Upgrading as it should be!

This morning I undertook the task of updating my WordPress version from 2.6 to 2.8.6.  It was with much trepidation I deleted various folders, downloaded the install files, and uploaded to my web host the latest and greatest.  I also made the first backup of my SQL database….ever…..which of course is something I should do a bit more often!

I’m happy to report that the upgrade was seamless and my new (old) site is up and operating better than ever.  The administration of the site is much easier than it was before and I should have upgraded long ago but the thought of upgrading remotely to my host was making me nervous.  No need though, it was easy…..

The new site has randomly changing colours on the Mandigo theme, allows for automatic updates of many widgets and the WordPress app itself.  The Admin screens are cleaner and easy to navigate and I am very happy!

Now to complete step 3. from the upgrade instructions which is to “Do something nice for yourself.”  Think I’ll go grab a book and grab a drink.

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The Best Thing About Christmas is…

We bought and decorated our Christmas Tree on Friday and as always, it turned into a pretty chaotic time.  Kids running around trying to put all their decorations onto the tree in a square about 12″ x 12″.  My youngest running around removing them all.  Dogs sniffing and wondering what the commotion is about.  Lily trying to maintain some kind of order to the decorating and me just moving around looking busy.

After the tree was pretty much decorated and most of the others had moved on to other things, my son and I were alone in the room and he said to me “Dad, do you know what I like most about Christmas?”  I thought about that and considered what his answer would be. 

1.  “I really love getting together with the family and sharing the holidays with them”

2.  “It’s such a nice tradition when we put up the tree and decorate it and the rest of the house”

3.  “Reflecting on the year that that has passed and thinking about what I’d like to do in the new year”

4.  “Give me the presents”

It was then that I remembered he’s five.  So I said “I don’t know Eli, what is your favorite part of Christmas?”  And of course, he said “I love the presents.”

Morocco 2010…..a calendar

My sister seems to have inherited my father’s eye for photography.  She travels around the world snapping photos as she goes and she takes some really fabulous pictures.  Since I don’t seem to have that photographer’s eye, I thought I’d borrow some of her images and put them into a calendar or a photo book. I’ve started with a calendar of images she took while in Morocco and it’s currently available at lulu.com  Take a look at the calendar here.  I’ll never get rich hawking calendars but hey, maybe I’ll be able to get a nice bottle of wine someday….!  I’ll be working on a nice coffee table photobook of pictures she took in Central America over the next month or so and hope to post it for the new year.

Organic and Natural Food

For the last couple of years, we have been purchasing organic and natural foods from The Clean Food Connection which is an organic and natural foods grocery store based in Mount Albert, Ontario but with stores in Uxbridge and Newmarket Ontario also.  The owner’s name is Bob Burrows and he is a great guy who is quite passionate about the service his store provides.  We have had many discussions about the food and agriculture business and I can only admire his dedication in the tough and competitive business of selling food.

The Clean Food Connection sells organic and natural fruit, vegetables, and meats from three brick and mortar locations as well as the website.  One of the biggest pluses about buying from Bob and his friendly staff is that The Clean Food Connection will deliver to the Greater Toronto Area and even as far north as Barrie and out to Oakville and East of the GTA as well!  Similar to another online grocer, Bob’s customers login to the website, browse the electronic aisles, make their selections and then check out.  Bob and his faithful delivery truck then show up at the customers door with bags and boxes of organic and natural foods.

We have gotten to know Bob over the past couple of years and he has a very interesting past including his time as front man for Bobby Kris and the Inperials.  I’ve written about him in a previous post but if you’re interested, here’s a link (01-walk-on-by) to a song which he recorded and released on his CD “Bobby Kris, Now”

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Dare I Do Windows 7?

My computer is back from its second trip to the vendor for repair and it has been stable for almost a week.  Wondering now how much longer I should wait before I think about installing Windows 7.

Ten years ago I would have immediately began upgrading to the new OS but nowadays, I don’t have the time to mess around with the computer for hours on end trying to make everything work just so!  And even though I have heard many good things, I am still positive that an upgrade to Windows 7 won’t go as planned….there will be something that does not pass muster.

Now that I’ve finally got this computer back from repair and it seems to be working as it should I’m afraid to do anything to upset whatever equilibrium has been reached.  It has to happen eventually I suppose but for now I think I’ll just get by with Vista…..

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Morgan Freeman and Prom Night in Mississippi

Listened to an interview with Morgan Freeman on the CBC yesterday and I have to admit that I was pretty surprised to hear that there was a white prom and a black prom and ne’er the two shall mix.  Amazing to me in an age that has finally seen the first black American president that there should still be segregation based on race.  Haven’t seen the movie yet but am looking forward to it.

Interesting to me, also, that in a year when this movie is hitting the theatres, an all black school opened for the first time in Toronto.

Issues in a Connected World

A few weeks ago, we had a problem with a piece of technology that required us to contact the customer support of a company which shall remain nameless.  The call required us to send back the item to be investigated and repaired by the vendor. 

Since the item was within warranty, we were supposed to receive a pre-paid box in which the item was to be placed and returned via courier.  After a week of waiting, the pre-paid box had failed to appear and there was no followup from the vendor so my wife took it upon herself to follow-up.  The following are the statistics for her attempt.

Number of calls placed:  1
Number of minutes: 138
Number of transfers:  19
Number of countries involved:  4
Number of satisfied customers:  0

This world we live in has gotten much bigger and at the same time much smaller.  My world is no longer just my city or my country; I can surf the Internet and read information from around the globe minutes after it is was written.  At the same time, the world is so much smaller since an organization with a global reach can bounce customers around the world in real-time.  But even with this global reach, it doesn’t seem that customer service has gotten any better, just cheaper for those providing the “service”……

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October 26, 2009 – Thought I’d mention that the box we received to send the item back to the vendor for repair was TOO SMALL!!!  We had to repackage the item into a box we already had around the house.

Reflections on writing

I have been a closet writer for most of my life.  I remember writing poetry when I was sitting in class supposedly learning calculus and my latest and greatest poem had greater importance for me (and honestly still does!)  In high school I believed that I was, at least, a competent writer but the comments on my first few essays in University told me I needed to learn a bit more.

After the first few disappointing comments scrawled in red on the pages of those essays, I decided that it was time to learn or relearn the basics of How to Write an Essay and at least string together some coherent thoughts.  By the time my fourth year rolled around I had found my voice and the comments on my written pages were much more complimentary.

Upon graduation, I found my way into the Information Technology field where I spent the next 15 years and my writing once again went underground.  Over the past few months, I have been paying more attention to my writing and have taken up the pen in both fiction and non-fiction.  

I enjoy writing fiction and one day I hope to write a novel.  It does not have to be a great bestseller (although that would be nice) but I would just like to be able to say I have done it.  Poetry and short stories also provide me with a nice creative outlet for the ideas that I have floating around in my head.  I have written a couple of stories aimed at the 4-5 year old audience and they were great fun to write since it gave me the opportunity to think like a kid again. 

Writing non-fiction is a nice challenge for me since it involves the creative requirements of fiction and adds in the necessity for research and fact gathering.  Mixing those two elements into a compelling article that will simultaneously teach and entertain is very satisfying when completed.

 

I do not know where my writing is going to take me, it’s too early in the journey to set the destination, but I hope it’s a fun ride!

 

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Back to School!

Well, the kids are back to school and we are now “relaxing” with only our youngest at home.  Jo is 2 years old and not quite old enough to be going to Kindergarten so she hangs out with Lily and I during the day until we have to pick up our son from the bus stop shortly after 11:00 am and our oldest daughter a bit after 3:00.

Now the the older two are back in school I am getting back to the business of trying to get published and looking for a TrackWise contract to keep me going.  I’m taking the opportunity to investigate the possibility of freelance writing right now since I don’t think I’ll get another chance if I head back to the Corporate world immediately. 

I’ve written a couple of children’s books which I need to find an illustrator for (graphic design is not my bag) and I’m also planning on submitting some poetry and short stories to see if I can get a “published” credit.  Magazine article ideas are another avenue I’m looking at to keep me busy although I have yet to sell anything.

There are also a half dozen or so projects around the house that need my attention although I am dragging my heels a bit on those.  I think my creative side is looking for an outlet and the more mundane day to day activites of keeping the house in order are not quite so exciting.

I am looking, however, for something that will keep the cats out of my backyard without also scaring away the squirrels and rabbits who occasionally pass through our yard.  The latter two I don’t mind but I would prefer to keep the cats away.  As a dog owner I am very careful to clean up after my dogs when we take them for walks and I also keep them to the side of the house most often and not in the backyard so much because I want my kids to be able to walk around out there without worrying about stepping in anything messy.  The neighbourhood cats insist on using my backyard and garden as their own private latrine which is, to understate, annoying.  Since I have also found their turds in the vegetable garden it is also disgusting.

I don’t want to harm the cats, just keep them from relieving themselves on my lawn and in the gardens……Any suggestions?

Our busiest summer ever.

Even though it’s not quite over yet, this summer was one of our busiest.  I’m not sure if that is because I’m not working right now or if it is just a sign of our kids getting older and wanting to take part in more activities and go on daytrips to see new things.

We have managed to go to the African Lion Safari which was great fun since we went with some friends which gave us the opportunity to share the fun with others.  That in itself made the trip worthwhile but the other thing that was great was watching the monkeys remove and run off with a fishing rod that someone left in the back of their pickup as they drove through the game reserve.

We also  managed to get down to the Art Gallery of Ontario which was somewhere I haven’t been to in a couple of decades.  The kids were probably too young to really appreciate the art so we didn’t stay long but it was still good to expose them to some beautiful and creative art.

We visited a cottage in Rondeau Provincial Park which was nice.  Gave us an opportunity to get away from the house and spend some time relaxing on the beach.  Without the household chores it was easier to actually sit back and relax with the kids.

This past weekend we went camping as a family for the first time.  The kids had a great time camping out in tents and sleeping in sleeping bags.  There were plenty of other kids around too so everyone had lots of fun.  Even the brutal downpour wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits too much.  Although we did discover that our tent leaks a bit!

We visited the McMichael Art Gallery a few weeks ago.  We are members there and try to get there at least twice a year.  On Canada day there is always something for the kids to do and although this year seemed to be cut back a little from last year there was still much to do and see.

Hmmm…what else did we do.  Oh yes, we visited the Ontario Science Centre which is somewhere I haven’t been to since Public School many years ago.  The kids love the hands on nature of many of the displays at the OSC.  I hope to get back there soon because there were several areas that we didn’t get to explore.

One place we didn’t get to that I would have liked to go is the Museum.  I think the kids would like to see the exhibits although it’s not as hands-on as the Science Centre.  Ah well, there’s always next year.