Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Erin's Final Cake

Erin has completed a cake decorating class that she's been attending for the past 12 weeks. Check out the photos of her final cake. Nicely done honey!

Erin's Cake

Erin's Cake

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sailing on the Fury IV

On April 22-26 2008, I was fortunate to spend some time at sea (along with David Salmon, Tony Stephen, Ian Wardrop and Steve Kunn) on Stephen Miller's boat the "Fury IV".

The Fury IV

For the impatient I've posted the photo set of the sailing trip on Flickr. I've also posted the GPS log of the trip to Google Maps.

Our group left Calgary shortly after 7:30 PM on Tuesday April 22 and drove through the night arriving in time to board the first ferry (6:30 AM) on Wednesday morning over to Vancouver Island. After picking up the zodiac and purchasing some supplies in Duncan, we were on our way to Genoa Bay where the Fury IV is docked. By roughly 2:00 PM local time we were motoring toward our first stop: Montaghue Harbor. Steve Kunn was the first to man the helm, and Dave was navigator.

Most of the first day was spent settling in, getting aquatinted with the boat and preparing for the next day where the real sailing would begin. We chose our bunks and had some lessons on the basics of the boat such as operating the hatches safely, how the galley works and proper use of the head -- that's the bathroom for all you landlubbers.

We ate lasagna for dinner on the first night (prepared and frozen in advance by Lynn Miller), and played a couple of hands of Skip-Bo before retiring.

The next morning (Wednesday) we took the Zodiac over to the Montague Harbor provincial park for a little land exploration. The park had about at 1.7 KM trail circling part of the island (see map). It was on the solid ground of Montague Harbor that we were able to get our one and only group photo.

The Crew at Montague Harbour

Some of the group (including Steve Miller) walked around the loop, and subsequently challenged Tony and I to run the loop. Tony and I ran the loop in 10 minutes, and when we made it back around to the begining and met up with the others, Tony thought we could run it faster and so he convinced me to run it with him again -- this time with a goal to run in seven minutes rather than ten. Truthfully, I didn't want to run it, but I wasn't going to let Tony show me up in front of the guys -- so off we went.

Sure enough we ran the loop in seven minutes -- Tony finished about 10 seconds before I did, but honestly I was just glad to finnish -- we pushed really hard. Had I been alone I would have walked the last third of the trail but I couldn't bear to finish too far behind Tony. I've got to hand it to him, he's in great shape.

After exploring the park, we returned to the boat for some sailing. We were all excited as we boarded the boat and could feel the wind gathering in the bay. For the most part it was grey, but not too cloudy, the sun even broke through from time-to-time. I felt most comfortable wearing my windbreaker jacket and toque, but some felt comfortable in shorts.

Steve Miller

It was quite a thrill to shut off the motor and raise the sails for the first time. For a guy (me) who has never lived next to a large body of water, it was kind of like being in a sailing movie when we started to raise the sails. I have to confess that pulling up those sails made me feel like a legitimate sailor. Ian manned the helm for most of the second day, and Dave continued to navigate.

Tony (an experienced fisherman) had been looking forward to some fishing, and was anxious to catch some seafood for dinner, so after getting firmly under sail he and Steve Kunn motored out on the zodiac, but unfortunately after several hours of fishing, came back empty handed -- this proved to be a recurring theme for the very confident fisherman.

While Tony and Steve Kunn were fishing, Steve Miller gave Dave, Ian and I a bit of a sailing lesson. We learned about "tacking" and "gybing", about wind direction, stopping the boat intentionally and stopping the boat unintentionally ("being in irons"). We learned what it mean to "fall off" and how to read a tell-tail. I especially enjoyed setting and operating the sails.


After the sailing lesson, Steve Miller moved down to the galley to prepare lunch, and left Dave, Ian and me to operate the boat on our own. This was particularly fun. We were able to catch the wind sufficiently to tilt the boat to roughly 26 degrees. The sensation you get when the boat heels this way is hard to describe. You feel as though the boat is going to tip right out of the water, and though I was certain it wouldn't, I still felt safer holding on. It's really quite thrilling.

At one point during one of these tacks, the boat had tilted sufficiently to cause the lunch that Steve Miller was preparing to fall all over the floor and to break two of the four gallon water jugs. This was right about the time that Steve yelled up from the galley, "Ian, turn into the wind". Ian was clever enough to figure out that doing so would stop the boat. Nice work Ian.

This photo was taken by Tony and Steve Kunn from the zodiac as they were fishing. If you look close, you can see the boat tipping.


When Tony and Steve Kunn returned from fishing (empty handed I might add), some of us gathered around the cabin table for a some knot tying. I set out on the trip hoping to learn about how to operate the ships rigging, and how to tie six different knots. I did in-fact learn some about the sails and rigging and learned far more than six knots. I learned to tie a bowline, cow hitch, clove hitch, reef knot, roling clove hitch, double-overhand knot, figure-eitgh, sheep-shank and a fisherman's knot among others.

After some practice sailing, we set our course for Clam Bay, where we would spend the second night.

Anchoring at Clam Bay turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. While setting the anchor we inadvertently got the line that was towing the zodiac caught in the sailboat prop. It was about this time that everyone became quiet, and hoped that the trip wasn't going to come to an unexpected end. Steve Miller lowered himself down into the zodiac and tried to dislodge the line from the prop -- it became obvious to us all that someone was going to have to jump in the 42 degree water and swim under the boat to manually remove the tangled line.

My respect for Steve Kunn doubled when he, without a moment's hesitation, volunteered to go in. He ended up spending almost ten minutes in the water and a half dozen attempts to get all of the line removed, and manually spun the prop to ensure it was free. After about five minutes I put my swimsuit on and was ready to relive him. I kept asking Steve Miller if he could confirm that Steve Kunn's legs were still moving under the boat. At those temperatures, you don't have very long before hypothermia sets in. Afterward it took Steve Kunn about 2 hours to warm up completely, and we all agreed that he was the hero of the day.

That night we had bar-b-q'ed tenderloin steak & mushrooms, baked potatoes and Ceasar salad. The food was incredible. Yes, believe it or not there is a BBQ on the boat.

Tenderloin Dinner

After cleaning up dinner we all sat together and told the story of how we each met and married our spouse. I was impressed to learn that Steve Kunn waited for Becky to serve a mission to Thailand, that Steve Miller met and was engaged to Lynn in only a few weeks and that Tony followed Sassa to Ricks college for one semester to get her to marry him.

The next day I was awoke to the image of Tony showing off the crab he caught in the crab trap he had set the night before.

Tony's Catch

That morning, all but Steve Miller and I went exploring in the zodiac. Steve and I sat on deck and figured out how to put the fourth sail up. When the others were back on board we took the Genoa sail down, and replaced it with two foresails. We did this more for the fun of experimentation than for any other legitimate sailing reason. If nothing else, the four sail configuration did look cool.

The Fury IV

Before leaving Clam Bay we each took a turn donning the harness and climbing to the top of the main mast (a height of about 55 feet). Steve Miller belayed. At the top of the mast, even the slightest rock of the boat is amplified. It's a neat sensation being up that high and feeling so loose. I'm not really good with heights, and I had to keep telling myself just to put one foot into the next stirrup until I reached the top. Each of us touched the topmost piece of the mast before coming back down.

Tony Up the Main Mast


This is a photo Dave Salmon took from the top of the main mast.


Just before noon we were sailing from Clam Bay back to the marina at Genoa Bay. We ate a hearty stew for lunch. Just for fun, I suggested that we take the two foresails down and put the Genoa back up. It didn't take Steve Miller much convincing... after all, that's the fun of sailing.

The sail back home was fairly straighforward. By that time we were all getting more comfortable with the operation of the boat, and got into a groove as we tacked back and forth. As we rounded Saltspring Island close to the town of Ladysmith, we came upon about a half dozen dolphins who swam beside us and leaped out of the water to entertain us. They stayed with us for more than five minutes.


We arrived at the dock in Genoa after 5:00 PM and spent the next hour and a half unloading and shutting down the boat. I have to admit that I was quite impressed how Steve Miller docked this enormous boat without a flaw. It was functionally equivalent to landing a plane without a bump. Most impressive!

We boarded the 10:45 PM ferry in Duke Point and were on the Trans-Canada back to Calgary just before 1:00 AM on Saturday April 26. We took turns driving through the night and arrived back in Calgary at about 1:30 PM on Saturday afternoon.

The Fury IV

I've now been to sea. I'm a sailor.

Friday, April 11, 2008

April Snows Bring May Showers

If you can believe it, it snowed more than six inches yesterday -- April 10. I had fun with the kids in the back yard when I got home from work rolling a giant snowball. We rolled almost all of the snow off the yard into one enormous ball.

Standing on the Snowball

Erin is enjoying round three of her cake decorating class. Here's a photo of her most recent work:


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Importing MS/Win Excel Data Into MySQL on Mac OS X

I've got to write this down somewhere. It seems like every-time I have to do this I waste an hour trying to make this work.

Here are the steps for exporting MS Win/Excel data into a MySQL database hosted on Mac OS 10.5

  1. Save the Excel data as a tab delimited file, and move the file to the Mac OS (for some reason I've found more consitant success starting from a tab delimited file than with a .csv.

  2. Open the Excel tab delimited file in Numbers spreadsheet program and export as CSV. Doing this seems to work out any WIN/Mac file formatting errors.

  3. Run the following command at the terminal in the Mac OS

    load data local infile
    -> '~/filename.csv' into table tablename
    -> fields terminated by ','
    -> lines terminated by '\n'
    -> (field_1, field_2, field_n);
  4. The statement above assumes your data is separated by comas, and lines are terminated by the newline character; field_1, field_2, field_n are positional -- that is, whatever column comes first in filename.csv will be mapped to the field_1, whatever comes second in filename.csv will be mapped to field_2 etc...

Never look this up again.