Saturday, July 31, 2010

It *still* doesn't hurt to ask for what you want.

As I pointed out here, I have a truly remarkable track record regarding wish fulfilment. The key to My success is simple: I'm pretty darned specific as to what I want.
  • Rumour has it that the seventh and final item on My original Wish List, a complete DVD set of the Max Headroom TV series, is scheduled for release on August 10, 2010. I'll believe it when I see it. I'll also be pulling out My debit card at approximately the same moment.

  • StarCraft II has now been out for four whole days, and I *will* be getting a copy approximately five nanoseconds after I upgrade to a stronger Windows-based system.

  • I finally have an actual stereo receiver (In fact, I'm listening to "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones as I type), with a dedicated disc player to follow sometime in the next two weeks.

  • And, as of this evening, I now have a recumbent exercise cycle of My very own. Red and I picked it up for about $20 CDN, and it works just fine. I've already put a quarter of a mile on it, which is No Mean Feat for a goddess with iliotibial bands so tight they could be used to cut aged Parmesan cheese, and vastus medialis muscles that are only now coming out of hiding after untold years in the Witness Protection Program.
Seriously, though... It's time to do some serious work on the second list. I still want My Stratocaster XII back (an early 1990's beige-white one, pleaseandthankyou), along with My Chinese jian, My "See Food" coffee cup, a bottle of Eau de Love, a bottle of Avon's Somewhere cologne, and the album Tasty by the Good Rats.

But I'm revising My optimal weight downward. 170 pounds feels... Incomplete, somehow. I'm going to try for 150 instead.

Just in case there's a Rolling Stones concert I need to jog laps around one fine summer night. Priorities, y'know.

Photo by Red.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to install a stereo receiver

Welcome to another "How-to (and how not-to)" episode of TSG. In today's episode, I purchase a 100-watt stereo receiver of My Very Own, and actually get it configured just so.

What you'll need:
  • A nice, shiny new piece of audio gear (in My case, a Yamaha RX-397)
  • A 19" equipment rack (built here) with a rack shelf that I bought specifically for this purpose
  • Dustpan and whisk broom
  • Floor cleaner, because I'm not getting down on that floor to do any work before I clean up that puddle of cat pee
  • One sheet of disposable cleaning rag (see above)
  • Hand soap (ditto)
  • Two steel angle brackets to add extra support to the back of the rack shelf
  • ¾" x #10 wood screws
  • A leatherworking awl, to make starter holes for the wood screws
  • A slightly-melted fuchsia-coloured multi-bit screwdriver
  • A couple of nice, heavy bookshelf-size speakers which I bought about 10 years ago but haven't yet pressed into service
  • A quick lie-down, because with the humidity it feels like 40℃
  • A peek at the manual, just because
  • Various contortions that vaguely resemble an entire hatha yoga class trying to dance to "Rock Lobster" under someone's front porch
  • A bottle of La Fin du Monde beer and a couple of European wieners with fried onions
  • One ⅛" to ¼" adaptor
  • One set of headphones
  • Another set of headphones, because the first set is only working on one side
  • Red's help to test the wonky headphones and declare them perfectly functional
  • A good night's sleep
  • A coffee run
  • A brand new ⅛" to ¼" headphone adaptor, because the first one was shorting out
  • A spool of proper 18-gauge speaker wire, because the cheap red-and-black stuff that came with the speakers seems to have a break on the left side
  • Another lie-down
  • Scissors and an extremely sharp Swedish-made Frosts knife, to strip the insulation off the new speaker wire
  • A few more contortions to run the new wire through the equipment rack, out the back and under the desk
  • One more bottle of La Fin de Monde beer
  • A hug from My teddy bear, Mikhael Bearzhezhinski; a thumbs-up from My guardian dragon Glori; and an "Ooh! Ahh!" from Red, who has come downstairs to hear what the new system sounds like
What you will probably not need:
  • Five or six MIDI cables
  • Power adaptor for now-defunct 10/100 Ethernet switch
  • Three completely different USB cables
  • A guitar cord
  • Needle nose pliers
  • A copy of Essential System Administration by Æleen Frisch (but only because I no longer need it to hold up the paper tray on My printer)
  • A bag containing 45' of spare Cat 5e network cable
  • A video switchbox
  • A cable from a KVM switch
  • A Command and Conquer disk that has yet to run properly on the WINE emulator on My Linux system
  • A toy car (bright red BMW Z8)
  • A Clue-By-Four™ (parks Her weapon of choice back in the corner next to Her desk)
Elapsed time: About three hours of actual labour over two evenings. Special thanks to Larry, the IT instructor who taught Me that approximately 90% of all computer problems are bad connections. I took that lesson to heart many years ago (and expanded it to include electronic stuff and whatnot in general), and it continues to pay off handsomely. I mean, a broken speaker wire *and* a broken headphone adaptor? It happens.

And if you take anything home from this episode of TSG, let it be this: Life is far too short to waste on cheap speaker wire.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Going Medieval

Chala and Red and I went back to Cook's Creek this afternoon, this time to attend the biannual Medieval Festival.

We had a representative from the Order of White Robes, of which I am a proud (and duly Tested) member...

...Ancient devices that deliver pizza (and tasty rocks) in 30 seconds or less...

...Various "WTF?" moments...

...A few arguments over parking spaces...

...A mouse who just wanted to party hearty...

...And Max, whom I'm sure I saw at Wildlife Haven in Île-des-Chênes a couple of months ago.

A fine time was had by all.

And next time, in 2012, I'm wearing My white robes to the party.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Demo Mode

Back off, man. I have a demolition permit, and I know how to use it!

The long-awaited Disappearing of My long-suffering garage is finally underway. On Wednesday I went to the City Planning and Permits office, pulled out My debit card, and obtained official permission to make said garage go away. On Thursday I made the required phone calls to the fine Call Before You Dig folks at various utilities, and by a quarter after one today I had received official assurance that yes, I can tear down the garage without disrupting electricity, phone, cable or dihydrogen monoxide service to the neighbourhood, or causing a massive explosion that would ruin everyone's day.

So begins Episode 1 of "You can too fit a whole garage into a 2001 Cavalier!"

Or not.

But you just know I'm going to try. Stay tuned...

Photo by Red.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

East by Northeast

Red, Chala and I went on a jaunt into the Manitoba countryside this afternoon, heavily armed with photographic equipment.

After a quick breakfast en route, our first stop was the Immaculate Conception Church of Cook's Creek where I got this picture:

My gear for this photo op was Red's Olympus E410. I still need to put in some quality time with Oly, but I do think I'm starting to Get It.

From the church we proceeded northward and then west to the town of Lockport.

After lunch, Red walked up onto a nearby bridge to take a few more pictures, and then we all piled into the car and headed back to the city. We stumbled in, made lunch for the Dark Legion, and rested just long enough to have the strength for an ice cream run.

Manitoba weekends FTW!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ceci n'est pas un floor.

I got severely plastered tonight. Oddly enough, I am now one small step closer to finishing the study floor. Even more odd is the fact that I didn't actually work on the study floor.

As one walks into the study, on the left is a short stretch of wall with a heating duct and a light switch. For the purpose of putting in some new circuits and pulling up some fresh coaxial cable for the Internet, the bottom section of this wall was pried open somewhere around 2004 or 2005.

More recently, to improve the heating on the second floor, I did a bit of sheet metal work* and closed off the cold air return on that side of the wall because, according to a heating contractor, the warm air that was being pumped upstairs was just being sucked right downstairs to the basement again. (Now it has to go around the wall and over My feet to get to the other cold air return conveniently situated right behind My open-framed desk.)

And earlier this week, I constructed a new duct boot for the hot air side of the system, one that directs warm stuff above the floor and into the study, rather than into the joist system.

The bottom line: After finishing the HVAC infrastructure for the study, I had about six feet of broken-up wall that needed an Extreme Makeover. This involved loosening one of the floorboards I had already laid, to make sure the wall got fixed all the way to the bottom. Then I mixed, and plastered, and mixed again.

The wall looks much, much better now. I now have just a light topcoat of plaster to apply to the lower part of the wall. Once it's all thoroughly dry, I'll finally be in a position to finish the subfloor at the study entrance.

And then, only then, comes the rest of that third and final row of boards.

And then another two or three electrical circuits for the 2nd and 3rd floor northwest corner. A new ceiling, with track lighting. A new window. Proper hardwood flooring, not cheap laminate. Built-in bookcase across the entire west wall, with cat-friendly ramparts and walkways, and room to sew or paint or carve. A nice black leather couch. One of those Himalayan salt lamps. Perhaps even a flat-screen TV...

Ah, the interconnectedness of all things -- It can be *such* a pain sometimes.

* Sheet metal and I have had a somewhat awkward relationship for approximately 35 years now. On My right index finger I have a rather substantial scar acquired during My 1975 attempt to construct a tenor-scale 6 string guitar from sheet metal; red Plexiglas; fret wire; Les Paul tailpiece parts set in lead that I melted on My parental units' stove; homemade dual-coil pickups messily hand-wound from 38-gauge copper; several boxes of Polyfilla; and an extremely unfortunate sunburst Silvertone electric that really only needed a touch-up with a good fret file.

In retrospect, it would've been a lot less work to carve Myself a whole new guitar with a dull pocket knife.

But that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Think Like a God Day 2010: Core Competencies

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Think Like a God Day. As in previous years, July 13 is a day to reflect upon your inner divinity and talk about what you think a god should be.

This year's discussion topic is essential skills. What, at a bare minimum, should a god be able to do?

I have fairly liberal views on godhood. I don't think one need be omniscient, but sentience is probably a good idea.

I've never been interested in Ultimate Power, but I do think that a god should have at least one specialty. I specifically chose magisteria that don't actually require Me to do a lot of heavy lifting 24/7/365. Being the Goddess of Punctuation is probably the most onerous of My specialties, but I find Strunk & White's The Elements of Style and Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves to be inspirational and helpful. Chocolate mostly takes care of itself, as does the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox. As for random equipment malfunctions, they appropriately just show up whenever they darn well feel like it.

Overall, I think the most important role for a god is a willingness to take full responsibility for at least one aspect of reality.

So, get cracking -- There's a lot of reality out there.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"I hung it on me wall!"

The title of this episode of TSG comes from a Simpsons episode that involved a certain Liverpudlian drummer, Marge Simpson, and a thank-you note for a gift given long ago.

When I saw the episode some years ago, it raised My spirits in ways that I can barely begin to describe. The only difference between Marge and Myself is that whereas she rediscovered her love for painting, I rediscovered My love for music -- Something which the Beatles, and Ringo in particular, inspired Me to pursue.

To Richard Starkey, better known to the world as Ringo Starr, I wish you a happy 70th birthday.

*sniffles and wipes a tear from Her eye*

And thank you.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Once in a lifetime

Red and I jumped on a bus this afternoon and headed downtown with approximately 2.3 litres of drinking water, two brand new sun hats, and All the Cameras We Could Carry. I had a point-and-shoot stowed away in My purse for photographic emergencies, and Red's Olympus E410 around My neck. Red had her Nikon D50 digital SLR and her Rolleiflex medium-format camera, the latter loaded with black-and-white 120 film.

So this is what I did with Oly. First, I got a nice shot of some people strolling across the Esplanade foot bridge...

...Then, after a few minutes' work in the GIMP, cropping and adding just a touch of the Unsharp Mask filter, we see...

Yes, that is indeed Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Welcome to Winnipeg, Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A somewhat conflicted Canada Day.

I'm sitting here at My computer in a state of Comfortably Numb +1, having imbibed a moderate quantity of Havana Frappé (white rum, pineapple juice, lemon, Maraschino cherry, lime, yet more rum...) I'm feeling mostly okay except for one nasty little incident that occurred when Red and I were out on an Emergency Potato Run this afternoon.

The original plan was to go to The Forks, a Winnipeg tourist attraction, to have a nice coffee and pick up some potatoes for the potato salad we intended to make this evening. We did indeed set out in that direction, only to discover...

"...$5.00 for parking? Are you bleepin' nuts, people?"

So let's just say that the Springy Goddess muttered some rather dark seiðr under Her breath before we turned the car around and went to an East Indian grocery for the potatoes, and a Starbucks for the coffee.

The potato salad was delicious, by the way.