June 2008


For the past six months my poor old Dell laptop (actually a mere youngster at 18 months old) has been in need of a serious upgrade of memory. It seemed to be getting slower and slower and I was needing to reboot it so often it was driving me crazy.

With a dual core memory system this required the replacement of two separate memory boards and after inquiring of the “old scientist” if this was within his capabilities, which he assured me it was, I started looking around at prices locally. No problem, just fork over $160 and Bob’s your uncle. But wait a minute, that does sound a bit expensive, so why don’t I look online to see what they cost there.

Well imagine my surprise to see that you could get a Kingston 2GB memory upgrade kit, that is two 1x 1GB modules of RAM, online for $47 and change, with free shipping within the USA from Buy.com. Unfortunately they don’t ship to Canada however my daughter who lives in the States was planning a visit here, with her family, at the end of June and I decided to buy it and ship it to them and they could bring it with them.

This is something that makes all Canadians very angry, these much higher prices that we are forced to pay here on so many items. The Canadian dollar has been around or above par with the US dollar since September of last year but we are not seeing a reflection of that in the prices in the stores. So there is a lot of grumbling, especially as we can now compare prices so easily on line. It is also a huge issue with books since they have the Canadian and the US prices right on the dust jacket and we were seeing a book which sells for $25.95 in the US being marketed here for $35.95 and there was quite a rebellion against that. They could not use the excuse of customs duty since books are duty free coming into Canada and of course we have the North America Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA as it is commonly known, to boot.

Anyway I have been patiently waiting for them to arrive with the new memory and yesterday my son-in-law who is a research scientist at IBM and an absolute computer whiz installed the memory into my laptop in about two seconds flat. Of course he could not leave it at that but ran all kinds of diagnostics and defragmented the hard drive which apparently I am supposed to do regularly but have not, since who knew? Certainly not I. But I will do so in the future.

Recently Nobody Important has been getting a myriad of fraudulent emails from various “banks”. I always delete them immediately but those from the “Bank of Montreal” seem to contain a virus which my internet provider security program catches fortunately, sending me warnings and cleaning the emails. However we ran an anti-virus scan too and that was clear so I think this laptop is a good as it can possibly be for now.

Now I will have to see if I can avoid all those crashes I get when visiting Second Life. I certainly would appreciate that a lot. To be honest I have not noticed a great increase in speed but my SIL tells me that the speed is governed by the hard drive so not to expect miracles in that area however he assures me everything is working well and it is in tip top shape. What more could I ask? I was toying with the idea of buying a new gaming laptop but it seemed a bit idiotic after less than two years.

When I think back to the first home computer we had, around the early 1980s, I can’t believe how far things have come. It was a North Star Advantage, with 64 KB RAM, no hard drive and it made its way home as the “old scientist” upgraded his work computer to something better. It used 5.25 inch floppy discs and ran MS-DOS as I recall and I used it only for word processing with a program called Wordstar. When my son went to graduate school in the Physics Department at the University of Toronto in 1985 I would type an email to him, at home, put it onto a disc and the “old scientist” would take it to work and send it from his computer which was hard wired into the University computer which was of course connected to the “internet” between universities Eventually we got a better computer with a dial-up modem and we connected to his work computer via a program called PC Anywhere although we still used MS-DOS. I don’t remember when we changed to an early version of Windows.

Well we’ve come a long way, Baby, in this area. Things we take so much for granted now are really very recent technological developments. However I, for one, am very grateful for my laptop and while I am not on the cutting edge I am satisfied with it for a little while longer now that the memory has been upgraded.

But my old 6GB iPod mini has definitely got to go. I think I’ll take a look at the new 32 GB iPod Touch any day now. It looks like my kind of toy.

I apologize in advance for lack of visiting my blog friends and light blogging here as my daughter and family will be here for two weeks and I have to be a good hostess. I’ll try to keep the homefires burning with snippets here and there.

For the past six months my poor old Dell laptop (actually a mere youngster at 18 months old) has been in need of a serious upgrade of memory. It seemed to be getting slower and slower and I was needing to reboot it so often it was driving me crazy.

With a dual core memory system this required the replacement of two separate memory boards and after inquiring of the “old scientist” if this was within his capabilities, which he assured me it was, I started looking around at prices locally. No problem, just fork over $160 and Bob’s your uncle. But wait a minute, that does sound a bit expensive, so why don’t I look online to see what they cost there.

Well imagine my surprise to see that you could get a Kingston 2GB memory upgrade kit, that is two 1x 1GB modules of RAM, online for $47 and change, with free shipping within the USA from Buy.com. Unfortunately they don’t ship to Canada however my daughter who lives in the States was planning a visit here, with her family, at the end of June and I decided to buy it and ship it to them and they could bring it with them.

This is something that makes all Canadians very angry, these much higher prices that we are forced to pay here on so many items. The Canadian dollar has been around or above par with the US dollar since September of last year but we are not seeing a reflection of that in the prices in the stores. So there is a lot of grumbling, especially as we can now compare prices so easily on line. It is also a huge issue with books since they have the Canadian and the US prices right on the dust jacket and we were seeing a book which sells for $25.95 in the US being marketed here for $35.95 and there was quite a rebellion against that. They could not use the excuse of customs duty since books are duty free coming into Canada and of course we have the North America Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA as it is commonly known, to boot.

Anyway I have been patiently waiting for them to arrive with the new memory and yesterday my son-in-law who is a research scientist at IBM and an absolute computer whiz installed the memory into my laptop in about two seconds flat. Of course he could not leave it at that but ran all kinds of diagnostics and defragmented the hard drive which apparently I am supposed to do regularly but have not, since who knew? Certainly not I. But I will do so in the future.

Recently Nobody Important has been getting a myriad of fraudulent emails from various “banks”. I always delete them immediately but those from the “Bank of Montreal” seem to contain a virus which my internet provider security program catches fortunately, sending me warnings and cleaning the emails. However we ran an anti-virus scan too and that was clear so I think this laptop is a good as it can possibly be for now.

Now I will have to see if I can avoid all those crashes I get when visiting Second Life. I certainly would appreciate that a lot. To be honest I have not noticed a great increase in speed but my SIL tells me that the speed is governed by the hard drive so not to expect miracles in that area however he assures me everything is working well and it is in tip top shape. What more could I ask? I was toying with the idea of buying a new gaming laptop but it seemed a bit idiotic after less than two years.

When I think back to the first home computer we had, around the early 1980s, I can’t believe how far things have come. It was a North Star Advantage, with 64 KB RAM, no hard drive and it made its way home as the “old scientist” upgraded his work computer to something better. It used 5.25 inch floppy discs and ran MS-DOS as I recall and I used it only for word processing with a program called Wordstar. When my son went to graduate school in the Physics Department at the University of Toronto in 1985 I would type an email to him, at home, put it onto a disc and the “old scientist” would take it to work and send it from his computer which was hard wired into the University computer which was of course connected to the “internet” between universities Eventually we got a better computer with a dial-up modem and we connected to his work computer via a program called PC Anywhere although we still used MS-DOS. I don’t remember when we changed to an early version of Windows.

Well we’ve come a long way, Baby, in this area. Things we take so much for granted now are really very recent technological developments. However I, for one, am very grateful for my laptop and while I am not on the cutting edge I am satisfied with it for a little while longer now that the memory has been upgraded.

But my old 6GB iPod mini has definitely got to go. I think I’ll take a look at the new 32 GB iPod Touch any day now. It looks like my kind of toy.

I apologize in advance for lack of visiting my blog friends and light blogging here as my daughter and family will be here for two weeks and I have to be a good hostess. I’ll try to keep the homefires burning with snippets here and there.

BRIGHT

At first all I could think of for this was bright meaning shiny. I needed something shiny. But then I saw this quote:

The crocus, the snowdrop, and the effulgent daffodil are considered bright harbingers of spring (John Gould)

So bright also means vivid in colour, full of colour. What could be more colourful than this flower which I photographed recently on a tour of a friend’s garden? One of the brilliant blue Campanula glomerata hydrids which are blooming their little hearts out at this time of year. She did tell me which one it was but I do not remember. Isn’t it stunning?


Each head of the flower is made up of myriads of tiny little bell-shaped
flowers which is how it gets the name of clustered Bell flower
or Campanula

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND EVERYONE

BRIGHT

At first all I could think of for this was bright meaning shiny. I needed something shiny. But then I saw this quote:

The crocus, the snowdrop, and the effulgent daffodil are considered bright harbingers of spring (John Gould)

So bright also means vivid in colour, full of colour. What could be more colourful than this flower which I photographed recently on a tour of a friend’s garden? One of the brilliant blue Campanula glomerata hydrids which are blooming their little hearts out at this time of year. She did tell me which one it was but I do not remember. Isn’t it stunning?


Each head of the flower is made up of myriads of tiny little bell-shaped
flowers which is how it gets the name of clustered Bell flower
or Campanula

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND EVERYONE

Tuesday is Poetry Day for the The Guild of UK Writers in Second Life and this week’s theme was Love. After last week’s first time reading for me, I was willing to do some searching for suitable material to bring along and to give reading aloud another try. If you click on the photo above you will see Harriet, the convener or organizer standing by a microphone in the centre of the Stone Circle, while I’m in the centre front, sitting on a stone with my back to the camera. The one with the red curly hair of course.

As I said last week, the people reading use voice while the everyone else types in the message bar. Several readers read from their own work and from other poets but while I was hearing all the readers and the sounds from Milkwood, like the owl hooting, I was not receiving any of the messages. I had a picture on the screen and it seemed to be live so I clicked all my preferences furiously to see if I had made some terrible technical error and I even sent messages to Harriet and another SL friend who was there. Harriet knew that I had brought two poems to read but I would not be able to receive her instant message when it was my turn. Finally I broke voice silence myself and found out that I had crashed early on and no one could see me although they could hear me and I could see and hear everyone else. Mighty strange, don’t ask me how that could possibly occur. In any event I read my two poems and was advised to log out and log back in again and so I did, catching the end of the program with full participation.

Just when you are congratulating yourself on how clever you are, something comes along to cut you down to size and make you humble again! However everyone was very kind about it all, since if you visit Second Life regularly you get used to crashing.

I won’t bore you with both the poems I chose although each was very different from the usual love poem. To be in Love from the renowned African American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, was the one I preferred but I’ll let you follow the link to that one if you are interested. Instead I’ll reproduce Variations on the Word Love, by Margaret Atwood who is probably the most preeminent Canadian writer today. Internationally known for her fiction for which she has won many prizes including the Booker Prize and the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Giller Prize, she has also published 18 volumes of poetry so she is well respected as a poet and may well define herself as that rather than a novelist.

Variations on the Word Love

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It’s the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn’t what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there’s the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It’s not love we don’t wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It’s a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.

I wonder what next week’s theme will be, however I’ll have to give it a miss since my daughter and her family will be arriving here on Friday for two weeks, so I’ll be busy playing hostess and visiting all the children’s haunts in Vancouver.

Tuesday is Poetry Day for the The Guild of UK Writers in Second Life and this week’s theme was Love. After last week’s first time reading for me, I was willing to do some searching for suitable material to bring along and to give reading aloud another try. If you click on the photo above you will see Harriet, the convener or organizer standing by a microphone in the centre of the Stone Circle, while I’m in the centre front, sitting on a stone with my back to the camera. The one with the red curly hair of course.

As I said last week, the people reading use voice while the everyone else types in the message bar. Several readers read from their own work and from other poets but while I was hearing all the readers and the sounds from Milkwood, like the owl hooting, I was not receiving any of the messages. I had a picture on the screen and it seemed to be live so I clicked all my preferences furiously to see if I had made some terrible technical error and I even sent messages to Harriet and another SL friend who was there. Harriet knew that I had brought two poems to read but I would not be able to receive her instant message when it was my turn. Finally I broke voice silence myself and found out that I had crashed early on and no one could see me although they could hear me and I could see and hear everyone else. Mighty strange, don’t ask me how that could possibly occur. In any event I read my two poems and was advised to log out and log back in again and so I did, catching the end of the program with full participation.

Just when you are congratulating yourself on how clever you are, something comes along to cut you down to size and make you humble again! However everyone was very kind about it all, since if you visit Second Life regularly you get used to crashing.

I won’t bore you with both the poems I chose although each was very different from the usual love poem. To be in Love from the renowned African American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, was the one I preferred but I’ll let you follow the link to that one if you are interested. Instead I’ll reproduce Variations on the Word Love, by Margaret Atwood who is probably the most preeminent Canadian writer today. Internationally known for her fiction for which she has won many prizes including the Booker Prize and the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Giller Prize, she has also published 18 volumes of poetry so she is well respected as a poet and may well define herself as that rather than a novelist.

Variations on the Word Love

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It’s the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn’t what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there’s the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It’s not love we don’t wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It’s a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.

I wonder what next week’s theme will be, however I’ll have to give it a miss since my daughter and her family will be arriving here on Friday for two weeks, so I’ll be busy playing hostess and visiting all the children’s haunts in Vancouver.

Last year I wrote about a visit to an old friend who had moved into a retirement home in an city adjacent to Vancouver. Today, with another friend, I made the trek out there to take her out to lunch. At 88, she is becoming more frail but I think she appreciated being taken out to the Beaches Restaurant in a nearby hotel. The batteries in my camera were dead but I borrowed my friend’s camera and she emailed these photos to me. So may I present to you my delicious lunch. I think that if Welshcakes can show you her lunch at L’Altro Posto in Modica, Sicily, then I can show my lunch at Tsawwassen, Canada.


Warm Spinach Salad, with Scallops

Raspberry Chocolate Cake with Crème anglaise

After lunch we took her back to the residence and we sat and chatted with her for a while on the sunny rooftop garden. Some of the residents have their own flower containers which they plant and take care of. One gentleman has two miniature apple trees which are espaliered on trellises and they are covered in tiny apples. The trees are most interesting because they have branches of six different varieties grafted onto each rootstock. I have never seen this before and found it most intriguing. I would love to know how his apple crop turns out.

I snapped her photo, sitting next to her very own planter. It’s always a pleasure to visit with this charming elderly Yorkshire gentlewoman, for she still has her delightful sense of humour.

A close-up for your enjoyment, the tiny pansies are very
cheerful little things

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