Here Today Gone Tomorrow Problems at Home – Computer, Health and Cars

Several days ago I sent you off to look at Cancer stories. I’m not ready to tell our Cancer story just yet, but I think it is fair to tell you that The Car Guy and I have had enough of those “I Never Saw That Coming” experiences to know that life can change in a blink of an eye.

This past week, The Car Guy experienced three “I Wasn’t Expecting That” events in three consecutive days. His identity, his body, his house and his vehicle all came under attack. It was a veritable Blitzkrieg!

The Car Guy had been complaining for a few weeks that his computer had slowed down quite a bit. I gave it a spring cleaning, and was satisfied that it was working better, but suggested that if he wanted something that ran like a Ferrari, then he should go shopping. His computer was like a 5 year old Dodge with half a million miles on it taking four Sumo wrestlers out for a drive. On Sunday he complained that his Google searches were responding funny. It was then that I realized that his computer had been hijacked. It had malware that caused Google to redirect to sites other than the intended one. Apparently it can also do other more sinister things that compromise a persons identity.  Several hours later I finally found the tool to remove it – the  Kapersky Labs TDSSKiller. The Malware that was on his computer is particularly sneaky. It can hide itself. Normal Security scans don’t find it. Since this is the first virus type thing we have ever had, I don’t know what part of our defenses it breached.

The very next day, The Car Guy experienced a pulmonary blockage that sent him to the hospital for the morning. Quite scary. But he was eventually sent home with antibiotics and anti-inflamatories, and is expected to make a full recovery.

As if the week hadn’t been stressful enough, the next day The Car Guy discovered that someone had entered his car, opened the centre console, and stolen the registration, insurance, garage door opener, a Starbucks gift card, and a few dollars in change. Whether this happened while the car was in town, or whether it was in our own rural driveway is unknown.  The thieves didn’t take the cell phone, perhaps not recognizing that a 6 year old cell phone is actually a cell phone… And they didn’t take the set of keys, which would have given them access to all the junk mail in the mail box out by the highway.

So, the rest of this week has been spent tweaking things so that the thieves are back on the outside again. It isn’t a bad exercise to do now and then, is it? And in the big scheme of things, the only thing that really matters is that The Car Guy is going to be just fine. Which we won’t be able to say about the thieves if The Car Guy catches them trying to steal his car or the tools from his garage…

Canadian Ice – All That it’s Cracked up to Be! Bus Bonspiel

Canadian Seasons have been described as: Six months of winter, and six months of poor sledding. These two blocks of time can be further broken down into: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction season. On the calendar, this would read as Winter, June, July, August, Winter.

Winter here is not like the one that people in other countries use as an excuse to wear cute sweaters, light jackets and fashion boots. No, a Canadian winter can be a fierce thing that will kill you if you don’t treat it with respect. On the coldest days, citizens who brave the outdoors look much like a padded, rounded snowman.

While so many of you are blogging about the joys of spring, many of us here in Canada are still digging out from another day of snow. You can understand then, why many of us think Global Warming is a good thing. We also don’t mind sending some of our wintery weather south in cooling blasts called  Blue Northers or Alberta Clippers.

Even our sports reflect our climate. All the most popular ones involve Ice. Many children are introduced to skating at a young age, with boys normally gravitating to hockey, and girls to figure skating (though there are plenty of excellent female hockey players and male figure skaters.) At the professional level, Hockey is our biggest sport. 54% of the players in the National Hockey League (which has teams in both Canada and the United States) were born in Canada. With the highest paid players in the league earning salaries of $10 million a year, and the lowest salary a cool $500,000, it is no wonder that little boys dream of being one of the 720 hockey players in the league. Personally, I don’t like the direction hockey has gone. I think the salaries are obscene and the violence is abhorrent. The Sidney Crosby concussion tells the story of much of what is wrong with hockey.

Another popular sport is Curling. No violence, no big salaries, no over the top media hype, it is a game that many people just do not understand. And no wonder. It is Chess on ice. Though it is a game played by people of all ages and abilities, it is not an easy game to play well. Here are Canada’s best Top Ten shots from the Roar of the Rings in 2009.

Curling is also a game where even the smallest Canadian towns and cities can boast a world class team. Team Holland was a Saskatchewan Women’s Team that curled out of the small town of Kronau, a place of 200 people!

There is also the ice that causes so many car accidents each winter. Watch this video, which does an excellent job of both documenting a string of vehicle accidents in Montreal, and explaining some of the finer points of curling.

Ice – I’ve skated on it, I’ve curled on it, and, during our brief summer season, I keep my beverages cool with it! What a remarkable product!

Ice Tea

Versatile Blogger Award

There are a number of Awards that Bloggers bestow on one another. These awards are very nice, because they don’t require a nomination committee, nor a round of voting. They are just one blogger saying they like the work of another blogger. All very civilized.

One of these Awards is the prestigious Versatile Blogger Award. At least, I’m going to assume it is prestigious because I see a number of very fine bloggers have gotten one. So I was honored to have received this award from Tien at Tien Unscripted. Tien is an International Student in New Zealand, born in Malaysia. She is an enthusiastic new blogger as you will see when you visit her site. Thank-you Tien!

A Blogger Award is a bit like a chain letter. My friends will tell you that I am usually the dead-end link of any chain that arrives at my house. Of course, these usually involve recipes, and I really don’t want another 100 or 2000 ones that I will never cook. But a Blogger Award is a different animal.

So I will accept it with honour and abide by most of the RULES: The recipient has to:
– Thank the person who awarded you and link to his/her blog
– Tell 7 random facts about yourself
– Pass the award to 15 new found bloggers
– Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to, and let them know you’ve done so, and let the giver of your award know you accept it…or not.

7 Random Facts:
1. I am short. I can stand up under the overhead luggage compartments of an airplane without stooping at all.
2. My Christmas tree is still up. No decorations, but it is still up.
3. I eat a bit of dark chocolate every day.
4. I like Murder Mysteries. I like to watch them. I like to read them.
5. Calvin and Hobbes is my all time favourite cartoon strip.
6. Honour and Favourite can be spelled with a ‘u’ and I wish the spell checker would quit marking them as  misspelled words.
7. We have a Bone Marrow Transplant survivor in our family.

Next, I have to pass this award on to 15 new found bloggers. As you may remember, I am interested in statistics. So, if I pass this award to 15 bloggers this week, and they each pass it on to 15 bloggers next week, and each of them passes it on the following week, (the philosophy of the chain letter at work here) then in just 6 weeks 11,390,625 bloggers will have received this Award. I Googled “Versatile Blogger Award” and found 967,000 results relating to an award that appears to have been born in mid 2010. So I guess quite a few people have broken the chain!

While I don’t plan on breaking the chain, I would like to send this award to just 5 Special New Blogs that I’ve found. All of these people are very Versatile. It is just one of the many skills a person needs in order to carve out a life after the intensity of diseases such as cancer.

1. Hemlock1981 – a Bone Marrow Transplant survivor in the American Military
2. mar510 – a Bone Marrow Transplant survivor. A very short story. I hope the writer is okay.
3. Miss Melanoma – a Melanoma Cancer survivor.
4. Reservoir Blog – an athlete with cancer.

Please be sure to visit each and every one of these blogs. Their stories are remarkable, and their blogs will lead you to many more blogs that tell stories of remarkable courage and determination.

Cancer is not a sentence, just a word.
– John R. McFarland, from Now That I have Cancer I am Whole –

It will come as a shock to no one that cancer isn’t something you put on your “List of Things to Do Today.”
– Erma Bombeck, I Want to Grow Hair… –

WordPress Snub – So You’ve Never Been Freshly Pressed

Freshly Pressed – to a WordPress Blogger, it was like winning the lottery. It put your little blog on the Freshly Pressed Home Page, and that brought thousands of readers to your door.

What were your chances of being Freshly Pressed? I think you have – well, I’m not sure what your odds are, but there were about 50 posts chosen from approximately 59,000,000 posts written each month. That is an awful lot of posts to choose from, which is why being selected had a lot to do with luck.

131 WordPress Freshly PressedThe Freshly Pressed posts were chosen by reviewing the Tags that you add to your posts. These tags are gathered up and displayed on tag pages which link back to the posts. Certain tags were chosen from these pages, I guess, and the posts with those tags are the ones that were reviewed. There were still be an awful lot of posts to choose from, so they were weeded out by picking the ones with clever headlines. What is clever? That is a tricky question. I know what I think is clever, but I don’t know what the Freshly Pressed Editor thought was clever.

The clever headline posts had to pass a content test and be Typo Free. I don’t know what the criteria was here, but I have seen some Freshly Pressed posts that I’d like to correct with a big red pencil, so there is obviously some latitude.

If the content was good, then they would like you to Include Images (original or properly credited). But this wasn’t a hard and fast rule either, I don’t think. I’ve seen Freshly Pressed blogs that had no images, or images without any obvious credit.

I’ve seen Freshly Pressed blogs that came from brand new bloggers, and ones from bloggers who had a million views. So I don’t think size and audience figure into being chosen.

50 Freshly Pressed posts a week times 52 weeks is 2600 posts in a year. That does not mean, however, that there are 2600 different bloggers. For some reason, once you have been Freshly Pressed once, this honor seems to follow you like a lost puppy dog.

Update 2015: The WordPress Daily Post recently discussed ‘The Dark Side of Freshly Pressed’. My take from this article, and the comments that were left: 4 people pick the Freshly Pressed posts; they have some favourite bloggers, which is why some are Freshly Pressed many times (the record is apparently 16 times); Freshly Pressed is going to be replaced by an online magazine called Discover.

I think there were too few resources (staff people) doing the picking, which might explain why the whole thing came to resemble the work of a High School ‘In’ Group.

That Will be a Frosty Friday – The Magic of a Heavy Frost

“Never say never.”

All parents eventually  learn that the word ‘never’ should not be used in the following sentence: “My child would never…”  It is an invitation that no child can resist.

A more lengthy version of the same maxim is: “That will be a Frosty Friday” which also implies a statistical probability of zero. However, this morning it is a Frosty Friday, which just goes to show that anything can happen!

Frosty Icicles.

Evergreen branches coated with frost.

heavey frost AlbertaJack Frost muffles the bell.

heavy frost AlbertaEven a simple post is covered with frost.

Blogs that Use More than Mere Words

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why Bloggers like to use one or two per post. Apparently, the average attention span of blog readers, once they have decided to read beyond the title and first few lines, is about 500 words. The average blog reader, then, would spend about 2 minutes to read a post of this length. It would take only a few seconds to view a picture, but that would be like adding a thousand words to the blog, yes?

Some bloggers make extremely good use of pictures to tell their stories. Some of these artistic souls are:

Angie Stevens shares her sketches at Doodlemum. If you have children and a cat and a husband, or have ever known children, cats or husbands, you will be absolutely smitten with this blog.

Salman Khan Educational Videos
There is an interesting TED talk by Salman Khan, explaining the concept and development of the Khan Academy. The goal of the Academy is to deliver a world class education to anyone, any age, anywhere in the world. The Khan website contains links to over 2100 videos covering many subjects. Each series starts with a simple explanation of the topic, and then gets progressively more complex.

Spring Snow – Day 4 of Enough is Enough

Another spring day at our house. The trees are covered with frost. No new snow this morning, so Mitts and I don’t have to go out and shovel yet. 30% chance of snow today, and the temperature, with the wind, feels like -10C. A good morning to stay inside.

I found Mitts in the laundry room.  Fresh out of the dryer, they were hanging out with Doll.

Mitts eventually got put into the cupboard, where they tried to convince Canada Mitts to hide them. With any luck, all the Mitts will be taking a well deserved rest – in a month or two or three… Then, I’ll have to track down Gardening Gloves!