[This entry written by Geoff Sowrey, ©2006 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Text used with permission of CBC. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily reflect those of the CBC, employees, affiliates, or subsidiaries.]
Sometimes, you get those strange little burps in life that turn into the greatest of experiences. Ones that you don’t pass up for anything — not for all the challenges you might face or things you might lose.
In late summer of 2002, the CBC needed an unusual person. They needed a computer geek. They needed a writing geek. They needed a photography geek. And they needed a true rarity, a train geek: Someone who knew the difference between a U-1-f or a F40PH2 rolling down the tracks; someone who could determine where he or she is in the Prairies by reading railway mileposts, someone who’d love being on a train for a month.
I was that geek.
Continue reading “I’ve been logging on the railroad”
I know, I know — where are the journals, Geoff?
Pardon me if I’ve been busy.
I’ll dispense with the specifics of my job. First, you don’t want to hear them. Many of them are things that would only make sense to someone in my industry. Some of them also make me look like a complete failure (and I’m not really keen on publishing my mistakes to the world). Well, maybe not complete, but I need to pick up my socks. Second, and trust me on this one, there are far more interesting things to discuss.
I guess I might as well catch you up with things that have transpired in the last month.
- I’ve stopped driving to work
This is an important one, partly after our trip to the UK and back. I came to the realization that there was no real reason I needed to drive to work. Sure, I had a killer parking spot in the main lot, but I was adding more to my expenses, putting more wear on the car, adding more waste to the environment, and not really getting much out of it. I mean, I’m not even 5.5 kilometres (straight-line distance) from work. (Given, the route is about 7.2 kilometres.) And I’m on a bus route that does almost a perfect loop a block from my house over to my office and back again. I must be insane to think that I could drive when this is available to me!Okay, not quite true. I knew that biking was always an option. I did it a couple of times back in December (it was actually still warm then) and realized that I didn’t want to bike in the cold. Mind you, that could mostly be because I didn’t want to bike up the 8th Street hill. It’s pure nasty, evil. Going down it in the morning is amazing, but the climb back up takes the wind out of me. I’ve since found that the 9th Street hill isn’t quite as bad. I’m not sure why.
I have noticed, however, that Calgary Transit needs some serious help. On the first day I took the bus (it was raining, and I loathe biking to work in the rain; I don’t mind going home, just to work), I ended up waiting 45 minutes for a bus that’s supposed to come ever 12 minutes. One guy at my stop was waiting over an hour and a half! I was livid. And soaked. Not happy. Not one bit. (Alex has it far worse than me. One of her destinations is an hour away by transit … and over an hour and a half back. That’s just not right, no matter who you are. It’s a 20 minute drive.)
- Part of the deck is gone
As mentioned in a previous post, our deck is ludicrously large. Huge. Immense. STUPID. So we decided to remove most of it and replace it with something better.Now here’s the problem: the Einstein who installed the deck in the first place used screws. I don’t like screws for things like this in a general form, mostly because it’s harder to replace a rotten board. (Mind you, nails can also pop out of the deck, but that’s the trade-off.) But to add insult to injury, they used steel screws. Not deck screws. Screws that had rusted in the years since their installation, no more than seven years ago. Seven measly years.
I inherited a hammer drill from my father. It didn’t last through a fifth of the unscrewing job, overheating and shutting down. I bought screw out bits, and a new drill (a corded DeWalt). It took the rest of the day to back all the screws out. It wasn’t easy, since the screws regularly disagreed with my efforts. Some boards had to be pried out.
The deck frame was also trouble. It had to be hammered and ripped apart, nails removed and ground cleaned up for seeding. One hammer snapped its handle, necessitating the purchase of a crowbar. (An interesting side note: Sears lists their crowbars as “wrecking bars”, which seems to be a far more appropriate name.) It took a few more hours to tear the rest of the frame apart on the one panel of decking. I quickly scattered some seeds with peat moss in the hopes that we’d soon have some nice, lush grass.
If it hadn’t been for the rain. I fear that all the rain of the last week has either killed the germination of the seeds, or washed them away. It’s been a week since they were “planted”, so I can only hope this translates to actual grass in the next couple of days.
- There’s a broken electrical line somewhere in the house
Not just somewhere, but in the backyard light on the house. It used to work. When it stopped working, I’m not sure. All I do know is that when I tried to change the light on the back of the house, it wouldn’t turn on. Nothing I did seemed to fix it.Now I know that some of the wiring in this house is suspect. There’s been cases where lights simply stopped working because the breakers aren’t connecting properly. (How that happens, I have no idea! I mean, c’mon, it’s pretty simply technology.) I ended up breaking down and buying an electrical tester to try and root out the issue.
It didn’t help. The connection from the outside to the lightbulb and right back out was fine. Even with the lightbulb inserted, there was continuity — that means the light should turn on. I had to call my brother-in-law Craig for help. He’s my saviour for all things electrical. This is what he does for a living. Ironically enough, though, everything he suggested I had already done. Even the additional tests of testing with the power on showed that the connections were fine. The problem? The power coming into the switch wasn’t working. How on Earth that was happening, I have no idea. Sadly, it means more electrical diagnostics trying to find out where the heck the break actually is. I just hope it ain’t in the wiring, or I’m going to have to tear out part of the wall to get it all working. Ugh.
- I’m with the CBC again … sorta
So imagine my surprise when I get an email from my friend Brenda. It appeared that the CBC wanted my services again, cutting another niche in the CBC TV 50th Anniversary.As you might recall, Brenda was the one that got me involved with the 50th Anniversary in the first place. And it led to one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And even though we’re approaching the fourth anniversary of the celebration, there was another reason for Brenda to contact me. This year is the 10th anniversary of CBC.ca.
Perhaps not the milestone most people would associate with being important, but few understand the challenges that the CBC had placed before it over the years. Even though it was only a couple of years ago, the CBC had wanted to pioneer remote blogging. Something that’s difficult to do even now, let alone the infancy of wireless. And I was the guy behind the keyboard. This time, the CBC wanted me to write about that part of the experience.
One thousand words. Easier said than done, I assure you. If you’ve read these journals before, you know how long they can get. I’m not a succinct person. I like unabridged versions of books and movies, and I write pretty much the same way. I have no clue if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s my thing. Thankfully, though, I did have an editor — two, actually — who edited down my article to the required length. I should point out, however, that I was only over by 100 words on my first draft. Successive drafts (unedited) went to about 1,700 words before editing. I can’t say that the final version of the document is solely my own (can any author who has a good editor say the same?) but I do like it.
I think that’s it. It’s not much, but it has taken a while to get here. And I’m also thinking of moving back to blog software. It’s a flip-flop, I know, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few months, I just don’t have the time to manage this sucker manually. I still need to figure out how to manage the pictures. I won’t be using Flikr or Yahoo! Photos, though. Cool as they are, I need the ability to link them more effectively with articles.