Saturday, August 11, 2018

Things Coming Together

I do like it when several things all come together at once.  Today was one of those days.  I finally heard back from the re-upholsterers and the couch cushions would be ready today.  (It was getting to be quite a problem without them!)  They even agreed to drop them off in the late afternoon.  I'm not entirely convinced this was the best solution, but they at least can be used again, and in particular for the small party next weekend.  Hopefully, the cushions will stay firm for a couple of years.  The next time around, I'll just replace the sofa and love seat and try to ensure that they have some extra durability.

I had managed to stain the deck Friday morning, so I needed to put one more layer of stain on.  I was pleased that the forecast has shifted, and it probably won't rain on Monday after all.  That means that the deck really will be ready.  (You can see the stain doesn't quite match, but after another hard winter, it probably won't really look all that different...)

After work on Friday, I had sawed off part of the board (the one that will be the new railing) in order to get it to fit into the space.  (It's all the way to the right in the photo above.)  Well, it turned out that it was still too long, so I had to saw off another inch or so.  Then it still was a bit tight, so I hauled out the belt sander and finally got it to fit.  That was annoying, but ultimately fixable.

I was able to then put down the 2nd coat of stain on the floor boards and the first coat on the railing.  I can pretty easily put the second coat on tomorrow.  I should also see if I can get this one last board back to cover the gap between the upper and lower decks.  I'm hoping that I can just remove the nails and reuse the old board (flipping it upside down).  But if not, then I can just buy a replacement board at Home Depot tomorrow afternoon.

It was a fairly strenuous morning, so I read a bit in the afternoon, finishing up Kawakami's Ms. Ice Sandwich.  Then I took a short nap, then fired up the grill.  It has been a really, really long time since I've grilled, but I think it came out ok.  Still, I should probably try to pick up some better charcoal from the mall by Friday.


It looks like I will actually be ready for people to drop by this Friday.  All in all, quite a bit of effort, but a lot of these things had to be done anyway, so it was good to have an excuse to get me to focus on them.  At least that is what I am trying to tell myself...

Last Chances

This is the last weekend of the Inuit exhibit at the AGO.  It must close Sunday.  I managed to get back two more times, including Friday after work.  It was busy but not outrageously crowded.  I took a couple more photos of the images I liked the most, though a few had so much glare that it wasn't worth it.  Here's one I like, though it comes across much better in person.

Tim Pitsiulak, Whale and Hunters, 2014

This is also the last weekend for Dusk Dances at Withrow Park.  I think I'll head over Sunday for the matinee performance.  While that isn't particularly dusky, this way I can grab something at Taste of the Danforth if I decide I to.  I haven't actually made up my mind; I'm not a huge fan of Taste of the Danforth, and I suspect the numbers will be up this year from people wanting to show their support.  Obviously, this is also the only weekend to go Taste of the Danforth.

There are only two more chances to see the Driftwood Bus Tour, though all the Toronto dates are over unfortunately.  I wasn't able to go to their preview in Todmorden Mills (it conflicted with Fringe) and then they didn't come to Withrow, so that really dampened my enthusiasm.  According to their schedule, they are in Mississauga tonight and Port Perry tomorrow, and that's a wrap.

There is one week left with Summerworks Festival.  While I am still a bit annoyed at their scheduling, which made it difficult (or in fact impossible) to see two shows, I think I'll see one show tonight and then one Tuesday evening.

Next weekend is the Small World Music Festival at Harbourfront.  I'm just a bit bummed that I didn't pay more attention to that schedule, as I have booked an event on the 17th, which is the same time as a free! concert by Vieux Farka TourĂ©.  Well, you can't do everything after all.

I'll be posting soon on some other upcoming events of interest, but those have a slightly longer timeline.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rain Delay

We had extreme flooding in Toronto just the other day (Tues. evening), and it rained on and off on Wed.  The weather forecast called for even more rain on Thurs., and in fact, for thunderstorms around 6 or 7 pm.  I decided to go ahead and bike in, but leave the bike in the locker room and plan to take the TTC back.  (I was sort of hoping that some or all of my cushions would be restuffed, since it has been a real drag not having a couch or love seat.)  Since it hadn't started raining by 5:30, I changed my plans and rushed home.  By the time I arrived, it was dark but didn't really look like rain.  I decided to go again and do the sanding, so I could stain on Friday.  (This seems to be the only 3-4 day window without rain.)  I got all that done and it still hadn't started to rain, so I knocked the railing off, but didn't try to replace it.  I still need to do some sawing on the replacement board.  Still, this put me in a good position to get started on Friday.  (I guess it rained just a bit Thurs. in the very late evening.)

This morning it had cleared up, and I decided it would actually be better to do the staining in the morning, then a second coat Sat. morning.  Then even if it rained on Monday, it would basically have cured and we could use it, certainly by the following weekend, when I am having people over.   I'm still hoping that if it rains Monday, it will be late in the day.  Unfortunately, I didn't guess correctly on the stain.  It isn't the same shade.  Over time, it probably won't matter, and I suspect next summer, I'll stain it all again anyway.  It looks good enough for now, and I have considerably less work for this evening.  I kind of gave up on Summerworks when they scheduled two shows back to back, so I couldn't see them both, which dampened my enthusiasm for the whole project, but I may go see something over the weekend.   Also, I think this is the last week of Dusk Dances in Withrow Park, and I may go off and see that.  But now, it is time to head off to work.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Return to routines?

As mentioned in the last post, this was an exhausting long weekend.  I had actually expected to take most of the morning off and travel off to Pioneer Village with my daughter.  We were just about out the door when I informed her it would be an hour each way on the subway (and I had expected to get in some serious reading time).  That was way too long for her, even though assuming the air conditioning was working, it would probably be the nicest place to be in the city.  Certainly our own place is not at all nice with the AC broken.*  Maybe she'll change her mind next summer, but I just went back to work on the deck.

I had originally planned on replacing just 6 boards, but then one other one looked pretty badly split.  I decided since one board actually needed to be trimmed to fit into a tight spot, I might as well buy one more board and have them cut it there, rather than try to do it myself with the mitre saw.  So we ran by Home Depot and bought the board, plus some deck stain, which I hope to test out this next weekend.  I decided to hold off for a little bit longer on concrete paint for the bench in the front, but I'll probably get that on the next visit.

Perhaps I should mention that we also were buying some chairs off of Kajiji to replace our main dining room chairs.  I probably would have liked another set more, but those were already gone.  These will do, but I'll probably want to add some cushions, since they don't have as much support as I would like.  Maybe I can run over to the mall, get in a quick workout (not that I need too much after this weekend!) and pick up some cushions.  I had to wait around a while for the chairs to be dropped off, then my son and I ran over to Home Depot.

As we were coming back (actually carrying the board between the two of us), it started to sprinkle.  Fortunately, my wife had brought the chairs in (we were airing them out a bit more), but I had left some tools out on the deck.  I managed to get everything inside before it really started to pour, but I was a little put out.  I had expected at least another hour before the rain.

To complicate matters further, I was renting a ZipCar to take the couch cushions over to a reupholsterer, since the springs inside the cushion are just completely shot.  I struggled a lot with the car (every new brand adds something stupid, like putting the gas cap release on the floor, or now putting the hand brake over by the main brake -- honestly it pisses me off and makes me much less likely to use ZipCar in the future).  It was really pouring by this point, but I got the cushions loaded and set off.  I went past the place three times before I finally saw the sign.  So frustrating.  Anyway, the good news is that they think they will be done by Thurs. or so (rather than a couple of weeks).  The bad news is that I am paying just as much to replace the cushions as I did to buy the couch and love seat in the first place...  But I haven't seen that good of a deal since leaving Vancouver (and my wife really didn't want to get anything used).  So things are generally coming together, though the back room, which is a bit of a staging area for the deck work is a total mess.  Well, I have another weekend to clean that up.

The rain was over by about 5:30, so I went back outside to try to finish up.  I managed to pry out the 7th board and nailed all the new ones in.  It was pretty exhausting, but on the whole I think the final results are pretty good.  No question the deck is immeasurably safer (and by fixing the worst boards I've probably extended the life another few years).

So now I'll just see how it looks with the stain.  No question I'm glad this is almost over.  (I'm reasonably hopeful that the main railing will be easier to replace.)  I haven't decided if I'll be able to reuse the boards or not.  I have a bit of an idea to build a holding pen for our garbage bins to keep the raccoons from knocking them over, but am not 100% sure this will work.  That can definitely wait until I've recovered.

* As much as I don't want to pay for a completely new unit, with these heat waves, which are probably going to be more and more common, I just don't know how long we can last without AC.  And I'll have to pay to have it fixed before we try to sell the place regardless...

Monday, August 6, 2018

Deck Follies (redux)

This summer marks the third time I've had to deal with the deck.  I spent a lot of time two summers ago trying to sand it down and restain.  The upper part of the deck, the stain took reasonably well, though there are a couple of individual boards that would need to be touched up.  The lower part never took at all, and I probably should have just used a different stain.  I debated tackling that again last summer, but didn't.  The only thing I did outdoors last summer was to install a porch light, and then in the early spring this year I spent some time fixing the various gates.

Anyhow, I have a bunch of people coming by soon and decided that I really ought to replace some of the rotten boards in the upper deck.  I would not want to be liable if they broke through one of them.  I'd say there are 6 that are in really rough shape, and then another 2 or 3 that probably could be replaced but I'll probably hold off.  I suppose it is fortune that the main part of the deck is based on 12 foot lumber, so no cutting was involved.  However, I had to rent a van to pick up the lumber.

Then I set about trying to replace individual boards without destroying the ones next to them.  It's a fairly delicate operation, not at all helped by the fact that they used 3.5 inch nails while constructing the deck!  One board came out pretty easily, but the rest have been a real struggle.  It's also been incredibly hot this weekend.  I got tired and started making mistakes, including hitting myself in the face with the crowbar when it slipped.  That could have been really bad, and I took a break after that to calm down and get a bit of rest.*

On top of everything else, there are several areas where it is all but impossible to nail the boards back in straight (because the railing was added later for instance and you can't get the right angle to nail).  Then one of the boards that had to be replaced actually had a big notch in it to fit around one of the posts.  I don't have a jig saw, and it is a real challenge doing this with a mitre saw and a hacksaw.  Still, I was doing pretty well, trying to clean it up with a chisel, when I hit a knot in the wood, and the whole top part broke off.  I was so pissed, but decided rather than throw the board away and start over, I would just nail it back together and then nail the board to the post for a more solid bond.  The next time around, we'll probably have to rebuild the whole porch anyway.  I don't think I'll do this individual board replacement a second time.

Anyway, the very worst is over, though I still need to nail in two more boards, then try to tear out two last boards and nail in the replacements.  But these are in areas that I have a lot more room to maneuver with the hammer and crowbar.

I should probably be done with the deck today (though this is somewhat contingent on it not raining in the late afternoon).  I also need to replace part of the railing, but this can wait a bit later in the week.  Then the challenge will be finding 3 or 4 days with no rain in order to put down some new stain.  I might do just a bit of sanding on the boards, but nothing like the last time, which took days and days and days.  I'm hoping that perhaps next Sat. I can stain the upper deck and the railing.  Then see how closely it matches the other sections.  It's all been a huge pain, but it had to be done as the deck was starting to feel a bit unsafe.

* I have been skipping the gym this weekend, but this has been a fairly effective workout, especially for the upper arms.  I'm still pretty sore, and still I have another day to go...

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mall Follies

Just made two different visits to Eaton Centre, only a week apart.  I don't actually go to the Eaton Centre all that often, so it is generally always a bit overwhelming.

The first time I had to go with my daughter to have new glasses made.  I was not that happy with the service, since it definitely felt like a lot of bait-and-switch and upselling, which seems unnecessary for children's glasses.  However, it is true that my daughter spends a lot of time in front of screens, so in the end I got the new lens.  But they weren't going to be ready that day.

We went into Old Navy, and I was able to fit into a new pair of jeans, one size down.  They were a bit snug (though all the outdoor work I've done these past few days on the deck seems to have made them fit better).  Basically I need to double down and try to lose another 15-20 pounds, then my t-shirts will definitely fit better.  Another 20-30 pounds beyond that, and I probably can fit into large t-shirts, which is kind of my overall goal.

We made a stop at the food court, then stopped at BMV (outside of the mall proper).  I was hoping to find a specific book (T.C. Boyle's The Road to Wellville).  It wasn't in, but my daughter found a couple of books to keep her occupied.

The next trip was today.  I had heard that the glasses were ready, so I wanted to bring her along to get them adjusted.  It was a quicker trip this time.  Only Lenscrafters and the food court.  It was a fairly efficient trip; I'm happy to not have to go back for a while.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Deadline met!

In actuality I only met one of two deadlines, but wait -- it may be that the SFYS deadline is moot, since it isn't at all clear if they are meeting in August anyway.  So a bit of extra stress for nothing, perhaps, counterbalancing the fact that I may not have missed a deadline after all.  In either case, SFYS is not really an urgent deadline, and if I miss it, it isn't that big a deal.

The conference paper deadline was considerably more real and certainly felt more pressing.*  Now each year is slightly different in terms of the requirements, with a big change this year that figures don't count against the total word count limit.  That worked to our advantage, since we had to ruthlessly cut out different sections to get it down under the limit, and we would have had to cut another 300-400 words if figures counted (like they used to).  Also, I remember when the deadline worked out to midnight Eastern Time,** but they gradually relaxed it until it was midnight anywhere in the world, so effectively there is the whole overnight period for us procrastinators.  As it happened, I had the paper edited and the formatting ready by midnight, but it did take another ten minutes to navigate the site and get the submission in.  Still, it felt like a significant accomplishment.  It was good to have a co-author on this paper, since he was able to edit sections while I was still writing up the results, and then I could tweak his edits and so forth.  While I probably could have finished the paper on my own, there might well have come a point where I would have just said, forget it, but having a co-author makes it that much more likely I will respect these hard deadlines.  So now I just wait to hear if the paper was accepted.  I should know by mid-Oct.

In the meantime, I have quite a few posts I've been meaning to get to, but had to put on hold while I wrapped up this paper.  But that's enough for now, I really need to get some sleep!

* I am glad that I didn't have to disrupt my life or even work that much to make the deadline, though I was so tired I did skip the gym once over the weekend, and then last night as the final edits went through and I uploaded the paper.  But I'll go tonight and will more or less be back on track, though I'll have to skip swimming laps and thus will try to make them up over the weekend.  And maybe spend a bit more time on some academic subjects with the kids, so they don't forget everything over the summer!

** And I definitely remember the year I missed the deadline by 5 minutes or so.  So frustrating!  That was probably my worst TRB-related experience (other than a few months ago when my travel authorization was cancelled!).  Now I remember another year where there was some breakdown in the submitting process, and everyone got an extra day, which I ended up needing.  Though to be honest, I can't remember now if this was the TRB website that went down or the ASA website.  After long enough, it all blurs together...