Emergency Measures

A couple things stood out in my mind when reading today’s Daily Prompt.  One was the video in this post, because it’s an awesome song.  Second, I was considering a story my wife told me.  The third thing I’ll get to after the story.

According to my wife, a child once taught himself Morse Code and practiced by banging wooden spoons on the radiator pipe in his apartment building.  He eventually got pretty fast, and to his surprise, someone started replying to him.  How long he carried on conversations, she couldn’t remember.

But one day, the kid came home from school and heard the following coming from his radiator.  In rapid succession.

… — …
… — …
… — …

SOS.  Distress call.  Only used in times of emergency.

Whomever he was communicating with was in serious trouble, and he had to find them quickly.  He followed the pipes through the building until he came to an apartment where an elderly gentleman had fallen to the floor and was using his cane to tap the message on his radiator pipe.  He had broken his hip and could not get up to reach the phone, but was within distance of the radiator, and trusted his friend would know to look for him.

According to my wife, the gentleman had been tapping out his distress call for at least two hours, but the whole story may very well be urban legend.

Now the third thing, as promised.

My grandfather, Joseph Bell, was a HAM Radio Operator for most of his days, and taught Morse Code well into his seventies.  On 25 Jan 2014, I wrote and passed my Basic Amateur Radio Operator’s Licence exam, and I will be working to qualify for Morse Code Certification over the next couple months.  I’m sure he would be proud that someone in his progeny decided to take up his great passion.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much my grandfather’s passion for communications helped the world.  He helped with emergency communications in Alberta, Canada for decades under the call sign VE6VX, and even helped run communications during D-Day 2.  When he died in 1997, the family was only able to keep his call sign for a year.  It has since passed to someone else, and I can’t apply for a five character call sign until I’ve had my licence for five years.

Until then, I hope my request for VE6VXJ (VE6VX Junior) will go through.  Perhaps I can apply for the call sign in 2019, but first things first.

I need a radio.

Which I hope to procure at the SARA Flea Market tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.


The Really Inconvenient Truth

I’m not getting any younger.  I know this.  As my wife reminds me, every time she finds a white hair from the increasingly waning supply on my head, “Getting older is mandatory.  Growing up is optional.”  Yet, I seem to find comfort in things that are largely considered to be something for the younger crowd, animation being the chief amoung them.

About a year ago, I was working on a theatre production, and one of the younger cast members was surprised to learn that I was really into cartoons.  “Those are for kids!” he protested.  To which I simply replied, “Who do you think makes them?”  His silence was answer enough to my comment.  But he did raise a valid point.  Someone my age and status, you would think that I would be at least beginning to make the transition into something that could be designated to the area of proper, upstanding citizen.

This is not to say that I’m a total slob or derelict sponge on society.  True, I haven’t paid off my student loans, and I’m only four months into a three year debt repayment schedule, but I am doing my best to push forward into maturity.  Living in subsidized housing also takes a bit of a toll on the measure of my worth.

I have managed to take a few lessons from the generation before me, one of which is the importance of donating blood, something that I hope I’m making an impression upon my children.  I recently made my 76th donation, something that most 35 year old Canadians have not done, and I would think is not a goal for many of the younger generation.  I also participate in my local church congregation as a music conductor and lesson instructor.

The greatest lesson that I learned from my father and father-in-law – two great men I value as role models – is to put God and family first.  Everything else will find its place.  I’d like to think that I’m doing that.

I’d like to say that I’m running from the fact that time on Earth is running shorter than I would like it, but I have come to see that how you live your life is much, much more important than how long it is.

Still wish I had more hair.

[Thank you to Today’s Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ]

The Quiet Hour

I command myself to write.  There is a story within the depths of my mind that will be written today.  Right now.  But the goings on of my apartment kitchen at the early hour of 7am does not seem like the work of classic storytellers.  It’s a slightly odd breakfast of milk and oatmeal cookies, because oatmeal is a good breakfast.  At least, it is when you write it down.

The clock chimes the hour.  I don’t have much time to finish.  Ten minutes, fifteen at most.

Still the command stands, still the challenge remains.  Stay in the present.  Stay with the moment.

Chimes fall silent.  The quiet hum of the refrigerator is my only companion as my family sleeps in the bedrooms five paces away.  Finished it’s cooling cycle, the fridge falls silent.  Now I find myself listening to the sound of my laptop’s fan, labouring away to keep the unit within operational temperatures.  It does not have to keep at a high speed, and has paused for a moment, much as I have paused to consider what I have written.

My eyes dart around the screen and I notice that I am in the wrong posting window.  Draft is saved and I search for a link on the page for the dashboard.  There is none.  None that I can see.

My frustration starts to rise, but cools as the cursor leaves the main browser area and clicks the dashboard bookmark.  Word count states 244.

The clock chimes fifteen past the hour.  Sounds like a good time to stop.

It’s Okay To Go A Little Crazy

Anyone who knows me well is familiar with my love of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  It has brilliant writing, great character development, and I also grew up with three of the animators.  True story.  But to properly answer the call of today’s Daily Prompt, I felt it would be best handled by the pastel ponies that my family and I have come to know and love over the past three years.

My wife would in no doubt be surprised that I didn’t pick something that I learned from her, or something from church.  Truth be told, there are many lessons that I have learned from my marriage, family life, and also from church.  But the episode clip that I have at the beginning of this post has links to all those lessons.

Back in 2005, I had what’s known in the medical community as a psychotic episode.  This resulted in a three week stay in the hospital where I was closely monitored and medicated until the deemed I was fit for release back into society.  Ever since then this T-shirt doesn’t seem so funny anymore.

My recovery took a lot of work, and still remains one of my biggest obstacles, but when I saw the MLP episode, Lesson Zero, it reminded me that I’m okay.  I have strong support from my wife and my family, much like how Twilight Sparkle has support from her close group of friends.

Everyone has their tough times, their hiccups, their bouts of crazy, but that’s okay.  It’s not a matter of how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get back up again.  And I know for a fact that you need help from others from time to time to keep getting back up.

And to counterbalance the sugary goodness of ponies, here’s a clip of Bruce Wayne’s father reiterating the same lesson.

The Greatest Struggle

The greatest barrier I have had to fight against in the past few days has been my need to sleep.  By fighting against this, I have put my body in a compromised state.  The other day, I was to visit a home of a member in my church congregation, but after returning from church, I took an Advil and slept through the appointment.  My assigned companion had to go with someone else because I was sleeping so strongly.

When I was in university, I still remember the time I fell asleep during a quiz.  That night I went straight home, straight to bed, and slept for twelve hours.  I made it a point to get proper rest from that point on.

But I do tend to forget now and then.  Hence I am writing this post the day after the prompt date, since last night I got overwhelmed by my exhaustion.


Alliterate Affections

Love Keys

When I read the daily prompt for today, I was a little puzzled on what to write about.  I couldn’t think of anything that had to do with the number 26.  Of all my cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, parents, and in-laws, I couldn’t think of anyone who had any important life event that occurred on the 26th of any month.   My wife thought there were 26 chromosomes in the human genome, but we checked and there were 22 plus the X and Y.  Still short of 26.

Finally, we clued in that there was twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and the wheels started turning.  First of all, there are also twenty-six letters in the Morse Code Alphabet, something that I am learning to compliment my Amateur Radio Licence that I just got yesterday.  But my wife, as always, had a better idea.

While dating, my wife and I were separated by a distance of approximately 150km (~93 miles) and we kept in touch via email and the occasional phone call.  I must note that this was in 2003 and neither one of us had any social media accounts nor a functional cell phone.  Email was the communication tool of choice, and I even got a Yahoo! email account to keep up with the volume of messages exchanged because I hit the storage limit on my Hotmail account.  If I remember correctly, I think the cap was something less than 500MB.

Seems so small in retrospect…

At one point in our digital letter exchanges, we started alliterative lists of adjectives.  Part mushy lovey stuff, part quirky, and part contest to see who could list the most.  We would trade off letters, I had ‘A’, she would do ‘B’, I would then do ‘C’ and so forth.  Not sure who won, but we did consult dictionaries to supplement our own lists after we got to ‘H’ and she sent me an extensive list for ‘R’ of which about a third of the words I couldn’t find definitions for and I held to the belief that she simply made them up.

We printed out our emails and kept them in binders.  My binder has been misplaced sometime in the past ten years, likely during a move, but my wife still has her binder.  Perhaps we’ll take a look at them again this week.

Little Secrets of the Wii Remote


Had the thought to do this post last week while I was at my in-laws.  My wife was out with her mother, sister, and sister-in-law and my brother-in-law and I had six kids to look after.  Being the dad that I am, I brought along some of our Wii Remotes and the steering wheels attachments in anticipation of a Mario Kart showdown.

My idea of bringing the Wiimotes were dismissed, at first, because my in-laws already had four, and the two we had were unnecessary.  My daughter headed off to play with her cousin, and I tended to my younger daughter.  About twenty minutes later, I found both my daughter and her cousin were back upstairs playing with my youngest daughter.  When I asked why they weren’t playing Wii, I was little surprised by the reply.

“All the batteries are dead,” my niece told me.

Determined to let them rot their brains in front of the television, I went to check the batteries, and this is where the How-To Daily Prompt for today comes in.


  1. Press a button on the remote.  Push the big A button, pull the B trigger, the 1 or 2 button, anywhere on the D-Pad, it does not matter.  CAUTION: Don’t press the power button.  This works best if the Wii Console is on standby/off.
  2. Look at the four lights at the bottom of the Remote, note how many light up when you press the button.  If you have fresh batteries and have been held captive by Gul Madred, feel free to shout loudly, “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!”  Three quarters of a charge will render three lights; half charge will render two; quarter charge or less will render one.
  3. Replace or recharge batteries as needed.

The drawback to this method of charge testing is that you need to check two batteries at a time and it will not determine the charge for each one.  Furthermore, it only works with AA batteries.

Alas, we were only able to find one set of fresh batteries in their whole house.  Still determined, I got out the controllers I brought from home and synced them up with their console.  “But wait,” I hear you all asking, “Isn’t that a royal pain?  You’ll have to sync your controllers again once you get back home!”  Little known fact, there are two ways to sync Wii Remotes to a Wii Console.  One is to register it as a local controller.  The other way is to register it as a ‘guest.’


  1. Press console power button to turn on unit.
  2. Remove battery cover on remote to expose red sync button.  Do not remove batteries.
  3. Flip open cover on console beside disk slot to expose red sync button.  Press and hold button.
  4. While console sync button is pressed, press and hold sync button on remote for two seconds or so.
  5. Release both buttons.  Remote is now synced to console.
  6. Replace battery cover on remote.
  7. Press A button to activate remote and connect to console.

GAH!  That’s almost as frustrating to write as to do.  Hence, I like the ‘guest’ sync.
Keep in mind that you do require a local controller in order to perform the following.


  1. Turn on console and connect first controller.
  2. Once at main menu, press Home button.
  3. Once in the Home menu, select the controller in the bottom left corner.
  4. Select “Reconnect” (bottom option)
  5. Press 1 and 2 buttons on Remote 1.  Repeat with up to three other remotes.
  6. Press Home Button to close menu.
  7. Carry on.

While I did state in Step 2 to do this at the main menu, it can be done during a game or otherwise.  This is handy if someone got player two when they wanted player one, or something of the same argument.  Only downside to ‘guest’ controllers is they have to be synced in every time they’re used on a guest console.

Not everyone will find this handy, because not everyone carries around Wiimotes with them just in case there is a challenger who wants to settle matters on Rainbow Road.  But for those that do, I hope this has been educational for you.