Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Long time no see

So for a couple years, friends have mentioned off and on that they’ve popped in here to look up when something happened (which is how I keep track of my major life events too), and that the blog wasn’t showing up at all.
Because I can see the admin side, I could still find old posts, but no one could actually navigate to the blog.
Turns out that theme I was using was discontinued and that was gumming up the works. That doesn’t make much sense to me, but whatever. This is free.
Now we can all return to our regularly scheduled ignoring of this infrequently updated web blog.

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Election Reform

I had this idea the other night and couldn’t think of anywhere else to jot it where I could refine it, so I’m posting it here.

I was reading something about the massive volumes of fundraising dollars that political parties gather and spend on elections, then once they’re elected, there’s no money for anything. What if parties were required to donate 30 cents of every dollar raised in fundraising to a charity that assists people living below the poverty line? Then we wouldn’t really need to cap fundraising dollars because the more that’s raised, the better.

Let me know where I’m wrong with this while I think it through more.

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Danielle’s Armed Robbery

Rest assured, she hasn’t been charged with Armed Robbery.  No, she was temporarily robbed of the use of one of her arms just over a week ago when she broke a small piece of bone off her elbow after suffering a nasty tackle in reg-league soccer.

An opposing player blasted through and she fell hard on her elbow, which not only broke the bone, but also caused some tissue stress (and possibly damage) to the elbow and shoulder. And of course it’s her dominant hand.

After a harrowing whole night spent in a busy hallway at Toronto East General Hospital’s Emergency triage area, she finally got a temporary cast.  After a screw-up in scheduling for her follow-up, we’re done with TEGH for a while.

She’s now receiving excellent care through Mt. Sinai, and hopes to revive her budding tennis career in no time.

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A Requested Update

As a special request from Kenneth, here’s a fresh (ish) blog post.  Ask and ye shall receive.

Our home reno is 99% complete.  The house is done, with just a few final touch-ups and final inspections in the coming weeks.  We have a brand new driveway (that the city cut up days after it was laid to replace our sidewalk) and we’ll get our new front and back yards late this summer or early this fall.  Before that happens, I have to build our new garden shed, so I’m hoping for some cooler, less humid weather. Then, we’ll be done.  What a relief.

Our boys continue to keep our lives interesting.  Seb (he’s no longer “Sebby”) just turned 7 and is growing like a weed.  If he grows up to have a desk job, he’ll be one of those guys who has a standing desk with a treadmill; he’s ALWAYS moving, and has the deep well of energy to keep it up.  His favorite outlets are baseball, soccer and hockey.  Sports, sports, sports.

Christian is turning into even more of a joker than Seb is, which is saying a lot! He’s hit a deeply inquisitive stage with a never-ending stream of questions, but mostly he just likes to chat, tell stories and make us laugh. We’ll be celebrating his 4th birthday later this summer and he starts Junior Kindergarten this fall, where we hope he gets more satisfactory answers to all his questions than we seem to give him.

Mojo has had a bit of a rough spring/summer.  Back in May, he got into a tussle with a porcupine under the cottage and ended up with a few dozen needles in his nose.  He recovered like a champ.  Then earlier in July he got a cut on his head that he scratched open into a bad gash that needed a couple of staples.  He just got his “cone of shame” off after a few weeks and is back to chasing his tail and the boys.  At 10 years old, he’s slowing down, but not much.

Now, this is the point in a post when I make an empty promise to start posting in here more…

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I Heart my Robot Vacuum

With two kids, a dog and lots of hardwood floors, I used to spend an hour or so every couple of days running a vacuum to keep on top of the dust, dog hair and various other fluff that would hide on our floors, but show up on our socks.  It was tiring and annoying.

Ahead of Black Friday, I scored a wicked deal on the entry level iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum (model 614).  It’s the entry model that doesn’t have the ability to schedule or operate it with your phone, which is fine for me.  I just hit start whenever we leave the house.

It does an awesome job as a vacuum (even getting stuff our upright missed), but its real virtue lies in the fact that I don’t have to do much for our floors to get clean.  I press a button and I empty the little bin.  Boom.  It can go on any of our floors, cleans any area rugs and is great at getting unstuck from under furniture.

Before buying, I’d done a fair amount of research, and the two biggest cons had me worried; it’s loud and the collection bin is small, so you have to empty it often.  It’s actually quieter than most uprights, which is insane for how well it cleans, and since it’s small enough to pass under furniture and get into tight corners, it makes sense the collection bin is small.  I just empty it and start the robot away again.

For a few hundred bucks, this is an awesome timesaver and our house is far cleaner than it was before.  I wouldn’t bother paying for scheduling or smartphone connectivity as the only feature I would pay more for is if it could empty its collection bin itself and keep cleaning.

Do yourself a favour and pick one up.

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Smarten Up Your Stupid Home

The first time I heard about “smart home automation”, I was reading a Wired magazine article in university, so sometime around 2000.  I was blown away at the potential, but it sounded like the future our parents envisioned where we’d be living in pods on the moon.  Well, it’s here and it looks like it’s here to stay.

If, like me, you aren’t sure where to start with smartening up your home, I’ve got great news; you can start small and relatively cheap.

While our electrician was wiring our house, I picked up a WEMO Light Switch for our front porch lights, and I love it.  I can turn it off and on like a normal switch, I can operate it from an app on my phone from anywhere, and I can set it to a schedule.  Mine is set to come on at sunset and turn off after midnight, then come on again at 6am and turn off at sunrise.  I rarely have to touch it or think about it.  It just works.

Since the switch requires some wiring, a better place to start would be a WEMO Wi-Fi Smart Plug.  It does all the same stuff as the switch, has a switch right on the fixture, and it only takes up one plug in an outlet.  You can differentiate between plugs and switches in the app (by names you can pick) and you can plug in just about anything.  I picked one up to run our Christmas tree lights on a schedule much like the porch lights.

My next step in automation (aside from a few more outlet plugs and switches for other lights in the house) will be a virtual assistant; mostly likely Google’s Alexa.  Then I can tell her to turn on the Christmas tree, play “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby and brew me a tea, Earl Grey, hot.   The future is here, so engage.

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Idle Hands…

Now that the house is “done” (we still need to replace our driveway and sort out landscaping, but those will wait for spring), I find myself still fighting the “under construction” mindset that I was in for well over a year.  As I walk around the house picking up after the boys, I catch myself thinking of little things I could build to make our lives a bit easier.

A small project I’ll be starting soon is a small drying/drain rack to inset in our laundry tub for drying small articles of clothing, small containers that were used for painting or to dry shoes or boots that have just been cleaned.  Once I land on a nice design that works, I plan to upscale it a bit and focus on nicer finishing to make one for our soaker tub in our ensuite (for drying bathing suits and the like).

It’s a pretty simple design, consisting of a small box frame with a ladder of pieces of doweling inset in the box.  The frame is mounted to the underside of two longer pieces of wood that will sit on the rim of the sink, so that the draining things are actually below the rim (so no runoff comes off the wood onto the counter).  So let’s see how this goes.

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Pulling tunes from the air

Since we packed up for our move back into our new house, our “living room stereo” has been squirreled away in a box collecting dust. Our CD collection was happily tucked away more than year earlier, and we haven’t missed them at all. That’s because, like nearly everyone else, we’ve discovered the wonders of non-solid state media.
Between my podcasts and Spotify, all I need is my phone or laptop and a good BlueTooth speaker or an AUX line into something that can play. More choice, less changing discs and you aren’t limited to the albums you already have in your library.
That being said, there’s still some stuff tucked away among those CDs that I won’t find anywhere else (U2 live bootlegs, weird remix CDs, my homemade mixes), so once we put our living room back together, you can bet there will be a place for all that stuff. In the meantime, I don’t feel like I’m missing much.
The downside to this is that I have hundreds of CDs that might never get listened to again, so why keep them? The answer to that is sad but simple; no one else wants them and tossing them in the garbage would be a huge waste. I’ve already moved them all into a series of CD books, and once I know that I don’t want to keep the jewel cases, I can at least recycle those.
Here’s hoping that CDs don’t have a second coming-of-age like vinyl did and I’m about to cheat myself out of a “retro kickback” payday.

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