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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Monday, January 31, 2005

Lucas Proofing

So we finally got the stair case Lucas proofed. A bit of a lay of the land for those of you who have never been here, our place is on two floors. The main level, off the street, is my office, the living room/dining room area and the kitchen, with a sort of nook like area where the TV is. The basement, where the bedrooms and bathroom are, is accessed by a stair case in the middle of the room. This stair case has a very cool looking railing that the previous owners had put in. It's been custom welded out of piping and is really cool. It is also not designed for kids at all. The smallest hole between bars is 1.5 feet. To date we have been using a collection of an old door, some MDF and a sofa to block access to the sides not fenced off by baby gates. Given that he now climbs everything this was no longer a real solution.

We had many different theories about how to handle this. My initial suggestion involved a eye bolt in the floor, some bungie cord and a harness. This plan was vetoed.

Then we were going to use some grommets and some kind of thick canvas and make retractable curtain like things. This was discarded because A) Who the hell wants to do all that sewing B) Cost. Turns out thick canvas (off white, undyed) in largish quantities is not at all cheap.

The next theory involved plastic coated wire and turn buckles. It died after we did a test and realized that we had no idea what we were talking about. It would appear that we kept the bill for the turnbuckles so they are going back to Home Depot.

Then we were going to weave see through vinyl in and out between the bars, with grommets at the end to close them off. We bought and cut the vinyl to shape, got grommets etc etc. I'm guessing we are going to throw it all out. Unless someone wants some very nice pieces of vinyl. To do what with I have no idea. But we've got them. Tons and tons of the crap.

Then, suddenly out of the blue, it was realized that Christine's mom's boss runs a business that uses Plexiglas all the time. He did us a deal and cut it and rounded the corners for us. We then got some 4" x 4" x 10' cedar beams from Home Depot (a fun taxi ride that was) and some hardware and formulated a final plan.

So the deal is that we ran a circular saw down the middle of the beam, 3 times actually, to make a 1.5" groove into the wood, notched the beam where the vertical pipes were and then attached the beams to the pipes with flat metal plates with screws. This process burnt out the engine on my new circular saw which meant my father had to go home to Dorval and get his.

Then came the fun bit. After marking off the location of where the hardware would go we had to drill holes. This, in theory is easy. Plexiglas should drill ok. Like many theories the reality is somewhat different. We got two holes into the first piece no problem but then disaster struck, the next two holes cracked the Plexi. We all felt like crying, or at least drinking quite a lot and then crying (not Lucas, he was at his Mami's). So we attached the wounded sheet of Plexi in place and then my Dad had a brain wave. Instead of using the drill like a drill, why not run it backwards and cut through the Plexi using heat? This worked perfectly.

So, using this technique we managed to get finished. Sure we're going to have to replace the first sheet of Plexi, but we are really really happy with the results. Lucas seems to be mildly oblivious to the whole thing. He knows he can see us when we go downstairs, but that seems to be it. Oh, he gave the Plexi a good lick or two but that's about it.

You can see the whole thing here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Yeah, you know.

Sometimes, when I a bit bored I read right wing political blogs, the kind where they talk amongst themselves because they figure no one is watching. I go to Free Dominion, for instance because it is Canadian and I read about it somewhere.

What always strikes me (hello raging piles of e-mail) is how angry they are. I mean, about everything. Same sex marriage? The existence of gay people. The suggestion that a Judge who basically says what he thinks the outcome of his commission will be should be removed. Immigration, education (all the ations and isms actually). Everything. Always.

Supposedly the left is angry and lashes out and is out of touch and out of the mainstream of most people's views etc etc and that is why it loses elections and will never win an election (Democrats in the US and NDP et al in Canada).

Yet the stuff I read on these sites is filled with hate and rage and venom. At everyone who doesn't think exactly like them. They'll turn on each other at the drop of a hat, over incrimentally different arguements. They want smaller government and less intrusion but they also want laws to illegalize abortion and gay marriage. Apparently they don't see a contridiction.

This all makes me think a couple of things. First, I grew up in a house where the Liberal Party of Canada was viewed with much of the same love you reserve for the welts caused by poison ivy. I have never voted Liberal in my life. I plan on dying without doing so (due diligence time: some of the things done by Chretien and Trudeau [war measures not being one] were good, as were some of the things done by Mulroney). I've voted for the NDP, the Bloc and the Conservatives. I bet I've spoiled my ballot intentionally at least once. My parents are rock ribbed PC stalwart, old school Red Torys to be sure, but life long supporters none the less. All of this to point out that I know a conservative when I see one and what I want to know is this: where the hell have they all gone? Sure I get that the neocon infection has spread everywhere but where are the smaller government, less spending arguments? Where are the fiscal conservatives who couldn't give a crap what you do in your bedroom, or at least aren't fixated on it (unless it costs the country money)? Instead of coming up with a positive statement about how they would do things better, with details and, oh I don't know, A FRICKIN PLAN, they are on about where you put your dick (because lesbians are almost always missing from these conversations... gay men apparently have a high "oooh icky" factor with these folks).

I look at Harper and his cobbled together coalition of exPC members, reasoned conservatives, right wing nutbars and people that are so beige as to be wallpaper and I wonder what Dief would have thought. Or why Mulroney came out and backed them (respect for him? GONE.) Or why anyone was surprised that Joe Clark suggested that anyone sane vote Liberal or NDP last federal election.

The really sad thing about all this hate, and the mediocre nature of the current Conservatives is that they get to blame their electoral defeats on liberals and the extreme left and not have to face the fact that they suck, as do most current leaders of the main parties.

Harper, Martin and Layton (to a lesser degree) all have the vision of a myopic mole. Duceppe (my MP) has vision, but part of it is about dismatling the country and the Bloc is a regional party and people are fixated on the whole sovereignty issue (Note to conservatives and soverigntists alike, my grand children will be cold and dead and there will be no separate Quebec, grow up and deal) so he has about as much chance of being PM as I have of taking off by flapping my arms really hard.

Mulroney, Trudeau, Diefenbaker all had a vision, a plan, an idea of what Canada was meant to be. Their images weren't always popular, they weren't polished to a fine sheen, they weren't polled to death or focus grouped or lawyered, they were raw and pure and true. I hated much of what Trudeau represented, Mulroney drove me fucking nuts (Dief died when I was very young) but you knew where they stood, and it wasn't based in hate and rage and disgust and religion. It was, in their honest belief, what was best for the whole country. All of it, even the bits that hated their guts. Trudeau was sure he was right about the War Measures act and the NEP, Mulroney the same about the GST, Meech etc etc and they could explain why. Nowadays we get bigotry, hate, "we're slightly less shit than the other guys" and policies that can barely get the party faithful worked up.

To say that it sucks is to barely scratch the surface.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cornucopia of grab baggy stuff that I am thinking about and I also need to post something fun an positive before I drive away my 3 regular readers

Ok, so here is what is up:
  • • Lucas, Christine and I are all still sick, to varying degrees. Well not Lucas. He is in full tornado mode [sample behaviors include clearing every flat surface of any thing breakable or ripable]. We are all on the mend. Chris has stayed home for several days and is starting to feel human again.
  • • It's looking like our trip to San Francisco (the first you have all heard of it) is a go for March. We are going to hook up with Andrew and Isako and do all manner of wonderment. For us that means at least 3 day hikes (Lucas' first real ones) and as a group probably lots of sight seeing and shopping and stuff.
  • • I'm wrapping up the writing of my internship report outline. It is pretty much 70% done and my thesis/internship advisor has had a whack at it. It's due no later than Friday, so I have to get that done. Then it's just the small matter of actually, you know, writing the report and defending it.
  • • Speaking of the internship, it continues unabated. 3 days a week of HTML, SCORM, LMS and (sadly) repetitive reviews. I've shown my boss how to do much of the SCORM/LMS/HTML stuff so I guess my time there is wrapping up. But I've been guessing that for about 3 months, so who the hell knows.
  • • I'm doing auditing/reorganizing stuff for the Faculty of Arts and Science still. It is kind of fun, figuring out what is wrong with a website and then reorganizing the info to make more sense and be more useful. I can't wait to get proper webcounting/ use tracking stuff onto the sites so we can start figuring out what the students/faculty actually use.
  • • The cold snap is slowly fading away from Montreal. I suppose that cold is better than tons of snow. It's the second winter in a row that Montreal seems to be under a dome that protects us from the massive blizzards happening in the US North East and in Ontario and the Maritimes. It's a bit odd.
  • • I have nothing more right now.. I might post about something completely different shortly. Or, you know, not.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Death (and moving forward?)

So, it is done. Jacques (the cat) wouldn't eat, drink water, was having a hard time moving, getting up and down the stairs etc. As a last ditch effort we tried to feed him and give him water with an eye dropper last night. He puked up everything we gave him. And then wandered around the house moaning. So I took him to the vet today. A bizarre sight I must have been. Baby strapped to my back, cat carrier in my arms, tears streaming down my face.

He was the first pet of my own after I moved out of my parents house, he came to me from one of my first roommates. Lanny was moving to Vancouver and couldn't take his cats with him and Jacques had fallen in love with Christine (which is good enough for me) so he came with me when I moved out on my own. He was a sweet cat, far from perfect (his pathological hatred of all cats that were black and white for example), but a really nice cat to be around. I'll miss him a lot, probably forever.

Oddly enough I feel a slight sense of relief now that he is gone, he was in so much pain and discomfort, wasn't willing or able to clean himself any more and we were at wits end as to what to do with him. When you're on your hands and knees in the kitchen feeding a cat a syrup and milk mixture with an eye dropper, you've reached the end of that particular journey.
(a note to anyone who linked here from anywhere else, I'm usually not at all this depressing or dark, please read the archives and see for yourself.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Sickness, Death and Mayhem (top that title you bastards)

A week since I last posted, and, to be fair, things have been a touch busy around here. Lucas and I are sick (bad cold and the flu, respectively), we've finaly started Lucas proofing the stair case (cedar 4" x 4" by 10' with notches for the stair railing and a groove for Plexiglas), my thesis advisor yanked hard on the chain (outline by the end of January – final draft by late March, defense in April), Jacques (the cat) is doing no better (no food intake to speak of, little energy etc) and is starting to look more and more like he will be leaving us soon.

To top this all off we went and visited Chris' father and his girlfriend at the girlfriends hospital room in the Montreal General. She was in palliative care, I say "was" because she died yesterday night. Dead of cancer at 51, what a crappy disease. Given my mother's ongoing fight with it, and the random, nearly unstoppable nature of it, I would like to send out a hearty FUCK YOU CANCER AND THE CELLS YOU RODE IN ON at this point.

If I sound whiny and such it's only because I am. There are days when all of life feels like about 80% too much and I would like to go back to bed, pull the covers up and yell "LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING LA LA LA" at the top of my lungs. Then I remember that someone has to change the diapers and get dinner ready and that I really do like most everything about being alive and I move on.

I would like to end on a positive note here, but I'm really not able to. Tomorrow will be another day, I'll fill myself with NyQuil so that I sleep tonight and maybe then I can have a bit more perspective.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

New Year....etc

Already 8 days in, I still haven't done my 2004 wrap up and I'm procrastinating like a mad man.

Right, let's get this over with.

2004 was odd. There were moments of amazement: Lucas walking, Lucas running, Lucas Lucas and more Lucas, fun birthdays, lazy summer days, crystalline winter walks etc etc. There were also moments of utter uck: my mom's continued, protracted battle with metistatic cancer; Lucas going down our stairs, head first, at high speed; continued money worries; continued project procrastination (drywalling sucks so much more when you think it sucks); working till all hours so I am free to take care of Lucas during the day; the state of the world etc etc... In may ways for me 2004 was kind of like a 365 day long conversation about the weather "hot enough for you?" "sure is cold eh?" I guess I feel blah about wide bits of it and this colours my whole view. All in all the fun times out weighed the bad times, but over all I guess the whole year made me weary. Yes, that's the perfect term, weary.

2004, The Year of Weariness™

There, post done.