I am not sure that she needed help blowing out the candle but everybody wanted to pitch in.

Eryn 2nd Birthday

I do not think that Rogers ever did anything right the first time for me when I was their customer. If I called to cancel a block of stations, they would do it but then add the Rogers Magazine to my account, somewhat negating the savings that I was trying to achieve. Not so with Time Warner. I called them last week to ask for my service to be restored when I got here today, and they told me that everything was being restored 5 days ago. They had recorded my wishes from last spring and were going to execute on the day we agreed back then. I was pretty certain that when I got here I would have to call for some reason. So far not so; everything is working fine.

This is for Jamie

I have been thinking lately about the possibility of someone starting a new appliance company. We know that GE and MayTag make appliances; we all have them in our homes - Major appliances like crappy refrigerators, crappy stoves, crappy dish washers, crappy microwave ovens, and crappy clothes washers and dryers. There are other manufacturers too, like crappy Bosch, crappy Samsung, and crappy LG.

My thinking is that it would be a good idea to start a company that made really good, simple, constantly improving appliances. I vision a product that is steel not plastic, that constantly evolves not to meet marketing needs, but to make it more reliable, deliver more essential function, and be more energy conscious. It will reuse a very high percentage of its parts from year to year rather than being redesigned with new knobs and switches each year.

Deming would be proud of these appliances. Their design and development would fit within the Sigma Six quality programs from Xerox. They would not be about new models for the sake of new models, they would change only when a real improvement to reliability, ecology, function or cost can be delivered. The warrantee would reflect the quality. Long warrantees with No-Question customer service.


I have been a Rogers internet customer for a long time. For more than one reason I have been thinking of dropping my Rogers Home Phone, TV, and Internet service and moving to an "Internet only" model for TV and Phone. With the introduction of Sling.com in the US I decided that I would make the move now as we head south for the winter. I cancelled everything 3 days ago.

This morning Rogers gave us a rude shot when they let me know that by cancelling our internet service, Carol had lost the email address that she has been using for the past 20 years, and that if she did not move her email to Yahoo.ca today the email in the old account would be lost. My email is OK because years ago I had moved to Apple's mail services with Google's Gmail as my backup.

So . . . my advice would be that you should never include your email service within a larger technology bundle. Keep your email with a free service (Google Gmail is great). Bundling your email with your TV, your phone, your internet connection reduces your ability to take advantage of new hardware technology in your neighbourhood. It also reduces your ability to move to another carrier because of service issues and the like.

For the record my current plan is:

Service Estimated Cost
Bell Fibe Internet 60GB download, Unlimited Usage ~$80 per month
Apple TV for all TVs one time purchase
Netflix subscription for Movies $10 per month
Sling subscription for News, Sports, HBO and Tennis Channel $40US per month

I will need to use a PVN to access Sling from Canada, but I already have this (Avast PVN) and have tested Sling using it. The PVN is a necessity when you are trying to access US content (such as Pandora) from Canada.

Carol and I are in established in our hotel room in Fort Wayne. I think that we just made it out of Collingwood on time for it was cold, and windy with traces of sleet and snow all the way from Duntroon to Shelborne. We are listening to an audio book as we drive, "The Girl On The Train". I was so engrossed in the story that I missed the exit to highway 69 near Port Huron and then an hour later took an exit to highway 96 near Angola. I am not certain that I should be listening/reading as I travel.

Our friends Keitha and Ross hosted a Bean-town Festival last evening for cult-like collection of neighbours. Everybody is nuts about baked beans. Some folk even brought their own tupperware. Keitha claimed that she cooked 8 pounds of beans for 10 people. 8 pounds of beans, properly rehydrated is just slightly more than what is required to fill a 5 gallon pail. 10 people, 5 gallons. Roughly 2 quarts of beans per person - then desert. there was barely room for a couple of beers and and a snort of rum. It was a very nice evening.



The 4th day is always the longest driving day - 616 miles; all I can do at my age. We did it with only 4 stops. If I could live in the US full time, Flagstaff would be very high on my list of possibilities. The population is about 70,000, it has a University and a historical district that is wonderful. Brew pubs and restaurants abound. It is 100 kilometres from the Grand Canyon, 4 hours from Las Vegas, 1 hour from Sedona. It is situated 7000 feet above sea level. A terrific town.

All OK

It has been 2 months and 19 days since I last wrote on the VOX. I am disappointed with myself. I have become really, really lazy. Quite a bit has happened since February 6th and I am going to try to remember it now.

  1. First and foremost Joan "Joanie" turned 66.
  2. I played my first tennis match in a USTA League. My partner was a very good friend and good player and we did not do well. As a matter of fact not doing well became a bit chronic. We took some lessons together and we promised our captain that we would do better (improvement everywhere but the scoreline). I think that it was good for us. We were both playing better at season end. Those on the other teams should watch out next year. Carol also played on a USTA team. I think that she really enjoyed the competition.
  3. Carol and some girls friends took a "time out" at Newport Beach for a few days. I have the photographs - nice scenes of jugs of margaritas with the Pacific ocean in the background. Hmmm -- very nice. I took a drive in the desert looking for the "lost mine shaft" -- nope, did not find a thing.
  4. Carol continued with her tennis lessons with Isabel -- like I couldn't help -- I would have said, "hit the ball, hit it harder!"
  5. The Pizza Party was a big event for Carol and I. A niece of good friends of ours was coming to visit. She was also entered in a "pizza" competition at a Las Vegas food conference -- a bonafide food star. Ashley's competition recipe was pizza with double-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, and caramelized onion tomato sauce. Carol and I could not resist inviting her to build pizzas for a party at 99 VW. 14 people were invited to eat from-scratch, home-made pizza from a cheap old Frigidaire electric oven. Another good friend demonstrated pizza on the BBQ. Wonderful night in spite of having to scrap the tomato sauce footprints from the the living room floor in the morning. Wonderful, wonderful evening.

    Ashley came 6th in the Pizza Conference

  6. Early March is the Indian Wells tennis tournament. We spent 5 nice day watching tennis - how about the return of Del Potro from the 4th row! It really does make you humble when you realize how much better the professionals are at the game. My best hit is their worst hit.
  7. A real treat - time out from tennis to visit the Getty art museum in Los Angles. We took a hotel room on Malibu beach -- a really nice experience. We should have rented surf boards. The next day we visited the Grammy Museum in downtown LA. -- a very nice treat again.
  8. Tennis -- tennis -- tennis -- mixed in with the end of season party -- party. These get togethers are where folk are trying to get rid of the wine, beer and liquor leftovers.
  9. Finally won a couple of matches in the USTA league. Turns out competitive play requires a different set of skills from everyday tennis -- winning.

All and all a great season. It is good to be home though. We are looking forward to the yard cleanup, Eryn's 1st birthday, our new dish washer, and visits with folk we have not seen since last year.

Here is a photo taken by Bronwen of Eryn having lunch while waiting to catch a flight at Palm Springs International Airport.

Eryn Having Lunch

For the past week we have had family as company. It has been a quiet visit as Eryn is just 9 months old and she does need her sleep. Tuesday night we invited all of the husbands who's wives were away (husbands left to dog-sit) to join us for burgers and beer. Ken and Gary were the victims of that evening. Last night we met Bill and Linda in Palm Springs for Happy Hour at the Matchbox and an introduction to Eryn, then did the Thursday night street fair.

Bronwen & Eryn

Not certain yet what is happening today. Tomorrow our little family heads home.

Silver Sands decided that we would enter a team into a USTA league this year (over 55, doubles, each court no more than 7.0 total on the Richter scale). Some people want to practice. So we are going to do drills this morning. 68 years old and some whipper-snapper is going to yell "move your feet". Some people will do anything to hit one ball in a hundred better. I am just adopting a new approach to the game - I call it "What would Willie do?" Does Willie practice for his concerts? Hardly.

Willie Nelson


YoungWillie Finally saw the outlaw legend himself. Willie came to a casino in the valley and we had four tickets. The show was billed as Willie and Family. Family consists of "family" members that have toured with Willie for over 40 years. The lineup included his sister, Bobbie, on the piano; drummer Paul English, harmonicist Mickey Raphael and bassist Kevin Smith. Billy English joined in 2010 to help his brother Paul after he suffered a stroke the same year. Willie is now 82 year old and there have been rumoured health scares in the past 3 months that cancelled the early parts of this tour. He performed for a solid 75 minutes, running through many of the best songs in his vast catalog including: Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground, Back On The Road, and Crazy. A portion of the set was dedicated to old Hank Williams songs. Although it is difficult to find good young singers here in the valley, there are always legends flying through.