Thursday, December 16, 2010

Checking In

Hey friends,
Has it really been five months since my last post here? I guess it's about time I checked in. It's not like I'm not on the web and don't have time to post here. I've just been maintaining my 365 Page instead. I guess the side project isn't just a side project anymore.
As of today I'm 260 photos in! Take a look here.

I'll get back into writing more on this page soon. For now my creative focus is my other page, as well as my other nerdy hobbies like playing guitar and video games.

Happy Holidays!

The Wandering Oak

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Family History In Print

Hi friends,
A couple of years ago, an old family friend published two limited edition books about the logging industry on the BC Coast from the 1930's to the 1970's that feature stories and pictures of some of my own family members. My grandfather and his father both worked with the author Len Crawford, and it was my grandmother who kindly supplied the photos of my family members for these books. Sadly, because these books were published in such a limited run, I wasn't able to get my own copies.
Well a couple of nights ago I was talking to my mom and she told me the books have been reprinted, so I wasted no time in ordering them. They got here Wednesday - and are signed by the author!

People who know me might find it kind of ironic that I love trees and would rather save them, yet my ancestors were loggers. I try not to think of all of the giant trees my grandfathers cut down. They were hard working men who did what was needed to get the job done and I share that spirit. I just apply it to a different trade.

My great grandfather on the left, and my grandfather on the right.

I never knew my great grandfather, but I remember my grandfather. He gave me my first guitar when I was 16. He worked at high altitudes and loved being on the water, and I figure that's where I get those traits from. I wish I had gotten to know him better before he passed away several years ago, but at least with these books I can get a little more insight into his life as well as the lives of some of my family members going back a few generations. I honestly can't tell you how special that is for me.

The Wandering Oak

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm Still Here, I Just Bought a New Home Is All...

Hey friends!
I know I've slipped off the Radar lately, but I'm still around. My job as a painter is still keeping me pretty busy, but what's really been filling my time lately is getting ready to move into the new condo Megan and I just purchased.
The process of buying our first home has been a long one, but it's almost over. We signed the last of the legal documents a few days ago and if all goes well we will have the keys in our hands tomorrow! We're not moving in until the end of the month, but we can officially say the place is ours!
My friend Kate and her husband are just starting out on the same journey to find their first home and I wish them all the best.
Hey! I just had an idea for tomorrow's photo of the day on my 365 page...the keys! Speaking of my other page, have you folks been checking out my pictures? I've been posting one a day for almost 70 days now. I don't get too many comments, so I really have no idea how many people see that page, but I don't care (okay maybe I do, a little). I took on the challenge to see if I could do it. My friend Chelle warned me it would be tough, and she was right, but I'm not going to give up.
Well I'd love to stay and chat, but I've still got some packing to do and I'd best get to it. As you can see, our cat Merlin is eager to help...

The Wandering Oak

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Tidbits

Hey friends,
   I guess it's been a couple of weeks since I posted anything on this page, but as mentioned in my last post, I've been pretty involved in purchasing a new home and my day job as a painter has also kept me pretty busy. At least I've been been able to keep up with my 365 Project.
   I have a little free time this Saturday morning, so I thought I'd share a few tidbits of my life as of late. I said tidbits, not Timbits. Mmmm Timbits... Ahem, sorry. I shouldn't write when I'm hungry.
  • Megan and I are about 5 weeks away from taking possession of our new condo. We'll move in about 3 weeks after we take possession because we need time to have the floors done and for us to paint the place. It's easier to do those things when the place is empty. The other upgrades we want to do can be done while we live there.
  • I'm looking forward to painting our new home. It will be nice to paint for myself and take my time to do the job the way we want it done. Megan and I are still trying to decide what colours to go with. The nice thing about working in the trade is that I can get paint and supplies quite easily and at contractor pricing. Bonus!
  • No pressure or anything, but I'm going to have to make sure I do a good job. Some of my friends are painters and will be invited to our housewarming party...
  • Work is going quite well for me so far this season. I'm no longer working the night shift at the DND Hazmat building on the Navy base and have been bouncing around from one job site to another for the past few weeks. As time goes on there are more and more places I can look at on a map of Victoria and say "I worked there!"
  • My supervisors seem to really like me and have really done their best to keep me working. I've also earned their trust over the past few seasons and that makes me happy. No longer do I have supervisors looking over my shoulder telling me to paint a certain way or to go faster. They just tell me what to do and do it as I see fit.
  • I'm the type of person who will ask questions if I'm not sure about something and ask for assistance when I need it. I also take responsibility for any mistakes I do make and clean up after myself.
  • The difference between a pro painter and an amateur is that a pro will clean up his or her mistakes before anyone else notices.
  • I like the fact that I'm always doing different things and I'm always gaining new skills. It's hard to believe that only 4 years ago I was working in a call center for an American cell phone company doing the same robotic tasks day in and day out.
  • I still cringe whenever I see one of that cell phone company's commercials, or any of those Jamster ads.
  • One thing that makes me sick to my stomach is the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Isn't that heartbreaking? I'm old enough to remember the Exxon disaster in Alaska 20 years ago and they're still cleaning that one up. This new one is shaping up to be the worst ever! I don't give a crap about the financial losses of the oil company. I'm worried about all those birds, sea creatures, and other animals that live down there, as well as the livelihoods of the people who make their livings fishing in the gulf.
  • The world really needs to ween itself from it's dependency on fossil fuels.

Well, my friends, I'm out of things to say for now. I'm hungry and need to eat something before Megan and I embark on another busy day leading up to the big move. People to go, places to do, things to see, etc... (I messed that up on purpose :P ) I'll try to get back into blogging more often once the dust settles.

Take Care!
The Wandering Oak

Monday, April 12, 2010

Losing Our Property Virginity...

Hey folks!
   Some of you might have read on my Facebook page that my wife and I have been on a quest to lose our property virginity and purchase our first home. Anyone who's ever been in this situation knows how exciting and frustrating this can be.
   We've looked at a dozen different properties. Most of them were instant rejects and the few that we did like usually had one or two features that were deal breakers such as no in suite laundry or the building itself needed too much work - or the cost was too high.
   There is one place out of that dozen that really jumped out at us and has everything we're looking for: in suite laundry, additional storage downstairs, a bike lock-up room, great location, and a fully renovated building. So, after discussing it at length and sleeping on it for one night, we decided to call our realtor yesterday and tell him we wanted to put in an offer. I think he was pleasantly surprised!
   I think the offer we presented is pretty fair and the realtor agreed, so now my wife and I are holding our breath as we wait for a response. If the offer is accepted and everything else goes through without any snags then we will be homeowners by the end of the week and be moving in early June!
   I'm going to have a hard time focusing at work today...

The Wandering Oak

Monday, April 5, 2010

Elizabethan Collar...the latest in fashion for cats.

Hey Gang,
"Yep, my humans have decided to post an embarrassing photo of me on the internet."

   Actually, this photo is also going to be the photo of the day on my 365 page. Let me tell you what happened.
   On Saturday afternoon our little cat Merlin was giving himself a regular bath, like normal cats do, but we noticed that he was fixating on the area just under his tail a lot more than usual. This was a red flag for us because several months ago poor Merlin suffered from a condition in which the little scent glands near his bum became inflamed and swollen and even abscessed. Sure enough, when we checked we discovered that he was having a relapse and we weren't going to let it get as bad as it did last time.
   Now last time we were able to put Merlin in his carrier and take him to our regular vet within walking distance, however because of the holiday long weekend they were closed so we had to call a taxi (Merlin HATES car rides) and rush down to the 24hr Emergency Veterinary Hospital. The staff there was terrific and even though they were very busy they were able to treat Merlin that day and didn't have to keep him overnight. It just took a few hours. This time the vets actually put Merlin under anesthetic while they lanced, drained, and flushed the wounds and kept him under observation for those few hours as the anesthetic wore off.
   When we picked him up at 9:30 that evening he was as high as a kite and was sporting one of those fashionable Elizabethan collars. Anyone who has ever had to take their cat or dog into the vets for any procedure that involves wearing one of these things knows that this can be both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. The poor little guy keeps walking into walls and corners that he would normally clear and you can almost see the frustration in his eyes. Unlike dogs, cats don't grasp the concept of walking backwards and so poor Merlin would often keep hitting the same spot.
   The real challenges came when he tried eating or drinking. My wife and I had to find creative ways to elevate his food and water in such a way that he can reach it while wearing the cone, but not knock it over and make a mess when he misjudged the distance and clipped it with said cone.
   Then there are mornings. Like many cats, Merlin loves to come and wake his humans up by climbing up onto the bed and getting his face as close to ours as possible and meowing loudly while gently tapping our faces with his paws. Well the paws are fine, but that cone hurts when it hits our faces - and it amplifies the meow!
   As for the cause of this whole ordeal, the vets simply told us that poor Merlin just has narrow ducts that are prone to blockages and that the best thing we can do is keep our eyes on him and bring him to our vet for regular exams. Fortunately those exams will cost far less than the hundreds of dollars we've already spent getting him treated twice. But we love our cat and this is exactly why my wife and I have money put aside for emergencies.
   Poor little Merlin is going to be fine - and for now he gets lots of TV channels.

The Wandering Oak

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 365 Project

Hey friends,
   As mentioned in a previous post I've decided to take on the challenge of The 365 Project. I hope to post a picture a day for the next 365 days, unless of course I can't get to my computer for some reason. If that happens I'll just do a catch up post. One way or another there will be 365 pictures posted between today and April 1, 2011.
   Here is the link to The Wandering Oak's 365. I'm also going to put the link somewhere here on this page so my friends on facebook can come here first then jump over to see the picture of the day.

The Wandering Oak

Monday, March 29, 2010

Midday Monday Musings

Hey folks,
   It's midday (at the time I'm writing this) and I have a little less than two hours before heading off to work this rainy Monday afternoon, so I thought I'd post some random musings.

  • It's taken about a month but I'm adapting to working the late shift. It still sucks that I don't get to see my wife very much, but we make the most of the time we have together.
  • I've developed a midnight routine now: I get home, feed and pet the cat (because he demands SO much attention), have a shower, and make myself a cup of caffiene free herbal tea. Some nights I'll have a bite to eat like some toast or something, but nothing too filling. I don't like to eat big meals late at night.
  • It takes a bit of time to wind down after a hard night's work, so I usually stay up for a little while before climbing into bed - otherwise I'd be tossing and turning for who knows how long until I finally pass out.
  • I usually spend my winding down time sitting in my living room under candle light (less power consumption, and no bright lights to disturb my wife) sipping my tea and listening to music through headphones. Some nights I'll just pick up one of my guitars and strum random melodies. My electric guitars are actually pretty quiet when they're not plugged in.
  • I only wish my cat would understand that I want to wind down. 1:00 am is not the best time to start wandering around the apartment howling at the top of his little lungs, nor is it the best time to start trying to pry into cupboards, lift the oven burners, or climb around on the entertainment stand.
  • Turning to more exciting news, my wife and I have taken those first tentative steps towards home ownership. Our bank gave us the good news that we both have excellent credit and could take out a mortgage with no trouble whatsoever and that made us feel great. We've been saving our pennies for a few years now and we're happy to be finally in a position in our lives to even consider home ownership. We realize it's going to be tough with the way the markets are, but we're prepared.
  • We've already looked at a few places this past weekend and there is a standout unit, but we're going to keep looking. We have a few specific needs, but we also understand that we may have to compromise on some things. The suite we like does not have laundry machines or a very big storage room, but it has a great kitchen, lots of windows, is located on the corner of the building, and has big bedrooms. Installing a laundry machine is possible, but we'd lose space and it could cost a bit to do it. We still like that suite though. All things to consider...
  • Finally, in other news, a few friends of mine have started doing blogs in which they post a picture a day for 365 days and I've decided I'm going to give that a try. I hope to get that going on April 1st. I already have a few pictures that I've saved for this project.
   Well, friends, I'm running low on time. I now have less than an hour before I have to leave for work - and I haven't had lunch yet. Some of you might have read on facebook that I've been given the task of counting all of the nuts and bolts in the building I'm working on and it's been quite the undertaking. Our company may be contracted to paint them and in order to provide an estimate on time and materials we have to know how many there are. Strangely enough, we can't seem to find this information on the plans or through the iron workers that installed all of the beams and rafters that support the roof, so someone has to count them. That someone is me. When I left off on Friday night I was up to almost 12,000 and I have 3 more rooms to count! My boss told me to be thorough!

Have a good week!

The Wandering Oak

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Bloom

Hey hey!

So the first day of Spring arrived this past weekend and I couldn't be happier. The days are getting longer and warmer, birds are singing, and everything's in bloom! Actually, here in Victoria (and most of southern BC) the plants have been in bloom for a few weeks now.

This photo was taken in February!

I really like the cherry trees around here.

Yellow Crocus.

This young Magnolia tree is located just across the street from my apartment.

Even the plants on our balcony are staring to wake up after their long winter hibernation:

This is my wife's beloved Hosta. We've actually been taking photos of this plant since before it sprouted over a month ago so that we can track it's growth. At the end of the season I'll put all the photos together in a time lapse video.

Finally, this is our Japanese Maple. Every year it gets bigger and bushier and this year I suspect it will take up the whole south corner of the balcony. That is, as long as we can solve the aphid problem...

As the season goes on I'll try to get more photos, but this is all I have for today my friends. I can't wait until my favorite big old oak trees start to really wake up. Have a good day, everyone!

The Wandering Oak

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lego! It's Friday!

Hey friends!

The other day I received an email with a link to a funny Lego video, and from there I started watching other Lego videos, so today I've decided to post a few of my favorites. Why not? It's Friday!

You can't do a Lego video without covering Indiana Jones.

And of course you have to have Star Wars in there. Darth Vader tries to take a Personal Day.

Watch out! It's the attack of the Lego Zombies!

Here are a couple of Lego Beatles songs: Help!  and I Saw Her Standing There. (The funniest part of the second video is when it cuts to the girls watching their tv at home!)

I like this one. One of the best scenes from The Matrix. "Trinity, Help!"

And finally, Lego Man tries to get a "Soda" from a vending machine.

There are so many more to watch out there, but I'll save them for another day. I think these people have a lot of time on their hands. But it's still entertaining!

The Wandering Oak

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Miss...

Hey gang,
   I woke up feeling a little down this morning and there really isn't a single reason why. It's more like a combination of little reasons that are starting to add up. Between working late and battling a nasty cold, this past couple of weeks has really kicked my ass both physically and mentally. I think the mental part is the worst. I can adapt to the work and find what I do to be very challenging yet rewarding and a great way to stay in shape. Trust me, you could not be a big fat-ass and do my job. As my sister in law put it, it's the isolation that can get to you. She was right.
   I found myself thinking about all the things I'm missing out on and somehow that led me into thinking about things I miss in general.

• I miss Megan, my wife. Working late means I hardly get to see her during the week and it's starting to get to us. I know that some couples out there face tougher separations and sometimes for long stretches, but we're not used to this. I guess the silver lining is that the time we are together is that much more meaningful. I surprised her with a rose last week and it almost made her cry.

• I miss my friends. Actually, even before this late shift came about I found myself missing a lot of my friends. I miss my friends in Edmonton. It's taking me a long time to meet people and make friends here in Victoria that are not work friends. Not that my work friends aren't good friends, believe me I think very highly of them, but I think you can understand the value of non work friends.

• I miss my friends all over the world that I've met either through my blogs or through mutual friends on Facebook. Though I haven't met most of you in person I do think of you as friends and miss the good old days when we all used to randomly comment on each other's blogs and photos. That made it fun! I guess we're all busy these days. Actually I blame Facebook and all the silly games and applications - and the fact that people have huge friend lists that make it hard to keep up with everyone. Facebook only shows what it wants so a lot of people's postings go unnoticed.

• I miss my great grandmother. She passed in the summer of 2008, but I still find myself thinking about her from time to time. She's the one who taught me how to be a proper gentleman, to respect women, how to make the best and the most of what I have, and to know the value of good work and a well earned pay cheque. Rest In Peace, Grandma Archer.

• I miss Hawaii. I'd go back there in a heartbeat if we weren't saving to buy a home. Sure Victoria's had a mild winter and an early spring, but it's still cool outside and this week it's supposed to be cloudy and rainy all week. I know it rains in Hawaii too, but at least down there you can still walk around in shorts and a t-shirt.

• I miss quality scripted television. Not really a reason for being down, but I just thought I'd throw it in here. Right now Chuck, Legend of the Seeker, and that sitcom Modern Family are really the only good scripted shows out there - at least that I like (and that doesn't include my animated favorites like the Simpsons and Family Guy etc.). Well there is LOST, which I also really like, but who really knows what the heck is going on there anymore? Am I right people?

• I guess most of all I miss being that happy person that rarely ever gets pissed off over anything. The guy that always has the right thing to say at the right time and usually makes everyone laugh, even in difficult situations. Sure I get laughs at work and have the occasional wise-cracking comment on someone's Facebook post, but people who know me well can tell you I used to be so much livelier. Nowadays I curse like a sailor when I run out of masking tape at work (not loudly, don't worry) or find myself criticizing the smallest little things and that's not who I am.

   Don't worry my friends, this will pass. I'm not one of those people who falls so deep into depression that can I could never be saved and this certainly isn't a cry for help or attention. I wouldn't even say I'm depressed. I've just been in a bit of a rut lately and I'm glad I got this off my chest. I want to end today's post by looking at the silver lining. I've had a lot of time to play my guitar and to finally finish a little project that I've been working on all winter. The project is still a surprise for someone, so I won't say what it is, but I've poured a lot of my heart and soul into it and it feels so good to finally be finished.

   So now I've got to get ready to head off to work. Hey, at least I get to drive cool machines! Thanks for reading this, and to my friends who have expressed concern I also thank you. It means a lot to me to know that people really do care.
I promise my next post will be a fun one!

The Wandering Oak

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How Times Have Changed...At Rock Concerts

Hey hey!
   Last night my lovely wife and I attended our first big rock and roll show of the year. The headlining act was Canadian group Billy Talent and I admit, I went in not really thinking much of them but, of the 4 bands performing last night, they really were the better act.
   Opening bands included Alexisonfire, Against Me, and the Cancer Bats. I had never heard of the Cancer Bats before and, honestly, I don't really care for them. A little too hardcore metal for me. All of their songs sounded the same and I couldn't understand the singer for the life of me. The other two bands Alexisonfire and Against Me both played solid sets and I really enjoyed both bands.
   As I said earlier, I didn't really think much of Billy Talent before last night, but some of their later songs are actually pretty good. Now that I've seen them in concert I have to admit, I really have a whole new respect for them. The guitar player can really make his Fender Stratocaster scream and I found myself fixated as he went from chunky driving riffs to searing solos and back again.
   I think what I really liked most about Billy Talent was how proud they are to be Canadian. There was a Canadian Flag flying over the amplifiers and between songs the lead singer paused to put on a Team Canada Sidney Crosby shirt and the crowd went nuts!
   "Let the Americans have their football, hockey is Canada's f~cking game!" He said as the crowd went nuts again.
   So all in all I would say it was a really good evening. It wasn't the best show I've seen, but certainly not the worst. If Billy Talent came back to Victoria I would see them again, but I could do without Cancer Bats. I'm sorry if you're a fan of Cancer Bats.

   One thing I've noticed about rock concerts in recent years is that hardly anybody holds up a lighter anymore during balads. Nowadays everyone holds up their cell phones and it's just not the same. I didn't bother. When I first started going to concerts back in the 90's the second a band went into a balad the lighters would be in the air and the whole arena would glow with thousands of little orange points of light. Now it's just a sea of dull blue and green screens. How times have changed.
   But the lighter is not completely dead, it's just that nowadays it's an application for the iphone. That's right, an application that shows a Zippo Lighter on the screen. The kid in front of me had it on his phone - move your finger one way to "open" the lighter and slide your finger down to "light" it. Again, it's just not the same, but I suppose it's less of a fire hazard.

Rock on, everyone!!

The Wandering Oak

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Once Every Hundred Years

Hi Friends!

   Laying in bed last night, trying to get to sleep, I started to let my mind wander. I started thinking about how it's already March and then it dawned on me. Today is one of those days that only happens once every hundred years.
   Allow me to explain. If you take today's date and express it as M - D - YY you end up with 3 - 2 - 10. It goes beyond that too. We've all missed it this morning, but if you wait until later this evening it will happen again. At 6:54pm (we'll stick with the 12 hour clock) the time and date will be 6:54 3 -2 -10.
   Pretty cool huh? Go ahead and share this with your friends and coworkers. Have a great day, everyone. A day like this only happens once every hundred years.

The Wandering Oak

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Night Owl On A Boom Lift

   Hi friends!
   It's been a very long time since I've had to work late shifts and it takes some getting used to, but I am adapting. At one point in my life I used to be quite the night owl, but in recent years I've settled nicely into a routine of being up at dawn, working all day, and having my evenings with my wife. Now I only get to see her briefly in the mornings before she goes to work. She's usually fast asleep by the time I get home around midnight.
   At first we were upset over this new arrangement, mainly because it was somewhat sprung on me by surprise, but we discussed it and came to the consensus that work is work. If we want to be able to buy a home this year it's better to be working than to be sitting at home idle and collecting E.I. And the schedule isn't that tough. My late shifts are from Tuesday to Friday. I'm home earlier on Saturdays, and I'm off Sundays and Mondays.
   There's perfectly logical reasoning behind our new schedule. It's much easier for us painters to do what we need to do when all the other trades have gone home for the night. We're applying some smelly products (don't worry I wear a respirator) and that requires some considerable preparation, not to mention drying time.
   My tasks have so far revolved around the preparation end of things: masking and hanging plastic and paper over things we don't want to get paint on, then tearing down the masking after the other guys have painted. It's not a glamour job, but it's not that bad either. I have less exposure to the paints and I get to drive around the place on cool machines like scissor lifts, articulated lifts, and the classic boom lift just like this model.
Courtesy Google Images.

   What I like about the company I work for is that they provide on the job training for operating these machines. Once I proved to them that I can run them competently and safely I've been pretty much left on my own to do whatever needs to be done.
   I admit, I'm not one of those guys who can whip these things around and drive them at high speeds. Most of the time I dial the machine down to turtle speed (yes, there's actually a picture of a turtle on the panel) and really only dial it up to rabbit speed when I've got a lot of open space. I don't like that jerky feeling of the boom swaying really fast. The slightest movement on the ground translates into a big movement 60 feet up. It's kind of like working on a diving board! (Don't worry, I wear a fall safety harness.)
   My brother, who is really scared of heights, told me there was no way he could do my job. To me it's no big deal as long as I feel comfortable that whatever I'm standing on is secure. I'm actually far more relaxed in the basket of one of those lifts than I am on a wobbly ladder. Trust me, people, you'll NEVER see me doing things like these guys:

*Note the Jorts!

   Well that's enough writing about work. It's time I get ready for work. Have a good day/evening/night!

The Wandering Oak

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's Okay, I Still Had Fun

   Well, folks, I didn't win my friend Chelle's Ugly Things Contest. It's okay, I still had fun. I got to read a lot of funny blogs as I stalked judged checked out the competition, and I knew I didn't have a chance. Here is the winning entry.
   I just wanted to play along, and you know what, it wasn't a total loss. I got the Green Participation ribbon I wanted. I haven't gotten one of these since I was in junior high school!

   I'll take a little bit of credit for the green ribbon idea, seeing as I was the one who subliminally put the idea in Chelle's head, but the hand made sock zombie and cool photo shopping is all her.

The Wandering Oak

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back to Work and....Ugly?

Hello friends!
   I'll get to the ugly in just a moment.
   If I know you on facebook, you might have already seen in my status message that I've finally been called back to work, and I'm happy about that. I've been idle for a few months now and was starting to get a little stir crazy!
   This season I've been sent to work on a new industrial warehouse that is currently under construction at the DND Navy Dockyards in Esquimalt that will soon become the new home for the Hazmat (hazardous materials) crew. It's not the prettiest construction site,  but they rarely are at this stage. That's why we paint them!
   For a ship buff like me, just to be right there at the home base of Canada's Pacific Navy Fleet is exciting enough, but what really thrills me is that there is currently a very large cruise ship sitting in the Public Works Drydock just accross the bay: the Norwegian Star. That ship was supposed to serve as a floating hotel during the Olympics in Vancouver, but something fell through and it didn't happen. So, since the ship was in the area, her owners figured it was time to get some work done - a bonus for Victoria's economy.
   So, while I'm toiling away sanding, rolling, masking, and generally getting dirty making the building look nice, I can get a little joy in knowing that all I have to do is step outside at break time and get a look at the big, beautiful ship.

   Now what's all this Ugly business? A good friend of mine, and a blogger more popular and awesome than I'll ever be, Chelle, is having a little contest in which she's asked her friends to post or email her a picture of their ugliest possessions. She's even giving away a prize too!
   Well, it's a long shot, but going back to work inspired my entry. I've looked at a few of the other entries and there is some tough competion out there, but I'm sure none of you willingly wear something ugly and dirty out of the house. But I do...

Yep, those are my painter's pants! I wear them (and a few other pairs just like them in rotation) every time I go to work. All are just as ugly. The photo doesn't really do them justice. Like I said, it's a longshot, but I don't care. I'll be happy with just a nomination, you know, like the Oscars. Or even just one of those green ribbons like they gave you in Elementary track & field just for participating.

Wish me luck - at both the jobsite and the contest!

The Wandering Oak

Monday, February 8, 2010


   It was 33 years ago today at about 7:40pm at Campbell River General Hospital that I took my first breath of air, and all these years later I'm happy to still be breathing. I've got to say my 30's have been good to me so far.
   I've done more with my life in the first 3 years of my 30's than I ever did with the last 5 years of my 20's.
   I changed careers. I spent pretty much all of my 20's bouncing from one customer service job to another. I even did a 4 year stand at a call centre for a big American cell phone company and lived to tell about it - though I still cringe every time I see one of their commercials on TV. While I learned a lot from each of those jobs and made many, many great friends along the way, none of those jobs turned out to be as rewarding as I initially hoped they would be and often left me feeling like something was missing in my life. So, I left that industry right before my 30th birthday, took some special training and safety courses, and now I have a very rewarding job in the trades that I actually feel happy telling people about. (Trust me, that call centre had such a bad reputation that when I told people where I worked they would look at me as though I just told them I had a terminal illness and tell me they were sorry to hear that. It's true!)
   I moved home. Growing up my family often moved back and forth from BC to Alberta and I've actually spent most of my life in Alberta, but BC was always home to me. My wife is also from BC, and after about 9 years of living in Edmonton we both started feeling really homesick. So, in 2007 we packed all of our worldly possessions into a U-Haul truck, bid tearful goodbyes to our friends, and headed back over the mountains. We may not be living in my hometown of Campbell River, but Victoria is only a 3 hour drive down the Island. It's so much nicer to be closer to our families and, let's face it; the winters out here are so much milder than they were back in Edmonton. My job has given me the opportunity to work on so many different projects around Victoria that I really feel like I've become a part of this city. "I painted that!"
   I got married. Sure my wife and I have been a couple since meeting in high school and that was centuries ago, but in 2008 we decided to make it official by tying the knot in a beautiful and intimate barefoot-on-the-beach ceremony in Oahu, Hawaii. It was the happiest day of my life. Actually it was the happiest week of my life. I consider myself a pretty lucky guy to have someone like her in my life and to this day wonder what I did to be worthy of such an amazing woman.
   So what's next for my 30's? Well I don't really know for sure, but if the next 7 years are anything like the last 3 years I can imagine there will be some big changes. One thing I can say is that my wife and I are planning on becoming home owners and not just renters, so let's hope that happens. Other than that? Well the future is wide open.

   Before I go, I'd like to give a special greeting to my very good friend Jennifer who is also celebrating her birthday today. We've known each other for a few years now (four-five?) and in that time I've come to think of her as one of the nicest people I know. It's amazing how comfortable we are talking with each other about practically anything and our online chats on MSN can and will usually go off in all different directions. Maybe I should start saving them and posting them as blogs... So to my friend Jennifer, have yourself a very happy birthday and I hope you get spoiled rotten. You deserve it!

Now I'm going to go enjoy my day. Have a great day, my friends!

The Wandering Oak

Sunday, February 7, 2010


My friends, a moment of serenity:

The Wandering Oak

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"They got a lot of strange stuff on that there internet..."

Good day my friends!
I was a little bored this morning, so I decided to go through some of my old emails and I've put together a little compilation of funny and interesting links from all over the web that I think you'll enjoy as much as I did.
  • This first link was actually on my home page this morning. You've got to love facebook. Click Here.
  • Our next link explains 17 things you may or may not have known about cats and is drawn in a cute, comical fashion. Paw Here.
  • From the same website comes a link anyone with a computer (and a relative who doesn't understand computers) can easily relate to. Click Away.
  • I can't say I've ever thought of drawing on a styrofoam cup, but this guy did, and he's very good at it too. Sip Here.
  • Imagine if paper towel could talk...I would LOVE to try this sometime. "Pull down with both hands here".
  • This is cool, a guy that makes himself invisible by painting himself into the background. No photoshop. Watch him vanish here.
  • Finally, this link is a little more PG-13, but still really funny. Talk about lost in translation. Click for subtitles gone wrong.

Well, I think I've wasted enough time in front of the computer today. And if you looked at all of these links, you did too. :)
It's a nice day, so Go outside and play!

Have a great day, everyone!

The Wandering Oak

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Hometown

Hello Everyone!
   You might have noticed I've been away from the internet for the past little while (you did notice, right?) and there was a very good reason for my absence. I took a trip up to my hometown of Campbell River to visit some of my family. Yes, my brother does have internet and I could have used it to keep up with Facebook or check my emails or whatever, but I chose not to. I was on vacation and I just wanted to get away from everything for a while and, quite truthfully, it was really nice.
   I went three days without reading about Haiti, hearing about celebrity breakups and public f*ck ups, the Olympics, politics, war, and best of all three days without seeing all those silly Facebook statuses that say: “post this as your status message for one hour to raise awareness about whatever (but don’t tell the boys!)”. (Oh I’m going to get it for that one).
   Internet aside, the main thing I wanted to write about today was visiting my hometown. Campbell River is a quiet little city about midway up the Eastern side of Vancouver Island. Although populated by First Nations peoples for centuries, the town itself wasn’t actually established until about 150 years ago and is reportedly named for a ship surgeon by the name of Samuel Campbell. The community’s economy is largely based on the forest industry, but also relies on mining, fishing, and tourism. (Oh, and parts of the Twilight movies were filmed there too. Blah.)
   While all of these industries have suffered one way or another in recent years, Campbell River continues to grow and change and every time I go back to visit I notice something new. Here, in no particular order, are a few photos from my most recent visit. My friends on Facebook can see more photos there.

The view from my brother's front door. This was in the morning. As the sun moved across the sky, those mountains really lit up!

Somewhere on the beach in Willow Point looking North.

Bald eagles everywhere!

Breathtaking scenery!

Big Rock. Self explanatory. It's a 10,000 year old local landmark with an unoriginal name.

Downtown C.R. near Tyee Plaza. This has really changed! The logger up on the pole is old, but he's been rebuilt and mounted on a new tree (poor old tree). On the left is the ugly new "Spirit Square" slapped together for the Olympic Torch relay. I hate it, and I miss the grassy hill that used to be there.

The M.V. Powell River Queen, also known as the Quadra Ferry.

Another bald eagle enjoying a snack on the beach. She knew I was there, but wasn't bothered by my presence. It was some other kid on the beach that scared her off.

   That's all I'm going to post here, my friends. As I said, there are a lot more on my facebook page, but this is all I want to post on my public blog. I hope you enjoyed them.

The Wandering Oak

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Birthday Wish List

Hey everyone,
Well now that the 2009 Holiday season is ancient history, and the supposed "most depressing day of the year" has come and gone, I have another annual occasion to prepare for in just under three weeks - my birthday. I also share that day with my very good friend Jennifer, which is really kind of cool since I've only ever met a couple of people in my lifetime with the same birthday.
I have to admit I'm actually looking forward to this one. I'll be 33 and I like that number. You only get to be a twin-digit age every eleven years and I hope to live long enough to see number 99. After that it's tripple digits! I'm not one of those people who gets upset over getting older. I may not be as young as I used to be, but I'm still young enough to make the most out of life.
I've got a wonderful wife, great friends, a family that loves me, a roof over my head (though I wish it was something I owned and wasn't just renting) and a pretty rewarding job, so there really isn't much else I could ask for in my life. However, some of my closer friends have asked me for a birthday wish list so I decided to go one step further and publish it. Why not?
Although I really don't need anything, here is a list of things I wouldn't say no to. In no particular order...
  • Books, DVD’s or Music. Always accepted. A gift card for a music store or book store could go a long way.
  • Specific music would include any Beatles album (I know, surprise right? I actually don't own any Beatles albums!) such as Abbey Road, The White Album, etc…; Anything from Kings Of Leon; or the Foo Fighters latest album.
  • Specific books would include anything on world history, rock and roll biographies, ships and Navy, or even a cool coffee table book with interesting photos.
  • A new scarf. I know it’s halfway through winter, but the one I have has seen better days and isn’t long enough to properly wrap around my neck. Something masculine that would go with anything. Wool or synthetic doesn’t matter.
  • A new microphone for recording my music. This might be something I’d have to pick for myself since I have specific needs and they’re a tad pricey, but a gift card to a music store like Long & McQuade or Tom Lee would help.
  • Games for the Nintendo Wii. I already have Sports Resort, and a Star Wars Lightsabre game. Not interested in Wii Fit, but I’ll take anything that’s fun and a little challenging and that I can play over and over.
  • A bottle of rum will never be turned down. Sailor Jerry’s is my preferred brand, but I’ll accept any nice spiced rum. Not too fond of the white rum.
  • A tambourine or a small pair of bongo drums. Just for fun.
  • World Peace. It doesn’t hurt to want that.
  • I could use some new t-shirts. Size medium (though I find one store’s medium is another store’s large and another store's small) no splashy brand names, but cool prints are ok.
  • A new SLR camera with a better zoom lens. Yeah right, I know you like me but I’ll never ask someone to spend that much on me. This is just a wishlist.
That’s really about all I can think of. Truthfully, I really can do without any of these things as long as I have my family and friends.☺

The Wandering Oak

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fun

Hey gang!

My inlaws are a never ending source of jokes and funny pictures and during our last visit I heard the best line ever:

"Oh you're just jealous because the voices chose to talk to me!"

Just for fun this Friday I encourage everyone to try to use that line today. Imagine the response you'd get.

At work...
Boss: "I thought I asked for those reports hours ago."
You: "Oh you're just jealous because the voices chose to talk to me."

On a date...
Your date: " after college I backpacked around Europe for a year with my cousin and...wait. Are you even listening to me?"
You: "Oh you're just jealous because the voices chose to talk to me."

The possibilities are endless, so try it!

Before I head off, I'll leave you with this picture from my father in law that you might have seen before.

"If only someone would invent something to keep the sun out of my eyes!"

That's all I've got for today my friends. Have a great weekend!

The Wandering Oak

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Little More Effort

Hey everyone,
First of all, a very belated Happy New Year! (Unless you follow the Chinese calendar, at which case I'd be early on that one).
So it's 2010, and we're already 13 days into the new year. Unbelievable. Is it just me or is time going faster and faster? I've had this blog going for almost a year now, and I'll be celebrating birthday number 33 in just a few short weeks.
When I started this blog last year I intended to write and post photos quite regularly, but even I've got to say I've been slacking. As a result this page is far less popular than my previous blog ever was. Besides being distracted by other things in my life, I lay part of the blame for this on facebook. I don't mean that in a bad way against facebook, but like many people today I guess I've just come to like the instant gratification. It's weird how something I post in my status message that took only seconds to write generates more feedback than anything I've posted here that took time and effort to compose. Mind you, not everything I post there gets as much attention as I hope it would (videos, photos, links, etc), but with so many users doing so many things it's likely many people simply don't see some things because their walls could be cluttered up by someone else's activities.
Well instead of letting myself get down about it, I've decided to put a little more effort into promoting this page. Initially I was going to remain anonymous on this page, and I still will be to those who come here by way of say google or just randomly flipping through blogs, but I'm going to start importing my notes to my personal facebook page so that my friends can read or see what I've posted, and leave comments there if they choose to.
Of course this also means I'm going to have to start posting more often. I seem to remember reading something when I first signed up here that said that's the key to generating traffic on your blog, so I'd better get my acorns together and do just that.
And if I can't think of something to write about, you'll get a nice photo to enjoy. Like this one of a sunrise I watched last week:

Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.
The Wandering Oak
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