Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wrapped and Mapped

Lynda and I try to push the envelope with every occasion and this Christmas was no different. We had planned the gift wrapping a year ago and collected old road maps, opened them out and flattened them for this Christmas. It's interesting to note that with the advent of Mapquest, Google Maps and GPS units for cars, paper maps have become all but obsolete.

I did the wrapping and Lynda did the embellishing.

All in, the grand total of the gift wrapping for all of the gifts would've come to under a dollar. The ribbon came from a rather large roll that we scored at the Value Village, the little clothespins were from the dollar store and the metal rimmed tags were from the ReStore at 50 for 50 cents.

We think they came out just fine.....

Christmas Storage

A while ago, while still in Dubai, I had recognized the need for proper storage for our Christmas decor. Lynda and I were habituated to getting ornaments from 'The One' at the post Christmas sales and we wanted to store them nicely as opposed to being thrown in a bag and stuffed away somewhere only to be be pulled out the next year, damaged.

With little or no budget, I decided to utilize the boxes that the spares were shipped in. I have three boxes in total. The one for the crib is purpose built to size, but the other two have been modified to suit.

The Crib Box made from 1/4" MDF. The cardboard box contains the figurines

One of the shipping containers is configured as upright storage and for bulk decor and larger ornaments. There are two drawers that fit one over the other and rest a foot off the base. This allows, boughs and wreaths to be placed at the base of the box. I fitted handles that we salvaged from bulk welding spools and cheap casters make for easy mobility.

The box looks bad from the outside, but keeps everything clean on the inside

The first layer with the ornaments wrapped in tissue paper

Second layer

The base with the loose boughs

The third box was configured to act like a chest of drawers. I used the covers of the boxes that held our printer papers as they were sized well to hold the ornaments. I used three boxes in the last level to hold bigger ornaments. The drawer holders are brazing rods held in place by 1/4" plywood. Simple really.

The move from Dubai to Bahrain and then to Canada took it's toll on the exterior

First look at the inside

Some of the 'drawers' pulled out

A look at the inside showing the construction detail

And finally, all of the ornaments laid out while decorating the tree.

All New.... Now with Dog!!

Wow. It's been over a month and a half since my last post. So much has happened since then. We got a dog... finally. He is 3/4 Pug and 1/4 Jack Russel. Essentially his mother is a pure Pug and his father is half Pug and half Jack Russel. We named him Coach, a name that we had decided on much before we decided on getting the dog itself. We got him from London Ontario on a grey foggy morning just as Aaliyah was recovering from the Flu.

He is great fun and after being off dogs since we had to put 'Puppy' to sleep in Bahrain, we're very much back in the game.

Here is Coach captured in pensive mood while enjoying his 'kill'

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This Organised!!

It's so amazing to have the shed all wired up. I can now work in it and confine my mess to one place instead of it being all over the house. I have music and heat. What more could one want.

It was now time to get all of my tools in place so that they have a specific position within the shed as well as being within easy reach. The space between 2 studs now holds dedicated shelves that were drilled out using a pegboard as a template for accurate spacing. These hold an assortment of screwdrivers that I have collected over the years as well as a set that I bought when I arrived in Canada. The shelves are angled slightly forward to make it easy to remove and put back the screwdrivers.

Tomorrow more shelves....

Finally everything in place

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The 50 Best Inventions of 2009 according to 'Time'

Time Magazine just released a list of 50 inventions that they state are the best of 2009. Here is what I think (thought) of them when they first made the news. And even though I scour the daily tech blogs as part of a daily ritual, I'll be the first to admit that there were some of those that I had not heard of until now.

1. NASA's Ares Rockets - I'm not that interested in the Space Race. Just keep the Near Earth Objects at bay and I'm good.

2. The Tank-Bred Tuna - This must interest someone. I'm not that someone. My Tuna was bred in a can and I'm OK with that as well. Unless of course, the tank in question, is a Sherman!!!

3. The $10 Million Light bulb - This is probably one of the most interesting items on the list. 10 years ago I would constantly tell Lynda how LED's would be the lighting of the future. Now they're ubiquitous, appearing everywhere from toys to lighting on vehicles and signalling. However Philips has taken this up a level beyond what I expected. I will go out and buy this.....

4. The Smart Thermostat - Not too impressed. Give me a thermostat that connects to my router, has it's own IP address and is accessible anywhere for simple GUI programming. One that has a built in humidistat with an external sensor to self adjust humidity levels based on current levels and internal and external temperatures.

5. Controller-Free Gaming - Really. This made the list!!!

6. Teleportation - It's with Data only so far. With people, visions of 'The Fly' creep to mind.

7. The Telescope for Invisible Stars - Maybe if there was a telescope for visible stars, the Paparazzi would keep out of their face.....

8. The AIDS Vaccine - A long time in the making, now let's get on out for Cancer

9. Tweeting by Thinking - Really!!!! We find that we can convert our thoughts to a mechanical process and Tweeting is the best use for it?????

10. The Electric Eye - Imagine living without the faculty of sight. To be unable to see the beauty of Tulips in spring, the joy on children's faces in splash pads across the nation during summer, the sheer majesty of fall, and the wonder of standing in the midst of a snowstorm in Winter.

11. The Mercury Probe - We needed this right?? Right? Hellooo anyone????

12. The Personal Carbon Footprint - My wife and kids probably hate me for yelling out to put off the lights when they exit their rooms - It might be purely a financial motivation, but it has to start somewhere.

13. The Solar Shingle - Oh Joy! Bring this on. Make it reasonably priced, throw in some Regional, Provincial and Federal Rebates, interest free loans from lenders as well as Credits from the Utility company for buying back the surplus electricity and we've got a winner. Basically if you give it to me for free, you can have all the surplus electricity at no cost.

14. The Handheld Ultrasound - I can see the uses for this in the field.

15. The YikeBike - Hmmmmmm.

16. Vertical Farming - Read this in Pop Sci recently. I still don't buy the benefits of this v/s traditional farming. Maybe I did not understand what I was reading.

17. The Planetary Skin - It's debuting 2010. Why did it make this list???

18. The $20 Knee - It's simple and it will do the poorest of poor a world of good. Put this at the top of the list

19. A Watchdog for Financial Products - Make this a rabid Pitbull.

20. The Electric Microbe - Fun in concept.

21. The Bladeless Fan - I have a beef with this one. Sure Dyson has made some exceptional products like his vacuums and the airblade, but this seems very ripoffish to me. 15 years ago I remember holding in my hand a Parker-Hannifin product that used compressed air as a starting point to create a large volume of airflow. I did not fully comprehend the usage at that point, but this 'fan' uses the very same principle.

22. The Custom Puppy - Cloning dogs is just wrong.

23. The Cyborg Beetle - I like my Beatles as part of my audio collection.

24. The Biotech Stradivarius - Very interesting. It has do do with music, so it get my vote - sort of.

25. The Nissan Leaf - Okay.

26. The Robo-Penguin - I can envision uses for this.

27. The Universal Unicycle - I can envision people falling off this and making it to 'FAILBlog'

28. YouTube Funk - I can see why this made it to the list

29. Dandelion Rubber - ????

30. Wooden Bones - Cool. Poor Sheep get tested on everything

31. The Living Wall - This made it to all of the home magazines and design blogs and I can see why.

32. The School of One - People need interaction with each other however I can see how the personally tailored approach works.

33. The No-Punt Offense - Football should be played with the feet as the name suggests, not held in the hand. Players should rely on their agility with the ball not brute force. Soccer is the real football. Enough said.

34. The Human-Powered Vending Machine - This will be fun. I cannot see anyone needing anything from a vending machine that bad.

35. The Handyman's X-Ray Vision - This I want sooooo badly. Drop the price down from 500 to 50 and I'll go out now to buy it.

36. Meat Farms - So so scary.

37. Packing, Improved - It's an algorithm. Did Al Gore have rhythm???

38. The Foldable Speaker - If you ever buy this expecting High Fidelity, you my friend, are an idiot.

39. The Levitating Mouse - Poor poor mice. But I suppose it is for a good cause. Me next.

40. The Edible Race Car - Certain things should just be left alone

41. The High-Speed Helicopter - Spectacular in concept

42. The Supersuit - So not interested.

43. The Eyeborg - I'm ripping my eye out as we speak. Sign me up for one.

44. Spiderweb Silk - Do show me the practicality of this invention

45. The Sky King - Origami at it's best

46. The Smart Bullet - What about a smart gun. One that does not fire......

47. The Fashion Robot - Hey don't talk about my wife like that

48. The 3-D Camera - Gimmicky at best

49. The Newest Cloud - Invention or discovery????

50. The World's Fastest (Steam-Powered) Car - This could so blow up and badly

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Walkthrough My Shed

I finally got the shed in some sort of order and ready for the season ahead. A small electric heater should ensure that my finger tips don't freeze and drop off while working and a radio provides distraction with the local news or some rapper comparing women to the neighborhood ho's.

It's quite a tight squeeze but once I get my tools on those pegboards, it should free up some space taken by the two Stanley toolboxes. Till then....

It's my Tree House that I did not have as a child. It's my Fortress of Solitude. It's a place to ponder nothing while doing something or to ponder something while doing nothing.

And.... I conceptualized, designed & built it myself (with so much help from my Dad of course!!!!)

This rack in the North West corner was built by me in 1995. We had no cash spare to buy even an Ikea bookshelf for our ever growing collection of books. Lynda had just made Supervisor and I had moved up from sweeping floors at the shipyard. The Studs are M20 and the ply 19mm. It is still as rock solid now as it was in '95. We've come some way since the 'Green House' in which I had made almost all of the furniture save for the beds that we slept on.

Hand Drill (BN), Jig Saw (RF), Oscillating Tool (BN), High Speed Rotary Tool (BN)

The Ryobi OnePlus shelf (BN) + (RF)

Router (CL) and Assorted Tools

More Boxes, but only one holds a Palm Sander (BN)

Bench Grinder (GS), Circular Saw (GS) and Plumbing tools (GS)

Under my worktable, a Compound Sliding Mitre Saw (BN) and a Band Saw (CL)

On the Workbench, the Drill Press (CL)

Scroll Saw (CL) & Disc Sander (GS)

Parts Washer (GS) & Router Table (TS)

BN - Brand New
RF - Refurbished
GS - Garage Sale
TS - Thrift Store
CL - Craigslist

Vac Job - Organizational P0rn

In my previous post I blogged about getting a briefcase to hold the components of the Car Vac Kit. The briefcase was exactly what I wanted, but I knew (deep down in my heart) that it lacked that certain 'je ne sais quoi'

A few (like 1) seconds of soul searching and voila (pardon my French) there lay the answer. I needed a place to hold everything in place regardless of the orientation of the briefcase.

Is this necessary??? Why so many questions?? What is this??? Guantanamo???

Anyhoo. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I scrounged around the house and sheds for raw lumber. Found what I needed. I then cut 2" lengths of 1 1/4" dowel. I had some 2 x 2 lumber lying around which I proceeded to profile as closely as possible to the interior of the briefcase.

I then drilled and countersunk the base and the dowels to accept 2" screws.

All the components cut to size lined up

We have lasers!!!!




I then glued and fitted the dowels to the base, painted the entire unit black and whacked it into place in the briefcase. The entire job took me under an hour to complete.

Me likeeee.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vac Job

A short while ago I posted on cleaning the inside of our van. I had spent most of my morning doing it and saved my self some cash that I would have had to pay for professional cleaning. I used my Shop Vac which made fast work of the cleaning, but manipulating the large 2 1/2" hose through the car was a pain.

For future cleaning, I picked up a Craftsman Car Cleaning Kit which consists of a 1 1/4" hose, 11 ft. in length, car nozzle, crevice tool, dusting brush and hose to hose connector. This should make cleaning the car an easier task.

Contents of the 'Kit'

However this is not really what this post is about. No Sireeeee.

When I got the unit home, I realized that if I did not store the items together in one place, some of the smaller nozzles would get misplaced. I could've used the original packaging, but honestly, where's the fun in that....... So it was off to the Depot to look for a suitable box to hold everything. Why the hell are Tool Boxes so expensive????

Not one to be easily defeated, I decided to think 'out of the box'. I concluded that a briefcase would work just as well as a Toolbox and I set about sourcing one. I scored one for 5.00$ and it holds everything very well and in place.

I wonder if anyone transported contraband across borders in this.

Sits well - for now.....

But it's all sitting there in a jumble. I've got to do something about that.............

Shed Build Diary - 16 - It's Electrifying

In my build diary part 15, I mentioned that the shed was 100% complete. I was wrong. Well - sort of. The construction phase was done - I just did not have any electricity for the lights and power tools.

I wanted to avoid hard wiring the shed into the house circuit as this would necessitate a permit from City Hall and I really did not want to go down this route. To circumvent this, I decided to treat the entire shed as an appliance that could be plugged in as and when needed.

Confusing so far??? Simple really.

A trim to the restore garnered me a Panel Mount Inlet Kit for a Dollar (these normally cost upwards of 50.00)

Panel Mount Inlet 0.50$

Cable Mount Socket 0.50$

Using that as my starting point, I wired it up to a 3 way J Box with two switches and one double socket. The light switches control the inside and outside lights.

Both switches and sockets are salvaged

From there I went to a 2 way J Box housing a switch and a double socket. The switch controls the double tube fitting above the work table. The socket is for my Radio.

Also salvaged. Who has brown switches????

Picked this up at a Garage Sale for 2.00$. Fully functional.

In addition to the switches and sockets that were salvaged from various replacements that I had done throughout the house, I also used wiring that I had pulled out from all over the place. The 3' fluorescent fitting at the entrance was from the ReStore @ 5.00$. I got the 4' double tube fitting while taking a walk with the kids and Lynda at Professor's Lake. The fitting was left on the kerb and was BNIB (brand new in the box) complete with fluorescent tubes.

I manged to get everything done and get the shed back to some semblance of order.

So - the shed is still not 100% done as I have yet to build the pegboards to hold my hand tools.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Suburban Archeology & Other Short Stories

I spent the best part of Saturday morning cleaning out the van. It had remnants of Spring, Summer & Fall blended into sticky messes in the cup holders and that was grating on my nerves. I managed to get the car really clean and found a whole load of hidden gems in the cracks and crevices. Among other things, a reading lamp, a jenga block, a paint stirrer from the Home Depot, a fuse block for a car audio system that did not really materialize, a glass jar, magnetix components, Barbie accessories, a hair band, a button, a wrist watch, an American dime, a Canadian Dime, a pencil sharpener, a plethora of pencils and two erasers, one of which kept staring at me.....

After that we drove to London ON., for A. Rosie's birthday and I finally got to visit Forest City Surplus on Dundas St. What a crazy amazing store.... I did not get what I had initially wanted, but walked away with a Tarp to close up the shed for winter and a cat's paw nail puller, both at a decent price. Lynda got some stuff for herself as well and I got some activity books for the girls as well as rubber stamps for their cardmaking. So much more that I should've picked up.

This morning the girls and I raked our entire backyard as well as hopping over the fence and doing Mrs. McDougall's yard as well. Dead headed all of the flowering plants, pruned the rose bushes and cleaned the beds. Tomorrow I will do the final mowing of the season prior to aerating, fertilizing and over seeding the lawn. Looks good so far!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Arty Fowl GN2 - Lucky Luke 17 - Rainbow Orchid Vol I

It's an absolute bitch being enamored with European comics in Canada. It takes a long time if ever for titles to make it across the Atlantic. So I was quite thrilled to score these titles at our local Indigo this week.

Artemis Fowl - The Arctic Incident - Graphic Novel. Arty teams up with Butler, Captain Holly Short and Commander Root in saving Haven and rescuing Fowl Sr. Nice graphics. I've read the novels, so it puts pictures to the story in my head.

The Adventures of Julius Chancer - Rainbow Orchid Volume 1. Back in 2008, Garen Ewing did a fund raiser run of 50 copies. I happened to be lucky enough to have one signed by the author for my collection. Garen now has his books published by Egmont, and I had to get a copy for my reading pleasure.

Lucky Luke - No. 16 - Apache Canyon. I'm unsure what method Cinebook is using in determining the sequence of these releases, but they in no way follow the chronological order of the French publications. I do note however that they've only been releasing volumes in which Morris collaborated with Goscinny and that's a good thing as his humour and timing is amazing.
Meanwhile I have a stack of 24 Lucky Luke books in Mumbai just waiting for someone kind enough to carry them across to Canada for me........

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Retro Radio Redux - Part 2

Following up to my earlier posts (MRR RSM RRR-1 RRR-1.5) I had promised a video of the unit in action. I finally managed to upload the same. Enjoy!!

Most people think that it just sits there and does nothing - then I fire it up!!!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Anthropologie Plagarie

Aaliyah recently ripped her favorite jeans at the knee. An unfortunate consequence of youth, playgrounds and a generous dose of crazy. What with the onset of Fall and lower than average temperatures around the 'Golden Horseshoe', I would be billed as a bad parent for sending her to school with ripped jeans.

Borrowing from an idea that I saw at Anthropologie, I set about to repair her jeans while upping the cool factor at the same time.

Using a patch cut out from a Byvik cushion cover meant for an Ektorp sofa that we got at the IKEA AS-IS section and some strips of Heat-n-Bond I mended the knee section of the jeans that should see her through the season, while looking cool at the same time.

She LOVED it!!!!!


IKEA Byvik cushion for EKTORP

Cutting the patch to size

Aaliyah, rocking the look

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sounds So So Good

After over two years of being in storage, I finally bit the bullet and got my Rotels converted to 110V. Sure I could've run them through a step up transformer - Not!!

The local agents are Brack Electronics in Toronto and they did an amazing job of the conversion. Thank You Mr. Claudio Landucci!!!

I spent an hour connecting everything together and spent the next few listening to music the way I should've been doing so for the past two years.

Oh. They sound so so very good!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jewelery Storage Solutions

With Lynda's jewelery overrunning her small closet, I had decided a long time ago to solve her problem.

OK, I know the drill, we're supposed to listen and do nothing - but I thought that just this once.....

So I decided to go all out on this one and got her a Gerstner International GI-530 Red Oak Tool Chest. These chests were made to store precision hand tools and are felt lined to protect those tools.

Me thinks it does a good job of storing her jewelery.....

The chest in it's natural setting

The top section holds watches (Lynda does not wear a watch)

With the drawers open
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