Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Big City - No variety

I'm working on replacing some baseboards in my home. I really can't stand the look of the run-of-the mill 3 inch high moulding found in all homes, it's thin and lacks character. I challenge you to find a newly built home, regardless of the price, where the builder hasn't used the same .49 cent/foot cheap mdf baseboard. The same boring stuff is used around windows too. I decided to go with a 5-1/4 high squared pine stock but top it off with a simple base cap. This style of baseboard and cap (or mopboard) was used in older traditional homes and you'd be surprised how such a minor detail can make a difference.

I was dismayed to discover that you can't find base-cap moulding anywhere. I went to the usual big box stores as well as some specialized lumber retailers specializing that in trim. It appears that the two piece baseboard has gone the way of the dodo because it's too time consuming to install and ultimately eats into the bottom line of the builder. Funny enough, you can readily find it in the US but I'm convinced Americans are more architecturally savvy. I mean most of the styles such Misson, Shaker and Federal all originated in the US, I can't think of anything in this regard that's pervasive and Canadian in nature; except for perhaps a beaver cap.

So I've been reduced to having to buy a moulding bit from Lee Valley so I can create my own stock. I don't mind doing that but it's really a pathetic state for the consumer where we're surrounded by ten thousand square feet building supply stores but they all carry the same old crap catering to the lowest common denominator.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Walkman

When I was about 15 my brother Warren and I headed to the Eaton's downtown to buy me my own Sonly Walkman. I belive it was a WM-9 and cost about $75. I had it through most of highschool or at least until it's size became an embarassement. It only played tapes so it didn't have an AM/FM tuner nor did it have auto-reverse. It used 4AA batteries and had a strap to lug it around like a 'tricorder'. I kept a collection of Maxell and Teac tapes full of 80's music. It was a great little machine.

22 years later I bought myself another Sony Walkman, only this time it doesn't play tapes. What are tapes again? I wonder if all those little Indian owned stores on Yonge street are still selling cases of tapes, but I digress. It's about the size of two AA batteries and weighs next to nothing. I could have made it easy on myself and bought an iPod but I went old shool. Main considerations were FM tuner, durability and fidelity. The Sony NW-S205F is a sports Walkman so it's weather-proof and comes with the arm band etc. Cool extras are that it comes with a pedometer, calorie counter, and stopwatch. It also detects the workout rate so it can change the playlist accordingly. For example change from Air Supply to Kenny Loggins-Top Gun when you're heading downhill at 80mph.

Coupe of issues, it does not allow you to drag and drop Mp3 files to it like most players that's because Sony natively suports ATRAC and not Mp3 so you need to use it's SonicStage software transfer mp3 files. The screen is only 1 line so it's not as pretty or intuitive to use as the iPod. ATRAC tracks however have a much higher sound quality and requires less storage, as a positive side effect the unit can play for 3 hours with only a 3 minute charge.

So 25 years later Sony is no longer the leader in portable music players. The Mini Disc was a commecial flop and heads rolled this year at Sony due to loss of Mp3 player market share to Apple Inc. Still I bought another Walkman and it's still a great little machine.

Monday, January 08, 2007

On Vacation

This week I'm on Vacation! The last time I was on vacation was June 2005 when we went to Nova Scotia. We're not going out of town but we plan to spend some quality time at home and about. I'm actually looking forward to going to the Ontario Science Center for some exploration.

As you may have heard, my brother Warren gave me a R/C airplane for Christmas. This weekend was my second attempt to fly it somewhere else besides into a pole. I was pleasantly surprised to get it to loop and pull up just before nose diving into the earth. I also managed to attract an audience (acually a 7 year old kid with his dad). I'll continue my flying lessons as long as the plane remains air-worthy.

Aidan will be 17 months old tomorrow. I've become the people I used to ask, "Why do you quote your kids age in months?". I do it because I don't want him to grow up.

Most parenting books will tell you by "this age your child should be able to...". They never said that he'll be able to take a DVD out of it's case, insert it into the player (right side up) and cycle through the tv's video modes to get it to play. It's a wonderful thing to watch a child grow.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years 2007

Happy New Year!

Despite still recovering from the flu, conjuntivitis and a hacking cough I'm starting the new year with optimism. I'm still working on my resolutions but here they are so far in no particular order:
1. Use up as much change as possible
2. Work smarter = less
3. End clutter
4. Be more creative
5. Get more sleep

It was 10 degrees Celsius this afternoon at the Beaches. We spent time in the playground followed by my sad and embarrassing attempt to fly my radio controlled Air Hog. My first flight was a disaster and thank god no one was aboard because I slammed it into a concrete pole. What are the chances of flying a plane into the only pole in an open field? The controls take some getting used to because usually pulling down on a joystick means climb, but in this case it means dive.

The funniest thing is that there's no snow, anywhere. So everyone is huddled around a small mound beside the skating rink created by a Zamboni. I actually I saw new grass coming out of the ground.

I confirmed to myself today that sharing is learned behaviour. Aidan found a small soccer ball on the ground and started playing with it, another kid came by and tried to grab it from him. Not being sure if it was his, I asked "Aidan" to share and give him the ball. Reluctantly he did, but seconds after Aidan ran after him and tried to pull it away from behind. This same scene always replays itself at any Thomas the Train display, ask any parent.

A perfect New Years Day.