Thursday, December 31, 2009


My daughter Zoe now has a cork floor in her bedroom. It's called a floating floor, hopefully not because it'll get so wet with global warming that we'll need it as a raft. This is the second floor we've installed in our new to us house, and it went pretty well.

Things I learned.

Builders who put in angles other than 90 degrees are evil. If the odd angle has a doorway in it, and if the angle continues into a closet, they really, really, really hate the person who will be doing the finishing work. Did you know that a mitre box is great for 45 degree cuts, but no others?

If you could commit a sin strongly enough to go to hell, I'd be there. I had severe tool envy while installing quarter round. I really wanted a sliding compound mitre saw and an air powered nail gun. I had a mitre box, a hand saw, 2 hammers and a box of 2" finishing nails.

Quarter round is not corner round. I always thought it was called corner round. Not as funny a mishearing as the girl with colitis walks by, but still wrong. As it's 1/4 of a round stick, the name shouldn't surprise me. But it goes in the corner where the wall meets the floor, so either name fits.

2" nails are WAY too long for 11/16 inch quarter round. Unless you are looking for a real workout with a hammer.

Spackle in a tube is still one of my favourite things. Spackle. Spackle spackle spackle. Still love that word. Maybe one day I will grow up and not giggle every time I hear it. I hope not.

There are more than 4 wrong ways to cut a 45 degree angle, but only one right one.

A mistake doesn't use up much quarter round. The offcuts are amusingly curvy, and surprisingly plentiful.

Despite a total lack of experience installing trim, I can do a good job.

I should take pictures. Right now the cork floor - so beautifully installed people think it's a sheet and not planks - is underneath teen daughter's new furniture and mounds of clothing. Ah well.

I still need to install the reducer strip. If you leave a rough edge of flooring, you need to fix it before installing said strip. I spent over an hour today with a hammer and chisel, evening out the edge. Clearly there is a market for extra wide reducer strips. Unless I am the only person who measures, makes a paper mold of the odd cuts (thanks, oh creative builder, for your not quite perfect 135 degree angles), marks the piece, then adds a half inch or so at the door end. It is lovely and straight now, ready to install the perfectly cut piece of transition strip that will stop the ugly blue carpet from leaving bits all over the house. I think I will screw it in, so it's easy to remove when the carpet goes. The underpad was disintegrating, although I've removed worse.

Next job? Not sure. My credit card is keen for a break. The floor plus new furniture plus Christmas kind of caused it pain, even though most was paid off with the last bill. But boy, is the remaining blue carpet ever ugly...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas installation blues

It used to be batteries - you never had enough for all the things you bought, no matter how carefully you checked the packaging. There would always be a remote or something that needed still more batteries. Even if you only bought teddy bears, they needed batteries. Or something.

Now it's more complicated, but there are fewer tears. We spent about 45 minutes setting up the new router - dual band, or something, so when we watch YouTube videos we don't get the spinning thing while the video decides if it should progress past the 1:03 mark. I can now spend more time watching the Muppets and Monty Python sketches.

We also set up the wireless wheel. Which has a mess of wires - only wireless if you add 65 batteries or so. See paragraph 1 above. Child #3 is loving the steering wheel game, and has bought and crashed one corvette. May his real life driving prove more cautious.

Then we attacked the PVR. The instructions lie. You have to call Rogers and convince them that you are a legitimate customer. Then they try to sell you stuff you already have. Then read out serial numbers, several times. It's been a few hours, but mostly that's because my husband - who bought the PVR - was over at his dad's chipping ice off his Cadillac for the last 2 hours. Ah, holiday ice storms. If the sun comes out, it will be spectacular.

All told, we had a very nice Christmas. The kids are happy with their gifts and seem to think we got them more than enough loot. We went sledding on Christmas day, and it was fun. The driving was fine, as the freezing rain didn't start till we were back. I got booze and chocolate, in quantity, so expect to see me in the New Year as a fat alcoholic.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ritual without religion

I am a fan of blogs. Mostly science & skeptical blogs, and one that is more philosophical and political - Greta Christina's blog. Her writing is as exceptional as her thinking.

My writing is as muddy as mine, so thanks for your patience in slogging through ye olde silly blog.

But she had a thought that made me think, which is better than just thoughts I agree with. Thinking is fun. Honest. I just don't do enough of it.

She mentioned that she thought some people might be tied to the rituals, not the beliefs, of their faith, and that it was possible to be a secular Jew or Catholic.

I agree that you can be a secular Jew. By my definition, of course, which means someone who sees their Judaism as a cultural and not merely religious heritage.

Catholic I had more trouble with. Maybe because I can't see something I used to be associated with as particularly meaningful. I mean, they spend years going on about how much communion rocks, then you finally get your first communion, and it's a gummy wafer. It's tasteless, it adheres to the roof of your mouth (or retainer, if you forget to take it out), and it better not be the body of christ cause he's been dead, for, like, 2000 years, eh, so it'd, be, like, gross.

OK, so clearly by ritual she means more than ritualistic pseudo cannibalism, my favourite phrase for communion. And with Judaism the holy bits are associated with a history of persecution. Insane persecution. I mean, it's amazing anyone lasted as a Jew.

I just don't see that same history with Catholicism. Yeah, a few early Christians made excellent lion food. But it's not like the Romans were nice to everyone else, and Constantine made it the norm once he converted, I think in AD 333. Or so. And how much systematic repression against Catholics has there been since? Some, sure, the Irish would have a few stories, and certainly it was an issue for JFK. But in Canada? Not so much.

I realize a ritual is not simply meaningful cause your relatives got killed for it. Meaning I have yet to form a coherent thought. One may yet arrive, don't hold your breath.

Dropping the religious bits of Catholicism leaves guilt. Ask any former Catholic. Not much else. Christmas? The tree and gifts were adopted from the pagans. Easter? What? Did Jesus hide chocolate eggs as he staggered towards his execution carrying a cross? Maybe they left that bit out. I don't know where the chocolate egg hiding or bunny delivering them comes from, but it ain't Catholicism. What else? White dresses? Odd hats? Men wearing red dresses? The chants of a mass that come back verbatim at every funeral I sit through? I don't find it comforting, though - I find it depersonalizes the funeral.

So I don't think that there's any meaningful ritual that ties a former Catholic to Catholicism similar to those that would create a secular Jew. Am I wrong? For some people, absolutely. For me, not so much.