Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Go-Go Gadgets

Just dropped a little over $700 on new CI processor supplies, including two new batteries (the old ones are down to about 4 hours of service on a full charge now) at $175 apiece and a new t-mic at $150. (I was startled at how much better I heard when my audiologist put a new t-mic on my processor during the recent visit; she said that they get dust and debris in them over time and they, too, have a life expectancy.) I mention the prices to give you an idea of what components for this system cost; the Canadian health care system paid for the big kit with all the accessories when I first got implanted, but replacement costs are my responsibility. (I do get a significant non-refundable tax credit as someone who is permanently disabled, though, which offsets these costs.)

I also splashed out on something that is not necessary, but which is rapidly becoming so in a time of global climate change and its related weird weather. When I chose my processor system, I opted to use rechargeable batteries for power. This is an image of my battery charger, where the little brown batteries go to recharge. The green light at far right means that the charger is plugged in; the red light on the battery second from right means that battery is currently charging.

Once charged, the battery slides onto the bottom of the processor; in this photo, it's about halfway installed on the processor, to make it easier for you to see where the processor stops and the battery starts.

Choosing this option meant that the whole unit is worn and powered at ear level, so it's convenient, more discreet, and less clumsy than other options, about which more later. The downside is that the batteries are expensive and will eventually no longer be able to be recharged, and most importantly, if I don't have access to electricity, I can't recharge the batteries as they die, I eventually don't have access to battery power, and I don't hear.

The original kit came with travel adapters for the charger plug, and so far on our trips abroad we've had no problem using them with the charger. However, as our travels take us further off the beaten path - which is our plan - that's not necessarily always going to be true. Just as important, everything from climate change (the winter from hell last year, for just one example) to the threat of terrorist activities and interruptions, large and small, in places near and far (the attacks in NY had remarkable impacts here, ranging from financial institutions not being able to access information to people not being able to get prescriptions filled for weeks afterwards) have us all packing 72-hour emergency preparedness kits and considering how we will get along if we are without electricity for multiple days or even weeks. So I got myself this little guy: an Auria Powerpak. It's a system consisting of a clip-on powerpack that takes one regular AA battery and which is attached to a cord ending in a unit which slides onto my processor, just like my battery normally would.

Using this system, one AA battery will give me one and a half days' worth of power. At $250, it's an invaluable backup system and a great investment.
If you're wondering about that appendage protruding from the bottom of the processor attachment, it's called a "huggie" (srsly!). The huggie is installed to make up for the fact that using this system, you don't have the weight, and hence the stability, that the independent battery normally would provide; the huggie hugs behind the ear and makes the processing unit more stable. This body-worn battery system seems to be standard for kids; probably because the rechargeable batteries are small, expensive and easy to lose, and the cord being attached would also make it harder to lose the whole shooting match.

Which would, at a replacement cost of around $7,175, suck.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Somewhere, in an attic, there is a portrait of a much older Donovan Bailey...

Photographs of Donovan Bailey when he won the 100 metre Gold Medal in Atlanta in 1996.

Photographs of Donovan Bailey on my tv last night when I watched him do colour commentary on Men's Track for the CBC.

12 years later.

What does the man eat?


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sussex (updated)

The latest overnight sojourn was to beautiful bucolic Sussex, heart of New Brunswick's dairy industry and a region of rolling farmland and charming, Norman-Rockwell small towns. We were in town for a friend's wedding. The friend is "Molly", a former co-worker now living in Alberta, and she had invited a bunch of us who she used to work with to attend.

Actually, we thought we were going to a wedding in Sussex, as the bride had always said that's where she is from. Closer inspection of the invitation prior to heading out, however, notified us that we'd actually be attending the ceremony and reception in Waterford, which, if Sussex is understood to be the boonies, is real Deliverance country to city folks like us. ("Mom, there are no bars on my phone!" my co-worker's horrified teenage daughter announced to her. "It says, 'No Service'!" "It's even worse than that," her mother said to her mischievously. "'Molly's' Mom and Dad don't even have high-speed internet!" Her daughter looked like she was paralyzed, torn between bursting into tears of pity and striking out, right now, for civilization.)

The wedding coincided with the weekend of the Sussex Flea Market, held every year by the NB Antique Auto Club. Poking around the web I see there are more than 1,000 tables at this annual market. All I know is it is damned big - a half football field or so of tables on one side, and two big warehouses of tables on the other side. Naturally it's impossible to take a picture of such a thing unless you can get an aerial shot, but here's a gratuitous snap.

My old health issues make extended periods of walking challenging to impossible, so I hung around for the first fifteen minutes and then left Husband to his thing while I wandered around Sussex by auto.

I mentioned that Sussex is widely known locally for being New Brunswick's dairy capital. What we didn't know when we got there is that Sussex has other ideas. A sign at the entrance to down declared that it was the "Mural Capital of Canada" and they're not kidding. They've pretty much painted something on every available vertical surface.

A tribute to the Royal Family. Yes, that's Princess Anne on a horse.

A train-themed mural. It was on the side of a complex of Edwardian office and retail buildings, though. Maybe they were train-related once upon a time.

One on the side of a private home overlooking a park, in the heart of the downtown business district. These are obviously only samples - there are dozens of murals all over town.

This one - of a fire station - was on the Fire Station. It includes a nice little piece of trompe l'oeil - I thought the man and boy in the lower right-hand corner were real people examining the mural until I was very close to them.

So that was a neat weekend but I think Husband and I are both exhausted with this routine of working all week and traveling all weekend. We're sticking close to home for the next little while. (I'm painfully conscious that I haven't blogged about our trip to Nova Scotia's Acadian shore, but it's on my to-do list for sure. Right now - I got to get some sleep!)

Incidentally, the wedding was lovely, the bride glowed, the groom grinned, and a good time was had by all. The main course was bison, in honour of the groom's western roots and the couple's current home base of Alberta. The people at the wedding were inordinately kind to us strangers, especially "Molly's" parents, who found our little group of city-slicker Molly ex-co-workers after the ceremony and personally led us in their car to the reception site. We found our way back to the concrete jungle, cellphone bars were restored, and another little piece of our province is now known to us, and part of our memories.


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Friday, August 15, 2008

Chicken Police

I can't believe I've never posted this YouTube video here before. It's still one of my favourites, years after it first appeared. And if Sherwood hasn't yet seen it... well, that's just criminal.

Sleep well tonight, people. Chicken Police are on the alert.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Halifax (updated)

Multiple choice question: what can be deduced from the three photos that comprise my last three blog posts?

a) Ronniecat is apparently on the road more these days than a long-haul trucker.

b) Ronniecat is exhausted.

c) Damn, that's some foul weather they've been having.

d) All of the above.

And the answer is, of course, d) All of the above.

The Blackberry's camera tends to take relatively dark photos, but trust me, 95% of the darkness in these pictures is reflective of the actual weather conditions. We've gone through two weeks of continuous dark days under black clouds that sometimes did, sometimes didn't, open up in sheets of rain and thunderstorms. Some days it was as dark as 9 pm at noon.

Today it's sunny... maybe the string of bits and pieces of decaying tropical storms that led to the lousy weather has finally played itself out. As for me, there's a bit more travel in my future (the trip to the Annapolis Valley and Yarmouth was pleasure and there are photos coming; Miramichi was business; Halifax, both [a CI Program adjustment]) but for now I can't wait to go to work next week so I can rest!


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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


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Monday, August 04, 2008

Glooscap (updated)

Carl very cleverly comments to ask why I posted a photo of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle on my blog... I wasn't aware when I mobile-blogged this picture from my Blackberry on a grey day how little detail of this statue was going to come out!

This is a 12-metre (40 foot) high statue of Glooscap, (the first human, according to Mik'maq legend). He stands watch over an impressive collection of Millbrook First Nation-owned businesses (everything from a multiplex cinema to a furniture store, gas station and restaurants) and a Mik'maq heritage centre that bears his name, all clustered off the highway just outside Truro, Nova Scotia. We stopped there on our way back from a four-day visit to the southwest end of Nova Scotia, including Yarmouth and the Annapolis Valley, about which more blogged later.