Sunday, March 28, 2010

Home Reno – no more tiling

The tiling is DONE. Sorta. All that’s left to do is the grouting and sealing. It was so awkward trying to fit my fat ass into such a small room and install tiles, all the while trying to maintain the alignment and spacing. My knees and my back hate me.

Anyway, done. Grouting I can deal with tomorrow or the day after.

Next week we will attempt to install the new vanity, sink and faucets.

Week 33 - HMCS Sackville @ 100mm

HMCS Sackville
Originally uploaded by Twister65
I picked up a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens off Ebay this weekend. It took about 2 months of bidding on different auctions and losing on those bids either because I was outbid or the auction was canceled. It's crazy.

Somehow, I lucked out this time. I was the ONLY bidder on this auction, perhaps because the seller only had 1 feedback. He was local to my area, so I took a chance and won. The guy was even nice enough to meet with me downtown to save me $8 S&H.

This is one of the first shots I took with it, so it's really not the best. This is a collector plate of the HMCS Sackville, a WWII corvette, that I had the pleasure of spending a few days on to help to restore while I was in the Navy in the mid-80s. I think I bought this plate years later at the Stittsville Flea Market.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I’m cuttin’ pipe… all night long…

Yeh, bad attempted at pipe pun. Sue me.

I took Friday off work again, this time to tackle the bathroom part of the reno. All we had done up to now was remove the old laminate and the toilet. Today it was to be gutted: vanity and sink removed, which involves cutting the copper pipes, and hacking the vanity all to hell.

It went surprisingly well, although we did run into a hurdle when I went to cut the pipes.

The pipe cutter that we bought wasn’t small enough to full rotate around the pipe to cut it because the pipes were too close to the back of the vanity. It looked like that red one in the picture, except ours was blue. My wife went to Canadian Tire to buy a smaller one, while I searched for our pipe wrench.

Cutting the pipes was a piece of cake, after shutting off the water main of course. :) We then began dismantling the vanity. It turned out that the left side of the vanity, attached to the wall, was actually the wall itself. Cheap. It took us about 10 minutes to remove all the pieces, leaving us with a floor lower than the rest of the floor. It’s a good thing we kept laminate floor scraps from last week. Laying then two-deep was enough to bring it up to the floor height.

IMG_2559 The funniest thing of the day had to be when I removed the toilet toll holder. It was old and inset into the wall and my wife wanted it gone.  I scored the edges and pried it off, leaving this massive chunk of plaster and carpet(?!) inside the wall. It took a lot of hammering to break it free. I'm not sure why they jammed carpet in behind it and also to the right of it. And, they stuffed plastic underneath it -- as insulation or to stop it from seeping down into the wall as it dried? Very odd.

With the vanity now gone, I attached the pressure-fit shutoff valves to the cut pipes. That went great. No leaks after turning the water back on. The main water shut off tap does seem to now have a very slow leak though.

My wife took some careful measurements of the floor space, taking into account the pipes and the toilet drain hole, and we managed to cover the entire floor with two large pieces of plywood. A couple of dozen floor screws later, and it was installed.

We dry fit some floor tiles and discovered the bathroom door isn’t going to close with tiles on the floor, so we’ll have to remove it and plane the bottom down. We were also quite happy to see that the layout of the tiles could not be better. The toilet drain occupies the space of a single tile, which will make the cutting really easy. As well, the sink water pipes also fit in part of a single tile space. Another easy cut. We planned this layout perfectly. :)

We also, finally, got to move our stove and fridge back into the kitchen. I didn’t mention that we grouted the tiles earlier in the week. It seems we had the presence of mind to buy quit-set grout, that dries in 3 hours.

My wife wants to paint the bathroom tomorrow before we begin laying the tile, so that’s the first thing on our list for tomorrow. We should also be able to install the floor tile. This time, I think we’re going to try and get the cut ones installed at the same time. Once the tile is laid, we really have no choice but to wait until Sunday to grout and install the vanity, if we’re lucky.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Confirm THIS!

This WTF Moment is brought to you by the Herongate Dental Clinic.

I have a dental appoint for tomorrow morning at 8:00am. Last week the phone rang and I answered it, which is rare for me as nobody ever calls me. It was an automated message from my dentist’s office reminding me that I have an appointment on Friday, March 26th at 8:00am and saying to “press 1 to confirm the appointment”.

I pressed 1 and hung up.

Yesterday I checked the messages on our answering machine. There was one from my dentist’s office, again reminding me that I have an appointment on Friday, March 26th at 8:00am, and adding that the appointment is not confirmed until I contact their office.


I’m not going to call them. I’m going to go to my “press 1” confirmed appointment tomorrow morning for my check-up.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Home Reno – finishing the puzzle… well, mostly

We lucked out and the forecasted rain did not become a reality!

The entire day was spent cutting tile to fit near the walls… or around walls… and thresholds. We didn’t get started with cementing them down until some time after 3:00pm. We were so tired by then, that we almost decided to wait until another time. It’s hard to believe that it took that long. I never would have imagined it.

Anyway, we stuck it out and got it all done. The bathroom still has not been touched since we removed the laminate and the toilet. I’m sure that old vanity is going to take forever to remove because of the awkwardness of the plumping. So the floor in there still has to be done. It’s small, so it shouldn’t take long. (Famous last words)

After setting the last piece of tile at the entrance to the den, I was standing on it to make sure it was set and the damn thing snapped clean in half. I came so close to just leaving it. It didn’t look that bad. :) But I couldn’t. I cut a new one.

Our primary concern is still with getting the kitchen back to being functional, so we’ll be looking at grouting this week. Bathroom next weekend.

We’re both contemplating taking another Friday off as well.

Week 32 – Screwed

Screwed (32/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
This weeks photo is... 3700 flooring screws. :) All part of our main floor home reno. I should have shot it closer and might have gotten a cool texture image out of it.

Home Reno – pieces of the puzzle

The whole day was spent mixing mortar and laying tile.

We started off laying the tile without mortar to get a good idea of how they should be placed so that we didn’t end up with small pieces along any of the walls.

Thank god we bought the big mixer bit to attach to my drill. That stuff is thick and doesn’t mix easily. I thought it was going to burn out the drill, it got so hot. It said to mix for 5 minutes, let sit for 5-10 minutes, mix again and then use it. It took more than 5 minutes to fully mix so there was no powder at the bottom of the bucket.

IMG_2527Here’s a tip: make sure you have two buckets. Start to mix in the first bucket and then pour/scrape it into a second bucket so you can get all the unmixed powder at the bottom of the first bucket.

Everything I read said to lay all of the full tile pieces first, let them dry and then do the cut pieces later. It makes sense, but it can be a big pain to scrape the excess mortar from the non-tiled areas so they remain smooth for when you do put those tiles down.

Our living room looks like hell now. My wife joked that our house looks like it belongs on an episode of Hoarders. Funny, but so true.

We still haven’t done any more to the bathroom. There’s rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I suspect it’s unlikely that we will be getting it done anytime soon. I guess we’ll continue with the tiling to get the kitchen back in order, and then we can work on removing the old bathroom vanity.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Home Reno - demolition

We got to Home Depot at around 7:15am or so. We wanted to get there early so we had a chance to rent their $20 van to deliver our own plywood, rather than pay the ~$60 for them to deliver it.

IMG_2517 We picked up fifteen 8’x4’x½” sheets of plywood, two bags of mortar, a box of 3700 flooring screws. Thanks to the cashier at Home Depot, we saved $2 on the screws and got 2700 more! We had originally picked up two boxes of 500. They had larger boxes at the cashier, and she pointed out that the 3700 box was $2 cheaper. Go figure. Good thing we went with the larger box because I went screw crazy on the plywood.

By around 3:50pm, we had moved all of the kitchen appliances into the dining area, we had all of the old laminate ripped up, all of the baseboard and ¼ round off, the toilet removed (that old wax(?) ring was f’n gross) and two sheets of plywood installed. It was slow going, mostly because we were trying to cut the plywood to fit all the angles, as opposed to using lots of smaller pieces.

We also slowed down when we were removing the laminate in the bathroom. We had originally planned on gutting the entire bathroom before starting to put down the plywood, but it turned out that the braided hose we got to replace most of the copper pipe was too short. My wife went back to Home Depot and exchanged it for longer hoses and different pressure fittings. But at the same time, we decided on NOT removing the old vanity for the time being because it’s going to be time consuming and we need to try and get our kitchen back to being functional as soon as possible. I figured we could get the kitchen and front entrance tiled and grouted first, and then do the bathroom later.

IMG_2514 We stopped at 7:20pm after installing plywood in the kitchen and the front hall. That’s not as much as I had originally hoped on getting done, but I’m still happy with it. The weather forecast was originally calling for rain tomorrow, so we tried to get as much of the cutting done today since we were doing it all outside. I just checked the forecast now, and there’s no rain forecast for tomorrow, so maybe we will be able to get the bathroom floor gutted and plywood down after all.

I have to say that the best tool I have, and used today, was my Dad’s old variable-speed Black & Decker drill. It has to be around 30 years old and still works like a charm. My own drill is not variable-speed.  With a Robertson screw driver bit in it, it was a huge time saver screwing down all the plywood. I can’t imaging the hell it would have been screwing them all down by hand. There’s no way I could have done it. His old steel yard stick also came in handy. My Dad used to do a lot of home reno projects when I was a kid, so I like to think that he was with us in spirit, via his old tools. Thanks Dad! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Home Reno – Turning off the water

When I got home from work, I decided to make sure I could shut off the water to our house. I didn’t want any surprises tomorrow when we gutted the ½ bathroom. I knew where the tap was, but never had the need to turn it off. Until now.

The tap was very stiff, but I managed to turn it a dozen times until until it turned no more.

We turned on the tap in the bathroom and the water flowed freely. This was definitely not what one would expect with the main tap being turned off.

I had a look around the basement for another tap. Nothing.

This one had to be the one. It was attached to a pipe coming up through the concrete floor. The pipe was very cold. There was no doubt. I turned it back on again. And off again. We tested the basement taps near the washing machine. We still had water. WTF?

I tried turning off the tap leading to the hot water heater and then turned on the hot water tap at the sink. No water. I turned it back on. The pipe leading to the hot water tank comes from this main tap, so I was 100% sure this was the main source and all leading to this sink.

I swore a lot. My wife asked me to stop swearing. I told her I needed to swear.

I turned the main tap off again… as tight as it would go. I was afraid that it might snap off.

I walked over to the sink and turned on the cold water.

It dribbled out. Success!

I guess the stubborn tap, having not been used for such a long time, just needed loosening up… or something.

I ran up to the bathroom and tested its taps. They too stopped working.

I turned the main back on until tomorrow.

One problem overcome… with persistence and a lot of swearing. It is now beer:30.

Bring on tomorrow.

Home reno 101

I don’t consider myself to be a contender for Canada’s Worst Handyman, but I am also far from being a home renovation expert.

I always get nervous when trying new reno projects for the first time. 99% of the time, they go well, but there’s always that 1% taunting me that I’ll mess it up.

We’ve been doing a main floor reno since January. What started off as simply “replacing this old carpet” has turned into…

  • removing carpet from all stairs, sanding, staining and finishing steps (done)
  • installing ceramic tiles on the risers (done)
  • repainting the stair stringers (done)
  • removing all baseboards on the main floor, stair landings and upstairs hall (done)
  • repainting the upstairs hall, stairs case walls – upper and lower – living room and dining area (done)
  • removing carpet in the living room and dining area and replacing it with laminate flooring, including a ½" plywood subfloor
  • removing old laminate floor in entrance, kitchen and ½ bathroom and installing porcelain floor tile, also including a ½" subfloor and removal of old vanity
  • installation of new baseboard throughout all affected areas
  • possibly installing crown moulding in living room and dining area

The two parts of this project that I have never “experienced” are:

  • Gutting a bathroom and installing a new vanity and sink, including the removal and reinstall of a toilet and cutting pipe copper pipe
  • Installing porcelain floor tiles

The vanity happens to be the original vanity installed back when this townhouse was built in the 1970s. It has no shutoff valves on the plumbing underneath the sink. Thankfully the toilet appears to be newer and does have a shutoff valve installed, so that’s one less thing to do (or screw up)

I’ll be taking the easier route and won’t be welding any pipe once I cut the old ones. I have the braided hose with pressure fittings and shutoff valves. One day I’ll take on the welding task, but for now, easy is key for me.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Things that I remember about my Dad

I remember once when we were visiting friends of our family, we were in the backyard playing badminton... it was hot and I asked him for a sip of his beer. I must have been like 11 or 12 years old. He let me have a sip and I remember not liking it.

One morning, when I was really young, my Mother woke us up and warned us that my Father had been in a fight the night before. He got punched in the face by some thieves breaking into a car in downtown Montreal. He thought they locked themselves out of their car and checked to see if they needed help. Not his brightest moment. He was greeted with a punch to the face, breaking his dentures and causing a deep cut above one of his eyes that required stitches. For weeks, while he waited for new dentures, he had to eat soft food. He got the soft toast in the morning. He called it his "wallopy bit".

His favourite beer was Molson Export.

He had THE smelliest feet ever. After a day of work, his feet could stop a herd of bull elephants in their tracks. And kill them.

He had a mole, dead center, on his back. It looked like a Jelly Tot stuck to his back.

I remember the first time my Dad said "Fuck". We were driving in our car and some kid threw a snowball at it. It startled him and he said something like "What the fuck was that?". It was eerily quiet in the car after that, when he realized what he said. The second time I heard him say it was when I visited him at work one day. Someone came into his office to ask about some changes on a set of plans, or something like that, and he mumbled "They don't know what the fuck they're talking about..."

My Dad was my best man at my wedding. On the morning of my wedding, I was sitting in the Minister's office talking to the Minister while we waited for my Dad to arrive. He was late. Apparently, in all of the confusion of who was driving who, and when, my Dad was forgotten. When he finally arrived, he rushed into the Minister's office, wiping the sweat from his brow, and said "Jesus, it's hot out there!" He then noticed the Minister, remembered where he was, and said “Oops… sorry!”. The Minister responded, "That's ok, we say that a lot around here."

He would always wear his kilt on New Year's Eve. I have a picture somewhere of him wearing it to walk our dog, one New Year's Eve.

I remember cutting off all contact with him after he left my Mother and all of their debts. As a result, he never got to meet either of my children. He lived in Louisiana, so it wasn't too difficult. Still, it’s not something I’m proud of.

I remember calling him when he was in the hospital, in the days before he passed away, and letting him speak with his 3½ year-old grandson for the first time. It was also the last time. I heard later that he was so happy.


My Dad passed away after a very short battle with liver cancer and all the hell that goes in December 1998. If you have a few bucks to spare, please make a donation in support of my participation in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life scheduled for June 18th. Any amount is greatly appreciated, thanks!

Click here!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week 31 - Super Cub

Super Cub
Originally uploaded by Twister65
This week's Project 52 photo is my Hobbyzone Super Cub.

Back in April of 2007 I took up a new hobby of flying electric R/C planes. My first plane, the Hobbyzone Firebird Freedom, despite being a "beginner" plane, was quite difficult to fly and resulted in a lot of frustration and purchasing new wings and a tail.

Not long after, I decided to get a new plane: the Hobbyzone Super Cub. This plane flies like a dream. It is the ultimate beginner plane and is so much fun to fly. Many days that spring and summer were spent up at a nearby school, flying it with a friend and my brother in-law, both of whom also had R/C planes. I even rigged up a small digital video camera to record in-air footage and put a bunch of videos up on YouTube.

After logging a lot of air time with the Super Cub, I was finally able get my first plane in the air and keep it flying, now that I was more comfortable with correcting for wind and my own errors.

We didn't go flying as much the following year, and not at all in 2009. I had attempted to change the battery connections in the winter of 2008 to something more stable than the Tamiya connectors, but failed due to my crappy soldering iron. I never did get around to fixing it that year, even though I had also picked up a couple of batteries last year in anticipating of flying.

I have decide that this year, I will get back to flying. I bought a new soldering iron and this evening, I fixed up the connections. Hopefully those two batteries I bought are still good and I may have been able to salvage one battery from a couple of years ago. We'll see if it holds a charge.

This was the last video I made of my plane in August 2007.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Future Shop pre-order fail

What is the benefit of pre-ordering something before its release?

In my mind, I think it is so you can be one of the first to get your hands on it when it becomes available.

Am I wrong?

Let’s assume that I am right.

So, why does Future Shop and Best Buy accept pre-orders for new video game releases and then NOT ship the damned things on their official release date, or at least the day after?

Last summer, I pre-ordered Batman: Arkham Asylum for the Xbox 360. The official release date came and went. My order was stuck in “in progress” limbo for almost a month before it shipped.

Along came Final Fantasy XIII. Screw Best Buy. I pre-ordered it from Future Shop a few days before the official release date to get $5 off the price (Yes, I realize that Best Buy owns Future Shop but I was hoping for a better experience this time… apparently I was wrong)

On its release date (Tuesday), I posted a question on the Future Shop fan page on Facebook:

Scott Paterson How soon do the online pre-orders ship? The last time I pre-ordered a game from "that other" store, it took a MONTH after the game's release before it shipped. The only reason I didn't cancel it was because it was on sale. I'm rrreally hopin' Future Shop is different.

I got a prompt reply:

Future Shop @Scott: It should be shipping on the day of release which should be today.

As of noon today, the order status on Future Shop’s web site still indicated “In progress” and “Out of stock”.

I posted three replies in the thread since Tuesday and there hasn’t been any response from the Future Shop rep in that group. My last message said that I would cancel the order at noon if it still hadn’t shipped.

Guess what I just did.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week 30 - Rideau Falls, Spring 2010

I drove out to Rideau Falls on Saturday morning hoping to snap a few shots of massive ice chunks flowing over the edge, as it did around this time in 2007. I guess the milder winter played a large part in disappointing me this year, or maybe missed it?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Week 29 - Winter Wonderland?

Winter Wonderland?
Originally uploaded by Twister65
After many days of spring-like weather, last Thursday evening gave us this. It was gone by the weekend. Crazy weather.

Yes, I'm a day late. I watched the Canada vs. USA gold medal game on Sunday and enjoyed a few too many beers celebrating Canada's victory. :)