Archive for December, 2009

The power of the interwebs on one man’s happiness

Posted by on Friday, 18 December, 2009

As many of you know, my dad has been painting watercolours for a number of years now as his passion. He’d been drawing professionally all his life, but only in retirement did he seriously tackle watercolours as his focal media. After showing quite well in a few juried competitions and art shows, and being asked numerous times if he was in a gallery or on the web, he came to me to discuss building a website. So, a few years back, I built out a site and surprised him for his birthday; since then, I’ve rebuilt and maintained his site as a birthday present since it isn’t a necessity for him, and being retired I figured it is an expense he didn’t need to shell out.

While I know the value of a website, it seems dad just figured out exactly what it can do for him. About two months ago he was contacted by a gentleman who had found dad on his website and indicated he was interested in purchasing one of his paintings. They communicated a few times, and finally met up yesterday for a private viewing of a few of dad’s paintings. Dad walked away from that viewing having sold three of his largest paintings for a few thousand dollars each. He called to tell me the news within minutes of arriving home. Rarely have I heard dad so giddy, but I guess a bit of a financial windfall like that will perk anyone’s spirits, especially right before the holiday.

You want to make a retired painter happy? I think I finally found the formula… it involves patience, talent, and a whole lot of luck.  Merry Christmas, dad.

Lastly, for those of you who haven’t seen his work before, go ahead and click on over to
I think you’ll enjoy what you see there… though I am indeed biased of course; not only because he raised me, but because I also own four of his originals. And no, mine aren’t for sale  😉

Recycling content… or, putting work into practice

Posted by on Tuesday, 15 December, 2009

At my day job, I am a knowledge manager for IBM Rational Support. In this position I am helping to drive a concept known as “KCS”, or Knowledge Centered Support.  I like KCS, because it allows me to do what I have been doing all my life when it comes to information: reuse.

I’ve always found my patience tried when pushed to repeat myself, so I would fall back into a pattern of reusing information I previously provided. Oddly enough, however, it took me YEARS before I began actually reusing content for one of the questions I am most commonly asked: “What whiskies do you recommend?”

So, two years ago, I answered that question in the form of a blog post on my whiskies tasting group site:

Since it was around the Christmas holiday, I framed the original post in the context of gifting whiskies to someone else, but the concepts and recommendations are still solid if you are just buying for yourself.

This year, I am going to fall back on the best practices I’ve learned over the years and simply reuse my old content, as it still holds up today:

So, jump on over to my tasting group’s site at the link above and read through my post on buying whiskies as gifts… and maybe even take a look at Raz’ recommendations for non-whiskey whiskey gifts too. Who knows, you may just find that perfect something for the perfect someone, or just for yourself 🙂

For the love of coffee

Posted by on Monday, 7 December, 2009

A sad day hit the household this weekend; our drip coffee maker developed a leak.

While this was not entirely catastrophic, it did give us the excuse to finally replace our little Mr. Coffee with a proper drip machine that would bring our Stumptown roasts to full flavour. After some solid refreshers on my previous research (I spent a full year researching my purchase of the Rancilio Sivlia and Rocky combination for my espresso setup), I had narrowed our choices down to 2 within hours: a Capresso MT-500 or a Technivorm Moccamaster .

Further discussion and a final trip to a local kitchen store, Kitchen Kaboodle, resulted in us coming home with a Technivorm Moccamaster Thermal carafe drip machine:

Such a beautifully simple drip machine. It has only one switch with two settings: on and off. No timer, no clock, no bells and whistles. The brilliance of the machine is the power it wields, as it is one of the only machines on the market which will actually heat the water to the perfect extraction temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also one of the very few machines (possibly still the only home drip machine) which can boast an SCAA certification/approval for meeting its standards.

Now, with the old coffee maker in the garage, I have disassembled it in preparations and attempts to see if I can rebuild/mod it into a steampunk style Mr. Coffee at the suggestion of a good friend. If I am successful, you can expect a full process write up on this blog.

Of course, while we were at Kitchen Kaboodle, we also ended up replacing our 13 year old Hamilton Beech 7-cup food processor with a new, larger Cuisinart Custom 14 cup food processor:

I think that should pretty much settle any future kitchen appliance purchases for another 10+ years. If we had kids, these two appliances would be handed down to them when we pass; they are built that well!

With that, I’ll go have another cup of Stumptown, perfectly brewed at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Ah coffee, how I love you!