Sunday, June 27, 2010

Overcast Sunday and a meal or two

I've been so busy and I'm getting behind. I have lots of raw video to edit and grass to cut but that will have to wait for another day. Today is Family Day Sunday and we have to decide where to have brunch. Yesterday was a fun filled day riding around urban Vancouver which you can read about here

Today is about a bit of relaxation, running more errands and enjoying a meal out. First stop was to the swap meet to purchase a cable, 2.5 mm female stereo to 3.5 mm male stereo adapter. I had an idea that I could make my headphone speakers work with the FRS/GMRS radio cable, and it did. I could now route radio through my headset. Also I wanted to purchase two USB power supplies, one for 110ac, another for 12V to connect to the Wee for our trip to Oregon in a mere 2+ weeks. I also purchased another 12V cigarette adapter and changed the input to a standard 2 pin SAE plug to mate with the plug for my battery tender quick disconnect which I use for my Heated Vest.

But first things first, we were getting hungry and ended up here


Main Street is becoming quite upscale, sort of like what Robson Street was 20 years ago, or more or less a budding Commercial Drive. There are many restaurants all the way from 7th Avenue up to nearly 33rd avenue and one of our missions is to work our way down the street as best we can. We have sampled many eateries along this 2 mile strip and find that there are many unique places to discover.


It was not a very large place, sort of very cozy and busy. We managed to get a table right away but very soon there was a line-up.

Yes, I did snap a photo of our meal but you don't get to see it this time, after all I can't always be posting photos of our meals. People would think that we are obsessed with always eating. I had a Newfie Meal, perhaps one day I can let you in on the story of our trip to Newfoundland and the types of food available in the restaurants there.

Later we decided to walk across the street to see the menu at Nirvana and the Foundation, both very popular places which are packed every night

(Interesting street scene, and this was not a restaurant display)

I wanted to go to Mountain Equipment Co-op (renamed Atmosphere) to buy some other stuff to have on our trip. They are a very large local outfitter where you can purchase equipment for your trek to Tibet or Antarctica. If you go mountain climbing, repel down canyon walls, or just wish to camp in Alaska, then this is your place to stock up

(these caught my eye: Imagine Pink at the top and bottom)

of course if I had Green Ninja Crocs, then I would have to look for Ninja Green glasses

We currently have the Jazz Festival down in Gastown and the roads were closed making it very difficult to navigate so we took the underground


I never even realized that this road was here. I believe that these areas were originally exposed to the elements, but then they built another layer of roads on top

After a series of ramps, twists and turns we found our way back up to civilization


Time flies, soon it was nearly 6pm and time for dinner. We were trying to decide whether to have dinner at home or eat out, so we headed down to Davie street and found that a place where we have been before had a very large line up

(Stephos, greek Restaurant, Davie Street, Vancouver, BC)

I can't remember a time where we haven't had to wait at least half an hour, or more. this line looks like over an hour. It is a very popular place for the locals and famous for their roast lamb at a very, very, very, reasonable price

We parked around the corner and went to their competion and got a table right away.


This place is only a few doors East of the one with the long wait and judging by the reviews on the local food forum, this was reputed to have better quality food. We had wanted to try this place for a while and today was the day


We got seated at a small table by the window and spent out time people and car watching while our food got cooked.

I always order the Roast Lamb and it was good. Mrs Skoot ordered the Mousaka and here it is


The nice thing about summer is the later sunsets. On our way home we drove around English Bay


It was a pleasant short sleeve day and many others had the same idea while visiting the Inukshuk and enjoying a walk along the sea wall


I wanted to be able to charge my camera batteries on my Wee whilst riding. I purchased another 12V outlet and had to adapt the plug to fit my SAE 2 pin connector. I snipped off the two alligator clips, added some wire and soldered it all together using my VOM to insure that the polarity was correct. When ever I extend two wires I stagger the solder joints so they cannot touch


I am trying to travel light but ensure that I am able to charge all my batteries while on the road. These are the two USB adapters I purchased

(One 12V and One 110 AC)

My Lenmar Universal charger with moveable pins is pictured here


Here is the Wee shown connected to my battery tender


I plan to use this same connector to charge my batteries and connected my Lenmar to ensure that it all works


so far so good. I put in some AA batteries and all seems right. While riding, it is my plan to put all this stuff into my tank bag

Spotted at the parking lot of our grocery store on the way home

(Honda cafe racer)

and a view of the instrument panel with two important gauges

(Speedomter & Tachometer)

Hope you had a good day and a meal or two, too

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Motorcycle Rider to Rider Communication

Without going into a lot of detail, in discussion with my riding buddy, we came to the mutual conclusion of having some way that we could talk to each other while on the road.

I did a lot of googling looking at all the specs of the Bluetooth units and decided that the best choice would be either the BlueAnt Interphone F4, or the Cardio Scala Rider G4. I kind of liked the G4 since it had an FM tuner but it wasn't waterproof, while the F4 was. The only thing that I did not like was the fact that only units of the same brand can link with each other, and only two units can be paired. These BT units can also pair with a BT cellphone, or BT GPS

imc bts330
(typical BT units designed for helmet mounting)

I remembered that a few years ago I purchased a headset unit from IMC at a motorcycle show that had remained unused for many years

(I've probably had these units for 5 years, in original packaging)

imc hs400
(IMC HS400)

while these are not Bluetooth they are made to connect to a standard FRS/GMRS radio, as well as to a cell phone through a wired connection. The idea of using a standard radio appealed to me as then others on the same channel would be able to hear our chitter chatter. I had lots of FRS/GMRS radios that I had purchased over the years but the cables used the single pin connector, while all the radios that I already had used the 2-plug system, so I needed an adaptor.

Luckily I remembered Mr Lee from IMC Electronics NA Ltd who just happens to live near Port Moody, BC so after work last week I made arrangements to meet him at his home office where he gave me two adapters to connect my radios


I have 4 of these Midland units which are rated for 12 miles under ideal conditions, but if they can manage to stay connected for a kilometer (while riding) then I would be more than thrilled. These radios can also be used while off the bike and make excellent communicators to keep in contact at the hotel (room to room).

When I got home from work I decided to mount the flat speakers and boom microphone into the helmet. It didn't take long and all the wires are hidden under the helmet liner


There is a master quick disconnect to unhook yourself when you dismount your bike


There are two flat helmet speakers, one for each side which are secured with double sided tape (supplied) . I didn't want anything stuck to the outside of my helmet so I stuffed the velcro mount for the flexible mic under the padding so that it would be behind the faceshield to minimize wind noise.


I decided to mount the boom mic on the left side with the quick disconnect, but there is enough wire to mount on the right if so desired

I noticed from the forums that due to wind noise the VOX (voice activated) function is not all that reliable due to noise at high speed, and these cables come with a PTT (Push to talk button) with a velcro strap which makes mounting to the handlebar a breeze. I will have to experiment with different positions under actual conditions this coming weekend.


I think being able to communicate with your riding buddy during a long trip is essential. Trying to get the attention of the person in front while on the freeway in heavy traffic would be hard to do when you are looking for the washroom at the next exit.


I also noticed that IMC has a BT adapter available for use with their BT headsets. I asked Mr Lee (IMC Electronics NA Ltd) about this and it seems that I would be able to power this using the 12V from the bike and be able to stream my Sirius satellite radio through my helmet, in STEREO, using the helmet speakers, and also the fact that you can pair your GPS and cellphone too. There is already built in priority. When the phone rings it will shut off the music automatically.

It is something to consider when I am riding alone

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ride to Work: June 21st & DPS parking

ride to work 2

Not really much to report as I would normally ride to work anyway, except for those days where I was recently unable due to my aged foot. I seem to be getting a few percent better everyday but taking shorter steps and resting more. Last week my foot had swelled to the point where I could not put on my riding boots and had to resort to my running shoes with laces nearly untied, otherwise I would not have been able to get my bike home from the dentist. Shifting was painful and I struggled to take routes where I didn't have to stop so often. My dentist is in the congested West End of Vancouver where parking is severely limited. Most of the parking is reserved for residents who have to display their specially issued "decal" on the windshield. My broken tooth has undergone 3 procedures and the crown will be in place later this week, all because I bit into a piece of chocolate and shattered my tooth at the gum line.

ride to work

and finally the photo of my bike at work on Ride to Work day



Diamond Parking Limited: DPS

Imagine my surprise when I opened up an unidentified envelope last April to find this parking violation notice.

dps ticket

I am very careful to make sure that I always have enough money in the meters and purchase tickets at the dispensor on any parking lot, and I seldom pay for parking preferring to walk a further distance. At first I thought that the ticket was a mistake and perhaps that they had written down the incorrect license plate number. I did a google map search of the address and found that it was the parking lot at Wendy`s (hamburger fast food joint).

I seldom have meals at fast food places but I was racking my brain to try to figure out when I was there and I remembered that I had to go to a meeting and decided to just grab a burger on my way. The next morning on my way to work I passed by the Wendy`s to grab a photo of the signs


this sign had fallen down and was on the ground leaning against the cement wall. There was another sign on a pole


I think I have abided by the terms of the Wendy`s sign. I parked, went inside had a burger and left. There was NO ticket on the windshield, there are no meters or any ticket dispensers on the lot and no way that anyone could confirm whether you were there for 30 minutes or 32 minutes. I did not leave the lot at any time to go elsewhere as I was also accussed of doing.

When I received this ticket I immediately phoned the Wendy`s Manager who identified himself as DAN. He seemed helpful at first but was really of no help. I sent a fax to Wendy`s head office in Ontario and have never received any reply from them. I also wrote two letters to DPS and have never received any official reply from them either. I was getting upset and was thinking of calling ace in the hole, Geoff James but it was too great of an expense to fly him to Vancouver but he does work for boxes of Chocolate.

Dan, the Wendy`s manager asked if I had a receipt for my meal but who keeps a receipt from a fast food restaurant. I did not pay by credit or debit card, preferring cash so I had no way to prove that I actually ate there. Dan said he would go through his cash register tapes and try to find my order. Although this is what he told me, later he said they don`t keep their tapes this long. I asked if he would just cancel the ticket as I was their customer and abided by their rules as indicated on their sign. He told me that he was not in control of the parking lot and it was being supervised by DPS.

I had a window table while I devoured my hamburger and could see my car below. No one approached the car. I did not notice anyone coming by nor recording any license plate numbers. It is not right to send you a notice for over a hundred dollars over a month later.

I eventually resorted to issuing a formal complaint through the Better business Bureau and finally got the ticket cancelled without so much as an apology. Do a google and you will see lots of problems with this company doing the same thing in Seattle. They utilize predatory tactics and I don`t understand why our local motor vehicle department would be willing to devulge the names and address of the registered owners. DPS tickets are un-enforceable but they say they have the right to have your car towed away if found on one of their lots and you never know which lots they are supervising.

dps bbb reply

I shudder when I think that you are presumed guilty without any burden of proof from this Company. Thank goodness my ticket was eventually cancelled.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crocs love Squamish, BC

I wasn't sure whether I could, or couldn't ride. I can still hardly walk but the weather was so nice that a ride was arranged on short notice. I thought that a route somewhere with less stop lights and great scenery was what the doctor ordered.


My Pink crocs got in touch with some friendly Yellow Crocs and soon they were together chatting away like old friends


The master of the Yellow Crocs finally made it to the rendezvous point in North Vancouver. After a quick tire pressure check and fill, we were off

After a quick sprint northward on the Sea-to-sky highway we stopped to stretch our legs at Britannia Beach and looked at all the trinkets for sale


We are not consumers so we mounted our steeds and were soon parked on the Cleveland Avenue, the main Street of Squamish, BC. This is a small town about half way to Whistler. You can tell it's a small town for lack of parking meters.


We quickly remove our riding attire and change into something more casual for walking about the farmers market, which is held every Saturday from 10a - 3p for the summer


Soon we found ourselves sitting in a local restaurant for some fish & chips. No we were not really hungry but it is tradition to get something to eat while midstream into an afternoons ride . It was an excellent white fish from Australia which name we cannot remember. I am sure Geoff James has had many of these during his travels


Geoff is very serious with his fish and you will often find him sporting his favourite Red Shorts whenever he orders fish & chips, and also whilst fishing.

Before we head back to town, we mosey over to the local marina


Before we part our ways, we have one last break to enjoy the warm sunny day at Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver, BC. This is a favourite spot for scuba divers


The island is accessible during low tides by walking over on the rock causeway.


Sunday we decide to take the 'Vette out for a relaxing drive for brunch, then head over to Horseshoe Bay. It is nice to be able to enjoy the wind in your hair and be able to enjoy the day without all that riding attire.


We arrive at Horseshoe Bay and find a shortage of parking spots. It seems that everyone from Vancouver is here


So I decide to go to my favourite place to sit on the rocks and enjoy the water passing by. It is an excellent location with a panoramic view of the Vancouver skyline.


You are able to see West Vancouver (on the left), the Lion's Gate Bridge, Stanley Park and the tall buildings of the Downtown Area

There is also a private beach and cove


it was such a nice day that we decided to grab a cheap dinner down at the Yaohan Centre, Richmond, BC and bring it home


I mean, where else can you spend $20. and have enough food for two days. Or conversely feed 4 people for $5. each. This was less expensive than our brunch


I hope I didn't overdue it. Now my foot hurts and it didn't hurt yesterday .


Monday, June 7, 2010

Not normal yet

I'm waiting for things to get back to normal. In the meantime, I've been out of commission. I'm not one to get sick. I can't remember the last time time that I have actually taken a sick day from work. You know that if I cannot make it to work then something would be seriously wrong with me. I was just getting better from my severe bout of hay fever which has flu like symptoms. I dislike medication and would only take it as a last resort so when my cough got unbearable, I started to take sinus and hayfever pills, cough syrup with codeine, anything that I though would help and it did. Just when things seemed to get better, last Friday I woke as normal to get ready for work and found that I could not walk.


Actually things were progressing downhill from Thursday when I noticed some swelling on my right foot. Things didn't feel right but I managed to hobble around and make it through the day. Obviously, things got worse for the next morning, the swelling had increased and I could not put any pressure on it. It was like walking on broken glass. It's not easy for me to visit my Doctor for her office is in the middle of Chinatown, where there is limited parking, not that I could walk that far anyway. Luckily I had some Celebrex on hand and after an hour or so I could manage some small steps and headed to her office.


I was lucky to get a parking spot on the street with no meter (No time limit) and made my way past all the grocery, fish & meat stores, bakeries, clothing stores. I don't come down here all that often and it was my desire to snap a few photos, but as I took out my camera I was told "no photos", but I snapped a few anyway.


She is running behind. Although I arrived early, I had to wait another 20 minutes before I was led into the examination room


While I am waiting I amuse myself by looking at all the charts and other doctor accessories. Soon the doctor arrives and starts asking questions.

She asks to see my foot and it is swollen and hot to the touch. The consensus is to continue to take anti-imflamatory until the swelling subsides.


I was referred to another clinic for more tests


I am a chicken when it comes to tests but I forced myself to go and was very relieved when they told me that I had to come back after I had not eaten anything for the previous 10 hours. On my way back to the car I passed this shrine for Jimi Hendrix


This has not been a good week for me. Everything is breaking or broken. My lawnmower burnt itself out and it was only 2-3 years old. The blade jammed on a piece of wood and I think wreaked the piston and rings. I unjammed the blade and started the engine but it immediately began to burn oil, then it stopped and wouldn't restart.

Here is my new Toro lawnmower with RWD



On Saturday while munching on a chunk of 72% dark belgium chocolate, I munched down and heard a "crunch" was was soon spitting out bits of fillings and teeth. It looks like I had a cavitated filling which failed and now I may be looking at a new crown. I will know more after I go to the dentist tomorrow.

Saturday was also our 41st wedding anniversary so we ended up at a classy place for a special meal

(steak and lobster dinner)

Mrs Skoot had the chocolate mousse dessert, while I went for the carmelized apple pie with ice cream


I'm waiting for things to get back to normal, hoping it will be soon. In the meantime, I'm falling apart