Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm An Artist Too (113)

The guy is saying to the other "My next-door neighbour is an excellent hunter."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Move It On Over

I hate apartment hunting. Amazingly, I've rarely had to do it, even though I've lived in a bunch of different places.

When I moved from Halifax to Sault Ste. Marie, I got a list of places that rented rooms to students. I called through the list until I found a guy who had worked in the same hospital as my mother several years ago. He knew, and remembered her. I decided to live with him. In retrospect it wasn't a good place to live, but at the time it seemed like the obvious choice.

The following year I moved to Toronto where my aunt and Uncle lived. They offered to give me room and board for roughly the cost of having me there. I lived with them for a year. It was an obvious choice.

When it came time to move back the Sault Ste. Marie the following year I met a friend there who rented a room from someone. My friend was moving out. His landlord needed to find a new tenant. I needed a room. It was perfect. It was the obvious choice.

After three years there, the landlord needed my room back, so he told me I had a couple of months to find a new place. That night I met with a friend at a local Wendy's. When she asked how things were going, I told her I was going to be moving soon. I'd start looking for a place next week. She mentioned she and her husband had a couple of spare rooms in their house they were thinking of renting out. She talked to her husband, and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It was an obvious choice.

After about a year living there I decided it was time to move on. I was about to get a job with the provincial government, and I wanted to live alone. I mentioned this to some friends. One told me that she and her roommate were going away for the summer and they wanted someone to sublet their place. It was in the building I have always wanted to live in. It had a good location, nice apartments, solid walls for quiet living. I couldn't afford to live there alone, but they only asked for a little more than half the rent. It was an obvious choice.

(Incidentally, that was the building Craig and I would eventually move into. Craig and I lived in the unit one floor above the apartment I was subletting.)

At the end of the summer I needed a new place. I did the traditional apartment search and ended up in a bad building. It was next door to the apartment in which I was subletting. At least it had a good location. I had a job with the provincial government, so I could afford a one bedroom apartment. The choice wasn't obvious, and it turned out to be not good.

After a couple of years there, my contract with the government ended, and I couldn't afford to keep the apartment myself for too much longer. At the same time Craig's current roommates were moving out, so he needed a new place to stay. So we moved back into the building I was in before. I didn't even have to shop around. I just knew I wanted to live there. It was an obvious choice.

Then when Craig and I moved to Ottawa, I came down with three weeks to find a room for him, and one for me. I spent the first week just getting to know the city. When it came time to actually look for a place I got a list from Carleton University of places that rented rooms to students. I called a few places. I hate apartment hunting. As I was walking to the first place to look at, my phone rang. It was Pastor Jack. He wanted to offer Craig and I to live at his place. He gave us an offer we couldn't refuse. It was an obvious choice.

I've lived with the McQueens off and on for 5 years this fall. As regular, long time blog readers know, there were frustrations. But there were a lot of good times. I spent a lot of time looking forward to moving out on my own. Now that that time is being thrust upon me, I'm not looking forward to it. I've started apartment hunting. I hate apartment hunting.

If you've paid close attention to this post, you will have noticed that the apartments I get through regular apartment hunting have been the worst. The best situations come from happenstance - usually a chance meeting, or a phone call. Serendipity. A God event. I've looked at a few places. I've liked two of them. They're just a wee bit expensive for my taste. (But, it may be worth it.)

Then, the other day Pastor Jack says "I don't want to sell, and there's a small chance we might not have to. So, if you don't mind living with uncertainty, you're welcome to stay."

I don't really like uncertainty. I have been looking forward to having my own place. But something about this doesn't feel right. I'm wondering Where's my chance meeting? Where's my phone call? Where's my serendipity? Where's my God event? Is it really time to move out?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Church Hopping - Part 2

It's time for another church-hopping report. To recap from Part 1, I had visited a Catholic Church, Beaver Creek Baptist, and Bedside Baptist. My preference is Beaver Creek Baptist.

Since then, I've gone to St. Arthur's Church, Golgotha Baptist, Blackbelt Baptist, Over-Easy Wesleyan, and even returned to Yahoo! Baptist for Good Friday Service.

St. Arthur's Church is a church plant. It's in the gym of a school. I was a minute or two late when I walked in, but I still had people saying "hi" to me before I could sit down. I was told it was a friendly church. I was told right. However, it was cold! I don't know if I took off my winter jacket. One of Arthur's brother's was wearing shorts! Brrrrr!

They had coffee sitting off to the side. It taunted me throughout the service. I usually get my coffee at the Country Style by the highway on my way to church. The highway was not on the way to St. Arthur's Church.

The next week I went to Golgotha Baptist. Pastor Jack was preaching there when I went. The people were nice The church was old-school. Old wooden pews. I was impressed when I saw the acoustic drum set there. I was less impressed when the only instrument that was played was the organ. Not that I have anything against the organ, but the drums led me to believe I might hear more contemporary music.

Then I went to Blackbelt Baptist. That seemed like a really cool church. Their kids program, so I'm told, is modelled after that of North Point, Andy Stanley's church. That struck a real positive chord with us. We're big Andy Stanley fans. I returned to Blackbelt for Easter Sunday.

Blackbelt, despite it's small physical size had acoustic drums. Blackbelt's music was, hands-down the best music I have heard at any church. Ever. The music was so tight! And well played. I find where most worship teams are weak is during the "trans and scans." They may be great at playing a verse, or the chorus, but going to and from is usually weak. Going from one song to another is also usually weak. If you're in a worship team, pay attention to those things! Work on them. Everyone needs to know what's coming up next! Always! Even in "free worship", you need some kind of signal system.

The teams at Blackbelt did not have that problem. I also noticed that they did not use the piano/keyboard very much, if at all. I find that a lot of churches fall into this "you need to have the piano, and it needs to be the lead instrument" way of thinking. Yet few, if any, big worship leaders lead with the piano. The leader of the team on my first Sunday there lead the congregation. He didn't just sing. It's hard to explain if you've never experienced it. If you have, no explanation is necessary.

Blackbelt Baptist might have done something very smart. Most churches have greeters at the door. Blackbelt either has three sets of greeters (at the door, in the lobby, and in the sanctuary), or they have really friendly people in those locations that are good with names. I can't tell. Either way, it makes me feel good when I go there.

I went go Yahoo! Baptist on Good Friday. My friend, who's birthday it was, was going there, and I was meeting up with her. Ironically, the person I talked to the most was my friend's dad, and they don't go to that church! But it was good to see some of my old friend's from that church.

This morning I went to Over-Easy Wesleyan with the McQueens. It was kind of like a reunion. We met up with a few people who used to go to Yahoo! Baptist. The people were super-friendly. There were lots of young people there. I could see me going there more often.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm An Artist Too (111)

Being stranded on a dessert island is an old cliché. This is my take on it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Time For Some Tap Dancing

A little while ago Jack and Wendy found a used faucet that looked almost brand new. It was a fraction of the price of a brand new faucet. So they bought it. We needed a new one for the kitchen sink. This one had two taps as well as a spray hose.

Jack started to install it the night they bought it. Unfortunately, in the removing of the old one, something broke. Jack said "Well, there's no going back now."

The first problem came when Jack tried to turn off the water in the pipes under the sink. The cold water pipe had a valve knob that you could turn by hand. The hot water pipe was missing that knob. He could turn off the water, but he needed a screwdriver.

Once he got that worked out, it went a bit easier for a while. The faucet was the same size as the last one. The pipes didn't have to be modified. They were easily connected.

The only question was "How do we securely fasten the spray hose to the faucet?" You could slide the hose onto a pipe, but it wasn't tight. As soon as you turn on the water, the pressure would disconnect the hose from the fixture, flooding the cupboard under the sink.

We scoured the googles looking for a solution. Eventually we figured out what kind of faucet it was, and what it's make and model were. It was a Delta faucet, which has a life-time warranty. This is good. We found out that the faucet was missing a piece. A small plastic piece that snaps on, holding the spray hose to the faucet.

Since it was too late to put the old faucet back on, we were stuck. The sink drainage system still worked. But we were without a tap. The kitchen sink has to be the most used sink in a house. How did we get by? Until we were able to get that part, we did the dishes in the shower.

Just kidding.

We filled a bucket with hot water at another sink, carried the bucket to the kitchen sink and filled it with the water from the bucket. A load of dishes required 3 trips back and fourth from the other sink. It wasn't easy when we were taking care of Napoleon Dynamite because it kept getting in the way and tripping us up. Then you'd step in a puddle on the floor and you weren't sure if it was spilled dish water or drool.

Jack went around to different hardware stores asking if they had the part he needed. None did. Then he found a Delta supplier in the area. He had to order the part. He got our address from Jack so the part could be sent directly to us. Jack gave him our mailing address (which has a P.O. Box number).

After a while, the part never came. So Jack called him and asked if there was a problem. They said "Yeah, it was being sent by Purolator, and they don't ship to P.O. boxes. They ship to street addresses." I don't know why they couldn't have said that when Jack ordered the part. So Jack gave them our street address.

Over a week later it showed up in the mail. ?!?!?!?!?!

All in all, we were without a fully functioning kitchen sink for five and a half weeks. It's so good to have a working faucet! It's one of those things you never appreciate until it's gone.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm An Artist Too (110)

A bad drawing of Ed Grimley expressing his surprise that Mr. Falcon would go to church.
"Of course!" Exclaims Mr. Falcon, "I'm a bird of pray!"

Monday, April 06, 2009

Dog-Sitting Can Be Rough

Last year over March break we took care of a neighbour's dog as they went on vacation. We brought the dog into our house. It was a collie. You'd think I would call it "Lassie" because of, well, Lassie. Or you'd think I'd call it "Laddie" because of The Simpsons. But you'd be wrong. I call it Napoleon Dynamite. Why? Because it was a mouth breather. And a drooler. It wasn't uncommon to walk around the house and suddenly find your sock soaking up a puddle of it's drool. It wasn't fun getting soakers inside the house.

I think Max liked this dog because it made him look obedient and well behaved. I've only ever seen Max take something from the counter-top once. Napoleon Dynamite did it several times. It had no qualms against getting up on the table either.

To be fair, I'm sure Napoleon Dynamite is well behaved at home. It's not really familiar with us, or our house. I don't know what commands it knows. It's owners might be issuing orders in French.

And this dog was so needy. It was always underfoot and would never leave anyone alone. It probably has separation anxiety and missed it's owner.

It kept chomping at my bits trying to give me a sex-change operation. Maybe it was doing that because I kept referring to it as an "it" instead of a "he" or a "she". To this day, I still don't know if it's a "he" or a "she". It's real name isn't gender specific. Either way, a dog bite in the leg or the rear is bad enough, but a canine administered sex change operation isn't very palatable, even if it's done with some lab work.

It turns out that it had some sort of mouth infection that made it do that. That was supposedly cured since last year.

This year the dog came back. This time for almost 2 weeks. It wasn't as bad as last year. It stopped trying to perform any operations on me. But, it did insist on repeatedly making sure I was still a man. (I think a lot of dogs do that. Max doesn't. Good boy!)

Napoleon Dynamite walks a lot slower than Max does. Max is always pulling, trying to get away. He doesn't seem to care that the more he pulls, the more his chain around his neck tightens up, and the less he can breath. Napoleon Dynamite doesn't have that problem. He walks really slowly. The difficulty comes with walking them at the same time. Napoleon Dynamite wants to stop and eat the flowers, while Max wants to chase after every passing-by photon. If one person tried to walk the two dogs at the same time they'd wind up being drawn and quartered. (So much for separation anxiety!)

When the owner came to retrieve the dog, we didn't beg to keep it for any longer. One dog is enough for us.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I'm An Artist Too (109)

This is not an April Fool's Day joke. Shortly after Christmas I noticed my coffee cups were missing from my desk. I hoped someone was pranking me. No one has fessed up. Whoever took them left behind all my to-go containers. I don't think they, whoever it was, were cleaning. They left behind obvious garbage, like crinkled napkins, that are sitting right on my desk. I can't be 100% sure, but I think my cups were in my cabinet. Someone would have had to go in there and take them.

It really ticks me off because those cups really aren't worth anything to anyone except me. There are three explanations I can think of:
  1. We have a kleptomaniac around here who's smart enough to stick with stealing low-cost items. If you steal a computer, someone will come after you. Steal a used coffee cup, no one is going to care.
  2. I have an enemy in the office, and they took them just to get at me. I have no idea who this might be. I thought I got along with everyone here.
  3. Someone fancies themselves an art-critic with the authority to throw out any art he deems unworthy of display....even if it's display case is a closed cabinet.

I lean toward theory 1. Other data seems to support this theory.

I figure I lost about 30 to 40 cups. The following piece (which now sits on my shelf above my monitor) is my "artists" rendition of what I think happened; the "crime-scene" if you will. (Notice the cups saying "Don't take me, bro!")