Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Gravity

I've watched two Sandra Bullock movies this year: The Heat and Gravity.  Guess which one is my favourite movie of the year.  To be fair, we turned off The Heat half way through.  Maybe that last half was epicly hilarious.  But I kind of doubt it.

This movie, on the other hand, is just plain epic.  It is an hour and a half of clenched sphincter.  Things go wrong for the characters in the first couple minutes and the tension doesn't stop until the final scene.  It is a remarkable film making achievement.

And it is an utterly gorgeous film.  I really wish we'd seen it on an IMAX screen.  The camera work is completely unrestrained by convention and does everything to put you into the bewildering disorientation of zero gravity.  The visuals alone make this THE definitive space movie.

The director is Alfonso Cuaron, the same guy who did Children of Men.  While I consider Children of Men to still be his masterpiece, this is a remarkable follow up.  It lacks the message and extraordinary world-building of his previous film but Gravity removes any doubt that this guy is a film-making genius without peer.

So, needless to say, I recommend it.  And I was very excited to call up my parents to give them this recommendation.  It's not often I run across a movie that I think both of my parents will enjoy.  But they'd already seen it.  My dad's review?  An enthusiastic "Meh".

I was dumbfounded.  Our movie preferences don't always line up but I couldn't conceive of a single issue somebody would have with this one.  I demanded some sort of explanation for his luke-warm ambivalence.  And he starts picking on the technicalities like whether they had an accurate time for debris to orbit the earth and in which direction it would be orbiting.  These quibbles from my dad.  My father, who would rank Face/Off and Con Air in his top 10 movies of all time, had issues with how realistic the physics were in Gravity.

Unbelievable.  I'd heard that internet darling, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, had raised some stink about some of the technical flaws in Gravity.  Here's a recap of some of his tweets.  Please don't read it before watching the movie.  These are things that I would be the first to jump on with a lesser movie.  But it just doesn't matter in the face of the beauty and drama this movie delivers.  See it and tell me you disagree.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Almost

The Google "Auto Awesome" photo effects continue to impress.  Yesterday I got a notification that Google had put together a little video to recap my 2013.  Amazing.  Right up to the point where they included a shot from Die Hard Day of Marv "Man my shirt is chafing me" Cook.  So thanks Google, for almost putting together a heart warming synopsis of this past year.




Friday, 27 December 2013

Ho Ho Ho!

And with that, Christmas is over.  Jen didn't waste any time.  Tree is down, lights and decorations are stored away, and our house is back to normal.  Paige seemed to take it all in stride.  She has lots of new toys and pretty outfits for the coming year.  She was fairly engaged with the whole present opening ritual.  She'd lose interest and wander off every now and then but she'd always come back to rip apart more wrapping paper.

I'd say a very successful first Christmas as a family.  Now we can focus on next week and the whole lot of nothing that we'll be doing!


















Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Santa!

Jen took Paige to meet Santa Claus this past Saturday.  I thought she was crazy to head to the mall the last Saturday before Christmas but she got through it lickety split.  There was some debate about sharing the photo on the blog since Jen didn't want to undermine the value of some cards she was going to send out to family.  But in the interest of sharing this cuteness to as many people as possible, she finally agreed to let me post.

Merry Christmas!


Ice Ice Baby

So, the big ice storm of 2013 has come and gone.  And we survived.  I'm actually quite pleased with how prepared we were.  The power went out at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning.  Baby alarm alerted us to the outage.  I checked the hydro one web page and they had estimated repair time of 6:30 a.m.  Pssh, no sweat.

We bundled Paige into our room and went back to sleep.  6:30 a.m. and we were up.  Still no power.  What the heck?  Not much to do at home so we went down to Stratford to grab some breakfast.  The waitress told us half of Stratford had no power.  Kept checking hydro one and still no update.  Might as well go home and try out that generator.

The generator was a house warming gift from Jen's parents.  Never has a house warming gift been so literal.  This thing saved our bacon.  I will never give my in-laws grief about tech support again.  I will even start remembering their passwords for them.

We had the generator but we had never actually hooked it up to the house.  It was on my list of things to do over the holidays.  That task got an upgraded priority.  I had the male-to-male extension cord already wired up (otherwise known as the Extension Cord Of Death) and I'd checked out the circuits so I knew that I should be able to run the generator out in the shop and get the furnace running while using an extension cord to run the fridge off a live receptacle.

Theoretically it all made sense.  But I was still a little nervous throwing the switch.  I got the generator going, plugged it into the wall, went back inside, threw the breaker for the shop and the furnace.  And nothing.  Crap.  Went upstairs to explain to Jen that we might have to investigate a motel room in another city when the furnace sprang to life!

I was so pleased.  With the furnace pumping out heat, we got the fridge plugged in and we then had the basics nailed down.  With jerry cans full of gas we could ride this thing out as long as it took.  And it took a while.

We kept checking hydro one and were a little worried when they pushed the service time out to 11 p.m. Monday night.  We had candles and flashlights and a lantern.  I even suspended fridge electricity to get a coffee made.  Bring on the night.

It wasn't a pleasant night.  Not for lack of warmth.  Paige was deeply unsettled by the new sleeping arrangements.  Not happy at all.  But we got through it.  I cooked breakfast on the barbecue, made a coffee, and we carried on for another day.

As we were making dinner, another update from Hydro One put a return to service at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve!  That was crushing.  We had Jen's family coming up for Christmas dinner and what if they pushed it out even further?  We were still fine, the generator was plugging away, but this was seriously putting a damper on the Christmas spirit.

We rolled the dice that the generator could handle the additional load of a space heater in Paige's nursery and Jen went to put Paige down in her own room.  When Jen came downstairs she said the street lights were back on!

It was a great feeling to shut off the generator and flip all the breakers back on.  There was exquisite joy in each light I turned on.  We hadn't even been without power for two full days but it seemed like so much longer.  And there are still people without power out there.

I thought some bad thoughts about Hydro One and their workers while sitting in the dark but that turned to unlimited gratefulness for all their hard work in getting us back on the grid.  I can't imagine the challenges and pressures those crews face in doing what they do.  Our Christmas is back on track and it's a huge relief but we know that's not true for those crews and the families they are working to restore power to.  Hoping everybody finds a warm spot to share with loved ones this Christmas.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Excitement

"Hey Paige, do you know what next week is?"

"CHRISTMAS!!!!"



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Teething


Random

Peanut has mastered the standing up thing.  She does it all the time.  Especially in her crib.  Unfortunately, she has not yet mastered the "sitting down from standing up" trick.  This means that she stands up in the middle of the night and then cries because she doesn't know how to stop standing up.  Jen is tired.


Peanut is also very excited for Christmas.

"What do I have to do to get you to sign today?"



Monday, 16 December 2013

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Monday, 9 December 2013

Primed Peanut

It appears that little Peanut is not satisfied with mere crawling.  She is now pulling herself up into a standing position on a regular basis.  This kid will be out jogging in no time.  No pics of the standing yet so enjoy her latest artistic endeavour and a cute shot from the couch.






Anxiety

I love doing plumbing and electrical work on a house.  There's just some basic joy I get from connecting circuits and making sure things get from one spot to another.

On the plumbing side I especially like soldering.  Watching the solder melt and seep into the joint seems like a bit of magic every time it happens.  Plus, wielding the propane torch makes me feel like a big man.  I'm leery of adopting sharkbite fittings or even the pre-soldered fittings because they rob me of some of that magic.

But, no matter how many times I've done it, each time I cut into a copper pipe there's a flash of panic as I think to myself "Jesus, I hope I can get this all fixed again".  That panic is heightened now that I live in a town with a small home hardware that doesn't stock a wide variety of fittings and isn't open on Sundays.

But I fixed a leak and my soldering looks like it's holding.  There was only one unplanned trip to the hardware store and they did have the fitting I needed.  All in all, a win.  But I'll still be nervous the next time I put the pipe cutter up to the copper.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Chapters

I have a well documented list of stores I hate shopping at.  Walmart, Ikea, Costco.  It's the unholy trinity of shopping fury.  But as much as I hate being in those stores, I can say, for the most part, that they can process your purchases at a reasonable rate at checkout.  It's the exact opposite experience in a Chapters store.

Remember Chapters?  It's a book store.  Remember books?  Anyways, I do like to wander around this store.  I don't read as much as I used to but it's THE go to place for stocking stuffers.  It's a great store but their checkout experience is consistently the worst in retail.

They are slow.  There is way too much conversation involved for this simple business transaction I want to engage in.  I have to listen to a spiel about rewards and memberships.  And then all the little comments about each and every purchase.  Each comment is met with an eyebrow raise which is the universal sign of "yah, yah, let's move it along" but seems to have no power in the world of Chapters.

But that's only when I actually make it to a cashier.  Before that I have to watch other Chapter's customers go through the same process.  And the majority of these customers are a lot more willing to engage in conversation with strangers than I am.  And, if I can generalize for a moment, book readers aren't the most technologically advanced collection of people in the world.  Whether it was credit or debit card, each of the six people in front of me engaged in an epic struggle to pay for their merchandise.  I was shaking with frustration by the time I finally made it to the cash.

I appreciate that Chapters has created a warm and welcoming environment as a refuge for a dying breed but, dear lord, this is why Amazon has taken over the modern world of book sales.

Super Mom

Bit of drama yesterday.  I was in Cambridge for a doctor's appointment and I noticed Jen had called me while I was with the doctor.  I get back out to the car and call her up.  Jen had gone outside to clean the truck and when she went to go back inside she found the door was locked.  Paige was inside, in her crib, having a nap but as soon as Jen tried the door, she woke up.  Jen had the monitor with her and it has two-way voice so she was trying to calm Paige down with the monitor while youtubing how to pick locks with her phone.

I'm an hour away.  Not good.  I tell Jen the weak point for getting into the house is the front door (should I be saying this on the internet?). The latch barely engages and the deadbolt seemed fairly flimsy.  So I told Jen to not worry about any damage and give it a shove.  In the meantime I gave the wee Fit as much gas as she'd take and peeled away from the doctor's office.

Within minutes I got a message that Jen was in the house and Paige was fine.  Such relief.  It was a much calmer drive home than I was expecting.  But I was curious what the aftermath of Jen's B&E would look like.

I got home and saw that the front door looked intact from the outside.  I entered a quiet house and looked at the front entrance to see the trim that was beside the door standing in the corner and the receiving half of the dead bolt sitting on the floor.  Everything else looked fine.

Jen was upstairs putting Paige down for another nap and when she came down I congratulated her on her door busting efforts.  I asked her if she put her shoulder into it or if she kicked it down like in a buddy cop movie.  And she actually kicked it!  I didn't ask but I can only assume she also screamed "I'M COMING FOR YOU BABY!" as she put the boot to the door.

So we have a bit of repair work this weekend and definitely going to reinforce that deadbolt mount.  The spare key has been hidden outside to avoid future incidents.  It was a stressful moment for everybody but I'm so proud of my kung-fu kicking wife for doing what needed to be done.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Heat!

Yay, we have propane again!  The cats were so pleased as they were the only ones without a baseboard heater to keep them warm at night.  Can't wait to see this month's hydro bill.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Paige

A random video of Paige wanting to get my attention, disappointed that I didn't put down my camera to play, and then distracted by the Christmas presents.


Also found that Google auto-awesome isn't limited to gifs.  It also edits together videos and pictures and puts a filter on it for you too.


Fix it

I was pretty disappointed with myself that I couldn't fix the furnace on my own.  Turns out that there wasn't anything I could have done short of rigging up the barbecue propane tank to the furnace.  But I had some unresolved handyman frustration that needed to be vented.

The washing machine had been acting up recently.  Every so often the machine would lock up on the final rinse cycle and would just sit there with the door locked and three of the panel lights on.  Turning it off and running a rinse cycle would solve the problem but it was annoying and starting to happen more frequently.

A google search of the light sequence that was showing indicated a clogged water pump filter could be the culprit.  A washing machine is something I've never taken apart and I didn't even know there was a filter there to service.  I popped off the lower access panel and there was the filter cartridge just like google said there was.  There was also a ziploc baggie taped to the backside of the access panel with a troubleshooting guide and the code breakdown for any light sequences that show up indicating a fault.  Why the hell do they hide this very important document on the inside of the machine?

I opened up the filter and this is what I found:

  • 46 cents in spare change
  • 2 pounds of soggy wet lint
  • An allen key
  • TWO of Paige's socks
It was all quite gross.  But very educational in explaining why the machine was having trouble draining.  It was satisfying to get something fixed yesterday.

Cold

Turns out the gauge on our propane tank is a little shy of accurate.  Jen messaged me yesterday and said the furnace wasn't working and the house was getting cold.  I went home to check it out and was stumped.  Propane tank said it was full and I could see the ignitor was working in the furnace.  So, time to call in a professional.

And that's where I ran into my first regret about moving to Milverton.  Getting somebody out for a service call in Kitchener was a simple thing.  Things get more complicated in the boonies.  My first call was to the closest service guy possible.  I got voice mail for what seemed to be a dual purpose business/personal number.  Never heard back from him.  Great, the only local resource is also unreliable.

Looking in Listowel, there seemed to be a larger enterprise offering emergency service.  A larger enterprise that still doesn't have somebody available to answer phones.  Left a message.

Now I'm looking in Stratford.  Phoned up a province wide service that was listed and was actually talking to a real person.  I was hopeful I could actually get somebody booked at that point.  Unfortunately I was put on hold, disconnected from the helpful person and then reconnected with somebody who had a passing familiarity with the English language.  A very frustrating conversation followed and ended with the rep saying she would have to call me back to see if they could send somebody to Milverton.

At that point, there wasn't much left for me to do.  We had the baseboard heaters going so I went back into work.  On the way back I got a call from the Listowel place.  They would send somebody right out.  Fantastic.  Such a relief.

When I got back to work and was explaining the situation to my coworkers and they started raising questions about the longevity of the propane in my tank.  That got me wondering too so I called up the company that was listed on the side of the tank.  They told me the fill history of the previous owners and, considering they were supplementing with a wood stove, the timing seemed to jibe that we would now have an empty tank.  I scheduled a fill for as soon as possible which should be today some time.

Jen messaged that the furnace guy showed up, did all his checks, and agreed that we were probably out of propane because everything on the furnace looked tip-top.

It was a relief that there was nothing mechanically wrong with the furnace but still a little peeved at the faulty gauge on the propane tank.  So the house was a little chilly last night but we definitely could have made this discovery at worse times in the year.  We're set up to automatically get propane filled now so this should be the last time we run into this little issue.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Crawler

Peanut topped off a big week of accomplishments by crawling forward!  We were very excited (and not a little scared) to see her finally become mobile.  She's been a little camera shy with her latest trick but we finally caught her taking a short trip to the lazyboy.


Baby and Christmas Lights



Toasted

Another auto awesome gif from Google.  Peanut vs. The Toast.


Upgrade

We still have the Charlie Brown Christmas tree from last year.


But we got a significant upgrade for Paige's first Christmas courtesy of an early Christmas present from Jen's parents.


Yup, we are all set!  Thanks Dick and Estelle!


Witness the Fitness

Hey we got a new car!  We were looking to cut fuel costs and add a second vehicle so that Jen and Paige weren't held prisoner in Milverton while I was at work.  So we went out and leased a Honda Fit last Friday.

I've been a big fan of the Honda Fit since test driving one about five years ago.  For such a small car it had remarkable space on the inside.  Test driving it again last week and that same feeling of spaciousness is still there.  I'm completely comfortable up front and there's still room behind me for Jen to sit with Paige in the rear seats.

On top of that, it is a fun little go kart to drive.  More so because we opted for a manual transmission.  It's been almost 10 years since I've had to shift on my own and it feels great to have that back.  Jen can't drive standard though so there will have to be lessons at some point.  If our marriage can survive that, I'm pretty sure we can take on anything.  Plus Paige will have the opportunity to learn some new colorful words.

The truck remains our second vehicle.  For now.  The next step in our plan is to sell the truck and get a minivan of some sort so that we've got the same monthly payments with two vehicles as we had with just the truck.  I'm going to miss that truck.  It's been a solid, dependable, workhorse.  But it's not a very family friendly vehicle.  So that will change too but, for now, I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow's commute.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Stylin

Enjoying the new weather shield on her stroller while maintaining a coolness factor of 10.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Cuteness

Just some random cuteness so we can all move past the unpleasantness of the moustache.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Dramedy

I REALLY hesitated to post this.  But, ach, what the hell?  If you can't laugh at yourself...


Movember

THIS year was going to be different!  THIS year I was going to tough it out.  And for just over three weeks I let the hair on my upper lip grow unmolested.  And the results were... less than epic.  At least people recognized it as a moustache.  But, through mutual agreement with my wife, I terminated the project yesterday, just one week from completing the month.  As it grew I couldn't keep my lower lip from riding up over my face to just confirm that what I had done was actually still there.  And Jen was not a fan.  No, not in the least.  So I shaved yesterday.  At least I can say I grew a moustache now and I'm pretty confident it won't happen again.  Next year I'll just donate to cancer research.

Hangover III

Good God this is a terrible movie.

Yes, the first one was hilarious.  But the second one was definitely not.  It is beyond all logic that a third was made.

For some reason the writer/director really latched on to the Ken Jeong character.  From a bit part in the first one, to an expanded supporting role in the second, we now have Chow as one of the main characters.  He's not funny.  Nothing he does is funny.  He's surrounded by similarly unfunny people but I'm not sure why leaping naked out of the trunk of a car got him rewarded with so much additional screen time in the sequels.

Terrible.

Stand and Deliver

The evening after Paige showed off her sitting up trick, Jen was drawing her bath, I was in the bedroom getting changed, and Paige was in her crib.  After getting changed, I wandered into the nursery to check and see how the little one was doing.  And there she was, little paws wrapped tightly around the slats of the crib and standing up!  Not stable at all but she looked like she was ready to Jackie Chan her way right over the top of the crib.

I yelled for Jen to come witness this and she made it just in time to see Paige topple over to her side.  It was remarkable.  And we got the crib lowered to its lowest point just in case she got any ideas.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Sit Ups

Updated non-potato pic of Paige with her new sitting up accomplishment.  So proud!


Blankie

Not sure if I'm going to get in trouble for this but my wife has a blankie.  A pink quilted thing that is indispensable for her good night's sleep.  Clashes with every piece of fabric and furniture in our bedroom so it remains hidden until sleepy time and immediately gets hidden again in the morning.

When I was first introduced to blankie, I must admit I was less than gentlemanly.  Blankie would often go missing, find itself in compromising positions, be held for ransom.  But Jen's devotion to it was cute and I eventually let the humourous pranks go in favour of the occasional, good-natured ribbing.

That's the back story on blankie.  This morning at 2:00 a.m. I woke up with a coughing fit.  I'm on the tail end of a cold and currently in coughing phase.  The CPAP machine wasn't helping.  It didn't feel like the coughing was going to stop so I decided to take my things downstairs and ride it out on the couch.

I was grabbing some clothes for the morning from my dresser when Jen groggily asked what was going on.  I told her I was going to take my coughing fit downstairs for the rest of the night.  Then she comes back with "Do you want blankie?".

It was one of the sweetest things she's said to me.  I declined the offer and told her to get some rest before Paige woke up again.  My wife is utterly adorable.

Sit, Good Girl!

Jen says Paige successfully sat up all by herself this morning!  Sadly, the moment was not captured on video.  Instead we have this cute pic that Jen apparently took with a potato instead of her phone.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Going Forward

Paige's first trip in the stroller facing forwards.


Gif

Google did some interesting things with those last photos.  I logged on this morning and got an alert that Google had "auto-awesomed" some of my photos.  The results:



Can't seem to manually control the photos that are included though so I added the rest through an online gif maker.