Sorry About the Outage

Short version: my encryption certificate expires every three months. I updated it, but didn’t realize that the website configuration was still pointing at the old one. And Murphy’s Law says that it will happen just as I go out of town.

My bad.

I’ve written everything down now. I should be on top of this from now on.

Hello from Virden, MB

Today was the travel day to get from Calgary to Virden, Manitoba. It’s a little town just inside the Manitoba border. It’s two hours and 45 minutes from Regina, two hours and 30 minutes from Winnipeg and an hour from Brandon. Michelle and I are here to see Tundra Oil and Gas for the next few days and we had to figure out the best way to get here. In the end, we elected to fly to Regina and then drive from there. The weather cooperated, with the temperatures swinging into positive territory and sunny skies. It could have been blizzard conditions.

Entering Manitoba from Saskatchewan on Highway #1. Not much to see.

Michelle and I rented separate cars, because she is staying one more day on site after I leave. So it was a caravan from Regina. But not before we stopped for lunch at Victoria’s Tavern in Regina. I had eaten there before on a trip to see SaskEnergy, and so had Michelle on another trip. She wanted (very badly) to have their Stuffed French Onion Burger:

Gruyere cheese stuffed chuck patty topped with swiss cheese, caramelized onion, crispy fried onion, and roasted garlic mayo. Served on our house made swiss cheese bun.

We rented our cars at the airport and then drove downtown for lunch. It was 1:30 by that time. The burger was good…

Updated Tuesday Night

The first day of the workshop is done, and it went well. It was a full day of discovery. I went for a walk this evening before supper and took a few pictures of Virden.

Why Can’t the Whole Winter Be Like Today?

We spent February huddling in our house as the temperature stayed well below “fun”…

But now it’s turning around. The snow is starting to melt in Calgary and the mountains are just at the right temperature for playing.

Tammy the professional snowboarder

This weekend, there were two planned activities: going to Nakiska and going to the theatre to see Captain Marvel. It’s already March, and Nakiska will be closing in a month, and we’ve only been twice so far this winter, thanks to a warm December and a frigid February. I figure we will get out once or twice on Spring Break (next week) and that might be it for this season.

My original thought was that we would go skiing on Saturday and see the movie on Sunday, but when Tammy and Miranda looked like something the cat dragged in when they (finally) got up on Saturday morning, I knew that wasn’t the day for skiing. So we went to see the matinee of Captain Marvel. It was good, in a middle-of-the-road Marvel movie way. It was solid. But then any movie with Sam Jackson in it is worthy… They did a good job of de-ageing him. Phenomenal, really. Of course, the real movie that we are waiting for is Avengers: End Game, but that will come after the end of skiing season.

We got to the hill nice and early, and we were already on our fourth run or so before there started to be a bigger number of people on the slopes. In fact, Ian and I were talking about it at the beginning of one run: we’d expected it to be busier. It turned out that most of the people were at the Silver chairlift, while we were having fun on the Bronze.

Tammy was tired by about 10:30, so we took off our ski boots and put them in the car and then enjoyed a few runs down the tube park. That’s the first time we’ve used our passes this winter.

The whole family tubing

Field Trip to the Hangar

Yesterday I was one of the parent volunteers on the grade 6 field trip to the local aviation museum. Like most attractions here in Calgary, we hadn’t been to it. 😄

It was an all-day affair. We (classes 6-5 and 6-6) left the school at 9 and returned at 2.45 on the most packed school bus ever! The students were divided among the parents – we had 9-20 kids each and everyone was split into 2 groups: yellow or green for the actual tour. While one group took the tour, the other was building aircraft. Our group was first into the craft room where the kids each built a glider, a parachute, and a helicopter. After each project was completed we went out into the hangar and tried them out. For the most part everything flew or dropped in the expected way.

There was a quick 1/2 hour lunch at 11.30 then it was our turn to take the guided tour. It started off with a man grilling my group about certain flying principles (science!) and a bit of history of flight and how planes worked. He was impressed by Ian and Joey’s knowledge (actually, so was I). We then went into the “tent” next to the hangar to look at various aircraft. We got to sit in the twin otter and in the cockpit of an old 1950’s passenger plane. We looked at the Avro Lancaster and a Sikorsky Dragonfly. Inside the main building we tried out a helicopter cockpit, a hot air ballon basket, and a Tiger Moth. There were actual commercial airliner seats from the old days in there. They marvelled at the ashtrays in the armrest and the tables that slid into the armrests. They learned about the Avro Arrow and about different kinds of engines and the ejector seat.

They really seemed into this trip. Everyone was really engaged throughout most of the trip. I guess the rest of the family needs to go now.

Gushing Mom moment starting in 3…2…1…

Zachary has been excelling the last couple years at school and this year is no exception. He came home with 4 A’s and a B and two awards

Now recently he was invited to a luncheon where about 20 students were awarded with special recognitions out of a school of 1100+ students!

“Zachary worked very hard in class last semester. Often he was asked to help his fellow classmates so they could catch up or learn from Zachary’s expertise. Way to go Zachary!”

He also has been doing excellent in his core courses. Future is looking bright

Hello from Palm Springs

It’s Esri Developer Summit time again! I am in Palm Springs, taking in the sights and sounds and learning all that I can.

The weather is nice, but not hot. It’s been raining here lately and much cooler than usual. Still, considering it was -22 when I left Calgary yesterday and +21 when I landed here, I am not complaining at all. I was out at the fire pit at the hotel last night with Dave Hamilton, Matt English and others who came and went. I introduced Dave to the Godfather (the drink, not the movie). My roommate this year is Chris Dupont.

Today is the first official day, with the plenary session in the morning and technical sessions starting in the afternoon. Here we are ready to go at the plenary this morning.

The one pain in the butt so far is that the J key on my Bridge keyboard for my iPad has come off. A tiny little plastic bit has broken. I should be able to fix it with some Crazy Glue, but I am glad that I brought my MacBook as well: it is not my main note-taking device.

Updated Friday Morning

It’s almost time to come home. This morning I’m up a little early to meet some co-workers at Sherman’s for breakfast. Then I will probably get one session in before checking out and heading for the airport.

The conference has been great. Long days and constantly having to choose between or among different sessions that all sounded worthwhile. There were only two in three days where I wanted or chose to leave to see something else. The weather has been behaving. While the forecast from last week threatened rain, there have only been two precipitation events: Tuesday night when I was asleep, and Wednesday at lunch when it was barely spitting in the sunshine. It was quite refreshing, actually.

Last night was the party and the weather was a little cool, but it was warm inside where the annual dodgeball tournament was on.

Dodgeball semi-finals

I didn’t participate in the tournament: I am a large target. Instead, I chose to try SAFE Archery Hoverball, which was challenging. Oh, and I blew up the Death Star.

I discovered that Michelle is very competitive when it comes to air hockey, but she and Konstantin met their match against a couple of other guys.

I have been able to FaceTime with the kids and Tammy most nights this week. It’s been a challenge with Tammy working in the evenings, but not too bad. It will be good to be home.

Updated after arriving home

Friday’s travel back to Canada was problematic for a lot of people I work with. I was pretty lucky, only getting delayed about an hour and then another half hour waiting for my bag to show up. My delay was caused by a plane having a mechanical issue and being parked at a gate in Palm Springs. When the Calgary plane arrived, it had nowhere to park, and was sitting on the tarmac for an hour. We felt like we were chasing it around the airport as first it was supposed to park at Gate 8 (where the borked plane was), then it taxied to Gate 17, and then back to Gate 8. Since I had a non-stop flight home, I was only inconvenienced, and so were Tammy and the kids picking me up.

Others were not so lucky. My roommate Chris ended up having to stay an extra day in Palm Springs because his flight was cancelled. Many of the Esri Canada staff from Toronto were going to be delayed into San Francisco and so would miss their connection. There were three people from Ottawa on my flight to Calgary, and they missed their connection.

It was the wind. The wind is always a problem at PSP. It has a lot to do with the mountains to the west and the fact that it only has one runway.

Today, the wind was blowing from the north-east, which put gale force gusts right across the runway. There’s no option to change runways to point the nose into the wind for landing and takeoff. When I arrived at the airport, the wind was strong enough that you had to hold onto the car door to prevent it from slamming shut. Planes that were trying to land were getting redirected to other airports, and since those planes hadn’t landed, the flights out of PSP on those planes were either delayed or cancelled. This happened to me in 2016 and I was lucky to make it home.

Some people fly to Los Angeles or Phoenix and then rent a car to drive to Palm Springs, but that’s adding considerable time and expense to the trip. I don’t imagine that I will do that in the future, and will continue to roll the dice with Palm Springs International Airport.

Happy Birthday… to me.

Today I’m 47 ( and so is my “twin”, Simon’s cousin Chris – happy birthday to him).

The day has been pretty much like any other day. We woke up at 5.50 to CBC Radio 1. Everyone got ready for work or school (Simon is working from home). I had some presents and cards waiting for me: 

a keychain made by Miranda and a red origami crane,
a homemade card from Ian and a box of Purdy’s truffles (the booze kind),
a card, the What Do You Meme game, and a pair of BCC 2019 bib shorts (on order),
a meowing kitten card from Steph and the gang,
a humorous card (where do you find these?) and gift from Dave

Thank you everyone for the lovely gifts. Maybe we’ll bring the Meme game with us to Vic this summer. Later in the morning I Skyped with Dad and Carol and I will FaceTime with Dave when I get home from work at 10. I did a quick workout on the bike and then Simon and I walked down to our local pub for a lightning lunch. On the way home I cashed in my Starbucks birthday bonus drink card (and somehow got a free one for Simon).

Now I’m just waiting until I have to prepare chicken fajitas for supper before I’m off to work to give my students a reading test.  There is no cake as per my request, but I did make some treats to share with my class and there were enough for the fam as well (but I may have to make more).


It’s Cold, But We’re Going Sledding, Dammit

The temperature got up to +1 yesterday afternoon, letting us think that this long cold snap was over, but then it was -16 when I got up this morning and it’s been hovering around -17 all day.

But it’s a testament to how stir crazy the kids are getting that they raised no objections when I suggested going sledding after lunch today. It was cold, and we only were out for 30 minutes of sledding, but it was worth it.

Miranda heading down (left) and Ian crashed (right)
Tammy posing for a selfie with the Abominable Snowman

Finally Not Housebound

It has been a long cold stretch, filled with quiet times at home. That’s not a bad thing, but I think we were getting a bit stir crazy. I had pencilled in today as a possible ski day. The long-term forecast had predicted it was the day the weather would break, and the kids had Thursday and Friday off. I took the days off work as well.

The weather report in the morning was not looking good. -21 with a windchill down into the -30 range. But by midday the temperature was supposed to shoot up and snow by evening. We decided to delay our departure for Nakiska until 10, hoping to hit the hill just as the temperature rose.

It worked. We were dressed well, and it was -15 when we got out of the car, but the temperature rose to -9 while we were there. The day was beautiful and sunny.

Ian and I on the Silver chair
Miranda on the Bronze chair
Tammy following after

It was a great day on the slopes. Well worth the wait.