Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tits On The Radio.

This morning a guy from CBC interviewed me about having the last name Sweet. He was going to talk to my sister about it, but she's sick, so I snaked it out from under her! Sucka!

This guy, Michael Bhardwaj, was preparing a pilot for CBC radio's summer programming. (Shout out to Michael if he's Googled himself.)

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Ceeb in the summer, a lot of the usual shows go on summer hiatus and short-run shows take over for them. They are generally excellent. The summer of '05 when I was writing my thesis in the swelter of Hamilton, it was a great distraction. The strike (lockout - whatever) interrupted that year, too, but I still have fond memories.

Anyhow, this guy is preparing a program about taste, not just food and flavour, but how we perceive flavour and how we use allusions to flavour in our everyday. So... he wanted to interview people with the last name Sweet and that brought him to Marilyn. Marilyn, though, is whinging through the end of a nasty flu, so she referred him to me!

She called me today to let me know he'd be calling in short order. I happened to be wearing my exploding pizza tee, too. (It's not that big a coincidence. I wear it a lot. Too much. hint hint.) It was fun to speak with him. Like my advisor told me when I was nervous about doing interviews for my thesis: don't worry - people love to talk about themselves.

I hope it gets picked up. Not because I want to hear myself on the radio. Quite the opposite. I hate the sound of my voice recorded. Apparently I was on the local CBC morning show this week talking about the media artist's exhibit in at the Confederation Centre's Art Gallery. I didn't hear it, but my ex-co-workers told me I represented. Yo. Anyhow, the series sounds interesting. He evoked Jonathan Goldstein's show, and I enjoys its dark, dark, dark humour.

One more CBC mention. There's an article on-line about sustainibility in the home construction industry. Read it here, si vous vouliez.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Return To Sendah.

I just ordered my phone hook-up for Minden.

The whole town has one postal code. It's so cute!

I hope it's one of those small towns that are packed with charm and fun characters. I also hope it is not one of those small towns with creepy secrets, bored thuggish teenagers that burn stuff for fun, log ladies, bigoted sherrifs, talks-too-long old folks, underground brothels, marauding wildlife, bootleggers, and/or over-zealous Christians.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Playing Dressup.

I got my work boots. They're a combination of orthopedic and Munster. I tried on a lot of pairs. Since I have size 11 feet, they didn't have any ladies' boots in my size, so I had to try on all the big, wide, mens' boots. While the length isn't bad, the width in most of them are too generous. I wouldn't wear narrow shoes, normally, but my feet are slightly narrow, so the men's ones are too big around, so I have to pull the laces extra tight.

From now on, though, if I'm going to spend $100 on footwear, I want them to be prettier.

Last night, Lisa lent me her husband for a shopping trip. Chris and I went to Canadian Tire and Home Depot and I bought almost all of the tools I need. I still need a hard hat, eyewear, and ear protection and some other misc. things, but I checked off most of my list. (See below in green.) It was nice to have someone around who, with experience, knows with what tools I can go cheap and which ones I should pay for quality. Also, there were some things I just couldn't find because I didn't know what they are. He also lent me side-cutters, lots of bits, a measuring tape, and he's trying to dig up an extra respirator, which will be a big help for my budget.

Today I'm going to give blood, and tonight is a curry and movie night. I'm slowly boring through my schoolbooks, but it's way more fun to design homes, so that's what I've mostly been doing in my spare time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Unexpectedly Entertained.

It's less than 2 weeks now, and I feel a lot of things are coming down to the wire.

This week coming, I don't have as many appointments or shifts, so my time can be concentrated on preparing for my course. I bought a few more tools this week, but need to get more off the list. I also called all over Charlottetown looking for 11x17" graph paper, but I can't find any. Bah.

I saw Harold and Maude (1971) for the first time this week, which is a fantastically dark comedy with a killer soundtrack by Cat Stevens. I also finished, in small doses, all the seasons of "Mr. Show with Bob and David." They got considerably better as the seasons progressed, and I found that I was developing an odd and unexpected crush on Bob Odenkirk. I don't know... don't ask me. I'm not in control of these things. It also reminded me of how great David Cross is, and the genius things he did with poor Tobias on "Arrested Development."

Yesterday, I had my audiologist appointment. I think it was the clinic where Lynda used to work, because the bedside manner (as it were) left much to be desired. Anyhow, my ears are healthy as one expects and I found myself entertained by the test for understanding. In earphones, a monotone male voice said "you say carve," and I have to say the word back. "Owl," was another one I remember. I find it so interesting to think that someone could hear the same sounds as me, but by the time they're processed by the brain, the sounds might change. Neat!

"Common prices vary from Can$2 to $5 per bale. We like to offer farmers the best possible price for their bales, rather than negotiating the lowest possible price. One of the advantages of bale building is the creation of a valuable product for farmers, and we believe it is important to foster good relations with bale suppliers. The cost of bales will be one of the lowest on your budget, even if you voluntarily offer top dollar. And offering a generous price helps guarantee that the bales will meet all your requirements."

from More Straw Bale Building: A Complete Guide to Designing and Building with Straw by Chris Magwood, Peter Mack, and Tina Therrien. New Society Publishers, Canada. 2005, p 29.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rocks For Jocks.

In the spring, a young man's fancy turns lightly to thoughts of not snapping their axles in the titanic potholes that appear on Prince Edward Island roads.

The soil softens, and with no bedrock to speak of, the floating asphalt becomes like mini techtonic plates. They shift away from one another, leaving muddy red gashes with malleable margins. They also shift toward each other forming broken fault lines and sudden valleys. Driving becomes more like a video game. If you're not familiar with the road you're driving, you run the risk of cracking your teeth.

Whoever said Prince Edward Island was a mild, peaceful place? This is hard livin'. On the streets, yo.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Two Weeks "Off."

So. It's Monday. I have a few shifts at the reception desk of the Gallery and the Theatre, but otherwise, my time is mostly my own.

Marilyn and Mike were here this weekend. They needed to get the car inspected, so they drove home for a few days. I'll see them again soon. We have decided that were leaving to drive up to Minden on the 4th of April, and we'll stop in to see them on the way. On April 20th, I'll be back in Ottawa to see John Mayer in concert. I was kicking myself that I didn't see him in Toronto the first autumn I was in Hamilton, so I'll make up for it now (even though his sound has changed a little since the "Heavier Things" tour). I'm excited about seeing him live.

These two weeks I want to read my schoolbooks and look with more detail at my assignments. I also have to buy work clothes and tools. On the list below of March 14th, I'm going to highlight in green the items I have procured, so you can follow my progress. This week I'm also having a baseline test done on my ears, so if I I experience problems in the future, I'll have a jumping-off point.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fine Art And Power Tools.

Today is my last day at the Gallery. I'm pleased that I'm winding down my time here, but I'll miss my co-workers. They're really geat people to work with, and they're a lot of fun, even though they are very busy.

On Wednesday, Ben, the Preparator for the Gallery, showed me how to use a circular saw! I'd never held one, let alone operated one, so I was terrified. He rigged up a scrap of a 2-by-4 and I made two cuts. Nothin' fancy. They weren't totally straight, but that'll come with practice.

Then, when I came in on Thursday, Ben had brought in his spare circular saw from home to lend to me for the summer! It's heavy, but by the time I'm done using the saw for the foundation and the framing/roofing, I'm sure all that hoisting will be great for tossing around strawbales like they're pillows. It's a huge help, because I was budgeting about $150 for my own saw.

I'm afraid to use power tools. I have started to have nightmares involving Tarantino-quantities of blood and loss of digits. I know it's good to have that kind of fear, because recognising that they have a lot of dangerous potential will keep me from getting complacent around them. When I was a Teaching Assistant, I didn't even like using an overhead projector. Jesus.

Yesterday at our weekly staff meeting (held, coincidentally, in Mavor's during happy hour), my co-workers presented me with a 4-foot level, a utility knife, and a sack full of pre-owned nails and screws to re-use in my future building projects. It was so thoughful, I love my presents. Now everytime I check to see if a beam is perfectly horozontal, I'll think of my good peeps at the Gallery.

They've been very encouraging about this course, and have been telling me that they're proud of me. I just hope I make them proud, too, and I'm not wasting my time. (I know, I know... any new thing learned isn't a waste.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

By Popular Demand.

It's not really popular demand when one whinging friend asks for it, though, is it? Is it, Holly?

Here's the list of tools I'm meant to have for my course. I don't recognise what everything is, but I'm getting better. I went tool browsing last night, and I was quite overwhelmed. I think I've got some of it sussed, but other things, not so much.

The Good House Book, by Clarke Snell.
Green Building Products, edited by Alex Wilson and Mark Piepkorn.
More Straw Bale Building, by Chris Magwood, Peter Mack and Tina Therrien.
Design of Straw Bale Buildings, by Bruce King.

The following is a list of tools that must be owned by each student prior to the outset of the building phase of the course (April 23, 2007). We will hold a “tool day” during the second week of the course to ensure that each student is properly equipped, and to study tool use, safety and maintenance. Be sure to mark your tools in such a way that you can easily identify them.

Personal Gear
-CSA approved safety footwear
-Hard Hat
-Safety glasses (1 indoor, 1 outdoor)
-Ear protection (if using ear plugs, multiple replacements required)
-Gloves (1 pair durable, 1 pair waterproof)
-Sun screen
-Adequate work clothing
-Tool belt
-Respirator (cartridge style, not paper dust masks)

General Tools
-Drafting kit (incl. drafting pencils, eraser, ruler, T-square, 11x17 graph paper and construction calculator)
-Portable tool box, lockable
-Cordless drill or impact driver 14.4v or 18v (with 2 batteries and charger)
-Good selection of drill bits, incl. 12 #2 robertson bits in various lengths, high-speed bits, wood bits and optional spade bits in a variety of diameters
-Circular saw with carbide tipped blade, with 1 replacement blade and 1 metal cutting blade
-Minimum 25’ x ¾” Tape measure
-Framing square
-Speed square
-Bevel square
-2 foot or 4 foot level
-Torpedo Level
-Screwdriver set
-Minimum 20 oz hammer (not a hallow shaft)
-Nail puller/Cat's paw
-Chalk line and chalk
-2 Utility knives and replacement blades
-Staple gun or hammer tacker
-Tin snips
-Set of Chisels (ex: 1”, ¾”, ½”)
-Pliers, side cutters, channel locks, vice grips, adjustable wrench
-Clamps, min. 12” (so far I have: one 12'', one 36")
-Hand-saw or pull-saw and miter box
-Heavy-duty scissors
-2 paint brushes
-Bag of rags
-6 Carpenter pencils
-3 permanent “sharpie” markers
-14” Pool trowel (rounded edges)
-14” square trowel (Additional trowels may be desired (indeed, lusted after), incl. 8 or 10” pool trowel, a brick layer’s trowel, pallet knife, magnesium float and various specialty sized and shaped trowels)
-Site notebook or clipboard

Advanced Tools
These tools will not be required of students, but are recommended for those who intend to continue performing general house building duties beyond the scope of this course. These tools are not included in the cost estimate for course supplies.
-Half-inch hammer drill and masonry bits
-Reciprocating saw (“sawz-all”) with wood and metal blades
-Jig saw with variety of blades
-Hand-held electric planer
-Belt sander
-Angle grinder (min. 4.5”)
-Miter saw or radial arm saw
-Table saw
-Bolt cutters
-Socket set
-Air compressor and selection of air tools

Specialty Tools
Some phases of construction will require specialty tools. The program will supply these, but those interested in pursuing specialty fields may want to consider purchasing their own:
-Pipe/tubing cutter
-Propane torch and lighter
-Wire strippers
-Soldering gun
-Pex crimper

As you can imagine, I'm going to stick to buying the general tools, as I have to get almost everything new and going above and beyond would be prohibitively expensive.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Break Radio Silence.

Sorry for the incommunicado.

I've really had nothing to report this week. I've been going to work, going home, and going to work again. Would you rather read pith or bumf?

This is my last week in at the Gallery, and then I have two weeks before I leave for Ontario. I spent a lot of time yesterday going through my Hamilton apartment stuff and weeding out what I'll need in my Minden apartment. I have to think economy, because I don't want to bring stuff up only to not need it and then have to cart it back again in September. Do I need two casseroles? Do I need one? (Yes - what if the roof leaks?) I have to start shopping for tools and supplies this week, too.


-The new Beyonce and Shakira video makes me uncomfortable. Maybe because they seem to blend into one person. Maybe because it looks like it was filmed in a shvitz room at a day spa. Maybe because the song is shite.

-It's warm again here on the Island. While I hate winter, I'm a little disappointed we haven't had a ring-tail snorter of a storm. (That's what my father calls a huge storm.)

-I made it a week without watching Shaun of the Dead. I think I've talked my co-workers at the Gallery into screening it on Friday, though. I should be able to hold out until then.

-I watched a lot of "Mr. Show" this weekend. I think I like it. There's something missing that I don't like, or maybe it's dated or something, but I will keep watching. David Cross' stand-up, however, is gold, and I recommend you have a listen to one of his CDs if you have the opportunity.

-I've also been watching "Green Wing," a British hour-long comedy. It's mentioned at times on the Ricky Gervais Show (podcasts), so I thought I'd give it a go. It's got some familiar faces in it, and is very dark and perverted. I am also unsure if I like it, since it kinda crosses the line for me at times. (You know it has to be bad when...) I usually love that the British seem to have a higher capacity for absurdity in their comedy, but almost every character in this show is so profoundly odd, I have a hard time enjoying myself.

There. Will that keep the shakes at bay, you vultures?

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Hearty Bunch.

How do the British survive? The tea consumption alone is astronomical. When I was in Bexleyheath in October, I was offered tea at least four times a day. I usually have one cup a day, if that. One day during that trip, I resolved to drink each cup that was made for me. I felt ok, aside from the frequent urination.

Yesterday, I hosted a Shaun of the Dead screening. It was great fun. I enjoyed it, anyway. There were eleven of us in my parent's basement, and we had so much food, it was great. I had those great chocolate chip-pumpkin cookies and edamame, and people brought cheese, crackers, grapes, trail mix, meatballs, breaded zucchini sticks, and chips and chips and chips.

I didn't eat too much, though. I hit the soy beans and had a couple of cookies, but most of the real estate in my stomach was occupied by tea. In honour of the British pic pick, I brewed a pot of tea for my guests. Only Laura and Terry partook in a single cup each. I, however, made up for everyone else.

I had a cup before people arrived, then two cups while we waited for the last lost lambs to arrive (triple trouble, ya'll), then another while we watched the movie. Then I brewed another pot and had two more cups that night.

Stop grinning at me like that, you limey bastard.

I'm not talking herbal tea here, either. It was full-on Tetley.

I guess I know now that I cannot physically handle six cups of tea in one day. I went to bed early, feeling slightly sick and clammy, my skin crawling like there were tiny electric charges surging at random all over. This, I suppose, is akin to the coffee jitters I hear so much about. I didn't like it at all. It was unnerving in a tolerable way.

I had an All Shaun, All The Time Weekend. On Saturday, I watched the commentary track, and on Sunday morning, I watched the trivia track version of the movie, which is lovingly called the Zombometer. It was very informative about all the little nods to the creators' favourite zombie movies. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are inspired.

About half my guests hadn't seen the movie before, which was great. I think that people who had seen it and wanted to see it again really shows how great it is, though. I say if you haven't seen it, you should go rent it. Or, better yet, save yourself the future rental fees and just buy a copy for yourself. I paid c.$15 for my copy, I think (more than I usually would pay), and I've probably averaged it down to about a dollar per showing now.

I tried to do my hair up in an Yvonne-esque pouf, and although I couldn't get Jessica's height, it really put me in the mood. For a disembowling.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Plans For My Course.

Here are the plans for the community centre we're going to be building in Minden. You can kind of see the scale by the door to the right.

I'm getting more and more excited about this. And look how high it is! I'd better get over my shakyness around hights, and fast!