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Duke Mike, Lord of All Things Cable

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but I thought this news warranted an update. I’ve been introduced (mostly virtually) to a lot of my birth mother’s family. One of the most interesting is our cousin Ruud Wolff (best name ever) from Amsterdam, who’s been tracing our lineage. As well as learning about some Jewish heritage, we’ve also had some more interesting news regarding another branch of the family.

Apparently, we’re directly descended from folks who lived in Dukedom / Duchy of Gulik in Germany. Here’s the scoop from Ruud:

Hi Guys,

I have linked you to my site on My Heritage.
You should receive a mail message form My Heritage.

On the site select the Wolff-Waterman-Roeper tree to see all the details.

Attached I send you 3 Excel sheets, with the direct lines from Dianne to:
– Emanuel Benjamin Wolff (born sometime around 1740)

– Nephtali Meijer (born sometime around 1740)

– Jacob Goedhart (born sometime around 1790)

– Joseph Jochem Cohen (born sometime around 1710)

– Samuel Salomon Hennepzeel (born sometime in 1790)

– Jan Johannes Vits (born on 21-Nov-1717)

I have more info on the last one (Vits-line). I have attached the Coat-of-Arms that belong to the VITS-family.

Dianne’s and mine grandmother (Jacoba Viets) is a direct descendant from Johan Wilhelm Vits. He was born on 4-Jan-1748 in Rheydt (part of the dukedom / duchy of Gulik in Germany). He was twice married. First to Maria Cürlis (born in Waldniel, also in the dukedom of Gulik). They had two sons. From the first (Jan Vits) come all known descendants in Holland (family name Vits changed in Viets).

The second son (Marinus Vits) has most likely gone back to Germany. He later returned to The Netherlands, because he died on 12-Apr-1874 in Wageningen, Netherlands, age 86 for those times very old. From this second son, Marinus, are no known descendants, but in Germany the name Viets can be found in some places.

The second marriage of Johan Wilhelm Vits was with Breunisse Geurts. They were both over 40 years old and they had no children form this marriage.

In the USA there is also a family Viets, but if this is family … who knows? Probably a Vits ancestor came from Breisach (Germany) to the USA. According to the register of the First Dutch Reform Church of New York this area (Breisach) was in Sweden. During the 30-years war this area was twice attacked by Swedish forces in 1633 and later in 1638. This is probably the reason why Breisach in the New York register is placed in Sweden, rather than in Germany. Since Breisach has been destroyed several time, we can never be sure about this history.

Back to the Coat-of-Arms.

The St.Vitus monastery in München-Gladbach, Germany had an estate in Rheydt, which was called the St.Vitus estate, also known as the Vits farm. This estate was given in hereditary tenure by the abbot of the monastery to Christian ter Heyden. This was on 14-Feb-1471 (Valentine’s Day). The original treaty to this is in the State Archive in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Christian ter Heyden occupied the St.Vitus estate together with his wife Grete. In those times a farm estate was a stronghold and more important than a family name. From that time Christian and his descendants called themselves after the estate and took the name Vits as family name.

Coat-of-Arms (in the archive in Solingen, Germany)


A portrayel os Saint Vitus: A man with brown curly hair and a halo. The saint wears a red with silver tunic. In his right hand a green palm branch. The left hand on his heart.

On his helmet a black lion. In its claws a red stone with a square hole in the middle.

You might be impressed by my research skills in the Coat-of-Arms and this bit of history. In truth this information was give to my father and me in 1991 by Cees Viets, who had researched the Viets name.

Lots of love,

Fancy! I’ve asked when we can collect our treasure and titles. No word back yet. I’m learning how to hold my breath for a very long time. It’s fun to learn where I come from.


Impromptu Portrait of Oscar

One of our kitties!


My Name is Johnny Canuck

Oh please, let this be true…

Game 5 tonight and it’s going to be a pivotal one regardless of who wins. I’m pulling for our boys in blue and green.



Haney Hawgs: Show and Shine 2004

When Carol and I lived in Maple Ridge the Haney Hawgs motorcyle shop was right now the street. They are supposedly affiliated with a certain well known motorcycle club. We went to their show and shine in 2004 and I took some photos.

Here’s a slide show of some of the better ones:

The Show and Shine is usually the last weekend in May, but I can’t seem to find any information about this year’s.


1960’s Car Salesman Tells His Truth

I received the following video in an email from a pal of mine. I thought it might be worth sharing.

Here’s the text that came with the email:

During the late 60’s, most television programs and commercials were live. There were no “pre-recorded” programs. There were some obvious problems with this method. No “retakes” and “bloopers” were a regular occurrence.

This is no blooper! This guy was just very upset with his boss and told it like he thought it was. What a great job of ad-libbing. He never misses a beat while the camera man is just about to lose it. The commercial got on the air … but only once.

We have to assume he quit right after the commercial — one way or another.

[jwplayer mediaid=”6632″]

Who knows what the real story is behind this. Thanks to Mad Men we’ve seen that a sense of humour, albeit somewjhat cornball, sometimes blue and often racist, was not entirely uncommon in the early 60’s. Perhaps this salesman and his boss actually got along well and this was merely a taped joke. That would be my bet.

The other explanation reads like someone trying to make something out of nothing. If it is true, however, what an epic way to quit your job.

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Digital Conversion and New Ways to Enjoy Old Media

Over the years we have, perhaps stupidly, paid to purchase many films in various formats from VHS to DVD and Bluray. It’s cost us a boatload of cash and we haven’t watched a lot of them more than once. Lately we’ve been looking at other options that will save us money, time and physical space.

Digital conversion, storage and streaming media is where it’s at.

Some of our DVD's

We purchased an new 2TB hard drive, WinX DVD Ripper Platinum & began the process of converting our DVD’s to digital, typically Xvid encoded AVI’s. A full film takes just over 20 minutes and the files are around 1.5 GB’s each. The video quality is excellent when played via our Boxee Box connected to our HD TV. Sound quality is also fabulous with the encoded files holding 5.1 surround sound using the mp3 or aac codecs.

The Boxee Box is also great for enjoying streaming video or audio podcasts, downloaded TV shows we’ve happened to miss or even Netflix.

We’re converting music too. As well a second 500 GB hard drive that lives in my office attached to my computer is where our music collection is. This too is a large project as our media buying frenzy included CD’s. We use Twonky Media server to stream our music, but am looking at XBMC as a more Boxee compatible option as Twonky and Boxee seem to have stopped communicating.

We’ve already given away a few of our DVD’s and will probably sell some more either via eBay, craigslist or at a second hand store. We may even have some kind of yard sale. We’ll sell them cheap. 🙂

We even have adapters for our VCR and cassette decks and have been slowly converting old tapes as well.

This has been a big job, but, so far, worth it. Eventually we’ll have a lot less clutter and will continue to enjoy our media in a more streamlined way.

I’m a little antsy about the durability of our hard drives. We’ve already had one catastrophic failure. Hopefully the price of solid state drives will come down before we have another crash.

We’ve stopped buying DVD’s. If we really want something we’ll purchase digital copies… or do something else. *wink* *wink*


Third Time’s a Charm

I haven’t written here for a long time. It’s been almost a year. So, why now? What inspired me to write again? The Canucks, that’s what. In particular the Canucks win over last year’s Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks in round one of this year’s playoffs.

The Blackhawks have been a thorn in the Canucks side for the past two playoff seasons and no one really expected the third series between these two teams to play out the way it did. It was, in a word, epic.

When I heard that the Canucks had to play the Blackhawks I was just a little nervous. The ‘Hawks have clearly had the number of the Canucks, who were riding high coming off a franchise record breaking regular season that saw them winning the President’s Trophy for the first time in the club’s 40 year history. Prime targets for a little pedestal knocking.

Every Canucks fan has a soundtrack to their hockey nightmares and it’s that goddamned Blackhawks goal song, Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis. I was not looking forward to hearing it ever again. I still can’t bear the sound of it, but after last night it doesn’t have the same sting.

The Canucks, who have become known for doing things the hard way, went up three games to none in the series. Then the team promptly lost the next three in a row, being blown out in the first two, both games seeing goalie Roberto Luongo chased from the net by a barrage of goal scoring from the relentless Blackhawks. Even though the third game looked like one the Canucks could win, the Blackhawks managed to embarrass the Vancouver team with an overtime win.

Could this be happening again? Have the Blackhawks sold their souls to Satan in return for the ability to humiliate the Canucks and their fans? Perhaps. Damn them. Game 7 loomed like a 16 ton weight on a frayed rope over the heads of all the Vancouver not-anymore-so-faithful. Please God, not three years in a row. My poor over buttered and under exercised heart can’t take the strain.

There was a hint of good things to come at the beginning of the game however.

As my shifts have been in the afternoon I’ve had to watch a lot of the games on the second monitor of my PC with no sound. Last night I my lunch was scheduled just as the game was to start, so I trundled up to the ninth floor to join the others who I knew would be watching the game on the big screen. As Mark Donnelly affectionately known as Opera Man was leading Canucks fans at GM Place in Oh Canada I looked out the window and saw a rainbow hanging over the inlet and arcing in the direction of, you guessed it, GM Place.

I shit you not.

I snapped a picture:

A sign from the Universe?

Could this be a sign from the Universe? Oh please let it be.

The game began and we were on the edge of our seats the whole night. The standouts of the game were Alex Burrows and the goalies for both teams. Man, were they spectacular. Especially the Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Holy smokes was he amazing. But it was really Burrows night. An undrafted player from the Atlantic league, he was everywhere last night and alternated between goat and golden boy. Burrows scored the goal that stood as the only one for the first 55 minutes of the game and then gave the puck away on a power play leading to the Blackhawks scoring with only a few minutes left in the game taking it to over time again.

Oh no. Burrows took an early penalty in OT, but ultimately redeemed himself. Here’s what finally happened:

Jim Hughson’s quotes, “What a wonderful day for an exorcism!” and “Exhale British Columbia! The Canucks are on to round two. Nashville is next.” really drove it home.

I’m sure the Predators aren’t going to be pushovers, and the Canucks still have twelve games to win before they can hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, but I’m not sure even that would match how sweet last night’s victory was. Maybe it really can get better. We’ll see.


This week my long and arduous job search came to an end. I applied for a job with Shaw Cablesystems. I’ve been a customer for many years using their digital television and internet services. I have always had good experiences dealing with the company and its representatives so when I found out that Technical Service Representative (TSR) jobs were available there I pounced on the opportunity.

I received a link to the job by a friend. The link had an online questionnaire around my technical knowledge and an “apply now” button at the bottom. On the next page I set up my account for the Shaw careers database filling out all of my information and copied and pasted a plain text version of my resumé into the form provided.

On the same day I got a phone call about coming in to Shaw Tower for a screening interview with a Talent Supply Coordinator from the HR department after which I scheduled for back for a second interview the next day with two supervisors from the Technical Service department.

I had to bring my passport (which I seem to have lost on the way home) and my driver’s licence so a credit and criminal record check could be done on me.

After the second interview, which I thought went well, my interviewers told me that I should to wait for a call one way or the other.

The phone call with a job offer came a day later. It included an amazing benefits package that starts right away, not the least of which is an employee discount on the old cable bill. Nice! Every bit helps.

The whole hiring experience was extremely pleasant, professionally executed and efficient. At no time was I made to feel I was just a number.

The offices in Shaw Tower are beautiful and modern. The people I met were all friendly and accommodating. That’s a corporate culture I can get used to.

I start training on Monday. I am looking forward to this new adventure.

If you’re in Vancouver and might like a career at Shaw you can attend the Shaw Tower Open House tomorrow. Here are the details —

We have three questions for you:

  • Are you customer service driven?
  • Do you have a passion for sales?
  • Do you love technology and innovation?

If the answer is YES, then come to our open house and bring a friend!

Shaw Tower is opening its doors on Saturday, July 24th from 2 to 4 p.m. and we are looking for enthusiastic people to join our Customer Service and Technical Service teams.

There’s never been a better time to join the Shaw family as we continue to grow and expand our business.

So, if you know anyone who would be interested in applying, please pass along the information below.

Shaw Tower. Vancouver


  • When: Saturday, July 24
  • Time: 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Shaw Tower, 1067 West Cordova Street, Vancouver
  • Open Positions: Customer Service and Technical Service Representatives
  • What to bring: Your resume
  • What to expect: Be prepared to have an on-site interview with one of our Customer Care Supervisors

IMPORTANT: These jobs are all PART-TIME and only guarantee 20 hours per week. Our call centre operates 7 days a week from 7 AM – 11:30 PM. All candidates must be available to work anytime within these hours.


I took a pretty picture…

Carol and I got up at an ungodly hour yesterday, 5:30 a.m., to scoot across the border into the U.S. to take photos of tulips at the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I took our Diana F+, my Canon Powershot G5 and my iPhone with its Hipstamatic camera application. I haven’t seen the photos from the Diana as they haven’t been developed yet, the Canon’s photos were so-so, but the iPhone captured this:

Not too shabby even if I do say so myself.

Carol got plenty of great pics, some of which she’s posted on her blog.


Morning routine & cat fights

It’s Easter morning here in Burnaby. Trying out the geotagging feature in WordPress for iPhone. Not quite sure yet how to display the information or a link to it but I’ll figure it out.

Rolled out of bed, did our usual tune in with the Universe exercises as the cats wrestled and ran through the house. Kind of distracting. It’s difficult to meditate when cats are bashing into you every few minutes. They’re cute though so they can stay.

Breakfast has been eaten. All fueled up for the next part of the day — morning pages and mote bashing away at my screenplay for Script Frenzy.

After that comes Langley, relatives & ham. It seems the only parts of holidays we participate in anymore are the eating rituals. Oh well…