Recent Entries in Local

  Grande Verona


Grande Verona - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Stopped in at Starbucks this morning for a coffee and maybe some coffee pods (or whatever it is they call them). I bought a single serving drip coffee maker on Saturday for work, but initial tests weren't promising; using the supplied permanent filter caused coffee to spill over into both the cup and the reservoir, and using a loose tea bag wasn't any better -- the tea bag floated, allowing the water to spill around it, making a watery cup of hot water.

My thinking is that a properly-fitted coffee pod will not float, and will not let water or grounds spill out into other parts of the mechanism.

Update: Bought some Maxwell House filter packs. If you fold them in half, they fit just fine in the machine, and produce a nice strong cup of coffee. No mess either. I also bought some #1 coffee filters for when the packs run out and I need to switch to another coffee source.

  Williams Feb 19


Williams Feb 19 - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Testing out stealth mode on my BB camera.

  Feb 18 Snow


Feb 18 Snow - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?

I was at a bellydancing party with a bunch of R's friends over the weekend. There was this corn snake in a terrarium, and after a few drinks, someone extracted the little guy (actually, it was a female snake), and started putting it on various people (oh, those wacky bellydancing folks). At some point, the snake (Lily) ended up on my shoulders, and began poking at my neck (a creepy sensation indeed), as if it were trying to burrow into my head. Suddenly, a big flap of its skin began folding back and it began shedding.

People were congratulating me on being a safe warm place for the snake, and everyone closed in to get a good look at the moulting process, most having never seen it happen live before. Thankfully, the owners finally extricated the beast from the inside of my sweatshirt, and put it back in its house. There we all got to marvel at the beauty of nature -- insofar as it was a snake shedding its skin.

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Yes, this was me in the picture. And yes, it was actually kind of cool. I was glad I could get a view of it.

  Removing a Tree

The amount of rain we've been getting this summer is astounding. I'm pretty sure we haven't had two days back-to-back without rain. As a result, all the vegetation has been growing like crazy, and getting heavy with moisture. The other day, after a particularly heavy downpour which sent rain in sideways through slightly-open windows to cover the bedroom floor with water, I went to the garage/studio to check for water damage. I've been keeping some of the front windows open to keep some air flow in the studio. While there was no water on the inside of the studio, I did notice a large amount of vegetation against the back casement window.

Apparently, the heavy rains and wind had saturated and blown over a branch from this large maple tree that comes into the yard from the neighbouring property. This branch is huge (about 30 feet long, but it didn't come crashing down through the studio roof. It merely came to rest upon it. So I've had people in this week to clear it out.

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The studio is intact, and the branch is gone. Now to clean up the yard.

I considered taking care of it myself, but it is over 20 feet above the ground, and looked like too big a task for one person. These guys came in and had it out inside of two hours. They were pros.

  More Zen Moments

Since we're on the Zen theme, I figured I'd post this picture of Zen Gardens, a neat vegetarian restaurant beside the Jane Bond and across the street from Cafe 1842.

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I snapped it one morning on my way to get coffee.

I was heading to 1842 (the coffee shop I used to go to all the time) and decided it was early, so I'd take a little walk. Here are some pictures of uptown Waterloo on an early Friday morning.

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  Rainy Day Moroccan Food

It was really pouring out this morning, so I headed to 1842 to grab an espresso and dig into this Carl Hiaasen book I've been reading. Snapped a picture of my car in front of the Zen Gardens sign.

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The weekend was pretty fun. We went to the Sultan's Tent for some Moroccan food on Sat. and walked to Ontario Place for the last installment of the Symphony of Fire. I ate at the Sultan's Tent once before, when it was in Yorkville, and they seem to have fixed it up a bit since they moved -- made it seem a little classier, a little more like a dinner theatre. If you're booked for the late bellydancing show, you wait in the Moroccan-styled bar up front until a table becomes available. The tables are laid out in small groups of 4 or 5 per room. When the show starts, they draw the curtains (the "walls" of the room) so that you can get a good view of the dancer. Food was delicious, and there were numerous vegetarian options.

The Symphony of Fire was cool. We were pretty far away from where it was taking place, but the vantage point gave us a good view of the fireworks. We were too far away to really hear the music, but I'm pretty sure I heard Metallica in there just after the 1812 Overture.

Sunday I had to drive down to my parents' place in London. On the way back, I decided to do a detour through Staffa and see if that mysterious dome house was still there. I discovered this house some years back while driving through farm country, and I've been interested in it ever since. It makes for an interesting story.

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Normally, you'll miss Staffa if you blink, though a cursory search on the Internet would suggest it's a booming metropolis. Business directories, friend finders, white pages, tourism directories ... the place isn't very big at all.

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Actually, it's just an intersection somewhere west of Stratford, with no businesses or shops (not even a post office or a convenience store) as far as I can see. If the population total on the sign is correct, no one lives there.

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The dome house itself lies almost hidden behind an overgrown driveway with waist-high grass and evergreen trees. It looks to be in good shape, but is completely deserted. The stone barn/shed near the entrance has crumbled over the past couple of years, but looked to be in good shape the first time I saw it. It might have made a good driving shed, or a workshop/studio. Now it's in ruins.

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When the grass was shorter, a few years ago, I stopped nearby and walked up to the house. It was solid, and looked like most of the work had been finished, at least on the outside. The sliding patio doors at the back had been smashed, and piles of broken safety glass were scattered on the steps. I felt a little weird walking around inside the place, but it was interesting to see one of these dome houses in action.

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The inside was unfinished -- there were bales of insulation still stacked neatly, and there were stairs leading down into a basement, so my guess was that the foundation was in place, it was solid, and relatively dry. If that crappy "Blair Witch Project" film taught us anything, it was to not go down into basements of deserted houses, so I avoided that unhappy ending, curiosity be damned.

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I don't remember if there was a loft built, but I do think there were some wall frames in place. It was quite roomy, and it made me want to build my own dome house. The floor plan was pretty close to Timberline's Birch model. I talked with my dentist in Stratford about it, and he said that his father owned the adjacent farmland. He said that if they could find and purchase the land, they'd let me buy the dome house from them ... as long as I moved it from the site. I wasn't that interested in his proposal, and it didn't seem like they were going to be able to get the land anytime soon.

If anyone has any ideas about this place, let me know.

  Mel's Diner

I'm at Mel's. I'm cold. It must be 5 degrees in here.

I was up early this morning. R needed a drive to werk, so I've got all this time to waste before going in. So I stopped in at Mel's for some breakfast. The morning crew doesn't know me, so I had the option of getting something *other* than the regular: Mel's vegetarian, over medium, brown toast, and tomatoes. I got my regular anyway, but forgot to add "old style potatoes" and a bottle of Tabasco.

FYI, the new style homefries are terrible, like eating big chunks of half-melted wax.

I should probably head in a little early, just to make sure all the fires are put out from the blackout last night, but I was there really late, and I really hate troubleshooting printing problems and nebulous, sporadic network issues. Unfortunately, the two people who actually designed the network are away on holiday, and I'm the remaining resident expert.

Maybe I'll just sneak over to HMV or Second Cup for a bit. Then I'll head in.

(via Blackberry)

  Kaufman Flops

Finally got some work on the garage done yesterday. R and I were going around to Rona and Home Depot, doing some planning and browsing, and I finally put the plans in order to get the floor done and the walls framed. I'm looking at buying a crosscut circular saw and a nail gun this week. FYI, the ones at Sears are pretty crappy, and the one offered at Costco is certainly inexpensive, but it's light and cheap-looking.

We got up early yesterday and walked over to City Cafe Bakery for some bagels. That was pretty fun. We always just arrive as the last batch goes in, so we always manage to get some bagels before they run out. People are so dissapointed when the bagels are gone. The unfortunate part of this early-morning walk is that I got a little sunburned. I was outside for a good part of the day, and even did a little yardwork. Now I'm shivering and sore -- more hungover than I was on Saturday.

We stopped by the Kaufman Lofts after lunch. They're the new thing going into the warehouse at King and Victoria, and their website was (for over a year) non-descript and uninformative. So when we saw that they had model lofts available, we paid them a visit. Apparently most of the lofts were sold or on hold within the first couple of weeks of them going on sale. The only ones left were these small, cramped, stylish 1 bedrooms, listing at $134k. I don't know. Still pretty pricey for something located at King and Vic. I mean style is one thing -- they've even got model Vespas and trendy-looking Shag-esque cartoons all over the place -- but we're talking about a narrow hallway separating 600sq ft of living space. In one of the models, there isn't even a bedroom, per se, just a closet for the bed; two sliding walls meet at a corner, and that's your door. We laughed at the "dining room" table, set for 8 -- as if you could entertain 8 people in a place like that before cramming them all in at the table. You can't even fit two people in the hallway at the same time.

Maybe once I'm finished the garage, I should sell it as a "loft condo". It's about 30'x12', and with the space in the loft (yes, unlike the ones downtown, it has an actual loft), it might just match the floorspace of these Kaufman jobs.

Went looking at exterior pre-hung doors last night at Rona. Looks like I might be able to get a door to replace the tiny one at the back of the garage after all. Problem is, I can get a plain metal door, or I can wait 3-4 weeks for something nicer (and much more expensive). The opening at the back of the garage is only about 32.75" wide, so it will only fit a 30" door with a bit of shimming.

R was a little grumpy last night, and wondered if I'd ever finish the garage and the bar projects (which I haven't really even started). She's right though -- I'm notorious for not getting things finished until there's a deadline. And I often miss deadlines too.

But planning is important, and I've often gone into things without planning them properly. Thenet result is a half-assed attempt at something, which I might be able to pass off as good, but it's never actually "good". In order to help us plan, R downloaded some cool software from an Australian paint website. It allows you to take a digital image of a room (or a basement bar) and change the colour of paint on the walls and/or ceiling. Pretty cool, but a bit of a steep learning curve for the average person. Figured we could give it a try before painting the basement. R gets tired of colours really easily, and I really enjoy bold colours. I wanted to lay some heavy paint on the basement walls, and maybe make the room a mix of orange and blue (where did I get that colour scheme from?), but R wants a light grey, with black on the north walls, with orange behind the bar. Orange will definitely not work with the ugly green countertops, so they really need to go. The upside of this is that I can get a replacement countertop for about $99. So that just leaves the bar. We're thinking some kind of tiles for that part.

Drinking at 1842 (double Americano), and my netbook is just about to run out of power. I was charging it the whole day yesterday, but the charger may not have been plugged in (just like me to miss a detail like that). I'm getting these pop-ups about power usage, and how I need to stop working immediately. Funny thing though, the nebook will run for about 8 hours on a single charge, and I've been getting weeks out of it without even getting to 50%. So, I'm only currently at 1/4 power, so I may have a good hour left on this charge. Note: change batteries when I get back to work.

The waitstaff at 1842 really like the new beard colour. Here I keep forgetting about the damn thing, and everyone I meet reminds me. I cut it shorter over the weekend (I was almost able to braid it), and I dyed it blue. The main thing is that the boss approves. That's always a good sign.

There's a bunch of people at Cafe 1842 tonight. I'm sitting quietly at a table along the wall, with my back to the stairs up to the Barley Works. I'm drinking a Double Americano Numi Desert Lime tea with honey (or something). I've got a bit of a sore throat this evening, and I've had enough coffee today. I took a suggestion from the server here. I haven't seen her in a while, so my theory on the turn-over at this place appears to have some weight behind it. She seems to be doing evening shifts.

The tea smells like that chemical lime you find in that green margarita salt you buy at Homesense -- not good. It tastes a little like a bad throat drop, but that's kind of what I was looking for (aside from the "bad" part), so it'll do.

The nameless karaoke lounge next door has some bad tunes emanating from it. Sounds like tribal trashcan banging, which might be nice on its own, but I know there's some inane melody associated with it, not to mention some drunken, discordant singing as well.

No, the tea's more like expired Neo-Citron ... yeah, with that green margarita salt in it. Mmmn, *weak* expired Neo-Citron.

Some trendy couples passing through here tonight. Couples, mostly -- few single people. There's only myself, some ugly loner guy watching TV, and a brainy-looking blonde with a Vaio. She's in my usual spot, in the corner, and she's got a bright track light shining down on her. Glad I'm sitting in the dark over here. In the mornings, the track lights are turned off.

There's this really noisy chick in an orange turtleneck a couple of seats away from me. She's monologuing on about some kind of social work she's doing with refugee kids from 3rd world countries. She's talking a lot of empty words at her poor friend who seems resigned to listen to this endless flood of culture issues, name dropping, and what sounds conspicuously like university-grade sociology terms.

A couple of loud jocks and a scrawny jockette breezed through on their way to the karaoke place -- no wait, they've turned around and grabbed a Scrabble board. Uh oh, they're going to be playing Scrabble.

Anyway...

Weekend was good, except for the, uh, several inches of snow.... Friday we partied at Starlight with a big crowd of friends. After last call, six of us headed to Mel's for an early (early) breakfast. We then went home and slept for about 3 hours, then woke up and (for some inexplicable reason) drove to Conestoga Mall to stand in line for 2 hours, in the hopes of buying a rain barrel for $20. Yes, we actually did this. I wasn't hungover, but I was sleepy enough not to dress properly for the 3C weather, spitting rain, and high winds. Seriously, the lineup snaked all the way through the Zellers side of the mall's parking lot and went out on to the street, all the way up to the car dealership on Davenport. After we got the barrel, we seriously pondered why went through all the trouble. We went to 1842 for breakfast number 2, then home to sleep.

That's kind of what the weekend was like, rainy, snowy, not a lot going on. Did some cleaning, reading, watching of TV, etc. We even tried to get out to see "Kung Fu Hustle," but the only theatre showing it had a damaged print. We'll try to get out to see it this week -- sounds like an awesome film.

(geez, that woman is still monologuing -- something about bombs and Canada and shit.... a hypothetical situation of some kind, about what Canadian refugees would do in a time of war, etc, etc.)

The "tea" is mostly gone. I'm kind of surprised I kept drinking it. Throat isn't feeling much better, but now my stomach hurts. Think I need to go home and drink some expired Neo-Citron.

  Mmmm Coffee

Got my coffee finally. They were pretty busy here, since about half of the people ordered breakfast, instead of just coffee. I asked them to switch my Americano to an Espresso.

  Waiting for my coffee

Cafe 1842 is bustling this morning. I was standing in line for longer than I expected. But the same cheery hospitality met me when I finally got my turn (I'm still waiting for my coffee, BTW). Weather is nice, and I was going to bike to werk, but I figured it's going to rain today, and I wanted to get in a little blogging beforehand. So no bike for me.

I picked up a neat book from Home Despot last night, while buying some cement to fix the patchy sidewalk in front of my drive way. I wanted something that would help coach me on finishing my garage, but there's nothing specific that I could find that covered it. The garage is kind of like a basement, with cinderblock walls, and a concrete floor. It's also kind of like an attic, since it's got exposed rafters, and a loft (of sorts -- certainly nothing that you could actually live in). So this book was perfect. It was Black and Decker's book on how to finish your attic or basement. So, it's got everything. Looks like a big job (*yikes*). The first thing I need to do is finish the floor. Going to have to clean it thoroughly, then apply some leveling compound to help prevent water from getting in during the winter. I was thinking of putting some kind of sill in at the front, and replacing the fold-up door with something similar to carriage house doors (the major door companies don't seem to make these). Once that's done, it's waterproof and frame the walls, then the roof, etc. I'd still like to put a skylight in, and the book also covers this. But first things first. Get the floor done.

(sigh) Still waiting for that coffee.

  Cold Tuesday Morning

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It's cold this morning. Sunny, but cold. I'm noticing it more because I didn't put on a coat before leaving the house. Just that hoodie with the orange stripe along the arm. I figured I'd just get in my car, and that would be it. But it's pretty cold. Also, I shaved my head the other day, so even when the cat walks by, I feel a breeze on my head.

1842 is quiet today, and the sun's coming in through the east window, making it nice and toasty in here. My double Americano is in a smaller vessel today, and it's strong and hot. It's in one of those big ceramic mugs that weighs about 5 pounds when it's empty, but no complaints this morning. There's only maybe 6 other people in here. A casual business couple is sitting quietly at one of the center tables, talking quietly about problems with work ... with their respective relationships. They are not seeing each other, but they seem fascinated by each other. That's apparent.

I get a new water softener tomorrow. Plumber-guy is coming in at 8, and he may not be finished before I have to drive to Toronto to drop off some servers. I probably won't be able to leave KW until after noon, meaning I either go get dinner in Toronto, or else I have to deal with rush-hour traffic on my way out of town. Maybe I'll head over to that awesome buddhist restaurant at Gerrard and Logan: Simon's Vegetarian Wok. Mmmn. They made the best beancurd rolls.


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