Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hell Holes finale

Return of the exhausted adventurers.

Hell Holes 3

Eri's accent from the hell hole...
I'm not making this up, it really was a hell hole.
Pillar Rock
Shockingly... me being silly

A natural stone bridge (according to the sign.)

Hell Holes 2

Here I am deep in the bowels of the earth (or at least 7m's or so)
Another avid spelunker
Looking up
It sure is dark down here...
Add a little flash

Hell Holes

On our way home from Montreal this past weekend, Erin and I were enticed by a sign leading to a road side attraction. Who couldn't be enticed by a sign labeled "Hell Holes." So we adventured deep into rural Napanee in search of these mysterious Hell Holes.

As it turns out, it is a 3.2 km nature hike that includes some caves you can climb down into.

Here we are before the Hell Holes, all clean and tidy.
'Ware, I see hell spawn over there.
"Sure you do..."
Here I am inside THE DEVIL'S STABLES, oooOOooOOo, beware, there are headless horsemen about.

Here I go, descending into the caves.

The boys hanging out

This is from the August long weekend, Loki was in a patting mood, so we were hanging out on the sofa.

Basement Ceiling Framing

I'm long over due on these images, but here is the framed ceiling, ooo ahhh!

Monday, August 21, 2006

2 Weeks of progress, and no end to Mennonite jokes in site

Well the basement framing is truly almost finished. Over the last two weekends, I've imposed upon my friend Kevin, and my siblings Alex, Jenn and her BF Gabe to finally raise the 'roof' or more correctly ceiling into place.

Progress was dodggy at time while the infamous 1.5 inch haunted me yet again, but as it turns out sometimes the best laid plans are truly madness. The lesson here is that when framing a room, no matter how accurately you raise 4 walls, the 5th wall (or ceiling) needs to be done with a whole lot of TLC.

Kevin and I avoided this mistake by raising our ceiling boards one at a time, and leveling as we went. With each board his knee swelled more and more (such is the misfortune of the injured tri-athlete.) Yet after Kevin left, I though it would be great to assemble the last (relatively square) section of ceiling in on large piece. Well my conscripted siblings were amenable to trying this, after two attempts to lift into place I realized that my measurements were flawed, and that a life time of fine tuning would be required. At which point I pulled out the circular saw, broke the frame down into pieces, and we raised them board at a time, the way gravity intended.

Once the ambitions of my plans were much deflated, progress ensued. Requiring much less strength to do it piece at a time, my lovely wife, and Jenn attacked the stairs. The stairs are ugly utilitarian painted wood, without a backing. This leads to much missadventure as our cats climb into the storage area behind the stairs, heedless of our requests that they do no such thing. (Our cats are generally heedless of our requests.) So they enacted a design envisioned by myself and Erin to cover the back of the stairs with 1"x10" planks of knotty pine. A plan thoroughly complicated by the fact I bought the wrong lumber, 1"x1' planks, so each step hung down about 3 inches farther then expected, and thus became impossible to clamp with the tools on hand. In spite of my mistakes they managed, and we now have a cat resistant set of stairs. (No construction is truly cat proof, but sufficient design can render it at least disinterest to cats.)

After Jenn and Gabe took to raising the 2x2's that will drop the front ceiling just below the AC pipe, only to discover that 2x2 isn't quiet enough. So parts of the front will be two inches down, and we will have a deeper center channel for the AC, that we will also turn into a wiring conduit. So all is not lost, just complicated. The work didn't get finished, but that was in no part based on the willingness of the workers, only my desire to not be seen as a cruel task master, so I sent them home to a more relaxed evening. They did the important part of figuring how it should go. Erin and I can do the finishing touches with few complications (famous last words.)

Finally Erin finished the job of ceiling all the vapour barrier, and I will say it was a messy job, but she handled it admirably.

So the basement is finally coming together. Between this week, and my vacation I should finish the framing in time for an early September dry walling. Hopefully in advance of my Trevor's Brother's move in, as he is a skilled drywall operator, and I need him before he is distracted with his own home.

Well that's the barn updated. I will get pictures off Erin's PC tonight. (I left the memory card for the camera in it. I also may have left the camera at my grandparents house. I really need to attach idiot strings to all my electronics.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Amazing Command Line Forms API brings UI design into the 19th Century

From the makers of the Borg Knowledge Assimilate comes a C# library to help bring pizzazz and Object Oriented Methodology to your Console Apps. Including dazzling and retro ASCII splash screens, and awesome 8-bit sound prompts!

I threw this up onto digg with a bit of hyperbole as you can see from the quotation, but its a amusing API none the less.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Have you ever wondered what kind of cat Loki is?

Well the answer came to us early this morning, the answer to that important question of what type of cat is Loki?

The answer is, Loki is a shover robot,

and he likes to push things down the stairs!

Interestingly, I don't feel particularly protected from the Terrible Secret of Space

Monday, August 14, 2006

XBox Game Development for the Unwashed Masses

This is hugely exciting, Microsoft is releasing a set of dev tools to the public to allow development and sharing of games for the 360! I've been dabbling for a while in game development (never anything worth sharing) but this will kick start my enthusiasm once more! Can't wait to get my hands on this.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Curse you 1.5" curse you!

1.5" inches is the most annoying number in my basement. During this whole renovation project that number has haunted me time and time again. While last night 1.5 was up to his usual dirty tricks while I was framing the ceiling. Little did I know that 1.5" was lying in wait for me, just waiting until my moment of framing triumph, when I would complete assembly of the first ceiling truss. Only to snatch that victory by forcing the aforementioned truss to sit cockeyed, one end elevated 1.5" too high!

So a curse on ye 1.5, and a fi on you as well

/me shakes fist at 1.5 with the authority of a fist that has once more traveled full circle around the sun.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Framed the poop shoot

Well I don't really have anything interesting to say, but I did in fact do some basement work last night, which essentially involved building a frame around the drain from the main floor bathroom. Since this isn't nearly as title worth as poop shoot, you can at least understand the motivation for my title.

I don't know if I mentioned it, because I'm probably worse at reading my blog then most, but Erin and I purchased a whole bunch of stuff for the basement including some swank flooring and all the pot lights. What remains of course is drywall, the accoutrements of dry walling, insulation, doors, floor boards, and elbow grease liberally applied to the lot. It is coming along though, just at a modest pace.

Geoff out

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Dangers of the Canadian Wilderness

Long as Canada been safe from the rampant street crime that plauges the metropolitan cities of our southern neighbor. Yet we are not immune to crime, crime that spreads like a cancer into our remote wilderness escapes. Angler Marty Descoteaux couldn't have imagined that he would be boat jacked when he set out to fish one early July morning. More surprising was nature of the thug who absconded with his boat. Read more in today's Toronto Star.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My cats

Here the three of them are, lazing away a Saterday morning (well one of them isn't really being lazy, but is in fact pinned by the other two, unable to escape their clutches.)


Well I think everyone knows already, but I think it appropriate to post, since it is a pretty big deal. Last weekend (July 22) Erin and I picked up our brand new car! The new car, a 2006 Hyundai Sonata, in many respects is a more featured version of our other car, a 2001 Nissan Altima. The new car comes to us courtesy of Erin's generous parents. We have been talking for a while about the possibility of second car, as the Altima is getting on. We wanted the security and convenience of a second car when we need one, which thankfully infrequent. While we were mulling it over, Erin's parents offered us a gift of money, roughly equivalent to the price of the car, and so car shopping began in earnest.

I think we jumped all over the map from used, domestic, luxury, hybrid, huge, tiny and all the other permutations of cars, before we even came to a conclusion of what kind of car we wanted. We were really happy with the Altima, as it has both a large hauling capacity, reasonable fuel economy (all though not as good as we thought, it isn't bad,) sufficient get up and go, and it was comfortable. One caveat on the last one, for some reason the gas pedal was set in such a way that I used to get an awful cramp on long drives, but as Erin is really the principle driver on a day to day basis, her predisposition to platform-esque shoes makes it a non-issue.

So we finally closed on looking for a car in the same size class, with key features we were looking for being safety, fuel economy, and price. Of course price and fuel economy can be in direct conflict. Safety was also a little complicated, on the surface we wanted a vehicle that had tested well in crash tests. It was also important that the car be able to keep you safely out of crashes in the first place, so that means ABS, and a drive train with the power and control get you out harms way.

Our shopping took us to a number of dealerships, the most memorable trip was probably Honda, and I mean memorable in a bad way. The salesman we dealt with at first was courteous, and we were clear with him from the beginning that we had no intention of buying on the spot. He seemed accepting of this and took us out to test drive the Civic and the Accord. I must say I was completely under whelmed by the Civic. The car had the get up and go of a high school drama student with Mono, (trust me I have seen a few of those, and snails go faster.) The Accord performed admirably, but was nothing special. What really turned us off was the sales manager, our salesman stepped out of the room for a moment to make a photocopy, and in stepped "The Closer."

"The Closer" is the guy who gives salesmen a bad name, he slithered into the room and started talking, he talked without breathing, and without acknowledging our existence. I think at one point he shook our hands, but the experience could easily have been confused with a cold clammy fish wriggling through its death throws in your palm. We left immediately looking for a safety shower to rinse sleaze from us, while our test drives had already put us off Honda, the sales manager put us off that dealership for sure. If we had wanted a Honda, we would not have gone back there.

Our next trip was Toyota, and Toyota had been an early favourite for us, the Corolla and the Camry being stalwarts of the auto industry. The test drives also left us in favourable esteem of them. We were however unenthused by the interior styling of the Corolla. While the Corolla is a fine car, a model of value, and history of reliability, it failed to whelm any guttural response. When spending the kind of money involved in a car purchase (even if it is a gift,) I really feel like you need to want the car, in needs to strike a cord with your desire, beyond the sheer practicality of it. Neither of us could get beyond that feeling, and in the end I think we exaggerated the feeling back and forth until we had thoroughly put ourselves off the purchase. That really only applied to the Corolla, the Matrix, Prius, Camry, and Camry Hybrid sat on the consideration pile for a long time.

In the end we didn't return to Nissan to look, on one hand I think we wanted a change, and on the other hand we found the Nissan's really didn't meet either our safety or fuel economy desires. I think a lot of people have questioned our safety first motive in this purchase, and I don't want to sound trite, or put anyone down, but two things really motivate this. First off, as young healthy adults the number one way we are likely to die is in an automobile accident, as has become painful obvious this Spring with Andrew Desmond. The other, is that automobile accidents have been a very really part of Erin's and my life. Just ask our poor Altima, it has had more then its fair share of battle wounds. Most of which were the classical definition of accident, unforeseeable, unavoidable circumstances that brought another vehicle in contact with ours. One of the more ridiculous was in a parking lot when Erin was clearly blocking an individual who started pulling out into her, Erin was blocked in and couldn't move. She jammed on the horn repeatedly, and other drive just kept coming. When the inevitable collision occurred the other driver (who paid for all the damages) made the comment that "I heard honking, but I thought it was for someone else." Apparently she chose not to look about and see the big car right behind her. Anyways I digress, but my point is that I intend for Erin and I to become nice and curmudgeonly in are old age, and think a few extra air bags are worth sacrificing a leather seat, or an umpteen disc changer for.

Back to our shopping, we spent the rest of the day show room cruising, but avoided further test drives, as you can only suffer so many pithy vapid conversations with strangers in the back seat before the whole process becomes tiresome. On a Toyota concluding note, the sales manager at this dealership was much more astute in the art of human observation. Clearly understanding the statement "not going to buy today" he took only a moment of our time to express his good will, and entice us to return to his dealership when we were ready to buy. Clearly this could have been devoid of sentiment but he behaved genuine and professional.

At the end of the day we had cruised Subaru, and Mitsubishi, and we met with Erin's parents, who had also visited Toyota, as well as a few European dealers, and compared notes.

That week we made one final trip to Hyundai of Oakville. The trip was almost perfunctory, not expecting to see much, and thoroughly exhausted by the whole process. I think we actually went intending to look at the Avalon, which was really well outside our price range. The whole night was a little surreal, as we ended up with he used car sales manager, who was on duty covering for someone, and it was his first shift since spending five months on paternity leave. So he was a little behind on his research, and it was a slow night, so he just tossed us some keys and let us go out and give it a try on our own. I think a combination of the salesman's candour, and his unexpected trust put us in the right frame of mind, and the car did the rest of the job.

By the end of the night we were essentially decided that we wanted the Sonata, and all that was left was to pick colour and wait. So two weeks ago, when Hyundai started its 2006 clear out sale, the time was right, and the colour we wanted was sitting on the showroom floor. Everything moved quite quickly at that point, and by the next week we were driving off the lot with a brand new car. In fact because it was a clear out we got a slightly souped model for very little extra including a nice spoiler and tinted glass. The colour we chose is Dark Cinnamon, but it's really a terrible name (as most car colour names are (except candy apple red, candy apple red is always that same.))

At night the car glimmers an almost metallic purple or black, when the sun is up it's a metallic burgundy colour. In any light is a nice looking car! The spoiler adds an aggressive look to the car, and as it isn't really a standard option on the vehicle it makes it unique. The interior is a charcoal grey, which is neither here nor there, but the dash is laid out in a much more modern way. The instrumentation panel is really well organized and modern making it intuitive to use. Most importantly the car passes that resonance test that makes it fun to own and drive. As for our other requirements, well it has a 5 star front and side crash test rating, and won the EnerGuide award for most energy efficient vehicle in its class. It is also easily 5-10% less then a similarly equipped competitor car. So top marks in all our criteria!

Like I said at the beginning about it being a better version of our Nissan, really is a credit to both the Nissan, and the Sonata. The Nissan has served us well, and will continue to do so. The Sonata improves upon it by getting better fuel economy, more storage space, more passenger space, better pick up, better handling and a snazzy sun roof. So both cars meet our needs well, and can really be used interchangeably. The only question now is who gets to drive which car? The answer is Erin gets the new car.

We are both really happy with the Sonata, and at this point wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to friends. We are both being a little silly and showing it off to friends, but when it comes to a new car, I figure that so long as it still smells of new car then boasting is permitted.

So there you have it, the new car story!