Monday, June 23, 2008

It Could Always Be Worse

Early Sunday morning I looked out into the back yard and saw a group of raccoons on my neighbours garage roof. I grabbed the camera to photograph this scene. If you look closely, you will see a large, furry creature (raccoonis giganticus) weighing about 2 stone, attempt to dislodge a roof shingle to gain access to the attic of this house in order to nest. It is a relief to know that I am not the only one who has incursions by wildlife recently. The photos below show the effort put in by AAA-Wildlife Services in order to keep skunks from re-invading the area under my front steps. The wire mesh extends about 6 inches out from the concrete steps, hence the filled in trench.

On a lighter note, my surviving roses; American Pillar. Left unattended they would take over the world, much like something out of a science fiction film.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Porsche 964 Temporary Cooling System Fix

You may not know the other side of me yet, but in case you are curious, I pride myself as a bit of an engineer. I actually went to school for that as you will remember. Problem: Porsche 964 Oil Cooler Fan not engaging. Fix, after 6 steps of diagnosis (1 year): replace Controler Unit. These CCU's cost $1000.00 Candian to replace, if you can find one. The current solution is to 'watch' eBay, and hope. Here is my ad hoc solution, which I stole from an internet post. I intend to actually refine this and advance this proposal. I will post it, if successful for all of the Porsche 964 and 993 owners out there.
Basically the theory is simple. The CCU puts out some sub volt current when it thinks your oil cooling fan should switch on. If you have a defective CCU, (BMW, Mercedes and Porsche owners), that signal never actually reaches the component it needs to. An intelligent chap had a hypothesis back in 2005 about delivering the neccessary voltage to the 'relay' that engages the fan motor. His math was seriously off, as he used 12 volts as a base voltage for his charging system. Due to my nautical and automotive background, I have corrected his error and modified his theory a little. All you have to do is put together a fused (1 amp) resistor circuit with a 6 ohm resistance value and apply it across pin 6 in your Porsche fuse box, Relay 4. It's so easy. I spent $5.00 on this. I will apply myslelf this weekend to a more sustainable fix, in that I will encorporte a switch and a two speed fan option using existing unused Porsche factory wiring.
G is expected at the end of August. I want everything in order when she get here!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Burrow

G and I have had some recent problems with interesting creatures. Upon my return to Vancouver from G's, I found the following clue under the stairs in my front yard.

Each day, the burrow grows deeper. Some creature is very busy building a new home. The problem is that in Vancouver, the quantity of species that burrows is limited to only one. The skunk.

I have not actually sighted the creature yet, but I suspect I should keep my eyes open (and nose closed) for something that looks like this.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekend Round Up

As your computer is out of comission, I am giving you a blog weekend round up!

First of all though, here are the new summer work shoes (to wear with trousers) - which are so damned ugly, they are almost cool. (But not quite.) They are not very executive but once they are broken in, they should be very comfortable and the most important thing is that I can walk to/from work in them without being crippled.

Now I almost photographed these wearing my red socks but I didn't want you to fall backwards off your chair and leave the room screaming - your colleagues might think that I am subjecting you to cruel and unusual punishment!

Otherwise, here are my individual match results for you to scrutinise and the full match results are in their usual place over on my Captain's blog. (It is almost up to date.) I think that you can click to enlarge them:

Then, of course, the fateful BBQ at K & I's where a few glasses of wine mixed explosively with something I ate yesterday that violently disagreed with me and caused me to spend a fair amount of the night plus some of this morning locked in a toilet cubicle in the ablution block on my campsite, just feeling like I wanted to die. A feeling made worse by my hangover.

Here I think that I is using the BBQ charcoal bag as a heat indicator i.e. when the bag goes up in flames, the BBQ is ready to cook on:

Like I said earlier, when I went to the supermarket, there was not even a bag of salad left. Anything that could be cooked on a BBQ, or served on the side, had gone. It was still 25 degrees at 7pm and trust me, the whole of the South of Britain was consumed with our Summer obsession of burning food badly over charcoal - I suspect that the hole in the ozone layer increased significantly last night.

So today has not been very productive. I am missing you too, so I have been feeling very sorry for myself. This is why I made chilli cornbread this afternoon, for the first time ever. It tasted right (albeit not as good as yours) and the 4 chillis (2 green and 2 red) that I chopped into it are helping me to prove to myself that I have the consitution of an ox - at least, my tummy is holding up so far. Does it look okay to you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Crikey, 14 today! So here is something suitably daft from You Tube to mark the occasion:

Actually, I really wanted to post this:

oh and this:

But then, maybe my sense of humour is just very British?!

I hope that you are having a fantastic day and that you enjoy your present (when it arrives)!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Scrabble Turntable

B, I know that you were far too busy packing to photograph this and blog it.
However, in my view, the world's ardent Scrabble players (particularly if they happen to be handy with wood) should not miss out on the impromptu design that you and Leo came up with for a Scrabble turntable because we didn't like the look of the one that is commercially available.
As we were purchasing Super Scrabble, the challenge was to come up with a design that was stable, would support a board that folds into 4 and could be packed away easily when not in use.

Above: wiew from top, unfolded and ready for use

Above: view from side, folded and ready to be put away

Above: the bottom of the folded turntable showing its supports and swivelling base

It was a divison of labour - I sourced the scrabble set, dictionary and timer while you made the turntable! Excellent work, lovely!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Garden Garden Garden

Oy, oy, oy. It's been twinging in my head since before Easter. As you know very well, Good Friday is the traditional GORK day to sort out the garden, after Winter, during Spring and before the big push of Summer when both of us are far too busy with our sport to do outdoor housework.

And what did we do instead? Oh...opps, mustn't grumble:

  • You got Gabrielle and Son on the London Eye. This is something that she has waited to go on for over 8 years - yes, I was at the Millenium fireworks (they were amazing, even if the river of fire was a damp squib and the Concorde fly-over was impossible to see due to low cloud cover)

  • We ate lovely pizza on the South Bank
  • We got hailed on and took cover under a overhang of the National Theatre (arrived home about 6 hours later and my feet were still soaking wet, yet did I complain....? :-) No I barely did, so knowing how much I hate having wet feet, that should surely count as meriting a GOLD STAR in the GORK Code of Conduct?!)

  • We watched 10,000BC at Leicester Square, which was a great venue but a diabolical film that made me want to pull out my own toenails with a bathroom pair of tweezers (sorry).

So no grumbles but while we did the above, the garden l-a-n-g-u-i-s-h-e-d, the winter seed heads and their stalks fell over, the ivy grew and I was ashamed (yes ashamed) of the photos that Son took, that I knew would be seen by a horticultural expert.

So ack! The disorganisation of the garden has been burning a hole in my head. The good news for you is that it has been dealt with. So images like taken by Son, can be replaced by images taken by me:

Phew, phew, phew. Broadcast the news!

Friday, March 28, 2008

From London with G to this!

In spite of a great weather prediction for the weekend so I can get some projects started, I come home to this!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


It's a treat to have G in your life. We had a quick midnight chat tonight about projects. I think the fact that I am ready to actually even visit the shop and pick up a tool is a good sign. I have been recovering from a little knee problem, and today I just had my first ever root canal. The dentist said that I was grinding my teeth and actually loosened a filling. I remember when I did it. It was during a particularly difficult time working through sport admin back in January. I am a big baby at heart, but I do heal quickly compared to most, and am no stranger to pain. The fact that I even want to get back to work is a clue. Accountant tomorrow morning, which will be nothing compared to the root canal. Then bank. Then I can start having fun again, and get on with a very interesting and wonderful life.

G floated the idea of incorporating some of my latest 'quest for drawer' urges into the list of existing Camp Projects. She is really good. Immediately after our midnight chat, I headed straight for the shop and did an inventory of what I had on the floor. I have a little maple. I have 9 cherry table legs, and some finished cherry shorts. I suppose I should be building a proper computer desk and a small knitting table out of my cherry inventory before it warps.

Here was G's suggestion. Why don't I complete the matching bedside table (One is done), and incorporate some of my drawer ideas into the piece? It must be nice to be right handed once in a while. You see, her idea was very, very practical. My first table, made during my first cabinet making course, uses hand cut dovetails for the joinery. I remember my teacher laughing at me. He called me the 'Dovetail Man'. That little bedside table is a two or three lifetime piece (300 years). It's put together like a puzzle. The pieces actually hold themselves together. The forces balance very nicely. Every day, the piece gets a little stronger. It has one simple drawer. I will build a similar piece, and use a 'mass production' drawer technique to test some of my recently acquired knowledge. Time to buy a little maple and a little maple ply. With G's idea, I can explore many techniques I will require for Graham's Bookcases, and home storage while filling a Camp need.

G tried to talk me out of the 'Dressing Table' concept for the bedroom. Anyone that knows her will agree that she has a very 'pink' side to her that compliments her professional side quite nicely. This is a design issue that I am sure the two of us will discuss further. If I created the 'Dressing Ledge', or 'Dressing Perch', I may be assured success. At least my insight still works.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where am I going to put my clothes?

Since G's last visit to Vancouver, I have been pondering the bedroom storage problem. Image, a bachelor having to deal with the possibility that he may become part of a couple. The issue of bedroom storage dynamics has been on my mind of late. Even after culling 60% of my wardrobe, I still have items stored on my Ikea bench. This has lead me to research clothing storage and chests of drawers. As G would remind me, look at the building, not the hinges on the door.

I have already been looking into drawer design, jointing details, materials, and diving into the minute details of creating custom furniture. This is me. I like to master the details first, then encorporate them into a larger design picture. I really want to build something to test some theories, but at the same time, the real problem I want to solve is to create a comfortable environment for my girlfriend when she moves in. Being Brian, I need to compromise on what I want to do and what I must do.

The bigger picture dicates that I do a floor plan for the bedroom, that includes storage, an area so G can get ready for work or school or a night on the town. She is right handed, so I have to bear that in mind. At the same time, I need to decide how to accomplish this. I need to decide whether we will be satisfied with offshore built, mass produced, disposable furniture or be happier with custom built, hand crafted, durable (100 year) stuff that we love. There are cost and time factors that go into this equation. I like Maple furniture in the bedroom. Ikea only supplies birch at best. (gag me with a spoon) I have had 500 board feet of birch stacked in the basement for the last 10 years. I use it to lean up against the basement door to prevent break-ins. Other than that, I can't see a use for it.

For the last few weeks, I have had the urge to re-configure the shop to work with sheet goods. My brother Graham has asked me to make a small run of bookshelves that he can re-sell. Everything is pointing to 'Brian get some furniture on the go!'. I have spent the last few hours looking at joints for ply. Sliding Dovetails. Drawer back joints. Materials for drawer sides. Taig Frid warns that 'particle board has no grain strengh, therefore....' Most of Ikea drawers are made of particle board. No wonder. It's problematic from the get go.

Stay posted for ideas and thoughts. I have reference material on order from Taughntons. I intend to come up with an affordable, durable, craftsman-like furntiure solution for the bedroom. I just want G to be comfortable when she is getting ready.