Posts Tagged With: Ben

Fire in the hole…

The workshops of Knight Rd. were humming this week as Foreman Wee Jock Poopong McSus and his trusty assistant Fats D set out to re-create some medieval mayhem.  Glue guns and sandpaper in hand, they cut and measured til the masterpieces were complete – scale models of a trebuchet and tension catapult.  The catapult was based on a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci.  Both builders commented that their next plan is to create a larger, working edition of the trebuchet with an base length of perhaps three metres.  It will be used on the Knight Rd. farm to light bonfires by flinging burning balls of tar.  With parental permission, the builders may also offer it as a summer ride for small children although they will have to weigh less than 15k and be willing to travel unattached through the air at high speeds.

Below are a few pictures of the finished catapult.

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Categories: Family & Friends, General interest | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hello Cleveland…

Well, we’re not Spinal Tap but we’re close.  Josée and I have been working on our mad musical skills and we’ve put together a little Christmas medley.  The drummer vaguely reminds me of Animal from the Muppets.  Check it out by clicking here.

Merry Christmas!

Categories: Family & Friends, General interest | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Great Wall of Knight (Phase I)

If you want to cause yourself some frustration, angst and general “I’ve had it with this !&#(%@ project” feelings, just build a wall and try to get it level in three dimensions.  A project I’ve tried to get underway for the last two months finally came to fruition yesterday.  I’m wrapping the front and side of our house with a small retaining wall, behind which I will plant various flowers, shrubs and even banana trees!  I did a bit of reading about retaining walls and the most consistently repeated advice was “make sure the first course is level”.  What I did not know (until I spent several fruitless hours on my knees, cursing like a trooper) is that in order to have a level first course, one assumes that the bricks/blocks being used are of a consistent, exact shape.  This really helps.  Anyway, I set and re-set multiple bricks only to find that they were level horizontally but not front to back; or level front to back but not against the lie of the land ~ very frustrating!

Eventually I came to the realization that I was not going to be able to make a perfect wall and that once it was set, planted and settled with some rain, it would look just fine.  So I began digging a trench lined with gravel, setting the bricks of the first and second courses, filling them with gravel, re-grading the driveway and filling the bed with dirt, ready for planting.  It took quite awhile but after fifteen or twenty bricks, I started to get into the swing of it.  The wall still has a little tilt but overall it is not bad.  Bob and I moved a bunch of gravel to make the driveway look better plus we filled the space behind the retaining wall with dirt, ready for planting.

Now I just have to start the other side of the house!

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Categories: Farm stories, General interest | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tournament time

The coveted cup

Two days ’til tournament time.  Here are a few last minute details for you to review.  If your partner has not received this information via Facebook, email or through my blog, please make sure they do.

  • Gates open at our place at 1:00pm.
  • Tournament starts sharp at 2:00pm; please do not be late as we have the dark to contend with this year!
  • BYOB but we will be providing juice and pop
  • Supper will be BBQ, smorgasbord-style and will run for probably around an hour and a half
  • As I write this, the weather forecast has improved drastically from yesterday.  We are now looking at cloudy weather with sunny periods although if this smoke continues we might not see the sun.  For weather updates, click here.
  • Don’t forget to bring lawn chairs or you can use the grass if you wish!
  • Many teams are coming with matching shirts or costumes – don’t forget!!
  • Bring a hoodie for later as it cools down a bit.

For the final registration list of players and team names, click here.

If you have any other questions, just fire me an email or call 339.1140

See you on Saturday!

Categories: Family & Friends, General interest, Sports | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment


It’s been a long time since I last ventured into the beautiful Strathcona Park, ages since visiting Buttle Lake.  We haven’t made the best use of such a magnificent resource, only a short drive away from us; we’ll try to do so more in the future!  We left Comox Thursday lunchtime and drove to the launch site, just past Strathcona Park Lodge and the turn-off to Gold River.  We packed the kayak and within half an hour we were paddling down the lake, basically in a southerly direction.  The sun beat down on us, the whisper of wind and drops of water from our rhythmically dipping paddles just enough to keep us cool.  The lake was dead-flat calm making for speedy paddling.

It took as about an hour, with one brief reconnaissance stop, to reach our first stop, Titus Site.  It was at the base of a mountain, tucked into a twisted stand of cedars and oregon grape and appeared to us to be shadow bound for most of the day so we continued on to stop two, Wolf Creek.  This was a nice looking campsite, on the edge of a glacier fed stream but for some reason it spooked Josée, the woods surrounding the campsite reminding her of the Blair Witch Movie.  We moved on.

We paddled for nearly two more hours, enjoying the scenery, drifting alongside green forest and towering granite hills.  The occasional stream rumbled down from the heights, glacier-fed and cold as ice.  We were looking for Philips Creek marine campsite but either didn’t paddle far enough or paddled by it; several of the sites are hidden in the dark of the forest, difficult to find with even a conscious effort.  Eventually, as we were in the gloaming, we decided to bunk down on a small spit of gravel.  Unpacked, supper eaten and tent pitched, we enjoyed the quiet of the late evening, the random call of a loon, echoing in the hillsides and across the still water.  It was a beautiful night.

Josée was up early the next day and located a better campsite for us, a tiny island, perhaps half an acre in size.  It turns out (after reviewing google maps post-trip) that this island was only a kilometre or so away from Philips Creek but it was a great site so there was no point in moving.  We enjoyed the day, reading, napping, and reflecting.  Perhaps the best thing about being in the great outdoors is the quiet and feeling of ‘big-space’.  It was great to just sit and be; no thoughts, no phones or computers, no chatter, no work.  Just be.  As the Italians say: La dolce far niente.

Saturday saw us pack up and paddle out, three hours, the last of which was hard slogging into a strong nor’wester.  The trip was a nice little break; disconnection is a good thing!  Next trip – Sayward Lakes!

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Categories: Commentary, General interest, Trips & Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Boccé 2010 – update

OK – so we’re about a month away from the 2nd Annual Boccé Bash and Summer Extravaganza.  We have 32 teams entered for the tourney with another four or five on the wait list.  We have some sponsors on board, the pitch is ready for mowing and I’ve ordered the weather – high 20s, sunny, slight NW breeze.

If you haven’t yet read the update re: registration, payment, rules, schedule please click here to launch the PDF.  You can also view updates on the Facebook page or you can request a PDF by sending me an email here.  For a refresher of the event last year, click the slideshow below.

It looks like the 2nd year will be a good success and I look forward to the event growing in size and quality each year.

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Categories: Family & Friends, General interest, Sports | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

What a drip…

Holidays.  A time to relax, unwind…work on another project!  Well, with a heat-wave pending, I decided that I better get the garden ‘soaker’ system set up.  First step was to dig out some trenches for the water pipe, black 75 PSI.  Here’s a tip; don’t buy irrigation materials (hose, connectors, faucets etc) in the irrigation section of your hardware store – they’re twice as expensive as the components in the plumbing section.  I checked into wholesale prices but didn’t have the volume to get deals.  Anyway, I looked at a brass faucet manifold (one hose connection, expanding to 4 faucets) and it was $99.  Crazy.  Anyway, if you can’t buy it you can make it.  The manifold I made, with two tap faucets and two ball joint faucets cost me about $25 and some time and I think it actually works quite well.

So after the trenches were dug and manifold complete, I laid out the water pipe, added some connectors then Josée helped me to lay out the soaker hose.  We can now water the entire veggie garden (about 25×40 in the main garden, 15×40 in the corn and bean garden) with the flick of one ball joint tap lever.  In addition, I calculated that if we use the soaker hose at night, we’ll reduce our water consumption for the veggie garden by about 70 percent versus conventional sprinkler watering.  This fact along with the ease of watering made this project very satisfying from a few perspectives.

Next project – retaining walls!

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Categories: Farm stories, The greening of Knight | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Multi-media highlights…

Well, the final tallies are in.  We managed to raise $7275.00 for cancer research in BC.  Thanks again to those who supported us, both financially and emotionally.  We have already signed up for the 2011 ride so if you are interested in joining our team, send me an email here.  For those of you following our efforts regarding the Ride to Conquer Cancer, here are some links to photos and a YouTube video…enjoy!

Click here for hundreds of photos of the ride.

Click here for various news stories of the ride.

Click here for the Day 1 route map; click here for the Day 2 route map.  (These are links from another rider but shows some interesting information)

Categories: Commentary, Family & Friends, General interest | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An epic experience…

250km left on the road, 250km left…knock one down, don’t look around…249km left on the road…

Well, I know the ol’ drinking song used ‘bottles of beer on the wall’ but I needed something to keep the mind on the task at hand, as the miles rolled by.  We made it, we rode just over 250km from Guildford Mall, Surrey to downtown Redmond, Washington.  Both Josée and I are proud of our accomplishment but this pride is far overshadowed by the experience of riding with so many people whose lives have been touched, directly or otherwise, by the scourge of cancer.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty details (well, maybe a little) of the actual ride but suffice it to say that it was extremely well organized, a mammoth task unto itself when one considers that there were over 2200 riders involved, nearly 400 crew volunteers and over 200 actual organizers.  Think of the logistics of transporting luggage, setting up tents, feeding, providing porta-potties (I’ve never seen so many), and arranging a smooth border crossing for this many people.

We started Saturday morning with a luggage check-in, breakfast and brief opening ceremonies.  Once the speeches were done, the cyclists were ‘released’ onto the road.  From the helicopters above, it must have looked like a swarm of army ants.  Due to the volume of riders, it took us a good 7-8 minutes from the official start for us to get out on the road.  The route, well sign posted and marshalled, was smooth and fairly flat.  We rode for nearly 15 km without a stop as police cars cleared intersections and motioned us through red lights.  Eventually we were out of south Surrey, into the farmland.  The pack of riders slimmed a little but at all times we were riding with a dozen riders strung both behind and ahead of us.  It took just under an hour for us to reach the border, at which we had our first pit stop, complete with massive buckets of fruit, granola bars, waffles accompanied by various sports drinks and water.  Each pit stop also had a mechanic section plus a first aid tent.  The border crossing was efficient and took us no time.  In fact, we were later informed that the entire 2500+ group of riders and crew crossed in under 1.50 hours.

Pitstops were plentiful, averaging about 25 km between stops.  Generally, we paused 10-15 minutes per stop, forcing ourselves to eat and drink even though we didn’t feel like doing so.  We pedaled through farm land, past Birch Bay and a number of small communities, which was a real treat as my normal route through Washington consists of 120km per hour on I-5.  It was a beautiful ride, fairly flat although we did encounter some headwinds.  Lunch was at a Washington State Park, around 90 km into our ride, and, unfortunately, once finished, we commenced climbing a five or six kilometre section of hill – very tiring!  From there it was flat riding, although a bit windy, to our camp, located in a nice town called Mt. Vernon.

Along the route and at every pit-stop were dozens of spectators, “cheerers” and well-wishers.  Many of them were ordinary folk, sitting in a lawn-chair with a coffee in hand as hundreds of us streamed by them.  Consistently, their ringing shout was “Thank you for riding”.  They appreciated what we were doing and their energy helped us to stay motivated during the odd moment when we (or I should say I) wondered what the hell I was doing on a hard bike saddle for so long (butt-balm anyone?).

The camp consisted of a covered area with a buffet-style meal section, drinks and desserts a-plenty and a stage for speeches and entertainment.  We could have booked a massage and there was a medical tent which housed a few banged up riders who looked like they’d had a run in with a rogue lawn-mower.  We quickly located our tent, grabbed our luggage from our colour-coded truck and headed off to the shower trucks.  This was an amazing set-up – 2300 riders had hot showers and our wait time was less than fifteen minutes.

Supper over, we listened to a band for awhile then had some speeches.  Some official with the BC Cancer Society informed us that as a group we had raised $9.20 million (up from $6.90 million last year) and the rider count had increased from about 1700 in 2009 to 2250 in 2010.  Needless to say, we were proud of the little bit we’d done – thank you again to all the people who donated to our fund-raising efforts.  The two keynote speakers were exceptional.  The first lost his son to brain cancer a few years ago (read about his team here) and spoke of how we must keep fighting in all facets of our life, as his son did whilst battling cancer.  The second, also a Dad, gave a talk about how his son developed brain cancer at age 3, recovered from it for a year or two but then it came back and he succumbed to it in late 2009.  He suggested that we can all play a role in beating cancer and that it doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant the effort – it all adds up.  Both Josée and I felt these two speeches were the highlight of the weekend, although I must say that just the sheer fact that I completed it without dying is a big one for me!

Day two saw us up for breakfast, packing up our stuff and on the bikes by about 7:15.  We found ourselves next to Mike Gillis, GM of the Canucks, for five minutes so we had a chat about the upcoming draft picks.  Actually, we didn’t mention hockey at all as we figured he must get that all the time.  He was quite gracious with his time and said that this was his second time doing the ride and he would be back again in the future.

The first 80 or so kilometres were fantastic – riding through undulating farmland, through lush crop fields and alongside meandering rivers.  We averaged about 29km per hour over these first three or four sections.  As we sat down for lunch, it started to rain, a gentle shower at first, slowly developing into a nice November sou’-easter (minus the wind!).  Josée was getting cold so on we trudged but we quickly ran out of farmland and into hills, hills and more hills.  Around kilometre 108, we finally dropped out of the hills, to our final pit-stop and from there onward, we rode on a flat river walk, 15 km to the finish.

Our ride consisted of about 6 hours riding the first day, at an average speed of 22.6 kph.  The second was shorter, about 5 hours on the bike, at an average speed of 23.6 kph.  My maximum speed was about 51 kph.  For a complete fly-over of the 250km route, you can click here.

250 km ridden; 2500+ riders and crew, $9.2o million raised.  These numbers are staggering but are nothing compared to the battles fought by people who had cancer, who have cancer or who will have cancer.  The BC Cancer Society has a simple mission: To See Cancer Conquered In Our Lifetime.  We believe this will happen.  Thank you for your support and we look forward to doing it all over again in June 2011.

PS…We’ll be forming our 2011 team sometime in September.  If you are interested, please let us know.

Categories: Commentary, Family & Friends, General interest | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

And we’re off…

Well, by the time you read this, we (hopefully) will be on the ferry, heading toward Vancouver.  Our first step is to find the bike check in location, somewhere around Guildford Mall in Surrey.  Once located, we’ll drop off our bikes, providing they pass muster!  We have a few ID tags with names and numbers that must be displayed on the bikes at all times.  I’m hoping the tags have GPS markers in them to locate me as a I crawl bloodied and exhausted into a ditch around kilometre 87.

Check-in complete, we’ll visit MEC as we can always find something we need.  We’re up at 5am Saturday morning so Friday night should consist of a massive plate of pasta followed as much rest as is humanly possible.  The opening ceremonies are around 7am Saturday morning and we’ve been told we should be on the road by about 8am.  Our lunch stop (assuming I (a) am allowed across the border and (b) actually make it to the rest station) is around kilometre 60 or so.  I’ve been informed we can stop for as long as we like, provided we finish the remaining 40km before 7pm, as a sweep vehicle will pick up stragglers at that time.

With the first 100km under our belts (er..spandex cycling shorts – illegal in most jurisdictions for a late 30s male carrying an extra 20lbs), our pit stop for the night is in Mt. Vernon, Washington, where a tent city has been set up in one of the downtown parks.  We are provided a meal followed by entertainment if one is so inclined.  I can say with certainty I will participate in the meal; the entertainment…hmmm, well, I feel I shall be in the land of Nod at an early hour.

Sunday we are up with the birds, with a 100km route mapped out from Mt. Vernon to Redmond.  I hope they tell us where to stop because I just might have enough energy to hit Eureka, Oregon.  Maybe a short detour to Boeing might be in order; I think the mother ship is based in Redmond.  Anyway, upon successful completion of the ride, we catch a 6pm shuttle back to Vancouver where we hotel it again (yes, with ferries and hotels it is turning into an expensive charity ride!) Sunday night, back to Comox Monday morning.

Well, that is the update for now.  I daresay I will write more on Monday although I may be incoherent due to the overdose of painkillers and ibuprofen I most certainly will require!

Categories: Family & Friends, General interest | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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