Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stratford Festival

Last week a number of tickets to various shows at the Stratford Festival were made available by a co-worker. Evidently undersold shows have certain allotments of tickets printed out and given away to acheive appropriate 'bums in seats' levels, I imagine for the purpose of making every performance appear packed to the paying showgoers.

Not one to turn down an opportunity, I was able to secure tickets to both Titus Andronicus by Shakespeare and The Misanthrope by Moliere.

Titus Andronicus is a very impressive, startling, powerful, and disturbing tragedy. It is Shakespeares first, and is a completely fictional tale about a Roman military leader returning from war, his actions, and the consequenses that arise.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Last week, this plant wasn't there... I swear!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Sand Box

About six summers ago I decided to build a half decent, durable sandbox for Rudi, the summer he was three. I am happy to say it has survived in quite fair fashion, and just needs about six or eight bags of play sand to get going again for Alexander.

The sandbox is anchored with four by four posts on steel post supports driven into the ground, with two by twelve inch boards for sides. I liked the idea of having the side boards intersect and 'pass through' one another with the corner posts on the outside of the sandbox, rather than the inside. The alternate walls are made up of twinned two by sixes, and are keyed into the two by twelves at the post junction.

Alexander hams it up a bit on one of the seats in the first photo... The log to the right is cut to length and will soon go to the treehouse. The second photo is a detail of the intersection of the side boards at one of the corner posts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Bean Support

Every year in our little raised bed, Katherine plants a number of things, including a variety of tomatoes, as well as a number of beans, including climbers.

Last year the climbers completely outgrew my pathetic attempt at a support, which was just six foot tall or so. This year at Katherine's request I built a real support, which hopefully will be able to keep up with the Wisley Magic and other climbers that have begun winding their way to the top!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The New Patio Toy

Finally got a new BBQ, on kijiji, and saved around $500. This one was won in a draw by a gentlman in London, who was moving soon, and also is not a BBQ'er. $500 cash for a brand new, fully assembled Weber Genesis 310 Special Edition (roughly $999 plus taxes in stores).

I picked it up mid June, and have probably used it thirty times between now and then. This BBQ is worth every penny of a thousand dollar purchase price in stores, but not wanting to afford that, it is doubly worth the money I spent. Sadly, his asking price was $500, probably for a no hassle sale, but he told me he had people trying to talk him down to half that!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Canada Day

Canada Day is always somewhat challenging for me, as unpleasant memories generally try to take over. It was July 1 1987, when while watching a bike race in High Park Toronto, my dad headed north and home early, muttering something about helping mom with some gardening. I left a few hours later, and had a nice ride back through downtown Toronto, and up Bayview to home. On arriving, my father was nowhere to be found, and both my sisters had seen nothing of him. Shortly thereafter, my older sister took a call, apparently Roger had been hit by a car, and broke his leg.

The rest of the day was pretty much a fog, but it did involve getting to the hospital later that evening, only to find out my father had undergone about five hours of emergency surgery to repair a severed jugular vein, extensive damage to his neck and shoulder area, and the near total severing of  his lower leg, which was broken in at least six places, and held together by a flap of skin and calf muscle a couple of inches wide. He was in critical but stable condition in intensive care, which he remained for most of the week, also undergoing further surgeries to repair his leg and his shoulder.

Fortunately for him, this happened during the Doctor's strike in Ontario. A 7-11 clerk witnessed the collision, and immediately called 911. The nearest paramedic ambulance was rolling at a Donut Queen a few hundred yards up the road. The closest hospital with an open emergency ward was Humber Memorial, less than 1 mile away. The paramedics arrived at scene exactly 57 seconds after the 911 call was initiated. Just under three minutes later he was wheeled into hospital. A number of doctors and emerg staff happened to be playing a game of poker, and as soon as his neck collar was removed blood geysered everywhere, with one doctor exclaiming "Christ, that's his jugular!"  67 units of blood (a Toronto record) and five hours of ER staff time later, and he was wheeled into recovery.

It is a bit of a life changing experience, at nineteen years old, watching your dad lying comotose on a hospital bed, a pump helping him breathe, lots of tubes leading into him delivering fluids, and blood, and drugs, and being told by the doctors that they are simply hopeful about his recovery, but that nothing was for certain. I discovered a lot about my father that day, from all my experiences with him over the previous years of my life, and I continued to learn more, over the ensuing years.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why Big Box Retailers (Especially RONA) Suck

Recently have been looking for a barbecue to replace the eight year old completely unservicable and not worth repairing unit we own now. I figure a good quality, less expensive Broil King might do, found out RONA carried them, and in the meantime became a member of their online notification club.

This email arrived at about 6:30 pm:

So I opened it, and clicked the link, only to receive this:

Not particularly impressive, so I think I will go to TA Appliance in Kitchener and buy the Broil King there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Cost Of Heating

So what does it cost to heat a leaky old uninsulated double brick Victorian? Well here is the answer, for the years 2003 to 2010 inclusive. I started these excel files back in 2005 or so, continually improving them every two years or so.

Interestingly, the cost of natural gas for '01 and '02 was $2280 and $2330 respectively. In 2004 I purchased a Hunter brand setback thermostat to replace the original vintage dial thermostat. We did not often turn the heat back at night, but after purchasing the digital one, it was programmed to do so automatically, with what appears to be a significant corresponding savings in fuel consumption.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Very Bad Things

There are quite a few things one should never do to an old house (any house for that matter). One of them is illustrated quite clearly here, which is cutting almost completely through a floor joist to run hot air ducting. This was undoubtedly done by the company who supplied the furnace for the changeover from hot water.

Floor joists are sized and installed, believe it or not, to support the load of the floor, the occupants of the house, and the walls above, and should never be hacked apart in such a fashion. Luckily the floor hasn't sagged much, and I have enough room to 'sister' a plywood brace into position, after figuring out what to do with the wiring. Not to the right, the newly relocated duct which is running to the upstairs bathroom, and shortens the duct length by about 16 feet.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fixing Someone Else's Mistakes, Again (Part Two)

So with the fabric conduit removed, the 80 year old hot and return pipes cut out of the way, and the 120 year old large diameter vent pipe pulled up and out of the wall, I was then able to measure, cut, connect and install the five inch conduit to carry heat up to the two front rooms.

Now instead of heat carried via 6 inch contuit in the basement, and then flexible fabric tube to the floor near the heat registers, it runs along the same conduit in the basement, steps down to 5 inch rigid conduit up the wall, across the floor, and up to a 5 inch tee that has been specially cut to fit in place in between the two registers serving the front rooms. The photographs below show how this was installed.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Rental Water Heater Buy Out

In Ontario, a seemingly insignificant household expense is the cost of renting a hot water heater. These are typically provided by Direct Energy or Reliance Home Comfort, who charge rates of roughly $80 every quarter. These seemingly small $25 per month charges certainly do add up, so if you were to do some simple math over a conservative 15 year lifespan of a power vent tank water heater, you are looking at spending $4800. Or you could buy a top quality unit for $1800, leaving you $3000 to pay for repairs, the excess of that being money in your pocket. Or why not just forget about repairing it, and replace it every 7.5 years, and still be $1200 ahead every 15 years!

It may not be a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but a lot of it is unnecessry profit going to these places that rent water heaters. So I decided to take the chance, phoned Reliance Home Comfort up, and agreed to buy the unit sitting in my basement for a whopping $41 plus HST. So now I will just see how long until it kicks the bucket, then buy a new one, unencumbered by any restrictions or agreements that were previously in place.