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Getting the new desktop computer ready

My much beloved laptop was dying.  It was running Windows Vista and while it was still working, Dad wanted to upgrade me to Windows 10.  He was going to just upgrade it but for the same price, he bought me a Lenovo ThinkCentre from OTV that had Windows 7 on it.  It then upgrades itself to Windows 10.  We ran the benchmarks on it last night and it does really well although the onboard video is a little slow.  I can’t see Dad dropping $700 for a new video card for it any time soon.

I had a monitor but it was tossed in a cleaning purge so Mom went out and got me a 19.5 inch monitor from HP.  It’s a nice setup.

So today we are running Ninite to get me the programs that I need. 

Dad also put WordPerfect Office X7 on it along with some video editing software and Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  He also installed Pinnacle Studio 16 on it.  It’s not Adobe Premiere but I am not exactly J.J. Abrams either.

Update: Now running Windows 10 in all of it’s glory (and bugs).

New friends for the journey

Stanley 20 oz Travel MugSince I survived final exams in one piece, Dad and Mom picked me up a couple of things for this summer.

One of them was a nice black duffel bag for travelling.  They got one for Oliver as well.  The last thing as brothers we want is for our clothes to ever touch each other. 

In my bag was a new Stanley 20 oz Travel MugOutside Magazine just rated it as the best mug out there.

Capacity: 20 ounces

Usability: This burly mug has the easiest-to-use lid, thanks to its ergonomic, trigger-like opener. It’s big, and as such won’t fit in a car’s cup holders, but I found that this was my go-to for bringing to work. 

Spillage: Zero 

Keeps Liquids Hot for (Claimed): 8 hours
Temperature Loss After 2 Hours: 24 degrees
Temperature Loss After 8 Hours: 60 degrees

Bottom Line: The Stanley was the big winner in terms of short- and long-term heat retention. If you like your coffee hot, this is your mug. We also loved the trigger-style lid that never spilled but was easy to use, even one-handed.

Both will be great company on some trips and adventures in 2016.

Christmas Day

I got up this morning and took Marley for a long walk through Caswell, Mayfair, and Hudson Bay Park.  It was really, really quiet.  Normally I am out the door at 7:00 a.m. and there aren’t a lot of people out but there are cars being warmed up, people scraping windshields and people going to work.  None of that today.  The entire westside of Saskatoon was sleeping in.

Dad had to get up early and go to City Hospital for treatment on his leg.  When they got home, they started making breakfast.  There was scrambled eggs on salmon and toasted croissants and some eggs benedict.  Eggtastic (yes I went there).  They were served with some fresh squeezed juice and fresh ground coffee.

After breakfast Dad pointed out that Oliver and I had forgotten to open a gift from the night before.  I was like, “What? How could that have happened?”  We opened the gift and inside it was a BB-8 robot and four tickets to Star Wars: The Force Awakens for this afternoon.  How cool is that?

So after breakfast, Oliver and I chilled out in front of my television while Dad updated his computer.  Then we headed downtown with some hot coffee and took some photos of downtown.  As we got closer to the movie time, we headed back home, dropped off our gear and then went down to watch Star Wars.  It was everything that you would expect from the biggest movie of the year and a lot of fun.

Mom had preparing a roast for dinner in the slow cooker. I thought it was because that is what she wanted to make for dinner but now I realize it was something she could cook while we were at the movie.  Well played Wendy.

When we got home, the roast was ready and we had French Dip sandwiches on fresh rolls.  It was excellent.  Later on Christmas evening, Mom brought out a chocolate fondue for dessert.  Then Mom and Dad called it a night while Oliver and I went downstairs and watched some television.  As soon as I hit “publish”, we are calling it a night.  Oliver is crashing in my bunk bed tonight.  With him and I high on chocolate, it could be a short night and a long day tomorrow.

Christmas Eve

Good morning everyone and Merry Christmas if you are into that sort of thing.

Some of you have read that Dad was a) declared free of the infection in his leg last week and b) it came back strong enough to almost kill him this week.  So he was super sick the last couple of days until the antibiotics started to fight their way back.  Well he is still super sick but not as sick as he was earlier this week.

Today was his first day back at work and we went and got him around 3:30.  While the malls may have been chaotic still, the rest of the city was slowing down.  We came home, had some coffee and hot chocolate.  I also went outside and lit a bunch of lanterns with candles and tea lights.  It gave the house a really cool glow.  We then had some Family Pizza delivered by 6:00 p.m.  After we had pizza, Oliver got to hand out the Christmas presents.

In my stocking was the expected chocolates, candies, and toothbrush.  I also got a Magnum M5 razor and blades.  The Gillette Sensor3 had fought the good fight but it was time to move on.  I also found the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy, a Saskatchewan Roughrider travel mug (Green is our colour, losing is our game), and Call of Duty: Ghosts in there.  Also there was a Sandisk 32 GB SD Card for my Pentax K-30.  I have a 16 GB card but this one is faster and will hold a lot of photos from next year when we hike in the mountains. To keep warm this winter, there were also some leather gloves.  Since I suck getting organized, there was a 2016 organizer from Staples in there.   Finally as is tradition, there was a magazine in there.  This year it was an edition of Sportsnet Magazine.  The whole stocking was pretty amazing.

For Christmas, Dad and Mom gave me a 24 inch television to go downstairs and Oliver gave me a Google Chromecast 2.  I had no idea but I can watch Netflix independently of what is being watched upstairs.  Of course I like watching nerdy documentaries with dad but I still love the gift.

Mom & Dad gave me a really great but discrete looking ring while Dad gave me a really nice stainless steel Timex Calgary Flames watch.  Hopefully the watch works better than the Flames have this season.  Mom gave me a Cross Adventura fountain pen and a couple of journals to write in as well.

Here is what The Art of Manliness says about keeping a journal

In studying the lives of great men, I’ve noticed a common trait: they were all consistent journal writers. Now, I’m not saying that their greatness is directly attributable to their journaling. I’m sure Captain Cook would still have been a bad ass even if he hadn’t kept a diary. But I figure, if great men like these thought it was important to keep a journal, maybe I should, too. Heck, if it weren’t for their journals, we probably wouldn’t know much about their great lives and deeds.
Here’s a short list of great men from history who kept journals:

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Charles Darwin
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Captain Cook
  • Winston Churchill
  • Sir Edmund Hilary
  • Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton
  • Doogie Howser M.D I could go on, but I think you get the idea. 
  • Why Keep a Journal

    Your children and grandchildren will want to read it. I know it’s hard to believe right now. Your life probably seems quite ordinary and of little interest to anyone else. And every generation believes that life will pretty much continue on like it is now. When your great-grandpa was kicking it in the 1920’s, he thought to himself, “Who would want to read about this new fangled radio or how I get my food out of an icebox? Phhht! That’s boring stuff!” But it’s not boring anymore; to this generation, such a peak at the olden days is fascinating. And so it is with you. When your grandkids are talking to people via hologram, they are going to be absolutely fascinated by your impressions of those ancient things like the alta vista and cell phones. And unfortunately, they’re not going to be curious about it until they get into their 20’s, realize you’re going to die, and start asking you questions. 

    Trust me, while you think that you’ll be able to remember everything just as clearly in the future, you won’t. Remember when you were a kid and you thought your experiences would be easily recalled at age 30? Now what do you remember from those days besides that time a dog bit you in the face?

    As each year passes, the pixels of our memories burn out and the haze sets in. By age 80, you’ll only remember the faintest outlines of the big things that happened to you. But the stuff that’s really interesting is often the little, seemingly mundane details of life. What was a man’s daily routine like in 2009? Of course, the whipper snappers will ask you about the big stuff too: “Where were you when you found out about the attacks on the World Trade Center?” and “What did you think about the election of Barack Obama?” Your journals will give them the answers they’ll be looking for and will bring you closer.
    And who knows? Maybe the whole world might be interested in your musings someday. You may not think so now, but how many famous men knew that they would be famous before they actually burst onto the scene? And how many men were ignored in their lifetime, only to be celebrated after their death?

    To help me think of things to write about, Dad hit me up with some books on architecture and urban planning, something that the people of Saskatoon hate. I may have to leave town after I read these books.  I have a bunch of thoughts to journal and then blog about. 

    Santa made an appearance and gave me a North Face t-shirt and Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers.

    Hutch gave me a Coleman trekking pole, and Marley gave me a Black Diamond Orbit 60 lumen lantern.  I had one before but someone stole it while on a school trip so it’s nice to get a new one.

    One present that is in progress is that Dad gave Marley a GoPro Fetch.  He put his GoPro on her.  At first she wasn’t crazy about it but got used to it.  Tomorrow you should be able to see what Christmas looked like from the dog’s perspective.

    Christmas Gift Guides

    I just noticed that Mom and Dad has finished all of the Christmas Gift Guides over on their sites.  I’ll post links to them here as I analyze what he is recommending to see what I am getting for Christmas.

    The Ultimate Saskatchewan Road Trip: Brought to you by the 2015 Ford Focus

    Focus on Saskatchewan

    This weekend I find myself behind the driver’s seat of a 2015 Ford Focus.  When I say that I am behind the wheel, I am really behind the wheel… in the back seat of the Focus.

    The good news is that Ford Canada is lending us a 2015 Ford Focus and sending us across Saskatchewan to try it out.  We are heading down to Moose Jaw where we are staying at the Temple Garden’s Mineral Spa.   Then we are checking out the historic Claybank Brick Plant.   After that it is back to Moose Jaw where we are eating at the world famous Smoke’s Poutinerie before relaxing in the mineral spa.

    Sunday we are off to Rouleau and then Ogema where we will embark on the Southern Prairie Railway train for a historical look at the Saskatchewan prairies.  Then it is time to put in the iPod, find The Guess Who and crank this up.

    I’ll be posting photos here, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr all weekend long.  It will be a fun weekend.

    Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens

    As thanks for babysitting Oliver for some of the summer, Dad and Mom gave me a Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens they picked up at Don’s Photo.  It’s a pancake lens and is the coolest lens I have ever seen.

    Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens

    Since I am using a APS-C sensor, it works out to be a 60mm Focal Length and was designed by Marc Newson who designed the look of the Pentax K-01.   It should be a great discrete lens to go on my camera when I do some street photography.  It’s pretty well rated and loved so I am really looking to try it out.  There will be lots of photos posted here.

    Exploring Prince Albert National Park

    It is my birthday tomorrow (Happy Victoria Day by the way) but yesterday Dad, Mom, Oliver and I drove to Prince Albert National Park to do a day of hiking and photographs.

    Dad and Mom gave me an imitation MSR Pocket Rocket stove, a fuel canister, and a mess kit.  

    Imitation MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

    The stuff should last me for years. It is really cool.  I will use it on our hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin in June.

    The mess kit has a bowl, frying pan, and a pot to cook things in. It also has one of those cheap cups that I won’t bring with me (I’ll have my travel mug). It was a cool early birthday gift.

    After that I packed up my camera gear (I took my Pentax K-x, my 70-210mm and 35mm lenses) and got into the car where we drove to Prince Albert and then Waskesiu. From there we drove to the Narrows, descended down a lot of stairs (while realizing that what goes down must also climb back up) and explored the Narrows Trail for a couple of kilometres. As Mom tweeted last night, we did hear a black bear in the trees but we mostly saw and talked to a lot of other hikers who were all having a good time.

    After that we drove to the Waskesiu River trail where we walked the boardwalk and then walked for a couple of kilometres back to the trailhead. Oliver was exhausted by that time so we went back into Waskesiu, got some food, checked out Outer Limits, got some ice cream, and headed back home.

    We wanted to hike the Mud Creek Trail but Oliver was tired and I don’t think it would have been any fun for him if we made him go on a “forced hike”. Plus, the trails took a toll on his body. We were 5 minutes into the Narrows trail when he fell hard the first time. He fell about 10 other times yesterday but never cried once. It was so funny because at one point he walked down a steep hill and goes to himself, “nailed it!” when he didn’t fall.

    Oliver wasn’t the only one that was tired. I was tired enough that I fell asleep on the drive home until I felt Oliver giving me a “wet willy”. I wasn’t impressed in part because I think that wet willy may have been sanctioned from those in the front seat.

    Not sure what the rest of my plans are for today but tomorrow I hope to play some disc golf (with mom’s discs) with Dad.