Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Painting Cardinals on the Birch Tree in our Backyard

Prompted by the cool winter evening breeze,
the two cardinals in the backyard,
And an amazing Christmas carol from 1582,
I couldn't help but paint!

These two cardinals and many others, 
are regular visitors in our backyard throughout the year

Love the angelic voice of Andrea Alonso in this particular rendition of Personent hodie
You can get the song on iTunes

This is a painting on Canadian birch wood

The male is singing ...

And the female is listening 

As the winter evening turns to night

16"x 20" oil painting on birch wood

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Listening to the flute of Ian Anderson and painting Where The Yoho and the Kicking Horse Rivers meet

"In the clear white circles of morning wonder
I take my place with the lord of the hills" 
- Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) 1972

Here's a short video I took at this place

Where the Yoho and Kicking Horse Rivers meet
24"x36" oil painting on canvas

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Replaced the timing chain in the Audi A3

The EPC light came on 4 times yesterday even after resetting the codes.
And sometimes with the Check Engine light bold.

After getting home, there was a vibration in the engine and got all these error codes.

And occasionally with the Check Engine Light flashing. 
So turned off the car, and parked it for the night.

Next morning, there were no error codes.
Got an immediate appointment with folks who I know, 
(it takes weeks to get an appointment with a dealer)
drove down to their workshop,
and after a diagnostic scan,
Got the car back home the same day!
Moral of the story - never believe what the computer tells you.
All those codes were misleading, especially the EPC over the last few months.

Always investigate the source of the problem.
Thankfully I know folks who have been fixing Audis for many years!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

A time for everything

"There's a time for everything.
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."

- See Ecclesiastes 3 for the full list

Truth is, it's all in GOD's time, not mine!

And now it's time to rake the leaves!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Forget war, make peas with paneer and minced meat

Ground beef is something we always knew as minced meat.
It's different from mincemeat, which is dried fruit & spices

Cut paneer into small cubes, and fry in a little oil till it's golden brown like shown below, 
and set aside.
Chop onions, garlic, ginger, a couple of Thai red chillies, 
and stir fry till light brown, 
then add minced meat, peas, salt, 
clove, cardamom and cinnamon powder, 
and fry, 
and keep covered for a few minutes till the meat is cooked

Turn off the heat.
Add the paneer, and mix well, leave covered for a few minutes, then serve.
That's it!

One of the easiest dishes to make, that's also tasty and quick to cook!

A Cooper's Hawk preying on a mourning dove

In between meetings I glanced outside, and suddenly saw, 
in the 3 inch gap between the door inside and the tree outside

A Cooper's Hawk had just caught it's prey ...
a Mourning Dove

The Hawk was looking all around to make sure it wasn't threatened

And as much as I was disappointed for the dove,
I wasn't going to interfere with mother nature and her ways ...

The photographs would have been clearer had I stepped outside, 
(these photos are taken through 2 layers of glass windows, so they are not clear)
but sometimes, nature needs to be left alone,
away from mankind and photography

As the cold winter breeze blew the fallen leaves and tiny feathers, 
Not a bird or a squirrel stirred, in the otherwise bustling backyard
While the Hawk silently satisfied itself

I got back to my meeting, and 30 minutes later ...

It was all over.
Now all that's left, 
Are the lovely feathers of a Mourning Dove

Check out my better wildlife photos here

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk

Now this is what I call North!

Someday I hope to drive to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic coast, from Mississauga, Ontario.
Today, the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk highway is not open yet. 

It will open on the 15th of November

Also Google Maps does not have a route map to show as of today.

More info on the Mackenzie Valley Highway

I wonder what car or Jeep I'll end up driving for this road trip

Replacing the battery in the Audi A3

Diagnosing and replacing a car battery is no big deal, 
but I learnt a very valuable lesson that I want to share with other car owners.
And that is ...
Don't be fooled by technology 
(Sensors, ECU fault codes displayed on your dashboard, car diagnostic scanners etc)
 and don't let someone use technology to fool you.

Yesterday after driving for 20 minutes, I parked the car and waited for about 15 minutes,
and when it was time to leave, the car wouldn't start.
When I turned the ignition on, the ECU showed me several faults

With 8 years experience owning 2 Audis I knew it was impossible to have so many faults
I did a scan using my gadget and app

No fault codes, even though the display on the dashboard shows me there are faults

I suspected a dying battery, as the headlights would come on, 
flicker and go off in a few seconds.
The horn worked, so did many other electrical components.
But this is where many get fooled, and get their cars towed to a service center.

I ignored the towing suggestions of others, and asked for the battery to checked first.

Got the car jump started.
The ECU still showed me faults, but fewer faults like 
electronic stabilization control, brake fault, steering malfunction etc.
All of these would scare anyone into towing their car to the service center 
But I wanted to know the source of the problem

Got a detailed battery report for FREE

Clearly, the battery was dying, and not powerful enough to start the car

Confirmed that the charging system was good

Got a new battery

No faults on the dashboard

Common sense stuff I learnt:

1) The faults that the ECU displays on your dashboard can mislead the owner 
to take their car to a service center 
and you could end up repairing or replacing parts that have actually NOT failed.
This can be time consuming and very expensive!

2) The more technologically advanced a car is, the more sensors it will have. 
And several components like the throttle pedal
So a dying battery could trigger a malfunction in any voltage-sensitive sensor, 
the sensor will send signals to the ECU saying there is a malfunction in that component, 
the ECU will send signals to the dashboard to you and me, 
saying something terrible is wrong with your car.

Once again, don't be fooled by technology, 
and don't let someone like a technician with a computer, 
use technology to fool you

I have 2 suggestions for car manufacturers:

1) Instead of the Owners manual that is provided in a book form, 
provide a tablet with diagnostics software. 
This will be more useful and it will also occupy less pace in the so called "glove" compartment.

2) On the dashboard, provide a digital battery indicator that shows battery usage, 
just like what we all have on our phones

Happy and safe winter driving!

See all my Audi related posts here

Friday, 10 November 2017

Listening to Gordon Lightfoot live in concert

Never imagined that I'd actually get to watch Gordon Lightfoot live in concert. 
Well, after waiting for 40 years, it finally happened on this winter night with her!  

Guess what, today also happens to be the 42nd anniversary 
of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.
Photography was allowed, so took a few photos
at the Living Arts Center in Mississauga.

Here's Mr. Lightfoot showing us how one of his guitars fell at a previous concert, 
and got damaged

So one thing struck off my bucket list! Seeing Gordon Lightfoot.

Have you seen my Gordon Lightfoot painting?