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

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour, Ontario

If the military ran Earth Hour we'd all be doing push-ups for leaving lights on after lights-out.

Tonight our city joined hundreds of others across the world in the fight for cleaner air with Earth Hour. During Earth Hour, living people are encouraged to turn off all their lights and unplug non-essential equipment that uses electricity while ghosts may continue emitting ominous light.

News of Earth Hour, which started in Australia in 2007, spread quickly and it has now become an international affair. Our city both promoted the event and joined in, promising to shut off lights, computers, and coffee makers in city hall.

My workplace
shut off everything but the emergency lighting systems, and when 8 p.m. rolled around, street lights were about the only light source visible from atop the mountain.

Idea, indeed.Suz and I shut off everything and unplugged the microwave and clock radio around 7 p.m., one hour earlier than Earth Hour. We then drove our environmentally friendly car up the mountain and sat at the top of the stairs to take photos along with quite a few other curious denizens.

There we sat shivering in the cold with our hot chocolates until 9:15 p.m. while people joined us at the cliff's edge to watch the burglars sneak around in the pitch dark neighbourhood beneath us.

Two people arrived with smiling dogs. Dogs who were happy to be patted by strangers. Dogs who had no idea what was being accomplished. Dogs who will never realize how much energy Ontario saved during Earth Hour. According to this nifty graph I found at www.ieso.ca, we saved approximately 500 megawatts.

One big surprise was the church which was lit up brighter than a Christmas tree, announcing its exemption from the event. Their brightly illuminated steeple stood out like a sore thumb against the blackened skyline.

On our way home Suz and I completed the evening by renting No Country For Old Men, a movie that's filming was entirely "carbon offset."

It was a fun night, although it's a little discouraging to know that no matter how hard we try to be environmentally friendly by participating in events like Earth Hour, homeless people will always be one step ahead.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Sugar High At The Sugar Shack

Veggies 'n dip might be healthy, but I guarantee you'll feel a Billion-Jillion times better after eating sugar dipped in sugar.

Real Canadians grow beards in the winter, including the women. Real Canadians actually enjoy back-bacon. And real Canadians dip their maple sugar candy in real Canadian maple syrup.

That is how I indulged my sweet tooth on the weekend, prefering the extraordinary taste of maple syrup over Easter's more traditional eggs. Sure chocolate eggs are fine and dandy and can rot your teeth with the best, but sweet syrup, priced like a fine rare Cognac, was my sugar of choice.

Suz and I spent our holiday checking out a Canadian tradition: the sugar bush. When the sun starts hitting the ol' Maples in March, the sap starts flowing and the sugar shack starts a-boilin'.

Good ol' Quebec is by far the world's largest tooth-rotting culprit, producing approximately 7 million U.S. gallons per year. Vermont is the largest U.S. producer, making approximately 450,000 gallons per year, and making them much lower on Health Canada's Hit List.

Good horsies don't eat people. This one was good.But considering how little comes out of one stinkin' maple tree, even 1 gallon is impressive. We took a horsie wagon ride through the sugar bush until we reached the isolated sugar shack, where our tour included a demonstration on syrup being made, sampling of the sweet treat, and one enormous jackass claiming that Michigan was the world's largest producer of Maple Syrup. The experienced employee handled the situation well, insulting no-one in the process of informing the mistaken gentleman that he was incorrect. But to drive his incorrect point home, Mr. Wrong left by announcing loudly to everyone, "Google it".

Suz and I left shortly after, trodding back down the meandering path which lead to the horse-drawn wagons again. The entire forest was filled with tapped maples.

Our return trip destination was the log cabin lunch building called Ironwood, where we ate maple syrup sausages, pancakes, and apple pie followed by mugs of hot cider and maple syrup chasers. Afterwards, we blew our allowance at the General Store, buying up loads of maple sugar paraphernalia.

It was such an insane amount of sugar that, well, let's just say when I pee, it's thick and golden and smells like the true north strong and free.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Power Supply Surprise

The 4 extra pins pop off, allowing the power supply to fit my 'old' motherboard.

I replaced the power supply in my computer last week and found a big surprise waiting for me. A totally unexpected, awesome surprise that was both awesome and unexpected.

Ever since
I got a sweet video card for my computer, I've been having problems. If I opened more than two windows or programs, my computer would freeze and the Task Manager would even crash.

I soon discovered that my power supply was a mere 250 watts, or about 1/7th the power of my hair dryer. Since my new video card required a minimum of 350 watts to run, I figured it was a safe bet my power supply was stretched to its limits and would soon explode, sending shrapnel into my poor, defenseless knees.

An I.T.-employed friend hooked me up with a new 420 watt power supply for $40. The Codegen Technology power supply boasts a super mega giant fan beneath it, instead of the typical small rear-mounted fans. It sucks air from inside the case, and redirects it out the back, keeping everything cooler overall. This massive "low noise" fan, about the size of Don Cherry's ego, is supposed to run much quieter as well, but I discovered that part wasn't true.

I also discovered a very cool surprise which sent my brain reeling back to the mid 1980s - the power supply smelled like candy. Delicious, intoxicating candy. I'm sure the plastic encased wires were not made in the Willy Wonka factory, but they smelled like they could've been.

I deeply inhaled the candylicious aroma before sealing the computer case forever. But I am weak. Weak to the power of candy. Once in a while I crack open the power supply's box, and take a sniff, then quickly shut the lid so the candy scent doesn't escape, and so that nobody catches me doing it. I like to sniff my candy in private.

It's embarrassing. I'm addicted to power supplies.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Money-Making Neighbourhood

Knowing how to read English should be required for an Ontario driver's licence. Somehow, it's not.I like gas. The kind the sun is made of. And seeing as how the weekend was bright, sunny and almost warm with the first signs of spring finally rearing their long-awaited heads, it was a perfect day to go searching for people doing illegal things.

I like when justice is served. But that's not what has been happening in my neighbourhood, and it's making me full of the angry. Although it does not affect me in any sort of direct way, I feel everyone else's pain due to my past experiences, and I wish I could use my super powers to help them in some way.

One reason
that Suz and I moved was because I could not get out of my driveway in the morning due to dim-witted parents dropping off the unfortunate fruits of their loins at the school in front of my house. I can say with almost 100% certainty that every single one of these parents, whose IQs are lower than a flea with a learning disability, broke the law at least once as they dropped off their 7- and 8-year-olds.

For starters, nearly every one of them parked in a No-Stopping Zone, while the worst of them offendafied me personally - by parking directly in front of my driveway even as I sat in my car, attempting to back out into the chaos.

This behaviour
was met with shaking fists and horn honking. But I didn't take it to the next level until some of them began parking their personal Dodge school buses IN my driveway, and on my front lawn.

If you're getting the impression I live in slummy hick town, you'd be wrong. Way wrong. This is white collar, Land Rover territory.

I started my barrage of phone calls to the City and the principal of the school. The school sent home numerous flyers, but the City did as much as they could to not cooperate, telling me to call the police, who in turn, laughed and told me to call the city.

Suz and I joined the school's traffic committee and attended a number of meetings over the course of a year. Gasps of disgust echoed throughout the room when I told my tale of having to deal with ignorant, self-indulgent moms who parked in my driveway.

Suggestions were made by many parents, but by-law officers informed our committee that placing orange pylons, saw-horses or any other sort of driveway blockade, including a large mob of molotov-cocktail toting extremists, were illegal.

But in the end, it was an impossible situation that nobody with any authority was willing to deal with. After 3 years, Suz and I moved.

And now I am encountering a similar problem just down the street as this class act has parked his/her Camry in a SNOW ROUTE - in the middle of winter no less.

The worst part is, this car, with no licence plates, has been parked in this NO PARKING zone all winter without receiving a single ticket. It's really too bad because with the number of tickets the city could issue in my neighbourhood alone, they could afford to hire more by-law officers and keep the scum off the streets.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Holy Basement Renovation!

This mess would be smaller if they built basements out of paper.

I am a conflict. I'm very handy and have a desire to do many things, yet I also love lounging with a drink in one hand, and maybe a drink in the other hand. I possess both the love and the hate of renovation. Love, because of the ka-ching. Hate, because of the problems. Love, because of the flow of ideas and creativity. Hate, because of the nagging.

Uh, nagging problems. Yeah, that's it.

I know first-hand that renovations equal big bucks when moving. Among the many jobs (too many if you ask Suz) done on our first house, an 850 sq. ft. 1942 bungalow, was a kitchen reno, done completely ourselves along with the help of a couple of friends who love swinging sledgehammers around but don't have a place to do so. I don't know why somebody doesn't open a sledgehammer gym.

"I'll never do another kitchen again," were the words that escaped my mouth upon completion of the puny 8' x 11' reno. Instead, I am now tackling a basement. An entire 31' x 12' basement plus 6' x 8' landing & staircase. A basement that includes a laundry room, a full bathroom and a bar.

I've been spending my weekends working on the basement and spending imaginary money in my head. It's exhausting. I haven't had a day off in months. Actually, that's a pretty decent exaggeration, because I hardly work on the basement ever. But it's so exhausting just thinking about it, that it feels like I'm actually working on it.

And the work is coming along. The panels have been ripped down. The framing on two walls has been ripped off. The half-inch thick plaster ceiling is laying in rubble on the floor. The bar is no more, and the laundry room and all its dirty secrets has been exposed.

When the work is complete, the basement will be my little piece of heaven, aside from the garage and its contents, of course. I know I'll get back every penny I put into it, as we're lucky to have a 7 foot, useable basement in a house of this era.

And I'm hoping to make a little more money off it by using eBay! I've decided noticed there is a giant crumbling, stained Virgin Mary holding a swadling baby Jesus in the plaster on the north wall, and I'm cashing in just like all those other lameasses who sold their toast and tar stains of religious images to suckers whose favourite thing in the world, next to being taken for a chump, is all things Jesus.

So, what say you? Shall I sell my wall? Shall I sell my Virgin Mary on eBay?

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Emergency Caulk Stops Blow

Cracks and gaps in your house let bad things in, like wind. And pedophiles.People with dirty minds, be forewarned: this blog contains dirty words which are being used in ways you do not prefer.

It is a known fact that Canada is cold. Canadians would never consider putting a window in their igloo. And even if they were just crazy enough to try it, they'd be very mindful that it was installed in such a way as to prevent the cold air from creeping in and making man parts shrivel.

When we bought
our 1939 house, we were pleased to see that 3 of the main windows had been updated with new vinyl windows in 1996 when the original builders and owners of the house moved into a retirement home. At that time, the windows were young at only 9 years old. But windows just don't have the same lifespan as humans.

The other
night we had a decent storm. When I walked upstairs I noticed the curtains in one bedroom getting a good blow. I immediately ran to the window to close it, wondering how the bloody heck it became opened. That is when I discovered the window was firmly shut.

Excitement, during caulkification.Puzzled, I stared at the window until I realized it was the gap between the window and the trim which was letting the cold air blast right into the house. It seems that whoever installed the windows was good at sucking, because the job blew.

I always
keep supplies on hand, kind of like a store. Suz thinks I'm crazy for keeping things at the ready, but I prefer to live by the Boyscouts (and Batman's) motto: "be prepared". That is why, in the basement, I had a loaded caulking gun ready to go.

They say running with scissors is dangerous. But, somehow, running with a caulking gun isn't. So I ran upstairs to the bedroom to seal the hole quickly before our house filled with poisonous, frosty air. With the tip of the gun in place I squeezed hard and white caulk filled the gaps as the storm howled and ice pellets smacked against the glass.

Satisfaction, after a good caulk job.When I had finished, the caulk looked bad. Not bad like Michael Jackson, but bad as in, terrible. I filled a glass with water, dipped my finger in it and smoothed out the caulk before it could dry. It took a few attempts to get it smooth and perfect but after a few minutes I was satisfied.

Unfortunately, the window still allowed cold wind to blow through the broken part of the frame where the lock used to be. The blowage wasn't nearly as bad as it was around the frame, however, it still upset me. Had I known earlier how badly these windows leaked, I would have had them replaced along with the 14 others we had done last month.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hypermilers Use Cardboard

Cardboard. If it's good enough for some people's houses, it's good enough for my car.

Cardboard is amazing. I particularly enjoy corrugated fiberboard. It protects goods during shipping, and can contain a cornucopia of surprises like pizza, TVs, or gold.

It can also save you money.

We drive a Honda Insight. Besides pure electrics or modified hybrids, it is the most environmentastically friendly car available, achieving 86 mpg (around 72 mpg U.S.) and emitting a mere 80 grams of CO2 per km, 10g less than the Smartcar, over 400g less than most Ferraris and a billion grams less than John Travolta's 707. In the summer, we can also achieve even higher results - around 100+ mpg when drafting big rigs or going downhill. This is called hypermiling (getting higher than the EPA mileage rating)

But there's a problem.
The Insight is TOO efficient. In the bitter, cold Canadian winter the engine rarely reaches the temperature where the auto-stop feature kicks in. Meaning, the car won't shut off at red lights or stop signs because it's too busy shivering.

Some insightful hybrid owners, if you'll pardon the pun, came up with a fantabulous way to keep more heat in the engine, based on the old truck and van rad blocks. All it takes is a piece of that miraclulous cardboard.

With nowhere near laser precision, I cut the cardboard into the shape seen above, with instructions from the dudes on the Insight forum. By sliding the cardboard between the rad and the a/c rad, it blocks cold air and lets more heat build up in the cooling system.

In the summer,
extra heat will cause the plastic car to melt into a bubbling sunlight-waterfountain-Gremlin-ooze puddle. Therefore, the rad-block, which is 25 cm high and 40 cm wide, also has a 3 cm wide tab for easily pulling it out in the springtime.

During my first test, I discovered a the cardboard rad-block actually did save me a bit of cash. A normal summertime drive up the escarpment, kind of a giant cliff of doom, to visit friends typically pegs us around 4.5L per 100 km (63 mpg). In freezing winter weather, with a full tank of fuel and both of us in the car we usually only get around 6.0L per 100 km (47 mpg). But with the new cardboard rectangle air deflection grid thingy, we made the same trip at 5.6L per 100 km (50 mpg).

If the trip were 100 kms, we would have saved half a litre of fuel. That's two mooses and a maple leaf! Do you know what I could do with FIFTY-ONE CENTS? Buy half a litre of gasoline! Wow! Three cheers for corrugated fiberboard!

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