Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Been One Week

It's been a week plus a day since we got keys but half that time I was in Toronto volunteering on a tiny film project for a friend. I took a bunch of pictures that they should be to use on their website. The film was a hot to of how their operation works. No pay, and it cost me a few hundred for the car rental and gas but it was worth it.

Once I got back it was straight to work on the new place. First I had to kick out the old tenant. He's older and has a condition I forget the name of and could find a place to stay so I let him stay in the new place while I was away. Of course then he wanted another week but I put my foot down and got him out. Since then I've been painting and varnishing. Actually friends of ours did all the painting for us. It was only two walls and they're darn good at it so Kate and I worked on other things, varnishing and cleaning mainly. Thanks Gord and Lisa.

The varnishing has gone decently. Kate suggested I get a belt sander after I finished one set of stairs and it worked quite well on the main set once I bought one so I may go back and do the first set later. Not now though, I've had enough stair sanding for a while. I do have a coffee table that I've abused over the last couple years. I was going to throw it away but now I think I'll strip it and re-stain it since I know what I 'm doing.

Right now I'm waiting for the second coat on the main stairs to dry so I can apply a third coat, and I'm waiting for the second round of soccer games on the day. Germany is playing Ghana and the winner goes to the round of 16, maybe the loser depending on the other game.

The place is coming along well. We got an awesome new BBQ that we've used 3 times in 4 days, tonight I must part from my beloved though and go back to my old crappy Rona BBQ.Or Maybe Kate can use the oven.

We have no chairs in the new place yet but I do have my computer, that's how I watch the World Cup games. I have to sit on the floor yo use it but things could be worse. it's cool in the condo with the windows open which is nice, it means I don't have to run the old A/C unit.

We begin to move all our belongings this weekend, I am very much looking forward to getting out of the old place and into the new.

Next up is a new deck on our rooftop terrace.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Buying A House

So we're buying a house today. It's a bit anti-climatic since we don't actually get to go in it till the 15th. It's some strange Quebec thing (there are many) which allows the seller to get all the money a few days before the buyers get the keys and access to the house. This way they can pay the bank since it takes time to process or something, why don't the banks don't have some system in place for this? It's not been explained well and it's a bit disturbing to me but the notary (another Quebec quirk that you need to pay over a thousand dollars for a notary to do a few things) confirms it's normal so I guess I'm just going to have to trust that it is. It's been described to me as if the seller is renting from us for a few days, they just don't pay for that time. I tell you there are somethings in this province that just don't jive.

So we don't get the keys till the 15th. On the 15th Kate has an exam and I go to Toronto for 4 days. If I don't sound excited about buying a house I guess by now you can tell why. I'm half expecting some other Quebec rule to pop up and tell me that I have to pay some kind of welcome to the province tax, oh wait I already know about that tax, it's called the Bienvenue tax and it's 3,000 or something. Reminds me of the convenience charge banks charge to use their bank machines. I got two words for some of this crap: assholes.

Anyway I'm sure the excitement will worm it's way in eventually, probably after some packing is done or the painting is done or the re-varnishing of half the new place is done. I'm very sure once we've moved in a level of contentment will fall upon me and really it's not been a stressful process, at least not as stressful as I suspect it can be. There's been a bit of a language barrier, bilingual doesn't mean I know what the hell you're talking about, especially when technical things come up. I'm sure that will become much worse once I get my french to a point where I converse in it with francophones.

So I'm off this afternoon to give all my money to some guy and promise a bank I've never heard of an additional quarter million dollars over 35 years. On the plus side the interest rate is astounding and I do look forward to renovating the new place although I don't know how we'll afford that after all these additional fees, notary, bienvenue tax, convenience fees...

Yay home ownership!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quirk Classics, Awesome.

I've always liked reading novels. Of course over the years I've tended to enjoy books on the fantastical side of things, horror novels, apocalypse novels, books with violence in them. Same with movies, I prefer horror movies to all other movies. But I don't just watch or read these books for the violence, I like the stories too. I like the character development and how the characters interact. I'm the guy that is always trying to figure out what's going on. It took me about half of The Sixth Sense to know what was happening. I like the flow of the story and I'm disappointed when I see what appears to be obvious holes which is you can imaging is a common disappointment in horror movies and books.

I went to the University of Toronto and studied English. I of course had read some 'literature' books at that point, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fifth Business and a bunch of Shakespeare for example. It was University that I really began enjoying better written books, Hawthorne and Lovecraft were my favorites, of course the problem with them is they can be rather boring. Still, I enjoyed the style of writing, the intelligence behind it, even if they're describing some boring person trying to have a relationship with some other boring person and the most exciting part of the story is when there is a brief misunderstanding between them and one storms off in a huff.

After university I went back to fill in some gaps, you know the books you've heard of, that everyone seems to have read but you haven't. Cather in the Rye comes to mind, a book that should be read by teenagers by the way. So I read both types of books now and I'm rarely significantly impressed with any single novel.

One of the books I've never gotten around to reading is Anna Karenina. It's been touted as the greatest novel ever read, it's also huge and I know it would have me sleeping 15 hours a day if I tried to read it so I've never owned a copy. I guess a couple years ago it had a resurgence because suddenly I saw it all over the place, new editions, people on the subway reading it, and I mean I've seen over ten people with it on the subway in Toronto. So it along with many other books were on my to read list in the doubtful section, until now.

There is a publisher called Quirk Books and they've come up with a freaking awesome idea. I was in a book store around Christmas looking for gifts and books for me to read (I can spend hours deciding which book I want to read, I'm quite particular these days) when I noticed a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now if you know me you know I love zombies, they've my favorite monster and there is a good reason for that but that discussion is for another day. I've not read any Jane Austen although her books are also on my list under the category of doubtful. Who wants to read about some stuffy rich 18th century girls whose only concern is what to wear to the next ball and how much money the men who are courting them are worth. The writing style is fantastic but the story is incredibly boring, unless of course something like zombies could be added. So of course I bought the book and read it in a few days.

I've wikipediaed the Austen novel and I've spoken to a couple people who have read it and my best determination is that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just like Pride and Prejudice except with Zombies. The writing style is the type I like and it's got Zombies, it's by far one of the best books I've ever read.

You can imagine my excitement when I found Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, another fantastic book. Then a couple weeks ago I found a new version of the best novel ever written, Android Karenina. This version is much more up my alley than the original and it didn't sacrifice the great writing style of Leo Tolstoy. I feel like I'm still reading a classic but I'm much more thoroughly entertained. The only problem is that I read them too quickly, as is the case with all great books.

Android Karenina is actually the android of Anna Karenina who is still the main player in the book. Anna still has a human husband and still has an affair with a human but all these humans also have androids, it's a rich person thing. So it's the same story, same characters, but now there are androids involved too. They don't interfere of change the course of the novel in anyway, they simply add colour. Levin still lives out in the country as in the original but now he owns a groznium mine. Groznium is a metal discovered that allows for people in the Android Karenina world to build fantastic things like androids. In Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters the main characters travel to an underwater dome instead of London England. In Android Karenina Kitty travels to space instead of a health spa abroad.

I love these books and can't wait to see what else Quirk Books publishes. The content is fun and entertaining and I'm still looking up a word in the dictionary every few pages as I read.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 Update

While biking along the canal here in Montreal looking for things to take pictures of for my most recent class assignment I noticed a fire atop the Five Roses factory. So of course I took some pictures of that. Then I decided to get closer and I took a couple more pictures. Then after some deliberation I decided to go right to the factory. I didn't know how to get there but every couple of minutes a firetruck would rush past me so I just followed the convoy. The fire was small and put out by the time I got there but I got some great pictures of the firemen. I posted some of the pics I took on my photo blog

I also got some great pics of a dragonfly in the backyard here. I took a video of it eating some other poor bug too. Now that I'm learning the ins and outs of the camera, as well as a few tricks of the trade from class I'm really beginning to see what the camera can do. And Photoshop for that matter, what a great program. I know I'm supposed to properly expose all my pictures, or under or over expose them should I specifically choose to do that for effect but Photoshop can also be a life saver. It can change the exposure of any picture you take if the camera is set properly, which mine is now. So I don't really need to worry about under or over exposing any pictures although I intend to try to get the shot I want without relying on Photoshop. Of course there are other things you can do to improve pictures that the camera can't do.

I only have the exam and a final assignment left in my camera class. I'm not sure what my final topic is going to be yet but after the dragonfly shot I'm thinking about taking pictures of insects. There are a tonne of bumblebees out back and I've been trying to get a good stop motion of one but it's pretty hard. The wings beat fast and the bees fly so erratically it's hard to get them in focus. I've got two weeks to get that shot so hopefully there will be some sunny days to make the attempts.

By the way I'm picking Chicago to win the cup, not because they're up 2-0 but because I hate Philadelphia and Chicago deserves it, they've had some bad management over the years and it's good to see an original six team back on track, now we need another original six team to get back on track. Ahem, Toronto.

On the house front it turns out we get possession on the 11th not the 15th. It was a screwup on some one's part because I picked the 15th as the date and everyone agreed, now there is confusion. I'm not comfortable with the change, nor do I like paying the four extra days but it will work out for the better as Kate has an exam on the 15th. This way we can both enjoy our first home purchase on the closing date together instead of her cramming and writing an exam.

I had another photo shoot for Distributel. I took pictures of all the departments. I did it for free, at least I wasn't paid with money, I did get some valuable experience though. I've also got an oppourtunity to be involved in a CBC film shoot in Whitby in June. I'm not sure of all the details yet but they hardly matter. An oppourtunity to learn from professionals and get some experience is all I need, yes this is also unpaid.