New Years Eve 2021

Hello everyone. Sorry I missed last week. We have a guest visiting over the holidays and my time is organized differently for the duration. You know how it is.

As for New Years Eve, all I can say is that I am completely done with 2021. It can go rot. That said, I am nervous about 2022. A year ago I hoped 2021 would be better than 2020, but it was worse in several ways (Delta and Omicron, at least) which leads me to wonder about 2022. Will the pandemic finally end? Will life get back to normal? No one knows, and I hate big unknowns.

It turns out that time itself is a problem for me as well. It’s a slow motion thing right now. I feel like I am jogging in a pool filled with molasses. Between Omicron, a deep cold snap, and an abnormal amount of snow for our area, we have a problem doing much of anything other than looking out the windows, eating, and wondering if the apocalypse has actually arrived. It’s kind of gloomy, to be honest.

Ah well. A few things have happened since my last communique, and I made a chance to write this, so…

First, some weeks back I asked what was wrong with a particular bottle of hot sauce. I received two responses. One person made some guesses that were accurate but not what I was anticipating, and the other (my wife) mocked me for not understanding that “sriracha” is a generic name. I thought the bottle was a knock-off version of sriracha, but after being prodded I did some searching and there are competitors out there that use the same name for their sauce.

However, I stand by my contention that the product in the photo I shared was a deliberate knock-off of the most prevalent brand of sriracha sauce I know of in the US, and apparently in Canada as well. See for yourself:

On the left is an image of the “real thing” as I think of it. It’s the stuff we got in California all the time, and that we can find up here as well. On the right is the knock-off I found at the local dollar store. Note the striking similarities. Tell me the knock-off version isn’t deliberately trying to be mistaken for the better known one on the left.

I found it amusing, if nothing else. And no, I did not buy the stuff at the dollar store.

Christmas dinner saw this:

Tinkerbelle is contemplating if she can dine with us or not. She decided not to in the end, possibly because she was being closely watched.

The real story of the past two weeks though — at least in our immediate are — has been the weather. Yes, Omicron case counts are soaring here and elsewhere, but you know that already. If you look at any news source you can’t avoid knowing that. But the weather…

Last summer we had a “heat dome” that sent local temperatures to record highs. We’re now in the middle of something like the reverse of that. Temperatures have been below 0° C for many days in a row now. It was so cold that I decided to finish insulating the garage, just to try and keep things a tiny bit more comfortable.

The garage was only partially insulated when we bought the house. I went to the local home centre and bought two batts of stone wool insulation, and over the course of about 6 hours I installed it in the remaining uninsulated exterior wall:

Click to enlarge, as usual

The first photo shows how far I got after bringing the stuff home. The other two photos show the completed installation a day later. The walls are built with 2x4 studs set at highly irregular intervals, which meant that in most cases the batt was the wrong width for the gap. Thus I regularly wound up piecing bits together.

The garage is definitely warmer now. The boiler that heats the downstairs of the house is out there and the waste heat it creates warms the garage to some degree. This insulation keeps those therms around a bit longer. Someday I will add a vapour barrier and sheetrock, but not until other projects are out of the way.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how much nicer the space looks with the irregular plywood and wiring hidden by the insulation. It was a relatively cheap win in a number of ways.

In addition to the cold, we’ve had snow. The first snowfall gave me these photos:

We had something like 5 cm (2") the first time. The dogs were fascinated by it, as you can see. The cold kept coming, though, and the pond started freezing over:

In the first of those two photos you can see canine footprints on the ice. Cruzer (the idiot) walked out there for some reason and the ice collapsed under one of his front feet as he approached the water. You can make out the place his belly hit the snow as he leapt up and twisted to the left. The dark prints are from his one wet foot as he made a hasty retreat.

The pump continues to run without issue, but I am keeping an eye on things to see if we need to turn it off.

A couple of days later we got the second snowfall:

This was more significant, but I’m told we had less snow than downtown Vancouver got. I am sure the city dwellers are howling at the inconvenience of it all. The old snow had not yet melted, so it’s quite a mess out there.

This time it fell overnight just before we had to put the garbage out. I had to get up in the morning and shovel a path — and the end of the driveway — to let me get the cans out for pickup. It was a large job, and I know the plows will be back to throw lots of snow all over the end of the driveway again at some point.

The next worry is actually rain, believe it or not. At the moment we have about 40 mm (1.5" or so) of rain forecast in a couple of days. It’s supposed to stay below freezing until that arrives, so no one knows where all that water is going to go. Plus, many of us with flat roofs will have to worry about whether or not our downspouts are frozen over before the deluge. If they are, we’ll get accumulating water in places it should not be, which could be bad. We actually disassembled two downspouts and removed the ice from them. They were nearly plugged up, which could be a disaster. Sadly there is nothing I can do about the downspouts off the upper roof. It’s too dangerous to get to them with the lower roof covered in snow.

I looked into systems to melt ice on a flat roof and so far I have found nothing I like. The electrical options would be very inconvenient to install in this house, and the recommendation is not to use salt on a roof as it will corrode everything in the drainage system. Apparently you can use pet and plant safe ice melt alternatives, but given the cold spell everyone is completely sold out of all those things. At this point all I can do is hope our luck holds out until things thaw out and melt away.

That’s the news for now. I wish you and yours a very happy new year, and I hope we see the end of the pandemic as soon as possible. In the meantime, please keep safe!

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Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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