Monday, May 29, 2006

Looks Like Craig's Going To Need A New Toothbrush

Before Craig and I were roommates I asked a previous roommate of his about him. (I had a string of less than ideal roommates and was skeptical of living with anyone else. Craig turned out to be a great roommate.) This previous roommate of Craig's told me "Be prepared to find his toothbrush anywhere; the living room, the kitchen, anywhere." (If that's the worst he had to say, then Craig would prove to be a good roommate.) The toothbrush was never an issue for me. It was only an issue for him. Once. But not when we were in the Sault. It was when we were with the McQueens.

Craig would always be brushing his teeth. A really good habit if you can get into it. But he didn't always leave his toothbrush in it's proper place. Not a huge deal around our apartment. But one time in Embrun he discovered his toothbrush had gone missing. He went looking for it for a while until Max came walking by with Craig's toothbrush hanging out of his mouth.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Time To Dish Up The Details

With 7 people in the house food prepartation and cleanup is a problem to be surmounted. When Craig and I moved in the family came up with a system. Every day except Thursdays there would be two people on kitchen duty. These two people would be responsible for cooking and cleaning up afterwords. The way it worked out was that each person would be on kitchen duty twice a week, although not necessarily with the same team-mate.

It also worked out that each person would be on once on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and again on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. This worked out well because Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays were full sit-down meals followed by family devotions. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were really glorified grazing days. Often times we'd be out on Saturday and we wouldn't worry about a full meal at home. Sundays were often the same. Except when we had guests over.

On Thursday nights Craig and I would go to Hans' place for dinner and the McQueens would have a 'grazing night' where they would fend for themselves.

The following summer, when it was just me with the McQueens, we couldn't have such even teams. Instead we set Thursday nights at grazing night, as usual, but then we were each on kitchen duty for a night. Just one night a week. My night was Friday night.

Kitchen duty was everything: cooking, setting the table, cleaning up, doing the dishes, putting away. Everything. If you were on kitchen duty it meant you could figure on doing just that for the night. Period. But that also meant that the other nights you could do whatever you wanted, guilt free, until you were called for supper! Then afterwords you didn't have to help with the dishes!

However, we ran into a problem. People, when on kitchen duty, would do most of the dishes, but leave a few pots and pans left over and say "oh, I've done enough for now" and leave the remainder. But this meant that the next time those dishes were needed they'd still need to be cleaned. That might take a few days. And those of you who cook and clean know the importance of cleaning a dish ASAP or else it becomes really hard to clean. (I also know that many of you haven't two clues what I'm talking about, so I'll spell it out plainly:

The longer a dirty dish goes uncleaned, the harder it is to clean it!

Stated another way:

The sooner you clean a dish after using it, the easier it is to clean!

Just a nickle's worth of free advice.)

So after a while these dishes would be difficult to clean, and there'd be a stack of them! And of course, since nobody was on kitchen duty on Thursday nights, then it wasn't any specific person's responsibility to clean on Thursday. So when I would come home on Friday night to cook I'd have to work in a dirty kitchen. (I hate working in a dirty kitchen.)

So, we identified we had a problem. This is good. Admittal is the first step. Not all dishes were being done. So, the 6 of us got together, and like any committee we decided to attack this problem by solving a similar problem that didn't actually exist (and create a few more problems in the process).

We decided that each person would be designated a set of dishes, a plate, a bowl, a mug/glass, knife, fork, and spoon. After a meal each person would have to wash their own dishes. No one else would. Each person was only to use their own dishes. Whoever was on kitchen duty would still have to clean all the other dishes; serving dishes, cooking dishes, pots, pans, etc.

Of course, what happened was that pots and pans were still not being done, personal dishes were sometimes being done, and people were using other people's dishes.

On the day this was all decided the cupboard shelf space was divided up into 6, with little notes attached to each part designating who that shelf space belonged too. I loudly declared "The Tim Horton's Mug is mine!" The next day I found my mug used, sitting by the sink. Okay, perhaps Robin's friend who had been there that day didn't know and she used it. So I cleaned it and put it back. The next day, after no guest had been in the house the Tim Horton's mug was sitting, dirty, by the sink waiting to be used. hmmm....I didn't use it.

So, here we are, with Jack McKay back with us, we just designated supper nights. We're back to the team method. We just got our designated dishes. This week the system starts. Lets see how long it takes to break down. (Incidentally, my dishes have already been used by someone else, and we haven't technically begun yet.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Washing My Time Away

One of the advantages of living with the McQueens, as opposed to living in some apartment somewhere, was the laundry situation. They have a washer and dryer in the house. I didn't have to seek out a laundromat.

However, in the move to Ottawa the dryer was no longer in ideal working order. Each load had to be put through the dryer twice. It seemed one of the heaters wasn't working. Doing double the work would cost an arm and a leg in electricity, it also added an extra 45 minutes to an hour for a load of laundry. But we lived with it.

When I returned to Ottawa for the following Summer semester the dryer still hadn't been fixed. Not only that, but the motor in the washer had died. The agitator wasn't turning.

So, there I was, for the first couple of weeks of the summer, washing my clothes by hand in the bath tub, then putting them in the dryer for two cycles to do a laundry. Laundry had gone from being something to be done in an hour and a half as a background process to being a half-a-day affair.

Eventually we had a repair-man over to look at the washer. I don't know what he did, whether he replaced the motor or not.

Washer fixed.

Then we had him look at the dryer, expecting a big repair job. He turns the knob pointing at "Delicate" and "Normal" and finds there's no resistance. So he takes the knob off and sees that the knob isn't actually turning the switch. The switch had somehow got stuck on "Delicate". He switched it back to "Normal" with his plyers, and put the knob back on.

Dryer fixed.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A (Not-So) Chilling Tale

When Craig and I moved in with the McQueens, it brought the total number of people living under one roof to be 7, plus the two dogs. Food storage and preparation is a problem to be solved. Thankfully they had two fridges and a deep freeze.

The fridge in the kitchen is one of those fridges that's divided down the centre. The right side is the fridge, and the left side is divided into two freezer compartments. I have no idea what the designers of this fridge were thinking. They have the same amount of shelf space as a fridge with the freezer up top, and the fridge below. But since they only have half the width the vertical distance between the shelves is halved. This means that most things have to be put on their sides. Taller items cannot stand uprightly. The fridge ends up getting really packed and things get hidden behind other things. You forget what's in there. It's way too easy to let it go for a while and things go bad, and take up space, and you don't find it until you need the space.

The second fridge is located in the basement. This fridge is the conventional design. The freezer is up top, and the fridge is below. Unfortunately, the top of the crispers is broken, so we have effectively lost a whole shelf of storage space. This fridge is used for longer term storage.

The deep freeze is a fairly large size freezer. It had been given to the McQueens as a gift a number of years ago. They had used it for their time in SSM. As of the fall of 2004, when Craig and I moved in, the freezer had not yet been plugged in. It had not been needed. It was sitting in the basement just outside of my cubicle.

One day the McQueens went shopping and brought home a tonne of groceries. Enough to last us for quite some time. A lot of it was meat to be frozen. We filled up fridge #1, then fridge #2, and their respective freezers. There was still more to be frozen. So we plugged in the deep freeze. The motor made a buzzing noise, as freezer motors often do. A few minutes later I opened the top and stuck my hand inside. Yup, it was getting colder. We started loading it up with the remaining frozen goods. The freezer would be cold enough pretty soon.

After a few days I opened up the freezer and a terrible smell came out. The freezer had not gotten much cooler. All the meat, including lots of fish, had spoiled. We put a small Styrofoam filled with water cup inside to see if it would freeze. It never came close.

Eventually the freezer was emptied of its contents. Unfortunately, the meat had leaked some slimy stuff. This dried up and stuck to the inside of the freezer. And it stunk!! It was horrible! It was pungent! Even though the freezer was on the opposite side of the basement as the door to the basement, as soon as you opened the door to the basement you could smell it. And I slept right next to the freezer! Luckily, by the time you got downstairs you got used to the smell.

When I moved back to the Sault for the winter semester, and came back down for the next summer semester, I opened up the freezer door to see if it had been cleaned out. I was practically knocked over by the odor emanating from the freezer. Apparently it had not been cleaned out. One year later, I'm back. I don't know if the freezer has been cleaned out yet. I don't dare find out. So for the time being, we're stuck stuffing our frozen goods into two fridge's freezers.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Hairy Situation

When I started working in the autumn of 2004 I found that getting up at 5:15 was rather exhausting. It meant for 8 hours sleep I had to be in bed at 9:15. That's a really hard schedule to maintain. I started getting lazy and looking for corners to cut. I got lazy with shaving. I would normally shave every two or three days, but it ended up being a weekly affair.

After a while I noticed that, unlike my earlier years, my facial hairs were growing somewhat consistently and evenly. I have never been able to grow a beard before. Even though my dad's two brothers have both had beards for as long as I can remember, dad was never able to grow a beard until later in life. And even then, it wasn't as nice as his brother's beards. This time my hairs came in somewhat evenly.

I was never really sure if I liked the beard. Since I'm really lazy and didn't perform any maintenance on it it got pretty disheveled looking. At first I would ask people what I thought of the beard. I was looking for a majority to either like it or not like it. That way I could get an obective answer to the question "Does it look good or not?" But it was pretty nearly a 50/50 split. It seemed as though for every person that liked it, there was someone who didn't. But as it grew and got messier the scales tipped towards those who didn't like it.

So I decided to shave it.

Now, gentlemen, here's a little tip in case you wish to grow a beard, then decide to shave it. First, get some scissors and trim your beard down, and throw the hairs away in the garbage. Do not attempt to shave the whole thing they way you shave(d) every morning, letting the little hair bits go down the sink. Because that's what I did, and let me tell you it took forever to shave.

Furthermore, the sink got clogged. This, btw, took place shortly after the bath tub incident. We just finished getting the tub cleared and now the sink was all clogged up. Just before I had shaved, Bruce had cleaned some paint-stained items in the same sink. I figured it was a combo of the paint and the hair. (But after my next attempt at a beard over a year later and clogging another sink I realize it was just the hair.)

So, back to Hans to borrow the snake. The snake didn't work as well. Of course I spent a lot of time with the plunger. Lots of ugly stuff came up, even some bits of plastic. But the sink wouldn't drain any better. It was still draining, but really really slowly.

So, off to Zellars to get some liquid plummer. This time I bought a few bottles knowing we'd probably need some in the near future. I bought some of the regular Liquid Plummer as well as the Industrial Strength Liquid Plummer. I had to use the industrial strength stuff because I was pouring it into a sink with standing water. This did clear the sink up.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Bath Tub

One of the first things I noticed when I started staying with the McQueens in the summer was that when I took a shower in the morning water would enter the tub faster than it would leave. Something, mostly hair, was clogging the drain. I tried pulling some out sometimes (eeewwwwww!) but it never significantly helped.

When Craig moved in, I would get up first, at 5:15 and take a shower. The tub would slowly drain as I dried off, combed my hair, shaved, etc. Then I would go down stairs and Craig would get up and go to take a shower. The tub would slowly drain before the next person took a shower.

But then, something happened right before Thanksgiving. The drain got completely clogged. On the Thursday before Thanksgiving the tub wasn't draining at all. Craig decided to delay the shower until that night.

Now, Craig was going to catch an early flight back to the Soo the next morning, so he was going to stay at a friend's over night. Thusrday night was worship team practice at our church. Both Craig and I were on the team. Our friend, Hans, is our sound guy for the team. Hans would have Craig and I over for dinner Thursday nights, then we would all go to the church together for worship team practice. This particular Thursday night Craig was to go back to Hans' place after practice and sleep there. He decided to delay his shower until he arrived at Hans'.

When we arrived at Hans' we told him of our troubles with the drainage. He lent me a drain-snake and some Liquid Plummer.

That night I got home from worship team at about 10:30. Now, I was to get up at 5:30 the next morning so I didn't want to stay up too late. When I arrived home, Wendy was upstairs in the washroom with a plunger and a juice container cut out to be a bail-bucket. She was manually draining the tub and using the plunger to clear the drain. Lots of stuff was coming up, but water wasn't going down.

I got out the snake and stuck it all the way down, turned the handle, pulled it out a little, pushed it back in, turned it, but to no avail. The tub would not drain! I tried the plunger for a while. Nothing. I fought with it for a while. Then I decided it was time for Liquid Plummer. I read the directions. It said not to use in standing water. This meant I had to get all the water out of the tub before I could use it. I bailed out what I could with the bucket. But then I needed to get a bit more water out. I soaked it up using toilet paper. The directions for the Liquid Plummer also said to pour the contents down the drain and wait for an hour, then turn on the tap. But by this time it was almost midnight. I was not about to wait until 1:00am for this. I had to get up early the next morning.

So I decided to fight with it the next evening. (There goes my Friday night!) I went to bed.

I got up the following morning. I turned on the water and the drain was practically sucking the water down. Probem solved!! And I didn't even have to use the Liquid Plummer. I gave it back to Hans the following Sunday morning.

Whew! What a draining experience!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The End of the Car Tales....For Now

There are no more major car tales of which to tell for now. Surely something will happen at some point. Cars don't stay in good working condition forever.

In fact, this year in January, on Bruce's birthday, both cars broke down. The brakes on the Tercel broke down, and something else happened to the Intrepid. I can't remember what. I wasn't there. I was in Sault Ste. Marie in school.

Then the cars got fixed. A couple of weeks later the brakes on the Tercel broke down again! It turns out the mechanic made a mistake or forgot to do something, or something. So anyway, they call a tow-truck. The tow-truck breaks down and they need to call a tow-truck for the tow-truck!

It seems being in close proximity on the McQueens has ill effects on automobiles. The only time our Saturn (belonging to the McKay family) has had any problems has been during the short time it was at the McQueen's. Last summer the latch that keeps the hood down broke, and the bearings in one of the wheels wore out. Both at the same time. Thankfully the car was still under warranty.

So, that's it for the car stories. But fear not! There's plenty of other stories to tell. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The New Car

After getting the Intrepid, and loosing the Taurus not much happened with the cars for the rest of the semester. Well, packing 5 people into the back was interesting, but the Intrepid has held up pretty well.

Soon after I left for the Winter semester, they got into 3 accidents. The first one involved getting rear-ended, which caused minimal damage to the car, but caused most of the family to get well acquainted with the local chiropractor for months to come.

The second accident involved an icy corner, and a relatively shallow ditch. That was more of a pain in the neck than anything else.

The third involved another rear-ending, but this time at a low speed. But when almost everyone in the car already has a bad back due to a previous rear-ending, it just compunds the problem.

Things seemed to have calmed down quite a bit for a while. The following summer, summer of 05, around mid-August they were given a Toyota Tercel. It was driven to the house by the previous owners, and the keys dropped off. When Pastor Jack, then later brother Jack, got in the car to try to start it, the key did nothing. The engine didn't even try to turn over. So, now we had to figure out what was wrong! We had the fool car for one day and it was already broken! It had been working. The previous owner drove it here, didn't they?

So after discussing this with Jack and Jack, and them telling me how it wouldn't start I, being a man (despite what Slippery Pete might think), had to give it a try myself. I went out to the car, put the key in the ignition, turned the key, and nothing. Hmmmmmmm..... I tried it again, and nothing. So I sat there looking at the dashboard, and I noticed an oval hole with three metal connectors inside, with a nub on the oval, and a red light above it. I noticed on the keychain there was an oval plastic thingy-deal with a nub on one side, and three metal connectors. It looked like the perfect fit. So I stuck the thing on the keychain into the hole in the dash for a second or two, and the red light went out. So I put the key into the ignition, turned it, and the engine came on. I drove around the block.

When I got back Jack and Jack were out on the front lawn wondering how I just did that! I jumped out and yelled "In your face, Slippery Pete!!!"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Final Death of the Taurus

About 2 weeks after the radiator pipe incident Pastor Jack, Craig, Bruce and I were at church for an evening service followed by a College and Career Bible study. Afterwords we left the church and started the drive home in the Taurus. We got to the first set of lights where we would turn from a side street onto a mian street. We were waiting for the light to turn green. When it did, Jack put his foot on the gas, and we heard a big clunk. But the car wouldn't go. It was in Drive, the engine would rev, but the wheels wouldn't turn. We turned on the four-way flashers, waved the cars behind us on ahead.

We found that we could drive in reverse. So, Jack drove in reverse back to the church, with Craig, Bruce and I running a head of/behind the car to clear any traffic that may be coming. Jack parked the Ford beside the dead minivan in the church parking lot. Two dead vehicles, dying within two months of each other, sitting side by side in the parking lot, both with bad transmissions. I'm not sure if it's irony, or just a bad coincidence.

For the remaining months of our coop term, Craig and I piled into the 5 seater intrepid with the 5 members of the McQeen family. 7 people in a 5 seater was always uncomfortable. We all got a little closer. Of course, it really only counted on weekends. During the week Jack took Craig and I to the bus stop, and picked us up there afterwords.

Things Get A Little Hot Under the Hood

About a week after we got the Intrepid, as Craig and I were driving the Taurus to the bus stop, the engine temperature was rising and steam was coming out from under the hood. When we got to the bus stop I got out and opened up the hood and heard a loud hissing sound. It was really dark so I still couldn't see what was going on.

We decided to deal with it at the end of the day, so we went to work. When we returned to tbe bus stop late that afternoon we were able to see under the hood better. What had happened was that one of the pipes that carries the radiator fluid had sprung a leak. Therefor the engine was not being cooled. That was causing the engine to rapidly heat up. The fluid was shooting out the hole and hitting the engine. That's where the steam was coming from.

So, that night Jack, Craig, and I filled up several 2L pop bottles with water and drove out to the bus stop. We filled the radiator up with water. We drove back towards the house, having to stop every kilometer or two to let the car cool down, and fill it with more water. (The bus stop is about 12 km from the house.)

Eventually we got the car home. The next day or two the Taurus was taken to a local shop. When the mechanic applied a test to the radiator pipes, the other one sprung a leak. Shortly thereafter, the pipes were replaced with hoses, the radiator fluid was replenished. The McQueens were back to having two cars. Craig and I were growing cynical about the reliability of the Taurus.

The Cars - Part 2

A week or two after the Slippery Pete incident, Pastor Jack had opportunity to get a 2000 Intrepid. But he had to go to London, Ont. to get it. He was able to get a ride to London with somebody, and he would drive the Intrepid back.

It was also discovered that Craig and I could catch a bus at the Vars/Emrun exit that would take us downtown. We could transfer to another bus that would take us to work. The bus would get to our stop at 6:20 in the morning. This meant that I would get up at 5:15 and Craig would get up at 5:30. We would leave the house at 6:00. The drive to the bus stop is about 20 minutes. This would mean that Craig and I wouldn't be overloading the car on the trip into the city.

The morning that Jack was going to London to get the Intrepid he was going to drive everyone to work and school. After work Craig and I would go to the church, which is where the car was, and pick everyone up and drive them home. However, just before they got to Wendy's work, a tire blew out on the Ford. They put the donut on and got the thing to Canadian Tire. The attendant asked if they would like an oil change. Jack said something about having time, and said "Go ahead and do the oil change."

So he and Bruce sat down and waited. After about 45 minutes Jack was wondering what was taking so long. He got up and asked, and it turns out that the attendant misheard, and thought he said "Don't change the oil."

However, the tire was changed, Jack went to London and got the Intrepid, and the McQueens had two cars once again. Craig and I had free run of the Taurus. But at this point I was getting a little nervous about taking it anywhere or depending on it in any way.

The Cars - Part 1

The morning Craig left Philistia I was at home at the McQueen's. Pastor Jack had gone into work. At about 10:00am the phone rang and it was him. He informed us that as he was pulling into the church parking lot the minivan had died. The transmission had died. It was going to cost a pretty penny just to get a mechanic to look it over and tell us what needed to be done. Then if it was an easy fix it was still going to cost over a grand, and if it was a hard fix than it would cost twice as much. And given the age of the car it wouldn't be worth it.

So now Craig is on his way and we've been knocked down to one car. The Ford holds six people. There would be seven of us. The fact that the Ford had a faulty alternator did not make me feel any more comfortable.

However, we figured out how we could do the morning and afternoon trip. We'd all pile into the car in the morning. We'd drive through the back street's to the assistant Pastor's house where we would drop Robin off. Robin went to a private school with the daughter of the assistant pastor. The assistant pastor lives right around the corner of that school, and the school is in a small town in between Embrun and Ottawa.

We would then drive through the back-roads to Wendy's school where she taught. At that point Craig and I would get dropped off so we could take the bus to work. Jack and Bruce would go to the church. Bruce's school was right accross the street from the church.

At the end of the day Craig and I would bus down to Billing's Bridge (a mall and major bus stop) where we would meet Jack and Bruce, then drive to Wendy's school, then off to pick up Robin. Then we would go home.

On the first day of work it started out alright. But on the way home Craig and I met up with the family at Billing's Bridge. They had picked up Robin, so she was with us too. We got into the car and Pastor Jack turned the key. But the engine wouldn't turn over. He turned again. Still nothing. He turned a third time, and the engine started. We drove across the parking lot and stopped to get gas at the station there.

But afterwords he could not start the engine. But there was a mechanic's shop kitty-corner to Billing's Bridge. Pastor Jack ran accross to get him. The mechanic that came over and looked at the car and tested the battery. He said we'd have to get the car over to his shop. We would have to push. One person would have to steer, another person would have to stop traffic, and everyone else would have to push. The mechanic, who became known to us as Slippery Pete, was yelling stuff out. He had a pretty thick Arabic accent. He yelled something at me I didn't understand. All of a sudden I could understand him, or perhaps he just spoke more clearly, and he yelled "What are you? Are you a man? Or are you a woman?!" (Of course, this caused me to be the laughing stock of the family for months to come.)

I offered to be a steerer. Pastor Jack went out to stop traffic. Now, this was at the corner of Bank and Riverside, two very busy, major streets in Ottawa. This was during rush hour. Lots of traffic, but on the upside, no one was driving insanely fast.

So, we pushed the car out the wrong way of a one-way entrance, left onto Bank, across Riverside, and into the garage. The mechanic, who was clearly Arabic told us his name was Peter. Jack asked him his last name. "Uhhhhhh.....Jason."


Sippery Pete kept the car overnight to replace the alternator. By this time of night all of the car rental places were closed. So we bussed it down to the airport and rented an SUV there. We picked up Wendy and went home. The whole time a turkey was in the oven. Of course the water in the pan had all evaporated by the time we got home. So, at about 11:00pm we had dinner. The driest turkey you could imagine. (As opposed to the water-logged turkey of Thanksgiving, but that's another story.)

The next morning we all went to work/school. At work I called Pastor Jack to see if he had gotten the car back from Slippery Pete. He said that it turned out that it wasn't the alternator like we thought, but the solenoids on the battery needed replacing. They were so bad that the battery wasn't getting charged by the alternator. We were happy with the diagnosis because it was a lot cheaper than a brand new alternator.

So, we got the car, and drove home. The next day we went to work, and as Craig and I were waiting for Jack and Bruce at Billing's Bridge. Instead of the blue Taurus, a white Ford F-150 pulled up. Craig and I jumped in and Jack said "Don't ask."

Well, see, what happened was that aside from the battery solenoids being worn out, it turned out that it was the alternator after all! So the battery had died on us again. The car was parked beside the dead Voyager in the church parking lot.

So, on the weekend Jack went to the wrecker's and bought a used alternator for the Taurus. He installed it. But alas, it turned out to be a faulty alternator. So he had to return it and get another alternator. Finally the Ford was working. We had a working car in the family again.

We Move In

When I first moved to Ottawa, about half-way through August of 2004 I was to look for a place to live for Craig and I. I was staying with my Uncle while I looked. My Uncle has a place close to downtown.

My first order of business was to search out the McQueen's church, just to reconnect with the family I used to hang out with so much in the Soo. I found it on my map and walked down to meet Pastor Jack. I ended up staying with them for a few days. At the time they had two vehicles: a 95 Plymouth Voyager, and an 89 Ford Taurus. Their main vehicle was the minivan. The Ford was the secondary vehicle. It was suspected the Ford had a bad alternator. That meant that every night we had to plug the car into the wall to recharge the battery for the next day.

After a few days in Ottawa I started to search out a place to live. On my first day of doing so Pastor Jack called me up and proposed that Craig and I live at their house. They had bought some cubicle walls at a garage sale so they could give us make-shift rooms. The rent the offered was less than anything else we would get in Ottawa. The only issue was the fact that they did not live in Ottawa, but, rather Embrun, a town about 30 km outside of the city of Ottawa.

Personally I was up for it. I called Craig to discuss with him. His only concern, as was mine, was being so far outside the city, wouldn't we be limited with our freedom? We'd have to go into the city with the family and return to the sticks on the family's schedule. Coming from Philistia how could we experience the wonders of Ottawa if we're stuck in Embrun? (Embrun is about a 35-40 minute drive from Ottawa minimum. btw: That's highway driving: 100km/h.)

So I mentioned our concerns to Pastor Jack. His answer was that as long as we helped with the driving we could have pretty free reign on the Ford. Hey! Now that's better than anything we'd get in the city! Free access to a car! Plus the cheap rent! And the family atmosphere? How could we say no?

So, it was all decided. Craig and I would live in cubicles in the McQueen's basement, drive the Ford, and help with the meal preparation and clean-up. Now, Craig had been working during the summer in the Soo and couldn't come down as earlier as I. So when he did come down it was on a Friday evening, the Friday before the Tuesday our coops began. (Monday was Labour Day. No work.) What coud go wrong?

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Characters

Today I introduce the characters. (The names have been altered.)

I am Andrew McKay, the main character. I have studied aviation at Sault College. From Sault College I have graduated with a Computer Engineering Technician diploma, a Computer Engineering Technologists diploma, and I have been working, part time, on a B.Sc. in computer science from Algoma University.

Jack McQueen - The father of the family. Jack is a pastor of a Baptist church. He was the pastor of the church I attended in SSM for a few years, and that's where I met him.

Wendy McQueen - Jack's wife. She teaches a combined grade 5 and 6 class at a private school.

Jane McQueen - The eldest daughter. As of this post, she just finished her first year of Bible University.

Bruce McQueen - The only son of Jack and Wendy. He's just finishing high school. He goes to a high school that specializes in the fine arts. He is quite the talented artist.

Robin McQueen - The youngest daughter. She's just finishing her first year of high school.

Jack McKay - My brother.

Craig Kent - My roommate when I lived in the Sault.

Max - The McQueen's dog. It looks like a sheep dog.

Cerberus - The McQueen's other dog. Evil incarnate.

Craig and I met at church in the Sault. It was the Sunday morning when Pastor Jack announced his resignation. He had finished a few years of ministry there and got a calling to go to Ottawa. Craig had hardly gotten to know Pastor Jack at all before the McQueens left the Sault. He never did meet the rest of the McQueen family there.

After a couple of years Craig and I, both students at Algoma University, needed a roommate, so we got a 2 bedroom apartment in SSM. Only two months after moving in we each separately got job interviews for Coop positions within Social Development Canada. Craig is a Business major, and I am a Computer Science major. Both the positions we interviewed for were within the same team within Social Development Canada, a team called ITLS (IT Learning Services). He got the Admin. position, and I got the Web Programmer position.

It was purely coincidence that we were both going to be working together in Ottawa for the upcoming Fall semester. It was not planned that way. We were both excited to be moving to a new place, starting new jobs, experiencing new things. Craig knew almost nobody in Ottawa. I have extended family here (Ottawa), and for their last couple of years in the Sault, the McQueens became like family to me.

The McQueens had moved to Ottawa a year and a half before our coop terms were to start. They moved in the winter of 03. The term started in fall of 04. During that time I had visited the McQueens once, for Christmas of 03 for a few days. I kept in touch via phone and msn.

I think that's it for today. Next I'll commence with the stories.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My First Blog

This is my first blog entry. I have been in Ottawa for about a week. It was an uneventful drive down from Sault Ste. Marie. My brother and I drove down from the Soo, and he's staying here too. We had lunch with our sister in North Bay. (Thanks for the cookies!)

The purpose of this blog is two-fold:
1) To detail my life in Ottawa. I have been here for two previous co-op terms, and my time here has been nothing short of adventurous. Instead of explaining every detail to everybody, I'll send them to this blog.

2) When adventure isn't found in my life (like when I'm staying with my Uncle, or something) I may offer my personal thoughts on something I've been noticing, or thinking about, etc.

So, stay tuned. I may not post every day, but I'll try to post at least once a week.

Oh, and one more thing. Comments are welcome, but comments about my grammar and spelling can be sent to /dev/null