Welcome to my new custom layout here in Medium. I selected that nice purple because that’s how I was feeling on the day I fiddled with it. I might change it again. Maybe even before next week’s post. Or not.

Anyway, the week is over and here we are, feeling purple. As usual I have no big, metaphysical concepts to share this week, but that should not be a surprise. If you came here looking for that sort of thing you’re going to be disappointed.

What I can do is tell you about what happened this past week.

First off, on something like Tuesday morning I got the email containing the natural gas bill. So I went off to the bank and paid it. No problem. About two hours later, though, Tinkerbelle was barking furiously and would not shut up. That’s not normal. Most pedestrians only get three barks, even those with dogs. They’re loud, but limited. You have to linger to get barked that seriously.

So I looked out the window and saw someone walking up the driveway wearing a bright yellow safety vest and carrying some sort of hand held tablet computer. I waved as he turned to the side of the house where the gas meter is, and when he stepped back into view shortly thereafter I opened the window to confirm he’d read the meter. Sure enough, he had.

At that point it dawned on me that our natural gas company takes one full month to go from a meter being read to a bill in hand, and that’s not including delivery time for the bills they send out via the postal service. They actually run one full month in arrears. How does any business do that these days? Given everything is computerized that takes real work, and it seems strange to me, but whatever. Maybe it’s because we’re so far north. (Sorry… that’s a very old joke.)

In other news, a while back I mentioned I’ve been using a new weather app. It’s by Accuweather, and — for your amusement — here is a typical forecast for our neighbourhood lately:

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Just a hint of rain, as you can tell. I’ve had multiple requests to send some of that to California. I would if I could, but I don’t think any of the delivery services what to handle a huge cardboard box full of water.

I am pretty convinced this app’s long term forecasts are better than the old one’s, but it is definitely inaccurate in some ways. They have a thing they call a “minutecast” that tries to precisely predict precipitation for the next hour (or four hours if you ask), but it seems to take the most recent radar image and simply move it in the prevailing direction at the speed it was last moving. And that movement speed seems to be gathered from a large area so they can pick it out. That might work for a band of storms, but for a place like ours that is nestled against the mountains it’s a complete failure.

Here the topology squeezes rain out of the air. Clouds and rain just sit over at least some of North Vancouver for hours on end. The minutecast might claim there will be a break in 20 minutes, but it usually doesn’t work that way.

I have yet to figure out how accurate it is for other places. The pandemic keeps me from going most anywhere so it really doesn’t matter, but at some point I will get a handle on that. In the meantime, I have a better idea of what to expect in a day or three now than I did with the previous application, so that’s good.

During one of the rare sunny periods this last week this happened:

That’s Cruzer in the back, laying in the sun (and not at all sure he likes having his picture taken) and Tinkerbelle in front, on guard duty looking for evil people who have the audacity to walk by on the street without her leave. Or cats. Or squirrels. Or dust motes. You know, anything worth barking at.

The two of them often share my office with me, but I have never before seen them like that. Cruzer has a personal space rule that is clearly being violated in that photo. I guess the sun was worth it, though.

Next up, I thought I would show you our latest Ikea hack:

That’s two different Ikea bookcases screwed together, some inserts in the bottom right, and some kitchen cabinet feet. This is right by the front door, and provides a place to change your shoes as well as a place to stash those of visitors who insist on taking them off. (No shoes in the house is a common Canadian thing. We never enforce it here because we have dogs who cannot change their feet when they come in, so what does it really matter? But before the pandemic we had guests who insisted.)

The baskets contain fresh (upper) and used (lower) masks, and the holiday cards are starting to accrue there as well. It’s lovely.

On the left is a set of wall hooks for coats and leashes, among other things. Here’s a close up view of those:

Note that each hook has a space for a little note or label, like those on a file folder. They’re probably intended to contain the name of the person whose stuff goes on a particular hook, but nothing is that simple in our home. Anne wants to see what you folks come up with for crazy things that might get written and inserted into those spaces. Her first thought was that each one might contain some abstract concept, and by way of clarification she suggested that the one holding leashes might say “Hope.”

So we are asking for your input. Think of it as a contest with no prize. What should those five labels say?

I’ll report back next week. We look forward to seeing your suggestions!

Last week I mentioned the car in the addendum. This was the unexpected and new problem:


That’s a lot of warning lights that should not be on!

Some research with a mechanic, our insurance broker, the car insurance provider here in BC (there is only one), and then an appointment at the local Honda dealer have resolved the problem. The offending critter chewed through the wires to the mass air flow sensor, which activated the check-engine light. The other lights all apparently came on when the MAF sensor sent out invalid information, or perhaps the computer read garbage on the bus that was supposed to be connected to the chewed through wires.

It turns out that the insurance would cover the repair with a $300 (CAD) deductible, assuming the mechanic could prove the damage was done by rodents. In this case the repair came to $318 with tax, so we didn’t bother with the insurance claim. That’s a reasonably happy ending to this bit of silliness. Or at least we hope it’s the end. We put a very stinky peppermint essential oil sachet in the engine block of the car to try and keep the offender from repeating his (or her) crime. Fingers crossed.

And in house project news:

Work continues on the library. Remember the bookcases I put together only a few weeks ago? Well they have all been emptied, moved, and refilled on the other side of the room so I can paint where they were. I hope to get that done in the coming week, leaving only the closet and the carpet as things to work on in that space.

Finally this week here are two more videos by Julie Nolke, who has become something of a pandemic legend. I don’t know about you, but I need the levity.


Written by

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

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