Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I was in a little fender bender this morning on my way to work. No one was hurt, but I spent most of the day sorting things out. I was westbound on Eastern and the lady who hit me was trying to turn left (eastbound) from Heward, and she didn't look to her left as she made her turn. I braked and had come to a stop when she hit the front passenger-side corner of my car. She had just started from her stop sign, so wasn't going very fast (maybe 15km/h). She was very apologetic and agreed it was her fault, and so we exchanged insurance info. Both cars were still drivable.

This is the first time I've been involved in an accident, and was really impressed by the efficiency of the collision reporting and insurance process.

First I drove over to the Toronto West collision reporting centre near the QEW and Islington. I was in-and-out of there in about thirty minutes. The collision reporting centres are for accidents where no-one is hurt (amongst other things) and the main purpose is to have the police report for insurance. (It saves having the police show up at every little fender bender). They then sent the report automatically to my insurance company.

Drove to work, and called my insurance company. They took the details, and gave me contacts to get an estimate, and for a rental while the car is being repaired. Because the other driver is at fault, my deductible is waived.

The body shop already had my file (from the insurance company) when I showed up to get the estimate. (They send it direct to the insurance company).

I am going to take the car to the BMW dealership-recommended body shop, which unfortunately is up at Bayview and Steeles. I called the car rental company and they also had my file from the insurance company. I qualify for a luxury rental (because I'm insuring a BMW), and the insurance company pays the car rental company directly.

Later in the day my insurance broker called to see if I was okay.

Everyone that I dealt with today was very courteous and professional. I was thinking of switching my car insurance to combine it with my house insurance; but after the great customer service I think I will stay with my current insurer (Aviva).


Today is Hallowe'en and it's the first time I've lived in a house since I moved out from my parents to go to university. Heather and I weren't sure how many kids to expect, and planned for 100. The first 36 got full-sized chocolate bars, and the rest were snack-sized chips. We ended up having 53 kids throughout the evening, the busiest time was around 7pm. Met a lot of the neighbours who were taking their kids around. (Leslieville is really friendly!)

Eleven months and 984 pages later, I finally finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. It was okay, I preferred Anna Karenin (I know it's a different author, but they're both Russian classics). Now I can get on with my backlog of books to read -- next is a Douglas Adams book that JP lent to me.

Doaner got Leaf tickets to yesterday's game, and called me around 3pm to see if I was free. Of course before I accepted I asked if they were box seats. They weren't, but I went anyways. The seats were actually pretty good, thirteen rows up behind the Leaf bench. But we had to get out of the seats and line up to buy beer, and use the same washrooms as everyone else. (Although the washrooms are common for box seats at the ACC -- it's at the Skydome that there's a washroom in each box). The Leafs won, and we spent most of the game heckling McCabe. I think he was a minus-2 in a 4-2 win. (I was being a box-seat-snob just to bug Doaner).

We came back home after the game (Heather was wrapping up working on her disseration for the night, and was giving her chapter a final edit). We ordered pizza and played a game of Scrabble. Doaner won 430-422 with a 7-letter word on his last turn.

We played a double-header on Sunday Ultimate. The weather was terrible yet again -- there was actually a wind warning! I've never heard of a wind warning before that. My legs were tired after the game, but by dinner I was okay.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's a dreary Saturday afternoon, cold and rainy and windy. I was planning to take the construction waste to the dump (from all the work I've done to the front of the house this summer), but decided against it when I saw the forecast yesterday. Maricar (she has a construction waste too) and I are going to rent a van from Home Depot some day soon before winter. We both still have room on our 1 tonne exemption from the city to use up before the end of the year.

Yesterday afternoon went to the bar across the street from work with some of my team. At one point Alex, DT and I were point at the screen on DT's laptop, talking about how the PDF-merging script referenced shell variables. Ram thought we were all a bunch of IT geeks.

Last night Heather and I went for a late beer at Leslie Jones. There is a nice atmosphere in the place, but at $18 (including tip) for two bottles of beer, I don't think we'll become regulars. We had a Steamwhistle and Stella, which are a premium and an import, but still, $18 is a bit pricey for Queen East.

Thursday night we had a really late (11:30pm) hockey game. We defaulted because we only had five skaters and goalie (you need six in case of co-incidental minors). The other team had three full lines (!) and so gave us a couple players and we just played for fun. My legs were really tired after the game.

I've reached page 832 in my book. I'm going to try to finish it this afternoon. Later this evening Heather and I have dinner plans at Tomi Kro (our favourite restaurant). Yummy!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I finished putting in the grate (for scraping snow off your boots) on the front deck yesterday. Here's a couple pics of the railing and grate:

I'm happy with how the railing turned out. I'll have to wait until next spring to paint it (the same white as the door frame).


Heather and I tried out a couple recipes from the LCBO, and both were amazing. On Friday night we had grilled steak with bourbon sauce. The recipe calls for a 2" t-bone steak, so I requested a special cut at the meat counter at Loblaws. The steak weighed 950g! (Later on I realized it was a recipe for four people). The sauce turned out really well (I used Crown Royal instead of bourbon). We paired it with a bottle of wine I had purchased a couple weeks ago (Liberty School cabernet sauvignon). It was a great sipping wine, but didn't work that well with the food.

We learnt our lesson and on Saturday tried another recipe, but this time had the wine recommended with the recipe. Made asian-style chicken and rice pot, and had the Hillebrand Gewurztraminer. It was an amazing match with the food, one of the best we've had. Next time I'll use a bit less hot sauce, because it turned out very spicy.


We played Ultimate today in constant rain and drizzle. We won 19-17, but we again didn't play well as a team. We continue to run into the throwing lanes, can't form a stack worth a bean, and make questionable choices of throws. My rec team from last summer was better at team fundamentals than the ones I play on now.

Heather and I are just about to head out to Fionn's for dinner. I was exhausted after the game (more from the rain and cold than from running) and didn't feel like grocery shopping or cooking.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Leo (the neighbour's cat) just dropped in for a little visit a few minutes ago. I was taking out the recycling and saw Leo on the sidewalk. I called his name and he trotted over, up our walkway, and in through the door to see Heather. I think he was over-stimulated with all the new sights and smells (Leo's only been in our house a couple times), because he was walking around meowing quite a bit. Heather let him out, and now he's sitting at the top of the stairs of the deck, watching the scene on the street.

I scored a goal in hockey tonight, a little tip-in on a shot from the point. I score most of my goals on deflections like that. We ended up winning 2-0. I almost had a 2nd goal -- Craig drove towards the net with the puck, and was checked into the goalie, I put the rebound in the net, but then the ref called Craig for interference for running into goalie. Anyways the other team wasn't that good, so I had an extra second to look up when I had the puck which makes a difference for me. After just Craig and I went up for pizza and beer. We talked mostly about last night's Ultimate game, which we lost.

Last night we played the top team in our league, and we could have won but we made a lot of unforced errors. The final was 14-12. We went out to Fionn MacCool's on the Esplanade. The Leaf game had just let out so the bar was pretty busy. They even had live celtic music!

Went to Fortino's today for lunch. Fortino's is actually a grocery store a la Loblaws, but the location at Hwy 7 and Weston Rd has a pizza and panini counter. They make their pizzas to order in a stone oven. It's the best pizza I've had. Some time I'll have to drive up with Heather on a Saturday (although the lady's warned me that "the kids" work on the weekend and they're not as good as Rocco).

I've been reading more of my book The Brothers Karamazov, I'm now on page 724. My goal is to finish before the end of November (before the one-year mark since I started reading it).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I built the railing on the front deck between us and our neighbours over the weekend, and it looks pretty good. Unfortunately it's been raining daily since then, so I haven't been able to paint (or at least prime). I'm pretty sure I'll have to wait until spring. There's one more small project for the front deck, and that's installing the grate for scraping the snow off your boots. Maricar saw the idea in a magazine. I (actually, Marciar) saved one of the old metal air vents when the house was gutted. I just have to cut a hole in the deck, and drop in the vent. (I'm also going to build a nice little frame to make it look better). In the winter when we come home with our boots full of snow, we'll just scrape them over the grate, and the snow will fall under the deck. It's a pretty cool idea.

We finally played an Ultimate game on Sunday. Craig and I played the whole game because one of the other guys pulled a back muscle and the other guy was hungover. (There's three guys & two girls on the field on Sundays). It was fun to actually get playing time again. We won 17-10, and after went to check out Leslie Jones on Queen E. They've finally got their liquor license. The owners did a nice job of renovating the place, reminding me of a smaller version of Czehoski's. It's three minute walk from our house, and I can see Heather and I going there for a beer or two in the evenings. They don't have beer on tap yet though.

I'm at VPC the rest of the week, trying to sort out a few things. The big news yesterday at work was the resignation of the publisher and editor-in-chief. It was neat on the 5th floor (where Editorial is located) shortly after the email from Goldbloom around 5:30pm yesterday; the only times I've seen it as busy was 9/11, and after Honderich resigned. It's amazing that Jagoda (Jagoda Pike, the new publisher) is only the 8th publisher in the 114 year history of the Star -- and I've worked under three of them! Anyways, I'm sure there'll be more announcements in the next few weeks. It's a very interesting time to be working there.

Heather's just finished her writing for the day, so we're off to cook dinner (cedar-planked pacific salmon, with steamed rice and a lemon-butter-parsley sauce, and side of steamed broccoli with melted cheddar).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My stew is bubbling away on the stove. Right now it's the meat, marrow bones and soup mix (barley etc). Later on I'll add carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onion. Rather simple, but we like it.

I was at VPC all day. I only had a couple meetings, and it's a little quieter up there, so I was able to catch up on a lot of my paperwork from the last couple weeks. The only thing I dislike is that it takes 45 minutes to drive in rush hour.

We finally played a decent team in Ultimate on Wednesdays. We won 17-14, although our fundamentals (especially on offense) are still not so great. We clog the throwing lanes, can't stack worth a bean, and we make poor choices on throws. Most of the players on the team can throw and catch really well, which makes up for (also likely the cause of) our lack of strategy. We had seven guys which was too many. (A couple guys didn't want to rotate to have maximum six guys a game, so we're all playing in every game).

The forecast keeps on changing for this weekend. I am hoping to build the railing between the houses and finish stripping the paint on the middle rear post. Then I'm just hoping for one more day with the temperature over 10C so that I can prime everything before winter. (If I'm really lucky, then I'll get two nice days and I can paint as well, but I think it's too late in the season).

Well I better go get the vegetables ready for my stew.

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's the end of the Thanksgiving long weekend. Heather and I just finished dinner (lamb with rosemary, with sweet potato and green beans). We also had a little infestation of little bugs, that looked like baby mosquitoes. They were all over the back door, and about a hundred flew in as I was going in-and-out to barbecue the lamb. They were all over the ceiling, and we weren't sure how to get rid of them. Tried painter's tape to catch them, which sort of worked. Then I used the hand vac, which was very effective. I was nabbing them in mid-air. They're all gone now; we've just left the back kitchen lights on for the rest of the night, and I'll vacuum up anything that's remaining at that point.

The weather was perfect the last three days, about 21C and sunny. On Saturday went golfing waaay up north at Heritage Hills (about 90 minutes north of Toronto, where the 400 splits to Highway 11 and 400). There was a frost delay, so we had breakfast and finally teed off around 11am. I hit the ball fairly well, and my putting was on. Shot 96, but could easily have been in the low 90s. It's probably my last time out this season. I should have taken my camera, because the scenery was beautiful. The leaves had all changed to red and orange, and the sky was a perfect blue. The course was in nice shape, but I thought it was a bit pricey being so far away from Toronto and October ($79 including cart).

Yesterday and today I worked on the front deck. Replaced the front two posts with 6"x6" new posts, and used my brand new heat gun to remove the paint from the rear two posts. The heat gun was really cool; the paint just scraped off. (It wouldn't have worked different substrates like brick). The heat gun's quite dangerous though; there's no visual cue of the heat, and I can see it being easy to accidentally burn yourself. But I made it through unscathed. Used Elmer's wood filler to patch up the holes. Unfortunately it may be too late in the season to paint the rear posts (the temperature is forecast to drop to a high of 12C tomorrow). I still want to finish the railing between us and our neighbours before winter.

Oh yah, I scored two goals on Thursday! We won 3-1, it was a fun game. Only Craig and I went up for wings and pizza after the game. Heather was trying to watch the game on the web, but they don't have it fully working in real time yet. (The scorekeeper is supposed to be hooked up so as a goal is scored, it's available on the web).

There's a detached house on our street that just went up for sale. Surprisingly, they're only asking $389K! A house on Pape around the corner recently went for $589K. I think this one will go for $450K - $475K. Maybe they're asking low to attract a offers and a bidding war?

Anyways, that's it for now!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Wednesday Ultimate game is a later one this week, so I'm just waiting for Maricar to pick me up in a little bit.

We were supposed to start with the byes for the guys this week, but one of the guys didn't want to miss any games, so we're all showing up tonight to talk about how to split up playing time. If there's too many guys I may just sit out and watch the game.

Work has been pretty busy, there's been a few problems, but it's also budget time for 2007. I've been at the Star for a few years, and budgeting gets easier year over year, so it's not so bad. The operating budget was due yesterday, and capital budgets are due Friday.

It doesn't seem like we should be coming up on the Thanksgiving long weekend already. But yet here it is. Heather'll be finishing off a chapter of her dissertation, and I have a construction project for the rest of the deck. The weather so far looks good. Hopefully my little project won't take the whole weekend, and I can find someone to golf with. (Oh yah, I should mention, Jonathan (Heather's sister's husband in PEI) broke 90 yesterday! Cool! We both started golfing around the same time, and are at the same level. When I visit PEI we try to get out a couple times).

There's been unusually loud rainstorms the last two nights. Our skylight sounds nice in the rain, it's normally very soothing. However, the last two nights around 6am, we've been woken up by the rain. The first night I actually got out of bed to see if there was a hole in the roof, because it sounded like it was pouring into a puddle inside the house. But it was just the rain on the skylight.

Dinner turned out really well tonight. A couple nights ago, Heather and I walked down to Betty's (in Heather's old neck of the woods), because it was a really nice evening and there won't be too many more this season. It's only about a 25 minute walk east, veering south onto King St. Anyways, we were there for wings; but the special was penne with bacon & mushrooms in a cream sauce. That sounded really good and almost swayed us. We had the wings; but I planned to make the penne later on -- which was tonight. I used double-smoked bacon and shiitake mushrooms; along with onion, parsley, white cooking wine and Heather's 5%-tastes-like-10% cream that she uses in her coffee (instead of buying cream and wasting the rest). It was really tasty.

Anyways, I should get ready for Ultimate.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

We had our Sunday Ultimate game called because of rain this afternoon. We were up 9 - 4 at half, and then most people decided they didn't want to continue. This season's Ultimate seems to be jinxed, I have yet to get in a good game. Last two Sundays there were problems with the permits, this week rained out; and on Wednesdays there's way too many guys. On Wednesdays we've decided to sit out two guys a week, so that we only have six guys (there's four guys, two girls on the field on Wednesdays). I've put together a schedule and emailed it out.

On Tuesday we had Singapore curried noodles with shrimp, a recipe from the LCBO Food and Drink magazine. We've found some really good recipes in the magazine, (also available online).

On Thursday we had a late hockey game, a scheduled 11:30pm start. However, when we got there, we found they were running a game behind. We didn't get on the ice until 12:15am. Fortunately players on both teams stuck around, and we won 2-0, in a good game. The league is now managed by Canlan Ice Sports, and I can't say I'm impressed. They have a 5-minute OT even in regular season (so I can see the games being delayed every week), and the ice has been in bad condition the first two weeks.

I decided to take Friday off, partially because of the late hockey game, and also because I have a lot of vacation to use up this year. I painted a 2nd coat on the door frame (so that's done now), and tried to figure out how to replace the rest of the posts on the front deck. There's six posts, three against the house (3"x6"), and three out front (6"x6"). Two are ours, two are the neighbours, and the middle two are shared. I replaced our front 6"x6" in spring, because it was rotting and falling off the support. The replacement is pressure-treated with chamfered corners, so it doesn't really match the rest. I found some lumber yards that sell 6"x6" with non-chamfered corners (although not square); but couldn't find anyone who would rip those into 3"x6"; or anyone that sold 3"x6". The originals are about 50 years old, and are true 3"x6".

So after discussing with Heather, we decided to re-replace the 6"x6" front posts with non-chamfered pressure-treated posts (both ours and the shared one); and strip the paint from the 3"x6" rear posts. I also have to replace the old railing / divider that separates the deck from the neighbour. I've heard different opinions on painting pressure-treated wood, and I'm going with the "leave it out for a season" one. I'll paint the posts and railing in the spring (white, to match the window and door frame).

Also looked at replacing the gutters and downspouts. The brown paint is peeling on the current ones, and they're dented and bent. I checked out Home Depot and found that replacing them with vinyl isn't that expensive. But that may have to wait until spring (along with replacing the green shingles over the deck with black, and replacing the painted green wood shingles against the 2nd floor exterior with cedar shingles).


Yesterday Heather and I went to the 1st Annual Leslieville Catfish festival, down at Jimmy Simpson park. There was a pretty good turnout from the community. We had catfish, coleslaw and sweet potato frites which were excellent. Tried three different hot sauces, one of which was extremely hot. Heather burnt her tongue on the hottest one. Got home before the rain started.


Ordered some more loose leaf tea from Capital Tea. Heather also added some chai tea and a peppermint tea to the order.

Anyways, I should go cook dinner. We're having spaghettini with clams in a white wine sauce. The clams are canned bar clams straight from PEI; I haven't found them sold in Toronto yet.