I stopped in at our local Christian Book store, Hulls to do a little browsing on my lunch hour. While cruising the CD section I noticed a new touch screen system that allows you to browse their selections and hear about 1 minute of every track on a CD. This is a very nice system that was developed by a local Winnipeger and friend in BC. I had a couple of CDs in hand that I was doing to buy on spec, so I looked them up and played a few tracks. I liked what I heard, so that confirmed my selection. But the system was so nice to use I browsed several other selections and DVD videos as well. Good stuff guys.

[Listening to: Lovely Day – Various Artists – Lounge Worship: A Time To Chill Out (4:12)]

Cottage Maintenance & Service Excellence

Aquarobic Air Pump
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

The Aquarobic System is what powers our septic system at the lake. Somehow, when it was installed over 22 years ago, I became the custodian of the system. This involves some shutting down and opening up maintenance that some might find objectionable, but it doesn’t seem to bother me especially after learning to deal with diapers. For many years the system ran with very little attention. Then there was a period where the belt between the electric motor and the compressor seemed to fail on a regular basis, followed by failures of the electric motor itself. A more careful alignment of the motor and compressor pulleys seems to have solved the rapid belt deterioration and the return to putting the whole unit inside for the winter seems to make the electric motor last longer.

Breakdown is inevitable as the unit runs 7X24 May long weekend to Thanksgiving every year. But, over the last couple of years a new problem has arisen. The system is comprised of the air compressor, a holding tank, a settling tank and the actual septic field. Cottage waste water arrives in the holding tank where it is aerorated to speed the breakdown process. An air lift send a small amount of effluent over into the settling tanks where of course it “settles” and the more or less clear liquid rises up through a filter and out into the field. On a twice daily schedule the air flow from the compressor is diverted from the holding tank into the settling tank which causes a pump back action, forcing the contents of the settling tank back into the holding tank for a “re-mix”.

Here is where the problems begin. The diverter valve started to malfunction and was not closing either of it’s paths completely. This resulted in high water levels in both tanks as each tank was umping into the other at the same time. Not a good situation. After testing some stuff and poking around with he diverter mechanism, I determined it needed to be replaced. However, the company that sold the Aquarobic System is long gone and a source of parts is not available. After some searching on the web determined that I need a Honeywell 4044 diverter valve. I stop by the local Honeywell distributor only to find their doors locked and nobody to assist me during business hours on a week day. Bad on you! But, there is a nearby valve place so I explain my problem to them but they can’t help me, but I do get referred to Central Controls.

This really the highlight of the story and the reason for the post. The guys at Central Controls were really great. Vince and Jim went out of there way to help me solve my valve problem. Vince called a valve manufacturer and came up with two great solutions and emailed me a quote in short order. The solutions were good, but a bit of overkill for my application. Since Vince went on vacation, Jim picked up my case and located a Winnipeg dealer who could supply an exact replacement for the Honeywell 4044 and even ensured that they had it in stock and sent me over to pick it up directly without any markup. This is what all customer service should be like. Well done guys, and thanks.

A great afternoon on the lake.

Tranquil Channel
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

We took the boat out for a cruise on the lake this afternoon. It’s a great day, very calm and hot which made for great boating. We headed south west and planned on looping by Queen Island and up thru Crow Rock Pass and back home. But, the GPSr showed a geocache in the neighborhood so we made a little side trip. It was just 28km round trip off our planned route, but it was such a nice day we headed off further south. Well there is noting like 4 hours on the open water under a hot sun to for on your tan or fry you to a crisp. One of us survived, but Shirley is looking a bit like a lobster tonight!

Going to Toronto

Going to Toronto
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

See that little spec at the head of the white line? It’s a plane. And more that likely it’s heading to Toronto. Poor them. This picture is from my boat on beautiful Lake of the Woods. It’s sunny 25-27, breezy and a great day.

Several times on business trips to and from Toronto I’ve been able to look out the window and spot the point of land where our cottage is located from about 30,000 on a clear day. You see, right over Lake of the Woods is where the Air Canada Toronto to Winnipeg flight starts it’s descent into Winnipeg. When I’m at the lake and look up and see the contrails of jets going east and west overhead I can’t help but think of the people in that amazing flying machine going to and from the big TO. Hopefully, they are traveling for happy and good reasons and not just another business gig. I’m so much happier looking up from the dock and viewing the plane that when I’m on the plane looking down on the dock.

Today, we were heading into Kenora (see the pictures) to return some movies and I couldn’t help but think of the people on the plane. Friend’s are moving back to Toronto, but they are driving, and that’s another story.

MS Kenora – Vacation Day 6

Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

We were driving by Safety Bay on the way into Kenora from Keewatin when I spotted the MS Kenora. The scene just seemed to be set for a nice shot, so I pulled over to the side of the road to capture this picture.

Today we were in to church in the morning and did a little shopping as well as stopping at HoJo’s a new coffee shop in downtown Kenora with free wireless internet access, a plus for me! This may become a regular stop on our trips to town.

The weather has been quite rainy, and despite the picture most days have been cloudy with rain. Today it has flipped several times from cloudy to clear and back again.

Tomorrow, if it’s raining, we’re taking a road trip to Dryden to do a little geocaching for a day out of the cottage.

Canada Day

Fireworks #7
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

It’s Canada Day and Day 4 of our vacation. Scott & Mandi joined us at the lake arriving late last night. We sent the day just enjoying the first full day of sunshine by loafing on the dock and soaking up the rays.

After dinner we all headed into Kenora to watch the fireworks. This year they launched them from Conney Island which made them seem quite far away. I guess we’re all getting a little jaded because nobody seemed to think that they were as good as previous years, but still a fun time and a fitting end to a very nice day. We live in such a great country and unfortunately we all tend to take it some what forgranted. We have so much to be thankful for.

Vacation – Day 2

Fireplace at the Lake
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

Today was out first full day of vacation at our family cottage on Lake of the Woods. Day 1 was spent packing up and then spending a wonderful afternoon with friends who are moving back to Toronto. We wish that things had turned out differently and that we would have spend much more time together here in Winnipeg, but I have a feeling our friendship will survive the distance and we’ll still connect from time to time.

As you may have guessed from the photo, it wasn’t exactly a ripping hot day. The sky is overcast and the morning is spent with the usual cup of coffee and a great book which I’ve almost finished. After reading a couple of chapters, Shirley is up and we have breakfast. The tree that blew over last week is calling me, so I sharpen the chainsaw and get to work. The clearing that the loss of this tree made is just begging to be filled so we take a walk down the road in search of a replacement.

I know this time of year is not the greatest for transplanting small trees, but in the ditch along our road there are many spruce trees. Their life and height is severely limited because at least twice a year the road crew comes along with a brushing machine that clearcuts an 8′ swath alongside the road. I figure the small trees will stand a better change being uprooted and replanted along side our driveway as opposed to having their heads cut of year after year.

It starts to rain mid-afternoon which means a book and a nap are in order. It’s amazing how doing nothing on a rainy day can make you so tired. Perhaps it’s the need to catch up on our sleep that is taking over. After a short nap and while Shirley is still catching some Z’s, I get the computer out and post a few photos and even check the work email (what am I doing?). The connection at the lake is dial-up and I’m wishing that I’d arranged for the high(er) speed wireless hookup that is available in our area now. It’s hard to go back to this slow of a connection. It’s probably for the best as the lake should be all about un-plugging not staying connected, but we’ll see.

Sunset in Sunset Country

Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

Last weekend was the first nice weekend at the lake this summer. We spent the day on the dock soaking up the sun and enjoying the ripping south wind that was bringing in the heat. After dinner, the wind died down so we headed out on a little cruise in the boat to watch the sun go down. A great end to a great day.


Well, literally I’m back up and running with a new disk and most of my software and data recovered. There are still several key files that I’m trying to recover via software, but that’s not going too well and as time passes, hope dims. Thanks to having a second disk on hand which I could sacrifice I was actually functional last weekend. The real replacement didn’t arrive until Monday afternoon, and I’ve spent may hours locating, downloading, re-configuring and remembering passwords etc. Yeah, one of the files I lost was an encrypted database that had all my userids and passwords for almost everything on my computer, web sites etc.

On one of my very first job interviews over 30+ years ago the interviewer asked “What’s the most important thing in IT?”. Well, I made up some answer that I thought was pretty good, but it didn’t line up with his. His answer was simple, “Backup”. I’m beginning to think he was right.