Roy's Desk

A place to check my status, location and contact info

This is now my "OLD" blog, no additions in two years. My new blog is getting occasional posts of thoughtful, trenchant, well-researched commentary. Or more likely, stupid rants I regret immediately.

Speeches and Pictures and Movies from The Big Retirement Party

Paul Fesko's Excellent iCloud Site of Party Photos

402 1972 Robson St.
Overlooking Lost Lagoon

Contact: 604-704-1527

Landline: 604-681-2002
RoyBranderPEng on Skype

New Look

Here at, we like to keep up with the times, if by "the times" you mean HTML in the late 90s.
The site was starting to look early-90s, and that's just Going Too Far. So I'm archiving off all the posts to date and starting fresh. Here's the greatest hits from 2015:

April 30, 2016: Sid

(Click on picture for enlargement)
We had to admit the renovations were basically over. There are a few items that they screwed up and have to come back to fix, but the stomping men and their loud machines are gone from our day-to-day lives and Connie is just painting... and the odd bit of noise as she cuts baseboards.

So, we hit the BCSPCA and more-or-less asked for a hard case. Not our first time around that track: Jenny was the cat we were the third to adopt after she'd been found stray and adopted out TWICE to people who gave up on her...then she was in the foundation for two years of no adoption. It was six months before she came out from under the bed, except to eat.

So with Sid, we asked if they had a "senior" cat. Nobody wants them. All used up, families figure.

And Sid is twelve, and feeling it. He has a scar right on one eyeball that probably costs him most of his vision in the left eye; he's starting to go into renal failure, though no medication yet. And most seriously, there's a growing heart murmur.

So while he was a very friendly cat and is extraordinarily attractive, with his leopard coloration of the takers.

But we've been lucky in life, and it was time to do some sharing. Sid is SO friendly and gregarious that he won't mind us having houseguests, even kids, and at twelve, we don't feel bad about not being able to let him out in a yard.

Most cats want to hide in one room when you move them to a new place; it takes them a day to venture out and start exploring. It took Sid about an hour. He's now taken over the entire place and settled in as if he'd lived here for years.

Before we even adopted him, we'd bought one of those carpeted cat perches, and it's destination, once we get all the furniture back into place, is the very heart of the house, which is to say the outmost corner of the patio where the view windows meet.

In the meantime, we have it a few metres away and Sid already likes to sit there and look out at the view.

No, not the magnificent view of the Park and the mountains that all the humans immediately gasp at.

Sid is constantly looking straight down at the street below; Sid likes watching people. Sid is a serious people person. Full Time Job.

How quickly did he settle in? When we finished supper, and Connie settled down by the TV, I got my tea, and headed out to join her...

...and the little bastard had stolen my chair! It usually takes a new cat months to start doing that.

More Sid Pix for his Fans!

Sid in his Corner Office
Sid the Roaring Leopard
View now includes a cat

April 17, 2016: Vancouver Sun Marathon Goes By

Hour after hour, they pounded past the condo - down Robson Street to our corner, took the turn onto Lagoon Drive, and onward for 25 more miles of stupid persistence.

Don't get me wrong, I love running, and went out around most of Stanley Park just hours later. But 26 miles of running isn't fun. I recall the original inspiration dropping dead at the end, right after announcing victory at Marathon.

But it was fun and colourful to watch them go by; I'm just glad I didn't have to see them at the other end.

April 13, 2016: New Floor

The final thing that could only be done by outside experts is complete. The floor was painstakingly ground down a few mm for five days and today completes four full days of the new finish hardening enough to drag furniture over it. Tomorrow we start putting back all our furniture on it.

The only renovations left now are paint, baseboards, and carpeting the stairs...all of which Connie is determined to do solo, or at least with only my thumb-fingered help. The many people that have come and gone from our place for over a year now can be all paid off, thanked, and sent away.

The house is ours at last; and it has a very beautiful "new" floor just 61 years old, one and a half new bathrooms, a new kitchen, and my kickass bookshelves.

Just as soon as we finish another month of work.

March 28, 2016: My Ultimate Book Solution Realized

For nearly two years, since I started packing them up in June of 2014, my beloved books have been languishing in cardboard boxes. The survivors, that is. About six or eight boxes were sold off to Fair's Fair used bookstore. But they rejected more than they took, and another dozen boxes were simply tossed. It was a good third of the total, I think, from nearly 50 years of collecting them - I have a few of my childhood books in the library.

Well, here the boxes are, gathered from all the places they had to be stashed around the house; the piles out in the patio, the ones beside my bed, the ones along the walls. It's like losing a bunch of our furniture, as there was stuff sitting on the piles of boxes and now we have to find places to put it all.

Since they were spread all around, it was amazing just how big a pile of boxes of books it really was when they were all gathered together here, empty, after three straight days of sorting their contents into shelves.

There was some back pain, of course: hauling these things around and pulling out at least a ton of books from them took its toll.

But, oh, boy is it worth it.

I had a fairly good book solution back in Calgary; there was a whole bedroom lined with various shelves from Ikea and other affordable furniture sources, plus smaller stand-alone shelves in the hallway and other rooms.

But here, I have the Ultimate Book Solution.

The new shelves take up one entire wall of the spare bedroom. I was assured it is a bearing wall, with another wall under it, though the timbers in this building are so big and solid it probably wouldn't matter.

Where I say "takes up one wall", I mean to the millimetre. This is custom furniture that was measured in - there's an odd little 8-inch wide bookcase at far left in this picture, where a built-in curtain valence makes the ceiling a different height; to the right of it, you can see both "layers" of the taller bookcase that goes the remaining four metres across the room - the fixed back layer, and the three sliding cases of the front layer.

With 100kg or more in each case, they don't roll along at a touch, you have to put the palm of your hand on the middle of the side and give it a solid push. But a child could roll them back and forth.

A child might have to really lean in when pushing all three cases together, however; I have to lean over at several degrees and put some back into it.

Surprisingly, they run at the bottom on just one metal track, into which two brass wheels on each case run, slightly concave to keep them on the track. The cases balance: also running an arm over onto the top of the back cases, into a track up there. That's so much more stabilizing than a second track on the bottom could be that having it would be pointless.

All told, it's seven bays, of nearly a metre width each, of 2.2 metre tall shelving, and I changed my philosophy on this library, for greater storage. My old library had imitated professional ones, with organization by topic; all the politics books were together, all the astronomy.

This one does that where it can - SF paperbacks separate from other fiction - but mostly it sorts by SIZE. All the super tall books are together in that very narrow case under the valence.

But no paperbacks are stored where the shelves are taller than they need; no volume is wasted where avoidable.

At the moment, the bulk of spare space has been devoted to a little 'shrine' to "Doc Savage" perhaps the first pulp-fiction superhero. Invented as monthly pulp stories for teen boys in 1931, Doc did follow "The Shadow" (who had the power to 'cloud men's minds' and disappear into the shadows, invisible) but pre-dated all the other superheros still out there today. Doc had no magic, beyond-physics powers, though; that was what attracted, he was a self-made hero, more like Batman. He had this intense, two-hour daily workout, and invented scores of amazing gadgets. Even his workout was scientifically designed, so like Tony Stark, he was the superhero created by Science. Indeed, some of the early stories were entitled, "Doc Savage, Scientific Detective".

(The "CSI" stories go a long, long way back; Dick Tracy stories had forensic plots in the 1920's, and of course, Sherlock Holmes could recognize 117 types of tobacco ash because of intensive study. Since the 19th century, there's been a love of Science Versus Crime, Science as a servant of morality. It's a welcome contradiction to the WW2 and Atomic Age concerns that Science is more often the servant of evil.)

Doc had a "Fortress of Solitude" in the Arctic where he went away to invent and study; the creator of Superman shamelessly ripped it off a few years later. He had a "utility vest" full of scientific gadgets and gasses he used to outwit bad guys and escape their traps; Batman's "utility belt" full of gadgets was another outright theft.

"The Shadow" was a bit of an anti-hero; spooky and unapproachable, he bumped a lot of bad guys off with his twin .45's, and they wanted somebody a little more nice and all-American. Doc was your first true world-ranging superhero, who fought various super-villains all around the world, via his fleet of planes, submarine, fast cars. At the time, it wasn't just adventure fiction, but science fiction; in 1931, zepplins, and aircraft with closed cockpits, and submarines, were like SpaceX craft today; they existed, but barely - most people had never seen one. And Doc had a private zepplin.

The pulp magazine died in the 1940's, but the stories were resurrected as a line of paperbacks in the 1960's, and I started reading them at ten. When my brother's paperback collection was tossed by our mother, I replaced the Docs from used bookstores and collected them for decades; I believe the collection is now complete - the only thing I ever seriously collected.

It's a true collector's mania - I've never read a third of them; I outgrew the teen stories, after all. But I now have a couple of those almost-unobtainable original pulp magazines from the early 30's on display. In the old house, I was so out of space that the Docs were in the basement, the collector's-item 1930's mags in plastic bags in boxes.

Now that they're all out on prominent display in my face, maybe I'll finally read them all!

Earlier Posts From Winter 2016