The Long Weekend

My shower is done in the bathroom. Some tile work still needs to be completed and some minor electrical work as well. Combination deadlocks are also being installed. So, the house is coming together nicely.

It was a busy few days. Friday, I had to head to Calgary for an appointment and to drop the dogs off at their pet resort. I stopped by the office to drop off some stuff I borrowed and headed to my hotel. I was able to check in shortly after noon which was great.

Got ready for the wedding and headed to Canmore. The venue was excellent, Silvertip Resort, it’s a golf course in the mountains. The ceremony was held outside with a mountain in the background. It was a bit cool, 15C or so and a bit of a wind chill, I think we were all happy when the sun broke through the clouds, but hey, it didn’t rain, or snow.

There was a two hour window after the ceremony before the cocktail reception. I did some shopping. Being prepared as ever, I had to buy a card for the couple. Yes, that’s procrastination at its best. I also stopped in at Canadian Tire and bought some needed stuff for the house.

The cocktail reception was great, talked with some former coworkers and had some excellent cheese and other appetizers. Dinner was great. We started with salad and rolls, an 8oz filet, potatoes and broccoli, dessert and the bar was open all evening.

I headed back to Calgary to my hotel around midnight and the drive was smooth. If you’re ever in North west Calgary and need a hotel, the Sandman was great.

This morning, I went to Denny’s for breakfast, had a great chicken and eggs skillet, quite spicy. I met the new guy who’s volunteering to be the uniform coordinator for Babe Ruth and we inventoried the uniform jerseys we have on hand.

I picked up the dogs and headed home. Since I slept little last evening, I had a great nap this afternoon. I hit up a local pub, Jason the Pie Man and had the best fish and chips ever. I’ll be back for sure.

Just relaxing tonight, working tomorrow, covering for a coworker so he can watch his son play baseball, I’ll have Friday off instead.

Hopefully you’re enjoying the long weekend.

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The weekend…

It’s been a fairly relaxing few days. Things at the house are progressing, although I still don’t have a completed shower in the bathroom. When the old one was ripped out, it was discovered that the floor under the shower needed to be replaced. That took awhile yesterday. The contractors aren’t working on Sunday, guess I can’t blame them, we all need a day off, so hopefully the shower is done Monday morning.

The dishwasher in my place is essentially dead. It’s old and doesn’t owe anyone anything. I’m guessing it’s from the late 70’s or early 80’s. Dishes put into it get wet and very hot, not clean so, as a dishwasher, it fails. It isn’t included in the lease, which I knew. I found an inexpensive one at The Brick and an waiting until Thursday (VIP sale) to pick it up. The contractor who’s doing the other work will install it.

No plans for today, it’ll be cool, temps in the mid teens only. I think I’m just going to take it easy. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

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Coming along, slowly but surely…

So, yesterday, I had Bell Expressvu setup in my house.  I tried to cut the cord, but although some of the services were decent and relatively inexpensive, they aren’t quite up to my standards as yet.  I want to be able to use the app on my phone and Chromecast it to my TV – period.  I don’t want to have to fool around with it, I don’t want to add 18 different apps on my phone.  If I was to use it with my Firestick, I don’t want to have to do the same.  I want it to be easy and work just like TV does.  Well, they haven’t invented that as yet.  The services are a pain in the ass.  So, I now have regular TV back.  Sure, I am paying more than a streaming service, but that’s OK.  I turn the TV on and I turn the receiver on and bingo, TV.  Thank you.

Today, Xplorenet came and installed the largest satellite dish I’ve ever seen on my roof.  It’s all connected and it’s pretty good.  There is a bit of lag if you are surfing from site to site, but once it loads, it’s plenty quick.  No, it’s not as quick as Shaw cable was back in Calgary, but hey, I am not in Calgary.  I am in the middle of nowhere and I knew things like TV and internet would not be the same.  I lose some conveniences but I gain so much more.

Xplorenet works perfectly with my work environment and that’s what I need.  I will use the Rogers connection as a backup in case something happens with Xplorenet.  I will downgrade my package and it won’t cost much at all.

The guys doing renovations at the house are making good progress.  Two doors are hung, the shed and garage have been cleaned out.  The old shower stall has been removed and the new one is ready to go in.  New deadbolts need to be installed on the house and the garage.  The propane tank is properly connected to the house (there were some issues) and all is well on that front.

As soon as the bathroom is done, a cleaner is going to come in and clean the stove, dishwasher and other areas that need it after the last guy moved out.  Some minor electrical work also needs to be done.  The finish line is close, I can see it now.

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Stuff, it’s happening…

It’s been a few busy days this week.  I am having some work done at the house so yesterday the handymen were here all day.  The bathroom shower is being ripped out today and replaced and some minor work is being done all over, mostly removing junk that the previous tenant left.  It will be nice to have a new shower, the one that is here is in pretty bad shape and I am unsure when the last person might have cleaned it, pretty gross.  I am showering wearing sandals, and I will leave it at that.

I have tried and failed, to cut the cord for TV.  The streaming services I’ve tired aren’t bad, but they aren’t particularly good either.  Some of them are very tough to setup and then once they are setup, they don’t support Chromecast so you can’t cast them to the TV.  I can cast the screen on my phone, but then the screen has to remain on and using the phone for anything else is impossible.  So, I’ve ordered Bell Expressview to be installed and they are coming today, this morning in fact around 8am.  Hopefully they will find the place without any issues.  It is $50 per month for 6 months and then goes up to $80 for the rest of the time.  Not too bad and I will have 250 some-odd channels.  With winter around the corner (hard to say that when it is currently August 22), I don’t want to be snowed in with no TV to entertain me.  I hope that I can set-up MLB.tv with the satellite TV, as opposed to streaming it.

Streaming brings me to my second point, the internet.  I am currently using a Rogers Hub for my internet.  It connects to the LTE network and there is a cell tower a few kilometers away on one of the mountains so I get an amazing signal – I had checked that out BEFORE I decided to move here.  Anyway, in general, the service works really well, it is a bit expensive but I knew moving to the “wilderness”, I would be paying more for some things and less, for, say, rent.  Anyway, I have an odd issue where some things just don’t work when I am connected to the Hub that should, they are minor things, but annoying.  For example, with my phone (Google Pixel XL) connected to the Hub, it won’t load Facebook properly.  If I turn WiFi off, it works great – the phone is also on the Rogers network now (I switched from Freedom since I am no longer in their home area).  The really odd part of that is that my iPad works great on Facebook when connected to the Hub.  It makes no sense.  None at all.  I’ve adjusted some settings and they’ve made no difference.  I talked to Rogers technical support yesterday and the tech agreed, it is a very weird issue.  We got disconnected and then oddly, she never called me back.  I didn’t want to start the process over with a new tech, so I didn’t call back.

Anyway, long story short (when do I ever write short stories?), I have scheduled Xplorenet to be installed tomorrow.  It will be slower but much more reliable, I think, we will see.  I also won’t be paying for bandwidth like I am now.  It will include 100GB which isn’t a lot of data but will be more than I need.  After 100GB, it will slow the connection down, or I can choose to have full speed data, at $1 per GB.

Anyway, this will fix my technology issues.  I can go back to watching TV again which will be good.  A new TV system means having to learn new channels, I hate that, but I will get it, eventually, probably around the time I switch to a new service provider for TV…

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A lazy Sunday…

Sunday, apparently, was a day to relax.  I went out in the morning to 7/11 to get a coffee and a apple fritter (their apple fritters are quite amazing, if you’ve never had one) and came home.  I was supposed to organize my bedroom, pretty well the last area of the house that needs to be set up.  Did I?  No, I didn’t.

I went back to bed for a nap around 11am and slept for a couple of hours.  I lazed about the afternoon, playing with the dogs in the backyard and caught some baseball on MLB.tv.

So, I didn’t really accomplish much during the day.  To top if off, I went to bed shortly after 7:30, I was dead tired for some reason.  Perhaps I was still catching up from all of the sleep that I missed when I was in Missouri.  This is why I am up so early today, slept from 7:30 until about 4 so that was a good nights sleep, for sure.

Back to work today.  I will get the bedroom configured tonight, for sure.  I’ve got to stop being so dang lazy.  Enjoy your week.

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A successful Saturday…

Today has been a very productive day thus far. I didn’t wake up until after 630 so for me, that’s late. Feed the dogs and let them out and I freshened up.

The plan for the day was to go to Lethbridge, specifically Costco. It was about an hour and a half drive and pretty straight highway between here and there.

The membership was $60 plus GST, they found my old one, it expired 10 years ago. Anyway, new membership in hand, I explored the store.

I had done some research on the Kirkland brand of dog food and it looked as good as Pet Kind that the dogs have eaten (since I got Hera) but far cheaper. I took a look at the ingredients and sure enough, it was essentially the same stuff so I bought two huge bags. Now, as opposed to spending $250 per month on food, it’ll be around $100 per month. I plan on making monthly drives into Lethbridge for supplies. I also stopped at a pet food store that carried Pet Kind and bought a small bag to help with the transition to the new brand.

I also bought a new convection oven for the counter, the current one is on its last legs and has seen better days. It doesn’t owe me anything, that’s for sure, it’s been very well used.

I also picked up some large bags of frozen fruit, decaffeinated coffee and some dog treats. On the way back, I stopped at Domino’s and bought 5 medium 2 topping pizzas, 4 of them are currently freezing. Heat them up and they are as good as when they came out of the Domino’s oven.

All in all, a great 6 hour round trip. This will be a monthly thing, on a weekend. I may make a few other stops as I get to know Lethbridge as well.

Anyway, hopefully you’ve enjoyed your Saturday.

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Getting there…

I went into town yesterday after work.  It’s not a far drive, 8km or so…  I had to check mail, got my umpiring cheque from CABUA for July’s umpiring.  Always nice to get money in the mail.  I stopped by the Municipal building to register Blondie, Hera and Twix.  It is $25 per year.  Now, I didn’t realize it’s a calendar year, so they are registered for 4.5 months but I still paid for the entire 2018 year.  Oh well.  I will need to pay again in January.  Anyway, they are registered and in the off-chance they take off one day and are picked up by animal control, I will get them back anyway.  They know who feeds them and takes care of them though, so I doubt that will happen.  Blondie and Hera stick pretty close and listen pretty well, Twix is a bit of a rebel though and is stubborn as well.  Not sure where she gets that from, I am not at all stubborn.  So, that’s taken care of.

I filled a propane tank, it was under $20 to fill, I am sure it used to be way more expensive.  Guess not.  I now have lots of propane, should not run out any time soon.  Speaking of propane, the large tank was filled, well not filled but it has propane in it anyway.  I will have it completely filled in October I think.  For now, it is 1/4 full.  A full tank will be around $1800 and should last 2.5-3 years, I am told.  All depends on how cold it gets in the winter of course.  I keep the house pretty cool (19C) and the house also has a wood burning stove so that will help.

Things are coming into place.  I hope to be done everything this coming weekend.  I have been fairly lazy this week in the evening, watching baseball.  Speaking of baseball, I was watching the Rockies @ Braves last night.  The Rockies were down 3-2 heading into the top of the 9th, they scored 3 runs to go ahead and held the Braves in the bottom half of the inning, an excellent come-back win and against a team I really don’t care for.  Great job Rocs !!!

Anyway, the weekend is almost here.  Try to enjoy, I know I will.

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Settling in…

This is now day 5 of me in my new house.  The dogs have lived here longer than I have, but, for some reason, they did not do any organization of the house while I was gone.

Mostly everything is done now.  The kitchen is 90% done, I just have to remove some boxes, likely into the basement.  I need to assemble my desk but I will need some assistance with that.  I then just need to put all of my clothes away.  I think I may make a run to Goodwill or another charity and done some stuff.  I have clothes that are in great condition that I have not worn in ages.  Someone might as well get use of it.

The property management company needs to do some work in the house as well.  They will be replacing the shower stall and doing electrical work in the house, changing some locks and hanging some doors that were taken off (for unknown reasons) as well as getting new garbage and recycling bins as it looks like the previous tenant may have taken them.  I have no idea why someone might take garbage and recycling bins, it seems rather odd.  The shed in the backyard also needs to be fully cleaned out and a lot of junk removed.  All of this is supposed to start today and should only take a few days.

I have also switched my cell service from Freedom to Rogers.  I have no issues with Freedom, they have been great, but I am outside of their home area now and my roaming plan with them doesn’t really give me enough data.  I do have enough call time and texting but going to a National carrier, until Freedom gets to that point will be better over all.  Rogers shipped my new SIM card and it was supposed to arrive yesterday, it didn’t.  I originally wanted it shipped to my PO Box, of course, UPS can’t deliver to a PO Box so I provided my physical address.  I am guessing that UPS can’t locate my physical address.  It’s not like I live in the wilderness, I am right off a major highway, just outside a small town.  If Google Maps can find me, one might assume that UPS can as well. I sort of expect to get a phone call from them, likely today.  If not, I guess I need to contact Rogers again and see what the options are.  I will be in Lethbridge on Saturday (for dog food) so I guess I can drop by a Rogers store then, if needed.  We will see.

I am enjoying it out here thus far, mind you, we don’t have 3 feet of snow on the ground.  Ask me again come winter.  🙂  The dogs are also enjoying the freedom, they are always off leash and have a large area to explore plus a pond/lake to swim in.  I’d guess that is a pretty good life for a dog.  Hera will love winter, Blondie likely will too.  Ask Twix how she likes it, come winter – you will likely get a different answer.

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The Final Rankings

Umpiring at the Cal Ripken World Series was an experience of a lifetime.  I met 10 of the best umpires I have ever worked with.

It was a varied collection.  There were four international umpires.  Myself, from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico were represented.  The rest were from the US, two from California, Texas, Indiana, two more from Arkansas and the UIC is from New Jersey.

We all got along well and we all bugged the shit out of each other.  I was bugged because I am from Canada, naturally.  The initial impression from most of the group is that Canadians are friendly.  Well, I guess I threw that stereotype out the window, not that I am unfriendly, but I guess I wasn’t what they expected of a “typical” Canadian.

I am unsure how it started, but at some point early on, I ranked a few of my fellow umpires, from 1, the umpire I liked the best, to 11, the umpire I liked the least.  California #2 was quite desperate to be ranked #1, I am not quite sure why, but he was.

The Aussie was initially #1 because he was so easy going and so quiet – he never bashed me, because I was a Canadian.  One of the nights that we went to Appleby’s for dinner, Indiana picked up the cheque for everyone there, it was quite nice of him – this got him an immediate jump to the #1 spot.  I don’t think this went over well with California #2, that elusive #1 spot was not his…

California #1 was staying at the same hotel as I was.  If he hadn’t been ranked #1 somewhere along the line, he’d have punched me in the face.  Indiana was also at the same hotel, he acted as my chauffeur for the second half of the week, after I decided that my roomie from Texas was trying to kill me.  The two from Arkansas were characters, exactly as I might picture people from Arkansas to be.  I had never met anyone from Arkansas before and if I don’t again, you two are the best.  Big Arkansas is a State Trooper and served in the military, I have nothing but respect for those that serve in both of those jobs.  If I ever visit Arkansas and you pull me over, remember that in the International Championship game where you expected my Canadian punch to knock you over, I gave you a hug instead.  Little Arkansas and I didn’t get to umpire together.  I think that the UIC was paid off so we didn’t have to do a game together.  He’s a good guy though and from what I witnessed, a good umpire too.

Speaking of the UIC, he’s from New Jersey and was a good guy, deep down somewhere.  He was actually a lot like me, had an ego the size of the room the umpires used and talked regularly to his Schmoopy back home. He gave me a few pointers during the tournament, I guess we umpire a bit differently in Canada.  His stories were good and I think he practiced acting them out at his hotel, very likely in front of a mirror.

Representing the rest of the world, Peurto Rico was uncharacteristically in excellent shape for an umpire – he’d often give us a 21 gun salute with his impressive gun show.  He had an arm wrestling competition with Big Arkansas and had enough respect for law enforcement that he allowed a draw to occur.  He wasn’t allowed to walk around the umpires room without his shirt on, it made Big Arkansas feel “less like a man”.  New Zealand is the youngest of our group, his sarcasm is coming along quite nicely for a 21 year old, I see good things in his future.  The representative from Australia was a quiet, reserved guy.  We know he’s tough though, surviving the animals in Australia that want to kill you on a daily basis is a testament to that.

Comments during the day would see people move up a rank or two, or down a rank or two, all the while, California #2 (I call him California #2 because I met California #1 my first morning at the hotel) tried all of his tested antics to vault to that coveted #1 position.  Actually, if I am to be truthful, he “claimed” that he didn’t care about my rankings and hoped he was #11 – this was, I believe, a reverse psychology technique on his part, and quite crafty, I might add.

California #2 also picked up the tab for everyone at lunch one day, Chick-Fil-A, and this got him to his desired spot.  He was, to say the least, quite excited about this.

A few others bought food for one another, it was quite nice.  I attempted to buy a group of four of us lunch one day but my roomie wouldn’t have it, although he had purchased Chick-Fil-A a few times for everyone – quite nice of him and thanks, Texas.

So, as I’ve indicated, the rankings changed, sometimes numerous times in a day, the guys learned I was easily bought off, a meal or something would cause a great change in the rankings.  I don’t remember exactly why, and it might be that I was trying to drive him nuts, but late into the week, California #2 got the ranking of #1, locked in.  He must have felt that his ship had come in as he was all smiles.

I told everyone that my final rankings would be released this week.  I am late getting this list out, I had replied to an email sent from the UIC yesterday and said I’d have the list out by end of the day yesterday.  Well, sleep was apparently the better idea.  It’s early on Wednesday morning, and finally, here is the list.

For everyone that I worked with in this World Series, you all had your quirks and we all had the stereotypes that we either fell into quite well, or stood out from, being vastly different from what others might have initially perceived.

Everyone is ranked #1 in my books.  How could I really have a ranking for any one of you?  I had a great week.  I dished out the abuse as well as I took the abuse.  I hope that we are able to stay in touch, Facebook is great for that.  In all honestly, this was one of the best tournaments that I have ever worked, either as a coach or as an umpire.  You guys are the cream of the crop and I congratulate and thank each of you.  I have decided to hang up my umpiring equipment.  I just umpired in the World Series, how can it get any better than that?  I don’t think it can.  I plan on enjoying my new mountain life in the Rockies of southwest Alberta.  Lots of outdoor stuff to do, lots of new adventures on the horizon.

To each of you, best of luck in your future endeavours.  Good luck with your umpiring careers and most importantly, have some fun.  I know I did.  Thank you.

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Home, sweet home

The rest of the flight home was routine.  We landed in Calgary ahead of schedule, shortly after 9pm on Sunday night.  It was a fairly quick process through customs, he looked at my card and let me right through.  I was asked where I was and what I was doing.  When I said I was umpiring in the Cal Ripken World Series, he asked me how it was and that was it.

I waited about 10 minutes or so for my luggage so not too bad.  I called DM who was waiting in the cell phone lot and he came around to pick me up.  The dogs were excited to see me and I got lots of kisses.  They settled down pretty well though for the drive to DM’s house.  We got there around 10:45pm or so and I headed towards home.  I needed gas so a fill-up was in order.  I did have to stop twice on the trip home as I was absolutely exhausted and needed some rest.  It didn’t come easy though so after 2 stops of 15 minutes or so, I made it home around 3:30am on Monday morning.  The dogs were as tired as I was, I think.

Yesterday, I needed to get a PO Box for myself, that’s done.  I thought I had to go into Pincher Creek to change my driver’s license, I was mistaken, there is an office in Blairmore, I am unsure how I missed that one when I was searching.  At any rate, the license is changed and I should get my new one in a couple of weeks.  I will need to remember to actually check the PO Box at least twice monthly or so.  My PO Box is in Coleman which is closer to home.

I stopped by the grocery store, it’s an IGA in Blairmore and easy to get to.  There isn’t a lot in Blairmore or Coleman but there are a bunch of restaurants that I will have to try out.  Pincher Creek isn’t a lot larger but there is a Wal-Mart there, it’s 50km away, however, so I think Wal-Mart trips will be monthly or so.  Pincher Creek is also where I could umpire and it’s a little further away than I want to drive for umpiring.  I will need to go into Fernie BC for the dogs food, it is 60km West, I think we will go today or tomorrow after work.  Fernie also has a Canadian Tire if I need to go there.  The nearest Costco is in Lethbridge, if I decide I need stuff there.  I think I will be able to do without, I haven’t been in ages.  I will miss Safeway, I had gotten to like that store for sure, same with the Real Canadian Superstore, I was in there often.  I think the plusses will outweigh the minuses though.

Back to work today for me.  Compared to the last 3 weeks of “vacation”, it will be relaxing, I am sure.

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