Ed’s Weekly Rant -Disposable Electronics

DocumentI’m not one to complain about the amazing advancements in technology that I’ve witnessed in my short lifetime, but at what monetary cost are these wondrous inventions delivered to us? I know I’m not the only baby boomer who’s noticed how disposable our electronic devices and gadgets have become.

Let me start with my personal computer. I’ve recently switched carriers, going for newer and more advanced fiber optic service that promises faster internet speeds than their old style cable competitors. My installation went smoothly but the service technician found my computer was running slow. A speed check on the new line confirmed it was my hardware.

My computer is about 5 or 6 years old (had to replace the previous one cause it was slow) and I added RAM about a year ago to speed things up. Slow response times on the internet was one of the reasons for switching companies. So why, I asked my friendly installer, is my computer continually getting slower. Updates, was his first response – think about your cell phone he said.

I’d already learned long ago not to add all the suggested updates to my phone because it becomes completely locked up and you have to get a new phone. If you think that big companies like Microsoft would never do something like that on purpose, you’d better think again. They need to sell new products to make money so it’s only good business sense to make your devices obsolete because they know you’ll buy new ones.

Just in the last couple years we’ve had to buy new computer components and  replace audio equipment because the old stuff wasn’t compatible to our new smart TV. If it’s so smart why couldn’t if communicate with our other electronics? We had to toss our Blackberry because they’d no longer service it and the Kobo because they don’t make parts for it – so much for buying Canadian.

We also have an old wifi router sitting in the basement, along with an old stereo and DVD player…who uses those anymore? We just stream everything now and ignore the hundreds of DVD’s that I wasted money on. The good news is that I made some good cash selling a bunch of movies to a pawn shop. The bad news is that now I have to buy a new computer so we can enjoy all of our other helpful gadgets that we’ve come to depend on.

Ed’s Weekly Rant – Turn Signals

left1In addition to my daily posts of our travel photos on my Facebook Author Page I thought I’d do something weekly in an attempt to make you laugh, cry, pump your fist in the air in agreement, or just say ‘chill dude.”

This will be my forum for the little things that irritate, agitate, frustrate, infuriate or just plain piss me off. I’m sure some of you will be able to relate to these things – we experience them or have them happen to us every day.

I’ll start with a traffic rant. Turn Signals. I can already hear your wheels turning, thinking about the last idiot who had you shouting at your windshield, honking your horn or flipping the bird.

I traveled east on Tecumseh Road (4 lanes) from Lauzon today, and being what I believe to be an astute driver who looks way up road I moved to from the curb to the left lane to avoid the lineup of about a dozen cars that were stopped for the light at Forest Glade Drive. There was only one car in the left lane, which I would have avoided if the lone car had his signal on – there is no turning arrow there.

I patiently waited behind the car in front of me and casually noted the Alberta licence plate (old cop habit). Less than a minute later the light turned green and I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The car in front of me remained stationary and put his left turn signal on. F*%&!

I did a shoulder check to my right rear and saw there were now fifty cars in the right lane. It’s a good thing I’m retired and was in no hurry. Summer almost became winter while I waited to go through the intersection, but I remained composed. Until the idiot turned and I laid on my horn…just a little bit.

Tune in each week for more good stuff to make your blood boil or to have a good laugh at my expense. I promise the posts will be shorter than this one (no preamble).

The Mother Road – Part 2 – Amarillo Texas to Santa Monica California

IMG_3354We started the second half of our westward journey on Route 66 on Sunday, June 16th, in Amarillo, Texas. Not too far out of town I had to throw out the anchor and do a u-turn to stop at the infamous Cadillac Ranch. For those unaware of the legend and song that refer to the unusual site, this one boasts ten old Cadillac’s that are standing on end, partially buried, looking like the American version of Stonehenge.

For years, tourists have been stopping at the eyesore or work of art, depending how you look at it, to spray-paint or write their names or whatever on the empty shells of the once-classic cars. We entered the field through a gate in the fence, careful not to touch it, since eager tourists start tagging right there. Every color of paint you can imagine decorated the gate, fence, and packed dirt path leading to the monument.

Continue reading “The Mother Road – Part 2 – Amarillo Texas to Santa Monica California”

The Beatles – Love – Cirque du Soleil

loveI’d seen the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show called Love many years ago and knew that Cathryn would love to see it while we were in Vegas on our detour from Route 66. We’re both Cirque fans and everyone knows the Beatles music, so you can easily sing along. We got married in Vegas six years ago and were too busy to catch a show. This time we had no excuse.

The show is still at the Mirage and it promised to be bigger, better, and bolder, having been redone since my last viewing. I wasn’t convinced when we first sat down, the seats were smaller than I remembered and there had been speakers built into the headrest for surround sound. None of that mattered once the show started.

Typical Cirque characters got the production started, then came the music, color, acrobatics and the awesome music of the Beatles. There was confetti that fell from the rafters, bubbles from that lingered in the air, and a giant sheet of silk that covered the whole stage and stretched out into the audience.

Of course there were a couple VW Beetle Bugs and a van. The acts performed were top notch and blended with the theme of the music. The costume and set colors jumped right into your lap. The stage itself was a giant machine, with sections that opened up and parts that moved actors up and down and in and out of sight.

Love wasn’t as heavily weighted with acrobatics or circus-style acts as other shows, it had just the right amount of song and dance and action to keep your eyes wandering around the stage to see what was going on in all corners. It definitely lived up to its promise of being bigger, bolder and better. We both loved the show and easily rated it a 10 out of 10.

The Mother Road Part 1 – Chicago to Amarillo Texas

IMG_2950In 1926 new horseless carriages created a need for a network of roads for people to drive them on. Thus the federal highway system was launched with Route 66, dubbed The Mother Road or Will Rogers Highway, being the path west from Chicago to L.A. Folks were already heading west for land, jobs, and to find their fortune in one way or another.

Cathryn and I packed up the Impala and headed to Chicago on June 10th. We headed to Chicago, where Route 66 originates, and walked around downtown. A beer and a cheeseborger at the Billy Goat gave us the fuel to carry on and check out the Riverwalk. We had dinner and finished the night at Andy’s Jazz bar, a great send off from the windy city.

We stayed at the Congress Plaza, a beautiful turn-of-the-century hotel near the waterfront. Pete, the hotel security guard took us on a private tour showing us the first air-conditioned ballroom in the U..S. and a backroom where Al Capone hung out and played cards. Apparently him and Elliott Ness stayed in the same hotel at the same time, unknown to the Treasury Agent.

Continue reading “The Mother Road Part 1 – Chicago to Amarillo Texas”

Rocketman

rocketmanI had to think about this movie for a couple days to let it sink in. Given that time to mull it over I have to say I was not impressed by Rocketman – the story of Elton John. Cathryn loved the movie so this review will give you both perspectives. She liked the music selection and thought the actors playing John as a child and adult (Taron Egerton) did a fabulous job.

The film accurately mimicked many of the rock star’s wild and crazy outfits, but made no attempt to play his music in the order the songs were released. Theatrical creativity must have been the point since the song lyrics were used to describe the events of the artist’s stage in life. Oddly enough, it was Bernie Taupin who wrote the lyrics and Elton added the music.

For me the story dwells too long on Reg Dwight’s (Elton John) woe is me childhood. They show us how he came up with his stage name – the second half taken from John Lennon, but that fact in not true. Granted, John was executive producer of the movie, but he obviously decided to portray his life as he perceived it and not as how it actually happened. Thus there are other historical inaccuracies.

I was also unimpressed with the movie being a fantasy musical. I thought it took away from many of the great songs that I love. Nothing in the reviews I read said anything about the format. Overall the movie was still entertaining with a couple of zen moments to put you in the zone.

I rated it a 5 and Cathryn a 10 out of 10.

John Wick – 300 (Parabellum)

parabellumI use the number 300 instead of 3 – for the third installment of the John Wick, the master assassin. Seeing the film with an action-appreciating buddy, we couldn’t keep track of the bad guys killed by Wick. He commented later that it was the highest body count he’d ever seen in a movie, a bold statement considering other slaughter movies we’d seen, like Rambo 3 or Hacksaw Ridge.

I’ve always liked Keanu Reeves and that includes his John Wick character, but I started to chuckle after his first 30 or 40 kills. The man deserves credit for the way he handles himself in the action sequences – basically a two hour long chase and fight scene. He masterfully handles an assortment of weapons that must have taken hours of practice to successfully operate.

If you don’t mind a few dozen blood-spattering head shots and an overly violent plot, this movie could be for you. I do find it odd though, in this day and age, how movie makers can present us with such mindless slaughter, and add a dry touch of humor to make the film more entertaining. In a way this movie reminded me of the Walking Dead – the bad guys weren’t dead until you shot them in the head, in many cases more than once.

Enough about the violence. The movie has a highly paid all-star cast, perhaps to give the flick some credibility with movie buffs. I have to say I was shocked at the other online reviews I read from sites like Roger Ebert and company. So maybe it was just me…and my buddy, who thought there was enough carnage to call the John Wick movies a trilogy and leave it at that.

Cathryn could never have sat through this movie with her eyes open. I don’t think my buddy was too impressed. For the sake of mindless entertainment I give it 5 out of 10.

The New Old Elora Mill

IMG_2932 (2)Cathryn had dropped a few hints that we were over due for a mystery date (an overnight at an undisclosed destination), the comments directed in my direction for her birthday month. It had been a whole two months since our return from Egypt and Africa so I almost felt sorry for her and decided to surf the web for an idea to satisfy her wanderlust itch.

One of my cousins posted on Facebook that she was at the spa in the Elora Mill. The last time Cathryn and I dropped by the village of Elora the Mill was closed, fenced in and under construction. We tried to peek through the fence but couldn’t see what was in the works. I messaged my cousin who said the Mill was newly renovated and open for business.

I browsed the internet and checked the web site, balking at the listed price for spending one night in a hotel room. Reading on I was able to get into the last night of an off-season promotion that made the cost more palatable. Just because I thought my wife deserved a treat I shelled out $350 banana peels for a room in the mill. The clincher for me was a complimentary bottle of premium wine in the room and a hundred bucks off our food and beverage bill in either the lounge or restaurant.

Continue reading “The New Old Elora Mill”

Destination Kingsville

kingsvilleAfter retiring I worked for Niagara Wine Tours, a company who was trying to expand into the Lake Erie North Shore region. They were already tapped into the Toronto market and thought the wine industry in Essex County was ripe for the picking. Unfortunately the company couldn’t garner enough interest to keep them afloat. The main complaint from out-of-town tourists was our lack of places to stay.

Fast-forward about ten years and we have fifteen wineries and almost as many breweries or brew-pubs. Existing estates expanded to accommodate tour buses and gatherings such as wedding receptions. Bars and restaurants got in on the action by offering local vintages and brews.

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Norm is Back! Border City Chronicles

Layout 1Maybe you’ve heard the rumors on Entertainment Tonight, Ellen, or WKRP in Cincinatti. Perhaps you only dreamed and hoped it was true. You’ve probably been wondering what Edmond Gagnon has been up to (besides travelling) and where the heck has Norm Strom been.

Let me make it clear…they are not rumors, you haven’t been dreaming, and Ed has finally finished his latest book, Border City Chronicles. Some of you were test-readers, others voted for the title, and a few may find their names used as characters. The book is three short crime fiction stories from the Norm Strom archives.

News of this upcoming book is receiving a positive buzz on the street. Here’s a few comments about Norm’s new stories:

Baby Shay – “The challenges told in this story are heartbreaking and can make strong experienced officers unable to function. This is one story you will not be able to put down.”

Designated Hitters – “This story provides the reader with a unique insight into police work and the thoughts and emotions cops work through every day. Norm doesn’t regret retirement. After reading his story, you will understand why.”

Knock-Out – “Norm introduces Abigail Brown, a Detroit Homicide Detective. He’s her friend and confidant and relies on his expertise to provide her with a little extra help. This is an excellent story and I’m hoping to read more of her exploits in the future.”

Border City Chronicles is coming to book stores and internet sites across the world very very soon! Feel free to reserve a copy with the author now.