Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for March, 2011

Will This Winter Ever End? Probably

Two sentiments abound across this great land right now.  The first is that most people want to do terrible things to the groundhogs who called for an early spring, and the second is that there is a firm belief that the winter of 2010-2011 is the one that will never end.  Sure, it feels like spring is coming, but it just rolls back into winter and eventually, it will be Christmas again.

It’s not like summer won’t show up at all, but I think most people are worried about a short, cool summer without days on end of bright sunshine and stifling heat.  Personally, I  could live without it, but I understand that most people don’t prefer the cold like I do.  Take heart, Canadians.  Perhaps one of the major parties will include a plan to bring summer quickly in their election platform and we’ll all be suntanning in early May.

If I were you, I wouldn’t really start worrying until we start creeping closer to the May long weekend.  Sure, we’ll get nice days before then, but that’s the date when the weather gets consistently nicer and you can even break out your shorts if you’re doing something active outside.  Keep in mind that it’s over seven weeks away, which is plenty of time for things to get better.

Having said that, I’ve also been camping on that weekend, and shivered through a late-season snowstorm.  Mother Nature is a fickle master, she is.  My suggestion is to stock up on hot chocolate, keep your snow shovel handy and to regularly burn offerings in your yard.  Might I suggest groundhog carcass?

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Pining for my Guitars

My arms and back are sore, my hands are raw and my eyes and throat sting from drywall dust, but every minute I spend working on our basement brings me one step closer to completion, and it’s really starting to look quite good.  You’d know that if I followed up on my promises of photos, but given the choice of spending time uploading photos or prepping another sheet of drywall, I’m opting for the latter.  I plan to take some time off this weekend, so photos will be part of that.

One of the things that I’m looking forward to most once our house is put back together is setting up all my guitar equipment and stealing  a few minutes each day to play.  I’ve been getting pretty badly out of practice, and the seemingly millions of tiny cuts and scrapes on my fingers from electrical work need to heal up before playing for long periods of time becomes comfortable again.

In my head, I’m constantly arranging the furniture and I always leave just a little bit of room for my guitars, amp and pedals to sit neatly on display, just waiting to be plugged in.  If it’s all there just waiting for a guitarist, I’ll be more likely to fire it up during commercial breaks or if I need to let off a little bit of steam.  I’ve even sorted out where the best place for a drum set would be, but I have a very strong feeling that won’t be happening anytime soon.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to dream about my guitar set-up while I tape and mud my free hours away.  Sigh.

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Gripped by Election Fever

With the Federal Election in full-swing, I’m actually a little giddy.  Aside from being a big fan of Canadian politics in general, I’m also a fan of the intricacies of the parliamentary system, so the fact that the government fell for the first time on a vote of no confidence spurred by the government being found in contempt just makes this all the juicier.

Sadly, I don’t think that will be much of an election issue as most Canadians don’t seem to care, so it’s going to come back to ethics and economics and lots of arguing, which has been pretty much the standard of every election since Confederation.

As a new homeowner, I’m not really sure on the etiquette regarding political lawn signs.  I mean, we’ve gotten to know our neighbours quite well over the last year, and I’m wondering if putting up a lawn sign would lead to some uncomfortable situations.  For example, one of our neighbours who we had gotten to know in the dog park put up a sign for the municipal election, and I was appalled at their chosen candidate.  I won’t say who they were boosting for, but he got elected mayor.  For the longest time, I would walk past their house and wonder “how could they want to support that guy!?”.  If I put up a lawn sign, would people think the same of me?

I guess that’s the whole idea behind the sign in the first place.  It’s a declaration of support and invites people to share in open dialogue with you about why you’ve made that choice and why you want to support that candidate, so if I’m dedicated to that party, I should be willing to publicly say so and defend my decision with reason.

There.  I’ve decided.  Now I just hope that the colours on the Rhinoceros Party’s signs don’t clash with our aluminum siding.

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Yes, It Is Monday Once Again

Thanks to some much-needed help from Marty, Felicity and my brother Graham, nearly all our drywall has been hung and I’m at a point where I can hook up all the electrical and have both lights and power outlets again.  Hooray!

I still have to tape and mud nearly all the seams, but that should go pretty quickly and I can do all that on my own.  Once the drywall is done, we can move on to painting, then installing the drop ceiling and finally putting in the carpet and trim.  There’s still quite a bit of work left, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It wasn’t all work this weekend.  We headed down to BMO Field for the very chilly Toronto FC home opener.  It was a great game, and I even managed to get a slight sunburn despite shivering in the cool wind.  I’m hopeful for a great season.

Now that it’s nearly April, I should probably upload some of the pictures of our basement reno that I’ve been promising.  Stay tuned.  They’re coming.

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Basketball, Drywall, Soccer; Oh My!

Today is a day of mixed emotions.  First off, it looks like the government will fall in the House of Commons this afternoon in a confidence vote based upon a charge of “contempt of parliament”.  That’s a first in Canadian history, so I’m hoping to watch it live.  If you’re not into parliamentary procedure or the quirks of our political system, you probably aren’t excited by this and more annoyed that you have to suffer through another election.

In sadder news, my NCAA March Madness bracket appears to have suffered injury that is beyond repair, and I’m prepared to call the time of death very shortly.  Just like those playing in the tournament, my hopes were so high mere weeks ago and now my soul is crushed and my dreams lie in tatters on the basketball court.  That’s probably a bit melodramatic considering I made my picks in all of 5 minutes with no research, and all I stand to lose is $5.

In more local affairs, tonight we’re having a little drywall-hanging party at our house, complete with pizza, beer and friends.  Marty and Felicity are heading over (with their pup Daisy) for an evening of cutting and installing 4×8 sheets of gyprock.  It’s gonna be off the hook, y’all.  I mean, you’ve NEVER partied until you’ve “drywall partied”, which is just my way of encouraging you to come over and help, with the promise of beer and pizza.

Last, but certainly not least, we’ll be heading to scenic BMO Field on Saturday afternoon to watch Toronto FC kick off their home opener.  Rumour has it that the field will be snow-free (even if the stands won’t be), and that we’ll be shivering under a bright sun, cloudless sky and a chilly expected high temperature of -3.  It’s safe to say that the hot chocolate lines will be longer than the beer lines.

Have a great weekend, unless you’re winning your March Madness pool, in which case I hope you have a terrible weekend, because I’m a spiteful, spiteful man.

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Just When You Think It’s Over, It Ain’t

Despite warnings all week in the forecast, it seems everyone in Toronto was caught totally off-guard by this snowfall.  That’s so us, isn’t it?  Well, not me because I actually pay attention to the weather, but that’s a very Toronto thing to do.

Even better, everyone seems pretty upset because it NEVER snows this late in March, despite the fact that there’s usually one last gasp of winter weather after March Break.  It’s probably best to assume that every nice day between now and the 24th of May is the exception rather than the rule, just to be safe.

I, for one, welcome this miserable weather because it means that while I’m slaving away in our basement, I know I’m not missing out on anything.  Basically, your misery is assuaging mine.  For that, I thank you.

This morning, I’m suffering from my only significant injury so far in this reno, and it’s anything but significant.  To reduce drafts for our follow-up energy audit, I was sealing the gaps between our floorboards and baseboard upstairs with silicone.  After an hour or so crouched on my hands and knees pressing silicone through a tube with my non-ergonomically designed caulking gun, my right hand feels like it was run over by a truck.  If you’ve ever had to caulk a bunch of windows or doors, you know the pain I’m talking about.

I probably should’ve seen it coming.  After all, experiencing muscle pain during home renovations is as easily predictable as a snowstorm in March.  Ahem.

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March Madness is Dead; Long Live July Madness!

In approximately four months, our house will be a lot less restful and a lot more awesome when our little guy finally arrives and we become parents.  Even with the basement reno taking up most of my time and energy, that fast-approaching date is at the forefront of my mind.

With my NCAA March Madness bracket lying in tatters in the gutter, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get all our friends and family involved in predicting the arrival date and weight of the baby, and while I don’t think a bracket format will work, I have a few ideas.  I was thinking of giving people 30 minute slots in the two weeks before and after Danielle’s projected due date and two methods for choosing the weight; an over/under on an average weight or a “Price is Right” model where you guess a weight and the winner is the closest without going over.

I’ll have to figure out a way to manage all this online, and ideally it would be self-managing so you can pick your time/day and weight guess without me managing a bunch of emails and posting the results.  Does anyone have an idea of how I could do this?

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The “State of the Basement” Address

Good day everyone and thank you for coming.  I’d like to start by apologizing for the lack of photos of the basement reno, but I’ve been busy doing actual work, so the photos will show up once I have time to sort and post them.

This weekend saw great advances in the plan to finish the basement.  Thanks to the diligent work of Tom and Linda, the entire basement is framed, insulated and coated in vapour barrier.  This is a huge achievement, and the benefits are already tangible.  You can feel the warmth when you walk down the basement stairs, which is unbelievable.  The entire inner structure of the rooms and hallway have been fully framed and nearly all the electrical lines and boxes have been installed, not to mention ducting and venting is boxed in and ready for drywall.

Most of of the vent boxing and some walls have already had panels of drywall installed on them, and I hope to finish the bulk of that work this week (which could use some extra hands if anyone is interested in learning how to hang drywall), and once it’s all up, I can connect my electrical outlets, which will be very helpful in lighting the workspace.

Our final energy audit is scheduled for Thursday, and I hope to finish up a few small projects elsewhere in the house that will help us qualify for grants, but the basement is still the priority right now.  Since Tom and Linda are headed back to Montreal in a few hours, I’ll be losing my expertise and two tireless workers, but with the support of Danielle and all of you, I know that this project will be complete soon.

Thank you, and that is all.

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