Sunday, August 27, 2006


In order to celebrate our newfound hot water, we decided that it would be fun to replay our past week's experience of no hot water and go camping. We hopped in the truck with a few friends in convoy and headed to Thunder Lake Provincial Park. We got there just in time to get the last site that would fit all our vehicles and one tent. This is just as well, since there would have been an extra $20 per night PER TENT!!! For tents over one.

incidentally, if we had, say, three people camping each in a one-man backpacking tent, all on foot, we would have paid $65 per night in site fees. The people in the next site had 3 full sized pickup trucks and a 35 foot trailer, with air conditioning and satellite dish, and had a full dozen people staying there, all for $25 per night. The site is the site, no matter how many tents are on it, it should be one site one fee, anything else is absurd.

Needless to say, however, it was a successful trip. We ate and drank ourselves stupid, played crib and president, and generally chilled out around a campfire. I also discovered that my Coleman stove doesn't need new seals - it is about 20 years old and had been in storage with no fuel in it for about 19 of those 20 years, and the last time I took it out it seeped gas around the seals. No longer, however, sitting full of naphtha for a few months has reinvigorated the leather in the seals, and the thing should run trouble free for many years to come. Heck, it's probably the last camping stove I'll ever need to buy. We cooked a bunch of good stuff, both over the fire and on the stove, and we relaxed in one of the few totally dead cellphone zones I know.

Once we returned, we divvied up the remaining food and headed off to our respective showers to de-stink ourselves. I learned how to play crib again, which probably makes the fifth time or so. I also learned how to bake muffins on a campfire, and that you shouldn't drink red wine that had been lying in the sun for several hours.

Friday, August 18, 2006

You get to drink from.... THE FIRE HOSE!!!!

Updates, updates, updates....

Just 8 short days after having our hot water cut off, we are now once again in the money, the hot water money, that is. It came on again as a lukewarm trickle this morning, and has been slowly heating all day. Normally this would be cause for celebration.


As we sat back enjoying Jenn's first day of Not School this summer, we heard an unusual sound coming from the hallway. Sirens. Klaxons. Fire Alarms. Not to put too fine a point on it, the building was on fire.

Happily, some forethought had gone into this, since we had a rabid paranoia about fire at our old wood-frame, smoking-encouraged, bad-wiring building. Our insurance contact information, CDs of all our pictures, and a copy of my thesis are in a steel box on an easy-to-access shelf in the office. The cat carriers, somehow, had managed to become disassembled, however, which led to our running down the stairs with cats under our arms and a box in the other hand, tossing the whole mixture into the back of the truck once we got outside, and sat chatting about previous fires in the building with elderly residents as sirens approached. I heard of the time one complete unit burned out, but as a concrete building, every wall is a fire wall, and therefore one unit can burn to a cinder and not damage its neigbour but for the smoke.

As it turned out, this fire was on 18 - a byproduct of repairs being made involving heat guns to dry drywall patching in a unit that had been damaged by the exploding hot-water system. To celebrate the fact that the building has not burned down, I will go have a nice hot shower. In my own apartment. For a change.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Updates from behind the barrier

Even as the ravening masses outside pound at our door trying to get in and kill us for our electric kettle, we have been living a more or less (mostly less, actually) comfortable life without hot water since Friday Morning, which means that we are will into our sixth day without hot water. Here's a couple of observations:

1) I smell funny. Even though I have been using the shower at the pool, I suspect that the inadequate temperature and pressure of that water, and the proximity of goat-smelling Uzbecks is preventing a really good cleansing.

2) Doing dishes with water you have heated on the stove is a huge hassle, especially if you have to do the dishes that were in the dishwasher when the water turned off and so everything got baked on and nasty, and especially if you are rinsing them in the bathtub, one turkey roaster at a time.

3) My face is breaking out from the lack of hot water washing, or possibly from the greasy food that I have been eating in the absence of anything more homemade, it being difficult to face the idea of cooking, which would lead to dishes, see above.

4) No hot water has _NOT_ actually prevented me from enjoying my favorite hobby - zymurgy - I bottled 30 bottles of Kiwi-Melon Pinot Grigio last night, and laid on a 5 gallon batch of Wheat Beer, using a Brewhouse Prairie Wheat kit with Wyeast #3333 German Wheat Beer Yeast. The results ought to be tasty with a slice of lemon in a tall glass. Results will be mentioned in about 3-4 weeks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

No Hot Water

Let me first say that my hot water is something that I hold dear. Hot running water is what separates us from the savages. Were it not for hot running water, we would all be reduced to a pack of wild animals fighting in the streets for the scraps of our fetid and dying civilization, as Foreigners with strange customs and lower expectations for the daily necessities arrived in droves to cast us down from our Liberal Democratic Throne and hurl the world into a pit of darkness lasting a thousand years. A new Dark Age for Mankind! Just as we are on the cusp of attaining the keys to a golden age of civilization - unlimited power from fusion, vast advances in medicine, No Disease, universal education for children around the world, a grand time for all! Instead, we will struggle in a new darkness extending throughout all 18 floors of this stinking building, as the overarching stench of unwashed bodies mixes with he sickly sweet stench of rotting unwashed dishes.


I think I saw George Romero setting up his cameras at the end of my hallway for his new film, shot on location in the heart of the Real Action! The stringy hair, the ugly skin, and the zombie stench are too much for a civilized person to bear. I have bolted the door, and I will not be going out until the all clear is sounded! We are Well Armed! Many may try to get through the door, but they will not succeed! While others panic and run, we have forted up, hunkered down, and are awaiting the end with gleeful anticipation! This is what it means to be one of The Prepared!

On one mission earlier today I left the apartment to get the feeling for the brewing crisis. I approached the panicking security guard at the front desk of the complex. "A LETTER?" he exclaimed, bewildered, "A Letter? You expect something to happen? NOTHING will happen! Don't you Understand???"

Indeed I understand too well! His Russian Mafia employers are trying to do to us what we did to them! Bitterness over the Cold War has resurged and they are trying to destroy our Civilization, our WAY OF LIFE! They are in league with the terrorists, no doubt.

I can hear you now, "What rot!" you say, "What rot this fellow is talking! Surely he knows that no hot water in one building will not destroy civilization as we know it!" Indeed you may say that, but while it may be only one building now, there is NO END IN SIGHT! Parts have been ordered, they say, time to make the repairs, they say, patience is appreciated, they say, but All The While, I have not had a shower in my own home in days, and my dishes are piling up at an alarming rate. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it sure as the pope drinks wheat beer burned in a day, and that is Our Fate if we do nothing to stop it!

Do you part! Stay armed, fill the bathtub with water, because you can rest assured that once they have taken the hot water, the cold will follow as surely as night follows day, and then the Electricity, and then... And then... You have seen them... Yes, they'll be coming for you, jackals gnawing the displaced hip-bone of Our Nation. I must go now. I need to stack Heavy things in front of the door, and test to make sure the whiskey supply hasn't been poisoned.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Edmonton Heritage Festival

On Sunday, Jenn and I went to the Heritage Festival, a long-weekend adventure of eating and cultural stuff that we enjoyed greatly. There were about 60 different cultural associations with tents displaying arts and crafts, cultural stuff, and mostly food. It works a lot like the midway. You buy a sheet of tickets and each food is so many, between 1 ticket for little bits of thing like a cookie, to 7 tickets for the big 3 items and rice sort of affairs. I could bore you with details, but suffice it to say that we were there for about 7 hours and didn't stop eating. Here are a few of our observations:

1 - every culture in the world has grilled meat on a stick.
2- It must be very hard to do the layout for the event, keeping the Arab tent across from the Israeli tent, the Serbs and the Croatians and the Bosnians equi-distant, and all away from the Greeks, and so forth. (Incidentally, the Canadian Forces recruiting display was in the middle of that particular triangle)
3-Every culture has deep fried dough with sugar on it, but the biggest ones come from Romania.
4 - There is less vomiting at the heritage festival than at the midway.