Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ektorp armchair assembly vs the cats

Let me start with saying I've been a cat servant most of my life, and mostly it's good. There are few things nicer than having a cat purring in your lap while drinking coffee and eating chocolate cookies.

I like (mostly) that cats have a take or leave it attitude towards humans. There is a bright and lively intelligence under the fur, and it's fascinating to watch them explore the world. Curtis is working hard on trying to figure out the operation of the front door so he can go out. He just might do it too, so we keep it locked.

This leads to the recent great furniture delivery and assembly adventure. They were fascinated by the whole thing, and wanted to help. Boy did they ever. However, no cats were harmed in the assembly of the armchairs.

When we did the renovations 10 years ago we picked out the Ektorp armchairs mainly because they were the right size and we liked how they looked. They were comfortable, and I stopped thinking about it after that. Now, 10 years later let me remind you, they are looking a little battered and the cushions have lost their cush.

Time for new. We looked at getting similar leather furniture, but holy cow is that expensive! In the end we decided to re-up for the Ektorp. How can you go wrong? Turns out now you need to assemble it, and Linda panicked briefly. I'm not sure why. This turned out to be the easiest IKEA thing ever to assemble. Putting the cushions into the slipcovers is the most difficult and time consuming part of it. That and overcoming the aid of the cats. And dealing with a nose that's running like a tap.

So here's the photos and some commentary in case you should be looking for inexpensive, durable, and classy looking armchairs. (Just so you know, I'm totally channeling those people that video themselves unboxing new Apple products.)

To start with, here's the old love seat sofa bed on the left, and the new with the spiffy leather cover that is almost $5000 less than the competition. Sturdy and very heavy. No idea how comfortable the mattress is, but I don't plan on sleeping on it much. Comfy for watching the big screen. The old one is going downstairs to replace a futon "sofa" in the library. Minor repairs are desirable, but not essential.

Slightly out of sequence, here is Curtis inspecting bolt tightness.

Start with a big box, really good quality cardboard, well wrapped. Lay it flat to open, either side.

This is what you see.

Cushions are stuffed in to help with padding and support. Take them out and set them aside where the cats can't get at them.

The back is hinged. Really sturdy hinges.

Flip up the back, note the slot in the side.

Package of hardware. There are times IKEA hardware is, well, lets just say not the best quality metal. This is good quality steel.

Thread in the short threaded end into the arms. They all went in really easy to finger tight, meaning there was no guck in the threads.

Same on the side of the arm, only with a plastic washer. You'll need to make sure you use the right hole so the arms go on left and right with the bolt sliding into the slot.

You can see an arm sliding into place here. I had to wiggle the back a couple times.

Flip it onto it's back, and you can see the bolts poking through. If I was a pro, or not sick, I'd have the cute little arrows pointing to them, but I'm sure you get the idea. Thread on the nuts with washers, finger tight, then hand tight with the wrench, moving from bolt to bolt as it snugs up. I'll check again in a few weeks to snug any up as the furniture settles.

The little felt thingies go onto the legs. They are not provided, you have to buy them yourself. Essential if you have hardwood.

Thread in the feet and stand up. Now the fabric. The overall slipcover was easy to slide on, and fits really well.

Now the cushions. Turns out there is a right way, and a wrong way for the seat cover.

The one thing we didn't like about the old chairs is that the zipper hardware was cheap. We blew up several sets of covers when the zipper failed. We like that the slip covers are washable, but it's a bit of an exercise getting them on and off. Do NOT dry them! There are some slipcovers from another company that looks like a "relaxed fit" for these chairs. We will probably order a set and see what we think. These zippers are pretty good.

Curtis doing a final QA on the assembled chair. Celina was involved too, and seemed to be particularly interested in the clearance between the floor and the bottom of the chair. I never did get a photo of her assistance.

From beginning to end, taking my time, with pauses to blow my nose and deal with cat "assistance", each chair took about 40 minutes. This includes tossing stuff out into the garage and generally tidying as I went. I can't get over the amount of cardboard in these boxes! One box alone covered most of the area of our single car garage, and two would do it for sure. The old chairs are out in the garage. If you want them email now. You have till May 3, when a buddy of mine comes with a truck.

With any luck, these will last another 10 years. That would be nice.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Exciting times

We've been busy. Domesticating a new TV and various input devices. New furniture.

Starting with a lovely swim yesterday. I had a 50 m lane to myself. 500 m swim, then another 500 m trying out the new fins alternating with pull. These ones do not float, not even close. Now I need to remember to pick up a pull buoy on the way to the pool. Then 200 m hand paddles. 100 hard! 100 slow swim then 100 backstroke. The water felt lovely.

To Apple to get the little TV box. I hadn't fully realized just how tiny they were. Costco for another set of HDMI cables. Source for digital optical cable. Lunch. Installation. I am not a fan of the little Apple remote for doing passwords, and there was a bit of cursing involved. Then some fiddling around to get airplay happening on the iPad. I'm still not sure I've got everything there is to have there. But it works! In the evening I did some stretching before bed.

My legs and back felt great! Then a day of sitting at work, and my hams and back feel terrible. I might have to talk to them about a different chair.

Then we got a new love seat sofa delivered. I don't think the 3 guys have done this much. I, on the other hand, as a feckless youth spent some time working for a moving company. I knew it would go, and how to do it, but they took a while to figure it out.

Who knew that those little felt pads lose their stick after a long while? I thought so. I certainly hadn't, meaning a trip out to get some. There are 6 more boxes of stuff, but not tonight.

Yesterday was so nice. It's clear that Celina thought so too. Under that languid supervisory eye, I felt no need to do yard work.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The squirrel paparazzi

There was a minor flurry of traffic on Twitter this morning about the run today and #coffeechat. There's a bit more of an overlap than I thought; several people were planning to head out for their run after coffee. 

I was running with two buddies on a super beautiful day. We got met up ok, and headed down toward Fish Creek. Michelle and I have done this route several times, usually when it's minus WTF out, but today was warm and sunny, starting about 5 C (41 F). I wore shorts, as you'll see. 

Both Michelle and I took photos, but I'm too lazy to arrange them in order. So you'll have to put the story together yourselves. Some of you may have seen this. Last year the floods washed away part of the path. There is a well worn detour off to the right side of the photo. It wasn't even terribly mucky on my new shoes.

This is on the way back, M and S running ahead.

And there she is in action! The squirrel paparazzi! It was so much fun to see M having fun on the run today. She stopped to take photos, and skipped along in places. The pace graph has these huge spikes in it for our pauses, BUT WHO CARES! (Channeling Ruby Rhod)

This is Sophia just finishing up her 16 K run. Look at that happy smile! She is going to totally rock her race!

This is one of M's. She was trying to get a reflection shot of us, but I think we're too far away.

We stopped about K 12 or so to play with some photos trying to get one of each of us running with both feet off the ground at the same time. I don't here, of course. Almost. At least my back is straight and my butt isn't poking out.

M is so talented, she took this actually running at the same time. That smile says it all about our day!

We were still playing with the position of the phone here. What do you think, is that an actual muscle in my left leg?

Two shots just as we met up at Anderson and 37th, me showing off my pasty white legs. (Yes, I know, you were hoping it was one of the others showing off their legs. Such is life.)

I like this shot of us. It's typical for me, in that I've got a drink in my hand, you can't see my eyes, and I'm leaning to the right, but this time it's me and not the camera person. You can speculate what Sophia is doing with her hand. It looks like we're holding hands, but we're not. Anyone else I'd suspect she was trying to pinch my butt so I'd have a funny expression on camera. But Sophia would never do such a thing.

This certainly one of the best runs so far this year! Did I say it was warm and sunny? We ran, and chatted, and did photos, and waved to a big Running Room group out of Shawnessy,  and generally had a really good time. We weren't in a rush, nobody was fussed about a particular pace. My new shoes felt great. I put the graphs down below for those that like such things.

My legs felt pretty good throughout, with a few minor squeaks towards the end. Lots of stretching after, and as I'm writing this I've got a wine bag of cold water on my lap, while sitting on the vibrating heating pad. Drinking coffee. That will please the #coffeechat crowd. I may pay for this in a sleepless night and if so I will be back on twitter in the wee hours.

Wonderful chicken dinner after the run! And cookies. And banana bread. Then another trip to IKEA, where we saved yet more money. I figure between the two trips we have saved $16,000! Can't complain about that. We made out like bandits, with a harried manager approving a sale price on things that (technically) were not included in the sale.

Even walking a bit creaky because of the run today, I'm still walking faster than most of the people in the store. It's good I was still in a good mood. There's a path through the maze painted on the floor. Some people don't understand that this path is for motion. Either way is good, though keep right still applies. There is a ton of space to stand off to the side to consider how some item will clutter up your life. But NO! They have to stand at natural choke points. I don't know why.

I watched one couple squabbling at the delivery counter, giving the guy a hard time about the delivery costs for some big packages. Duh! The price is right up there on the wall. First it was reverse the purchase. Then it was rearrange plans to take the stuff home themselves. Even as they were doing that, one of the guys was saying it was better to pay the delivery fee. I'm not sure how it ended up. We got our stuff added into the existing delivery, for only a little extra.

I made a point out of being really nice to the guy arranging delivery, to balance out the jerk. I do not understand why people are so unpleasant to people that could be helpful. Mostly they want to be helpful, and will do so given half a chance. It's not like you have to kiss their ass or anything. Say hello, please, and thank you. Smile. Give them a moment to get that last experience put away and have a chance to focus on you. Have the paperwork handy. State what they need to know without going around the mulberry bush three times on non-essentials. Let them go through the computer or paperwork without yapping at them. Understand they have many rules to follow, and they don't know why something is a certain price.

Here's the data from Runkeeper. I'm a bit surprised, it seems to have kept track of the stopped time. The spikes in pace are mostly where we stopped for photos. When we ran we were really consistent. Such a great run for all involved!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New foot thingies

The day started with me stalking the photo-stalker. I got this shot, while she was working on hers. Total surprise for her! OEB is an awesome way to start the day! No food pics though, you would all go mad with envy.

A little later on in the day this happened. You can see Linda way off in the lead, me struggling pathetically trying to keep up. I was feeling quite disoriented up on the second floor. The vibrations in the floor were making me feel a bit queasy.

We were looking elsewhere too, and brought home these leather swatches. As you can see the cats are quite impressed. Which do you think goes with the cats?

Another bit of shopping at two different stores. The 11 year old plasma? Gone. Such an efficient place. You don't even have to get out of your car. Way back then I thought it was light. Now I think it's heavy.

Not far away is the Strides store. It was really crowded and at first I thought I'd come at a really busy time, but no. People were just back from the Saturday run and were socializing. My feet are strange. Last time size 11.5 was perfect. Today all of them felt tight so I went up to a 12. Perfect.

There was a woman trying on a pair of shoes even before I started. I tried and eliminated 4 pairs. Then got two more possible pairs, and I alternated between them before picking out the ones you can see. They are the something or other brand, model blahblahblah. Some of you might see them tomorrow. Even after I paid and was on the way out the door, she was still dithering.

On the right you can see the old fins with the broken heel strap. I've had them since well before doing IMC, so I guess they don't owe me anything. The new ones are there. The colour in the photo is odd though. The new fins are black, not navy blue.

Once home the busy day continued. We now have a clean BBQ. This used to take a long time with windex and paper towel. Now a putty knife and these micro-fibre e-clothes make it fast and easy.

I had meant to go to the library today and rent a Blu-Ray movie disc. But I didn't. However the renos there are complete. It sounds strange because it opened about the same time we built this house, and I still think of it being new, but I guess not. It's one of the busiest public library branches in North America. The library world has changed enormously in 30 years so it's no surprise the building needs to change.

Even in our house we've had two major renovations over the years, doing essentially the entire main floor, and adding some things to the basement. The back yard is getting done this year, and we are considering holding a 30th birthday party for the house this fall. Would you come to such an event? Have you ever been to a birthday party for a house?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The evil lurking in the heart of bathroom fans

So it's Friday afternoon. Where did the week go?

Wed was a strong yoga class. I loved it, but it went by too fast. I was just getting into a pose, and the class would be moving on. I didn't swim in the morning.

Thursday I swam. I was in the mood. 1K, 19:30 or so. Then water ran another 20 minutes. The pool was peaceful and quiet. Unlike the bathroom fan.

Thursday we signed the deal for back yard landscaping. It needs it. Our neighbor will be both happy (since he's been bugging us about it for years, none of his business that it is), and unhappy, since we're going to rip down the fence that is just on our side of the property line. The 30 year old fence thats leaning over and going rotten, that he thinks is fine because it will probably last his lifetime. They will take off his gate and reinstall it. He is a yard neat freak, so the slightest thing happening to his yard is liable to set his wife off. I may learn more Cantonese swear words. Here, see for yourself, now that most of the snow is gone.

Stretching in the evening.

Katie had tried to talk me into a 5 or 10 K swim for this morning, but no way I'm up for that. I was thinking about running, even with the light snow happening this morning. Then I went outside into the dank, damp, humid, muggy, cold bleah. So I didn't run, but did get on my bike for a nice mostly easy spin to get the legs going, then a nice stretch and core session.

I wanted to putter about today and get some stuff done around the house. First was some retail therapy, though it turns out that 1.5 inch belt might not fit through the belt loops of the black pants I wear most often. The sleeve for the laptop is tempting me, as do a few other things at Saddleback leather.

The fan. Yes, I know, you're burning to know about the rattly fan. It's been bugging me for a while and today was the day. I got it out of the cage and recoiled in horror. This is the clean side.

There were radial guck icicles on the downstream side. I had though it was rattling because the guck had unbalanced it, then I realized the fan itself was out of round and rubbing against the housing. The internet said there were some of the same at a nearby store so I went out, only to find out I had been lied to. Sigh.

I didn't get any of the others because I wasn't sure if they would fit, and they wouldn't have. But the guy at one store said you could often pull the fan along the spindle a bit, and that should stop the rubbing. While the guck wouldn't just vacuum off, it's not stuck on very well, and a little screwdriver is the perfect tool to loosen it so the vacuum does work. Now it hums silently, and I think I've earned by glass of wine for the day.

Next yucky thing is the BBQ spring cleaning...

Plus on the way home it started to snow. Really snow, as in restricting visibility. An hour later and it's starting to build up on the road. We have breakfast plans for tomorrow, so we might have to leave a few minutes early.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Self-Conscious, for once

Middle aged men are just about the most invisible creatures on earth. Nobody notices them. In addition, most of us don't care about what we look like. Which might be cause or effect, now that I think of it. Normally I don't care much about how I look when I'm doing something.

But tonight was weird. There I was running, and very self conscious about it. Wondering how it looked. It felt clunky at first, and gradually got better, but it was never smooth. Overall the time was good, just a hair under 35 minutes for a 5 K run, which is ball park for a moderate pace, not breathing too hard. Just towards the end my legs were beginning to feel it a bit. I don't believe the last few seconds of the pace graph. There's no way I was running that fast.

At least the snow held off till after the run. Yay! Lots of stretching after, and sitting with a bag of cold water on my quad.

If this had been a swim, I'd have said I didn't have the water feel. Is there such a thing as run feel? Do you ever get self conscious about what your run looks like? Or anything else you do?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The downgrade

I finally did it. Realized the truth. Came, mostly, to terms with the inevitable. On the weekend I changed my registration from a marathon to a half marathon on June 1. Even that had me wondering, but then I realized there was no way I would be ready to try to run 10 K fast either. And what's the point of racing 10K just to finish? So (fingers crossed) with some consistent training (which I've really struggled with this year) I ought to be able to run the entire thing. I hope.

Another thing we're coming to terms with is clutter. There is an old plasma TV to be recycled. A VCR and some tapes to be tossed out. (If you want a functional VCR with tapes of Miss Marple, speak fast!) An assortment of other odds and ends to be tossed out. A water damaged phone (who knew plastic would degrade and crack by itself?), several old leaky irons, an old coffee maker, and I'm not sure what else all.

Even though all this stuff is essentially non-functional, I still have a pang throwing it out. The VCR, for example. There is a story there. Once upon a time, I was helping my dad's family clean out my Grandma's room at the lodge. Her funeral was the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing; we were watching the coverage as we were getting ready for the funeral. 19 years ago in a few days.

My uncle picks up a small TV, turns to me, and says, "Your dad got this for mom, so I guess it's yours now." (My dad had died a few years earlier.) I had turned to run, but there was no escape. It was reasonably well known in my family that I don't watch TV much. I carried it out to our car; Linda nearly left me behind when she saw what I was carrying.

So we took it home, and a few days later we went out to find the cheapest possible VCR player. I toyed with the salesman's hopes, then crushed him mercilessly. "The cheapest", I said, "that plays and rewinds VCR tapes." He started with the extended warranty spiel, but I gave him the look and he stopped part way through.

We mostly rented VCR's, but bought the Miss Marple ones because they are so good. (Joan Hickson was born to play Miss Marple.) We played a few DVD's on the computer, but lasted till Boxing day 2002 when we bought the plasma and a DVD player. So that VCR player is 19 years old in a few days. Hard to imagine. I'm not sure why we kept it. Mostly because it was sitting there inoffensively hooked up, I guess. Gathering dust. I'm not even sure if it can be hooked up to the Blu-Ray, and I don't propose to find out.

I can remember when VCR tapes and players were a novelty. An expensive one. Anyone remember the VCR and Betamax wars? Once could join a video club for a fairly steep membership fee, and it was $20 or so to rent a tape. Buying them could be 3 figures. Imagine!

Now DVD's and Blu-ray are nearly dead. More and more content will come from the internet. Maybe 20 years from now I'll be writing a blog about these shiny plastic discs and an impossibly coarse ancient technology called HDTV. (We used to have to put bolts into the wall for a mounting bracket! They were several inches thick! And if you looked close you could actually see the pixels!)

So even though the VCR was under $200, I think about how long I had to work, back then, to buy it. (Not that long, now that I think about it.) Still, my Granny went through the depression, and as a child I remember her being extremely careful with money. There was a strong element of "make do, or do without" there. Things were expensive, and you were expected to take care of them.

Now our things turn into clutter. It would probably cost me more effort than buying it, to find a home for the VCR player. Much easier to throw it out. And no, they say you can't even recycle them. The City website says to throw them (household quantities) into our black bin, which is garbage. Tuesday evening, unless someone speaks up, claiming it or the tapes. The countdown has begun.

Oh, and water ran this morning with Katie for a while, as she filled me in on her Maui trip, and adventures with her rental bike, dubbed Two Ton Tessie. Ran a bit more after she left, then slipped into the pool for a quick 600 m. For once the competition pool was warm.

The idea is to run tomorrow. It could well be snowing. I'm not kidding. I'm weeding a flower bed today in the warmth and sunshine as chicken cooks in the BBQ. Shoveling the driveway tomorrow. Spring, you are depressing. I hope for nice weather this weekend to clean out the garage and fix the BBQ.

What do you have in your house that you really should throw away?


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