EVEN MORE PREPARED

The end of the 2016 US presidential election and the events beyond it were a real eye-opener for me. For the last several months I have frequently read or watched a piece of news and asked myself, "is this really happening?" Unfortunately, every single time the answer was a disappointing "yes". It seems every new political development coming out of the US is more ridiculous than the last. Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Throughout my life I've heard people say that "the world is a crazy place". I don't think the world has seen the type of crazy that has emerged in the last year or so. There are dangerous forces at work now and what seemed impossible before, should not seem so impossible now. It's gotten to the point where if I looked outside my windows and saw a mushroom cloud in the distance, that wouldn't be all that surprising now. It wasn't a coincidence that on Friday, a horribly depressing day, I took stock of how prepared I was for an emergency. Recall that over a year ago, I began assembling my emergency gear, piece by piece. I bought an emergency kit which contained many essential items. The kit was missing food and water though. To rectify that I purchased emergency rations, good for the next decade. I also bought a few jugs of sealed water. As I went over my inventory in my head on Friday, some missing items became clear. I didn't have a portable radio. In an emergency I'd expect to have no Internet nor cell phone service. An old-fashioned emergency radio broadcast might be the only way to get information out to people. To fill that need, I bought a hand- and solar-powered portable radio. It also has a flashlight and contains a battery that can charge a smartphone via a USB connection. With so many useful functions, I'm amazed I didn't get one of these early on. The next missing item was a water filtration device. I can buy as much water as I can fit in my apartment but the possibility exists that I will eventually run out of water. Or, if I'm forced to leave my apartment, it would be impossible to take all that water with me. In dire circumstances I would be required to seek sources of water where ever they may exist and that water may not be directly potable. A water filtration device will make safe water that you might come upon. The I bought fits over a water bottle, hydration pack, and even has a straw attachment so that you can drink straight from a stream or puddle. Both these items should arrive by Tuesday in the mail. Now even with these items I don't think I'm done yet. I still think I could use more water so I will definitely get a few more jugs. I also think I need more rations. My initial supply would last for three days but I think it's silly not to have more food. I would feel more comfortable if I had a minimum of a month's worth of food. Lastly, it's a bit of an unfortunate thing but the reality is I have no weapons. If it all goes to hell, you will need to defend yourself. I've seen enough post-apocalyptic scenarios to know there will be terrible people out there who will do you harm. Now does that mean I'm going to buy a gun? Well, if I were "balls to the wall" serious about surviving a doomsday scenario, then yes, I definitely would buy a semi-automatic gun or even a carbine. There's something troubling to me, however, about having a firearm in my apartment. It's one thing to have a bunch of water, food, and candles lying around but once you own a firearm, that is a serious responsibility. Perhaps, that's just a mental block that I need to get around. Well, this is an evolving process so as long as I'm making progress getting better prepared each step, then I'm happy. Of course, every part of me hopes I never have to use of this.

ALMOST DONE

The home reno company that I signed up with sent two of their dudes over this morning. They were polite and courteous from the start which I appreciated. I had cleaned up the area around the fireplace so they had lots of room to work with. The one exception was my TV. It might be considered a relic now since it's a plasma and it weighs about 80 lbs. The contractors were nice enough to lift the TV off the fireplace for me. Once that was done they got right to work on removing the fireplace. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any info on how the fireplace was attached to the wall so they had to discover that themselves. It only took them about five minutes of exploratory smashing and prying to figure out the fireplace mantle had two screws which held it in place against the drywall. In less than ten minutes they were able to pull the mantle off the wall. The mantle was actually just a hollow shell made from pieces of wood. To my relief, behind the mantle was actual drywall. I was somewhat afraid there would be a giant hole there and it would require a massive drywall patch. This probably saved me a few hours of extra contracting work. The electric fireplace insert required a bit more work to remove since there was wiring involved. One of the contractors had to cut the wires to insert and then cap off the wiring. It looks like it's a 240V connection. With everything finally out of the way, they mixed up some drywall mud and covered the areas of the wall where the mantle met the wall. They left it in a paint ready state so that if need be I could paint it tomorrow if I wanted to. Unfortunately, that's all they could do today, leaving behind three remaining tasks. First, the pictures above don't show it but there are two outlets that need to be moved from their current position six feet above the floor, down closer to the ground. Second, you can see that long silver wire conduit that's sticking out from the wall. That needs to be tied off in a more permanent state. Lastly, you'll noticed there's a massive gap in the floor moulding where the mantle used to be. Unfortunately, one of the contractors told me they don't make this particular moulding anymore. To fix this, they can either make a custom length of moulding back at the shop for me or they can just completely replace the moulding on this section of the wall with something new. For the second option, I'm not sure how that would work given the new moulding would need to connect to the old one in the corner. Anyways, the first two tasks require an electrician to come in and we'll be scheduling that work tomorrow. It would have been better if the electrician was available today as well. The moulding will also need to be installed on another day too. The one thing that won't be addressed in the near future is the big chunk of missing carpet. I've always been quite dissatisfied with the carpet in my apartment so I'm not going to look for the same carpet and try to patch it up. It's also very likely they don't even make that carpet style anymore. In the short term, I'll probably just buy a rug to cover up the spot. After all these years I'm glad the fireplace is now gone and only a few more things need to be done!

THIS IS IT

Since I moved into my apartment about six years ago I've complained about my stupid fireplace mantle and how it forced me to put my TV on top of it. As such, it requires me and anyone else watching it to have to crane their neck up. For years I've thought about hiring someone to rip it from the wall and take it away. Well, after years of thinking and talking but no action, it all changes tomorrow morning. I've hired a general contractor and in the morning they will start work on removing that damn piece of crap fireplace mantle. It's going to cost $1000 to have it done but I think it will be worth every penny. Once the work is complete, I'll put my TV on a TV stand and it will so good to finally have the TV at eye level when I'm sitting on my couch.

WHERE DID IT GO?

I can count on one hand the number of times I've lost a piece of clothing that's part of my everyday wardrobe. I find that losing clothing is a difficult thing to do since you're wearing the item. To lose it means you actually have to take the item off, place it down somewhere, forget to put it back on, and then leave. As difficult as it seems though, sometime in the last two weeks I managed to lose one of my dress shirts that I wear quite frequently. The last time I remember seeing it was putting it on about two Fridays ago and going to work. I'm very confident that I arrived at work still wearing the shirt. I feel like I'd remember if I somehow took off my winter coat and then took off my shirt, all while on my commute to work. I'm also very confident that I arrived back home that day still wearing the item. I'm not in the habit of randomly taking off items of clothing at work and with the weather being so cold, it seems unlikely I was taking off layers. So the odds are I arrived back at home with that shirt on. Logically then, the shirt must be somewhere in my home. Yet I've checked my closet, the washing machine, and the dryer, all the likely places for a piece of clothing to be and come up empty. If the shirt isn't in a likely place, then it's quite possible it's in an unlikely place. I don't exactly live in a mansion though, so the other possibilities aren't limitless. It's not in the garbage, not behind the couch, not in any of kitchen cabinets, nor is it on my balcony. I may never find out where that shirt went. In the grand scheme of things, this is an inconsequential mystery but it is a mystery nonetheless. I shall keep looking.

THANK THE MAKER

It rained this evening in Vancouver. It was a heavy rain, the kind of rainy evening that every Vancouverite is used to. I welcomed the precipitation with open arms, perhaps not literally but I embraced its arrival. After weeks of cold and dry weather, the rain was accompanied by temperatures near the double digits. It's supposed to rain all week and I hope it will wash away all that snow and ice that has been plaguing the city since mid-December. I know the people of this city are famous for complaining about rainy weather but it would not bother me one bit if it rained for the rest of this month. With rain comes warmer temperatures and after the deep freeze of this winter, I'd gladly trade that for my umbrella.

A LONG TIME COMING

In a previous post, I wrote about how the cafeteria renovation at my workplace was taking too long and completely missed the initial estimates for re-opening. In that post, I dismissed their third attempt at guessing when they'd re-open and I offered my own estimate. I said the renovation would be done in January and the cafeteria would be back in business then. It turns out I was right. Tomorrow the cafeteria re-opens again in full capacity for revenue service, breakfast all the way to dinner. After shutting down in May of 2016 and initially saying it would re-open at the end of the summer of 2016, it will finally be ready after months of lengthy delays. The company says it tries to be transparent whenever possible but I've found the details of this particular project to be shrouded in mystery. Very little information was communicated to employees during the renovation. A blog which was supposed to track the details of the renovation went months without updates. The only info we got about the delays was that the project was thrown some "curveballs". What that really meant in actual relevant details is unknown to me. Keep in mind, I realize that not having a cafeteria at work for eight months isn't the end of the world but not knowing why such a large scale project got so far behind is odd, especially since the project affects nearly every single person at the studio. The other thing is that every single studio under EA is responsible for spending their money responsibly. If the renovation went way over budget, which I can't say if it did, then will our bonuses be less because our studio wasn't fiscally responsible? So while food will once again be served onto our plastic trays, I feel like a lot of details are still missing and someone wants to sweep them under the proverbial rug.

WHOOPS

I didn't make a post last night because my schedule got thrown out of whack. Last evening at around 10pm I felt quite tired, most likely because I'm still recovering from that last bit of the sinus infection. I crawled into bed with the intention of napping half an hour to an hour, just to get my energy back so I could finish some things before going to real bed. I feel asleep and when my eyes blinked awake again I saw it past 3am in the morning. I must have been exhausted because I was lights out asleep without any interruption for hours. I must have laid in bed for about ten minutes trying to process what I needed to do. I still needed to brush my teeth and floss. I also needed to refill my hot water dispenser and set the timer for it so that I would have freshly boiled water in the morning. Of course the lights and my computer were still on so I'd have to shut those down once everything else was completed. With my pre-sleep activities done, I slipped into bed once more, this time ready to sleep all the way through to the morning. Unfortunately, I was wide awake at this point. Rather than get up again, I decided to stay in bed and just browse the Internet. It's a good thing my tablet was plugged into the wall because I was watching cat videos for nearly three hours before I felt tired enough to fall back asleep. So that's why you weren't able to read something disappointing last night!

JUST LIKE BEFORE

As I recover from this serious sinus infection I have, I am also preparing to go to EA's annual holiday party, which takes place this Saturday. It is interesting to note that almost two years ago to this week, I was also recovering from a serious sinus infection and getting ready to go to EA's annual holiday party. I don't like it when bad things repeat themselves with such noticeable patterns. The timing of it all is almost too predictable to be coincidence. If I had a poorer grasp of logic, I might even infer that scheduling the party causes the sinus infection to more likely to occur. Of course, the party has nothing to do with it. If I had to be more analytical, it's the weather and the time of year that deserves more scrutiny. The cold temperatures might be a factor. Last December was milder compared to this year. Two years ago, it was much colder, like it was this year. Colder temperatures means the heat is on more often. In my place, the heat makes the air in my apartment dry. Dry air does negatively affect your sinuses and leaves them susceptible to infection. Hmmm... now I'm wondering if I'm going to turn on the heat in my place, I should also ensure the air remains moist at the same time. In my grad school residence, I used to take a cheap $5 electrical kettle I had and continuously boiled water in it to raise the humidity level in my room. When you boil water that fast, it raises the moisture level quite quickly and it never really has a chance to level off. On nights where I stayed in my room for hours, it became like a steamy jungle in there. My skin and sinuses were so comfortable. There were consequences though. The humidity was so high, it condensed everywhere in my room, including the insides of my very first digital camera, ruining it. In fact, the inside of the camera had a few sensors (stickers really) that detected if you dropped it in water or any other liquid. When I sent in the camera for a warranty repair, they rejected it because they said I had dropped it in water. Technically that wasn't true but I had no way of fighting it. Anyways, I think the lesson to be learned here is that I should invest in a real humidifier that should be used in conjunction with the operation of my baseboard heater in my room during the winter months.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

I don't think I can properly convey the gratitude I have for President Barack Obama as he led the United States for the last eight years. His election in 2008 was met with relief and I was filled with hope that things were going to the improve for the US and for the world at large. I believe he did leave things in better shape than when he first stepped into the Oval Office. In those eight years, he fulfilled the duties of the office with class, grace, empathy, strength, and the seriousness that you would expect a president should have. He was so presidential when president. I will always admire his skills as an orator. Over the years, I've watched and listened to his numerous speeches over and over again. There is an eloquence to his words, marked by an underlying layer of passion. His ability to grab and hold the rapt attention of any listener with just his words is remarkable. Perhaps one day, I will get to hear him speak in person. As time marches on and the history books are written, I hope they are kind to him.

I was told the name of the movie would not appear on the hotel bill