Category Archives: Society

Why Does Canada Post Hate Me? Why?

Canada Post has done it to me yet again. I was expecting an ExpressPost package today and tracking it online. Everything was looking good. As of 9:41 “Item out for delivery.” By mid afternoon I thought I should check again. There was a new entry on the tracking page at 14:09 “Attempted delivery. Notice card left indicating where item can be picked up.”

I was home all day!

They do this to me regularly, only this time, there is also no notice card to be found anywhere. Not in our post box, not on the community cork board, not at the front gate, not on our door. I’ve done the rounds three times over the afternoon and early evening.

So I’ve “opened a ticket” online with my issue. See where that goes, eh?

And no, I wasn’t in the shower, or on the phone, or taking out the garbage at 14:09. I know exactly where I was and what I was doing. I was reading a book in the living room, five meters from the front door, waiting for a project manager from a restoration company to arrive between 14:15 and 14:30 to assess our recent water damage.

I certainly would have heard the doorbell, or a knock, and I had a portable phone beside me, expecting the gate signal to ring.

When Rivers Rebel

There’s been a spate of articles recently about the Fraser River, climate change, and the potential economic impacts on BC’s lower mainland.

We dam them, dike them, divert them, dredge them, suck them near dry, build on them, pollute them. . .

And then we’re aghast when rivers get pissed off and try to break their shackles now and then.

We wouldn’t need billions of dollars to shore up dikes if we didn’t build our cities on flood plains, marshes, and bogs.

But hey, are those articles perhaps looking at things backwards? By traditional measures of GDP, all the work that will need to be done to shore up those seawalls and dikes is going to be a major boost to the economy, isn’t it?

We’ll just borrow more against future generations to keep the pyramid scheme going.

Monday Morning Welcomes Me with a Flood in the House

Oh, joy. Sitting in my basement office working this morning, I suddenly hear water running. And I’m alone in the house.

Run up the stairs, and water is gushing out of the main light fixture in the ceiling in the living room. Grab a couple of buckets and place them beneath the waterfall.

Run upstairs another flight, and find a supply line between a shutoff valve and a sink tap dislodged inside a cupboard beneath a sink in the upstairs bathroom. Turn off the shutoff valve, and then the main water valve in the basement for good measure.

When the supply had popped free and how long that cold-water pipe had been running I don’t know, but likely at least 15 minutes or more. That’s a lot of water.

Fearing the ceiling in the living room could collapse from the weight  of the water, I poked a few holes in it with a crowbar, and placed buckets under those as they began to flow.

The gusher from the ceiling eventually dwindled to a drip, and has now stopped, but water has also found its way through walls down to the basement bathroom, spreading over the floor.

Bucketing, mopping, toweling. . . Drying the carpet.

And not looking forward to assessing the full extent of the damage. The killer is the potential for mold. Once drywall gets wet. . .

I know a good chunk of the ceiling will have to come down and be re-done, but how much of the adjoining walls I don’t know yet.  May also have to pull the countertop and cabinets in the bathroom and redo the wall and floor behind them.

Sigh.

Anyway, I have reconnected the errant pipe, and turned the main water back on, and so far so good.

We were fortunate. We didn’t lose anything. It’s just the PITA factor now. . .

Dealing with Toasty Weather and No AC

I am getting back into the rhythms of dealing with hot weather with no AC:

At 10:30 pm I made miso soup with shimeji mushrooms, yellow string beans from our balcony garden, and cabbage. I steamed a batch of Chinese dumplings, and parboiled a pot of leafy greens.

Better now as the temperature is going down and the windows are wide open, than in the morning when the last thing I want to do is heat up the place. The makings for breakfast and a lunch bento for Yumi are pretty much in place (the rice cooker is on a timer).

The miso soup is still too hot to put in the fridge, so gee, I guess I’ll have to have another glass of wine before I finish tidying up in the kitchen and go to bed :-).

Will the oenophiles out there forgive me if I put an ice-cube or two into a glass of middling white?

Like I said, it’s warm, eh?

Toasty Days on Canada’s West Coast

We’re getting some unusually warm weather here in Burnaby, BC.

Depending on which forecast you believe, it’s supposed to hit between 30C to 33C tomorrow. With ocean to the west, mountains to the north, and a valley extending toward more mountains to the east, temperatures in the lower mainland can vary, with a general trend of cooler near the water/west, and hotter up the valley toward the east.

My office is in the basement of our three-story townhouse, and being halfway underground, it tends to be a few degrees cooler than the main floor or the upstairs.

What keeps us somewhat cooler is that it nearly always falls below 20C overnight, so we crank the windows open in the late evening. We usually button up overnight, but we crank everything wide open when we get up somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30 am, and air everything out for an hour or two. That gets the internal temp down to around 17 or 18C, and we then button everything up again until evening.

We’re fortunate to have a forested park directly to the east of us, with tall, mature trees, so we don’t get hit by direct sunlight until mid-morning. In an eastern end unit we don’t get as much sun in the evening, either.

I’ve lived in much hotter places, like New York and Tokyo, and both required air conditioning, particularly with the high humidity and night temperatures that for extended periods would be not much lower than daytime highs. Ugh.

TV Japan Reminds Me of Lovely, Hot/Cold Traditional Japanese Houses

Caught a few minutes of an NHK Japan TV drama that my wife was watching tonight. Sigh.

I really love the look of traditional Japanese houses. I can imagine the scent of the tatami and old wood. The gentle rumbling of the screen doors moving. The gorgeous little rock-moss-and-water gardens. . .

I’d love to live in one, in Japan, for the three or four months of the year that they are comfortable to live in — at least in central Honshu — with my metabolism.

My 14 years in Japan I mostly lived in concrete “mansions”, aside from 6 months in an old, traditional “student house” and about a year in an old wooden apartment building, with teeny rooms, a shared toilet, and bathing facilities a block up the street at the local sento, or public bath.

And I’ll tell you that when I earned enough to move into an apartment of about 300 square feet in a brand-spanking-new concrete “mansion” with my own bath and an air conditioner, I thought I was king of the hill .

From memory of Japanese seasonal patterns, I’d say a traditional Japanese house without modern cooling/heating appurtenances would be comfy, at least for me, for around April-May, and October-November, in the  greater Tokyo area .

Cleaning the Closet, Taking Photos for the Memories

I’ve got amazing junk hanging around. Today I am tossing several Ts and sweats into the rag basket, but I’m shooting them for the memories.

carleton_1984-85First up, my sweatshirt from the Carleton University Bachelor of Journalism program from 1984-85.

Goodtimers_T_frontA Goodtimers T-shirt dating to the late 1980s in Tokyo, Japan. The Goodtimers were an English-speaking jogging club. I met my wife, Yumi, through this group.

Goodtimers_T_logoCloseup of the logo.

Goodtimers_T_backAnd the back.

Goodtimers_sweatshirt_backGoodtimers sweatshirt

Goodtimers_Noble_T_backA special event Goodtimers T, date June 26, 1994. We were aiming for a cumulative 750km in one day around the Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo.

honolulu_marathon_1987_front1987 Honolulu Marathon T. My one and only full marathon. As I recall, I finished in around 4:50, with a muscle tear in my thigh. Shoulda stopped, but. . . didn’t see myself doing more marathons so I really wanted to get this one done. Was limping for weeks.

honolulu_marathon_1987_back

portland_1990A five-miler done in Portland in 1990.

yevshan_frontYevshan Ukrainian Dancers T circa late 1970s? I wasn’t a dancer, but I played bass guitar in their Sweden tour orchestra.

yevshan_back

cymk_1970sCanadian Ukrainian Youth Association, circa 1970s. I was president of the Saskatoon chapter, and the Saskatchewan Provincial Council way back when…

tc_1970sNo, I never attended Columbia, but my Mom did from around 1969-71. My sister and I attended elementary classes at a “free school” associated with Teacher’s College. We ended up mostly home-schooling with textbooks sent from Canada.

I really need to get rid of stuff like this. Stuff that’s been sitting untouched for decades, but I’m a sentimental softy. So now it’s preserved, somewhat, digitally, and yet my wife can be happy that I’m tossing it : -).