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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Crack Bad. Caulk Good.

Removing quarter-round to fill gaps is easy and boring.

Despite what you may have heard, I am a good boy. Being environmentally conscientious, I had an energy audit done on my 1939 home last year.

Our home, at the time, rated 35 out of 100. The standard for new homes in Ontario is 75. Our objective is to raise our efficiency to 51. This increases the resale value of our home, and saves us money on utilities.

The audit indicated our attic insulation was worse than a hobo's cardboard box, averaging around R-10. Secondly, some of our original windows were performing poorly, allowing air to escape easily. Thirdly, we had no insulation in our basement which essentially made our basement walls act like a heatsink. Finally, we had airtight issues due to gaps beneath our baseboards plus a massive, Oprah-sized 1" gap under our back door, straight to the outside.

Seriously. That's like leaving a window open all winter, for almost 70 years.

The audit had a deadline of 18 months, and with old man winter already clenching his cheeks and squeezing white shit all over us, it was time I got back to work.

While Suz girled it up by baking a cake, I did guy stuff in our living room. To keep from damaging our 6-inch baseboards, I wrapped a towel around my pry bar and popped off the quarter-round trim. Caulk fills cracks nicely. Hidden behind was a large gap. The swell auditor suggested I fill this gap with silicone to stop cold air from creeping in.

Using the palm of my hand I felt a few spots where cold air was coming in. Cold air coming into your house needs to be heated, and therefore causes your furnace to come on more often. To stop this, the gaps needed to be caulked.

I used Mono Ultra interior caulking. It's made in Canada. The type I used comes out white then dries clear, but takes 7 to 14 days to dry properly. It didn't matter to me though, because I knew the quarter-round trim would cover it all up afterwards.

It took me 60 minutes to take off the trim and fill the cracks along the two exterior walls of our living room.

As for the door gap, we had our back door replaced with a steel French door that has a modern-type airtight seal. This was probably our biggest problem and hopefully will make a big difference when we have our house re-tested.

Energy Audits are a wise decision. Even in new homes, they can indicate where something wasn't done properly and show you where you can save money. I would recommend it to anyone. If you're in the Toronto or southern Ontario area, I would strongly recommend the friendly, expert folks at Energuy.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

5 Bizarre Things About Montreal

Montreal night skyline. View from our hotel entrance.

A week before Halloween, Suz and I headed off to Montreal where I learned 5 totally strange things. And I had plenty of time for the shock to nestle deep into my brain while I wandered around downtown Montreal on my cane for a few days.

In all my travels, I have never seen anything quite like Montreal. The 2nd largest city in Canada is home to approximately 1.6 million mostly bi-lingual people, and was surprisingly warm and sunny during our late October stay.

While Suz was busy working, I was observing the beautiful architecture all around me.

Some areas of Montreal were pretty desolate due to the Underground City, a series of tunnels and a mall, which was constantly crowded. But far above the hustling, bustling French mole town, I snapped pictures of fabulous buildings, both old and new, much to the shock and/or disgust of many Montrealers.

Most people, in their normality, ignored me, or simply made a mental note of the handsome guy with the cane taking photos of les gargoyles on buildings. At number 5 on my list of Bizarre Things I Learned about Montreal, however, were the oddballs who scowled at me and my camera, trying to imagine the unprecedented levels of retardation I had somehow achieved by wanting to take pictures of buildings.

As I walked around I noticed the same phenomenon at every intersection. Number 4 is how both drivers and pedestrians alike ignore traffic signs and signals. Every 2.3 seconds a pedestrian walked into the busy roads without looking or caring. Speedy drivers blasted through crowds of people, and merely gave the friendliest little honk to warn of their approach. Without slowing down, they pass, inches away from giving the nearest funeral home more business. It was amazing to watch. In fact, I even captured a crew removing speed bumps, just so those Villneuve wanna-be's could drive even faster.

Look, it's a Le Church.I continued wandering around, admiring the architecture of both office buildings and churches. During my time on the streets I encountered lots of people. At number 3 are the beggars. What's unusual about these people is that they do not ask for money. Everyone, essentially, asked for either a cigarette or at the very least, 'a light.' Weird.

Exiting a Le Burger King, I encountered the only man who asked me for money. What offended me about this encounter was not that the 20-something guy rammed a Le Tim Horton's cup, literally, into my face, forcing me to jerk backwards. No. What bothered me so immensely was that this friendly fellow was better dressed than I was.

I like to observe. Okay, read into that what you want, but while observing people walking around Montreal, I noticed number 2; That everyone was extremely thin. Yes, Montreal, the city of skinny people. Quite seriously, I saw TWO slightly overweight people during my entire stay. Two.

And that might explain number 1. With everyone in the city walking, Montrealers must be extremely healthy. Being so fit, I assume they would take the stairs whenever possible. Which is why so many of them didn't know how an elevator worked.


It was actually funny watching the confused faces of people and hearing the gasps of horror escape their lips when the doors opened to reveal... wait for it... PEOPLE already on the elevator. It was less funny when these puzzled and perplexed groups attempted to force their way onto the same overfull elevator, while everyone on the elevator shoved their way past in order to get off. This happened to me at least twice a day, for four days straight.

But don't get me wrong based on silly observations. I loved Montreal, and would love to visit again. I was surprised at the friendliness, and how easy it was to get around. It is a very logical city, with beautiful, well-spaced buildings which allow light to brighten the seemingly darkest alleys.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bender Costume Construction

Yay, Bender's here! Who DOESN'T love lovable Bender?April 2012 update.

I feel great thanks to the kudos from fellow bloggers as well as from other costumed Halloween lovers at the Boston Pizza Costume Contest I won October 31. Therefore, I thought a post on how I made my Bender costume was in order.

My homemade Bender costume started off as a hope. I knew it would be difficult even if I could find the parts I needed. But more importantly, I knew it was going to be impossible if I couldn't find the proper head. That's why I started in August.

Strolling through a Zellers one afternoon Suz stumbled across a $7 plastic garbage can, quite by luck. I popped the top off and slid it over my head. It was perfect.

I began working on the body first. I bought a Quick-tube, or sono-tube, for pouring concrete footings from Home Depot for $9. I bought the largest one they had, 12" diameter. As most people would agree, 12" is too small, so I split it open. It was also too tall for my torso, so I cut it almost in half. It was also too yellow, but that was easy to fix.

Using an angled strip from the bottom half, I wedged it into the backside, where my shiny metal ass would be, and screwed it together from the inside. I used other small curved bits of leftover tube as the joiners. The cracks were filled with Polyfilla and I later sanded them smooth. See Bender's body here.

Homer said you don't make friends with salad, but he was wrong. Bender makes LOTS of friends with salad.While the glorious amounts of Polyfilla dried, I worked on the footcups. They were easy. I bought a pair of plastic salad bowls from the dollar store, flipped them upside down and, using a Dremel, cut feet holes out of them. I took an old pair of Nike's and glued the toe to the front of Bender's footcup. The glue (Goop) was flexible and allowed me to move the shoe around a bit. Finally, I painted them with grey primer, and attached a flap of grey fabric to cover my black shoes.

Back on the body, I carefully measured where my arms should go, and using a jigsaw, cut out arm holes in the sides. The tube would sit on my shoulders, so I attached a couple of spongey rubber pads that were a family heirloom, passed down from my grandpa to my dad, and finally to me. True story.

Once I climbed inside it I realized I could neither sit nor walk up stairs. With the jigsaw, I cut a flap in the front, but left it attached in the middle. Using carpenter's glue I attached a tab on either side of the flap and glued a pair of attracting neo magnets to each one plus the flap. The flap could be popped open with my thigh and would slam back down and be held in place by the expensive magnets.

Bender's head. It should be in the head museum!Bender's head is unique and instantly recognizable. I knew I had to get it right so I was very careful and spent the most time here. First, I made the visor where the eyes would go. I made it from cardboard and added popsicle sticks for strength and a smoothness that bent cardboard is not known for. I filled in the little gaps with Polyfilla and sanded till it was perfect.

I know Bender is 30% iron, but in my case, he was 30% filler & adhesives. Using more Goop glue, I sealed the garbage flap in the top of the dome. Then I filled in the gap with, yep, you got it, more Polyfilla.

Using white caulking, I sealed the finished visor to the garbage can and smoothed it with my supreme caulking skills. I cut the top of a spray-paint can in half - horizontally - and glued it to the top of the garbage can to form the base of Bender's antenna. On that I attached a tapered tube of rolled paper. Finally, I mounted a wooden doll's head, which I purchased at Michael's for about $1.69.

Bender's head basically complete.The Dremel was too crazy and unpredictable to cut the mouth out, so I carefully drilled about 40 pilot holes around the mouth perimeter, then cut through them all with a nice blade. Once I sanded the edges smooth the head was ready for paint. Again, I used grey primer, as it matches Bender's colour perfectly.

The dollar store provided Bender's eyes. I used the domes off the packaging of two micro remote control cars, carved them to fit the contour of the garbage can, and spray painted them white. I painted the inside of the visor black, then glued the eyes in place. Once dry, I used a black Sharpie to draw his square pupils.

The fabric for Bender's arms & legs was cheap. I found 1.7 metres of the most perfect grey material at Fabricland for about $7. I had a friend of Suz's family sew this fabric onto some cheap clothing I picked up at Value Village for about $10. She also sewed the most excellent 3-finger square gloves from the same material. Here I am trying it on.

The mouth area is where I see out. I used a hot glue gun and attached some sheer fabric that used to hang in our bedroom window. Suz hated it, so it came down, and this seemed like a great use for it. I drew Bender's teeth with a black Sharpie. Inside the helmet I glued two strips I cut from popsicle sticks. The first reason was to add strength incase the mouth was poked from the other side, and secondly, to hold a neo magnet in place.

This magnet was the key to awesomeness. I glued the magnet's mate to the end of a big plastic novelty cigar that I picked up at Party Packager's for 49 cents. With the magnets, I could put the cigar "in" my mouth whenever I wanted. It worked flawlessly, and the Boston Pizza patrons agreed with their cheering.

This was the most elaborate costume, by far, I've ever attempted. Total cost was close to $100 which included a few extra parts I ruined and had to buy again. Total labour was about 25 fun and stressful hours. Everyone but my dad thought I was crazy. But it all paid off in the end when I won enough money to cover the cost of making it, plus more.

So, if you ever want to attempt a Bender costume, I hope this helps. If not, well, you know what you can bite.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Party 2008!

Don't jerks know that stabbing Bender's ass will just make him mad? Hungry Spidey just came for the food.

At 8 p.m. Saturday night, exactly 17 years had passed since my first Halloween party. The tradition continued as guests starting filing through the door with fabulous photographer RainyPete among them.

Like a zombie with his head cut off I was running around last minute trying to light candles and put the music on before anyone realized there, well, really was no party to speak of yet. Minutes later the ominous sound of gothic organs filled the house and flickering skull candles illuminated tasty food that was later smeared on the floor in drunkenly loving fashion and danced on for amusement.

As usual, delicious alcohol was free, and flowing all night long for those who dared, or were staying over. House is in the house.But House and Cameron were too focused on each other to care if guests were overdrinking or choking on skullcakes. Luckily there were a number of other doctors present to watch over the rest of us fools.

As the night drew on more and more friends and strangers alike filled the rooms making it hard to move around at times. Luckily Suz had prepared a lot of food and it did not go to waste as an entire starving Survivor cast arrived with the coolest homemade Tiki Torches.

The flash isn't THAT bright, it must be the beer.One particular Survivor member happily pranced through the house declaring to all that he had immunity. However, we all know it was that mix of girly coolers and manly beer under his arm making him so zany. He disappeared for about an hour but the 12 doctors present found him and revived him.

It was a huge suprise to have 7 of 9 (Months), a giant Nintendo Wii controller, the all-mighty Wonder Woman, Red the Fraggle, and Mork from Ork show up on our doorstep. I believe I was the only one who was skeptical of Mork. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I bet my shiney metal ass it wasn't the real Mork. Dying to prove me wrong, he showed me his sleeping position.

The very loose TV theme was a hit attracting a number of characters including an actual TV, a pile of garbage as a commentary on what is on TV these days and a super awesome Mr. Rogers who was in desperate need of a drink.

In the year 3000, I have Mr. Rogers head in my closet.Lucky for me in my homemade Bender costume, alcohol fuelled my power cells and I was required to drink all night. I used my evil powers of persuasion on Mr. Rogers and soon we were best drinking buddies. Forget Fry!

I couldn't have been prouder than when Mike Holmes came through my house and, aside from the severed heads laying about, couldn't find anything wrong with it. He did, however, have a big problem with Chris 'the extra' who was having naughty fun with pen & paper around the food. Nobody dared mess with Mike's massive muscles so we just watched and smiled as he doled out a good hammering.

Around 11:30 we decided it was time for the costume contest. All of the 40 guests drunkenly scrawled their favourite choices for Most Original, Funniest and Best Costume. There were a lot of close races despite 105% of the ballots being illegible.

A bottle of Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Rum went to Christine the TV dinner whose homemade peas, steak & potatoes won her the title of Most Original costume. A Dooley's Toffee Liqueur & glass set went to the bruised and battered winner of the Funniest Costume, Chris the Extra, who spent a whopping $2 on his costume; a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Best Costume was a close call. Mike Holmes lost by one vote to his brother Dr. House, who, for his efforts, took home a Bacardi Superior Rum gift pack.

Bragging about his win, Chris the Extra suffered more beatings as the night drew on. After midnight a number of people cabbed home or hitched rides with strangers. Ugly Betty wisely decided to stay longer and party with the cool kids, and we all danced the night away. It wasn't until the rest of the meatbags had left that Mork revealed his true identity to the shock of everyone but me. It was our good friend Ryan under that red suit all along!

Thanks for coming everybody! I hope you all had fun, and hope to see you again in about 360 days. Check out RainyPete's group shot here.

Last year's shenanigans can be found here!
How I made my Bender costume.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Costume Contest

Pizza's good, but where are the hookers & beer?

Sometimes it's not evident that I love Halloween as much as I do. The decorations on the outside of my house are minimal and up until this year, I had never been to a costume contest before.

For years I've been following the adventures of Rob Cockerham at cockeyed.com. He is exciting, talented, dimple-cheeked and modest. These are things I like.

Every year Rob creates elaborate Halloween costumes, then attends massive costume contests in California where the top prizes are huge cash awards, sometimes thousands of dollars. This year, Rob was my inspiration.

2008 marks the return of Futurama. A number of full-length feature movies have been created and the first two have already been aired. Showing my love for Futurama, and Bender in particular, I made a Bender costume. Here is the link to how I built it.

Days before Halloween I noticed two local restaurants were having costume contests. Since our annual Halloween party almost always falls on the same day as these pub, bar and restaurant contests, I've never been able to attend one. But this year Halloween (and thus, the parties and contests) fell on a Friday.

I phoned the Whistling Walrus and asked a few questions. I learned that the crowd would be cheering for their favourite costumes and the top prize was a Future Shop gift certificate, but they would not disclose the amount.

The Boston Pizza near our University was judging the contest the same way, with crowd cheers. Top prize there was $200 cash for best male, and $200 cash for best female. I decided this would be the one I'd attend.

At 10 p.m. Suz and I loaded the components to my costume into the Insight and drove about 1 kilometre to Boston Pizza. Inside, the bar was starting to fill up. Many people were dressed up, but nothing as elaborate as the manager in his totally authentic Ghostbuster costume! I mean, this thing looked like it actually worked. I could practically smell the ectoplasm on him, but maybe that was melted cheese.

I don't want to go to robot hell!The staff was dressed up and many of them loved my costume. Costumed people entered the bar area and many times rushed over to me to pose for pictures. I loved this! But I had never been to a contest before and didn't know how to work the room. I was very nervous. Luckily the Pope calmed me down and I went back to the bar where I calmed my nerves some more - and fueled my power cells at the same time.

Just before 11:30 the Ghostbusting manager made an announcement that the contest was going to start soon. The bar was packed. Every table had 6.2 people crammed around it and it was difficult to walk around. It was getting so full that people began beaming in.

Suddenly the crowds parted as a Christian Bale Batman and a Heath Ledger Joker entered the bar. They were, in a word, phenomenal. Batman's voice was perfect as he commented to me, "nice costume." The Joker moved about the room easily winning people over.

A few minutes later the manager called all contestants to the front. There were just under 20 people entered in the contest. The rest of the bar, well over 100 people, watched carefully as we all stood at the front.

After each name was called, that particular person climbed onto a table and the crowd cheered. The Pope garnered a huge applause. The transvestite did too. The morals of the bar were split.

One of the Incredibles got a big cheer, as did the red Power Ranger. Batman put on a great display and his his applause was excellent. But the Joker stole the show. With his slick hair and evil stares, the Joker was clearly winning the bar over. The applause was thunderous. I knew I had lost but decided that I was still very happy that so many people loved my costume and wanted to talk to me about it.

My turn came to climb onto the table.

The manager helped me up and I turned to face the crowd. As I slid my Bender helmet over my head I became deafened by the cheering. The bar erupted as I held my cigar and waved. People stood up. An entire table chanted "BENDER! BENDER! BENDER!" at the top of their lungs. I snapped my magnetic cigar onto my mouth and the crowd doubled their effort! I was amazed! I couldn't believe how strong the love was for beer-drinking, black-jack-playing, thieving Bender.

I stepped down, proud of my effort. I thought to myself, "That was close, but I think I might've won!" After a short tally the manager came back with his mic to hand out the prizes. 2nd place male went to.... the Joker! Everyone clapped and cheered. The manager then handed me the envelope, the one containing the $200 cash prize, and announced, "First place goes to Bender people!"

The Joker gave me a knowing grin from across the bar. After a few pats on the back from my fans, I went outside and congratulated the Joker on a good battle. I talked to the manager again and walked around meeting more people. I thanked all the meatbags who cheered for me before heading home, the giddy winner of Boston Pizza's 5th annual Halloween Costume Contest.

One more:
Bender & the manager.
How I made my Bender costume.

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