Gift list is updated

Dear people reading who send me gifts (aka my wife). My gift list is now updated for the upcoming Christmas season. Some of the additions include:

  • An old school safety razor and shaving kit. I’d love to use one of these for my wet shaves so that I can say screw you to the 12 bladed monstrosities currently infesting the market. There are at least two places where I can buy honest to goodness razor blades for less than half a dollar! Try Fendrihan from Mississauga. I’d suggest either the Weishi or Merkur  Double-Edge.
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. Translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi. ISBN-10 086171072X
  • The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Translated by Maurice Walshe ISBN-10: 0861711033

I may add  a couple more things as I think of them. I’d say the list is pretty good for people who interact with me on a daily basis.

Also remember that used books are fine.

Caffeine-ing it — old school

Caffeine is a vital drug in the modern world and many are the solutions to the problem of proper brewing. My solution? I ignore most of the evidence of the elitist crowd and go old-school, 1940s through 1970s old school. I have a stove top peculator.

Stovetop percolator

That’s right folks. I use an energy inefficient way of brewing coffee. Why? Because that’s the way coffee should be made. At least in my mind. You see, I don’t buy gourmet coffee. I buy either the blue tin or the red plastic container depending on which is cheaper that week. I don’t purchase Starbucks, grind my own beans on a daily basis, or sit relaxing with an aroma wafting from a bone china cup. I drink out of a thermos.  Coffee needs to be hot and bold. It needs to keep me awake and not falling off of a ladder.

Why not just use the plastic thing beside the sink? I do 0n occasion when I’m feeling particularly lazy and don’t want the hassle of washing the other one out. Coffee in the percolator though gets hotter, tastes stronger, and doesn’t rely on plastic construction. Far too often I look at the crap that sticks around the plastic and think “I really don’t want to drink that.” A stove top percolator is easily washed, longer lasting, and less harmful to the body (provided you have a steel and not aluminum one, we still don’t know the whole story with Al and Alzheimer’s).

In many ways it is symbolic of the modern era. How many plastic coffee makers have you thrown out? I’m up to two and I only started drinking coffee in the mid-2000s.

So I revel in my mild anachronistic tastes. If it got us through to today there can be nothing totally horrible with it.

Some job satisfaction

I’ve more or less been left to my own devices the last few days at work. Yesterday seemed rather wretched, I felt like I got nothing done and spent most of my day moving my ten foot ladder around the site into a ceiling space eight feet high to do four feet of pipe covering. Ugh. Today felt more productive but in terms of total footage it was nowhere near my best. The good thing about today was a word of thanks. Despite my own opinion statistically speaking I’ve cleared out 80% of what we need to do one floor. All my work today was spent in a lift truck, er well the lift truck got me up so high and I had to climb a tad every now and then. At the end of the day I was chatting with the plumber foreman, told him where we stood with that part of the project, and got thanked for all my hard work. It was a nice affirmation, coming as it did after such a harsh day.

In other news, I threw on Last FM with the country tag and they just now played a song I didn’t feel like hearing (sorry Shania). This includes a couple of random bands I’ve never heard of before. Good job I may keep you around after all.

Bookish Update — 85, 86 …

Although I haven’t posted them here I am more or less up to 85 books. I think there might be a few more, no scratch that, there are a few more that need posting (my short story bathroom reading books for a start).

I’ve read up to the latest Charlaine Harris (I hadn’t read anything since All Together Dead). I’ve come to the conclusion that the Sookie Stackhouse series is essentially a bildungsroman. It is the story of how Sookie, who is a well over legal age naif at start of the series, progresses and changes through her experiences. She may not fit the classical idea, especially given her age, but her lack of experience and ‘condition’ have prevented her from growing up until the introduction of Bill the vampire.

I reread the early R.A. Salvatore Wizards of the Coast books for something to do.

Whoops. One more. Make that 86.

I reread Dune.  I consider it to be one of the few classics, and yes I’m sorry it is a classic, that I will voluntarily touch again (the others being Huckleberry Finn, and Canticle for Lebiewitz). Every time I read it something new is opened to me.

Whoops. Some more. 87, 88, 89

I picked up Summer Knight (which should be my favorite given the number of times I’ve read it) and followed up with two more books in the Harry Dresden series stopping only because I couldn’t figure out where in the hell we put Dead Beat.

And there’s 90. Chronicles of a Vampire. Because I was really bored, hadn’t finished it the first time, and it was the only vampire book in the house that I could find.

There will be more. I’ll post when I find them.


So my domain and website renewal are the middle of October not the middle of November. I’m back online so email should work again.

Working towards typical

To paraphrase one of my favorite authors there is no normal in our house, just typical. Thankfully we seem to have reached typical again.

The last few days seem far more relaxed. We are still grieving for Cotton but the overpowering cloud of pain seems to have lifted. I was able to mock my wife tonight for yawing like a Wookie and she laughed at my imitation while calling me an idiot. Like I said, typical.

A sadder note

On Wednesday our lovable cat Cotton passed away. He fought back long enough and hard enough to have one last round of his routine. He got Kate out of bed, he met me in the kitchen when I got home, and he hung out with us on the couch.

I’m not feeling great today, a bit of the typical September sinus infection is hitting me. This is when I miss him the most. He would always come over and provide love and compassion if you were not feeling well.

It is so very hard to not miss a creature who decided his sole ‘job’ in life was to provide love for his people.

My sad summer (but with some hope)

Warning: The following post is quite sad and I am trying not to cry while writing it.

The past few months have been really difficult. Back in July we had our annual vet visit and ran a senior blood panel on our eldest cat Cotton. Last year’s senior panel showed a thyroid problem which we got under control. This year’s panel showed something a little harder to deal with: diabetes.

We started off by treating him with caninsulin but it hasn’t seemed to work. His glucose level started at 26 and has been hovering at 36 for the last few weeks. That’s bad. To make matters worse Cotton started loosing a lot of weight. He slowed his eating and started drinking less water throughout the day. We were trying everything including feeding him by hand and giving him subcutaneous fluids. We finally discovered that his sole remaining tooth had been pressing into the top of his mouth and created an abscess. Even worse, we just found out that he had ulcers at the back of his mouth. He’s not eating because it hurts too much. How can you top that? Simple. You find out he has bronchitis.

Saturday our vet told me he doesn’t know what else he can do, especially if we cannot get him eating. Cotton may have given up.

When we first got Cotton from the cat rescue group his mouth was a wreck. Living outside, without dental care, left him with severe gum disease and rotting teeth. He was listless and looked like he had given up on life. But we got his mouth to stop hurting and he slowly pulled himself back together. He ate his breakfast, walked over to the dangling cat toy, worked out until he was exhausted and went to sleep. He brought himself back from death.

Last night Cotton walked downstairs to use “the real litter box” for the first time in a week. He’s slowly eating his slurry and drinking more water even though it hurts. We are switching him to a new insulin when it gets delivered to the vet. He looks like he’s finally shaken the cold.

We’re not out of the woods yet but my little guy doesn’t look like he’s giving up. Anything prayers/mojo/vibes you want to send will be greatly appreciated. He’s a smart boy. He’ll let us know if it is not going to work. Until then we will be doing whatever we can to help him get better.

Are we done yet?

I am actually close to seeing something new on the jobsite: completion. I have never worked for a company long enough to see the work end and the site be handed over.  Now it is entirely possible that I will not see the end of this particular site, I’m being moved “temporarily” to another site sometime in the middle of this week and $diety only knows if I will ever see the current site again. But if I manage to make it back I will have officially made it from close to the beginning (again thanks to the random temporary assignment) to close to the end. I personally managed to finish up the third floor last week in anticipation of the hand over. It felt good, especially since I’ve done about 60 to 70 percent of the work on that floor.  Mind you construction being construction I’ve actually done 60 to 70 percent of the work on that floor twice. Someone noticed they put in the wrong size of piping, tore out around 200 feet of work and then spent the better part of two weeks fighting about who was going to pay for the repairs.

I am once again impressed by the amount of knowledge and skill I seem to be picking up. I’m getting quite adept at this whole Insulation stuff. There’s still a ton I don’t know but the little I do I am getting to be fairly good at. I’d say I’ve got three or four skill points in the trade and two or three in construction overall. My confidence is higher than it ever has been and I am actually starting to figure out solutions to the random weird things that occur.

So while I may or may not be there at the end I can safely say that my presence has helped finish something. Now whenever I drive down that particular road I can point out the window and say “I built that.”

My favorite invention

Today I used my favorite invention to make it’s way to the workplace: disposable ear-plugs. Today was one of those days where the cacophony of noise began to reverberate in my brain pan. The sprinkler guys were machining their pipes, a lift was constantly beeping, and every now and then someone decided that cutting through metal with a circular saw was a wonderful idea.

Normally I keep a set of ear-plugs in the car for just such an occasion. Of course, today being such an occasion meant that they were nowhere to be found. So after scouring the site one of my co-workers found someone with a pack and I was tossed a pair.

Disposable ear-plugs come in two general varieties (that I’ve seen anyways): shaped and tubular. Shaped ones look like a cone mated with a hourglass and dressed the offspring in two-tone neon jump-suit. Despite their appearance they fit quite nicely into the ear. Tubular are tubular. They don’t fit quite as well. I’ll let you guess which ones I was handed.

To reach the goal of decibel reduction you must first pinch one end of the plug, twist it between your thumb and finger until it is thin as possible. They you tilt your head, reach over top of it, grab your ear and pull it towards the sky. Once you look sufficiently stupid you jam the squeezed piece of foam into your ear and hold it gently in place until you feel it expand as far as it will go. The time involved varies from ear to ear and plug to plug and more often than not you get frustrated, put the other one in while your waiting and end up just trying to push the damned thing back into the ear so you can get on with your life.

Even though they didn’t fit as well as shaped plugs and took a bit of effort to get them to fit properly in at least one ear — today it was the right — the end result was satisfactory. I could think again. Thinking is good.

They say silence is golden. I don’t know about that. Pure silence drives people up the way crazy. I’ll settle for a few less decibels and be happy about what I get.