(UPDATED June 24, new photos)
Some photos from the flood in Canmore, Calgary, High River and other places affected, June 20th-21st 2013.

The Saddledome:
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By default, Paypal really wants to do the foreign exchange for you because they make a few percent off your purchase like most other banks and credit cards. Below I explain the steps required to avoid these fees.  In summary, it involves you signing up for a credit card with little to no forex fees, and following some steps to make sure that when you add a credit card to your Paypal account, you are being charged in the seller’s currency, not your local currency converted by Paypal at a fee.

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Ship your own motorcycle overseas by plane, don't get scammed by the shipping companies. In this blog post I will explain the steps required to ship your motorcycle overseas yourself, registration and insurance and all that kind of stuff, step by step, it’s not difficult.

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In Excel it is much faster to write large sets of data to a spreadsheet all at once instead of using a loop, by copying an array variable to a range of cells directly. This can speed up an Excel macro significantly, especially in large complex workbooks.

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In large Excel workbooks when you are executing VB macros that change cells in sheets, you can speed up the process significantly by turning workbook calculations off at the begining of your subroutine, and then back on again at the end. Here are some subs that can do this. Simply call the “Calc_Off” sub at the beginning of your code, and the “Calc_On” sub at end end:
Sub Calc_Off()
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual
End Sub

Sub Calc_On()
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
End Sub
 
I’ve tested these in Excel 2010 in sheets with over 16,000 columns and the functions work even for large numbers of columns.
Function ColumnLetterToNumber(ColumnLetters As String) As Long
    ColumnLetterToNumber = Range(ColumnLetters & "1").Column
End Function
Function ColumnNumberToLetters(ColumnNumber As Integer) As String
    Dim strLetters As String
    strLetters = Cells(1, ColumnNumber).Address(1, 0)
    ColumnNumberToLetters = Left(strLetters, InStr(1, strLetters, "$") - 1)
End Function
These functions are not necessary usually, because almost all things in Excel VBA can be done using ranges specified as numbers, for example,
Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(2,3).Value = "Hello"
Where 2 is the row number, and 3 is the column number, where column 1 corresponds to column A.
 
Avoid external references with Active X form controls in Excel
The trick is to replace all of your “Form Controls” with “ActiveX Controls”. 

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It’s not usually recommended to use global variables because they make it more difficult for debugging or reading other people’s code.  However, they are handy sometimes when you’re in a rush to get your code done. At the top of a Module for example, simply type something like these below.  I’ve defined three Pipe Specification variables: two arrays of unknown length and one variable:
Public PipeSpecColNums() As Integer
Public PipeSpecNames() As String
Public LastPipeSpecName As String
You can update the size of the array on the fly in sub routines, like this:
Redim Preserve PipeSpecNames(20) 'Now 21 array entries (0-20),
                                 'and preserves previous items stored.

Redim PipeSpecNames(20)  'changes the size of the array without preserving.
 
Preserved HTML Editor Markup is your solution, it is a plugin that preserves your custom HTML code.  By default WordPress’s TinyMCE will often mess up special HTML tags you use when you switch to the Visual editor even just for a second.  Preserved HTML Editor Markup stops this from happening.  It is particularly useful for people who like to embed snippets of highlighted programming code in their blog posts because this requires special HTML tags. I’ve tested it with Google Syntax Highlighter for WordPress and it works wonderfully.
 
Batch renaming program for windows, free! Batch rename files in a directory you specify in Windows, for free!

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The human body is amazing – it’s as if each cell has a mind of its own. This video from BioChemWeb.org shows a white blood cell (Neutrophil) crawling amung red blood cells, chasing after a bacterium (Staphylococcus aureus).

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They poured 10 tonnes of cement for 3 days to fill the tunnels and chambers that make up the incredibly huge structure of a megalopolis ant hill. They excavated the cement skeleton for weeks. The collective minds of millions of small ants created a true wonder of the world.

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Once two of the four tires hit sluh and snow in the middle of the road, the result was hydroplaning two wheels out of four, and loss of steering control.  The result is graphic.

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A 12 year old girl explains how all Canadians are enslaved to the Canadian banking system.  Or rather, that the Canadian government is corrupt in that it has given so much power to the monopoly – the banks – which use their power for no good.  Worth a watch.

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Excavations of the bodies have been going on for many years, you can find out more from the Easter Island Statue Project.  It’s generally accepted that the statues were made sometime between 1250 and 1500 AD. There is controversy surrounding why the bodies are buried. Was it time and erosion, or were they buried on purpose?  Aliens?   The soil surrounding the bodies for so long has preserved interesting carvings (petroglyphs, or rock markings)..

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Plastic drain valve on Kenmore Power Miser 9 hot water heater, how to remove... Hot water heaters such as the Kenmore Power Miser 9, come with a plastic drain valve that is most likely going to start leaking soon.  Mine started leaking a few months ago through the plug valve washer, but recently the valve sprung a second leak and was leaking right at the threads so it had to be removed.  You will likely have to replace the valve in as little as 7 years, as was the case for me.  It is extremely difficult to remove these little bastards without breaking the things right off at the threads.  If you break the thing off at the threads you may need to resort to special tools for removing broken bolts, or even perhaps painstakingly using a hacksaw blade to slowly split the threaded end so you can pry it out.  Anyway, there is an easy solution, don’t break the valve off completely yet with anger!  The trick to remove this bastard is to first remove the white/grey knob assembly (by twisting the white part) and valve plug washer… once that is removed, you can then find around your house a metal rod that you can insert into the open hole where the knob/plug assembly used to be… and now with your adjustable wrench and your rod together in each hand, it should turn!  You should be able to remove the valve!  Even if you cracked the plastic flats slightly trying to remove the valve with your adjustable wrench, this will likely still work like it did for me, I illustrate below….  once it’s off I highly recommend replacing the valve with a standard 3/4″ NPT brass nipple, full-port ball valve, and garden hose adapter as shown in the last image below.  These water heaters all use standard 3/4″ NPT fittings which are readily available in your local hardware store, likely even cheaper than the replacement value of the plastic valve from Kenmore, and the brass fittings are a million times better quality and will last much longer.  Even if they cost more I still think it’s completely worth the upgrade.  In fact, if you buy a new water heater in the future, look for the stupid plastic drain valve and immediately replace it with brass fittings.  It will make life easier years down the road.   They drain faster too.

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Trick for sorting your business expenses using a spreadsheet, quickly Here is a quick summary of what will be covered in this article, useful for people that own their own small business but do not want to buy specialized financial software:  downloading CSV files of your transactions for bank accounts and credit cards, and how to batch concatenate (join) multiples of them together all at once, how to remove duplicate lines, and finally how using a spreadsheet you can quickly use keywords of your own to sort all of your expenses into categories like meals, entertainment, hotel and travel expenses.  This is not only useful for small businesses but good if you like to keep track of your personal expenses as well.  

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Micro USB to HDMI, HHL generic adapter from eBay playing movies from the phone onto a TV in 720p To watch Netflix and movies on your TV in high definition, I highly recomend the cheap no-name brand Micro USB to HDMI MHL Adapters being sold on Amazon or eBay. The video is full wide screen, and good quality.  You can even show your friends how good you are at Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja in full wide screen HDTV glory if you like :)  If you don’t use Netflix, an app that streams movies over Wi-fi from your desktop computer’s hard drive, and proper video player app and codecs to play H.264 and DivX movies can be useful, I will mention as well at the end of this article.  A quality Bluetooth keyboard and mouse such as the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution Bluetooth Mouse and Keyboard can also be added to the Samsung Galaxy S II to more easily control the phone if it is located near the TV and you are seated far away.

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There are so many options when looking for offline GPS navigation on Andriod phones such as my Samsung Galaxy SII. There are at least a dozen free navigation apps that use some form of the OpenStreetMap maps (OSM). I wanted to be able to use my phone as a GPS device without a data plan if I am travelling out of the country, I don’t want to have to be restricted to having a data plan, and I definitely do not want to use roaming data which costs an arm and a leg. I also wanted to be sure I could find an app that had VOICE turn-by-turn navigation, in case I need to find my way somewhere while riding my motorcycle with a Bluetooth headset. I found a free app and free maps for my Andriod phone that seem to work not too badly.  But sadly, my Nokia E71 with it’s OVI software with free OVI maps is still way better than any free offline GPS system on Andriod, and my E71 properly communicates with my bluetooth headset too, not wasting batteries, AND OVI maps’ voice navigation doesn’t suck.  But I’m writing this article anyways to let you know what Andriod has to offer even though I am displeased with Andriod’s offline navigation.  If you have a data connection and are ok using online navigation, Andriod is fine, it’s got some good tools.  Offline is a different story sadly for travelers.

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If you want to have the highest chances of getting an item at the best deal, you have to be the first person to see the deal.  Problem is, people are very busy these days and don’t want to be bothered spending hours and hours checking online sites like ebay, kijiji, craigslist, autotrader, cycletrader or the many other public selling sites.  There is hope for you!  All you need to do is make technology do the work for you.

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