I actually drilled... only... it was dark! Very dark! I had forgotten my flashlight, so I searched the building high and low - not a flashlight to be found.

Now, Turtle shells are pretty dark inside and we Turtles generally get along just fine. This, however presented a problem.

I started to think. (My fourth cousin, twice removed was an elephant, so thinking comes naturally to me as well...)

Surely there was SOMETHING I could use... a lamp... anything!


Nothing here.

This struck me as very odd. Thinking back to one of my favourite movies, "The Blues Brothers", I recalled Jake and Elwood were sent to church to "see the light"... and they did! Why, then, could I not find one!!??

Then it hit me. You might say, "I saw the light".

In the storage room I discovered some lightbulbs. I also found an old extension cord. I thought to myself,

"If Edison could invent the lightbulb, surely Turtle can reinvent the flashlight!"

So I set about building my very own, one of a kind, guaranteed no one has one like it - flashlight!

I removed the recepticle end of the extension, carefully placing the positive and negative wires to the appropriate places on the lightbulb. Using copious amounts of electrical tape I secured the line directly to the bulb.

Two questions came to mind.

(1) Would it pass electrical code?

After all, the lightbulb was CSA approved, the wire was rated to 10 amps or so, the plug on the end of the wire was CSA approved, and the electrical tape was rated to 6000 volts. I was merely dealing with 110!

Something told me... no. It would not pass.

However, the immediate question was indeed,

(2) Would it WORK?

There really WAS only one way to find out: Plug it in and see what happens.

Would you look at that, it worked!

Now, before you get all excited, freaked out and so on... I'll let you in on a little secret. I've done this before! I do not, however, recommend that you try this at home... unless you're Jeremiah. I'm pretty sure he could pull it off without burning down the house!

It was time for more COFFEE!!

I preped the wire for fishing through the hole I could now see, thank to my TurtleLite.
Strung the wire along the ceiling and up through the floor again - this time through the kitchen ceiling.
This was the end result. Organ speakers safely stowed in the loft (yes, I fastened them down so as not to allow them to slide off the shelf!)

Monday, September 25, 2006

what "busy" means... to me.

I noticed it's been about a week since my last post and that I haven't been around to visit everyone on "as regular" a basis as I'd like.

Life outside of the Armchair is full and rich right now. School, Pottery, Work and social time seem to be in balance.

I do, however find myself missing the blogosphere on occasion. This, too is part of my social balance.

I have so many ideas for posts BECAUSE of life's richness... I wish I had time to post about it all.

Perhaps I'll list just a few of my thoughts for upcoming posts...

-Was going to post about being sick over the weekend, but who has the time?? I survived and feeling almost back to normal.

-My parent's 40th Wedding Anniversary and the marathon session I put in to build a slide show for the occasion

-English Literature Class (of course I'm posting about THAT because it's on my brain when I get in the door that night!)

-Pottery... yes, must post more about pottery!

-Yesterday's charity event for STARS (our local Air Ambulance Service) Had a blast, got some sun, ate and drank lots and socialized with generous, giving folks.

-Cat Tails... I think there should be another post about DJ and Bob.

-Babysitting... confirmed to be a contact sport after all!

This picture has something to do with another thing that's been keeping me busy these days... can you guess?

There you have it, a few of the things that are keeping me busy that really do deserve their own post... but WHEN???!!!


As an aside, for feline lovers, this post at Morning Martini is so very cute!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Turtle humbled... now where's that shell!??

The reality of "school" has set in. I've discovered my mortality where learning is concerned.

I said "Bring it on!"

And so it was done.

I was faced with a whole bunch of feelings I thought I'd left behind 18 years ago. All the excitement aside, I really felt kinda... scared tonight.

I read the two pieces we were assigned on Tuesday last. Checking the online blackboard, I discovered yet a third reading by one of the same authors, due today as well.

I am a frightfully slow reader - in keeping with Turtle nature. So I blow the better part of the afternoon on this "third" reading, a short story of only about 13 pages if you'd believe that. Dangerously close to class time I finally print out my thoughtfully formulated answers to the black-board-posted questions.

I arrive at class with 15 minutes to spare.

Where are my notes?


So now I feel like Johnny whose dog apparently ate his homework assignment.

I had also checked my notes from last Tuesday to confirm that I did indeed read the correct passages.

"Munro, P. 835" which in fact is "The View from Castle Rock".

This one had me curious because this mysteriously added "third reading" was also a Munro piece.

"Make sure when copying an assignment from the chalkboard here that you get the NAME of the literary piece because often I will mis-quote a page number here or there, but I'm always extremely accurate with the title and author.", says my dear prof.

I've started second-guessing myself too. I just about answered a question tonight but hesitated so as not to boldly open my mouth when I wasn't "quite" sure my answer was indeed correct.

The question was "What parts of speech should you take down when making notes?"

I'm thinking to myself that if I were to break it down THAT literally, nouns and verbs would be pretty safe bets.

Sure enough, that was exactly the answer she was looking for. I couldn't believe an entire class of English students stared at the prof. with a "deer-in-the-headlights" glare! ...myself included! (but out of fear that my simple answer was just too stupidly simple!)

Then, of course full of all kinds of confidence, I proceed to actually answer a question:

"When writing an essay, how do you present your facts?"

I'm thinking this is pretty easy, but I'd better be aware that there's a very stong Philosophical side to this course, so it could be this, but it might be that. So, here's my answer:

"I see two possibilities. I could either state my strongest point first, then my lesser supportive points OR I could start with my weaker points, working up to my strongest, leading into a solid conclusion"

Of course, not thinking ahead to "you must be able to support what you say", I was left hanging when she asked,

"You think you could use both then? Interesting. Give me an example of where you'd use each of these. I'll be back to you in a moment."

It was only after some careful reflection that I hadn't kept my examples to the purely essay-based discussion at hand. Sure, in an essay you want to get right into it - no beating around the bush, state your point and support it, then get the hell out!

My second example, once I gave it some careful thought was the structure for a novel, not an essay. In a novel, let's say fiction for example, you want to build the story so as the reader nears the end of the book you've brought them to the pinnacle, then you can gently (or not) push them over the edge of the denouement... looks much like a ski jump into nowheresville when you draw it out like a graph.

Somewhere along the line the class discussion was shifted and I was not required to support my statement. I will, however send an email to the prof. as a matter of courtesy. I tried staying after class, but close to 8 people were vying for the prof's attention.

So I'm feeling awefully new at the whole "critical thinking" component of the course. I read these pieces, made my comments, but discovered that if I were truly "into" the texts, I might have researched some history on them. Some of the details that were pointed out to us were foreign to me, and I've lived a fairly healthy chunk of life. Up until now, I considered myself fairly well acquainted with English and its bits and pieces.

When it comes to "You might have asked the question..." it makes me wonder why I didn't.

Am I not thinking critically?

Essay writing scares me, to be honest. We have a handout on Essay Form and I'm paranoid. So many little bits and pieces to remember - spacing, column margins... not to mention the content and its layout.

It reminds me of the time I took a study skills class at SAIT. The instructor would dock a third of a grade if the staple in the upper corner wasn't at a 45 degree angle. He did indeed measure it too.

I came away from tonight's class a bit on the deflated side, to be honest. I'm feeling a touch overwhelmed and wondering how a full time student manages 5 or 7 of these courses.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Am I in the right class?

O.K. Blogger Lesson 245.5... in reference to the previous post, one might check to see if one's post was posted to the correct blog! Believed to be lost and gone, my post from Wednesday - on my first English class - survived! It somehow was posted to one of my other blogs.

So... read on... (and pretend it's Wednesday!)

Yesterday marked my first official day as a University student. Class is in, and so am I.

What an experience!

It just wouldn't do to be tardy on the first day, so I left the house in plenty of time to make my 6:00. I literally walked into the classroom weak-kneed, I was that excited. Or was it nervousness? After all, I haven't been in an English class for... 20 years? 18 anyway...

Turns out, despite my apparent "teacher's pet" status (which I'm sure has more to do with my age than it does my academic standing - and I'm sure the status resides mostly in my head, not in the sphere most know to be reality) I was not the first body in the room.

O.K., I was the third.

So essentially I was able to watch most of the class arrive, one by one.

Approaching class start time, in walks the first person to appear anywhere CLOSE to my age. This lady walked in, sat herself down in the first seat in the room. I'm thinking to myself,

"Ah, good. I'm not the only grey-hair here!"

Boy, was I wrong.

In walks our dear prof., M. - whom I adore, by the way.

As is the custom in most "first classes", we run down the attendance list - "face-to-a-name time". This lady turned out NOT to be on the list of registered students!

Turns out she was from Career Services and was present to... present!

So here I am, "Dad" to a room full of... yung-uns. Seriously, I'm old enough to be everyone's Dad!

It didn't help that I'd had lunch that afternoon with my friend N. who - when I was complaining about the pain in my knee - said,

"Um, Dave... you're almost 40, ain't ya?" 26 years in to our friendship, he calls me old. what's with that??

Anyhow, I digress...

I knew I was going to enjoy this course, I didn't realize, however, that I would be on the floor in stiches within minutes of the class commencement:

On with the presentation from Career Services. This lady whoes name I've forgotten, described their purpose, progamming etc. and said,

"We would appreciate your input. We're trying to grow the programme."

At which point our dear prof., M. literally interrupts to say

"To what?"

"To... grow the programme?"

"Pardon me?"

"To... what?"

"You said "grow the programme"?"


Looking rather red in the face, our presenter from Career Services had wheels turning in her head faster than I've seen anyone in a long, long time.

"We're expanding the programme... (pause)"

"Much better, carry on..."

And so she did.

Little was I or anyone else to know what we were in for last night. But I loved every minute of it! Among all the lessons we learned, we were gently drilled on the selection of "a better word for that". It started with the banning of the word "just". A number of times it was said "Oh, I'm just an English Major."

Oops. You don't say THAT in M.'s class.

"Why shouldn't we use the word "just"?", she asks us.

I knew the answer. And I got an affirming nod. It was cool!

We are English students. Not "Just English students". "Just" limits us. "Just" minimizes us.

This was not the only word she drilled us on, but one of many which (or is it that?) was followed by "Assert yourselves!"

I liked her already, but this woman has now attained "language goddess" status in my books. Every time she opens her mouth, wise, golden educated words spill out - by nature, not rehearsed, not phoney. Our prof. is genuinely educated and worldly wise.

Through the various exercises, I began to wonder if I wasn't in the wrong class. Is this an English class, a Philosophy class or a Logics course?

I could go on and on about the first class, but I'll try to break these stories up a bit. Long blog posts get to be much like "family slide shows".

More later on this same station.

Blogger Lesson 245.4

When writing a long post, always, always, always create it in something other than the web-based popup window supplied by Blogger.


I had a beautiful piece composed to walk you through my first English class on Tuesday.


I clicked "PUBLISH POST" and it may as well have read "DELETE ME".

I'll wait for the frustration to pass, write again and practice my "cut and paste" technique!

Until then, thanks everyone for your wonderfully supportive comments at the last post. It means a lot.


Turtle out. (for now)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A bit of a lull

We all know life is not fair.

It's a given.

I'd heard it said once that "Life is a series of ups and downs with brief interludes of happiness." I'm not sure I entirely agree with this statement. My life seems to be pretty good most days - more good than bad and there's something to be said for that.

This week my life, or at least my spirit, seems to be in a bit of a downward lull. I went back to re-read about Jeremiah's Job Search because it spoke to me about the feelings one can experience when one's ways and means are disrupted.

Several months ago I posted much on the role money plays in our lives and how not having enough of it tends to put me for one, into a bit of a depressed state.

So, I went out, worked my butt off and made a bunch of money.

It felt great.

The bills got paid, I got to eat, I even had a little fun along the way.

This week I'm broke.

Not just without money, I mean broke.

I couldn't understand it. I'd gone out and made all this money - I even feel the right kind of "warn out" as a result of working hard.

I have no money.


Well, when I asked myself THAT question, I started to dig for an answer, and an answer I did find!

There appear to be a great number of invoices due me, still outstanding. One even from a Stampede party done on the second week in July! The grand total of these invoices is equivalent to about one month's operational expenses. By that I mean one month of operating my business AND my house AND my personal expenses.

My little business is nothing really to brag about, but THAT is a lot of money! After all, I live in affluent Calgary. It's not cheap to live here. I had a friend move from Calgary to somewhere in nowheresville Saskatchewan because of the simple fact she couldn't afford to live and operate a business here.

Of course, this is going to be a short-term little thorn in my side and things will look better in a few days (hopefully) but it sure is unsettling.

Ah, the joys of being an entrepreneur!

Monday, September 11, 2006

My thoughts on 9/11

I wasn't going to post on this.

At all.

The day it happened, my friend N. was helping me manage my office. He kept me and two other people under my employ focused by literally turning off the TV, radio and any source of media that could be distracting to us.

"Let's not allow this to disrupt our day."

What he was getting at was that it happened, but don't allow it to do more damage than it already has. He kept us focused and our minds off the negativity.

This is precisely why I wasn't going to post.

But I read the poem over at Lady Jan's, left a comment and started to reflect.

My comment was this:

I often think of "rememberances" - World Wars, family losses and of course 9/11. It strikes me as odd that we focus on remembering the visciousness, the hatred, the loss of a loved one.

We, the living have so very much to be thankful for. I try to remember those who did what they could and are still here to tell the tale.

If ever I am a victim of such violence and hatred, I hope that those I leave behind spend more time being grateful for life than remembering death.

I really feel very strongly about this - that we do indeed spend far too little time focused on the beauty that is life.

Respecting it.

Enjoying it.

Getting everything we can from it.

I respect those who experienced the violence - lived or died. But when we remember them let's be mindful of the greatest gift we all share.

Don't worry 'bout the future - forget about the past.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You make me feel like a natural wo-man!

I just got back from a bike ride over to the University. As I rode through the pathways I came on a group of people gathered around a sound system... some live entertainment! To my dismay, it was Karaoke time at the U. As I slowed down to find a place to perch, the next fellow was up. And you guessed it, he belted out Aretha's classic hit.

Tell me - what am I in for as a newby University student???

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I miss Mollie.

When I first started blogging in November last year, one of the first blogs I was introduced to was that of Mollie.

By the handle Ipodmomma, Mollie would tell us about everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. From what happened in the garden that day to what was going on in the kitchen or inside her head, we heard it all.

Ever at a loss for words?

Not Mollie!

There were some days I'd have to simply skim her posts because they were so blasted long!

I pointed out on a few occasions that what I really enjoyed about reading her page was how she wrote about family. It's obvious that her family is very close and enjoys all the little things that make life truly wonderful.

Mollie has taken a break from blogging, but the pages remain for all to read, so I encourage you to stop by and browse.

Quite often it would be the photos she'd include that would catch my interest. I took a few moments to put some up here for you to see...

We must start with, of course, the iPod!

Mollie's husband Peter - a jolly fellow!

...unless of course he has yet to have his morning coffee...

...and if I remember correctly it's Spencer, Jocelyn and Ted on top.

And the photos she would take of places and things!

This is one of my absolute favourites!

Anyone with kids will appreciate this one for sure! Note to my sister...

If you browse through her blog, you'll find that on a fairly regular basis this fellow shows up... sometimes out of the blue... but DEFINITELY good for a laugh!

Now... don't think for a minute I've fogotten about all the food!


So you see... it doesn't matter. People, places and things intrigue Mollie, and she LOVES telling the world about her experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Even the attack of the waffle monster.

I do hope she is soon to return.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Photo Request and some Fast Furniture!

In response to repeated requests:

"this is all very well and good, but will any of the pictures have you in them?"

"Hey Dave, I agree....get some pics with you in them!"

I've decided to poke my head out of my shell... for a spell. In addition you can also visit
A photo from yesteryear and

Turtle with Mom and Dad

I don't often get in front of the camera, so "action shots" are hard to come by around here. Besides... with a slow-moving Turtle, "action" isn't always considered high-paced and exciting!

But speaking of fast...

Innovative marketing on behalf of Intel... have you ever been pulled over by the cops while driving an 87 MPH sofa??

...much, much faster than my progress with Chaucer. Middle English... *sigh* a humbling experience.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My prep day at the University

Today I rode over to the University to tie up some loose ends in preparation for my first class a week from today.

Task one was to visit the U. of C. Bookstore where I found - to my delight - all the materials in stock for my English 240 class. They include The Broadview Pocket Guide to Writing and Volumes 1 to 6 of the Broadview Anthology of British Literature.

They are:

Volume 1 The Medieval Period
Volume 2 The Renaissance and the Early Seventeenth Century
Volume 3 The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century
Volume 4 The Age of Romanticism
Volume 5 The Victorian Era
Volume 6 The Twentieth Century and Beyond

Several weeks ago I emailed my prof. to ask what might be my best bet if I wanted to do some "pre-reading".

Her response:

"Why not read the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales as well as "The Wife of Bath's Tale"? I will be giving everyone a modern translation in a handout in September, but would like everyone to at least attempt a reading of the original."

I'm on it!

Task two was to attain my Student ID card. Now, with a University email address AND an ID card, books and a class to go to I'm definitely in the mode!

I never thought school would be so exciting. I think back to a time when all I could think about was FINISHING school... as if "learning" was something you simply crossed off a "to do" list.

An adventure lies ahead of me and I'm thrilled! It's been an exciting road to this point and I'm sure the journey is only going to become more intriguing!

Monday, September 04, 2006

ALL IN A DAY'S WORK - Part 3 of 3

...continued from ALL IN A DAY'S WORK - Part 2 of 3

Mixer patch bay and wireless lav. receivers

Mixer and wireless handheld mic receivers

The evening's M.C. Kelly Rhudey - Light-hearted, funny, knowledgeable and every bit the professional.
He even knows how to wear a lavalier microphone!

One of the reasons I LOVE this contract...
BBQ Prime rib and chicken
catered by S.A.I.T. students!

So, another year has come and gone - more money raised for the Tim Horton Childrens Camp, and I'm looking forward to next year already! This was year 10 for me and rumour has it next year we're in Calgary... which will likely bring with it its own fresh, new dynamics.

Friday, September 01, 2006

ALL IN A DAY'S WORK - Part 2 of 3

...continued from ALL IN A DAY'S WORK - Part 1 of 3

Equipment stacked up...

...and placed at the "mix position"

The frame for the video screen

Screen snapped to the frame, and the "window washer" who saw my job as much more "interesting" and decided to put down her spray bottle in favour of offering to help lift the screen into place.

Screen up and in place. Too much light behind the screen necessitated much work with black plastic and a staple gun!

The screen skirted and ready to show.

Power amps and audio snake in place

Looking back to the "mix position":
The cable hanging down to the left of the audio rack is the audio snake which I ran in the rafters using my trusty 12-foot ladder
And of course... my Timmy's coffee on top!

...Again Blogger isn't allowing me to insert any more photos - in this or an other window. I don't get it, but thanks Anvilcloud for the tips... I tried!

Part 3 shortly!

About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.