Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blue Christmas

I felt like the Coyote, opening some Acme blueprints.

Christmas is a time for giving - and also for getting. Some very nice people gave me some very nice things this year, but none can compare to what a fellow named Mr. Wong gave me.

Two days before Christmas, the previous owner of our house pulled up in front of our walkway, and knocked on the front door. When I answered in my disheveled, sleepy, lounging-around-doing-nothing-on-the-holidays state, he gave me the sweetest gift of all. Not homemade cookies, not sugar plums, not chocolate truffles. No, he gave me the original, nearly 70-year-old blueprints to our house.

Having an architect for a grandfather, one who designed the renowned Dofasco Park, and having briefly considered architecture as a career myself, this was an incredible gift.

In my dining room I slowly unfolded the 1939 plans, and was amazed by what my eyes first fell upon: a note from the builder, handwritten in ink, which read,

These are the plans referred to in agreement bearing date & day of May 1939 and made between S.W. Robb Ltd. as builder and Gertrude Roden, married woman, pertaining to house to be built on parts of lots 228 & 229 in (this) survey. Dated this 20th day of June, 1939.
S.W. Robb


From conversations with elderly neighbours, I learned that the Roden's lived in the house for a whopping 56 years - from 1939 to 1995. No one knows what happened after that.

Examining the crusty plans and viewing the front elevation, especially the garage, Suz and I both instantly agreed we had to transform the house back to its former state. I was excited to see the fuel room, and we both kind of laughed at the hide-away ironing board in the kitchen. But then again, times were different in the 1930s. I checked our kitchen, and found that some patchy lines are still visible from where the ironing board was once hidden.

The stamp in the bottom right corner of the blueprints indicates the designer was Edward Glass. Is it the same Edward Glass as I found here? Quite possibly.

I was hoping for some snow, dreaming of a white Christmas. There was none. But I can't complain about the blue Christmas I got instead.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Drink and Drive

Drinking and PS2 don't mix. Oh no, I am wrong.

The Christmas season is a time for partaking in a little partying, and along with festive celebrations comes Rum-infused egg nog and other alcoholic beverages. Drunken stupors will be rather commonplace, so it's time to remind people of a very important message: Don't Drink and Drive.

Or, in the case of my house: Drink and Drive.

I encourage drinking and driving. But before you start jumping to conclusions and yelling at me for being irresponsible, check out the photo again. In my opinon, the drinking and driving test I've developed is very responsible.

Party-goers must engage in PS2-style racing before they're allowed to hit the road. If they're able to succesfully navigate speedily through city streets they've never seen before, and come in first - without smashing into buildings - they're probably not too wasted.

But the sneaky little catch is that they become so enthralled by the games, and by the competition sitting beside them on the couch, that they'll want to stay longer and play more. This gives them even more time to sober up.

My first test, at the Halloween party, was so successful in fact, that Mr. Industry, after an hour and a half of racing, actually became too tired to drive in real life. He slept over. How's that for preventing drinking and driving?

And so his bro and myself engaged in some drinking and driving on the weekend. We sipped Martinis, raced pink RX-7s and giggled like schoolgirls when we thought of the irony of Drinking and "Driving".

I am often reminded of the true words of one of my best friends at a party a few years ago. "You're drunk!" declared some people. "I am not!" came the slurred reply. "Gimme your keys and I'll prove it."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Snow Tires Only Help If It Snows

A jack isn't really necessary to lift an Insight. But it's safer than using bare hands.

Putting on snow tires has become one of my family traditions, along with putting up the Christmas tree on the 2nd weekend of December.

After slipping around in our Honda Insight after the first small snowfall, we decided to buy a set of winter wheels for it. We slapped a pair of Bridgestone Blizzak MZ03s onto the wheels, following the Boyscout's motto: be prepared.

The weekend weather was warm and sunny, so putting the winter wheels on was not really an ordeal. In fact, it was fun. Especially since I got to use my friend's Mastercraft Nut Blaster to tear the nuts off the wheels. I felt like a Nascar or F-1 pit stop dude.

And similar to F-1 cars, the snow tires are super soft and a little sticky. But unlike F-1 cars, I have to drive for 4 months instead of 4 hours.

Most people are lucky if they can get two winter seasons out of a set. Since the tires actually last longer when they're in snow, I was really hoping for some snow, which is again, something quite different from the wishes of F-1 drivers.

But I should have seen this coming. our skies have been sunny and snow-free ever since I put the winter wheels on. Yes. Murphy's law has risen again and stabbed me in the face. I wonder if it would help to wear a belaclava.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Prescription of Pain

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I'm off to the hospital again today for an 'emergency' appointment with my neurologist after he drove me to madness with a prescription.

The pain in my feet has been steadily getting worse and it is becoming much more difficult to walk with each passing week. I limit my walking to whatever is necessary to work, and survive.

I told my doc that if I had to go grocery shopping, I take a great big handful of Advil before I go out, and even then I still have to lean on the shopping cart to take the weight off my feet.

"How much Ibuprofen?" he asked me.

"Depends. 1200 to 1600 mg." I told him. His eyes bulged.

Turns out that is way too much. He said that much Ibuprofen can cause bleeding in my stomach. Instead of the pills, he gave me a prescription for something different, as he believes I have something called Small Fiber Neuropathy, which can be caused by a number of diseases, some of which are rare.

The prescription is a topical cream which contains Ketoprofen, Lidocaine and Capsaicin. The first ingredient, Ketoprofen, is used for treating inflammation. The second ingredient, Lidocaine, is a local anesthetic. Unfortunately, its benefits are short-lived, allowing the third ingredient to destroy one's sanity.

Capsaicin is deadly. Seriously. In large quantities it can kill. Somewhere along the line, some Canadian bastard succeeded in releasing the Capsaicin from Chili Peppers, thus inventing Bear Repellant. Not long after, the U.S. postal service began using it to blast violent puppies, and in the early 1980s Capsaicin was turned into what is now known as Pepper Spray, used by practically every Police force in North America.

Thanks a lot Canada, you backstabbing jackass.

If you can imagine the unbearable pain felt by victims of Pepper Spray, try to imagine the level of sanity possessed by a person who willingly rubs it into his skin.

But I had faith in my doctor. The Capsaicin was supposed to kill my nerve tissue, causing my feet to kind of go numb. So I rubbed the compound into my feet, and 36 hours later the burning hasn't stopped. In fact, the pain was so horrific last night, I had to "indulge" in some liquid refreshment in order to pass out fall asleep.

If you are wondering just how painful this stuff is, check out this video and this one on YouTube. Take it from me. This stuff is bad news.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Cost of Christmas Trees

Who needs a pickup truck? Not I.

I've always been conflicted about buying Christmas trees. There are pros and cons to anything, and Christmas-tree-buying is no exception.

On the pro side, Christmas trees are inexpensive, smell DAMN good, and.... well... that's about all I can think of. On the con side, the same trees are sticky, create a huge mess of needles each year, require daily watering to avoid becoming a fire hazard, and are usually lopsided. Plus, I just feel really terrible about cutting down a tree for the sole purpose of hanging man-made shit all over it, practically torturing it, as it slowly dies in my living room.

It would seem, by my list, that the cons outweigh the pros. However, the "cheap" issue holds a lot of weight. Then again, what is "cheap"?

When Christmas trees could be bought at Home Depot for a decent $17, I never would have considered a fake tree. After all, there are a lot of cons to fake trees, not the least of which is how bloody fake they look. But when trees sold by the exact same Home Depot suddenly rocket to $28, an increase of 40% in one year, fake trees look all the more appealing.

Is $17 cheap?
Is $28 cheap?

What if you had to spend $17 every year until the end of time? Is $600 cheap? What if it was a one-time cost, and the tree would last until the core of the earth turned to ice?

Fake trees can be bought for as little as $50, and as much as $600 in my city. The $50 trees resemble plastic garbage bags while the $600 trees look like Danny McGee (who was up his 59th tree) just cut them down a few minutes ago.

Suz and I considered a $500 tree which Sears had on sale for 50% off. At $250, it would take 9 years of real-tree purchases, assuming the $28 price remained constant, to pay for itself. But if prices continue to rise by 40% per year, in only 5 years real trees will cost $150.

In the end we decided we couldn't afford an extra $250 this time of year. We settled for the $28 tree and rammed the 8-foot bastard into the trunk of the Snore-us.

Even without a fold-down rear seat, the SHO swallowed the tree like a pro. It was a heck of a lot easier than what we had to do with the Crapalier last year. And by this time next year, we'll hopefully have a very lovely fake tree.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cashing In On Snow Tires

Super stealthy black winter wheels? Nah! It's bright aluminum for us!

Winter is clearly here, as it smacked us in the face with snow and freezing temperatures the other day. Fresh snow on the roads provided us our first slidey test for the Insight.

After driving to work and sliding through 17 stop signs, I concluded that the Insight's all-season tires failed the winter test. The main reason it sucked in the snow is because it is so damn light. The combination of aluminum, titanium and plastic adds up to only 1,800 lbs. of banana-peel-oil-slick hybrid action.

Enter my sister. Working at a Honda dealership, she was able to score me a huge deal on Insight wheels and snow tires. Our first choice was the high-tech Michelin X-ice tire, but it was only available in 175/65/14.

I was understandably upset, but instead of grenading the local Michelin plant I decided to go with Bridgestone's Blizzak MZ03, in the narrow, Insight-approved 165/65/14 format. The extra anorexic tire will cut right through the snow and supply us with extra gripping force - To The Max!

Tread. Neat.The aluminum wheels were a whopping $470.75 each, but fell to an astounding $306 each with my sister's discount. The super soft Blizzak tires rang up at $233 each, then fell to $117.90. For one pair, we achieved a phenomenal savings of $559.

That means under normal circumstances we would have paid $1,407.50 per pair, or $2,815 for a complete set of four. Realistically however, we would never have paid $940 for two manufacturer's wheels. Instead, we would have bought some fancy aftermarket wheels, so long as we could find some extraordinarily light ones.

Consider this: The Insight wheels with the Blizzak MZ03s weighed only 22 lbs. each! And according to the Bridgestone website, the tire is a chubby 15 lbs, making the Insight wheel a svelte 7 lbs.

As a result of our transaction, my sister has now pulled a Godfather and started cashing in on the favour. I've already had to deliver a coffee, some Reese's Peanut Butter Bites, some gum and a sleeping bag up to her house. I wonder if it was worth it? I don't want to start offing people.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NutramentĀ®

In-store spy photos require stealth... and friendship with a manager.

Today my boss is taking me, along with the rest of my co-workers, out for a Christmas lunch. It's something we haven't done around here in many years so I'm looking forward to it.

Thinking about this upcoming lunch, I suddenly remembered a picture I took inside a grocery store a few weeks ago of something interesting. A can of "Nutrament".

There's a reason I think this product is so funny. Because it uses a made-up word, one that I thought I invented years ago to try and fool people. Fool them how? Well, to trick them into thinking what I was eating was nutritious.

I revived the word one Easter while eating some Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Suz was getting upset at me because I was working on my fifteenth egg in as many minutes - for breakfast.

"Of course I'm eating eggs for breakfast," I told her. "They're delicious AND nutritious." She only agreed with the first half of that statement. So, using the ol' Homer-type "deer/beer" answer I told her it was full of nutraments, you know, instead of nutrients.

Suz: "Did you just say 'nutraments'?"

Me: "Bub!"

Laughter ensued and I've since progressed the usage of the word to cover many other non-nutritious things.

The well-designed can claims that Nutrament is a nutritionally complete beverage containing carbohydrate, high quality protein (as opposed to that low-quality squirrel-meat stuff), vitamins and minerals. They also claim that Nutrament can be consumed at any time, and that it is refreshing. Neat.

However, I don't think many people agree with that, considering I had to wipe a half inch of dust off the can before I could photograph it.

I just couldn't resist a photo-op, when I saw this can of Vanilla 'Nutrament'. I figured these guys had done the same thing as me, with their lame attempt at fooling people into thinking their drink was nutritious. The elderly, with raging glaucoma, just might fall for it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Char" Broiled Ribs?

There's definitely no E. coli bacteria in these ribs!

When I was tiny little I went somewhere with my grandma and my uncle. I forget where, but I remember thinking, "If they left me out here, how am I going to get back home?"

We decided to eat brunch at a small and probably family-run diner. My uncle pulled his 19-foot Cadillac into the lot, we hopped out and went inside. It was deserted, but the atmosphere was friendly.

My uncle was moderately particular when he ordered his eggs: The yolks had to be a little runny. About 15 minutes later we got our food, but my uncle was displeased. His yolks were as dry as Arizona. My grandma tried to convince him to eat them anyway, but his mind was made up. I cringed when he returned them. I had never seen anyone return food before.

Fast forward about 20-ish years. I was out for a lovely Christmas-type dinner with friends at a chain restaurant and decided this was an event to splurge on. I ordered their chicken and rib dinner with roasted potatoes.

When I got my plate, the roasted potatoes were looking rather french fry-ish, so I kindly notified our waitress. She apologized and took my plate. About 10 per cent of two hours later she returned with my food. Potatoes? Good. Chicken? Good. Ribs? They were.... charcoal. My friends told me to return them, instead of donating them to some needy art student.

I've never returned food before, but when a manager stopped by to ask how our meal was, I informed him that my ribs were completely overcooked. One glance at my plate and he agreed with me, took my plate and walked away.

Mmmm, full of squiggly E. coli.Thirty minutes later, as everyone was ordering dessert, my dinner finally arrived. Everything was correct. The ribs were now a more healthy brown and the sauce was actually saucy. With mixed feelings I ate absolutely every last bit of food on my plate. I felt horrible that so much chicken and ribs from my first plate was wasted. Those poor animals died for what? A cooking lesson for the chef? Their lives were worth more than that. So, despite being stuffed, I continued to eat until eveything was gone.

The manager apologized to me once more and said he had taken care of my meal for me. The waitress stopped by and apologized as well. I wasn't angry, so I told her not to worry. "I know it's not your fault. You didn't cook it." I said.

When the bill arrived, I was happy to see a big fat zero. I was expecting a fight, but was pleasantly surprised. I don't know if it was good customer service or Christmas. And I didn't care.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mother Nature Is Cruel

Peek-a-boo! An Altima peeks through fallen pine branches.

Mother nature, finally fed up with her own generosity, said "enough" on Friday. Over the course of two days, Mother nature took her ball, in the form of bizarrely warm weather, and said "I'm going home." What we were left with was a tremendous wind storm that did some severe damage all over the city.

Outside my workplace, a massive pine was uprooted by the cold wind. It would have been very interesting, yet sad at the same time, to watch this tall conifer blow over and land on my co-worker's car.

It would have been even more interesting to hear her insurance company's reaction - since this wasn't even her car. It was a rental she was given after she was rear-ended by a transport truck two weeks ago.

Within an hour of this incident, through pouring rain, the incredible wood-grinding abilities of industrial woodchippers arrived to eliminate the downed giant. Remember the woodchipper scene in Fargo? Similar. But with less blood.

On the other side of the city, floods destroyed homes and cars and endangered people's lives. Power lines were knocked down leaving homeowners, restaurants and schools unable to watch 90210 reruns.

Back at home, massive 100+ foot trees lining my street survived much better than expected. Only a few dead branches broke off and crashed to the ground. Most were less than 10 feet long, and only one was longer than 25 feet.

With all the disasters occuring across the city in various forms, we definitely got off lucky.

Friday, December 01, 2006

McDinner

Big Mac and Big Xtra have Big yum factor.

At work, for some kind of fundraiser, some department was selling things. Cheap. There were power tools, gift certificates for local food emporiums, dinner with the Big Cheese, and lunch with some smaller cheeses.

I decided to spring for the McDonald's Dinner For Two coupons. They cost $2.50 each and with that, the purchaser received two Extra Value Meals for free. Biggie-sizing still cost a little extra.

Wednesday night Suz made a quiche, which contained broccoli, eggs and air. That combination doesn't agree with my tastebuds, so I decided to use one of my McDonald's coupons.

I looked over their menu and decided on the Big Mac Combo as well as the Big Xtra Combo. (I don't think an Egg McQuiche Meal would taste too yum.) For my drinks I chose iced tea, and my most favourite brown carbonated beverage - root beer. Yes, I'm off carbonated diarrhea for the moment.

At home Suz smelled the tantalizing aroma, and was still hungry after her dinner of air, so she snatched one of my containers of fries. I was okay with that, as I probably couldn't finish both burgers AND both fries.

A few minutes later my tummy was full of tasty beef, yummy lettuce and savoury sauce. For dessert I had to settle for cookies because disaster had struck in our freezer and I was completely out of ice cream.

I think it's the only time I've ever been upset eating cookies. Damn stupid yummy cookies.

 

This many people accidentally stumbled upon my site
...while searching for porn.