Archive for January, 2005

There are few things more satisfying to a man like me than spotting a problem, mulling it over, and coming up with a possible solution… especially if that solution is pure genius. Alas, I believe I have come up with one of these solutions, and best of all… it’s a MacGyver.

The Problem
Jay and I both use butane/propane mix lanterns. They’re wicked bright and the fuel cells are pretty cheap, so they’re great for camping. They pack down pretty small too. Here’s mine in use at Long Point last summer.
Anyways, in cold temperatures, the two gases separate and the element burns slower and slower until it dims itself right out. You can easily reboost the lantern by putting your bare hands on the ice-cold fuel cell (the bottom of the lantern). It doesn’t even take a second for the light to spring back up. Just the tiniest amout of heat makes all the difference.

My Proposed Solution
The bottom of the fuel cell is concave, and the dip is pretty deep. my plan is to take one of those chemical handwarming packets and wrap it in a cheap, white sport sock until it’s in a little ball. Then, I’ll drop that ball into the matching sock, which I’ll pull tight over the fuel cell for the lantern.
Ideally, the heat will be more than enough to keep the fuel mixed, and the elasticity of the sock will keep the heatpack tight to the fuel cell casing. With the concave bottom, hopefully you can still set the lantern down on a flat surface, but if not, you can always hang it by the chain… the important thing here is that the light source can remain consistent

I hope to try my theory this weekend, and if it works, I might go the trouble of developing a neoprene sleeve (like some beer bottle coolers) with a little pouch in the bottom to insert a fresh heatpack, and remove old ones.

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Keep in mind that after seeing a few trailers and reading some critical reviews, I had very low expectations for this film. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I was blown away by the CGI settings at the beginning, but got used to them as the film wore on.

Although the acting seemed hollow and insincere early on, it’s very much part of the style of 1940s era ‘serial’ film, and I appreciated it as time wore on.

The last line of the movie is great too. Seriously. Just clever. I’d say I’m glad I didn’t spend $14 seeing it in theatre, but it’s a solid rental. I give it a 6.5/10.

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This weekend wasn’t quite the success I was preparing myself for, which is a little disheartening, but it was still nice to get out of the city. I’ll fill you in on the disasters, and then follow up with some positive notes.

It was cold when we got there, and we got started building up a base to build the igloo on. This consisted of piling snow up and stomping on it with snowshoes to pack it down. The snow was pretty sugary, but it started to bond really well. We got a nice high and flat platform and then headed off to strike camp, build a fire and have a snack. This is when things started to go horribly wrong.

For some reason, it felt like it was getting colder. That reason was that the temperature was dropping and there appeared to be an increase in humidity, which is weird in the minus 20s. So it was really cold and damp… not a good combination. We all slept pretty fitfully, and with our noses barely poking out of our sleeping bags.

The next day, as the sun rose over the lake, the temperature just wouldn’t start to rise, and we got really worried about the rest of the day. Then, suddenly, it started to get significantly warmer. Good news? Not really. The temperature shift made the snow really hard to work with, so we only finished about half the igloo (I’ll post pictures later).

Fortunatley, we were working in the sun, so I was able to get a tan… er… sunburn. I also have some symptoms of exposure that I’m treating with various creams and ointments. Basically, all my exposed skin is either peeling or raw. I’d like to say it makes me feel rugged, but it’s just uncomfortable.

Enough whining… to the cool stuff. First, dehydrated Beef Stroganoff is tasty stuff. I had the Harvest Works brand (available at most outfitters), and would recommend using 3 cups of water instead of 3.5.

Also cool, was the sound of the lake heaving all night. It reminded me of that sound you make when you hold in a burp and it ‘goes off’ in your throat. We came across one of the larger and fresher heave-cracks on saturday morning (there was a white ribbon through the clear ice that was easily visible for 18 inches or so) and poured hot water down it. So… cool. Hopefully I can do it again this weekend and get it on video.

Four more days… then I’m back at it again.

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I’m packed… I’m dressed… and all that remains is to buy some food and drive into the wilds. There are no words that can describe how happy I am right now… but I haven’t tried to lift the pack that I’ll be hauling to the GO train station yet. Those words will likely be of the four-word variety, but all will be forgiven when I’m sipping beer at the campfire tonight.

Jason and Stephen… our quest begins. To everyone else, I bid you ‘adieu’. Until we meet again.

-Dave signs off-

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I’m just killing time until 5, so here are some random things from my friday that is a thursday for everyone else.

– When I’m riding the subway, and my nose is frozen, I always wonder if it’s running but I can’t tell because it’s frozen and I can’t feel it.
Then, I wonder if anyone around me is wondering why I keep bringing my glove to my face.
THEN, I wonder if they think I’m hinting that their noses are running, but being frozen, they can’t tell. (This entertains me for 15 minutes EVERY day)

– I asked the lady at my morning coffee shop a question that’s been killing me for a while now. She’s really nice and friendly, and somehow knows my first name. I don’t remember telling her, so I guess she read it off my office pass at some point. Anyways, I asked her if she stops off somewhere to get coffee on her way to work… at the coffee shop.
“Of course. I’m useless without my coffee in the morning.” So then I asked why she didn’t just wait until she got in, so she could have a free cup.
“Oh, I wouldn’t drink this crap if you paid me.” Saleswoman of the year.
(NOTE: She winked, so I have a feeling I was being toyed with)

– On cold and sunny days like this, I’d love to have one of those giant hamster balls for walking around outside. The windchill wouldn’t get to you, and the sun would heat up your little sphere. No?

– How cool is this idea… Ready? I want a daily newspaper delivery to my apartment, but I’m too lazy to take my old newspapers to our recycling bin (which is outside in the far corner of our lot of buildings). What if as part of our delivery, someone picked up yesterday’s paper when they drop off today’s?
I haven’t actually thought this one through, so I’m sure there are lots of cons, but the pros are good enough for me.

– How did those crazy Ancient Romans figure out how to pour concrete underwater? I can barely do it in dry conditions, with ‘just add water’ instructions. This goes for pretty well every engineering feat the Ancient Romans came up with.

– How cool would it be if could solve the mystery of the Oak Island Money Pit, and if I found something really ridiculous… like plundered men’s powdered wigs, or something stupid like that. Not only would I be really smart for solving the mystery, but I’d be smarter than all those people who thought it was hiding the Holy Grail, or Shakespeare’s original manuscripts. Personally, I hope it contains the history of how the Ancient Romans came up with all their ingenious engineering ideas.

Well, that’s it for today. If I don’t post tomorrow, have a great weekend. I’ll see you all later… when I’m warm.

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I would like to sit down with the heads of the TTC and GO transit and ask them a simple question. “Where do you buy your swtiches and signals?”. I’m guessing it’s from somewhere in the tropics, because everytime it gets cold, they seem to stop working. Norway? Finland? These are cold places that have dependable transit systems. Where do they buy their switches and signals?

Don’t mind me. I’m just bitter that I had to wait for over half an hour in -23 (Windchill of -32) at an outdoor subway station. If I had known it would take that long, I would have gone home and started my long weekend early. With no announcements to alert customers, I ended up asking the ticket agent for more information, which he had and was nice enough to share. Why would the TTC not tell customers in -30 weather that the trains are backed up and there might be a long wait? I guess they want to keep their customers, or something stupid like that.

If only I had been wearing all my winter gear… I’d have loved to just stand there… alas, dress pants and shoes are not optimal cold weather gear.

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So I’ve mentioned my new desk with a window view, but have I told you about the stalker who watches me to make sure I’m working? I’ve named him Javier (he’s from Martinique) and he squints at me through some buildings… he’s hiding, but not very well… I can see him everytime I look up from my monitor.
Javier is watching me
Good luck finding him in that photo, if you click here, there’s a much larger version. Just follow straight up from my monitor and I’m sure you can’t miss him. You’ll no doubt feel his chilling stare burning a whole through YOU all day too

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Two more sleeps. Then I will be where I want to be most… where I’ve needed to be for some time. I’m actually giddy with anticipation. Oh, to be sitting under the stars with my snowshoes strapped to my feet, clad in Gore-tex, and living the life of my early Canadian pioneer forefathers… well, minus the Gore-Tex (I’m sure they had politically incorrect furs of all sorts).

My neurotic lists have all been drawn up, every angle has been covered, and all that remains is to drive up into the wilds and to leave this city and this life behind for 20 hours or so. The best part of it all is that this is just preparation for something more fulfilling.

Jay, Steve and I are headed up to Lime Lake to start building The Great 2005 Igloo (others will join us on saturday) for the weekend after this one. So after just 20 hours, I get to come back up for three days and three nights of polar living. Can you just hear the bliss oozing from my every pore? No? Put your ear closer to the monitor.

So, for the next couple of days, I’ll just be daydreaming of woodfires, snowshoe hikes, and glorious Igloo sleeping. Please forgive my lack of focus and endless Igloo ranting… it’s just that I’m already there.

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