Sunday, June 29, 2008

A busy time

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted anything. This is due to my having been surprisingly busy in my business. Normally the summer months are slow in my line of business, but this year it seems to be different. For instance, I have made five day trips to Whistler and Pemberton during this period, all related to business.

The drive there and back is normally beautiful. Right now, it is complicated by the ongoing construction related the 2010 Winter Olympics. There are numerous temporary lanes (different from one day to the next), low speed limits, and one-lane alternating traffic sections, so the trip time is lengthened considerably, and you've got to keep your eyes "glued" to the road.

The widening and straightening of this "Sea-to-Sky" highway is progressing well. When finished, a drive that has been spectacular in the past will be magnificent. The reconstruction should also help with the reduction of the accidents caused by those hostshot drivers on their way to Whistler, who seem to think that they are skiing already, even though they are just driving.

None-the-less, this highway will still require full attention to the road. Since the wonderful scenery tends to be somewhat distracting, I hope that there will be lots of "sightseeing" areas, where one can stop the car and enjoy the views.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tickled pink about blue

As is the custom around our house, when the sun shines, as yesterday and today, the little chores which owning a house entails are addressed (one at a time, of course). One of the repetitive chores is repainting those areas in which the last paint job has deteriorated. Accordingly, on the instructions of the boss, the last couple of nice weekends have been dedicated to power wash the back yard (mostly concrete slabs) and to power wash and thereby strip the old flaking paint off the front stairs.

I did a bit of that "stair stripping" yesterday - in preparation for painting today. Our daughter-in-law (who really likes the colour blue and who painted the stairs three or four years ago in that colour) and our son, who live in the other half of the duplex, volunteered to do the painting again. After painting our stairs, our daughter-in-law used our power washer to basically eradicate whatever paint remained on the stairs on their side. She finished our side today - I consider that a wonderful fathers' day present. I also had a very nice card from our granddaughters - what a beautiful feeling to have a loving family. Thank you, Aidrie, Derek, Marina, and Lauren.
An update: Derek, Airdrie, Marina and Lauren took both my wife and me out for Fathers' Day dinner at the local Keg Restaurant. We all had a wonderful dinner. Thank you again.
Here's what our stairs look like, newly painted:

(photo by Derek)

The paint stripping is the time-consuming part of this effort. Here's how that looked:

(photo by Derek)

Just as an aside, looking at the stripped paint more closely, I'm reminded of the images which one can create to illustrate the underlying effects of chaos theory:
The flaked paint on the stairs.

(photo by Derek)

A closeup.

Chaos-theory computer-generated image.
(from "Chaos" making a new science - James Gleick, Penguin Books, 1987)

This makes me think that deterioration is a chaotic process.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Yesterday was "sports day" at the school that our granddaughters attend. Both girls were part of the "Red House" (the others were green yellow and blue), and the Red House ended up in second place overall. Everyone got the appropriate colour ribbons - and a great day was had by all.

Afterwards, we took our granddaughters to see Daddy at the hospital. Their mom met us all there on her way back home from her work. Derek was delighted to see everyone. He is doing well (still on intravenous drip to help his intestines recover), but he had been given some more solid (soft) food - mashed potatos, cooked carrots, etc., with no untoward effect. We all walked down to the hospital cafeteria, Derek had coffee (with cream and artificial sweetener), and he seemed in good shape. He certainly walks normally, but has to roll the intravenous rack along, which is a bit of a "drag" (pun intended).

As I write this (about 9 am), we don't know whether Derek will be discharged today or tomorrow - I'll let everyone know later.

UPDATE 11:50 am
Derek has just arrived at home. He answered the the phone when we called his home - he sounded as though he was having something to eat, which is good news. I imagine that he'll be blogging later.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ups and Downs

For those of you who read Derek's and this blog: As you've read, Derek has had a problem with a blockage in his intestines. For the last week, he's been in and out of emergency departments at both the Burnaby and Vancouver General Hospitals, put on morphine for pain relief, and has generally had a bad time. At the moment, he's in the VGH GI ward, and he's feeling much better. The blockage appears to have cleared, and he has needed no medication. Intravenous drips are keeping him hydrated and his electrolytes balanced.

My wife and went to visit him last night, and were relieved to see him almost back to his previous, optimistic form. He told us that he expects to be discharged by the weekend, at which time he'll likely give you more details on his blog.

Nobody seems to know why this problem occurred. It appears that this kind of happening is not uncommon with people who have colostomy bags. Derek told us that there are no obvious signs of narrowing or scar tissue in his x-rays, and blood balance and other diagnostics reveal no abnormal conditions.

Looks like this is another complication for which to watch. Derek had been eating very well, and gained all his healthy weight back. We know that Derek always keeps a close eye on his food, because of his diabetes, so it's hard to understand why this problem showed up.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

More news from Mars

Last week, I referred to the landing of the Phoenix probe in the "Arctic" regions of the planet Mars. Since then that lander has been put through a number of engineering tests and its cameras have taken a number of pictures of both its surroundings and the terrain underneath its landing spot.

The rocket thrusters which brought Phoenix to a stop just as the lander was touching Mars' surface (meaning that it didn't crash) have blasted away some of the surface material under the lander and appear to have exposed what may be the expected layer of water ice which Phoenix was sent to explore and analyze. Phoenix' robotic arm has also used its scoop to dig in an area next to the lander. That arm will be used to dump some of the material into an on-board system of analyzers. The aim is to establish whether it was ever possible for some kind of life form to have existed (or possibly exists now) on Mars, and whether direct human settlements on Mars may happen in future.

Both pictures below were taken from JPLs website.

For more details, link to:

Images Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Water ice underneath Phoenix?

The "footprint" left by the robot arm's scoop