Some not-so good news.

Yesterday I found out my Grandma had a stroke (2am  Wednesday morning). From what I hear, she is doing relatively okay at the moment. Although one side of her body is [temporarily?] paralyzed, her brain was not significantly affected.

Amidst a flurry of not-so good midterms, this really puts things into perspective. My last midterm is tomorrow morning, and then I will be taking off to Lethbridge for the weekend.

Mom’s Kitchen Renovation

About a month ago my mom flew to Vancouver to visit her terminally ill sister who has since passed away.  During this time, it was an opportunity for me to add a new face to her kitchen. It was quite a bit of work, probably about 40-50hours, but I am so glad I did it. I have to give a HUGE thanks to Benson, who on the day before my mom came home, helped me from 9AM to 3:30AM the next day. It was crazy. Here are some pictures before I started.

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That receptacle with the yellow cord hanging out was pretty sketchy. Actually, it was very sketchy. The bottom plastic outlet was completely torn off from the refrigerator which has no wiggle room in that corner. It was the bare metal with live power running. I hate going to the basement, so [idiotically] I replaced the plug with the power still on (doin’ it live!).  I managed to avoid a shock.

This tall cupboard was added a few years ago. I filled in that big space so it doesn’t look disjointed from the wall.

I scraped the stippling stuff off the ceiling. In this picture I am about 3/4 done. It was a pain in the bum, by the time I was done I was covered with a solid layer of dust and the entire kitchen was covered with little stipple rocks.

There was mac-tac/wallpaper all over these cupboards. The previous owners were too lazy to take the old stuff off when they put new on, so there was at least 3-4 layers in all the cupboards and drawers. When I finally got it all off, it revealed poor carpentry and some hella bad water damage.

I eventually filled all these little cracks in and sanded off the booger looking glue.

One morning when I went to her house around 7AM I seen these flowers in her yard and thought they were picture worthy.

More water damage in the cupboards.

To cover it up, and seal it off forever, I decided tiling this area would be the easiest and best looking way to fix the issue.

The area below the cupboard (above the counter top) was already tiled. I tiled the area inside the cupboard.

Here is Benson working on the floor after we painted the primer and final coat on the kitchen. The flooring underneath the old linoleum was in very poor condition, so I decided it would be best to leave the lino on and use a belt sander to rough it up before we stuck down the new tiles. In the end it worked out very well.

Here is me working on the final piece of the floor. It was about 3AM at this point. A few days after this I was in severe pain with a sore back. Now I see why.

Here is the kitchen in its completed form. I took all the cupboard doors and drawers home so I could router a new edge on them. The old edge was was a bumpy and square, so I rounded it off with a table router. I also put new handles on. I used all the old hinges, but I painted them black to match the handles.

I thought it would look nice if I used black receptacles and light switches to match the black and white theme, you can see one of them here. It’s crooked in this picture but I fixed that.

I painted the heat register black. It used to be a rusted brown register with some calcium on it for some weird reason. To get the calcium off I let it sit in a container of diluted hydrochloric acid.

This has nothing to do with the renovation but it’s a table I made for my mom last year and I want to show it off =P. Also, she really needs to get some new chairs.

I put new taps on and re-did some of the plumbing under the sink. The old taps were leaky.

I still haven’t put the quarter-round baseboard on to cover the edge of the flooring but I’ll do that some time.

The kitchen doesn’t look like complete garbage anymore so I am happy.

Nothing like a good crash.

Last night was a pretty dang fun night. My friends Boris, Benson, and I went to play with my two nitro-powered remote controlled cars.

This post is pretty long-winded, but it gets more interesting towards the end. Also note I put up another new post (photolog 2)  last night on Waterton park.

If you’re wondering what the “nitro” is in these little beasts; it’s not NOS (nitrous oxide) and my name isn’t Paul Walker. The mixtures can vary between engines and environments, but my fuel consists of approximately 20% nitro-methane, 14% castor/synthetic oil, and the rest is methanol. For the oils, castor oil breaks down into a nice lubricant at high temperatures, while synthetic oil works well at lower temperatures but burns at higher temperatures providing little lubrication. This stuff doesn’t come cheap, it’s about $40/gallon, but it lasts for quite a while. Maybe I’ll do a more detailed post about the ins and outs of a nitro RC later. The engine is pretty interesting.

Back to the fun. The first hour and a half was pretty lack luster.  I won’t bother with boring details, but basically I was having problems getting the engines started because the batteries in the electric rotational starter were dead (it kicks the engine over exactly like a car starter). Eventually though, I managed to get them both going at once, and then the fun started.

I was driving the Savage X SS for most of the time, while they were taking turns with the much smaller MT2. Both trucks are extremely fun for different reasons. The Savage is big enough that it can take easily tackle most curbs and traverse over some pretty intense terrain. It also has a very snappy acceleration due to the 3-speed transmission in it. The MT2 on the other hand, is much smaller, and has a higher top end speed (about 105km/h if I have it leaned out). It handles infinitely better than the Savage due to its narrower tires and overall smaller dimensions. The Savage is a 1/8th scale monster truck, the MT2 is a 1/10th scale stadium truck.

Even though these weren’t cheap, for some reason I LOVE to see an epic crash (and it’s a bonus when nothing expensive breaks). We were ripping around the parking lot, and I was getting slightly bored. I full throttled head on with the Savage right into the MT2. It was pretty awesome. The Savage launched right off the MT2 since it’s so much larger. That was enough near-destroying-something for me.

Here’s where it gets pretty awesome. Boris was getting tipsy from his medication, on a sugar high from the root beer, and maybe distracted from some Asian women walking by. He lost focus on what he was doing, and he accelerated right into a curb and over some large rocks which were cemented into the ground. Everything looked fine as it trampled over the big rocks, and I quickly responded, “Okay never do that again!”. Somewhere between smoking the curb and raging through the rocks though, the radio switch on the car was knocked “off”. Since I don’t have a fail-safe on the MT2, the car quickly accelerated on full throttle with absolutely no control. It flew off the curb, and then cut back into it, hitting even harder than the first time. Then it roared across the street right in front of a moving vehicle. The vehicle swerved and took out a light post before slamming into a house and exploding. Wait, no that part didn’t happen; after hitting the curb a second time, I didn’t really see it but I am pretty sure it did some extreme flips before it crashed into the bottom of Boris’ real truck and landed upside down with the throttle still wide open. The muffler on the MT2 flew off at some point, and the engine was absolutely SCREAMING. It was ridiculously wicked. I grabbed one of the spinning tires which were going extremely fast. That worked fine and I flipped the car back over and pressed my thumb against the exhaust header (since the actual muffler flew off), swiftly stopping the engine.  That’s the proper way to turn it off, just not with my thumb. Needless to say, I have a big blister on my thumb now. It was past 9PM at this point, so the locals probably weren’t too impressed, I sure was though. Benson noticed some of them eyeing us out of their windows.

I continued driving the Savage for around fifteen more minutes in the nearby field until it was too dark to see the thing. Then I inspected the damage on the MT2. Overall, there wasn’t really any damage at all. There might be some damage to the engine since the air filter flew off when it landed upside down, but other than that not much. One of the rear tires flew off at some point in the accident, and the muffler was ripped off, but it’s not even close to some of the tortures I’ve put that car through over the last few years.

Here is a shot of the damage, as you can see nothing actually broke, things just flew off, which is pretty remarkable.

Click the image to see all it’s greasy 10MP high-res glory.

PhotoLog 2 – Waterton

This Saturday my Aunt LeAnn and Uncle Ron took me on a 14km hike around Waterton National Park. At first I was a little skeptical about the whole idea, but looking back on it I am so grateful they invited me and glad I went.

The weather was absolutely perfect. There was never more than a gentle breeze which conveniently occurred when we were out of the trees and exposed to the sun. The hike itself wasn’t extremely difficult, but it was long enough that my legs were quite fatigued by the time it was over. I found it fairly impressive that my Aunt and Uncle did the whole thing without really taking a break, except for lunch, which was delicious by the way.

I do not remember the names of the places we visited, but I’ll very briefly poorly summarize where we went. We started out in the town of Waterton, and hiked around the right side of the lake. The beginning was the most difficult part as it was quite steep. We then descended down to a bay. I believe it was about 7km into the hike when we reached the Canada-US border. Interestingly, there is about a 30ft wide path cut the all the way up and over the mountain indicating the divide (to the right of this image). As a Canadian, it was nice to see our side of the hike was maintained much nicer. That’s not to say the Montana side wasn’t nice, it was indeed very beautiful. The hike was finished off with a boat ride on the “International” back to Waterton, where we had some ice cream. I had peaches and cream flavored. It was good. Then it was back to Lethbridge where I took a look at the 240+ photo’s I had taken.

Here are some photos of us on the hike:

I think I was doing my “geek” stance here… That bridge was pretty wobbly!

Below is about 40 of my favorite pictures from the trip. I am trying out a new way to display them. If you liked how my last photolog loaded images instead, and you use Firefox, you can get a very similar result by middle-clicking the photos instead of left clicking.

All the images are 1920×1200 with the exception of a few which are 1200×1920. If you’re wondering, I take the photos off of my camera at a 10MP resolution and then resize them and retouch the color levels if need be.

Continue reading PhotoLog 2 — Waterton

A friend in need is…

Indeed, I’m completely clueless when it comes to any sort of web-development. Thanks to Kevin Morrison and Benson Trinh, I now have a beautiful search bar and rss feed setup.

For those who don’t know what an rss feed is; basically it’s a simple way to get news updates, and it works with any browser like a “dynamic bookmark”. For a far more detailed description, click here. You may be surprised to know almost every major website has one, including Facebook, for status updates and notifications.
Subscribe to my feed by clicking the blue rss icon rss at the top right of this page, and hopefully I’ll be pumping out some quality entries here soon!

Spur of the Moment

Last night, with the influence help of my friend Simon Tam, I decided I needed a personal webpage. That was a 3 second decision. Alas, it was a 3 hour decision to think up a website name. It was an insightful experience though; I think I’ve been nominated for the most uncreative domain-name guy.

Anyhow, I really don’t know what direction I should go with this site. On the main page I could write about my everyday events, like… drinking a glass of milk, watching the Blackhawks get destroyed with a sad face, or some crazy combination of the two! Truth be told, I don’t really want to write about my life all that much (so when I do it better be damn good).
In a nutshell, what I want to write about is:

  • Technology – mainly computer related; hardware and software
  • Video games – impressions, reviews, anticpations
  • Education – engineering related; math and physics
  • Sports – hockey with a hint of tennis
  • My life – we’ll see, hopefully nothing too personal
  • Tutorials – where I consider myself knowledgeable (so there probably wont be many of them)

Hopefully in a year, I can say to myself “Wow, the Avalanche are going to the Conference final the website has come a long ways”

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Beauty Shot of Shadow