Monday, January 30, 2006

It's a work of ART, I tells ya

So yesterday I decided to get my butt off the sofa and get some work done on the condo. At one point we re-tiled the kitchen backsplash but because we didn't have the drill bit to mix the grout, that last step was never done. Since I now had all the parts, I no longer had an excuse.

As usual, my work was not without incident.

The first thing I had to do was clear off the counters, as we have been using the kitchen without problems since the tiling was done (well, even before, to be honest.) Next up, was to remove the wall plug face plates, cut the power to the kitchen, pull out the stove and to tape up the outlets. So far, so good. Next, I used my dremel with a polishing bit to clean up the tile surfaces. Yes, my wife did roll her eyes when I found another reason to use the dremel. But she returned to painting the bathroom and let me have my fun.

Next up was to mix the grout. I had purchased the smallest bag of grout I could get at Rona, so I decided to mix it all up at once. In hindsight, I could have probably quartered the amount but that's okay - there is no more grouting to do in the kitchen anyway. With extra grout mixed up, my thinking was that I wouldn't have to worry about making what I had stretch over the whole area - bad move on my part, as it turns out. While it was good that I put enough grout on to avoid having any gaps, I would have saved myself a LOT of scrubbing if I had been more diligent at removing the excess while it was still pretty soft. I was pretty tired after scrubbing it all down. So much so that my wife came out to help with the cleanup because she was worried I was going to have a heart attack. I tell ya, one visit to the cardiologist and then you can't do ANYTHING without them worrying over you. Oh well, I do appreciate your concern hon. Honest.

We decided to get something to eat before continuing with the cleanup, which turned out to be a tactical error on my part. There was still about 3/4 of the grout remaining in one bucket, and it was hardening fast. I currently have it soaking in some water in an effort to soften it up so I can get my bucket back. At this point though, the job is done. Once it cures properly I'll give it a final inspection and possibly use the dremel on any remaining rough bits, but that's about it.

PS - has anyone else noticed how slow is today?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Walking the dog around the office

Well I thought I would check up on the homeless guys, since Louise and I were at the office today. I knew that at some point we would have to go for a walk, and the vacant lot behind our office building would be perfect for her and I to snoop around.

Well it was either that or I let her play in traffic. Personally, I think I made the responsible choice today.

Anyway, the tent owners were either sleeping or not at home when we were in the area because we saw no signs of them. Which is probably good. My journalism skills really aren't that good so I don't know if I could have pulled off a successful interview. Still, I'm kind of happy to see that they are surviving the winter and haven't had to be forcibly evicted or anything stupid like that. I wonder what the squatter laws are around here - if they last a year do they suddenly get ownership of their land? Probably not, but it would be cool.

UPDATE: After I got back to my desk I noticed a cat snooping around the tent, that looked a LOT like our cat Roscoe. Too bad I don't have an optical zoom on my camera, otherwise I would have grabbed a snapshot of their pet, assuming the cat is theirs.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Missed doctor appointment

And before anyone says anything, I am not the one who missed it. I arrived at the doctor's office at the scheduled time, and he was on vacation. Seems there was a scheduling mixup with his secretary, who was also not working today. At this point, the secretary can call me on Monday to sort it all out. Luckily, the doctor's office is close by my office, so the wasted time was kept to a minimum.

So no word yet on what my results mean. The did tell me that if they had bad news, I would hear from the doctor very quickly. It would be one of those 'no news is good news' kind of scenarios. So more no news. I guess at this rate, my condition must have improved so much that they had to reschedule the appointment to account for the amount of 'good news' I have in store.

Monday, January 23, 2006


We have visitors this week. Louise and the cats are all thrilled. No, really - they have all learned how to capitalize on the situation to it's fullest. Even Roscoe has decided to grace us with his presence. At one point, he was even sitting on the lap of one of our guests! Unheard of for a cat that normally runs into the bathroom to hide every time someone arrives. Anyway, I took a picture just to prove it.

Meanwhile, I'm on kitchen duty at work this week. (we all take turns, the secretary keeps a schedule) Some weeks this job has perks, other weeks it's just chores. Oh yeah, it gets better - the schedule always assigns two people per week. And this week I got scheduled with my boss, who was conveniently out sick today. I can already see the writing on the wall with this one...

Friday, January 20, 2006

More snow and another webcam

I woke up this morning and it was snowing like a sonofa.... let's just say it was really snowing hard. Oddly enough though, I didn't really mind. It was warm enough outside and there was no wind, so I decided to shovel the walkway for the rest of my neighbors. (condo living and all that)

The picture here is again from another webcam, this one courtesy of the Weather Network. I'm pretty sure the view is of Kalamalka Lake, which means we are looking at the other side of town and technically not Vernon at all, but a town called Coldstream.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Good news, Bad news

The good news is that I did not spend more money on the Jeep yesterday.
The good news is I still have the Jeep, and amazingly enough, it still runs.
The good news is we made it back to Vernon safely and without the aid of a tow-truck.

The bad news is my Jeep is still not fixed.
The bad news is we blew a piston, so we would need to replace the entire engine to fix this problem.
The bad news is an engine replacement will cost about $2,600 after taxes.

The good news is the mechanic will credit me the time he has already worked on the car, reducing the price to roughly $2,200.

The bad news is that it's not worth putting that much money into the Jeep.
The bad news is that I'll have to come up with an alternative method of transportation.

The good news is there is a bus route that goes from my door to only a couple blocks away from work.
The good news is that we should only have another couple months until Spring arrives. (work with me here.)
The good news is I have a Jeep for sale? Lots of new parts! Make me an offer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Creative Parking

Last night, while walking Louise, we noticed some creative parking. Since this person doesn't appear to have room in his garage for their car, they decided to park under this tree. It seems to have been an effective plan, as there was very little wind during the bulk of the snowfall.

Yep, that's pretty much it. Nothing else to say about the parking job, except that his car looks nicer than mine.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Returning home

When I took this picture, all was well. We were ahead of schedule, the weather was clear, the drive was pleasant. We were making good time and enjoying the drive.

About an hour later, we had engine trouble. We were still about two hours from home.

I noticed the engine started burning oil when I saw clouds of smoke coming out the back. The engine was running very rough and I had a loss of power. We limped into Kamloops and attempted to have a mechanic look at it, but they were too busy so we opted to continue limping the Jeep home from there. I took it easy, and we made it.

It turns out that we blew the valve seal, which caused oil to spray over most of the electrical components, including the spark plugs, distributor cap, wiring, etc. Repair with a tune up will cost us about $500, or we could opt to get things running smooth without fixing the valve cover leak for about $300. Of course, more leaky oil over new components would simply mean having to fix this again in the future, so I opted to get it all done now. Not the best timing for this sort of thing, but at least it will be done. By this afternoon, it better be the smoothest running Jeep ever.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

First stop in Vancouver: sushi

Well we survived the trip to the Lower Mainland, and after getting gas and dropping off our stuff, our first stop was at Metrotown mall, for some sushi.

Please note, when I took this photo, I was going for true gwilli style. For those of you who eat lunch at the village, you will know what I mean.

We ate light, as we already had dinner plans with family, but the food was tasty. After eating sushi, we checked out one of the other stores in the mall that sold anime products. I don't remember the name of the store, but they had DVDs, comic books, plush toys and other action figures. We have been watching anime on YTV lately, and so it was kind of cool to see stuff for those shows for sale.

We really miss the 'big city'. Can you tell?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It's gonna be a looong drive

So we are preparing to drive to Vancouver tomorrow morning. This will mean taking the Coquihalla highway, which has spectacularly bad weather this time of the year.

But this is what we got the Jeep for, right?

I actually enjoy the drive, under most conditions. I'm not a fan of driving at night if it is raining, but during the day I can take just about - oh heck, I'm not about to tempt fate the day before I leave. I prefer sunny, warm and dry conditions when driving across mountains. Always.

So this photo has been taken from one of the webcams set up along the highway, which makes things really handy as now I can take a look at conditions before I start my trip. Ah, the wonders of technology. So if you are browsing the web tomorrow morning, feel free to check the cams for busted looking green Jeep Cherokees. It just might be me.

Monday, January 09, 2006

In Vancouver this weekend

Great. It's 2:30 am and I can't sleep.

Oddly enough, neither can the dog. Well, sorta. She has followed me out onto the couch, and seems to be sleeping just fine now. But she has been restless for most of the night. Me too, although I can't say for sure why that is. Some nights I can get like this if I have coffee too late in the day, but this isn't one of those times. Well I did have a large cup shortly before noon, but I don't feel like I have caffeine coarsing through my veins, so unless the stuff I drink is over caffinated, that probably isn't it.

As I indicate in the title, I'll be in Vancouver this weekend. It will be yet another one of those whirlwind trips that we tend to make, in part to see family, in part to visit Ikea. We will breeze into town for an extended weekend, just long enough to make the trip worthwhile but not long enough to make it a vacation of any sort. We have made this trip often enough that I am reasonably sure it can't be the cause of my unrest.

I guess its just one of those weird nights for me to be up. The only good part about it is that, well, there really isn't a good part I guess. Hopefully I won't be too tired tomorrow.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My reason to upgrade to Windows Vista

As most of you know, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Microsoft and most of their product line. But I am realistic enough to recognize their successes when they have them. Today, I discovered some information on the upcoming release of Flight Simulator that has me excited about the franchise again. It's scheduled to be released at the end of 2006.

I own a copy of FS 1998, I believe. While I have toyed with the idea of upgrading (most recently with the 2004 version) I never have followed through with it in part because I felt the software was only improving incrementally, at least for how I planned to use it. But looking at the linked screenshots leaves me amazed at the level of detail. Yes, it's partly attributable to the advances in video cards and stuff, but the net result is that if this latest release of Flight Sim has the potential to finally offer the kind of experience I always dreamed of. The simulator will be relased for both Vista and XP, but the graphical limits will stretch out further on the newer operating system.

You see, my dreams of flying have always been in small aircraft, at low altitudes, where I can clearly see lots of detail in the world below me. Until now, (and presumably only with a high end computer to give a good frame rate) my low level flights have been over checkerboard landscapes, where I have had to use more imagination than navigation to determine where I was. I got in the habit of flying at night because the lights in darkness at least looked more real.

When Microsoft released the Xbox 360, many complained that it lacked the 'killer application' to drive users to the platform. With Flight Simulator X, it's safe to say that Windows Vista has that app, at least for me. Even though it's a full year away, I'm looking forward to next Christmas.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A word from Sophie

For those who don't know, this is Sophie. She is the first of our pets and is getting a little concerned about how Louise has been stealing her attention as of late.

Here she is, lounging on the sofa. Sophie is named after the actor Sophia Lauren and lives up to that name quite well. As you can see, she is no stranger to the camera, and actually enjoys being photographed. Oh yes, I'm also supposed to say that she is showing Louise how to properly pose for a photo. Sophie feels it is important to make eye contact with the camera.

When I asked Sophie if I should include pictures of the other cats, she declined, stating that she felt it would make a bigger impact if I focused on just one cat for today. (her, of course) So here she is, lounging for the camera and showing some claws for the dog to take note of.