Sunday, March 31, 2013

Adrian's Wall

Adrian, our eldest son, has been with us a couple of weeks, having just completed a trip through Central and South America.
He had just finished a half year travelling through Africa on a smallish pink Kawasaki.
Here he is. (He figured the fact that the bike was pink was some protection against theft)

Having completed his travels in Africa he flew to Costa Rica.  From there he went to Panama, from Panama to Columbia on a small sailboat (which he and the other passengers had to help sail) and from there to Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Together with his friend Tercel, they searched out much of what Central and S.America has to offer. Here he is at the ancient Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in the mountains of Peru.  Of the 900 photos to choose from, I selected this with him actually visible, and in a setting he (and I) can appreciate.  You can tell he likes the look of well-fitting stone.

If you ask my son about brick work, a trade which he earned his Red Seal in, he can point out all sorts of things you would and I might never notice.  Adrian has only just begun to achieve the many goals he has set for himself.
While he stayed with us Adrian completed the decorative wall he promised us when we built the house. The project was ambitious. We sketched for him a rough idea of what we would want for the wall.  He designed arches which matched the gothic arch style on our wood stove.
We had to reinforce the floor below to hold the extra weight of a wall of full sized bricks.

Adrian built a series of forms and laid out the pattern of bricks on them to make sure everything would line up properly.

Two days were spent just cutting brick with a tile saw.  The bricks used in the arch had to have a few millimetres trimmed from one end so the mortar lines would be even.
Yours truly did basic labour work, mixing mortar and such, while our cat helped inspect.

The arches had to be made first and they had to be strong enough to hold themselves up before the rest of the wall was filled in.

Quite an undertaking.

He was two weeks at it.  My best time with him in years was just sitting in the living room, watching him work, yakking, cutting an occasional brick and yakking some more.

Even the ceramic tiles underneath it all didn't break, despite all the weight.
The stone for the shelves we bought from a local stone dealer.
(My friend Joe Dibbits offered to deliver some 2-ton limestone slabs he had laying around, but I declined his offer to lower it through the roof.)

We never appreciated how much nicer real stone is compared to the man-made stuff you see everywhere.  Adrian insisted we don't go too cheap and use nasty stuff.

Adrian cut those to make ledges.

The arched box on the right is for firewood.

Once everything was done, we shrouded the whole business so he could acid-wash the bricks.

So here it is: Adrian's Wall
(sorry Adrian, it's late at night, and I just couldn't think up a better name for it right now, but I'll work on it)

Sometime in the next year I will build shelves on either side out of dark oak wood to complete the medieval look on the wall.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Last Post?

This is a test piece...

Somehow my gmail identification and my email address for this post and my son's new gmail account have gotten mixed up.

This affects my blog, here & now, ici et maintenant,  hier en nou,  because I now have to use his gmail account to log in, plus my password (don't ask) and after spending hours on the help lines & scanning online forums about this sort of thing, nobody seems to know why:
a) a blogspot address previously created on a non-gmail account will acquire the nearest gmail account assigned to it and accept it, not letting you change anything except the password...
b) it is impossible to remove said login gmail without deleting the entire blog's four years of entries...
c) why Google, Blogger, Gmail or anyone else associated with it does not have a human help-line manned by a living breathing smart person who can solve my problem with some sage advice...
d) I can't remove a Gmail account will permanently delete pages files & messages associated with it  
e) how, the on-line forums have never had to deal with this type of thing before...

Does anyone out there know about gmail accounts and how to remove / change / delete them w/o damaging files they are associated with?

My best guess is that there are some kittens inside my iMac, (where only the smallest of fetal kittens could fit) bopping around in there...messing things up...

In weeks to come I will copy all my blogs onto a memory stick and save them somewhere safe in case the nasty mix-up causes all my posts to go south.  Of course if I re-created the blog, and re-post them, they will, I assume, be dated on the day I post them and will not be dated back into the time they were first created, which will make it seem strange... but then again, beyond backing them up, I will likely do NOTHING WHATSOEVER to delete this blog.

My computer is a tool for me.  It isn't a game machine, time-saver, or an email creator, but I actually use it daily to write on, and I usually don't miss any days. My brother helpfully told me over the years all the many things I could do to upgrade, speed up, add, tweak, and boost, but I always shied away from that because I really can't have days where it doesn't work... Obsessive? Manic? Depressive? Paranoid? - yes I happily admit to all those things...

So does it all matter?

On a happy note, we are all well, and this, beyond an annoying hassle, will likely not affect me or my blog much in the long run. Son Adrian is making a beautiful and ornate brick wall for our living room, with sweeping arches and stone ledges. We are enjoying getting to know him after many months of travel through the world.  Son Dan is now a card-carrying member of a socially conscious and helpful fraternity on the U. of O. campus, and will graduate in two months.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Paranoid People's Car '05 Corolla

If cars are like people, my '05 Toyota Corolla is a nervous, twitchy, fearful helicopter parent. 
I enjoys cars, motorcycles and driving in general. I name the cars that are my favorite and feel genuine loss when they get sold off. I've owned ten cars and three motorcycles, but our '05 Toyota Corolla is the first car I would call really irritating.  I will never buy another like it.
I'm not talking aesthetics. The car looks fine.
I don't mean the fuel efficiency, which is pretty good.
There is nothing irritating about the acceleration, which is impressive for a small car with an ordinary four cylinder engine. This car even has a sunroof and fold down 60/40 seats for my building supplies.  So what's there not to like?
This car is for people who are certain, convinced, and petrified in the sure knowledge that as soon as they come to a stop at an intersection somewhere, thieves or punks or rapists, or thieving rapists, or punky-looking thieves, will jump in.  The car doors have a natural happy position, which is locked. Always.
They are usually shut as tight as a monastery during mardi gras.
Either it's the fear of robbery or this car is marketed to middle-aged parents who are absolutely certain their buckled and booted, restrained and restricted car-seated urchin will unbuckle themselves from their carseat and, while drooling innocently over the door-locks, will unlock the car and then push the heavy door open, (unnoticed by the caring parent) and hold it open long enough to allow themselves to fling themselves out of the car at high speed, or slow speed, or no speed, and get crushed beneath the all-weather radials just like that.
So the car doors lock automatically.
Turn the key, put her in gear, the doors lock. Stop the car and the doors stay locked. Turn the key off and take it out - the locks remain fastened like a bank vault.
Every time you do anything, the doors lock.
Almost every day I get into the car, start it up and forget something.  I step out again to load tools, cardboard boxes for recycling, or a squash bag onto the seat behind me. My fingers confidently haul on the door handle and then my flexor digitorum profundus and superficialis one-through-four get that nasty pain of trying to move the unmoveable.
Because the rear door is locked.
Minutes later I drive to the corner, step out of the car to grab yesterday's mail from the mailbox and pull on the passenger side door handle to throw the mail onto the seat. This time I am at the proper angle to wrench both my triceps and brachioradialis because the side door is locked.  Of course I cannot release the lock since the key is in the ignition (don't you always take the key from the ignition when you step out to the curb?) and I have to walk around to the driver's door to release the lock button.  All the doors spring open. I get back into the car and drive a hundred yards further to where a tree branch has fallen onto the road. I stop and toss it into the ditch, pleased with my own good-neighbourliness. Noticing mud on my hands I reach for the back door to get a rag from below the seat.
No luck.
Of course it is locked. Again.
That happened when I took the car out of park.
Naturally when my brain is working well, I unlock the doors each time I start to drive the car. A simple press of a button on my driver's side door is all it takes.  Click! it says and all the doors are magically unlocked.
Until the next time I happen to shift to park and back to drive.
Hey there's a friend. Maybe my wife, even.  "Want a ride?  Sure. Get in."  The friend or wife stands pulling lamely on the door handle.  "Oh, are you locked out?"
So it goes on.
I get groceries, key open the trunk and toss the vegetables in swing around to the side door to get in. I press the fob to unlock the doors.  Still locked because to open the back doors you have to press the fob twice.
Okay I press the key-fob and open-sesami, great.
I get in and start the car to find I've forgotten to return the cart.  Fine.  Get out, take the keys, grab the cart and push it to the cart place and retrieve my quarter. The car's locked because I've stepped away for more than 30 seconds...
Years ago I had  Mercury Tracer with an automatic seat belt which ran down a diabolical little groove in the door post and crossed over your chest, usually grabbing some of my thinning hair and tearing it from my head. My wife hated it too, but that was nothing compared to the ever-locking annoyingness of my Toyota.
Maybe this car believes it used to be a cop car, which needs reliable locks for when they put prisoners and suspects in there.
But cop cars don't have cloth seats or 4 cylinder engines.
No, this car is just annoying.
It's message to me is: "Don't fall out in the street!" or "See that guy over there?  He has a knife and he's going to jump into the back seat at the next light and make you drive him to Consecon!"
Want to buy a car?