Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Triangle Of Math.

Today, a professional timber framer came to teach us how to do timber frame roof joinery.

It was pretty cool, actually.

I was expecting it to be dead boring, but it wasn't! This guy, Steve Smith, a professional timber framer, came in to teach us about the math involved with building a timber frame roof.

I heard the word math and all my alarms went off. I immediately got my back up and assumed I would be left behind. I'm generally math ath backwardth.

I forgot, though, that I have some sort of weird mutant triangle superpower.

When I was in high school, I was utterly left behind by algebra, but I could handle trigonometry instinctually. Hand me a triangle, and I could figure out its ins and outs without the formulas. (This was a pain, actually, because then I had to work backwards to show my work.) [Remember showing your work? Man! Can you imagine still having to do that as an adult?]

Today, I could rotate beams in my mind and see where the cuts had to go, and I watched my classmates struggle with it. I stood back and didn't say anything, because I didn't want to use the circular saw to make the awkward cuts. It took forever and we didn't stop for lunch until about 2pm.

Tomorrow: we're pouring the concrete slab! Wee! I say "wee" for the spectacle of it all, not for the concrete itself, which has stupid-high embodied energy compared to sustianable foundation methods, like rubble trench and earth bag.

That reminds me: on Wednesday, we're going to an earth bag workshop! It'll be great, although sweaty, work.

Finally: I saw Disturbia (2007) tonight. It wasn't crap! I'm not used to seeing suspenseful movies, so it was a fun change. It's quite stressful! It was obviously targeted at a teen audience. There was a lot of making out in this film (on the screen - don't get too excited), and I can't say there was enough. I like that Shia!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sorry, All.

I don't know where the week's gone.

I worked more this week on the construction site, and some more at the PR bs I have to do. I made information pamphlets, which still need some tweaking, I tied some rebar, I got a smiley-shaped sunburn on my arse, I hosted the first tour of the site, which went very well, I sucked at uploading pictures to the website (this week's priority), and I recorded a PSA about the tours. I kicked butt at that, I think, and the station manager took my number in case I wanted to do some more voice work for them. That's cool, I guess.

I have also learned how to play euchre (or at least I think that's how it's spelled). It's fun but I still don't know all the rules.

There's an election today back home. I'm glad I'm not around to do my civic duty. Municipal and provincial elections never stimulated me. I suppose I could have educated myself and looked into mail-away ballots, but sure didn't!

Today, the highlight will be mailing my passport application. Then, when I'm done this course, I can traipse off to Bali, put my feet up, and work on my melanoma.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I’m sitting out on my balcony now, straining every inch of my 50’ internet cable. I’m tethered with about 12 inches of cord out my door.

Oh, well. It’s a beautiful night. The Gull River is calm and all the weekend’s annoying motorboaters have all gone back to Toronto. There are lots of birds around here, and I’m watching robins, grackles, and some sort of swallow rip up and down the river. The willows are greening up, and there’s a flowering crab on my bank of the river busting into bloom. My tomato plant is also in bloom, so there's hope for yum if I don't lose anything to frost.

I just finished another stint of some whittling. That’s right: whittling. It’s hurting my fingers, though. We exchanged names of classmates for summertime secret friends, and I overheard my secret friend say she wanted a carved squirrel. WTF? A squirrel? Ok… So I bought an eighty-cent box cutter and got a piece of basswood from the construction site and now I’m whittling. Yep.

Next to me, on the other side of the balcony, my housemate Ryan is working on making a drum. He’s got a log of cedar that he’s hollowed out, and now he’s fashioning a lip out of cedar shingles that he cleaned out of the middle of the log. Next, he’ll stretch some sort of skin over that lip.

He’s kind of a quiet guy, but is very descriptive when he does choose to open his mouth. He shaved off his beard last week and suddenly looked like late-70s Jack Nicholson. So strange…

I love the point when you’ve met new people and you’ve kind of got them sussed. Ry is happy to sit in silence and work. So am I.

Oh, and he’s cooking a snapping turtle on his BBQ. Didn’t I mention that earlier? Huh. He went on a canoeing trip this weekend and found a dead roadkill turtle along the way. Apparently (and this is something about him I did not have sussed), he’s always wanted to make a ukulele out of a turtle shell, so when he saw the dead one, he snapped it up. Now he’s roasting it so it won’t be so disgusting to clean out later. ‘Cuz that would be gross.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Chairman Of The Bored.

I'm all alone! Wee! Almost every one of my classmates have gone away for the long weekend. They're all closer to home than me. Hell, even Dave flew back to Saskatchewan, but he's a farmer and he had to take a few days to sow crops. So I guess he has an excuse. Pf.

I like having the apartment to myself. Don't get me wrong - I like that my classmates and housemates drop by at any time, but I really value alone time, too. Yesterday, I got my hair trimmed and didn't do anything else all day. I watched tv (I'm going through a Scrubs phase, in case it not soon clear), downloaded Limewire and started gathering music. My favourite acquisition was Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison." Holy crap, that song kicks it.

On Friday, my sister successfully defended her Master's thesis. She was pooping her pants and having heart attacks beforehand, but she pulled it together for the day. I'm so proud of her! She finished with expert timing, and now she and I are both qualified to push paper and be bitter under-appreciated shells of our former selves.

The Playlist To Which I Am Currently Busting Moves:

Simon and Garfunkel: The Only Living Boy In New York
Gnarls Barkley: Crazy
Bell Biv DeVoe: Poison (1990 was a dark year for fashion)
Amy Winehouse: Rehab
Cozy Powell: Dance With The Devil
Man Parrish: Hip Hip (Be Bop) ("It's not hip-hop, it's electro. Prick.")
Fergie: Fergalicious
The Shins: New Slang
Hot Hot Heat: Talk To Me, Dance With Me
The Kaiser Chiefs: Everything Is Average Nowadays
The Kaiser Chiefs: Ruby
The Kaiser Chiefs: I Predict a Riot
Kanye West: Touch the Sky
Kid Koala: The Gonk
Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams: Kids
LCD Soundsystem: Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
Manic Street Preachers: You Stole The Sun From My Heart
Manic Street Preachers: Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
Mika: Grace Kelly
Kernkraft 400: Zombie Nation (It is impossible to find a clip of this song that isn't crap or gross. Find it yourself.)
Stars: Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Supergrass: Moving
T-Rex: Solid Gold Easy Action
The Fratellis: Baby Fratelli (video not a coincidence)
The Fratellis: Cuntry Boys and City Girls
The Fratellis: Flathead
The Fratellis: Henrietta
The Fratellis: Chelsea Dagger
The Fratellis: Whistle For The Choir
The Specials: Ghost Town

I've been listening to VirginRadio.co.uk a lot lately, and it's really influenced my choices. I think I have to order Costello Music and Yours Truly, Angry Mob, not to mention Back to Black.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm Going To Be In Traction.

Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave woman.

Today, the gravel for the foundation came, and it was only after we shovelled it into ten 10"-high pads that we realised we had too much, so we had to rig up a gangplank runway for two wheelbarrows and shovel in load after load of the gravel into the barrows to cart it away.

Anyhow, the upshot is: I am going to be absolutely crippled tomorrow after hours and hours of shovelling crushed stone. My butt already hurts, and my shoulders, too.

Tomorrow we have to cut and connect all the rebar. Rebar is vile shit that I hope to use very little of in my future design projects. It has high embodied energy and is a total pain in the ass to work with. Curse thee, rebarre.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"They're Not All That."

I just re-watched Hot Fuzz. I found it online. Streaming, with no subtitles or weird glitches. Lucky me, right? Hm.

Anyhow, after watching it a second time, I've decided that I'm not all that hot on it.

Tepid Fuzz? (And I thought I was being clever - someone else beat me to it.)

It's a good twenty mintues too long, the climax gets tedious (even though I get and appreciate the spectacle of a gun battle in a sleepy English village and that Pegg and Frost must have been creaming their pants at the thought of shooting off a shedload of weapons and making 'splosions), and I just plain didn't root for the characters as much as I should have wanted to.

Shaun was a fuck-up. Nicolas Angel is a crack cop who loses his gourd and totes enormous shotguns while riding a white horse. I guess that's what happens when you get a huge budget to write a movie you're going to star in.

Anyhow. This is the first time, I think, I've not been super hot on a Pegg offering. "Spaced," Shaun, "Big Train," that "Danger: 50,000 Volts" he guest-starred on with Nick Frost... all fried gold. I still have the poster on the wall, even though I wish it were Shaun instead.

Rafe Spall was still great. I stand by that one. His was in a double act with Paddy Considine which was very well done.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Salad Days.

Living as a student again is pretty great. Why didn't I do my PhD? Oh, yeah - because that's shit. College is where it's at.

Preamble: There are two apartment units in my building; a 3-bedroom at the front and my 1-bedroom-cum-2-bedroom at the back. Sarah, P.F., and Ryan are at the front, and they are also our classmates. Our doors are always open and we wander back and forth. It's rather nice, actually.

Back to the student discussion:

On Tuesday night, my classmate Michał came over to cook up veggie burgers (he used to work as a chef). I made a chip dip (thanks for the inspiration, Gahan House!), and Kevin squished his hands in the burger mix, which was black beans, oats, potatoes, corn and other yummies. The next-door neighbours just hooked up a BBQ that they rescued from the dump, so our two households, both alike in dignity, became one. In fact, the rungs that separate our balconies were unscrewed so we now have one large balcony with a passageway. We rigged up some ribbon, I gave an inpromptu speech, and Michał, as the guest, performed the ceremonial cutting. If I get the video that P.F. took, I'll post it on youtube and link it.

So, there were 6 of us at that point: me, Kevin, Michał, P.F., Sarah, and Ryan. Then Chris, Maura, Serena, Justin, Tad, and Baz came over, all bearing food. They all live within a 5-minute walk. An unplanned gathering! Ok! Sure! We all ate Michał's excellent veg burgers, along with a spinach salad he made (I contributed marinated, grilled portobello mushrooms which were excellent), and then next door became a jam session. Ryan has a guitar, bass, and little drum kit, Justin brought his fiddle, and lots of percussion instruments were created from beer bottles. I played the electric bass! My fingers were raw by the end of it, but it came back to me fairly well. The frets didn't mess me up as much as I'd thought.

Well, that was Wednesday. On Thursday, my classmate Sebastian and his wife Yuki had a bunch of us over for a housewarming. They just moved into Minden and they prepared raw spring rolls, red and green Thai curries, and green tea direct from Japan. Again, a nice time.

I am feeling quite light these days. It's really beautiful up here. All the trees are becoming green, so standing out of the balcony is a real treat. We're kinda at a crossroads of the town, so usually, when we stand outside, one of my classmates walks by. We at least wave, if not invite them in for a beer or a sit-down.

Tomorrow are the workshops attached to the annual meeting of the Ontario Straw Bale Building Coalition (OSBBC), so a lot of us are going up to take in the experts' talks.

New Linque du Jour!

Next week, Thursday is pirate day. I have no idea how to dress like a priate while wearing a hard hat, a tool belt, and steel-toe boots. Ahrr.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

It Was 7 Years Ago Today...

Seven years ago this weekend, Jackie and I were in Paris. I was living in Kent at the time and she came to visit. It was a bank holiday, so we zipped to Blackheath in my Mini to catch the coach. The entire weekend, Jackie survived solely on chaussons aux pomme and Fanta. The Louvre was closed because of the bank holiday, but we walked everywhere around the city until our feet were bloody stumps.
It was beautiful, with sunny days and even a misty Sunday morning with almost-abandoned streets. We stayed in a great little room up in the Montmartre district, which was definitely colourful. We walked up the Champs Élysées, got some shade in the Eiffel Tower, enjoyed some gaufres in a little park, and generally took it all in.

On the way home, we stopped into a duty-free-type place right before the ferry, where all the other coach passengers loaded up on wine. I didn't drink wine at the time, and Jackie still doesn't, but they had flats of cheap Fanta, so we bought one. They had expired, but how can pop go bad?

It turns out Fanta can go bad. It stings when it's gone off. I wager it's something to do with the real orange juice they use. Anyhow, on the ride home, Jackie knocked back some Fanta and finished her cache of chaussons aux pomme just in time for me to drive us home in my very zippy, low-to-the-ground Mini around the little narrow, twisty, Kentish roads.

We got home and Jackie promptly barfed.

I know I should write more about my mini-break to Paris, but despite all of that city's romance and beauty, Jackie puking up a weekend's worth of pastry and off Fanta will always define that weekend for me.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Brick Shit House.

Ok, not brick, but plaster.

My class has decided to use cow manure as a key ingredient in the plaster we're using on the project. It makes beautiful-looking plaster which is still vapor permeable, and the smell goes away when it dries. The smell is there while you're working it, though. Oh, is it ever there.

This week, I was developing my scoliosis and rickets while all my classmates were working outside. I was stuck at my computer, doing PR work, emailing out scores and scores of media releases. It's mind-numbing work, and I was finding myself very tired at the end of each day, but a bored tired, not a proper tired.

After some convincing, I didn't take my laptop to the worksite on Friday. Instead, I packed my sunscreen and a bottle of water. I had so much fun! I mostly worked with the foundation team, squaring up the form into which the slab will be poured. I swung a hammer and weilded a drill for the first time on the site, and had a lot of fun while sweating in the sun. I did do about 45 minutes of PR work with a rep from Fleming College, and it was decided that on Monday, I have to go record a PSA for local radio stations. I have a face for radio, so I imagine it'll be ok.

I didn't get a sunburn, either! Lilywhite Marshmallow Princess Me didn't burn being outside for 7 hours on Friday! Quelle miracle!

Last night I went to the local Thai place for supper. It was good, too. The pad thai is better on Kent St. in Charlottetown, and more affordable, too, but whatever. It was a good end to the week.

Then this morning I went to the town's greasy spoon for breakfast. I wanted a bowl of granola and yogourt, but that doesn't exisit here, so I got french toast, which I had to admit, was really good. I have granola and yogourt for breakfast every morning, anyway. Why pay someone else to make it for me?

This afternoon, Sarah, my neighbour and classmate, took me to the local dump. There's no local recycling pick-up, so I brought what we'd been saving up there and dropped it off. Then Sarah wanted to see if she could reclaim some windows from the dump for our project.

I have had two dump experiences in my life. Once was in the Annapolis Valley, and someone had just dropped off a dumptruck load of rotten apples and the smell made me gag. The second time, I was driven to a dump in Newfoundland to watch the bears. There were no bears today, but the smell started to get to me. It upset me, too, to see all the recycleable things in with the waste, and all the rubbish.

It made me feel better about what I'm studying, and I hope others start thinking about the waste they produce. Our trash doesn't just "go away." It is stored somewhere, and those places are terrible. Dumps, really.

Ok, let me just [little grunt] hop down off this soapbox. [brushes off hands] Right. Good to carry on? Yes.

This afternoon, instead of doing schoolwork or laundry, I re-watched (for the first time!) the second series of Spaced. It breaks my heart, it's so good. I makes me wish I were a talented, creative person who could entertain people with something I've written. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Just Because" Gifts Are Great!

This past Friday, I missed out on a class trip touring sustainable houses in the area because I had to stick around the build site and do an interview with the local paper. And then on the Saturday, I couldn't go help build straw bale walls for a Queen's University research project because I had to go speak at a naturalists society regional meeting about sustainable building.

Both meetings went well, but I am sorry I missed those great events. It means that all this last weekend, I was home alone. I did some housework and a little homework, but it was very uneventful.

Yesterday: Monday, the first day back to the site after everyone's grand adventures. Chris, one of my classmates, places a long, slender cardboard box in front of me on the picnic table where I was unpacking my gear. I slid the contents out and I knew what it was before I unrolled it; I could see the word "police" on what appeared to be a bullit-proof vest. I got very gushy. The gift was uncalled for and very nice.

On the weekend, he went to a movie theatre that was giving away posters, and he thought of me when he saw this one (right). It is now on my breakfast nook bedroom wall. I thought I was beyond the phase of my life where I put up movie posters, but for this one, I'll make an exception. I like this one, too, but suspect it's not available in North America.

Wasn't that so thoughtful? Had I been talking about Simon Pegg that much? Probably. Maybe he thought this would shut me up. 'Cor, is he wrong.