pyesetz: (woof)

Saturday morning, we awoke to find no hot water.  The pilot was out on the water heater and it would not stay lit when I pressed the igniter button.  Of course, it was a holiday weekend (isn’t it always?), so we just did without for a few days.  We had a kettle and the stove was still working, but hot showers were unavailable.

I invoked the power of the INTERNET! and searched for knowledge.  The usual cause of “pilot won’t stay lit” is that the thermocouple has failed, so the water heater cannot sense that the pilot is on, so it stops feeding gas down the pilot tube in order to prevent an explosion.  I found a set of owner’s manuals at the manufacturer’s website.  None of them exactly matched my model, but the interesting thing was their owner’s manuals include instructions for “replacing the thermocouple”, implying that this repair does not require a plumber’s licence.  I usually limit myself to electronics repairs.  I generally don’t do plumbing, and have never done a gas-line repair before.

I followed the disassembly instructions until I was able to remove the pilot-assembly, shown here.  The top item is the thermocouple, the middle item makes a spark to ignite the pilot, and the bottom item provides gas for the pilot.  Thankfully, on this model the pilot’s gasline has a screw coupling, so I didn’t have to bend the gas-tube for access, then carefully (one of several places in the manual where they warned me to be careful) bend the thing back for re-installation without cracking it and causing an explosion.

Online sources told me that water-heater thermocouples are generic; the only thing that matters is the “length”.  I thought they meant the length of the tip part, but actually they meant the length of the copper tail that connects the thermocouple to the control unit.

On Tuesday I set out to buy a replacement thermocouple.  Since this is a rather specialized product, I decided to skip Home Depot and drive directly to One Stop Plumbing.  I brought along driving directions for Mark’s Supply as a backup.  The guy at the counter at One Stop said they didn’t have it and suggested I go to Mark’s Supply — for which I already had directions!

The first sign of trouble was the sign outside Mark’s front door: “Contractor and Trade Sales Only”.  They did not want my business, but there was nowhere else to go, so I went in anyway.  I showed the counter clerk my pilot-assembly, but she had no idea what to do — her computer wanted her to enter a part number!  She called someone for help, then went to the stockroom to fetch me a part.  But the thing she got was a thermoelectric generator, which is a totally different part that happens to look vaguely similar and have a similar name.  I was stumped.  Now what?

Another customer, who happened to be in the store and happened to be a gas plumber, took pity on me and told me to look at the end-cap of the aisle behind me, where they were selling thermocouples.  Great!  But which size do I need?  I had forgotten to measure the length of the copper tail.  (I had also forgotten to write down the model number for my heater, as some online sources recommend, but that turned out to be unnecessary.)  The other customer looked at my assembly and suggested that I get the 18-inch model.  Only $8.23!

I drove the 24 km back to my house, then examined my purchase.  The two ends looked right, the press-fit adaptor looked right — but the length was wrong.  There was no way it could work.  I actually needed a 23-inch tail.  So I drove back to the store and bought the 24-inch model.  Only $7.48!  I have no idea why it cost 9% less to buy an item that contains 30% more copper.  Maybe it’s a more popular size?

So now it’s time to complete the repair.  I decided to take photographs of my steps, so this post would have some decoration.  That decision drastically increased the repair time because I am a terrible photographer.  My forepaws shake a lot and — even bracing the camera against a door-frame — it often takes me 3‒6 tries to get a photo that’s sharp enough to use.

Anyway, here is the pilot-assembly with the new thermocouple installed.  The new one has a lighter tip and a brass-coloured ferrule at the bottom.

Here is the pilot-assembly after re-attachment to the burner guts.  In this photo, the pilot-assembly has been flipped over, so now the thermocouple etc are pointing left and the pilot gas-tube is attached on the right.  Once again, I am really glad there was a detachable coupling so I didn’t have to bend the pilot gas-tube for access!

The paint chips at the top-left and bottom-right of this photo are because the back door to my basement is in serious need of a new paint job.

Here we see that the flame-spreader plate has now been re-attached, which partially covers the pilot-assembly (poking out to the left).  Also, the thermocouple and igniter wires have been threaded through the front plate and clamped in a strain-relief thingy.

Note the grey sealing gasket which is supposed to be attached to the front plate, but has partially peeled off.  The manual emphasizes how terribly important it is to have a tight seal around the plate to avoid risk of explosion.  But I thought it would only matter for a moment while I’m screwing the thing into place, so I used two pieces of cellophane tape to hold the gasket in place while shoving the burner guts back into the water heater.

All that’s left is to re-attach the igniter wire, thermal-overload detector wires (not shown here), thermocouple wire, pilot gas-line, and main gas-line to the control unit.

And now, the final act.  Turn on main gas line.  Wait.  Sniff.  No gas!

Turn main control knob to PILOT.  Press and hold red button.  Press black igniter button.  Press black button a few more times.  There is a spark, but no flame.  Shit!

Wait a bit.  Press and hold red button again.  Press black button.  We have ignition!  Hold red button for sixty seconds.  And now, the moment of truth: will things be any better after this repair than they were before, unlike this previous time?  Release the red button.  The pilot stays lit!  Yessss!  The day is saved, thanks to Hero Doggie!

Turn main control knob to ON.  Main burner starts up!  No gas smell!  But, after a few minutes, there is a sizzling noise.  Once again I invoke the power of the INTERNET! to determine that this is probably just water vapour from the burnt gas, condensing on the cold bottom of the main water tank and dripping onto the flame.  Nothing to worry about, but sounds bad.  I decide to go take a nap for half an hour so I don’t have to listen to it.

Upon my return, the heater is quiet.  It has finished heating up the water tank.  There is no smell of gas, but there is a definite “burnt” odour.  Examining the front plate, I see that the pieces of cellophane tape are now crisp and their adhesive apparently melted and ran down the plate.  Oh well, doesn’t seem like a big deal.

And so, once again, the City of Townsville is saved.  My mate and offspring are now provided with running hot water — such a modern convenience!  I will probably never have to do this again, because the Government of Canada is telling people to stop using these old-style water heaters and switch over to tankless models, which do not have pilots.

pyesetz: (sozont)
I have occasionally used the phrase "gothic horror movie" to describe the recurring themes of my life, and why I felt so at home at Company ℱ, and why I have never wanted to work at RIM or most other companies in my local area (because they are more "gladiator movie" than "gothic horror").  My wife has used "Addams Family" to describe her first visit to my parents' house.

So you can imagine my interest in last Friday's article in the Guardian (or Grauniad as the locals call it), which is entitled "How to Tell You're Reading a Gothic Novel".  I guess I'd rather see this title as "How to Tell You're Living in a Gothic Novel".  Anyway, let us review their helpful hints:

1. The villain is a murderous tyrant with scary eyes

Actually not.  I have had a variety of opponents in my life, most of whom did not have especially-scary eyes.  One notable exception was that four-year-old kid I met when I was six.  Aaaaaah!  On the other paw, lots of people have commented that my eyes are scary, so maybe I'm supposed to be the villain?  But I always try to be a good little monster!  I have never murdered anything larger than a flounder, although I have been indirectly involved in the senseless killings of several innocent dogs (may their souls RIP in Heaven).  The notches on my metaphorical pistol refer mainly to the destroyed careers of various evil-doers who were stupid enough to pick fights with me after I told them not to.  Just go away and nobody will get hurt!  But they wouldn't listen.

2. The heroine is a pious virginal orphan, prone to fainting.

I don't know WTF this is supposed to be talking about.  What does morphine diacetate have to do with virginity?  No swoons for me; Victor Frankenstein I ain't!  Though sometimes I wish I could just sleep through the bad periods when there's nothing I can do about my problems.  And since when are orphans known for their piety?  My father is dead and I actually don't know whether my mother still lives.

3. It's set in a spooky castle or stately home.

Not exactly.  But this item has sub-items, so let's review those:

3a. Built in Gothic period: No, my house dates from 1870.  It's old, but not that old.

3b. In a poor state of repair: Yes, the wooden front porch is rotting and needs replacement before it collapses.

3c. In the middle of nowhere: Well, the city folks think so, but really it's only a 15-minute drive from here to Canada's Technology Triangle.

3d. Haunted/cursed: Not really.  My previous house was haunted by the spirit of a little girl who was really, really unhappy that she had to move to Singapore — but I think she was gone by the time we left there, and I have no idea if the folks who bought the house from us thought we were still haunting the place (I insisted on moving to Canada, so the rest of the family got dragged along with me).  My sister used to say about our parent's last house together that it was some sort of spiritual way-station because so many non-corporeal entities passed through it on their way to ¿someplace else? But really the house was just creaky and the spirits had nothing to do with that.

3e. Has a fobidden wing and/or secret passages: Yes!  My house has a variety of inaccessible areas.  The largest is under the mud-room, which I can shine a light into from the basement walk-out but I never see anything.  So far as I know, nothing lives in there except occasionally a family of squeaky little shrews will move in for breeding season.

3f. Has a reclusive and/or sinister owner: Yes, I am left-handed.


4. There is (probably) a ghost or monster

[I like the footnote on this item that refers specifically to Southern Ontario gothic novels.]

I guess this one applies, but let's look at the subcategories:

4a. Ghost: Not currently, I think.  But I was medically dead once and almost-dead another time, so maybe this life is all a dream?  The final episode of Roseanne was the best!

4b. Monster: I sometimes identify as a therian, which is sort of like a furry only totally not.

4c. Witch/sorceress: I'll let my wife answer this one.

4d. Vampire: No, it's a werewolf!  Werewolves are not vampires!  (*spits into mike*) Is this thing on?  A werewolf, I tell you‼  Sheesh.

4e. The Devil: No, although some people have claimed that I should have "666" tattooed on my forehead.  But really, Arabic numerals would make no sense — it should be "DCLXVI" for proper Latin.  Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc. I said that once (in English) to a lawyer who was trying to depose me.

4f. Not really a ghost at all: It was nice of them to include the footnote here about Scooby Doo, which jumped its shark in later years when the monsters were reimagined as "real" within the story universe.


5. It's set in the olden days.

Hey, we're on Internet time now.  I remember the dark ages before Google, before Wikipedia, before Rule 34, when people actually had to get up and go to the TV and rotate a knob to change the channel.  So, um, yeah.

6. It takes place in foreign parts.

The footnote says this applies if the story takes place in a country that is not where the author was born.  So Canada counts.  And, BTW, I am a citizen now!

7. The weather is always awful.

This is an exaggeration, although there were far too many days with -30° wind-chills last winter.  But next year is supposed to be a monstrous El Niño, so hopefully more to my liking.

8. Anyone who isn't a white middle-class Protestant is frightening.

Yup.  I'm a Jew who lives in a township full of Mennonites.  Be very afraid!

9. The laws of the land are brazenly flouted.

I can't talk about this in a public post, but there are signs that the laws will be a-changing soon to be more to my liking.  The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind!

10. People talk funny.

I've been here for seven years and still don't feel like I have a grip on the local accent.

11. So which gothic novels are the best?

I don't know, but not the one I'm living in — that's fer damn sure.

(p.s.: In case you're wondering, the most important sentence in this essay is the last one for point 6 above, which Wifey wanted to know why I hadn't posted yet to this journal.)
pyesetz: (Default)
I made a shiny thing!  Click to embiggen.  It is supposed to show off how effective my new stock-trading strategy is, but we'll have to see whether that really works out.

I had to piece this together from images in my Firefox cache due to bugs at the website, which silently throws away colour-spots on the left of the picture if you add "too many" spots on the right — surely nobody would want to add over 100 colour-spots to their chart, right???  And there are many other bugs at that website, that often cause all the colour-spots on a chart to be silently thrown away.  Remind me again why I am paying them a monthly fee to use this crappy software?

* * * * *

Earlier this month, after four years of putting it off, I finally got my attic insulated!  And it cost NOTHING, as long as I agreed to apply urethane foam-sealant and weather-stripping elsewhere in the house, and pay $300 to have the house inspected twice.  In return for that, I will get a government grant for the attic insulation that is LARGER than its out-of-pocket cost, plus I'll get a prize for having done a good job sealing up my house.  The prize only *partially* pays for the inspections and sealant and weather-strips I had to buy (and would have covered those completely if I had sealed up the house just 3% better and gotten into the next prize category).  Net cost: $200.  Supposedly these improvements will pay for themselves with one winter's savings in heating bills, but it's hard to tell this year because it's been a very warm winter so far.

Dear diary: I never did get around to telling you that, after three years of putting it off, I finally got a sump pump installed back in Fall 2010!  It works great!  The basement is now dry-er but of course it's still damp.  During last spring's rains the pump got quite a work-out, but the water never rose above floor-level.

Last summer, I got my air-conditioner replaced.  It was quite old and its evaporator coil was full of pin-holes and so could no longer hold refrigerant — and the refrigerant that it used has since been banned for contributions to Global Warming.    The replacement unit works very well!  And hopefully it will work even better next summer, when the new attic insulation will help keep the heat out of the house so the A/C doesn't have to work so hard.  Last month, the people who installed it for me called to say that the government grant they had promised me hadn't been issued yet, and would I go to Ontario's website and click some buttons and scan+upload a copy of the receipt?  So I did that; hopefully there'll be a cheque in the mail sometime soon.
pyesetz: (sozont)
Saturday night my basement flooded.  Sunday into Monday there was a hose coming out of my window, spewing water into the yard.  Monday the local utility company called to say that my gas meter is "obsolete" and needs replacement.  They wanted to stop by on Tuesday to replace it but quick-thinking Wifey told them to wait until Wednesday.

The utility tech was supposed to show up between noon and five.  He arrived at 2 PM and said it would take 40 minutes to replace the meter, then he would need to "restart" all the gas appliances in the house.  It actually took over an hour for the meter replacement.

All of our gas appliances are located in my art studio basement.  As the tech entered the basement, he thanked me for "waiting for him" (what, I was supposed to run away?).  While he was relighting the pilot for the hot-water heater, he remarked on how new it was, and the furnace isn't very old (1994), and the gas dryer is new.  The furnace and dryer have electronic ignition and don't need "restarting", so he just demonstrated that they were still working.  He seemed impressed at how clean-burning my furnace is (I had just had it serviced in February after letting the soot build up since Sept. 2007).  As he left, he thanked me again for "waiting for him".

There were plenty of signs of a recent flood (damp floor, etc.), but the tech didn't mention that.  The dryer has a floodwater line about an inch up from its bottom.  Was the post-flood meter-replacement really just a random coincidence or was this service call actually about checking whether my gas appliances have been water-damaged and are about to blow up?  There's no way to tell what he *might* have said had there been damage in evidence.  I like to think that this was an inspection, because my house "passed".  I remember when I had a gas line installed for the new dryer: a journeyman asked if the work was going to be inspected; the master plumber said, "always assume that your work will be inspected!"


Mar. 14th, 2010 06:00 pm
pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
My basement flooded last night.  I saw it coming around 9 PM and started using a rug-washer as a water-pump, but the washer couldn't keep up, so around 11 PM I declared a "family emergency" and everyone had to help out getting stuff off the floor in the basement.

Thankfully the water level crested only a couple of inches above the floor, so the furnace continued working through the night.  Apparently only the very bottoms of the expensive washer+dryer got wet, so hopefully they'll continue to work.  The wooden bases under the bookshelves were submerged, but the water didn't get up to the books, so we didn't lose any of those.

I drove down to my local Home Hardware today and got a water pump.  They tried to charge me $107, as shown on that web-page, but the price tag on the pump said $92 so I got it for that price.

Not mentioned on that page: the pump comes with a "suction plate" that allows it to continue pumping until the water is only ⅛ inch deep—very nice!  But the pump is not rated for continuous duty: its instruction manual warns of overheating and suggests running it only 15 minutes per hour.  I've been running it for a ½ hour at a time; it seems to be doing okay because the water is cold.

But I still need a sump pump.  I've been putting that off since Sept. '07 and clearly I have put it off too long already.  A sump pump needs a sump and apparently a sump needs a permit from the township because it involves digging.

My parents' house used to flood all the time because the neighbour's willow tree was clogging the drain.  After many years (and many metre-deep floods and many books lost), they finally got a sump pump.  But one day, during some torrential rains, the sump pump couldn't keep up and water rose out of the sump and spread over the floor—so once again all toys had to be picked up off the floor before they got soaked.  Finally the neighbour got rid of his tree and all was right with the world.

So even with a sump pump, I might still need this new pump I just got, to help out during super-heavy rains.
pyesetz: (star-of-David)
In 2007, Wifey and I tried making a Star of David decoration, but it didn’t come out well.  For 2008, I let my house be the undecorated one on our street.  For 2009, Wifey decided to invite over our little homeschoolers’ group for a party, so SOMETHING had to be done.

So this is what I did (click images to embiggen):  I pretended that the ropelight was a neon sign tube, which I wrestled into a star-shape and then covered the non-star parts with black electrical tape.  The ropelight has a fairly large minimum curvature, so I curled it into loops at each corner (covered with tape) to create the appearance of a sharper change of direction than a ropelight can actually manage.  This is pretty much exactly what [ profile] xolo suggested in a comment on my 2007 post.

This wooden star-of-David form is the same one that we’ve been using for many years.  Previously it was covered in many strands of Christmas lights, with the controls set to “random chasing patterns”.  But those lights stopped working during the move to Canada.  The yellow blob in the window is a hanukkiah; see the daytime photo below.

Blah blah blah.  Need more text because the pictures are too big.  Yadda yadda.

At the Hanukkah party, we cobbled together some electronic gizmos to make a Skype videophone for our livingroom; we used it to call a former member of our group who has moved back to the States.  They were familiar with Skype but we had not previously used it.  The setup for our livingroom was quite easy!

After the typical conference-call greetings, they panned their camera around so we could see how much snow they got; then we pointed our camera out the window to show how little we got (because the jet stream is quite far South right now).

We had a Secret SantaHanukkah Harry gift exchange.  It was notable how many people got fellow family members when they pulled a name randomly out of a hat, but perhaps this is related to the birthday paradox.

Maybe I should make the pictures smaller.

pyesetz: (Default)
Still haven't mailed those tax forms—my accountant doesn't like IRS form 8833 and wants me to use form 2555 instead.  Still haven't got a website to show you—I have one now, but the hostname got screwed up due to the multiple "anti-fraud phone call" failures and still isn't quite worked out yet.  So here's a picture!

I should try that in my basement.  Like most older houses around here, mine has a stone+dirt floor that is always wet and so is covered with pallets (which then grow mildew).  Still don't have a sump pump because I haven't scraped together the $1000 to dig a sump and run a drainpipe out to the back-yard spillway.  I think the spillway is actually the concrete covering for the pipe that runs from the well into the basement (so the previous owners could have "running" water).  Maybe I can buy a pump when the IRS gives me that multi-kilobuck refund they've been sitting on for over a year.  Unless the sun goes nova first.
pyesetz: (Default)
On Thursday of last week, the drain pipe from my kitchen sink, laundry tub, and washer/dryer plugged up solid.  As mentioned before, the drain pipes in my house were rather sluggish when I moved in and have been getting slowly worse ever since.  On Friday I used Google Maps to find the closest plumber to my house, since if I was going to start a new business relationship with a plumber, I wanted one who would be willing to come to my house if our single toilet stopped working in the middle of a blizzard (because of course that is when it would happen).

On Friday, at 4:45 PM, exactly when promised, the neighbour-plumber showed up and spent a solid hour reaming out my pipes.  Then I had a nice weekend.  On Monday, at 3 PM (a little earlier than promised and without the preceding phone call that had been promised), the neighbour-plumber brought over one of the dozen journeyman plumbers who works for him.  The journeyman re-hung the kitchen sink drain pipe to have a sharper slope (and removed the narrow copper section that was slowing the waste down), replaced the hot-water supply pipe that I had repaired with aquarium cement over a year ago, and tightened the screws on the toilet tank.

Yesterday, the plumber called to confirm my last name and said he'd hand-deliver a bill.  I still haven't gotten it yet.

My original plan was to call a plumber about the drain pipes when the aquarium cement failed, but it didn't fail!

* * * * *

Yesterday I received an email from, which I had signed up for a long time ago but then never used.  The subject was "ServerMojo trial expired" and the body explained that I needed to sign up for a paid account if I wanted to keep using the thing.

Today I received another email, with subject "ServerMojo trial *not* expired", explaining that yesterday's email was erroneous because my account is so old that is effectively a permanent free account.  It said, "If you didn't yet know we'd recently launched a new and much improved ServerMojo - well this isn't quite the way we wanted to tell you but we hope you will have a look now and check it out anyway!"

* * * * *

My area has both grey squirrels and the melanistic "black squirrel", which is a mere colour-variant and the two kinds of squirrels interbreed (just like the different colours of humans do, except where authoritarians have made it their business to put a stop to the "miscegenation").

Today I saw a squirrel whose fur was a mixture of grey and reddish.  It looked perhaps like it was in the middle of molting.  Wikipedia claims that the red squirrel does not live in Canada, but does molt from grey to red in the spring.  Perhaps it was a fox squirrel.  The sighting was in a public park, so I didn't kill the "living fossil" and turn it into a squirrel sandwich.
pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
Since [ profile] momentrabbit took my bait, I am now obligated by the rules of LJ memeage to post in my journal:
Everyone has things they blog about.  Everyone has things they don't blog about.  Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll respond (if I can stand the searing pain your suggestion causes in the back of my head).
It's too bad that Moment and I aren't furiends.  If he were (and if I am reading the tea leaves properly regarding his whereabouts), he would be my second-closest furiend after [ profile] solstice_sings.  Well, [ profile] tehpyrex might actually beat Solstice for proximity if I friended him, but let's not go there today...

So what's on my furry to-do list?  Thanks for asking!  Let's see:
  • Bark Bark Woof Woof is still waiting for an answer to his email asking about how things are working out for me in Ontario (he lives in Miami FL but visits Stratford ON every summer).
  • [ profile] shy_matsi (who just got out of hospital after having chest pains at age 29½) asked me for more detail about what it's like being married to a she-bear (see [ profile] she_bears nope, that's a different kind of "she-bear").
  • [ profile] loganberrybunny sent me extensive commentary on the complex situation of citizenship in the former British Empire, but I still don't quite know what to do with the pull-down "Country" menu at my employer's website, so I should reply to him again.
  • [ profile] giza wrote a comment on my journal.  I need to find some way to respond that defends my point (because I still believe in it) without denigrating his much-greater experience in website design and maintenance.
  • [ profile] tgeller wrote an entire post (last December!) in reply to one of my off-the-cuff comments.  I still haven't dared to look at the links he found.  BTW, on BoingBoing recently they showed a clip of zit porn.  I don't know about you, but somehow my zits just never look as *voluptuous* as those!
I also have non-furry to-do items, but you probably wouldn't want to hear about those.  Oh, you would?  Super!
  • "Mr. Bear" keeps asking when I'm going to hire some local college kids and start a little software-for-export business.  That's because I keep complaining about the "bodies" he hires who produce too little work for too much money.  But running a business is such a pain!  I could then join the local Chamber of Commerce, where I could hear all the town gossip myself instead of getting it second-paw from my dentist who is a member.
  • The government of Ontario hands out money to academics in April.  I really should apply 'cause it's free gravy.  And time is running out!
  • Most of the sewage pipes inside my house are clogged and they probably all need a good hard reaming.  Does that make you think of buttsex?  Enjoy your laugh if so.  But I would like to officially announce at this point that no human male has ever inserted any original-equipment piece of his body into my anus while thinking of me as being a creature named "Pyesetz".  Of course, the preceding pronouncement says nothing about my lurid (and nonexistent) life as a Topman.  As for frottage, my equipment is just not shaped properly for that activity (though I suspect it might be possible in a zero-g environment?)
[ profile] swift_fox got some good responses when he posted this meme.  But of course I won't.
pyesetz: (star-of-David)
It's Hanukkah!  In previous years we've displayed a very gaudy Star of David with blinking lights in chasing patterns, etc.  This year we decided to refubish it and... let's just say we ran into many problems.  We ended up just wrapping it with a rope-light and calling it "done" for the year.

Why do I mention this?  Because [ profile] shockwave77598 just put up a YouTube video of *his* house decoration in action.  His house now screams "electronic engineer lives here!" while mine whispers "some bizarre denomination lives here".

I've been calling our star various bad names, like "The Lucky Charm—it's magically incandescent" and various epithets involving shamrocks and unlikely genetic recombinations.  Because I can't seem to control my camera (it insists on "S-2" even in manual mode), you can't see the wooden pair-of-triangles frame that's holding up the lights.  The frame has sharp angles, like a Star of David should, while the rope light has a minimum curvature that's too large.  For verisimilitude, I suppose I should cover up the "kite tail" with black tape.

If I were still an LJ newbie, I would go back to my old posts and install this icon for the ones with a "Judaism" tag.  But nobody reads old posts.

*Edit*: More comments over here: it looks like a "party balloon" or a "snowflake".  *Edit 2*: Virgomusic thinks she has me beaten in the "inappropriate for Hanukkah" department:
pyesetz: (Default)
Tomorrow I'll have been here a month.  It's a good thing I didn't try to buy a cheap dumpy house and avoid all debt—I forgot that one needs to reserve additional 20% of the price of a used house for fix-ups, which I couldn't have afforded without a line of credit.  So far I've spent $1200 for electrical upgrades, $1800 for plumbing improvements, about $4000 for appliances, and $2000 for a shed—built on-site from local Ontario pine!  Plus lots of small stuff: $80 for plywood so the attic in the addition will have a floor, $20 for a bag of mortar.  I'm not impressed with the mortar.  Applying it requires lying on my side on the driveway (which is disintegrating into pebbles), reaching over my head to poke a stick into a bucket and pull out a heaver goober of mortar, then fling it over my belly into the cracks in the foundation.  Very tiring for the forepaw!  And I'm still getting some water in the basement troughs after rainstorms.  Maybe the "weeping drain" under my house is clogged?  My neighbour is proud of the fact that the original weeping drain under his 1890 house is still working.  But he's decided not to replace his half of our shared driveway because he'll probably be selling out his house to a commercial developer within five years.

My postal code includes all of five houses.  One was recently replaced by a dental clinic.  Another is in the process of becoming a veterinary clinic.  The owner of a third has a terminal illness and wants to sell.  My neighbour with the 1890 house is thinking of buying it so he'll have a double-lot to sell to the developers.  Then I'll have the only residential lot left on my block!  That will be good for my property value.  Meanwhile, the local post office (which is also a bakery, restaurant, and convenience store) has the street addresses labelled on each mailbox and ignores the postal codes when they sort the mail.

There's a standard joke about Americans bringing skis on a summer trip to Canada, thinking the place has the same weather as Mt. Everest.  Apparently October is rainy season here in Southwest Ontario.  It's 12°C.  The impatiens are still blooming.  I need to mow the lawn again.  For Hallowe'en they're predicting partly cloudy and 15° going down to 6°, so it should be a good night for candy-collection.  Supposedly the snow won't arrive until January.

Still haven't gotten my permanent-resident card, or my Social Insurance Number.  Haven't retitled my car in Ontario, or gotten a local cell phone.  Still have dozens of boxes of stuff from the move that hasn't been unpacked yet.  My digital camera is ???someplace??? so I still have no photos to post.

Kid #2 is out selling popcorn for Cub Scouts.  Yesterday Kid #1 went out selling cookies for Girl Guides.  In the States my wife was a Service Unit Manager (she led a troop of adult Girl Scouts who were themselves leaders of girl troops) but it doesn't seem like they're hurting for volunteers around here and don't really "need" her.  The local Girl Guide uniform is exceedingly plain, consisting of a shirt embroidered with "Girl Guides" and a single pin.  It's quite a change from the Girl Scouts USA uniform, which looks like a Women's Auxiliary unit of some military organization, festooned with patches and pins and dangly doohickies.

It might be time to try reaching out to the local furry community.  [ profile] danruk is a bit of a drive from here, but I'd like to find out whether he's really the wild and crazy guy that he usually pretends not to be online.  LJ says there's about a dozen journals from people in my township, none of them updated recently.  When I brought the family into the local hardware store to have a custom kitchen island made for us ($600), the woodworker asked "what kind of animals" I have, referring to the kidlets.  I think he wanted their names, but that's not what he asked for!  So I told him that kid #1 seems to be a lion, while kid #2 is definitely a monkey.  Then kid #2 went into his banana routine; it was nice of him to back me up.

The chairman of the International Monetary Fund says the greenback may be due for an "abrupt" fall.  I should move my 401(k) money into Euros.  Some investor or other says the US economy is in a recession.  Well, duh!  Is the sky blue when a bear shits in the woods?
pyesetz: (Default)
Yesterday was the "open house" for the new dentist's office, next door to my house.  The dentist comes from Vancouver.  He says he designed his new building to look like my house, so it wouldn't stick out too badly in this older neighbourhood (which has several houses over a century old).  His wife, the hygienist, hails from a city that's 30 km away, but she went to high school with the previous owner of my house (there is one high school that serves this entire county and also an adjacent one, perhaps 2500 km² total area).

The dentist's open house had a competitor for "village news of the day" yesterday: farmer Arnold's barn burned down.  It was a sad day for Arnold's cows, who lost their home, but apparently the neighbouring farmers will be taking them in.  Meanwhile, an entire barn engulfed in flames, being battled by the fire department, isn't something you see every day (unless you're [ profile] swift_fox), so lots of gawkers came by to see the show.  The barn was adjecent to the part of Baden Creek that opens out into a pond, but the firemen ran a long hose out to the nearest hydrant rather than grabbing water from the creek (perhaps to avoid clogging their equipment).

It seemed to me that there were two groups of gawkers and they did not talk to each other.  There were the "townies" who operate the farms and have lived here for 150 years, and also the "newcomers" who moved out from Waterloo to raise their families but continue to work and shop in the city.  The population of the village of Baden has tripled in the last seven years!  I sort of felt like I ought to be in the Townie group since I live in an old house and not one of the new developments, but really I'm even newer than the Newcomers who are mostly native-born Canadians and ethnic Mennonites like the Townies.  So I didn't talk to anyone.

Tomorrow the electrician will be coming back for his third day of work upgrading the house to something decent.  (This is the same guy that the previous owners had hired to replace their knob-and-tube with something insurable.)  It's very hard to add external receptacles to this house, which has a double layer of bricks on the outside, large stones and mortar for a foundation, and several layers of plaster on the inside.  He needed a 30-inch drill to get from the front porch to the basement!  Also tomorrow, the plumber will come over to replace the rented hot-water heater with an owned one, remove lots of extraneous plumbing (the pipes double back on themselves several times because previous owners of the house changed their minds), and add a gas line for my new clothes dryer.  A gas dryer costs only $70 more than an electric and should pay for itself in a year, but I forgot to include $200 to run a gas line over to it from the furnace!  Everything is difficult in an old house because there have been so many upgrades already.  Concepts like "electrification" and "central heating" and "indoor plumbing" were not part of the vernacular of rural Ontario in 1870.

Wireless Internet works better here than in my old house (which has drywall with corner mesh, so its walls have more metal in them than these lath-and-plaster jobs).  Download speed is only half of what was advertised, but Rogers claims they'll be making a major upgrade to the Wilmot central office on October 15th (hey! that's tomorrow!) so we'll see if things improve.  Still, I manage to find lots of things to do besides working.  I think that, on an average day, I'm spending more than I'm making.  That needs to change.

I signed a bill of sale for my old house as the movers were packing their truck.  Two weeks later I called my agent to see how things were going.  The buyers had backed out after signing and never gave their deposit.  This is the third time the house has "almost" sold.  I'm getting sick of this agent, but NJ real estate is a racket and no licenced realtor would talk to me if I walked away from this guy before his contract is up next month.  Also, I hadn't planned to continue paying interest on that mortgage for many more months.  After I finish opening up credit-card accounts in Canada (maybe next week), perhaps I'll ask the bank if I can just sign over the deed to them and walk away.  At this point I've already sucked out of the line of credit all the value I expect to get from the property and am just selling it to pay off the mortgage.  I'm still using my A+ credit rating in the States to gain credit in Canada, but that won't be needed for much longer.  If I try to hold up two mortgages, one of which is just bleeding money, I'll either go bankrupt or end up in a hospital.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
Success!  Got our immigrant visas, visited Niagara Falls and Canada's Wonderland, bought a house, even got a mortgage with no job or national credit history!  What a nice country—I can hardly wait to move!

Below the fold is my trip report.  It's rather heavy on the photos (over a megabyte of images).

Read more... )


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