Archive for May, 2014

Just a quick picture for your viewing pleasure, here I am at the ancient city of Tlos, part of the Lycian empire which was in southwest Turkey for several centuries before being conquered by the Greeks, and subsequently the Romans, then the Byzantines.

In a few days I’ll post some explanations about the four different types of architecture you can see in a single city.


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Following up on previous post about Darcy Oake, I started thinking to myself “Could I ever win Britain’s or America’s Got Talent?” After all, I’m a magician. If I practiced up a bit, could I win?

Those thoughts lasted about ten seconds. The answer is no. Why do I think that?

Because I’m not good enough.

I have a couple of tricks in my repertoire that I do very well. However, I’m just not that good an entertainer. When I watch myself on video performing, I cringe. What I think I am doing and what I am actually doing are two separate things. I used to think I was pretty good but if I am brutally honest, I am average. Perhaps only mediocre as a performer.

So I keep my interest in magic as a hobby, and it’s probably never going to happen that I’ll turn pro. But that’s okay. It’s still fun to do, and I do always keep it in the back of my mind that *maybe* one day I’ll strike it big.

Even if I never do.

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I knew him when!

Have you ever wished you knew someone famous so you could say “I knew him when?” 

Well, that’s happening to me right now. About a month ago, Canadian magician Darcy Oake appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and did his dove act. If you haven’t seen it yet, it has 25 million YouTube views and is available here: http://youtu.be/gO_KyTtJg10. At that many views, this makes Darcy a genuine YouTube star.

A couple of people have asked me what I think of his magic. Well, as it turns out, I know Darcy personally. He’s from Winnipeg, and back when I was living there, he and I were in the same magic club. I didn’t know him very well, he hung with different crowds and I never broke into the one he was in, but we knew each other.

The dove act he did on Britain’s Got Talent is something he has been doing for at least 10 years. At the magic club’s annual magic show, the first one I performed in that he was also in was in 2004. He was only 16 back then, but his performance was very similar to what he does today. However, back then he was wearing more formal wear (a tuxedo, I think) which is more reminiscent of a performer like Lance Burton. His style evolved to what it is today; he currently performs in jeans and a leather jacket and in 2005 or 2006 (I think), that’s closer to what he was wearing. That fits his persona a lot better and I think the contemporary tattoo+jeans+leather jacket is better for him than the tuxedo.

I like his act and I am glad to see him get as far as he has. He has it tough because he’s up against a British boy-band and musicians usually win the Britain’s/America’s Got Talent competition. However, given the exposure that he has generated, I think he’s already won.

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The wife is currently out of town, and during the week we had our windows replaced from single-pane to double-pane. Single-pane windows are very cold in the winter, the heat just gets sucked right out of them.

The window guys came by in the morning on Wednesday. I asked them to do what they needed to do, lock the doors when they leave and just exit out the garage. They just needed to push the garage door opener by the exit when they were done. It’s a bit of a security risk leaving them alone, but I didn’t have much choice because I had to run down into the city later in the day and couldn’t come back in time to see them off.

Well, fast forward to the evening. I came home and everything was intact. About 75% of the windows were replaced, I didn’t notice any issues at all. The cat didn’t enjoy being locked in the bathroom all day but she got over it.

Later that evening, I took the trash out. I walked out my front door and put the trash in the garbage can and took it to the curb. I walked back from the curb to the front door and press the door handle.

The door wouldn’t open.

“What the—?” I said.

I then used my tried-and-true strategy for getting into locked doors that failed the first time: I tried opening it again. And once again, it wouldn’t open.

“WHAT THE—!” I shouted. How did this door lock?

I have a deadbolt. The only way to lock the door is to physically turn it from the inside, or insert the key into the outside lock and turn it physically. Ergo, it is impossible to lock myself out. I like it that way otherwise I’d lock myself out all the time (something I did a couple of times while I lived in England).

How in the world did I lock myself out? That’s not possible!

I had no keys, no jacket, no wallet, no phone. All of it was indoors. Furthermore, all the windows had just been replaced so I couldn’t break any of them (well, technically, I guess I could have). But the back doors were now secure as they had just been replaced a few hours earlier.

Bottom line: I had no way to get back into my house. And no idea how I got locked out.

I went around the house looking for ways to get in, knowing that I couldn’t. I tried each window and each of the back sliding glass doors. No luck. I tried lifting up the garage door, also without success.

My brain started to race a bit. What was I going to do?

I walked to my neighbor’s place and asked for help. We’ve chatted several times in the past and know each other. I knocked on his door and explained my situation.

I asked to borrow his phone and the first thing I did was call the wife. For you see, there are some friends of her parents who have a spare key, but I can’t remember exactly were they live. I also don’t know their phone number. And even if I did know where they lived, there’s no guarantee they would even be home.

Unfortunately, the wife didn’t answer her phone. I had no other option, I had to call a locksmith.

I waited about 30 minutes at the neighbor’s for the locksmith to arrive. He proceeded to try to pick the lock but it didn’t work. The lock is a newer lock and is resistant to picking. There was no way to get inside.

Now what?

Fortunately, I had a backup plan. That day I drove to work, but I walked home. On days where I drive, I like to get exercise if I can. At work, I had the garage door opener inside my car. Since the door inside the garage leading to the house was unlocked, as long as I opened the garage, I could get inside the house. And, getting into my car is much easier than getting into the house. Experienced people can into my locked car in under a minute, they’ve done it before, and they did it this time.

We drove to work, got into my car, I retrieved the garage door opener, returned home, I opened the garage, and got inside.


But why did my front door lock me out? That made no sense!

I inspected further. The deadbolt was not engaged. Instead, the window people when they were locking up flipped a switch on the doorknob. By doing that, the front door handle does not engage by turning the knob when you press down on it. In this mode, it only opens if you have the key to unlock the deadbolt. They flipped this switch earlier and when I closed the door behind me later that evening, I had no way to get back inside since pressing the handle would not actually turn the knob. We never use this setting so I never would have thought to check this.

Anyhow, I paid the locksmith $153 for his time: a service call, labor, and getting into the car.

But now I am trying to think of secure yet convenient ways to let myself into the house if I ever get locked out again.

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A few days ago I wrote that I had a sore throat and a cough and it was taking a long time to get rid of. After I wrote that blog post, I did a bit of research. How long is a cough due to a cold, or allergies, supposed to last?

It turns out that there is a disconnect – people (including me) think that it should last about a week. However, according to doctors, it lasts about 18 days.

18 days! Are you kidding me?!?

At the time I looked it up, I had the cough for 8 days. That meant I was not even halfway done.

Well, fast-forward to today, and we are now at day 14 of the cough. It’s a lot better now, but I am still in disbelief about how long it lasts. This means that every time in the past when I thought it was lasting a long time, turned out to not be that long. I can think back to some of my “worst” coughs but as it turns out, they were normal.

This allergy/cold has been stubborn. I luckily never had much sinus congestion, but I did have a sore throat that lasted 9 days (ties my personal record). It went away last Sunday but on Tuesday another one came back. That one lasted 3 days and today it is mostly gone.

I hadn’t been sick in about two years, but this one has been tough to shake.

But in the future, when I do get a cough, I can “look forward” to at least two weeks of hacking.


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